No Power Points Option

Posted: 20 February 2012 in Rules

In the last session, we experimented with the No Power Points setting option in Savage Worlds. We like the idea of one less thing to track, but weren’t sure how it would play in a real session. Here’s what we found…

Those with Arcane Backgrounds cast more spells, but lower powered ones, to avoid casting penalties. In particular, multi-shot bolts were not used so much, because more skill dice being rolled means a higher chance that at least one fails. The range of spells in use widened as well, people being more willing to cast buffs like Armour rather than reserving their power for offensive spells as they stay up indefinitely.

It’s relatively easy to Shake yourself by failing a casting, but it’s easy to avoid/recover from so long as you have bennies left. From a GM’s perspective, this increases the benny spend rate, so I may need to reconsider how I balance the flow of bennies; this is definitely a tool you could use to control how nasty the option is. It also makes The Warforged relatively more powerful, because as a Construct he gets +2 to recover from Shaken; so do undead, so Liches are now a little more powerful too in comparison to a plain vanilla spellcaster. I expect this manifests itself as them spending fewer bennies on average over the course of a session.

A number of Edges players have taken, such as Wizard and extra Power Points, are wasted under this option. I’d originally intended to have them partially negate the penalties (each Power Points edge reduces the penalty for one point, penalties are figured on the cost after the Wizard edge is applied), but I think that would remove too much of the risk of failure; so I’m more likely to let them swap those edges out for something that is still useful.

Players were really worried about blowing themselves up with critical failures, but it didn’t happen. I like this aspect of the option, as it echoes one of my favourite parts of WFRP: Wizards blowing themselves up or being carried off by demons when they get a spell badly wrong.

Great Healing (courtesy of the Holy Handkerchief) is much less useful now, as the casting penalty is –5 or –10; the HH provides the power and the power points, but the caster must make a Faith roll to activate it, so this turned into a huge benny drain and after a couple of uses the players abandoned it and using their own healing powers, with much muttering about “magic items are useless in this system”.

That’s how my group rolled. Have you tried this option? How did it go with your players?

  1. Sean B says:

    I’ll have to give that a try next time I play a setting with magic. I was just reviewing the rule itself and I’m surprised there isn’t any exception for magical items. They’re not addressed at all.

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