Magic Initiate 5e

Published on March 12, 2022, Last modified on May 26th, 2022

Magic Initiate is an excellent way to stretch the versatility of any build. Whether you need healing, utility, or damage spells, Magic Initiate can help.

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What Is Magic Initiate 5e?

Spellcasting is not restricted to only a select few of classes in Dungeons & Dragons. Every class has access to spellcasting in one way or another, though some may need to work harder to get there. One of the most powerful feats in 5e is Magic Initiate, allowing any character to fulfill their fledgling spellcaster dreams.

How Does Magic Initiate Work?

Regardless of whether or not your character can cast spells, once you pick this feat, you gain:

  • Two cantrips of any of the following classes: bard, cleric, druid, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard. You also gain one 1st-level spell from that same class’ spell list. You can only cast this spell at 1st-level, and you must take a long rest before casting it again.
  • Your spellcasting modifier for any spells cast from this feat corresponds to the spellcasting modifier for the class you chose (e.g., if you picked the cleric spell list, your modifier is Wisdom).

This feat is incredibly versatile, and there is a reasonable case that can be made for most builds to think about picking it up. Getting two cantrips that you can cast an unlimited number of times is really good, and a free cast of a 1st-level spell isn’t bad either. The cantrips allow for more utility for all characters and alleviate some of the stress from your other casters.

 

Is Magic Initiate Good?

In our 5e Feats Tier List, Magic Initiate was given an A Tier rating, making it an excellent pickup for specific classes.

Magic Initiate is a very solid choice for a wide variety of builds. Being able to choose 2 cantrips and a 1st-level spell from the full caster classes is a surprisingly beneficial ability.

Some of the most popular combinations are:

  • Wizard: Booming Blade, Green Flame Blade, Find Familiar
  • Warlock: Eldritch Blast, (literally anything else), Hex
  • Bard: Vicious Mockery, (literally anything else), Dissonant Whispers

Magic Initiate 5e Interactions

Of course, there are tons of interactions that come with this feat, such as:

  • You can still cast the spell you learn from this feat at a higher level than 1st-level, but you’ll need the appropriate spell slots to cast it; this feat doesn’t provide them. You must also be the same class as the class you chose for the feat.
  • Gaining this feat does not give you any properties of the class you chose. If an item or mechanic requires a specific class, your character is still the class you were before this feat. You will need to multiclass if you want to benefit from another class in this way.
  • This feat does not allow you to cast the spell gained as a ritual unless you already had ritual casting.
  • Sorcerer Metamagic can be used on any spell a sorcerer casts. However, Wild Magic Surge will only work for sorcerer spells cast.

Which 5e Classes Make the Most of Magic Initiate?

The color code below has been implemented to help you identify, at a glance, how good the Magic Initiate 5e feat is for a specific class/subclass.

  • Red isn’t going to contribute to the effectiveness of your character build at all
  • Orange is an OK option
  • Green is a good option
  • Blue is a great option, you should strongly consider this option for your character
  • Sky Blue is an amazing option. If you do not take this option your character would not be optimized

Magic Initiate is best on builds that:

  • Are Variant Humans as they can get this feat at level 1.
  • Want a specific spell that isn’t already available to them.

Magic Initiate is simply magnificent. The flexibility and utility the feat offers is nearly unmatched, so at least consider this feat every time you make a new character. Most classes who need a good utility spell and also want some cantrips will enjoy it, and spellcasters can choose to double down on their available cantrip options.

Artificer: This feat is stellar and opens up a ton of utility. Artificers that pick up wizard spells will find the most use out of this. Whether it’s absorb elements or expeditious retreat, it's an incredible feat to pick up for an artificer.

Barbarian: Barbarians are probably the only class where this feat has a negligible impact, mainly because most barbarians want to be raging and smashing every turn (you can’t cast spells while in a rage).

Bard: Magic Initiate a solid pick, no matter what you choose. There are a ton of great wizard spells to add to a bard’s setlist, and double-dipping into bard again offers more utility by allowing you to have more cantrips. Bards don’t get a lot of damage spells so taking something like eldritch blast would also be a great choice here.

Cleric: This feat is a good choice if you pick wizard as the class that you can draw spells from. The tried and tested find familiar as your 1st level spell lets you deliver touch spells and give Help actions to players. Minor illusion and mage hand for the cantrips nicely fill out your other needs.

Druid: This feat is a good choice if you pick wizard as the class from which you draw spells. The tried and tested find familiar as your 1st level spell lets you deliver touch spells and give Help actions to players. The version of find familiar you can get through magic initiate is much better than the one you get through Wild Companion because it sticks around indefinitely and doesn't take a precious Wild Shape. Firebolt or shocking grasp for the cantrips nicely fill out your damage. If you are going to be a ranged caster Druid, this is certainly a worthwhile pickup once you max your WIS to make sure you can still do reasonable damage even if you start to run out of spell slots.

Fighter: Utility spells for free? Yes, please! Any fighter will be happy with this feat. Eldritch Knights will almost always want to pick this up and pick the wizard spell list, as they can cast the 1st-level spell as if they already knew it since they use wizard spell slots.

Monk: In a similar vein to barbarians, monks don’t benefit as much from this feat, but that doesn’t make it useless. The most significant benefit is picking up hex for an extra 1d6 for all of your attacks or shillelagh for those using weapons.

Paladin: Magic Initiate is a stellar choice for paladins, as it opens up for more utility and some impactful spells. Wizard offers the most here, as it can give you booming blade for damage and one of many utility spells afterward.

Ranger: Most rangers will appreciate the utility offered here, as rangers don’t get a lot of offensive spellcasting in most cases. However, you’re better off sticking to druid spells so you can use your Wisdom modifier. Otherwise, you might not get a lot of benefits from the spells you pick.

Rogue: Utility reigns supreme here, as there are a plethora of great spells that fit into any rogue playstyle. Like Eldritch Knights, Arcane Tricksters should probably pick the wizard spell list, as their subclass grants them wizard spell slots.

Sorcerer: Probably the only full caster that doesn’t really benefit from this feat as they can only get utility out of it. You’re better off with more impactful feats on the spells you already have, like Spell Sniper.

Warlock: For warlocks, this feat is pure utility. They don’t get a lot of damage from this as Warlocks already come with all the damage they need. This feat is only essential for those with specific builds in mind or for multiclassing.

Wizard: All around a good option if you want to maximize spells known. Most of the cantrips are stellar, and the free utility is fantastic. Even doubling down on wizard allows you to learn a free new spell that you can cast as a normal spell with spell slots for better scaling.

Magic Initiate 5e FAQs

Does Magic Initiate use a spell slot?

Casting the spell you gain from this feat does not use a spell slot. It is only cast as a first-level spell.

Can you cast magic initiate spells with spell slots

Classes who already have access to the same spell slots as the class they choose for the feat will be able to cast the spell they learned with spell slots if they choose.

Can a paladin smite with their magic initiate slot?

Since this feat doesn’t grant any additional spell slots, it does not allow paladins to smite instead.

Can a warlock cast magic initiate spells at a higher level?

Yes, and no. If you choose to use the feat version of the spell, you only get it once per short rest at its lowest level, as the feat describes. However, if it is a warlock spell that you gained from this feat, you can choose to use a spell slot to cast that spell with your Pact Magic ability, and it will be cast at the highest level.

Conclusion

There’s no other way to describe this feat, it’s truly amazing, and most parties will probably have one or two characters with it. It is immensely flexible and almost always has a good use case.

How do you feel about Magic Initiate? Do you have any questions we missed about this feat? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Mike Bernier

Mike Bernier is the lead content writer and founder of Arcane Eye. Outside of writing for Arcane Eye, Mike spends most of his time playing games, hiking with his girlfriend, and tending the veritable jungle of houseplants that have invaded his house. He is the author of Escape from Mt. Balefor and The Heroes of Karatheon. Mike specializes in character creation guides for players, homebrewed mechanics and tips for DMs, and one-shots with unique settings and scenarios. Follow Mike on Twitter.

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