3
\$\begingroup\$

Would this cantrip be overpowered? Any class could get it.

Conjuration cantrip

Casting Time: 1 bonus action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S
Duration: 1 bonus action

You can take the Dash action as part of the bonus action required to cast this cantrip.


Dash as a bonus action has a precedent, every 2nd level Rogue can do it.
For spellcasters the cost of getting this cantrip is low, but using it is very high, as you can't cast a leveled spell in your same turn.

It seems fine to me, but is there some feat, multiclass or other feature that makes this too strong?

\$\endgroup\$
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Since this is homebrew, I feel like your party's composition would help evaluate the effect. So you plan on using this cantrip for a specific group? If so, what sre the players playing? \$\endgroup\$ – 3C273 Apr 10 '18 at 15:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Point of clarity: are you asking if this is overpowered, or if it's game-breaking? The two are very different questions. Something can be obviously better than all comparable options (overpowered) without having a significant enough effect to break the game. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Apr 12 '18 at 13:43
26
\$\begingroup\$

Yes, it is unbalanced.

The proposed cantrip is far superior to an existing leveled spell: Expeditious Retreat.

There are other arguments, based primarily on what you can do on subsequent rounds. Those arguments involve a large number of build variables - specific spell slots, multi-classing, etc. - too many to accurately assess them all. However, they pale in comparison to two empirical facts:

  1. The proposed cantrip does not require a spell slot - it can be cast repeatedly without cost.
  2. The propose cantrip does not require concentration - it has no chance of being disrupted by damage, losing spent resources.

There's an established precedent with bonus action cantrips. The only other bonus action cantrips - Magic Stone and Shillelagh - both require an action to make effective use of the effect generated by the casting (an attack, in both cases). Making the proposed cantrip a bonus action and have it take effect immediately makes it better than most cantrips, too.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I've moved the discussion around revising this answer to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 10 '18 at 17:52
11
\$\begingroup\$

Yes, it is unbalanced.

The proposed cantrip is clearly more powerful/useful/accessible than a number of existing options, and even renders one of them almost entirely obsolete.

First, compare with Expeditious Retreat: Expeditious Retreat is a 1st level spell, and therefore ought to be notably stronger than a cantrip effect.

In the first round of use, they are identical, except that Expeditious Retreat breaks whatever concentration you might have been holding. In following rounds of use (maintaining concentration on expeditious retreat, or recasting this new cantrip), the difference is that Expeditious Retreat consumes your concentration slot, while this new cantrip prevents you from using a non-cantrip as your standard action. These are at least comparable costs, and arguably the advantage goes to the cantrip. At early levels, you won't have enough non-cantrips to cast, especially not if you're burning slots on Expeditious Retreat. At later levels, the concentration slot gets important enough that Expeditious Retreat gets somewhat marginalized, while the new cantrip essentially becomes a "and free dash action" rider on your cantrip attacks for every turn you don't have some other bonus action.

The fact that this is even solidly debatable argues strongly that this cantrip is overpowered. The fact that advantage leans towards the cantrip just pushes it more that way.


Second, compare with Cunning Action: Cunning Action is currently the only thing that does what it does. It requires two levels of rogue, and the second level (where you get Cunning action) does almost nothing else for you, suggesting that Cunning Action itself is supposed to be a big deal as class features go. Cunning Action allows you to Hide/Disengage/Dash as a bonus action, and this would only allow one of those three, but it does so at the cost of a cantrip. In addition to all of the caster and partial caster classes out there with cantrips to burn, it's possible for anyone to get two cantrips and a 1st level spell out of the Magic Initiate feat. Overall, this suggests strongly (though does not itself prove) that this is overpowered.

Technically, Cunning Action has an additional advantage that it is not a spell and thus does not prevent the casting of leveled spells. Practically, though, any build that might have been considering a rogue dip for Cunning Action probably isn't a caster to begin with. The loss of two caster levels is too much of a hit. For non-caster classes, the limitation is basically meaningless.


Third, compare with other feat (Charger): Charger says that if you dash, then you can use your bonus action to make a single melee weapon attack, with +5 to the damage roll if you manage a bit of a run-up at the end. With this cantrip, any weapon-based attacker type with multiple attacks would be much better served to bonus-action dash, and then get their full attack pattern, plus have an extra cantrip and 1/day first level spell on the side, than have that conditional +5 to damage. That's on top of all of the extra tactical options you can get out of the cantrip that you can't get out of Charger (dash twice, disengage and dash, dash and use a ranged weapon, dash and use your other cantrip, etc, etc, etc.) This cantrip renders Charger utterly obsolete for any primary melee character above level 4. It's overpowered.


Fourth, compare with other cantrips. Specifically, once you have a deep enough stack of cantrips, the last few start being kind of piddly. Your first attack or two are really useful, and your first couple of utility cantrips are also really handy, but once you're on your seventh or so, you're left with dregs. This is a cantrip with direct application in combat that doesn't require you to spend your primary action in order to make it useful. When you don't have something else to do with your bonus action (somewhat common for casters) and you'd otherwise cast a cantrip (certainly something that happens with casters) it's effectively free. It essentially becomes a must-have cantrip for every class it's on the list of - not the first, and maybe not the second, but probably by the fourth or so. Any cantrip that would automatically get chosen by every optimizer who had a class it belonged to is either overpowered, or a stealth class feature that's intended to be part of what makes the class good (ie, Eldritch Blast).


Finally there is the particular case of the Warlock. Warlocks have very few good ways to spend their bonus actions other than on starting concentration spells, and they're perfectly happy spending almost all of their actions on Eldritch Blast. In combat, when they're not Eldritch Blasting, they're almost always using weapons. If this cantrip existed as a warlock cantrip, it would be essentially must-have for any warlock build. If it existed as a non-warlock cantrip, it would be a strong argument for taking Pact of the Tome, and Pact of the Tome is arguably the strongest Warlock option already. It doesn't need the help. Any cantrip that can make one or more builds from other classes sit up and say "I must have that. How can I fit it in?" is probably overpowered.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your answer seems to assume that the player can cast 2 spells (or cantrip) in a turn. I tought there was a spell limit per turn in D&D. \$\endgroup\$ – 3C273 Apr 11 '18 at 0:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @3C273 No limit I can think of, but you can only cast a cantrip as an action, if you cast levelled spell as a bonus action. Casting two (useful) cantrips is unprecedented situation, unless you take Figher's Action Surge to cast two full-action cantrips. \$\endgroup\$ – AntiDrondert Apr 11 '18 at 12:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ With Cunning Action you get to cast levelled spels, big difference. \$\endgroup\$ – András Apr 11 '18 at 16:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AntiDrondert Sorcerers also can cast two useful cantrips using the Quickened Spell Metamagic. This is particularly likely in a Sorcerer/Warlock multiclass with access to Eldritch Blast. \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme Apr 11 '18 at 22:14
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @3C273 the actual rule is that if you cast a spell as a bonus action, then you may not cast a non-cantrip spell with your regular action. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Apr 12 '18 at 13:15
3
\$\begingroup\$

It is overpowered

I figured my comments were almost an answer so I might as well complete an answer.

There are 2 easy ways to determine if something is overpowered. If it's cost/benefit is better than similar features, or if it's existence makes it a no brainer choice. I believe both of these are the case.

Cost/Benefit

Cunning Action Has a bit more versatility as you can also choose to use disengage or hide. However, this is the only thing rogues get at level 2 and requires the investment of 2 levels into rogue. The only benefit for 2 levels of investment is allowing the user to cast levelled spells while dashing as a bonus action

Expeditious Retreat Allows levelled spells on later turns and is therefore a bit better. However, this costs a spell slot, a prepared spell, and requires that you maintain concentration, which means you can't have other concentration spells up. That's a huge increase in cost.

Step of the Wind Like cunning strike, this has more versatility. You also get more variety from the other Kii maneuvers with the 2 level dip into monk. However, you have to spend Kii. That and the 2 level investment is huge.

Charger feat Cost of a feat and only really helps those that would want to use this for melee. Gives them a +5 to damage, but they don't get to use more than one attack. If they used magic initiate to get this cantrip, they would get an extra cantrip and a single free cast of a level one spell while charging better than charger (if they have more than one attack).

So cost/benefit definitely suggests this is overpowered.

No Brainer Who would take it?

Everyone except monks, rogues, and MAYBE druids.

barbarians Other than the round you go into rage you rarely need a bonus action. As someone who needs to move around fast to get close magic initiate for this would be a must have. If your DM only has short range fights without terrain it is less valuable.

Bard Has a lot of use for bonus actions, so it is less viable. However, unless your DM only has really long range fights or brainless enemies, your bard will be in close combat. This paired with an offensive cantrip or ranged weapon is better than any armor for keeping the bard alive. Must have.

Cleric DM ever surprise you with an ambush? Would repositioning 90ft in one turn allow your cleric to be in a better position for the entire fight? If the answer to either of these is no, then your DM needs to step up their game. If the answer is yes, then you need this.

Druid The first hiccup to the obvious yes pile. Wildshape prevents spell casting until later levels. Once there, however, this is amazing. If you aren't wildshaping much, this is the best thing for kiting and moving to where you are needed most. While most other classes would rank this a 8-10/10, it's about a 6-7/10 on the druid.

fighter See barbarian, but, with more asi and a subclass that gets spells, it is even easier to acquire. Must have.

Monk Pass, you get it lvl 2. It costs Kii, which will make you feel useless compared to everyone else that gets it for free, but you can't justify the feat unless you want other spells. Also, you use a lot of bonus actions.

Paladin Once again, see barbarian. Melee needs to be in melee. Must have.

Ranger Kite. Kite kite kite. Unless your DM tailors the fights to keep you out of harm's way, this is one of the best things ever. It only slightly decreases in value because rangers and rogues multiclass well, so dipping into rogue is actually really not much of a cost. If straight ranger, though, definitely gonna grab it.

Rogue Nope, get it for free. Well... For your entire level 2. Will suck for it to be something everyone has and no longer be a cool class feature, just a waste of level 2.

Sorcerer You have a d6 for hit dice. If you think melee isn't going to hit you like a ton of bricks then you are going to be disappointed, or you are just used to a DM that fakes rolls to keep squishy folk alive, or makes sure all the combats are obviously coming up and a couple hundred feet away. Otherwise, this is a starting cantrip on every sorcerer with a brain.

Warlock Slightly tankier than the sorcerer, but with Eldritch blast, the cost of only being able to cast with another cantrip is now negligible. Same idea, though. Must have.

Wizard See sorcerer. Must have.

Basically, with this existing, everyone that can take it will, and when comparing choices with this and without it, the choice with it is the obvious one. So, from the stance of "if it's powerful enough that it is an obvious choice when available, it's overpowered" this is very much overpowered.

\$\endgroup\$
-6
\$\begingroup\$

It is not overpowered

This is what the DMG has to say about power level of spells (p283):

If a spell is so good that a caster would want to use it all the time, it might be too powerful for its level.

This is definetely not the case here, the cantrip is very situational:

  • Most full casters stay in the back, and usually don't need to move at all during encounters
  • If an enemy is standing next to you, you would want to move, but than you get an attack of opportunity. If you spend an action to disengage, this cantrip helps to get further away, but than you did nothing this turn to contribute to the party's success
  • Melee attackers get the most out of this cantrip, now they can attack enemies further away. Even they (mostly Eldritch Knights) would mostly use it once per encounter, at the beginning

Expeditious Retreat

The cantrip is indeed better than this spell, as in I can imagine some usage for the cantrip, but I have never seen anyone to prepare, much less use this spell.
Concentration is your scarcest resource, and even on 1st level you have much more productive ways to spend it.

So while the cantrip is more usable than the spell, it is only because the spell itself is almost useless.

Charger

Very similar to the above situation, Charger is considered one of the weakest combat-oriented feats. It is close to useless for Fighters because it does not work with Extra Attack, and not recommended even for Clerics even if they do not attack more than once.


Conclusion

While it is stronger than two other game options, those are very weak.
Not being able to cast levelled spells with the action on the same turn is a big cost. Warlocks care less about this, Eldritch Blast is so great, but on the other hand that cantrip has a 120 range, so why would they need to walk more than 30 feet?

No one would overuse the cantrip, because it brings no big benefits. Even Eldritch Knights would probably use it less than once per encounter on average, others classes less.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your arguments do not adequately support your conclusion. Your statement "While it is stronger than two other game options, those are very weak." is pretty well supported, you haven't supported the statement about the cost of not being able to cast leveled spells on the same turn, and you haven't addressed the issue of melee characters with Magic Initiate, or the issue of kiting. Most significantly, you seem to be asserting that "If it's used constantly, it might be too powerful" implies "if it's not used constantly, it's not overpowered". The one doesn't follow from the other. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Apr 12 '18 at 13:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you want to assert that it's not overpowered, your best bet is to find some other way of getting a similar (or better) effect at a similar (or less expensive) cost. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Apr 12 '18 at 13:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think a warlock would love the ability to move 60ft per turn while casting Eldritch blast. Mobility is incredibly useful. Unless the enemy has higher movement than you, you will never be touched in melee and it costs you nothing. No concentration, no spell slots, just foregoing more powerful non cantrip damage to spend the fight immune to anything but range. \$\endgroup\$ – KingdomGnark Apr 12 '18 at 16:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KingdomGnark Unless the enemy has higher movement than you, your normal move and Eldritch Blast's 120 range is more than enough. And if you move that much, they will just attack the other party members. \$\endgroup\$ – András Apr 12 '18 at 18:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BenBarden Charger and Expeditious Retreat are both horribly weak, I would love to find something in the middle ground. \$\endgroup\$ – András Apr 12 '18 at 18:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.