DnD Witches: Cantrips

Discover nine new cantrips created for 5th Edition.

Chapter VII: The Witch’s Spell, Or, Hypatia Asks A Question

Hypatia looked around her hut warily. Nothing seemed to be disturbed, but her intuition told her something was amiss. Turning her attention to the small fire burning in her kitchen hearth, she muttered an incantation. Almost before the words finished leaving her mouth, the flames twisted to form a face, its features pulled into a quizzical expression.

Have you seen anyone here but me? Hypatia whispered urgently to the flames.

Yesss, hissed the fiery visage, its breath hot and smokey. And with that answer, fire began to die out.

As the hut grew dim, Hypatia cursed softly under her breath. Someone had entered her home, but where were they now?

Creating New 5th Edition Cantrips

When I first designed the witch class, I did so for my home game and I chose the class’ cantrips from the official sourcebooks. However, a number of those cantrips are not in 5th Edition’s System Reference Document (SRD). So, I took the time to create nine new cantrips specifically for the witch class.

Here they are, along with the official cantrips that inspired them.

Control Flames1

Control Flames falls into the utility/flavour spell category and offers the caster a number of straightforward effects. It is right on theme for a friendly neighbourhood pyromancer.

Inspired by this nice little spell, I created a new utility cantrip for fire-casters: Fire Speech.

Like Control Flames, Fire Speech is a transmutation cantrip that effects a small nonmagical fire. However, where Control Flames provides the caster with a list of effects, Fire Speech has only one purpose. It causes a vague humanoid face to appear in the flames and answer a spellcaster’s question.

In order to avoid a magical game of 20 questions, the cantrip is limited in several ways: First, the fire can only answer with a yes or a no. Second, the fire can only answer a question about something it has “seen” — typically this would be anything within a 30 to 60 foot radius (but not anything in shadow) for as far back in time as it has been burning. The fire has no memory of things before it was lit. Third, the fire is extinguished once it has answered a question. This wipes the fires memory and prevents any followup questions.

Fire Speech

  • Transmutation cantrip
  • Casting Time: 1 action 
  • Range: 10 feet
  • Components: S
  • Duration: 1 minute

You cause a face to appear in a nonmagical fire that you can see within range and that fits within a 5-foot cube. The fire’s face will willing answer one yes-no question. Its knowledge is limited to what has occurred in range of its light while it has been burning. The fire is extinguished when the cantrip ends.

Gust2

Gust is a combat/flavour cantrip that provides three wind effects to choose from. It is, more or less, a paired down version of the 2nd level Gust of Wind spell.

The image of a spellcaster flinging an adversary away from herself with a blast of wind brought to mind another cinematic effect: A magic user hovering a few feet off the ground, her hair and clothing billowing in an updraft of air.

Where Gust directs a blast of air away from the caster, Wind Walk lifts the magician up into the air.

However, in order to avoid granting 1st level characters the power of flight, the caster rises straight upward — she cannot travel horizontally. As an added bonus, since the air is holding the caster in place, this new cantrip grants advantage on saves against being knocked prone.

Wind Walk

  • Transmutation cantrip
  • Casting Time: 1 action 
  • Range: Self
  • Components: V, S
  • Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute.

You harness the air around you, causing it to lift you up to 5 feet straight up off the ground. While hovering, your speed drops to zero and you have advantage on saving throws against being knocked prone. On your turn, you can choose to return to the ground, ending the spell. If the spell ends while you are aloft, you fall.

Hex3

Hex is not a cantrip, but it does strike me as a very “witchy” spell! Sadly, it is not in 5E‘s SRD.

I imagine Evil Eye as the cantrip level version of Hex. It has similar effects, but a very short duration. Admittedly, its usefulness in combat is limited (although, it might make it easier to shove a creature).

Evil Eye

  • Enchantment cantrip
  • Casting Time: 1 bonus action 
  • Range: 30 feet
  • Components: S
  • Duration: 1 round

You glare at a creature that you can see within range and wiggle your nose, placing a hex on them. Choose one ability when you cast the spell. Until the end of its next turn, the target has disadvantage on the ability checks made with the chosen ability.

A remove curse spell cast on the target ends this spell early.

Infestation4

Infestation is a rather complicated little combat cantrip that does a fairly average amount of damage on a failed save. I wanted a similar spell but also something a little simpler.

With this in mind, I imagined a witch who was able to call on a nearby spirit to harass her enemies. Since this is a cantrip, the effect needs to be short lived. Thus, I will settle for a little damage and a secondary effect.

On average, a spell like this should deal something like 3.8 points of damage.5 A single d6 has an average roll of 3.5 which will do nicely. The damage could be necrotic or even cold, but I opted for psychic to simulate the spirit’s possession effect.

Also, I imagine the target locked in a struggle to control her body — hence the inability to take reactions.

Host

  • Conjuration cantrip
  • Casting Time: 1 action 
  • Range: 30 feet
  • Components: V, S, M (a mummified frog’s toe)
  • Duration: Instantaneous

Choose one creature you can see within range. A vengeful spirit momentarily possesses the target. The target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw, or it takes 1d6 necrotic damage and cannot take reactions until the start of its next turn.

The spells damage increases by 1d6 when you reach 5th level (2d6), 11th level (3d6) and 17th level (4d6).

Magic Stone6

Magic Stone is an unusual little spell for a couple of reasons. Firstly, rather than dealing damage directly, it enchants an object(s). This places it in the same category as Shillelagh. However, while Shillelagh has a time limit, Magic Stone offers only a single use for each stone. Secondly, unlike Shillelagh, the stones can be used by non-casters. This makes Magic Stone more like the 2nd level spell, Magic Weapon.

The notion of imbuing a mundane object with magical force is a tantalizing one. And, allowing a non spellcaster to use the object ensures that this cantrip will see at least a little use. After all, adventuring parties occasionally come up against creatures that are resistant (or at even immune) to the fighter’s greatsword.

Rather than a magic stone or three, Witch Wand allows the caster to create a single magic wand. However, rather than a single use, the wand has three charges. According to my calculations, this new cantrip should deal approximately 4.3 points of damage. Since we are adding the casters’ spell attack modifier I have kept the damage to 1d4.

Witch Wand

  • Transmutation cantrip
  • Casting Time: 1 bonus action 
  • Range: Touch
  • Components: V, S
  • Duration: 1 minute

You touch twig or small branch; creating a makeshift wand. You, or someone else, can make a ranged spell attack with the wand. The wand has a range of 30 feet. If someone else attacks with the wand, that attacker adds your spell attack modifier, not the attackers, to the attack roll. On a hit, the target takes force damage equal to 1d4 + your spell attack modifier. The wand has three charges and after the third use the spell ends.

If you cast this spell again, the spell ends early on the wand still affected by it.

Primal Savagery7

Primal Savagery builds on the shape changing theme of 5th Edition druids.

Folklore also associates with transformations with witches. However, rather than creating a battle cantrip I opted for a simple utility cantrip.

Spider Grip subtly alters the casting witches hands and feet, granting her a climbing speed equal to her regular movement. She must be careful however, because the spell ceases to function at the end of her turn — if she is not standing on solid ground when the magic ends, she will likely be in some difficulty!

Spider Grip

  • Transmutation cantrip
  • Casting Time: 1 action 
  • Range: Self
  • Components: S
  • Duration: Instantaneous

Your hands and feet to grow tiny hairs, imperceptible to the naked eye, which allow you to cling to walls and ceilings. You gain a climbing speed equal to your walking speed until the end of your turn.

Shillelagh8

Shillelagh is a melee druid’s go-to cantrip. And, since witches will be wacking ne’er-do-well’s with their brooms (obviously), I wanted to give them access to a similar spell.

However, rather than replacing the broom’s damage die, Witches’ Shillelagh adds 1d6 force damage to the blow. Also, since witches don’t have a multiple attack feature, attacking with a Shillelaghed broom requires a melee spell attack rather than a non-magical melee attack.

Weapon: Broom

A witch can use her (non-magical) broom as a two handed weapon. On a hit, a broom deals 1d4 bludgeoning damage. In addition, they have the following special property:

If the target has eyes, a witch may choose to attack with the bristle end of the broom, rather than the handle. On a successful hit the bristles do 1 point of piercing damage and the target is partially blinded. As a result, the next attack on the target made before the start of the creature’s next turn has advantage.

Witches’ Shillelagh

  • Transmutation cantrip
  • Casting Time: 1 bonus action 
  • Range: Touch
  • Components: V, S, M (a broom)
  • Duration: 1 minute

The broom you are holding is imbued with magical energy. 

For the duration, you can use an action to use the broom to make a melee spell attack against one creature within 5 feet of you. On a hit, in addition to the broom’s normal damage, the target takes 1d6 force damage.

The spell ends if you cast it again or if you let go of the broom.

At Higher Levels: The spell’s damage increases by 1d6 when you reach 5th level (2d6), 11th level (3d6), and 17th level (4d6).

Thorn Whip9

The main advantage of Thorn Whip, is its ability to draw an enemy closer to the caster.

I suspect a witch would opt for more subtly. Rather than conjuring a clumsy vine, she would hypnotize her target. With my mind’s eye, I can easily see her spellbound victim taking a halting half-unwilling step in her direction.

Like Host, Siren Song should, in theory, deal about 3.8 points of damage. However, unlike Thorn Whip, this new cantrip does not have a size/movement limitation. By way of compensation, it will only deal 1d4 points of damage and the target will only be compelled to move 5 feet.

Siren Song

  • Enchantment cantrip
  • Casting Time: 1 action 
  • Range: 30 feet
  • Components: V, S, M (a strand of hair)
  • Duration: Instantaneous

Choose one creature you can see within range. If the target can see and hear you, it must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or take 1d4 psychic damage and be compelled to move 5 feet towards you.

Undead and creatures immune to being charmed aren’t affected by this spell.

This spell’s damage increases by 1d4 when you reach 5th level (2d4), 11th level (3d4) and 17th level (4d4).

Toll the Dead10

Toll the Dead is considered a particularly potent cantrip.

Using this powerful little spell as a jumping off point, I created a cantrip that leaves its target vulnerable to a subsequent attack.

Statistically, Fate’s Strings should do something like 4.2 points damage. And, since it is inspired by an above average cantrip, I was tempted to have it deal 1d8 hit points of damage. However, since it also imposes disadvantage on a potential wisdom save I will downgrade the damage to 1d4.[en_note]This is in line with Vicious Mockery, a cantrip with a similar effect.[/en_note]

And, in a departure from traditional upcasting, the number of targets, rather than the damage, will increase. This should play nicely with the wisdom save effect.

Fate’s Strings

  • Divination cantrip
  • Casting Time: 1 action 
  • Range: 60 ft
  • Components: V, S
  • Duration: Instantaneous

One creature of your choice, you can see within range, is overwhelmed with a sense of its own mortality. The target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or take 1d4 psychic damage and have disadvantage on the next Wisdom saving throw it makes before the start of its next turn.

Undead aren’t affected by this spell. 

This number of creatures that can be targeted by the spell increases by 1 when you reach 5th level (2 targets), 11th level (3 targets) and 17th level (4 targets).

Additional Reading

D&D Spell Design — Discover what makes a combat spell tick.

Which Class Is The Witch Class — Design notes for a 5th Edition Witch Class.

Notes

  1. Control Flames is found on page 17 of the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion (EEPC) and page 152 of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything (XGtE).
  2. Gust is found on page 19 of the EEPC and page 157 of XGtE.
  3. Hex is found on page 251 of the Player’s Handbook (PHB).
  4. Infestation is found on page 158 of XGtE.
  5. See D&D Spell Design for a little math to back up this assertion.
  6. Magic Stone is found on page 20 of the EEPC and page 160 of XGtE.
  7. Primal Savagery is found on page 163 of XGtE.
  8. Shillelagh is found on page 275 of the PHB.
  9. Thorn Whip is found on page 282 of the PHB.
  10. Toll the Dead is found on page 169 of the XGTE.

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