Nuanced Spell Point Costs (5e Variant Rule)

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Nuanced Spell Point Costs[edit]

Disclaimer: This rule set modifies the Spell Points variant rule found on DMG p. 288. You may wish to rule that Warlocks use spell slots even with this ruleset.

So, you're using spell points. Spell points are great and simple as written and allow for more flexibility than spell slots. However, their flexibility is inhibited by the strict nature of level 0 to 9 spells and the way they are handled. This rule seeks to add nuance to spell costs. Instead of certain spell levels costing a flat number of spell points, that number can vary. In this rule, a spell's level only determines at which character level you can start casting it.

This spell largely applies to damaging spells, but some other exceptions may be noted. In general, a damaging or healing spell should cost 1 spell point for each die of damage or healing rolled and/or for every 10 flat damage dealt or healing granted. If a spell does damage in addition to a weapon attack, assume an additional 2 damage dice for the weapon attack. However, a spell can never cost fewer spell points than its spell level and can never cost more spell points than twice its spell level + 2. For spell's with attack rolls, assume the critical damage dice. Adding your spellcasting ability modifier counts as an additional die of damage but is not included again for spells that can critically hit.

For example, a 1st-level spell could cost as few as 1 spell point or as many as 4 spell points, whereas a 9th-level spell could cost as few as 9 spell points or as many as 20 spell points. Spells that don't deal damage or aren't otherwise mentioned here use the normal spell point costs.

Example Damage Spells[edit]

Below is a list of two spells per level that break the normal spell point costs:

  • 1st-Level: Earth Tremor This spell would cost 1 spell point because it deals 1d6 damage.
  • 1st-Level: Inflict Wounds This spell would cost 4 spell points because it deals 3d10 damage (6d10 on a critical hit).
  • 2nd-Level: Cloud of Daggers This spell would cost 4 spell points because it deals 4d4 damage.
  • 2nd-Level: Flaming Sphere This spell would cost 2 spell points because it deals 2d6 damage.
  • 3rd-Level: Conjure Barrage This spell would cost 3 spell points because it deals 3d8 damage.
  • 3rd-Level: Fireball This spell would cost 8 spell points because it deals 8d6 damage.
  • 4th-Level: Blight This spell would cost 8 spell points because it deals 8d8 damage.
  • 4th-Level: Phantasmal Killer This spell would cost 4 spell points because it deals 4d10 damage.
  • 5th-Level: Cloudkill This spell would cost 5 spell points because it deals 5d8 damage.
  • 5th-Level: Conjure Volley This spell would cost 8 spell points because it deals 8d8 damage.
  • 6th-Level: Disintegrate This spell would cost 14 spell points because it deals 10d6+40 damage.
  • 6th-Level: Otiluke's Freezing Sphere This spell would cost 10 spell points because it deals 10d6 damage.
  • 7th-Level: Fire Storm This spell would cost 7 spell points because it deals 7d10 damage.
  • 7th-Level: Mordenkainen's Sword This spell would cost 7 spell points because it deals 3d10 damage (6d10 on a critical hit).
  • 8th-Level: Abi-Dalzim's Horrid Wilting This spell would cost 12 spell points because it deals 12d8 damage.
  • 8th-Level: Incendiary Cloud This spell would cost 10 spell points because it deals 10d6 damage.
  • 9th-Level: Blade of Disaster This spell would cost 12 spell points because it deals 4d12 damage (12d12 on a critical hit).
  • 9th-Level: Meteor Swarm This spell would cost 20 spell points because it deals 20d6 bludgeoning damage and 20d6 fire damage.

All smite spells and other spells such as divine favor and ensnaring strike incorporate weapon attacks, so don't forget to assume 2 additional damage dice when calculating the spell points needed to cast them.

Non-Conforming Spells[edit]

The list below notes any notable changes to spells that don't necessarily follow the specifications mentioned above:

Spell Level Spells (Spell Point Cost)
1st Absorb Elements (2), Bane (3), Bless (3), Hex (3), Hunter's Mark (3), Ice Knife (4), Magic Missile (3), Zephyr Strike (3)
2nd Cordon of Arrows (4), Healing Spirit (3), Heat Metal (3), Magic Weapon (4), Phantasmal Force (3), Prayer of Healing (2), Rope Trick (6), Scorching Ray (3), Skywrite (2)
3rd Aura of Vitality (4), Call Lightning (4), Conjure Animals (8), Crusader's Mantle (5), Elemental Weapon (4), Erupting Earth (5), Flame Arrows (3), Hunger of Hadar (6), Leomund's Tiny Hut (6), Lightning Arrow (8), Mass Healing Word (6), Melf's Minute Meteors (6), Plant Growth (6), Spirit Guardians (6), Spirit Shroud (5), Summon Lesser Demons (8), Thunder Step (5), Vampiric Touch (5), Wind Wall (5)
4th Conjure Woodland Beings (8), Control Water (6), Elemental Bane (6), Fire Shield (4), Giant Insect (4), Guardian of Faith (6), Guardian of Nature (6), Mordenkainen's Faithful Hound (10), Shadow of Moil (6), Sickening Radiance (6), Stoneskin (4), Storm Sphere (10), Summon Greater Demon (10), Vitriolic Sphere (10), Wall of Fire (6)
5th Animate Objects (10), Bigby's Hand (8), Contact Other Plane (7), Dream (7), Enervation (5), Geas (10), Holy Weapon (8), Immolation (8), Mass Cure Wounds (8), Negative Energy Flood (7), Synaptic Static (9), Transmute Rock (7), Wall of Light (7), Wrath of Nature (7)
6th Bones of the Earth (9), Chain Lightning (13), Druid Grove (12), Forbiddance (13), Gravity Fissure (8), Guards and Wards (12), Heal (9), Investiture of Flame (9), Investiture of Ice (9), Investiture of Wind (9), Mental Prison (10), Soul Cage (9), Sunbeam (8), Tenser's Transformation (9), Wall of Ice (10), Wall of Thorns (9), Word of Recall (6)
7th Conjure Celestial (8), Create Magen (7), Delayed Blast Fireball (13), Regenerate (16), Resurrection (14), Temple of the Gods (14), Whirlwind (13)
8th Dark Star (11), Maddening Darkness (11), Mighty Fortress (18), Power Word Stun (15)
9th Foresight (11), Mass Heal (20), Mass Polymorph (15), Power Word Kill (20), Prismatic Wall (17), Ravenous Void (13), Storm of Vengeance (12), True Resurrection (16), Weird (9), Wish (20)

Upcasting[edit]

When upcasting a spell, you expend a certain number of additional spell points based on which higher level you cast the spell at. The values listed below are cumulative:

Spell Level Additional Spell Points
2nd +1
3rd +2
4th +1
5th +1
6th +2
7th +1
8th +1
9th +2

For example, casting Invisibility at 9th level would cost 13 spell points, and casting Fireball at 9th level would cost 16 spell points.

Optional Rule: Costly Cantrips[edit]

Cantrips usually shouldn't cost any spell points. However, for cantrips that scale with level, the GM can choose to make the scaling benefits cost extra spell points. For cantrips that deal additional damage at 5th, 11th, and 17th levels, you can instead determine that the cantrip's potential only increases at those levels. You can spend 1 spell point for each additional die of damage, up to your current maximum (1 at 5th, 2 at 11th, and 3 at 17th). If you use this optional ruling, Wizards should also choose a cantrip at 18th level with Spell Mastery and at 20th level with Signature Spells. The chosen cantrips never require spell points to deal additional damage.

Cantrips that don't deal damage or that don't scale should never require spell points to be cast.


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