A player in my game wants to add an artificer character. I have Tasha's, so it is the version of the class we will be using, although I am reading it for the first time today and have not read the versions in UA or Eberron.

In the level progression block on page 10, there is no column for total number of spells known, like a half-caster.

The rules for preparing artificer spells are on page 11. They say, in part,

You prepare the list of artificer spells that are available for you to cast, choosing from the artificer spell list.

This seems to imply that an artificer can prepare any spell from the class list, although it would have been more clear had they said "choosing from the entire artificer spell list." This makes it seem like artificers are meant to be like clerics and druids, in which they are assumed to know all spells. Or more properly, when they attain a class level, they know all the spells of all the spell levels that their class level can cast.

However, on page 12 it says:

Here's the list of spells you consult when you learn an artificer spell.

And there is no mechanism presented for learning spells, such as a wizard has for adding spells to a spellbook. As far as I can tell, there are no rules for under what circumstances you can learn an artificer spell.

So, what does "Here's the list of spells you consult when you learn an artificer spell" mean, if an artificer would never be learning an artificer spell, but rather, a whole group of them at once?

And if there is a mechanism for learning individual spells, what is it, and is there a hard limit to the number of spells known?

  • \$\begingroup\$ For reference, the version in TCoE is almost identical to the version in E:RftLW (besides any new subclasses or infusions), since the latter was updated in errata accordingly. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    May 23, 2021 at 5:59

1 Answer 1


Spells Available

Your instinct is correct: the artificer is more like a cleric than a wizard when it comes to spells known. They prepare spells daily from the complete list available (which includes subclass spells).

The mechanism for changing the spells prepared is at the bottom of page 11 of TCOE:

You can change your list of prepared spells when you finish a long rest. Preparing a new list of artificer spells requires time spent tinkering with your spellcasting focus: at least one minute per spell level for each spell on your list.

The flavor of this is that the artificer is modifying their chosen objects (e.g. substances, tools, or devices) to cast the new spells. For example, maybe a mechanical spider used to spit venom for a poison attack, but now it will weave webs to close wounds for a healing spell.

Ritual Casting

Note that the similarity between artificer and cleric casting extends to ritual spells. Both class descriptions say:

You can cast [a cleric / an artificer] spell as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag and you have the spell prepared.

The wizard, though, is different:

You can cast a wizard spell as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag and you have the spell in your spellbook. You don't need to have the spell prepared.

"Learning" an Artificer Spell

Chapter 11 of the PHB introduced the 12 original classes' spell lists by saying:

The chapter begins with the spell lists of the spellcasting classes.

When TCOE expanded other classes' spell lists, they said something like this:

The spells in the following list expand the cleric spell list in the Player's Handbook.

Unfortunately, TCOE's authors didn't follow this bare bones approach when introducing the artificer's spell list. Instead, they used the more friendly wording you quoted, which introduced the word "learn." As you've highlighted, this word is loaded based on its use with wizards' spellcasting.

Clearly, however, the artificer doesn't gain spells the same way a wizard does. For wizards:

Learning Spells of 1st Level and Higher - Each time you gain a wizard level, you can add two wizard spells of your choice to your spellbook. Each of these spells must be of a level for which you have spell slots, as shown on the Wizard table. On your adventures, you might find other spells that you can add to your spellbook (see the “Your Spellbook” sidebar).

Compare this with the sorcerer, whose player chooses a subset of spells at each level:

The Spells Known column of the Sorcerer table shows when you learn more sorcerer spells of your choice. Each of these spells must be of a level for which you have spell slots. For instance, when you reach 3rd level in this class, you can learn one new spell of 1st or 2nd level.

Importantly, with the sorcerer, there's no mention of preparing spells.

The Bottom Line: For clarity, TCOE's authors should have said "when you prepare an artificer spell" instead of "when you learn an artificer spell."

Minor Caveat: Cantrips

Cantrips are the one place where "learning" spells has relevance -- though, again, just like the cleric:

At higher levels you learn additional artificer cantrips of your choice, as shown in the Cantrips Known column of the Artificer table. [TCOE, pg. 11]


You learn additional cleric cantrips of your choice at higher levels, as shown in the Cantrips Known column of the Cleric table. [PHB, pg. 58]

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Artificer is in a bit of an odd spot, because being published in a separate book, it's the only class that has a spell list as part of the class description. While the spell list is written in the class description, it is also used to inform the Artificer Initiate feat, which allows you to learn a level 1 Artificer spell. This might be the reason they use the term "learn" here, and I think it's a bit unfair to say the language is inconsistent, when there are no other classes that needed language for spell lists in the class description. \$\endgroup\$
    – RHS
    Dec 29, 2022 at 10:11

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