removing cantrips: what to give instead?

Keravath

Explorer
Cantrips fill the role of second rate damage for casters on turns where they concentrate on spells. It is typically less than the damage possible from most melee or ranged weapon builds since in most cases they do not add the casting stat (eldritch blast + agonizing blast being a notable exception).

Cantrips also provide some utility abilities (like Prestidigitation, mage hand, druidcraft, minor illusion but these are probably not the ones you are referring to).

If you run campaigns with 2-4 encounters/long rest, casters can afford to use spell slots on many combat rounds and combat cantrips are much less essential. In a longer day with 6-8 encounters, the spell slots get spread more thinly and the damage cantrips give the casters the ability to contribute a little bit of scalable damage to the encounter. Keep in mind that spells can be hit or miss, sometimes no one saves, sometimes everyone saves. Casting Banish or hypnotic pattern might do nothing or completely change an encounter. Cantrips also give casters something to do when spell slots are expended.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
I just recalled an idea I had if I ever ran a 2e or basic game of DnD again: Basic wands and staves that allowed a ranged magical attack.

For 5e it might look something like the following:
Implement​
Range​
Damage​
Wand120 feet1d6 + spellcasting modifier force damage
Staff60 feet1d10 + spellcasting modifier force damage
This could also lead to granting extra attack to a magic-user allowing two attacks at level 5 when using an implement only. More powerful implements might have additional effects like a push or slow effect.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I just recalled an idea I had if I ever ran a 2e or basic game of DnD again: Basic wands and staves that allowed a ranged magical attack.

For 5e it might look something like the following:
Implement​
Range​
Damage​
Wand120 feet1d6 + spellcasting modifier force damage
Staff60 feet1d10 + spellcasting modifier force damage
This could also lead to granting extra attack to a magic-user allowing two attacks at level 5 when using an implement only. More powerful implements might have additional effects like a push or slow effect.
That’s a really good idea!
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Man everybody has a strange hard-on for no Cantrips.
I think for most folks, it’s specifically about damage-dealing cantrips. A wizard can cast Prestidigitation and Mage Hand all day e’rry day for all I care. But handing them an at-will ranged attack that keys off their casting stat, has no ammunition cost, does as much damage as a heavy crossbow, and scales better than a Fighter’s extra attack is a bit silly. I have no problem with the basic idea of casters’ “basic attacks” being magic instead of weapons, but damage cantrips are just better than weapon attacks (even those made by martial characters) in pretty much every way. Toning them down at least a bit seems perfectly reasonable to me.
 

ccs

40th lv DM
Well, I think Eldritch Blast could be an at-will feature of the warlock instead of a cantrip.
Though popular, that's a very limiting way to play a warlock.
I would much rather have the choice of selecting a non-damaging (cantrip/At-Will) for some characters vs always getting EB.
 

Weiley31

Adventurer
I just recalled an idea I had if I ever ran a 2e or basic game of DnD again: Basic wands and staves that allowed a ranged magical attack.

For 5e it might look something like the following:
Implement​
Range​
Damage​
Wand120 feet1d6 + spellcasting modifier force damage
Staff60 feet1d10 + spellcasting modifier force damage
This could also lead to granting extra attack to a magic-user allowing two attacks at level 5 when using an implement only. More powerful implements might have additional effects like a push or slow effect.
Now that seems like it would be a nice substitute. Heck, you could even bring back the 4E implement types as different arcane firearms.Wand, Staff, Orb
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I just recalled an idea I had if I ever ran a 2e or basic game of DnD again: Basic wands and staves that allowed a ranged magical attack.

For 5e it might look something like the following:
Implement​
Range​
Damage​
Wand120 feet1d6 + spellcasting modifier force damage
Staff60 feet1d10 + spellcasting modifier force damage
This could also lead to granting extra attack to a magic-user allowing two attacks at level 5 when using an implement only. More powerful implements might have additional effects like a push or slow effect.
Oh, I forgot about that idea. Its like in Pillars of Eternity, where implement are weapons with different effect.
Let expend on this, what about Druidic and Divine focus!? Love it.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
ImplementRangeDamageProperty
Wand60 ft1d6 forcelight, focus
Staff120 ft1d8 forceTwo-handed, focus
Rod90 ft1d6 forcefocus
Orb60 ft1d4 psychiclight, focus
Crystal90 ft1d6 radiantfocus
Amulet60 ft1d6 radiantfocus
Reliquary30 ft1d10 radiantTwo-handed, heavy, focus
Totem90 ft1d8 psychicfocus
Mistletoe twig60 ft1d12 poisonfocus, light
 
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ccs

40th lv DM
I would NOT get rid of cantrips.

Because I'd be getting rid of things like Light, mage hand, presdigitation (my favorite cantrip), detect magic, & a whole slew of other utility things that don't really = a 1st lv spell.
And I'd be severely handicapping those players who know the value of doing things other than causing damage.
I will never do that.

Nor will I ever support forcing the Warlocks into becoming EB necrotic damage spam machines.
If you WANT your warlock to be able to do that? That should be an option. But so should non-EB Warlocks.

What I might consider is toning down the initial damage the various damage causing cantrips cause & scaling it based on prof, without sat mod.
So prof +2 = d4, +3 = d6, +4 = d8, +5 = d10.
But I'd only consider this if I were thinking the cantrip damage as is wasn't meshing with the game I'm trying to run.
But 5 years into running 5e & it hasn't been a problem for me yet.....
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I would NOT get rid of cantrips.

Because I'd be getting rid of things like Light, mage hand, presdigitation (my favorite cantrip), detect magic, & a whole slew of other utility things that don't really = a 1st lv spell.
And I'd be severely handicapping those players who know the value of doing things other than causing damage.
I will never do that.

Nor will I ever support forcing the Warlocks into becoming EB necrotic damage spam machines.
If you WANT your warlock to be able to do that? That should be an option. But so should non-EB Warlocks.

What I might consider is toning down the initial damage the various damage causing cantrips cause & scaling it based on prof, without sat mod.
So prof +2 = d4, +3 = d6, +4 = d8, +5 = d10.
But I'd only consider this if I were thinking the cantrip damage as is wasn't meshing with the game I'm trying to run.
But 5 years into running 5e & it hasn't been a problem for me yet.....
I have no problems with cantrips. We are just talking what could fill their space in a version of D&D 5e without cantrips. Its all hypothetical.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Hmmm...

What if spellcasting foci cost about as much as two and a half quivers of arrows, came with fifty charges, and casting a cantrip drained one charge? Very old school.
I’d be down with that. I was originally thinking of doing something along those lines, though I’ll admit I think I like the idea of spellcasting foci as weapons with their own “basic attacks” a bit better.
 

TheCosmicKid

Adventurer
I’d be down with that. I was originally thinking of doing something along those lines, though I’ll admit I think I like the idea of spellcasting foci as weapons with their own “basic attacks” a bit better.
You could even split the difference and have 1st-level spells like e.g. "enchant wand of fire bolts" with a a 5-gp material component cost that, well, created a 50-charge wand of fire bolts.
 

Horwath

Adventurer
I have no problems with cantrips. We are just talking what could fill their space in a version of D&D 5e without cantrips. Its all hypothetical.
nothing can replace cantrips.

They represent ability of spell casters to always have minor magical ability available. Just like anybody can get a basic swing of a sword.

I do not need damage cantrip, but not having prestidigitation and mage hand at-will? no thanks.

I do not need another version of 3.5e where all my arcane spellcasters spend their first real treasure on item that gives at-will prestidigitation and mage hand.

in 4E they even added the item: Hedge wizard gloves, they give you at-will prestidigitation and mage hand, so you don't have to spend class resource to have them. That is how much those 2 spells are definition of a wizards. I would say even more than magic missile or fireball.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
In 4e, a wizard had cantrips as a class ability. I know they had mage hand, light, and prestidigitation at at-will abilities, I feel like I've forgotten a 4th ability. You could have these as class abilities while having implements act as spellcasting attacks.
 

Tonguez

Adventurer
nothing can replace cantrips.

They represent ability of spell casters to always have minor magical ability available. Just like anybody can get a basic swing of a sword.
that’s it though - ANYBODY, Including a mage, can do a basic swing of a sword and maybe hit. It’s a privilege of magic denied fighters. Furthermore the sword is a piece of equipment not an ability.

that said I do like the idea of charged wands/staves and other items/focus that can be recharged with a spell or ...
 

Keravath

Explorer
I think for most folks, it’s specifically about damage-dealing cantrips. A wizard can cast Prestidigitation and Mage Hand all day e’rry day for all I care. But handing them an at-will ranged attack that keys off their casting stat, has no ammunition cost, does as much damage as a heavy crossbow, and scales better than a Fighter’s extra attack is a bit silly. I have no problem with the basic idea of casters’ “basic attacks” being magic instead of weapons, but damage cantrips are just better than weapon attacks (even those made by martial characters) in pretty much every way. Toning them down at least a bit seems perfectly reasonable to me.
First, I don't see any issues with cantrips the way they are though I don't see any issue if folks want to look at other options.

However, the main reason I don't see any issue with them is probably because I don't agree with " but damage cantrips are just better than weapon attacks (even those made by martial characters) in pretty much every way."

1) Cantrips don't benefit from magical weapon bonuses to .. to hit and damage. You can get a wand of the war mage for the to hit side of things but most casters won't have an attunement slot for it.

2) Most cantrips do not add the casting stat to damage the way most weapon attacks typically do.

So consider ... a plain long bow attack at level 11 is 2x(d8+5) from any martial character since they all have extra attack by that point. Average damage is 19. Firebolt is 3d10 at this level which is 16.5 damage. Add a +2 magical weapon and the bow goes to 23 average damage. The bowman will also likely benefit from Archery fighting style significantly increasing the chances of actually hitting the target.

That is the lowest base ranged attack for most martial classes. It only scales up from there. A paladin with improved divine smite at 11 and the dueling fighting style with a 20 stat does far more. A rogue with sneak attack does far more. GWM/SS/Xbow Xpert/PAM builds can all do massively more damage than the piddly cantrips. Yes, the primary contribution of most casters is their spell casting but the spells are limited resources, none of the martial abilities mentioned here are in any way limited.

In my experience, when comparing cantrip damage to all the other options ... it just gives the caster something to do so that they feel like they are contributing to the fight and at least doing something when they don't burn a spell slot on a spell that may or may not be effective. The one exception to this is agonizing blast since, because it adds the casting stat to damage on each bolt, it remains competitive damage wise. Of course, SS/GWM builds will far outdamage it but it remains a useful amount of damage compared to any other cantrip damage options for most casters.

By level 17, when firebolt does 4d10 ... it still doesn't (and shouldn't) even keep up with the three weapon attacks from a level 11 fighter.

So, no, I don't think cantrips are just better than weapon attacks, because they aren't (with the possible exception of agonizing blast).
 

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