Recharge Sphere Magic (Beta)

Important Wiki Note: These are not official rules. Drop Dead Studios (Spheres of Power's creator) did not write these and does not endorse them. Please do not ask them for clarification if you have questions. Use your own best judgment instead. These rules are being unofficially tested as an adaption of the Recharge Magic rules found in Unearthed Arcana, and using them could have highly unpredictable effects on Spheres' otherwise excellent game balance. In addition, the rules here may change at any time as they are tested further. Please do not use these rules in your game unless you fully understand the potential consequences of doing so. Notably, the Recharge Sphere Magic rules somewhat favor generalists, and may impose added difficulty on those who specialize in one or two spheres.

That said, we welcome comments, suggestion, and criticism on these rules, and you may send them to this wiki's admin.


Recharge Sphere Magic Rules (Beta)

Recharge Sphere Magic is a variant rule system for Spheres of Power which modifies the character's ability to use magic talents and spell points. Any action that would normally require the use of a spell point instead triggers a Cooldown for that Sphere. During a Cooldown, only the powers from that Sphere that don't require spending a spell point can be used - any powers that require spending one or more spell points are unavailable.

Using a Sphere's base power never incurs (or is restricted by) a cooldown unless you'd normally have to spend a spell point (like the Create power of the Creation sphere or using a stronger Destructive Blast from the Destruction sphere). Any restrictions a Sphere already has, such as not being able to use a power on a target more than once a day, remain in force.

Many Sphere powers provide new versions of a base ability. When these cost a spell point, they trigger a Cooldown even if the basic ability does not. Similarly, many Sphere abilities can be maintained without triggering a Cooldown by concentrating, but would trigger a Cooldown if the caster wanted to spend a spell point to maintain them without concentrating. If a Sphere effect costs one or more spell points and uses multiple spheres (such as many Dual Sphere feats), it triggers a cooldown in all of the Spheres whose effects are used. Spellcrafted talents only trigger a cooldown in their base sphere. (GM discretion should be used when allowing Spellcrafted talents with the Recharge Sphere Magic system. There are times when it is appropriate to have both spheres enter cooldown. Similarly, effects with specific cooldowns should always trigger that cooldown when used, regardless of other factors.)

If the use of a spell would normally cost more than one spell point (such as from using metamagic), the recharge time is multiplied by the number of spell points that would have been spent. For example, if a Destructive Blast costing two spell points was cast at the highest caster level, it would incur a cooldown of 2d4+2 rounds on the Destruction Sphere. You cannot spend more than 3 + 1/4 your MSB (minimum 0) in spell points on any one casting. With the GM's permission, Spellcrafted talents may exceed this maximum (though any Spellcrafted talent should not have more than one Metamagic effect applied if the total cost would exceed your spending limit).

Some abilities are very powerful, especially if they can be repeatedly used in quick succession. These abilities have specific recharge times. When used, these abilities trigger a cooldown for themselves, but not for the rest of their Sphere. For example, the Creation sphere's Forge ability has a specific recharge of 6 hours, and other Creation abilities could be used while that power is recharging.

As in the base system, it is possible to "undercast" a spell by not using it at the maximum level. Under the Recharge Sphere Magic rules, doing this will reduce the cooldown time once certain milestones are reached. This is meant to encourage characters to avoid casting at their maximum caster level all the time - or if they do, to force them to do different things and so avoid "spamming" any ability that's particularly effective. A spell cannot be undercast below Caster Level 1, nor below the minimum caster level needed to learn the talent. If there is a caster level requirement on a normally passive benefit (such as multiple selections of the Destruction sphere's Greater Blast talent), a spell that's been undercast cannot obtain any benefits beyond what the adjusted Caster Level would allow. For example, at Caster Level 4, a character could only benefit from Greater Blast once even if they've selected it two or more times. The same rule applies to feats and anything else that requires a minimum caster level in order to function - if it's undercast below their requirements, additional effects will not apply for that casting.

If Advanced talents are permitted, their use adds an additional multiplier to the cooldown (this is in addition to any spell points normally required).

Caster Level General Recharge Time (Per Spell Point Spent)
Highest Possible 1d4+1 rounds
Highest minus 2 1d4+1 rounds
Highest minus 4 1d4 rounds
Highest minus 6 1d4 rounds
Highest minus 8 1d3 rounds
Highest minus 10 1d3 rounds
Highest minus 12 1 round
Highest minus 14 1 round
Highest minus 16 0 rounds (No Cooldown)

Suggestion: If a character specializes in a small number of Spheres (typically three or less, subject to GM discretion based on the specifics of the character), consider counting all general recharge times starting at CL-4 (i.e. 1d4 rounds). This helps to make up for their lack of variety by allowing them to use their focus spheres more frequently. They'll probably use Drawbacks to reduce this to 1d3 rounds - this is intentional. Characters should not be allowed to reduce casting times below effective CL-8 rounds through effective caster level reductions regardless of the circumstances (generally drawbacks or extra spell points).

Rituals: Rituals do not normally incur a general recharge time because of the length of time it takes to cast them. However, any ritual that imitates a spell with a specific recharge time (such as the Floating Disk ritual) has that cooldown. If you spend spell points on a ritual, such as through the Spell Dabbler feat, you incur a general recharge per spell point spent in that ritual's associated sphere. You cannot start a ritual if the sphere it's associated with is on cooldown.

Special: Some characters (such as Mageknights) have the option to spend spell points on class abilities instead of spells. These characters treat class abilities as a separate sphere with a 1d3 round cooldown on spell points that can be spent on their class powers. They may spend spell points from their normal quarter-size pool to spend additional spell points on their class abilities in a round.


Suggested Recharge Times

Wiki Note: Talents not listed here are assumed to either not apply (such as permanent passive abilities) or be straightforward (usually either not triggering a cooldown because a spell point isn't spent, or having an obvious cost/cooldown under these rules and not needing any specific cooldown).


Additional Rules

  • Some Sphere powers are not meaningfully affected by Caster Level. For this system, such powers are always assumed to be cast at the highest Caster Level (and therefore cannot benefit from undercasting).
  • The Life sphere's Fount of Life can only store healing equal to twice its maximum capacity each day. (This does not change its maximum capacity, only how much you can use it per day.) Because refilling the Fount of Life is a trivial task in the recharge rules, instead of casting you may spend one minute focusing to charge it with any number of points (up to its maximum capacity) without triggering a general cooldown in the Life sphere. You must be able to cast to do this.
  • When casting spells with Metamagic, each level increase counts as one spell point for determining the recharge time. (For spells with a specific recharge time, that recharge is doubled for each metamagic used.) In addition, each metamagic (except Quicken Spell) applied still incurs a one-step increase in casting time, per normal Metamagic rules for Spheres of Power.
  • Many spherecasters take advantage of the Drawback system. This normally allows them to acquire extra spell points, but in the Recharge Magic system, characters cannot raise their number of spell points. Instead, for each drawback a character takes (or any time a character would normally gain bonus spell points, such as through the Extra Spell Points feat, but not from leveling or raising their casting ability modifier), they may select two different Spheres and treat their Caster Level as two lower for determining the length of the recharge. This can reduce the recharge time for that Sphere. As in the base system, characters may select Boons in place of the benefit they would normally receive for taking Drawbacks.
    • Any Drawback that simply doesn't make sense or doesn't work with the Recharge Sphere Magic rules is unavailable. Some slight adjustments can be made to get drawbacks to work within the system; the GM is the final decider of whether or not an adjustment is appropriate.
    • Sphere-specific Drawbacks, which grant extra talents, are unaffected.
    • You may take multiple drawbacks to repeatedly reduce the casting time of specific spheres. For example, if you take Somatic Casting and Verbal Casting, you could apply two reductions each to Destruction and Life, making their effective CL for recharge time -4 and turning the cooldown from 1d4+1 rounds to 1d4 rounds.
    • Characters that gain more than 2 bonus spell points from class or racial features, such as the Dual-Blooded Sorcerer archetype or the Magical Tails kitsune alternate racial trait, instead gain two cooldowns as normal for having extra spell points, then two additional cooldowns for every 6 spell points they would have gained from that feature. (For example, the Dual-Blooded Sorcerer would get cooldown reductions at 1st and 12th levels.)
    • In general, a player character should not be allowed to go below a 1d3 round recharge time (effectively CL -8) through effective caster level reductions. This is ultimately up to GM discretion, but helps to prevent workarounds that would let characters easily circumvent the recharge system. Note that at this point, a talent would have to be undercast by 8 caster levels to negate its cooldown, which is so weakened that not triggering a cooldown is acceptable. As a reminder, spells not affected by caster level are always assumed to be cast at the highest caster level.
  • It is impractical to try and predict every combination of abilities, especially because options like Dual Feats and Spellcrafting allow for almost limitless combinations. In general, however, you should keep the following in mind:
    • Combat spells (such as the Destruction sphere, or parts of the Protection sphere) and short-duration powers (those that can last 1 round per-level by spending a spell point) typically follow the general recharge time table.
    • Non-Combat spells with longer durations tend to have specific recharge times, rather than following the table. The longer it normally lasts, the longer the specific recharge should be. A specific recharge does not affect the Sphere as a whole, but does restrict repeated castings of that particular power. Compare to the list of spells at http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/rechargeMagic.htm and see what cooldown best matches the Sphere in question. Players are encouraged to do this themselves and explain their reasoning to the GM, who can either accept those submissions or decide on a different cooldown. As always, the GM's decision on this is final.
    • Divination powers that can gather information (such as the Divine Information spell from the Divination school) should have a specific recharge time of around 6 hours. This helps to prevent their abuse by curious characters.
    • Powerful illusions and any "trap" type spells tend to have specific recharge times of 12 hours to 1 day. The same applies for any major creations.
  • Finally, characters in this system retain a pool of energy equal to one-quarter the number of spell points they would normally have (rounded down, with a minimum of 2). These points can be spent any time a spell point cost would normally trigger a general cooldown, removing the cooldown that would normally have been incurred. For example, if a spell would normally cost two spell points and trigger the cooldown twice, a character could pay two points from their pool to totally remove the cooldown, or pay one point to halve the cooldown. The cooldown triggered by using an Advanced Talent is not based on spell point costs and cannot be avoided by spending a point from the pool. This pool of energy refills once per day after eight hours of rest (or, if you have abilities that circumvent the need to rest, at a specific time each day decided by the GM).
    • Choices that grant bonus spell points, such as general drawbacks or some feats, count for this purpose if they're used to reduce the effective cooldown of a sphere. (In other words, you do not count the bonus spell points if you trade drawbacks for boons.)
    • Abilities that allow you to regain spell points (temporary or permanent points) do not function as normal. Instead, you must regain four spell points worth through any effect (not necessarily from the same ability or the same target) in order to gain or regain one point in your reduced pool. Points towards a gained or regained spell point are known as charges. Charges do not expire - for example, if you gain three charges towards a recharged spell point one day, you could wait a week, a month, or even a century before getting the last charge, even if the spell point itself is temporary and only lasts a short time once gained. You gain or regain a spell point immediately upon getting four charges, at which point the count resets. Any overflow is applied to the new count, repeated as necessary.
    • Features that grant you a separate spell pool (such as the Before Creation Comes Destruction feat) grant a pool of half the size they normally would. If it recharges daily, that happens at the same time your smaller normal pool recharges. If it has a special recharging method - such as meeting specific criteria - you instead regain points through charges (see previous paragraph).
    • Anything that takes effect when you regain your daily spell points instead takes effect when you regain points in this limited pool.

Gameplay Considerations

In general, the Recharge Sphere Magic system allows for characters to make regular use of their most powerful spells (and, in some cases, class abilities), but makes it hard to "spam" these abilities over and over. This is the intentional result of the system. Cooldowns are long enough that in most cases, characters will be able to use stronger abilities from a given sphere more than two or three times in one fight - and likely just once if they do anything particularly powerful, such as a boosted destructive blast targeting an area. Realistically, a cooldown averages 2 to 2.5 rounds per spell point spent - if the average combat is four or five rounds, you can see how triggering long cooldowns quickly limits further use of a particular power.

However, this system does interrupt builds that focus on spending a lot of spell points. For example, if a Mageknight is using the Penetrating Blow Mystic Combat to resolve strikes as touch attacks against a particularly well-armored foe, the cooldown caused by this system could significantly lower their damage per round and drag out the fight. The extra spell points that characters can spend exist to mitigate this problem for a few rounds per day, which is enough for most games.

Similarly, this system works best when used for long adventuring days, especially those with more than four encounters per day, and that's the intended way to play with these rules. Short adventuring days may result in these rules being more of a limit than a help to players.

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