PDA

View Full Version : Power Points + Recharge Magic!



Xallace
2010-02-02, 11:38 AM
So for a while, I've been looking for a magic system in D&D that I like; Vancian? Not my thing. I've mulled over quite a few ideas, deliberated on numerous others' "fixes"... and I think I've hit on one that works for me!

Please note, this is for arcane casters. I feel divine casters should work a little differently, and am still searching for the right method.

Step One: Power Points
You have a pool of resources called "Power Points," or "Spell Points." When you cast a spell, it draws from the pool. The amount it draws is dependent on the spell's level, as follows.

{table=head]Spell Level | 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9
Point Cost | 0 | 1 | 3 | 5 | 7 | 9 | 11 | 13 | 15 | 17[/table]


Spellcasters use their full normal caster level for determining the effects of their spells in this system, with one significant exception. Spells that deal a number of dice of damage based on caster level (such as magic missile, searing light, or lightning bolt) deal damage as if cast by a character of the minimum level of the class capable of casting the spell. Spells whose damage is partially based on caster level, but that donít deal a number of dice of damage based on caster level (such as produce flame or an inflict spell) use the spellcasterís normal caster level to determine damage. Use the characterís normal caster level for all other effects, including range and duration.

For example, a fireball deals a number of dice of damage based on the casterís level, so when cast by a wizard using this system, it deals 5d6 points of damage (as if cast by a 5th-level wizard, which is the minimum level of wizard capable of casting fireball). A sorcerer who casts the same spell deals 6d6 points of damage, since the minimum level of sorcerer capable of casting fireball is 6th.

A character can pay additional spell points to increase the dice of damage dealt by a spell. Every 1 extra spell point spent at the time of casting increases the spellís effective caster level by 1 for purposes of dealing damage. A character canít increase a damage-dealing spellís caster level above his own caster level, or above the normal maximum allowed by the spell.

Note: Now, non-damaging spells would need to be augmentable, as well. Assume it's like psionics: nearly everything starts at its lowest possible level, and you can augment all of it with enough power points.

Simple enough, right? We've all seen this before.

Step Two: Spell Recharge
Each round, you regain a set number of spell points, dependent on your level. At 1st level, you regain 1 point every round. At 4th level, this increases to 2 points. At 9th level, 3 points a round; at 14th, 4 points; and finally, at 19th level, 5 points per round.

Step Three: Point Capacity
You cannot have more spell points than your class level at any given time. So at 1st level, you cannot have more than 1 point, while at 20th level, you cannot have more than 20.

Step Four: Limiting Problem Spells
For each spell you keep active, your maximum point capacity is reduced by 1. So, if you have a Fly spell and a Wall of Fire spell active at level 10, your maximum point capacity is 8.

When you deactivate one of your spells, you regain the lost point.

That's it!

Feats
Extended Focus [General]
You are capable of focusing on more spells than usual, perhaps through intense concentration or trained techniques for reducing the cost of your spells.
Prerequisites: Concentration 9 ranks, Spellcraft 9 ranks, ability to cast arcane spells
Benefits: When you cast a spell with a duration longer than instantaneous, you can choose to ignore the reduction to your total point capacity. You may ignore the cost on up to three spells in this way.

Improved Spell Capacity [General]
Your ability to hold onto arcane power is greatly improved.
Prerequisites: Ability to cast arcane spells, caster level 9th
Benefits: Your spell point capacity is improved by 4.

Vitality Burn [General]*
When things get desperate, you can convert your life force into magical energy.
Prerequisites: Ability to cast arcane spells
Benefit: You can take 1 point of Constitution Burn to cast a spell for which you do not have enough spell points to cast normally.

What Does This Mean?

Super-Spells Become a Choice: Because of the cost of higher level spells, you have to wait a couple rounds to "recharge" before casting one. Similarly, you are presented with a choice: Cast more mid-level spells, or save up for the high-level ones?
You Always Have Low Spells: You always have access to 0- and 1st- level spells. By 20th level, you have enough to cast un-augmented 3rd-level spells every round, and augmented versions of 0-2nd-level spells.
No More "15-Min Day," No More "Now I'm Useless": Because points come in a per-round quantity rather than a per-day quantity, you can keep going all day long! Likewise, you can still compete if you do decide to keep adventuring!
A Little More Book-Keeping: A little more than the regular system, sure. Not much more than having a character with Fast Healing, though.
It Feels Right: Totally subjective, of course. Rechargeable magic feels more "right" to me than Vancian, which is why I'm doing this in the first place.


On Prepared Casters vs Spontaneous Casters

Obviously, prepared casters would have a bit of an advantage in this system. As such, spontaneous casters would all get a bit of a boost: The sorcerer might have a higher point capacity, for instance (like, class level + Charisma modifier or some such thing). I would probably make these changes class-by-class, to make each one feel a little more unique.


On "Fixes"

This Is Not A Fix!: It's not! This is just me trying to find a way to better represent how I feel the game's magic system should be. I'm not yet ready to overhaul the whole thing.
Melee Classes Still Shafted: Yes, well, that's a whole different beast.


So The Question Remains:
Is it horribly, brokenly more overpowered than the regular system? Is it awfully, cripplingly underpowered? Is there anything I overlooked?

Glimbur
2010-02-02, 12:12 PM
This is horribly overpowered unless you do something about long-term buffs. Perhaps put a cap on how many spells of duration 10 min/level or hour/level you're allowed at once? This leaves out short-term buffs so that an ambush is tactically significant (this requires trusting the PC's to not just walk around with lots of minute/level buffs because they can; alternately include them in the limited category). This also doesn't include 24 hour buffs like Mindblank or the better Resistance category, mostly because they can be shared to the party.

How about CL/4 long-term buffs at once? Throw on a feat that lets you keep up two more at once. So that's, say Overland Flight, Stoneskin, and three of the Heart of X line on a 20th level wizard. That's a smaller buff suite than you see in optimized play.

How do Reserve Feats interact with this? It'd be interesting if the wizard spent a couple of turns using them to build back up to larger magics; but most fights could start with a high level spell because the only way to empty the casting points pool is casting spells. So it'd go Alpha Strike, rebuilding, and Finale. That's different than normal, but that's not necessarily bad.

Ashtagon
2010-02-02, 12:17 PM
This limits your casting rate during combat, but in non-combat situations, you've effectively got no limit at all on how many spells you can cast. A 20th level caster can literally cast a 9th level spell twice a minute, all day long, breaking only to eat and go to the toilet.

Xallace
2010-02-02, 01:21 PM
Alright, sweet! This is exactly what I was looking for!


This is horribly overpowered unless you do something about long-term buffs. Perhaps put a cap on how many spells of duration 10 min/level or hour/level you're allowed at once? This leaves out short-term buffs so that an ambush is tactically significant (this requires trusting the PC's to not just walk around with lots of minute/level buffs because they can; alternately include them in the limited category). This also doesn't include 24 hour buffs like Mindblank or the better Resistance category, mostly because they can be shared to the party.

How about CL/4 long-term buffs at once? Throw on a feat that lets you keep up two more at once. So that's, say Overland Flight, Stoneskin, and three of the Heart of X line on a 20th level wizard. That's a smaller buff suite than you see in optimized play.

Hmm, I'd forgotten about those... I like your idea, though. So, we'll say a caster can keep CL/4 long-term buff spells active at once; so that includes both personal spells and mass spells.


How do Reserve Feats interact with this? It'd be interesting if the wizard spent a couple of turns using them to build back up to larger magics; but most fights could start with a high level spell because the only way to empty the casting points pool is casting spells. So it'd go Alpha Strike, rebuilding, and Finale. That's different than normal, but that's not necessarily bad.

I imagined that's how the caster's actions would play out. Reserve feats don't much change; "As long as you have access to spells of X level or higher..." So you need enough points to cast a spell of that level for the effect to work / work at full power.


This limits your casting rate during combat, but in non-combat situations, you've effectively got no limit at all on how many spells you can cast. A 20th level caster can literally cast a 9th level spell twice a minute, all day long, breaking only to eat and go to the toilet.

What if we put an additional limit on higher-level spells? I was considering the idea that 7th-9th level spells would require the expenditure of an action point, or taking ability burn, or something.

CookiesAreGood
2010-02-03, 04:59 PM
A different tack you might take to keep long-term buffs from piling up: apply some minor upkeep cost in power points. You can then let spells expire as you will. Heck, if you figure out the formula to turn spell level and duration into cost, you might be able to create upkeep costs and eliminate duration at all. Then Extend spell could become 1/2 the upkeep cost (of the modified spell level) and Persist Spell 1/4 (of the modified spell level), or something similar

It makes paperwork a little harder, but if you multiple all the power-point costs by 10, the granularity should be sufficent to modify the recharge rate. Also, that would let you have a smoother recharge rate growth curve.

Pronounceable
2010-02-03, 05:54 PM
The simplest solution seems to me that spell points of ongoing spells don't come back.

Also, the mechanics as is is good. It's DnD spells that causes overpoweredness. We don't have to look very far from classics either. Unlimited sleeps will remove any illusion of difficulty in battles. Not to mention campaign wrecking potential of unbounded divination+enchantment.

Plus, there's the world itself (unless NPCs don't regenerate for some inexplicable reason). Unlimited teleportation alone makes everything different.

Glimbur
2010-02-03, 06:03 PM
The simplest solution seems to me that spell points of ongoing spells don't come back.

I'm worried that this goes too far. By mid levels, it's perfectly reasonable to have a buff or two running all day, but under this rule that is basically untenable if you want to cast spells in combat.

Drolyt
2010-02-03, 06:08 PM
I actually kind of like this idea. It's not what I'm going for in my spellcaster fix, but that's besides the point. Anyways for a temporary fix on the problem of all day buffs and certain other problem spells you can use the cooldown rules for recharge magic in the SRD. That is, combat spells will follow your spell point rules while buffs and such will have cooldowns (and also cost points). That should balance things out a bit. I'm not fond of the constitution burn thing.

jokey665
2010-02-03, 06:32 PM
I've been working on a homebrew class (and book, but that's beside the point) that uses a somewhat similar mechanic. Each of their spells costs one mana per spell level (1-9 normally, though there are a few that are higher level), and they regain one per turn, with feats and prestige class abilities and (eventually) magic items to regain more in various different ways.

It's currently being playtested, and for the most part it works very well. The only real "issue," depending on if you view it as an actual issue or not, is that it allows for essentially unlimited out-of-combat healing.

CookiesAreGood
2010-02-03, 06:48 PM
I'm worried that this goes too far. By mid levels, it's perfectly reasonable to have a buff or two running all day, but under this rule that is basically untenable if you want to cast spells in combat.

Yes, but I think the balance of "do I want to lower all my buffs to rock out a 9th level spell, or keep them up and be limited to level 6" is an interesting choice.

Maybe, each active spell lowers the max power points by 1? It's similar to not regenerating it, but not crippling. Basically, every level you either can cast a more powerful spell, or keep one buff up and cast your most powerful spell (19 and 20 just letting you keep one more buff up). Of course you can keep up more buffs, but it'll limit your flexibility.

Might even be more interesting if you cannot choose to end a spell. Sure, Immunity to Elements x 5 would be powerful, but now I'm limited to level 7 spells at 20th level, or 4th level spells at 15th level.

Drolyt
2010-02-03, 06:51 PM
Yes, but I think the balance of "do I want to lower all my buffs to rock out a 9th level spell, or keep them up and be limited to level 6" is an interesting choice.

Maybe, each active spell lowers the max power points by 1? It's similar to not regenerating it, but not crippling. Basically, every level you either can cast a more powerful spell, or keep one buff up and cast your most powerful spell (19 and 20 just letting you keep one more buff up). Of course you can keep up more buffs, but it'll limit your flexibility.

Might even be more interesting if you cannot choose to end a spell. Sure, Immunity to Elements x 5 would be powerful, but now I'm limited to level 7 spells at 20th level, or 4th level spells at 15th level.

Biggest problem here is defining buffs. It's a fan made term. Not that most groups would have a problem, but it's still terribly imprecise.

jokey665
2010-02-03, 06:54 PM
Biggest problem here is defining buffs. It's a fan made term. Not that most groups would have a problem, but it's still terribly imprecise.

"Any spell that targets you with a duration greater than instantaneous and a saving throw that is harmless." perhaps? Maybe a clause about personal range spells since they typically don't have a saving throw line.

Drolyt
2010-02-03, 07:03 PM
"Any spell that targets you with a duration greater than instantaneous and a saving throw that is harmless." perhaps? Maybe a clause about personal range spells since they typically don't have a saving throw line.

Well something like that, but it will almost certainly end up covering spells that aren't intended to be covered.

CookiesAreGood
2010-02-04, 12:56 PM
Biggest problem here is defining buffs. It's a fan made term. Not that most groups would have a problem, but it's still terribly imprecise.

Any spell with a duration of greater than one round (or instanteous) and less than "permanent" or "permanent until discharged"

Maybe that would require increasing the maximum power points, because some number of constantly running effects are acceptable. But I don't see why Rope Trick wouldn't be included.

What effect should be excluded?

Long-term battlefield control costs you. So does buffing yourself/teammates. So does protecting your sanctuary. So does simply keeping detect magic up all day.

It makes the XP for a permenancy vs. a "just recast every week" far more appealing, whihc I like since I never undersood the rational for that before.

Maybe base points subtracted from the total limit by duration (but not spell level). So, keeping a 10min/level spell up is equal to 2 1hr/level spells or 4 1day/level spell. Of course then you might get into fractions, but I don't think that would be too much paperwork, since it's only the maximum and not the rate.

*Interesting Peristent Spell modification, use the unmodified time to determine the cost. All-day Holy-Aura that takes out your most powerful spell-slot doesn't seem as unbalanced as one that meerly requires buying an extra pair of nightsticks.

I'm sorry if this idea is taking over the thread. I know I'm persistent. I'll form a different thread to discuss this variant if Xallace wants.

Xallace
2010-02-04, 01:40 PM
Actually, I'm liking the idea that each active spell reduces your maximum points by 1 each. I think I'll use that, and then we can say...

Extended Focus [General]
You are capable of focusing on more spells than usual, perhaps through intense concentration or trained techniques for reducing the cost of your spells.
Prerequisites: Concentration 9 ranks, Spellcraft 9 ranks, ability to cast arcane spells
Benefits: When you cast a spell with a duration longer than instantaneous, you can choose to ignore the reduction to your total point capacity. You may ignore the cost on up to three spells in this way.

Improved Spell Capacity [General]
Your ability to hold onto arcane power is greatly improved.
Prerequisites: Ability to cast arcane spells, caster level 9th
Benefits: Your spell point capacity is improved by 4.

Vitality Burn [General]*
When things get desperate, you can convert your life force into magical energy.
Prerequisites: Ability to cast arcane spells
Benefit: You can take 1 point of Constitution Burn to cast a spell for which you do not have enough spell points to cast normally.

*I'd get rid of the normal Con Burn idea before implementing this feat.