While reading the rulebook and class sheets of dungeon world, I had some problems. Most of them are answered somewhere, but I was unable to find information regarding rotes and cantrips. I am just not sure whether I understand them or not.

First of all, I assume the spell mechanism of clerics and wizards is basically the same from a game mechanism point of view. (The fiction behind that is of course different!) Is that correct?

Then my understanding of rotes/cantrips is that they are basically level 0 spells. Each time you commune or prepare your spells, you can add all rotes/cantrips for free. That’s clear. But are they cast as normal spells after that, i.e., using the cast a spell move?

Besides that is there anything special about rotes/cantrips? Or is it a good idea to see them as level 0 spells?


Your assumptions are correct. Cantrips and rotes are treated as level 0 spells and are subject to all rules that affect how spells work.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps I'm missing something, but this answer seems to be bare assertion. Is there any support for this? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 6 '17 at 20:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Spellbook and Prepare Spells moves explicitly mention them as spells. But they are exempt from the limits set by spell levels. Saying they are level 0 spells is effectively the same thing. \$\endgroup\$
    – edgerunner
    Jul 6 '17 at 21:09
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Spellbook says "three first level spells ... as well as the cantrips". Prepare Spells has "Prepare your cantrips..." as a separate bullet point from "Prepare new spells of your choice...". In both cases, cantrips are distinguished from spells. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 12 '17 at 22:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Distinguished as? Can you elaborate? Is there any mention of them behaving differently? \$\endgroup\$
    – edgerunner
    Jul 12 '17 at 23:12
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Both those moves say (effectively) "spells and cantrips", while Cast a Spell says only "spells". If cantrips are spells, why are they given a separate name and mention in the first two moves? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 12 '17 at 23:47

Rotes and Cantrips Are Not Spells

You do not make the Cast a Spell move when casting them, and they do not count for Spell Defense, or for any of the advanced moves like Chosen One, Prodigy, Empowered Magic, or Counterspell.

Where does it say that?

(I only discuss cantrips and the Wizard moves here, but the wording of the Cleric moves is so similar that my conclusions apply to both.)

The Spellbook move says:

You start out with three first level spells in your spellbook as well as all the cantrips.

And when you Prepare Spells:

  • Prepare new spells of your choice...
  • Prepare your cantrips...

Your spellbook contains spells and cantrips, you prepare spells and cantrips. They are two different things However, Cast a Spell says:

When you release a spell you've prepared ... the spell is successfully cast ... you do not forget the spell ...

It only mentions spells, never cantrips.

Rotes and Cantrips really aren't 0-level spells?

If you go over to a recent edition of D&D (3rd or later, I think) and drag back the idea that a cantrip is a level-0 spell, you can make it fit with little or no contradiction. However, you have to go to an entirely different game to get that idea; it does not natively occur anywhere in DW.


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.