The Player's Handbook says that Drow can use magic, which allows them to cast the cantrip Dancing Lights, as well as cast Faerie Fire at level three and Darkness at level five. It says that Charisma is your spell casting ability for these spells.

If you want to be a wizard it says that Intelligence is your spell casting ability. What happens in the place of a Drow wizard? Is it still Charisma for the first three and Intelligence for all the others of do you use one ability for all of them? I'd like to know which ability to give a higher score to.


2 Answers 2


You are correct. Your Drow racial spells would be cast using your Charisma, but your Wizard spells would use your Intelligence.

The closest mention to this is in the Multiclassing section of the SRD, which states

Each spell you know and prepare is associated with one of your classes, and you use the spellcasting ability of that class when you cast the spell.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It's a pity that. Drows get +1 for Charisma so it would be great if you could give that as your highest score and get an extra boost. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 31, 2016 at 13:46

D&D has a number of methods of "sorting out the rules". One of the longstanding rulings that applies here is "Specific beats General" (PHB, p.7).

In this case, a Wizard would generally cast their spells using Intelligence.

However, a Drow has the special abilities that you described, and they are specifically called out as using Charisma.

But a Wizard is also capable of getting those abilities as spells (Dancing Lights, and Darkness). Which is the spellcasting ability in that case?

Again, turn to the specific: Which method is the player using to produce the effects?

  • If they are being cast as a Wizard spell, then use the Wizard's spellcasting stat (Int).

  • If they are being cast via the Drow's innate abilities, then use the Drow's spellcasting stat (Cha).

The Introductory pages in all of the rulebooks often provide useful methods like this for interpreting the rules.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ That is a very good point. I assume being a wizard I'll want the higher score on Intelligence for all the other spells. It would make sense to choose different Cantrips so that I can have more but if I want those and don't manage to get a particularly high Charisma then it might be worth getting those as a wizard still. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 24, 2016 at 16:21

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