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With regards to the Magic Initiate feat (PHB pg. 168): It seems obvious that the 1st-level spell is treated as a special case with its own slot (this also seems to be the consensus from other questions on this Stack), but what about the cantrips? There's no unusual limitation on their casting, so they appear to be used just like ordinary cantrips. So, do they count against the number of cantrips a class can learn?

For example: under the "Spellcasting" section of "Creating a Bard" on page 52 of the PHB:

You know two cantrips of your choice from the bard spell list. You learn additional bard cantrips of your choice at higher levels, as shown in the Cantrips Known column of the Bard table.

In that case, if I'm creating a first-level human-variant bard, and I choose the Magic Initiate Feat, could I start with four bard cantrips instead of two, or would I still be limited to two bard cantrips at first level?

If the cantrips granted by Magic Initiate count towards my "cantrips known" limit, can the limit be circumvented by using Magic Initiate to get cantrips which aren't on the bard spell list?

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The cantrips known limitation only applies for your bard levels. The extra cantrips from your feat will be extra and do not count to the cantrips known limitations for the bard. They are "tracked" seperately, if you wish to say so.

The wording is really specific, it says "Choose a class: bard, cleric, druid, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard. You learn two cantrips of your choice from that class's spell list."

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  • \$\begingroup\$ While I believe you're correct, it would be good if you provided some backup for this answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Sep 30 '15 at 7:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ That was my assumption, too, but I have really limited D&D experience and didn't want to roll up an invalid character. Do you have a citation for this? Even if its from an earlier edition, errata, or anything else from a WOTC source. EDIT: D'oh...Miniman said that same thing. \$\endgroup\$ – Liesmith Sep 30 '15 at 7:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ I edited my answer. Actually, there are some discussions about that feat on the WOTC forum already, dunno if you are ok with it? Anyway, the wording is really specific, it says you learn two cantrips and if you look on the other feats that give you cantrips, are also that specific. The feat cantrips are always additionally. \$\endgroup\$ – Aldaris Sep 30 '15 at 7:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, it looks like this was a misunderstanding on my part about the "cantrips known" limitation, since the College of Lore feature explicitly states that its two additional spells don't count towards "spells known", so I thought "spells known" (and cantrips known) was a hard limit for balancing. \$\endgroup\$ – Liesmith Sep 30 '15 at 8:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ The language of the College of Lore feature is phrased the way it is to account for the fact that all bards share the Spells Known column of the table, so they had to make it clear that the added spells are in fact extra new spells that only Lore bards get. \$\endgroup\$ – CrusaderJ Sep 30 '15 at 13:26
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No

The Bard's "Cantrips" section only grants you cantrips. There is no language that limits or restricts your ability to learn cantrips. All it tells you is at what levels you learn additional cantrips.

There is nothing anywhere that says that your "cantrips known" imposes any kind of restriction on your ability to learn cantrips from other sources.

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