• Justin Handlin

5 Evolving Cantrips for Dungeons and Dragons

Updated: Feb 20


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5 Evolving Cantrips for Dungeons and Dragons


We love RPGs because they offer us an escape from the world, allowing us to take on the role of adventurers so we can delve into forgotten dungeons, slay monsters, and stop the evil necromancers' plots. Arguably, one of the best parts of Dungeons & Dragons is creating your character. When it comes to this, you can never have enough options.


While there is a myriad of different ways to do this: selecting a race, class, background, and feats to name a few. When it comes to being a spellcaster, the choice of spells can also be a critical customization aspect of your character. Choosing spells that fit a character theme such as all ice spells to play a cryomancer or all fire to be a pyromancer.


Cantrips in D&D fit along this customization line even more so. They can’t easily be changed during a long rest like prepared spells and you’re kinda done with them at that point. Sure you get a few more overall, but the cantrips you use become a spellcaster’s go-to mechanic. One thing that has always bothered me is that over time the cantrip scales, but they don’t really change much regardless of how powerful the caster is (except for maybe Eldritch Blast). You would think that over time a spellcaster would be able to master it and allow for some variation.


With evolving cantrips, we can make them a little more engaging and fun. Not only that, giving them a bit more identity. Below are 5 Evolving Cantrips for your Dungeons and Dragons stories and campaigns.


Firebolt

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: 120 feet

Duration: Instantaneous

You hurl a mote of fire at a creature or object within range. Make a ranged spell attack against the target. On a hit, the target takes 1d10 fire damage. A flammable object hit by this ignites if it isn’t being worn or carried.


At Higher Levels.

5th level. The damage increases to 2d10. When a hostile creature’s movement provokes an opportunity attack from you, you can use your reaction to cast this spell at the creature, rather than making an opportunity attack.


11th level. The damage increases to 3d10, and the range increases to 150 feet.


17th level. The damage increases to 4d10. This power can score a critical hit on a 19 or 20.


Guidance

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: Touch

Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

You touch one willing creature. Once before this spell ends, the target can roll a d4 and add the number rolled to an ability check of its choice. It can roll the die before or after making the saving throw, and the effect ends.


At Higher Levels.

5th level. When you cast this spell, choose a damage type, acid, cold, fire, force, lightning, necrotic, poison, psychic, radiant, or thunder. The target gains resistance to that damage type until the spell ends.


11th level. The range of this power increases to 10 feet, and you may use a bonus action to target one additional creature with this spell within 10 feet of the original target.


17th level. The guidance die increases to a d6. Additionally, when an ally is hit with an attack, you can use your reaction to create a powerful shimmering protective barrier with a single arrow slit in front of the target. The barrier provides the target with three-quarters cover until the end of your next turn. You can’t use this feature again until you finish a short or long rest.

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Ray of Frost

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: 60 feet

Duration: Instantaneous

A frigid beam of blue-white frost streaks toward a creature within range. Make a ranged spell attack against the target. On a hit, it takes 1d8 cold damage, and its speed is reduced by 10 feet until the start of your next turn.


At Higher Levels.

5th level. The damage increases to 2d8. On a hit, this power creates a 5-foot-radius sphere of chilled fog centered on the target. The sphere spreads around corners and its area is lightly obscured. It lasts until the start of your next turn or until a wind of moderate or greater speed (at least 10 miles per hour) causes it to disperse. Each creature that enters the area for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there, it must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save it has its movement reduced by 10 feet.


11th level. The damage increases to 3d8, and the fog becomes heavily obscured and lasts for 1 minute.


17th level. The damage increases to 4d8. Additionally, you can use an action and release a burst of shards of icicles. On a hit, the target takes 4d8 piercing damage and each creature within 5 feet of it must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or take 2d8 cold damage. You can’t use this feature again until you finish a short or long rest.


Sacred Flame

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: 60 feet

Duration: Instantaneous

Flame-like radiance descends on a creature that you can see within range. The target must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or take 1d8 radiant damage. The target gains no benefit from cover for this saving throw.

At Higher Levels.

5th level. The damage increases to 2d8. On a hit, the target is disoriented by the blinding light. Roll a d4, and subtract the number rolled from the target’s AC until the start of your next turn. A creature that doesn’t rely on sight is immune to this feature.


11th level. The damage increases to 3d8. On a successful save, the target takes half damage from this power and doesn’t suffer its additional effect.


17th level. The damage increases to 4d8. Additionally, you can now create a massive pillar of light. As an action, a golden beam of brilliant light shines down in a 10-foot-radius, 40-foot-high cylinder centered on a point within range. Being engulfed in the radiant light causes searing pain, and each creature in the area must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, a creature takes 2d10 radiant damage and is blinded for one minute. On a successful save, the creature takes half as much damage and isn’t blinded. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. You can’t use this feature again until you finish a short or long rest.

Related Article: How I Make D&D Games Awesome for My Players with Story Branching

Vicious Mockery

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: 60 feet

Duration: Instantaneous

You unleash a string of insults, commands, shouts, or similar words to distract a creature you can see within range. At the same time, your words attack their mind. If the target can hear you (though it need not understand you), it must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or take 1d4 psychic damage and have disadvantage on the next attack roll it makes before the end of its next turn.


At Higher Levels.

5th level. The damage increases to 2d4, and you can use a bonus action to target an additional creature with this power. That target takes half the damage rolled and has disadvantage on the next attack roll it makes before the end of its next turn.


11th level. The damage increases to 3d4, and the range increases to 90 feet.


17th level. The damage increases to 4d4, and the original target has disadvantage on all of its attack rolls it makes before the end of its next turn.


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