These feats from D&D Next grant limited spell casting abilities:

(Arcane /Divine /Druidic) Initiate:

You learn two cantrips of your choice from the (Mage/Cleric/Druid) spell list.
In addition, choose one 1st-­‐level spell from that list. You learn that spell and can cast it once per day.
If you do not already have a magic ability, choose Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma as your magic ability for these spells.

While the text tells you which attribute you can use as your spellcasting ability, it does not mention a Magic Focus. The problem with this is, the spell casting DCs were "nerfed" a few releases back and this would seem to cause quite a problem. Normally, I would take the lack of existing verbiage stating such to mean that this "Spellcasting Bonus" doesn't exist under this feat. However, feats are a FAR more valuable resource in this edition. (For those who don't know a feat is now an option that REPLACES your level 4 attribute bonus (Also, note that this is your level 4 CLASS, not character, attribute!))

Infact, Feats are so much more valuable, that I would argue, (if this is not allowed) one would be better off Multi-classing into a spellcasting class (granting all the benefits of the class) and using their next level (in the original class) to take a feat/attribute bonus that would be even more beneficial!


Given the fact feats are such a more valuable resource than previous editions, for characters taking these initiative feats:

  1. Do Non-Spell Casting Characters benefit from a "Magic Focus"?
  2. Do Spell Casting characters, choosing a different source of magic from their existing class, (Arcane/Divine) get to use their already existing Magic Focus to benefit from their 'Spellcasting bonus'?

    2a. Or even worse, (Assuming the above is "No") if they take this feat for the SAME source (Arcane/Divine) do they now not benefit from their Magic Focus like they do on all their other spells!?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean with Magic Focus? The latest release (101413) only talks about Spellcasting Bonus. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Mar 7, 2014 at 12:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ You're in the same section, they just refer to it by 2 different words. I used the term listed under spellcasting bonus: "If you are holding a ***magic focus***—a component pouch, orb, rod, staff, wand, or your spellbook—when you cast a spell, you can add your proficiency bonus to the spell’s saving throw DC." \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben-Jamin
    Mar 7, 2014 at 13:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ This question could probably use an update, as could the answers, since the full game is out and there's some treatment of the Ranger's spellcasting "much as a druid does" as well as the Ranger now getting spells starting at 2d level, not third. Use of Wisdom as DC is per standard, but it does not explicitly call out a spellcasting focus on the SRD. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 14, 2016 at 15:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ I believe there was some talk in the meta awhile back of re-tagging the pre official kickoff questions from 5E to "Next". I know there was some logistical concerns as well as historical/retention purpose concerns but that kind of retagging would address these isolated issues \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben-Jamin
    Sep 14, 2016 at 17:36

2 Answers 2


This is not a typo or mistake.

While WOTC may not have the best track record for publishing without errors and their length errata for all editions they've ever published exists, its not a safe assumption to presume that this was an error.

Neither the Ranger nor someone with the Initiate Feat should get one....

The Ranger doesn't receive spells until level 3 and the types of spells the Ranger gets are generally used as utility spells. They buff the party, the ranger, or trigger against an enemy without a DC roll. Its not as important that a Ranger has a spell focus because their main way of dealing damage is not spells but their class features combined with a longbow.

As far as initiate's go, your getting 2 cantrips and only 1 spell. The character is at best a dabbler. If they already have a focus as part of their main class (or multiclass) than yes they could use it for their spells, but they are already experts at magic. A barbarian that takes a Initiate feat should be notably not as good at it as someone who is trained.

As you noted characters can simply multiclass instead to gain better casting. That is the whole point of multiclassing, getting access to full class features. The opportunity cost is that by multiclassing you delay your main class level up and deny yourself a capstone feature.

In summary:

1. No

2. Yes

  • \$\begingroup\$ Everything you said about the Ranger can be said about the Paladin, it still gets a proficiency bonus \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Mar 7, 2014 at 15:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ On the other hand, a wizard that takes the Heavy Armor Master feat should not be as strong as a Fighter who grew up with most of it, but he still is. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Mar 7, 2014 at 15:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @andras, wrong the paladin has lots of attack spells (various kinds of smite) and his Oath features also give him more attack related spells as well. Also Heavy Armor Mastery is better for a fighter because they probably have some kind of a Con mod whereas its probably a +o for the wizard. The fighter is also more likely to take melee damage. All of the feats have issues like that though where the class that is most likely to use it will not benefit from everything in the feat (they don't need the proficiency). Feats primarily seem to be for utility or acheiving interesting character concepts \$\endgroup\$ Mar 7, 2014 at 15:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ So why would be Arcane Initiate be any different? Why does it offer more for casters? \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Mar 7, 2014 at 15:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think WotC made a mistake. Either they designed the feat and the Ranger to be different from the other spellcasters, than this is a design error. Or just forgot to add the quite logical bonus to the Ranger and the feat, than this is a proofreading error. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Mar 7, 2014 at 16:08

I think this is a simple mistake.

This is not handled globally, in How to Play, but every spellcasting class has the same paragraph, just the Magic Focus is different. Holy Symbols for some, Wands for others.

I think this led to the oversight of omitting this for the feat, and for the Ranger. If you check the Classes pdf, every class but the Ranger has two paragraphs, one for the key Ability, and one for the Magic Focus.

In my opinion, there is no good design reason for this imbalance between Ranger and Paladin, so I think it is just an error. The same error affected the feat.

So to answer your questions:

  1. RAW: No proficiency bonus for non-spellcasters. RAI: Everyone uses the proficiency bonus for everything they are proficient with.
  2. RAW: As the spellcasting classes do not mention spell types in the Spellcasting Bonus paragraph, every one of them except for the Ranger add the proficiency bonus to any spell they use. RAI: Even the Ranger gets a proficiency bonus.


If you present your holy symbol when you cast a spell, you can add your proficiency bonus to the spell’s saving throw DC.

It says "a spell", not "a paladin spell".

  • \$\begingroup\$ I really like your 2.RAW point, however, I don't believe your RAI are interpreted that way by the majority of players. I pointed out more in comment to Josh above (no sense in repeating comments) \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben-Jamin
    Mar 19, 2014 at 17:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ben-Jamin, your points make sense for the time being, but WotC's entire business model is built around producing supplement material that is stronger than the current powers, feats, spells. So I expect the number of relevant spells to go up. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Apr 2, 2014 at 11:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Relevant meta: Please avoid using the RAI acronym, or use it carefully & be clear in context. You should edit your answer to expand the acronym, or rephrase to avoid it entirely. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Sep 13, 2022 at 16:14

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