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Homebrew Spell Points and Problem Spells

Xeviat

Explorer
Hi everyone. I love spellpoint systems. That's why I liked the Psion so much in 3E and 4E. Sure, there's a bit more bookkeeping, but I like MP better than spell slots.

I'm looking to use spell points for my next game. I'm wanting to ID potential problem spells early and come up with solutions for them.

The first I see are low level defensive spells. Defense scales naturally with levels, unless that defense is something like temp hp. Shield right now is okay because you only have so many 1st level spell slots before you have to start burning higher level slots. In a spell point system, Shield would keep costing 2 sp forever, and eat into their spell pool a lot less.

Interestingly, in the Mystic playtest, their power equivalent of shield granted +X AC, where X was equal to the amount of points spent. This might be the direction shield needs to go in in a spellpoint system.

What are other spells you might want to keep an eye on?
 

Mort

Community Supporter
Hi everyone. I love spellpoint systems. That's why I liked the Psion so much in 3E and 4E. Sure, there's a bit more bookkeeping, but I like MP better than spell slots.

I'm looking to use spell points for my next game. I'm wanting to ID potential problem spells early and come up with solutions for them.

The first I see are low level defensive spells. Defense scales naturally with levels, unless that defense is something like temp hp. Shield right now is okay because you only have so many 1st level spell slots before you have to start burning higher level slots. In a spell point system, Shield would keep costing 2 sp forever, and eat into their spell pool a lot less.

Interestingly, in the Mystic playtest, their power equivalent of shield granted +X AC, where X was equal to the amount of points spent. This might be the direction shield needs to go in in a spellpoint system.

What are other spells you might want to keep an eye on?
Absorb Elements - exactly the same reasons you listed for shield. At a flat 2 sp, it's beyond amazing.
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
Really, any spell third level or lower that gets a consistent sky blue rating in the Class guides should probably at least be glanced at. Some of the spell levels have less go-to obvious choices, and in a spell point environment the inclination, as you point out, is going to be to spam effective low level spells. There aren't that many that jump out at me though.

At first level that could include: Shield (I agree) plus maybe Sleep/Hideous Laughter (low/higher levels) *edit* yeah, Absorb Elements for sure

Second Level: Darkness, Suggestion if your doing SPs for Warlocks maybe Shadow of Moil too.

The two in bold I can see getting a lot of use cast at 2nd level. Not sure how to fix that though. Maybe it doesn't need to be fixed, IDK. Having a low level mage casting sleep 8 or more times a day could be a real pain though, so maybe it does.
 

Harzel

Explorer
Hi everyone. I love spellpoint systems. That's why I liked the Psion so much in 3E and 4E. Sure, there's a bit more bookkeeping, but I like MP better than spell slots.
I have never understood this idea. With spell points, you have to keep track of one number; with spell slots you need to keep track of as many as levels of spells that you can cast. What am I missing?

(Sorry for taking this off-topic.)
 
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MechaPilot

Explorer
I currently run spell points instead of slots for every caster class except warlock (because they need slots to retain their unique character), and I haven't run into any issues yet. I even run a modified version of the DMG variant in that I don't limit spells of 6th level or higher to once per day. The only significant differences I've run into are that SP are easier to track than slots, and that casters have greater flexibility of resources than they do with slots. However, neither of these differences approaches the level of a problem.


Also, if the Shield spell is problematic for you, may I introduce you to a spell from my homebrew setting:

Discutio
2nd Level Evocation

Casting Time: 1 reaction, which you take when a creature within 120 feet of you casts the Shield spell.
Range: 120 feet.
Components: S, V
Duration: Instantaneous
Classes: Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard

You summon a sudden burst of magical force that shatters an opponent's Shield spell.
 

Harzel

Explorer
Hi everyone. I love spellpoint systems. That's why I liked the Psion so much in 3E and 4E. Sure, there's a bit more bookkeeping, but I like MP better than spell slots.

I'm looking to use spell points for my next game. I'm wanting to ID potential problem spells early and come up with solutions for them.

The first I see are low level defensive spells. Defense scales naturally with levels, unless that defense is something like temp hp. Shield right now is okay because you only have so many 1st level spell slots before you have to start burning higher level slots. In a spell point system, Shield would keep costing 2 sp forever, and eat into their spell pool a lot less.

Interestingly, in the Mystic playtest, their power equivalent of shield granted +X AC, where X was equal to the amount of points spent. This might be the direction shield needs to go in in a spellpoint system.

What are other spells you might want to keep an eye on?
I've been using spell points in my campaign for several years now. My opinion at this point is that at mid and higher levels, the spell point maximum should be less what is given in the DMG. I haven't thought hard about exactly how much at which levels, but I'd probably try starting the reduction perhaps as early as 7th level, and no later than 9th. To me, at least, that seems more manageable than trying to figure out which individual spells to patch up and how.

EDIT: And to echo [MENTION=82779]MechaPilot[/MENTION], while spell points definitely give casters more flexibility, and so, ultimately, a bit more power, it hasn't broken the game, even though, yeah, the wizard doesn't think twice about using Shield.
 
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MechaPilot

Explorer
I've been using spell points in my campaign for several years now. My opinion at this point is that at mid and higher levels, the spell point maximum should be less what is given in the DMG. I haven't thought hard about exactly how much at which levels, but I'd probably try starting the reduction perhaps as early as 7th level, and no later than 9th. To me, at least, that seems more manageable than trying to figure out which individual spells to patch up and how.

EDIT: And to echo @MechaPilot, while spell points definitely give casters more flexibility, and so, ultimately, a bit more power, it hasn't broken the game, even though, yeah, the wizard doesn't think twice about using Shield.

Another option would be to alter the SP cost for the spell levels. As it is, we have some level increases going up by 1 point while others go up by 2 points. I'd experiment with making each level increase a 2 point increase before tinkering with the totals.
 

Xeviat

Explorer
I'm likely going to be giving full casters 2 spell points per level but having them refresh on a short rest, but that's part of a greater effort to retool things. I'm not sure how I'll deal with the Warlock.
 

Harzel

Explorer
Another option would be to alter the SP cost for the spell levels. As it is, we have some level increases going up by 1 point while others go up by 2 points. I'd experiment with making each level increase a 2 point increase before tinkering with the totals.
Ok, can you say anything about why you think that is a better approach? That alters the relative costs of different levels of spells, which, to me, seems like a more fundamental change than lowering the totals.
 

Xeviat

Explorer
Ok, can you say anything about why you think that is a better approach? That alters the relative costs of different levels of spells, which, to me, seems like a more fundamental change than lowering the totals.

The costs for the low level spells line up well for the expected damage guidelines the DMG presented and the PHB ignored. I like the costs of the spells.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
We playtested Spell Points at several different levels, and the problem spells were you high level or two.

Basically, casters would using their biggest spells all the time - most return for the action spent, nova to reduce the enemy actions (often by inflicting the dead condition) as quick as possible. This lead to short adventuring days. Or at least the casters pushing hard for them.

So I don't have specific lists of problem spells, but a more systemic issue. You may want to still limit the number of the highest two levels of spells the caster can use. Be it by a hard limit per day or per short rest, or maybe breaking up SP to be by short rest so they can't just dump everything into nova-ing.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
I have never understood this idea. With spell points, you have to keep track of one number; with spell slots you need to keep track of as many as levels of spells that you can cast. What am I missing?

(Sorry for taking this off-topic.)
With traditional casting you need to find the correct level and increment a count.

With SP you need to lookup a number (cost for that level spell) and then do subtraction.

Both cases a lookup, but subtraction is slightly more involved then putting a hash mark or checking a box.

*shrug* I'd put them close enough to the same myself.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
The only significant differences I've run into are that ... casters have greater flexibility of resources than they do with slots. However, neither of these differences approaches the level of a problem.
In general there's a vibe that casters are already more powerful than at-will characters. Do you find that this exasperates the issue? Either through direct observation or though player choosing more casters then they would in a normal party distribution?
 

jgsugden

Explorer
I don't favor spell points, but had a player that did, so we made a system that addressed a few concerns. To avoid repetition problems, every power/spell had a base cost, but the cost increased by 1 for every additional use of it beyond the first between long rests. Towards the end of that PC we discussed making it be by 1 for every use beyond the second use, but did not make the switch before that PC left the campaign. I think that would have been fine.
 

Bupp

Villager
I use spell points, but only for sorcerers, where I just add their sorcery points into their spell point pool.

I've always liked spell points, though it does increase the caster's ability to nova. Though this may be an issue, I feel it fits in with the sorcerer class. The wizard is more versatile, but the sorcerer has more raw power, and spell points help reflect this in game play.
 

MechaPilot

Explorer
In general there's a vibe that casters are already more powerful than at-will characters. Do you find that this exasperates the issue? Either through direct observation or though player choosing more casters then they would in a normal party distribution?
I don't find it exasperating the issue. The additional resource flexibility tends to make casters feel more free to use spells they think are right for a given situation without worrying about "oh, man, but I have to burn one of my higher level slots to cast that because I've already used up all the slots for that level." It's been my experience that if you (the generic you) have a first level spell that seems right for a situation, but you're out of first level slots, you'll probably try to square-peg-round-hole a higher-level level spell for that situation because why not if you're already burning a higher level slot.

As far as more distribution of casters, no. My players tend to have two or three favorite classes that they stick to, unless they have a concept they want to try out with another class (or are inspired by a book or film to try a different character archetype). Right now, warlocks and monks are the most popular classes at my table (and warlocks at my table use slots because it's part of the general character of the class). It also helps that both of those classes are short-rest-refresh classes, so they refresh at the same rate and can keep up a decent pace in the adventuring day.
 

MechaPilot

Explorer
Ok, can you say anything about why you think that is a better approach? That alters the relative costs of different levels of spells, which, to me, seems like a more fundamental change than lowering the totals.
I don't know if I'd say it's a "better" approach, but it feels more intuitive to me to recalibrate the costs than the total.

I'd also add that changing the total wouldn't affect the issue that another poster mentioned in the lead-up to the response, which is the repeated casting of certain lower-level spells (like Shield) that the other deemed to be overly beneficial for their cost over multiple castings.
 

Harzel

Explorer
Counterspell and Dispel Magic: Casting either of these spells always requires a spellcasting check...
By "spellcasting check" do you mean an ability check using your spellcasting ability? I would assume so, but just wanted to clarify.
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
By "spellcasting check" do you mean an ability check using your spellcasting ability? I would assume so, but just wanted to clarify.
Your spellcasting ability score modifier plus your proficiency bonus. Just as if you were making a spell attack roll.

We had two new people join our group yesterday, one playing a wizard and the other a bard/monk. So, we had to explain the system and everything to them and they caught on quickly. It works well as long as you don't mind the potential of several low level spells or a bit more higher level ones.

We had one overcasting, which was useful despite the spell point cost and psychic damage.
 

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