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Paladins and rangers get their spellcasting at level 2, as they are half-casters. However, a ranger 1/paladin 1 would have the spell slots of a 1st-level full caster. Would this hypothetical character have any abilities they could use their spell slots on?

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You have no spell slots.

Even if you add before dividing and (1+1)/2 = 1, you have no spell slots. This is because the multiclassing rule that grants Combined spell slots for multiple classes is in the “Spellcasting” subsection of the “Class Features” section of Chapter 6 of the Player’s Handbook. Neither of your classes have granted you a Spellcasting class feature (yet), so the combined slot rules don’t apply to you:

Once you have the Spellcasting feature from more than one class, use the rules below. If you multiclass but have the Spellcasting feature from only one class, you follow the rules as described in that class.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Neither of your classes have granted you a Spellcasting class feature," yet. I would add "yet" at the end of this part. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Mar 19 at 20:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot Well, by the time they get a spell slot, they're no longer a 1/1 ranger/paladin. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nelson
    Mar 20 at 1:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Nelson I agree. The point I was trying to make is that they get Spellcasting at 2nd level. Many people seem to think they are spellcasters from the beginning, which is not true and on the 1st level they are not spellcasters. Yet. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Mar 20 at 9:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's worth noting that your claim of adding before dividing is not the highest-voted answer there \$\endgroup\$ Mar 21 at 18:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Amusingly, if read the other way you get an interesting situation for a fighter 2 rogue 2 combo. Both of those classes may or may not grant Spellcasting, depending on your third level archetype picks. Allowing it would mean you actually lose slots if you choose a non-casting archetype. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 22 at 16:46

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