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D&D 3E
UA spellpoints VS conventional spell levels 
3rd-May-2005 03:42 pm
I'm going to cut this as its gets long and involved (and math heavy), but I'd still love comments or discussion.

So, was doing some analysis today on spell points as presented in UA while procrastinating copy editing our latest journal submission. And the results were fairly interesting I thought.

From UA, Sorcerer's get this many spell points per level. I'm ignoring bonus points based on stats for now, as they're roughly equal between the two varients.

Level Spell Points
1 - 3
2 - 5
3 - 8
4 - 14
5 - 19
6 - 29
7 - 37
8 - 53
9 - 61
10 - 81
11 - 97
12 - 115
13 - 131
14 - 149
15 - 165
16 - 183
17 - 199
18 - 217
19 - 233
20 - 249

Now, lets look at a conventional Sorcerer from the PHB. In order to cast all the spells they'd normally cast, you'd need the following spellpoints, again, I'm ignoring things like spells from stats.:

1 - 3
2 - 4
3 - 5
4 - 15
5 - 18
6 - 36
7 - 44
8 - 70
9 - 82
10 - 116
11 - 132
12 - 174
(got tired of doing math).

So, so far this isn't that bad. Spell point Sorc12 gets 115 points, Conventional gets 174. But the Spell Point Sorc has a lot more flexibility, since they can adjust what spells they get. But ... this doesn't take into account the spell points the conventional caster gets 'for free' by upping the damage. With that taken into the extreme (i.e. all spells cast get bonus dice per level), things get much worse. As a note, I've assumed that Magic missile is 1 point per missile here. Really, according to the rules it would be 1 for the first missile and then 2 for each other missile, which just makes these numbers worse. As well, by ignoring the bonus points from high stats I've helped the UA system, as it would give the same number of points to both characters, but the normal sorcerer gets damage boosting by CL while the UA caster doesn't.

1 - 3
2 - 4
3 - 10 (5 MM's, each getting 2 missiles).
4 - 21 (6 MM's and 3 Scorching ray)
5 - 30 (6 MM at 3 missiles and 4 SR)
6 - 48 (6 MM, 5 SR, 3 Fireball)
7 - 94 (6 MM with 4 missiles, 6 SR at 2 rays, 4 FB)
8 - 127 (6 MM, 6 SR, 5 FB, no clue on 4th level spell)
9 - 154 (6 MM at 5 missiles, 6 SR, 6 FB, 4 4th)
10 - 194 (6 MM, 6 SR, 6 FB, 5 4th, 3 Cone of Cold)
11 - 242 (6 MM, 6 SR at 3 rays, 6 FB, 6 4th, 4 CoC)


So, to compare:

Level UA Spellpoints PHB Points
1 3 3
2 5 4
3 8 10
4 14 21
5 19 30
6 29 48
7 37 94
8 53 127
9 61 154
10 81 194
11 97 242

As you can see, the number of spell points you'd need (in an extremely worst case) for a Sorcerer to achieve damage output equal to a PHB Sorcerer is huge.

So, how would I go about fixing this? Not sure. If you simply allowed spells to advance in damage with spell points like they do conventionally, MM wins. You'd get 5D4+5 per spell point instead of something more like 1D6 or 1D6+1 per point with psi or fireball. So that doesn't work. :)

Overall though, I'm a real fan of PP for psi, but I don't like the current spell point system for PHB classes.

Opinions from others? Its possible my math is borked, but I think its at least close enough to be illustrative. I've tried to make sure all my assumptions and simplifications hurt the PHB caster (i.e. give him fewer points), and he still comes out way on top.
3rd-May-2005 09:04 pm (UTC)
Check out the spell point chart in 2e Spells and Magic. I used that a lot and it worked out fine (at least in comparison to 2e wizards). That and the numbers don't seem so arbitrary (ie each spell level costs 3/2 the amount of the previous level (at least up to level 5 or 6 as I recall).
3rd-May-2005 09:17 pm (UTC)
3/2? O.k. So ...

Level 3/2 progression Current progression
1 1 1
2 1.5 3
3 2.25 5
4 3.375 7
5 5.0625 9
6 7.59375 11
7 11.390625 13
8 17.0859375 15
9 25.62890625 17

So the 2e system makes spells much cheaper for the first few levels (~half cost for levels 2-5). Then the level 9 spells are REALLY expensive. I wonder if a lvl9 is really worth five lvl5's?

Does the 2e system still let spells damage scale with CL? I.e. if a level 10 mage casts fireball does it do 10D6, or some lesser number?
3rd-May-2005 09:24 pm (UTC)
The 2e version didn't scale with extra points (though that was another option, spend more points for greater affect. Think a metamagic feat). Again, I think the scale may have changed.

Also, the numbers rounded up I think.

I'm not sure what this comparison gets at. You'd need to check the amount of spells cost verses the amount of points a character has, not the differences between scales. I think you've already shown that the "Current progression" scale doesn't work, which your post here supports.
3rd-May-2005 09:28 pm (UTC)
True enough. The trouble is that I like spell points in general. I dislike the spell slot thing, but for DnD it seems like the only reasonable way so far. At least I haven't seen a system that can overlay the base PHB, give more flexibility, and not break balance one way or the other. For me, the Expanded psi handbook's system works o.k., but its also got pwoers that were designed to be used with points. I'm also a bit less experienced with it though, so its possible I'll find a whole as I use it more (playing a psi in one of my current games).
3rd-May-2005 09:32 pm (UTC)
Well what kind of flexibility do you want? With the 2e system, you gained the ability to memorize all 1st level spells if you wanted, or just a few of your highest level spells. I liked that ability; I didn't use the ability to adjust power based on the amount of points you put into it (and personally I think metamagic feats handle that just fine).
3rd-May-2005 09:36 pm (UTC)
Wait a sec. With UA if you spend the 5 points for a fireball it does 5D6 damage if you're a wizard, 6D6 if you're a socrcerer. No matter what level you are. If you spend the point for MM, you get a single missile. With that system people using spell points dish out a whole lot less damage than those using spell slots.

So what I'd like is a system that lets you trade off spells of various levels, but stays fairly constant for damage output. Both over time (i.e. max possible damage) and in bursts (i.e. damage per round). The non-damaging spells are much easier to balance in this kind of system. Just have to figure out how many spells per day its 'worth' to be able to swap spells of various levels around.
3rd-May-2005 09:43 pm (UTC)
Hmm. The problem with comparing the UA system to the standard system is that they aren't the same in terms of damage progression. It doesn't take a higher level spell slot to do more damage with a fireball--you just have to be higher level. Each system uses a different approach to determining how powerful a spell is. This would suggest to me that the systems really can't be compared or made to match; they're more like different philosophies. Think the difference between a sorcerer and a wizard: both cast spells but they do it in different ways.

I think the UA rule would be intended for people who think that, on a very basic level, spells that deal more damage should cost more. So the 3d6 fireball should cost less than the 10d6 fireball; the difference shouldn't just be based on caster level. Hence this system, which also changes the amount of damage which can be done in a round because the way damage is done is changed.

In short, I think you've got to just find the system you like the best. Trying to make them do the exact same thing isn't feasible.
(Deleted comment)
4th-May-2005 02:04 pm (UTC)
I'll check out Midnight again when I get home (its sitting on a shelf there), but i seem to recall that it radically reduces the amount of magic a spellcaster can throw a day, and balances the calss by giving them 3/4 BAB progression. Is my memory correct?
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