Prestidigitation sucks and I hate it. It’s by far the most obnoxious spell in the book. Here’s why.

When you gift a player with the ability to do anything they can imagine, that power tends to go to their head. Just take a look at its ability to conjure a puff of wind. That ought to represent a dramatically billowing cape or some strewn papers. Used irresponsibly, it instead becomes, “I knock the assassin’s hood over her eyes. Save versus blindness!” Same deal with the ability to slowly lift 1 pound of material. That fun and flavorful parlor trick somehow morphs into a combat maneuver. “I levitate the material components out of the necromancer’s hands! The spell fizzles!”

Note that prestidigitation does not come with any kind of saving throw. If you’re a new player, and if you’re looking at this spell for the first time, it’s natural to assume that it “just happens.” This despite the fact the words harmless and cannot deal damage appear in the spell’s various incarnations. This leads straight to the feels-bad moment where your GM has to tell you, “Your clever idea is against the rules.” Talk about poor design!

That’s not even the worst offense though. As Paladin so rightly points out in today’s comic, prestidigitation has zero opportunity cost. That means laundromats shouldn’t exist in your world. It means that any apprentice mage can combine ray of frost with the “flavor up to 1 cubic foot of nonliving material” option to open up their own Mage-Pop stand. It means writing “kick me” on the back of your rogue, painting a mustache on the evil noblewoman’s face, and suffering through attempts to transform “faint musical notes” into a full-on orchestral performance.

All of which make prestidigitation a “look at me” spell. Prima donna type players love nothing better than spamming this cantrip to keep attention centered on themselves. That’s what’s happening with the conspicuously-clean Sorcerer in that otyugh lair. Every five feet it’s another, “I cast prestidigitation! My clothes are spotless once again.” Meanwhile the rest of the Anti-Party are left to soldier on through the sludge, hoping that Sorcerer succumbs to filth fever soon.

In short, prestidigitation is a terrible spell that no one should ever use under any circumstances. Go on, name one thing that it’s good for. I dare you! >_>


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