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Walk Me Through It: Spheres of Power


Advice and Rules Questions

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There is a lot I don't know about Pathfinder. I mean, a lot. The 'Walk Me Through It' series of threads is intended to allow you, the Pathfinder community, to sit down with a newbie at some system or another (Spheres of Power, Kingdom Building, Army / Battles System, Path of War, Psionics, Psychics, and others) and explain it to me - how it works, how to use it, how to balance it, how to manage it as a GM. Examples will be had and need to be used, from baseline creation all the way through a high-end exposition, using whatever system we happen to be exploring; the more options a system has, the more examples and exploration need to take place. The preference is to have a handful of baseline examples, and then 'grow' them through use of the system.

---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ----------

Spheres of Power

So I have a campaign, and one of my players is asking if he can rebuild his character using Spheres of Power, 'a unique magic system created by Drop Dead Studios'. While I understand that this is intended to enhance magic by moving it away from the Vancian system that D&D and its inheritors (of which Pathfinder is one) possess, and while the wiki linked above gives some amount of information, it's ... a little weak on execution.

The first example I'd like to see is that of taking the character in question, Aolis Greenborn, and converting him to Spheres of Power. What's his damage output? What can he do? Just as importantly, what can't he do? How is this going to unbalance / improve / weaken / change him in his core aspects, that of 'the knowledge dude' and as an arcane spellcaster?

The second example I'd want to see developed is that of a sacred caster of some sort - cleric, druid, paladin, something along those lines - built from the ground up, first level, and then evolving every three or four steps so that we can see how it develops.

Walk Me Through It.


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

Caveat: I know even less about the Spheres of Power system than you do.

But I do understand that it is a total overhaul of the magic system. I wouldn't expect to see one character using Spheres of Power while other guys are still using standard spellcasting.

It's also a bad idea to allow a player to use a system that he knows (and can abuse) better than the DM. Kudos to you for posting here to find out, but if it were me, I would be very, very reticent. I would tell the guy, "hey, why don't you run Spheres of Power as a DM in a new, unique homebrew world, so we can all see how it works."

Good luck with that.


Okay so I could simply create and post a conversion of Aolis Greenborn, but that would be against the nature of this thread, as you wouldn't really learn the system.

With that in mind, tell me about Aolis, specifically the following:

How does he usually run combat? I see he has a variety of spells with no specific theme in mind. Note that Spheres of Power awards those with a particular theme, but it is not necessary.
- Does he prefer using summons to do the fighting for him
- Does he prefer using battlefield control
- Does he prefer getting into the thick of things buffing himself
- Does he prefer to sit back and buff his allies allowing them to do the heavy lifting

How important is your spell versatility? If you had the choice would you prefer:
- knowing ALMOST all the spells, but being able to cast each of them 1 time per day.
- Knowing a very small number of spells which you may cast each multiple times per day, but being able to switch any/all of them out each morning to be ANY spell there is from any spell list.
- Knowing an average number of spells, but at a moments notice can acquire instant knowledge of any spell at any time.

Knowing these will help us not only choose a class but what spheres to initially focus in.


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Spheres of Power changes two very important things about casters, the first being that it removes Vancian magic from the caster and magic behind to resemble feat chains, and that the power of the magic is completely dependent on their caster level which is different for different classes.

A Wizard will always have a caster level equal to their class level with the exception of a Sphere Specialization, akin to Schools. A Paladin, however, will have a caster level equal to about half his class level. The Sphere Paladin archetype also grants casting at 4th level so their actual caster level becomes 1/2 class level -3. This functions similar to Base Attack Bonus in that multiclassing will have a significant effect on your caster level and that these caster levels stack between different classes and even different magic types.

Magic Talents themselves resemble feat chains. In order to cast a fireball, you must have the requisite Sphere, Destruction. You then must take Magic Talents within that Sphere, such as Explosive Orb and Fire Blast, to create the effect you want. With three Magic Talents (Destruction Sphere, Explosive Orb, Fire Blast), you can create a Fireball. You could also take Ice Blast and deal cold damage instead of fire damage. Or you could simply take Explosive Orb and deal bludgeoning damage as the base Sphere grants you. And you can do this at level 1.

A Wizard and a Paladin may both take this combination of they desire, and they'll both have it scale with them as they level. But while a Wizard at level 10 may be putting out 5d6 of any damage type of his choice, or may spend a Spell Point to deal 10d6, based on his talents chosen. A Paladin will be weaker, only blasting at 2d6 damage based on his weaker caster level, or 4d6 if he spends a Spell Point, and his selection of blast types being fewer due to not having as many Magic Talents to perform well with.

A Wizard gets lots of Magic Talents, 3 per 2 levels (2 talents at level 1, 1 Talent at level 2,and so on). A Paladin gains a single Magic Talent every time he gains a caster level (1 at 5, 7, 9, 11). By level 6, a Wizard can have access to every base Sphere by spending all his feats and class-granted Magic Talents to do it. A Paladin will assuredly never have access to every base Sphere. But the Wizard 6 that has every base Sphere will never use them all, and isn't as useful as the Paladin that took Warp talents and flashes right into battle in front of his enemy's face and put his +2 longsword into his target at full BAB. Sure, that Wizard could hit the target with a Destructive Blast (3d6 bludgeoning damage), but he doesn't have talents that'll allow him to deal damage to a swarm (area effect), and his Mind Sphere Abilities only target creatures similar to himself because he was focused on only picking up the basics instead of the talent that allows him to affect mindless or creatures other than his kind.

A Fighter may take a feat, Basic Magic Training, and gain a Sphere. He gains a caster level of 1 and 1 Spell Point. He can then use that Spheres base power any time he likes and has the option to spend his Spell Point to enhance that power as listed in its description. He picks one mental ability score, Int, Wis, or Cha, and uses that to determine the DCs of his abilities. He may decide that he wants more power and takes Advanced Magic Training, which bumps his caster level to 1/2 his hit dice, gives him Spell Points equal to his chosen mental ability score, and allows him to choose a "Casting Tradition" to allow him to pick up more Spell Points and other casting boons.

Casting Traditions are a set of rules that define how you use your magic. They are a set of drawbacks and boons. You could choose that all of your abilities require Somatic components, or that they have a big, flashy neon sign that says "This guy is about to shoot a lightning bolt". You may choose to prepare your magic, like a non-Spheres wizard would, except what you are doing is choosing how many if your Spell Points will go toward your Sphere abilities instead of which spells to prepare. A Wizard, depending on his selected casting tradition, may even be able to come to the battle dressed in full plate and suffer no ill effects.

Otherwise, Spheres of Power flattens out the power curve differences between martial and caster. It forces the caster to focus on one or two things instead of them having an answer to all things, and it allows martials to have a few extra toys with minimal investment. It also allows casters to have a shining spot alongside martials earlier on in the game, say even from level 1, while also not completely outstripping martial classes later on.


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As a few general notes...

1) Spheres of Power is explicitly weaker than Vancian casting. Its growth is primarily linear, rather than quadratic, so a high-level Vancian Wizard would be much more powerful than a high-level Spherecaster. Furthermore, the most game-changing effects are locked as "Advanced" talents. These aren't like Major Hexes, where you get access to them at a certain level - they're just flat-out not available unless the GM says otherwise. This makes it very easy to avoid breaking things.

2) The most basic things to know about Spheres are as follows:

2a) Caster Level is now Base Attack Bonus for Magic - some classes grow their magical power faster than others, so a 10th-level "High" caster will have more powerful magic than a 10th-level "Low" caster.

2b) Spells (or "Magic Talents") are now chosen a lot like feats. Spherecasters have far fewer spells known than most Vancian casters, but many of those they do have access to are all-day abilities and are balanced as such. Characters have to start by learning a base Sphere, and then they can learn other talents in that Sphere if they meet the requirements. Most abilities are available as soon as 1st level, but a few have level limits.

2c) All Spherecasters have a their daily resource pool, Spell Points. Stronger abilities require the use of spell points, and while a Spherecaster will basically never be totally out of magic, there is a cap on the amount of strong stuff they can do each day.

2d) The system is enormously flexible when it comes to creating ideas. Spherecasting doesn't have spell lists, precisely. Rather, everyone who can learn magic can learn any sphere ability, starting with the basic sphere and then picking up additional talents. Spheres makes use of a Drawbacks/Boons system. In return for real limitations - adding components, being unable to use certain powers, etc., characters can get bonus Spell Points or Talents Known.

2e) That said, it's also very intuitive once you understand it. Spheres basically helps you build a character in the way many people think they should be built. XD It's MUCH easier to learn than Vancian, and the Using Spheres of Power page explains most of it.

3) The best baseline example for this thread to use is probably the wiki's Classic Mage sample character. This could very easily be flavored as an arcane or divine character - because, basically, fluff is separate from mechanics in this system. XD Aolis would probably want to be an Incanter, which is a sort of "Build your own caster" class. Alternately, he could take the Sphere Wizard archetype.

4) Out of curiosity, what do you think the wiki could do to improve its execution?


@ CalethosVB & GM Rednal, incase you were wondering why I posed the questions is because I intend to help him convert the character from the ground up.

In regards to my comment asking how he plays combat, I am trying to figure out what spheres would be best for him to focus with, instead of simply giving spheres that best emulate the spells he has prepared/known (although, I am not ruling that option out either).

In regards to my comment about spell versatility, I will either be recommending Incanter or Sphere Wizard (for maximum spheres and talents known), Sphere Arcanist (for trading out talents known each morning), or Spiritualist Hedgewitch (for spontaneous on the fly versatility); The above classes would in my opinion best emulate the character, but I am seeking input from Ouroboros himself on the subject.


How does the Mystic Theurge fair with sphere casting?


Quote:
How does the Mystic Theurge fair with sphere casting?

I suppose it functions somewhat if one is standard vancian spellcasting class such as a wizard, while the other is spheres casting class such as the incanter. But it is either somewhat pointless or overpowered with two sphere casting classes because magic progression in spheres of power works like BAB, any magic talents or caster levels you gain from one class stack with any magic talents or caster levels you gain from another class (unlike standard classes which keep track of spells per day, spell lists, spells known, and caster level separately).


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Level 7 Incanter, just for grins. This doesn't include anything other than listing Spheres and Magic Talents and what feats you get per level. I also include an explanation as to why I picked what I did.


Grovestrider wrote:
Quote:
How does the Mystic Theurge fair with sphere casting?
I suppose it functions somewhat if one is standard vancian spellcasting class such as a wizard, while the other is spheres casting class such as the incanter. But it is either somewhat pointless or overpowered with two sphere casting classes because magic progression in spheres of power works like BAB, any magic talents or caster levels you gain from one class stack with any magic talents or caster levels you gain from another class (unlike standard classes which keep track of spells per day, spell lists, spells known, and caster level separately).

There's an additional rule your GM can enact saying that every class has an independent Casting Tradition. That way caster level doesn't stack and classes like the Mystic Theurge are more useful, if somewhat annoying in that they don't have compatible class features.


For what it's worth, there's a prestige class - the Bokor - designed for characters that learned both Vancian Casting and Spherecasting.


I haven't checked anywhere near the whole wiki -- in fact this is the first time I have seen it (although I have heard Spheres of Power mentioned before), but I did notice after some searching through it that number of spell points, etc. that you get seems to be covered in individual class descriptions, while expenditure of spell points seems to be covered in Sphere descriptions. Neither bit of information is in the home page, so you will just have to explore A LOT to learn what you need.


Quote:
I haven't checked anywhere near the whole wiki -- in fact this is the first time I have seen it (although I have heard Spheres of Power mentioned before), but I did notice after some searching through it that number of spell points, etc. that you get seems to be covered in individual class descriptions, while expenditure of spell points seems to be covered in Sphere descriptions. Neither bit of information is in the home page, so you will just have to explore A LOT to learn what you need.

The last line in the paragraph entitled 'Spheres of Power' says the following: "...For more information about the mechanics, see 'Using Spheres of Power' below."

Just below that there is a blue link entitled "Using Spheres of Power". Clicking on said link will bring you here which explains how spheres of power actually works.


^I looked on that page and saw the first part of that, but despite seeing all the way through Magic Skill Bonus and Magic Skill Defense (which is a cool idea, by the way) the first time, I didn't see anything below the Distances section in the text the first time -- maybe I couldn't load the page completely the first time? Anyway, saw the whole thing (I think) this time.


UnArcaneElection wrote:

I haven't checked anywhere near the whole wiki -- in fact this is the first time I have seen it (although I have heard Spheres of Power mentioned before), but I did notice after some searching through it that number of spell points, etc. that you get seems to be covered in individual class descriptions, while expenditure of spell points seems to be covered in Sphere descriptions. Neither bit of information is in the home page, so you will just have to explore A LOT to learn what you need.

The number of spell points you get is simplicity itself, as for every class it's your casting stat modifier plus your casting class levels. Once you understand this to be how it works for any sphere-casting class, you see it to be true for all of them. A level 6 Bard with 18 Charisma has 10 spell points, a level 6 Wizard with 18 intelligence has 10 spell points, etc.

Different talents expend points differently, but this isn't really that hard to remember as long as you make sure you understand what a talent actually does when you take it. Only a couple consume more than one spell point at a time, so it's very easy to build a spherecaster with an easy to follow set of skills in that regard as well until you're more comfortable with the system.

It's different from Vancian casting, but I find it's actually way more intuitive if you take very much time at all to study it.


Dot for now, HUGE post incoming ;)


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something I think no one went over. Multiclassing.

This system also makes it so you can multiclass caster classes fairly easily without much down side just like if you were multiclassing a level of fighter and ranger.

you can have a few Wizard levels multiclassed with a cleric and you can do that just fine, you even get to choose if your ENTIRE magic casting is based upon int or wisdom now. this is because your CL stacks just like BAB in this system and you still gain talents at the same rate you'd get them as normal.


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A simple analogy for explaining Spheres vs. Vancian casting:

In standard casting, lift bag is a 1st level spell almost any class has in their spell list. And everyone that picks it up can lift up a 10 pound bag per caster level at 1 round per caster level, which means a Bloodrager can pick up a 50 pound bag for 5 rounds at level 5, and so can the Inquisitor and the Wizard. The only difference between them after a while is that the Inquisitor always has access to lift bag but can only use it as many times per day as she has Spell Slots, and some days the Wizard didn't prepare lift bag and his life kinda sucks because he forgot to leave a slot free for utility like that.

Now, Spheres doesn't have specifically lift bag, but it has the Lift Sphere which allows you to lift some minor things for a duration of concentration, or you can spend a Spell Point to Lift for 1 minute per level, and one of the options for it is Bag. The same Bloodrager, Inquisitor, and Wizard all decide to pick up the Lift Sphere and the Bag option.

Now, at level 10, the Bloodrager only has a caster level of 5 since he only gains 1/2 level as caster level. But he can Lift a 50 pound bag, all day long, at any time he wants with no expenditure of resources except his standard action, and he can hold it as long as he concentrates on the spell, or he can spend a Spell Point to hold it for 5 minutes.

The Inquisitor has a caster level of 7 (3/4 level equals CL) and can Lift up a 70 pound bag for a duration of concentration or a Spell Point for holding it for 7 minutes.

The Wizard, however, gets more magic talents. He spent a talent on the Many talent which falls under the Lift Sphere. So now not only can he Lift a 100 pound bag, but now he can choose to divide that 100 pounds between any number of bags up to that 100 pound limit. He can concentrate of his Lift to keep the effect, or he can spend a Spell Point in order for him to continue to Lift without concentration while he also uses Lift on another up to 100 pounds of bag/s on his next standard action.


I really wanna play using spheres of power at some point. Probably in my home game first. Think I'm gonna build a spellcaster in both the normal way and a SoP version. Just in case.
Btw I'm following this threat and finding it immensly helpful in understanding how SoP works. Thanks guys.

Dark Archive

CalethosVB wrote:
Now, Spheres doesn't have specifically lift bag, but it has the Lift Sphere which allows you to lift some minor things for a duration of concentration, or you can spend a Spell Point to Lift for 1 minute per level, and one of the options for it is Bag. The same Bloodrager, Inquisitor, and Wizard all decide to pick up the Lift Sphere and the Bag option.

Don't you mean the Telekinesis Sphere not "Lift" Sphere?


Sure, I would love to help out a bit with the Spherecasting set of rules :) And if it helps me get into one of your games, well all the better eh? ;)

-----------------
But first, as a GM!
-----------------
One of the first things you should keep in mind as a GM looking over someones sheet is their Casting Tradition. This is basically THEE defining feature of a caster itself. The first section of Sample Casting Traditions is basically ignored by most (I said most) with people cherry picking what they want instead, which is fine :) It is here that a caster is defined, is he a traditional Wizard waving a wand with gestures, chanting and prepared spells? Then he is like every other wizard who follows the tradition, whether that is a potent Incanter or a Fighter with a wizardly dip using Basic Magical Training.
Or is he a Fluke in the blood, the only Sorcerer in a world of Wizards? The only person who doesnt need to prepare spells, instead casts spells using his own blood in a wild, almost uncontrolled fashion that is obvious to all?
Basically Traditions are how you broadly define what a Wizard is, how a bard sings, that priests can only cast spells using a splattering of Angels blood (Material Casting) and cultists must cut themselves in extended rituals to call forth demons to do their bidding for them. (Try it! Create a casting tradition for Cultists using the Summoning Sphere only have the Draining Casting, Painful Magic, Elongated Summoning, and Overcharge Boon traditions where a cultist can spend an extended time, blood and serious exertion to summon an extra-powerful demon ;)
It is also how you define oddities (usually the PCs), such as a Wizard who learned how to cast in full plate (no Somatic Casting or how the rogue must tip his hat (Material Casting) to vanish using the Warp Sphere, or the Fire Elementalist can only cast Fireballs (Energy Focus), or even a Pesh Addict who draws power from his substance abuse...
Seriously, for a GM, this is an incredibly important part :p
Mechanically its also one of the easier ways to take a lot of minor drawbacks and gain some of the more gamebreaking abilities, and usually abilities that effect ALL his casting, so its good to try and predict how the players will use the abilities. A few of the more obvious ones are;
*Aligned Combatant: In a party of only good guys, you can throw fireballs at teammates with impunity. >_>
*Magical Signs/Wild Magic: These can basically be freebies to gain extra power. Can be...
*Easy Focus: a personal favorite, but one that can easily be abused. Its main draw is to spend a lot of SP on an effect and then maintain it indefinitely while you cast/do other things, such as maintaining 2 powers at once. I used it on a Cold Lord (Weather Sphere Incanter) who had a low level chill always around him, but he could turn on the freeze with a few moments notice that could effect a huge area ^_^
*Deathful Magic/Empowered Abilities/Overcharge/Overwhelming Power: These abilities can all boost CL which is significantly more powerful in SoP then normal casting.

-----------------
Random Points
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CL: a Spherecasters CL is similar to a Barbarians BAB in that it is tied to the characters level and used as a defining and limiting factor. Where a class has High/Mid/Low BAB, a caster can be a High/Mid/Low caster with an equivelent CL. Just like how a barbarian can unlock new rage powers at a higher BAB, a caster can unlock new abilities at specific CLs (instead of class levels) or gain improvements to old ones.
*Be wary of items or feats that give bonuses to CL, such as Spell Specialization, as they give a significantly bigger boost then the feat was originally intended to give.
MSB and MSD: Magic Spell Bonus and Magic Spell Defense are basically CMB and CMD for casters and are generally used in place of opposed concentration checks, or other cases where you try and directly oppose an enemy spellcaster.
Note: there is a feat for the Telekinesis Sphere called the Telekinetic Exoskeleton that is just broken. It gives +7 temp hps as a swift action that last indefinatly and can be used an unlimited # of times. Swift action +7hp all the time :/
Advanced Talents also come online at lvl 5 and are something to watch out for. Things like Starflight, Permenant Undead, Disintigration, and Holy/Unholy smite, to name a few.

-----------------
Creating Aolis
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Big Edit. You know I had a lot more written here but I deleted it because honestly, I believe that you/him should just start reading a few different spheres that seem interesting and see what you can come up with. I dont think that there is any real subsitute for that kind of homework and it will get him the most interest in his character if it is his character :/
Sory this last bit isnt as helpful as you may have desired! ^_^


JonathonWilder wrote:
CalethosVB wrote:
Now, Spheres doesn't have specifically lift bag, but it has the Lift Sphere which allows you to lift some minor things for a duration of concentration, or you can spend a Spell Point to Lift for 1 minute per level, and one of the options for it is Bag. The same Bloodrager, Inquisitor, and Wizard all decide to pick up the Lift Sphere and the Bag option.
Don't you mean the Telekinesis Sphere not "Lift" Sphere?

I was trying to bring the imagery closer in-line with what could be a feasible use of personal power.

Yes, there's a Telekinesis Sphere. I could have easily used drink coffee and the Food Sphere with the Drink talent and the Coffee advanced talent instead.


@Gobo Horde: Seems that some of the things like Material Casting and Magical Signs ought to have options to be specific to certain spells (yes, I see where it talks about General Drawbacks and Sphere-Specific Drawbacks, but a little more customizability could be helpful (even within one spell, how about something like you can cast the basic version with no Material components, but if you want the really good version, you have to shell out for it . . . .


UnArcaneElection wrote:
@Gobo Horde: Seems that some of the things like Material Casting and Magical Signs ought to have options to be specific to certain spells (yes, I see where it talks about General Drawbacks and Sphere-Specific Drawbacks, but a little more customizability could be helpful (even within one spell, how about something like you can cast the basic version with no Material components, but if you want the really good version, you have to shell out for it . . . .

Ever hear of alchemical power components? Most of them can be adapted to work with Spheres of Power with little effort (especially with the Destruction sphere, since the Destroyer's Handbook added descriptors to each energy type).


UnArcaneElection wrote:

@Gobo Horde: Seems that some of the things like Material Casting and Magical Signs ought to have options to be specific to certain spells (yes, I see where it talks about General Drawbacks and Sphere-Specific Drawbacks, but a little more customizability could be helpful (even within one spell, how about something like you can cast the basic version with no Material components, but if you want the really good version, you have to shell out for it . . . .

That's what Spell Points represent. You get most of the basic abilities of the Spheres for free, but the more advanced abilities you have to spend a Spell Point for. To get extra Spell Points beyond level + ability mod, you pick up Drawbacks like Material Casting (you must spend 1 silver piece/CL worth of magic materials to cast even basic things) and Magical Signs (big neon message saying, "I'm the healer, kill me first.")

Though, there is inspiration in some of the companion books. In The Telekinetic's Handbook the Soaring Blade archetype has a custom Sphere-specific drawback and boon:

Spoiler:
You can only use Telekinesis on objects you create using Summon Equipment and Bound Equipment. However, you use your Soaring Blade Level as your caster level with the Telekinesis Sphere with these objects.


So this looks like a good threat to ask.
I'm building my first Sphere of Power character right now. Mostly for fun and to try see how it works.
So the character theme I'm going for is a guy who's a mage who feels more connected to animals and magical beasts than as a person. So he's focus is on shapeshifting.
So I made him a shifter.

Here's what I have so far:

Spoiler:
Unnamed Hero
Male human shifter 1
CG Medium humanoid (human)
Init +2; Senses low-light vision; Perception +7
--------------------
Defense
--------------------
AC 14, touch 12, flat-footed 12 (+2 Dex, +2 natural)
hp 10 (1d8+2)
Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +3
Weaknesses beast soul, lycanthropic
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Offense
--------------------
Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 talons +0 (1d4)
--------------------
Statistics
--------------------
Str 10, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 11, Wis 16, Cha 14
Base Atk +0; CMB +0; CMD 12
Feats Cantrips, Extra Magic Talent
Skills Fly +6, Handle Animal +6, Perception +7, Spellcraft +4, Stealth +6
Languages Common
SQ animalistic transformation, avian transformation, bestial spirit, casting, greater transformation, magic skill bonus, magic skill defense, quick transformation, shapeshifter, shapeshifting, size change, wild empathy +3
Other Gear 150 gp
--------------------
Special Abilities
--------------------
Alteration: Animalistic Transformation You can give your shapeshift target the quadruped form
Alteration: Avian Transformation You can give your shapeshift target the avian form
Alteration: Bestial Spirit You can give your shapeshift target several bestial traits
Alteration: Greater Transformation You can give your shapeshift target an extra trait
Alteration: Shapeshifting (2 traits) You can bestow the Blank Form
Alteration: Size Change (+/- 1 size cat.) You can change the size of your shapeshift target
Beast Soul You cannot bestow the Blank Form
Cantrips You can create a variety of small magical effects
Casting (CL 1, Wisdom, DC 13) You can cast sphere effects.
Low-Light Vision See twice as far as a human in dim light, distinguishing color and detail.
Lycanthropic You can only target yourself with your shapeshift ability
MSB +1 Use for counterspelling, concentration, caster level checks, and beating SR
MSD 12 Use when defending against an MSB check
Quick Transformation Apply and maintain shapeshift on yourself as a move action
Shapeshifter Gain Alteration as a bonus sphere, and use your class level as caster level with Destruction
Wild Empathy +3 (Ex) Improve the attitude of an animal, as if using Diplomacy.

Hero Lab and the Hero Lab logo are Registered Trademarks of LWD Technology, Inc. Free download at http://www.wolflair.com
Pathfinder® and associated marks and logos are trademarks of Paizo Inc.®, and are used under license.

So what I wanna know is:
Whats the time limit on shapeshifting or being in another form?
Can I assume any form that I have a Talent for (including the size changing talent) ie. Avian (Owl, Archaeopteryx, roc), Animalistic (Wolf, griffon, Owlbear) etc?
Do I have to concentrate the whole time to stay in the other forms I change into?
What do I use spell points for in this case as a shapeshifter? I know that with say blaster style spellcasters it can help boost the spell output like damage and whatnot but hos can I use them in this build specifically?

Um. I think thats all for now. :)

Thanks guys.


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Normally, the duration of your shapeshift is 'concentration'. Because you have 'Quick Transformation', it only costs you a move action each round to maintain.

When you shapeshift, you may spend a spell point to make it last for 1 minute per caster level without concentration.

When you shapeshift, you pick a form. You gain all the base abilities (and penalties, in some cases; for example, avian has no arms), and may spend Traits on additional abilities from amongst any forms you know. You gain additional traits as you gain caster level. A few talents and class abilities may also grant additional traits.

Note that some traits cost one or more spell points to include in your shapeshift. Incorporeal (undead transformation) costs 2 spell points, I believe.

When you shapeshift, you may describe your form as you like, depending on the form and traits chosen. It doesn't have to be an actual creature. You can make stuff up or mix and match! If you prefer, you may choose to describe your shapeshift as wholly natural forms, but that's an aesthetic choice, not a mechanical one.


Thanks for the reply UR.

So right now I have two traits in that build. Does only the one form I choose get the two traits and any other forms don't get the traits except that one, or does each form get two traits of my choosing.
Ie. Does Avian form get two traits and Animalistic for gets two traits etc?


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Each time you shapeshift, you decide which traits (up to your maximum) you're applying to your current form. So one time you could use Animalistic transformation with the claws trait and low-light vision and say you turned into a jaguar, and next time you could instead use Animalistic transformation and apply the wings trait and the talons trait and say you turned into a griffon. Make sense?


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You can select takes to add to whatever form you are using from among the traits listed under each form you've picked up. With Avian Transformation, for example, it says

You can add the following traits to any form:

  • 2 talon attacks as granted by the avian form. This may be granted once per pair of legs the target possess. The target must possess wings or another means of being airborne to attack with the talons.
  • 2 wings and their benefits or flight speed, as that granted by the avian form.
  • 2 wing attacks (secondary, 1d4, 1d3 small) may be given once per pair of wings possessed.

What this means is that if you use the Alteration Sphere to turn yourself or somebody else into something, you can add one of those above traits to that form, up to your maximum number of traits.

Alteration says your transformations grant 1 trait, +1 per 5 caster levels. I usually pick up Greater Transformation for an early additional trait to forms.

I have a Shifter character hanging around on Drive. Here's a link to him as an example. Don't mind the formatting, this is more for my own ease of use.


Almonihah wrote:
Each time you shapeshift, you decide which traits (up to your maximum) you're applying to your current form. So one time you could use Animalistic transformation with the claws trait and low-light vision and say you turned into a jaguar, and next time you could instead use Animalistic transformation and apply the wings trait and the talons trait and say you turned into a griffon. Make sense?

Ah okay cool. Yeah that makes sense. That's sorta why I was thinking but just needed some clarification. Thanks a bunch :)


CalethosVB wrote:

You can select takes to add to whatever form you are using from among the traits listed under each form you've picked up. With Avian Transformation, for example, it says

You can add the following traits to any form:

  • 2 talon attacks as granted by the avian form. This may be granted once per pair of legs the target possess. The target must possess wings or another means of being airborne to attack with the talons.
  • 2 wings and their benefits or flight speed, as that granted by the avian form.
  • 2 wing attacks (secondary, 1d4, 1d3 small) may be given once per pair of wings possessed.

What this means is that if you use the Alteration Sphere to turn yourself or somebody else into something, you can add one of those above traits to that form, up to your maximum number of traits.

Alteration says your transformations grant 1 trait, +1 per 5 caster levels. I usually pick up Greater Transformation for an early additional trait to forms.

I have a Shifter character hanging around on Drive. Here's a link to him as an example. Don't mind the formatting, this is more for my own ease of use.

Cool cool! Thanks! Yeah I'm seeing the appeal of the SoP system.


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Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

While Spheres is generally weaker than Vancian (certainly when one looks at high levels), there are a couple cases where it gets earlier access to something strong and the ability (almost requirement) to spam it. Off the top of my head, I recall the teleportation sphere being a very tempting pick for almost any Spheres caster (but especially martially inclined ones) and a GM being a bit annoyed with something from the time sphere getting spammed. Probably similar to the various threads we get for a Vancian caster using a single broken-by-that-game's-standards tactic/spell. Probably a good idea to look over the spheres beforehand to see if anything isn't going to work well for your game rather than possibly finding yourself frustrated part way through.


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Yes: what I've heard is that Spherecasters are stronger at lower levels and weaker at higher levels than Slotcasters. There's a bit of balance to this in that Spherecasters are less varied.


If anyone would like to be of help or offer their opinion it would be welcome. Here is a SoP version of Aolis. It's incomplete in some places but the spheres and such are there. Going for a battlefield control and supporter type. Any suggestions would be great.

Aolis Greenborn:

Aolis Greenborn
Male Elf Incanter 7
TN Medium Humanoid (elf)
Init +3; Senses Low-Light Vision; Perception +14
--------------------
DEFENSE
--------------------
AC 13, touch 13, flat-footed 10 (+3 Dex)
hp 49
Fort +3, Ref +5, Will +6 (+2 vs enchantment, +1 vs fey)
Immune sleep
--------------------
OFFENSE
--------------------
Speed 30 ft
Melee -
--------------------
STATISTICS
--------------------
Str 8, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 20, Wis 12, Cha 12
Base Atk +3; CMB +2; CMD 15
Traits Noble Born (Medvyed), Clever Wordplay, Illuminator, Seeker
Feats Extra Magical Talent (5), Additional Traits, Breadth of Experience, Craft Wondrous Item, Leadership, Stronghold
Skills Diplomacy +17 (+2 vs Fey), Knowledge (Arcana) +17, Knowledge (Dungeoneering) +7, Knowledge (Engineering) +7, Knowledge (Geography) +17, Knowledge (History) +17, Knowledge (Local) +7, Knowledge (Nature) +17, Knowledge (Nobility) +7, Knowledge (Planes) +17, Knowledge (Religion) +17, Linguistics +15, Perception +14, Sense Motive +11, Spellcraft +15 (+2 vs items)
Languages Common, Elven, Draconic, Celestial, Sylvan, Gnome, Aklo, Infernal, Abyssal, Auran, Terran, Ignan, Aquan,
--------------------
MAGIC
--------------------
Spell Pool 15
Caster Level 7th
Spheres Conjuration (Greater Summoning, Form Talent), Creation, Destruction (Crystal Blast, Extended Range), Divination (Expanded Divination, Fast Divination, Viewing), Protection (Armored Magic, Luck), Time (Group Time, Ranged Time), Warp (Group Teleport, Ranged Teleport)
Drawbacks Elongated Summoning, Somatic Casting x2, Magical Signs, Focus Casting
Boons Easy Focus


It looks pretty solid for your level. Note that if you're using the Diviner's Handbook, you get some bonus divinations just for knowing other Spheres. Some are better than others, but they could be useful every now and then. XD

Definitely take a look at what you want to spend your wealth on, though, and - this is important - get familiar with the differences in crafting between the systems. Some crafting feats do different things in Spheres.


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I've played around with crafting. It's more interesting and to me seems easier than standard item creation. Maybe because you get a big list of effects based on the Spheres you want to use?

Use X Sphere, add Y talent, increase duration to Z, make it usable T times per day, and then multiply by the listed cost.

Forge Ring covers all your wearable items that give you a +1 to something, such as belts, rings, and cloaks (examples). Oddly, this does not cover actual rings that do something other than +1 to something.

Craft Rod covers all your continuous and at-will effect items. A ring that allows you to become invisible at-will is created through Craft Rod.

Crafting Metamagic rods under this system takes some reverse engineering. A metamagic feat takes a number of Spell Points per casting equal to the increase in spell slot it wouldrequire you to take up. So +1 complexity for each Spell Point the metamagic feat would force you to spend. Minimum CL is 9. So a Quickening Rod would be priced at 90,000 gp and could be used regardless of Spell Level, and a +1 Spell level rod would be priced at 18,000 and could be used with any Spell Level. Both of these are less than Greater rods but more than Normal rods.

Wands are now set up kinda like staves? They give you an at-will ability with no charges, and it's actually worth it to get wands of a higher caster level. These are also expensive, with the lowest price Wand being 1000 gp, and the highest price Wand being 100k. These are rechargeable as well! Don't bother buying wands of Cure, you'll only be disappointed. You have to activate it with the wand's Spell Points and it may not have any depending on how the Wand was made.

Staves are freaking awesome. Seriously, buy or build one. These are truly a caster's best friend, like they were meant to be. These give a temporary enhancement bonus to your caster level with 1 Sphere. Caster level affects DCs, range, duration, and potentially spell effects. A +5 Destruction Staff nets you 3d6 to all of your Destructive Blasts, or 5d6 if you spend a Spell Point. These don't, how've, raise the HD of summoned companions nor do they allow a necromancer to animate more dead, but it does give bonuses appropriate to those creatures.

Potions of higher caster levels are kinda worth buying or making sometimes. You don't need to increase caster level to increase range or duration. You buy potions of Cure, not wands.

Scrolls are good for a standard action spell in a can that manages to do a lot of things at once. Caster level affects duration and distance but not as much as just going off the charts given, and in most cases caster level grants a better effect.

Wondrous items are kinda cool, especially if your GM tells you that you can do the things you think you can do with them. They're the X/day items. Using Craft Wondrous Item, I've made potions that refill themselves once per day for emergency whatever. Out of Spell Points but need one more minute of Transformation time? Chug this Wondrous Potion. A ring that allows you to become invisible 3/day is a wondrous item.


Yeah I think I will remove craft wondrous items for something else, maybe another extra magical talent. That way I have time to get a better understanding of the SoP gear and such before going down that rabbit hole. Going to put that off to the side for now.

Seeing as choosing spheres took the most time for me, I'd welcome any critics. I may just add another one or expand an existing one with a new feat opened up.

A little review of Aolis current abilities. All day assistant/minion (still thinking about), basic large creations, medium ranged blasting with difficult terrain and entanglement options. One minute divinations and remote sensor use. The ability to create barriers as well as grant armor, shield, and deflection with the option to dismiss them in order to grant a free reroll on a saving throw. Able to haste or slow small groups (4) at close range. Finally the ability to teleport small groups (4) with in close range at medium range.


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@Aolis Greenborn: Remember that with the Divination sphere, you gain FREE alternate divinations each time you acquire a new sphere. Thus, you gain the following alternate divinations for free:

Divine Unnaturals (Conjuration) - Divine the presence of outsiders and aberrations.
Divine Components (Creation) - Divine materials which you can create, or Divine what the product of presented components may create.
Divine Hostility (Destruction) - Divine when creatures take damage, type of damage they took, and from what direction the damage originated.
Divine Protection (Protection) - Divine what creatures have the lowest AC, or Divine the highest and lowest save of each creature within range.
Divine Time (Time) - Divine what size of creatures were in the area in the immediate past and what objects were moved into or out of the area.
Divine Warp (Warp) - Divine the presence of rifts, portals, teleportation circles, etc.


Thanks for the tip, more divination is always good. :)

A few questions now that I have been looking over more SoP.
Is the base creation sphere redundant with protection sense I can create barriers in place of things like walls?
Would a staff of conjuration be worth it or is something like a staff of destruction way more useful?


Staff of Conjuration doesn't increase the HD of your summoned companions. It gives them a circumstance bonus equal to the staff's enhancement bonus to attack rolls and skill checks. Same with undead animated through the Death Sphere. For almost everything else, a staff is good.

As for the base Creation vs Protection vs Destruction with the Rebuff talent:

It depends on what you want the Sphere itself for. If you want to make things out of nothing or repair your weapons and stuff, get Creation. If you're looking to protect yourself and your group with more and more boosts, Protection. And, of course, you know what you can do with Destruction.


Aolis Greenborn wrote:
Is the base creation sphere redundant with protection sense I can create barriers in place of things like walls?

If you were only going to use creation to create walls, than sure. But just for completeness sake, lets look at each more closely. (Assuming CL 7)

Barriers w/ Creation sphere: Hardness 5; HP 10; four 10-ft x 10-ft x 1-in wall (becomes eight at CL 8); Duration Concentration (or 7 hours w/ Lengthened Creation)

Barriers w/ Protection sphere: Hardness 0: HP 11; Break DC 18, 45 radius surrounding caster (or seven 10-ft cube barriers w/ Greater Barrier); Duration 7 rounds.

However Creation has several other uses besides creating walls, infact there is alot of versatility in that sphere. Infact many challenges may be able to be simplified just by creating a mundane item.

Aolis Greenborn wrote:
Would a staff of conjuration be worth it or is something like a staff of destruction way more useful?

That depends, what would the enhancement bonus of the staff be? If it will only be a +1 Staff, than it will do the following:

Conjuration - Wont affect summon's Stats, but will grant an additional +1 on attack rolls and skill checks.
Creation - Increases/Doubles the size/number of objects created.
Destruction - +1 die (when spending a SP), and +1 Save DC.
Divination - Sense duration last +1 hour.
Protection - Aegis duration last +1 hour, slightly larger barriers.
Time - +1 Save DC, duration +1 round.
Warp - teleport slightly further away.

Honestly with your spheres, the "best choices" would probably be Creation, Destruction, or Protection. Everything else (at this level) only be slightly buffed with +1 CL.


I'll admit creation does have it's allure but I am spread a little thin in my opinion. Also creation looks like a good spell point pit at this point. So I thought just having the base sphere was a bit of a waste, something that won't hold true later on but I'm dealing with the right now. So I think it's best to drop it, unless I drop another sphere and focus more on creation to make it overall better. x)

As for the staff, seems like protection is the way to go all around. Thanks again for your input guys and gals.


I fel like we should have a play-by-post SoP learning game where we learn as we play how best to use the system.

Gonna try run a game using only SoP with my home group and let everyone play a different caster with mastery of different sphere's and run a gauntlet to see what everyone thinks and how to use the system. unless there's already a cool SoP adventure worth playing.


Here is a tentative final draft of Aolis. Any thoughts are welcome, that includes the companion. She is a social/sneak type to be clear, I found it a little difficult to build her. Seems conjuration takes a lot of investment.

Aolis:

Aolis Greenborn
Male Elf Incanter 7
TN Medium Humanoid (elf)
Init +4; Senses Low-Light Vision; Perception +19
--------------------
DEFENSIVE
--------------------
AC 15, touch 13, flat-footed 12 (+3 Dex, +1 Armor, +1 Shield)
hp 49 (7d6+7)
Fort +4, Ref +6, Will +7 (+2 vs enchantment, +1 vs fey)
Immune sleep
--------------------
OFFENSIVE
--------------------
Speed 30 ft
Melee Destructive Blast +2 (4d6/x2)
Ranged Destructive Blast +6 (4d6/x2)
Special Attacks Destructive Blast (170 ft.)
--------------------
STATISTICS
--------------------
Str 8, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 22, Wis 12, Cha 12
Base Atk +3; CMB +2; CMD 15
Traits Noble Born (Medvyed), Clever Wordplay, Illuminator, Seeker
Feats Extra Magical Talent (6), Additional Traits, Breadth of Experience, Leadership, Stronghold
Skills Diplomacy +19 (+2 vs Fey), Knowledge (Arcana) +18, Knowledge (Dungeoneering) +8, Knowledge (Engineering) +8, Knowledge (Geography) +18, Knowledge (History) +18, Knowledge (Local) +15, Knowledge (Nature) +18, Knowledge (Nobility) +8, Knowledge (Planes) +18, Knowledge (Religion) +18, Linguistics +16, Perception +19, Sense Motive +12, Spellcraft +16 (+2 vs items)
Languages Common, Elven, Draconic, Celestial, Sylvan, Gnome, Aklo, Infernal, Abyssal, Auran, Terran, Ignan, Aquan,
--------------------
MAGIC
--------------------
Spell Pool 15
Caster Level 7th (8th Protection)
Spheres Conjuration (Greater Summoning, Form Talent x3), Destruction (Extended Range), Divination (Fast Divination x2, Viewing), Protection (Armored Magic, Luck, Distant Protection), Time (Group Time, Ranged Time), Warp (Group Teleport, Ranged Teleport)
Drawbacks Elongated Summoning, Somatic Casting x2, Magical Signs, Focus Casting
Boons Easy Focus
Companions Nysali (Medium Biped, Lingering Companion, Transformative, Skillful Companion, Magical Companion)
--------------------
SPECIAL ABILITIES
--------------------
Fey Thoughts,
--------------------
GEAR
--------------------
Explorer's Outfit, Scholar's Outfit, Pocketed Scarf, Reversible Cloak, Bandolier (2), Haramaki, Mithral Buckler, Cane of Protection +1, Headband of Vast Intelligence +2, Handy Haversack, Pathfinder Pouch, Cloak of Resistance +1, Hat of Disguise, Quick Runner's Shirt, Wayfinder, Cracked Dark Blue Rhomboid Ioun Stone, Cracked Dusty Rose Prism Ioun Stone, Cracked Mulberry Pentacle Ioun Stone, Eyes of the Eagle, Iron Vials (10), Chronicler's Kit, Scrivener's Kit, Wizard's Kit, 5813 gp in gems

Nysali
Medium Outsider
Init +5; Senses Normal; Perception +6
--------------------
DEFENSE
--------------------
AC 16, touch 11, flat-footed 15 (+1 Dex, +5 Nat)
hp 72 (6d10+12)
Fort +7, Ref +3, Will +5 (+4 vs enchantment effects)
--------------------
OFFENSIVE
--------------------
Speed 30 ft
Melee 2 slams +9 (1d4+3/x2)
Special Attacks -
--------------------
STATISTICS
--------------------
Str 16, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 14
Base Atk +6; CMB +9; CMD 20
Feats Improved Initiative, Extra Spell Pool, Extra Magical Talent
Skills Bluff +11, Linguistics +6, Perception +6, Stealth +10
Languages Common, Elven, Sylvan, Aklo,
--------------------
MAGIC
--------------------
Spell Pool 4
Caster Level 3rd
Spheres Warp (Unseeing Teleport, Quick Teleport)
--------------------
SPECIAL ABILITIES
--------------------
Evasion, Devotion, Transformative,

@That Sean fellow
Any insights or thoughts on your game running SoP would be great to see here.


Good Spheres for social stuff and sneaking are probably Mind, Illusion, and Warp.

Conjuration takes as much or as little investment as you want. You CAN make an amazing, fully-powered companion if you want to... or you can make something much more targeted in what it does. XD


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Definitely give Spheres of Power a chance, it is very difficult to break, and much weaker than Vanecian, but much more satisfying.

I know youre looking for a walkthrough of how it works, but I feel thats already largely covered, so let me instead prevent you a brief synopsis of why it works and why a player would want to use it.

The main draw of SOP is that it is incredibly flexible and fufills a characters fantasies without allowing them to become overpowered or needing to wait till higher levels.

In spheres of power you can raise the dead, summon celestials, teleport around, levitate across the ground or even fly, and wield weapons with the power of your mind, transform completely or partially into different creatures, all at level 1 (though doing all these at once would be difficult to impossible).

It also allows you to make weird builds. Dip a few levels into a different class, or even fully multiclass, all without dramatically cutting into your arcane power (you can even get a feat to allow completely non casting classes like fighter count as half casters), meaning you can be a sneaky rogue who picks locks at a distance with magic and teleports away from danger without having to fiddle with different archtypes and prestige classes.

In short, use Spheres of Power if you want people to have access to empowering magic while simultaneously balancing casters and martials.


Aolis Greenborn wrote:

@That Sean fellow

Any insights or thoughts on your game running SoP would be great to see here.

Sure, no problem. It'll probably happen sometime in December.


Okay so here's a question. If I have players that are using SoP for their spellcasters right, and I plan some encounters for them but use the Vanecian/standard caster style for the monsters/demons/evil mages, how would they fair in that fight? Would the bad guys be enough of a challenge for the SoP group?


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Yes. Vancian Magic is fundamentally stronger than Spherecasting, and it should be just fine to run pre-written encounters. The only thing to really worry about is abilities that need specific spells as counters, in which case you should modify them to be appropriate for your group.

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