Stun or HP for Magic/Feats?


I am tweaking/finalizing the way i handle magic/powers and feats and want to use a uniform system for all PCs for speed of play and less bookkeeping. I have always liked the idea of magic having a cost to self-regulate it and also like the ideas in @Khan 's books of allowing feats for martial characters that cost HP as well.

I am wondering if people use Stun or HP in their games? The pluses of using Stun is it doesn’t cost HP and players are more likely to use it. The pluses of using HP is it’s one less thing to track, but it means players are more careful with their use.

I’m just curious what you all do and why you settled on the system you use?


First, thanks for the shout-out! It was my goal to unify every special ability with very similar mechanics and I like result.

Secondly, it depends.

I like the simplicity of using only HP and I like the concept of paying for the special abilities with one’s blood. It reigns everything in, nice and easy. Players have to make hard choices and ultimately it is very good for the game, or at least my game. Therefore this is my default operational mode.

I’d use Stun Points for heroic games only. This doesn’t only mean Vigilante City or similar with superheroes; anything where you want characters to shine and to be grand, where they must go against very dangerous enemies, Stun Points is the way to go. I’m assuming that’s why Hank invented Stun Points anyway.

Like anything and everything in ICRPG, this is one of the dials you can turn to make the game suit your game style.


I use MP (mana points) in our current campaign

everyone has 10 MP and they recover 1 MP each ROUND naturally

I do the natural MP regen as I didn’t like it being tied to the RECOVERY action which would force CON being an important stat to mages.

Then you can just assign spells an MP cost to manage how frequently they can be cast without some kind of MP restoring item or skill

For basic spells I tend to give 2 MP costs and stronger spells cost 6 MP

2 MP
FAR Range
Deals MAGIC fire effort to a single target. Target makes a CON save or inflicted with BURN

6 MP
FAR Range
Deals MAGIC fire effort to two different targets. Targets make a CON save or inflicted with BURN

6 MP
FAR Range
Deals 2x MAGIC fire effort to a single target. Target makes a CON save or inflicted with BURN

6 MP
All NEAR the Caster
Deals MAGIC fire effort to all NEAR the caster. Targets make a CON save or inflicted with BURN

Melee characters can use their MP for magic weapons too

Ice Sword
3 MP to use
CLOSE range
Deals MAGIC ice Effort to a target. Target makes a CON save or inflicted with SLOW


I always (and only) use a character’s actual hit points to pay casting costs for arcane spells. Never stun points and never temporary hit points granted by other magical means. If you’re going to bend the forces of nature and affect the reality of our spacetime, it should hurt a little. I only ever consider using a separate bank of stun points to fuel powers in superhero settings, and even then it’s not always universal.

At my table, HP casting costs add an important and much appreciated dimension to the game for arcane magic-users; it is also compensated by the use of the alternate spell POWER rule, which gives you the opportunity to scale both the MAGICAL effort and the casting costs of arcane spells multiplicatively. Cast that 4D10 fireball, but it’s going to cost you like 40% of your current hit points. Spammers beware. If you cast a Level IV spell at POWER 4, you’re going to burn 16 hit points! :crazy_face:

I also hack the rules as written so that casting costs for arcane spells are paid regardless of success on the cast; whether the spell goes off or not, you take the hit.

My one concession to using HP for casting costs is that, as long as the arcane caster doesn’t drop to a negative HP total greater than the caster’s (positive) maximum, the caster is only rendered unconscious (and stable), the in-game equivalent of passing out from the strain of channeling magical energy. A one-heart caster at max HP casting a Level IV spell at POWER 4 would pass out. The same caster casting the same spell starting with 2 HP would pay the ultimate price. :skull:


This is similar to what I’ve settled on. Tracking a separate quantity like Stun Points just muddles the game up more. I am sticking with HP to cast and for certain martial extras as well. It just balances better as you pointed out. No spamming and no feeling of “well it’s only Stun points, so I’ll blast the whole room!”.