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Author Topic: What is your opinion of Cantrips?  (Read 3328 times)

estar

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2021, 01:55:58 PM »
Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't.
So why you are not jettisoning it when it doesn't and slotting the subsystem that works the way you think about cantrips.

VisionStorm

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2021, 02:35:37 PM »
I have mixed feelings about Cantrips. I used to think they were pointless before 5e (or maybe 4e, but I never got around playing it and don't recall the details), and 5e's feel a bit like a Band-Aid solution to mitigate limited spell slots and the crappy Vancian system. I'm not sure how I feel about unlimited magic without at least a chance of failure or something, but they're not exactly unbalanced and they're better than doing nothing when your low level mage runs out of spells, so I can live with them.

I would probably prefer a more skill-based magic approach, though. Or maybe a mix of skill-based and power points. But unlimited magic with no limits, or even the chance of failure at least, kinda cheapens magic a bit. Though, I get that warriors can swing their swords over and over again without ever tiring (like they would IRL), but I'm not sure that letting magic users do the same thing--but invoking mystical powers from beyond--is necessarily the ideal approach.

I haven't really delved into Rituals, but they seem interesting. Though, I wonder if they can be abused to create unlimited healing and restorative magic.

TJS

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2021, 03:36:08 PM »
Personally, I don't like them, but players of spellcasters really seem to.

I don't like the way they break the way magic works otherwise.

It's not just the attack cantrips either - some of the others can be downright annoying in the hands of a clever player (as I proved when I played an arcane trickster).

Even prestigidation is annoying.
"Ok so you crawl out of the sewer, you are are now all covered in filth and and stick"
"I use prestigitation to clean myself up."
"Oooh do me too".
(technically you can't do this - but it's the constant attempt to use it, often trivially, that is annoying about it).

As for attacks.  I'd prefer an approach that worked within the existing system a bit more.   Here are two alternatives for OSR games:

Wizard Arrows:
Level 1 Spell.
You enchant up to 20 arrows magically.  This enchantment lasts for one hour.  The arrows hover around and follow you wherever you go.  As an attack action you may fling one of these arrows, the target must make a reflex save or take 1d6 damage.

(Basically you could have various variations on this - a normal spell that creates a (very visible) magical effect that allows for a series of attacks rather than just the one.

Another approach is something like this:

Channel Energy.
You may channel the spell energy from a spell you have memorised to make an attack.  This spell must use either Fire, Electricity, Cold, or Acid.  Depending on the level of the spell you channel you do the following damage.  The first number is what I would use for an OSR game - the second one more for 5e.

1: 1d4/1d8
2: 1d6/1d10
3: 1d8/2d6
4:  1d10/2d8
5: 1d12/3d6

When you channel enery you must roll a d12.  If the roll is a 1 then the spellslot being channelled is consumed.  (Change the die type based on how much chance you want there to be for this).

Some of the other cantrips could be handled in a similar way, eg Mage Hand would require channeling Unseen Servant which you must have memorised.


« Last Edit: January 08, 2021, 03:40:27 PM by TJS »

deadDMwalking

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2021, 05:25:17 PM »
In our home-brew, we don't have spell-slots, but we do have a resource that allows you to cast spells.

Spells cost mana; a 1st level spell costs 1, a 3rd level spell costs 3.  There are some things you can do to potentially regain mana during a fight, but generally you have a relatively small amount (say 10).  It's up to you whether to cast 3 3rd level spells, or 2 4th level spells - generally, if fights go long you do worry about 'running out of magical mojo' - but with the ability to get some back with a relatively short rest.

For cantrips, as long as you have at least 1 mana, you can cast them and they don't cost anything.  Most of them are not particularly useful (if they were, they'd be 1st level spells).  Many of the spells that qualify do things like let you speak with animals or creatures of a particular subtype (ie fire creatures).  Primarily, they're intended to give players a chance to 'feel magical', even if they aren't particularly practical. 

For example, we have elemental schools (like Air) with the following Cantrips: Amplify Sound, Cooling Aura, Speak with Flyers, Ventriloquism.  And if you decide to spend time casting Ventriloquism while you're partying at the inn, it won't make you less effective in the fight that happens after you make the wrong person look like they said the wrong thing.

When I say objectively, I mean 'subjectively'.  When I say literally, I mean 'figuratively'.  
And when I say that you are a horse's ass, I mean that the objective truth is that you are a literal horse's ass.

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all. - Peter Drucker

Theory of Games

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2021, 05:43:53 PM »
In our home-brew, we don't have spell-slots, but we do have a resource that allows you to cast spells.

Spells cost mana; a 1st level spell costs 1, a 3rd level spell costs 3.  There are some things you can do to potentially regain mana during a fight, but generally you have a relatively small amount (say 10).  It's up to you whether to cast 3 3rd level spells, or 2 4th level spells - generally, if fights go long you do worry about 'running out of magical mojo' - but with the ability to get some back with a relatively short rest.

For cantrips, as long as you have at least 1 mana, you can cast them and they don't cost anything.  Most of them are not particularly useful (if they were, they'd be 1st level spells).  Many of the spells that qualify do things like let you speak with animals or creatures of a particular subtype (ie fire creatures).  Primarily, they're intended to give players a chance to 'feel magical', even if they aren't particularly practical. 

For example, we have elemental schools (like Air) with the following Cantrips: Amplify Sound, Cooling Aura, Speak with Flyers, Ventriloquism.  And if you decide to spend time casting Ventriloquism while you're partying at the inn, it won't make you less effective in the fight that happens after you make the wrong person look like they said the wrong thing.
That's almost exactly how my Spell Point system works. RAW D&D Spellcasting didn't work.

HappyDaze

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #20 on: January 08, 2021, 05:53:26 PM »
Modern D&D (5e) is all about being superheroes in fantasyland. With that in mind, it doesn't make sense that the wizards don't always have some magic at hand. If the wizard really needed to keep a crossbow around, I'd expect Cyclops (of the X-men) to carry an assault rifle for similar reasons.

oggsmash

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #21 on: January 08, 2021, 07:34:12 PM »
Modern D&D (5e) is all about being superheroes in fantasyland. With that in mind, it doesn't make sense that the wizards don't always have some magic at hand. If the wizard really needed to keep a crossbow around, I'd expect Cyclops (of the X-men) to carry an assault rifle for similar reasons.
   That is exactly right.  I ran a game for a while for my group, and I was surprised how tough a low level group of adventurers can be.   Once they got to 3rd level as a group, I do not think I could have killed them if I tried.  (Well, in the adventure they were in there is an encounter with a smaller adult black dragon, and the adventure gave explicit details as to how the dragon fights, and I would not have done that if I were to decide the Dragon's strategy.)   I thought it was an out of place encounter given the rest of the dungeon, and the adventure has the dragon fight in such a way it is not as likely to slaughter the group and it flees fairly early to give the players a chance to fight it off.  It really felt to me like it cheapened the experience of running into a dragon though.

Omega

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #22 on: January 08, 2021, 08:23:21 PM »
Modern D&D (5e) is all about being superheroes in fantasyland. With that in mind, it doesn't make sense that the wizards don't always have some magic at hand. If the wizard really needed to keep a crossbow around, I'd expect Cyclops (of the X-men) to carry an assault rifle for similar reasons.

Except there were times Cyclops has had to punch people rather than use his beams for one reason or another.

Omega

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #23 on: January 08, 2021, 08:33:28 PM »
We've discussed cantrips over and over here but lets go at it again.

Playtest cantrips were too potent and we luckily got those toned down a little.

5e Cantrips are ok-ish. Just a fraction on the too potent side with the attack ones. But mitigated by the fact that they gained no benefits from stats. Fighters still outstripped them. Even with more things to add in some little bonuses Fighters still outgun a caster in straightup damage dealing due to all the bonuses a fighter can get that others can not. It more or less balances out.

It is best to think of cantrips as essentially an endless repeating crossbow. Or the plethora of darts my old Magic User used to carry around.

They fit for some and very do not for others. In part because some players will try to ruthlessly abuse them to the point a DM hates them. Either ditch the player, preferrable, or ditch the cantrips.

Personally the easiest fix is to just lower all the damage cantrips by one die class. d10s become d8s, d8s become d6s and so on. And/or add in consumed component requirements. Nothing too onerous to get. But something that can be confiscated or depleted and force the caster to work around that problem same as a fighter without their weapon.

HappyDaze

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #24 on: January 08, 2021, 08:49:12 PM »
Modern D&D (5e) is all about being superheroes in fantasyland. With that in mind, it doesn't make sense that the wizards don't always have some magic at hand. If the wizard really needed to keep a crossbow around, I'd expect Cyclops (of the X-men) to carry an assault rifle for similar reasons.

Except there were times Cyclops has had to punch people rather than use his beams for one reason or another.
And there may be times when a wizard (or cleric) uses a weapon attack even when they have at-will cantrips.

Two Crows

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #25 on: January 08, 2021, 08:58:03 PM »
Modern D&D (5e) is all about being superheroes in fantasyland. With that in mind, it doesn't make sense that the wizards don't always have some magic at hand. If the wizard really needed to keep a crossbow around, I'd expect Cyclops (of the X-men) to carry an assault rifle for similar reasons.

Except there were times Cyclops has had to punch people rather than use his beams for one reason or another.

That would have been EXTREMELY rare in the 80's & 90's (I stopped reading then).

As in, "not even once in the average calendar year"-type rare.
If I stop replying, it either means I've lost interest in the topic or think further replies are pointless.  I don't need the last word, it's all yours.

HappyDaze

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #26 on: January 08, 2021, 10:25:21 PM »
Modern D&D (5e) is all about being superheroes in fantasyland. With that in mind, it doesn't make sense that the wizards don't always have some magic at hand. If the wizard really needed to keep a crossbow around, I'd expect Cyclops (of the X-men) to carry an assault rifle for similar reasons.

Except there were times Cyclops has had to punch people rather than use his beams for one reason or another.

That would have been EXTREMELY rare in the 80's & 90's (I stopped reading then).

As in, "not even once in the average calendar year"-type rare.
Unless you count all of the brotherly fistfight with Havoc (they were immune to each other's powers).

Two Crows

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #27 on: January 08, 2021, 11:51:00 PM »
Modern D&D (5e) is all about being superheroes in fantasyland. With that in mind, it doesn't make sense that the wizards don't always have some magic at hand. If the wizard really needed to keep a crossbow around, I'd expect Cyclops (of the X-men) to carry an assault rifle for similar reasons.

Except there were times Cyclops has had to punch people rather than use his beams for one reason or another.

That would have been EXTREMELY rare in the 80's & 90's (I stopped reading then).

As in, "not even once in the average calendar year"-type rare.
Unless you count all of the brotherly fistfight with Havoc (they were immune to each other's powers).

True!


Also, if anyone is interested, he fought the whole team more than once.

Lots of Point Blank Optic Blasts straight to his teammates faces.

Lol.

(I'm not sure I ever saw him punch anyone besides Havoc.  He did like the Judo throws, though.)
If I stop replying, it either means I've lost interest in the topic or think further replies are pointless.  I don't need the last word, it's all yours.

Krugus

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #28 on: January 09, 2021, 12:31:31 AM »
Playing PF2e, homebrew world.

Cantrips work just fine as written in the rules. 

They tend to get used less as they level up but it still allows them to use something if they don't want to waste a spell slot on lesser creatures and it still allows them to do something if they are all out of spell slots.   

Manic Modron

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #29 on: January 09, 2021, 02:13:34 PM »
I rather like the way Sine Nomine does things in that regard.

Some characters have a pool of Effort that they can use to fuel some of their more esoteric abilities.   Mages have Spells and Arts.  Spells are traditional Vancian "prepared casting" and Arts need Effort to use, but are more flexible.  They aren't exactly cantrips, but can be seen as the same sort of thing, magical options that give mages more staying power than blowing all their first level wad in one encounter.

Quote from: Worlds Without Number Beta 0.19, p. 63
Using Effort requires that it be Committed. The Effort is sunk into fueling the power, but will return automatically once a certain time has passed. There are three durations for which Effort is Committed, and each art indicates in its description how long the Effort must remain Committed to trigger it.
• Commit Effort for the day to trigger powerful arts. One point of Effort is invested in the power and returns the next morning after the mage has had a good night’s rest.
• Commit Effort for the scene to trigger more modest abilities. One point of Effort is invested in the power, but returns as soon as the scene is done.
• Commit Effort indefinitely to activate a persistent, lasting ability that keeps active as long as you keep one point of Effort Committed. You can reclaim this Effort at any time as an Instant action, immediately turning off the art. This Effort can remain invested indefinitely even while you’re asleep or unconscious provided you have a few minutes to prepare things properly before falling asleep. If you’re suddenly struck unconscious or killed any such powers immediately end.