Magic Initiate in DnD 5E explained

The Rogue’s back met the cold stone of the alley wall, his chest rising and falling rapidly as the two thugs sauntered towards him. A cruel smile spread across their faces as they raised crude clubs, before bringing them down on the poor Thief. Those smiles turned to bewildered looks as the clubs bounced off of a shimmering dome of blue energy coming from their potential victim’s hand. This time it was the Thief’s turn to smile as he lashed out towards them, drawing a flame-wreathed dagger from a loose sleeve. With a quick flourish, he cut down the first thug before fire jumped from their falling body to the second. Amidst the echo of pained screams the Thief calmly exited the alley and rejoined the bustling city street. 

Everyone likes magic to some degree, it’s omnipresent in the worlds of Dungeons and Dragons and is one of the things that separates them from our own. Some players might want to add a touch of magic to a character that has none, whilst others may want to add even more magic to their mage, this is where Magic Initiate comes in.

Let’s break down what this feat gives you:

  • Two cantrips and one 1st level spell of your choice from one of the specified spell lists. You can cast this 1st level spell once per long rest, but you can’t spend any spell slots you may have on that spell unless you have levels in the class you chose for this feat. The ability score used for the spells is based on the class you chose for this feat, for example, if you chose Wizard then they would use Intelligence.

The nature of this feat means that you should primarily look at the cantrips as the main benefit unless you have levels in the class you chose. But everyone wants more magic right? Well, let’s take a look at what classes might want to spend a precious ASI on.

Magic Initiate is most useful for

  • Sorcerers – One of the main limitations of Sorcerers is their low number of spells known, by taking this feat they can keep an important spell like Shield available without needing to choose it as a spell known, and gain a free use per day of it too!
  • Rogues – This is a great way for a Rogue to get access to either Booming Blade or Green-Flame Blade, which can greatly increase the damage of most Rogues, in addition to adding a defensive spell, like Shield or Absorb Elements, or a utility spell, like Find Familiar. An additional ASI and being mostly Dex SAD makes it easier for a Rogue to pick up this feat compared to most other classes.
  • Fighters – With the most ASIs of any class, and similarly to the Rogue, having a good chance of being SAD, means that this feat is relatively cheap for Fighters to pick up. This would allow them to gain some utility magic or combat magic to cover a hole in their abilities. For example, choosing Bless as the 1st level spell to support allies, whilst being unlikely to lose concentration with a high Con mod and Con saving throw proficiency, with Guidance and Thaumaturgy for the cantrips.

Magic Initiate is least useful for

  • Barbarians – A MAD class whose main class ability shuts down spellcasting altogether, as well as concentrating on precast spells. Whilst they could use this feat for pure utility, it’s just not worth the cost.
  • Monks – Like the Barbarians above, Monks are extremely MAD making an ASI an extremely high cost to grab a bit of magic. If a Monk wanted to take this feat then it would be best to be a variant human, but even then it has fierce competition from feats that would more directly support the Monk’s playstyle, like Mobile.

We hope this article has been helpful and made your day just a little more magical. If you’re interested in other feats to customize your character with, then check out our feats spotlight, or if this has made you interested in playing a caster then, check out our Warlock guide.