Transcendent 10—Feats of Synergy: Heartbound Heroes (PFRPG) PDF

***½( ) (based on 2 ratings)

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“You’ll wish you’d never touched her.”—Vutaro Ch’sarin

What is love?

Often problematic at the gaming table, romance is a staple part of fantasy media... but your love life is about to get a little easier (in game anyway).

Transcendent 10—Feats of Synergy: Heartbound Heroes introduces 10 new feats to bring the power of love into the crunch of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Characters may choose a Heartbound Partner (PC or NPC) to share a unique and powerful bond with. Rogues lash out with the passion of a love threatened, mages weave stronger spells for their betrothed, and more... GM advice on how to incorporate extraordinary relationships into your games with appropriate and game relevant execution is part of every feat. Included are a bonus spell and psionic power to Call on your Heartbound Bond. Go beyond the basic with Transcendent 10!

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***½( ) (based on 2 ratings)

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An Endzeitgeist.com review

***( )( )

So, Lost Spheres Publishing, back in the day, began with the Transcendent 10-series. While these represent the early works of the company, the company flew under my radar for a long while, so it’s high time we took a look at the series, right? It should be noted that the company has evolved since then – reviews of more current books will hit sites soon as well. But how do these early works hold up against the test of time? Let’s find out!

One thing I really enjoy about this series would be the designer’s commentary that is provided for each respective piece of design – they help a GM and player to properly contextualize the content, which is particularly helpful for folks who don’t have a veteran’s level of system mastery. The pdf predates the ACG and OA, and as such, I will not complain about a lack of representation of the classes from these books in the spell-lists.

Anyways, this pdf is 8 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, ½ a page blank, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This installment of the series introduces a new feat-descriptor, with the eponymous (Heartbound) feats. Heartbound feats are akin to teamwork feats in that they require another character to work, but there is a crucial difference: The feats do NOT need to be the same. However, you do designate a Heartbound partner upon taking the feat, and said partner becomes important when it comes to triggering the effects of the feat.

All of the following feats are Heartbound feats, and as noted before, they come with design notes, elaborating the respective design decisions.

-All’s Fair: When you see your love harmed, which is defined as taking damage, ability damage (oddly, not drain) or incur a negative condition as part of the actions of an enemy, your attacks may target the foe as though he was flatfooted in the following round. This oversight regarding drain btw. extends to all feats that adhere to this formula of harm. The sneak attack prerequisite is nice, and I enjoy where this feat attempts to go. There are a few rough spots here, though: “The following round” is a weird duration for the trigger; “until the end of your next turn” would make more sense. Additionally, I think that the feat would make more sense when the “being treated as flatfooted” would only work in the context of sneak attacks to avoid cheesing. Other than that, this, idea-wise, represents a good idea to render sneak attack more feasible and enhance teamwork.

-Heart’s Vengeance: Upon seeing your love harmed, you increase (not gain – important distinction) morale bonuses to atk and damage by +1, which increases to +2 at 11th level. Compared to the first feat, this may well be a bit weak, as its utility partially depends on how you read the “increase” component. That being said, it is pretty evident that gaining the bonus if you don’t currently have a morale bonus, is what’s intended here, and the GM advice does clear up this minor ambiguity. Still, I’d have preferred that to be explicitly stated in the rules-text.

-Inspiring Glance: Aid another the partner as a swift action with a range of 30 ft., usable up to Cha-mod times per day. Here, the benefit should be increased to account for Pathfinder’s increased power-level since the release of the pdf.

-Love’s Resolve: This one is inspired. When witnessing your love come to harm and prevented from acting due to an ongoing effect from a failed save, you get an immediate action rereoll. Con be used Con- or Wis-mod times per day. This is so iconic, so present in media etc., that it frankly baffles me why it hasn’t been a more central part of the game. Definite winner here!

-Magic Entwined: Beneficial spell effects you cast on the partner are resolved at +4 CL. Potent, but cool. Other creatures get the regular spell effects.

-Polyamorous: May be taken more than once; lets you select +1 heartbound partner.

-Songs of the Heart: Morale bonuses you grant your partner are increased by +1 and last for 1 round longer, but only for the partner. Cool.

-Surge of Passion: Choose either Charisma or Constitution. That ability score modifier times per day, as an immediate action, you can grant yourself 4 temporary hit points er heartbound feat you possess, including this one.

-Wordless Bond: Nets you basically telepathy with your partner, with a range of 10 ft. per heartbound feat you have. Nice.

There is one feat herein, which is not a heartbound feat:

-Heartbinding Spell (Metamagic): Creatures affected by a mind-influencing spell with this feat added are considered to be Heartbound partners; cost +1 spell level. This one is really cool regarding its ramifications, etc..

The pdf also sports a new spell as bonus content: Heartbound call is a 1st level immediate action spell that lasts for days and conveys a general sense of direction for your partner to find you, as well as a bonus to Diplomacy, Sense Motive and Survival to find you. We also receive a new psionic power, call partner, which is basically the psionic version of the spell, with 2 augments, one for increased bonuses, and one for a 4 power point correspond.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are solid, if not perfect. There are some minor deviations in rules-verbiage and a few hiccups, but as a whole, I have considerably enjoyed this. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard with read highlights and a subdued border. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Christen N. Sowards’ heartbound feats are an enjoyable concept. The line of sight requirement is interesting, and the benefits are, in a couple of cases, significant enough to warrant taking these feats. Taking them also represents a roleplaying opportunity, and such blending of flavor and mechanics is something I generally really enjoy. Now, not all feats are gold or have aged too well, but the pdf still offers plenty of inspiring material that allows you to depict the behavior of power-couples throughout fantasy media at the table. This may not be a perfect offering, but if the concept intrigues you, it’s worth checking out. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, a mixed bag on the positive side of things, but I can’t round up for it.

Endzeitgeist out.


What's the bonus for being in love? Find out within!

****( )

Love is like oxygen. Love is a many splendid thing. All you need is love…unless you’re a Pathfinder PC, in which case all you need is greed and bloodlust. To be sure, love can be a part of your game, but where’s the mechanical incentive for it? Purely role-playing rewards can be nice to, but they’re somehow less concrete than something that gives a numerical bonus. Love may be something that can’t be quantified, but that can certainly help.

It’s in that spirit that Lost Spheres Publishing presents Transcendent 10 – Feats of Synergy – Heartbound Heroes.

A short PDF at six pages long (with one page set aside for the title and credits, and another for the OGL), the book presents itself quite adeptly. While there are no bookmarks or table of contents, I can’t complain about that in a book with a half-dozen pages. Likewise, copy-and-paste is enabled, which is always pleasant.

The book has no artwork to speak of, but does have a simple-yet-stylish set of borders around every page. Between this and the red headers, it manages to avoid feeling entirely spartan presentation, something that’s usually difficult to pull off – props to the designers there.

The book gives us a brief introduction (which was slightly hard to follow; there’s an odd flow to the syntax), discussing the use of love as a motivator in your game (and warning to make sure that the group is interested and invested in doing so) before presenting ten new feats. Interestingly, these feats have a new descriptor: heartbound. A heartbound feat is a feat that grants you power based on the strength of your love for someone, hence the feat requirement you have a “partner” – a specific person who is the focus of the feat. What’s notable here is that the partner also needs to have a heartbound feat as well (suggesting that they genuinely do love you back), but it need not be the exact same feat; any heartbound feat will do.

It’s an intriguing mechanic, and certainly a more colorful one than simply giving us new feats with a mere thematic resemblance. The feats themselves are also slightly more expressive than you’d expect. Each one opens with a relevant quote (though the person making the quote seems to be a fictitious character, robbing this part of some of its impact), and after the usual feat presentation, has a paragraph of “GM Advice.” This “advice” is often the author explaining or expounding upon something rather than actual help in using the feat, but I still quite enjoyed the insights.

Many of the heartbound feats are surprisingly innovative. For example, the Heartbinding Spell feat makes it so that when you use a mind-affecting effect on someone, you enchant them so thoroughly that you feel some of those phantom feelings yourself, letting you use them as your “heartbound partner” (though I’d have appreciated a note here that this didn’t work for things like fear effects). Wordless Bond lets you and your partner share telepathy when close, and give vague sensory/emotional impressions further apart. All’s Fair lets you treat a target as flat-footed for a round (notably, this feat requires that you have sneak attack) if you’ve seen them harm your beloved. And of course, there’s a feat called Polyamorous, so that you can have more than one heartbound partner.

Of course, not all of these feats can be winners. Heart’s Vengeance is just like All’s Fair, save that it gives you a rather prosaic +1 BAB. Love’s Resolve seems somewhat too powerful, in that it lets you re-roll a failed save multiple times per day. Still, there are more hits than misses.

The book closes out with a new spell and a new psionic power. Interestingly, these are both essentially the same spell, with the latter being a psionic version; the spell allows you to quickly call out to your beloved, no matter where they are, and not only lets them know that you need them but gives them bonuses to track you down. It’s an interesting effect, though I’d have set the duration to “instantaneous” and noting that it lasts for so many days, rather than having an (easily-dispelled) duration of one day per level. Moreover, having a uniquely psionic version (which does take into account new Pathfinder-compatible classes like the tactician and the vitalist), with augmentations, is nice.

Overall, Heartbound Heroes does a good job of presenting feats that not only have a fairly substantial role-playing angle, but also present some interesting and balanced mechanical effects. There are some rough spots, but overall these feats can be a fun way to put your PCs’ love lives back into the forefront of the game…or at least, make them care about something other than gold and glory.



Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Review posted here and at RPGNow.


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

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