How Does the Variant: Spell Points System From the DMG Affect Game Balance?

On pages 288-289 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG), The Variant: Spell Points rule states that: each spell has a point cost based on its level. The Spell Point Cost table outlines the cost in spell points of slots from the 1st level to the 9th level. Cantrips do not require the slots and therefore do not require spell points. 

So, if a player exceeds the number of spell points in creating a spell slot of a given level and uses that slot to cast a spell, and regains all the spell points after finishing a long rest. Will this system lead to unbalancing issues compared to traditional spell slots in D&D 5e?

How Does the Variant: Spell Points System From the DMG Affect Game Balance in D&D 5e?

From a mechanical standpoint, up until level 19, spell points are power positive in the D&D game. It means they are strictly better than spell slots because any player can use them to exactly replicate the spell slots of a non-variant caster at any level, with added flexibility. 

Upon reaching levels 19 and 20, the only noteworthy restriction is that while a standard caster would have two 6th or 7th-level spell slots each day, the spell point caster can still create one spell per day. 

From the balance standpoint, spell points tread on the toes of a Sorcerer’s flexible Spellcasting feature, which allow Sorcerers to trade down or trade up their spell slots. 

Moreover, the spell point variant is better than the Sorcerer feature, which means a Sorcerer can convert one first-level and two second-level slots into 5 points to use as a third-level spell, but the spell point variant has 5 points by forgoing only one first and one-second level slot. 

In short, until level 19, the variation is theoretically imbalanced since you gain something (flexibility) for free. Additionally, Sorcerers may feel like you are giving out one of their class features to everyone (because you are). 

The players who have used the variant: spell points system in a somewhat unique way believe that it does not create an imbalance because only sorcerers use it, and it combines with their sorcery points. So, they do not convert between slots and points but use a single pool. 

It makes them far more flexible in their casting. It allows the Sorcerers to act with impunity, casting their powerful spells more often and worrying less about upcasting while simultaneously getting much more use out of their metamagic. 

So, according to some players, the variant: spell points system makes the spellcasters more powerful by nature of greater flexibility and more access to upcasting. Still, the number of resources they have to expend should remain roughly the same. Yet, the Sorcerer still casts a blooming blade at the end of the day once his points run out. 

Another confusion some players may have is can a level 5 Druid or a PC (Player Character), looking at the spell points variant rule in the 5th edition DMG (page 288), uses it for their character. Can it cause an unbalance in D&D 5e game?

Can I Let a Single PC Use the Spell Points Variant Rule Without Imbalance?

Some players believe that a single PC or a level 5 Druid can use the Spell Points variant rule without causing imbalance because Spell Points are balanced. 

At level 5, the Druid character can create up to 13 1st-level spell slots, five 3rd-level spell slots, or some combination between those extremes. If you compare this to a druid of the same level, who may cast nine spells, only two may be as high as 3rd-level. 

In this instance, the druid with spell points will have the advantage, though when you break down the spell slots of a regular druid into points, both the druids with and without spell points will have the same value.

The Spell Points are balanced because Druids can cast as many high-level spells as possible and as many spells they can. Another reason is that Druids can cast spells as haphazardly as they want to. 

However, the Spell Points as a variant would give Druids an advantage, but in terms of flexibility, and in the long run, the druid will either incur some hefty drawbacks to use that flexibility effectively or cast spells in a similar spread to other casters. 

In the Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG), there is an optional rule for Spell Points that do not mention Warlocks. So, can the Warlocks use Spell Points for their magic?

Can Spell Points Be Used With a Warlock?

The Warlock cannot use Spell Points for their magic because there is no logical point to doing this. The idea behind the Spell Points is to have a single resource fueling your spells regardless of their levels. 

However, Warlocks already have that because their Spell Slots are only of a level 1. Still, if you want to do this, the correct progression would be:

Warlock LevelSpell Points
Level 12
Level 24
Level 36
Level 46
Level 510
Level 610
Level 712
Level 812
Level 914
Level 1014
Level 1121
Level 1221
Level 1321
Level 1421
Level 1521
Level 1621
Level 1728
Level 1828
Level 1928
Level 2028

The above table is a direct translation of the Warlock’s Spell Points at each level into spell points; which is how you should calculate the Spell Points for all the other classes. 

NOTE: If you use the above system and allow the Warlock to create lower-level spell slots then their maximum can fundamentally change the Warlock Class. So, we recommend carefully considering the balance before doing this. 

Let us now answer some more queries related to Spell Points.


What Is the Conversion Rate for Sorcery Points to Variant: Spell Points?

The Sorcery Points and the Spell Points are 1:1 exchangeable, but be careful with this change because up through 5th level spells, the Flexible Casting table and the Spell Points table provide identical costs for converting Points to Spells:

Spell LevelSpell Points Sorcery Points
1st level22
2nd level33
3rd level55
4th level66
5th level77
6th level9
7th level10
8th level11
9th level13

So, the above table clarifies that when they exist as a free-standing pool of points, Sorcery Points are more-or-less equivalent to Spell Points. Except when they are not, Sorcerers do not use Sorcery points solely to cast spells. They also use them for fuelling the Metamagics and Origin features.

Do I Need to Convert Spell Points Into Sorcery Points to Use Them for Metamagic Options? If So, How Does It Work Exactly?

No, you do not need to convert spell points into sorcery points to use them for metamagic options. The only thing you can do with the spell points is to create spell slots. 

Since all the standard spellcasting rules revolve around spell slots, the way spell points work is that you use them to create spell slots, and then you can use those spell slots to disburse several spell points to form a spell slot of a given level, and then use that slot to cast a spell. 

Apart from the above thing, there is nothing else you can do with spell points. You cannot use them to power metamagic or anything else. You can only create spell slots.

However, Sorcerers can convert spell points to spell slots to sorcery points (at a loss). You can create either 1st or 2nd-level spell slots with those spell points while being a level 3 Sorcerer. To convert spell points to sorcery points, you can create a spell slot and then convert that spell slot to sorcery points as a bonus action.

Remember that using a different spell slot level results in a distinct “efficiency” of conversion. A 2nd level slot gives 67% efficiency while doing the same with a 1st level slot will deliver only 50% efficiency. The 8th level, at 72% efficiency, and the 5th level, at 71% efficiency, are the slot levels that deliver the most efficient conversions. 

How Can I Fold Sorcery Points Into Spell Points Without Over- Or Underpowering the Sorcerer Class?

You can fold Sorcery Points into Spell Points by keeping the Spell Points and Sorcery Points separate. You can do this by following the Rules As Written (RAW), which says, when using the Spell Point optional rule, a Sorceror would get several Spell Points instead of Spell Slots, along with several Sorcery Points based on their normal Sorceror progression that they could use for metamagic and class features. 

These would be separate pools, though they could convert one into the other using the rules for converting Sorcery Points into Spell Slots and then converting Spell Slots into an appropriate number of Spell Points as per the relevant tables.