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Calling all wordsmiths


Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew


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I've put together the concept of a unique item to be offered the PCs as loot, based largely on inspiration from folks in the Jade Regent thread. My version, however, calls for chapters of magnificently bombastic arcane or philosophical meanderings, each followed by utterly absurd metaphysical exercises. (Except that the final chapter consists only of blank pages.) The players will get the following explanation:

GM wrote:
Despite the absurdity of the prose, you each do feel drawn to read a different, specific chapter -- other than the final one on Universal. Please choose a unique chapter now. Let me know if you do study your chapter; it will take 24 hours in increments of 4 to 8 hours a day to master the material. And if you ever choose to read a second chapter, by all means let me know!

Top Secret Key to the Book, for non-players only:
PCs who study a chapter will gain a bonus feat of their choice, from within a specific category related in concept to the school of magic that the chapter theoretically concerns. In other words, each chapter's category of feats should benefit a PC of any class. (Even if some would be of greater benefit to a given character than others.) The feat chosen may not have another feat as a prerequisite and the character must meet all prerequisites by their next level-up at latest.

Fine Print: The GM rules on whether a particular feat fits a chapter’s category and may rule out some feats arbitrarily, specifically including metamagic feats that boost the spell level by more than 1. PCs who try to study an unread chapter after even starting on a different one must make a Will DC 30 save or find themselves permanently drained of one level--while not benefiting from a second bonus feat. (Restoration will restore the level, as usual.)

Feat categories:
Abjuration ------ Defense
Conjuration ----- Skill Focus for 1 physical skill (any Dex or Str)
Divination ------- Skill Focus for 1 knowledge skill (any Int)
Enchantment --- Skill Focus for 1 interaction skill (any Cha or Wis)
Evocation ------- Class ability
Illusion ---------- Dice roll bonus or reroll (no saves or skill bonuses)
Necromancy ----- Damage (melee, ranged, or spell)
Transmutation -- Statistics (a save, movement, etc)
Universal -------- N/A (This will eventually offer an advanced bonus feat in the same category as the first.)

I'd appreciate, first of all, SPOILERED comments on the feat categories I've got. (The players shouldn't know what the chapters will teach until the PCs have all chosen a chapter.)

Secondly, I don't know what the book will radiate: Strong Universal???

I also would like some help on meeting the high (or low, depending on your point of view!) standard of "magnificently bombastic arcane or philosophical meanderings." Fortunately, I'm only writing two snippets from the Prologue, and the diverse chapter titles. I believe I could put these in the clear, but I'm spoilering them anyway, just to save on screen space. I'm really wordy, but this is bombastic, remember? :)

Wordsmith forge:
The prologue reads, in part, “The deepest mysteries of magic are subjacent to the elven soul at its basest roots -- indeed, not just the elven soul, but the sentient soul. One need not cast magic in its conspicuous form -- its many forms, that is, each a distinct fragment divorced from the solitary all -- to be able to work it upon the world. For the proof of that, one need only watch an innocent child at play, creating a unique world never to be glimpsed again, yet discovered in the depths of a simple toy; or else listen to a couple quarreling bitterly, lacerating both of their worlds with pain and shame, even as they seek greater weapons in the merest mist of words with which to ravage the other; or in fact witness this very philosopher as he humbly pens this brief and inadequate treatise.…” [A margin note reads, ‘This copy has been penned by a far humbler translator, who merely transmits the magic of the lost ages, and is responsible for none of it.’ Despite both claims, of course, the copy detects as quite magical.]

“… Nonetheless, to expose what is subjacent to the soul is to bend it ever so slightly, to twist it toward a greater light, certainly, but still, to create in that soul a specific helix that abounds with power. Returning to gain more power is ever so attractive, undoubtedly, but nonetheless a danger that the humble author, who has pondered these mysteries so deeply, who has delved into them with abandon, who has stripped his soul bare in order to explore the veriest roots of being in the solitary all, must warn the gentle reader against. He must beg the reader, above all, no matter how his prose moves the reader to explore the full volume of his research, not to read more than the tiniest whole contained within that volume, being a single chapter. Indeed, the humble philosopher who will act as the reader’s guide in exploring what is subjacent to his soul has provided a full treatise only in the hopes that his poor research will draw the attention of many readers, each of whom will undoubtedly be directed by his inner being to the mystery most pertinent to that reader’s deepest need, his greatest drive, the thirstiest sink in the basest roots of his being. It must be said, in short, that reading more than a single chapter of this book -- most fortunately, not including this very prologue that falls upon the reader’s eye at the moment of reading this warning -- is to be considered a danger to one’s sanity. Even so, the author of this work must beg the reader to persist in plunging into the solitary all for the space of that one chapter that will offer that reader the best glimpse of true magic, if only to contrast it with the shabby trappings of it found all too often in this world.”

Proposed chapter titles:

  • On stepping subjacent, not aside: Abjuration
  • On finding the plenitude in the solitary all: Conjuration
  • On envisioning what is ere it becomes: Divination
  • On how the solitary all is subjacent to all: Enchantment
  • On when the meaning of ‘is’ is too fleeting for being: Evocation
  • On when what is is what is not: Illusion
  • On detaching another from the solitary all: Necromancy
  • On seeing your subjacent face in the glass: Transmutation
  • On finding all in the solitary, and the solitary in all: Universal (blank)

I especially would like help on the chapter titles.


Thanks so much for making this item even more memorable!


Hmmm. No wordsmiths yet...


Spoiler:
Skill Focus is potentially a much weaker feat than the other possibilities, especially if it turns out that, say, a conjurer wizard chooses to study the conjuration chapter and they have no physical skills. Depending on your PCs this may not be a problem, I don't know.

Rather than a general plan I'd produce a short list of feats, maybe 3 or 4 for each feat category. This should allow you to put something useful for each PC in each category while keeping them more or less themed with the spell schools.

The text and titles seem bombastic enough. Are you asking for more such text or what?


Avr, thank you!

Reply:
You put your finger right on probably the weakest link: a conjurer wizard grabbing the Conjuration chapter. Would they have NO interest in Acrobatics, Fly, or Stealth? Hmmm. All right, maybe they'll accept a +3 bonus in Fly, say, but are unlikely to build the skill (or any other physical skill) to 10 ranks for the big SF pay-off. That is pretty lukewarm, I have to admit. What if it's simply "physical skills"? (And correspondingly, "knowledge skills" & "interaction skills".) At that point, you could take a Skill Focus, or one of the paired bonus skills, or some other feat that concerned a skill of that type.

Then all of the following would be examples of feats that would qualify for Conjuration, in addition to a particular type of Skill Focus:

  • Acrobatic
  • Animal Affinity (also qualifies for Enchantment)
  • Athletic
  • Deft Hands
  • Go Unnoticed
  • Mocking Dance (requires Acro 4 ranks)
  • Skilled Driver
  • Skilled Rager (physical skills only; nice for a bloodrager or barbarian)
  • Slow Faller (requires Acro 5 ranks)
  • Stealthy
  • Sure Grasp (requires Climb 1 rank)
  • Undersized Mount (possibly of greatest interest for a wizard)
Is this now broad enough?

Or do I indeed need to add the obvious extra category to each chapter: feats related to magic of that school? That would give Conjuration the following possible feats, as examples:

  • Critical Cure
  • Spell Focus (Conjuration)

{Added possibility:
Or Conjuration, Divination, & Enchantment might not give a feat at all. Instead they might give 1 skill point per character level in a specific skill of the corresponding type. (I'd let players choose the skill, and reallocate any ranks already assigned to other skills of that type, in a legal manner.) Then the character would continue to gain one rank in the chosen skill as they leveled. Is that now too powerful?}

~~~~~~

As for the text, I'm content with your reassurance that I have achieved bombasticity. If more felicitous wording happens to strike your mind, please do put forward alternative suggestions, however. :)


Spoiler:
Yeah, if you want to leave it open to the imagination of the players the first idea works, more or less. An unlucky and unimaginative player might need assistance, if you have such a player.

If you're planning to read those out rather than giving them as a handout you might want to practice them at least once to avoid falling over your tongue. It's happened to me.


Reply:
<grin> yeah, I think I'll make this a hand-out! Even if I didn't trip over my tongue in reading the prologue, the players' eyes would glaze over long before I got to the crucial warning, and they'd never sort the chapter titles out! I'll make a player read it out loud, though...

I think I was troubled by my chapter titles because some of them pertain too closely to a school of magic, and insufficiently clearly (in hindsight) to the actual topic. Conjuration is a prime example. Here's a new set, with changes bolded.

Proposed chapter titles:

  • On stepping subjacent, not aside: Abjuration
  • On finding physical plenitude in metaphysical all: Conjuration
  • On glimpsing what becomes by observing what is: Divination
  • On how the solitary all is subjacent to all: Enchantment
  • On ??: Evocation
  • On when what is is what is not: Illusion
  • On disjoining a single other from the solitary all: Necromancy
  • On seeing your subjacent face in the glass: Transmutation
  • On finding all in the solitary, and the solitary in all: Universal (blank)
The reason that Evocation got replaced with "??" is that its category, class abilities, is important but hard for me to relate to Evocation.
> Can you suggest an angle on Evo that fits with "class ability feats"? (Something I could use as the basis for my mumbo-jumbo.)
> Or is there a category of feats that I don't already have that would be a better fit for Evo?
> Or a school with a category that I could swap with? For instance, I could reasonably give Enchantment or Transmutation class ability feats, but I don't see an angle for giving interaction skill or statistics feats to Evocation in exchange.

{Added: I've been coming back to edit the Conjuration title ever since I first posted, and I'm still not happy with the wording... but I'll quit editing now.}

Thanks for your help!

Shadow Lodge

I think I can contribute some extra passages from the specific chapters... is there any particular time you need them by?

suggestion regarding avr's concern:
Giving skill ranks would be a decent option. I don't think that an extra skill rank a level in a specific skill is generally overpowered compared to a feat - though it does vary a bit depending on the skill.

I think the main issue with the skill feats, though, is that the skill categories you've developed are not equally valuable.

Dex/Str skills (9): Acrobatics, Climb, Disable Device, Escape Artist, Fly, Ride, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, Swim

Most characters aren't going to get much out of skill focus in any of these skills - even the better skills on the list are generally more useful to highly invested characters, the scouts and thieves of the group. If you give ranks instead of Skill Focus it gets a bit better since then you can get an Acrobatics or Stealth check that you might actually be able to do something with. But it's still not great – and the actual scouts and thieves may not have a great place to move ranks to if they've already got Acrobatics, Disable Device, and Stealth.

Int skills (14): Appraise, Craft, Knowledge (arcana, dungeoneering, engineering, geography, history, local, nature, nobility, planes, religion), Linguistics, Spellcraft.

There's a lot of skills here and about half of them are pretty good skills. Unless your group has a designated "knowledge character" (and maybe even if you do have such a character) it's likely everyone will have at least one one Int-based skill they have some investment in – and I'm betting that most characters would have somewhere useful to shuffle ranks to if you give them full ranks in their favourite Int-based skill.

Cha/Wis skills (12): Bluff, Diplomacy, Disguise, Handle Animal, Heal, Intimidate, Perception, Perform, Profession, Sense Motive, Survival, Use Magic Device

If you give out Skill Focus, worst case scenario with this list is +3 to Perception, which is useful to literally anyone. Best case is probably a bard with Versatile Performance or Pageant of the Peacock getting +6 to multiple skills. If you give out ranks it's possible that someone will have already maxed out all the skills on this list they're interested in, but it's less likely than with the Dex/Str list.

Bigger issue: It looks like you're trying to divide up the categories of feats in a very broad manner, but as a result you're shoving these categories into school associations that don't really fit. Attaching physical skills to Conjuration is a stretch in the first place – spells that let you fly or swim or jump better are Transmutation's style. Evocation's not associated with class abilities, it's about damage – but then what do you do with Necromancy? And Disguise and Perception end up associated with Enchantment when they really make much more sense associated with Illusion and Divination, respectively. I appreciate that by drawing large categories of feats you're trying to offer your players a good range of options, but it also makes it a lot harder to ensure that the options are balanced and thematic.

I would seriously consider avr's suggestion that you come up with a list of feats. You could always add the invitation for your players to suggest a feat you haven't thought of with the understanding that you're the judge of whether the suggested feat is appropriate mechanically and thematically.


Wow, Weirdo! Thank you so much! I'm running two games now (!!!!), and the party that is closest to finishing an adventure arc and claiming this special prize is currently still fighting their way to the house with the BBEG in it. (Well, BBELs for Ladies.) And we have to skip this week's game. So I'm thinking I won't possibly need my book until April 7th, and maybe later.

reply to avr & Weirdo:
OK, I concede. Thanks for spelling it out for me, Weirdo; I really needed to see the nitty-gritty associations & consequences. I really would prefer to truly implement the flavor of my concept than to cheat with those broad categories. However, I was reluctant to accept avr's suggestion in the first place mostly out of technical concerns that haven't flown away...

  • Point in favor of generating a specific list: Unlike the PRD Spell Index, the filters in the PRD Feat Index are fully implemented. I can (yay!) screen for the books I'm using: Core, the Advanced series, and the Ultimate series. Plus I can uncheck types of feats other than Combat & Untyped, and ask for the ones with feats as prereqs to be hidden. By contrast, as far as I can see, the d20pfsrd offers no filtering at all.

  • Point against: There's still a lot of feats popping up with all of the filters I mentioned set -- 444! Unfortunately, because I'm not the sort to read carefully through a chapter on feats and plot out builds, I can't just read through a list of hundreds of feat names and quickly pull out the "obvious" choices. So that leads us to...

  • Point against: The basic PRD search engine is HORRIBLY implemented. For this purpose, it's close to useless. I generated my sample list of "physical skills" feats by pulling up the Feat Index and running a CTRL-F search for each of the skills in turn, by name. That's terribly inefficient at best -- and downright broken for finding feats that don't concern very specific key words. (Just try finding "luck feats" by searching the Feat Index for the word "luck" sometime!)

  • Point against: There are a lot of feats with racial prereqs. Of the two games I'm running, one has entirely homebrew races that would not qualify for any of the racial feats. While the other game does use Core races, I'd still have to weed out feats for races in the ARG. (Honestly, I often wish the Feat Index had a filter to hide racial prereqs.)

    {Added: Well, that was a "stupidly obvious rap on the head" moment: I simply unchecked the ARG, and got rid of those racial feats for races I'm not possibly using! That got the list of feats down to 329, all by itself.}

  • Point against: There are a lot of feats with class prereqs that are really cool, but that I wouldn't want to list chapter by chapter. Planning to put feats that require divine casting OR rage abilities OR magus arcana all into one chapter gave me confidence that each of my various PCs could potentially benefit from it. (Come to mention it, I often wish the Feat Index had a filter to hide class ability prereqs!)

    Those two filters alone would have quickly trimmed that list of 444 feats down to a very manageable number to look through and sort by hand. Without them, I'm daunted. Persuaded that the effort ought to be made, yes, to properly create a Tome of the Subjacent Mysteries, but daunted. Can you help? (I can't believe I left the book's title out of my OP!)

Shadow Lodge

Spoiler:
Yes, I can probably help out with feat selection. In fact, I've been wanting to make a list of school-associated feats for a different piece of my own homebrew.

Would you rather I prioritize the chapter text or feat lookup?


oooh!:
Now I'm starting to get my brain in gear behind the change, instead of just griping about it. So I started looking at traits in Ultimate Campaign. The fact is, typical traits are simply the equivalent of Skill Focus (a +1 bonus & counting a skill as a class skill, for a total of +4 now but nothing extra later). And I'd skip most others outright. But then there's the traits that are better than any feat in existence, offering a reroll of some type per day or cheap metamagic or some other nifty ability. Truly subjacent, you know?

I could manage reading through a few pages to pick those OPoid traits out, and then classifying them by school -- so the reader of a given chapter could pick one associated trait. And it would be easy enough to classify the skills by association with a school of magic, so that each chapter could offer a couple of paired-bonus feats (like Acrobatic) or a Skill Focus in related skills, again for a pick of one. Would both a spiffy trait & a skill bonus feat be a clearly over-the-edge benefit?

In any case, the actual benefit has to come before more text. I believe that as long as I've got a decent prologue excerpt to set the tone plus solid chapter titles, it's good enough to hand the players. If you really are willing to sort through hundreds of feats, I'll be happy to take a seat at your table. :D (Please list the source for the feats you classify, if you go beyond a basic handful of books.) Or I have a handle on an achievable alternate approach!


Spoiler:
Traits are an easier way to go, sure. Besides the metamagic ones I'm not sure that I'd describe any of them as overpowered. One trait and a skill focus/double skill bonus feat is certainly not more overpowered than a single good bonus feat.

If you want a few suggestions for feats for each school instead I could do that - it helps I have some familiarity with the feats out there.


Thank you!:
avr, the more help, the merrier! I trust Weirdo would appreciate a collaborator, as well. I'm going to go to work on the traits, and see what I can come up with. It might be helpful. Besides, whatever you two are doing for your own homebrew (and I hope I get to see the results!), you might want to throw a trait or two in. We can committee this, with my gratitude.

But again, if you move beyond the most basic of books, please list your sources for anything you pick out. I'm using Core, the Advanced line, and the Ultimate line -- although that set is a maximum limit, not a minimum requirement: I'm perfectly happy if you'd prefer to limit yourselves to a more basic set than that. Also, while I don't know what Weirdo is going to consider for himself, I'll want to eliminate feats that have narrow requirements for race or class abilities. Skill ranks are more manageable as prereqs -- anyone of a high enough level can pick them up with one level-up, if they're motivated enough. You can't change your race or class on a whim, though. (I'll probably still skip Sea Legs, mind you, with its prereq of "Profession (sailor) 5 ranks"! LOL!)

Shadow Lodge

Crunch Ideas:
Since my project is making school-based sorcerer bloodlines, I'm also avoiding feats that have specific race or class requirements, or really much in the way of pre-reqs at all. Since you need feats useful to people other than sorcerers, I'm going to include a bit of a wider range of feats here. Prerequisites and sources if unusual in (). I've included some feats based on common class or race features like channel energy, sneak attack, animal companions/familiars, or darkvision. Some feats may be in multiple lists.

Abjuration (15 feats)

The school of defense and magic negation.

General: Combat Expertise, Dodge, Toughness, Great Fortitude, Lightning Reflexes, Iron Will, Skill Focus (Acrobatics) – used to avoid AoO
Casters: Arcane Shield (Arcane CL 10), Combat Casting, Destructive Dispel (cast dispel magic, CL 11), Dispel Synergy (Spellcraft 5), Improved Counterspell, Spell Focus (Abjuration)
Martial: Bolstered Resilience (DR), Shield Focus (+1 BAB), Saving Shield

Worst case scenario, +2 to a saving throw.

Conjuration (14 feats)

The school of extraplanar entities, matter creation (crafting), teleportation, and healing.

General: Gunsmithing, Master Alchemist (alchemy 5 ranks), Godless Healing (Inner Sea World Guide), Fast Healer (ignore Endurance/Diehard pre-reqs – this is not a great feat), Demon Hunter (Kn Planes 6 ranks, Inner Sea World Guide), Skill Focus (Kn Planes or Heal)
Casters: Spell Penetration, Spell Focus (Conjuration), Item Creation feats?
Martial: Master Craftsman (craft 5 ranks)
Special: Alignment Channel (channel energy), Dimensional Agility (use dimension door), Elemental Channel (channel energy), Evolved Companion (Cha 13, animal companion), Evolved Familiar (Int 13, Cha 13, familiar), Improved Familiar

This one's actually quite challenging. It includes a lot of different things – none of which is associated with many solid pre-requisite free feats. Spell Penetration isn't bad, and outsiders are a common source of SR so it kinda fits. If you include Item Creation feats then casters get some options, on top of some neat stuff for casters with pets. Martials are harder – the DR penetrating feats that would be thematically similar to Spell Penetration all have elaborate pre-requisites. Teamwork feats would be potentially thematic with the “summoning allies” thing but unless a character has tactician, solo tactics, or similar they would need someone else to spend a feat to actually enjoy the benefit.

Note: if you give out Master Craftsman I highly suggest houseruling it to act as Craft Wondrous Item or Craft Magic Arms & Armour using the selected skill, which would make it an actually modestly useful feat. As is it just enables a non-casting character to take a crafting feat later.

Divination (9 feats)

The school of information and preternatural reaction speed.

General: Improved Initiative, Alertness, Amateur Investigator (Int 13, rank in a knowledge skill), Skill Focus (Knowledge, Linguistics), Lightning Reflexes
Caster: Detect Expertise (Int 13, can cast a detect spell), Spell Focus (Divination)
Martial: Blind-Fight, Combat Reflexes, Shadow Strike (BAB +1)

There aren't a lot of feats in this category, but there are several good and broadly useful ones, with Improved Initiative being the biggie.

Enchantment (12 feats)

The school of social manipulation and morale.

General: Antagonize, Battle Cry (Cha 15 and BAB +5 or Perform 5 ranks), Flagbearer (Cha 15), Persuasive, Taunt (small size), Voice of the Sibyl (Cha 15), Steadfast Personality, Iron Will, Skill Focus (bluff, diplomacy, intimidate, sense motive, perform)
Caster: Encouraging Spell (Cha 13, Diplomacy 6 ranks, Magic Tactics Toolbox), Spell Focus (Enchantment)
Martial: Enforcer (Intimidate 1 rank), Intimidating Prowess, Performance Weapon Mastery

Not a ton of variety in here, but if you make sure the title is a strong hint as to its contents no one should be disappointed. Worst case scenario someone picks up Iron Will to resist enchantments better.

Evocation (13 feats)

The blasting school, associated with primal energies, force, and damage.

General: Skill Focus (Intimidate)
Caster: Arcane Blast (arcane CL 10), Arcane Strike, Elemental Focus, Spell Focus (Evocation), Elemental Spell, Intensified Spell
Martial: Deadly Aim (Dex 13, BAB +1), Point Blank Shot, Power Attack (Str 13, BAB +1), Quick Draw (BAB +1), Improved Critical (BAB +8), Improved Natural Attack

Unfortunately martials will probably have picked up the most obvious choices (eg Point Blank Shot, Power Attack) because they are the fundamentals of basic combat styles. Quick Draw and Improved Critical will hopefully offer something, but more ideas would be good. Loosening up your no feat pre-reqs guideline a bit could allow you to include things like Improved Bull Rush, Improved Sunder, or Double Slice. Noncombat clerics, oracles, and witches might also not have the best time with this list because they don't have as many blasty or elemental spells as wizards and druids.

Illusion (10 feats)

The school of deception and stealth.

General: Deceitful, Iron Will, Conceal Scent (stealth 1 rank, survival 1 rank, Osirion Land of the Pharaohs), Skill Focus (bluff, disguise, stealth)
Caster: Spell Bluff (Bluff 5 ranks, Spellcraft 5 ranks), Still Spell, Silent Spell, Spell Focus (Illusion)
Martial: Shadow Strike (BAB +1), Dirty Fighting (Dirty Tactics Toolbox)

Not really sure what to do with this one – there don't seem to be a lot of good feats for this theme. I've included Iron Will and Shadow Strike as anti-illusion options but it's still not a great list. Feinting would be appropriate on the martial side, but those feats have pre-requisites.

Necromancy (15 feats)

The school of undead (bolstering, controlling or damaging), life force, afflictions and fatigue.

General: Necromantic Affinity (Con 15, Inner Sea World Guide), Endurance, Great Fortitude, Skill Focus (Heal, Kn Religion)
Caster: Ectoplasmic Spell, Merciful Spell, Sickening Spell, Poison Focus (Alchemy 1 rank, Alchemy Manual), Spell Focus (Necromancy)
Martial: Critical Focus (BAB +9), Deadly Finish (BAB +11), Improved Critical (BAB +8), Vital Strike (BAB +6), Treacherous Toxin (BAB +5, sneak attack, Dirty Tactics Toolbox)
Special: Command Undead (channel negative energy), Improved Channel (channel energy), Life Lure (channel positive energy), Turn Undead (channel positive energy)

My biggest concern here is that the thematic martial feats all have significant BAB requirements.

Transmutation (15 feats)

The school of shapeshifting, physical enhancement, and mobility.

General: Acrobatic, Aspect of the Beast (senses, claws, or leap, ignore wild shape pre-requisite), Athletic, Deepsight (Darkvision 60ft), Endurance, Fleet, Great Fortitude, Lightning Reflexes, Toughness, Sharp Senses (keen senses trait), Skill Focus (acrobatics, climb, swim, escape artist, fly)
Caster: Arcane Strike, Shapeshifter Foil (arcana or nature 5 ranks, can use polymorph), Spell Focus (Transmutation)
Martial: Improved Natural Attack, Improved Natural Armour (Con 13, natural armour, Bestiary)

I'd like to include one or two more martial options here, but I think it's still a reasonably good list.


more crunch:
Not finished, but for comparison here's what I was putting together:

Abjuration; protection, warding, traps, defence.
Dodge, Learn Ranger Trap (UM), Great Fortitude, Improved Counterspell
Conjuration; summoning/calling, creation, healing
Believer’s Boon (ACG), Master Craftsman, Spirit’s Gift (ACG), Superior Summoning
Divination; knowledge, communication, perception
Detect Expertise (UM), Blind-Fight, Amateur Investigator (ACG), Read Spell Traces (UI)
Enchantment; manipulation, domination, inspiration.
Antagonize (UM), Insightful Advice (UI), Iron Will,
Evocation; energy, light, forces
Elemental Focus (APG)
Illusion; deception, illusions, shadow
Amateur Swashbuckler (ACG), Shadow Strike (APG), Careful Sneak (UI), Stylized Spell (UI)
Necromancy; death, negative energy, corruption, undeath

Transmutation; transformation, speed, flight
Master Alchemist (APG), Shapeshifter Foil (UC), Arcane Strike, Fleet


Knowledge in my games:
I've respecified the Knowledge skills to suit my own intuitive understanding -- it sure beats having to look up which Knowledge applies to my monster every time! While I believe that most of them haven't changed enough to worry you two with the details, I feel obliged to fill you in on the most important changes:

<> I added an IMHO much-needed Knowledge called martial, to cover id of styles, weapons, important persons or schools, etc, as well as giving the player a chance to figure out good tactics in combat. ("Well, your character would know...")

<> To make room, I deleted nobility, and merged its coverage with Knowledge (geography, history & local), which I've tried to really emphasize.

<> Knowledge (local) no longer covers humanoids in general, just specifics about the mayor and whatnot -- because general info about all humanoids (including underground ones) is under nature, while monstrous humanoids are under...

<> Knowledge (uncanny), which is the replacement for dungeoneering, and covers anything unnatural of this plane, as well as unusual (from a cleric's or wizard's point of view) sorts of magic, with druidic wildshaping, witch or shaman hexes, and magus arcana as a few examples.

Why I've troubled you with this will have to wait till I get back from the dentist... :}


I went out of town over the weekend, and came home sick, so it's been a few days.

Cap'n Crunch:
I was envisioning picking apart the entire skill list and associating it all with different schools, for purposes of permitting a Skill Focus or a bonus for paired skills. So I started with your associations, Weirdo, added in the other skills, specified all of the Knowledges... and then moved some about due to my own interpretation of the skill & school. I’m using “[RAW]” or “[home]” to distinguish the standard vs. my implementation of the Knowledges.

In general, I've tried to avoid duplicate-listing skills, but I failed with Spellcraft. So I leave it up to you: duplicate Spellcraft, list it under Conjuration (for magic item creation), or under Divination (for spell & item ID)?

Of course, if we decide to duplicate Spellcraft, there's other skills that maybe should be duplicated, like Perception (under Divination currently, but also a good candidate for Transmutation).

Finally, I put "Any - poison" under Necromancy; I very much doubt I can take advantage of that with a Skill Focus sort of feat, but I’d sure like to! If so, it would apply to any skill, but only regarding poisons: Craft (alchemy) for creation & ID, of course, but also Heal for identifying poison effects, plus Appraise, Knowledge (history, nature), Perception, or others.

Skill Associations for Schools of Magic
Abjuration ... Disable Device, Knowledge (dungeoneering [RAW] or uncanny [home]), Survival
Conjuration ... Craft, Heal, Knowledge (engineering, local [RAW], nature, planes), Spellcraft?
Divination ... Appraise, Knowledge (geography, history, local [home], nobility [RAW]), Linguistics, Perception, Sense Motive, Spellcraft?
Enchantment ... Diplomacy, Handle Animal, Intimidate, Use Magic Device
Evocation ... Knowledge (arcana), Perform, Profession, Ride
Illusion ... Bluff, Disguise, Sleight of Hand, Stealth
Necromancy ... Any – poison, Knowledge (martial [home], religion)
Transmutation ... Acrobatics, Climb, Escape Artist, Fly, Swim

When I look at the list, I see a decent choice for a Skill Focus for just about anybody in most of the lists. In some campaigns, dungeoneering will be useless, and of course most characters have no interest in Disable Device, so Abjuration might come down to how often the GM calls for Survival checks. {Added: For my purposes, uncanny comes up a whole lot.} Necromancy would be great for some builds, and at least has Knowledge (religion), but in some campaigns the GM doesn't especially ask for checks re: specific faiths, or include much in the way of undead. {Added: Not a problem in one campaign of mine, but a big one in the other.} Evocation is probably the weakest, though -- non-arcane-casters would be looking with distaste at picking between Perform, Profession, and Ride -- really?? {Added: A problem in any campaign you could possibly run; unfortunately, I don't see the association with Intimidate.} I'd love suggestions for bolstering these!

And comments in general, of course.

Shadow Lodge

avr's crunch:
Nice illusion & intrigue suggestions!

Superior Summoning requires both Spell Focus and Augment Summoning, though.

bitter lily's crunch:
If you're making this item specifically for your campaign then you have the advantage of being able to tailor it to how you use the skills - or even to what your party looks like. Do you use Survival a lot in your campaign? Then it's a good skill. Do you think that every character would find at least one skill on each list that they like? Then the lists are probably OK.

Evocation is definitely the weak link. It's really not a skill-oriented school. If you pair Skill Focus with traits, you could compensate by giving Evocation better traits (particularly traits better for martials or divine casters who are less likely to want Arcana). Intimidate might be a weak thematic fit but it does at least involve the idea of being violently forceful which is sort of evocation-like... I'd be tempted to include it just to make the lists a bit more balanced.

I'd also consider leaving Spellcraft out, since it arguably should be tied to every school.


No, no, Cap'n's Crunch on skills:
:) OK, I've been swayed by Evo's & Necro's plights into using some duplicates:
<> Intimidate -- Enchantment & Evocation
<> Knowledge (uncanny or dungeoneering) -- Abjuration & Necromancy
<> Perception -- Divination & Transmutation
<> Spellcraft -- Conjuration & Divination

This puts Spellcraft in both places where I had listed them, and adds Intimidate to Evocation, Knowledge (uncanny or dungeoneering) to Necromancy, and Perception to Transmutation. (Will anyone ever pick Climb or Swim? Unlikely...) Should I be duplicating any others? Do you have a better candidate for shoring up Necro?

And now...

Ordinary crunch on abilities:
I've been looking at traits & feats, and am now considering just jumping utterly "subjacent" for a second ability, to be granted alongside the skill bonus feat. Or maybe I've talked myself completely out of a skill bonus -- these abilities are awfully spiffy...

Each Subjacent Ability can be triggered once per day as a swift action, and then lasts for up to as many rounds as half of the character level, rounded down (minimum 1). While each has two effects, characters may not choose to activate only one and save the other for later that day -- they always get the potential of both effects for as long as the ability lasts after being triggered, even if one or both are never actually used. If a bonus is “sacred,” the player may choose (with the GM’s approval) to make it a “profane” bonus instead; this is especially appropriate for evil-aligned characters. A “double-roll” means rolling two complete sets of dice for each roll of that type, and using the better result.

School of Magic ... Subjacent Ability
Abjuration ... Gain +2 sacred for AC & CMD & also double-roll all concentration checks

Conjuration ... Double-roll all Fortitude saves, & effect rolls when receiving any Cure Wounds

Divination ... Double-roll all Reflex saves, & also rolls for miss chances

Enchantment ... Gain +2 sacred for DCs of spells with the emotion descriptor, & also double-roll all checks to influence emotions

Evocation ... Gain +2 sacred for any ranged attack, & also double-roll all elemental damage rolls

Illusion ... Double-roll all Will saves, & also all opposed checks

Necromancy ... Gain +2 sacred for any melee attack, & also double-roll all poison damage rolls

Transmutation ... Gain +10 ft movement in any one movement type, chosen when triggering ability, & also double-roll all physical (B/P/S) damage rolls


Balancing help badly needed!


More on subjacent abilities:
Bonus Type
I wanted to mention that I did look at bonus types, and decided on sacred (or profane) with some distaste. I'd love help on picking a bonus type! I had the following reasons:

<> I loved the concept of an insight bonus -- that name IS what this ability really is! Unfortunately, those are widely used as class abilities, constant bonuses in fact, and I didn't want to be in the position of saying "So sorry, your Tome bonus doesn't stack." And it isn't supposed to apply to damage, according to Ultimate Magic.

<> Not only is an enhancement bonus bland, they are far too common, and would engender stacking problems right and left. I did cheat, I notice now, on the Transmutation speed bonus: I simply didn't specify a bonus type -- and enhancement would be in fact the only legal one.

<> I'm not fond of saying that a luck bonus is deliberately bending reality, and was concerned that some recipients of the Tome might have the Fate's Favored trait, while others would not.

<> A morale bonus is also a weird name for what's going on here, and is legal only for an indirect boost to AC, by way of boosting Dex.

<> However, what really put the kibosh on all of the above bonus types was wanting to give a consistent bonus across all of the chapters, including one to emotion spell DCs.

<> This is NOT a bonus granted by a deity, and so I'm concerned about calling it a sacred or profane bonus. OTOH, this is a metaphysical-arcane-spiritual ability. And for metagaming, this is the only bonus type permitted for DCs, and doesn't interfere with constant class abilities... that I noticed. (For example, while inquisitors can choose to trigger judgements that give them sacred bonuses, they would presumably choose to not cause stacking problems!)

Correction
I said that the ability "lasts for up to as many rounds as" -- that should have been simply, "lasts for as many rounds as" since there's no real way to turn it off.

Drawback
Given how powerful many of the abilities are, it might be appropriate to include a drawback for using one. I'm considering saying that starting with the round after a subjacent ability ends, the character is light-headed and staggered for one full round. I looked at saying half of the rounds affected, like for rage, but I think staggered is much more severe than fatigued! And fatigued is certainly not appropriate here -- the character is drawing on a metaphysical-arcane-spiritual ability, not physical reserves. Is there a better drawback?

Shadow Lodge

abilities:
The saving throw double-rolls - for conjuration, divination, and illusion - look pretty solid to me. You might not use them every day, but when you do they could easily be literal lifesavers. Reflex is a little less crucial, usually, but I think rerolling miss chances is more useful than cure results or opposed checks so they should be balanced with each other.

Abjuration's AC bonus seems a little low compared to the saving throws, though I suppose it's likely to come up in most combats, which would balance out being less likely to save a character when used. Having some characters not be able to use the concentration checks benefit is disappointing, but not serious.

The other three schools are a little unbalanced in how beneficial they are to different types of characters:

Enchantment's first benefit is difficult to use as there aren't a lot of spells with the emotion descriptor. It's also unclear what is considered a "check to influence emotions." Assuming we're talking about a subset of social skill checks, it's very possible that someone could fail to benefit from the enchantment ability at all. A bard would get pretty good use out of it, though even then I'm not sure it's as good as the defensive benefits from the previously mentioned schools.

Evocation has a similar issue in that melee-focused martials or support characters might not use either a ranged attack or elemental damage. Conversely, it's probably OP if you have a character who specializes in both (for example, a kineticist with energy blasts, or a magus with a ranged spellstrike archetype).

Necromancy is likely to be useless for characters that don't make melee attacks, since poison is pretty rare. On the other hand, it's a very good boost for those who do make melee attacks and even better for the handful that also use poison - better than abjuration and probably better than the save schools for these characters.

Transmutation is more even because anyone can use the movement speed bonus, though in my experience speed is still most important to melee types. The benefit of double-rolling physical damage is going to be useless to many spellcasters. Usefulness to martials depend on how "swingy" your damage dice are, with greataxes (d12) being more likely to benefit from a big damage boost than daggers (d4) or scythes (2d4, most results 4-6). At it's best, it's probably about on par with the defensive benefits.

I think you might have better results if instead of thinking about the kinds of rolls that the schools might influence, you think about the kinds of things they should do. For example, a power for Necromancy might be: "Once per round, when you affect a creature with an attack or spell, you may deal damage to it equal to twice your character level and heal the same amount of damage."

Bonus type: I'd use an untyped bonus. They're rare, because PF doesn't want you stacking too many things, but it sounds like you really want the players to be able to stack these bonuses.

Drawback: I would definitely not use either staggered or fatigued, as they are much more punitive towards martial characters and often barely affect casters.


munch a crunch:
As a reminder, these abilities are triggered once per day as a swift action, lasting for as many rounds as half of the character level, rounded down (minimum 1). My summary reads:

If Abjuration's constant untyped +2 AC bonus is a little low, how about something that's the equivalent of a 32,000 gp Amulet of NA usable only for half-level charges (I have no clue what that makes the price)...
<> Abjuration: Gain a +4 bonus for AC & CMD, and also double-roll all concentration checks.

<> Conjuration: Double-roll all Fortitude saves, & effect rolls when receiving any Cure Wounds.

<> Divination: Double-roll all Reflex saves, & also rolls for miss chances.

I had assumed that the Enchantment's Emotion descriptor applied to all spells, not just UM ones. However, +2 DC really is wimpy. How about...
<> Enchantment: Gain a +4 bonus to the DC of mind-affecting spells, and also double-roll all Charisma-based skill checks.

You're saying that Evocations's bennie right now is either under-powered or over-powered. My next version is horribly, horribly in need of editing...
<> Evocation: When you trigger this ability, choose an energy type -- acid, cold, electricity, or fire. Gain a +4 bonus for the DC of spells that do that type of damage, and once per round, after making a successful attack dealing damage to a single target, gain 2d6 bonus damage dice of that energy type on the attack.

<> Illusion: Double-roll all Will saves, & also all opposed checks.

And Necromancy's bennie is in the same boat as Evo's -- UP or OP. So how about this word-bloated possibility...
<> Necromancy: Gain a +4 bonus to the DC of all poisons you use, and a class ability (for feat prereqs) to channel negative energy as if a cleric of your level, although you may select a number of targets in the area up to your Constitution or Charisma modifier (whichever is higher) to not be affected, and you may channel as often as once per round for as long this subjacent ability lasts. (If you already have a class ability to channel negative energy, the rounds of channeling that you gain from this ability stack with the rounds you gained from your class.)

Is it clear that Transmutation's ability to gain a 10-foot speed applies to Climb, Fly, & Swim? There's a lot of pinches where a spellcaster can find that life-saving, and bow-builds might get very excited about it. I'll try rewording that part. Also, I'm willing to force spellcasters to cater to their new-found ability and pick up a couple of the spells that do physical damage from range. So I've got a small revision...
<> Transmutation: Gain +10 ft movement in any one movement type, chosen when triggering the ability (and gain the +8 racial bonus to the movement skill if you do not natively have that movement type), & also double-roll all physical (B/P/S) damage rolls.

New try for a drawback...
<> Drawback: Starting with the round after a subjacent ability ends, the character is light-headed and dazed for one full round.

And Weirdo, I very much appreciate your patient help on this project!

Shadow Lodge

Spoiler:
I did catch the once per day use and rounds/level duration.

Evocation: Assuming the 2d6 bonus damage also applies on weapon attacks, looks good.

Enchantment: Much better. Still not great for most martials but making it apply on all Cha checks is an improvement and if your titles are suggestive enough you shouldn't end up with a character who has no interest in spells or Cha skills picking this.

Necromancy: Poison DC increase is definitely an improvement, low DCs are a big weakness for poisons. Not as keen on the channel energy power - it's thematic, but channel damage isn't great and many characters will likely have more useful things to do in combat. I'd be tempted to do something like Evocation but with negative energy damage.

Transmutation: I cannot think of a situation in which my non-melee character badly wanted an extra 10 ft of movement in any move type. 20ft or 30ft would be more exciting to me. However, this might be a difference in group playstyles - overall the ability is probably OK.

Drawback: Well, that's a pretty significant drawback - maybe overly significant even - but it's definitely equally bad for all types of characters.


Spoiler:
Given the drawback proposed, would you go to rounds/level duration? (I had half-level rounds.)

Abju: Um, what's your opinion on the change?

Evo: Definitely also weapon attacks; is there clearer language you can propose? (I'd certainly love editing on mine!)

Enchant: You could end up with a martial player swearing and having to invest skill ranks in Intimidate and maybe some feats, worst case.

Necro: Alternatively, what about something maybe too powerful...
Gain a +4 bonus to the DC of all poisons you use, and the ability once per round to inflict 1 level of energy drain along with damage done to a single target that you have rolled an attack for. (Negative levels stack. Levels drained by this ability return automatically after only 1 hour, if the target lives that long. An undead creature targeted with this ability heals 1d8 hit points, instead.)

-- The problem here is that a necromantic wizard will find little to nothing of value, while a selective channel helps anyone against minions.

Transmu: I'm fine with 20 ft.


Spoiler's baby:
I just glanced again at what I wrote, and I need a lot of help on wording. The proposed Necro ability is supposed to apply to successful attack rolls only, of course!

Shadow Lodge

Spoiler:
Downside: The big question here is how long your combats are. If you finish combat before the duration runs out, being dazed for a round is not a big downside. If your 6th-level party gets to use the effect for 3 rounds before being dazed, and combat usually lasts longer for 3 rounds, they are going to be very cautious about using these abilities because they might not be enough of an advantage in combat to outweigh being dazed for a round. On the other hand, if they get 6 rounds and they usually finish combat in 5 rounds or fewer, they'll probably use the abilities every day and only occasionally suffer the downside.

Note that by scaling the rounds by level you make it less and less likely the downside will be relevant as the party levels. I'm not sure if that's a bad thing - the increase in party power might make the abilities less strong in comparison to the party's capacity, but on the other hand the increased importance of saving throws might also make the save double-rolls and increases DCs more valuable.

Abj: Probably good? If anything a touch more powerful than the save benefits at +4, depending on how often your characters roll saving throws vs having their AC or CMD targeted.

Necro: Hm, negative levels are pretty strong. I'd prefer ability damage. d4 points to choice of Str, Dex, or Con is probably balanced.

Wording for Evo and Necro:

The wording you have isn't bad, though it could probably be improved a bit and made more explicit. There are also a few variations to consider depending on how broadly you want the ability to be triggered. For example:

Once per round, after hitting an opponent with a weapon or spell that requires an attack roll, add 2d6 bonus damage of that energy type.

This would trigger even with spells that do not deal hit point damage, such as Ray of Exhaustion. It would also trigger if the damage of the attack is negated by DR or energy resistance. If you don't want the bonus to apply in these circumstances, you would want this wording:

Once per round, after dealing damage with a weapon or spell that requires an attack roll, add 2d6 bonus damage of that energy type.

Note that this would trigger, for example, if you miss with an attack but deal splash damage (eg alchemist's bomb). The most restrictive version would probably be:

Once per round, after hitting and dealing hit point damage with a weapon or spell that requires an attack roll, add 2d6 bonus damage of that energy type.

(For necromancy of course substitute your desired effect for the 2d6 bonus damage.)


Back again, too:
The other factor for the downside is how often I intend to push the party to long days. If I usually let them get away with 1-combat days, they have very little reason to hold back on their subjacent ability. If they expect a grueling day every now and then, they may well go many days without using it at all, expecting a worse fight to come all day long. Probably, rounds/level is fine for a drawback of dazed for a round.

It sounds like you think +3 AC is better balanced for Abju. And I do want to help a necromancer specialist in spells like Rays of Exhaustion who picks the Necro chapter. So here's my new catalog of effects...

<> Abjuration: Gain a +3 bonus for AC & CMD, and also double-roll all concentration checks.

<> Conjuration: Double-roll all Fortitude saves, and also double-roll all effect rolls when receiving any Cure Wounds.

<> Divination: Double-roll all Reflex saves, and also double-roll all rolls for miss chances.

<> Enchantment: Gain a +4 bonus to the DC of mind-affecting spells, and also double-roll all Charisma-based skill checks.

<> Evocation: When you trigger this ability, choose an energy type -- acid, cold, electricity, or fire. Gain a +4 bonus for the DC of spells that do that type of damage, and once per round, after hitting an opponent with a weapon or spell that requires an attack roll, add 2d6 bonus damage of that energy type.

<> Illusion: Double-roll all Will saves, and also double-roll all opposed checks.

<> Necromancy: When you trigger this ability, choose a physical ability -- Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution. Gain a +4 bonus to the DC of all poisons you use that affect that ability, and once per round, after hitting an opponent with a weapon or spell that requires an attack roll, add 1d4 points of ability damage for that physical ability.

<> Transmutation: When you trigger this ability, choose a movement type -- base speed, swim, fly, climb, or burrow. Gain +20 ft movement in that type of movement, including gaining a +8 racial bonus to any associated skill if you do not normally have that racial movement, and also double-roll all physical (B/P/S) damage rolls.

<> Drawback: Starting at the beginning of the round after a subjacent ability ends, the character is light-headed and suffers the dazed condition for one round.


Are we done now? Errrr... ready to re-examine the tome's titles & text?

Shadow Lodge

I think the crunch is solid. Might have to wait til next weekend to play with the rest.


titles:
Putting the titles & effects side by side for easy comparison:

• On stepping subjacent, not aside: Abjuration Gain a +3 bonus for AC & CMD, and also double-roll all concentration checks.

• On finding physical plenitude in metaphysical all: Conjuration: Double-roll all Fortitude saves, and also double-roll all effect rolls when receiving any Cure Wounds.

• On glimpsing what becomes by observing what is: Divination: Double-roll all Reflex saves, and also double-roll all rolls for miss chances.

• On how the solitary all is subjacent to all: Enchantment: Gain a +4 bonus to the DC of mind-affecting spells, and also double-roll all Charisma-based skill checks.

• On ??: Evocation: When you trigger this ability, choose an energy type -- acid, cold, electricity, or fire. Gain a +4 bonus for the DC of spells that do that type of damage, and once per round, after hitting an opponent with a weapon or spell that requires an attack roll, add 2d6 bonus damage of that energy type.

• On when what is is what is not: Illusion: Double-roll all Will saves, and also double-roll all opposed checks.

• On disjoining a single other from the solitary all: Necromancy: When you trigger this ability, choose a physical ability -- Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution. Gain a +4 bonus to the DC of all poisons you use that affect that ability, and once per round, after hitting an opponent with a weapon or spell that requires an attack roll, add 1d4 points of ability damage for that physical ability.

• On seeing your subjacent face in the glass: Transmutation: When you trigger this ability, choose a movement type -- base speed, swim, fly, climb, or burrow. Gain +20 ft movement in that type of movement, including gaining a +8 racial bonus to any associated skill if you do not normally have that racial movement, and also double-roll all physical (B/P/S) damage rolls.
• On finding all in the solitary, and the solitary in all: Universal (blank)

The first thing is I looked up the meaning of subjacent rather than just assuming I knew it. It means 'lying under or below' In medicine, immediately underneath, otherwise it might mean lower but not immediately underneath. Is that exactly what you wanted?


Next, I see no problems with the titles of Conjuration, Divination, Enchantment or Necromancy. They give a clue as to what the chapter is without being obvious. Abjuration is a bit more obscure. Illusion gives a clue to the school, but the effect is not obviously related, if that matters. Transmutation is basically only guessable by a process of elimination (these are magic schools, and there's one left over, it must be transmutation). I'm not sure if you wanted such clues but given the pattern I'm assuming so. Evocation isn't done of course.

Maybe for Evoc, 'On conceiving dynamic substance without substance' might suggest energy perhaps? For Trans., some reference to change might be needed to hint at the school.


Hi, avr!

Titles:
As for the meaning of subjacent, I'm not sure which dictionary I checked back when, but Merriam-Webster has (besides the medical def) "lying under or below; also : lower than though not directly below - hills and subjacent valleys." The second is more what I was getting at. And Dictionary.com adds "forming a basis" to those. So, I was thinking "below and to the left" as an abstruse metaphysical basis of reality.

I intend to include the name of the school in the chapter title, after the colon, so guessing at that part won't be necessary. The trick will be to give a hint to the actual benefit in the part before the colon, while still being horribly abstruse. Hopefully, the benefits line up more with their schools now, so that a title that works well with the school will also relate to the benefit! Unfortunately, the previous titles were trying to fit skills, so many don't line up with with the new bennies at all. Even more unfortunately, I cannot think tonight. Sorry.

But with a few tweaks -- "On realizing dynamic substance with no substance: Evocation" -- your idea might work very well for the Evo benefit.


Spoiler:
OK, then the only titles which IMO need changes are illusion and transmutation. Neither hints at the benefit granted. Also, I wonder just how often opposed rolls come up in your games. Other than stealth vs. perception it's pretty rare in mine. An effective ~ +3 on will saves and opposed rolls seems less... interesting than some of the other benefits.

Anyway, for illusion the benefits are along the lines of not being fooled/manipulated and to a lesser extent fooling others. Perception, stealth and knowing yourself. You might steal the title you're currently using for transmutation, 'On seeing your subjacent face in the glass'.

For transmutation the benefits are now speed and strength. Maybe 'On touching subjacent potency' if that doesn't seem too obvious.

Double-rolling is referred to as 'advantage' in D&D 5e, as in 'advantage on Will saves' and I'd suggest using their terminology. It's about the only thing I'd steal from that game.

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