5E Clerics Without Cantrips

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So, a lot of folks don't like cleric cantrips, and to be real, they're mostly kinda boring.

However, when I was trying to figure out a different point of view about cantrips, I tripped over a couple fun abilities that could be expanded to replace cantrips entirely in the cleric class.

Divine Beacon
You are a beacon of divine power in the world, and you can manifest that power as radiant or necrotic light from your holy symbol. On your turn you can hold out your holy symbol and speak words of prayer or quote holy scripture, invoking one of the follow effects.

Illuminate. Action. Light spills forth from your holy symbol, creating bright light in a 20 ft radius, and dim light for 20ft past that. Undead and fiends have disadvantage on checks to hide while within this light, and do not gain advantage from being invisible. At any point while you maintain this light, you can spend a level 1 spell slot as an action, doubling the area of bright and dim light, and causing any undead or fiend who starts their turn in the area to take 1d4 plus wisdom mod radiant damage and catch fire. The fire deals 1d4 radiant damage at the start of their turn, and the creature can end the effect by leaving the area, or by taking an action to end the effect.
- IMO, doesn't need to be concentration. It's not that powerful, but it is useful and evocative of what a cleric is. Melee or caster focused, the cleric can just always be a beacon of hope for allies, and death for undead and fiends.

Rebuke. Action. You ignite a terrible brilliance from your physical form, and all creatures of your choice within 5ft of you must succeed on a dexterity saving throw or take 1d6 + your spellcasting ability modifier damage, and be force to move 10ft away from you. If they are fiends or undead, they also emit bright light out to 10ft until the start of your next turn, and catch on fire, taking 1d4 radiant damage until they take an action to put out the holy flames.

Envelope. Action.
You direct the emnity of the gods at a single creature, and they must succeed on a Con save or they are enveloped in bright light, taking 1d8 radiant damage and shedding bright light out to 10ft, and dim light out to 10ft beyond that, until the start of your next turn.

Sanctify. Action. You reach out and touch a creature, and...idk, give a bonus to saves, including death saves? Make a spellcasting modifier check with proficiency to try and end a poison or disease? Just copying spare the dying is lame, tbh.

Glorify. Bonus Action. You speak words of prayer over your weaponry, and ignite them with holy fire. Your weapon attacks deal radiant or necrotic damage instead of their normal damage type. When you use this ability, and as a bonus action while it is active, you can add 1d6 extra radiant damage when you deal damage with a weapon attack.
-maybe instead of buffing your own damage, this makes your attacks radiant and the extra 1d6 is for the next ally who attacks the same target as you? Also, hell, maybe this makes your attacks use wisdom?

Then, at level 5, 11, etc, each of these improves in an intersting but simple way. Glorify adds a radiant aura when you hit things, so enemies of yours within 10ft of the target take x radiant damage when they get hit? The idea is, you aren't a warrior unless you are a war cleric, but your strikes still just deal more damage in a way that feels like divine favor. Sanctify lets you target a creature from further away? Envelope increases to two, three, and then 4 targets? Rebuke increases the range. Illuminate gives allies a bonus to perception and initiative while within the area of your light?

OF course, these could be paired down to just Illuminate, Rebuke, and Glorify, with the others being in domains, but I'd prefer domains to be unchanged and these to all be things available to all clerics. It's more choices than cantrips give, but it feels to me like essentially one ability that can be channeled in several ways.

Anyone like this idea? If so, I may look at the Druid next, and see what can be done there, other than upgrading Shillelegh at levels later levels to add damage.
 

Horwath

Adventurer
Anything that removes guidance from the game will get my enthusiastic support, even if we have to remove every other cantrip to do it.
I have nothing to object ot guidance, it last short and has a Concentration trait. that is big disadvantage.

However, you can as DM play with custom Vocal/Somatic components.

I like the volume of Verbal component to have some connection to the spell theme(or how much it irritatates me)

I.E: you could say that Guidance has really loud Vocal components. Something like a drill sergeant yelling "competence" into you. In the dead of night you could be heard from 1000 feet no problem.
This gives heavy implications in adventuring pillar and the need for stealth.




Spells like hunters mark, invisibility, pass without trace or similar have barely a whisper of a V component.
 
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CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Guidance is a pretty small factor on buffing ablity check roles compared to the others. Concentration is a hefty price alone.
And yet, clerics have no trouble using it every round, for every action, on every occasion, over and over and over again. It drives me crazy.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker
And yet, clerics have no trouble using it every round, for every action, on every occasion, over and over and over again. It drives me crazy.
Maybe because I DM more than I play, but the cleric I'm playing doesn't spam Guidance at all. I don't like doing it for checks we can't prepare for, or for checks that take longer than a minute.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
In principle, a DM can enforce that. In practice, that's ... probably not easy, especially if you have the sort of player who's going to spam Guidance.
Eh, it's like the bag of rats, or anything else.

Play with people that are about having a good time, and these theoretical problems rarely arise. IME. But maybe I've just been lucky.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker
Eh, it's like the bag of rats, or anything else.

Play with people that are about having a good time, and these theoretical problems rarely arise. IME. But maybe I've just been lucky.
I've been lucky in that way, too, but these sorts of things are a large part of the reason I can't be bothered with AL (or other league-type play).
 

Uller

Adventurer
I wish they had not made any damaging cantrips or limited them to types that don't circumvent certain damage resistances or regeneration. Too often low level parties find ways around what should make a monster scary with a cantrip they can use without limit.

I had a low level party meet a vampire spawn. Sacred Flame took it from somewhat frightening to hohum. Same with a troll and firebolt. In both cases it wasn't metagaming...it was the caster using their go to damage cantrip.
 

Ambush

Explorer
I wish they had not made any damaging cantrips or limited them to types that don't circumvent certain damage resistances or regeneration. Too often low level parties find ways around what should make a monster scary with a cantrip they can use without limit.

I had a low level party meet a vampire spawn. Sacred Flame took it from somewhat frightening to hohum. Same with a troll and firebolt. In both cases it wasn't metagaming...it was the caster using their go to damage cantrip.
Can't agree with you here. The worst thing ever was having a wizard/sorcerer running around with a crossbow for when they ran out of spells. Sure, there are certain situations where stuff happens (like the troll/firebolt combo) but honestly, with the Spawn's DEX save, I'm surprised that a low level caster was hitting all that often.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I think damage cantrips lost their way when they started scaling with level. I agree with @Ambush that they are important for low level casters, and they are an elegant solution for wizards having to carry crossbows around at lower levels. But eventually, they are expected to hang up that crossbow and move on to bigger and better things...but instead, they get better crossbows.
 

toucanbuzz

Adventurer
And yet, clerics have no trouble using it every round, for every action, on every occasion, over and over and over again. It drives me crazy.
I have a newer player and while I don't think she acts maliciously, EVERY time the party is going to do something, Guidance comes up.

Back on topic and away from my rant of how I dislike this spell, the proposed Cantrip replacements have a pretty solid impact, which may simply be solved by limiting Cantrips per day.
 

Ambush

Explorer
Back on topic and away from my rant of how I dislike this spell, the proposed Cantrip replacements have a pretty solid impact, which may simply be solved by limiting Cantrips per day.
I can't see how this doesn't completely recreate the wizards with crossbows problem. I'd rather see a way to disincentivize repeated castings than what equates to telling a fighter they can only swing their sword so many times in a day. Hell, the simplest fix for guidance might be to add "A creature can only benefit from this cantrip once per minute (or 10m or 1h)".
 

Uller

Adventurer
My solution with guidance if it gets spammed is just give the cleric player a big bright d4. They pass it around as desired and can say something RP likeif they want, or not. The players roll it with their roll. I am untroubled by it. 9 times out of 10 if I am allowing a check I WANT them to pass it or at least have a good chance.
 

Ambush

Explorer
I think damage cantrips lost their way when they started scaling with level. I agree with @Ambush that they are important for low level casters, and they are an elegant solution for wizards having to carry crossbows around at lower levels. But eventually, they are expected to hang up that crossbow and move on to bigger and better things...but instead, they get better crossbows.
Ultimately, the goal is trying to balance things out between the classes. Perhaps the balance is out of alignment, but I don't think it's as far off as people are suggesting. Martial classes get better weapons/armor/etc that do all manner of crazy things, and some/most get extra attacks each round. But the suggestion that an arcane class should not be able to do an arcane thing all the time is fundamentally flawed in making a player feel like their character is what they're supposed to be.
 

toucanbuzz

Adventurer
My solution with guidance if it gets spammed is just give the cleric player a big bright d4....I am untroubled by it. 9 times out of 10 if I am allowing a check I WANT them to pass it or at least have a good chance.
My beef is that guidance breaks my immersion in the game.

Tension is high. The orcs are closing in and the rogue nervously looks at the locked temple portal, knowing one wrong move triggers the arcane rune and spells doom. He pulls out his lucky pick, gives it a kiss....and then the cleric interrupts..."wait, wait, before you do that...you need some sweet, loving, guidance." The cleric then gives the rogue an encouraging pat on the ass, says "go team," and steps back into the shadows, lurking until their chance to charge in and give someone some good ole fashioned guidance comes up.

A few moments later, the lock is picked and the party is into the temple, but the orcs are upon them. The sorcerer steps forward, eyes blazing, looming larger with each step. He prepares to warn the orcs that if they cross the threshold of the temple portal, ashes and doom of the dragon god await them! ...and then the cleric creepily lunges out of the shadows, hand poised on the sorcerer's ass. "Wait a sec, before you do that...oh before you do that...you need...some tasty, succulent, guidance." One slap on the butt later, he returns to the shadows, to stalk his prey for the chance to cast this boost over and over and over.

But back on track, I like the idea of something more cleric-y. If we're implementing substitutes for cantrips, design consideration needs to be had on whether those substitutes should be unlimited in use as well.
 

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