Mana point variant for all spellcasters


Homebrew and House Rules


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Pathfinder second edition no longer automatically scales spells with level. That means it would be fairly simple to convert it to a psionics-like point-based system, where raising slot level becomes increasing point cost when casting. At least in theory, anyway.

I'm trying to homebrew a mana point system for my home game, because it doesn't seem like there's any news on psionics from Dreamscarred Press at all (seems like they're still working on their Starfinder conversion, so it would take a while).

The challenges here is mostly the distinction between spontaneous and prepared casters, since spontaneous casters would lose their biggest advantage in such a system. A second concern is how to limit higher level spells so they not used to "nova".


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Well prepare caster could be required to spend the points when they prepare a spell; Which means once the spell its prepare the points are locked for the day. (Baring some feat to change the spell)
Spontaneous caster lacking this limit could then free use any spell using any spell level.

To prevent nova would be hard, maybe some type of penalty for over casting a spell level above X? Ex: Overcasting spells of top 2 highest spell levels gives a penalty; So if you can normally cast 2 6th lv spells, casting 3 would give you a penalty.
This is similar to mana burn in stories where casting some magic too much harms the body.


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Our first edition games we have been trying a system like this slightly based on the 3.5 spell point system where a level 1 spell is 1 mana, level 2 is 3 mana and level 3 is 5 mana etc. But as you said it had the potential problem of too many higher level spells so we have been trying a split mana for higher level spells. We also gave spontaneous another spell per level usually and restricted prepared to only prepare based on the classes spells per day without adding the attribute. Im not sure how well that would work for 2e yet.

If the lesser and greater mana pools seem like an idea for you to try we do it like this;
1st level spells cost 1 mana.
2nd level spells cost 3 mana.
When you get 3rd level spells they require greater mana instead of lesser, costing 1 for 1.
At 4th level spells, they become the new 1 greater mana and 3rd level now cost 5 lesser instead.
At 5th level spells, 4th cost 7 lesser instead and 5th cost 1 greater.
At 6th level spells, 5ths still cost 1 greater and 6ths cost 2.
At 7th level spells, 5th level are now 9 lesser, 6th spells cost 1 greater and 7th costs 2.
At 8th level spells, 6th level are now 11 lesser, 7th level costs 1 and 8th costs 2.
At 9th level spells we started a 3rd pool costing 1 to 1 legendary mana or what ever you would want to call it and all the earlier spells would cost the same... but as 2e has 10th level spells there would need to be some alterations here as well.

We allowed greater mana to convert to 3 lesser mana, and the level legendary mana to 7 lesser or 2 greater mana.

Sovereign Court

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What would be the benefits of a mana pool? If they can cast any spell known at any level they can cast, just let Spontaneous casters like Bards and Sorcerers have all their spells = their Signature spell ability. That's what I did in my house rules.

If you want to let casters change their spell slots, just create a system to combine or break apart slots. For example, you could say that 2 slots can combine into the next higher level slot, and similarly you can break apart a slot into 2 slots of -1 level each. For example, 2 level 1 slots can become 1 level 2 slot, and vice versa.


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Temperans wrote:

Well prepare caster could be required to spend the points when they prepare a spell; Which means once the spell its prepare the points are locked for the day. (Baring some feat to change the spell)

Spontaneous caster lacking this limit could then free use any spell using any spell level.

To prevent nova would be hard, maybe some type of penalty for over casting a spell level above X? Ex: Overcasting spells of top 2 highest spell levels gives a penalty; So if you can normally cast 2 6th lv spells, casting 3 would give you a penalty.
This is similar to mana burn in stories where casting some magic too much harms the body.

I'm not sure if making a prepared caster prepare every spell in a point-based system would be too time-consuming at the table. There's a lot of math being done there, rather than just preparing into slots.

I like the idea of overcasting penalty for highest level spells -- kind of like the Psychic Enervation mechanic of the Wilder class. It should certainly depend on school, and sorcerers would not suffer from it when casting their highest level bloodline spell.

Coolwasabi wrote:
Our first edition games we have been trying a system like this slightly based on the 3.5 spell point system where a level 1 spell is 1 mana, level 2 is 3 mana and level 3 is 5 mana etc. But as you said it had the potential problem of too many higher level spells so we have been trying a split mana for higher level spells. We also gave spontaneous another spell per level usually and restricted prepared to only prepare based on the classes spells per day without adding the attribute. Im not sure how well that would work for 2e yet.

I'm not sure if dividing mana into tiers would be the right way to go, although making spells of different levels fall into different tiers is something I'm considering (see above).

Samurai wrote:

What would be the benefits of a mana pool? If they can cast any spell known at any level they can cast, just let Spontaneous casters like Bards and Sorcerers have all their spells = their Signature spell ability. That's what I did in my house rules.

If you want to let casters change their spell slots, just create a system to combine or break apart slots. For example, you could say that 2 slots can combine into the next higher level slot, and similarly you can break apart a slot into 2 slots of -1 level each. For example, 2 level 1 slots can become 1 level 2 slot, and vice versa.

The thing is, that's indistinguishable from a spell point system, where level 1 slots are 1 point each, level 2 slots 2 point each, level 3 = 4 points, level 4 = 8 points....until you get to level 10 spells that cost 512 points each.


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For quick reference, if each level is double the points of the previous level;
1st - 1 point
2nd - 2 points
3rd - 4 points
4th - 8 points
5th - 16 points
6th - 32 points
7th - 64 points
8th - 128 points
9th - 256 points
10th - 512 points

If you convert a wizards spell slots to points

1 - 2 points
2 - 3 points
3 - 7 points
4 - 9 points
5 - 17 points
6 - 21 points
7 - 37 points
8 - 45 points
9 - 77 points
10 - 93 points
11 - 157 points
12 - 189 points
13 - 317 points
14 - 381 points
15 - 637 points
16 - 765 points
17 - 1277 points
18 - 1533 points
19 - 2045 points
20 - 2045 points

Edit: these numbers obviously get far larger than any number that should ever exist on a character sheet.

There are two solutions I can think of - instead have a less explosive progression for spell level cost like;

1 - 1 mana point
2 - 3 mana points
3 - 5 mana points
4 - 7 mana points
5 - 9 mana points
6 - 11 mana points
7 - 13 mana points
8 - 15 mana points
9 - 17 mana points
10 - 19 mana points

(Though I am not sure if this is balanced)

Or,

Do something similar to the 5e warlock - only the spells and slots between levels 1 and 5 use mana points, while 6-10th level spells and slots remain as spell slots. This means flexible casting for spells of level 1-5 and spells of level 6+ being slotted normally.


Wells if spells cost their spell level it'll be: 1st=1, 2nd=2,...,10th=10.

The spell slot then becomes:
1 - 2 points
2 - 3 points
3 - 7 points
4 - 9 points
5 - 15 points
6 - 18 points
7 - 26 points
8 - 30 points
9 - 40 points
10 - 45 points
11 - 57 points
12 - 63 points
13 - 77 points
14 - 84 points
15 - 100 points
16 - 108 points
17 - 126 points
18 - 135 points
19 - 145 points
20 - 145 points

*************
For the overcast penalty, it could be that for every 2 extra casts you need to add the spell level (if the scale is linear) or some percentage rounded up (if the scale is exponential).

*************
Also just to point out, mana point casting combos well with HP sacrifice to cast and to some extent Bloatmages. In either case, you can use HP (when mana runs out) or Blood pool (on purpose) to substitute mana.

It also allows for rules to have a variety of ways to affects spell slots. Ex: spending an extra action or a single use item to lower the cost; Or having areas where spells of certain types cost more/less to cast, like say evil spells on a good plane cost more, or vice versa.


Temperans wrote:

Wells if spells cost their spell level it'll be: 1st=1, 2nd=2,...,10th=10.

The spell slot then becomes:
1 - 2 points
2 - 3 points
3 - 7 points
4 - 9 points
5 - 15 points
6 - 18 points
7 - 26 points
8 - 30 points
9 - 40 points
10 - 45 points
11 - 57 points
12 - 63 points
13 - 77 points
14 - 84 points
15 - 100 points
16 - 108 points
17 - 126 points
18 - 135 points
19 - 145 points
20 - 145 points

*************
For the overcast penalty, it could be that for every 2 extra casts you need to add the spell level (if the scale is linear) or some percentage rounded up (if the scale is exponential).

*************
Also just to point out, mana point casting combos well with HP sacrifice to cast and to some extent Bloatmages. In either case, you can use HP (when mana runs out) or Blood pool (on purpose) to substitute mana.

It also allows for rules to have a variety of ways to affects spell slots. Ex: spending an extra action or a single use item to lower the cost; Or having areas where spells of certain types cost more/less to cast, like say evil spells on a good plane cost more, or vice versa.

Spell level = point cost leads to being able to cast way too many higher level spells per day (at 20th you get 14! 10th level spells). If you add a penalty for casting more of that level than is normally permitted, you need to add the spell slots back into the class table to compare to, which means your character has spell slots and mana points for everything at the same time


Okay then, in that case compare it to a static value, Ex: 3 for wizards, 4 for sorcerers, etc. For 10th lv spells make their overcast limit 1 to balance it.

The overcast cost and how often (if the penalty is increased cost), I honestly wasn't expecting to nail the values on the first try.

I also dont think my solutions may be the best.

For example instead of a buffer that's the same for all levels, it could be based on the spell level instead; such that casting 1st lv spells generally doesn't trigger, but casting a single 10th level spell does.

Or overcast could limit the number of spells cast in combat regardless of spell level; Ex: If overcast limit is 3, 4 spells (that aren't cantrips/innate) would trigger overcast.

************
Potential effects could be weaker saves, attack rolls, damage, range, self harm, basicly anything that could be seen in a fantasy novel with mana pools.

Grand Lodge

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If you are looking at this, you might consider use the Spell Blending (CR 206) as a guideline. 2 Spells combine to form a spell of 2 levels higher. With that assumption is works out to:
level = cost
1=2
2=3
3=4
4=6
5=8
6=12
7=16
8=24
9=32
10=48


Tender Tendrils wrote:

Or,

Do something similar to the 5e warlock - only the spells and slots between levels 1 and 5 use mana points, while 6-10th level spells and slots remain as spell slots. This means flexible casting for spells of level 1-5 and spells of level 6+ being slotted normally.

Conceptually at least, I could go for a combination of this and the floating prep slots from P1E Unchained (the variant that keeps your highest level prepped slots normal, but trades the sheer number of your lower level slots for only a few that you no longer have to prep). In this case, I would have casters have their highest level spells (maybe even five highest, the way you have it here) as slots, but after a certain point, your slots become points.

I.e., a 7th level caster would have all of his spells as slots, an 11th level caster would use slots for everything but his 1st level spells, a 15th level caster would use points for his 1st, 2nd, and 3rd level spells (and slots for everything above), and so on.


Jared Walter 356 wrote:

If you are looking at this, you might consider use the Spell Blending (CR 206) as a guideline. 2 Spells combine to form a spell of 2 levels higher. With that assumption is works out to:

level = cost
1=2
2=3
3=4
4=6
5=8
6=12
7=16
8=24
9=32
10=48

This is actually exactly what I was thinking! It's better balanced than 1 to 10 or even 1 to 19 and way less ridiculous than 1 to 512.

One change I would makes is that 10th level spells would still be considered a different type of spell, and therefore can't be cast with spell points unless you're heightening a common spell.

I also think that spell points should increase at a relatively steady rate, rather than have sudden jumps whenever you gain a new level of spells. Having points rather than slots makes those increases a lot more powerful, after all.


I would start with a Benchmark.
Let's say you assign each slot a point value, then add up all the slots, and yield a number.
My question is this: What % of total points is "fair" to give up for increased flexibility?

...

Prepared casters can perhaps choose a number of spells per day to prepare, which are then just freely cast with their mana.
Then wake up the next day and prepare different ones.

A similar question: What % of prepared spells is "fair" to give up when comparing to Spontaneous casters?

Friendly suggestion to get the ball rolling:
Spontaneous (total spells known): Character Level + Highest Spell Level + Key Ability Score
Prepared (prepared at a time): Character Level + Key Ability Score
+
Mana: Spontaneous > Prepared

...

Next question: Focus Points on a different track?

...

Final challenge question, if I may. How do you expect to "manage" what is arguably one of the main features of mana systems: Being able to "nova" at will?


Trying to avoid the sudden jumps is why I was trying to go for low numbers, but 2 to 48 really do sound really nice.

Also it makes sense that 10th lv spells would work different in some way given how you gain it via a feat or feature as opposed to just auto progression.

Instead of having the top five spell levels always locked, how about basing it on proficiency? This way, proficiency not only gives a +2, but unlocks more of you magical power. If doing that, I would say 1st level is free and then unlock mana at 1 spell lv per proficiency.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

I don't think a point system where you're doing hand math should ever go above 50 points, I would try to rebalance a system where any character has somewhere in the ballpark of their level to twice their level (plus caster stat) spell points to use.

then instead for prepared casters have a number of slots you can fill and the spell levels determine how many slots they use. (and they have to choose what spell level to prepare the spell at, no heightening)

spontaneous caster just has their spells known like normal.


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Bandw2 wrote:

I don't think a point system where you're doing hand math should ever go above 50 points, I would try to rebalance a system where any character has somewhere in the ballpark of their level to twice their level (plus caster stat) spell points to use.

then instead for prepared casters have a number of slots you can fill and the spell levels determine how many slots they use. (and they have to choose what spell level to prepare the spell at, no heightening)

spontaneous caster just has their spells known like normal.

Level + casting stat is actually how Spheres of Magic did it, which usually comes to either freely cast something at half caster level, or spending 1 point to cast at full caster level (or combine different effects).


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Bandw2 wrote:
I don't think a point system where you're doing hand math should ever go above 50 points

I agree, but my brain is all over the place and couldn't articulate that as clearly as you just did :).

I think that keeping numbers in the double digits is generally a good design goal for keeping a system easy to use.


A question I would ask is, what is the goal of such a redesign? I think a mana pool means less variety in spells cast, as people default to using their strongest stuff all the time so they don't have to keep the rest of their spells in their head space. It encourages 5-minute workday for the same reason. I think stating why you want such a system up front can help when designing it (and help others giving advice or feedback).


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Frogliacci wrote:
Bandw2 wrote:

I don't think a point system where you're doing hand math should ever go above 50 points, I would try to rebalance a system where any character has somewhere in the ballpark of their level to twice their level (plus caster stat) spell points to use.

then instead for prepared casters have a number of slots you can fill and the spell levels determine how many slots they use. (and they have to choose what spell level to prepare the spell at, no heightening)

spontaneous caster just has their spells known like normal.

Level + casting stat is actually how Spheres of Magic did it, which usually comes to either freely cast something at half caster level, or spending 1 point to cast at full caster level (or combine different effects).

and wouldn't you know about an hour before i posted that I was putting together a soul weaver for my GM to use.

also that's not entirely true, some abilities are more or less free, while others cost stuff.

example protection sphere, making a barrier is free and if concentrated on the HP refreshes. giving someone a deflection bonus to AC requires a point though.


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BellyBeard wrote:
A question I would ask is, what is the goal of such a redesign? I think a mana pool means less variety in spells cast, as people default to using their strongest stuff all the time so they don't have to keep the rest of their spells in their head space. It encourages 5-minute workday for the same reason. I think stating why you want such a system up front can help when designing it (and help others giving advice or feedback).

I don't like spell slots. I think that resource management for spellcasting is more fun when it's more freeform. I also prefer spell variety to come from creative solutions based on circumstances, rather than enforced by mechanics, especially for a spontaneous caster. It doesn't feel fun when I can't cast a fireball because I've used up "level 3 slots" but I can't sacrifice say, 2 level 2 slots to make it happen anyway. The restriction comes across as arbitrary.

Five minute workday is an issue that's better addressed by having many small enounters and a few large encounters, rather than by spellcasting mechanics.

Feel free to disagree with me, obviously. It's just that from personal experience I had a lot more fun with Dreamscarred Press psionics than I did playing a slot-based caster.


If 5 minute adventuring day is a big problem the one solution I can think of is to have a smaller pool but allowing it to regen. Effectively, sacrifising the ability to nova high level spells for considerably more low level casting. But, just like any rule this has problems, in this case it makes spellcasting not as limited as it's supposed to be.


Temperans wrote:
If 5 minute adventuring day is a big problem the one solution I can think of is to have a smaller pool but allowing it to regen. Effectively, sacrifising the ability to nova high level spells for considerably more low level casting. But, just like any rule this has problems, in this case it makes spellcasting not as limited as it's supposed to be.

I've considered it, but in my experience with psionics it hadn't been a problem. Caster players learn pretty quickly to conserve their points after they nova a miniboss and another one shows up. It's just part of the learning process of playing mages.

Besides, mana pools already add math to spellcasting. I don't want to add more.

Although tying spell point regeneration to refocusing might also work. Each time you use the refocus action, you also regain some number of spell points as a function of your spellcasting proficiency, perhaps?


Well that's why I said "if it was really a concern". Its hard to tell until play tested.

Mana regen when regaining focus makes a lot of sense. Depending on the pool size just adding you proficiency modifier (no level) would make sense, and since they are even it shouldn't be too difficult to add things up.


Frogliacci wrote:


I don't like spell slots. I think that resource management for spellcasting is more fun when it's more freeform. I also prefer spell variety to come from creative solutions based on circumstances, rather than enforced by mechanics, especially for a spontaneous caster. It doesn't feel fun when I can't cast a fireball because I've used up "level 3 slots" but I can't sacrifice say, 2 level 2 slots to make it happen anyway. The restriction comes across as arbitrary.

Five minute workday is an issue that's better addressed by having many small enounters and a few large encounters, rather than by spellcasting mechanics.

Feel free to disagree with me, obviously. It's just that from personal experience I had a lot more fun with Dreamscarred Press psionics than I did playing a slot-based caster.

I don't disagree at all. I haven't played a tabletop game with a mana system (I did play a little DSP psionics, but none of my players actually had psionics casters), so I was basing my post on video games such as Final Fantasy which have mana systems. I know in such games I would rarely use spells other than my highest level strongest one, but they are also balanced around that assumption, and don't have the inherent flexibility of a tabletop format to allow for more creativity with spells. I was offering those "common criticisms" to try and get a better feel for why you want a mana pool.

To the topic at hand, I would be careful with refocusing for points. Currently refocusing only affects focus spells, which are intended to be a small part of a spellcaster's arsenal. In this way, the caster isn't too heavily hampered by not getting enough breaks, and also not too strong by having a break after every single fight. If you can regain max level spell slots through 10-minute breaks, I feel like the rest time would have to be more heavily codified to balance around it, otherwise you end up swinging too far in either direction depending on circumstances. Therefore I would say, try to limit the amount regained to less than a max level spell slot, so you can still contribute with lower level spells if you blow everything too quickly, but you aren't becoming too powerful with plenty of breaks.

What would be a good number though? My initial thought was half of your highest spell cost. This would definitely have to be put to some sort of timer though, maybe an hour cool down, so the players aren't incentivized to camp and recover points.


Going by the 1 to 48 scale, you have the following for a wizard going by a straight up spell slot conversion (before adding school spells):

1 - 4 points
2 - 6 points
3 - 12 points
4 - 15 points
5 - 23 points
6 - 27 points
7 - 39 points
8 - 45 points
9 - 61 points
10 - 69 points
11 - 93 points
12 - 105 points
13 - 137 points
14 - 153 points
15 - 201 points
16 - 225 points
17 - 289 points
18 - 321 points
19 - 369 points
20 - 417 points* (if you take the feat to grant you an additional 10th level spell slot)

As you can see the jumps in points is significantly higher at odd levels, where you get two new slots to go with the higher level spells known. However, with spell points rather than slots, gaining new spells is a large power increase even before spell point total increases, because spell points can be used free-form, or almost free-form if we're implementing a penalty for casting too many high level spells. So I'm considering something like the following instead:

1 - 4 points
2 - 6 points
3 - 9 points
4 - 12 points
5 - 16 points
6 - 20 points
7 - 26 points
8 - 32 points
9 - 40 points
10 - 48 points
11 - 60 points
12 - 72 points
13 - 88 points
14 - 104 points
15 - 128 points
16 - 152 points
17 - 184 points
18 - 216 points
19 - 264 points
20 - 312 points

Basically, you start with 4 points, and each level you gain spell points equal to the cost of the highest level spell you can cast.

As for recharging spell points with the refocus action, I'm considering each refocus raising your spell points to the cost of the highest level spell you can cast. That is, if you already have more spell points than that, refocus simply doesn't grant you more spell points.

Refocusing like this also ensures that you won't have 1 spell point left over that you can't use, which would otherwise be rather frustrating at low levels.


Coolwasabi wrote:

Our first edition games we have been trying a system like this slightly based on the 3.5 spell point system where a level 1 spell is 1 mana, level 2 is 3 mana and level 3 is 5 mana etc. But as you said it had the potential problem of too many higher level spells so we have been trying a split mana for higher level spells. We also gave spontaneous another spell per level usually and restricted prepared to only prepare based on the classes spells per day without adding the attribute. Im not sure how well that would work for 2e yet.

If the lesser and greater mana pools seem like an idea for you to try we do it like this;
1st level spells cost 1 mana.
2nd level spells cost 3 mana.
When you get 3rd level spells they require greater mana instead of lesser, costing 1 for 1.
At 4th level spells, they become the new 1 greater mana and 3rd level now cost 5 lesser instead.
At 5th level spells, 4th cost 7 lesser instead and 5th cost 1 greater.
At 6th level spells, 5ths still cost 1 greater and 6ths cost 2.
At 7th level spells, 5th level are now 9 lesser, 6th spells cost 1 greater and 7th costs 2.
At 8th level spells, 6th level are now 11 lesser, 7th level costs 1 and 8th costs 2.
At 9th level spells we started a 3rd pool costing 1 to 1 legendary mana or what ever you would want to call it and all the earlier spells would cost the same... but as 2e has 10th level spells there would need to be some alterations here as well.

We allowed greater mana to convert to 3 lesser mana, and the level legendary mana to 7 lesser or 2 greater mana.

This is the best idea in this whole thread, IMO. I'd maybe want to tweak this concept more and turn it into a whole new class/magic system rather than try to replace the existing casting system.


Excaliburproxy wrote:
Coolwasabi wrote:

Our first edition games we have been trying a system like this slightly based on the 3.5 spell point system where a level 1 spell is 1 mana, level 2 is 3 mana and level 3 is 5 mana etc. But as you said it had the potential problem of too many higher level spells so we have been trying a split mana for higher level spells. We also gave spontaneous another spell per level usually and restricted prepared to only prepare based on the classes spells per day without adding the attribute. Im not sure how well that would work for 2e yet.

If the lesser and greater mana pools seem like an idea for you to try we do it like this;
1st level spells cost 1 mana.
2nd level spells cost 3 mana.
When you get 3rd level spells they require greater mana instead of lesser, costing 1 for 1.
At 4th level spells, they become the new 1 greater mana and 3rd level now cost 5 lesser instead.
At 5th level spells, 4th cost 7 lesser instead and 5th cost 1 greater.
At 6th level spells, 5ths still cost 1 greater and 6ths cost 2.
At 7th level spells, 5th level are now 9 lesser, 6th spells cost 1 greater and 7th costs 2.
At 8th level spells, 6th level are now 11 lesser, 7th level costs 1 and 8th costs 2.
At 9th level spells we started a 3rd pool costing 1 to 1 legendary mana or what ever you would want to call it and all the earlier spells would cost the same... but as 2e has 10th level spells there would need to be some alterations here as well.

We allowed greater mana to convert to 3 lesser mana, and the level legendary mana to 7 lesser or 2 greater mana.

This is the best idea in this whole thread, IMO. I'd maybe want to tweak this concept more and turn it into a whole new class/magic system rather than try to replace the existing casting system.

This is really just a more complex way of saying that you are limited in how many higher level spells you can cast, though. I would much rather just have a shared pool and additional rules for how many spells of your highest level (or highest two levels) you can cast per day.

I am fully aware that spell points would be a bit more complex than spell slots, due to the math involved. I would keep the math down to the absolutely necessary and avoid adding more.


Frogliacci wrote:
Excaliburproxy wrote:
Coolwasabi wrote:

Our first edition games we have been trying a system like this slightly based on the 3.5 spell point system where a level 1 spell is 1 mana, level 2 is 3 mana and level 3 is 5 mana etc. But as you said it had the potential problem of too many higher level spells so we have been trying a split mana for higher level spells. We also gave spontaneous another spell per level usually and restricted prepared to only prepare based on the classes spells per day without adding the attribute. Im not sure how well that would work for 2e yet.

If the lesser and greater mana pools seem like an idea for you to try we do it like this;
1st level spells cost 1 mana.
2nd level spells cost 3 mana.
When you get 3rd level spells they require greater mana instead of lesser, costing 1 for 1.
At 4th level spells, they become the new 1 greater mana and 3rd level now cost 5 lesser instead.
At 5th level spells, 4th cost 7 lesser instead and 5th cost 1 greater.
At 6th level spells, 5ths still cost 1 greater and 6ths cost 2.
At 7th level spells, 5th level are now 9 lesser, 6th spells cost 1 greater and 7th costs 2.
At 8th level spells, 6th level are now 11 lesser, 7th level costs 1 and 8th costs 2.
At 9th level spells we started a 3rd pool costing 1 to 1 legendary mana or what ever you would want to call it and all the earlier spells would cost the same... but as 2e has 10th level spells there would need to be some alterations here as well.

We allowed greater mana to convert to 3 lesser mana, and the level legendary mana to 7 lesser or 2 greater mana.

This is the best idea in this whole thread, IMO. I'd maybe want to tweak this concept more and turn it into a whole new class/magic system rather than try to replace the existing casting system.
This is really just a more complex way of saying that you are limited in how many higher level spells you can cast, though. I would much rather just have a shared pool and additional rules for how many...

I think two pools of points is easier to understand than 1 pool of mana and then a bunch of additional restrictions.


Except that the higher pools can be converted down to lower pools, hence the extra math. Plus, what kind of spell uses what pool also changes as you level, which is another layer of complication.

One pool with restrictions would be simpler as long as the restrictions are simple, eg. you can only cast your highest level of spells 3 times per day.

I like the theory of that system. I'm just looking for something a little more elegant.


Inspired by that system how about just making mana into a meta currency? 2-3 pools with different values and no way to convert downwards (you cant cut a coin to make smaller coins).

Effectively, instead of having say 300 mana points you can have 30 lesser mana points (worth 1 point), 15 mid-grade mana points (worth 10 points), and 6 greater mana points worth 20 points.

** Tried to use even numbers to be less confusing. Having multiple point pools is kind of annoying in the it adds a lot more to keep track off with little benefit besides having to deal with smaller max total.


I'd prefer to stick to a single pool, something like Dreamscarred Press psionics. It had more math than slots but not more complex than the math you do when you take hit point damage, and it's arguably more intuitive than spell slots (at least it was for me).


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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Rather than make systems with huge numbers in a mana pool, or systems with multiple different pools to track, why not just have a fixed pool with scaling costs? Something like:

You have a pool of 20 mana.
The highest spell-level spells you can cast cost 3 mana.
The next highest spell-level spells you can cast cost 2 mana.
All remaining spell levels down cost 1 mana.

The most you can ever nova is 6x your highest level spell, and at the expense of having almost nothing else. But your significantly lower level slots are a lot cheaper and you can cast them pretty readily. If you're still concerned about too much nova incentive, you can add some kind of "risky" mechanic, like the kineticist's burn, that only happens if you cast your highest level slot spells back to back (for example, not specifying that this is what I'd do).

You could also set up the pool to run off your casting ability score. IE:
You have a pool of 15+your casting ability score. That way you still get some progression of your pool expanding as you rise in level, though the expansion is small enough that you're only really getting to cast a couple extra lower level spells.


Cellion wrote:

Rather than make systems with huge numbers in a mana pool, or systems with multiple different pools to track, why not just have a fixed pool with scaling costs? Something like:

You have a pool of 20 mana.
The highest spell-level spells you can cast cost 3 mana.
The next highest spell-level spells you can cast cost 2 mana.
All remaining spell levels down cost 1 mana.

The most you can ever nova is 6x your highest level spell, and at the expense of having almost nothing else. But your significantly lower level slots are a lot cheaper and you can cast them pretty readily. If you're still concerned about too much nova incentive, you can add some kind of "risky" mechanic, like the kineticist's burn, that only happens if you cast your highest level slot spells back to back (for example, not specifying that this is what I'd do).

You could also set up the pool to run off your casting ability score. IE:
You have a pool of 15+your casting ability score. That way you still get some progression of your pool expanding as you rise in level, though the expansion is small enough that you're only really getting to cast a couple extra lower level spells.

I like this in theory, but it has the problem of a huge range of low level spells costing the same when you're high level. No one will ever cast any spell at level 1 when you're spending the same resources to cast it at level 4.


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Frogliacci wrote:
I like this in theory, but it has the problem of a huge range of low level spells costing the same when you're high level. No one will ever cast any spell at level 1 when you're spending the same resources to cast it at level 4.

I don't consider that a problem. You'll still cast some 1st or 2nd level spells that play unique specialized roles, but I'm alright with the rest being obsoleted by 3rd and 4th level spells that have the same cost.


Frogliacci wrote:
Cellion wrote:

Rather than make systems with huge numbers in a mana pool, or systems with multiple different pools to track, why not just have a fixed pool with scaling costs? Something like:

You have a pool of 20 mana.
The highest spell-level spells you can cast cost 3 mana.
The next highest spell-level spells you can cast cost 2 mana.
All remaining spell levels down cost 1 mana.

The most you can ever nova is 6x your highest level spell, and at the expense of having almost nothing else. But your significantly lower level slots are a lot cheaper and you can cast them pretty readily. If you're still concerned about too much nova incentive, you can add some kind of "risky" mechanic, like the kineticist's burn, that only happens if you cast your highest level slot spells back to back (for example, not specifying that this is what I'd do).

You could also set up the pool to run off your casting ability score. IE:
You have a pool of 15+your casting ability score. That way you still get some progression of your pool expanding as you rise in level, though the expansion is small enough that you're only really getting to cast a couple extra lower level spells.

I like this in theory, but it has the problem of a huge range of low level spells costing the same when you're high level. No one will ever cast any spell at level 1 when you're spending the same resources to cast it at level 4.

Is that a problem though? I feel like at that level you usually ignore your level 1 slots anyways, for the most part. Also, the spells from a master wizard should be inherently more powerful, or at least that's a good way to justify it.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

hmmm, maybe a proportional system that uses fractions and decimals is really the only way to do it.

no point system is going to be easy to deal with, so if you're going to need a calculator anyway, there's no reason for discrete points. instead of making a bigger pool, just make spells cost less over time.

your pool is a float with a range from 0 to 1. your highest level spell costs 1/4 or .25 of your pool. and then every level of spell below that adds 1 to the divider.

such that spells would cost in this order:
1/4 - 1/5 - 1/6 - 1/7 - 1/8 - 1/9 - 1/10 - 1/11 - 1/12

i don't think its a good system, but i don't think converting spell levels into a point buy system is good either, every reason it's bad is to exemplify why these systems don't really work.

there's ultimately too much of a difference in power between 1st and 9nth level spells where the system will be easy to keep track of at those levels.

A psion from dreamscarred press has 363 power points at level 20, it's such an unusual number and is really hard to grasp on a fundamental level.

any such system should instead behave more like the classes and magic from spheres of power, where you never end up with 9nth level powers just because.

a point power system should have 2 pools being bought with, a talent pool and a point pool. Talent pools are your talents, stuff you know how to do, being good at casting fireball takes a talent point and thus makes it so you can't spend that point EVER on being able to teleport, you'd have to wait for another talent point.

to be able to do something like meteor storm a 9th level evocation spell, you'd have to focus entirely on doing evocation for a long time, and then your spell still costs only a few points because you can do meteor storm sure, but can't teleport or dimension door.

To do this without much converting(the best option would be to make new spells), i'd say everyone needs at least 2 spells of a lower level of a school before they can learn one of a higher level, as well as only being able to heighten to that level(for prepared and cantrips). then each spell is simply 1 point and maybe double the costs of material components.

you have a number of spell points equal to your level+casting mod. all spells are automatically heightened for prepared to their highest level. however, i think prepared casters should also still have a relatively low spells known, with maybe an ability to do an expensive ritual to trade some out from his spell book or something.

idk, i generally think converting spells as they are into a point system just isn't that feasible for a elegant system.


Going by the limited pool with scaling.

1 solution is to treat it as a bloated burn pool (minus the hp cost ovbiously). Where proficiency lowers the cost. Along with it would mean needing a smaller pool than calculated. To offset the reduction of cost.


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@Bandw2
I'm not exactly sure how your proposed complex fraction system not working illustrates how a point system using integers doesn't work. Again, Dreamscarred Press psionics is extremely popular for a good reason. Plenty of people I've played with found it MORE balanced than 1e Vancian prepared casting, since all their classes cap at approximately tier 2.

What's wrong with a weird looking number? Hit points look like weird numbers all the time anyway. I don't consider having a non-rounded number to be inelegant, nor do I think doing any math on the same scale as getting hit in combat to be inelegant. If someone needs a calculator to calculate their spell points, they'd already use one when taking damage anyway.

Plenty of people have already suggested to prevent nova with a limit on the highest level spells cast. A maximum of 7 or 8 spells of your second highest and above, and a maximum of 3 or 4 of those spells being your highest level, should do the job.

As for spells, I'm OK with using spell prerequisites to balance out the inherent flexibility of spell points. I'm also okay with a progression that allows lowest level spells to be cast for free so as to keep the numbers small.

I just don't feel like homebrewing Spheres from the Scratch. I like it and all, but Drop Dead Studios do have plans to release it for 2e and I'd rather use the official version of their classes.


Cellion wrote:

Rather than make systems with huge numbers in a mana pool, or systems with multiple different pools to track, why not just have a fixed pool with scaling costs? Something like:

You have a pool of 20 mana.
The highest spell-level spells you can cast cost 3 mana.
The next highest spell-level spells you can cast cost 2 mana.
All remaining spell levels down cost 1 mana.

The most you can ever nova is 6x your highest level spell, and at the expense of having almost nothing else. But your significantly lower level slots are a lot cheaper and you can cast them pretty readily. If you're still concerned about too much nova incentive, you can add some kind of "risky" mechanic, like the kineticist's burn, that only happens if you cast your highest level slot spells back to back (for example, not specifying that this is what I'd do).

You could also set up the pool to run off your casting ability score. IE:
You have a pool of 15+your casting ability score. That way you still get some progression of your pool expanding as you rise in level, though the expansion is small enough that you're only really getting to cast a couple extra lower level spells.

This is a really elegant suggestion.


BellyBeard wrote:
Frogliacci wrote:
Cellion wrote:

Rather than make systems with huge numbers in a mana pool, or systems with multiple different pools to track, why not just have a fixed pool with scaling costs? Something like:

You have a pool of 20 mana.
The highest spell-level spells you can cast cost 3 mana.
The next highest spell-level spells you can cast cost 2 mana.
All remaining spell levels down cost 1 mana.

The most you can ever nova is 6x your highest level spell, and at the expense of having almost nothing else. But your significantly lower level slots are a lot cheaper and you can cast them pretty readily. If you're still concerned about too much nova incentive, you can add some kind of "risky" mechanic, like the kineticist's burn, that only happens if you cast your highest level slot spells back to back (for example, not specifying that this is what I'd do).

You could also set up the pool to run off your casting ability score. IE:
You have a pool of 15+your casting ability score. That way you still get some progression of your pool expanding as you rise in level, though the expansion is small enough that you're only really getting to cast a couple extra lower level spells.

I like this in theory, but it has the problem of a huge range of low level spells costing the same when you're high level. No one will ever cast any spell at level 1 when you're spending the same resources to cast it at level 4.
Is that a problem though? I feel like at that level you usually ignore your level 1 slots anyways, for the most part. Also, the spells from a master wizard should be inherently more powerful, or at least that's a good way to justify it.

There is also the factor that quite a few 1st level spells can be heightened, meaning that you can cast those as 4th level, or as close as possible anyway.


One posibility is use the Mana system, but just say that your highest slots are limited to the same quantity that the normal slots. You can still "spam" spells, but not the most potent ones, and the complexity added is not high. Also, seems easy to justify; you have still not mastered enough the higher spells you can cast, so you are limited to how many you can use.

This all can be combined with the current classes. Seems interesting to say that Wizards and the other prepared casters change to "Arcanist prepared", while Sorcerer and other spontaneous change to this "point system".


The system I have right now is as follows:

- Spells cost 1 + spell level to start

- Spellcasters have spell points equal to their spellcasting proficiency bonus (including level) plus spellcasting ability modifier. A multiclassed spellcaster doesn't add their level to their spell point pool.

- Starting at level 7, the spell point cost of all spells is reduced by 1 cumulatively each time a spellcaster gains a new level of spells, to a minimum of 1. Highest level spells will always cost 4 points, second highest 3 points, third highest 2 points, and everything else 1 point.

- The Expert Spellcaster class feature additionally allows spellcasters gain 1 spell point from refocusing, to a maximum of 1. Basically, if you're out of spell points, you can always refocus to have 1 low level spell to cast.

- You can only cast 10th level spells that are unheightened, or heightened from uncommon spells, once per day. You can do so twice per day with a feat.

- Spontaneous spellcasters can always cast a spell known at a lower level, but not at a higher level, unless it is their signature spell. For example, if a sorcerer knows fireball at 5th level, and fireball isn't a signature spell, they can cast it at 3rd, 4th, and 5th levels, paying the appropriate spell point costs.

- Prepared spellcasters spend spell points during daily preparations to prepare spells. If they have the Expert Spellcaster class feature, they must spend any spell points gained immediately after refocus to prepare a spell.

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