Static Spell Points (3.5e Variant Rule)

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Author: Tarkisflux (talk)
Date Created: 17 July, 2009
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Static Spell Points

Introduction[edit]

Most spell points systems suffer from two flaws. First, they are structured in such a way that you can cast more spells of your highest spell level as you level up. While many players consider this a feature rather than a bug, it winds up being a straightforward increase in top end power for any caster migrating from a spells per day system. Which is hardly something they need. Secondly, since the pools continue to grow in size to accommodate your ever increasing spell cost, most point systems ask you to track smaller and smaller portions of your total pool as you level. You do more accounting for things that mean less as you grow in level, and it's rather annoying.

So here is a system that doesn't do these two things, while still being a system where you can sacrifice your lower level spells for more of your higher level ones. Because that is what people really want out of a spell point system.

Rule Mechanics[edit]

Instead of spells per day, all preparation casters instead prepare the number of spells listed at each level. They no longer prepare bonus spells for having a high attribute. Spontaneous casters retain their current spells known mechanic, but no longer have a spells per day entry at all. When a spellcaster casts a spell, they spend a number of spell points as indicated on the appropriate table below.

Full progression and bard-like partial progression casters have a pool of 50 spell points to spend on their spells. Delayed half-caster progressions, like the Paladin and Ranger, only get 30 spell points. Spontaneous casters add 10 points to the size of the appropriate pool. No attribute, attribute modifier, class level, or any other number is used to modify the size of these pools.

These spell points are recovered at a rate of 1 point per 15 minutes, regardless of activity level. Spellcasters gain an additional 15 spell points immediately following their normal memorization or preparation ritual.

Table: Spell Point Costs
- Full Progression Caster
Level Spell Points
0 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st 5 8
2nd 5 8
3rd 3 5 8
4th 3 5 8
5th 2 3 5 8
6th 2 3 5 8
7th 1 2 3 5 8
8th 1 2 3 5 8
9th 0 1 2 3 5 8
10th 0 1 2 3 5 8
11th 0 0 1 2 3 5 8
12th 0 0 1 2 3 5 8
13th 0 0 0 1 2 3 5 8
14th 0 0 0 1 2 3 5 8
15th 0 0 0 0 1 2 3 5 8
16th 0 0 0 0 1 2 3 5 8
17th 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 3 5 8
18th 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 3 5 8
19th 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 3 5 8
20th 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 3 5 8
Table: Spell Point Costs
- Bard Progression Caster
Level Spell Points
0 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st 8
2nd 5 8
2nd 5 8
4th 3 5 8
4th 3 5 8
4th 3 5 8
7th 2 3 5 8
8th 2 3 5 8
9th 2 3 5 8
10th 1 2 3 5 8
11th 1 2 3 5 8
12th 1 2 3 5 8
13th 0 1 2 3 5 8
14th 0 1 2 3 5 8
15th 0 1 2 3 5 8
16th 0 0 1 2 3 5 8
17th 0 0 1 2 3 5 8
18th 0 0 1 2 3 5 8
19th 0 0 1 2 3 5 8
20th 0 0 1 2 3 5 8
Table: Spell Point Costs
- Delayed Half Progression Caster
Level Spell Points
0 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st
2nd
3rd
4nd 5 8
5nd 5 8
6nd 5 8
7nd 5 8
8th 3 5 8
9th 3 5 8
10th 3 5 8
11th 2 3 5 8
12th 2 3 5 8
13th 2 3 5 8
14th 1 2 3 5 8
15th 1 2 3 5 8
16th 1 2 3 5 8
17th 1 2 3 5 8
18th 1 2 3 5 8
19th 1 2 3 5 8
20th 1 2 3 5 8

Multiclass Casters[edit]

Multiclass casters maintain different spell point pools for each of their spellcasting classes. They also have different associated costs for each spell level based on their level in each class.

Cost Analysis[edit]

The sizes of the pools and the costs listed in the table work to allow casters to cast more of their top level spells when they first acquire them than could under a Vancian system, which is to be expected in a trade up points style system. Because of the steeper differences in cost, however, you trade two spells of similar level for a spell of the level above. Casting your highest level spells thus carries a much higher opportunity cost than in other point systems, and casting them exclusively is almost always a bad idea as a result.

While you are discouraged from casting your highest level spells with this arrangement, the eventual reduction in cost to 0 means that you are encouraged to cast a lot of your lower level spell effects. Part of this is simply a pragmatic change, since in most spell point systems the cost of spells this far below your maximum is very small compared to the size of your pool. Tracking them is more a nuisance and rarely works out to limiting you in meaningful ways. Since there is no compelling reason to continue tracking them, we simply eliminate the costs and thus the tracking.

On Novas and the 5-Minute Workday
These rules don't do much to stop a caster from blowing all of their spells in an encounter or two, and then telling the party to stop so they can rest to recover their spells. The primary reason this is ignored is because removing the ability to nova in a spell points system means reducing the pool size substantially, from 50 down to 12 or 15. This is really only workable if you then increase the recharge rate substantially. If you regain your pool over the course of 5-15 minutes, you can get a spell of your highest level off reasonably often and generally complete an adventure in a standard fashion.

One of the side effects of doing a faster recharge is that you can cast a lot more of your highest level spells in a day, even though they are spread out. Again, this sort of increase in caster power is not desired in this rule. But while you can cast a lot more of them spread out, you can't cast them in quick succession. And the effect of that is to make long combats trying in the same way that long days would otherwise be. Since my preference is to allow design space for drawn out combats where people can contribute more than 1 or 2 spells and to encourage higher level resource commitment decisions on a per combat basis rather than a per round basis, I have elected to allow for the nova and workday problems. If you prefer otherwise, I hope I have given you a clear set of suggestions to utilize and some idea of what to expect from those changes.

Spellcasting Changes[edit]

In order to help protect and justify the costs associated with casting a spell of Level X versus a spell of Level X-1, some changes to the scaling of spells are also in order.

Spell Power[edit]

Most numeric effects of a spell are determined primarily by the spell's level, and not by the caster's level. Any reference to caster level within a spell, such as "1d6 per caster level" or "one target per two caster levels" or similar reference, is calculated as if the caster's level was equal to the spell power in the following table. An exception is made for range, which is modified from the SRD progression and listed by spell level in the following table.

Table: Spell Power
Spell Level Spell Power Close Range Medium Range Long Range
0 2 30' 60' 120'
1 4 35' 70' 140'
2 6 40' 80' 160'
3 8 45' 90' 180'
4 10 50' 100' 200'
5 12 55' 110' 220'
6 14 60' 120' 240'
7 16 65' 130' 260'
8 18 70' 140' 280'
9 20 75' 150' 300'

Thus a fireball always does 8d6 damage at up to 180', a charm person always lasts for 4 hours and only targets within 35', and fabricate always affects up to 120 cubic feet of material. If you want the spell to deal more, last longer, go farther, or affect a larger area you need to apply metamagic effects to it or cast a version of the spell that is a higher level.

Dispel Magic[edit]

An exception is made for dispel magic and greater dispel magic. These spells use your level in the relevant casting class rather than spell power to determine your likelihood of dispelling an effect.

Spell DCs[edit]

In order to further encourage the casting of lower level spells, the spell DC is no longer based on the spell level. Instead, all spells have a DC of 10 + half their caster level in a class + their spellcasting attribute modifier. This is not a significant caster boost, since the lack of spell scaling means that the power of their lower level spells never increases. All that this means is that the option remains a relevant one regardless of the CR of your foes, and keeps the spell level useful for more than just utility effects.

Metamagic[edit]

Preparation casters are still required to apply any desired metamagic effects to their spells at preparation. These spells take up a slot of the appropriate level and a number of spell points based on that slot when cast.

Spontaneous Casters and Metamagic
While I generally support not charging spontaneous casters to apply metamagic to their spells, that leads to some odd high level behavior here. Spontaneous casters can apply metamagic to every spell that they possess, and when their spell costs are down to 0 they may even be able to do so for no additional cost in spell points. Preparation casters gain similar benefit, but pay an opportunity cost when they elect to place a spell in a particular slot. Retaining a minor action cost for their otherwise eventually free metamagic serves as a check of sorts against its overuse.

Spontaneous casters may choose to apply any metamagic feats that they know when casting a spell. They pay a cost in spell points based on the final level of the spell after all metamagic adjustments are complete. If the spell has a casting time of 1 full-round action or less, they must spend a swift action to apply metamagic effects. In the case of a quickened spell, this swift action also entails the entire casting of the spell. If the spell has a cast time of 1 round or more, they must spend an additional standard action to apply metamagic effects.

Some specific adjustments and clarifications to metamagic appear below.

Empower Spell[edit]

Empower Spell only carries a metamagic cost of 1 spell level, not 2.

The reasons behind this are fairly straightforward. Casting an empowered spell of level X has an effect roughly equal to casting a spell of level X and a spell of level X-1. Since we know that the cost of casting those two spells is the same as the cost of casting a spell of level X+1, we charge the same amount for this metamagic effect.

Heighten Spell[edit]

Heighten Spell increases the spell's level, which also increases the spell power of a spell. This is generally an inefficient way of boosting a spell's effect, but may be necessary to breach a defense.

Widen Spell[edit]

Widen Spell increases both the length and the width of line effects. This grants a similar effect to lines as it does other areas.

Optional Caster Adjustments

The spell power system in particular lends itself to class adjustment that makes spellcasters dependent on additional attributes. If your spell power was equal to the listed amount -4 + an attribute modifier, then your spellcaster suddenly has an attribute that they may want to increase to boost their effectiveness. The important thing then would be to make it a different attribute than that which governed their spell DCs.

As an example of this sort of adjustment, we present the following suggestions for the core caster classes.

Bard: Intelligence adds to spell DC, Charisma adds to spell power.

Cleric: Charisma adds to spell DC, Wisdom adds to spell power.

Druid: Wisdom adds to spell DC, Charisma adds to spell power.

Paladin: Charisma adds to spell DC and spell power. They have enough attributes to manage already.

Ranger: Wisdom adds to spell DC and spell power. They also have enough attributes to manage already.

Sorcerer: Charisma adds to spell DC, Intelligence adds to spell power.

Wizard: Intelligence adds to spell DC, Wisdom adds to spell power.



Back to Main Page3.5e HomebrewVariant Rules

AuthorTarkisflux +
Identifier3.5e Variant Rule +
RatingUnrated +
SummaryA spell point system that doesn't allow novas or become more of an accounting chore as you grow in level, and comes with a set of adjustments to spellcasters to make them a bit MAD. +
TitleStatic Spell Points +