Wednesday, February 9, 2011

NERO 9th Edition: Cantrip Changes

Today, we're talking about the changes to Cantrips

Invoked - All invoked cantrips now have 3 5 uses, regardless of the number of formal levels a player possesses.
Cantrip Tomes - No longer require a 10g book to create. Just need an untagged book that's at least 6" x 4".

General Cantrips
Channeling - Reduced to 1 component.
Imbue - You must now choose the spell at the time of casting for reversible spells or Eldritch Blast.

Earth Cantrips
Field Resurrection/Abjuration - Removed
Healing Pool - Now provides a flat 150 points of healing, regardless of the number of formal levels a player possesses.
Tyrra's Claw - Now provides either a shortsword or long sword phys-rep on the first casting. Casting a second time gives you a shortsword (so you could be fighting long sword/shortsword or shortsword/shortsword). Can be combined with Etherial Sword.

Celestial Cantrips
Boltstorm - You can now speak, bringing this spell in line with Bane the Dead/Boon the Dead.
Element's Fury - Reduced to 1 component. Now provides a flat 150 points of damage, regardless of the number of formal levels a player possesses.
Etherial Sword - Now provides either a shortsword or long sword phys-rep on the first casting If cast a second time, you can now fight with a long sword and a shortsword, instead of two claws. Can be combined with Tyrra's Claw.
Lore - Now identifies up to 2 items, regardless of the number of formal levels a player possesses.
Magic Key - Removed

8/17/11 - Changed invoked cantrips to 5 uses, added changes on cantrip tomes.

Find anything I've missed? Drop it in the comments!


  1. I actually dislike the change to Tyrra's Claw/Etherial Sword that makes the first casting a longsword rep. Not only is it going to force people to make new claw reps, but there are also some people who prefer using two shortswords.

    IMO, I think the caster should have the option to still go two shortsword length reps.

    Overall, at least for me, the changes are pretty much going to limit me to using maybe 5 cantrips across both schools (and neither of the pools).

  2. Actually, reading over the descriptions of the cantrips, it says "The caster grows one up to long sword sized claw," making me think that if you like shortswords, you can still use your claws.

    As to the pools, I like the change (healing pools were out of hand), but whether or not they get use is directly based on the value of components in that area. In places with a fair amount of LCO components, I think you'll still see a lot of pools.

  3. It was definitely meant to be a maximum length limit. We had no issues with people using shortswords if they, for some reason, really wanted to, but wanted to give people something closer to a "real" weapon for the component.

    And yeah, the healing things was one of those sections we resigned before discussing in the advice documents, but basically the game has had a pretty high glut of healing. It's also had concentrated healing where it's considered a strategic failure to let someone without 25 formal cast a healing pool. So this change hopes to both decrease healing somewhat and spread it around to let other people use healing pools without feeling like they're wasting components. Also, combined with limited reset it helps return some focus to actual spell columns which has been lacking.

  4. Don't be dissing shortswords. I really only fight with shorts. Granted, it's because I'm short and inevitably lose in a fishing pole contest due to my height. So I close instead.

    I once forged to dual shorts, swinging 10s with a blade fury in both hands. Worked pretty well when I wasn't getting digging clawed.

  5. Heheh, just kidding around a bit.

  6. Ahhh; that's what I get for reading summaries at work. Retract the objection on the blades...

    As for the pools, I agree that healing pools were out of hand. I just don't feel they're worth it anymore at a flat 150 points, especially with the other changes (such as the invoked cantrips). Then again, I tend to use more of my cantrips of both schools for self-only cantrips.

  7. We're fighting...

    with shortswords

  8. I also agree with invoked cantrips. I see that at one point it was 5 uses, which I thought would have been great. At 3 uses, the only time I would use invoked cantrips would be healer's grace against big undead and fury's strength if I had a bunch of extra cantrip levels.

    3 is just too few.

  9. And BTW, I only caught that part of the statement because you brought it up. So I'm glad you only read the summary :)

  10. Ed -

    We got rid of the scaled invoked and set it to 5 charges. It got changed to 3 later over our objections and continues to make me sad.

    Bill -

    Fine, but if we're fighting all shortswords, I'll need to borrow an extra pair of clownshoes from you to match the look.

  11. @Mickey - Why does that not surprise me (that it got changed further over your objections)?

    I dug out the doc and noticed another change not mentioned above, and one that really irks me... Lore is now only 2 items identified, period (8E was 1 per 2 levels of formal)... As someone who is often identifying items all event with Lore because there's no celestial circle, that's a HUGE swing in the negative direction. 4-5 would've been better, IMO; 2 is just too few.

  12. And now that I think about it some more, the removal of Magic Key sucks, too. There have been quite a few events where plot will finally throw out a lock and the only way to open it has been that cantrip because no rogues wanted to "waste build" on pick locks (because of the rarity of locks being used).

  13. Added the change to Lore.

    I'm with you, Ed. I would be happy with 150 point pools (as per 15 levels of formal), 5 invokes (as per 15 levels of formal) and 5 items (as per 10 levels of formal).

  14. Magic Key, I think, is one of those spells that super handy for PCs to have but not a good thing for the game. Chapters need to decide to either to commit to supporting the pick locks skill, or not, and not to send mixed messages like having one lock every 4 events which just breeds frustration for everyone.

    And as an irrelevant aside to magic items, I really wish we could have just gone the self-identification route and saved ourselves so much pointless logistical hand-wringing.

  15. (in response to magic key) I really liked what Alliance did with Lockpick. They combined it with arm/disarm trap. Since no one really wanted to waste the build on it.

    I liked the scaling of the pools, but understand why it was changed. I just wish healing/defiling pool was switch to elemental cure/cause wounds 10 to make things a little more consistent with the rest of the heals.

  16. @Mickey - I would agree with that as far as Magic Key. But I think my chances are better of winning the lottery than that happening, sadly.

  17. I came here hoping we got rid of Cantrips and actually got back to spell casting...darn.


    I have been a Cantrip hater since day one, when we used them as one of the first playtest chapters and realized how massively they altered the game and new we would never be rid of them. Matt Sims and I had a cold phone conversation about them, and I don't think we ever spoke again. Oh well, guess they're here to stay...

    Joe V. (holding a sppon full of cantrips):"here Mikey, time to take your medicine..."

    Mike E. (making an ugly face - uglier than usual): "but papa Joe, they taste so terrible!"

    Joe V.: "Just shut up and take them..."(shoving the spoon in Mikey's mouth) "There now, isn't that better?"

    Mike E. (making an ugly face - uglier than usual): "no papa Joe, it isn't...blech!"


  18. They do feel overpowered for the build. Scholars 4, templars 6. You get the ability to make magic items (which granted isn't an everyday occurrence) and cast a useful spell(s).

    Healing Pool = 150 points, cure mortal = 40.
    Formal 1 = 4bp, lvl 8 spell = 4/5 bp.

    Personally I would have rather seen it costing 3-4 lvls of formal per cantrip casting.

  19. I play in a game that doesn't run cantrips (NERO Vanguard, in Illinois). It's very, very different.

    When I say the don't run cantrips, I mean "They're running the playtest, but they've released very few cantrips into game and don't allow cantrip books from other chapters." For example, there is ONE copy of Healing Pool in the entire town - we have Enchant Cantrip Tome but don't have Copy Cantrip... So when I'm adventuring, even though there are 35 levels of earth formal and 10 levels of cel formal in our 4 person adventuring group, we're still relying entirely upon our spells and potions for healing.
    They also use base armor rules, so the game feels even more different. When you have a plate-wearing fighter perm to a critter swinging 4 Poison Paralysis, you know the game has to be different.

  20. Eh, the way I see it, cantrips are intended to be a way for casters to have a large reserve of low-end effects so that they don't run dry so fast. Spells still give you a ton of variability and removal that doesn't exist in cantrips, so complete avoidance of spells can cause characters to be less effective.

    But, I do not like armored to magic and I do not like contingency. These two effects lend themselves towards cheese. In a perfect world where everyone follows the rules, it wouldn't be a problem.

  21. Bill,

    The original intent of them was to make Formal magic "useful." I think the designers followed your line of reasoning in thinking to give out low-powered effects, but also find that they have missed the mark. Cantrips have greatly affected scaling and balance in ways that cannot be overstated. Mark Henry said it best with his examination of build points above.

    I am of the school of thought that character development paths should facilitate varying styles of play. Cantrips have taken Formal Magic out of the realm of the ultimate crafting skill and put it into the realm of the ultimate combat skill. Formal Components are limited in how many come out, so the artificers and battle mages are now competing for the same resources. We would be much better off dropping Cantrips and coming up with a more creative alternative - like Battle Magic specialization or something similar that does not require compomnents.

    The way to make Formal Magic "more useful" is to deal directly with its rules and alter them in such a way to increase its utility while maintaining its niche as a high-level crafting skill.

    Overall the affects that Cantrips have had on the game are escalation and marshaling issues. I see no positives to them, and am very, very sad to see them added to the core rules. C'est la vie...

  22. Another change I just found. Cantrip tomes no longer have to be a book worth 10 gold. Unless I missed it, I looked through both the cantrips list and the rulebook.

  23. When they finally released the finished formal packet, cantrips went back up to 5 uses for invoked. You may want to edit that, and changes to cantrip tomes (no 10 gold book, now last 2 years) into the OP. :)