I know what you are thinking, “Another wizard post in less than a week? Why?”. Well, I have news for you, my website is now a month old! And I got put on a top ten list for dnd blogs! I know does not seem like much but it is huge to me. So, in honor of this event, I am going to talk about one of my favorite things in the world. Spells! More importantly, the best cantrips in 5e that we do not think about.
We all know the basic great spells such as Fireball, Counter spell, and Wish. If you are brand new and do not know much about wizard spells, then here is a youtube video that goes into detail on many of the wizard staple spells. Now I’ll wait, so feel free to watch it… Welcome back! Now that you are familiar with the wizard spells, I will be going over 3 cantrips that have ton of potential. Yet, for one reason or another we usually will pick something else over it. In this post I will go over the best 5e cantrips for roleplay, utility, and damage. After all, I find all three of these categories cover 99% of us Dungeon and Dragons fans, so why not. Now, let’s go into the review.
Combat- Ray Of Frost Instead Of Firebolt
This is a cantrip I very rarely hear people use, after all, it has less range and damage than the cantrip firebolt. Why would I ever choose to use this? The answer has multiple reasons. While firebolt has an increased range and damage, Ray of Frost is the tactician’s dream cantrip.
The first example of why the spell is better is tied into monster immunities. In the Monster Manual and Volo’s Guide to Monsters, there are 47 monsters immune to fire damage, while only 23 are immune to cold damage. This forces the cantrip damage to become a moot point as it now deals zero damage. Meanwhile, there are 561 monsters that are in these books. This means roughly 8% of the time when fighting a monster, your firebolt cantrip will deal no damage. But, if you use the Ray of Frost cantrip, you only run a 4% chance of that happening.
Now, what happens if you run into immunity. If you hit with a firebolt against a fire-immune creature, there are no effects that happen. However, if you hit a monster who is immune to cold damage, you still can apply the secondary effect of reducing movement by 10 feet. This is a huge limiting factor that many people do not think about. For example, movement is such a huge thing, that there is 1 feat, 3 classes, 1 race, 4 eldritch invocations, and there are more spells than I can count that reduce or increase speed. If you are still unsure how huge this in battle than let me ask you this, “Would you rather fight someone who can move 30 and you can only move 15? Or would you rather be the one moving 30 feet?”
Damage Prevention Beats 1 Point Of Damage.
Then what is the worst possible situation for a squishy wizard? Why it is to be up close to a melee fighter. This leads you to now need to get away from that up-close enemy. Which then forces you to instead of casting a spell, use your action to disengage and then move 30ft. In the end, though, the enemy is just going to come right back up to you and you will have to repeat the process. It has happened to me and many others a million times.
So, what better way to prevent the enemy from coming up to you, but by reducing their speed. This would force many enemies to only be able to move 20 feet a turn unless they use their action to dash. Even then they can only move 40 feet and do nothing to deal damage. So, while you may deal 1 point less than firebolt, you sacrifice that damage for a universal crowd control that forces enemies to be at a tactical disadvantage. Making this the best wizard spell in 5e for combat cantrips.
Utility- Mending Versus Prestidigitation
Now, what about utility? The cantrip, Prestidigitation has always been the more popular choice over the cantrip Mending. The reason being, Prestidigitation takes only 6 seconds to cast and can do a multitude of actions. Meanwhile, Mending takes a minute to cast and can effectively do only minor repairs. Yet, if you look at the cantrips in detail, there are many reasons to choose mending for your cantrip.
Who Needs A Blacksmith?
The most common use is you never have to worry about buying arrows since you can just mend all arrows that break. But, using the cantrip to repair objects goes beyond just that. After all, there are tons of times when bridges are breaking or falling apart. I’m looking at you rope bridges. With the Mending Cantrip, you never have to worry about a severed rope or ailing bridge, as now just a few minutes and it is as good as new. I actually really made A DM mad with this when he cut our rope when we were in a thief’s guild trap. Well none of us had a rope on us because we used ours to get down the hole safely.
Thankfully, there was 5 of us who could stand on each other to reach 25ft up where the rope was cut. It led to some very fun shenanigans as our Barbarian was now trying to support us with his strength while everyone else had to make acrobatics checks. The end result though was me mending the rope and able to get us all out safely. Of course, the entire time my DM was baffled at our party’s way of thinking. But hey what’s new.
Many people only see mending for uses like that, but the beauty of this cantrip really shines when looking at the restrictions. In dungeons and dragons, usually, the best 5e cantrips come from those with the least restrictions or most variability. This led me to look into what restrictions mending had. I found only three restrictions for the cantrip. That the damage must be a break or tear. The damage cannot be any larger than 1 foot in any dimension. The spell cannot restore lost magical properties. Outside of that, the only other restrictions of this cantrip is your imagination. Because as long as it meets these three requirements the mending cantrip will work. Thus, allowing for great shenanigans and ideas. If you cannot think of a few, here are 10 creative uses of the mending cantrip that I found great to get my ideas going.
Roleplay- Friends v Message
Now roleplay is an interesting category. The reason being, there can be many definitions toward roleplay. So, before I begin going over the cantrip that is the best wizard spell for 5e roleplay, I want to define it first. In short, when I talk about roleplay, I am not talking about how well it fits into someone’s backstory as backstories vary immensely. What I am talking about, is cantrips used to interact with either NPC’s or each other that can lead to fun roleplay dynamics between others. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let me tell you why message is the best cantrips for 5e.
What Is Message And Friends?
So, we all know this cantrip as the beginning spell for those that like to persuade and deceive. I mean, it is an enchantment spell that gives you advantage on all charisma checks. Which, nothing is better for persuading someone, then having advantage on that check. This makes it a great beginner cantrip for many people and can lead to some fun roleplay after the spell ends. But enough about the friends cantrip. I am here to tell you that message is a great cantrip for roleplay mechanics.
Now, I should note, a lot of people love this cantrip. However, they love it because of the utility of communicating from a distance or to coordinate things quietly. That said, in my opinion, message shines the most in roleplay purposes. So, to begin, how about we go over a few simple ways that make Message the best wizard spell for 5e cantrips.
Now I also agree that the message cantrip is great for communicating which is why I also am mentioning it for roleplay and not utility. The reason being, under utility the message cantrip does have some variation much like the mending cantrip. But this one deals more with talking to people, and as such, is being put into roleplay.
Why this is such a good one for communication, is largely to do with its wording. One it has secrecy as only you can hear him and only, they can hear you. Two, if you are familiar with someone, you can send a message through a solid object. Then three, the spell does not need to travel through a straight line. This allows for great roleplay potential as you can then have a quiet conversation with anyone allowing for deep conversations that the rest of the group is not supposed to know.
Then it is up to the DM on how familiar you are with someone. A huge fact that not many people think about. After all what if familiar was defined by backstory and the person lied about theirs. Then are you really familiar with him? What if the wizard casts the spell and he doesn’t respond through the object since they cannot hear them? What happens then? It can create a lot of role-play scenarios that really expand on your characters’ conversations.
Why communication is the most popular, this is my absolute favorite way to use the message cantrip. It leads to fun moments and great roleplay and really easy to do. The best way to use this cantrip is with someone who has a high charisma or the actor feat. They point at the enemy or obstacle and send a message to confuse them. This can be anything you want. A high-pitched scream, a message from someone else, or their conscience speaking to them.
Usually, the DM will require a charisma check to do it which should not be too hard against the townsfolk nor for your basic goblin guards. In fact, I had a character that was built around that entire idea. He was an illusion mage with good dexterity and charisma with the actor feat. I ended up becoming the key way to get through dungeons or obstacles as I could fix any issue with magic or trick guards with message. It is actually what led me to realize how awesome message is. And it is why the message cantrip, is the best wizard spell for 5e cantrips.
That’s All Folks
This wraps up my review on the “Best cantrips for 5e that we don’t think about Cantrip Edition”. I hope you enjoyed, and if you did you check out my sorcerer spell review that goes into detail on three great spells and uses for them that we do not think about. Or just let me know what you thought in the comments below. If you have a different claim let me hear and maybe you can persuade me to rewrite this and give you credit. Anyways, have a fantastic day, and keep on rolling!
- P.S. If you enjoyed this post and want to analyze your own spells, monsters, and party, download my D&D calculator! It’s a tool I use to calculate true DPR for spells and monsters in my campaigns. If you are still unsure by my little blurb then check out the review I made and see all the nifty abilities it has!