Ability Pool Reserves

I was thinking about how Ability Pools will be used. There are some obvious uses such as fueling talent abilities (such as Spot talent’s clairvoyance), they are a way to measure (and mitigate) conditions and ability damage.  I love that they should get rid of ad hoc adjustments during play.

It occurred to me that instead of just spending them we could reserve them for later use.  For instance, a barbarian might reserve a certain amount of his Constitution Pool for use as emergency healing while raging.  Given a spontaneous spell casting system that draws from the Intelligence Pool to fuel spells, perhaps you can reserve a certain amount of your Intelligence Pool to prepare a quickened spell (so you can have fireball or globe of invulnerability or whatever usable as a swift or maybe even immediate action) or to ready a counterspell (reserve the points specifically for counterspelling; unlike the quickened spell you don’t have to prepare a specific spell but you can only use these points for counterspelling).  Perhaps almost anything that is a standard action that draws from an Ability Pool could be so prepared for immediate use, without necessarily impeding normal actions.

The reserve might count as spent (reserve six points and they are not available for use for other things decided when needed) and do not recover until you release or use the reserve.  If you have a base Intelligence Pool of 15 and a quickened fireball in reserve (which costs 8 points, say — adjusted spell level) you might have only seven points of Intelligence Pool remaining for use (or damage) before you suffer a condition effect.  You might end up not using the quickened fireball during an encounter and decide to hold it ready until you need it, so you don’t recover the eight points you have reserved.

Similarly, the barbarian mentioned earlier might carry a Constitution reserve at all times to help prevent dying in an ambush — if he gets damaged he can recover from it as an immediate action (spend the reserve on healing).

Just an idle thought before I leave work for the day, but I’m curious about the response to the idea.


  1. GreyKnight

    Could be handy if you have something you know you’re likely to need pool points for but you’re worried an enemy might drain you before you get a chance (since AIUI once you’ve committed points to a reserved action they can’t be drained). Being able to fire off the reserved action swiftly/immediately is nice as well. Possibly the ability to do things like this might be worked into the Enhanced <Ability> trait; currently it gives “feats of ability” a certain number of times per day but I guess that’s going to become a general-purpose usage of ability pool points?

  2. hadsil

    The idea is fine. I just want to see the math. That is, how much you get in a pool and how much something for which you would spend from the pool or reserve costs. I don’t expect you have to all that now. This is just something I’d be studying.

    Essentially, I’d prefer spending from a pool not be burdened with “spongeworthy” paranoia. Resource management for its own sake is fine, but if it’s too limited it becomes unfun annoyance (for me).

  3. Doug Lampert

    Making an action immediate is POWERFUL stuff. Quickening a spell costs a lot in 3.x, and is still a really good power.

    I’d separate the reserve feature from the quickened feature. A barbarian’s recovery is immediate because it is, a counterspell is immediate because it is. These both use reserve because that’s how the abilities work, and they’re both immediate because that’s how the abilities work.

    You can declare that ALL immediate actions use reserve, you do that in advance and that’s WHY you can use them instantly. But don’t make ALL reserve actions instant, that’s bad. If you want to reserve a “fireball” so you can’t lose it prior to casting it then that’s fine, but it doesn’t make it immediate unless you ALSO pay for quicken, because fireball normally takes an action to cast, and choosing to prepare the spell in advance isn’t enough cost for a quicken-spell effect.

    I’d add that some spells have a duration of “reserve”, this means you don’t recover the points spent to cast the spell till the spell is ended, but the spell doesn’t end till either dispelled or you dismiss it or die. This works fine for defensive buffs IMAO.

  4. Ah, this sentence: “Perhaps almost anything that is a standard action that draws from an Ability Pool could be so prepared for immediate use, without necessarily impeding normal actions.”

    I’m still noodling with the idea and thus have no specific plans with it, but I can agree that “immediate means reserve” is probably a better plan than “reserve means immediate”.

    With regard to quickening a spell, I had in mind that the quicken, at least, would be paid for from the pool (four points, say). So if I want to get off two fireball spells in one turn I’ll pay for two third-level slots (whether this is from the pool or from ‘spell slots’ is irrelevant at the moment), plus four points of pool for the quicken.

    If I want to prepare it as an immediate spell, I’m paying full price for both pieces up front — if spell casting is drawn from pool, I have to reserve seven points to have this on tap for immediate use. Or more likely eight or nine, making a spell an immediate rather than a swift is probably worth a little more than quickening.

    Counterspelling might just be ‘reserve pool for counterspelling [not necessarily on the specific spell, that’s too damn hard to predict and work with] and spend on casting the needed spell to counterspell’. You don’t need to quicken it (or make it an immediate spell) because that’s just how counterspelling works.

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