I don't know a lot about how preparing spells works. I know that some classes have to prepare their spells and others don't. I couldn't find any information about Warlocks.


2 Answers 2


You're right that the PHB could be clearer about this in certain places, for example in the Spellcasting Chapter under the heading "Known and Prepared Spells" (PHB 201), we find:

Members of a few classes, including bards and sorcerers, have a limited list of spells they know that are always fixed in mind.

No specific mention of Warlocks there, though they're included in the "few classes". If you compare the spell table for Bards (PHB 53), Sorcerers (PHB 100) and Warlocks (PHB 106), you will see they have a similar column 'Spells Known' and this leads to the answer to your question.

As with Cantrips for other spellcasters, the Warlock's 'Spells Known' column says how many spells they know, without needing to prepare them. In in-game logic terms they are gifts from the extraplanar being with which the Warlock has the pact.

This is spelt out in the rules for Warlocks (PHB 107):

The Spells Known column of the Warlock table shows when you learn more warlock spells of your choice of 1st level and higher.

Again I can see the confusion, as 'learn' does not necessarily mean 'always have available', though that is what it means for the Warlock.

The way Warlock spells work can also be confusing if you are coming from the Basic Rules, where Spell Preparation seems 'standard', but in fact Spell Preparation is a feature added to Clerics and Wizards, but not to Warlocks.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It's weird because the warlock's Pact Magic ability is not really the same thing as spell casting, even though they look almost identical in practice. This is also the source of some confusion with multiclassing and warlocks. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 16:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Maybe directly compare the Warlock (and Sorcerer) text to the Wizard text: Wizard explicitly says they have to prepare (and how). Rather than the warlock having preparing "removed" as a requirement for casting, it's the wizard that has an added requirement for casting. This fits with the "some classes... but other classes" stuff in the magic chapter. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 17:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Noted and added! \$\endgroup\$
    – harlandski
    Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 18:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ And just for good measure, the expanded spell list that a warlock gains access to from their patron, does simply that, expands their list of options. It does not provide them with extra spells known. So e.g., at 3rd level, a warlock only knows 4 spells, regardless of the expanded list spells. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jake M.
    Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 7:52

No, Warlocks do not have to prepare spells

Warlocks do not have to prepare spells like a cleric or wizard, they have a list of spells known and a number of spell slots they can use to cast those spells. See pg. 107 of the PHB.


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