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D&D 5E (Houserule) Guided Target: A cantrip to help Attack Roll Casters

Stalker0

Legend
So with the spellcaster attack roll thread: D&D 5E - Spells with attack rolls, do you avoid them?

I came to realize just how little damage those spells will often do due to miss chances. Magic Missile is actually the superior option most of the time!

One thing that I think is telling, when you compare spells to things like battlemaster maneuvers or smites.... those abilities only work when needed. You can choose to activate them after the hit has occured, ensurring your limited resources are only used in situations where they will have use. Attack spells don't have that, nor do they have the "half damage on a success" to help pad them.

So I thought about various ways to help with that, and a cantrip seems a simple way. So check out this cantrip idea:

Guided Target
Cantrip Evocation
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V,S
Duration: Instantaneous
Classes: Wizard, Sorcerer

You shoot an sapphire blue ray that can carry additional arcane energy. Make a ranged spell attack against one target in range. On a hit, you may use a reaction to cast a spell with a casting time of 1 action. The new spell uses the same attack result as Guided Target on its first ranged spell attack. Spells that do not use ranged spell attacks gain no benefit.


So we have two cost elements here. One is the use of your reaction (no shield for you!), and the second is its limited to 60 feet. But what it does is allow a "pew pew" caster to "line up" their shot, ensuring that when a spell slot is actually consumed, that they will guarantee some damage is done. This lets a caster who is focused on attack damage (which tends to be suboptimal for casters anyway) to be a bit more efficient with their spell slots.

Let me know your thoughts!
 

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Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
It doesn't say you have to target the same target with the follow up spell. Is that intentional?

So this cantrip is "I won't expentd my slot until I know it hits". That's really powerful in terms of slot economy. Thinking about something like Vampiric Touch - before you cast a 3rd level slot and rolled to hit. If you missed, it's a wasted round and wasted slot. Now it's just a wasted round.

Considering that a lot of spell attack spells can be upcast with higher level slots, that's a big deal. Like on a crit determining that you're going to upcast Inflict Wounds to your highest level slot because all of the dice will double.

I think the slot economy of this is too good.
 

Stalker0

Legend
It doesn't say you have to target the same target with the follow up spell. Is that intentional?

So this cantrip is "I won't expentd my slot until I know it hits". That's really powerful in terms of slot economy. Thinking about something like Vampiric Touch - before you cast a 3rd level slot and rolled to hit. If you missed, it's a wasted round and wasted slot. Now it's just a wasted round.

Considering that a lot of spell attack spells can be upcast with higher level slots, that's a big deal. Like on a crit determining that you're going to upcast Inflict Wounds to your highest level slot because all of the dice will double.

I think the slot economy of this is too good.
So none of the melee attack spells can be used with this, it specifically only effects ranged spell attacks.

So I had thought about your notion of using this for crits... but so far I really haven't found anything I actually consider that abusive. Scorching Ray only affects the first ray, so no real boost there. Chromatic Orb cast at 6th level would do 8d8 damage (31 on average, 72 on a crit).

Lets break it down a little bit further. If we consider a 55% hit, 5% crit (aka 60% to hit total) how do these spells compare? (we will also assume a 40% chance for the creature to fail a save for even measurements).

C. Orb - DPR (20.65), Damage Per Slot (34.4) - While crits are 5% of all rolls, if we look at just rolls that hit, its 8.3333% so I adjusted for that.
M Missile - DPR (28), DPS (28)
Disintegrate - DPR (45), DPS (45)
Fireball - DPR (30.8), DPS (30.8)

So while Guided Target does increase C. Orbs damage per slot (as I am only using it when I hit).... compared to other upcasted spells its still not all that amazing. In terms of combat efficiency (aka the damage I will do in a given round), its still not even comparable to magic missile in many cases (and at the loss of a reaction and range). While yes disintegrate can miss completely, on average I am still getting much more bang for my buck with that spell. And fireball of course has better stats AND area effect.

So what Guided Target does is provide a niche. Its a scenario where a wizard is low on resources but doesn't want to just drop to cantrip damage, they want more damage than that but are willing to forego "real damage" at the expense of saving slots. That's a fine niche, but OP? In fact now that I see the numbers, I wonder if Guided Target is actually good enough.
 
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lingual

Adventurer
It's not a damage thing that might be OP. It's giving casters the option to basically auto hit on spent spell slots. Basically every caster will take and use this cantrip every time they can. I think a higher level spell that granted advantage or something on the next spell attack...or using higher level slots for hit bonuses rather than increased damage might be better.
 

Stalker0

Legend
It's not a damage thing that might be OP. It's giving casters the option to basically auto hit on spent spell slots. Basically every caster will take and use this cantrip every time they can. I think a higher level spell that granted advantage or something on the next spell attack...or using higher level slots for hit bonuses rather than increased damage might be better.
My argument above though I believe counters this concern.

If your goal is to "win a fight", than this cantrip is a poor strategy.... you are overall doing a good bit less damage than a caster just slinging magic missiles, and without losing the ability to cast counterspell/shield.

If your goal is to maximize your damage over time.... well funny enough it still doesn't' work. Spells like disintegrate still do more damage over time per slot, and spells like fireball remain close while giving you area damage options.

Now if your goal is to maximum damage per slot...then yes this is a great cantrip to use.... but I would argue that this is a niche that could use some help in the first place. Attack spell using casters are actually at a disadvantage in general...something like this just levels the playing field.

Another way to think of it....if your a caster wanting to maximize your spell slots in a fight where you don't care how you perform (aka one you would be just chucking cantrips anyway)...then this cantrip is a good fit for you to get a bit more bang for your buck than a normal attack cantrip would give you....and then you would move to cantrips as your spell slots ran out as normal. Again, assuming you don't mind being close to the action and losing your reaction of course.
 

Rabulias

Legend
Isn't this what true strike is for? I know many people say it's a weak spell, but this swings too far in the other direction, IMO.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
My argument above though I believe counters this concern.

If your goal is to "win a fight", than this cantrip is a poor strategy.... you are overall doing a good bit less damage than a caster just slinging magic missiles, and without losing the ability to cast counterspell/shield.

If your goal is to maximize your damage over time.... well funny enough it still doesn't' work. Spells like disintegrate still do more damage over time per slot, and spells like fireball remain close while giving you area damage options.

Now if your goal is to maximum damage per slot...then yes this is a great cantrip to use.... but I would argue that this is a niche that could use some help in the first place. Attack spell using casters are actually at a disadvantage in general...something like this just levels the playing field.

Another way to think of it....if your a caster wanting to maximize your spell slots in a fight where you don't care how you perform (aka one you would be just chucking cantrips anyway)...then this cantrip is a good fit for you to get a bit more bang for your buck than a normal attack cantrip would give you....and then you would move to cantrips as your spell slots ran out as normal. Again, assuming you don't mind being close to the action and losing your reaction of course.
Consider a caster who has just range spell attacks. They are in a big battle (Deadly XP budget?) where they likely want to nova and use slots every round (just so we can use this). Let's pick 5th level and a 6 round big battle.

Without this, we could have:
Rd 1: Cast 3th level spell, hit.
Rd 2: Cast 3rd level spell, miss.
Rd 3: Cast 2nd level spell, hit.
Rd 4: Cast 2nd level spell, miss.
Rd 5: Cast 2nd level spell, hit.
Rd 6: Cast 1st level spell, miss.

So they have hit with a 3rd level and two 2nd level slots, and have three 1st level slots remaining.

With this:
Rd 1: Cast cantrip, hit, use 3th level spell.
Rd 2: Cast cantrip, miss.
Rd 3: Cast cantrip, hit, use 3nd level spell.
Rd 4: Cast cantrip, miss.
Rd 5: Cast cantrip, hit, use 2nd level spell.
Rd 6: Cast cantrip, miss.

So they hit harder (two 3rd and a 2nd) and more importantly they still have two 2nd level slots and four 1st level slots - it was much more efficient. Leading to being able to nova in more combats because of reduced slot usage. Plus you still have your reaction in half the rounds, it's not a big price.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Consider a caster who has just range spell attacks.
Ah I think I see the disconnect. You are comparing attack spells before and after the cantrip. To that end, yes this cantrip is a major boost.... and that is intended.

The point of this cantrip was for groups that feel that attack spells are "weak", which considering I can do more damage with magic missile most of the time....I think there is a good case to be made there. If you believe attack spells are in a good place, then yes this cantrip is absolutely OP no question.

So I am comparing this cantrip + attack spell vs what a caster can do normally (such as save for half type spells), and that is where I believe this cantrip just levels the playing field instead of being OP.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Consider a caster who has just range spell attacks.
Like what?

Seriously. What spells are we actually talking about here? Your example proposes that a caster is leading off with two 3rd-level spells. There is exactly one 3rd-level spell in the entire game that calls for attack rolls, and it's a concentration spell where you attack every round, so the cantrip is doing nothing but wasting your reaction.

(Plus, the spell is vampiric touch, which is melee only, and also total flaming garbage.)

I suppose you could be upcasting a lower-level spell. But the gap between an upcast 2nd-level spell and a true 3rd-level spell is enormous. The cantrip might make it actually semi-decent.
 

lingual

Adventurer
Ah I think I see the disconnect. You are comparing attack spells before and after the cantrip. To that end, yes this cantrip is a major boost.... and that is intended.

The point of this cantrip was for groups that feel that attack spells are "weak", which considering I can do more damage with magic missile most of the time....I think there is a good case to be made there. If you believe attack spells are in a good place, then yes this cantrip is absolutely OP no question.

So I am comparing this cantrip + attack spell vs what a caster can do normally (such as save for half type spells), and that is where I believe this cantrip just levels the playing field instead of being OP.
Yeah I guess I just think casters have enough goodies in general and don't need the playing field levelled for them. Try it out for your players and share how it works out.
 

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