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Houserule Handbooks: Spell Points (PFRPG) PDF

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Welcome to Houserule Handbooks: Spell Points, the first in a series of products presenting some of the houserules used at Super Genius Games. Each of these products is designed to introduce a carefully balanced, developed, and playtested version of a popular houserule for campaigns using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook. Houserule Handbooks aren't for everyone, and should always be considered "alternate" rules, only for use if a GM and players all want to add something different to a campaign. In the case of Spell Points, the alternate rule is a system to allow all spellcasters to fuel their spells with a pool of spell points, not requiring any spell preparation, and allowing a spellcaster additional flexibility by using a lot of spell points to fuel a few high-level spells, or gain extended staying power by restricting casting to a larger number of lower-level spells. Further, the system is designed only for actual spellcasters, ignoring the spell-like abilities of monks and the infusions of alchemists as dissimilar enough to not need the same kind of spell point houserules. These considerations drive all the design decisions that follow, so if the system as described doesn't sound like your cup of tea, this product likely isn't for you.

Spell Points
Spell points are a resource used to cast spells, as opposed to using the normal rules of spell slots and spell preparation. Rules are given for spell points in general, and then specific rules for each spellcasting class. Every spellcasting class can use spell points. A campaign may only use spell-point characters (at the GM's discretion), or both spell-point and normal versions of classes may exist (in which case the decision to be a spell-point spellcaster must be selected when the first level in a spellcasting class is taken). A character cannot take levels in both a spellpoint and non-spell-point version of the same class (treat using spell points as a kind of archetype for spellcasting classes).

The Author
Owen K.C. Stephens is an experienced and well-known game designer, with credits dating back to the late 1990s for games that focus on fire-breathing lizards and laser swords. He has worked with numerous role-playing game companies, has more than 250 RPG credits, and is currently the Lead Developer of Super Genius Games.

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Product Discussion (88)
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Now available!

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

Welcome to Houserule Handbooks: Spell Points, the first in a series of products presenting some of the houserules used at Super Genius Games. Each of these products is designed to introduce a carefully balanced, developed, and playtested version of a popular houserule for campaigns using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook. Houserule Handbooks aren’t for everyone, and should always be considered “alternate” rules, only for use if a GM and players all want to add something different to a campaign. In the case of Spell Points, the alternate rule is a system to allow all spellcasters to fuel their spells with a pool of spell points, not requiring any spell preparation, and allowing a spellcaster additional flexibility by using a lot of spell points to fuel a few high-level spells, or gain extended staying power by restricting casting to a larger number of lower-level spells. Further, the system is designed only for actual spellcasters, ignoring the spell-like abilities of monks and the infusions of alchemists as dissimilar enough to not need the same kind of spell point houserules. These considerations drive all the design decisions that follow, so if the system as described doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, this product likely isn’t for you.

Spell Points
Spell points are a resource used to cast spells, as opposed to using the normal rules of spell slots and spell preparation. Rules are given for spell points in general, and then specific rules for each spellcasting class. Every spellcasting class can use spell points. A campaign may only use spell-point characters (at the GM’s discretion), or both spell-point and normal versions of classes may exist (in which case the decision to be a spell-point spellcaster must be selected when the first level in a spellcasting class is taken). A character cannot take levels in both a spellpoint and non-spell-point version of the same class (treat using spell points as a kind of archetype for spellcasting classes).


i love the letters.


*trembles like an excited chihuahua*


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

Forget the houserule title, this will be considered core at my table.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Sounds interesting.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It is a very interesting book. The spellpoints are not done according to the rules out of UA. I like this implementation, better. It doesn't require a rewrite of the spells in order to use, which UA basically did. I have one question. Are the Magi supposed to use their spellpoint pool as a common pool for effects originally powered by their arcane pool? I ask because they get more spellpoints than the bard or inquisitor. It would make sense if that was the intention.


It looks very similar to one we used to use under 3.5. The Divine Attunement and Eldritch Dissonance I like. The divine wasn't really an issue in this previous campaign because we were limited to just core anyway, but in a campaign with lots of sources, it certainly makes a good kind of sense.

I need to spend some more time with this and see if this will fit into my campaign world...

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

xorial wrote:
It is a very interesting book. The spellpoints are not done according to the rules out of UA.

Nope! I started from scratch and spent a lot of time on balance from the feedback of my playtesters, rather than second-guessing myself based on what other systems had done. I've played and run a few games using the UA rules, and the general sentiment seemed to be they were a tad too complex for what they brought to the table.

xorial wrote:
I like this implementation, better.

I'm really glad to hear it!

xorial wrote:
It doesn't require a rewrite of the spells in order to use, which UA basically did.

Making as few changes as possible was a big part of what I was trying to do with this design. I *did* look at spells that would have some major unanswered questions if not rewritten (imbue with spell ability, mnemonic enhancer) but tried to keep that to an absolute minimum.

xorial wrote:
I have one question. Are the Magi supposed to use their spellpoint pool as a common pool for effects originally powered by their arcane pool? I ask because they get more spellpoints than the bard or inquisitor. It would make sense if that was the intention.

No, spell points and arcane pool are kept completely separate. Again, I wanted to change things as little as I could while making the system comprehensive and robust.

Magi get a few more spell points than bards and inquisitors because they are preparation spellcasters, and as such the spell point system requires them to spend spell points to prepare their cantrips. Bards and inquisitors get their "cantrips" (orisons) for free (though unlike the magus they can't choose to have a whole slew of cantrips prepared by spending more spell points on it). The other advantage of the magus is once his cantrips are prepared he can cast them with no further spell point cost. While Bards and inquisitors aren't spending spell points to use their orisons, if they run out of spell points, they can't use their orisons.


Very cool to see this tackled by the Geniuses! Downloading now!


I can't wait to see what else Owen tackles with this line of material!

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

I have some things in early stages, but I'm also open to suggestions!

Osirion

Perhaps some sort of variant metamagic rules. Perhaps making a Spellcraft roll and losing the spell on a failure, with the difficulty varying with the base level of the spell, the amount of metamagic adjustment attempted and / or whether or not the spell is a specialty / mastered spell or a restricted spell.

Or some sort of combat maneuver variant that allows a warrior to make attack or CMB rolls with various penalties to impose various conditions or attempt various stunts.


With regard to variant metamagic, Owen wrote one in the Green Ronin, Advanced Game Masters guide that I've included in my planned home game.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks for the answers!

I have a observation. I see one flavor issue with Eldritch Dissonance, as far as spontaneous casters are concerned. The whole concept to the sorcerer, and hence later spontaneous casters, is the ability to "spam" their spell selection. ED (NO, not Erectile Dysfunction) basically eliminates a key draw to playing those classes. I see the need for a balance mechanic to keep the perceived "nova" problem of the psionic classes in check. I just think there should be a mechanic that allows Sorcerers, and similar casters, to overcome this somewhat. Maybe a caster level check to resist this, which goes up each casting attempt.


ED? I honestly thought for a second you were referring to the Open Pandora guy. ;)

As for nova problem of psionic classes, the only real problem with them was the tricks that let them do what they do all day. Otherwise, weaker than regular casters(especially in the blasting department) in certain areas, but make not full/dedicated psionics users(such as psychic warrior) worth playing since you can augment abilities(& in some cases get save DCs up so the effects aren't worthless later on).

On that note, the part where blasting magics were considerably weakened & unbalanced in the Unearthed Arcana system was a great point of annoyance for me, since it is profoundly stupid for a 5d4 burning hands cost the same as a 5d6 fireball. Then again, I think the whole spellcasting system needs an overhaul(which I'm working on when I have time & remember. New 6 day a week job really eats the time).

Anywayz. Tell me this system doesn't do what UE's did to blasting & I will consider the purchase(even though I haven't had much time to game, since ya know, work).

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

InfernosReaper wrote:
Anywayz. Tell me this system doesn't do what UE's did to blasting & I will consider the purchase(even though I haven't had much time to game, since ya know, work).

This system does NOT do to blasting what the UE system did.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

Owen, I bought your product and I have a few questions for your if you would be kind enough to throw in your two cents.

Our gaming group uses Psionics as freely as any other part of the Pathfinder experience.With that said, I would like your take on the balance bringing the spell point system into our game.I ask this because you have added the Fatigue & Exhaution rules along with the Eldritch Dissonance in your point system rules.My worry if I incorporate these two rules into the mechanics of regular spell casters would that nerf them to the point of an unfair advantage for the psionic classes. If so would you add these rules to the psionic classes or remeve them altogether.

thanks Guy

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

Guy Ladouceur wrote:
Owen, I bought your product and I have a few questions for your if you would be kind enough to throw in your two cents.

Happy to!

Guy Ladouceur wrote:
Our gaming group uses Psionics as freely as any other part of the Pathfinder experience.With that said, I would like your take on the balance bringing the spell point system into our game.I ask this because you have added the Fatigue & Exhaution rules along with the Eldritch Dissonance in your point system rules.My worry if I incorporate these two rules into the mechanics of regular spell casters would that nerf them to the point of an unfair advantage for the psionic classes. If so would you add these rules to the psionic classes or remeve them altogether.

I kept the Dreamscarred psionics system in mind when I developed the rules in Spell Points. They work together just find without having to removing anything from magic spell points or add anything to psionicists.

The reason for this is one of scaling. Psionic powers don't scale unless you spend additional power points on them. To keep the Spell Points system as fast and easy as possible the number of spell points spent is tied only to spell level (or effective spell level if you use metamagic feats).

That means unlike psionics, a 10th level caster using a 3rd level spell gets full 10th level effect for the same cost as every 3rd level spell.

This is a significant advantage, and the fatigue/exhaustion rules and eldritch dissonance actually just bring spell point spellcasters to parity with their psionic brethren.

Also, those two rules make spell points more fun. Without them, each spellcaster tends to pick one or two spells to be their hammers, and then treat everything like a nail.

So you should be fine to use Spell Points as-is, side-by-side with psionics.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

Thanks for your quick feedback for the players @ our table will need to know that balance has been taken into consideration before we switch over to this mechanic.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

xorial wrote:
I have a observation. I see one flavor issue with Eldritch Dissonance, as far as spontaneous casters are concerned. The whole concept to the sorcerer, and hence later spontaneous casters, is the ability to "spam" their spell selection. ED (NO, not Erectile Dysfunction) basically eliminates a key draw to playing those classes. I see the need for a balance mechanic to keep the perceived "nova" problem of the psionic classes in check. I just think there should be a mechanic that allows Sorcerers, and similar casters, to overcome this somewhat. Maybe a caster level check to resist this, which goes up each casting attempt.

Actually the whole reason eldritch dissonance works differently for spontaneous casters is the point you make - sorcerers already can spam the same spell over and over. However even spontaneous casters get a major flexibility boost with Spell Points, in that compared to traditional sorcerers they can trade in a few lower-level spells for a higher-level one (as they can use spell points just for their higher level spells).

That's why eldritch dissonance builds so much more slowly for these classes. The cost for a sorcerer to fire off a fireball repeatedly is not nearly as high as the cost for a wizard to do so. This helps offset the fact a sorcerer can opt to use just his highest level spells at all times. In playtest, the greatly reduced ED cost produced both balanced play, and more interesting options since it gives some reason for a spontaneous spellcaster to still use lower-level spells when they will do the trick.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

Guy Ladouceur wrote:
Thanks for your quick feedback for the players @ our table will need to know that balance has been taken into consideration before we switch over to this mechanic.

You are most welcome.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Sethvir wrote:
With regard to variant metamagic, Owen wrote one in the Green Ronin, Advanced Game Masters guide that I've included in my planned home game.

I always get a warm feeling when someone mentions using material from GR's AGMG.

I have often wondered if I should make another run at metamagic, beyond my AGMG and for that matter Spell Points efforts.


Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
InfernosReaper wrote:
Anywayz. Tell me this system doesn't do what UE's did to blasting & I will consider the purchase(even though I haven't had much time to game, since ya know, work).
This system does NOT do to blasting what the UE system did.

I'm confused. What did Ultimate Equipment do to blasting?

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

Alexander Augunas wrote:
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
InfernosReaper wrote:
Anywayz. Tell me this system doesn't do what UE's did to blasting & I will consider the purchase(even though I haven't had much time to game, since ya know, work).
This system does NOT do to blasting what the UE system did.
I'm confused. What did Ultimate Equipment do to blasting?

By "UE" we both mean "UA," and by "UA" we both mean "Unearthed Arcana," the 3.x WotC variant rules hardback.


Set wrote:

Perhaps some sort of variant metamagic rules. Perhaps making a Spellcraft roll and losing the spell on a failure, with the difficulty varying with the base level of the spell, the amount of metamagic adjustment attempted and / or whether or not the spell is a specialty / mastered spell or a restricted spell.

Or some sort of combat maneuver variant that allows a warrior to make attack or CMB rolls with various penalties to impose various conditions or attempt various stunts.

The first suggestion is something I've been toying with in my head now for a few weeks. My players are extremely hard headed when it comes to house rules, though, so I rarely get past the "What if I....." stage.

All I have to say about the second suggestion is YES! A THOUSAND TIMES YES!


I don't know why my previous post looks like the whole thing is a quote, but I can't help it. Anyway, let me just say I think this spellpoint system is the greatest thing since Mt. Dew. I've started a side campaign to run when the full compliment of players in my main storyline can't make it. The secondary game is a place where I can test drive a few house rules and alternate rules because the players in that group are a little more receptive to such, and one of the players even asked about a spellpoint system the other day. So this is going on the table for him to try out.

I'll try to get a review up soon, even though I bought this last week. Things have been really hectic lately.


I've already made a Feat so anyone can get a cantrip and INT bonus (min 1) spell points with follow-up feats for adding a few more spell points and spells. If a fighter really wants to get rid of all his feats so he can cast Magic Missile (suffering armor penalties) he can.

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Fixed code in your post DungeonmasterCal.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Now this just needs to be added to Hero Lab. :D

Andoran

I'm a grognard who supports his local gamestore. I would buy this if it were available in printed book form as opposed to PDF.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:


I have some things in early stages, but I'm also open to suggestions!

Crafting both ordinary and magic items, because you know, you really want to :) Maybe with some time spent on low, medium and high magic campaigns / variations.

I just picked this up and I like what I see btw.

Thank you.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

Owen, in Psionics Unleashed under Favoured Class you may choose to take an extra Psionic point per level (instead of hit point or skill point)and I was just wondering if you think that that would work within the parameters of your point system.


House Rule wrote:
I've already made a Feat so anyone can get a cantrip and INT bonus (min 1) spell points with follow-up feats for adding a few more spell points and spells. If a fighter really wants to get rid of all his feats so he can cast Magic Missile (suffering armor penalties) he can.

Those sound neat! Care to share them?

Minister of Propaganda, Super Genius Games

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Martin Kauffman 530 wrote:
I'm a grognard who supports his local gamestore. I would buy this if it were available in printed book form as opposed to PDF.

We're exploring print-on-demand options, most likely as an online option.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

3 people marked this as a favorite.
xorial wrote:
Now this just needs to be added to Hero Lab. :D

It's on the list, but our list is really, really long...

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

Guy Ladouceur wrote:
Owen, in Psionics Unleashed under Favoured Class you may choose to take an extra Psionic point per level (instead of hit point or skill point)and I was just wondering if you think that that would work within the parameters of your point system.

It's an idea we played with in playtesting, and it's really hard to judge. The problem is that in a spell point system, each extra spell point represents both a lower level spells, and a fraction of a higher level spell.

Of course this is also true with power points, but since the spell point system is simpler, and the auto-scaling of spells is retained, spell points are actually more powerful than an equal number of power points.

I had just about decided to make 1/2 a spell point a favored class bonus for each level, but wasn't quite convinced it was a good idea. I'm now convinced its balanced, but think it should be restricted to some race/class combinations.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

Martin Kauffman 530 wrote:
I'm a grognard who supports his local gamestore. I would buy this if it were available in printed book form as opposed to PDF.

I sympathize, but that's not a realistic goal for us. We've produced two well-received, well-reviewed print books and made them available through normal distribution. The number that sold in game stories is tiny. That's because game stores won't order them, and we can't force them to order any. Most of those print books sold through website. Like, 90% or more iirc.

As long as local game stores won't support us, we have no way to support them.

We may do a print version. It may be available here. But we'd be wasting money to try to put it through the 3-tier distribution network.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I was wondering if you have any suggestions on how to allow casters to push themselves beyond their limits and potentially kill themselves by overcasting. I really like the idea of a character pushing beyond their means when they feel the need.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

Certainly there are ways to do it. For example, allow spellcasters to cast spells after they are out of spell points. The first time they do so they are automatically fatigued if not already. The second time, they are automatically exhausted. And each time (including those first two) it's a Fort save or die, with a DC of 15 + spell points spent beyond the spellcaster's pool + number of spells he's cast since running out of spell points. This is considered a death effect for purposes of returning the character to life.

But you have to be careful with systems like that. If a PC manages to keep casting without killing himself, he can bring much, much more power to the table. If he dies off on his first effort, the player can feel cheated. And of course for high level games, a resurrection or true resurrection may be considered just the cost of getting off another couple of meteor swarms, which can throw off the balance.

For exactly the right game and right group of player's, that tension and dynamic are great. For a lot of groups, its a hassle and more likely to lead to resentment than additional fun.


I like the suggestions. I have a group that would not abuse it and would probably relish the idea. Back in 2E, I ran a game at the first WotC store that opened in the U-District here in Seattle. One of the players played a channeler from Spells and Magic. The party was low level and fighting vampires. To save the town, he had to overcast and ended up dying in the process. His actions allowed the rest of the party to fight the vampires during the day. Even though he died, the rest of the players hailed him as the hero.

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That, of course, sounds awesome. And I'm all in favor of GMs tuning their campaigns to match their players. (Heck, just look at Horrifically Overpowered Feats.)

In one of my own games, a PC recently became the High Priestess of Death. She gained the power to speak for Death. What she says, Death is committed to making happen. The player's used it well, and the game's better for it.

Cool? Yes. Balanced? Absolutely not. :D


How would spellpoints interact with a kensai magus' Diminished Spellcasting?

A kensai may cast one fewer spell of each level than normal. If this reduces the number to 0, he may cast spells of that level only if his Intelligence allows bonus spells of that level.

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Maiathreen Gyssearnith wrote:

How would spellpoints interact with a kensai magus' Diminished Spellcasting?

A kensai may cast one fewer spell of each level than normal. If this reduces the number to 0, he may cast spells of that level only if his Intelligence allows bonus spells of that level.

I covered a LOT of spellcasting interactions, but I admit I didn't catch this one. Nor is it the only class archetype with diminished spellcasting.

Reduce the class's spell points by an amount equal to cast each missing spell level once. (So if you can cast 1st level spells, diminish spell points by 2. If you can cast 1st and 2nd, diminish spell points by five).

Go ahead and let them cast spells of the given level at the normal acquisition level. The hit in spell points will hurt enough as it is.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Just noticed something, Magi will be unable to use spellcombat with metamagic feats using spellpoints. Correct?

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

havoc xiii wrote:
Just noticed something, Magi will be unable to use spellcombat with metamagic feats using spellpoints. Correct?

Unless its got Quicken Spell on it, that's correct. I *should* have provided a magus arcana that changed that. Errata: Magi can spend a magus arcana to have metamagic spells not increase their casting time when used in conjunction with spellcombat.


Much thanks for the PDF, bought... :)

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

Island Hopper19 wrote:
Much thanks for the PDF, bought... :)

You are, of course, welcome. I hope you enjoy it!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Sooooooo, maybe a future Bulletpoins: Feats for Spell Points?

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

xorial wrote:
Sooooooo, maybe a future Bulletpoins: Feats for Spell Points?

That's certainly a possibilities. The tricky part is that all my BPs are designed to be useable in a typical campaign. Even though that work with SGG classes (or for that that matter another company's 3pp class, like the machinesmith) have the notes on how to use them with a core-Paizo-only game.

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