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True Strike: Yes, lets beat the dead horse

Hawk Diesel

Explorer
Now there may be some individuals or builds that really like or even value True Strike. But for me, it's just terrible. Now I know this isn't the first thread to bring this up, and it certainly won't be the last. But after watching this video from the Animated Spell Book (found here: https://youtu.be/6KXLID2oZYI ) I was reminded how bad the cantrip is. But I also got to thinking of a different solution to the cantrip. And this was the thought that popped into my head.

True Strike
cantrip divination
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: S
Duration: 1 round

Your magic grants you a brief insight into a target’s defenses. You gain advantage on your next attack roll made before the end of your next turn. If you hit, you deal an additional force damage equal to your spellcasting modifier.

The spell's extra damage increases to 1d8 + your spellcasting modifier when you reach 5th level. This damage increase by 1d8 at 11th level and 17th level.

What are the changes?
Removed the concentration and the requirement to choose your target when you cast the spell. The biggest change is adding additional damage similar to Green-Flame Blade.

Reasoning Behind the Change
Well, the cantrip at 1st level now evens out to about the average damage of 2 cantrips that successfully hit. The damage is a bit more reliable since you roll the first damage, and add a static modifier rather than a dice. And that seems about right. You trade off 2 attacks for one more reliable attack. It also helps offset some potential issues if you are facing something with resistance.

Cautions
I know builds such as the Eldritch Knight and other classes with the ability to cast a cantrip as a bobus action will just love True Strike. And so, I don't know if this kind of cantrip may be unbalancing at all. But I don't think it is terribly better than, for example, Green-Flame Blade or Booming Blade. If anything, it fills a different kind of niche within the ecosystem of those 2 cantrips, at least so far as I can tell.

What do people think?
 

cbwjm

Explorer
I'd probably go all the way and make it follow the scag cantrips and have an attack as part of the spell, remove the bonus damage equal to your spellcasting modifier and just grant advantage on your attack (this is a big enough bonus I think that it doesn't need that extra damage) and then add the force damage at the usual cantrip levels as you've already noted.
 

5ekyu

Explorer
Personally giving it advantage *and* bonus damage and no need to pick targets be in range etc is over the top for a cantrip. Its pretty much a solid best then and also adds in the benefits of how well it works for those builds which add in bonus effects on a hit -rogues, smiters etc.

Add in the somantic only for behind the corner casting... oh my.

there are quite a few cases where landing one attack with advantage every other turn is better than trying two without advantage on two separate turns and true Strike to me is built for those.

Not saying the core spell is "good", its not, but there are a whole lot of "not good overall" spells in this game where it has situational uses for some folks as opposed to being a general use wonder tool.

On the other hand, i could easily see the following.

True Strikes
Casting Bonus Action
Range Self
Duration Instantaneous
Components S/M (weapon)

Casting this spells imbues your strikes with a weapon (can include natural weapons and unarmed strikes) with greater accuracy. One attack made with that weapon on this turn gains advantage. At 5th, 11th, etc gain 1 additional attack worth (each) of advantage with that weapon if you have features that allow multiple attacks on the turn with that weapon

So, the trade-off here is giving up bonus action for a strike in the same turn getting advantage (or multiple if you got that already.)

But the combo of accuracy and bonus damage is a bit much - to me.
 

Hawk Diesel

Explorer
[MENTION=6919838]5ekyu[/MENTION] Your version runs into the same issue though. Rogues with access to this cantrip would always get their sneak attack. Fighters (not even just Eldritch Knights) would effectively get an unlimited lesser version of Action Surge, or put another way, a better version of Barbarian's Reckless Attack since it has no penalty tied to it. Not only that, but by limiting the attack to a weapon attack, you make it an even more useless cantrip to actual spellcasters that might consider such a cantrip.

As to your point about smites and sneak attacks, at least in my version such characters give up a round of not being able to sneak attack or smite. They may be more likely to use sneak attack or smite the next round, but most times the damage boost from True Strike is less than 2 rounds of smite/sneak attack damage.

The point of my version is meant to be risk/reward. You give up an action, so your next attack can be more reliable with a slight damage boost. The only edge case I see becoming problematic in my version are classes like Eldritch Knight, where they can use a cantrip as a bonus action after taking the attack action, or sorcerers with quicken spell.
 

5ekyu

Explorer
[MENTION=6919838]5ekyu[/MENTION] Your version runs into the same issue though. Rogues with access to this cantrip would always get their sneak attack. Fighters (not even just Eldritch Knights) would effectively get an unlimited lesser version of Action Surge, or put another way, a better version of Barbarian's Reckless Attack since it has no penalty tied to it. Not only that, but by limiting the attack to a weapon attack, you make it an even more useless cantrip to actual spellcasters that might consider such a cantrip.

As to your point about smites and sneak attacks, at least in my version such characters give up a round of not being able to sneak attack or smite. They may be more likely to use sneak attack or smite the next round, but most times the damage boost from True Strike is less than 2 rounds of smite/sneak attack damage.

The point of my version is meant to be risk/reward. You give up an action, so your next attack can be more reliable with a slight damage boost. The only edge case I see becoming problematic in my version are classes like Eldritch Knight, where they can use a cantrip as a bonus action after taking the attack action, or sorcerers with quicken spell.
Nope.

Most of the cases you describe give plenty of options for using your bonus action. So requiring you to have access to cantrip *and* give up bonus action on the turn of use is an opportunity cost.

Requiring you to give up a quiet casting last turn, is a whole different thing. Sure it would be nice ti imagine you are balancing for round by round in the thick of things use, but a flat out damage boost and advantage cantrip like you described would be used for opportunity strikes - cast behind cover, to boost a major hit delivering morec reliabky all sorts of stuff for free next round.

If you see its main power as round by round heat of battle play, you are bakancing for its worst kind of use case.

Good luck with that.
 

Hawk Diesel

Explorer
[MENTION=6919838]5ekyu[/MENTION] - Not trying to start an argument or come off disrespectfully. But I honestly don't see the thing that you are seeing. It would be helpful if you provide some concrete examples.

Most of the cases you describe give plenty of options for using your bonus action. So requiring you to have access to cantrip *and* give up bonus action on the turn of use is an opportunity cost.
So to my knowledge, most fighters only have access to Second Wind as a normal bonus action, which is only once per rest. Two-Weapon fighters will use their bonus action for an additional attack, but once you get access to Extra Attack it seems it would be more beneficial to use a bonus action for your version of True Strike. The same applies to the bonus action attack from Great Weapon Master or Polearm Master. Especially since your primary weapon is likely to deal more damage on a hit than your secondary weapon. Those with the Shield Master feat would lose out on using shove as a bonus action, but I most often see such players using the shove action to knock their opponent prone specifically to get advantage on their melee attacks. Why would a player chose to attempt a shove with a possibility of failure, when True Strike would net them the advantage they seek?

As for rogues, those that prefer ranged attacks would be able to guarantee sneak attack whenever they hit, since they would be always able to have advantage. This releases them from the normal requirement of having an ally within 5' of the target. Such rogues are unlikely to be using their Cunning Action. They are usually far enough away not to need to use the additional dash to keep out of melee. They won't be using disengage for the same reason. And based on the way that Hide works, unless there is a persistent concealment effect like darkness or fog to provide obscurement, they wouldn't be able to attempt to hide once they have given their position away by attacking.

And with paladins, the only bonus action they consistently have access to is from their smite spells. But since they often have an extended duration, a paladin could still benefit from your version of True Strike after casting their smite spell and benefit from advantage.

Monks also only get one addition attack with a bonus action unless they use Flurry, meaning it is more beneficial to use your version of True Strike unless they choose to use Flurry. They do have the dodge action available with their Ki abilities as a bonus action, which as far as I can contemplate, would be the only tough call to make if a monk has your version of True Strike and Ki points left.

Barbarians have rage and can't cast spells while raging. I can't think of any barbarian bonus actions that would compete with your version of True Strike, and your version would be more favorable than their Reckless Attack because it would not come with the normal penalty Reckless attack provides. Of course, their is the bonus action attack from Berserker Barbarian's, but once again you can't cast spells while raging anyways. Your True Strike is better than their Reckless Attack and there isn't much competition for bonus actions that would cause a barbarian much pause.

Other classes that have access to a number of bonus action options are bards, clerics, druids, and wizards might have reasonable competition for their bonus action. However, once again, because your version of True Strike only works on weapon attacks, such classes are unlikely to use it. Valor Bards might, but they might instead go with their bardic inspiration options.

So truly, I am having trouble seeing how the feat cost (for non-specllcasters) and the opportunity cost of the loss of a bonus action is more significant than the feat cost (for non-spellcasters) and the opportunity cost of the loss of a standard action.

Requiring you to give up a quiet casting last turn, is a whole different thing. Sure it would be nice ti imagine you are balancing for round by round in the thick of things use, but a flat out damage boost and advantage cantrip like you described would be used for opportunity strikes - cast behind cover, to boost a major hit delivering morec reliabky all sorts of stuff for free next round.
Once again, not meaning disrespect, but I don't see what you are seeing. So please help me by providing concrete examples. For example, you mention behind cover. How does my version, which requires an action to cast and applies to your next attack, make attacking from cover any more potent than casting from cover and having advantage on all your attacks made from behind cover?

Yes, the point of the cantrip is ideally to make the next attack hit more reliably, and to help improve the damage of that attack since you lost a potential attack (or number of attacks) by forgoing your attacks in the previous round. So far as I can see, a character using my proposed version of True Strike would have a full round in which they were not benefiting from Smite, Sneak Attack, or multiple attacks. This would provide a slight boost to their next attack if it hits. It would not apply to every attack made the next round. Yet in your version, for the cost of a bonus action you double your chances of successfully hitting each round, you double your chances each round of scoring a critical hit, and you still are able to benefit from Smite, Sneak Attack, or multiple attacks each round.

So genuinely, I can't see:

1) how your version is balanced for a cantrip (of which only Shillelagh and Magic Stone come to mind as requiring a bonus action to cast)

2) how your version is meant for casters, of which 9/10 will prefer to use spells and cantrips over weapon attacks

3) how your version is less powerful or less problematic than the version I proposed.

Perhaps if you provide examples that demonstrate that I am "balancing for [True Strike's] worst kind of use."
 
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77IM

Explorer
I like this, but I wouldn't use force damage; that seems weird to me. I'd just make it damage of the same type, with the flavor being that you're just hitting in a more vulnerable place because of your exceptional aim.

Also, some hits don't result in any damage at all (it's rare, but it happens, e.g. the net). I think those should continue to not deal damage.

So I'd probably phrase this like "If your attack hits and deals damage, increase the damage by an amount equal to your spellcasting modifier (minimum +0)."
 

Hawk Diesel

Explorer
[MENTION=12377]77IM[/MENTION] - Yea, you could go that route. I chose force damage intentionally, because if you are giving up the opportunity to make an attack, I feel like at least some of that damage should be harder to resist. And you could easily imagine the spell creating a field of force around a weapon, or increasing the power of a spell/cantrip with additional energy that could be represented by force (since it is already kind of a strange and poorly defined concept to begin with). But it could easily work with your idea as well.

And your thoughts about the non-damaging attacks is interesting and a good catch. Thanks for that! ^_^
 

77IM

Explorer
The other balancing factor to consider, is that true strike works with high-level spells. When you are planning on popping off a level 5 witch bolt or chromatic orb it can be worthwhile to give up a round of combat, in order to get advantage on that attack. In other words you waste a round casting true strike in order to avoid wasting the high-level spell slot.

So, you may wish to restrict the damage bonus to only weapon attacks and cantrips.

Also, looking at the math a little more closely, I feel like this would be better balanced if the bonus damage were more conservative. Maybe a +1d6 bonus kicks in at 5th level, then +2d6 at 11th and +3d6 at 17th. Because, in general, "No attack this round, double-damage attack next round" is roughly the same as "Normal-damage attack this round, normal-damage attack next round." Making two attacks is slightly better than one double-damage attack, but really not by much. So at low levels, the benefit of this spell would really be the advantage (and I might bring back the "ignores obscurement" feature), which is great when you are trying to conserve spell slots -- "No attack this round, 2nd-level chromatic orb with advantage next round." At higher levels the bonus damage would kick in so that you get "No attack this round, not-quite-double-damage attack with advantage next round." (Really the bonus damage should be roughly a 33% increase over the base cantrip damage, to account for the advantage.)
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I personally went with the old way of doing this spell:

1 Action
VS
Concentration
+10 to hit on next attack roll, attack count as magical.

Does it make the next attack or big spell a sure hit? Yes, but I dont like when my players miss on their turn and having them take two turn to land a big hit is a good way of ensuring at least one cool hit.
 

Gadget

Explorer
I missed this post the first time around. I definitely think True Strike needs to me modified, but I'm not sure that extra damage is necessary. Personally, I've changed the target to self (you don't have to pick a target when you cast the spell, and there's really no need for that lame 30' range) and removed the verbiage about it being the first attack on your next turn (so battle magic and quicken meta-magic can be effectively applied).

I thought the action cost and Concentration requirement would keep it from being spammed by certain 'builds' that would try to take advantage of the looser restrictions, but now I'm not so sure if the concentration requirement shouldn't be removed as well. 'Dippers' that are trying to take advantage would probably not care about Concentration anyway. I think the most abusable case would be spending an action to set up a high level spell attack, or to make sure that arrow of slaying strikes home in the dragon (shades of Smaug), and I'm not sure I see anything wrong with those scenarios.
 

MiraMels

Explorer
True strike is fine. It's just not a cantrip meant for use with basic weapon attacks or cantrips.

It's a cantrip for use with spell attack rolls that you are spending spell slots on, if you need to be extra careful and not waste spell slots.

Is it situational? Sure! So is mage hand.
 

Gadget

Explorer
True strike is fine. It's just not a cantrip meant for use with basic weapon attacks or cantrips.

It's a cantrip for use with spell attack rolls that you are spending spell slots on, if you need to be extra careful and not waste spell slots.

Is it situational? Sure! So is mage hand.
No, its really not. This so far beyond situational that it is laughable. Let's say you have this cool 'spell slot' spell you really need to get off, and many of the other ways to get advantage are not available to you (a big if, that). You are going to spend a round's actions to set up you spell for next round. But wait, your target needs to be chosen ahead of time, and within 30ft of you and, you need to maintain your concentration on the spell until you cast your 'big spell' next round. And that 'big spell' better not be a concentration spell either, because that won't work.

Mage Hand, on the other hand, is very much not situational, or it is situational in that it is useful in a large number of situations, unlike this Cantrip.
 

Leatherhead

Adventurer
I'd probably go all the way and make it follow the scag cantrips and have an attack as part of the spell, remove the bonus damage equal to your spellcasting modifier and just grant advantage on your attack (this is a big enough bonus I think that it doesn't need that extra damage) and then add the force damage at the usual cantrip levels as you've already noted.
I would do similar.
Except I would keep the casting stat bonus to your damage roll and replace advantage with "You also add your spellcasting modifier to your attack roll." I would then go on to use D6s instead of d8s. That way casters would have a serviceable weapon attack, if they wanted.
 

Bitbrain

Explorer
*scratches head*

personally, I've always thought that True Strike doesn't need any changes, as it works fairly well when combined with a generous DM, and a sorcerer with Haste and the Quickened spell metamagic option..

I once cast haste on an enemy vampire, then cast a quickened true strike, causing me to lose concentration on haste and prevent the vampire from taking any actions that entire round.
 

Hawk Diesel

Explorer
*scratches head*

personally, I've always thought that True Strike doesn't need any changes, as it works fairly well when combined with a generous DM, and a sorcerer with Haste and the Quickened spell metamagic option..

I once cast haste on an enemy vampire, then cast a quickened true strike, causing me to lose concentration on haste and prevent the vampire from taking any actions that entire round.
My main problem with True Strike is exactly what you describe. It is very clear and even intuitive as to how and when to use something like Mage Hand or Ray of Frost. But in order to find ways to make True Strike work, you need a ridiculous amount of system mastery, a specific build, a lenient DM, or some combination thereof. Wasn't 5e built specifically to reduce the bloat of 3.5 and the need for system mastery required for play?
 

5ekyu

Explorer
*scratches head*

personally, I've always thought that True Strike doesn't need any changes, as it works fairly well when combined with a generous DM, and a sorcerer with Haste and the Quickened spell metamagic option..

I once cast haste on an enemy vampire, then cast a quickened true strike, causing me to lose concentration on haste and prevent the vampire from taking any actions that entire round.
Ok, so, I scratch my head at this.

I suppose it depends on what generosity you ecpect.

Haste and True Strike are both concentration. So, a given caster wont have access to both at same time, generally.

Sure, True Strike and a quickened spell sounds good, or the reverse, but, True Strike advantage doesnt kick in until your next turn. So, unless last turn's True strike carried over, then that's not much at all. (You cannot cast True Strike then Quicken say Guiding Bolt and use that advantage attack all on one turn.

Even if you could, are you better off than adding a cantrip attack to non-advantaged spell?
 

Bitbrain

Explorer
I suppose it depends on what generosity you ecpect.
Generosity from the DM for allowing me to role-play during combat the impression of my old Sorcerer turning against the rest of the other PCs, only to reveal himself as having been loyal to them the whole time.

If I were to try this tactic at my dad's games, he would veto it outright as being too "metagaming", even if it would be totally consistent with the personality of my PC at that specific table.
 

MiraMels

Explorer
No, its really not. This so far beyond situational that it is laughable. Let's say you have this cool 'spell slot' spell you really need to get off, and many of the other ways to get advantage are not available to you (a big if, that). You are going to spend a round's actions to set up you spell for next round. But wait, your target needs to be chosen ahead of time, and within 30ft of you and, you need to maintain your concentration on the spell until you cast your 'big spell' next round. And that 'big spell' better not be a concentration spell either, because that won't work.

Mage Hand, on the other hand, is very much not situational, or it is situational in that it is useful in a large number of situations, unlike this Cantrip.
Granted, I could easily also gain advantage by asking an ally within 5 feet of the target to take the Help action, but that would mean the fighter is giving up an entire round of attacks.

Why couldn't true strike be used with a concentration spell? I don't understand why you think that it couldn't.
 

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