Feats often allow us to show a particular skill set or training that we’ve received, allowing us access to new and exciting abilities. In the case of the Strixhaven Initiate feat, those abilities come from an actual course of study.
Today we’ll be discussing all the reasons why your character should enroll in at least a class or two at the wondrous Strixhaven University.
What Is the Strixhaven Initiate Feat?
The Strixhaven Initiate feat allows you to learn two cantrips and one 1st level spell based on a specific college of Strixhaven.
The 1st-level spell you choose can be cast once per long rest without a spell slot, or you can use any spell slots you have.
You choose the spellcasting ability for all of these spells from: Intelligence, Wisdom, or Intelligence.
You have studied some magical theory and have learned a few spells associated with Strixhaven University.
Choose one of Strixhaven’s colleges: Lorehold, Prismari, Quandrix, Silverquill, or Witherbloom.
You learn two cantrips and one 1st-level spell based on the college you choose, as specified in the Strixhaven Spells table below.
You can cast the chosen 1st-level spell without a spell slot, and you must finish a long rest before you can cast it in this way again. You can also cast the spell using any spell slots you have.
Your spellcasting ability for this feat’s spells is Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma (choose when you select this feat).
|Lorehold||Choose two from light, sacred flame, and thaumaturgy.||Choose one 1st-level cleric or wizard spell.|
|Prismari||Choose two from fire bolt, presditigitation, and ray of frost.||Choose one 1st-level bard or sorcerer spell.|
|Quandrix||Choose two from druidcraft, guidance, and mage hand.||Choose one 1st-level druid or wizard spell.|
|Silverquill||Choose two from sacred flame, thaumaturgy, and vicious mockery .||Choose one 1st-level cleric or bard spell.|
|Witherbloom||Choose two from chill touch, druidcraft, and spare the dying.||Choose one 1st-level druid or wizard spell.|
Strixhaven Initiate could hypothetically be taken by any character in any world with ties to the multiverse since Strixhaven is a plane of existence that is one very large school for mages.
However, the main purpose of this feat is to provide students of Strixhaven with an automatic starting feat.
In the campaign setting book Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos, each of the five colleges comes with their own backgrounds for characters or students to pick up.
What’s so amazing about these feats is that it automatically gives characters the corresponding Strixhaven Initiate feat.
Therefore, a newly oriented Witherbloom Student immediately receives the Witherbloom Initiate feat and a whole slew of spells.
In a university and D&D setting where every character you meet has magic up their sleeve, it makes sense to give players more access to magic as soon as they roll their characters up.
Choosing A College
If you’re actually jumping into a full Strixhaven campaign, there is admittedly a bit more involved than we’ll cover in this article. This section will only discuss the difference between the colleges as it pertains to this feat.
The five colleges of Strixhaven originate in Magic the Gathering cards, and each college represents the combination of two colors.
We don’t need to get into a full lecture, but if you’re a MTG fan, just know that the colleges represent each of the five enemy color combinations.
Below, we’ll discuss the basics of each of the colleges and how they relate to the feats.
Lorehold College deals in Archeaomancy, the study of ancient sites, tomes, ruins, and more through the lens of magic.
Mages who join this college are huge history buffs looking to engage in everything from military tactics to the social and cultural structures of lost civilizations.
The magic of Lorehold follows the passions of the students within it. Most Lorehold spells focus on knowledge and discovery.
A Lorehold utilizes spells that illuminate the past and present and bring them closer to discovering the answers of the multiverse.
Prismari is the college of elemental arts, and its students use their control over natural elements to bring their creativity to life.
To these mages, magic is a medium by which to convey their view of the world, be it beautiful and harmonious or dark and full of conflict.
The magic directly represents this philosophy, and many Elemental Adepts would find themselves in the halls of the Prismari campus.
Spells that make use of fire, water, lightning, air, earth, and more are sure to be found on most spell lists scattered around these forms.
At Quandrix College, math is magic. Any young numeromancers studying here are focused on discovering the equations at the root of the universe.
Golden ratio fanatics and statistic lovers will feel right at home amidst the fractal halls of the Quandrix Campus.
A mage who studies here focuses on spells that multiply and divide and otherwise bend the rules.
Spells that combine an understanding of the patterns found in nature and a passion for numerical concepts are perfect for Quandrix students.
Silverquill, the College of Eloquence, is naturally home to more than a few bards.
In this college, students and teachers understand that words hold power and that power can be manipulated and harnessed. Students here study all aspects of the written word from literature to poetry.
Silverquill uses their love of the verbal spell components to create magnificent shows of power.
Spells used by these mages often have a heavy focus on language, a big part of why vicious mockery is one of the cantrips offered to initiates of this college.
Witherbloom, much like the Golgari guild from Ravnica, focuses on the harmony that can be found between life and death, viewing the two as a beautiful cycle of nature.
Students who enroll in this college find themselves studying all sorts of horticulture and herbology along with a dash of necromancy for good measure.
The spells you’ll find at this college ride along both the extremes of life and death. The juxtaposition of druidcraft and chill touch really says it all.
How Good Is the Strixhaven Initiate Feat?
The Strixhaven Initiate feat is absolutely amazing. Essentially, it’s a much better version of the Magic Initiate feat, which has been with us since the Player’s Handbook came out in 2014.
Essentially we’re still getting two cantrips from a total of 12 options and one 1st-level spell. The big difference is that this time our spellcasting ability isn’t tied to the school we choose.
This means that our charismatic battlemaster fighter can pick up wizard spells without needing an insane Intelligence score or that our wizard can pick up extra cantrips from a different spell list and still cast them as if they were wizard spells.
The crop of cantrips is a bit more limited than Magic Initiate, but most of them are what I would call either A or B tier cantrips, and 12 represents a little more than a quarter of all the options out there.
Realistically, if the two cantrips you want are on the same spell list as the 1st-level spell you want and you already have the right ability scores to support that spell list, then Magic Initiate is the pick for you.
This feat just opens up that same option to a myriad of other character builds that don’t have such a convenient ability score spread.
As for the actual school options themselves, they’re all great.
The cantrip options presented give you the ability to have at least one damage-dealing cantrip and one utility cantrip, a suggestion I make for anyone picking up Magic Initiate in the first place.
The cantrips you choose will depend on what build you’re looking for and what kind of campaign you’re in.
The fact that each college has two spell lists for you to choose from means that you’ll be looking at a minimum of 37 spells from which to choose.
Druid and wizard are probably the most expansive combo, which explains why it shows up in both Quandrix and Witherbloom, but all of the options are definitely great.
Who Should Take This Feat?
The stringent answer is anyone who plays in a Strixhaven campaign. Even a fighter or barbarian who has managed to wind up in a mage school is going to need a few spells to keep up with their peers.
The realistic answer is anyone looking for spells.
Since this feat lets you choose the spellcasting ability for your spells, anyone with a 13 or higher Charisma, Intelligence, or Wisdom score meets the soft prerequisite in my book.
Basically, the only class that should steer away from spells is a barbarian, but they can still grab some up for when they’re not raging.
Now, you still need a reason to pick up the spells you’re grabbing. In other words, you should probably not take this solely because it looks cool (I totally get it though).
If your build is based around subterfuge and stealth, you probably shouldn’t be picking up the Lorehold spells to grab light, sacred flame, and a 1st-level support spell of the cleric list.
That same build might benefit a lot from taking Quandrix and picking up Guidance (mainly for use on your own stealth checks), Mage Hand, and Disguise Self. It’s all in understanding the build you’re going for.
The descriptions of the colleges above give you some insight to the intended flavor of each college, but below I’ve put what sort of actual build motifs might be represented in each house.
Lorehold – Support/Healing, Utility, Exploration
Prismari – Damage dealer, Front of party
Quandrix – Control, Support/Healing, Utility
Silverquill – Damage dealer, Support
Witherbloom – Control, Support/Healing, Utility, Damage dealer
I hope this guide helps you in discovering your place in the collegiate lifestyle of Strixhaven University.
At the very least I hope you walk out of this with some cool spells and a character who’s ready for anything from a goblin horde to a math exam.
As always, happy adventuring.