Bitch be cantrippin’

One of the best changes that Pathfinder made was to make all 0-level spells able to be infinitely. Your cantrips, or orisons if you’re a divine caster, are always available to you no matter how often you use them. Like that rabbit-golem with the shaded spectacles and drum, they just keep going and going.

But really, the cantrips in the Core Rules are a bit…limited. It’s not that they’re necessarily bad, per se. It’s just that they’re stuck in the mindset of “all magic is focused on combat.” Seriously, there’s more magic in the world than attacking, defending, and battlefield utility, especially at low-levels, where it’s usually too weak to have any real martial effect.

It’s with that in mind that I’d like to do a spotlight on several great third-party products with a focus on 0-level spells. Now, most of these are for 3.5 instead of Pathfinder, and so some DM oversight will be needed (e.g. like how Pathfinder got rid of cure minor wounds, since it’d undercut most out-of-combat healing needs to be able to cast it without limit). But for the most part, these can be added as-is, and nicely fill out the lowest-level spells in your game.

Our first is Distant Horizons Games’ The Practical Enchanter. Now really, I’m underselling this by only noting it for 0-level spells; in fact, the spell templates here allow for many (if not most) of the spells it offers to be customized in terms of level and effectiveness. However, most of these can be downgraded to a 0-level effect, so they’re worth noting.

Also worth noting is a particular feat in here called Hedge Magic. This feat gives access to a plethora of low-level spells (most are cantrips, but also some 1st- and 2nd-level spells) that have no combat applications whatsoever. Spells to plow fields and keep small children out of trouble, for example. These aren’t detailed in the book, but can be found in a multi-part series over on the author’s blog. The first of the seven entries in this series can be found here.

Oh, and one more thing you should know: The Practical Enchanter is FREE!

Next, we come to a sourcebook known as Octavirate Presents Vol #3: Simple Tricks and Nonsense, by the eponymous Octavirate Games.

This book is impressive in what it offers. Not only is there a plethora of new 0-level spells here, but most are non-combat focused, but still have a mechanical impact on the game. That is, unlike most of the spells from The Practical Enchanter’s Hedge Magic, these spells are still going to give you a plus somewhere. Use an alter odor spell, and you won’t be worrying about being tracked by scent, or it can be used to try and stop a ghast’s stench, for instance.

But there’s more. It has things like feats to let non-casters toss out a few cantrips a day, a table to determine bonus cantrips for a high spellcasting key attribute (seriously, why don’t the Core Rules let your cantrips per day go up if you have a high Intelligence or Charisma?) and quite a bit more. It’s a great book, and is very helpful for your low-level spellcasting.

Finally, we have Silverthorne Games’ Minor Magicks. Like some of the other supplements here, it’s not exclusive to cantrips, but has quite a few of them. Split evenly between new spells and new magic items relying on said spells, it’s not quite as artful as the first two products, but still introduces a respectable amount of new material. Where else, for example, will you find a spell that removes pimples? Seriously, the mage with that must make a fortune on prom night.

If these all seem fairly useless, just remember that even if your PCs don’t use them, they lend verisimilitude to your campaign world. For the local wizard who never goes adventuring, or the solitary witch on the edge of town, spells that determine an orphan’s ancestry or cause temporary infertility (that is, contraception) are far more valuable to the neighbors and townsfolk than virtue. After all, which would an overworked housewife want someone to cast, acid splash or clean clothing?

The next time your wizard PC goes to the local mage and asks to copy what’s in his spellbook, have him open up to pages of 0-level wonders that unclog drains and quiet crying babies. That’s the sort of magic that ordinary people want, and should help to highlight how the PCs definitely aren’t ordinary people.

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One Response to “Bitch be cantrippin’”

  1. Damien RS Says:

    One of the clerical cantrips is ‘create water’. At will. It’s temporary… unless ingested, and incorporated into one’s bodily mana field or whatever.

    Sure changed the nature of our Eberron desert game. (Of course, my warforged laughs at most environmental penalties anyway.)

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