I was talking with my friend Kate (the brilliant mind behind our new website art!) and she had this great idea about the worst cantrip...
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 30 feet
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 round
You extend your hand and point a finger at a target in range. Your magic grants you a brief insight into the target's defenses. On your next turn, you gain advantage on your first attack roll against the target, provided that this spell hasn't ended.
Oh yeah, that cantrip.
I seriously doubt anyone is unaware of just how truly terrible this spell is, but just in case we can do a quick break down of this terrible terrible spell:
It's concentration, so the higher level you are the worse it gets. There are dozens of spells that you'd rather be concentrating on.
It's an action, which means that there are very few instances in which you wouldn't be better off just attacking instead of wasting a round to attack with advantage on your next turn.
The advantage it grants is only against that target, which means if it dies before your next turn it is a waste.
In case you need any more convincing as to how atrocious this spell is, u/gray007nl did us the favor of posting a comprehensive true strike flow chart. Enjoy!
Some Bad Fixes
Obviously true strike being bad is not news, so I'm certainly not the first person to take a crack at fixing it. And sure, there are some easy fixes, like dropping concentration or changing it to a bonus action, or both. But these fixes aren't really fixing the cantrip - they are just enabling clearly problematic combinations that were apparent to the designers way back in D&D Next days.
Imagine the wizard or sorcerer uses a non-concentration version of the spell to constantly grant advantage on spells like crown of stars and blade of disaster. And a bonus action true strike can be spammed to constantly grant advantage to gish builds like Eldritch Knight, Bladelocks, and Arcane Tricksters, with that last one being particularly abusive since it keeps sneak attack on.
By negating concentration or changing the action economy alone, the cantrip suddenly becomes a must-have. And must-have character options are boring, bad game design.
True Strike 2.0
So back to my friend Kate. When she first starting playing D&D, she picked this spell because she was under the impression that it would actually do some neat divination stuff. And it's easy to see why -
Your magic grants you a brief insight into the target's defenses.
- it's right there in the spell!
And that narrative is going to form the foundation for a far more interesting, mechanically useful, not-broken version of the spell!
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 30 feet
You extend your hand and point a finger at a target in range. Your magic grants you insight into the target's defenses. You are instantly aware of an damage resistances the target has, and the target must make a Charisma saving throw. On a failure, the next time you deal damage to the target, that damage ignores any resistances the target has. Starting at 11th level, you also become aware of any damage immunities the target has. Additionally, if the target fails its saving throw you treat all immunities as if they were resistances in addition to ignoring its damage resistances the next time you deal damage to the target.
There you have it! The spell is still fulfilling that niche of a cool self-buff: take a round off from actively attacking in order to make your next attack a punishing one. It's not stepping on the toes of other features since ignoring resistances & immunities is pretty rare, and it's not a total save-or-suck since the caster still gets valuable information even if the target succeeds on their saving throw. It's also tactically more easy to pull of the combo now since it's not limited to only benefitting you on the next turn.
In keeping with the original it's still focused on just a single target, so it's possible that it whiffs but it might still be useful in a fight against multiple enemies of the same type. And no more concentration being rude and eating up your higher level spells.
I also like the idea of a cantrip scaling in non-damage ways. That's an underutilized design space, and I think this sets a good example for how to implement it. 11th level is about the time when players will be fighting things that have damage immunities, so the cantrip scales up to better suit that challenge.