View Full Version : Base Class: Cantrip Mage

2009-08-07, 05:26 PM
Some arcane casters never progress past 0 level spells. Complex weaves of magic are beyond their ken, they simply lack the intellectual fortitude or willpower necessary. Despite this they can achieve great power simply by doing those weak spells VERY VERY VERY well, by learning to perform their gestures and incantations ever more swiftly and expertly. Just like a physical handicap, their magical limit ends up strengthening their arcane ability in other ways to compensate.

HD: d6


Unlike other arcane classes a Cantrip Mage bases their spellcasting off Dexterity. Level 0 spell slots per day is equal to their (Dex)x(Cantrip Mage Caster Level)/2. At higher levels they can cast a huge number of cantrips a day, but usually combine them into fewer but stronger spells. Cantrip Mages are spontaneous spellcasters and do not need spellbooks.

Cantrip Mages can initially only cast Level 0 spells from the sor/wiz spell list. A Cantrip Mage starts at level 1 knowing how to cast Detect Magic, Acid Splash or Ray of Frost, and three cantrips of their choice, and they learn to cast one new cantrip with each level.

At level five and higher a Cantrip Mage can choose to learn an orison from the cleric spell list instead. At level 10 and higher they may also choose from Bard and Druid level 0 spells. If Cure Minor Wounds is learned they can only heal 1hp a spell limiting its use in battle, but considering how many spells they have a day this can be potent means of healing after a fight when they can heal at their leisure.

Cantrip Mages also learn various Cantrip Powers as they advance, efficient ways of spending low level magic to mimic higher level effects of a few specific. Most of these continuously spend level 0 spells while activated.

They also learn Intensified Cantrips, a technique that can achieve any higher level effect through low level magic, but it is very inefficient and requires a lot of spells.

Skill Points at 1st Level
(8 + Int modifier) ×4.
Skill Points at Each Additional Level
8 + Int modifier.

Class Skills:
Balance, Climb, Concentration, Craft, Escape Artist, Gather Information, Jump, Listen, Move Silently, Open Lock, Ride, Search, Sleight of Hand, Spellcraft, Spot, Use Magic Device, Use Rope

Weapon and Armor Proficiency
Cantrip Mages are proficient with the club, dagger, heavy crossbow, light crossbow, and quarterstaff, but not with any type of armor or shield. Armor of any type interferes with a Cantrip Mage’s movements, which can cause her spells with somatic components to fail.

Table: Cantrip Mage

Bab progresses as wizard. Saving Throws progress as rogue.

1|Quickened Cantrip, Cantrip Evasion
2|Combine Cantrips/2
3|Alter Energy/1, Cantrip Flight
4|Combine Cantrips/3
5|Intensify Cantrip/1 school, Combined Quickened Cantrip/2
6|Combine Cantrips/4
7|Alter Energy/2, Cantrip Invisibility
8|Combine Cantrips/5
9|Intensify Cantrip/2 schools, Combined Quickened Cantrip/3
10|Combine Cantrips/6
11|Alter Energy/3, Cantrip Armor
12|Combine Cantrips/7
13|Intensify Cantrip/3 schools, Combined Quickened Cantrip/4
14|Combine Cantrips/8
15|Alter Energy/4, Cantrip Resistance
16|Combine Cantrips/9
17|Intensify Cantrip 4/schools, Combined Quickened Cantrip/5
18|Combine Cantrips/10
19|Alter Energy/5, Cantrip Seeing
20|Intensify Cantrip 5/schools, Cantrip Power

Quickened Cantrip
Each round they may cast one level 0 spell as a quickened spell.

Cantrip Evasion
A Cantrip Mage can use a magical push to move themselves out of the way of attacks. This allows them to apply the Evasion feat to their Reflex saving throws, but each time they choose to use this it burns up 4 level 0 spells. They must choose to use Cantrip Evasion before rolling.

Combine Cantrip
When casting a combined cantrip they can use additional level 0 spell slots to intensify that spell. All variable, numeric effects of combined cantrips have the number of dice rolled multiplied by the number of slots combined. This does not affect range or duration. They can combine 2 level 0 slots at level 2, and a larger number of slots at higher levels. A combined cantrip's spell level increases by 1 for every 2 slots combined, making it hard to dispel or counter when many slots are used. Since even just two spells count as a Level 1 spell, a combined cantrip cannot be quickened.

Alter Energy
They can alter a spell when cast so that it utilizes a different element from the one it normally uses. This ability can only alter a spell with the acid, cold, fire, electricity, or sonic descriptor. For example, this allows them to throw a Frost Splash or use a Ray of Sonic. They learn one type of energy alteration at level 3, and new forms of energy as they progress until they know all 5 at level 19. When casting a combined spell, they may combine elements in a single spell in any manner they choose, for example firing a Ray of Frost 1/Sonic 3/Acid 2, rolling damage dice of each type in that ratio.

Cantrip Flight
At level 3 a Cantrip Mage may burn cantrips to fly, as the Fly spell. This is a standard action and spends 1 level 0 spell each round they remain aloft.

Intensified Cantrip
By combining a large number of level 0 spell slots a Cantrip Mage can achieve the effect of any higher level sor/wiz spell. They must pay any material or xp cost that spell has and follow all other casting requirements. A Cantrip Mage must know a cantrip in an attempted spell's school. They can only attempt spells in one school of magic at level 5, and learn additional schools of their choice as they advance. Intensified Cantrips cannot be used with Combined Cantrips or Alter Energy. The number of 0 level spells required rises swiftly with spell level, making higher level spells difficult if not impossible to cast. This ability may be used to counterspell.

{table="head"]Spell Level|Level 0 Slots Spent

Combined Quickened Cantrip (yes, it's a mouthful)
Starting at level 5, a Cantrip Mage can use additional spells to cast their Quickened Cantrip as a Combined Cantrip.

Cantrip Invisibility
At level 7 a Cantrip Mage may burn cantrips to turn invisible, as the Invisibility spell. This is a standard action and spends 1 level 0 spell each round they remain invisible. Attacking drops their invisibility, and after becoming visible they cannot turn invisible again until the next round has passed.

Cantrip Armor
At level 11 as a standard action a Cantrip Mage may burn 10 level 0 spell slots to simultaneously cast Shield and Protection from Arrows on themselves.

Cantrip Resistance
At level 15 a Cantrip Mage may become immune to the first 10 points of damage from any type of energy they choose. Using this ability is a free action and can be activated in response to an opponent's attack, but burns 2 level 0 spell slots per round used. Only one type of energy can be shielded against at a time.

Cantrip Seeing
At level 19 a Cantrip Mage can activate True Seeing as a standard action, but doing so burns up 1 level 0 spell slot per round used.

Cantrip Power
At level 20 a Cantrip Mage no longer uses up spells when making use of Cantrip Evasion, Cantrip Flying, Cantrip Invisibility, Cantrip Armor, Cantrip Resistance, or Cantrip Seeing. They must still have at least one cantrip remaining to use these abilities.

2009-08-07, 05:27 PM
How balanced is this? The class has pros and cons. On one hand you can't cast higher level spells, except very poorly with the Intensify Cantrip ability. So no Wish or Plane Shifts. On the other hand at level 20 a caster with 18 dex can cast 180 cantrips per day, or 18 level 1 spells, or 12 level 2 spells, etc in various combinations.

As for attack power, to give you an idea, a level 10 caster can cast cast one combine cantrip/5 and one quickened cantrip/3 in one round. So that's 8d3 damage at one person or 5d3 at one person and 3d3 at another. And they'd be able to split up that damage between three different types of energy any way they like (the spell's original energy and two learned).

At level 20 it's pretty sweet, one attack at 10d3 and another at 5d3. Or they can simulate a higher level spell with Intensify Cantrip and also use a 5d3 attack. Or activate one of their powers and use a 5d3 attack.

Also Cure Minor Wounds turns out to be a very useful spell if they pick it up at level 5. While it only can cure 1hp per round they get so many spell slots that it's an almost endless way to recover between battles when there's no rush.

The Dark Fiddler
2009-08-07, 05:31 PM
This certainly sounds interesting. I'm not sure whether its balanced or not, but I don't think you need to worry about it being uber-over powered.

2009-08-07, 06:03 PM
I like it, quite a bit. Honestly, I think intensify cantrip kindof defeats the purpose, but it's still a very cool class.

The Neoclassic
2009-08-07, 06:17 PM
I like it, quite a bit. Honestly, I think intensify cantrip kindof defeats the purpose, but it's still a very cool class.

Agreed and agreed. Maybe instead of Intensify Cantrip as is, somehow have a way for them to stack cantrips or cast several at one time? For example, if you use up 10 cantrip slots, you can cast the basically a set of five cure minor wounds at one time, which sort of mimics cure light wounds, but is still kinda cantrip-based. (Actually, your Combine Cantrip thing is essentially that.) I'm not sure if that exactly makes sense, but the idea of weaving several smaller magics with a bunch of quick gestures into something more powerful that isn't just a regular higher level spell kinda intrigues me. I'm not sure how that'd be done best though.

I was skeptical at first about spellcasting based off of Dexterity, but it's kind of cool. However, I assume that'd mean they couldn't take Still Spell as a feat, since their spellcasting is dependent upon quick motions?

2009-08-07, 06:45 PM
I like the idea. It reminds me of a Hedge Mage, someone who can use magic to calm fevers and purify water but not throw the raw elements of nature around.

It would be fun to play.

Pie Guy
2009-08-07, 07:17 PM
Clarify at the top if it's Dex modifier or score for casting spells, because with modifiers, it's impossible to use cantrip evasin at first level. (18 base +2 race= +5 bonus, 5*1/2= 2.5)

2009-08-07, 10:25 PM
I like it, quite a bit. Honestly, I think intensify cantrip kindof defeats the purpose, but it's still a very cool class.

I was hesitant to implement that, but I put it in as an emergency catch-all. I want them to be able to cast higher level spells like Dispel Magic or Teleport if absolutely necessary.

It's still very limited though. For example a level 10 caster with 20 dex will only have 100 cantrips per day. Casting 1 level 5 spell and 1 level 4 spell would literally use up all their daily magic. It's not worth it for combat purposes most of the time. Not to mention they're limited to a few schools. Can anyone suggest ways I should limit that further? Should I remove it and give them something else to compensate?

I was skeptical at first about spellcasting based off of Dexterity, but it's kind of cool. However, I assume that'd mean they couldn't take Still Spell as a feat, since their spellcasting is dependent upon quick motions?

Yeah, they couldn't apply any metamagic feats to their spells since they only have level 0 spell slots. Most of their class abilities are various kinds of metamagic to make up for that.

Clarify at the top if it's Dex modifier or score for casting spells, because with modifiers, it's impossible to use cantrip evasin at first level. (18 base +2 race= +5 bonus, 5*1/2= 2.5)

No, no, I should have made it clearer. They don't get cantrips based on their Dex bonus. They get them on their Dex itself. So at level 1 with 20 dex that's 10 cantrips a day.


I have to make a correction. They can heal 2hp per round, not 1 like I said, but that requires using both their standard action and their quickened spell on a single Cure Minor Wounds each.

lvl 1 fighter
2009-08-07, 11:12 PM
The concept is intriguing. I think it's seriously under-powered.

Cantrip Flight/Invisibility/Seeing
I would add a line like this for each of these powers: "Maintaining Cantrip Flight requires a swift action every round it is used."

Intensified Cantrip
A 10th level Cantrip Mage with a Dexterity of 22 has 110 cantrips per day. That would allow her to emulate a 6th level spell [85 pts], a 2nd level spell [15 pts], and have 10 pts left over to use Cantrip Evade and blast someone for 6d3.

By comparison a 10th level Wizard with an Intelligence of 22 has 3 5th level spells, 4 3rd & 4th level spells, and 6 1st & 2nd level spells.

The Cantrip Mage gets wasted every time, simply because he has no staying power from his class abilities.

2009-08-07, 11:18 PM
I feel like this should inherently be some sort of gish that can all day buff itself with one effect at a time. A cantrip mage who can emulate a much higher level of spell... it's sort of self-contradictory.

2009-08-07, 11:20 PM
a follow up to my last post:

What if instead of getting Amplify Cantrip they instead got Multiple Cantrip? This would let them cast several spells at once, even different cantrips, and target a different person with each or the same person several times. This would not combine with Combined Cantrip, even though you could also use this for attack spells. So if you want to max out damage use Combined Cantrip, if you want to do several things use Multiple Cantrip.

Multiple Cure Minor Wounds in one action for several points of healing
Blasting an enemy with several different attack spells AND healing yourself at the same time
Moving several objects at once with Mage Hand

It would probably take over Amplify Cantrip's spot, so they'd be able to cast 2 cantrips simultaneously at level 5, and be able to cast 5 different ones simultaneously at level 20. They'd probably also get Quickened Multiple Cantrip/2 at level 12, then /3 at 16, and /4 at 20. This would give them a lot of flexibility.

Does that make sense? It's late so that might not be worded as best as possible.

2009-08-07, 11:28 PM
It seems like an interesting class... but very weak unless you use absurd amounts of dex boosting cheese to get early access to high level spells.

2009-08-07, 11:36 PM
It seems like an interesting class... but very weak unless you use absurd amounts of dex boosting cheese to get early access to high level spells.

There might be multiclass opportunities also. For example a Rogue 5/Cantrip Mage 5 with 20 Dex would have 50 level 0 spells a day. They'd get a free Quickened 2d3 attack spell each round in addition to their Rogue fighting abilities for up to 25 rounds, fly for up to 50 rounds a day, and heal up to 50hp a day. They still might need a boost though.

2009-08-07, 11:40 PM
They still need a boost. Wholeness of Body/Lay on Hands are not winning any awards and they are much better, and 2d3 damage as a swift action with no secondary effects...

Power has to scale geometrically, not linearly, with level in order to keep up in D&D. Consider adding secondary effects, like after a certain level all of his cantrips produce a fascinate effect or something, or he can triangulate someone's position with three swiftly fired cantrips and negate their miss chance, as well as giving allies the ability to reroll their miss chance against the target.

Would increase BAB to +15, saves to Ref and Will high.

2009-08-08, 08:48 AM
I agree with Astral's recommendations, as currently the Cantrip Mage is on par with NPC classes right now in terms of power and I'm not talking Adepts, I mean Experts, Warriors and Commoners (Oh my!).

Given how Dex-based they are, they kinda feel Spellthief or Beguiler-esque, so perhaps giving them some Sneak Attack wouldn't be too out there, which would do much to addressing their lack of power. That combined Ray of Frost doing 3d3 certainly becomes more of a threat if you got 2d6 sneak attack on top of it. They certainly could learn to do more, as their one-trick pony status isn't really doing it for them.

Them's my 2 coppers. Take as you will.

2009-08-08, 09:41 AM
This class is not very exciting. Combining mini-spells to produce a bigger effect is an interesting mechanic, but the spells in question are badly suited for that task. Some of the rune magic systems achieve the same thing with a much better result.

2009-08-08, 10:17 AM
I wonder... Maybe you could give him dispel magic, or an AMF that only his spells work in. The idea being that all these hundreds of cantrips are interfering with the processes that cause higher-level magics to work.
Perhaps something like an aura that limits the level of spells that can be cast near him?

2009-08-08, 10:26 AM
Does this magic system remind anyone else of the Black Mage of Final Fantasy?