5th Edition Spells – Prestidigitation

Prestidigitation

Artificer, Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard - Cantrip Level Spell

School: Transmutation
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 10 ft
Components: Verbal and Somatic
Duration: 1 Hour
Attack/Save: None
Reference: phb 267

This spell is a minor magical trick that novice spellcasters use for practice. You create one of the following magical effects within range:

  • You create an instantaneous, harmless sensory effect, such as a shower of sparks, a puff of wind, faint musical notes, or an odd odor.
  • You instantaneously light or snuff out a candle, a torch, or a small campfire.
  • You instantaneously clean or soil an object no larger than 1 cubic foot.
  • You chill, warm, or flavor up to 1 cubic foot of nonliving material for 1 hour.
  • You make a color, a small mark, or a symbol appear on an object or a surface for 1 hour.
  • You create a nonmagical trinket or an illusory image that can fit in your hand and that lasts until the end of your next turn.

If you cast this spell multiple times, you can have up to three of its non instantaneous effects active at a time, and you can dismiss such an effect as an action.

Hands casting colorful spellMy Comments: This is another classic D&D spell going back several editions and has been either under-used and ignored, or used to create effects it really shouldn’t. Players have always loved to make Prestidigitation more powerful than it was and a lot of DMs allowed it to go through because “Rule of Cool”.

In the description above from the 5th edition Player’s Handbook, I think it’s already pretty amazing for a cantrip. Okay, none of these effects are particularly amazing but they have a duration of an HOUR (except the trinket) and you can have up to three running at once.

The first is the “party option”- you can be the most fun member of the group at a party by adding small light shows, a bit of music and pleasant smells.

Item two is handy. Most DMs will let you light a fire or candle pretty much automatically with flint & steel and it won’t take a cantrip slot. Put out candles, torches or campfires though, that can be useful. Hiding in the dark from a group that includes Humans carrying torches? Poof, poof, poof. Torches are out. Sure, they can re-light them, but it gives you a headstart.

Item three, the lazy apprentice’s answer to chores. It can also be used in RP situations to make someone else look bad. Mind you, it only works on objects, so it won’t clean a creature, including yourself. Clean your clothing and gear? Sure. Stain someone else’s? Sure. Have fun with it.

Item four, the kitchen cantrip. It sounds like you’d be chilling drinks, warming food and making it taste good, but there are more possibilities than that. I read of someone in some sewers using it to “flavor” their scarf with pleasant smells to get a bonus on the CON save versus the horrible smell. Not sure if every DM would allow this, but again, Rule of Cool applies. I might also let someone warm up their gear in an attempt to avoid freezing in a snowstorm, up to a limit anyway.

Item five always makes me wonder what the intent was behind “small” in this case. A small mark sounds like it would be no bigger than palm-sized, but no definition is given to “small” except in terms of creatures. A Halfling is considered small, so can you make a mark on a wall that’s halfling-sized? Again, players will push and DMs will rule. 🙂

Item six is great. You can flash the equivalent of your fake FBI badge, claim to have objects you don’t and other assorted fun nonsense. I have also seen it used to show someone an image of a person the caster was looking for. In that case, I think the DM was happy for it to get past some of the endless back-n-forth talk of trying to explain what they person looked like.

I feel like I should also note that the origin of the word prestidigitation is really just quick fingers, so in “Boring World” (the one we live day-to-day) it really refers to card tricks and such. Still, I’ve known some really great prestidigitators and they were always fun at parties.

Dave Goff

Writing and creating in my spare time to avoid going crazy in this mad, mad, world. Check out some of my materials on DMsGuild and let me know what you think! subscribe to keep up with new posts and leave comments to keep the conversation going.

1 Comment

  1. lordkholland on September 16, 2019 at 12:44 am

    👍🏼

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