D&D 5E Limiting Cantrips?

DND_Reborn

Legend
Do you also limit the fighter to how many times they can use their big weapon? Force them to switch to a dagger once in a while?

Or get the rogue to stop trying to get sneak attacks every round?
No, because those are mundane, not magical. See my other posts if that is not a sufficient explanation for you.

Otherwise, please stop trying to provoke, okay? :)
 

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DND_Reborn

Legend
I don't understand why any DM has a problem with players doing what their character classes are designed to do.

"Oh! Your paladin is going to smite again?!"

Uh, yeah. He's a paladin! Watch out for the monk, though. She's refusing to use weapons or armor. :rolleyes:
FYI, since you mentioned smites, Paladins can only smite once per turn in our game as well. :D
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
I always find it odd that people mention Gandalf, because frankly, I've never, ever met a player who wanted to play Gandalf, or modeled a PC spellcaster they played on Gandalf. That's in 33 years of TT RPGs, note.

And further Gandalf isn't utterly incompetent in melee, nor likely to die in melee, nor does weird stuff like throw daggers/darts or hang out with a crossbow, so it's a weird comparison on that level too. Gandalf is in fact pretty great in melee, and doesn't (IIRC) even get hit short of fighting the Balrog. Whereas a 1E or 2E AD&D Wizard is extremely likely to be die or be on negative HP the first time he gets hit at level 1-3, even to a goblin or the like. Even say, level 4, unless he has a sizeable CON bonus or rolled straight 4s on HP, a 1E/2E Wizard is extremely likely to be downed in a single round by almost any monster, given the combination of crap AC and crap HP. And he does crap damage in melee.

So you just straight-up cannot be Gandalf in 1/2E, not as a single-classed character anyway (or perhaps by stacking a ton of buff spells and magic items at a pretty high level - I seem to remember some high-ish level spell no-one ever casts which more or less amounts to "be Gandalf briefly but by this point it just makes you look like an idiot because you're way more powerful than Gandalf as a spellcaster"). Any DM telling you you can be, is a bit of a jerk.
Gandalf and Merlin are the big ones for me, but I am old school and don't care much for the more modern versions of wizardy-types.

True, low level casters can't model some of what Gandalf and Merlin do, but that's because they aren't low level really. (Yeah, I know about the 5th-level Gandalf thing...).

Looking at media generally, the vast majority of spellcasters fall into three categories:

1) Those who don't fight much at all, whether with magic, ranged or melee, and tend to win through non-combat cleverness or tricks (which may involve magic) or running away (sometimes magic-assisted running away). Ged/Sparrowhawk or Merlin or the like.

2) Those who use magic constantly and heavily in combat and often outside it too, and where it's their primary or sole means of doing combat (including using magical items). You mentioned Dr Strange, and the vast majority of comic-book spellcasters fall into this category, Harry Potter basically does (I mean, he's between 1 & 2 arguably, but he usually falls back to magic), most videogame characters who are "wizards" or anything remotely similar (as opposed to "clerics" or "paladins" or "spellblades") also work like this. D&D spellcasters have been in this mould since 4E and arguably leaned that way since earlier.

3) Those who are also powerful combatants (usually in melee) outside of spellcasting. D&D is not great at modeling these people, though 4E and 5E are better than previous editions, and 1E/2E could sort of do it via multiclassing (3.XE was just terrible aside from the Gestalt stuff). Other games are often pretty great at it (Shadowrun, for example). Indeed it's notable that the demand for such characters to be supported mechanically has been huge for most of D&D's history, from the Elf of BD&D to the explosion of classes and PrCs which tried to be this in 3.XE. The huge number of attempts also show that the actual results are typically disappointing. There's been an unhealthy fixation on making this an "Elf thing" in D&D's attempts though (4E dumped the "elf thing" and 5E resurrected it, but at least offered a lot of other options). These are also fairly common in media, and rarely elves.
That's a very good break-down. Focusing on wizardy-types, 1 is mostly where it is at for me, but I would add that I also like to see more support casting and encounter-altering spells when used in battle.

You just don't see the AD&D 1E/2E/3E Wizard in media (aside from that based on D&D directly or older sources closely modeling it, like Wizardry). Even Vance's wizards which inspired it are more like 1.

One suspects D&D was trying to model 1, because it's the closest, but because they had such a profoundly badly-designed power curve with spells, going from being "almost entirely useless/active liability" at L1, to "incredible" at L10, to "godlike" as they go further, they utterly fail to do so. Worlds Without Number rather demonstrates how to do that type of caster "right" in a D&D-like game. But just starting wizards off with, say, 4-5 L1 spells at L1 and only ramping up to say, L6 or L7 spells ever (aside perhaps as rituals), and never getting too many would work too, if you actually wanted to do that.
No, you really don't in many ways.

The bolded part is essential what we do now with our 5E mod. You begin with 2 spell slots + additional slots equal to your spellcasting ability modifier (typically +3) at level 1. By level 20 you have 30 spell slots (for full caster), but don't get access to 8th or 9th level spells until tier 4.

Here is the full table if you are curious:

1642607361439.png

We are currently on the fence about keeping Bard a half-caster or restoring them to full-caster. You can also only cast 1 spell each of 6th levels and higher, but at level 20 that would use up nearly all your spell slots (6+7+8+9=30), having maybe 4-5 left from your spellcasting ability at that point.
 

I don't understand why any DM has a problem with players doing what their character classes are designed to do.
I know right? It's bizarrely common. I've even seen your exact Paladin example at the table. It's like, what the heck, you going to complain that the Wizard is casting Fireball? Oh you ARE?! Damn. Wow. So maybe we should just not use any class-based abilities, because you clearly hate it and have these encounters which seem to have been prepared assuming PCs have no abilities, because you're surprised and clearly upset when they're used?

I don't get where these DMs are coming from, but they definitely exist and some of them are quite experienced. It's like, you've been running D&D 20 years and you're still moaning about characters having abilities? Man what. They also always do moan less about leveled spells than other abilities, which I think is revealing perhaps of what is actually happening.
 

FYI, since you mentioned smites, Paladins can only smite once per turn in our game as well. :D

Honestly, I would not be surprised if that's a change in 5.5e. It's fine that the class can smite. It's just kind of ridiculous just how fast it can be done. Being a decision you get to make after you hit and not being limited to the number of uses per turn ends up feeling like a bridge too far.

If a smite is so powerful that it takes a spell slot to fuel, that's basically saying it's equivalent to a first level spell. And it basically is equivalent to the first level smiting spells in terms of damage. So, if it's a first level spell in almost every way, why do you get to ignore the action limits on spells per turn? Isn't that a bit weird that one class can just cast 2-3 spells in a turn and dodge the action economy? And the only restriction is the fact that you just don't have many spell slots? No saving throw. No action limit. No wasted spell slots.

This is a weird design.
 

I know right? It's bizarrely common. I've even seen your exact Paladin example at the table. It's like, what the heck, you going to complain that the Wizard is casting Fireball? Oh you ARE?! Damn. Wow. So maybe we should just not use any class-based abilities, because you clearly hate it and have these encounters which seem to have been prepared assuming PCs have no abilities, because you're surprised and clearly upset when they're used?

I don't get where these DMs are coming from, but they definitely exist and some of them are quite experienced. It's like, you've been running D&D 20 years and you're still moaning about characters having abilities? Man what. They also always do moan less about leveled spells than other abilities, which I think is revealing perhaps of what is actually happening.
I remember getting attacked on reddit for saying "you should let fighters use their weapons sometimes." Some (who was getting upvotes) Insisted that any time you use a monster that can be affected by weapons, you're being a terrible dm.

People who play fighters want to never use weapons. All of them, all the time.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
It's like, what the heck, you going to complain that the Wizard is casting Fireball? Oh you ARE?! Damn. Wow.
No, because you aren't going to spam fireballs battle after battle all day long, are you?

As for the Paladin smites, @Bacon Bits just pointed out, there are reasons behind it. If it was before the attack roll and lost if you missed, that would be different. Otherwise we balance it to once per turn like SA for Rogues. Because frankly, if you miss on your attack, no harm done and if you hit on the next attack, you smite.
 

We are currently on the fence about keeping Bard a half-caster or restoring them to full-caster.
Yeah I can see the temptation to try to reflect 3.XE (2E Bards are basically full casters thanks to the way XP works), but Bards are easily the weakest class in 5E as half-caster (far below even the worst Ranger subclasses and the like). No question. They lack all the combat "oomph" of other half-casters, and they lack the flexibility and depth of spells that full casters have, they're not actually as good with Skills as Rogues (not even Persuasion), and further, because 5E assumes they're full casters, they're missing tons of stuff that would be baked into the class otherwise (as it's assumed you're doing that stuff via leveled spells).

I think there's probably a way to fix them short of making them a full caster, but the obvious solutions (basically making Valor Bard's subclass Features into core features class features for example, and eliminating Valor Bard as a subclass) keep Bard as the weakest class in 5E because they just make it MAD and still don't give it actual combat oomph. So you need to go a bit beyond that, but that's a separate discussion.
 

AmerginLiath

Adventurer
As much as folks talk about monsters borrowing from character design, this is a place where I wonder if characters can borrow from monster design. I’ve kicked around the idea of cantrips and other more potent “at will” abilities getting a refresh die like many monster powers. Perhaps different classes start off with a 5-6 or a 6 on a d6 refresh, then scale up over levels to a 3-6 or 4-6 over time (perhaps there’s PB “free casting” between refreshes for when you really need a quick magical attack?).
 

No, because you aren't going to spam fireballs battle after battle all day long, are you?
Sure you are. I've seen that happen since 2E. As long as your party is smart about positioning, and you often encounter groups of enemies, you're going to cast tons of fireballs. It's still a ridiculously great spell in 5E (indeed I believe it's intentionally buffed over other 3rd-level options, I think the devs said that). I've seen plenty of casters upcast Fireball over using higher-level spells, too.

Only in 4E did it not happen.

Re: Smite I don't see a huge problem with it being 1/turn - you're likely to have similar damage output over a day that way, it's just a little less bursty. Also the "I smite, I smite, I smite" effect is down to outright bad design from the 5E team by making there be these dumbass smite spells you have to memorize, all of which kinda suck, instead of making it so Paladins could naturally do more than one kind of smite.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
No, because those are mundane, not magical. See my other posts if that is not a sufficient explanation for you.

Otherwise, please stop trying to provoke, okay? :)
Do my questions provoke you? That's weird. I am genuinely curious if you curbed any other class features or abilities to keep things even between classes. Traditionally, if you change something for one class, then you create an imbalance with all the others. Your course corrections to address ill-perceived issues with the game just creates more disparities in different ways. Several posts already mentioned this, most being common issues from previous editions.

For the record, mundane vs. magical is an old perspective that really has a hard time fitting in the high-magic game of D&D. You may want to look at some other low-magic setting books, like Primeval Thule and Adventures in Middle Earth, to see how they addressed it in 5e.

That said, there's no need to be defensive unless you're just trying to avoid a conversation you don't want. I asked because all of your explanations so far have been insufficient at explaining why you limit some class abilities but not others. If these new disparities are something you and your group are happy with, then so be it. Some people may like that. I would not. Who cares what I think? But this is a board for discussion, not consensus. If you put your ideas out there, people can respectfully agree or disagree. If you have a problem with that, or someone just gets under your skin, do what I do: just stop responding to them or put them on the ignore list. Otherwise, leave it to the moderators to shut people down. Your call. Cheers! ;)
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Yeah I can see the temptation to try to reflect 3.XE (2E Bards are basically full casters thanks to the way XP works), but Bards are easily the weakest class in 5E as half-caster (far below even the worst Ranger subclasses and the like). No question. They lack all the combat "oomph" of other half-casters, and they lack the flexibility and depth of spells that full casters have, they're not actually as good with Skills as Rogues (not even Persuasion), and further, because 5E assumes they're full casters, they're missing tons of stuff that would be baked into the class otherwise (as it's assumed you're doing that stuff via leveled spells).
We haven't seen this problem at all. Sword and Valor are both good in combat, especially getting Extra Attack, and their wider spell selection even if just 1st-5th is superior to Paladins and Rangers. Throw in Expertise and allowing Inspiration to work on yourself and usable as a reaction instead of bonus action, and they're rather good IME. You can also still focus in other areas by choosing different subclasses.

I think there's probably a way to fix them short of making them a full caster, but the obvious solutions (basically making Valor Bard's subclass Features into core features class features for example, and eliminating Valor Bard as a subclass) keep Bard as the weakest class in 5E because they just make it MAD and still don't give it actual combat oomph. So you need to go a bit beyond that, but that's a separate discussion.
IME you don't need to turn those features into core features, but like I said with the changes we've made we like bards as half-casters again. Also, since we don't use Artificers, it creates a half-Arcane caster. :)

Sure you are. I've seen that happen since 2E. As long as your party is smart about positioning, and you often encounter groups of enemies, you're going to cast tons of fireballs. It's still a ridiculously great spell in 5E (indeed I believe it's intentionally buffed over other 3rd-level options, I think the devs said that). I've seen plenty of casters upcast Fireball over using higher-level spells, too.
If you're spamming Fireballs, you have a very kind DM and you don't mind burning higher level slots.

BUT, let's use the standard adventure day, 6-8 encounters, at 3 rounds each say, is 18 rounds, you'd have to be at least 11th or 12th level to do it, assuming you get in an arcane recovery and never cast any other spell.

So, if you saw it all the time, then I'll just chalk it up to experiences differ. :)
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Do my questions provoke you? That's weird. I am genuinely curious if you curbed any other class features or abilities to keep things even between classes. Traditionally, if you change something for one class, then you create an imbalance with all the others. Your course corrections to address ill-perceived issues with the game just creates more disparities in different ways. Several posts already mentioned this, most being common issues from previous editions.
Let's say it's the tone I hear there?

Or, you correct an imbalance you see to create a game that is more fun for you and your players to experience?

For the record, mundane vs. magical is an old perspective that really has a hard time fitting in the high-magic game of D&D. You may want to look at some other low-magic setting books, like Primeval Thule and Adventures in Middle Earth, to see how they addressed it in 5e.
It has a hard time fitting into 5E certainly, because they put magic just about everywhere :rolleyes: which makes it, ironically, less magical.

I've looked at AiME and never found anything inspiring about it.

That said, there's no need to be defensive unless you're just trying to avoid a conversation you don't want. I asked because all of your explanations so far have been insufficient at explaining why you limit some class abilities but not others. If these new disparities are something you and your group are happy with, then so be it. Some people may like that. I would not. Who cares what I think? But this is a board for discussion, not consensus. If you put your ideas out there, people can respectfully agree or disagree. If you have a problem with that, or someone just gets under your skin, do what I do: just stop responding to them or put them on the ignore list. Otherwise, leave it to the moderators to shut people down. Your call. Cheers! ;)
Perhaps insufficient to you, but there's really no other way to put it.

When magic becomes mundane, it ceases to be magical.

That is the best way to sum up my feelings about the game. I don't do tons of magical items for the same reason, I don't have +X items for weapons, etc. but try to make each item as unique as possible. Magical locations are shrouded in mysteries waiting to be uncovered, but such locations are rare and spoken of in hushed tones. I don't have a priest in every town, or "ye ol' magic shoppes", etc. either.

You've read (I would think) other threads about how martials are so much more powerful than casters? Well, all these things help balance that out as well.

All that being said, I've posted repeatedly that people who prefer high-magic games and want casters slinging firebolts every round can be happy with the game as is, but that isn't for me.

At any rate, if you did not intend your post to sound provoking, my apologies. Cheers to you as well! :)
 

We haven't seen this problem at all. Sword and Valor are both good in combat, especially getting Extra Attack, and their wider spell selection even if just 1st-5th is superior to Paladins and Rangers. Throw in Expertise and allowing Inspiration to work on yourself and usable as a reaction instead of bonus action, and they're rather good IME. You can also still focus in other areas by choosing different subclasses.
They're the weakest class by far, however you spin it. That you haven't noticed it being a big problem is a tribute to how solid the base of chassis of all classes is in 5E, but it doesn't make it not objectively true. They are doing less damage than any other class (even Clerics), impacting enemies less than any other class, healing less than any other healer, and being less flexible and skilled that Rogues. It sounds like you might be giving them Expertise to make them at least as skilled/flexible as Rogues skill-wise, which is something, but they'll still do the least damage in the entire group, and offer less CC and the like than casters.

Other subclasses will be weaker still - Blade and Valor will be the best performers, but both are MAD where other classes are not.

It's not really arguable. The facts of the mechanics speak for themselves.
If you're spamming Fireballs, you have a very kind DM and you don't mind burning higher level slots.

BUT, let's use the standard adventure day, 6-8 encounters, at 3 rounds each say, is 18 rounds, you'd have to be at least 11th or 12th level to do it, assuming you get in an arcane recovery and never cast any other spell.

So, if you saw it all the time, then I'll just chalk it up to experiences differ. :)
By that "every round" logic, Paladins can't spam Smite, so you're what, refuting your own claim? That's confusing lol.

By spamming I would mean with Fireball that the vast majority of combats, certainly every one with groups monsters, involve the caster casting one or more Fireballs, and it being their default approach to groups of monsters.
 


When magic becomes mundane, it ceases to be magical.
You keep saying this, but it's extremely vague to the point of meaninglessness without clarification. How often does magic have to be cast to be mundane?

What you've described is a scenario where, say, Wizards, cast spells or cantrips on exactly the same number of rounds as normal 5E.

The only difference you've outlined is that possibly combat cantrips are used about 60-80% as often as normal. You're explicitly claiming this isn't filled in with weapon use, so presuming the actions aren't wasted, they're what, casting utility cantrips instead? More reliably burning through all their leveled spells/day?

The same amount of magic is being used. If anything, your approach slightly increases the amount of "serious" magic being used, which surely makes magic more mundane?
 



By everybody you mean "about 5% of DMs", I presume?
I guess cuz I see a lot of threads/posts on ENworld where people are like "Man, I totally wish I could go back to the days of Merlin being stuck with a Crossbow because he spent all his spell slots on that single goblin."

Editor's Note: Okay not in those exact words/situations/whatever, but man..
 

toucanbuzz

No rule is inviolate
Do you also limit the fighter on how many time they can use their big weapon? Force them to switch to a dagger once in a while?...
The thread isn't about other classes.

Getting off topic
I do make my game more challenging for martial types because my monsters have old-school AD&D resistances. Some can only be harmed by silver, or cold iron, or adamantine, or weapons made of celestial steel, and even a +1 weapon may not overcome these resistances. It makes monsters more a puzzle to be solved than a big bag of hit points, and if you don't have the right material and knowledge, you'll need to come up with something more constructive than the usual "we all whack it till it's dead."

For example, the AD&D Iron Golem was immune to pretty much all magic and only the most powerful magic weapons. One such encounter many years ago, a wizard player used a Pit spell (digs a pit) under it, buying the party time to flee. In another game (not mine), a wizard used an illusion of a bridge with a fly spell to lure such a golem to chase him (and fall off a cliff). I'm waaaaaay off topic, but stylistically, most D&D monsters are set up not to be solved but rather to be beaten to a pulp.

To use a Gygax 1975 letter quote: Frankly, the reason I enjoy playing in Dave Arneson's campaign is that I do not know his treatments of monsters and suchlike, so I must keep thinking and reasoning in order to "survive".

...So maybe we should just not use any class-based abilities, because you clearly hate it and have these encounters which seem to have been prepared assuming PCs have no abilities, because you're surprised and clearly upset when they're used?
Some (who was getting upvotes) Insisted that any time you use a monster that can be affected by weapons, you're being a terrible dm.
Ok, now we're getting into silly-talk. :rolleyes:

...But it still kills me how everybody has an issue with 5E's Cantrips.

Other than my hatred of guidance spam, I'm okay with the idea of cantrips. They've been around since 1982, albeit frivolous like making someone belch. I worry the thread has gotten off-topic into yet another "I run my game right and you run your game wrong" discussion. However, I am cautioned by a Gygax interview (Dragonsfoot forum 2005):
Q: A good heuristic for a DM is: Before breaking a rule, try to understand the reasons why that rule was made in the first place. If you understand the “why” of the rule, you can break it in an informed, knowledgeable way. ;)

Gary: Heh… As if that usually were the case. for every able GM running a game there are probably 99 others who are less than that, and gaining a real understanding of the overall workings of an RPG isn’t an easy thing unless one has sat down and designed one…or made a hash of a revision.

The number of crashed RPG groups from ill-advised “improvements” to the game system is likely staggering....

And reference to my previous spoiler's 1975 letter in which he's saucily addressing criticisms on the rules he's proposed:
My answer is, and has always been, if you don't like the way I do it, change the bloody rules to suit yourself and your players. DandD enthusiasts are far too individualistic and imaginative a bunch to be in agreement, and I certainly refuse to play god for them -- except as a referee in my own campaign where they jolly well better toe the mark. Let us consider the magic-user question.

Wherein he explained why magic users only get 1 spell per day in OD&D. It was the simplest solution because spells were too powerful to be unlimited, and a point system was too clunky.

When magic becomes mundane, it ceases to be magical.
That's a threshold question for any particular setting. Dr. Strange weaves magical portals all day everywhere he goes whereas Dragonlance's Raistlin gets exhausted and begins to spit up blood after casting a handful of spells (but his love of magic is so strong he considers his health a small price to pay).

That's where I'm headed: a setting where magic isn't something that can be spammed all day and night. I am exploring a fair game mechanic from those who have tried it, and I'll also consider simply working with my gamers for a role-play, not a mechanical, solution.
 

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