Guidance...

clearstream

Explorer
So... the guidance cantrip. Toward the end of my last campaign the group got pretty tired of it. What, if anything are groups doing about guidance spam?

I ask because I am thinking of making it a level 1 spell.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Fortunately I haven't run into this all that often. My rules on it
  • Guidance can't be declared after the fact, once a D20 is rolled that's it.
  • Guidance can't be cast if the caster has no reason to know that it's needed. If a player asks for guidance, their PC is as well; the PCs say whatever the players say.
  • It's not particularly useful in social situations, if an NPC sees someone casting a spell they're going to assume the worst and become one step more hostile.
  • If combat is a possibility casting any spell that can be detected by your opponents is considered a hostile act. Roll for initiative.
So some simple logic tends to keep it to a reasonable number. Or I've just been lucky and it hasn't been an issue.
 

Usus

Explorer
I went the other way and changed the cantrip to an assist action, where any character can assist another, if they describe how they assist.
The players now all get to use the action, and as they describe how they assist each other, we learn new things either about the setting or the characters andet - and that makes it all worth it.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
It only works on tasks that last less than a minute really and spamming it for tasks that last longer than a minute doesn't make sense since the ability check is not actually a thing in the fiction. The task is the thing.

So what I've found is that the problem goes away as long as you state that certain tasks take longer than a minute, when that makes sense in context.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
Fortunately I haven't run into this all that often. My rules on it
  • Guidance can't be declared after the fact, once a D20 is rolled that's it.
  • Guidance can't be cast if the caster has no reason to know that it's needed. If a player asks for guidance, their PC is as well; the PCs say whatever the players say.
  • It's not particularly useful in social situations, if an NPC sees someone casting a spell they're going to assume the worst and become one step more hostile.
  • If combat is a possibility casting any spell that can be detected by your opponents is considered a hostile act. Roll for initiative.
So some simple logic tends to keep it to a reasonable number. Or I've just been lucky and it hasn't been an issue.
Most of this is what we do at our table. Casting guidance in social settings always has negative implications. and can certainly initiate combat. This is known by the players and never comes up. They might cast it right before a social encounter to get a boost on the first roll if it makes sense, but not otherwise.

The only thing I would expand on is
  • You can't cast guidance on long time skill checks at our table. I.e. a survival roll to track something or guide the party. it's just not realistic that you're going to slow down to half or quarter movement every 6 seconds just to cast this on yourself or someone else. You'd go horse before 30 minutes were up.
  • You can't cast guidance if you didn't know you needed it. I.e. things that happen and require reactive things but aren't in combat
    • A pit trap that gives an Acrobatics check... you're not in combat, it surprised you, etc.
    • You see something walk around the corner and try to identify it reactively with an Arcana or Nature check or something like that.
  • We remember a few things:
    • It's a touch spell, so you have to be next to the caster
    • It's a concentration spell. So you can't have any other concentration spells up.
    • It does take an action to cast as well.
    • It's a spell. Spellcasting is loud. Good luck with that guidance Stealth check
Otherwise... it's not that big a deal for our games. It doesn't disrupt anything, its not a free resource despite being at will. it's an action, it's concentration, etc.
 
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5ekyu

Adventurer
So... the guidance cantrip. Toward the end of my last campaign the group got pretty tired of it. What, if anything are groups doing about guidance spam?

I ask because I am thinking of making it a level 1 spell.
We dont do anything. If its cast before a roll, it gets used as described. That's it. No problem.

If it's an extended effort that would take longer than the duration from start to stop, the caster has to be with them for most of the effort for it to count (ruling).

Other than that it's not a problem.

I get others have a variety of issues - some practical some preference - but not an issue for us.

I mean, to us, it's kinda just a bit of divine flavor for a weak HELP action.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
I'll admit that Guidance is probably the best non-combat cantrip, but it does have some limitations. It has concentration, only lasts a minute, and has to be cast in advance. In addition, spellcasting (at least in most games) is considered hostile unless the spell is carefully explained in advanced. The primary benefit I've seen in it's use is for specific tasks you can prepare for (only 1 minute in advance). Athletics seems to be the primary check I've seen it used for.
 

coolAlias

Explorer
It only works on tasks that last less than a minute really and spamming it for tasks that last longer than a minute doesn't make sense since the ability check is not actually a thing in the fiction. The task is the thing.

So what I've found is that the problem goes away as long as you state that certain tasks take longer than a minute, when that makes sense in context.
Exactly this.

That, and it's a spell. Casting a spell in a social interaction is typically both noticeable and bound to induce extremely negative, perhaps even violent, reactions.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
The help action is usually better...
Of course guidance stacks with the help action...
So help action + guidance is the best (when applicable)

But let's take a typical overland scene. One person tracks with survival. Another stays on the lookout for danger. Another is being sneaky so he's not targeted if ambushed. The guidance spammer is either doing an actual activity or spamming guidance. So a single +1d4 bonus to a single PC each overland scene - good but not impressive.

In fact this happens on any scene where you force the players to each declare what they are doing and then resolve the actions simultaneously.

So let's take a social situation - generally casting spells in a social situation causes the NPC to have a disfavorable disposition toward you.

Let's take a stealth scenario - generally casting guidance makes it harder to stealth - your making noise and such.

There's a few skills guidance will be an always on straight bonus to. Out of combat medicine checks. Out of combat intimidation checks. Possibly knowledge checks. But the active skills that are generally viewed as the most important - seems much less beneficial to those.

IMO, the problem isn't with guidance but with the DM's handling of the scenes it comes up in.
 

clearstream

Explorer
If they're actually tired of it, it's a self-correcting problem. It's within their power to stop using it.
This comment made something more concrete for me. Crunch-focused players appear to me (and including myself in that group) to feel a sense of obligation to use all the tools the game system provides. They rely, far more than fluff-focused players, on the game system being balanced.

So I do not feel this is an effective answer. It is literally true, but as a hypothetical not something that properly works. In the case that the players all agree not to use something, for crunch-focused players I believe the right move for a DM would be to remove that thing. I'm nearly all the way there to doing that with guidance but wanted to get other perspectives first.

Interesting comment though. Made me think.
 

clearstream

Explorer
The help action is usually better...
Of course guidance stacks with the help action...
So help action + guidance is the best (when applicable)
+ bardic inspiration

It means that a check to pick a lock in tier 2 might be +3 proficiency +3 expertise + 4 dexterity + d4 guidance + d8 bardic inspiration + advantage for help. The range for the roll was 11-30 and becomes 13-42 with an average of about 32 (due to advantage). More than half the rolls are above all of the listed task difficulty classes in the PHB/DMG. This is in tier 2.

Bardic inspiration is a limited resource. It is the continuously spammable guidance that is more troubling. Together they create a problem of designability because they can spike the range that characters can achieve for skill checks. (In that respect, a limited resource like inspiration can be more problematic than an always on resource, oddly enough.) The values in the official material for checks (even narrowed to those that are able to be made in a short enough time frame) are honestly risible, when approached with the mechanics the system offers. It's like there is a disconnect there.

IMO, the problem isn't with guidance but with the DM's handling of the scenes it comes up in.
Hey thanks, for the side-swipe :) I agree that a DM can change things so that any cantrip, spell or ability doesn't work. I'm talking then concretely about a DM who uses the game rules much as they are written.
 
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clearstream

Explorer
It only works on tasks that last less than a minute really and spamming it for tasks that last longer than a minute doesn't make sense since the ability check is not actually a thing in the fiction. The task is the thing.
Say the task takes two minutes, can't the caster of guidance wait until the last 30 seconds and then cast it? Or do you rule that for a two minute task, the check is made over the whole duration?

The latter produces a slightly odd interaction with Lucky which seems to say that checks happen once, at the end.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
+ bardic inspiration

It means that a check to pick a lock in tier 2 might be +3 proficiency +3 expertise + 4 dexterity + d4 guidance + d8 bardic inspiration + advantage for help. The range for the roll was 11-30 and becomes 13-42 with an average of about 32 (due to advantage). More than half the rolls are above all of the listed task difficulty classes in the PHB/DMG. This is in tier 2.
First, why are you allowing advantage on a lock pick. That's not a helpable action in my games.

Secondly - let's look at the scenario without guidance but with everything else.

3 prof + 3 expertise + 4 dex + d8 bardic inspiration = 12-38. I don't see that as a meaningfully different range than 13-42

IMO this shows that it's actually not guidance that's the problem!

Bardic inspiration is a limited resource. It is the continuously spammable guidance that is more troubling. Together they create a problem of designability because they can spike the range that characters can achieve for skill checks. (In that respect, a limited resource like inspiration can be more problematic than an always on resource, oddly enough.) The values in the official material for checks (even narrowed to those that are able to be made in a short enough time frame) are honestly risible, when approached with the mechanics the system offers. It's like there is a disconnect there.
So doing the same exercise without bardic inspiration because we both agree it's a resource and should be able to have strong effects.

Without guidance = 11-30
With guidance = 12-34

I'm really not seeing the huge problem this makes for lock picking.


Hey thanks, for the side-swipe :) I agree that a DM can change things so that any cantrip, spell or ability doesn't work. I'm talking then concretely about a DM who uses the game rules much as they are written.
Not intended as a side swipe. I'm saying there are a lot of tools in the rules as written that you aren't using that is exacerbating your issue.
 

coolAlias

Explorer
Say the task takes two minutes, can't the caster of guidance wait until the last 30 seconds and then cast it? Or do you rule that for a two minute task, the check is made over the whole duration?

The latter produces a slightly odd interaction with Lucky which seems to say that checks happen once, at the end.
The check covers the entire duration of the task, but the roll is made at the end to resolve the action.

Lucky does not specify a duration, and it can be used according to its description.

For Guidance, at my table we require it to be active for the entire duration of the task.

We don't typically allow it to be re-cast for longer tasks, even though I don't think there is anything in the rules that explicitly disallows that. Ruling it this way has certainly curbed the guidance spam at our table while still allowing it to be useful.
 

lall

Explorer
What, if anything are groups doing about guidance spam?
I don’t think it’s a problem. Having said that, as the party gains renown, you could impose disadvantage on social checks as others may be suspicious that the party is using magic to influence others (or they may just think it’s weird that they’re casting spells every minute). If they’re spamming ahead of combat, enemies could launch more surprise attacks as they hear the spell being cast and are alerted.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Say the task takes two minutes, can't the caster of guidance wait until the last 30 seconds and then cast it? Or do you rule that for a two minute task, the check is made over the whole duration?

The latter produces a slightly odd interaction with Lucky which seems to say that checks happen once, at the end.
The ability check isn't connected to fictional time at all. A check does not exist in the fiction. It is just a mechanic the DM uses to resolve uncertainty as to the outcome of a task when there's a meaningful consequence for failure. The task is what the DM is adjudicating and the effort that the spell is affecting while the check resolves the outcome. Since the spell lasts up to 1 minute, the task must therefore also be 1 minute or less. The check doesn't occur at the beginning of the task or the end or somewhere in the middle. It's outside the context of the fictional world. The spellcaster cannot pinpoint the moment at which the check is made, nor spam the spell if the task takes longer than one minute.

It's handy to remember that a check is not a task, but a check does resolve a task (when the outcome is uncertain and there's a meaningful consequence for failure). If at your table players are pushing to make checks as if they are tasks (are they?), then this may be a little confusing. But if they are only stating their tasks and waiting for the DM to adjudicate, it will make more sense.
 

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