|Rick Kunz Webstore Coordinator|
|Drop Dead Studios|
Part II of my review:
There are 3 different advanced talents included in the pdf. Hypervitalize is the minimum-15th-level superbuff to Revitalize, which nets a whole smörgࣸåsbord of different immunities that include immunity to death effects (will be interesting regarding interactions when the Death handbook hits sites), immunity to physical attribute damage and drain, etc. for +2 spell points. Life-Saving Cure makes cure always suffice to bring a creature to minimum 1 hit point and Transfiguration suspends old age penalties and increases temporarily current and maximum hit points as well as providing immunity to diseases. There is an incantation to cover the restoration of the dead to life and there is a 0-level ritual to preserve organs and e.g. conserve detached limbs. There also are a total of 26 new feats that include Wound Manipulator, an Alteration Dual Sphere feat that adds the classic minor healing to shapeshift. Another dual sphere talent allows you to swift action use a Life Sphere ability to follow up Destruction’s disruption. Increasing the size of Fount of Life, quick treating of wounds via spell points or ki, using inspiration as well as invigorate (self-only), gaining temporary hit points upon spending grit, panache, etc. is interesting. I particularly enjoyed Psychosomatic Healing, which allows you to create an illusion of healing that actually translates into a kind of DR-ish mechanic that reduces damage the target takes. Allowing allies to use Fount of Life, and the usual extra x feats are included. There also are a couple of Anathema feats, which build on the feat of the same name – the feat allows you to use channel energy, fervor or lay on hands as a touch/ray to damage targets, and as such, is actually usable sans the whole Spherecasting engine, with increased damage output, range, etc. as the usual modifications for such ability-types available via follow-up feats.
The section also includes 5 nice traits (properly codified and typed!) and I already mentioned a few drawback details: Requiring that Taste of Victory is triggered would be one: Taste of Victory is btw. a new talent that lets you heal when reducing a target to 0 hp or below – and yes, the talent cannot be cheesed! Kudos! Slow Recovery prevents instant healing; only being able to take conditions onto you or having creepy healing that needs targets to save…all pretty cool.
The pdf also includes alchemical items – Restoreing fish liver grog, temporary hit points via liquid life – nice. If you enjoy spontaneous alchemy (I love it), recipes are provided for both! Huge kudos there! 3 new herbs are also provided, though some harvesting-related DCs etc. would have been nice here. We also get 8 new potions/consumables, which include a cleansing potion in two versions that can get rid of quite a lot of negative conditions . A standard healing potion, healing Halfling black bread, a last-second save that can bring creatures that have just died, a seed, which, when planted, can produce a seedpod that duplicates the body of a deceased…solid array of classic themes. I already mentioned before that a class option provides access to new Life staff properties; equitable allows for limited condition removal of tough conditions at +1, which may be a bit low. Vital fortifies vs. Death sphere and negative energy/death effects and yields Counterspell, usable only vs. Death sphere abilities at +2. Wellspring includes a pool that can enhance cure. There are 3 regular wondrous items. Alabaster gloves enhance positive energy use via the Life sphere; clear gem duplicates any healing via positive energy within 60 ft., which, even for 75K price, is pretty damn OP. As a nitpick: “Wondrous” is not a slot. Limited fast healing boots are interesting. Beyond these items, we also get an armor, a shield and a necklace that behave pretty much like godling-items, increasing in power over the levels, with new abilities gained at almost every level. These can btw. be taken apart and made non-scaling sans issue, as GP values are provided for each level an ability is gained.
The pdf also introduces the Caladrias, a CR 1/6 Tiny magical bird, raven-like with white feathers, which can sense diseases and remove them. I love this critter, but I wish we got familiar/companion stats here. We also get the CR +0 damaged soul template, which represents a target that regenerates quickly and violently…oh, and they’re functionally insane, which is not good news for everyone else. Cool! We end with a nice two-page advice-section for players.
Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, very good on a rules-language level. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series and the full-color interior artworks are really neat – I haven’t seen any of the pieces used before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Andrew J. Gibson, with additional material by Amber Underwood, Derfael Oliviera and Trevor Stevens, provides an impressive spheres-handbook. After the somewhat underwhelming rules-issues in the Mentalist’s Handbook, this provided more than a breath of fresh air. You see, Life/healing is a sphere that isn’t exactly “sexy” – this pdf acknowledges this and manages to make healing interesting and versatile; the tweaks possible to action economy are nice. The archetypes are pretty much all-killer and the rules-language of healing requires notorious amounts of care to prevent cheesing. While I cannot 100% guarantee that a combo can’t break the material herein (I may have overlooked a combo), the engine components as presented herein do not per se offer such exploits – the rules-language is precise, to the point and interesting, sporting the necessary checks and balances. Moreover, the book actually sports rather flavorful angles for roleplaying and character concepts, rendering this one of my favorite installments in the series. Now, I am not a fan of every single design decision herein, but this still should be a considered a must-have for any Spherecasting-game that features healing. (I.e., probably all of them!) My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars. Well done!
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.