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I have been thinking about removing the Cantrip spells that are exclusively used as attack spells (i.e. the description lists it as doing damage only).
This in effect will make Cantrips non-lethal again and move the attack spells to first level spells which will start out as (2d6) w/to-hit requirements and following spell progression from there.

My personal reasons for this is to give a higher variance to the classes from each other, I realize that removing this will take the pure caster out of round by round attack rolling, however, there are soooo many other actions that a mage or cleric can do to successfully complete an encounter and I want to see more of that in my games.

With Next’s current spell system of open spell slots I think this can be done without messing up a casters participation unless of course that is all a caster wants to do.

I’d like to get some pros and cons or just some general opinions on this.

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Welcome to the site! Please take a look at the help; it's a useful introduction to the site. Can you tell us a bit about why you'd like to remove damaging cantrips? What problem are you trying to fix, or what experience are you trying to create? Once you have 20+ rep, feel free to join the chat! –  BESW Jul 6 '13 at 2:28
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The main impact of this would be wizards and clerics who are at a low level having rounds where they cannot attack effectively. As spellcasters get their power from casting spells, limiting their damage-causing methods would limit the classes quite a bit, especially as cantrips/orisons are the only spell type that a level 1 spellcaster can cast many times. This would nerf those classes quite a bit.

However, if your players are clever, they can use other techniques to make up for it. Creative uses of low-level spells can be devastating, and even if they don't cause damage they can still hinder enemies and aid allies. I would, however, suggest you allow clever uses of cantrips/orisons to cause small amounts of damage, or give up to +/- 2 or 10% to rolls if the situation fits and the caster is using it intelligently.

This may balance the class again, and I prefer the idea of a mage throwing out small arcane bursts precisely calibrated to (for example) drop a chandelier on the enemy to a mage standing behind the meat-shield and just repeatedly launching a small blue energy bolt at a foe. However, this relies on your players coming up with clever ideas. If they don't, you can either leave them nerfed, undo the changes, or use an NPC to give examples of what they can do.

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I am just not a fan of everything needing to be answered with a blast, and I feel that is what has happened. To take it away completely then is not the answer – particularly when in the playtest encounters the mage NPC’s are doing exactly that. Yet with Next’s componentizing, I thought that it could be something to look at as feasible. However, I really like your idea of using the NPC’s to give examples… show the pc’s what a non-damaging Cantrip/orison can do in the heat of battle. I think I will work with that for now and try to educate without forcing the nerf. –  mike Jul 7 '13 at 4:09
Could the downvoter please explain? –  Dakeyras Jul 9 '13 at 14:45
@mike I think I understand your sentiments for keeping the casters from "spamming pew pew cantrips". It is worth noting however that in previous editions casters possessed powerfull (often over-powered) low-level spells that allowed for effective dealing with encounters using only one of them, such as Sleep, Grease, Chromatic spray etc. In Next those spells are significantly nerfed and by no means offer the same advantage they previously offered. Sleep for instance only has the potential to affect 3-4 level 1 creatures atm. It becomes almost unusable by level 2-3. –  Eldebryn Jul 14 '13 at 9:32
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I'm not current on D&D Next, but looking at the last draft I've read... the 081312 draft...

A first order analysis is that it will drastically reduce the combat power of 1st level spellcasters.

Given that Cantrips (and Orisons) are at-will uses, removing combat spells from the lists removes Wizards' backup firepower.

Note that Magic Missile in D&D Next is 1d4+1, and 100 feet; compare this to 120 feet and 1d4+0 for a sling. Right about even.

Ray of frost is a bit more stiff - 100 feet, 1d6+3 cold damage. Probably could do with a nerfing, rather than being elevated to 1st level. Reduce it to either a d6 or 1d4+1, and it's no big deal.

Shocking Grasp is very much a bit steeper, being 1d8+4, but is touch only.

Given that 1st level spells are still somewhat limited (3 at level 1, 4 at higher levels). Cantrips are and will remain a major portion of D&DN combat power for at least through 10th level; spell casters don't have enough spells per level to make up for the loss.

Also, given that it's almost dictated what the first level cantrips are (Detect Magic, Light, and Magic Missile), the more severe Ray of Frost is for later levels, or with DM permission. (Noting that Orisons raise at 5th and 9th, but only one is combat worthy, it's less of an issue.)

So, in removing them, you're relegating low level (1st-5th) level wizards capable of only very limited combat without weapons.

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