I ask this because Magic Initiate doesn't grant you the spell casting feature at all. However it doesn't have spellcasting as a prerequisite.

So, as the question asks, would you need to be able to cast spells to take the feat?

Please cite sources in your answers.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there anything I'm missing about this question? It seems very straightforward, so I wonder if I'm not noticing some confusing part.... \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 16:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nope. I asked it in order to clarify something with respect to the War Caster feat. It was always my understanding that feats trump general rules, but that doesn't seem to be getting applied equally to all feats. I'm curious as to how people are justifying that, and the answers here should illustrate it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 16:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you are mistaking specific trumps general for what details are mentioned in the specific rule.As the accepted answer for the cited War Caster question feat tells you, being proficient or not with shields places no restrictions on whether or not you can wield one.War Caster does not change the other penalties associated with wielding a shield,nor does it grant you any proficiency.Magic Initiate, on the other hand,is explicitly telling you that you can prepare and cast spells.In addition, the Spell casting class feature covers a lot more ground than is required for what this feat does. \$\endgroup\$
    – YogoZuno
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 22:08

4 Answers 4


There is no prerequisites for Magic Initiate which are generally listed under the name in italics.

The first paragraph says

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

You have one other benefit from the feat and that is to cast a 1st level spell. And that comes with the caveat that you cast it as its lowest level. So for example Cure Woulds is only ever cast as if it is a 1st level spell.

Some Cantrips and Spells require the use of the caster's spellcasting ability. The feat instructs you do use whatever spellcasting ability that is associated with the class that uses the cantrip and spell list that the player picked from.

The spell casting feature is listed specifically for each spell casting class. It rules pertain to that class only. Some classes have various elements in common but other elements differ.

The way to look at the Magic Initiate is a very narrow specific form of casting spells that is completely outlined in the feat itself and it is called Magic Initiate. The feat bolts on the character and grants him the Magic Initiate feature if the referee of a 5e campaign allows feats in lieu of an ability increase.


Magic Initiate has no prerequisites.

Prerequisites are listed in italics at the beginning of a feat's description, if that feat has a prerequisite. Magic Initiate has no prerequisite. (PHB pp.165, 168)


My take on this feat is that you can cast two cantrips without being a magic user. Perhaps your character attempted studying magic and dropped out and become a fighter instead. In this case, you still can cast those two spells but they don't get any stronger as your character gains levels as a fighter.

Remember not everyone who studies magic actually becomes a wizard.

Depending on the quality of your backstory, your DM might accept your PC's social trait.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I believe this is false. Cantrips that scale at all do so with character level, not class level. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 16:32
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Don't forget about the 1st level spell you get to cast once per long rest. \$\endgroup\$
    – Javelin
    Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 19:08

No. Casting a spell requires the Spell Casting feature.

So this answer is derived from this question: Warcaster Feat

The lack of spell casting ability means that even if a character takes the feat, they are unable to utilize the spells granted because they lack the capacity to cast spells in the first place, and Magic Initiate does not grant the Spell Casting feature, only two cantrips and a level 1 spell.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Where do you get the idea that the class feature Spellcasting is always required to cast a spell? It certainly is a common way to gain the ability to cast a spell, but there's nothing in chapter 10 that says it's the only way. Then we get something like Magic Initiate which explicitly says "you learn... and can cast." This isn't a specific vs. general thing, it's just two different ways one might be able to cast a spell. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 16:28
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ The answer for Warcaster cited is totally irrelevant to this answer, as far as I can see. Magic Initiate is doing something very different in this case. Not to mention, the intent is relatively clear - Magic Initiate is turning you into a very weak spellcaster. It's clearly intended to work when you can't already otherwise cast spells. \$\endgroup\$
    – YogoZuno
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 22:06
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm curious, under this interpretation, can Warlocks cast spells at all? \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 23:57
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @LinoFrankCiaralli So why does Pact Magic make it possible to cast spells without the Spellcasting feature, but Magic Initiate doesn't? \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 5:39
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @LinoFrankCiaralli Consider monsters, too, who do not have "Spellcasting" but other Innate magical spellcasting abilities. Is a Unicorn not casting spells? \$\endgroup\$
    – Javelin
    Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 18:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .