5E Obvious Attack Cantrips That Should Exist

Jeff Carlsen

Adventurer
Even in older editions, we always house ruled cantrips to be infinite in use. It fit our image of how magic worked, where most spells had to be prepared because they were complex, but that simple effects could be constructed on the fly.
 

Sadras

Adventurer
You know what else is reliable like technology? A crossbow. Yet no one seems to complain about that like they complain about at-will spells. This is baffling to me.
How can this be baffling? An endless supply of at-will damage-dealing cantrips implies a certain magical level within the world. Can you seriously not understand that not every group/DM prefers that kind of setting? Magic like technology are two very important factors to consider when starting a new campaign - and clearly from these and other forums not every D&D group adheres to the rule that "zapping" wizards exist.
As I have stated before both variations should exists within the players handbook with clearly marked "High-Level Magic Setting" spells which would make it easy for the DM to exclude such spells from the setting. Or perhaps it a write-up could be included within the DMG stating as such in the form of advice or problematic spell list for "Low-Level Magic Settings".
What I'm suggesting is similar to the "inherent system" in 4E where magical items did not have a "+" instead at certain levels the characters received an inherent +1 to hit and AC to negate the requirement of +magical items for the math to work. It was a good system leaning in the direction of a "Low-Level Magic Setting." A system within a system which pleases both camps.

Otherwise, if you don't want at will magic, don't go to the crossbows, but go for true vancian casting. The spells should change the combat encounter, either by ending it or by significantly reducing the threat. It is worth carrying a 1st level mage around for 10 encounters if he can make one problematic encounter "go away" with his "I win" button.
There are many systems/mechanics one can adopt before jumping to that extreme scenario you reflected above. Also DMs create many different type of adventures which do not all adopt the approach that 10 encounters of continual combat = fun adventure.
 
How can this be baffling? An endless supply of at-will damage-dealing cantrips implies a certain magical level within the world. Can you seriously not understand that not every group/DM prefers that kind of setting?
The ability to perform minor magic at-will (and yes, doing as much damage as a crossbow, a simple weapon, is minor) does not imply that a setting is high magic. The power to perform extremely simple spells over and over again is hardly going to turn a world upside down. It's what the upper limits of magic can do that truly alters a setting. Not being able to shoot weak little rays at people over and over again.
 

Sadras

Adventurer
The ability to perform minor magic at-will (and yes, doing as much damage as a crossbow, a simple weapon, is minor) does not imply that a setting is high magic. The power to perform extremely simple spells over and over again is hardly going to turn a world upside down. It's what the upper limits of magic can do that truly alters a setting. Not being able to shoot weak little rays at people over and over again.
Cannot agree as our definitions of low and high magic appear to be different, and that is fine given the endless variations of how magic can interact with the world which is only limited by our imagination. But from what I have seen on these forums, the people who object to damage-dealing cantrips they usually use words like "limited" "mysterious" when describing magic and as such - damage-dealing cantrips do not fall into that definition of it.
I'm not saying your idea of how magic interacts with the world is wrong I'm just saying it is not everyones.
 

AldereIctus

Villager
Its a fundamental misunderstanding of what cantrips are. They're parlor tricks, not lethal spells at-will. Yet another dumb move in this "5E" game. Mages should have to earn their power.
Sais the guy who apparently is misunderstanding the value other people are placing on his opinion. Personally I hate wizards wielding crossbows they have no proficiency in because he has two spells a day. This is some arrogant smarter than though nonsense and I literally made an account just to call you out for it. OP is talking about how to fill out nieces in flavor and combat utility for different styles of play and if you don't like damaging cantrips feel free to play your frail wizard with a broadsword take only utility cantrips.
 

Weiley31

Adventurer
Cantrips are probably one of the best things that happened to magic users in 5E.
Never played 4E so if they originated there, my bad.

I'd rather rely on a Cantrip in a sticky situation while backed in a corner, instead of relying on a weapon I suck using or my bare fists as a Spell User.

If I want to stand around like a roll of toilet paper doing nothing, I'd roll up a Roll of Toilet Paper character.
 
Cantrips are probably one of the best things that happened to magic users in 5E.
Never played 4E so if they originated there, my bad.
Cantrips date all the way back to 1e, but you traded in a 1st level spell to memorize 4 cantrips, and they had virtually no effect in combat.
At-will magical attacks started officially with the Warlock's Eldritch Blast in 3.5, but 3e cantrips, though there were a few with non-trivial combat effects, were still 'prepared.'
4e gave effective at-will attacks to all classes, those that used Implements instead of weapons, including Eldritch Blast, corresponding to 5e attack cantrips. 4e wizards also got at-will minor utility spells that were actually called cantrips.

So, at-will attacks for all casters was a 4e innovation, but at-will utilities for all casters was a 5e thang.
 

Fenris447

Explorer
Cantrips date all the way back to 1e, but you traded in a 1st level spell to memorize 4 cantrips, and they had virtually no effect in combat.
At-will magical attacks started officially with the Warlock's Eldritch Blast in 3.5, but 3e cantrips, though there were a few with non-trivial combat effects, were still 'prepared.'
4e gave effective at-will attacks to all classes, those that used Implements instead of weapons, including Eldritch Blast, corresponding to 5e attack cantrips. 4e wizards also got at-will minor utility spells that were actually called cantrips.

So, at-will attacks for all casters was a 4e innovation, but at-will utilities for all casters was a 5e thang.
As someone who came in with 5e, I always appreciate learning the history of each mechanic. Thanks!
 

ChaosOS

Explorer
Like most of the best things in 5e, this did in fact come from 4e.

4e overdid it (as usual) - your favorite cantrip was also your basic attack for things like opportunity attacks and warlord maneuvers that granted you a free attack.

Not quite true - that was only applicable for some at-will powers. You had to meaningfully choose whether you wanted the basic attack with your power selection.

Also, if we're being really nitpicky, the idea of at-will spells started with Complete Mage in 3rd edition with the Reserve feats. That got turned into a baseline feature of casting classes with 4e, but even in 3rd they recognized and tried to patch the "spellcaster runs out of slots and is stuck with an xbow" problem.
 

Weiley31

Adventurer
Not quite true - that was only applicable for some at-will powers. You had to meaningfully choose whether you wanted the basic attack with your power selection.

Also, if we're being really nitpicky, the idea of at-will spells started with Complete Mage in 3rd edition with the Reserve feats. That got turned into a baseline feature of casting classes with 4e, but even in 3rd they recognized and tried to patch the "spellcaster runs out of slots and is stuck with an xbow" problem.
And nobody EVER wanted to be a Spellcaster stuck with an Xbox.
 

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