We should get rid of at-will cantrips.
Okay, now that you’ve got the first panic reaction, let me explain it. Yes, many people like at-will cantrips and they are popular. They have everything that it takes to be popular. However, I think we should remove them from the game, at least as an assumption to all caster classes.
First: At-will cantrips blur up the distinction between casters and martial characters, and makes being a gish useless.
Basically in non at-will cantrips systems there is an advantage in martial characters: the fact that they have abilities that they can always use. But if we give every caster at-will cantrips this blurs up the difference between classes, take out a huge advantage of martial classes. There is also the gish issue. Basically in non at-will cantrips systems, there is a huge advantage of being a gish over being a full caster. The advantage of have some reliable action when out of spells. At-will cantrips weakens that advantage. Just for you to have some idea I was talking previously about the possibility of the Wizard being weaker than the Cleric (some time ago), and when I quoted the fact that the Cleric is a gish, people talked that this is not important, that it doesn’t have such impact because it will use its at-will cantrips. Being a gish should matter. Of course when being a gish actually matters, we can rebalance the classes but it should matter.
Second: At-will cantrips go into the opposite direction of trying to balance casters.
Really when we are trying to balance classic or neo Vancian casters, why give to all of them at-will cantrips? Why we cannot use the absence of at-will cantrips to provide a drawback to balance casters?
Third: At-will cantrips weaken the challenge of resource management.
Really when you always have magic a great part of the challenge goes away. The possibility in being out of magic is not a bug, it is a feature It is part of the system, and this challenge don’t have to go away because it is fun. The challenge of running out of magic is part of the system, and fun.
Fourth: At-will cantrips do not fit properly under every system.
Really is not that I don’t like at-will magic, but I don’t think we should bake in every spellcasting system. In 4e it worked because it was part of AEDU, but now, they don’t feel part of anything. They seem to be an arbitrary addition to the game. The 3.5 Warlock was special because it was a class with at-will magic in a game where it doesn’t exist, otherwise, at-will magic. We can have at-will cantrips but it should be done it right, and not being a default assumption for every caster class. I’m worried if they are going to launch a mana spell-point based magic system for spellcasters. This system should not have at-will, no mana cost magic as default for every caster class, because running out of mana is part of the mana system. In Final Fantasy they even have no MP cost magic, but they do it right, and when they use no MP cost magic, it is special because it is in a game that is otherwise MP based.