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#737379 21/11/20 01:19 PM
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This is more of a 5e feedback I suppose and one that looks beyond EA. But I find it an interesting topic nevertheless that will also be eventually relevant in BG3.

Why do cantrips scale in power while spells that consume a spell slot do not?

Let's compare Fire Bolt vs. Chromatic Orb cast by an 11th level Wizard. Fire Bolt 3d10 damage vs. Chromatic Orb 3d8 damage. Orb offers more freedom since you can choose the damage type which can be relevant sometimes. But in most scenarios, why should a cantrip with unlimited casts be more powerful than a spell that consumes a slot?

Why doesn't Chromatic Orb also get another 1d8 at levels 5 and 11? 5d8 wouldn't be overpowered at all at that level. In fact it would be required to make using that spell slot viable. Or simply +1 per level.

Cantrips seem to make many low level spells obsolete. I'm not expecting this to change in BG3, but there could always be more house rules.

Is this good design of 5e or more of an oversight because they wanted to simplify the rules? Personally I just feel like using a spell slot should always be more powerful than casting a cantrip. Probably Larian will create really cool visuals for Chromatic Orbs and it's a shame it will become useless with many others. Witch Bolt is already pretty useless at level 1 and will definitely be compared to a 2d10, or 2d6 + 2d4 Fire Bolt at level 5.

Last edited by 1varangian; 21/11/20 01:28 PM.
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Most leveled spells that deal damage provide damage regardless, with only a few exceptions. Chromatic Orb is, unfortunately, one of those exceptions. Cantrips, on the other hand, are universally all-or-nothing; it's a hard and fast rule for them, regardless of their being attack roll or saving throw - and is part of the reason why so many people have been so vocally against guaranteed damage from cantrips via surface abuse.

Here's a little detail for you: The Sorcerer spell list, as of the recently released Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, contains 196 spells. Of those spells only eight (8!) leveled spells require or involve attack rolls, and that includes spells like storm sphere and wall of light, where the attack roll is secondary and optional. Add six to that number, for cantrips which require attack rolls.

The extreme vast majority of ofence spells offer saving throws instead, and the extreme vast majority of those are save for half damage - meaning you get something out of them regardless.

Remember also that there are fixed scaling rules for spells that are up-cast with higher level slots. buffing the lowest slot level would require further maths to filter through all of the up-casting as well, and it overall makes the magic system more mathematically complex than Wizards wanted for 5e. Older editions absolutely did have leveled spells growing by caster level independently of the base spell... it got to be a nightmare of processing though. Simpler is better, in this case, even if there are some edge cases which feel a little off (because you are right; in the case of an all-or-nothing leveled spell like Chromatic Orb, at higher levels, your cantrips will out do it at its base level, and that feels odd... the only consolation then is the elemental versatility).

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Because they are the equivalent of "fighter has unlimited casts of sword". The idea is that even when you have nothing, you always have cantrips. They were given this scaling mechanic to try and keep them damage relevant as characters leveled up. It does kind of blow low level casting away after a certain point, this is true, while martial classes don't always get similar scaling bonuses. Whether it's bad or not I feel is a matter of individual play style. Personally, post level 10 I rarely use my lower level slots for damaging spells, because I'm either upcasting low level spells or casting higher level spells.

Previous editions had cantrips using level 0 slots, and this sometimes resulted in a spellcaster being so out of magic that they could not even cast their level 0 spells. Other contemporary systems did away with cantrip slots (pathfinder orisons) and then they found their way into 4e in the form of at-will powers, then into 5e as unlimited cantrips. This came along with the 5e spellcasting changes that put a hard limit on the number of spells that you could cast per turn, and being able to only concentrate on one spell at a time. This also meant less resting abuse, as spellcasters had options when they were out of slots and could get by without long rests immediately. There's still the old stereotype of wizards begging the party to go long rest after every combat encounter.

EDIT, to say that you shouldn't be casting chromatic orb, upcast or not. It's the most cursed spell. Never cast chromatic orb.

Last edited by Piff; 21/11/20 01:45 PM.
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I'm not saying cantrips shouldn't scale up. They absolutely do.

But personally I would make some house rules so that low level damage spells wouldn't become useless.

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Not a native english speaker.
So Cantrip basically just means "Spell that costs no spellslot" am I getting that right?


I dunno how to feel about spells at all tbh.
All of them kinda suck, even if INT is comparably high.

With the exception of an AoE spell covering many enemys, or Magic Missles that hit as ANY SPELL should in my opinion ( if the line of fire is not blocked, of course )
... yeah I see no reason to use them most of the time.
It feels very veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery wierd to prefer a Crossbow for Gale, just because its hitchance can be higher from up above and therefore the damage is more reliable.

Wizards, Mages, Spellcasters - using physical weapons cause that leaves less regret.
The current style of Magic is not for me.
If not for the existence of the Magic Missles spell I would not know what Wizards are good for at all.

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Originally Posted by JustAnotherBaldu
Not a native english speaker.
So Cantrip basically just means "Spell that costs no spellslot" am I getting that right?


I dunno how to feel about spells at all tbh.
All of them kinda suck, even if INT is comparably high.

With the exception of an AoE spell covering many enemys, or Magic Missles that hit as ANY SPELL should in my opinion ( if the line of fire is not blocked, of course )
... yeah I see no reason to use them most of the time.
It feels very veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery wierd to prefer a Crossbow for Gale, just because its hitchance can be higher from up above and therefore the damage is more reliable.

Wizards, Mages, Spellcasters - using physical weapons cause that leaves less regret.
The current style of Magic is not for me.
If not for the existence of the Magic Missles spell I would not know what Wizards are good for at all.


Wizards are versatile, been a long time but pretty sure it was never about just damage spells.

For the main topic Cantrips are 4e at will powers, basic abilities to replace your weapon attacks. So ya, it should level up as you get higher levels.

I'd have to research more see if there's something missing from 5e that would make sense why its like how it is, got to go to work, peace.

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Originally Posted by JustAnotherBaldu
Not a native english speaker.
So Cantrip basically just means "Spell that costs no spellslot" am I getting that right?


I dunno how to feel about spells at all tbh.
All of them kinda suck, even if INT is comparably high.

With the exception of an AoE spell covering many enemys, or Magic Missles that hit as ANY SPELL should in my opinion ( if the line of fire is not blocked, of course )
... yeah I see no reason to use them most of the time.
It feels very veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery wierd to prefer a Crossbow for Gale, just because its hitchance can be higher from up above and therefore the damage is more reliable.

Wizards, Mages, Spellcasters - using physical weapons cause that leaves less regret.
The current style of Magic is not for me.
If not for the existence of the Magic Missles spell I would not know what Wizards are good for at all.


Attack roll spells such as firebolt, ray of frost, and scorching ray all benefit from high ground bonuses and will have a better chance of hitting than a crossbow with a wizard. This is especially more noticeable once you boost your Int to +4 at level 4.

The usefulness of casting will increase as missing Lvl 1 and 2 spells are added to the spell roster. When the full game releases and we can get level 3+ spells, spellcasters will start to come online.

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@Evandir
I guess this just shows what a Noob I am but you forget that even the Crossbow has a better chance to hit at higher altitude.
And from 10 encounters, it feels that in 8 of them the Crossbow will dominate over the reliability of the spells.

@Fallenj
Versatile hmh? Maybe one day I will notice this.
All I see is people very often resisting stuff that costs a spellslot. Even spells that do not produce dmg but are used for crowdcontrol. Like fixing people in place and the like.
Others are bound to a threshhold of low HP of course before they hit 100%.

I just think there can be a group of 4 Warriors, maybe even with Shields just for the lulz - and each and everyone of them will one tough nut to crack.

For range we have "Molotov Cocktails" + Oil barrels or Smoke barrels.
Kinda like a Mage throwing a very big fireball.
Maybe I will learn to play the Wizard even better in the future - but right now they feel very unimpressive.

The Iceray is ironically super useful though.
It has two chances to introduce an enemy to the ground.
What am I to feel when a spell like that does not even use a spell-slot?

At this point I feel the Wizard is mainly an Ice-Wizard with some fun-gimmicks which are not truly his main power or intended purpose.

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Low level Wizards' strength is supposed to be crowd control with spells like Sleep and Color Spray.

5e Sleep drops 4 goblins for 10 rounds. In this EA version Sleep drops one HP buffed goblin for 1 round. While Fire Bolt can deal 8 damage on a miss. Balance is really off, probably it will improve.

The low level Wizard's role is to step up when the party is starting to get overwhelmed and save the day with well placed CC or battlefield control like Fog Cloud, spiking in performance at the cost of spell slots. Not so much damage dealing.

Last edited by 1varangian; 21/11/20 07:35 PM.
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The good thing about your cantrips outstripping your low-level slot spells for damage is that you then no longer need to use those low-level slots for damage spells, and can instead use them for the utility and defensive spells which are useful at all levels.

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Originally Posted by Firesnakearies
The good thing about your cantrips outstripping your low-level slot spells for damage is that you then no longer need to use those low-level slots for damage spells, and can instead use them for the utility and defensive spells which are useful at all levels.

I was thinking if this was an actual design choice there.

I would like more cantrips in that case though. 3 or 4 cantrips known is very limiting from a long list of possible cantrips. When you need basic wizard 101 stuff like Light and Mage Hand, there's not a lot of room left for combat cantrips. Why not handle cantrips like all the other spells. Let the Wizard learn any number of them and then prepare 3-5 at a time. A powerful high level Wizard unable to learn a cantrip is an odd concept.

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Originally Posted by 1varangian
Originally Posted by Firesnakearies
The good thing about your cantrips outstripping your low-level slot spells for damage is that you then no longer need to use those low-level slots for damage spells, and can instead use them for the utility and defensive spells which are useful at all levels.

I was thinking if this was an actual design choice there.

I would like more cantrips in that case though. 3 or 4 cantrips known is very limiting from a long list of possible cantrips. When you need basic wizard 101 stuff like Light and Mage Hand, there's not a lot of room left for combat cantrips. Why not handle cantrips like all the other spells. Let the Wizard learn any number of them and then prepare 3-5 at a time. A powerful high level Wizard unable to learn a cantrip is an odd concept.



I like this idea.

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Cantrips scale, because balance: martial classes get Extra Attacks, comparable damage without using resources.

At higher levels you will cast Mage Armor and keep the rest of lvl 1 slots for stuff like Shield, if Larian decides to implement reactions properly... even Feather Fall to avoid fall damage after being shoved. Big IF here.

I like that you all have ideas. Very interesting what people come up with in different threads.
For most of these ideas, I'd rather expect mods will be created sooner or later.
Be careful to not fall into the same unbalanced homebrew trap Larian is now in. Not that I think knowing all the possible wizards cantrips as Lvl 1 Wizard would be unbalanced, but it makes all the characters feel the same, doesn't it? Which leads to another trap. How can Rogue feel special if everybody else learned her cunning ways?

If you are a patient Wizard, you will learn 5th cantrip at Wizard level 10 wink
My guess is that Wizards know a limited amount of cantrips for the same reason they can prepare limited amount of spells from their book. They are just bad at learning stuff or it's really, really hard to remember hand gestures, chanting or which material components are used for all their different spells. Better to have such limit than trying to cast Mage Armor using sulfur and bat guano.
Tasha's bringing one small improvement here, Cantrip Versatility, which allows casters to replace cantrips from time to time. I like this idea.

Embrace differences between classes or even capabilities of different characters of the same class. Peace!

Last edited by mg666; 21/11/20 10:27 PM.
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Can't wizards learn cantrips from spell scrolls in BG3? This should be the way to give wizards more cantrip versatility, not giving them access to all cantrips at level 1.

Last edited by mrfuji3; 21/11/20 10:41 PM.
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Originally Posted by mrfuji3
Can't wizards learn cantrips from spell scrolls in BG3? This should be the way to give wizards more cantrip versatility, not giving them access to all cantrips at level 1.


Depends if we're talking about D&D or Larian's homebrew.

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Copying a Spell into the Book. When you find a wizard spell of 1st level or higher, you can add it to your spellbook if it is of a level for which you have spell slots and if you can spare the time to decipher and copy it.

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Formally speaking, cantrips are not recorded in your spell book at all; they're simple rote-memorised weavings that you don't need a reference for. The latest updates to 5e allow a limited degree of cantrip swapping for most classes, even though Tasha's final rendition of it was disappointing... the idea being that with some time, you can sit down and fix a different cantrip in your "nearly-thoughtless" head space, but you can still only keep so many of them floating around there.

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Originally Posted by mg666
Originally Posted by mrfuji3
Can't wizards learn cantrips from spell scrolls in BG3? This should be the way to give wizards more cantrip versatility, not giving them access to all cantrips at level 1.
Depends if we're talking about D&D or Larian's homebrew.

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Copying a Spell into the Book. When you find a wizard spell of 1st level or higher, you can add it to your spellbook if it is of a level for which you have spell slots and if you can spare the time to decipher and copy it.

I'm talking about BG3 specifically. BG3 allows the copying of cantrips to your spellbook, right? I have a vague memory of copying firebolt to Wyll's spellbook...

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Originally Posted by mrfuji3
BG3 allows the copying of cantrips to your spellbook, right? I have a vague memory of copying firebolt to Wyll's spellbook...


Pretty sure I've copied cantrips into Gale's spellbook...

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Originally Posted by Piff
Originally Posted by mrfuji3
BG3 allows the copying of cantrips to your spellbook, right? I have a vague memory of copying firebolt to Wyll's spellbook...


Pretty sure I've copied cantrips into Gale's spellbook...


Confirmed

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Originally Posted by RumRunner151
Originally Posted by Piff
Originally Posted by mrfuji3
BG3 allows the copying of cantrips to your spellbook, right? I have a vague memory of copying firebolt to Wyll's spellbook...


Pretty sure I've copied cantrips into Gale's spellbook...


Confirmed

Thanks for the confirmations. So then yeah, I'll restate my opinion that the number of cantrips wizards have should remain the same, and other cantrips can be learned via scroll.
For other arcane casters, knowing a more limited amount of spells is baked into their classes, so no need for them to get more cantrips. Plus, at higher levels you'll have much more useful spells than cantrips, especially the case with BG3's free resting system.

More relevant to OPs post, as others have stated, cantrips scale so that they can keep up with fighter's extra attack, etc. Most damaging leveled spells can be upcast in higher slots for more damage if you want that, which then frees up 1st level slots for non-damaging spells (Shield, Feather Fall, Bless).

Last edited by mrfuji3; 22/11/20 12:46 AM.
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