Obligatory GitHub repository link.

I can usually tell when I’ve done something right when I can suddenly do a whole bunch of related stuff immediately. So it was with the bard and cantrips. I finally gave in and consolidated cantrips with the primary Spellcasting object for bards.

Then I wrote cantrip setup for the other five major magic-using classes (cleric, druid, sorcerer, warlock, wizard). I finished it all so quickly it was like, “huh, why didn’t I do this before?” But I know why. Sometimes you have to do something the hard way to understand why the easy way is better. If we always took the easy route, we wouldn’t learn anything.

So now I have cantrips initializing properly for the six major spellcasting classes. I still need to write methods for the magic-users to gain new cantrips as they advance in level, and I need to do both (initialization and advancement) for the fighter and rogue subclasses which gain cantrips (and spells). And I also need to slide high elf cantrips in there somewhere.

There are a couple things I can do now, which might be worth looking into for the sake of incremental progress.

One, I can work out cantrip damage for each of the magic-users and replace their crappy weapon attack bonuses and average damage numbers with cantrip data, then use that to estimate CR. It won’t amount to an enormous change overall because magic-users still get crappy AC and hit points compared to basically everyone else, but it will be MORE accurate than it was before.

Also I might discover something new in the process. Yay, discovery!

Among other things, working out cantrip damage is a small-scale project that might help me figure out how to implement spell effects on a larger scale. At the very least, I can write an algorithm for finding a magic-user’s preferred attack method.

Which reminds me! It’s been fun inserting little bits of “preference” into spell selection algorithms. It’s subtle, but in adjacent to the ludicrous levels of randomness that permeate the character generation system are safety nets. For one thing, I’ve made it highly probable that every magic-user will select a minimum of one attack spell. It isn’t IMPOSSIBLE for them to not select an attack spell (except for the sorcerer, I’ll explain in a moment), it’s just highly unlikely.

The bard receives 2 cantrips at level one, and the bard only has access to a solitary attack spell (Vicious Mockery). I went back and forth about whether there should be a 50% or 33% probability that every bard should choose this spell. Honestly, considering they only get two, I’m still experimenting with this.

On the one hand, Vicious Mockery kinda sucks. 1d4 damage, even psychic damage, kinda sucks. The secondary effect kinda sucks. I mean, a high elf bard with a longsword or longbow gets 1d8 plus Dexterity modifier damage and is not only more likely to deal damage–but will quickly outpace Vicious Mockery in damage. 5e was not kind to the bard.

Bards are also tricksy, so I made sure that of the Dancing Lights, Mage Hand, Message, Minor Illusion, and Prestidigitation spells, a bard had an 80-85% probability of getting at least one of them.

Enough about the bard though, what about the others?

Well, the cleric likewise receives access to only a single attack spell: Sacred Flame. It’s so ubiquitous in our D&D group that we’ve nicknamed it “Sacred Nope.” Evil spiders attacking? Nope! Goblins? Nope! Dark elves? Nope! It’s the cleric’s answer to most things.

It really doesn’t help that all of the cleric’s cantrips are either essential or worthless.

Light? No thanks, I have darkvision. Spare the Dying? Can’t live without it! Guidance and Resistance… are you kidding?

I gave every cleric a 50% probability of selecting Sacred Flame and a 33% probability of selecting Thaumaturgy (which is kind of the divine equivalent of Prestidigitation).

WHOA. Hang on a second. I just had a deliriously obvious realization. Thaumaturgy is the divine equivalent of Prestidigitation. I mean, I made that call when 5e was first released (and I recognized a few of its effects for 4e powers), but I think I just made a connection that should have been there from the beginning.

Spare the Dying is both useless and indispensable. Thaumaturgy is flashy but generally useless (technically like Prestidigitation except for the instant-clean effect). Spare the Dying should be an EFFECT of Thaumaturgy. For anyone who isn’t already aware, the WORD thaumaturgy means “wonder-working.” It’s so obvious I can’t believe I didn’t realize it until now.

As spells go, Thaumaturgy is decidedly lacking, no matter how you slice it. In our group, we actually house-ruled that under the right conditions a character can deal thunder damage with the “booming voice” option because of how sound actually works. In a confined space like a dungeon or cave, a reckless cleric can thunder deal damage to friends and foes.

Sorry I got off-track there. I need to go and jot some notes down. I’m cutting this post off here.