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View Full Version : Spell Points over spell slots



upidstay
02-05-2008, 11:12 AM
Here's something I used a number of years ago with my PC spellcasters.

They got a number of spell POINTs instead of slots. To figure it, I used the standard spells per level charts, and added bonus spells for ability scores. I then added up all of the total spell levels available (1st level spell equals 1 point, 5th level spells equals 5 points, etc) and let them draw from this.
(example: a 4th level sorcerer gets 6 first and 3 second level spells per day. This would give them 6x1 + 3x2 = 12 spell points per day, not counting bonus spells for high ability scores)

They had a finite number of spell they knew, equal to listed allowable number of spells known, but could cast any spell they wanted, as long as they didn't run out of spell points. For the really big, nasty epic battles, I let them trade hit points for spell points on a 3 hp equals 1 spell point, or sp.

I also added in fatigue points to prevent them from just flinging nothing but high levels spells. 1st to 4th level were ok for constant use, but each spell level above 5th caused 1 fatigue point per level above 5th. They were allowed character level plus constitution score in fp's before they had to start making saving throws. A failed save might cause a failed spell, spell misfire (used Wild Magic tables), or loss of hp or even intelligence points if they really pushed it. Failed save results were based on number of fp's accumulated. One day of rest would wipe out their constitution score in fp's.

It worked out pretty well. Players liked it as it gave them alot more flexibility with their spells.

Drohem
02-05-2008, 11:19 AM
Yeah, spell points are cool. I developed a spell point system for 1st AD&D many moons ago as well.

Unearthed Arcana has a spell point optional rule in it for 3.5 Dungeons & Dragons.

razada
02-05-2008, 11:58 AM
i have had this same problem, with players who have played to many games that use magic essence so they cannot deal with spell slots. i am going to introduce your system and see how it works

DrAwkward
02-05-2008, 12:38 PM
I like the idea of fatigue to prevent them from slinging the most powerful spells all day. That's always been my concern about a spell point based system.

Have you tried applying fatigue relative to thier highest spell slot?

Meaning "the highest level spell you can cast" deals the most fatigue, the second highest deals less, the third highest deals even less, and so on until we dont care anymore.

rabkala
02-05-2008, 12:46 PM
In an early 2e game I ran, we used neither memorized slots or points. We set it up based on level and fatigue. The higher your level, the more spell levels you could cast before fatigue. Fatigue wore off slowly. A couple thought that constitution should be worked into the equation. Some players complained that spell casters were too powerful because they could cast more spells in a day. Some spell casters complained that it took away the option to dump all their good high level spells on one big important encounter. We ended up dropping it despite the fact I liked it.

Farcaster
02-05-2008, 01:57 PM
Unearthed Arcana has a spell point optional rule in it for 3.5 Dungeons & Dragons.

The variant rules for using the spell point system are also freely available online from the d20 SRD at:

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/spellPoints.htm

cplmac
02-05-2008, 02:31 PM
Guess I am lucky that I never had any magic users not like the spell slot system. I always did make them have to "relearn" the used spell. I think I remember reading on one of the sites that this has went by the wayside though. Can't remember if it was in 3.X or is supposed to be coming in 4e.

When I say "relearn," it is more just a quick reread of the spell from their spellbook. Now if the magic user came upon a new spell that they did not know, the full rules of learning a spell were used.

I look forward to see what 4e has dealing with both situations.

tesral
02-05-2008, 05:31 PM
I've yet to see a spell point system I was happy enough with to make the change. By "happy" I mean totally gleeful about.

No one in my game is complaining about slots. Ergo, a change is not yet needed.

RealmsDM
02-05-2008, 06:29 PM
In regards to "fatigue points", I used a system like that for spellcasters. I took some feats I found in a small market RPG book, tweeked them a bit, and also worked skill use into the formula.
If it sounds complicated, it wasn't. It basically allowed spellcasters to increase the potentcy of their arcane abilities at the expense of their physical & mental well being- think Raistlin from Dragonlance; he had awesome magical talents, but it had its price.

cplmac
02-06-2008, 12:11 PM
In regards to "fatigue points", I used a system like that for spellcasters. I took some feats I found in a small market RPG book, tweeked them a bit, and also worked skill use into the formula.
If it sounds complicated, it wasn't. It basically allowed spellcasters to increase the potentcy of their arcane abilities at the expense of their physical & mental well being- think Raistlin from Dragonlance; he had awesome magical talents, but it had its price.


Sounds interesting! I could most likely utilize a system like that. Especially since I really like the Dragonlance series.

On another note, I would like to see them make a whole series of unanimated movies of the entire Dragonlance series. I think that would be extremely cool. I would definately buy all of those when they came out on DVD.

Count Arioch
02-06-2008, 10:37 PM
I don't like spell points.

Here is an explaination why.

Here are two spells: Magic Missile and Acid Fog

One is a somewhat useful low damage spell, and the other spell wins encounters.

There is no number of magic missiles you could cast that would be worth one acid fog. Yet spells points essentially say it's okay to trade away your magic missiles to cast a fog cloud.

tesral
02-07-2008, 12:36 AM
There is no number of magic missiles you could cast that would be worth one acid fog. Yet spells points essentially say it's okay to trade away your magic missiles to cast a fog cloud.

Feats are not balanced at all, but some people love them.

Depending on the circumstances you can place several spells in that category. How many magic missiles is a knock spell work if you have a door you need to open? Is knock useful if you have no door, but a handful of Orcs?

I understand what spell points are trying to do, and that is to give the caster more flexibility and options. For all the power a caster has they have truly limited options. They get few skills, cannot fight well, and everything is tied up in a handful of abilities called spells to which they have limited access. It's like telling a thief you can only "disable device" 3 times a day, but only if you are specially prepped to do so, or telling a fighter he can hit for 5d6 per sword swing, but can only swing three times a day.

My solution was to drop fire and forget. Magicians work like Sorcerers in my game. X spell, X slots, mix and match. It takes care of the flexibility part of the problem. Some people try spell points. If i ever meet a system that jumps out and says "use me", I will, but i have yet to meet that system.

The D&D spells are not perfectly balanced and could be argued even well balanced on the effectiveness per level basis.

D&D is still getting over an idea, and that idea was to cripple the spell caster to the point of unusability. Gary Gygax admitted he hated magicians, and he did everything he could in AD&D to make life hard for them and not take it out of the book entirely. If you follow every rule on spell casting in AD&D you cannot play a spell caster effectively. So many of the spells are crippled with conditions or material components that you are never going to get. The memorization rules would mean that a high level wizard would take days to study all his spells. Mid level casters will spend half the day. You don't get the spells you want, only the spells you can find. No one is willing to share unless you give ten times the value of a spell. The system is designed to hate magicians.

That legacy has not been total shed as of yet.

MortonStromgal
02-07-2008, 11:41 AM
The option I like more than spell points is having each spell school similar to saves and making checks to see if the spell goes off (My DC formula is (spell lvl+1)*5 I also let natural 20s = 30). A spellcaster would pick 1 primary that goes up like a good save, 2 secondary that go up like an average save and the rest go up as a poor save. You can have effects based off how well they make (or fail) their saving throw (maybe when they fail they take subdual damage or something, if you wish. I prefer that something unexpected happens). For wild magic you can throw in a wild die that will determine if your saving throw modifier is positive or negative.

tesral
02-07-2008, 12:03 PM
The option I like more than spell points is having each spell school similar to saves and making checks to see if the spell goes off (My DC formula is (spell lvl+1)*5 I also let natural 20s = 30). A spellcaster would pick 1 primary that goes up like a good save, 2 secondary that go up like an average save and the rest go up as a poor save. You can have effects based off how well they make (or fail) their saving throw (maybe when they fail they take subdual damage or something, if you wish. I prefer that something unexpected happens). For wild magic you can throw in a wild die that will determine if your saving throw modifier is positive or negative.


But the spell still has a to hit roll or a saving throw?

I don't like double jeopardy. I might even go so car as to say I hate it. It is one of the reasons I never bought into the 2e psionics system. You had to roll to see if it happened then roll to see if it worked after it happened. I'm very much a one event one check kind of guy. Likewise I don't like roll to hit then roll to see if you damage with the hit. Why did I roll to hit if I hit and don't do damage?

Second argument, would you use a tool that had a 1 in 20 chance of hurting you? If you knew that there was a 1 in 20 chance of you car hurting you on the way to work, would you drive it? I wouldn't I would find a different way to get to work.

I feel that way about spells or weapons as well. People are not going to do things with that high a chance of bitting them in the ass. They will find other ways to deal with the situation. So I don't impose that kind of possible penalty on a spell failure, or impose much in the way of spell failure either. Fighters do not have to make a concentration check to keep fighting if wounded.

I just feel that too much in terms of backlash and limitations are imposed on the spell casting classes to truly be balanced.

MortonStromgal
02-07-2008, 01:21 PM
First off my formula was wrong should be (spell lvl+1)*3 as 30 should be the highest it goes for a 9th level spell.

Let me try and explain it better

I just use the saves as how you get better. You get 1 good school, 2 ok schools and, 5 poor schools.

you roll once if you get above the DC it goes off as listed, if you beat the DC by 2 its a little better than the description (maybe +2 for the monster to save, whatever), if you beat it by 5 its a considerable bit better, etc. If you fail it fizzles, nothing happens can cast again next round. Fail by more than 2 it fizzles and an un-inteneded minor effect happens, Fail by 5 or more it fizzles and an unintended noticeable effect happens, etc.

Id like to point out there are no spell points here, you can keep casting as much as you want.

Wild magic is where it gets fun because your +12 may become -12 because of the wild die. You still roll vs DC as normal but your more likely to fail by a lot meaning your spell fizzles and some spell you did not intend to cast goes off.

tesral
02-07-2008, 01:28 PM
you roll once if you get above the DC it goes off as listed, if you beat the DC by 5 its a little better than the description (maybe +2 for the monster to save, whatever), if you beat it by 10 its a considerable bit better, etc. If you fail it fizzles, nothing happens can cast again next round. Fail by more than 5 it fizzles and an un-inteneded minor effect happens, Fail by 10 or more it fizzles and an unintended noticeable effect happens, etc.


That is double jeopardy. First I roll to make it work, then they roll to not make it work. I'll think I'll stick to either spell points or spell slots.

InfoStorm
02-07-2008, 03:54 PM
I had created a spell point system once, back in the D&D Basic Era, except that casters still had to memorize their spells. As part of it, the casters had to premanently spend some of their spell points to gain access to the higher level of spells, the didn't just gain them by virtue of their character's level. This part was done to allow a person to choose between casting more lower level spells, or to have access to those more powerful spells, but have fewer point per day to memorize. could have a 10th level wizard who couldn't cast anything higher than 3rd, but could cast a lot of spells. I think I had a limit of each spell level of (Int -10) per day, but not sure. I'll have to search my archives and find those notes... hmm 15 year old papers.

rabkala
02-07-2008, 09:50 PM
I can't wait until 4e makes this all obsolete.

Drohem
02-08-2008, 12:17 AM
hehe...silly fool, everyone will start tinkering with 4e D&D the moment it's released. :)

rabkala
02-08-2008, 12:35 AM
Yes, but it will be all new tinkering instead of tinkering that is many years old.:D

Drohem
02-08-2008, 01:16 AM
ahh...the 'ground floor' effect.:cool:

tesral
02-08-2008, 11:05 AM
Yes, but it will be all new tinkering instead of tinkering that is many years old.:D

I fail to see the automatic attraction of the new over the proven. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I'm not seeing enough broke in 3.5 to justify a totally new game. Some tweeks and modifications yes, but not a whole new game.

Drohem
02-08-2008, 11:14 AM
I fail to see the automatic attraction of the new over the proven. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I'm not seeing enough broke in 3.5 to justify a totally new game. Some tweeks and modifications yes, but not a whole new game.


Yes, I agree here.

MortonStromgal
02-08-2008, 11:17 AM
First I agree, 3.5 is pretty good. I'd like 3.75 but whatever.

My big problems with 3.5

1. Spells per day (lame... I don't care if its from dying earth or whatever)
2. Threats & Crits (I hate having to confirm)
3. Levels, I don't like getting instantly better.

Granted all of these can be house ruled but at leased with 4e 1 & 2 should go away. Of those problems only 1 & 3 should cause an edition change.

tesral
02-08-2008, 12:33 PM
First I agree, 3.5 is pretty good. I'd like 3.75 but whatever.

My big problems with 3.5

1. Spells per day (lame... I don't care if its from dying earth or whatever)

Well we are discussing solutions to that problem.




2. Threats & Crits (I hate having to confirm)

Would you want instant crits applied to you PC? Turn the subject around. I don't consdier the confirming of a critical that big a deal.




3. Levels, I don't like getting instantly better.


OK, the squeaky wheel gets the job. How would you handle character advancement? Instantly better? Well we are kind of stuck with the use of integers for describing things as we use random integer generators to decide things.

The usual place for people that don't like classes is the skill systems, but you still get "instantly" better when you apply your experience to a skill. Maybe I'm not understanding the nature of your complaint.

We each have out pet peeves, but I think the system has bigger fish to fry. The magic crafting system is just toally twisted and anti intuitive. Grappling needs help, Turning undead is awkward. Feats are unbalanced. Drop alignment for goodness sake.

We each have out pet fixes for our pet problems. Lizards needs to work closer with the people that play the game rather than sending down the new version from on high.

Riftwalker
02-08-2008, 02:41 PM
I don't see why you couldn't chop up an entire level-up's worth of improvements into small bits (class features, skill points, spell slots, save bonuses, HP, etc.) and divvy them out over smaller intervals to provide a smoother character power-level progression.

rabkala
02-09-2008, 02:23 AM
I don't see why you couldn't chop up an entire level-up's worth of improvements into small bits (class features, skill points, spell slots, save bonuses, HP, etc.) and divvy them out over smaller intervals to provide a smoother character power-level progression.
It would be like constant book keeping. Ever changing but no big feeling of accomplishment.

tesral
02-09-2008, 02:38 AM
I don't see why you couldn't chop up an entire level-up's worth of improvements into small bits (class features, skill points, spell slots, save bonuses, HP, etc.) and divvy them out over smaller intervals to provide a smoother character power-level progression.

That's called a skill based system, pick one, there are several. Obviously D&D is not your game.

fmitchell
02-09-2008, 03:38 AM
Getting back to the topic at hand ...


For all the power a caster has they have truly limited options. They get few skills, cannot fight well, and everything is tied up in a handful of abilities called spells to which they have limited access.
(...)
If i ever meet a system that jumps out and says "use me", I will, but i have yet to meet that system.

Have you looked at True20's magic system? Every "adept" can acquire a Power instead of a Feat. Powers are generally broader than spells: Shape Fire, Mind Reading, etc. A few powers cost Fatigue, but otherwise an adept can use them as many times as he or she likes. True, they're not D&D spells, but maybe this system could augment arcane spellcasters at low levels, with traditional D&D spells starting at higher levels.

True20 isn't directly compatible with D&D ... but hunt up The Psychic's Handbook from Green Ronin, which is a D20-compatible prototype of the True20 system.


D&D is still getting over an idea, and that idea was to cripple the spell caster to the point of unusability. Gary Gygax admitted he hated magicians, and he did everything he could in AD&D to make life hard for them and not take it out of the book entirely. If you follow every rule on spell casting in AD&D you cannot play a spell caster effectively. So many of the spells are crippled with conditions or material components that you are never going to get. The memorization rules would mean that a high level wizard would take days to study all his spells. Mid level casters will spend half the day. You don't get the spells you want, only the spells you can find. No one is willing to share unless you give ten times the value of a spell. The system is designed to hate magicians.

Well, I hate spell casters. In some of the (non-D&D) games I'm thinking about running, all magic is ritual magic, similar to Incantations in Unearthed Arcana with more of a Lovecraftian spin; sorcerers need props, consumable components, minutes to hours, and the occasional astral conjunction or ley line. If you want to push magic into the background, or make it rare, "arbitrary limitations" are the way to go. (EDIT: to see what I mean, look at this post (http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/showpost.php?p=7944&postcount=2) on the GURPS forum.)

On the other hand, I agree it's unfair to make magic difficult for PCs but common among monsters. How many D&D monsters can only be hit by magical weapons? How many have spell-like abilities? If you want to push fighters to the fore, fine, but make sure they don't have to wait for the wizard. (It's also a little stupid to punish arcane spellcasters, but not divine spellcasters who can simply pray for their spells and use their holy symbol for nearly all material components.)

tesral
02-09-2008, 01:27 PM
Have you looked at True20's magic system?

Yes. True20 is too system light for my tastes. I have no problem with spell slots. I just decripple the class in other terms, drop fire and forget, more skills, a d6 hit die and so forth. I want the magican to be more than just a spell chucker.

Riftwalker
02-09-2008, 07:06 PM
It would be like constant book keeping. Ever changing but no big feeling of accomplishment.

Accomplishments should be plot-related anyway ("We defended the town!") rather than based on the character's level of power ("I am now a level 10 rogue!") This isn't an MMORPG grind-fest after all ("Ding!").

How many game sessions go by in D&D without a level-up anyway? It doesn't seem like an inordinate amount of bookkeeping if you increment one number every couple weeks.

And if this swings too far to the other side of the spectrum, then just group the level-up bits into larger chunks until you have the right balance between ever-changing and larger discrete jumps in power.



That's called a skill based system, pick one, there are several. Obviously D&D is not your game.


I was responding to MortonStromgal's post above by offering a straightforward way to deal with his problem #3 while not deviating from D&D rules too far. It still is clearly a class-based system, though--the benefits of the level up are just smeared out a bit. It actually seems like less of a deviation from "pure" D&D than some of the homebrew rules of yours I've read around here. :D

tesral
02-10-2008, 01:33 AM
Accomplishments should be plot-related anyway ("We defended the town!") rather than based on the character's level of power ("I am now a level 10 rogue!") This isn't an MMORPG grind-fest after all ("Ding!").


I would have to agree. I get satisfaction from completing things well. Sure I like to get the power for my character, but I prefer to see it in character terms.

nijineko
02-10-2008, 06:27 AM
i like both slots and points. i've used both with happiness. it's the trying to pick the spell load of the day with wizardly and divine types that gives me headaches. ergo, the beholder mage is my absolute favorite arcane concept, and psychic reformation is my absolute favorite power. erudites are good for me too. i just wish there was a psychic warrior version of one. ^^

basically it's the daily restriction that bugs me. i do fine with sorcerers and favored souls. i guess i'm more of a "super-hero" oriented kind of guy with regards to special powers and so forth. these are your abilities, now see how tricky you can get with them!