Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Everyday Cantrips

Hooded young girl doing magic stuff #1
In Ahneria, everybody has a little bit of magic sensitivity. The thing is, those who don't work to practice such talents won't be able to use them in social or combat situations very effectively. Thus, adventurers still get to run around feeling heroic.

I wanted to write out some examples of very, very simple kinds of magic that might exist among the common folk of Ahneria. Specifically, different ways that a commoner might be able to use a cantrip or weakened version of a cantrip.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with giving a commoner a fully-powered cantrip. This is because even though they can use magic, they probably have a good reason not to: action economy.

In the world of D&D, anyone who has been in a fight knows that you have to use your turn wisely to win the battle. If you have the choice of swinging a club (which you have practiced with) or casting a spell (which you haven't), you're likely to go with the option that deals the most damage on a particular turn.

This isn't meta-gaming: your character, in the game, understands that wearing down an opponent as quickly as possible is the key to victory. So when it comes to giving an NPC a cantrip, you'll basically want to do so for flavor reasons or for a plot device reason. It won't really affect their combat statistics.

For the same reason, PCs shouldn't have these powers. Either assume they mastered their natural cantrip with their spellcasting (if they are a magic user) or they have the weakest version of the cantrip listed below (if they are a fighter). Or not. I'm generally okay with giving PCs small abilities if they add flavor.

When you are picking a cantrip, you can weaken any cantrip in a few basic ways:
  • Instead of casting the cantrip at will, it can only be cast once a day or once a week
  • The cantrip requires extra verbal, somatic, or material components to work
  • The cantrip can only be cast as a ritual, or requires more time than usual to cast
  • The cantrip cannot be cast intentionally, and requires some sort of mental or emotional trigger
  • Casting the cantrip causes the caster to become stunned, paralyzed, exhausted, or unconscious for a set amount of time after casting it
  • The range of the cantrip is halved, limited to 5 feet, or even limited to touch
  • If the cantrip uses an attack roll, it is rolled with disadvantage. If the cantrip uses a saving throw, it is rolled with advantage.

Hooded young girl doing magic stuff #2
Beyond that, here are some examples of modifications you could make to each cantrip in the game to make them more suitable for a commoner or novice magic user. The modifications are generally listed from weakest to strongest.

Acid Splash
  • Weeps acid (not immune to acid damage, but not enough acid damage to harm)
  • Can dissolve nonmagical items held in the mouth for 1 hour
  • Spell can only affect 1 target, not 2

Blade Ward
  • Invokes pity in others
  • Only resists damage from unarmed strikes
  • Resists only one type of damage

Chill Touch
  • Always has cold hands
  • Undead can't tell they aren't undead
  • Deals no damage, only prevents healing
  • Deals no damage, only gives disadvantage to undead

Control Flames
  • Eyes burn or ears smoke when angry
  • Limited to one of the listed effects
  • Can only sustain one effect at a time
Create Bonfire
  • Eyes burn or ears smoke when angry
  • Can snuff candles or torches without taking fire damage
  • Can touch flammable objects and ignite them
  • Size of bonfire is reduced

Dancing Lights
  • Appears as a halo of light, can't be moved from head
  • Lights must appear on the tip of an unlit torch or in an unlit lantern
  • Light appears 60 feet in the air and can't be lowered
  • Only one orb
  • The light is dimmed
  • Must remain in vaguely humanoid shape

Druidcraft
  • Gets a hunch about the next day's weather
  • Supernaturally excellent gardener
  • Limited to one of the listed effects

Eldritch Blast

  • Harmless energy crackles at hands when angered
  • Unarmed strikes can deal force damage, affect incorporeal creatures
  • If they can cast a spell, can twin the spell (PHB pg. 102) once per day

Fire Bolt

  • Eyes burn or ears smoke when angry
  • Can snuff candles or torches without taking fire damage
  • Can touch flammable objects and ignite them

Friends

  • People believe their moods are being influenced when spoken to, causing distrust
  • Popular
  • Limited to a single type of Charisma check (intimidation, persuasion, etc)

Frostbite
  • Always has cold hands
  • Limited to imposing disadvantage, no damage
  • Limited to dealing damage, no disadvantage

Guidance

  • Particularly comforting or encouraging
  • Limited to a single skill (only Animal Handling, etc)

Gust


  • Hair/clothes constantly blowing in the wind
  • Can hold breath twice as long
  • Limited to one of the listed effects

Infestation

  • Incurable lice
  • Friend to insects
  • Limited to movement, no damage
  • Limited to damage, no movement



In fact, I am the disco inferno
Light

  • The light always is on, cannot be snuffed
  • The light is always a particular color
  • The light can only be seen on the ethereal plane
  • The light is dimmed
  • The light always emanates from the eyes or fingertips

Mage Hand

  • The hand has a mind of its own and plays mischievous pranks
  • The hand isn't humanoid, and may not be able to perform certain tasks (such as a fish fin)
  • The hand will only interact with certain types of items
  • The hand's weight limit is lowered

Magic Stone

  • Skilled at throwing or skipping rocks
  • Skilled with a sling
  • Unarmed strikes can use a mental stat instead of Strength for attack and damage rolls
  • Unarmed strikes count as magical


Mending

  • Supernaturally good seamster/seamstress
  • Limited to repairing a certain type of object
  • Size of break/tear is lessened

Message

  • Only relays message in a particular language, which may or may not be known to the sender
  • Can't reply to message
  • Message blocked by any amount of material
  • Message can't curve around corners or must be in sight

Minor Illusion

  • Illusion is extremely faint and barely noticeable
  • Illusion is of terrible quality and automatically seen through
  • Limited to only sound or only image
  • Size of cube containing illusion is lessened

Mold Earth

  • Always slightly dirty
  • Skilled sculptor
  • Limited to one of the listed effects
  • Can only sustain one effect at a time

Poison Spray

  • Halitosis
  • Smelly Hands
  • Coughs poison when ill

Prestidigitation

  • Skilled magician
  • Chef that can make things taste like other things
  • Limited to one of the listed effects
  • Can only sustain one effect at a time

Primal Savagery
  • Always sharp teeth/nails
  • Weeps acid (not immune to acid damage, but not enough acid damage to harm)
  • Can dissolve nonmagical items held in the mouth for 1 hour

Produce Flame
  • Eyes burn or ears smoke when angry
  • Can snuff candles or torches without taking fire damage
  • The light is dimmed
  • Can touch flammable objects and ignite them
  • Flame can't be thrown

Ray of Frost

  • Sluggish, speed reduced 10 feet
  • Always has cold hands
  • Ray only reduces speed, no damage

Resistance
  • Particularly comforting or encouraging
  • Limited to a single save (only Dexterity, etc)

In fashion, a little magic goes a long way.
Sacred Flame

  • Eyes glow when angered
  • Glows with holy light
  • Unarmed strikes can deal radiant damage

Shape Water
  • Hair constantly damp
  • Can hold breath twice as long
  • Limited to one of the listed effects
  • Can only sustain one effect at a time

Shillelagh

  • Skin is rough and bark-like in patches
  • Can sense the feelings of plants by touching them
  • Unarmed strikes can use a mental stat instead of Strength for attack and damage rolls
  • Unarmed strikes count as magical
  • The weapon's damage isn't considered magical

Shocking Grasp

  • More likely to be struck by lightning
  • Harmless energy crackles at hands when angered
  • Unarmed strikes cause the target to be unable to take reactions until the start of its next turn
  • Unarmed strikes have advantage on targets wearing metal armor
  • Unarmed strikes can deal lightning damage

Spare the Dying

  • Frail, can't be stable at zero hit points
  • Skilled doctor
  • Auto-stabilizes at zero hit points

Thaumaturgy
  • Doors occasionally open/close nearby
  • Limited to one of the listed effects
  • Can only sustain one effect at a time

Thorn Whip

  • Longish fingers
  • Thick, vine-like hair
  • No thorns, whip only pulls target
  • Limited to medium or larger creatures

Thunderclap

  • Voice is always louder than normal
  • Sound is audible further away, no additional damage
  • Unarmed strikes can deal thunder damage


Toll the Dead
  • Hallucinates the sound of bells
  • Always correctly identifies if an illness is fatal
  • Always uses d8 for damage

True Strike

  • Great reflexes
  • Sharpshooter
  • Can see a half-second into the future, constantly causes them to trip or flinch

Vicious Mockery

  • Accidentally insults people a lot
  • Skilled wordsmith
  • Limited to imposing disadvantage, no damage
  • Limited to dealing damage, no disadvantage


Word of Radiance

  • Born with the knowledge of a divine word
  • Eyes glow when angered
  • Glows with holy light
  • Unarmed strikes can deal radiant damage


Thanks for reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment