The RPG I'm currently developing is a d20 model, skill driven rules system. The mechanics of spellcasting center around spell effects and point cost for stamina (a universal energy pool for all characters).

The only point-buy system I've had experience with is psionics in 3.5. My work with psionics was brief, but I found that system challenging to manage when combined with standard spellcasting.

I'm looking for other point-based spellcasting systems that are out there (as opposed to Vancian casting). I especially appreciate if you can identify any major balance issues in those systems.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ This seems (on the surface) a huge question. Could you maybe define your requirements a bit more tightly? \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    May 7, 2012 at 17:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hey man. You may not know this, but there are literally hundreds of point based spellcasting systems in the thousands of extant RPGs. So asking for them and balance issues with them is a "write a book" kind of question. Probably needs to be scoped down somehow. Also, meta question: meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/1475/… \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    May 8, 2012 at 0:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow! I didn't know that, so I'm edified already. Sorry for the misunderstanding. I'll do some research on my own. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vestrik
    May 8, 2012 at 6:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ If your research turns up a more pointed question we will be happy to hear it! \$\endgroup\$ May 8, 2012 at 18:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ The spell creation systems of Ars Magica various editions are in effect a point-buy system for magic, they're quite interesting. \$\endgroup\$
    – Peteris
    Feb 16, 2014 at 10:16

1 Answer 1


Well, the SRD has spell points, which are basically just porting the 3.5 psi rules back to normal casters. Elements of Magic is a fairly well-known third-party point-buy casting system for d20, but it's also a bit too complex for me. It permits making up spells on the fly during combat, and has a huge number of potential effects that it can generate. True Sorcery's similar; it effectively runs on a point system (either via subdual damage or a 'casting buffer' of mana points), and allows for spell creation on the fly, but is likewise pretty complex. I find it math-heavier than EoM, but it's skill-based and there are fewer spell seeds so it's easier for me to manage. The Iron Heroes spellcaster class was point-based, but would be hard to backport to normal 3.5. I've also played with a few fanbrew point-casting systems over the years, but there were all quite broken and I'm unable to locate them.

As far as comparisons go between d20 spellpoint rules go, honestly 3.5 Psi / spell-points is the simplest I've played with, and probably the most balanced as well. If you're looking at a stamina-based model, though, I recommend considering True Sorcery; it appears to be similar to what you're seeking. It can also be made simpler in play by creating a list of spells with DCs beforehand, rather than permitting on-the-fly creation. d20 Warheart's magic, while not point-based, is also skill based (but would require significant backporting).

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is great! Thank you, lorimer. I will have to take a look at some of these. I am looking at incorporating on-the-fly creation and, frankly, that is why it's so difficult to design. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vestrik
    May 7, 2012 at 22:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ooh, yeah, that's rather ambitious. Glad to help and best of luck! \$\endgroup\$
    – lorimer
    May 8, 2012 at 2:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would contend that it isn't hard to create an on-the-fly system. It's hard to balance it, usually. Ars Magica has an amazing off the cuff spellcasting system. It just gets really broken when you start mixing and matching modifiers (at least in the 3rd Ed stuff I am most familiar with). It might help you with some inspiration, though. Good luck with your endeavor... I think it might be outside the scope of possible, however. More power if you make it work, though :D \$\endgroup\$
    – Rhylok
    May 8, 2012 at 6:04

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