What about this, instead of traditional potions and scrolls in the campaign setting, have Mana potions which restore spend spell slots. In other words it functions similar to a scroll or potion, but only to restore spent spells.
Alternately it could be used to power meta-magic effects by absorbing the additional levels needed for the meta-magic.
a spellcaster can already have a 'semi' mana potion by making ..potions (yes it is limited to spells cast at himself etc but not that much of a leap from here). so basicly i would have 4 things set to make it work.
1 normal mana potions can only be made up to level 3 ,beyond that level you might need ether a feat (say like ' craft greater mana potions' or make them part wondrous items and need both wondrous and potion crafting feats) or a steeper curve of the cost. speaking of...
2 the cost should be a lot more then normal potions (after all if he just needed a mage armor spell he should have just used a mage armor potion, he's trying to regain his true strike spell here), but less then a pearl of power of same level. i would go with 1/4th or 1/2 the cost of a pearl of power with the same level (depend how much you want to make this available or rare).
3 this should be obvious but do not allow them to stack levels up (so no 2 X 1st level potion to regain a 2nd level spell). same for metamagic. you need to regain a metamagic or cast a metamagic spell you need a matching level potion.
say you want to cast an extended mage armor spell without using a 2nd level spell slot?
-drink a 2nd level mana potion and you can decide instead of regaining your 2nd level spell to cast the next 2nd level spell (like extended mage armor) without loosing spell\spell slots.
4 also speaking of spell levels. you need to actually be able to cast 2nd level spells to use this for a 2nd level spell. it's not negating the need to cast higher level spells. just the cost. (so 1st level caster cant' chug a 2nd level mana potion to cast extended mage armor .he need to be able to cast 2nd level spells before he can use this for that.)
as for actual use:
drinking a potion of mana X give the drinker an ability that last 1 min (or if generous 1 min per potion grade) to once ether cast a spell without expanding a spell slot\expand memorized spell or regain a spell slot\memorized spell used previously of a level that match the potion grade. the action is the same action used to cast the spell(if casting a spell) or a standard action (for spells\slots regain). instead on can cast a spell he know adding on metamagic feats he knows without increasing the casting time or loosing the spell\spell slot. the total spell level used must match or be lower then the potion grade. you can only be under the effect of one mana potion at a time. (basically once chuged you get a timer to use the ability once. and can't hold up more then one charge at a time).
higher level potions should be able to be used for effect available from lower levels. so drinking a 3rd grade potion would let you shore up to a 3rd level spell.
Yeah, i like the idea of the potion being worth x spell levels that can be used to either replace a spell or used for meta-magic of equal level.
As for the question of why not just use a potion X or a scroll of Y, bear in mind what I've suggested would be a campaign replacement (entirely) for such things. This helps to keep your party mage relevant later in the day, without allowing for additional flexibility in their casting.
Why would you do such a thing? Because i run a campaign where spell all spell casters must be specialists in a field of magic, and face heavy casting restrictions outside of that statement. Think back to the Major and Lesser spell domains of Priests from 2nd ed and you are pretty close.
This helps to keep the feeling that the campaign casters are unique, sorta like in the modern world how you don't just go find a generic "smart guy", but you would hire an engineer, a doctor, an accountant, etc. In the same way my campaign has Healers, BattleMages, Seers (divination specialists), etc.
As for how such things would be made, and who could make them, I've not decided yet but I'm thinking that you might have to expend a spell of equal level to create the mana potion. Basically storing the spell in the potion, but as an open spell slot.
Would this require the stored spell used to be + 1 level higher than what is actually captured in the potion? Would it require the spell to be cast twice to get one dosage? ETC.
I'm also thinking about putting a cap on the number of these that can be used in a day, thus stopping every mage in the known world from simply stockpiling them (like they do potions, scrolls and wands now).
So sort of like one-shot Pearls of Power?
This is exactly how I've been handling them for nearly 8 years now.
Use the same price as PoP to discourage players from going NOVA too much, but allow them for use for mid-high level casters as well as sprinkle them in dungeons like healing potions in order to help discourage the 15 minute workday.
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Just as a comparison - a potion of channel the gift is entirely legal RAW and could power the next spell of 3rd level or lower that you cast on your next action. A scaled back version for 2nd level or lower, and for 1st level spells only seems entirely reasonable to me. The limitation on this would be that you need to drink the potion in advance rather than after casting the spell.
A potion that you drink afterwards to regain a spell is better, but not a whole lot better.
I've previously looked at a pure spell point system and decided against it. It allows too much freedom in the hands of the PC's and thus can make it very difficult for the DM to predict just how strong the NPC's will need to be to present a challenge without overwhelming the PC's.
The spell slot system allows the dm to better predict the game scaling without needing a spread sheet to do so.
As for the Pearls of Power referenced, I've never used that system and honestly have never looked at the rules for it, so I've really no point of reference in this context.
I placed an item in the cleaves.
Bottle of Spell Restoration
This potion restores one first level spell slot per dose and there are 5 doses in this potion bottle. You could drink multiple doses at once to restore higher level spell slots. It works for all spellcasters. The potion is clear blue and tastes weird. Usually sells for 2,000 per dose, worth 10,000 total.
It doesn't give any Meta magic feats, but that could be a seperate potion. A GM is well within their rights to not allow a PC to drink more than 5 doses at a time. Below is the link to the topic.
100+ unusual treasures.