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It was recently brought to my attention that there existed a cantrip from the first edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons called "Bee". In the original description, it reads as follows:

Bee (Summoning)

Area of Effect: One bee
Casting Time: 1/2 segment

When this cantrip is used, the caster summons a honey bee from someplace—where is of no importance, for the creature appears in seconds. The bee will appear in whatever spot the caster is gazing at, up to 1ʺ distance from him or her. The bee is, of course, annoyed, and it is 90% likely to sting any living creature it finds itself upon. (This will certainly cause the subject to react violently if it would otherwise be so affected by a bee sting.) The verbal component is a low buzzing sound, made while the caster moves a forefinger through flight-like passes.

(The 1" here isn't an error: it's table inches, equal to 10 feet indoors and 10 yards outside.)

I want to try making this cantrip available to learn in my 5e campaign (mostly for laughs), but I wanted to get some input first on how to transfer it from the older format to the new one. I know there are usually problems with that regarding other spells, but I think this might be simple enough to rework. For instance, I think "1/2 segment" for casting time could easily translate to "bonus action". Does anyone have advice for me going forward? Is there anything else I should consider?

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Consider using the Infestation cantrip from Xanathar's Guide to Everything

From the spell:

You cause a cloud of mites, fleas, and other parasites to appear momentarily on one creature you can see within range.

Simply reflavouring this spell as Bees could easily achieve the effect you're looking for, in addition to dealing some damage and making the target move on a failed save.

Note this spell uses an Action, rather than a Bonus Action, but has a more substantial effect.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jan 18 '18 at 2:32
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Using Infestation is definitely a good idea, but if you insist on making it a spell of its own for comedic effect, I would personally do something like this.

Summon Bee

Conjuration cantrip

Casting Time: 1 bonus action
Range: 10 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: Instantaneous

You summon a single honey bee from the nearest hive. The bee appears in a location of your choice within range and within your line of sight. Roll a D10; if the result is 2 or higher, the bee is annoyed and seeks out the nearest living creature, stinging it and dealing 1 Piercing damage. If the result is 1, the bee simply flies away, doing no damage.

It's virtually useless, but man would it be funny to have a wizard making a "bzzzzzz" sound and then suddenly the person they are talking to gets stung.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You should add an attack roll for the bee using the caster's stats. Just dealing damage with no attack roll and no save is prone to abuse... "This monster is impervious, hurry everyone while the tank holds him, lets wear him down with bees" \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Jan 18 '18 at 5:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin the bigger issue is that this can be cast in addition to anything most casters do in a turn, so everyone would take it. Giving it an an attack roll would not fix that. It should either cost an action, or require concentration. \$\endgroup\$ – András Jan 18 '18 at 7:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ In light of the above comments, note that the original AD&D cantrip deals no damage. It just stings the person which makes them “react violently” (probably: freak out, yell, flail around, etc) unless they just don't care about beestings (e.g. they're a rock golem). \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 18 '18 at 9:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure I follow the logic you're using. Why would a creature that is impervious to piercing weapons not just be impervious to the sting as well? Silly concern; the DM can simply point out that the enemy is immune to the damage of the sting as well, and problem solved. \$\endgroup\$ – Baron Jan 18 '18 at 10:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Why is this spell listed as 'virtually useless' when you could use this quite effectively to gain advantage on a stealth roll by distracting a guard? \$\endgroup\$ – user969366 Jan 18 '18 at 17:05
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I'd do it like this -- not too over-complicated:

Bee Summoning

Casting Time: Bonus Action
Range: 30'
Components: V,S,M (flower)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute, or until it stings a creature

The caster summons a honey bee from someplace. The bee will appear in whatever spot the caster is gazing at within range. The bee is, of course, annoyed, and it is 90% likely to sting any living creature it finds itself upon. (This will certainly cause the subject to react violently if it would otherwise be so affected by a bee sting.) The verbal component is a low buzzing sound, made while the caster moves a forefinger through flight-like passes.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Why the duration? Was the original truly so overpowered, having not sent the bee back where it came from? Otherwise, I agree. The spell is fine as is; just convert segments and range to use 5e terminology. \$\endgroup\$ – Ray Jan 18 '18 at 22:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just because that's a normal sort of duration for a cantrip in 5e, and that's long enough to do just about anything you could do with a single summoned bee. \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Boncer Jan 18 '18 at 23:29
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Creating a cantrip that summons a creature or deals damage for a bonus action has not been seen before and may upset balance. I don't see an easy way to do so with this spell as the bee is not friendly nor hostile to the caster unless it is summoned on the caster himself (which is not wise if you are allergic). Additionally, this is not a way to deal substantial damage (via effects like Hex) as the bee deals the damage rather than the caster.

Compare the balance to Shillelagh which usually provides much more than 1 damage per round via a bonus action ONCE (although Shillelagh itself is likely above the curve for cantrips).

A few interactions to consider balance-wise:

  1. Animal Messenger - this cantrip provides a free animal messenger no matter the location, even if beasts are hard to find for this very reason.
  2. Animal Shapes - the Bee, once calmed down and befriended could effectively be an additional CR 4 creature with this spell.
  3. Sneak Attack - a readied attack could get free Sneak Attack damage when the bee appears as the bee is hostile to the creature it lands on
  4. Delayed Blast Fireball - the bee could be used to activate this spell the same turn you cast it without risk removing the limitation of this spell.

I'm sure there are many other interactions but these are the ones I could come up with quickly. While personally, I see know problem with these as they either will not come up very often or provide benefits that are largely possible in other ways with your allied PCs instead, they are something to keep in mind.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not familiar with 5e, but every edition I am familiar with has an enlarge person/creature type spell. one bee isn't much of a threat to anything, one newly giant bee on the other hand... \$\endgroup\$ – Racheet Jan 18 '18 at 13:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Racheet Enlarge person in 5e is much weaker than in previous editions. It essentially only adds +1d4 damage and better Strength checks (it's debatable whether the bee would even get +1d4 since natural weapons aren't considered weapons: sageadvice.eu/2016/10/19/… \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Jan 18 '18 at 16:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Shillelagh can't boost damage unless you're hitting them with your stick, and is cast out of combat. It effectively becomes "hit with an enchanted stick" as a standard action cantrip, and is not actually all that impressive by itself. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Jan 18 '18 at 22:33
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My take on this - This is a spell made for forcing a concentration check on a caster. I bumped the range do 30ft. 10ft seems a bit close.

I've made this a full action, and set the DC as the caster's DC.

Option 2 - leave it as a bonus action, but make the DC a fixed DC10.

Bee Sting

Conjuration cantrip

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 30 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: Instantaneous

You summon a single honey bee from the nearest hive. The bee appears in a location of your choice within range and within your line of sight. If the bee appears on a creature, it immediately stings this creature, distracting it. Once the bee has stung its target, the bee vanishes. If the target creature is concentrating on a spell, it must make a Concentration check based on the caster's DC. If the bee appears mid-air, it simply flies away, causing no disruption.

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