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The Problem

Guidance doesn't provide an interesting/meaningful decision point on when to use it (of course, this may not reflect other people's play experience). Other cantrips provide meaningful decision points (Light may give you away to your enemies, cantrips in combat compete for an action with potentially better actions, Shape Water provides an interesting creative decision in its application, etc.). If a player is out of combat and not concentrating on anything, there's no real reason (that I can see) to not use Guidance, or at least pre-cast it before a social or stealth situation. That is the problem I see with it; perhaps others don't see it as a problem, and if that is the case, "if it ain't broke don't fix it" is an acceptable answer.

The Solution

Providing a pseudo-limit to the use of Guidance, while increasing the benefit, provides a meaningful decision point of when to use the spell. This essentially makes the cantrip Working Together but up to a minute in advance, or with less required narrative justification.

The Spell

GUIDANCE
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute
Classes: Cleric, Druid

You touch one willing creature. Once before the spell ends, the target can roll one ability check with advantage. The spell then ends. The target cannot benefit from the effects of Guidance for 1 hour.

The Good

Since there is a limit on the "spammability" of the spell, the decision of when to use Guidance requires more evaluation. This means I, as a player, have to decide whether to use this on the rogue as they sneak ahead into the room, or save it so I can cast it in advance when they have to bluff their way past the guards in the other room. The potentially stronger benefit (advantage vs 1d4) would seek to offset the usage limitation, and still make the cantrip worth a cantrip slot.

The Weak

This doesn't stack with Working Together, which is a net loss on many checks. I still think there is utility in situations where Working Together isn't possible (due to the nature of the check or the situation) that may offset this loss though.

My Concerns

My primary concern is that this would obsolete the cantrip since it doesn't stack with Working Together. I think that this could be offset by allowing attack rolls and saving throws to benefit from the spell, making it a slightly more versatile Assist action (caster doesn't have to be within 5ft of the target like Assist). However, I kept it to just ability checks for starters so that it has minimal changes from the original cantrip.

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This seems very weak, and personally I would probably never spend a cantrip slot on it.

As you mentioned, it competes directly with Working Together/the Help action, with the only advantages being that you don't have to be able to perform the check yourself and you don't have to do it on the same turn. And even that benefit is mitigated by requiring Concentration, so I don't think it would be too strong even if you allowed it for attack rolls.

Saving throws are a different matter. Off the top of my head I don't know of any other way to get a blanket advantage on any saving throw like that. But it still costs your action and Concentration for a single-use buff, so even then it probably wouldn't be too strong.

Overall though, on a meta level this goes against how cantrips are supposed to work. They're designed and balanced around being at-will abilities, so you shouldn't try to change that unless you have a better reason than that it's not exciting enough.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd agree that what OP is proposing is a massive nerf of Guidance. The only reason to ever cast this version is if you know, in advance, that you're going to need it in combat. Or if you need Advantage for yourself, cannot get Help, and it's worth spending an entire Turn to get that Advantage (see: The True Strike problem--speaking of, potential conflation with True Strike, as well as Resistance may be worth pointing out). Otherwise, the Help Action is superior. Doesn't take up a Cantrip Slot, anyone can do it, doesn't take your Concentration, and it doesn't have a cooldown. \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Sep 21 '20 at 21:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you find cause to edit your answer I’ll upvote it. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Sep 21 '20 at 22:25
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Advantage isn’t better than +1d4, it’s just different.

The numerical difference advantage makes on average varies with the distance between your maximum roll and the DC. For middle of the road DCs, advantage is roughly equivalent to +5, but for harder DCs, it actually begins to drop off. Alternatively, 1d4 averages to +2.5 no matter the DC. But, there is one important scenario in which +1d4 is Superior to advantage: the DC exceeds your maximum roll.

If I have a +4 to my perception, my maximum roll is 24. If the check DC is 25, I can never succeed with advantage. But, +1d4 makes this possible! Adding a d4 to your check makes it possible to succeed at things that you could never do with advantage. Think about it this way: advantage makes you more consistent at the skill, +1d4 makes you actually better at the skill.

For one of the most critical niche uses of guidance, that is, succeeded at checks that were impossible without it, this change renders guidance totally useless. This is a significant nerf.

This issue taken together with limiting the number of times a creature can benefit from guidance per short rest make this spell unbelievably bad. It’s a level -1 spell. No one is going to take this version of the cantrip over another cantrip.

I’ll say it: true strike is better than this version of guidance.

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