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Power Word Spells: Lore of the First Language (PFRPG) PDF

****½ (based on 4 ratings)

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Welcome to Power Word Spells: Lore of the First Language, the latest product in the new Super Genius Presents line of books!

Power word spells are one of the most interesting elements of the “assumed setting” described by the rules of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook. Though the power word spells do not have any description of how and why they are different from other spells, both their naming convention (each being “power word” and then a single action or condition) and their unique game mechanics make it clear they are a different kind of magic.

It’s also clear that while power words are enchantment (compulsion) [mind-affecting], they aren’t limited to forcing a target to do something normally within the power of its conscious mind. There’s no rule to suggest that characters can willingly go blind, become stunned, or kill themselves by will alone, yet the power word spells produce those effects. These are, on the other hand, the kinds of things that adventure fiction suggests that a creature’s mind can do to itself subconsciously, either as a hypnotic suggestion or as result of trauma. Much as a creature can faint if sufficiently surprised or suffer hysterical blindness if subject to sufficient trauma, power words seem to be able to call upon the powers of the mind to do things beyond conscious control.

When considered from the perspective of adventure and fantasy fiction, it becomes reasonable to wonder what else power words can do. In the expanded spells below, the power of the mind to control the body is expanded to include spontaneous combustion, loss of senses, and potentially permanent changes of alignment and memory. While these are beyond the scope of most enchantment spells, they are certainly no less reasonable than suggesting a creature can will itself to drop dead, as power word kill does.

So, what makes power words different from other spells? Why do they focus their power into a single word that affects the minds of their targets, but don’t even need to be heard to be effective? To answer those questions we first take an in-depth look at what we can learn from power word spells’ unique rules, then present a new game element—the First Language.

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Product Reviews (4)

Average product rating:

****½ (based on 4 ratings)

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Lovely idea but has some real issues.

***( )( )

I love the idea of Power Word spells. I think this work was put together with a lot of thought and I think affection for the concept but there is a real issue with what has been presented here.

The Good: New spells. Lots of them. New feats, some nice ones that build upon each other and let the player create a very textured and thematic character.

The Bad: The mechanics in the concept.

One of the issues with many offensive wizard/sorcerer spells is that they become effectively worthless. They only advance so far with their damage dealing and it's a terrible idea to restrict yourself to a spell that does 4d6 damage and never anymore once you've passed a certain level.

Even with two feats dedicated to bumping up the hit-point range that these spells impact each and every spell in this list will become absolutely worthless to a mage after he passes them by a couple of levels. The spells won't be worthwhile until well into battle, often to the point where the defeat of the adversary is pretty much a given.

So a wizard or sorcerer really trying to follow this theme is going to end up with a decent chunk of their spell selection moldering on the shelf, never to be cast again.


Potentially paradigm-changing pdf of brilliant spells

*****

This pdf is 15 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving 13 pages of content, so let's check this out!

There's an inherent power in language, as any gamer can attest - words can not only change our perspective, they can create worlds in our imaginations and ruin and save people, relationships and even spark wars, as some of the darker chapters in our history have shown.

In fantasy gaming, especially with the 3.5-tradition, words have a more immediate power - in this supplement, an explanation is given by assuming that once a primal language was used to structure the universe and that, while diminished in power, in word spells some components of this power yet remain.

Word-spells...well, last session, I had an eye-opening encounter: One of my high-level clerics obliterated a whole squad of elite assassins (sans the two leaders) with holy word. No saves. SR and Hit points, that's it. Now, all standard power word-spells belong to the higher levels. How then, are these balanced at lower levels? Simple and yet brilliant - reduce the number of hit points and offer less debilitating conditions.

Thus, this pdf e.g. introduces level 1 spells like power word dazzle or power word fascinate - this changes the basic assumptions of encounters quite a bit, favoring groups over individual combatants. It's probably this consideration and potential tactics paradigm shift a GM as to take into account that made this release under the "SGG presents"-banner. Advice on how to deal with it etc. is also provided. A total of 20 power-word spells are presented.

The pdf also 7 new feats - from ones that increase the threshold of hp you can affect with your power words to the ability to swap prepared spells for power word spells or cast them with metamagic without increasing casting time if you're a spontaneous caster and even sue lower level power words as spell-like abilities.

Spell-lists for all the arcane classes are covered, since the power words are generally considered to be rather arcane.

The pdf ends with the new logos domain, which grants massive power-word access to divine casters so inclined.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the 2-column standard of the product line and once, again, the cover is awesome - I wish a version without borders were included in the deal. The pdf comes fully bookmarked. Owen K.C. Stephens is a master of crunch and its balance and errs on the side of awesome and awesome this truly is - SGG is best in my opinion when they push the boundaries of what can be done with the rules and this humble supplement of spells is plain awesomeness - scarcely does one see a small pdf that might provide such a potential paradigm-shift in tactics. Even better, the pdf's content can rather easily be restricted and shelled out in small increments if you're wary of such changes. This supplement pushes boundaries in all the right ways, is brave, smart and balanced - I love it. After the stellar offering by Argonax's magic, power words make for the second definite winner in this awesome product line. Innovation of this caliber is almost compulsory in its necessity of being recommended and thus, my final verdict will be 5 stars + endzeitgeist seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.


So sayeth he....so shall it be done....

*****

With a weight of 15 pages (cover and OGL eating two of those) this PDF starts us out with an absolutely gorgeous cover piece of art from Lin Bo. The iconography of this cover piece definitely convey the sense of ancient secrets of power. Internally, the artwork is B&W, with pieces ranging from good to OK. This PDF continues a new look from the SGG camp for layout, going with a full page cover and dual column with embedded artwork formatting approach. Editing and spelling both appeared to be excellent, nothing really jumped out and caught my attention.

Building an entirely new game mechanic, and form of magic, from three spells essentially would be daunting to say the least. It's not like there was truly a lot there to establish a ground work to build on, nothing established and accepted anyway. And yet, that's exactly what has been done here, and done in a logical, clear and understandable manner. The flow of thought behind the choices make sense, utilizing what could easily have been a game unbalancing element with an impressive precision, a more scalpel approach as opposed to the sword. What we end up with is essentially the first spoken language holding within the sound of the words the power of perfection, in that these are the terms that originally defined the universe, and all within it, before the many races and beings diluted the language down into their own tongues. An entire language that reverberated with power through those who spoke it. As time marched on this language lost a great deal of its inner power due to it no longer being the pinnacle of definition for reality, but it still operates perfectly as a form of channeling mystic powers into a clear and precise singular thought.

Introducing 7 new feats all tied to the concept of learning and exploring more of the First Language, we are given:
First Language Syntax - increasing the hp categories of your power words by a percentage, and a Greater variety of same feat.
Heighten Power Word - increase the effective level of your Power Word spells, thereby increasing the hp maximums.
Lore of the First Language – read magic at will as well as communicate in any language.
Master of the First Language – Swap prepared spells for power word spellslingers
Speaker of the First Language – power word spell as a spell like ability
Split Word – two targets with one power word spell, splitting the effect between them.

What book on a new avenue of magic to explore would be complete without new spells, Owen was kind enough to give us 20 within this collection, and I personally am hoping to see a Bullet Point at least giving us a few more. Bards, the Magus, Sorcerers, Wizards, and Witches all see new spells added to their lists with this set, with a great deal of overlap (obviously). Not wanting to go through the entire list and ruin the book for you, we'll pick out a few choice samples, such as Power Word Mute, Frighten, Combust, Inspire and Bleed. The mechanics for each operate as the original three, targeting a specific range determined by the targets current hp total at the casting of the spell. And yes, we now have Power Word options all the way down to level 1 spells, with Dazzle, Fascinate and Hesitate. Spells are presented in standard class listings followed by full definitions. Contained within the spell descriptions is a ¾ page discussion on the issue of balance, and what had to be considered and weighed with the design of these spells, as the issue of balancing a body of spells with no saves is a concern, and done wrong, could destroy a game. I'll tell you this much, the argument put forth within this discussion makes some very good points that put the power word spells in a different light by comparing them to the spells they share levels with, and the circumstances under which they must be used or simply not have the desired effects.

Finishing out with a new treat for clerical types, the Logos Domain draws upon the primal power of the First Language, with a domain spell list taken from the collection of twenty new spells. Along with the spell list, Logos followers receive three domain powers (based upon level) such as bonus languages from Wisdom as well as Intelligence, with no limit on languages to choose from. Voice of Power allows for a swift action casting of a power word spell, and Power Word Command – acting as a the command spell. It should be noted that only through this domain do clerical types have any access to these additional power word spells.

Final thoughts, this is the type of book I love to see design wise. Taking something small, but iconic, from the accepted collective that we all know and have fond memories of utilizing and being victimized by throughout the years, and expanding it to allow for so much more. The idea of specialists comes to mind instantly, and I can only hope the Geniuses are contemplating along those very same lines (if not someone else...hint..hint). Is there potential for mass abuse and game breaking mechanics? Sure. There was in Ultimate Combat and the APG also. Any playgroup can tear down the system if you let them, which is why it is up to a GM to control the flow of new material, and take the initiative to introduce ideas properly. This is one of those ideas that is worth that introduction, as there are some truly cool ideas contained within the simplicity of the power words. And besides, who doesn't want to field a spell chucker with an arsenal of power that requires not but one word to unleash?

Final rating can be no less than a 5 for this, as my only complaint is that I want more. An archetype, more spells, perhaps even a bloodline...there is so much here to work with.


In the beginning was the Word

*****

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the gods, and the Word was Theirs. They were with the gods in the beginning. Through them all things were made; without them nothing was made that has been made. In them was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

I don't write reviews from the standpoint of a reviewer. I write them from the standpoint of a GM and player. I'll let others write about the technical aspects.

This is one of the things I have always enjoyed, spells that are simple commands but have great power. When I first downloaded it I was looking to see the 20 spells promised and a few feats. What I got was the history of the First Language along with the spells, feats, and a domain. As a bonus, Mr Stephens added a bloodline to the message boards just because we thought it would be fun.

I spent a week adding the files to Hero Lab and I have to say that I can see how balanced everything is. There is a sidebar (actually a whole page) dedicated to explaining how to balance these types of spells.

In case you were worried that you might not be able to affect tough creatures because of hit point caps on the spells, have no fear, there are three feats that address that concern. If you wanted to see if you can affect two creatures at once? No problem. There's a feat for that too.

There are seven feats, 20 spells, and one domain to make your characters One with the Word.


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