Customizing Your Game — 5E D&D Feats and Spellcaster Cantrips

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Dungeons and Dragons -- Gaming Through the Editions
The Wemic -- Monster and Playable Race for 5E D&D

Hello and welcome, reader. Nerdarchist Dave with a tale of fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons feats and how I accidentally created my first one. It all started with a question from a viewer. The same person also asked about casting cantrips using higher level spell slots. At first I balked at the higher level spell slots, but than I thought about it. Most cantrips only effect a very small area with a limited range for the most part — only one target — or a saving throw avoids all damage so I don’t think it’s game breaking. Then you add in having to use an ability score increase to take a feat to do it. A maximized fireball is still usually a better option than an empowered cantrip. But if you want a spellcaster with a certain flavor, why not? This is the first 5E D&D feat I’ve homebrewed and it’s a really great example of how easy this edition of the game is to customize.

5E D&D feat — Cantrip Mastery

“Am I the only one that has an inconvenience to Wizards having limited known cantrips?”

Requirements. Ability to cast cantrips and a minimum spellcasting ability score of 13

Description. You are adept at casting a variety of cantrips and pushing their power beyond the scope of other spellcasters. You gain two benefits.

Cantrip Book

When you take this feat you acquire a cantrip book containing two cantrips from a spellcasting class you can already cast spells from. You carry a special cantrip book or add cantrips to a spellbook you already posses.

Where most casters only bother with the cantrips they’ve imprinted within their minds you commit new ones to a special book for further study. During a short rest after studying your cantrip book you may change out your cantrips known to cantrips you posses in your cantrip book.

Empower Cantrip

You may choose to cast a damaging cantrip with a higher level spell slot. Each spell level of the slot increases the damage by one die. When a spellcaster casts at a higher level spell slot it is considered a spell of that level for all intents and purposes — not a cantrip.

Peeling back the curtain on Cantrip Mastery

I actually weighed the feat idea against existing 5E D&D feats and considered how it compared at both high and low levels of play. Switching out cantrips after a short rest isn’t a big deal for three reasons.

  1. Action economy. Only so much can be done in a given round, and this never changes.
  2. Short rests. These take at least an hour and realistically, characters aren’t going to take one after every encounter.
  3. Access. Spellcasters must have any particular cantrip in their cantrip book in order to swap it in.

The feat only gives two more cantrips, and any more need to be acquired. Powering up spells is something every spellcaster can do. I used the feats Spell Sniper and Magic Initiate as models. This feat is 60% flavor and 40% useful. Empowering cantrips is suboptimal compared to casting a given spell of the level of the slot your using.

Until next time my friends stay nerdy.

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Follow Dave Friant:
My name is Dave Friant I've been gaming off and on for over 27 years. But here is the thing it's always been a part of my life I've kept secret and hidden away. I've always been ashamed of the stigma that gaming and my other nerdy and geeky pursuits summon forth. Recently I decided screw it! This is who I am the world be damned. From now on I'm gonna be a geek, nerd, or however folks want to judge me and just enjoy life. Currently one of my greatest joys is introducing my 13 yr old son to table top RPG's.

5 Responses

  1. Jonathan
    | Reply

    Would you include a max for the die increase. I could see someone trying to cast Firebolt as a 2nd level spell, damage goes d10 to d12 for 1st level, and then d12 to d20 for 2nd level. That would be fun to see, but you could have a warlock using 4 beams of eldritch blast doing d20 per blast.

    • Dave Friant
      | Reply

      The die doesn’t increase. You add an extra die per spell slot level. My wording might need some clarification. So fore bolt cast as 2nd level spell would do an additional 2d10 damage.

      • Jonathan
        | Reply

        Thanks for clearing that up. It makes sense now. I was reading over it while working the night shift, it just didn’t click the first time.

  2. Johnnie Collins
    | Reply

    Say I'm a Warlock with this feat. I'm 9th level, so my spell slots are 5th level. I cast Eldritch Blast with it's 2 bolts at my level. Does this feat mean I would have 2 bolts that would each do 5d10 + CHR damage, 2 bolts that would each do 5d10 + CHR(5) damage or 10 bolts each doing 1d10 + CHR damage?

  3. Johnnie Collins
    | Reply

    Say I’m a Warlock with this feat. I’m 9th level, so my spell slots are 5th level. I cast Eldritch Blast with it’s 2 bolts at my level. Does this feat mean I would have 2 bolts that would each do 5d10 + CHR damage, 2 bolts that would each do 5d10 + CHR(5) damage or 10 bolts each doing 1d10 + CHR damage?

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