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Thread: What's Wrong with Spell Points?

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by JSorenson1979 View Post
    It's a decent idea...but as I see it, there are two major problems:

    A)the goal isn't to lower a Wizards power, or daily spell casting capability but rather to keep it comparable to Wizards using the vancian system.

    B) This doesn't take into account other spell casting classes.

    Let's say that we take the average Wizards HP at 20th level: 42 (assuming no constitution modifier and an average roll of 2HP per level) this is enough for the Wizard to cast 4 9th level spells, but not much else.

    If we look at a Cleric or a Druid, who we can expect to have an avergae of 84hp by 20th level, which means that they can cast 8 9th level spells as opposed to the Wizards 4. So their spell casting capability is significantly increased.

    Also, if we take a look at a multiclassed character; say a 1Fighter/9Wizard/10Eldritch Knight, who would have an average of 58HP at level 20, or a 3Rogue/7Wizard/10Arcane Trickster who would have an average of 46hp at level 20; both of whom can be expected to have a greater spell casting capacity than the Wizard.

    You see the problem.

    Actually, the best alternate system to the vancian ideal for a D&D style spell tier system is the one used in Monte Cook's Arcana Unearthed.

    In this system, Spell casters had a finite amount of spells they could prepare each given day, and from this prearranged repetoire, they could cast spontaneously. Simple, elegant, and works well with traditional D&D magic.
    Well, the rule was originally intended for use in conjunction with the vancian "fire & forget" system. It could use a little fine tuning to be used on it's own. As for a 20th level wizard only being capable of casting 4 9th level spells? Well first of all you're assuming he's only going to be using the 42 Spell Points he has without fatiguing or exhausting himself. Secondly, you're also assuming that during a conflict or crisis he's going to launch all his heaviest artillary first thing. The most commonly used spells are between 3rd and 6th level. And I have taken into account that priests, clerics, druids, bards, and other spell casting classes have more hit points and would thus be able to cast more spells as well. But you also have to remember that these classes have fewer "weapons of mass destruction" in their spell repetoirs and would thus be less likely to throw game balance off.

    You are also forgetting that the purpose of the old vancian "fire and forget" system was so that the wizard wouldn't be the overly powerful member of the team and just waltz into every situation and just blast it away with one devistating spell after another. So the purpose of the spell point system is in fact to keep the wizard class power level in check, just as the vacian system is. If magic is cast without some form of cost (forgetting the spell, physical pain, fatigue and exhaustion, etc) then there would be no room for warriors or rogues in the game. Everyone would be a spellcaster of some sort.

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    Ray of Stupidity isn't the only example of a spell that is poorly considered and written and has the potential to be game breaking.

    Anyway, If the spell point thing works for you, then great. but heed this warning, the right player can take a system like this, and exploit it to dizzying heights of merciless game-rape if you're not careful. Most people, even gamers, don't have the capability to pour through dry mechanical text and pick out semantics loop holes that will allow maximum exploitation. But power gamers do think in this way, so keep a close eye on things, even core material.

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    Okay, let's play the game for a moment...

    There sits a wizard that can cast 33 Sonic Balls (10d6 damage per) each day. Let's even go further... let's give him extended ranges and more AOE on his explosions of sound.

    The fix? Simple - a change of venue!!

    No open battle-field battles! Make it a city setting with lots of innocent civilians. Make it a cave setting with lots of stalactites to fall on heads if things get loud. Make it a situation where undue attention will bring down thousands of evil baddies.

    Go ahead, uber-wizard of soundness!! Cast your spells!! I dare you!!!

    Case One: After the authorities get done with the wizard for killing civilians, things will be easy... twenty-five to life years from now when he gets out of the dungeon.

    Case Two: One spell, and the entire group has to save or be skewered multiple times. So does that pretty, pretty Princess that they were trying to save.

    Case Three: One Spell and the entirety of the Nation of Evilness will be down their throats. Go ahead, Mr. 33 Balls of sound a day - you can't stop ten thousand bad guys.

    If the idea that a 33 Fireball a day Wizard breaks your game, I don't think it's the game - I think it's your DM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Misfeldt View Post
    Well, the rule was originally intended for use in conjunction with the vancian "fire & forget" system. It could use a little fine tuning to be used on it's own. As for a 20th level wizard only being capable of casting 4 9th level spells? Well first of all you're assuming he's only going to be using the 42 Spell Points he has without fatiguing or exhausting himself. Secondly, you're also assuming that during a conflict or crisis he's going to launch all his heaviest artillary first thing. The most commonly used spells are between 3rd and 6th level. And I have taken into account that priests, clerics, druids, bards, and other spell casting classes have more hit points and would thus be able to cast more spells as well. But you also have to remember that these classes have fewer "weapons of mass destruction" in their spell repetoirs and would thus be less likely to throw game balance off.
    Clerics and Druids get some of the heaviest damage dealings sells in the game (Insect Plague, Storm of Vengeance, Harm, Energy Drain, Mass Inflict Critical Wounds, Earthquake, etc. and let us not forget access to spells like Implosion, Disintegrate and Incendiary Cloud through Clerical domains)

    Also, Evocations aren't actually the most effective spells in the game...they're just the most flashy. I would put Enchantement and Illusion spells at the top of that list.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Misfeldt View Post
    You are also forgetting that the purpose of the old vancian "fire and forget" system was so that the wizard wouldn't be the overly powerful member of the team and just waltz into every situation and just blast it away with one devistating spell after another. So the purpose of the spell point system is in fact to keep the wizard class power level in check, just as the vacian system is. If magic is cast without some form of cost (forgetting the spell, physical pain, fatigue and exhaustion, etc) then there would be no room for warriors or rogues in the game. Everyone would be a spellcaster of some sort.
    Fat lot of good it did. Spellcasters are still significantly more powerful than Fighters and Rogues.

    You know what does do a good job of keeping casters in check and cranking up the power level of nonmagical classes?

    4th Edition! Woo hoo

    Quote Originally Posted by Malruhn View Post
    Okay, let's play the game for a moment...

    There sits a wizard that can cast 33 Sonic Balls (10d6 damage per) each day. Let's even go further... let's give him extended ranges and more AOE on his explosions of sound.

    The fix? Simple - a change of venue!!

    No open battle-field battles! Make it a city setting with lots of innocent civilians. Make it a cave setting with lots of stalactites to fall on heads if things get loud. Make it a situation where undue attention will bring down thousands of evil baddies.

    Go ahead, uber-wizard of soundness!! Cast your spells!! I dare you!!!

    Case One: After the authorities get done with the wizard for killing civilians, things will be easy... twenty-five to life years from now when he gets out of the dungeon.

    Case Two: One spell, and the entire group has to save or be skewered multiple times. So does that pretty, pretty Princess that they were trying to save.

    Case Three: One Spell and the entirety of the Nation of Evilness will be down their throats. Go ahead, Mr. 33 Balls of sound a day - you can't stop ten thousand bad guys.

    If the idea that a 33 Fireball a day Wizard breaks your game, I don't think it's the game - I think it's your DM.
    Wow...all of that effort just to nerf someone using a house-ruled magic system? Seems like the easier way to do it would be to stick with the system that the game was designed for.

    Also, how many players do you know that think about things like extraneous collateral damage? Remember the game is based around playing impulsive sociopaths that make their livings through home invasion, murder and burglary...so you may be overestimating their moral fiber just a little.

    And I wouldn't be so sure about a 20th level Wizard not being able to take out 10,000 guys. Especially with 33 Chain Lightning spells, or 22 Weird Spells, or maybe just one Gate spell. How many of those guys do you think would have a weapon capable of hitting an enraged Pit Fiend?

    I once had a 9th level Fighter that dropped over one hundred guys in a single fight. The only time I was ever glad that I took Great CLeave.
    Last edited by Farcaster; 04-29-2008 at 11:31 AM. Reason: Please use multi-quote

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    Given the D&D spell system is not perfect. It works more or less however; Spell points while a keen idea,and I'll say it again, do not graft onto this system well. I have tried and watched other people try to hammer spell points onto exsisting D&D magic for 32 years. 32 years of not getting it right.

    If you want a point based system throw the whole thing out, Lock, stock, and spell levels. Start with a clean page.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
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    I've been doing spell points for years. I use the simple 1 spell point per spell level system. Works great, never had a problem. I have recently instituted a "Fatigue Point" system to prevent someone from casting nothing but high level spells. Basically, you can cast up to 5th level spells all you want. After that, a spell incurs one Fatigue Point per spell level above 5th. You can accrue FP's equal to your Character level plus your Concentration skill score. 8 hours of sleep will wipe out FP's equal to your character level. PC's are still only 3rd level, so not sure how this will work. Will keep you posted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by upidstay View Post
    I have recently instituted a "Fatigue Point" system to prevent someone from casting nothing but high level spells. Basically, you can cast up to 5th level spells all you want. After that, a spell incurs one Fatigue Point per spell level above 5th. You can accrue FP's equal to your Character level plus your Concentration skill score.
    Actually, this sounds similar to the Spell Point system in Iron Heroes, and the "Unlimited Mana" system for GURPS (which already uses fatigue points to power spells). In both, every arcane caster has a budget of "mana points" he can use safely per day. The caster can spend *over* that budget, but the further in debt he goes, the more likely spells will fail, backfire, or take effect on the wrong target. Mana points return on an hourly or daily basis, but (at least with Umana) at a fraction of the mage's total mana capacity.

    With "Unlimited Mana", mages can reliably cast incredibly powerful spells ... once or twice a day. After that, they have to recover their mana, or become a walking time bomb.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
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    Quote Originally Posted by JSorenson1979 View Post
    Wow...all of that effort just to nerf someone using a house-ruled magic system? Seems like the easier way to do it would be to stick with the system that the game was designed for.
    I don't have a problem with spell points. No need to nerf it - or someone that uses it. I just play my NPC's like that have an INT and WIS score.
    Also, how many players do you know that think about things like extraneous collateral damage? Remember the game is based around playing impulsive sociopaths that make their livings through home invasion, murder and burglary...so you may be overestimating their moral fiber just a little.
    How many players don't think about it? All the munchkins that I know. Once a person stops playing for high-score, they mature into people that do consider things like collateral damage.

    Or at least they will with their next character!
    And I wouldn't be so sure about a 20th level Wizard not being able to take out 10,000 guys. Especially with 33 Chain Lightning spells, or 22 Weird Spells, or maybe just one Gate spell. How many of those guys do you think would have a weapon capable of hitting an enraged Pit Fiend?
    Perhaps one. However of those 10,000, there will be at least 1000 with bows. How many thousands of hit points did this mage have again? A holdover from the original D&D game was that a summoned monster disappeared when the summoner was killed. Only an idiot fights a pit fiend on equal terms, because the pit fiend will win - every time.
    I once had a 9th level Fighter that dropped over one hundred guys in a single fight. The only time I was ever glad that I took Great CLeave.
    You did well - on an encounter that used all the AI of a console-style video game. If your enemy sees that you are able to mince them with your three foot blade, then if they have an INT score of over 2 (animal intelligence), they will stay at least 3.5 feet away. If they have an INT of better than 8, they will use a four foot - or better - weapon. If they have an INT of 10 or better, they will use a missile weapon.

    In my campaign, you would be able to take out about 15 enemy. The other 85 would turn you into a porcupine.

    It truly sucks to battle a monster that actually gets to USE their INT scores. If they have a WIS score, then you are in REAL trouble!

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    Quote Originally Posted by upidstay View Post
    I've been doing spell points for years. I use the simple 1 spell point per spell level system. Works great, never had a problem. I have recently instituted a "Fatigue Point" system to prevent someone from casting nothing but high level spells. Basically, you can cast up to 5th level spells all you want. After that, a spell incurs one Fatigue Point per spell level above 5th. You can accrue FP's equal to your Character level plus your Concentration skill score. 8 hours of sleep will wipe out FP's equal to your character level. PC's are still only 3rd level, so not sure how this will work. Will keep you posted.
    Because that's MUCH easier than "Wizard gets 4 6th level spells per day"

    Is your goal to make the game MORE complicated?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JSorenson1979 View Post
    Because that's MUCH easier than "Wizard gets 4 6th level spells per day"

    Is your goal to make the game MORE complicated?
    Simpler is usually better. A more complicated rules MUST add sufficient play value to over set the added complication. This seldom happens. It is one of the reasons I have not opted for a "better" magic system. The current one works well enough and all my players understand it. No one is complaining that spell casters are either under powered or over powered.

    Since no one is complaining, it ain't broke. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malruhn View Post
    Perhaps one. However of those 10,000, there will be at least 1000 with bows. How many thousands of hit points did this mage have again? A holdover from the original D&D game was that a summoned monster disappeared when the summoner was killed. Only an idiot fights a pit fiend on equal terms, because the pit fiend will win - every time.
    There are two problems with this logic.

    A) While summoned creatures do in fact disappear back to their home plane when their summoner is killed, a Pit Fiend brought over via Gate spell would not. This is because Gate is a calling effect rather than a summoning effect.

    B)
    The other problem is, even the threat posed by your 1,000 archers is negated by a simple Fly Spell. And I guarantee that the Wizards arsenal has a much higher effective range than arrows. As a matter of fact, a 20th level Wizard using spell points could just fly 200ft. in the air and Summon Pit Fiend after Pit Fiend while no one in that army could touch him. (Here's a side question...how many Pit Fiends do you think it would take to tear through 10,000 1HD schmucks with mundane weapons) And hey...if things really got hairy...the Wizard could just teleport to safety and then do it again the very next day.

    See...aren't spell points grand?

    Quote Originally Posted by Malruhn View Post
    You did well - on an encounter that used all the AI of a console-style video game. If your enemy sees that you are able to mince them with your three foot blade, then if they have an INT score of over 2 (animal intelligence), they will stay at least 3.5 feet away. If they have an INT of better than 8, they will use a four foot - or better - weapon. If they have an INT of 10 or better, they will use a missile weapon.

    In my campaign, you would be able to take out about 15 enemy. The other 85 would turn you into a porcupine.
    This particular fight took place during a large scale battle, and most of the bad guys I killed were peon Orc foot soldiers...who were relenetlessly charging a line of steadfast defenders. They didn't have missile weapons. Or hell, maybe teeming hordes of thousands and thousands of Orcs are each as well provisioned as a typical PC in your campaign and thus each of them has a shotgun. That'll keep those pesky fighters in line.

    And hey...why shouldn't a higher level Fighter be able to take out a hundred? Afterall, under your system a Wizard can just Summon Pit Fiends or Solars then disappear...fighters should at least get the chance to get a decent body count in the face of the world shattering power your wizards and Clerics.

    Also, I don't play video games skippy.



    Quote Originally Posted by Malruhn View Post
    It truly sucks to battle a monster that actually gets to USE their INT scores. If they have a WIS score, then you are in REAL trouble!
    you should try using your own INT score

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    Quote Originally Posted by JSorenson1979 View Post
    B) The other problem is, even the threat posed by your 1,000 archers is negated by a simple Fly Spell. And I guarantee that the Wizards arsenal has a much higher effective range than arrows. As a matter of fact, a 20th level Wizard using spell points could just fly 200ft. in the air and Summon Pit Fiend after Pit Fiend while no one in that army could touch him. (Here's a side question...how many Pit Fiends do you think it would take to tear through 10,000 1HD schmucks with mundane weapons) And hey...if things really got hairy...the Wizard could just teleport to safety and then do it again the very next day.
    Why are 1HD schmucks going up against a 20th level wizard without some higher levels with them? Plus, even a 3rd level ranger could easily hit that 20th wizard flying at 200ft!
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    First of all, lets cool it on the personal attacks. Again, if you haven't already, please read over the forum rules.

    Quote Originally Posted by JSorenson1979 View Post

    B)
    The other problem is, even the threat posed by your 1,000 archers is negated by a simple Fly Spell. And I guarantee that the Wizards arsenal has a much higher effective range than arrows. As a matter of fact, a 20th level Wizard using spell points could just fly 200ft. in the air and Summon Pit Fiend after Pit Fiend while no one in that army could touch him.
    The range increment on a heavy cross bow is 120 feet and a longbow has a range increment of 100 feet, meaning the archers in your scenario could still peg the wizard in this example at that range -- or even out to 1,000+ feet, actually!. Granted your wizard is probably going to have an impossible to hit AC for the archers, but through the magic of natural-20s, they will still be able to hit him. So, that means that your 1000 archers would score an average of 50 hits per round. Two to three of those are going to be confirmed criticals as well. And if you use the optional 20-20-20 instant death rule, there is a roughly 10% chance every round that one of the 1,000 archers is going to outright kill your wizard boy. (My dice ache just thinking about rolling that many d20s, btw!)

    Nonetheless, 48 regular hits at say 4 hit points a strike is an average of 192 points of damage. If we're using long bows, the confirmed critical hits are going to add an average of 12 points each. So round one your wizard is taking 216 points of damage. If he had Protection from Arrows up, its gone now and he took 116 points of damage. If he additionally had Stone Skin up, that only has 34 points left on it now. Next round he's in trouble if he's still in range.

    So, indeed, it seems that in the outlandish event that a wizard is being confronted by one thousand level one archers that can all spot-on fire on him Hero style, they definitely have a shot of defeating him -- and relatively quickly, actually, if the wizard uses those tactics.


    Quote Originally Posted by JSorenson1979 View Post
    See...aren't spell points grand?
    As you pointed out, realistically how many Pit fiends would it take to wipe out a town? Not too many. So spell points aside, he could still use much of the same tactics. Of course, it is fair to point out that every time the wizard calls one of those pit fiends using Gate he is burning 1,000 XP. He can also only control one at a time unless he is 36th level or higher. And, yeah, if he's 36th level, he should definitely be able to wipe out a town on his own unless there are some powerful adversaries to stand in his way. He could basically be considered a demi-power at that level anyway!
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    What I dont like about the D&D magic system... There is no flexiblity! With most classes you must pick what spells you have chosen to memorize for which spell slot. 3 fireballs 2 magic missles etc, I find this stupid. I'm ok if you limit me to only picking a hand full of spells but then I should be able to cast them infinitely or limit me to spells per day but let me pick on the fly what I cast. I also have no problems with spell points as is. Slinging magic missile every round in a combat doesn't bug me on either side of the screen. Personally I think WFRP 2nd got it right, you can sling spells as much as you want but they may backlash.
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    I will never argue that the system as it stands is something on the other side of silly.

    Now, Joe Peon will at least have a passing familiarity with spell casters. I'm not talking about Knowledge: Magus-1 or anything, just that they summon stuff and that if the wizard gets killed the critters summoned will go away. They won't know about Gate, but it doesn't matter at all. They will still attempt to get rid of the wizard... and 200' won't matter a darn, considering the number of concentration checks the wizard will have to roll as he is attempting to concentrate on FLYING (not hovering), and also casting spells (9th level, no less!), and getting hit by lots of arrows.

    Two rounds later, after the wizard's dead body gets done bouncing on the ground, the orcs will realize that this wizard had big mojo as they all die at the hands of an angry pit fiend... but the wizard will still be dead.

    And we didn't have to magically gift the orcs with anything more than an 8-9 INT score.
    ___________________________

    Then we get to play with the battle with the 100 peons being killed by one sword-wielding fighter. The description is similar, but the battle was skewed from the start. A sword is very expensive in raw materials to create, while a bow (even a crappy one at -4 to hit or worse) is quite cheap. Any being strong enough to build an army of thousands of orcs will have to have an INT high enough to realize that nothing but swords will end up being too costly to his/her army. Bad guys are smart. They should be used that way.

    I question your DM's competence and judgment. This was a gimme.

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