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Shillelagh - Why no scaling?

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
No, it is not common. Like, at all.

Most players of a martial class do not dip into magic abilities.
This is not my experience either. What evidence do you have for this claim? I find it surprising.

The only non-Druid character who can really benefit from Shillelagh is the Monk.
I would have though a Nature Cleric would also benefit, who does not even need feats or multiclassing to take advantage.
With feats, it also allows effective builds such as a Wisdom-focused Ranger, which does not seem that unusual.
 

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Shillelagh is an under-performing spell.

On first glance it looks like it is intended to be a melee weapon using druid's at will damage scaling spell. However, it utterly fails at this, and druid has no other option for a melee weapon spell that provides scaling damage. What shillelagh is actually useful for is Nature domain cleric or bard, as a supplement to their other damage scaling options (Divine Strike for clerics, Extra Attack or Magical Secrets (green flame blade or booming blade for bard). Since it is on the druid class list, rather than the cleric or bard list, I'm counting this a failure. It also represents a failure of design in the druid class not supporting a melee weapon druid beyond low levels.

That being said, for the reasons others have already explained, it cannot scale. It would unbalance other classes (single or multi-classed).

What druid really needs is something along these lines:

Sacred Staff
Evocation cantrip
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 5 feet
Components: V, M (a quarterstaff)
Duration: Instantaneous

As part of the action used to cast this spell, you must make a melee attack with a quarterstaff against one creature within the spell's range, otherwise the spell fails. On a hit, the target suffers the attack's normal effects, and if the target is a celestial, fiend, fey, or undead it takes an additional 1d8 radiant damage
This spell's damage increases when you reach higher levels. At 5th level the melee attack deals an extra 1d8 radiant damage to a target of any creature type. The extra damage to any creature type increased by 1d8 again at 11th and 17th level.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
While I think it is okay as is, a fairly straightforward solution would be to change it to a concentration spell and then let it scale up as the PC levels up. Higher risk vs. reward: an enemy hits you first, all you have is a stick, and "repowering" it up means you have to spend your bonus action.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
If it was only available to single-class druids, and druids where banned from taking the Pole Arm Master feet, that would be fair comment.

But it's pretty easy (and common) for classes which do gain extra attacks to pick up, even without a dip into druid. Magic Adept feat being the most obvious.

And you don't even need to gain extra attacks - as already mentioned, stacking it with Booming Blade or Green Flame Blade produces a similar effect. If you want to play a single class druid who fights with a Shillelagh after level 5 you might pick up one or both of those via Magic Adept or Spell Sniper.

My Tome Warlock uses Shillelagh and Green Flame Blade. It's nice, and lets him be almost as good in melee as he is in range, as long as he doesn't try to frontline. In a small group, it's really nice to not be useless when forced into melee, and the cost is super low, since he would have gone Tome regardless of the potential of picking up Shillelagh.
 

Satyrn

First Post
Shillelagh is an under-performing spell.

On first glance it looks like it is intended to be a melee weapon using druid's at will damage scaling spell. However, it utterly fails at this, and druid has no other option for a melee weapon spell that provides scaling damage. What shillelagh is actually useful for is Nature domain cleric or bard, as a supplement to their other damage scaling options (Divine Strike for clerics, Extra Attack or Magical Secrets (green flame blade or booming blade for bard). Since it is on the druid class list, rather than the cleric or bard list, I'm counting this a failure. It also represents a failure of design in the druid class not supporting a melee weapon druid beyond low levels.

That being said, for the reasons others have already explained, it cannot scale. It would unbalance other classes (single or multi-classed).

What druid really needs is something along these lines:

Sacred Staff
Evocation cantrip
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 5 feet
Components: V, M (a quarterstaff)
Duration: Instantaneous

As part of the action used to cast this spell, you must make a melee attack with a quarterstaff against one creature within the spell's range, otherwise the spell fails. On a hit, the target suffers the attack's normal effects, and if the target is a celestial, fiend, fey, or undead it takes an additional 1d8 radiant damage
This spell's damage increases when you reach higher levels. At 5th level the melee attack deals an extra 1d8 radiant damage to a target of any creature type. The extra damage to any creature type increased by 1d8 again at 11th and 17th level.
Yeah, I think this is what the spell would've looked like if WotC had developed those elemental evil cantrips during the playtest.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
My Tome Warlock uses Shillelagh and Green Flame Blade. It's nice, and lets him be almost as good in melee as he is in range, as long as he doesn't try to frontline. In a small group, it's really nice to not be useless when forced into melee, and the cost is super low, since he would have gone Tome regardless of the potential of picking up Shillelagh.

I looked this combo up last night to see if it worked.

Some 3pp also lets you acquire it in various ways. We're playing Midgard next and one of the races gains shillagh as a cantrip while another one picks up a Druid cantrip. Said race (Dragonkin) gets +2 charisma and +1 str so you can have a Paladin key everything of charisma and probably wear medium armor.

Even without 3pp and multiclassing you have things like bards, tomelocks, nature clerics and feats that can pick it up.
 

Mad_Jack

Adventurer
One thing I don't think anyone has pointed out yet is that Shillelagh, unlike the other one-shot-and-done cantrips, can also be used outside your turn for your opportunity attack if someone provokes one. Without even bringing Extra Attack into the equation, there's still the possibility of getting in more damage than just your one hit on your turn. Not saying that's a huge thing, but it may well have been part of the consideration. Given that the cantrip was probably written before the optional multiclass rules were, I'd say it's more likely that was the case than concern over its interaction with an optional rules module.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
The cantrip is good as is, Druids have never been good at melee outside of things like Flameblade or a magic weapon. My 1E Druid used a +2 Scimitar of Speed for example and it made him OK at combat (lower THACO, fighters had weapon specialisation).

2E was similar to 1E except Druid got nerfed, 3E spells and wildshape were better, 4E not sure about. Basically you only used weapons much at low levels anyway and the Druid and Wizard is about the only class that doesn't get some form of scaling damage built in (optional on warlock).
 

The really weird thing is that this druid cantrip was designed to account for multi-classing at all, when multi-classing isn't even assumed in the basic game. Unless you add in that option, the only point of the cantrip is that it lets your druid use a (thematically-appropriate) club or staff for their rare melee attacks, rather than the (technically-allowed) scimitar.

If you're playing in a game that doesn't add the multi-classing options, I would strongly recommend editing shillelagh to have wording more similar to booming blade, so that a high-level druid might actually want to use it.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Shillelagh remains competitive up to level 10, even for a straight-up single-class druid. Produce flame gives you 2d8 damage (average 9); shillelagh gives you 1d8+5 (average 9.5) with maxed-out Wisdom. While you're limited to melee range, you're also dealing magical bludgeoning damage, which means you almost never have to deal with resistance or immunity. And you don't get disadvantage in melee, and you can make OAs at full power.

At level 11, it falls behind, but by that point you're not relying on cantrips so much anyway.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
The really weird thing is that this druid cantrip was designed to account for multi-classing at all, when multi-classing isn't even assumed in the basic game. Unless you add in that option, the only point of the cantrip is that it lets your druid use a (thematically-appropriate) club or staff for their rare melee attacks, rather than the (technically-allowed) scimitar.

If you're playing in a game that doesn't add the multi-classing options, I would strongly recommend editing shillelagh to have wording more similar to booming blade, so that a high-level druid might actually want to use it.

Its not just MCing though, see previous comment about being able to get it via feats, Tomelocks, Bards, Nature clerics, 3pp via races as well although you can do that with the Vuman as well.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
A better option might be to design a Druid cantrip similar to BB/GFB, or grant those cantrips as a circle feature.

Shillelagh is an under-performing spell.

On first glance it looks like it is intended to be a melee weapon using druid's at will damage scaling spell. However, it utterly fails at this, and druid has no other option for a melee weapon spell that provides scaling damage. What shillelagh is actually useful for is Nature domain cleric or bard, as a supplement to their other damage scaling options (Divine Strike for clerics, Extra Attack or Magical Secrets (green flame blade or booming blade for bard). Since it is on the druid class list, rather than the cleric or bard list, I'm counting this a failure. It also represents a failure of design in the druid class not supporting a melee weapon druid beyond low levels.

That being said, for the reasons others have already explained, it cannot scale. It would unbalance other classes (single or multi-classed).

What druid really needs is something along these lines:

Sacred Staff
Evocation cantrip
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 5 feet
Components: V, M (a quarterstaff)
Duration: Instantaneous

As part of the action used to cast this spell, you must make a melee attack with a quarterstaff against one creature within the spell's range, otherwise the spell fails. On a hit, the target suffers the attack's normal effects, and if the target is a celestial, fiend, fey, or undead it takes an additional 1d8 radiant damage
This spell's damage increases when you reach higher levels. At 5th level the melee attack deals an extra 1d8 radiant damage to a target of any creature type. The extra damage to any creature type increased by 1d8 again at 11th and 17th level.

Primal Savagery is the spell you are all looking for. It's simply a melee spell attack cantrip, which means it uses your casting stat to attack in melee combat. Granted, I liked the UA version better, back when it dealt piercing or slashing damage, and it doesn't count as a weapon which can be an issue (or highly desirable, depending on your stance). But there is a scaling caster-stat melee attack cantrip for Druids (and anyone else that cares to pick it up)
 

Its not just MCing though, see previous comment about being able to get it via feats, Tomelocks, Bards, Nature clerics, 3pp via races as well although you can do that with the Vuman as well.
I guess they might have done it for bards, since some bards can get Extra Attack. Neither warlocks nor nature clerics get more than one attack, though, so they wouldn't be a concern; and feats are not assumed in much the same way that multi-classing isn't assumed by default.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I guess they might have done it for bards, since some bards can get Extra Attack. Neither warlocks nor nature clerics get more than one attack, though, so they wouldn't be a concern; and feats are not assumed in much the same way that multi-classing isn't assumed by default.

With clerics is more reducing MAD. They can key everything off wisdom and have 14 de and con with the default array and use medium armor and run around with shillagh and spiritual guardians. Compare that with the war cleric who has to pick between strength and wisdom. Nature cleric can just buff wisdom to 20 and double dip spell DCs and beat down and is one of the better beat down clerics in the PHB if not the best. Arcane cleric can do something similar via a feat and stack shillagh+ greenflame blade+ spiritual guardians and be competitive with fighters.

IDK if its RAI having those two clerics be the best at beat down. Its not the war cleric anyway. Its one reason we roll for stats, roll good it reduces MAD and enables some of the PHB options to nit suck (Valor Bards, various clerics at least as not a caster, Bladelocks). For example 14 con, 14 dex and 2 16s help out most melee clerics or 2 16s and a 14 if you have access to heavy armor (16 strength and wisdom, 14 con).

At low levels it doesn't matter to much, it does when you level up and don't get enough ASIs to buff everything.
 
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MarkB

Legend
Given that the cantrip was probably written before the optional multiclass rules were, I'd say it's more likely that was the case than concern over its interaction with an optional rules module.

The process may have been the other way around as far as multiclassing is concerned. I doubt there was ever any consideration of not having multiclassing in 5e, so it's just as likely that the spell was written while they still considered multiclassing to be part of the standard rules, before they switched them to being optional.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
Shillelagh could be prevented from stacking with Extra Attack by baking in Extra Attack: When you cast shillelagh at 5th level or higher, you get Extra Attack. This is also nice because it has no impact on opportunity attacks. (This makes it a little bit attractive to rogues as a cheap way to get an additional chance of Sneak Attack but I don't think that's a good enough benefit to worry about. EDIT: Nope, quarterstaff is not a valid Sneak Attack weapon, so never mind!)

The damage increase at 11th/17th levels is trickier because if you give a third attack you overpower paladins (because of stacking with Improved Divine Smite) and if you give an extra +1d8 damage you overpower fighters (stacking with the third extra attack). BUT I think what might work is to grant +1d8 damage, once per turn, at 15th level, and twice per turn at 17th level. That's pretty good for actual druids, a marginal benefit for fighters and paladins and monks, and has reduced benefit for opportunity attacks and people with Polearm Master.
 
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Primal Savagery is the spell you are all looking for. It's simply a melee spell attack cantrip, which means it uses your casting stat to attack in melee combat. Granted, I liked the UA version better, back when it dealt piercing or slashing damage, and it doesn't count as a weapon which can be an issue (or highly desirable, depending on your stance). But there is a scaling caster-stat melee attack cantrip for Druids (and anyone else that cares to pick it up)

It allows for scaling melee damage, but not melee weapon damage.
 

As perspective, the main purpose of Shillelagh in earlier editions was to provide a weapon that can hit creatures that required magical weapons to harm, and it retains that function.

In 5e it is an interesting and potentially very powerful build enabling cantrip. It is, however, not the best attack option for single-class druid unless they are prepared to leverage it with feats. Not a problem - you don't have to take it - druids get plenty of other attack options, including wildshape.

Interestingly, you can get Shillelagh as a wisdom or charisma spell, but not intelligence.
 

5ekyu

Hero
The really weird thing is that this druid cantrip was designed to account for multi-classing at all, when multi-classing isn't even assumed in the basic game. Unless you add in that option, the only point of the cantrip is that it lets your druid use a (thematically-appropriate) club or staff for their rare melee attacks, rather than the (technically-allowed) scimitar.

If you're playing in a game that doesn't add the multi-classing options, I would strongly recommend editing shillelagh to have wording more similar to booming blade, so that a high-level druid might actually want to use it.
If youve watched followed any of the class design discussions mc was considered as part of balancing and class design. Just bc its optional doesnt mean it was ignored.

I would recommend if you wsnted to house rule shillelegh to "match" other cantrips go all the way.

Make it one cast takes one action including one attack with cast then done - no "per attacks for turn" plus "scaling" as that just begs for finding an abuse.
 

5ekyu

Hero
I guess they might have done it for bards, since some bards can get Extra Attack. Neither warlocks nor nature clerics get more than one attack, though, so they wouldn't be a concern; and feats are not assumed in much the same way that multi-classing isn't assumed by default.
Not asdumed and optional does not mean balance design considerations ignored them.
 

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