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D&D 5E Cantrip nerf (house rule brainstorm)

auburn2

Adventurer
OK. So which martial classes do you feel overshadow primary casters in the three pillars of the game, and what are their abilities that allow them to do so?
I don't think we are talking about 3 pillars here, we are talking about combat specifically I think. In combat Barbarians and Fighters, and especially barbarian-fighters overshadow full up primary casters for most of the levels where the game is played (1-12).
 

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Jaeger

That someone better.
People that can cast cantrips have better things to do than use them for profit. You might run into the occasional wizard willing to cast mending to supplement his income, but that would be rare.

However, a few such people per petty kingdom still wildly changes the world. Mold Earth allows easy irrigation, fortification, foundational building, etc. Its pretty gnarly.

IMHO part of the problem with Debates about D&D and how Magic would effect the setting is that most every D&D setting is Gonzo worldbuilding nonsense. If you are looking for in-game verisimilitude, don't look for it in D&D.

5e Forgotten Realms is utter Nonsense Gonzo High-Fantasy. It make no sense. In fact, if you want a how-to guide for designing a fantasy world without verisimilitude; buy a forgotten realms setting book from any D&D edition.

D&D settings will never make sense due to the way D&D was designed. Gary and co. were just tossing in things they thought were cool and running with it. It was the first game of its kind, and they caught lightning in a bottle.

Settings for D&D were just a backdrop for the medieval/sword and sorcery/weird fantasy genre mishmash of magic, PC classes, and monsters that they threw together - the game was just not designed around a defined setting or genre.

Because of the need for D&D settings to have a place for everything in the players handbook., D&D settings will always be Nonsense Gonzo High-Fantasy.

And the utter lack of D&D's in-game setting verisimilitude doesn't matter one whit.

As it just so happens, millions of people Like playing their D&D in a nonsense gonzo high-fantasy setting.

Win-win.


Or that spellcasters are currently underpowered compare to pure martials in D&D as a whole?

What would be required to "correct the dial on the other spell design elements"?
I'm not sure what the next bit means. Are you saying that its like the casters saying the martials have to become become casters themselves?

Personally, I think that magic users always being compared to fighters when it comes to damage output is indicative of an underlying design assumption that should be addressed/changed if you really want to get rid of the quadratic wizard - linear fighter nature of D&D.
 

I don't think we are talking about 3 pillars here, we are talking about combat specifically I think. In combat Barbarians and Fighters, and especially barbarian-fighters overshadow full up primary casters for most of the levels where the game is played (1-12).
Unless all the classes are equal in each pillar separately, overall class balance needs to take the game as a whole into account. A disparity on one pillar is acceptable if it is adequately compensated for in the other pillars.

Which leads to the question as to whether you think it is acceptable if fighters and barbarians apparently edge out casters in combat in general, and possibly single-target at-will damage specifically.

Personally, I think that magic users always being compared to fighters when it comes to damage output is indicative of an underlying design assumption that should be addressed/changed if you really want to get rid of the quadratic wizard - linear fighter nature of D&D.
Indeed. But it looks like that disparity is being used to justify why casters, or their spells, are too weak compared to what martials are capable of in the game as a whole. And that opinion is interesting.
 

dave2008

Legend
@Esbee, has this been an issue in your games or do you not like the idea of cantrips? I ask because we play a low magic game and the idea of an unlimited type of magic, at will cantrips, bothered us. So we limited cantrips to be used a number of times per day equal to the characters proficiency bonus. However, in actual play I don't know that the restriction ever came up. In battle our wizard almost never uses cantrips and quickly stopped even considering damage type cantrips. So in practice the restriction we placed on cantrips never really comes up.
 




doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
IMHO part of the problem with Debates about D&D and how Magic would effect the setting is that most every D&D setting is Gonzo worldbuilding nonsense. If you are looking for in-game verisimilitude, don't look for it in D&D.

5e Forgotten Realms is utter Nonsense Gonzo High-Fantasy. It make no sense. In fact, if you want a how-to guide for designing a fantasy world without verisimilitude; buy a forgotten realms setting book from any D&D edition.

D&D settings will never make sense due to the way D&D was designed. Gary and co. were just tossing in things they thought were cool and running with it. It was the first game of its kind, and they caught lightning in a bottle.

Settings for D&D were just a backdrop for the medieval/sword and sorcery/weird fantasy genre mishmash of magic, PC classes, and monsters that they threw together - the game was just not designed around a defined setting or genre.

Because of the need for D&D settings to have a place for everything in the players handbook., D&D settings will always be Nonsense Gonzo High-Fantasy.

And the utter lack of D&D's in-game setting verisimilitude doesn't matter one whit.

As it just so happens, millions of people Like playing their D&D in a nonsense gonzo high-fantasy setting.

Win-win.

IME, people want to play in worlds that feel believable, actually.

And there is no reason that D&D worlds need to be what you describe them as, nor do I even agree that published D&D worlds are that.

I don’t see how your commentary in the above text adds anything to the discussion, frankly. It’s a drive-by pissing on of a discussion that you clearly don’t care about, and have only apathetic bad “hot take” drivel to contribute.
 

Jaeger

That someone better.
IME, people want to play in worlds that feel believable, actually.
....

Some do, sure. It is my preference.

But given the popularity of the 5e FR setting and the AP that people buy to play in it; Lack of believability is obviously not a deal breaker for the people WOTC is marketing 5e D&D to.

This is just the reality of the current situation.


... And there is no reason that D&D worlds need to be what you describe them as, nor do I even agree that published D&D worlds are that. ...

They don't need to be, but to make D&D's setting and system have more internal consistency and verisimilitude when it comes to the Forgotten Realms setting; It would require both a fundamental re-write of the spell lists, and a revision of the assumed power level magic in D&D has. Along with a corresponding re-write to the settings lore to reflect those changes.

The current D&D fanbase is invested in the lore/setting of 5e Forgotten Realms as-is.

I simply do not think such significant changes to both the game mechanics and setting lore in the name of greater believability and verisimilitude would meet an enthusiastic reception with the majority of the current fanbase.

I think that for this goal to be met a new setting would have to be written with corresponding adaptation of the rules system attached.

Similar to what was done with the 5e version of Adventures in Middle Earth.


...However, a few such people per petty kingdom still wildly changes the world. Mold Earth allows easy irrigation, fortification, foundational building, etc. Its pretty gnarly.

I think that you are absolutely correct on the point that you make here.

D&D has always done a poor job of accounting for the effects that it's magic system would actually have on the game world.

5e Forgotten Realms certainly does not pass this smell test. Nor does any other setting published for 5e by WOTC.


...I don’t see how your commentary in the above text adds anything to the discussion, frankly. It’s a drive-by pissing on of a discussion that you clearly don’t care about, and have only apathetic bad “hot take” drivel to contribute.

Yet you hit the reply button... Come on man!

You had to know I'd reply right back when you end with a zinger like that!
 

dave2008

Legend
What level?
I was about 90% sure that would be your reply. I almost added this to my initial response: They are 15th level now, but that has been pretty much true from about the beginning and definitely ever since 4th or 5th level.
 
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dave2008

Legend
The current D&D fanbase is invested in the lore/setting of 5e Forgotten Realms as-is.
Is it though? We have a lot of new players to D&D and if they are only using 5e material thenreally hasn't been a lot of lore about FR that would suggest is a gonzo high magic setting IMO. On top of that, something 50% (or more) of people play in their own homebrew setting. Do we really have any idea if the current D&D fanbase is truly invested in FR lore? I don't think we do.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
I was about 90% sure that would be your reply. I almost added this to my initial response: They are 15th level now, but that has been pretty much true from about the beginning and definitely ever since 4th or 5th level.
The thing is, using an action on a combat Cantrip isn't a great contribution.

At level 1, fire bolt deals 1d10 damage. Its big advantage is that it (a) uses intelligence, and (b) looks magicky.

A 14 dex wizard with a light crossbow has -1 to hit and +1 to damage if they just use a light crossbow over firebolt. That is small enough that you won't really notice the difference in the results of a combat.

But a lower dex wizard ends up being increasingly incompetent; in effect, the lack of FB cantrip means that combat utility of low level wizards is tied to dex (or strength in theory) unless you go with the 5 minute adventuring day of "1 fight per day".

At 1 fight per day, even a level 1 wizard has enough leveled slots to contribute with no cantrips, regardless of dex.

By level 5, FB far outpaces the crossbow; the 18 int wizard has +2 to hit and does 11 damage, vs the 6.5 of the 14 dex light crossbow wizard. If there is an extended adventuring day (more than 1 or 2 encounters), that wizard could run short of leveled spell slots.

OTOH, even that 11 damage starts meaning less. A level 5 XBE gloomstalker ranger might be putting out 33 damage almost every round on hits (HM, Bonus action, Gloomstalker bonus attack on first round, etc), and the wizard not contributing 11 at similar accuracy isn't going to be a huge factor in the outcome of the fight.

As others have noted, the effect is much larger with Warlocks. They rely on the Eldritch Blast cantrip far more than full spellcasters do, especially when (as many DMs seem to) push 1 big encounter adventuring days. With many small encounters with short rests between them, they have slots for most rounds; with a single big many-round encounter, they run out of spell slot gas very fast.
 

The thing is, using an action on a combat Cantrip isn't a great contribution.
I think that was the designer's point, though: attack cantrips aren't supposed to be a great option (unless you're a warlock), they're supposed to be a 'better-than-nothing' option when none of your limited-use options (ie spells) are worth the cost.

My 18th level wizard uses a lightning version of firebolt (for flavor reasons) fairly often, when the enemies aren't worth a spell slot. In dangerous fights, she won't do that until all the significant enemies are dead and we're just mopping up. Some fights are more about setting the scene though, so she'll save resources and let the weapon-users do the work. In other words, she uses lightning zap instead of dodging when there's no reason to do more.

Which is why the limit feels odd to those of us who've played full casters - it's not limiting anything you need to be using anyways, so it feels like added complexity for little to no change in how you actually play the game. Under this rule, I might buy a hand crossbow to not waste turns, but I'd probably just dodge on those turns. That seems like a better use of the time,, since I'd want to make sure I have my utility cantrips.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
5e Forgotten Realms certainly does not pass this smell test. Nor does any other setting published for 5e by WOTC.
Sure they do. In FR, Waterdeep has magical plumbing and assumes food production and hygiene and various other advancements, it just isn’t a sci-fi world, so it doesn’t get into why and how. Certainly, it doesn’t assume that every spell and item in the core books are at all common, or even necessarily available at all.

Eberron is totally believable with the assumptions of the PHB. It’s a world where irrigation, hygiene, travel, industry, war, basically everything is more advanced because of common spells and common magic items.

Your whole “gonzo” claim is bunk from start to finish. You’re just mistaking your preferences for something more than preference.
 

Jaeger

That someone better.
Is it though? We have a lot of new players to D&D and if they are only using 5e material then really hasn't been a lot of lore about FR that would suggest is a gonzo high magic setting IMO. On top of that, something 50% (or more) of people play in their own homebrew setting. Do we really have any idea if the current D&D fanbase is truly invested in FR lore? I don't think we do.

FR not a gonzo high magic setting?

I just recently played through the Waterdeep Heist AP. Just that little corner of FR alone is certainly Gonzo high fantasy.

It is clear that we have incompatible ideas of what a Gonzo High Magic setting is.

WOTC have invested a lot of time, money and have put out a lot of product selling the current incarnation of FR.

I think it is highly unlikely that they will want to put a potential 'lack of investment' in the current lore by the current fanbase to the test.


Sure they do. In FR, Waterdeep has magical plumbing and assumes food production and hygiene and various other advancements, it just isn’t a sci-fi world, so it doesn’t get into why and how. Certainly, it doesn’t assume that every spell and item in the core books are at all common, or even necessarily available at all.

Eberron is totally believable with the assumptions of the PHB. It’s a world where irrigation, hygiene, travel, industry, war, basically everything is more advanced because of common spells and common magic items.

Your whole “gonzo” claim is bunk from start to finish. You’re just mistaking your preferences for something more than preference.

Waterdeep: All those high powered mages and fighters living in the the city, and they still have yet to clean out the undermountain...

Eberron: All those 'modern' equivalents 'because magic' - yet they are still fighting with swords, bows, and arrows...

With both settings still having a medieval aesthetic.

It is obvious that our definitions of what is "totally believable" are incompatible.
 

Eberron: All those 'modern' equivalents 'because magic' - yet they are still fighting with swords, bows, and arrows...

With both settings still having a medieval aesthetic.

It is obvious that our definitions of what is "totally believable" are incompatible.

exploring eberron 18-22 in a nutshell talks about arcane artillery, arcane landmines, airforces, battlemagic, warforged titans, wandslingers, wands/staffs/etc, & rising from the last war has a crewed gargantuan liberty prime/mech type warforged colossus :D

Techwise the setting is more late 1800s early 1900s level of development but magic as a science & dragonshards rather than technology & oil/electricity
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
t is obvious that our definitions of what is "totally believable" are incompatible.
What’s obvious is that you haven’t actually read the Eberron guide.

oh, as for Waterdeep, why would those mages risk their lives to go into a death trap constructed by a much more powerful mage, the denizens of which have gone wild and evolved on their own since his supposed demise?

They can live quite comfortably without doing so.
 

Jaeger

That someone better.
exploring eberron 18-22 in a nutshell talks about arcane artillery, arcane landmines, airforces, battlemagic, warforged titans, wandslingers, wands/staffs/etc, & rising from the last war has a crewed gargantuan liberty prime/mech type warforged colossus

Caught some similar themed stuff here: http://keith-baker.com/firearms-in-eberron/

Paragraphs of text justifying why 'for reasons' the firearm equivalents in the setting are still not quite good enough to make fighting with bows and swords by PC's obsolete...

If he had just said: "Because D&D" it would have saved him a lot of typing.


oh, as for Waterdeep, why would those mages risk their lives to go into a death trap constructed by a much more powerful mage, the denizens of which have gone wild and evolved on their own since his supposed demise?

Between the:
Griffon Cavalry - Elite airbourne division of the City Guard, led by Lord Moedt.
City Guard - Waterdeep's army, patrolling the city and the surrounding countryside.
City Navy - The force assigned to protect the seas around the city and the busy merchant shipping lanes.
City Watch - The police force of the city, with powers of arrest over its citizens.
Gray Hands - An elite force of adventurers answering directly to the Lords of Waterdeep, for those who need a more powerful option.

Waterdeep is a city with a standing army. It makes no sense that the undermountain would be allowed to remain a hazard to the city and its tax paying citizens.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Caught some similar themed stuff here: http://keith-baker.com/firearms-in-eberron/

Paragraphs of text justifying why 'for reasons' the firearm equivalents in the setting are still not quite good enough to make fighting with bows and swords by PC's obsolete...

If he had just said: "Because D&D" it would have saved him a lot of typing.
Firearms took quite a while to obsolete melee weapons and bows.
He also goes into detail on how DMs can use the setting conceit that industry is magical, rather than technological, and specifically how that might mean that the Eberron crossbow is much more advanced with magically crafted reloading mechanism and more powerful arms, or any number of other things, but none of it is necessary to make the setting believable.
Between the:
Griffon Cavalry - Elite airbourne division of the City Guard, led by Lord Moedt.
City Guard - Waterdeep's army, patrolling the city and the surrounding countryside.
City Navy - The force assigned to protect the seas around the city and the busy merchant shipping lanes.
City Watch - The police force of the city, with powers of arrest over its citizens.
Gray Hands - An elite force of adventurers answering directly to the Lords of Waterdeep, for those who need a more powerful option.

Waterdeep is a city with a standing army. It makes no sense that the undermountain would be allowed to remain a hazard to the city and its tax paying citizens.
Literally only Force Grey and the like would even survive a trip into Undermountain.

And here’s the thing. In real life, about 3 million people live with 20 miles of Mt. Vesuvius. It will explode again, and that event will result in thousands of completely avoidable deaths.

Because people ignore danger that isn’t in their face. Every day. Throughout history, in every region of the world, regardless of culture. So you are claiming, presumably with a straight face, that it is unbelievable that a city would ignore the danger of a thing that they never see, that rarely actually threatens the city, and that actively makes the city money? Really!?

I’m flabbergasted. You’re objectively wrong. Absolutely they would largely ignore under mountain.

They’d have to throw most of the lives of all the forces you listed to do anything permanent about it, it threatens the city very rarely, and it’s one of the main reasons there are so many adventurers in the city in the first place.

I just cannot fathom the idea that anyone could find it unbelievable that people would be illogical and shortsighted, en masse.
 

Ace

Adventurer
Hello all,

A bugbear about 5e (for me at least) was the idea of unlimited spammable cantrips for casters. To us 'get off my lawn' grognards, this seems a touch excessive.

I had an idea for a nerf I wanted to brainstorm - Each cantrip can only be cast a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus. Recover all uses upon short rest.

And discuss...
Take away cantrips like that and you'll just end up like 3E where nearly every mage carries a crossbow and after a spell or two becomes basically an inferior crossbowman.
 

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