New Cantrip: Bigby's Extended Grasp

Caliban

Rules Monkey
Bigby's Extended Grasp

Cantrip: wizard, sorcerer, warlock,

Casting time: bonus action

Range: 10 feet. (20 feet at 5th level, 30 feet at 11th level, and 40 feet at 17th level)

Components: V, S

Duration: end of your turn

Effect: As a bonus action you shoot out a line (can be skinned as a tentacle, grappling hook, or stretching your arm, etc.) that attaches to a target object or surface. You can then use your movement to either pull the object to you (if it weighs less than you) or pull you to the object or surface (if it is firmly anchored or weighs more than you). The distance moved is limited by your remaining move speed. (i.e. if you have a 30 speed and move 20 feet you can only pull yourself or an object 10 feet.)

If you attach the line to a surface above your head it can pull you upwards. The weight in pounds that the line can lift or pull is limited to your casting stat times 15. Exceed that and it can only lift or pull 5 feet. Exceed 30 time your casting stat and it can't move at all.

Special: You can spend 1 sorcery point to either extend the duration to the end of your next turn, or to attach the line to a living creature. (They get to resist with either Acrobatics (Dex) or Athletics (Str) vs your Arcana (casting stat).



And idea I've been toying with. The question is - is this too good as a cantrip? I really want it to be a cantrip, so I'm biased.
 
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Mad_Jack

Hero
Yeah, a little too good... At least for a sorcerer.
Not sure exactly how to tweak it, but I think between being able to use it as an ersatz mage hand, a grappling hook and being able to grab/pull creatures with it it's just a bit too much. Maybe it's just the powergamer in me, but if you wanted to blow your sorcery points on it you could do some passably interesting 4E-style repositioning shenanigans with it - moderated by the sorcerer's own weight, of course, but the ability to throw around a Small-sized opponent (drag them up to you while standing next to the fighter) or ally, or extricate yourself (or possibly drag a downed comrade) out of melee range...?
 

Caliban

Rules Monkey
Yeah, a little too good... At least for a sorcerer.
Not sure exactly how to tweak it, but I think between being able to use it as an ersatz mage hand, a grappling hook and being able to grab/pull creatures with it it's just a bit too much. Maybe it's just the powergamer in me, but if you wanted to blow your sorcery points on it you could do some passably interesting 4E-style repositioning shenanigans with it - moderated by the sorcerer's own weight, of course, but the ability to throw around a Small-sized opponent (drag them up to you while standing next to the fighter) or ally, or extricate yourself (or possibly drag a downed comrade) out of melee range...?

Yes, but that does cost additional resources - Sorcery points.

I like the idea of spells having 'extras' that can be activate by sorcery points.
 

MarkB

Legend
Sounds like you've been playing Dishonored 2. :)

This spell looks like Mage Hand, only better. That alone probably means it's too good for a cantrip.
 

Caliban

Rules Monkey
Sounds like you've been playing Dishonored 2. :)

This spell looks like Mage Hand, only better. That alone probably means it's too good for a cantrip.

Haven't played Dishonored 2 yet, but I played the hell out of Dishonored. I'm looking forward to Dishonored 2 when I have the time.

I would disagree that it's better than Mage Hand. Mage Hand can do a lot of things this doesn't: Mage Hand lasts 1 minute per cast, Mage Hand allows you to manipulate objects: "You can use the hand to manipulate an object, open an unlocked door or container, stow or retrieve an item from an open container, or pour the contents out of a vial." Plus Mage Hand has a range of 30 feet.

I'm actually basing it off of Thorn Whip, minus the damage component and scaling the distance pulled instead of damage, plus added utility (pulling yourself up/forward instead of pulling something to you).

Basically Mage Hand lets you use your Action to manipulate objects at range, while Extensive Grasp requires the use of both your bonus action and movement to move yourself closer to an object or surface, or pull an object closer to you. Sorcerers get the added ability to move creatures (similar to Vine Whip) at the cost of a sorcery point, or extend the duration one round (so that you can hang from the line or something).
 
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Ironmantle

First Post
I really like the idea of this but I agree that this is too powerful for a cantrip. I can see it being abused, used as a sort of Dimension Door with unlimited use. My inclination would be to make this into a feat (if you use feats), it would allow you to set prerequisites and limit it to higher level characters. It could be written as Mage Hand Mastery or something.
 

It would be fine if you drop the "special" and make it an action instead of a bonus action. It's physically stronger than Mage Hand, but without the fine manipulation capabilities.
 

Caliban

Rules Monkey
It would be fine if you drop the "special" and make it an action instead of a bonus action. It's physically stronger than Mage Hand, but without the fine manipulation capabilities.

It's not Mage Hand, it's a modified Vine Whip that gives you another movement mode for one round (pulling/lifting you towards a heavy object or surface), or can bring smaller objects to you (the way vine whip can pull someone closer).

The special has no effect if you aren't a sorcerer, and if you are a sorcerer it's competing with your metamagic for your sorcery points. I don't see what the problem is, you pay a cost for a small boost the spell.

It's a cantrip that scales utility instead of just doing more damage.
 

The problem with the "special" isn't necessarily a balance problem--it's the complexity it introduces. Having a special cantrip which introduces additional rules for sorcery points isn't idiomatic for 5E. It's unaesthetic and clunky, and it adds that cognitive complexity cost for all PCs, not just sorcerers. ("Why do I have a cantrip that I can't fully use?") Also, now the DM has to decide which monsters weigh more or less than you and your gear. The cantrip is already complex ("weight limit is your casting stat times 15", scaling distance) and the special snowflake sorcery point rule is the straw that breaks the camel's back.

Presumably you came here for design feedback, so there's my feedback: I'd let the cantrip in my campaign if you drop the special and change it to a regular action cantrip.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
I would make this an action instead of a bonus action (thorn whip is an action). And when you activate the special with the sorcery point, instead of an opposed check I would just have the victim make a Strength saving throw; it seems simpler and more consistent with how other spells work. (In general when you defend against a spell being cast it's a saving throw; when you try to resist a spell on your own turn as an action it's an ability check. Examples: entangle, phantasmal force.)

Personally I don't think pushing and pulling yourself around like this is overpowered at all. I like how the range increases at higher levels -- the grappling aspect can be used to overcome obstacles like pits and walls, but at low levels it is only 10 feet. You actually might want to double the range per tier (10, 20, 40, 80 feet) because at higher tiers PCs are like flying and teleporting all over the place already anyway.

Pushing and pulling creatures is handy for a cantrip but I think it's balanced for a sorcery point I think.
 

Caliban

Rules Monkey
The problem with the "special" isn't necessarily a balance problem--it's the complexity it introduces. Having a special cantrip which introduces additional rules for sorcery points isn't idiomatic for 5E. It's unaesthetic and clunky, and it adds that cognitive complexity cost for all PCs, not just sorcerers. ("Why do I have a cantrip that I can't fully use?") Also, now the DM has to decide which monsters weigh more or less than you and your gear. The cantrip is already complex ("weight limit is your casting stat times 15", scaling distance) and the special snowflake sorcery point rule is the straw that breaks the camel's back.

Presumably you came here for design feedback, so there's my feedback: I'd let the cantrip in my campaign if you drop the special and change it to a regular action cantrip.

Personally I think all spells on the sorcerer list should have a "special" that can be activated by sorcery points. There's no "cognitive complexity" issue at all. If you aren't a sorcerer, it doesn't apply to you. Sorcerers have magic in their blood and can manipulate spells in a way no one else can. The current metamagic options are nice, but very limited.

When I have time I plan on going through the sorcerer spell list and adding "Sorcerer Specials" to all of them that it seems reasonable to do so.

But that's mainly a personal preference, as I like a higher level of magic in my campaigns. The special would probably be inappropriate in a campaign that didn't have the option on other spells, so feel free to ignore it. (Although I think will change that part of the spell in my game so that using the special will change the spell to an Action - it's generally better not to be able to move other creatures around using a bonus action.)

I really think that making the base cantrip an Action spell (instead of Bonus+movement) makes it far less useful, to the point I wouldn't take it on one of my characters.

The weight limit is exactly the same as a characters weight limit using their Strength stat, it just uses their casting stat since it's a magical effect. But perhaps it could be handled in a simpler way.

Scaling distance is no more complicated than scaling damage that is already used on current offensive cantrips.
 

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