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So I'm tossing my players into a new world (Kelewan) based on the books from Rayond E. Feist. Magic as they know it is useless and they have to start over to learn the "Greater Path".

So I'm thinking to introduce something like this; Instead of learning x number of spells per level and casting x number of spells per day, they will learn x number of spells of any level (if they can get their hands on it).To cast a spell they will tap into the power around them (also known as "the stuff"). But by doing so it will drain their energy.

I just found out that D&D 5th ed. has something called spell points. Can I introduce the same in Pathfinder and still have it balanced?

The Spell Points by Level table applies to bards, clerics, druids, sorcerers, and wizards. For a paladin or ranger, halve the character's level in that class and the consult the table. For a fighter (Eidritch Knight) or rogue (Arcane Trickster), divide the character's level in that class by three.

\begin{array}{c|c} { \textbf{Spell Point Cost} \\ \begin{array}{c|c} \textbf{Spell Level} & \textbf{Cost} \\ \hline 1^\text{st} & 2 \\ 2^\text{nd} & 3 \\ 3^\text{rd} & 5 \\ 4^\text{th} & 6 \\ 5^\text{th} & 7 \\ 6^\text{th} & 9 \\ 7^\text{th} & 10 \\ 8^\text{th} & 11 \\ 9^\text{th} & 13 \\ \end{array} } & { \textbf{Spell Points by Level} \\ \begin{array}{c|c} \textbf{Class Level} & \textbf{Spell Points} \\ \hline 1^\text{st} & 4 \\ 2^\text{nd} & 6 \\ 3^\text{rd} & 14 \\ 4^\text{th} & 17 \\ 5^\text{th} & 27 \\ 6^\text{th} & 32 \\ 7^\text{th} & 38 \\ 8^\text{th} & 44 \\ 9^\text{th} & 57 \\ 10^\text{th} & 64 \\ \end{array} \begin{array}{c|c} \textbf{Class Level} & \textbf{Spell Points} \\ \hline 11^\text{st} & 73 \\ 12^\text{nd} & 73 \\ 13^\text{rd} & 83 \\ 14^\text{th} & 83 \\ 15^\text{th} & 94 \\ 16^\text{th} & 94 \\ 17^\text{th} & 107 \\ 18^\text{th} & 114 \\ 19^\text{th} & 123 \\ 20^\text{th} & 133 \\ \end{array} } \end{array}

They have some more restrictions, but I would rather go a different way.

When they have no more spell points to use they become fatigued and have to rest for 8 hours in order to regain power (they can wait until they go to bed of course).

If they try to cast a spell that requires more spell points than they have left, they might be able to do it but they will also fall unconscious. First they need to cast a spellcraft DC 20 + point cost. On success, the spell is cast and nothing more happens (besides laying on the ground unconscious). On unsuccessful spellcraft they will also get 1d4+1 INT damage.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think more detailed description of your homebrew system is necessary before it can be critiqued. That is, in the abstract way it's described here, I don't think there's a way to balance, for example, a level 1 PC being able to cast wish. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 19 '18 at 20:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ You may want to update your question in light of asking about spell points (which don't allow level 1 PCs to cast wish, for example), especially since there are spell point rules for 3.5e. A question like What are the benefits and drawbacks of using in Pathfinder the rules for 3.5e spell points? is totally legit. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 19 '18 at 20:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Will you at least let me have time to update my question before downvoting it? :-/ \$\endgroup\$ – Steven Feb 19 '18 at 20:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ My comment was to the general population :) \$\endgroup\$ – Steven Feb 19 '18 at 20:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Steven While it wasn’t my downvote either, generally speaking it is appropriate to downvote when you see a question that is currently bad—and then come back and change your vote when edits happen. It’s part of the system and intended behavior from users. Hopefully whoever downvoted will follow up on that, and check back in once edits are in place and change their vote. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 19 '18 at 20:54
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Disclaimer up front: I am going to recommend psionics in Pathfinder, which is something of a conflict of interest for me because Pathfinder psionics material is produced by Dreamscarred Press, and I have worked for them freelance on psionic material. I am not specifically recommending my own work,1 but it should still be mentioned.

Psionics is your best answer here

  1. Psionics is different from magic, has different strengths and weaknesses, different flavor, but fills a similar niche.

  2. Psionics uses power points rather than daily slots.

  3. Psionics was designed from the ground up to use points, instead of being a separate idea tacked onto a system that was really designed for daily slots.

  4. Psionics can easily be reflavored to match a more “magical” frame of reference than its default sort of new-agey, pseudo-science-y, crystals-and-ectoplasm flavor.

  5. Psionics has already been ported to Pathfinder, unlike 5e’s spell points (or 3.5e’s Unearthed Arcana variant spell points).

  6. Psionics was used extensively in the Dark Sun setting for D&D, which has some significant similarities to Kelewan.

In D&D 3.5e, most of psionics—the parts from Expanded Psionics Handbook—were open game content, licensed under the OGL and part of the 3.5e SRD. However, Paizo for whatever reason really dislike “point” systems, and refused to include it in Pathfinder (saying that they weren’t going to do psionics, and if they ever did,2 they would still use spell slots).

That means that the psionics for Pathfinder is a third-party port, by Dreamscarred Press. DSP’s work is pretty much entirely licensed under the OGL, and much of it is found on d20PFSRD.com. However, d20PFSRD.com is largely updated by unpaid volunteers, and Paizo’s material gets highest priority, which means several later works (Seventh Path, some entries in the Psionics Augmented line) are not on the SRD yet. There is more than enough to use, however, including the entirety of Ultimate Psionics which includes all of the open game content for psionics from D&D 3.5e as well as DSP’s 3.5e psionics work.

However, if the flavor of psionics doesn’t work for you, and you don’t want to have to reflavor it yourself, there are even more resources out there for you to use. Ernir’s Translation of Vancian Spellcasting to Psionic Mechanics is exactly that, a translation of more “magic”-y flavor to the psionics mechanics. This is not the same as a spell points variant just tacked on top of existing spellcasters. Ernir rewrote every spell and class from the ground up with spell points in mind. It’s a phenomenal project, and well worth considering. However, it is written for D&D 3.5e—translation from that to Pathfinder is simple enough (for the most part all you have to do is fiddle with the classes’ HD and skill lists, and feats’ and prestige classes’ requirements—see our Q&A on that for more details), but you would have to do the translating. So between the two, it comes down to which you find easier: translating DSP’s Pathfinder psionics to the flavor you want, or translating Ernir’s classes and spells to Pathfinder.

For more ideas on working in Kelewan, consider Dark Sun

Dark Sun is a D&D setting that is an almost-dead world, Athas, orbiting a dying, hence “dark,” sun. Athas is covered in desert wasteland and almost entirely devoid of water. Civilization is limited to a few tiny city-states, and even there the definition of “civilized” is stretched to its limits. And Athas got this way because of the abuse of arcane magic and the cutting off of the divine realms, leading to a situation where magic in general is rare and distrusted. Instead, psionics has flourished there.

And I bring Dark Sun up because, like Kelewan, it is also heavily lacking in metals. That means that Dark Sun requires special rules for handling gear made of other materials, and those could certainly be useful for you.

Less usefully, Wizards of the Coast never made any Dark Sun material for D&D 3.5e. They did for 4e (though much of it was really bad, clearly material intended for another setting that just had the Dark Sun logo slapped on top), and of course Dark Sun had a lot of material from TSR back in the 2e days, but those systems are quite different from Pathfinder. Unlike 3.5e, which is easily translated into Pathfinder, those are largely not (you might as well just base your work off of Feist’s novels directly; they’ll be more helpful than 2e or 4e material).

However, weirdly enough, Wizards of the Coast gave Athas.org a license to produce Dark Sun content for 3.5e. And they did, quite a lot of it. I’m not wild about a lot of their work, but Athas Campaign Setting itself isn’t so bad. And some of its ideas about equipment may be useful to you in developing Kelewan and its distinctive equipment.

  1. I specifically worked on the Psionics Augmented: Occult line, most notably the empath medium archetype. This material is not yet available on d20PFSRD.com.

  2. Paizo did sort of do their spell-slot-based psionics with occult “psychic” magic. However, despite the name and the use of several psionic power names for occult spells, the two are really very different.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow, great answer, thanks. I've actually started looking into Dark Sun and will brows the web for some content. Just finished reading the Feist books and will definitely read up on psionics :) \$\endgroup\$ – Steven Feb 19 '18 at 20:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Dragon and Dungeon published articles converting some Dark Sun material to 3.5e. (That's not a correction—magazines were published by Paizo at the time. Just sayin' is all. If I remember correctly, it made the folks at Athas.org a little miffed.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 19 '18 at 20:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Interesting, I’ll have to look into that. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 19 '18 at 21:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ Dragondex says where the Dragon articles are, but there's no corresponding Dungeondex (much to my sorrow), though I think it's Dungeon #110 and #111. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 19 '18 at 21:05
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Simply use the D&D 3.5 spell points system from Unearthed Arcana.

The D&D 3.5 spell points system will be easier to adapt than the 5e spell points system, since Pathfinder was based heavily on D&D 3.5.

The spells-per-day of PF and 3.5 are the same, as are most other basic game mechanics that interact with these, so you can use the 3.5 spell points system directly in Pathfinder without worrying about balance.

It even has a rule for casting when out of points:

A second optional variant would allow a spellcaster to exceed his normal pool of spell points, but at great personal risk. Doing so successfully requires a Concentration check (DC 20 + spell level). Each time a character casts a spell for which he does not have sufficient spell points and subsequently fails the Concentration check, he takes both lethal and nonlethal damage equal to the level of the spell cast. A desperate (or unwary) spellcaster can literally cast himself into unconsciousness in this manner.

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