Can a cantrip be cast using a higher-level spell slot?

Specifically, I'm thinking of casting Shocking Grasp as a 1st-level spell, to trigger the Storm sorcerer's Heart of the Storm feature (Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, p. 137):

[...] whenever you start casting a spell of 1st level or higher that deals lightning or thunder damage, stormy magic erupts from you. This eruption causes creatures of your choice that you can see within 10 feet of you to take lightning or thunder damage (choose each time this ability activates) equal to half your sorcerer level.


No. There is specific sage advice on the matter:

@JeremyECrawford like most spells can a known cantrip be cast at a higher spell slot lvl. Aka sacred flame lvl 1 for 2d8 radiant dmg
— redwoodguardian (@redwoodguardian) August 24, 2015

No, since cantrips don't use spell slots. https://t.co/MKpg8oozyf
— Jeremy Crawford (@JeremyECrawford) August 24, 2015

  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that Crawford's tweets aren't "Sage Advice"; that's just the name of a third-party website compiling designer tweets. Also, as of January 2019, Crawford's tweets are no longer official rulings; you may want to edit your answer to support it by citing the rules. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Dec 18 '19 at 9:05
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @LiamMorris-ReinstateMonica: No, Crawford's tweets are not, nor have they ever been, "Sage Advice". Sage Advice is the name of a rules answers column on the official D&D website, the clarifications from which also appear in the Sage Advice Compendium (as noted in the SAC itself). Past editions of the SAC that refer to "Sage Advice" clearly distinguishes it from Twitter as a separate thing. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Dec 18 '19 at 9:17
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast Fair enough, I can see your point. Although, I just wish to highlight that even if they aren’t officially called that, if thats what most people call them then thats what they are called. Its like how the singular of “Dice” is “Die”, yet many people refer to a single die as “a dice” (as opposed to “some dice”, for example). However, this is not the place to discuss how language changes and evolves over time. \$\endgroup\$ – Liam Morris Dec 18 '19 at 9:25
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @LiamMorris-ReinstateMonica: Oh, I'm aware that many people do mistakenly call designer tweets that (as a result of the website), hence my pointing out the confusion in the first place :P Thanks for understanding! \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Dec 18 '19 at 9:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's added confusion from the site using that name. In reality, it's just a Twitter aggregator. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Dec 18 '19 at 20:58

Spells can take on a higher level when you choose to cast them using a higher level spell slot. Cantrips don't use spell slots. As such their spell level is 0 and you can't cast them at a higher level.

  • 10
    \$\begingroup\$ For this power in particular, it would make abundant sense to tie it to a limited resource like spell slots. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 13 '15 at 9:41

You can by RAW

Cantrips are level 0 spells:

A cantrip's spell level is 0.

You can cast a spell at a higher level:

When a spellcaster casts a spell using a slot that is of a higher level than the spell, the spell assumes the higher level for that casting. For instance, if Umara casts magic missile using one of her 2nd-level slots, that magic missile is 2nd level.

This mechanic is called "Casting a Spell at a Higher Level". There is no mention of a requirement for a spell to be using a spell slot. The only requirements is for it to be a "spell" and for it to have a "spell level". The mechanic says that you can use slots of higher level than the spell (eg, 3 is higher than 0) to increase the level of the spell.

Why do it?

Consider this example:

If Umara casts light using one of her 3rd-level slots, that light is 3rd level

This would be useful for creating light in Darkness: "If any of this spell's area overlaps with an area of light created by a spell of 2nd level or lower, the spell that created the light is dispelled."

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is that example from the books? Because if it is, that would be strong evidence that this is indeed intended. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Dec 18 '19 at 8:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Erik the example given in the rules text for casting a spell at a higher level is in the book, the second example is a modification of that example showing that the language remains identical, it is not in the book. \$\endgroup\$ – user-024673 Dec 18 '19 at 8:35
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Amazing usage of cantrip on high level, since they go up in power with level I thought it was nonsense to do higher level cantrip cast. Kudos to you \$\endgroup\$ – Corven Dallas Dec 18 '19 at 8:53
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Casting a spell at a higher level involves using a higher-level spell slot. But as the description of cantrips states: "A cantrip is a spell that can be cast at will, without using a spell slot [...]" There is no rule allowing cantrips to be cast using spell slots. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Dec 18 '19 at 9:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast While normally a cantrip does not use a spell slot, there is a rule that allows it to be cast using spell slots: "When a spellcaster casts a spell using a slot that is of a higher level than the spell, the spell assumes the higher level for that casting." This is the rule. \$\endgroup\$ – user-024673 Dec 18 '19 at 23:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.