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Using the spell point variant, sorcerors lose a lot of their strength in comparison to wizards (and druids and clerics, but let's stick to arcane for now). They are left with 249 points at 20th level which is only a seven percent increase over the wizard's 232. With this variant, not only do they know fewer spells than the wizard and are stuck with their spell choices, but the spell point variant even lessens the gap between the two classes in terms of spells cast per day.

While the sorceror does get an extra die of damage for spending the same amount on a damage dealing spell as a wizard, it seems really half-baked to call such a real trade-off for such a difference in the two classes spell-pool size.

If one were to convert every spell-per-day (without the spell point vaiant) into spell points for both wizards and sorcerors at twentieth level, wizards would have 324 (nearly forty percent more) and specialists would have 405 (nearly seventy-five percent more).

This compares to sorcerors 486 which is near double what they get in spell points.

Assuming the wizard is a generalist to capitalize on versatility, the sorceror gets one more first and second level spell but one less sixth through ninth level spell knowing nine cantrips and having proficiency with all simple weapons seems a poor tradeoff.

How have others tipped this, or is this considered fair enough? I favor my sorcerors heavily and while I agree with what the SRD says here:

In effect, spell points make all classes work more like the sorcerer...

I don't agree with what it says here:

In effect, spell points...make the sorcerer (or bard) work even more like the sorcerer.

Bridging the gap makes them obsolete by comparison. How can this be fixed?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Please note that nowhere in my question do I address the "Vitalizing" variant. I feel it's broken in favor of clerics as it stands and I don't tend to use it. \$\endgroup\$ – LitheOhm Dec 24 '12 at 4:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Did you take into account when calculating this that the normal rules have you casting at your fullest caster level allowed by the spell? This might change this significantly. This might fall short, though, when you consider the difference between a damage-dealing spell and a static cost spell. \$\endgroup\$ – PixelArtDragon Feb 6 '13 at 17:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Garan yeah. Sorcerors get to benefit from one more caster level per their spell points than wizards. Not a big enough difference to justify the spells/day difference, though \$\endgroup\$ – LitheOhm Feb 6 '13 at 19:56
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First, you ask

is this considered fair enough?

My answer: No, it isn't. Sorcerers are behind Wizards on the power curve as it is, this variant rule as it is presented in Unearthed Arcana increases the difference.

Then, you ask

How can this be fixed?

My answer: Not easily. Any attempt (I can think of) to make the Wizard more point-based is going to increase their spontaneity, which is going to step on the Sorcerer's toes. The "Sorcerers are spontaneous" and "Wizards are prepared" sentiments just don't go well with "everyone casts from spell points" (which implies "everyone is spontaneous") at all.

My personal attempts to make a working spell point system ended up as a full-on port of the Psionic system, @KRyan has linked the project already.

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Sorcerers vs. Wizards without Spell Points

The thing with Sorcerers is, their Spells Known table looks a lot like the Wizard’s Spells per Day table, level-by-level. That means that for all the Wizard has to prepare his day in advance, the Sorcerer has to plan his life in advance. The Sorcerer does not have a versatility bonus. The Wizard is massively more flexible and versatile. If he doesn’t know what he’s getting into, he prepares the same spells a Sorcerer would know. If he does know, however, he gets the chance to pick the perfect spells... and then also some of the more general purpose spells just in case.

Spell preparation is just better than spontaneous, unless the spontaneous caster gets to know quite a few more spells than any in 3.5 do.

More spells per day are nice, but specializing is easy and spells per day are cheap by mid levels. As a result, Sorcerers are kind of behind by definition. Fixing that means more spells known, or focusing on (/adding more) Sorcerer-only spells. Oh, and not having them lose a level at 3rd for no apparent reason.

Spell Points

Now the one tiny disadvantage of preparation, having to guess how many of each spell you’ll need (which is usually not hard because you have room for error in spells per day), you prepare which spells you’ll use, effectively spontaneously.

This is obviously not good. In fact, it is, I would argue, broken. Prepared casters are already the most powerful classes in the game, and this makes them a lot more so.

And, despite that, it’s a big – though not as big – bonus to the Sorcerer, who was in the tier of second-most powerful classes.

So this only widens 3.5’s natural power disparities.

Alternative

I suggest that if you like Spell Points, just use Psioinics, which are far better designed, and use Points by default. If you prefer the flavor of spellcasting to manifesting, I strongly recommend @Ernir’s excellent translation.

In his own words:

The primary difference between this project and every other spell point variant I have seen is simple - I rewrote the spells so that they take the system into account. No other spell point system I have seen has done this.

In addition, this isn’t really a new spell point system. This is the well known and researched psionic system, which we all know works. I just added a paint job and a new bell or two.

Psionics doesn’t have prepared casters (they work very poorly with point systems), so the power difference between Psions and Wilders or Ernir’s Wizards and Sorcerers is smaller.

That said, Wilders are still a bit weaker than Psions: the Psion specialist lists are good, the Psion knows more Powers, and Wild Surge is usually too dangerous to use (Overchannel is better).

Good fixes for the Wilder come from the Mind’s Eye web supplement, which has the Educated Wilder variant to help with learning more Powers, or Dreamscarred Press’s excellent Psionics supplements including several better Wilder variants.

And of course, Ernir’s Sorcerer is not just a straight port of the Wilder: it gets a lot more Spell Points than the Wizard, has almost double the Spells Known as the Wilder’s Powers Known, has limited access to all of the specialist lists, and Wild Magic is much safer than Wild Surge. This makes the Sorcerer a real option compared to the Wizard, in a fundamentally deeper way than any simple or straightforward attempt (such as Unearthed Arcana’s) could.

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I have not played with this variant before, but I still see two advantages that sorcerors have over wizards with this variant rule (besides the 7% more spell points).

  1. Wizards must still prepare their spells according to their allotted spell slots per day. Though this variant rule allows wizards to ignore preparing a particular spell in more than one spell slot, wizards (and clerics and druids) can only cast spells using their spell points from their prepared list of spells for the day. Sorcerors and bards still do not need to prepare spells, so they have full access to cast any spell they know at any time.
  2. This variant removes the metamagic application penalty for sorcerors and bards. Without the variant, a spontaneous caster applying a metamagic feat increases a spell with a 1 action casting time to a full-round action, and a spell with a longer duration takes an extra full-round action to cast. The variant rule levels the playing field between spontaneous casters and prepared casters, which is a huge boon to spontaneous casters.

If you feel that this still does not balance sorcerors enough, the system seems pretty easy to weight by granting additional spell points to sorcerors.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the versatility effect. I've had a player say it was pointless to be a wizard because you could rarely really know what you're getting into. \$\endgroup\$ – CatLord Dec 24 '12 at 15:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @CatLord: a common, but utterly fallacious sentiment. The Wizard has to prepare for the day. The Sorcerer has to prepare for his entire life. The numbers (Wizard /day vs Sorcerer known) are quite similar. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 24 '12 at 19:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ So, 3 downvotes and counting, with no comments saying why. I thought I answered the question of "is this fair enough?", with a potential suggestion on how to tilt the current system to favor sorcerors more. And the answer is a straight paraphrase of the rules, so I fail to see any misinformation given here. \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Hamsmith Dec 27 '12 at 0:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MattHamsmith: I laid out why I downvoted in my own answer: I think you are wrong. The Sorcerer is pretty much ruined by this variant. It was quite a bit weaker than the Wizard to begin with, and now the Wizard gets the best parts of its own schtick. Avoiding the increased casting time on metamagic is far from sufficient to remedy this, since a Sorcerer can get that for a feat (Rapid Metamagic, Complete Mage) or by trading away his Familiar (Metamagic Specialist, Player's Handbook II). \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 6 '13 at 15:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Matt Hamsmith, I downvoted because I believe the answer fails to address the true issue: the one that this variant fundamentally shafts spontaneous casters. Further, I believe that your proposed solution of offering the spontaneous casters more spell points as a means of compensation misses the point. \$\endgroup\$ – Ernir Jan 6 '13 at 16:29
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I absolutely agree that Sorcerers (and other spontaneous spellcasters) get shafted by spell points, when compared to prepared spellcasters. There are a couple ways that I would go about fixing this:

  1. Increase the number of spell points spontaneous casters get. When you converted the spells that 20th level sorcerers and wizards got to spell points, sorcerers had 150% of the number of spell points that a wizard gets. One option is to apply that ratio to the spell point system. Since a wizard gets 232 points, the sorcerer should get 348. This keeps in line with the feel of the sorcerer; it has less versatility, but more power than the wizard. Alternately, you could give the sorcerer the same number of spell points as they would get from all of their spells normally: 486. This is quite a bit of extra power, but it keeps in line with the spirit of the rules; sorcerers would be even more spontaneous. You may also want to do the same for other spontaneous spellcasting classes, but I don't know the exact numbers you would want to use there.

  2. Allow sorcerers to switch out spells more often. If sorcerers can switch spells more often than one spell per two levels, it removes some of the discrepancy between sorcerers and wizards. Perhaps allowing sorcerers to swap out one of their spells once per week, or even once per day, would make sorcerers a little more in line with the wizard's power. This works especially well if the sorcerer doesn't need reference materials to learn a spell like the wizard does.

  3. Give sorcerers other advantages. You could give sorcerers the 1 feat per five levels that wizards get, or something akin to Wild Surge, or something like a cleric domain. Anything that allows sorcerers a bit more versatility, or a bit more power, would even out the discrepancy between sorcerers and wizards.

  4. Disallow sorcerers as a class entirely. By far the easiest and least prone to abuse solution is to disallow sorcerers as a class. You can of course still allow people to flavor their wizards as sorcerers, and maybe even let people pick Charisma as their primary casting stat as a wizard, but don't allow the class itself to be taken. I actually like this solution, because it doesn't make you deal with the balance issues that other solutions bring up.

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I have playtested it, and closest to balance was:

For spontaneus casters, use spell points as they are. For casters that prepare, change the system as follows:

Casters who prepare their spells still have to prepare them. During preparation, they spend spell points to create prepared spell slots as they see fit. They cannot prepare more different spells of any given spell level that they could in traditional system (for example, Wizard 10 can't prepare more than 3 different spells of 5th level, but can prepare 2 different spells and 2 copies of 3rd). Spellcaster can left some points unused. To prepare spells in them later, he needs as much time as it would if he left some of his slots open. The same happens if spell points are later restored - these points are unused and require preparation.

If preparing spellcaster wants to spend spell points on things other than casting spells, he can abandon a previously prepared spell and use points he spent on it. Any points left, however, are lost.

This way both preparing and spontaneous casters would gain the ability to concentrate or most powerful spells, or to simply spam low level ones, but preparing casters would have to prepare at the beginning of the day.

There were still some issues with that, but overall it left both Sorcerer and Wizard as viable choices.


Granted, this gives immensely more options for Wizards and Clerics at the beginning of their day. From my experience, they always need more time than I'd like to choose spells for their day and point system did not help. One player pulled it quite successfully, using two things:

  • Pre-set base lists of spells to prepare for most common situations, like mob fight, boss fight, utility
  • Leaving a significant portion of points not allotted, and using rules for mid-adventure preparation

Second solution was actually good for the story, required teamwork, looking for quiet spots, adequate light etc, and gave Sorcerer opportunity to mock.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Did anyone actually play a wizard under those rules? And did they avoid analysis paralysis trying to figure out how to best allocate their points? Because that is an NP-complete problem. In my experience, players have found that immensely frustrating and time-consuming. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 20 '18 at 13:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Yes, one player did. Agreed, spell selection was a problem and he ended up having like 3 base sets for different occasions, like "utility", "mob" and "big bosses" sets. He was an experienced player, and that may have helped a bit - "frustrating and time-consuming" is something I would use to describe traditional clerics and wizards selecting their spells, too, and for him it wasn't much worse using points. \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Feb 20 '18 at 13:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan added that to answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Feb 20 '18 at 14:00
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Well, the easiest and obvious way would be to make wizards (and other prepared casters like clerics and druids) prepare spells normally, alloting exactly how they are going to spend the spell points for the day, from the start. (Go back to making them prepare spells multiple times if they want to use them multiple times.)

They still benefit from dissolving the spellslots into a more flexible pool, without becoming spontaneous casters.

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What if you gave a Sorcerer a special ability for it Like this.

Arcane Blood (Su): Sorcerers gain magic from their bloodline, making them able to gain magic in the middle of battle.

Benefit: Generate a number of spell points per round equal to your Sorcerer level.

How's that?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I am not deleting this because it's right across the line of actually being an answer to the question, but it's a terrible answer. You are making up a new mechanic with no playtest or experience behind it and just tossing it out there. That's not what we expect of good quality answers on the site. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Apr 11 '15 at 1:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry. I was just trying to help. \$\endgroup\$ – Cataru Moore Apr 11 '15 at 2:44

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