5E Magic Initiate - A guide to an underestimated (and cool) feat

This is a guide to using the Magic Initiate feat correctly; in my sessions, I've noticed that players don't fully realize all the crazy ways they can change their character, both in terms of roleplay and game mechanics, with it.


So without further ado...


Why go for Magic Initiate?


- Versatility
Two cantrips to be used at will and a 1st level spell once for long rest can solve many problems in specific builds, or help characters do what they already do even better (ex. Fighter with Hex). Many times, simple spells like these can also unburden the main caster(s) of the group, allowing them to be more focused.


- Self-sufficiency
In groups/campaigns where magic is scarce, cantrips and 1st level spells make up for "holes" in the group. If your character usually scouts ahead of the group or does solo assignments, this is doubly true. Communication, illumination, reach... you choose.


- Flavor
Let's face it, to some people spell-less classes just feel... plain. Wouldn't it be great if 'Malakai, the Fighter' could be 'Malakai, Defender of the Enduring Flame', with Control Flames, Fire Bolt and Burning Hands? What about 'Nalia, the Monk" becoming "Nalia, the Feyblessed" with Druidcraft, Shillelagh and Faerie Fire? These are not the optimal choices, sure, but who cares - these guys are now cool!
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When is Magic Initiate a good option?


- If you're a Variant Human and/or have a feat to spare;
- If you're not MAD (relying on too many attributes to be decent);
- If you want a little more versatility and fun from a spell-less class;
- If you want a specific spell or cantrip from another class without multiclassing;
- For specific builds who need a spell for their 'combos';


That's about it, I think.
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Rules of the game:


- You pick two cantrips and a 1st level spell, which must all be from the same class. That limits your options a bit, but it's not that big of a problem.
- You get to use the cantrips whenever you like, and they scale with your CHARACTER level, which means they won't go obsolete after a few adventures.
- You get to cast the 1st level spell once per long rest.
- You need to provide the material component for the 1st-level spell as normal, so a component pouch is a necessity for some spells. Some spells, like Identify, require an expensive component, which you should find ASAP.
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Color chart:


Blue - A solid choice, guaranteed to be good at what it does.
Purple - Mild, or too situational.
Red - Don't even.


Spells according to class:
Ba - Bard; Cl - CLeric; Dr - Druid; So - Sorcerer; Wa - Warlock; Wi - Wizard.
Ranger and Paladin spells are not included, but if you really want one you could always talk to your DM.


General tips:


- Avoid spells that have saves associated with them; you usually won't have a decent attribute score for them.
- When picking first level spells, try to focus on those who won't go obsolete after a few levels.
- And most importantly, be cool.
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Cantrips analyzed:


Acid Splash (So, Wi) - Dex save for d6 damage? No.
Blade Ward (Ba, So, Wa, Wi) - There are niche situations where this can be good, but usually the Dodge action (or getting the hell out of the way) are better.
Booming Blade (So, Wa, Wi) - Could be worth a look if you're playing a defender-style combatant, since this damages foes who move. Assassins could also get some extra nova damage out of it. At higher levels, this moves to blue for those without Extra Attack. From SCAG.
Chill Touch (So, Wa, Wi) - d8 damage, good range, and no healing for the target for 1 round. It gets better when used against undead, too.
Control Flames (Dr, So, Wi) - The first thematical cantrip of many. Useful mostly to show your badass side, or give ominous messages through fire.
Create Bonfire (Dr, So, Wa, Wi) - A little battlefield control paired with convenience.
Dancing Lights (Ba, So, Wi) - A bit fancier than Light, but requiring concentration. I'll take Light over this any day.
Druidcraft (Dr) - Another thematical cantrip, this time to show nature's got your back. If you went for druid and can't find anything better, be my guest.
Eldritch Blast (Wa) - I find this better than Fire Bolt because force damage is less resisted than fire. Good range and, later on, versatility for multiple opponents, too.
Fire Bolt (So, Wi)- A staple for the pyromaniac in all of us. A bit better than Produce Flame.
Friends (Ba, So, Wa, Wi)- Many have pointed out that the benefit of this pales in comparison to the hostility it brings, but the true mischief maker knows that with effective disguise (such as Disguise Self *hint*) or deception (saying you belong to a rival organization of the NPC) this goes a long way. Also, it means free advantage on Intimidation checks, which usually make the target hostile anyway. Tavern tough guys, what are you waiting for?
Frostbite (Dr, So, Wa, Wi) - A CON save for d6 damage, but disadvantage is the bonus here.
Green Flame Blade (So, Wa, Wi): Basically you attack as part of casting the cantrip, and another foe close to the target gets some damage (equal to your spellcasting modifier). Gets blue at higher levels if you don't have Extra Attack and have a high spellcasting stat. From SCAG.
Guidance (Cl, Dr) - The main reason to go Cleric or Druid for the selection of the feat, this is an amazing cantrip which will never go out of style. 1d4 to an ability check is a 1d4 boost to all your skills and initiative when you have time to cast it beforehand. Need to remember the functions of a magic item? Cast it. Going to jump over a chasm with no hurry? Cast it. About to open a lock? Cast it. I can keep going all day, and these bonuses can apply to any creature you touch, not just you.
Gust (Dr, So, Wi) - Minor pushing, object-throwing and fluff. Unless you have been blessed by the wind or something, pass.
Light (Ba, Cl, So, Wi) - The utility of this over a torch is that a torch needs a free hand, while this can be cast at anything, anywhere. If you have a cantrip to spare, feel free.
Lightning Lure (So, Wa, Wi)- Very similar to Thorn Whip, minor damage and pulling the enemy closer. I'm not feeling it. From SCAG.
Mage Hand (Ba, So, Wa, Wi) - 30 feet of distance between yourself and what you're handling is the difference between life or death, sometimes.
Magic Stone (Dr, Wa) - If you have a high CHA and low DEX, this could make you better at ranged combat, but DEX is harder to dump than STR.
Mending (Ba, Cl, Dr, So, Wi) - Has its uses in breaking and entering, or if the DM insists on tearing the party's equipment. Definitely not vital, though.
Message (Ba, So, Wi) - Silent, precise and tactical communication, with good range. Becomes fundamental if you're the guy leading the group in a dungeon.
Minor Illusion (Ba, So, Wa, Wi) - It seems 5e is really about rewarding creative players, since free illusions forever is probably as good as a cantrip gets. There are many threads with uses of this, with alley screams and a pile of gold being my favorites.
Mold Earth (Dr, So, Wi) - Some good uses of this include hiding treasure, bringing down walls and creating foxholes.
Poison Spray (Dr, So, Wa, Wi) - The d12 damage looks pretty neat, until you realize it targets Constitution, those who succeed on it take no damage, and poison is the most resisted damage type in the game.
Prestidigitation (Ba, So, Wa, Wi) - This has so many uses (besides flavor) that sooner or later you will be glad you have it. Cleaning bloody clothes after a fight can be especially helpful.
Produce Flame (Dr) - There are better Druid cantrips out there, but I find this a bit better than Light.
Ray of Frost (So, Wi) - If you prefer to attack from range, this is better than Fire Bolt because it slows the enemy, but chances are you're already a spellcaster if you prefer to work from range.
Resistance (Cl, Dr) - +1d4 for saves? Amazing! But... due to the casting time, you need to know you're gonna need a save beforehand, which makes it worse than Guidance. The most evident use of this to me is using it before facing/trying to disarm a trap.
Sacred Flame (Cl) - God no (pun intended). Dex save, d8 damage, no damage if the target succeeds. Run.
Shape Water (Dr, So, Wi) - Mostly a thematical cantrip, which has the same flavor of Control Flames and a bit more utility. Iced drinks, baby!
Shillelagh (Dr) - A good Druid cantrip, this time for spellcasters. With this, you can dump ST or DX (especially ST, since DX gives initiative and AC) and still join melee eventually. The fact that this makes the weapon magical is also aces.
Shocking Grasp (So, Wi) - I'm really not into damage cantrips if there's no utility involved, and this one is a bit better because of that.
Spare the Dying (Cl) - You don't need to be a cleric to play the combat medic, assuming that's your thing. Consider it a free proficiency in Medicine.
Sword Burst (So, Wa, Wi) - I can't decide what is worse, Thunderwave or this. From SCAG.
Thaumaturgy (Cl) - Another thematical cantrip, this time to show the powers of hell (or heaven, who knows) are strong in you. Probably my favorite one of those.
Thorn Whip (Dr) - On a hit, you pull the target 10 feet closer. Good for chases, mainly.
Thunderclap (Ba, Dr, So, Wa, Wi) - For this to be optimal, you need to be surrounded, and if you're interested in this feat then a) you have better ways to deal with such a situation or b) you should get the hell out of there.
True Strike (Ba, So, Wa, Wi) - Like Blade Ward, there may be some builds that use this well, but 99% of people won't.
Vicious Mockery (Ba) - The damage and disadvantage on one attack are good, but they pale in comparison to the pleasure of insulting your foe creatively.
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1st-level spells analyzed:


Absorb Elements (Dr, Wi): Awesome for characters worried about AoE spells. Cut the damage of an energy attack in half (cumulative with succeeding on the save) and get 1d6 of said energy in your next attack. If this weren't just once per day, it would be broken.
Alarm (Wi): For a sound night of sleep? Unless you're in a solo campaign, there should be a nightwatch going on.
Animal Friendship (Ba, Dr): Thematically nice and can turn enemies into friends, but should be getting obsolete after a few levels.
Armor of Agathys (Wa): If you read this spell backwards, it spells 'obsolete fast'.
Arms of Hadar (Wa): This has the same problem as thunderwave, but at least the range is wider and it helps you get away if they fail the save.
Bane (Ba, Cl): -1d4 on attacks and saves of enemies makes for one of my favorite spells. So what's wrong? It requires concentration AND a save. The save is Charisma, which is a bit unusual. But hey, at least it won't become obsolete soon.
Bless (Cl): THE level 1 buff. +1d4 to all attacks and saving throws of 3 guys is like Christmas, and any Cleric spells you plan to take must be measured against this one. Take care of that concentration.
Burning Hands (So, Wi): If damage is your deal, go for Magic Missile, or even Chromatic Orb.
Catapult (So, Wi): The only reason this is not red is because of its fantastic range of 240ft. for attacks, but I find it very meh.
Charm Person (Ba, Dr, So, Wa, Wi): A lot better than Friends, but you can only use it once per day, requiring a save. Up to you.
Chromatic Orb (So, Wi): Unlike the other damage spells, you can choose the kind of energy it deals, which makes it good for exploiting vulnerabilities.
Color Spray (So, Wi): Lasts for 1 round, and will get obsolete.
Command (Cl): I like this spell because it helps a 'badass' character concept. There's a Wisdom save, though, so pick your targets carefully.
Comprehend Languages (Ba, So, Wa, Wi): If your campaign involves a lot of spying on different groups, this might be worth taking a look.
Create or Destroy Water (cl, Dr): Meh.
Cure Wounds (Ba, Cl, Dr): Goodberry/Healing Word are better.
Detect Evil and Good (Cl): Non-magic character who hunts these creatures? Cool. Others? No.
Detect Magic (Ba, Cl, Dr, So, Wi): Leave it to the caster.
Detect Poison and Disease (Cl, Dr): Haha.
Disguise Self (Ba, So, Wi): Yes. Looking like another person has infinite uses for a social character, but even a brooding monk can look like the king's son to kick some ass and create havoc.
Dissonant Whispers (Ba): The damage will be obsolete eventually, but the battlefield control it brings is pretty good.
Earth Tremor (Ba, Dr, So, Wi): Good against mobs and not much else.
Entangle (Dr): Better than the one above in my opinion, especially because it restrains spellcasters, which tend to dump Strenght completely. Couple this with Mage Slayer and watch the wizards cry.
Expeditious Retreat (So, Wa, Wi): A good option for Lore Bards (to get away from melee) and non-spellcasters (to get closer to enemies). Rogues don't need this.
Faerie Fire (Ba, Dr): Requires a save, but the advantage it gives is gold, and against invisible foes this is a lifesaver.
False Life (So, Wi): Worse than Armor of Agathys.
Feather Fall (Ba, So, Wi): This is a tricky one; extremely situational, but when you need it there's no substitute. I wouldn't take it, though; I trust the DM not to kill me in a stupid fall.
Find Familiar (Wi): One of the best choices for any class. Scouting? Yep. Free advantage on attacks for you or your companions? Yep. Cool factor? Yep. If the enemy wants to target the familiar in combat, fine with me - one less attack for him.
Fog Cloud (Dr, So, Wi): Useful to shut down ranged attacks and to create a choke point in corridors, especially. I like it.
Goodberry (Dr): Free food for ten people that comes with healing? Alright. Gets blue if there's no one with Survival in the group. If you're a Life Cleric, this is four times more awesome, since each berry will heal 4 hp instead of 1.
Grease (Wi): Not worth it, and it's not even cool.
Guiding Bolt (Cl): Advantage is always good. Can't complain about the damage and range, either.
Healing Word (Ba, Cl, Dr): Better than Cure Wounds; bonus action, greater range, only a verbal component. If a companion falls in battle and your bonus action is just sitting there, you know what to do.
Hellish Rebuke (Wa): Hell no (see what I did?) Requires a save, gets obsolete... you know the drill.
Heroism (Ba): Requires a high spellcasting attribute to be efficient. If you have it, whatever. Bonus points for cool speeches in battle.
Hex (Wa): Oh yeah. The main reason to go for Warlock; 1d6 damage with a bonus action is totally worth it, especially low-mid game. You also give disadvantage to ability checks tied to an attribute, which should screw rogues trying to hide, Shield Masters... simply great.
Ice Knife (Dr, So, Wi): If you don't feel like choosing between an attack spell or a save spell for damage, this gives you a limited use of both. Don't expect greatness from it, though.
Illusory Script (Ba, Wa, Wi): Too situational to be your choice.
Identify (Ba, Wi): Useful for the Indiana Jones in you, and also unburdens the main caster of the group.
Inflict Wounds (Cl): You're only going to consider using this if you have no equipment at all.
Jump (Dr, So, Wi): Cool? Yes. Good? No.
Longstrider (Ba, Dr, Wi): I prefer Expeditious Retreat.
Mage Armor (So, Wi): If you're not a caster, you either have proficiency in armor or Unarmored Defense. It could give a DEX-based character a +1 to AC, but magic armor is always around the corner.
Magic Missile (So, Wi): They hit automatically and have good range, so it could be good if you don't have the Dexterity for a bow.
Protection from Evil and Good (Cl, Wa, Wi): See Detect Evil and Good, above.
Purify Food and Drink (Cl, Dr): No.
Ray of Sickness (So, Wi): Too many variables, and you probably won't be good at them.
Sanctuary (Cl): Good to protect civilians, and eventually even yourself, but the save is a piece of cake.
Shield (So, Wi): Can turn a hit into a miss, and the AC lasts for a round. Better used right after your turn, and against a gamebreaker blow. Solid choice.
Shield of Faith (Cl): So which one is better, Shield or this? In my opinion, this: +2AC goes a long way with Bounded Accuracy, and you don't have to worry about saving the best for last. Both are good, though.
Silent Image (Ba, So, Wi): An improvement to Minor Illusion, but that is a cantrip.
Sleep (Ba, So, Wi): At low levels this can change a battle; at higher levels, it'll only be useful if someone can't sleep.
Speak with Animals (Ba, Dr): I like this one; surprisingly good when it comes to gathering information. Thematically nice, too.
Tasha's Hideous Laughter (Ba, Wi): Well, there's a repeated save every turn. Need I say more?
Tenser's Floating Disk (Wi): Pure convenience, too situational.
Thunderwave (Ba, Dr, So, Wi): Is it just me or does everything starting with 'Thunder' stinks?
Unseen Servant (Ba, Wa, Wi): Manipedi, anyone? A bit cooler than Tenser's, but still mild.
Witch Bolt (So, Wa, Wi): The damage is lame and it will get lamer in the future.
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Sample packs


I. The Pact Warrior
Spells Class: Warlock
Cantrips: Eldritch Blast/Chill Touch, Minor Illusion/Mage Hand
Spell: Hex
Good for: Fighters, Monks, Assassins, non-Vengeance Paladins

It's simple: 1d6 = 3.5 average extra damage per attack. The more attacks, the merrier. The cantrips should fit your group's needs.
*
II. The Mischief Maker
Spells' class: Wizard (if Intelligence is higher) or Bard (if Charisma is higher)
Cantrips: Friends, Minor Illusion
Spell: Disguise Self
Good for: Rogues, mainly

Intrigue, framing, deception, entrance in parties, you name it. Many will say that a one-level dip in wizard or bard or even the Arcane Trickster is better, and it could be, but in the long run I'd much rather get a capstone or another archetype than that.
*
III: The Believer
Spells' class: Cleric
Cantrips: Guidance, Spare the Dying/Thaumaturgy
Spell: Bless
Good for: Any non-cleric

Who said gods only reward their temple acolytes? As a believer, your role depends on the situation. If an ally is about to attempt a skill check, say 'God be with you'. If you're about to attempt a skill check, say 'God be with me'. If an ally is dying, say 'God spare this life'. If everybody's in combat, say 'God be with us'.
*

That's it, I guess. Feedback is always welcome. Thank you for your time. :)
 
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Arial Black

Explorer
My first 5E character was a human fighter in AL. He took this feat at 1st, for both flavour (I envisioned a swashbuckler/duellist noble) and tactics.

I chose prestidigitation for flavour (clean/dry in a few moments, plus other tricks) and ray of frost. I knew that a dragon gifted me my powers (all fluff), so it would be ray of frost if the dragon was silver or fire bolt if it was gold.

Having this as my ranged weapon meant that I didn't have to waste money on buying ranged weapons/ammunition, could never run out of ammo or be disarmed, and was very cool. (Hah! See what I did there?)

My 1st level spell was mage armour. I can't believe you rated it as red! You can only cast your 1st level spell 1/day, and this spell lasts 8 hours! Next, being a Dex fighter, I can only wear light armour and still get the benefit. I knew that I'd get 20 Dex asap, and the 3 points of AC granted by the spell gives me better AC than any light (or medium) armour; AC16 at 1st, 17 at 4th and 18 at 6th. Although you could find magical light armour, it's more likely that you'd find Bracers of Defence (not that I found either).

Also, I didn't have to waste my starting gold on either ranged weapons or armour, and spent my money on buying a silvered rapier, which became my bond, as a 'Faberge Blade' crafted by the famous swordsmith, who was actually a silver dragon in disguise. Fluff is cool.

And that's solid crunch. The fluff was that swashbucklers/duelists don't like to wear armour. I actually accepted Cyanwrath's challenge, and persuaded him that we needed to fight unarmoured if he wanted an 'official' duel. I used my inspiration on that check, and it worked! I still lost, but I impressed him (and everyone else) because I kept hitting him and he kept missing me! I just wish I'd've thought to mention "No breath weapons" too!

BTW, a different character used message in a cool way: I was hidden in the trees, eavesdropping on a big orc sergeant chewing out a couple scared goblin soldiers. When the orc turned away, I cast message at him, and imitated a goblin (Deception check) whispering to his mate behind the orc's back, "Ooohh, he think's he's so hard!", in the campest voice I could muster. "WHAT!!! Which one of you maggots said that?"

They each pointed to the other... :)

I got bonus XPs for that!
 

mellored

Explorer
I don't see why you dislike magic stone so much.
You can make an Cha based rogue that way.


I also agree that mage armor is not red.

Studded leather is 12+dex.
Mage armor is 13+dex.

Effectively +1 AC for any light armor user.
 

mellored

Explorer
How is Eldritch Blast not blue?
Attack cantrips should not be blue, because you need that stat to make them useful. Otherwise your better off throwing something with Str/Dex.

And if you do have a lot of Cha, then you already have an attack cantrip, so it's not much of an upgrade.


Though monks can reasonably use a Wis based attack cantrip.
 
My 1st level spell was mage armour. I can't believe you rated it as red!
At low levels, it could be worth it. But in higher levels, when magic armor becomes common, a +1 studded leather makes it obsolete. But since you had a good experience with it, I might edit it.

How is Eldritch Blast not blue?
As mellored said, the attacking stat wouldn't be high.

I don't see why you dislike magic stone so much.
You can make an Cha based rogue that way.
3 stones would never hold in a long combat. Some DM's could also frown on the 'object interaction' part when handling many stones, giving them to others, etc. Rogues can't dump DEX, because they need it for AC, initiative and many of their skills. It's probably not red, but it's far from good or cool.
 

Horwath

Adventurer
To include cantrips from SCAG:

Booming blade:
requires no spellcasting stat, you have melee attack within casting action. on 5th level can deal extra +3d8 of damage. especially good for melee rogue.
Green flame blade: Free melee attack also. depends on your casting stat as secondary target gets your casting stat modifier as fire damage, but at 5th level +1d8 damage extra for both targets. Blue if casting stat is 14+
Lightning lure: stat depended for strength save and no melee free attack on this one. Can be usefull for pulling into hazardous terrain.
Sword burst: d6 damage in 5ft AoE around you. dex save for none. maybe usefull if you have 5+ mooks around you a lot of time.


Goodberry:
is maybe even gold if taken as life cleric. 40 HP divided into 10 mini potions is superb. And you still get to choose 2 cool druid cantrips.
Hex if gold on fighter IMO. Cast it and burn action surge right away for double benefit from bonus damage. Also disadvantage to str and grappling is great also. so i con save proficiency for concentration. You can also get booming blade and prestidigitasion in combo.
 
To include cantrips from SCAG:

Booming blade:
requires no spellcasting stat, you have melee attack within casting action. on 5th level can deal extra +3d8 of damage. especially good for melee rogue.
Green flame blade: Free melee attack also. depends on your casting stat as secondary target gets your casting stat modifier as fire damage, but at 5th level +1d8 damage extra for both targets. Blue if casting stat is 14+
Lightning lure: stat depended for strength save and no melee free attack on this one. Can be usefull for pulling into hazardous terrain.
Sword burst: d6 damage in 5ft AoE around you. dex save for none. maybe usefull if you have 5+ mooks around you a lot of time.


Goodberry:
is maybe even gold if taken as life cleric. 40 HP divided into 10 mini potions is superb. And you still get to choose 2 cool druid cantrips.
Hex if gold on fighter IMO. Cast it and burn action surge right away for double benefit from bonus damage. Also disadvantage to str and grappling is great also. so i con save proficiency for concentration. You can also get booming blade and prestidigitasion in combo.
1) Anywhere I can find the book or the spells online to take a look? Haven't found a link yet.
2) Good call on the Life Cleric bit.
3) I chose nto to use any incredible coloring for this guide. But it's that good, yes.
 

slaughterj

Visitor
Attack cantrips should not be blue, because you need that stat to make them useful. Otherwise your better off throwing something with Str/Dex.

And if you do have a lot of Cha, then you already have an attack cantrip, so it's not much of an upgrade.


Though monks can reasonably use a Wis based attack cantrip.
Or a Paladin using Eldritch Blast, which is a CHA-based cantrip. As a Paladin, you can have a lot of CHA, but have NO cantrips and limited range options, so Eldritch Blast can be huge. Plus Hex works great for Paladins too.
 

mellored

Explorer
Or a Paladin using Eldritch Blast, which is a CHA-based cantrip. As a Paladin, you can have a lot of CHA, but have NO cantrips and limited range options, so Eldritch Blast can be huge. Plus Hex works great for Paladins too.
True, it would be blue for them.

Hex takes a bonus action, so it doesn't work well with shield master, polearm master, or hordes of enemies.
Though it is pretty good against a big solo target.
 

Miladoon

Visitor
There is enough red in this guide to repudiate itself. Can we please move this guide to the dumpster.



EDIT: Its a dead pan snarker sorta thing.
 
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slaughterj

Visitor
True, it would be blue for them.

Hex takes a bonus action, so it doesn't work well with shield master, polearm master, or hordes of enemies.
Though it is pretty good against a big solo target.
I'm running a Paladin with Shield Master currently and strongly considering this Magic Initiative option at level 8, and figure Hex will work okay enough actually because one round 1 I am using the Channel Divinity action to charge my sword, and have a Bonus Action free then to still cast Hex. Later rounds to switch Hex targets I would need the Bonus Action and not be able to do the shield bash, but practically speaking, I am not expecting Hex to stick around but so long due to the concentration checks when getting damaged (even with 14 CON and 16 CHA, that's still only +5 on checks, meaning losing the concentration spell 25% of the time on the typical DC 10 check), but even 2-3 rounds will be a decent damage bump.
 
Updated with my opinion on the SCAG cantrips.

About moving this thread, I'm not sure it's completely an opmitization one - a lot of it is about cool thematical choices. But the mods should do whatever they feel like doing.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
About moving this thread, I'm not sure it's completely an opmitization one - a lot of it is about cool thematical choices. But the mods should do whatever they feel like doing.
Thank you for posting in the general forum. I would never have found it elsewhere.
 

Grakarg

Explorer
This feat is hands down one of my favorite. It just oozes with possiblilities, everything from roleplaying fluff to powergamer crunch in such a small package. There is something in one tiny feat for many many players.

I especially like how it can be used to emphasize a character's background or development.

Are you a human fighter planning on going Eldritch knight? Or a rogue planning on going Arcane Trickster? Take this feat at lvl 1, and you have some of the feel for the character you're going for right out of the gate instead of waiting until lvl 3, and plus its balanced for a lvl 1 character. Great!

Choose magic initiate 'cleric', pick Acolyte background, and go Paladin of Vengeance. You were a young initiate in the abbey of your god when it was attacked. You survived the assault, and set on the path of the paladin to mete out justice against those that slew the other members of your faith.

Monk- Way of the Shadow, magic initiate warlock, you were part of a dark ninja cult that makes a blood pact with an infernal power for extra power, but left after learning a little about the dark forces behind the cult. But still, a whisper of that power remains, marking you forever from your initiation.

You can even double down on your current class. Wizard, Magic Initiate- Wizard. You were an exceedingly good student and apprentice, mastering additional cantrips and learning an additional spell by heart. As an added bonus, you can add the spell from Magic Initiate into your spellbook and use your regular slots to cast it.

Regarding the rankings, I'd say this is a tough job to do, ranking the individual spells.
There are just so many possible combinations for different classes that one person's trash is another person's treasure.
But thanks for trying though, if anything it will start some discussion.
 

Arial Black

Explorer
At low levels, it could be worth it. But in higher levels, when magic armor becomes common, a +1 studded leather makes it obsolete. But since you had a good experience with it, I might edit it.
I appreciate your edit. :)

If magic armour is just around the corner, Bracers of Defence have probably already turned up. They give +2 to AC but only of you're unarmoured. The best that actual armour can be is +3.

So, before Dex (but assuming a high Dex PC), mage armour + Bracers gives AC 15, while +3 studded leather (the best light armour) gives AC 15. The same AC, without actually having to wear armour, coming online much sooner (have you seen the rarity of +3 armour?), and it takes one action to 'don', rather than several rounds.
 
I appreciate your edit. :)

If magic armour is just around the corner, Bracers of Defence have probably already turned up. They give +2 to AC but only of you're unarmoured. The best that actual armour can be is +3.

So, before Dex (but assuming a high Dex PC), mage armour + Bracers gives AC 15, while +3 studded leather (the best light armour) gives AC 15. The same AC, without actually having to wear armour, coming online much sooner (have you seen the rarity of +3 armour?), and it takes one action to 'don', rather than several rounds.
Long story short, +1 studded and mage armor give the same AC. If you manage to get your hands on +3 studded leather, even better, but that's not necessary.
There's also the issue of the time: Mage Armor lasts for 8 hours, and sooner or later you will find yourself in a fight with no armor whatsoever. So it's a purple spell, with the possiblity of obsolescence and the time it lasts keeping it from being blue.
 
I agree that the Feat is awesome (not underused by my group), even if I disagree with a lot of the OP's opinions on individual spells.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
Why go for Magic Initiate?


- Versatility
Two cantrips to be used at will and a 1st level spell once for long rest can solve many problems in specific builds, or help characters do what they already do even better (ex. Fighter with Hex). Many times, simple spells like these can also unburden the main caster(s) of the group, allowing them to be more focused.


- Self-sufficiency
In groups/campaigns where magic is scarce, cantrips and 1st level spells make up for "holes" in the group. If your character usually scouts ahead of the group or does solo assignments, this is doubly true. Communication, illumination, reach... you choose.


- Flavor
Let's face it, to some people spell-less classes just feel... plain. Wouldn't it be great if 'Malakai, the Fighter' could be 'Malakai, Defender of the Enduring Flame', with Control Flames, Fire Bolt and Burning Hands? What about 'Nalia, the Monk" becoming "Nalia, the Feyblessed" with Druidcraft, Shillelagh and Faerie Fire? These are not the optimal choices, sure, but who cares - these guys are now cool!
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When is Magic Initiate a good option?


- If you're a Variant Human and/or have a feat to spare;
- If you're not MAD (relying on too many attributes to be decent);
- If you want a little more versatility and fun from a spell-less class;
- If you want a specific spell or cantrip from another class without multiclassing;
- For specific builds who need a spell for their 'combos';


That's about it, I think.
There is another reason for it, If your class doesn't prepare spells and you use magic initiate for your own class, you get extra cantrips and an additional spell known you can use without slots once a day. This is a great buff for sorcerers -who have very limited spells known- and bards, less so for warlocks.
 

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