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Cantrips seem to be the only type of spell that cares about your level. However, in the multiclassing section they are not mentioned, does this mean, that cantrips use your character level, instead of your class level?

Does this mean a Warlock 2 / Fighter 15 can cast an Eldritch Blast with 4 beams just like a level 17 Warlock?

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Related: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/44445/… –  Dyndrilliac Aug 25 '14 at 7:43

4 Answers 4

Cantrips level with your character, not your class

While it never explicitly states this anywhere in basic or the PHB, it only states the level at which the cantrip increases in power. One of the design goals of 5e and one of the things it imported from 4e was that there should never be a time where a magic user is forced to resort to making a weapon attack that they are ill-suited for. Cantrips act like 4e's At-Will spells and as such level with each "tier" in 5e to maintain their usefulness. Tying this to character level means that players who multiclass or for example start off with a free cantrip (such as High Elves) are still able to make use of those cantrips throughout the whole of the game.

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Per Jeremy Crawford (Designer/Editor D&D): "A multiclass character uses character level to determine the damage of a cantrip."

Source: https://twitter.com/JeremyECrawford/status/503306866831929346

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I don't have the citation for it, but I saw a tweet from Mike Mearls that addresses this, Cantrips are intended to use your character level. The example give I believe was a lvl 20 high elf barbarian being able to cast firebolt at max level. The spells refer generally to character level and not spell caster level.

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The way our play group interpreted this was to calculate caster level as per PHB pg. 164 (I.E. add levels of Wizard, Sorcerer, Bard, Druid, 1/2 levels paladin or ranger, 1/3 Arcane Trickster, Eldritch Knight). The character spell casting level is the level used to determine cantrip effectiveness.

E.G. Monk 14/Warlock 3 has a weak Eldritch blast (level 3). Whereas Sorcerer 14/Warlock 3 hits like a truck with an Eldritch blast (level 17).

High elf class feature cantrip was hotly debated, but follows the same rules as above.

Basically if you are a magic user you are good at magic, if you are a level 17 High Elf Fighter you won't be incinerating foes with fire bolts.

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I will give you a +1 because you are sharing your house-rule to this, and although it isn't RAW, it is a reasonable enough decision on the part of your DM. I disagree with the answer, based on intent of designers and the fact that that severely limits hybrids and multi-classes, but that's my judgement and your DM has their own. If I did this in my games, then cantrips would count as weapon attacks, and that doesn't sit well with me (though could reasonably be considered balanced). –  Aviose Jan 8 at 16:16
Above said, having a 17th level Eldritch Knight throw out a series of really weak (2 die) cantrips in rapid fire succession would likely be the research point for balance in the last statement above. Does it make them too powerful? That's about 4 attacks a round (8 in one round once per fight), each doing up to 2d10 damage, but not counting stat mod in damage, giving an average of up to 11.5 damage per attack (for firebolt). A normal attack round could average 90 damage in one round with just this... –  Aviose Jan 8 at 16:18
@Aviose, 4 attacks? I think you cannot cast a cantrip / spell more than once per round. You may actually inflict more damage with your 2 handed weapon doing 1d12 + strength + 3 (magic)... –  Alexis Wilke Feb 22 at 21:41
@AlexisWilke Cantrips can be cast even if you cast another spell as a bonus action, so cantrips are a marker for casting multiple in one round. My comment was that if you want to base cantrips on caster level (not character level), due to hybrids like the eldritch knight being 1/3rd caster level, the only way it could be remotely balanced would be to consider cantrips as weapon attacks. My two comments went together. –  Aviose Feb 22 at 22:09

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