How do you think 5E cantrips scale when you multiclass?


4th Edition


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Suppose you had a fighter(4)/warlock(7)/wizard(5)/cleric/(4) - for the purposes of cantrip scaling what level would they be when casting warlock, wizard or cleric cantrips?

Would it change if they'd chosen the eldritch knight path as a fighter?


I'd go with level as calculated for spell slots slot per day in the multclassing section. I don't think it talks about cantrip scaling specifically, but it does talk about having access to spell slots of a higher level than you know.

An eldritch knight would add 1/3 of their levels to the total whereas any other fighter subclass would add 0.


It goes off of total level for all of them. That character casts all of his cantrips as a 20th level character.


Hiya.

dariusu wrote:
It goes off of total level for all of them. That character casts all of his cantrips as a 20th level character.

Nope. Re-read the info on Multiclassing on page 164 (?) of the PHB. Basically, it's kinda convoluted. The Wizard and Cleric add together, and you get 1/3rd of your Fighter level (rounding down...so 1 level). This gives you a "Level 10 Multiclassed Spellcaster" (there's a table for it in the Multiclass section that tells you how many Spell Slots you get). The level at which you cast the spell, I believe, is the actual level of the class you have (in other words, 5th for Wizard, and 4th for Cleric). The Warlock is the fly in the ointment; They have "Pact Magic", and there are rules for that in the Multiclassing section as well.

As I said...convoluted.

^_^

Paul L. Ming


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pming wrote:
This gives you a "Level 10 Multiclassed Spellcaster" (there's a table for it in the Multiclass section that tells you how many Spell Slots you get). The level at which you cast the spell, I believe, is the actual level of the class you have (in other words, 5th for Wizard, and 4th for Cleric).

So do you think the sample character I provided would cast cantrips scaled to tenth level? Or scaled based on each class individually?


pming wrote:

Hiya.

dariusu wrote:
It goes off of total level for all of them. That character casts all of his cantrips as a 20th level character.

Nope. Re-read the info on Multiclassing on page 164 (?) of the PHB. Basically, it's kinda convoluted. The Wizard and Cleric add together, and you get 1/3rd of your Fighter level (rounding down...so 1 level). This gives you a "Level 10 Multiclassed Spellcaster" (there's a table for it in the Multiclass section that tells you how many Spell Slots you get). The level at which you cast the spell, I believe, is the actual level of the class you have (in other words, 5th for Wizard, and 4th for Cleric). The Warlock is the fly in the ointment; They have "Pact Magic", and there are rules for that in the Multiclassing section as well.

As I said...convoluted.

^_^

Paul L. Ming

The table is for spell slots. This question is asked and answered many times on the 5th edition Q&A thread on the WotC web site. The consensus is character level with backup from twitter posts from the devs.

EDIT: Here is one of the twitter posts.


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Thanks, dariusu. I appreciate the link.


dariusu wrote:


The consensus is character level with backup from twitter posts from the devs.[

I suppose there are good reasons for this from a mechanics standpoint, but it seems strange that a 16th level barbarian could take 1 level of wizard and suddenly be able to do 4d6 damage with ray of frost. What would be the downside for limiting cantrip scaling to combined caster level (as determined above) instead of total level?


I don't see any downside for limiting cantrip scaling to combined caster level, or even dependant on the class level. But I think it would depend on the group.


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Southeast Jerome wrote:
dariusu wrote:


The consensus is character level with backup from twitter posts from the devs.[
I suppose there are good reasons for this from a mechanics standpoint, but it seems strange that a 16th level barbarian could take 1 level of wizard and suddenly be able to do 4d6 damage with ray of frost. What would be the downside for limiting cantrip scaling to combined caster level (as determined above) instead of total level?

The downside is that it becomes less and less important as a tool the higher level you go, penalizing multi-class characters on basic attacks. Cantrips whole point is to be the "go-to" when daily effects are entirely used up OR to be too big of a resource to utilize for the current situation. IF you scale it by caster level (by that particular class or CL overall, based on the Multi-class table) then multiclassing into a non-spellcaster class is always going to be an inferior choice (barring specifics).

So a Barbarian 10 / Cleric 1 gets cantrips. If they're based on the Cleric then it's almost 100% better to NEVER use your turn to cast a Cantrip and instead go with a weapon-based attack. Which begs the question: why are you multiclassing to begin with? Instead, if cantrips are tied to Character level, he can still feel like a cleric like one his peers on the basic level, however they still have LOTS more spells (and of higher level) than him, which separates the distinction.

Some people are fine with this, others (including myself) don't like the penalty. I'm glad cantrips scale with character level instead of caster level. In fact, I'm glad they practically removed Caster Level as a 'thing' for the majority of this edition overall.


There's also the question of martial classes who take the Magic Initiate feat. If they've blown an ability score increase, they certainly shouldn't be stuck at caster level zero until they multi class.

No, I haven't changed my mind about anything, I still just think 5e depends on player/DM communication in a way that rules heavy systems don't.


Hitdice wrote:

There's also the question of martial classes who take the Magic Initiate feat. If they've blown an ability score increase, they certainly shouldn't be stuck at caster level zero until they multi class.

No, I haven't changed my mind about anything, I still just think 5e depends on player/DM communication in a way that rules heavy systems don't.

5e is in no way different in terms of DM/Player communication than previous editions, it's pretty easy to see Cantrips scale with overall character level, as stated by one of the designers. Now you can ignore that and do your own thing based on your own preferences but the rules for this specific thing is pretty clear. Acknowledge that its a houserule, inform players of the change/ruling so they can better make decisions, and go from there.


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I think it's philosophically quite different from 3.5 and 4E. Now they've done away with keywords, definitions and other semilegal constructs it's harder to tell definitively what the designers meant. Personally, I think that's a great approach.


If you go by the "what does it break" test then the barb10/clr1 above doing 4d6 as their only action for the round in my opinion is fine. Their weapon attacks will rarely do less than this.

I am playing a game where the rogue took magic initiate. We scale using the total of all levels. His cantrips are an ok option, not overpowering.


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Alan_Beven wrote:

If you go by the "what does it break" test then the barb10/clr1 above doing 4d6 as their only action for the round in my opinion is fine. Their weapon attacks will rarely do less than this.

I am playing a game where the rogue took magic initiate. We scale using the total of all levels. His cantrips are an ok option, not overpowering.

I agree with this. I don't think either version of the cantrip rule breaks anything, because, like you said, even fully powered cantrips are not overwhelmingly powerful at higher levels. I think my main issue with the rule has more to do with "does this ability make sense within the game world?" It makes sense in-game that a wizard could take a level of fighter and be able to wear armor, or that a fighter could take a level in cleric and be able to stabilize and heal. However, a 10th level Wizard can't take one level of Rogue and immediately get to deal a 5d6 sneak attack, so I'd probably house-rule that a 10th level fighter that takes one level in Wizard can only do 1d8 instead of 3d8 with his ray of frost.


Southeast Jerome wrote:
Alan_Beven wrote:

If you go by the "what does it break" test then the barb10/clr1 above doing 4d6 as their only action for the round in my opinion is fine. Their weapon attacks will rarely do less than this.

I am playing a game where the rogue took magic initiate. We scale using the total of all levels. His cantrips are an ok option, not overpowering.

I agree with this. I don't think either version of the cantrip rule breaks anything, because, like you said, even fully powered cantrips are not overwhelmingly powerful at higher levels. I think my main issue with the rule has more to do with "does this ability make sense within the game world?" It makes sense in-game that a wizard could take a level of fighter and be able to wear armor, or that a fighter could take a level in cleric and be able to stabilize and heal. However, a 10th level Wizard can't take one level of Rogue and immediately get to deal a 5d6 sneak attack, so I'd probably house-rule that a 10th level fighter that takes one level in Wizard can only do 1d8 instead of 3d8 with his ray of frost.

Certainly a reasonable and sensible rule. Prevents level dips getting out of hand.


Southeast Jerome wrote:
However, a 10th level Wizard can't take one level of Rogue and immediately get to deal a 5d6 sneak attack

No, but he can add 1d6 sneak attack dmg to any cantrip or spell that has an attack roll. Spells and cantrips count as weapons if they have an attack roll. (There was a question a while back about whether casters could benefit from the sharpshooter feat, and the answer is yes for the same reason.)


Tying cantrip progression to class level runs into problems because you don't have to have any levels in a spellcasting class to learn a cantrip. It's also available through a feat, and as a racial trait.


Hudax wrote:
Southeast Jerome wrote:
However, a 10th level Wizard can't take one level of Rogue and immediately get to deal a 5d6 sneak attack

No, but he can add 1d6 sneak attack dmg to any cantrip or spell that has an attack roll. Spells and cantrips count as weapons if they have an attack roll. (There was a question a while back about whether casters could benefit from the sharpshooter feat, and the answer is yes for the same reason.)

Where in the rules does it say cantrips or spells count as weapons? The general consensus I've seen is that spells and cantrips DO NOT qualify for sneak attack in 5E.


Kalshane wrote:
Hudax wrote:
Southeast Jerome wrote:
However, a 10th level Wizard can't take one level of Rogue and immediately get to deal a 5d6 sneak attack

No, but he can add 1d6 sneak attack dmg to any cantrip or spell that has an attack roll. Spells and cantrips count as weapons if they have an attack roll. (There was a question a while back about whether casters could benefit from the sharpshooter feat, and the answer is yes for the same reason.)

Where in the rules does it say cantrips or spells count as weapons? The general consensus I've seen is that spells and cantrips DO NOT qualify for sneak attack in 5E.

I wasn't trying to suggest that. My example was just to show that you can't normally jump into a new class late and get all the class's abilities as if you'd been taking that class the whole time. So a 10th level wizard with only one level or rogue only gets to deal 1d6 sneak damage with a weapon attack - he doesn't jump to 5d6 sneak attack damage just because he has 11 total levels.

However, in light of Kalshane's last comment, I think I'm sold on the rule. If you can get a cantrip as a racial trait or via a feat, it makes more sense for it to scale with total character level. The feat is useless otherwise, and the racial trait doesn't require any spellcasting at all. It still seems weird to me, but on balance, that's probably the way it needs to be.


Kalshane wrote:
Hudax wrote:
Southeast Jerome wrote:
However, a 10th level Wizard can't take one level of Rogue and immediately get to deal a 5d6 sneak attack

No, but he can add 1d6 sneak attack dmg to any cantrip or spell that has an attack roll. Spells and cantrips count as weapons if they have an attack roll. (There was a question a while back about whether casters could benefit from the sharpshooter feat, and the answer is yes for the same reason.)

Where in the rules does it say cantrips or spells count as weapons? The general consensus I've seen is that spells and cantrips DO NOT qualify for sneak attack in 5E.

On reflection it seems I misremembered part of the discussion on this due to it being how my current game is working with a multiclass wizard/rogue. The discussion was about throwing weapons and sharpshooter. I thought there was talk of cantrips as well, but apparently I imagined it. That's what I get for not checking.

But the logic is still sound. If a 10 wizard/ 1 rogue can do 3d8 with a cantrip, there's no way he would choose to use any weapon plus 1d6 as an action. Just as a 10 fighter/ 1 wizard would never use a cantrip as an action if it didn't scale. Why multiclass to gain a permanently inviable option? That's why cantrips scale, and why my group's wizard gets sneak attack. I'm not sure if it's intended, but I strongly suspect that it is.

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