Larian Studios
When 5E was designed there was a central philosophy called "bounded accuracy". To summarize: the game design is extremely strict about things which can actually damage HP.

  • Attack Roll - Most damage requires an attack roll. The accuracy of this roll is bounded by a fairly strict level = value. Even many spells were switched to attacks in this system. To compensate spell casters get proficiency on magic attack rolls and include their stat in those rolls.
  • Saving Throws - If a spell doesn't have an attack roll then it will almost always have a saving throw. Usually for half damage and sometimes for null damage. The rolls required for these saves are bounded and strict just like attack rolls.
  • Direct Damage - This is stuff like magic missile. It always hits and always does full damage. These sources of damage are very unique and almost all of them come from "limited" resources like spells. These sources on a per level basis do less damage as well.

Everything in the game is balanced around this. The amount of healing you get, the defense against damage, the amount of resources you have between long rests. All of it is balanced around this core concept. So when you throw fire on the ground everywhere and it does large damage per turn without a saving throw or an attack roll this balance is flushed down a toilet.

1. Cantrips are meant to be weak spammable spells. In no way should they create dots or surfaces. They are supposed to be weak(with the exception of Eldritch Blast). By adding a surface to these spells you are causing them to be the equivalent of level 2 spells.
2. The sheer amount of "surfaces" are out of control. They cause a loss of resources and HP that 5E wasn't built to support.
3. The surfaces need to allow defense via the above rules. Saving throws with low DC for null damage should be the norm for something so common. Powerful things like restriction should be rare. Etc.

TLDR: 5E isn't supposed to have this much crap on the ground. Reduce it. Add saving throws. Stop breaking the balance.
1. I agree with the dots/surfaces for cantrips. It's a bit OP, especially at lower levels. It possibly gets a little more balanced at high levels, but it's hard to say.

2. There has been a lot of fire on the ground so far lol. However, this does give spells like "Create Water" more usefulness and utility.

3. Agreed. If there is going to be dot damage for stepping in fire there should be a saving throw to avoid the damage. The "Create Bonfire" spell in 5e is a good example. It creates flame beneath the target's feet, but they only take damage if they fail their DEX save despite the spell being a perpetual flame.
spells should only create surfaces if they were designed to do so, and the effects of spells should be brought back in line with pnp. Fireball could still ignite stuff that is flammable (would need to be something that can be assigned in whatever tools Larian have made). Actual surfaces should require saving throws on entry. Step into fire? Dex Save. Hit by Acidic Brine? Con Save etc.
Originally Posted by blindhamster
spells should only create surfaces if they were designed to do so


Exactly. There are numerous spells that were designed to create surfaces, and now it feels like they don't have a place. If every ice spell creates frozen ground, is there a point in getting sleet storm?
Originally Posted by Dorntdc


TLDR: 5E isn't supposed to have this much crap on the ground. Reduce it. Add saving throws. Stop breaking the balance.


The worst part is the fact that they added a bunch of extra stuff that I wasn't even aware of to begin with.

Why did solid stone beneath a character catch on fire from Fire Bolt when I was fighting skeletons in the crypt? Did I throw it at their feet? Pretty sure I didn't.

Why does acid reduce my AC by 2 when I'm standing in it? Does it dissolve my boots away? Does the rulebook say this anywhere? Pretty sure it doesn't.

5e doesn't have these rules; they should not be in this game.
I'm not sure why the devs believe that these make the game more fun, but they don't.
They were concerned about turns/combat being too slow if you had to use a full action to Disengage/etc., but it doesn't. I find myself trying to maneuver around these silly area hazards even more time-consuming than deciding to Disengage or not.

A flat damage buff to Fire Bolt is fine; Eldritch Blast feels good as is, so would Fire Bolt. It doesn't need a DoT or a Surface Hazard attached to it.

When I throw a Fireball, sure, ignite the whole room for a round for all I care; everything flammable better burn, 'cause that's why I chose it/decided to use it.

But a Cantrip? Please.
Remove ground effects from all Cantrips and spells unless otherwise stated by the Rulebook.



I think the idea behind Acid Splash taking away AC is that it's corrosive. There are ooze monsters in 5e that eat away at AC in a similar fashion. The problem is, it's a pretty hardcore ability for a cantrip that doesn't cost a spell slot.

I can see the logic that Larian is using, but I think spellcasters might outpace martial classes if the extra cantrip effects remain.
Originally Posted by Gmazca

I can see the logic that Larian is using, but I think spell casters might outpace martial classes if the extra cantrip effects remain.


Wait till you get further in you'll realize it's a much bigger problem than just cantrips. I ran into a rogue who threw "alchemical fire" at me. It did enough damage to be a level 2 spell and it wasn't resistable. It also created a large fire on the ground. It was way way too strong for a level 2 enemy. Something like that should be on a level 5 enemy minimum.
Originally Posted by Dorntdc

3. The surfaces need to allow defense via the above rules. Saving throws with low DC for null damage should be the norm for something so common.



Agree 100%
and it wasn't broke and in need of fixing in the first place...
Originally Posted by Dorntdc
Originally Posted by Gmazca

I can see the logic that Larian is using, but I think spell casters might outpace martial classes if the extra cantrip effects remain.


Wait till you get further in you'll realize it's a much bigger problem than just cantrips. I ran into a rogue who threw "alchemical fire" at me. It did enough damage to be a level 2 spell and it wasn't resistable. It also created a large fire on the ground. It was way way too strong for a level 2 enemy. Something like that should be on a level 5 enemy minimum.


Alchemists fire should do 1d4 fire damage on a hit, its an attack though so a rogue could sneak attack with it. You wouldn't get a save but they'd have to successfully hit first.
I like the surfaces and element based effects like the acid.
It is something that would be hard to control on tabletop, i've tried it before.

The game doesn't have to follow the book to the point. But these mechanics enrich the game not the opposite.

As a DM with 20+ years of tabletop dnd I love new elementd and mechanics.

Of course some of them being on cantrips and creating areas when targeting a single enemy could be changed, but I don't think that closing up our minds to all changes is good, we should try to make the best of their ideas and not shit on them how some comments have been doing

There will be plenty of things we don't like. Let's try to make it so we have more that we like than dislike, shall we?

Now.
Cantrips that creates these areas could do so when cast on the ground, therefore foregoing the damage for the effect. I think tjat woulf be a good change. And wouldnt create unexpected situations like burning a web spell.
Adding saving throws to these areas is great as well.

C'mon guys. We already paid for the game. Let's help make it better.


Originally Posted by malks

Now.
Cantrips that creates these areas could do so when cast on the ground, therefore foregoing the damage for the effect. I think tjat woulf be a good change. And wouldnt create unexpected situations like burning a web spell.
Adding saving throws to these areas is great as well.



if the surface effects imposed a saving throw to avoid damage, they wouldn't be half as bad. And targetting the ground/an object instead of a PC creating a surface would indeed make sense (and be something I as a GM would allow in PNP too) because it's thinking outside the box and as you say, forgoing the actual damage. But the surfaces should all be imposing saving throws rather than just auto damaging (often for huge amounts)
Originally Posted by malks
I like the surfaces and element based effects like the acid.

C'mon guys. We already paid for the game. Let's help make it better.


Did you even read the post? It seems like you didn't. I very clearly detailed mechanically how it should work. I didn't suggest it should be removed. I simply pointed out that it needs saving throws and what not.

If they add a level 1 spell that does 10D6 AoE damage am I supposed to be okay with it because you like it? Please stop trying to be positive. Feedback should be honest and you shouldn't try to discourage people from giving detailed constructive posts.
Originally Posted by malks


The game doesn't have to follow the book to the point. But these mechanics enrich the game not the opposite.



I understand the game cannot follow the tabletop exactly, but these mechanics just clutter everything up and rob other spells from shining. There are literally spells in 5e that don't really have a place in this system when every single spell creates random patches of ground (sorry, sleet storm, you gotta go). But the point of 5e combat isn't to manage random effects on the ground. That's divinity original sin 2, and we already have that game.
"Remove ground effects from all Cantrips and spells unless otherwise stated by the Rulebook."


I agree here, and I love the elemental effects. I just wish they were reduced. Being able to control the battlefield with cantrips is overpowered both for and against my party. This needs some major tweaking to balance just right.
Originally Posted by King Qyote
"
I agree here, and I love the elemental effects. I just wish they were reduced. Being able to control the battlefield with cantrips is overpowered both for and against my party. This needs some major tweaking to balance just right.


Agreed
I'm inclined to agree, I'm really hoping they move more to distinguish surfaces in this game from the DOS games. I love environmental effects in concept and they should be present, they are present in 5E as well. But I don't want this game to be like DOS2 in terms of surfaces with guaranteed damage being spammed everywhere.

In fact, maybe we can agree that even in DOS2, surfaces were a bit out of control. It felt like every fight somehow found a way to devolve into a sea of necrofire. Not that it was hard to deal with, with easy access to mobility spells, but the fact it was so prevalent got pretty tiring. Really hurt variety, and for me that's the key. Igniting the token oil patch that every battle area has for some reason and watching enemies die as they run through it was fun the first few times in DOS:EE. After that though, it got old. BG3 is already shaping up to be a step in the right direction, but they could definitely curtail the surface spam even more.
There is too much fire on the ground, please stop with the fire on the ground. I tried looting something in the first area and died because there was fire close to it.
I cannot agree enough with every single thing the OP has stated. The surface system doesn't belong in Baldur's Gate, and it especially doesn't belong in spammable cantrips.
I'm fine with the fire patches on the ship because it's under attack by red dragons, but it should require, as suggested previously, a DC to navigate.

I agree that the change to the cantrips wasn't necessary. Their surface seems to last a long time as well, which is really not inline for level 0 spammable abilities.
I have been a DM for over 25+ years. I am pretty sure the game is not Offcial WOTC D&D Adventure League Rules only. So I think it lines up perfectly. That leaves it open to some "House Rules" and minor tweaks and changes. I agree that the 1d10 Firebolt changed to 1d6 and a 1d4 dot is pretty good at low lvls.. At higher lvls 2d6 and 1d4 dot is less impressive.. VS 2d12 + Cha bonus x2... cough cough..
Areas should always require checks before affecting pcs or npcs.

Cantrips generating the area effect is op. I think if they could do things like ignite oil or grass and freeze blood if cast directly on the surface and not on characters.

I like the surface control, but I understand the sentiment of not having thid become a surface spam mess like dos2. It should be something harder to come by, requiring more preparation and stronger spells than cantrips only.
Also.. does Firebolt catch things on fire? Absolutly.. "A flammable object hit by this spell ignites if it isn’t being worn or carried". Now catching every surface on fire crazy.. But put enough heat to anything and it will light up.
Originally Posted by Dontezz
That leaves it open to some "House Rules" and minor tweaks and changes.


The problem is that it isn't minor tweaks or changes; these "house rules" make it feel like I'm not even playing D&D anymore.
Agreed entirely. Firebolt ingniting the target and leaving a damaging surface with no save (even on a miss, which is mind boggling) is way overpowered. As are the other cantrips behaving the same way.

It would make more sense to let the player target the floor to create a damaging surface (with a save), or it only does damage to the target (without setting a negative status.)
It is a very cool idea, but it just breaks the economy if all damaging cantrips auto damage, and create surfaces.
I disagree to an extent. I think environmental mechanics absolutely has a place in 5e, just not to the extent of DOS2. From the few hours that I've played, there's already an attempt to downplay the importance of environmental strategies and stuff. Hopefully, they'll continue to do that until full release, while keeping environmental stuff that wouldn't be out of place in 5e and still has the Larian feel.
Originally Posted by tangelo1023
I disagree to an extent. I think environmental mechanics absolutely has a place in 5e, just not to the extent of DOS2.


Not really arguing it should be "removed". It just needs to follow the rules! Here's a great example : https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/create-bonfire

This cantrip creates magical fire with the following effects:

1. Affects 5 foot square. That's the size one medium (human) person occupies on the map in tabletop. So it hits one person.
2. It does 1D8 damage and you get a save to take zero damage.
3. You do not take damage walking through it. I repeat you do not take damage walking through it.
4. You take damage if you stand in it on purpose by ending your turn in it. With a save for zero damage.

They're this strict even with magical fire. Also here's another really important point: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/grease

In previous versions of the game you could set grease on fire. They specifically removed this ON PURPOSE because it was too strong in 5E.

Too many surfaces. It's terribly annoying. Makes it feel like DOS3 and I hate it. Also, getting hit with a dagger leaves a blood puddle as large as if a cow exploded at your feet. Why the silly exaggeration?
I agree completely. Surfaces should be reigned in aka you can only set stuff on fire that can actually burn, you can only create a frozen slippery surface when it's wet, etc., and they all should allow for saving throws.
Originally Posted by endolex
I agree completely. Surfaces should be reigned in aka you can only set stuff on fire that can actually burn, you can only create a frozen slippery surface when it's wet, etc., and they all should allow for saving throws.


Even though that's still a departure from core 5e rules, I would still rather your suggestion than all the random effects and the ability to use cantrips/repeatable abilities to create surfaces.
As someone who has extensively played the BG series, D&D 5e, and both DoS games, this is one of the primary problems I am having when trying to argue that this game isn't just DoS: D&D DLC.

Everyone, everrrryone knows that the massive amount of surfaces is a primary trait of the DoS series. To the point where you're reusing resources from DoS directly in BG 3. Please, either admit you're developing a game that is only loosely based on D&D but more focused on DoS mechanics, or stop trying to incorporate all of those mechanics where they don't belong. Alchemist Fire has very specific rules, so do Cantrips. You're creating more work for yourself, and throwing all sense of the beautiful balance of 5e out the window, in favor of making a third DoS game rather than a D&D 5e successor to the Baldur's Gate series. Solving this problem, by sticking closer to the rules as you can, would help this misconception tremendously.
Originally Posted by Isaac Springsong
As someone who has extensively played the BG series, D&D 5e, and both DoS games, this is one of the primary problems I am having when trying to argue that this game isn't just DoS: D&D DLC.


Yes I defended them on switching to turn based 5E. It's just such a let down that the game is actually DoS:5E though.
Originally Posted by malks

Cantrips that creates these areas could do so when cast on the ground, therefore foregoing the damage for the effect. I think tjat woulf be a good change. And wouldnt create unexpected situations like burning a web spell.
Adding saving throws to these areas is great as well.

C'mon guys. We already paid for the game. Let's help make it better.


At the very least, I think that
- Targeting a creature does damage and does NOT create a surface.
- Targeting a surface which a creature is standing on creates a surface, but does NOT do damage to the creature.
- The creature, upon starting their turn on a surface, gets to make a DEX save (based on the caster's spell DC) to see if the surface affects them.
- Surfaces or effects tick exactly once and then expire, because it's a CANTRIP.

It's the deals damage AND makes a surface AND they don't have a save part which is far too strong. Especially for things which last for more than one tick.
No surfaces from cantrips, unless 5e specifically says it does.

Anything else is just dumbing down the game and, more importantly, removes the value a specific character can bring. It removes the investment of having to decide, do you take the cantrip that can make a 'surface' (Create Bonfire) or do you take the cantrip that can do more damage (Firebolt)? I want the game to involve decisions, not one-size-fits all that it is now.
Fully agree, surface spam from cantrips is what should be removed from the game as soon as possible.
Problem with guaranteed damage from surfaces is it wrecks concentration for casters.

Every time I move through fire or someone misses me with a fire bomb I have to make a concentration check to keep my spell up. This can lead to 5 concentration checks from my enemies turn through the end of mine with no chance of saving throws or roll to hit me. Just 5 checks DC10 Con save or my spell goes byebye. Guaranteed damage should be limited to things like magic missile or specific powerful effects that still deal half damage on a failed save. NOT from the environment.
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