We should get rid of at-will cantrips.

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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.

i agree, i dont need cantrips to play and have fun with a wizard. its a prop to pander to the people that cant balance daily resources.
Sub-classes.

Some wizards/clerics/druids get at-will powers.  Some don't.  Actually, most clerics probably shouldn't, since they get weapons instead.

That said, i don't see an issue with at-will mage-hand. 

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Sub-classes.

Some wizards/clerics/druids get at-will powers.  Some don't.  Actually, most clerics probably shouldn't, since they get weapons instead.

That said, i don't see an issue with at-will mage-hand. 

I imagine that a module that either removes at-will cantrips or add them (depending if the core system has it or not) should be easy if they don't put much weight in at-will cantrips. Basically people start to design the game around their expectation, we should avoid that. For me at-will magic should be special and only allowed to some classes (and these are not the classic casters).
if it takes a module to give me an option then im all for it.
I am very much for at-will cantrips, but that's all they should be, cantrips. The 3E cantrips were very useful in some occasions, but very weak if you tried to do anything major (such as, say, defending yourself) while still allowing you *some* power at the end of the day. And I do think it's silly that a powerful mage able to subdue reality to his whim is helpless once he discharges all his more powerful magic. A few sparks here and there, and some lights should always be available to him. Maybe limit the number of cantrips available according to level?
And I do think it's silly that a powerful mage able to subdue reality to his whim is helpless once he discharges all his more powerful magic. A few sparks here and there, and some lights should always be available to him. Maybe limit the number of cantrips available according to level?




I don't. Resource management is resource management. If he is out, he is out.
Also at-will cantrips make this meanless:


I am fine with at-will cantrips. Having a few spells that you can cast at-will helps a spellcaster always feel magical. However, any at-will spell that deals damage should NEVER be more powerful than even a 1st level daily spell used to deal damage. Furthermore, at-will attacks on the part of spellcasters need to be SIGNIFICANTLY weaker than what martial characters do at will. So, these cantrips that do as much damage as martial characters using deadly strike need to be thrown right out. A cantrip should deal 1 die of damage at level 1. At level 11 it can deal 2 dice of damage. It should NEVER deal more.

Note, if cantrips were stuck with 1/2 dice of damage (and no stat mod), the multiclass gish concept would be alive and well. Hell, clerics would have a reason to use a weapon instead of a spell again too! 
At-will cantrips are fine, as long as the cantrips are just that, "cantrips".

In other words, Mage Hand, Prestidigitation, etc.  Cantrips should be minor magic effects that add flavor and roleplay opportunity, but be useless in combat.

Wizards lighting their pipe with a flick of a finger to 'create small flame' etc are all wonderful bits that help make the world seem magical and mysterious and that should be encouraged by making it an at-will effect that doesn't require any 'resources'.

So the concept is fine, imho, but the power of several cantrips need to be toned down.  A cantrip shouldn't be able to bring a character back from death's door (ie: stabilize) or do damage to an opponent. 
So the concept is fine, imho, but the power of several cantrips need to be toned down.  A cantrip shouldn't be able to bring a character back from death's door (ie: stabilize) or do damage to an opponent. 

I can definitely agree with this. My solution to healing will be simple: no more "heal from zero". That means that a Cleric can bring someone up to 4 HP after they're dropped, but it'll take a lot of time. No more "Get hit, fall down, CMW, get up, attack, get hit, fall down..." and on and on.

As for damaging cantrips... I'm somewhat conflicted on that issue. At low levels, a Wizard's few spells aren't really enough to go through the day when the Fighter can just power on and on and on. So at-will attack magic at low levels are fine, I think. But at high levels, the Wizard should have more than enough daily spells to last them the day, especially considering how powerful high-level spells can get... so they don't need to also have at-will magic that can match the damage of a Fighter's attacks.

The solution I can see to this is to simply remove the scaling of attack cantrips. Dealing 1d8 damage at-will at 1st level is decent, and makes up for the fact that you have so few spells. Dealing 1d8 damage at-will at 15th level, when the Fighter is dealing 4d8+Strength, isn't nearly as much of a help for a mage... but that's countered by their abundance of high-power spells.
With the current mechanic of cantrips being at will minor spells
I think the following cantrips are good


  • Druidcraft

  • Guidance

  • Prestidigitation

  • Mage Hand

  • Read Magic

  • Resistance


Then there are the ones that I think are always too powerful


  • Chill Touch

  • Cure Minor Wounds

  • Faerie Fire*

  • Fire Seeds

  • Lance of Faith

  • Mage Armor

  • Ray of Frost

  • Shocking Grasp


And the ones that might be too powerful



  • Light

  • Mending

  • Minor Illusion

  • Shillelagh


Suggestions


Any cantrip than can be used for damage, needs to deal less damage than a basic melee attack. Even more so if the attack cantrip has range. Lance of Faith and Ray of frost should at least be brought down to d6. No at will spell should arbitarilly grant anything as strong as (dis)advantage.



First: At-will cantrips blur up the distinction between casters and martial characters, and makes being a gish useless.

At-will high-damage cantrips contribute to making the Fighter the worst at fighting.

At-wills that are just "same damage as a crossbow, maybe also fire" are entirely harmless.

I'd prefer spells become at-will when the wizard gets more powerful.  For example 1st level spells could become at-will when a wizard reaches seventh level.   Maybe at 14th level he gets 2nd level spells at-will.   At 21st he can get 3rd level spells at will.

At first level, having at-will magic seems very powerful even if effectively it's not. 
At 21st he can get 3rd level spells at will.

At-will Wish at level 207?

I'd prefer spells become at-will when the wizard gets more powerful.  For example 1st level spells could become at-will when a wizard reaches seventh level.   Maybe at 14th level he gets 2nd level spells at-will.   At 21st he can get 3rd level spells at will.

At first level, having at-will magic seems very powerful even if effectively it's not. 

Yeah, I toyed with an alternate wizard design that did this.  Suffice to say, the way spells are written right now, taking away the limitations to using them doesn't work.

Encounter-based magic, on the other hand, can conceivably scale to a point where it's flavorful and not harmful to grant it at-will.  Anything that's balanced to recharge in a matter of minutes (rather than days), that can be worked with.

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If 5e went to a fully encounter-based model, I'd buy four sets of the three books and give away the ones I didn't need.

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I think the at-will cantrips should remain, because wizards *shouldn't* run out of spells.  Nothing made me feel less like a wizard than running out of spells and having to pretend to be a  half-assed crossbowman or dart-thrower.
I disagree. The biggest balance problem with wizards is the fact that their relative power depends how many encounters they face in the day. A wizard who only fights one encounter per long rest will be significantly more powerful than a fighter of the same level who only fights one encounter; on the other hand, a wizard who has fought ten encounters will get creamed by a fighter who has fought ten encounters. Getting rid of at-will cantrips just makes the swing more extreme, which can only make things worse.
Echoing the "so long as they are cantrips" for the at-will approval.


I'd prefer spells become at-will when the wizard gets more powerful.  For example 1st level spells could become at-will when a wizard reaches seventh level.   Maybe at 14th level he gets 2nd level spells at-will.   At 21st he can get 3rd level spells at will.

At first level, having at-will magic seems very powerful even if effectively it's not. 


I like this idea.

Personally, I would probably not make a whole level of spells at-will, but, mayhaps, allow a single spell of a relative level (1 1st level spell at 5th level, 1 spell of up to 2nd Level at 10th, ect...) to be moved into the At-Will cantrip list for that specific caster. this would free up the leveled slots for prepping other spells, and ensure the Mage always had her/his favourite stand by ready.
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
I kind of like at wills but do not care if they stay or go. They should deal less damage than they are now. 
They should deal less damage than they are now. 

No at-will spell should deal more damage than a crossbow, but simply replace it.


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.




I think you are right.

Removing them should be a modular option.

But I disagree that they should be removed from core.

This is because playing with them is simpler than playing without and complexity should trend down in core. 
I think i agree that cantrips should be cantrips. Or at the least the damaging cantrips should have their damage/scaling reduced. Mage Armor is too strong as a cantrip.
At-will cantrips need to stay. No wizard should be forced to use a crossbow. I refuse to go back to the days when my character had like 2 spells per day and that was it. Cantrips let me play an actual magic user all day long. If you want your wizard to use a crossbow, go ahead. But don't try and force that on me.
If you want your wizard to use a crossbow, go ahead. But don't try and force that on me.

That's the 'magic' of at-wills being a functional equivalent of a crossbow.

We could get rid of damage dealing cantrips and focus on special effects  for the at-wills. So maybe a wizard can't spam magic missle but he can make it very difficult for one target to function by spamming dazzle or some such.

The thing is that the at-will cantrips are useful because they give the wizard somethign magey to do between dailies, which means that conserving dailies is actually viable, and not incredibly boring. Plus it means we can give them less dailies since running out of dailies no longer ends their effectiveness, so we don't end up like 3e with more spells per day than other classes have total features. 
I agree with the OP on every point.

I'm really bothered by the at-will damaging cantrips,  as it's the exact same thing as givng the Wizard a sling or crossbow,  except now we call it magic.   
I'm really bothered by the at-will damaging cantrips,  as it's the exact same thing as givng the Wizard a sling or crossbow,  except now we call it magic.   

Okay, why?
What, exactly, is your issue with "I do magic that's pretty much the same as running out of spells and just crossbowing everything"?

I really like the idea of at-will cantrips, but when it comes to at-will damage cantrips, I'd want them to be more in-theme replacements for weapon attacks (it's fine if they're a bit better than a weapon attack), not something that's rivalling the impact that a melee fighter-type class is getting out of their weapon. (Unless it's a class/subclass where the whole point of it is that they have powerful at-will cantrips, presumably at the cost of the total impact of their per-day spells. The wizard and cleric do not fall into that category.) Obviously there's an enormous amount of middle ground there; I think it's dumb if damage cantrips do an irrelevant amount of damage, but there's a pretty wide band I'm comfortable with - but I think the ideal is "definitely notably less than classes without as many per-day or per-encounter resources are doing with their default at-will attack action."
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not something that's rivalling the impact that a melee fighter-type class is getting out of their weapon.

Ideally, we'd not make the Fighter bad at fighting, by comparison.

If any any not-Fighter at-will is better than any given Fighter at-will or "i swing my sword at it" in making a single victim get dead, something has gone catastrophically wrong.
I hope the designers don't listen to this thread. I have several players who will not want to play casters in 5E if they have to go back to keeping a loaded crossbow with them. They want to be magical, not a crappy archer.
Poe's Law is alive and well. Emerikol is right*
at-will cantrips should stay, but be only cantrips. Not a single attack should be among them. Only things like Ghost Sound, Mage Hand, Prestitigation, etc.
At-will cantrips need to stay. No wizard should be forced to use a crossbow. I refuse to go back to the days when my character had like 2 spells per day and that was it. Cantrips let me play an actual magic user all day long. If you want your wizard to use a crossbow, go ahead. But don't try and force that on me.




wizards shouldnt have crossbows anyway, you should have basic weapons like staff and dagger.
I hope the designers don't listen to this thread. I have several players who will not want to play casters in 5E if they have to go back to keeping a loaded crossbow with them. They want to be magical, not a crappy archer.




so what your saying is that your players dont want to earn their power they want to just be given it. thats not surprising, if people are not willing to work for their power then they are sure going to abuse the hell out of it when they get it. i hope they enjoy playing their non casters, cantrips in this way is a patch for a problem that isnt a problem.learning to manager your daily spell rescources is an important skill at low levels so at high ones you will have mastered it.
wizards shouldnt have crossbows anyway, you should have basic weapons like staff and dagger.



Because of course a crossbow is a really complicated weapon to learn to use, but a staff is just a big stick and a dagger is just a big knife, and we all know those require no skill at all to use in combat.

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wizards shouldnt have crossbows anyway, you should have basic weapons like staff and dagger.



Because of course a crossbow is a really complicated weapon to learn to use, but a staff is just a big stick and a dagger is just a big knife, and we all know those require no skill at all to use in combat.



ever try to reload a crossbow? most people have to do it with their legs as they lack arm stregnth, some cant use the winch. so tell me how a thin armed wizard does that.
wizards shouldnt have crossbows anyway, you should have basic weapons like staff and dagger.



Because of course a crossbow is a really complicated weapon to learn to use, but a staff is just a big stick and a dagger is just a big knife, and we all know those require no skill at all to use in combat.



ever try to reload a crossbow? most people have to do it with their legs as they lack arm stregnth, some cant use the winch. so tell me how a thin armed wizard does that.



Yes, I have loaded a crossbow. So has my five-foot tall, seven stone sister. Your point about lacking strength is not one I find plausible when crossbows come in many different weights.

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I am fine with at-will cantrips. Having a few spells that you can cast at-will helps a spellcaster always feel magical. However, any at-will spell that deals damage should NEVER be more powerful than even a 1st level daily spell used to deal damage. Furthermore, at-will attacks on the part of spellcasters need to be SIGNIFICANTLY weaker than what martial characters do at will. So, these cantrips that do as much damage as martial characters using deadly strike need to be thrown right out. A cantrip should deal 1 die of damage at level 1. At level 11 it can deal 2 dice of damage. It should NEVER deal more.

Note, if cantrips were stuck with 1/2 dice of damage (and no stat mod), the multiclass gish concept would be alive and well. Hell, clerics would have a reason to use a weapon instead of a spell again too! 



Never's a big call Dave.

I agree with OP - get rid of at-will cantrips. Or better - make them status effects based, with only nominal damage. Like slow, knockdown, silence, deafen, I dunno that sort of thing (with saves, or to hit rolls, or whatever)

Is there any ETA on next packet yet, btw?

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I hope Cantrips remain exactly where they are with the damage they do. I like having Go-To attacks that aren't pathetic as to make them non-options. This is what we saw in 3E where attack cantrips were nigh useless and sad, not even be useful after about 4th level.

The idea that cantrips are just minor magic should be done away with. Cantrips should be dweomers that are a wizards bread and butter, something that grows in power as a wizard practices it again and again.
This is what we saw in 3E where attack cantrips were nigh useless and sad, not even be useful after about 4th level.

Because after 4th level, your Wizard starts entering the "Powerhouse" stage of their development, and won't ever have to rely on cantrips for damage again.
Yep, and after about 4 or so encounters and their daily spells are gone they rely only on scrolls or hiding with their crossbow. No thanks. It appears the designers, so far, think that having bad options isn't good for the game either.