Cantrips are every spellcaster’s best friend. But did you know they can do more than just 1d10 damage?
Cantrips are a vital part of D&D 5th Edition. If you’ve ever played a spellcaster, you’re doubtless familiar with them. They are the minor magical effects you can always be counted on to cast–these range from basic attack spells like Firebolt to miscellaneous effects and illusions, such as you might have from Minor Illusion. There are a few unique ones, but by and large, picking Cantrips isn’t the most exciting thing–until you stop and really look at what each cantrip does. Because sometimes, you want to do more than just “the most damage.”
So today we’re going to leave aside the standard ones that everyone knows about and takes. Wizards and Sorcerers take Fire Bolt, Clerics take Sacred Flame (or Toll the Dead if you have Xanathar’s Guide), Druids take Shillelagh, and Warlocks take Eldritch Blast. It’s all been done. These Cantrips do the best damage you can get–but if you want more than that, here’s a look at some of the other Cantrips that pack more into your action than just 1 or 2 extra points of damage per round.
Everyone needs a helping hand from time to time–and if you’ve got Guidance on your spell list, that helping hand is often you. If you’re a bard, this one is definitely worth grabbing to make your bardic inspiration go that much further–but everyone always loves what amounts to a free +1d4 on an ability check. Whether you’re looking for traps, trying to disarm them, or figuring out the best way to rescue your friend from the trap they failed to disarm, we could all use a little guidance from time to time.
Are you tired of being taken for a conjurer of cheap tricks? Thaumaturgy is the spell for you. This spell is my favorite of the miscellaneous magical effect cantrips. Prestidigitation might let you magically clean things, Druidcraft might be able to tell you what the weather is tomorrow, but Thaumaturgy lets you make an impression:
You manifest a minor wonder, a sign of supernatural power, within range. You create one of the following magical effects within range:
- Your voice booms up to three times as loud as normal for 1 minute.
- You cause flames to flicker, brighten, dim, or change color for 1 minute.
- You cause harmless tremors in the ground for 1 minute.
- You create an instantaneous sound that originates from a point of your choice within range, such as a rumble of thunder, the cry of a raven, or ominous whispers.
- You instantaneously cause an unlocked door or window to fly open or slam shut.
- You alter the appearance of your eyes for 1 minute.
If you cast this spell multiple times, you can have up to three of its 1-minute effects active at a time, and you can dismiss such an effect as an action.
What’s not to love?
This is another minor magical effect spell–but it has one surprisingly useful ability: you can create difficult terrain wherever you like for up to an hour. It’s incredibly helpful if you’re needing to prepare defenses. Conversely, if you need to clear a path through difficult terrain, Mold Earth has got you covered. You’ll find it in the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion.
We couldn’t, in good conscience, leave out Minor Illusion. This spell is just so broadly applicable. It lets you create sound, create images–give yourself a piece of wall to hide behind. Can’t get to a safe hiding spot? Create one–generate a barrel that you can just crouch down in and your enemies won’t see you. Create the sound of approaching guards if you need to scare folks off. It’s a tricky spell because it relies on your DM playing along, and that can be difficult for some DMs who want everyone to just see through magical disguises, but! But! This spell lets you do so much. If it’s on your list, it’s well worth taking.
The last one is for all those moments when you’d love to be there but your character isn’t–you can reach out and whisper to someone up to 120 feet away. Instantaneous communication, undetectable since “only the target” hears the message. And it works through solid objects as well.
There are plenty of other Cantrips out there–so give them a try. And let us know in the comments which ones are your favorites!
As always, Happy Adventuring!