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Can you cast a spell learned from the Magic Initiate feat using spell slots?

Say I play a wizard who learns cure wounds by taking the Magic Initiate feat. Could I cast that spell using the Wizard's spell slots?

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Only if one of your classes matches the feat

For example, if you are a Cleric then you can use a spell slot to cast the 1st level spell learnt from the Magic Initiate (Cleric) feat.

If you are not a Cleric then you can't.

From the Sage Advice Compendium:

Magic Initiate


If you’re a spellcaster, can you pick your own class when you gain the Magic Initiate feat? Yes, the feat doesn’t say you can’t. For example, if you’re a wizard and gain the Magic Initiate feat, you can choose wizard and thereby learn two more wizard cantrips and another 1st-level wizard spell.

If you have spell slots, can you use them to cast the 1st level spell you learn with the Magic Initiate feat? Yes, but only if the class you pick for the feat is one of your classes. For example, if you pick sorcerer and you are a sorcerer, the Spellcasting feature for that class tells you that you can use your spell slots to cast the sorcerer spells you know, so you can use your spell slots to cast the 1st-level sorcerer spell you learn from Magic Initiate. Similarly, if you are a wizard and pick that class for the feat, you learn a 1st-level wizard spell, which you could add to your spellbook and subsequently prepare.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It may also be worth updating the answer to mention the 2018 PHB errata, which updated each class's Spellcasting feature to say you can only use that class's slots to cast spells of that class (e.g. "cleric spells" for cleric), in accordance with what the SAC says. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jul 1, 2019 at 23:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast I'm not seeing how that errata affects this ruling. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 13, 2020 at 2:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @jgn: What the SAC says hasn't changed; even before that errata, the SAC claimed "the Spellcasting feature for that class tells you that you can use your spell slots to cast the sorcerer spells you know" (even though the feature originally just said, "The Sorcerer table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your spells of 1st level and higher", and assumed "sorcerer spells" was implied by the following sentence). The errata made it so that that's actually true; it now reads: "The Sorcerer table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your sorcerer spells of 1st level and higher." \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jan 13, 2020 at 2:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @v2blast Considering that the 2018 PHB errata you reference doesn't revise multi-class spell slot handling which explicitly allows cross-class slot usage, I think your slot-is-tied-to-class-spells is too strong. I think the SAC advice is for when the character has zero spell slots of that type. So Magic Initiate without the corresponding class is weaker, but still interesting. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alan Peery
    Feb 2 at 14:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AlanPeery: The multiclass spellcasting rules are irrelevant to Magic Initiate, because Magic Initiate doesn't make you a multiclassed spellcaster. (The multiclass spellcasting rules do let you use spell slots from one class you have Spellcasting/Pact Magic from to cast known/prepared spells you have from another class you have Spellcasting/Pact Magic from; that part overrides each class's specific rules. But the multiclass spellcasting rules don't apply to spells from other sources, such as Magic Initiate.) I'm not sure what you're claiming that's contradicting anything I've said. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Feb 2 at 15:15
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No, you can't use spell slots, unless you choose the class associated with your Spellcasting feature.

Without loss of generality, suppose you are a Wizard who takes the Magic Initiate feat (PHB, p. 168), and pick the cleric class for the feat. The relevant part of the description of the feat says:

Choose a class: bard, cleric, druid, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard. You learn two cantrips of your choice from that class’s spell list.

In addition, choose one 1st-level spell to learn from that same list. Using this feat, you can cast the spell once at its lowest level, and you must finish a long rest before you can cast it in this way again.

So the 1st-level spell you choose for the feat is a cleric spell (as are the cantrips). Even if the 1st-level spell you choose for the feat is on both the cleric and wizard spell lists, it still counts as a cleric spell for you.

Unfortunately, as of the 2018 PHB errata, the wizard's Spellcasting feature says, (emphasis mine):

The Wizard table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your wizard spells of 1st level and higher. To cast one of these spells, you must expend a slot of the spell’s level or higher.

A wizard may only cast wizard spells with their wizard spell slots. This is confirmed in the official ruling on Magic Initiative in the Sage Advice Compendium:

If you have spell slots, can you use them to cast the 1st-level spell you learn with the Magic Initiate feat?

Yes, but only if the class you pick for the feat is one of your classes. [...]

If the cleric spell chosen counted as a wizard spell for you, you would be able to cast it using your spell slots, but the SAC confirms that the class you choose for Magic Initiate must be one of your classes for this to be the case.

On the other hand, if the wizard took the Magic Initiate feat and picked the wizard class for the feat, the chosen spell would be a wizard spell for you, and would be eligible for casting with your wizard spell slots. This is confirmed in the Sage Advice Compendium ruling, which continues:

[...] Similarly, if you are a wizard and pick that class for the feat, you learn a 1st-level wizard spell, which you could add to your spellbook and subsequently prepare.

In short, you must follow your character’s normal spellcasting rules, which determine whether you can expend spell slots on the 1st-level spell you learn from Magic Initiate.

Eldritch Knight and Arcane Trickster

In particular, casting a spell with your spell slots as an Eldritch Knight fighter or Arcane Trickster rogue requires two things: that you know the spell, and that it is a wizard spell. The spell gained from Magic Initiate satisfies both of these conditions if you choose the wizard class for the feat.

The Eldritch Knight's Spellcasting feature says (PHB, p. 75; emphasis mine):

The Eldritch Knight Spellcasting table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your wizard spells of 1st level and higher. To cast one of these spells, you must expend a slot of the spell’s level or higher. You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a long rest.

Similarly, the Arcane Trickster's Spellcasting feature says (PHB, p. 98; emphasis mine):

The Arcane Trickster Spellcasting table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your wizard spells of 1st level and higher. To cast one of these spells, you must expend a slot of the spell’s level or higher. You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a long rest.

If you pick the wizard class for the Magic Initiate feat, and therefore the 1st-level spell you learn from the feat is a wizard spell for you, it meets all the conditions for being able to expend spell slots to cast it as an Eldritch Knight or an Arcane Trickster.

This ruling is confirmed by the same Sage Advice Compendium ruling quoted earlier (emphasis mine):

In short, you must follow your character’s normal spellcasting rules, which determine whether you can expend spell slots on the 1st-level spell you learn from Magic Initiate.

Since your Spellcasting feature says you can use your spell slots to cast wizard spells, then if you take Magic Initiate and pick the wizard class, you can cast that 1st-level wizard spell using your spell slots.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's probably worth noting that "Magic Initiate (Wizard)" and "Magic Initiate (Cleric)" don't actually appear as separate feats in the 5e books with the wording quoted - only one Magic Initiate feat appears in the PHB, with the wording: "Choose a class: bard, cleric, druid, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard. You learn two cantrips of your choice from that class's spell list. In addition, choose one 1st-level spell from that same list. [...]" D&D Beyond simply separates out the specific variants so the feat works properly with DDB's character sheets. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Oct 23, 2020 at 3:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ which you could add to your spellbook and subsequently prepare. - Is that saying you must do that to cast it with your other slots? Why would you want to do that if the feat means you always have it prepared in addition to the normal number of Wizard spells you can prepare at once? I guess that's not what Sage Advice meant, because that would contradict the rest of what they're saying, so IDK why they mention it at all. Copy into your spellbook could be relevant to let someone else copy it from there, or to cast as a ritual, but preparing it as one of your Wizard spells? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 23, 2021 at 3:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes I’ll respond tomorrow. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 23, 2021 at 3:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes Magic Initiate says you learn the spell. The only way a wizard can cast a spell with wizard spell slots is to learn it as a wizard spell and prepare it. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 23, 2021 at 14:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes I see your point, that is an excellent observation. I'll work on clarifying the issue. Summarily, if you spellcasting class requires only that you know the spell to use your spell slots, then you only have to know the spell. If your class requires that you prepare the spell, then you need to prepare it. Thanks mate. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 23, 2021 at 15:16
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Yes, if

  1. the class you chose for Magic Initiate is one of bard, sorcerer, or warlock and you have a level in that class, or
  2. you chose wizard for Magic Initiate and you are an Arcane Trickster or Eldritch Knight.

Why?

The spells gained from Magic Initiate count as spells known of the class you chose (see below for the source). Some classes allow you to use your spell slots to cast the spells you know of that class¹, so this includes the 1st-level spell from Magic Initiate if the classes match. However, this is not the case for all classes. The other classes require you to have a spell prepared before they permit you to use your spell slots to cast it², and the spells you can prepare are either all of the class’s spells for which you have spell slots or, for wizards, the spells in your spellbook. Knowing the spell is completely meaningless to them³, so they cannot use their spell slots to cast the 1st-level spell gained from Magic Initiate.

Bard, sorcerer, and warlock are the only classes in the first category that can be chosen for Magic Initiate, so this is where the first clause comes from. The second clause is necessary because, unlike wizards themselves, Arcane Tricksters and Eldritch Knights can use their spell slots to cast the wizard spells they know, which will include the 1st-level spell from Magic Initiate if they chose wizard.

This is how I make sense to the Sage Advice Compendium entry below, which seems to imply in the first sentence that wizards can use their spell slots to cast the 1st-level spell from the feat if they chose wizard and then goes on to contradict that. This is also from whence I took the ruling that the Magic Initiate spells are considered spells of the chosen class.

If you have spell slots, can you use them to cast the 1st level spell you learn with the Magic Initiate feat?

Yes, but only if the class you pick for the feat is one of your classes. For example, if you pick sorcerer and you are a sorcerer, the Spellcasting feature for that class tells you that you can use your spell slots to cast the sorcerer spells you know, so you can use your spell slots to cast the 1st-level sorcerer spell you learn from Magic Initiate. Similarly, if you are a wizard and pick that class for the feat, you learn a 1st-level wizard spell, which you could add to your spellbook and subsequently prepare.

In short, you must follow your character’s normal spellcasting rules, which determine whether you can expend spell slots on the 1st-level spell you learn from Magic Initiate.

Source

¹ See e.g. PHB p. 53 (emphasis added): “The Bard table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your bard spells of 1st level and higher. […] For example, if you know the 1st-level spell cure wounds and have a 1st-level and a 2nd-level spell slot available, you can cast cure wounds using either slot. […] You know four 1st-level spells of your choice from the bard spell list. The Spells Known column of the Bard table shows when you learn more bard spells of your choice.”
² See e.g. PHB p. 58 (emphasis added): “The Cleric table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your cleric spells of 1st level and higher. […] You prepare the list of cleric spells that are available for you to cast. […] If you prepare the 1st-level spell cure wounds, you can cast it using a 1st-level or 2nd-level slot.”
³ This is not entirely true, since wizards can add wizard spells they know to their spellbook, as confirmed by the Sage Advice Compendium entry. …Interestingly, the entry seems to imply the condition that the wizard spell does not only appear on the wizard spell list, but is also known as a wizard spell (“if you are a wizard and pick that class for the feat”, not “if you are a wizard and the 1st-level spell you chose appears on the wizard spell list”). Therefore, a bard/wizard multiclasser cannot add their bard spells that also appear on the wizard spell list to their spellbook, while an Arcane Trickster/wizard can add all their wizard spells known from the Arcane Trickster subclass. (Not that it would be of any practical use, except maybe for selling them to another wizard.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Ground. Welcome to RPG SE! Please take the tour if you haven't already. This answer is correct, but it's the same as several answers already given to this question. If you would like to add some detail to these answers, please consider leaving a comment on them. Multiple identical answers are not helpful. \$\endgroup\$
    – Lovell
    Jul 4, 2021 at 8:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Lovell In contrast to the answers from Greenstone Walker and Thomas Markov, this answer states that clerics, druids, and wizards cannot cast the 1st-level spell gained from the feat with their spell slots even if they chose that class (unless they prepare it like normal). Personally, I wouldn’t say that changing “Yes, in these six (plus two) cases” to “Yes, in these three (plus two) cases” is identical and just adding a detail. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ground
    Jul 4, 2021 at 12:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Lovell I don’t think this answer is correct. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 4, 2021 at 13:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Thomas Markov I would like to know why. In your answer, you claim that wizards can cast the spell using their spell slots and then quote the Sage Advice Compendium, which seems to directly contradict that by stating that they have to prepare it first. (With my current reputation, I can’t even comment this under your answer.) This answer tries to account for that using an idea I got from here. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ground
    Jul 4, 2021 at 15:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ground transcribing and preparing the spell learned through magic initiate is a way of using spell slots to cast that spell. The fact that a wizard can do this is crystal clear in the errata that you've quoted. \$\endgroup\$
    – Lovell
    Jul 4, 2021 at 16:24
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If you think about the source of where the magic is coming from for each magic user, you can see that it just doesn't make sense for you to use higher level spell slots.

For example, a wizard can't call upon a cleric's deity to grant him more power, and a bard can't call upon a sorcerer's demonic entity for more spells.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This may be a good in-fiction explanation/way-of -thinking, but usually answers need to cite the rules and sources to be considered useful which is probably why you were downvoted. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 4, 2017 at 14:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the comment. I will bear that in mind. Since I'm new to this site (been DMing for over 20 years), my answers start off at a -4, so it wasn't actually down-voted as far as I can tell. The rules explanation was in one of the other answers, so I thought I would add a reasoned answer to it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Smirk
    Dec 5, 2017 at 7:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Smirk In general, an answer should stand on its own, self contained. If there is a reason to need info from another answer (such as a lengthy chain of reasoning that would be tedious to repeat), you can link to it. Welcome to the site. If you want to "level up", feel free to take the tour! \$\endgroup\$ Apr 28, 2018 at 19:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that this answer is actually untrue in the face of multiclassing rules. You can use spell slots from any class to cast spells from another class if that class is using spell slots. The reason it doesn't work with Magic Initiate is a quirk of how it is worded, not a general rule. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cubic
    Oct 21, 2020 at 13:01
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The Sage Advice Compendium appears to be misquoting it's own source texts (which is truly frustrating because the most indelible measure of being wrong is being wrong by your own logic) as, in the PHB, the Sorcerer Spellcasting feature makes no mention of specifically casting "Sorcerer" spells.

The above ruling is wrong, at least in the 5e rule set as written (including errata). After a careful reading of the spellcasting ability description of all classes you will find the specificity of the cleric description to be an exception in terms of wording.

Further examination of the multiclassing section of the PHB will net you the understanding that spell slots are a feature tied to Character Level, though the ability to cast spells in general using a spell slot requires having a class with the spellcasting feature, as they are the only classes with spellslots to use.

Looking through the Spellcasting chapter of the PHB will also reveal that regardless of the source of the magical knowledge, all spells follow the set out rules in the same way. In this section there is no mention of spell slots being class specific, and evidence would lead one to conclude that the function of spells being denoted as class specific pertains to the traditions in which they are learned and thus the ability modifiers applied to them.

The only difference in casting type is in the form of the distinction made between the Spellcasting and Pact Magic class features.

Add to this the fact that the only specification in the Magic Initiate feature regarding learning the spell is that it is learnt as a spell from a specific class which means the ability modifiers added to it are derived from that class' specification for spell modifier and it is obvious to me that RAW allows the spell to be cast with any spell slot, at least before the question was answered by the Wizards Team in which they misquote their own material.

This leads me to believe that either the team misread their personal notes on the topic and substituted them for final copy materials to reference, or that they need to issue another errata, or, finally, that given that the DM is the be all and end all of rules and that all forms of common sense from the material given would lead you to deduce that you can cast a spell with any spell slot because there is absolutely no mention of spell slots being class specific, most DMs should probably ignore the above ruling.

This is the way I have been running my games since we moved to 5e at least, and its the one that makes the most sense deriving from the base texts only. Though the team may have notes that clarify this, they have not shared them, and the SAC quotes a non-existent line of text, so I'm not entirely sure this ruling will stand for long anyway.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think your answer would benefit from a clear "yes" or "no" response to the original question. I believe you're implying the answer is "no" but the wording is indirect and buried toward the end. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 23, 2018 at 12:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ From the PHB: "The Sorcerer table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your spells of 1st level and higher. To cast one of these sorcerer spells, you must expend a slot of the spell’s level or higher." Thus there is wording that limits spells slots to sorcerer spells even if it's not entirely obvious. Being that SA is there to clear up not obvious things, it seems that this is a pretty clear ruling IMO. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 23, 2018 at 12:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that Multiclassing is an optional rule; using its modifications to rules in a chain of reasoning to deduce how non-optional spellcasting rules operate is a deductive logic error. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 23, 2018 at 14:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ This was errata'd, (but presumably later) by the way. The copy of the most recent errata I have has each spellcaster's spellcasting feature specify the class name. \$\endgroup\$
    – Stackstuck
    Nov 18, 2018 at 17:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ As Stackstuck said, it may also be worth updating the answer to mention the 2018 PHB errata, which updated each class's Spellcasting feature to say you can only use that class's slots to cast spells of that class (e.g. "cleric spells" for cleric), in accordance with what the SAC says. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jul 1, 2019 at 23:04

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