This question got me thinking about the mechanics of the Magic Initiate feat when you have class levels in the class into which you were inducted.

Among the classes you can pick with this feat are the Bard, Sorcerer, and Warlock, which know a limited number of spells and all have the same statement under Spells Known.

Additionally, when you gain a level in this class, you can choose one of the [class] spells you know and replace it with another spell from the [class] spell list , which must also be of a level for which you have spell slots.

The term "learning" is used both to describe new spells acquired on level-up and the spell acquired through the feat. This would seem to indicate your Magic Initiate spell counts among the spells you know, and is thus eligible for retraining if you learned it as a spell of your class.

An odd change in wording occurs during the Magic Initiate feat description (emphasis mine):

In addition, choose one 1st-level spell from the same list. You learn that spell and can cast it at its lowest level.

This generalization in describing the learned spell's level seems to imply that there exists a scenario where it would not be appropriate to restrict the spell to being cast as a 1st-level spell. Could one of the charisma casters retrain Magic Initiate into a higher level spell, which they could then cast once per long rest without using a slot?

This would turn an otherwise unexciting feat into, effectively, a Mystic Arcanum for Bards and Sorcerers. This seems too powerful to be intentional, but the feat description appears to have gone out of its way to permit it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It seems to me that Magic Initiate is supposed to be intended to give a splash of magic to someone who isn't already the class they're learning the spell for, not to expand someone of that class's repertoire in their own class. So I vote no. \$\endgroup\$ – Mag Roader Oct 19 '14 at 15:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MagRoader that may well be the intent, but that's now how it's written. \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Oct 19 '14 at 19:04

This looks to be entirely up to DM discretion.

There are two equally valid positions on this and the rules do not refute either one.

The first is that this is a completely separate spell, and slot, and that the two have no overlap with your casting class. The spell you learned and the slot you obtain are kept separate from the class spells if you have levels in that class.

The second position is that it is a class spell, from your class list and you can retrain it as you would when you take a new level in that class.

The second position is mildly problematic in that you can continue to obtain higher level spells with the retraining, and it may lead to this MC being simply the obtaining of another 1st level spell slot, rather than feeling like a mini MC.

The first position is problematic in that it introducing additional bookkeeping and may be perceived to be overly harsh and pedantic.

In my games, I think I would allow the MC feat to simply be an additional first level spell slot and allow the spell to be retrained if it's from a class that allows that and you take levels in that class. I would probably not make them remember which spell goes with their MC beyond that the extra slot must be a spell from that class. This may be too lenient for some games though.

  • \$\begingroup\$ My concern was more for a level 17 Sorcerer getting a level 9 spell they can cast once per day without a slot. I like the implementation you suggest in the last paragraph. How would that work with a Warlock? \$\endgroup\$ – GoblinTheodicy Oct 19 '14 at 22:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GoblinTheodicy it's pretty clearly locked to a L1 spell. With a warlock it's basically just a L1 slot that they'd need to cast a L1 spell in. It would not scale up like the remainder of their slots, and it would not refresh with a rest. \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Oct 20 '14 at 0:14

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