View Full Version : Spellpoints for arcane casters

2013-03-15, 03:53 PM
Hi everyone!

I developed this system for a homemade campaign world in which is no natural arcane magical flow whatsoever. Arcane magic exists in only in three forms in this world. Either in great volatile pools of magic, so called power nodes, which vanish and grow unpredictably. A node can come into existence and vanish minutes, hours or even centuries later. It can grow or shrink from one day to another. Relatively stable nodes are very rare and fiercely contested by magical creatures and powerful mages.

The second form is within magic items like wands, potions, scrolls or basically any item which has charges even if it is only one like a potion. This magic however decays fairly quickly. Most potions only last a couple of weeks. The more powerful the magic item the faster the decay rate. Magic can also be stored in very fragile crystals for later use. These usually last no longer than a couple of days and can have disastrous wild magic effect if broken. "Permanent" magical items like enchanted Weapons also decay but much slower and have to be fed magic energy to function properly since they can't get magic from the air like in other worlds.

The third and second most common form of magic is the actual magical ability of arcane casters who enable themselves through training or sheer magical talent to tap into their own life force to create magic in their own body's.

Spell points are either gained through an external source like power nodes, by race or class. Magical creatures, this includes for example Elves, Dragons, Outsiders and many more, gain 1 Spell point per HD. This Spell pool adds to any gained by others sources and can be used in the same way.

Spell points from classes are calculated by three factors. Memorizing or spontaneous casters, bonus points through high ability scores and the daily casting ability of the class. Note that Spell points through ability scores are only open for characters or creatures with a spell casting class.

A arcane casters gains one spell point for every spell level available through the ability score linked with the spell casting class like INT for Wizards or CHA for Sorcerers. One Spell point is gained for every level of spells the class can cast in the given level. Spontaneous casting classes also gain two extra Spell points per CL in that respective class.

For example a human Wizard level 10 with INT 18 would have 53 Spell points. No racial Points. 10 Points from INT 18 (one level 1-4 spell) and 43 points for being a Wizard level 10 (4 level 1 spells equals 4 points, 4 level 2 spells gives 8 points and so on...)

Now imagine an elven Sorcerer with CHA 18 at the same level, that would be at 111 spell points. This contains 10 racial Spell points, 10 Spell points for the high ability score, 20 Spell points for 10 CLs in a spontaneous casting class and 71 Spell points.

Spell points are used mainly for two things: Charge magic items and casting spells. Charging a magic item is a standard actions and requires nothing more than physical contact as well as some calm and quit to concentrate on the item. Basically any magic item needs at least one spell point per day to function. More powerful items need more spell points per day. The exception are items with charges, they work until they are drained or fall apart from decay. Spell points can also be used to make decaying charge items last longer. One Spell point per day removes the decay from any magic item.

Memorizing Casting Class Spontaneous Casting Class
Spell level Point cost Spell level Point cost
1 1 1 1
2 2 2 1
3 3 3 2
4 4 4 2
5 5 5 3
6 6 6 3
7 7 7 4
8 8 8 4
9 9 9 5
Memorizing casting classes like the Wizard do not have to actually memorize their spells, they can cast them as long as they have spell points. As long as any arcane caster has at least one spell point left they can cast any level 0 spell as often as they like.

Sorcerers and other spontaneous casters seem at first glance to be the only way to go in this system. However they have to live with two drawbacks. They still only get the much lower number of spells known associated with the class and they have to pay triple to use meta magic. Thus an empowered Fireball (spell level +2) would not cost them 3 spell points but 9.

Every arcane caster needs a focus to cast spells effectively eliminating any material component for casting spells beside the focus. This can be anything from a small token through a Harry Potter style wand up to a tattooed magic circle on their forehead. This focus has to be defined by four traits like a palm size silver pendant picturing a small fey riding a unicorn. Any focus has to be bound to the caster by a 12 hour long ritual thus loosing is pretty bad for a caster.

Furthermore memorizing casters like the Wizard can choose to memorize their spells thus binding a number of spell points for the day. These get subtracted from their daily spell pool. In doing so they are able to cast these memorized spells at a lower cost effectively paying the same spell points as a sorcerer would.

Wizards also gain the ability to craft any magic item as 30 percent lowered cost since they spend a lot of their time studying magic arts.

Generally speaking permanent magic items in this system are easier to create and cost generally 30 percent less than the normal DMG value since they are useless unless they are fed spell points every day. The cost gets higher the more powerful the item is. A +1 sword would cost only one point per day to function properly while a +4 sword would cost two points, a +8 sword three points and epic level stuff five or more.

Of course there are thousands of killer builds out there which could break this system easily, but I have played with this systems in several campaigns and overall with a bit of grooming by the DM it tends to work well. The idea was to make magic more unpredictable and to mage magical items special not just by rarity but the costs to keep one going.
Please keep in mind that this system was written during the starting days of D20 3rd Edition.
Best of regards,

2013-03-15, 04:40 PM
Or, you could use: http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/spellPoints.htm

2013-03-16, 12:17 AM
Or, you could use: http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/spellPoints.htm

You beat me to it. But yeah, Unearthed Arcana has already hit on this subject once. Personally I like the spell points system better than the spell slots one, but if I were going to apply it to my game I'd just tweak the one in UA instead of designing an entirely new one.

2013-03-16, 05:29 AM
I know the one from UA, but since it came out years after I designed mine, I never actually used it. If I hadn't designed one by the time the other one came out I probably would have used the official one too.

2013-03-29, 06:24 AM
Also, our fellow playgrounder Ernir designed the one in my signature, which I couldn't suggest more highly.

2013-04-02, 11:45 AM
Also, our fellow playgrounder Ernir designed the one in my signature, which I couldn't suggest more highly. wow, havent read through the whole book yet, but this is really nice