5E Using Spell Point Variant Rule?

dnd4vr

Adventurer
I was reading about the variant option of using Spell Points in the DMG (p. 288 I think...). I am thinking about suggesting it to our table and am curious if anyone here is using (or used and abandoned) the idea of spell points or their own version? If so, how did it work for your table?

I like the idea and don't mind the added complexity, but I do have some balance concerns:

At 20th-level with 133 points a character could have 19 5th-level slots, which seems really powerful.
As early as at 9th-level, a character could have 8 5th-level slots (with a point left over).
Even with Eldritch Invocations, the two 5th-level slots a warlock gets at the same level seem very underpowered by comparison.

So, is anyone using spell points? What issues (if any) have you come across?
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
I was reading about the variant option of using Spell Points in the DMG (p. 288 I think...). I am thinking about suggesting it to our table and am curious if anyone here is using (or used and abandoned) the idea of spell points or their own version? If so, how did it work for your table?

I like the idea and don't mind the added complexity, but I do have some balance concerns:

At 20th-level with 133 points a character could have 19 5th-level slots, which seems really powerful.
As early as at 9th-level, a character could have 8 5th-level slots (with a point left over).
Even with Eldritch Invocations, the two 5th-level slots a warlock gets at the same level seem very underpowered by comparison.

So, is anyone using spell points? What issues (if any) have you come across?
We ran an Esper genesus campaign for 18 months. It uses that rule for its psychic types alongside slots for its engineers - think arcane vs divine.

They worked fine alongside each other.

If I were going to implement it, any "prepared casters eould keep slots - including wizards. The "known" classes like bards, sorc old get points.
Warlock fo their own thing with slots.

But multiclassing would take dome eork.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
We playtested it as a few different level points. We found that it strongly encouraged casting higher level spells - basically novaing all the time. better action economy, kill foes quicker, etc. But because of that casters ran out quickly and advocated for 15 minute adventuring days. If there was some adventure reason they couldn't take a long rest then instead ended up using mostly cantrips when they weren't using high level spells, which they weren't fond of.

When there was only 2-3 encounters per day it made casters even more powerful than they are now.

Because of how upcasting usually isn't as good as spells natively of higher levels, they ended up also using the same few spells over and over, leading to a lot less variety.

We didn't adopt it after our playtest.
 
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Harzel

Explorer
I am using spell points in my campaign. Because, frankly, I did not understand what I was doing, I also increased the max spell points for all the casters. Even with that I think things are OK, although I'm sure caster behavior is different than if we were using spell slots. The PCs are only up to 6th level, though, and I am a bit concerned with the potential for a lot of high level spells being cast later on. There aren't any warlocks in the party, so I don't have any experience with that aspect. I do think that the players enjoy the added flexibility. And I much prefer seeing them have a resource that feels (to me) more natural than spell slots, which to me feel very 'gamey'.

In the realm of theory/speculation - the values in the max spell point table in the DMG are (as far as I can see) what you get when you just add up the spell point values of the slots in the table for a typical full caster. Since the added flexibility that spell points give seems like a clear advantage, it seems hard to escape the conclusion that the DMG spell point variant is a definite buff to casters. To try to bring it back in line with spell slots, power-wise (assuming that is something one wanted to do), one thing that I would contemplate would be to raise the spell point cost of higher level spells somewhat, while leaving the max spell point values the same. But I haven't worked through any actual numbers to see what they should be or to try to ascertain if that would have some unintended undesirable consequences.
 

ScuroNotte

Explorer
Use it for our Sorcerer as opposed to spell slots. Has been working very well. It is kept separate from the Sorcery Points. Has not out shined the other spell caster.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
I've been looking at it more today and trying to come up with a simpler variant just so we won't have to reference the tables:

* Your spell points are equal to your total caster levels times 3 plus your spellcasting modifier. If you have more than one spellcaster class, you only gain the highest spellcasting modifier to add to your spell points. Paladins and Rangers divide their level by two, and spell-using archetypes divide their level by three.
* Spells cost one point per spell level to cast. (Ex. a 5th-level spell costs 5 points.) If you choose to cast a spell with a higher level slot, it costs points equal to the spell level slot used.
* You cannot cast more than two 6th- and 7th-level spells, and only one 8th- and 9th-level spells until you take a Long Rest.

Ex. a 3rd-level sorcerer with CHA 14 would have 11 spell points. The same sorcerer with WIS 16 adds a level of cleric at 4th-level and would now use the +3 Wisdom modifier, for a total of 15 spell points.

This works out so casters have a bit more spells available at tier 1 and some of tier 2, but after that most often a caster using slots would have more "potential" (e.g. spell points would normally max out around 65, but you would need 89 spell points to cast all the spells normally available to a 20th-level caster).

Certain features have to be adapted, such as Arcane Recovery: once per day when you finish a Short Rest, you gain spell points equal to half your wizard level (round up).

I guess that's it for now.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
I think that spell points would be a great concept, but the game would have to be designed around it. Instead of spell slots, I would rather have had spell points, but even cantrips would have a cost. Used correctly, it would prevent nova, since the caster really couldn't just fall back to spamming cantrip attacks for decent damage. If you nova, you're using a quarterstaff or dagger for the rest of the fights. Still might be a viable strategy, but not all the time.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
We playtested it as a few different level points. We found that it strongly encouraged casting higher level spells - basically novaing all the time. better action economy, kill foes quicker, etc. But because of that casters ran out quickly and advocated for 15 minute adventuring days. If there was some adventure reason they couldn't take a long rest then instead ended up using mostly cantrips when they weren't using high level spells, which they weren't fond of.

When there was only 2-3 encounters per day it made casters even more powerful than they are now.

Because of how upcasting usually isn't as good as spells natively of higher levels, they ended up also using the same few spells over and over, leading to a lot less variety.

We didn't adopt it after our playtest.
One of my players ran the playtest Mystic in my last Curse of Strahd campaign, and that class essentially uses spell points. And the same thing happened with her... she couldn't help but just throw out Fireball after Fireball, and then found herself without spell points for large swathes of time. It definitely made the class feel different than the other spellcasters... but you need to have a much more conservative player to have it work effectively (and I mean that literally... the player needs to be wiling to conserve their points.) She wasn't able to do it-- the pull of throwing out multiple high-level spells in a single combat was just too great-- but unfortunately for her the house rules for resting I had in place for Barovia made things even worse (8 hours for a short rest, three days for a long.)
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
I think that spell points would be a great concept, but the game would have to be designed around it. Instead of spell slots, I would rather have had spell points, but even cantrips would have a cost. Used correctly, it would prevent nova, since the caster really couldn't just fall back to spamming cantrip attacks for decent damage. If you nova, you're using a quarterstaff or dagger for the rest of the fights. Still might be a viable strategy, but not all the time.
Actual experience of several people on this thread (myself included) is that many players don't have the mindset to conserve points, and in reality will instead push for a 15 minute adventuring day.

So, assuming Novaing will happen if allowed, how would you adjust the proposal to provide a hard stop instead of a soft stop to that?
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
I imagine experience is the best teacher here. After a couple times of novaing and then being less than effective when you are really needed, it seems like discretion would quickly be acquired. Also, with cantrips always available, it is no worse than when a character runs out of spell slots normally.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
Actual experience of several people on this thread (myself included) is that many players don't have the mindset to conserve points, and in reality will instead push for a 15 minute adventuring day.

So, assuming Novaing will happen if allowed, how would you adjust the proposal to provide a hard stop instead of a soft stop to that?
You simply don't let the 15 minute adventuring day happen, same as the current 5 minute work day issue. If you don't have solutions for that, novaing will happen with the current system anyway. Spell points simply makes the problem slightly worse, since the nova is bigger and shorter. Nova is a problem regardless of which system is used, so it's really a separate issue.

The problem I see with the spell point system now is that you can nova all your high level stuff, then fall back to cantrips for everything else. If cantrips also cost spell points, and you have suficient encounters, this makes full nova a less viable, since basic attacks are likely much less useful.
 

Giltonio_Santos

Adventurer
So, assuming Novaing will happen if allowed, how would you adjust the proposal to provide a hard stop instead of a soft stop to that?
Spell points without novaing could be achieved by creating a system where you build from the ground instead of depleting from the top. Every character has a maximum number of spell points/level, but they do not start there. The total always reverts to 0 after finishing a long rest. Characters gain X spell points/hour when out of combat, and X spell points/round once diplomacy stops working. I'd cap spell points/level at the number needed to cast your highest level spell, so they will usually start with the big gun loaded, but will have to set for worse while rebuilding. It improves staying power while limiting novaing power.

Obviously, this is only a very rough idea, from the top of my head, but it's a design space I always wanted D&D to explore. Right now, every class is on the same "from fresh to thrash" cycle, it would be cool to have things the other way around.
 

MechaPilot

Explorer
I was reading about the variant option of using Spell Points in the DMG (p. 288 I think...). I am thinking about suggesting it to our table and am curious if anyone here is using (or used and abandoned) the idea of spell points or their own version? If so, how did it work for your table?

I like the idea and don't mind the added complexity, but I do have some balance concerns:

At 20th-level with 133 points a character could have 19 5th-level slots, which seems really powerful.
As early as at 9th-level, a character could have 8 5th-level slots (with a point left over).
Even with Eldritch Invocations, the two 5th-level slots a warlock gets at the same level seem very underpowered by comparison.

So, is anyone using spell points? What issues (if any) have you come across?
I use spell points for all the casters at my table (except the warlock because it's kind of baked in), because I kind of hate spell slots.

I don't use the version as it's presented in the DMG, because I don't impose the one-per-day limit on spells higher than 5th level. If you want to pour all your spell points into 9th level spells, do it. You'll burn through the points really quickly.

I also use a rule that expending spell points in excess of your Constitution score in one round results in gaining a level of exhaustion (magic is strenuous, especially high-end magic). Admittedly, very few casters at my table run into that problem because no one can cast 9th level spells yet, and because most casters have at least a 10 or 12 in their Con score. Frankly, I think most of my players have forgotten the rule exists because it hasn't come into play. So, I might change it a bit.

As for any complications, there haven't been any. The caster gains more flexibility as to how many times they can cast spells of a given level, but I see that as a feature, not a bug.


Also, regarding the warlock, do remember that their slots refresh on a short rest, not a long one. The warlock is basically a stamina caster. Give them a short rest every so often and they're fine, whereas the wizard will eventually be begging for sleep.
 
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Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
You simply don't let the 15 minute adventuring day happen, same as the current 5 minute work day issue. If you don't have solutions for that, novaing will happen with the current system anyway. Spell points simply makes the problem slightly worse, since the nova is bigger and shorter. Nova is a problem regardless of which system is used, so it's really a separate issue.

The problem I see with the spell point system now is that you can nova all your high level stuff, then fall back to cantrips for everything else. If cantrips also cost spell points, and you have suficient encounters, this makes full nova a less viable, since basic attacks are likely much less useful.
From our playtests, the case wasn't "slightly" worse, it was much more pronounced.

But either way, cantrips were a mechanical safety value designed to deal with this exact problem (as well as others). So it looks like the proposal is both (a) worsening problem (regardless if it's "slightly" or "much" and (b) removing the design safety to deal with this.

Taking that and putting it on the DM, regardless of DM skill (and adventure they are running if not homebrew) has already been shown not to be a working combination in earlier editions. You're making mechanical changes, we need a mechanical fix. We're trying to make a system more welcoming for people to get into DMing.

So, what is you rules-system-only fix for 15 minute adventuring day that this encourages?
 
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MechaPilot

Explorer
I will go on to add that one way to discourage nova-ing might be to segregate one's spell points into a few pools. Make one pool for levels 1-5, and one pool for levels 6-9. Or, one pool for 1-3, one for 4-6, and one for 7-9. You could then name them something like minor, major and high arcana and have a general RP frame of reference for spells within a given level range.
 

FarBeyondC

Explorer
I was reading about the variant option of using Spell Points in the DMG (p. 288 I think...). I am thinking about suggesting it to our table and am curious if anyone here is using (or used and abandoned) the idea of spell points or their own version? If so, how did it work for your table?

I like the idea and don't mind the added complexity, but I do have some balance concerns:

At 20th-level with 133 points a character could have 19 5th-level slots, which seems really powerful.
As early as at 9th-level, a character could have 8 5th-level slots (with a point left over).
Even with Eldritch Invocations, the two 5th-level slots a warlock gets at the same level seem very underpowered by comparison.

So, is anyone using spell points? What issues (if any) have you come across?
Going from bottom to top:

I've been allowed to use a variant on spell points for a couple characters in some games I've run. While it wasn't overpowered in the particular game I ended up using them in, they do make spellcasters simultaneously more versatile and more predictable.

Assuming the recommended number of short rests per long rest, the apparent inbalance between warlocks and spell point variant using classes becomes not worth mentioning (well, only as worth mentioning as warlock spell slots are compared to normal spellcaster spell slots).

Regarding 20th level casters, the 133 points is technically (unless you don't want to cast any 6th, 7th, 8th, or 9th level spells for some reason) more like 90 points, which would be 12 5th-level spells with enough change left over for a 4th-level spell. Which is definitely more powerful than the 3 5th level slots you get normally, but also comes with the fact you lose a 6th and 7th level spell, as under the spell point variant, you can only cast 1 spell of level 6th and higher per long rest (whereas you eventually get 2 6th and 7th level spell slots normally).

I like spell points, but how the points and costs were determined didn't sit well with me (they're not hard to understand, but are more complex than they need to be, personally) or another DM I play with (who implemented something similar for a character in his campaign), so we both changed how they work. As the character I had made at the time that could drain or recharge magic items, I adjusted the spell point costs so that they equaled the spell's level (I.E. a 1st Level spell costs 1 point, a 4th Level spell costs 4 points, a 9th Level spell costs 9 points, etc.). For magic items that had charges that worked based off spell level (like the staff of the woodlands), one spell point equaled one charge; for items that worked differently (like the helm of teleportation), a charge equaled the spell point cost of the spell the item let you cast (in the helm's case, 7 points for the 7th level spell Teleport).

With that and the spell slot progression chart in mind, I had came up with a new spell points by level chart, as follows:
Spell Points per Long Rest, by Level

  1. 2 Spell Points
  2. 3 Spell Points
  3. 8 Spell Points
  4. 10 Spell Points
  5. 16 Spell Points
  6. 19 Spell Points
  7. 23 Spell Points
  8. 27 Spell Points
  9. 36 Spell Points
  10. 41 Spell Points
  11. 47 Spell Points (41 if you decide to exclude the 6 points you get from the limited number of 6th or higher level spells you get to cast per long rest)
  12. 47 Spell Points (41 if you decide to exclude the 6 points you get from the limited number of 6th or higher level spells you get to cast per long rest)
  13. 54 Spell Points (41 if you decide to exclude the 13 points you get from the limited number of 6th or higher level spells you get to cast per long rest)
  14. 54 Spell Points (41 if you decide to exclude the 13 points you get from the limited number of 6th or higher level spells you get to cast per long rest)
  15. 62 Spell Points (41 if you decide to exclude the 21 points you get from the limited number of 6th or higher level spells you get to cast per long rest)
  16. 62 Spell Points (41 if you decide to exclude the 21 points you get from the limited number of 6th or higher level spells you get to cast per long rest)
  17. 71 Spell Points (41 if you decide to exclude the 30 points you get from the limited number of 6th or higher level spells you get to cast per long rest)
  18. 76 Spell Points (46 if you decide to exclude the 30 points you get from the limited number of 6th or higher level spells you get to cast per long rest)
  19. 82 Spell Points (46 if you decide to exclude the 36 points you get from the limited number of 6th or higher level spells you get to cast per long rest)
  20. 89 Spell Points (46 if you decide to exclude the 43 points you get from the limited number of 6th or higher level spells you get to cast per long rest)


This is admittedly just as convoluted with regards to determining how many spell points you have at a given level, but is a whole lot easier to deal with spell point costs (Used a 5th level spell? Subtract 5 points from your total.) and changing other features to match (Arcane/Natural Recovery? Regain a number of spell points equal to half your wizard/druid level (rounding up). Flexible Casting? Convert Spell Points to Sorcery Points 1 for 1.)

I also, using the same logic, did a chart for Warlocks, as follows:
Spell Points per Short Rest, by Level

  1. 1 Spell Points
  2. 2 Spell Points
  3. 4 Spell Points
  4. 4 Spell Points
  5. 6 Spell Points
  6. 6 Spell Points
  7. 8 Spell Points
  8. 8 Spell Points
  9. 10 Spell Points
  10. 10 Spell Points
  11. 15 Spell Points (Mystic Arcanum gives you 1 6th level spell per long rest)
  12. 15 Spell Points (Mystic Arcanum gives you 1 6th level spell per long rest)
  13. 15 Spell Points (Mystic Arcanum gives you 1 6th level and 1 7th level spell per long rest)
  14. 15 Spell Points (Mystic Arcanum gives you 1 6th level and 1 7th level spell per long rest)
  15. 15 Spell Points (Mystic Arcanum gives you 1 6th level, 1 7th level, and 1 8th level spell per long rest)
  16. 15 Spell Points (Mystic Arcanum gives you 1 6th level, 1 7th level, and 1 8th level spell per long rest)
  17. 20 Spell Points (Mystic Arcanum gives you 1 6th level, 1 7th level, 1 8th level, and 1 9th level spell per long rest)
  18. 20 Spell Points (Mystic Arcanum gives you 1 6th level, 1 7th level, 1 8th level, and 1 9th level spell per long rest)
  19. 20 Spell Points (Mystic Arcanum gives you 1 6th level, 1 7th level, 1 8th level, and 1 9th level spell per long rest)
  20. 20 Spell Points (Mystic Arcanum gives you 1 6th level, 1 7th level, 1 8th level, and 1 9th level spell per long rest; Eldritch Master lets you, once per long rest, spend a minute to recover your expended Spell Points)


If I ever decide to run a campaign of my own, I'd definitely offer the option to use spell points.
 

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5ekyu

Adventurer
From our playtests, the case wasn't "slightly" worse, it was much more pronounced.

But either way, cantrips were a mechanical safety value designed to deal with this exact problem (as well as others). So it looks like the proposal is both (a) worsening problem (regardless if it's "slightly" or "much" and (b) removing the design safety to deal with this.

Taking that and putting it on the DM, regardless of DM skill (and adventure they are running if not homebrew) has already been shown not to be a working combination in earlier editions. You're making mechanical changes, we need a mechanical fix. We're trying to make a system more welcoming for people to get into DMing.

So, what is you rules-system-only fix for 15 minute adventuring day that this encourages?
Rule system only solution to the 15m adventuring day?
It doesn't exist in 5e core primarily because nothing in thec5e tulesrt mandates any day pacing standard. The 6-8 encounters adventuring day is not a rule, so there are no rules that enforce it. Nor, imo, fo there need to be.

In my own game, the pacing I'd set by charscter choices and world events with consequences. No problem there. Had no problem with it in play in an 18month campaign eith slotted spellcasters, spell point dpell caster and warrior types in the party.

**But** if for some reason I wanted to mechanically homogenize folks to a more "forced" adherence to an OTP house rule "one true pace" then I would consider this.

For **ALL** long rest multi-use features, I would cut the uses in HALF. Then allow half that much recovery at each short rest, up to twice. So the general big scale model is half your uses are available after a long rest but the remainder unlock after short redt (up to two short rests)

So you get half your stuff after a long rest (max) and two "OTP recoveries" for half as much as that each, which require short rests.

Now spell points makes that easy.

Say at 5th you have 27 spell points "by the book"

So, under OTP rules, after a long rest you would start fresh with 13 spell points. You would have two uses of "OTP recovery" that allows you to regain 7 spent spell points on a short rest".

It gets a bit more complicated for slotted. Since every slots per level wont work out by dividing by half and again, but you can see the general trend.

Bardic inspire, say if they have four five, 2 dice after long rest, 1 recovery after each OTP recovery. If you had three dice, likely just one each.

In my play experience with spell points, the biggest change was almost exclusive loss of upticking/upslotting. It's just not worth losing a spell that can be cast to power a level up. The sole exception is if the uptick is multiple targets, like invisibility or other buffs, where there is a need for multiple folks.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
I use the sorcerer chassis with spell pints for people that want to do psionics in my game.

It works really well to differentiate that concepts from normal casters IMO.

Not sure I’d do it with normal casters but it could be a further differentiation between sorcerers and other casters too.
 

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