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[Radiance House] Pact Magic Unbound, Vol. 2 - Anima Playtest


Compatible Products from Other Publishers


Spoiler:
Finally, the high priest spoke that it was time. The Keeper reached deep into the basin and pulled out Damon’s body. It was dark jade and slimy to touch. The keeper gently placed his ward onto the alter and picked off a bit of the greenness; seaweed. He slowly unraveled all that Damon, the man, was. Bit by bit the seaweed came off as though Damon had been mummified in the stuff. Damon’s body grew smaller and smaller with every piece until, finally, a bit of pink appeared beneath the green. The Keeper, tearing through the seaweed now, pulled forth from Damon’s body to reveal a soft body; scarcely three feet long and innocent. His eyes opened wide; they were the color of ocean waves and two flaps of skin on either side of his neck rippled, making a sound akin to coughing. The Keeper embraced the tiny gillman; sobbing lightly.

“Are you my father?” the boy asked. The Keeper nodded his head.

“Yes. Please, my son needs clothing.” Someone among the villagers brought forth a garment for the boy; the Keeper dressed him and placed the child bare foot onto the stone floor. He clutched his father’s side, looking frightened.

“Do not be afraid my son,” he chastised, “These are your people. You are one of us.” The boy’s eyes darted nervously around the room until they spotted something that made his face open into a wide, toothy grin. He ran across the room to a group of boys and before long he was shouting merrily among them.

The Keeper, now the father, watched his son, his new playmates, and their keepers and smiled.

Welcome, would-be readers, to the Open Playtest for Pact Magic Unbound, Volume 2! If you didn't get the message before, thank you so much for making our first open playtest the huge success that it was. Dario Nardi and myself were very pleased with how everything turned out and we're excited to announce that our second volume, Pact Magic Unbound, Vol. 2, is well in the works. Originally we weren't going to have a Playtest of any kind (this is why this playtest is occurring so late in the book's creation), but our fans in our Facebook group enlightened us that there was a specific portion of the book that they wanted us to make sure that we got absolutely right. That section was on Anima.

For those who are not familiar with Dario's original book, Secrets of Pact Magic, Anima basically broils down to build-a-spirit. Anima provides a number of generic spirits with heavily themed powers for a binder to pick and choose from when building a spirit. This iteration of anima functions very similarly to the original incarnation; with some serious differences.

Ultimately, I want your feedback on these rules. Give me your gut interpretation, build some spirits of your own, try it out! I'm not sure how long this playtest will run; as I mentioned, we were not planning on doing something like this. I wouldn't expect it to run much longer than three weeks at the absolute most, however.

One final note, this is not all you will see in the book when it is released. This is roughly 9 pages out of a 109-ish page document and we don't feel the need to run a public playtest on the rest of this material at this time.

Cheers, and let round two commence!

Spoiler:
You will house me, it continued. Damon though to himself, You want into my house? Fine, we’ll have tea and biscuits if I get out of this alive! The being’s terrible eyes began to glow bright until they finally overtook Damon’s own. Then … a feeling overcame him; swept him up like a wave at the beach. If Damon could see his own face, he would have called it a stupid grin. Today was going to be a good day.

The Keeper stood stoically as ever, overlooking his ward. The room was etched with runes and signs, with seals and vessels. It was spacious; most of his village’s people gathered here today; mothers and fathers with their children, adolescents with their lovers, and fellow keepers with their wards. The high priest stood before them; a handsome gillman barely old enough to father children of his own. The Keeper knew better; few in the chamber were older than youths themselves.
“You have done well, noble keepers.” The high priest grinned, looking over the Keeper’s ward, the final one. “If the last keeper’s ward succeeds, then this will be the first time an entire crop has flourished into kin.”

“We picked only the best; heroes of the surface world,” the Keeper proudly explained. It had been his idea to lure would-be heroes to their doom by attacking a local wharf unprovoked. Four heroes came, and the keepers returned with four wards. The high priest nodded his head in approval.

“It is time for your ward to step forth,” the high priest commanded. The keeper bowed his head and grabbed his ward, Damon, by the wrist. The human was staring off into the lights, drowned in bliss as the gillmen called it. The keeper worried not; his ward would learn in time to overcome those feelings, perhaps even learn to subdue Vishgurv’s effect on the weak willed. The keeper lead Damon up to the high priest, careful not to hurt the human; any sudden pain could remove the bliss and foil the ceremony. Gently, the keeper lifted his ward onto the alter and laid him down. Damon laid there in all his glory, the blanket long since discarded after Vishgurv had been imparted upon his soul.
The high priest prayed to the gods of the gillmen, prayed to Vishgurv, and with a single fluid motion, whipped out a dagger from his side and plunged it into Damon’s heart. The human coughed blood, and with only a single spasm, fell still. As he had done countless times before, the Keeper lifted Damon’s corpse as the high priest pulled a level that pushed the alter aside, revealing a man-sized bastion filled with brine. The Keeper gently lowered Damon’s body into salty water.


How do I get in on this? I was in the last playtest.

Silver Crusade Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Likewise...


Same as before. Ask and you'll get a PM with a link. :)

Sent.

Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Ok, please send. ;)


Sent.


Interesting good sir count me in!


Please count me in.


Sent to both.

Dark Archive

I'd like to take a look at it as well.

Dark Archive

Will the final book contain additional themes or are those two all we get (at least till Pact Magic Unbound 3 is released)?
Spray of Shrapnell [Q]All creatures in the affected area take 1d4 points of slashing damage, plus an additional 1d4 points of slashing damage.[/Q] Why not [Q]All creatures in the affected area take 2d4 points of slashing damage.[/Q]?
Arctic Wind Wouldn't it be more simple to make it a 20 ft radius spread?
Breathe Flame At first level, it's better than some Major Granted Abilities. It's a bit unclear how it's supposed to work at higher levels. Is it impossible to increase its damage over 6d6 or does the cooldown just not increase further?
Ropewalker's Gambit How high is the bonus it grants if you aren't wearing medium or heavy armor?

There are also some balancing issues, as well as an issue with the Bind DC.

Dark Archive

Dancing Death also has strange wording:

Quote:
You do not provoke attacks of opportunity and creatures that you move past must make a Reflex save or waste an attack of opportunity trying to attack you, instead suffering 1d6 points of fire damage.

If they are forced to waste an attack of opportunity, shouldn't it be a Will Save?

Blades of Nowhere If the blades disappear if they leave your hands, the Dancing ability is useless.
Obscuring Fog Obscuring Mist?

As for possibly overpowered abilities, I'll list the ones that I view as problematic:
Flametouch A free +1 enhancement at first level might be a bit too good.
Breathe Flame As I wrote earlier, this power starts better than many Major Granted Abilities.
Stone Shape A third level spell available at first level.
Photosynthesis With Daylight, this ability grants you fast healing.
Void Calling Better than a Summon Nature's Ally Spell, especially at low levels.
Void Shield Permanent Shield of Faith.
Anger of the Beast Gaining another class's signature ability.


We plan to continue to support Animism, but it (probably) won't get an entire book dedicated to it if it makes its debut in this book.

What's the issue with the Binding DC you mention?

I'll have to take a second look at these abilities, but your questions are confirming a very real fear I had going into this project: its extremely difficult to make cool and interesting powers if every ability is available at 1st level.

Dark Archive

In Secrets of Pact Magic and Villains of Pact Magic, the bonuses the animas granted was tied to their spirit level while in the new version, the only thing their spirit level does is increasing their binding DC.

And being able to use the abilities at first level is only one of the challenges of designing Animas. The other is the ability to cherry pick (while themes limit the animas you can chose from, you can now chose from 5 different animas instead of 3).

How about giving some of the anima abilities a minimum spirit level?


One of the goals I had with the Anima Playtest was to see how people reacted to the system as a whole. Aside from Jadeite and several users on our Pact Magic Facebook group, there hasn't been much reaction at all, and none of it has been very "good" in the sense that not many people have liked it.

Taking this as a sign of things to come, I've been putting a sample counter-argument to the current anima playtest, which seeks to solve many of anima's problems. It is drastically different from the system presented in Secrets of Pact Magic; I didn't want to change Anima much at first for fear of tampering with people's nostalgia, but nostalgia is second to good designing, so here we go.

How-To: Building Current Anima
This is a gross oversimplification, but this is basically how you currently build anima in the playtest you all have:

1) Pick a Theme. Once you pick a theme, it cannot (usually) be changed. Your anima are drawn from your theme selection.

2) Select 5 granted abilities, 1 Major, 4 Minor, from among the seven spirits associated with your theme.

-You suffer all of the physical signs and all of the influences of the anima spirits you selected. For example, if you pick 5 abilities from 5 different spirits, you have 5 signs and 5 influences to worry about.

-You pick one set of Favored Allies and Enemies from among the spirits you used in crafting your new spirit.

-You pick a Constellation from among those allowed by your Theme.

3) Craft the spirit with a ritual. This is your spirit, and it cannot be changed without first dissembling the spirit for a costly sum of gold.

Some Designer Notes:
-Seven Spirits per theme were chosen because seven is a powerful number in Pact Magic.

-Themes were created so that as we added more anima, the system wouldn't break. Anima spirits didn't have to be balanced against every previous spirit.

How-To: Animism

1) Each day, you bind with one Anima Spirit. Anima Spirits do not care about mortals because they already exist.

- Compare / Contrast:
---Occult Spirits seldom leave when you summon them. They can only be talked into giving you more with a good binding check (i.e. Capstone Empwoerment).
---Anima Spirits give you less powers if you offend or insult them. (You lose either one Major ability or one Minor ability if you fail their binding check; your choice.) If you really insult them, (i.e. fail by 10 or more), they simply leave and give you no powers, refusing to commune with you for 24 hours.

---Occult spirits have a set binding DC that is needed to reach them.
---Anima spirits have a variable DC based on how powerful you are; the stronger the binder, the more power the anima would have to relinquish to them, which they are loathe to do. (DC 13 + your binder level.)
---Anima binders can, if they want, reduce the DC as though they were a lower-level Binder (up to DC 14, or 1st level). This adversely affects your granted abilities, however; if a 10th level binder seals a pact with an anima at DC 14, their binder level becomes 1 for the purpose of adjucating their granted abilities.

2) Once you have bound your anima spirit, you get to select its anima powers.

- An anima spirit allows you to gain 1 Major Granted Abilities, 2 Minor Granted Abilities, and 1 Lesser Granted Ability. A Lesser Granted Ability is a less powerful Minor Granted Ability. (Think the skill bonus granted abilities that some Occult Spirits have.)
---If you fail your binding check, you lose 1 granted ability. This can be a Minor Ability or a Major Ability; your choice.

-An anima spirit's granted abilities are drawn from themes. Each anima spirit has five themes, which are drawn from symbolism that mortals have given to that anima. For example, the Fox's themes are Cunning, Guidance, Illusion, Tactics, and Trickery.
---Each theme possesses eight granted abilities; 2 major, 4 minor, and 2 lesser. Twice the number the spirit could actually give you.
---Some granted abilities require a minimum binder level in order to select them. This is to address the problem where having a good binder level didn't do much for actually powering up the anima spirits.

-In addition, every anima spirit has one granted ability that is unique to that spirit. It usually addresses something about the anima spirit that the themes alone could not hope to address; for example, the Fox allows you to transform into an increasingly powerful fox, while the Spider will allow you to spin and fire webs.

3) Miscellaneous Notes
---Every anima spirit is alligned to one of the seven elements of Pact Magic. The four primal elements are the most commonly used ones. (Air / Earth / Fire / Water). The element determines how some granted abilities function; for example, an ability that says it deals "element damage" deals fire damage for a fire spirit, bludgeoning damage for an earth spirit, or slashing damage for a metal spirit.
---Currently, I have a list of 35 Themes. I haven't decided how many Anima Spirit templates to include. There will be at least 15, with plenty of room for more expansion.
---I have a sample document that is nowhere near done ready for you all now. Since its not complete, I have no problem just giving you all a link: Download Here.

Good luck, and get busy. :D


I'd like to have a look. Anima were always one of my favourite parts of the old system, even if none of my players used it!

Shadow Lodge Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

Late but I'm here! Count me in =D


Its snowing and I'm feeling lazy.

Click this link for the first draft of the Anima Rules.

Click this link for the second draft of the Anima Rules.

Read the post above Banatine's for my thoughts on both of these systems. I'm still putting the finishing touches on the "revamp" document, but my gut is telling me that it is the stronger of the two.

I want to hear what you all think about it.

Star Voter 2014

Alexander Augunas wrote:

Its snowing and I'm feeling lazy.

Click this link for the first draft of the Anima Rules.

Click this link for the second draft of the Anima Rules.

Read the post above Banatine's for my thoughts on both of these systems. I'm still putting the finishing touches on the "revamp" document, but my gut is telling me that it is the stronger of the two.

I want to hear what you all think about it.

The first draft had some cool spirit abilities (Though you may want to expand the water element to include more than just ice.), but I can't quite tell what's been dropped in the second draft and what's still used. Regardless, this is really good if you're looking to just wield some classic elemental spirits.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Oh wow, wasn't expecting to see this up again!

I agree with you 100% on the expansion you mentioned, and the final version of the Anima rules (which are currently being playtested for Volume 3) look VERY different from both of these drafts based on player feedback.

In other news, Anima Rules got pushed back to book 3. The reason is being that Book 2 was basically complete except for the Anima Rules, and it got to the point where that one Chapter was holding up the entire production of the book. So we axed it, made it a featured section in Volume 3, and are currently finishing up the layout / editing Volume 2.

I'll (hopefully) have more to spoil about Volume 2 in the coming weeks. ^_~


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Excellent! I've been eagerly waiting for Book 2!

Star Voter 2014

Alexander Augunas wrote:

Oh wow, wasn't expecting to see this up again!

I agree with you 100% on the expansion you mentioned, and the final version of the Anima rules (which are currently being playtested for Volume 3) look VERY different from both of these drafts based on player feedback.

In other news, Anima Rules got pushed back to book 3. The reason is being that Book 2 was basically complete except for the Anima Rules, and it got to the point where that one Chapter was holding up the entire production of the book. So we axed it, made it a featured section in Volume 3, and are currently finishing up the layout / editing Volume 2.

I'll (hopefully) have more to spoil about Volume 2 in the coming weeks. ^_~

As a satisfied customer, homebrewer, and part-time elf occultist, I'm happy to help. Check out my stuff sometime, you may like what you see. ^_*

Spirits I Did:

Kuamesa

Nevea


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Any news to share with us? ^.^


Dario (my publisher) is in Japan. He's set to return sometime this week, at which point we'll be picking up Pact Magic Unbound, Vol. 2 from the editor. After evaluating and making the suggested changes, we both reread our books for rules content (we can't count the editor to be up-to-date on his games mechanics terminology, and some of the most unfortunate errors in Vol. 1 are because of this).

We have a target date we want to be done by, and we're crossing our fingers that we'll have more to share in the coming weeks!

As an aside, if you use Facebook we have a Pact Magic Facebook group. Every Monday I usually post some game mechanics I've been working on or previews for Volume 2 or something. You're welcome to request an invite and check us out!

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