From the text of Glyph of Warding (PHB, p.245) the spell glyph version of the spell allows you to store a spell that is 3rd level or lower.

Can you store a cantrip like Spare the Dying in the glyph, or not?


2 Answers 2


Cantrips level 0, which makes them “3rd level or lower”.

Glyph of warding states:

You can store a prepared spell of 3rd level or lower in the glyph by casting it as part of creating the glyph.

The rules for spell levels state:

Every spell has a level from 0 to 9. A spell’s level is a general indicator of how powerful it is, with the lowly (but still impressive) magic missile at 1st level and the earth-shaking wish at 9th. Cantrips — simple but powerful spells that characters can cast almost by rote — are level 0.

Since a cantrip is a level 0 spell, which is 3rd level or lower, you can store a cantrip in a spell glyph. But cantrips are known, not prepared! See here: Can a Bard use the Spell Glyph option of the Glyph of Warding spell and cast a known spell into the glyph? It’s written in the context of bards, but Rykara’s answer also applies to Cantrips known by any class:

For Bards, learned spells are prepared spells, according to the general rule for Spells Known and Prepared:

Before a spellcaster can use a spell, he or she must have the spell firmly fixed in mind, or must have access to the spell in a magic item. Members of a few classes, including bards and sorcerers, have a limited list of spells they know that are always fixed in mind. [...] Other spellcasters, such as clerics and wizards, undergo a process of preparing spells.

The act of preparing a spell is what a caster needs to do to "fix it firmly in mind." Bards do this automatically for all their Bard spells. The preparation requirement for Glyph of Warding is shorthand for "have the spell fixed firmly in the caster's mind."

A Bard may use a Bard spell with the Glyph of Warding because, for a Bard, all Bard spells are at the ready in this way. However, if the Bard multiclasses into a spellcasting class that requires spell preparation, the spells that are unique to that class would need to be prepared before they can be used with the Glyph of Warding.


Rules as written, you can only store prepared spells in glyph of warding and cantrips are not prepared

Cantrips are known, not prepared, so they do not fit all the requirements for spells that can be stored, even though their level (0) is smaller than 3rd, and if that was the only criterium, they would work.

That said, I think it is quite likely that the wording with "prepared" is just an oversight on behalf of the designers, and it also would not be unbalancing to allow casting known spells into the glyph, just as you can cast prepared spells. I think this is one of the cases where the text as written seems to make little sense and is less fun, and the DM should ignore the rules as written and allow storing spells by bards. I would do so in my home game, and the DM is explicitly given license by the rules to fix such situations, page 4, DMG:

And as a referee, the DM interprets the rules and decides when to abide by them and when to change them.

Rules as Written

Now for the unfortunate rules-as-written part. This is one of those situations where what the rules likely intend, and what we all expect them to say and want them to say, differs from what they actually say.

To store a spell into the glyph, the spell must be a prepared spell, because Glyph of Warding says:

You can store a prepared spell of 3rd level or lower in the glyph by casting it as part of creating the glyph.

It does not say "You can store a spell fixed firmly in your mind", it also does not say "You can store a prepared or known spell". It says "You can store a prepared spell".

Prepared is a term that the game is very careful to use consistently and to differentiate from known, the other way you can have access to spells. For example, the multiclassing rules for spell casters say:

Spells Known and Prepared. You determine what spells you know and can prepare for each class individually, as if you were a single-classed member of that class.

If there was no difference between known and prepared spells, because both are fixed firmly in your mind and thus are one and the same thing, it would not be necessary to list both of these terms.

Likewise there is this Q&A in the Sage Advice Compendium, that clearly makes a distinction between known and prepared spells:

If a druid takes the Magic Initiate feat and chooses detect magic as their one spell, can the druid cast that spell as a ritual? A druid’s Ritual Casting requires a ritual to be prepared. The spell from Magic Initiate is known but not prepared

The cleric class states You prepare the list of cleric spells that are available for you to cast, choosing from the cleric spell list (p. 58 PHB) , the druid class states, You prepare the list of druid spells that are available for you to cast, choosing from the druid spell list. (p. 66 PHB), and the wizard class states You prepare the list of wizard spells that are available for you to cast (p. 114 PHB) -- all of these are spellcasters with prepared spells. Even the Artificer, who is not from the core rules follows this exact pattern and states You prepare the list of artificer spells that are available for you to cast, choosing from the artificer spell list.

In contrast, the Bard, Ranger, Sorcerer and Warlock never talk about preparing spells, they only talk about the character knowing spells, and how many spells they know. Their spells are not prepared, because they know all their spells, all the time. Likewise in contrast, the cantrips known by a wizard or cleric are not prepared spells, and thus cannot be stored in the glyph.

Why then give the spell to the bard who uses known spells?

Glyph of Warding is on the list of the artificer, wizard, cleric and bard. Three of those are casters that prepare their spells, and so there is no problem. However the Bard does not.

This reduces to options for Glyph of Warding for the Bard. On a strict reading, a bard cannot store the spells they know into the glyph, because those are not prepared spells; they are limited to using the Explosive Runes mode.

This makes glyph of warding not entirely dysfunctional, but makes it a much less exciting choice for bards. Why even put a spell on their spell list that they cannot fully utilize, rules as written? Unfortunately, without a designer interview comment, Sage Advice ruling, or errata, we do not know if this is just an oversight in a badly worded spell, or if this is intentional. The spell was errataed in 2016, which would have been a good opportunity to fix this, but it was not changed then.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Readers should be aware that this answer is adapted from one of Nobody the Hobgoblin’s previous answers to a similar question that did receive an opposing answer. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 4 at 16:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Would not a cantrip always be prepared? \$\endgroup\$
    – Thank-Glob
    Nov 4 at 20:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Thank-Glob No, cantrips are never prepared, they are always known. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 4 at 20:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NobodytheHobgoblin I didn’t really downvote this answer for being wrong, it was because “bards can’t use glyph of warding” is a ridiculously terrible ruling, “correct” or not, and I want everyone else to know it’s a bad ruling. Not every “alternative perspective” is worth putting out there. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 4 at 20:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ I did read to the end. The answer is backwards. You spend all this time and effort trying to convince me of the RAW ruling, then at the very end suggest there might be a better way. This would be a astronomically better answer if it were framed as “there’s a rather complex rules-as-written sort of argument outlined below, but it should be disregarded because it’s a bad ruling”. Like I said, not every alternative perspective is worth putting out there. Providing raw arguments for bad rulings is fuel for arguments from rules lawyers. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 4 at 21:14

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