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 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).
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.
I'm not going to go into the nuts and bolts like Endzeitgeist already has, because he did a great job of doing so. I'm just going to let my feelings flow and say that among all the SGG products I've purchased (and that's lot) this is by far my favorite. I know folks who have lifted the Psionic point system to use as spell points, and I'm sure that works for them. But this reflects the "classic" magic user's method, even down to the fatigue aspect. Easy to understand rules with clear examples and explanations of how they work, and of course SGG's almost paranormally fast responses to questions anyone might have about the product.
In a nutshell, this is perfect. I can't find a mountain high enough to tell it on. Get online and buy this product. Stop whatever you're doing, unless it's CPR or something similar, and buy this pdf. There are rumors of Print On Demand in the future, but don't wait. Buy it. Print it. Love it. You won't be disappointed.
For my longer and more in depth review, see my review at Big Game Productions Reviews. While you're there, if you're a board games fan, you'll find some reviews of some new games for the whole family.
Excellent, modular, easy-to-insert point-based casting with fatigue? YES PLEASE!
This pdf is 24 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving 22 pages of content, so let's check this out!
After a short discussion on the discrepancy between the vancian spellcasting system and the convention of magic-use in literature, we are introduced to a system that is radically different and more in line with literary depictions of magic - a system of spell points. While the idea per se is not new (SGG had already created a point-based wizard and sorceror archetype), its implementation is rather interesting:
The first 50% of a pool are a caster's are an open pool, the second half make up his reserve pool. Casting from the reserve pool entails first fatigue, then exhaustion and even unconsciousness when failing a will save of 10+spell points used in the casting. Divine spellcasters have to attune themselves to spells when praying and can attune themselves to a number of spells equal to their wisdom score (not the modifier) per spell level. And then there's eldritch dissonance, which is a great balancing factor: Preparation spellcasters add the spell's level to the spell point cost after having cast it once, thus preventing them from spamming a certain spell. Spontaneous spellcasters only add +1 to the spell point cost. Metamagic increases the casting time of spells enhanced by it and also the spell point cost - with quicken spell being the exception to the first clause.
On a fluff side, it's rather interesting to see sample names suggested to make a distinction in-game between regular and spell point-based classes. After that, we get a run-down of all base-classes (including APG and UM) with tables of the respective spell points for each levels - spontaneous casters like the oracle and sorceror get up to 260 spell points, whereas wizards etc. get up to 189. IT's rather interesting to note that the level 6-casters like bards, inquisitors and summoners get 150 spell points, which feels like quite some bunch when compared to the array of wizards and witches. Magi get an uncommon 155 spell points at 20th level. 4-level spellcasters like the paladin and ranger only get up to 35 spell points. Imbue with spell-like ability and mnemonic enhancer as spells get a revised treatment to make them compatible with the system and magic items like the ring of wizardry and pearls of power are also covered to ensure compatibility with the new system.
Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect: I noticed some minor typos. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard and the pdf is fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks. This pdf can be considered a godsend for many people - there always has been demand for a spell-pint system and psionics has shown that they can and do work nicely. This pdf contains an elegant system of spell points that can easily be implemented with minimal hassle and without impeding any functionality of the base-classes. In fact, I'm astounded by the mechanical elegance of this spell point system and applaud that designer Owen K.C. Stephens has managed to create a system that does not require a reworking of all kinds of spells. In all honesty, I can't really judge whether the low discrepancy in spell points between Magi and e.g. Wizards and other prepared casters might not prove to be problematic. Without a lengthy playtest, I can't say for sure. That being said, I'm a huge fan of this system, especially as it takes the taxing nature of spell casting and the potential fatigue to create a great balancing factor alongside eldritch dissonance, making for better, more versatile tactics as well as a cool, more cinematic casting that may send a caster to his knees. If I had to voice one gripe, then that no guidelines for choosing spell-points and creating lists like this for casting PrCs are provided and that we don't get advice on multiclassing spell point pools - do they stack or are they separate pools? It is these minor issues that make me omit my seal of approval from an otherwise flawless, excellent product that will come as a godsend to everyone who was never content with the vancian system - I still remain with a final verdict of a full 5 stars. Recommended!