Spheres of Might (PFRPG) PDF

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Starfinder Compatible!!

There's so much more to martial combat than swinging a sword, and so much more to martial characters than waiting for the next fight.

Spheres of Might is a brand new approach to building martial characters in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. From the makers of Spheres of Power, Spheres of Might changes combat into a cinematic experience, replacing boring, repetitive combats with tactical decisions, dynamic exchanges, and a host of options that let martial characters be as fun to play outside of combat as they are inside.

Within this book, you'll find:

8 New Classes — including the armiger, the blacksmith, the commander, the conscript, the scholar, the sentinel, the striker, and the technician.

23 Combat Spheres — granting a host of new abilities based on concept, including alchemy, athletics, barrage, barroom, beastmastery, berserker, boxing, brute, dual wielding, duelist, equipment, fencing, gladiator, guardian, lancer, open hand, scoundrel, scout, shield, sniper, trap, warleader, and wrestler.

Full Archetype Support — both for new classes and old classes, giving a breadth of new options for creating and enjoying martial play.

Legendary Talents — for when games deserve to become truly epic, legendary talents allow games to reach beyond the gritty to truly mythical proportions, including leaping mountains, stealing skills, and bending armies of monsters to your will through sheer force of personality.

Non-Magic Support — with the help of the scholar's knowledge, the blacksmith's skills, and the technician's inventions, Spheres of Might gives a variety of options to facilitate games with little or no magic at all, greatly expanding the stories that can be told with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game without requiring extensive re-balancing.

GM Support — including monsters from CR 1-21, along with guidelines for making the most of cinematic combat and the Spheres of Might system in your games.

NPCs for every new class to spark ideas or drop into a game.

Starfinder Conversion — giving you the information needed to adapt the system to Starfinder rules.

And much, much more!

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Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at store@paizo.com.

DDSSOME


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This massive rules-book clocks in at 238 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ToC, 1 page forewords, 1 page blank,1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 229 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested by my patreons.

All right, we begin this massive beast of a tome with a brief piece of introductory prose to get you into the proper mindset, before explaining the basics of the system: Each character gets a series of talents, called combat talents. The number of these is defined by the class, though a feat exists that nets you an additional one. A combat talent may also be spent to gain access to a combat sphere, gaining that sphere’s base abilities and providing access to the sphere-specific talents. If a character would gain a sphere they already possess, you instead choose a talent. Saving throws, if any, are based on DC 10 + ½ BAB of the attacker + the relevant key ability modifier, here called “practitioner modifier.” If a character uses a talent, but has no class feature that defines a practitioner modifier, you default to Wisdom. Multiclass characters may use the higher of the two modifiers of their practitioner modifiers – this is important, since it retains multiclassing viability sans requiring a feat tax. Combat training nets you bonus talents that usually, but certainly not always, mirror the BAB-progression: Full BAB is equal to “Expert”, ¾ BAB-progression to “Adept” and ½ BAB-progression is equal to “Proficient.” This codifies talent-advancement in a way that is independent from the classes and easy to reference, while also providing an elegant balancing tool. Furthermore, characters may choose to exchange feat-progressions they’d gain to instead purchase Proficient or Adept combat talent progression – this, fyi, maintains compatibility with Spheres of Power.

And that’s already the basis of the system! Nope, I am not kidding! It’s that simple and elegant. That being said, there is more associated terminology that we need to define, some of which you’ll know from standard Pathfinder. It is a testament to the foresight exhibited by the authors that e.g. the Attack action as such is properly defined – something that regularly causes confusion on the various messageboards. This step is also important, since some combat talents and e.g. Vital Strike, both modifying an Attack action, can be applied to the same attack. This also properly mentions the interaction, or rather, lack thereof, with e.g. Cleave and similar Standard action-based attack forms. In short: Attack action =/= standard action. The definition here also makes clear that we can expect the book to reward flowing combat, i.e. fights that do not boil down to just trading full attacks and waiting who keels over first. “Special attack actions” should also be noted – they behave pretty much like attack actions, but only one per round may be executed. This is an important balancing caveat.

“Associated feats” denote feats whose effects can be duplicated by specific talents, which also means that the talents can act as prerequisite-substitutions for the associated feats. This is important once we get to the feat-groups that require a significant array of feats to qualify for and retains transparency in that regard without invalidating the feats themselves.

Now, the book does something really clever with action economy to combat the tendency to constantly just trade blows. The book takes a two-pronged approach here. The first would be the battered condition, which imposes a -2 penalty to CMD and also prevents you from executing AoOs. Furthermore, certain talents have different activation actions or effects versus battered targets. The condition may be removed simply enough – the Life sphere’s restore does the trick, as do effects like lesser restoration…and here, things become interesting: You can get rid of it via taking the total defense action. This obviously costs you precious actions, but it makes sense – when we picture being subjected to a battering down, like e.g. in the original Star Wars trilogy or similar media, it makes sense that you have to collect yourself. The second approach here would be the introduction of the martial focus. Any character with a combat talent or a feat granting access, gets the martial focus after a minute of rest or after taking the total defense action. HOWEVER, you may never regain the focus more than once per round. You may expend this focus as part of making a Fort- or Ref-save to have the result rolled treated as 13, and, analogue to psionics, there is a VAST amount of options that is based on expenditure of the focus. Once more, we have an action economy game here, and one that ties into the battered condition: Since you regain the focus as part of the same condition-removing action, this encourages you to actually alternate between combat strategies. Additionally, the base ability use allows you to be more reliably competent versus things that you should be capable of evading.

This modification of basic combat strategies are absolutely amazing, but the book does not stop there, not by a long shot. We also get rules-clarifications for e.g. double-barreled weapons and e.g. improvised weapon damage by size. Similarly, unarmed damage now scales independent of class, which is a huge plus as far as I’m concerned. The number of talents the character has governs the damage inflicted.

Now, the book does not just leave you in the dark regarding actual expressions of martial arts in the game world. You do not have to read and digest the whole book to start using it: Instead, we begin with a massive chapter of martial traditions, some of which are gained as part of the proficiencies of a class. This codifies basically a talent array for you, not unlike e.g. combat styles of the ranger class. One could also see them as thematic suggestions and the book provides notes on designing your own martial traditions. This section, beyond codifying mini-talent-trees, can also be seen as a perfect guideline for your own tinkering. Want to have a shield master? Check the tradition. Steppe rider? Suitable talents noted. I love this.

Now, the book contains no less than 8 new classes. If I analyze these in the level of depth that I usually go for, then this review will become a bloated 30-plus-pages monstrosity, so I’ll be a bit briefer than usual. The first class would be the Armiger, who gets d10 HD, 4 + Int skills, full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves, proficient talent progression and may choose a mental attribute as practitioner modifier. This would also be a good time to note that classes here grant e.g. a martial tradition when taken at 1st level – this provides access, obviously, but also prevents multiclass-cheesing. The armiger is obviously inspired by games like the latest Final Fantasy, centering around the idea of customized weapons, each of which grants a sphere and talent – basically, you have combat modes hard-coded into the class, and no, you can’t cheese that with dual-wielding. Only one customized weapon grants its benefits at a given time – though TWFing with them, obviously, is still possible. The class also gains options to cycle through these special weapons, which also improve. The low general progression regarding talents is offset by the modes, making this an inspired class. I really, really adore it.

The blacksmith get d10 HD, 4 + Int skills,full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Will-saves as well as Expert martial progression, with Constitution as governing practitioner modifier. The blacksmith is obviously somewhat equipment-themed and can provide benefits to allies by finetuning their equipment, basically providing 24-hour buffs. They also are sunder/anti-construct specialists, gaining scaling bonus damage and later learning to damage natural armor/weapons. The class also has some serious crafting prowess going on and the class receives an array of smithing insights that can provide e.g. Gunsmithing, damage objects to hurt their wielders, etc. He can also learn to reforge items, which is pretty cool.

The commander gets d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, ¾ BAB-progression, good Fort- and Will-saves and Adept martial progression, with Int or Cha as governing practitioner modifiers. Now, there are a couple of really good, commander-style classes out there. As far as favorites are concerned, Amora Game’s battle lord from Liber Influxus Communis, and, obviously, Dreamscarred Press’ Tactician come to mind. Where the former is a leader from the front, the latter is a coordinator defined by a psionic network and psionics. The commander is, chassis-wise, closer to the latter. The commander actually has next to no overlap with both: While tangible and potent benefits for allies are the bread and butter of these fellows, we also have terrain-specific tricks and logistics specialties – these provide really uncommon and intriguing benefits that focus on adventuring beyond combat. This class is fantastic. Love it to bits.

The conscript gets d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves as well as Expert martial progression, governed by one of the mental attributes. This is basically the “build your own” SoM-class type class. From dual identity to banner to studied target, it allows you to customize options galore and also comes with sphere specializations, basically bloodline/domain-ish linear ability progressions that kick in at 3rd, 8th and 20th level. This is the class for the folks who want a certain skillset be viable sans requiring a ton of multiclassing shenanigans.

The scholar gets ½ BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-saves, d6 HD, 8 + Int skills per level and proficient martial progression governed by Intelligence. Beyond being capable of providing some healing, we get flashbangs, DaVinci-style gliders, etc. – this is basically the Renaissance ideal of the universal scholar, embodied as a class. Super helpful, versatile, interesting – and perfectly capable of working in even no/low-magic games. That is not to say that this fellow is not viable in your regular fantasy setting though! I really love how the system allows you to play a really smart, versatile non-magical scholar. Another huge winner.

The sentinel gets d12 HD, full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Will-saves, 4 + Int skills per level, as well as expert martial progression, using Wisdom as governing practitioner modifier. The class, unsurprisingly, is the tank of the roster, and is an actually viable defensive base class. It is pretty technical in comparison, but comes out rather nicely. I am not a fan of the decision to be able to use Wisdom bonus instead of Dexterity to govern the one, at least pro forma, bad save of the class, but the capping of class level here prevents low level characters with universally good saves. Otherwise, the focus on challenges, ability to lock down targets etc, is nice., and stalwart, one of my least favorite abilities in all of Pathfinder (evasion for Fort AND Will) is relegated to 9th level. So yeah, I enjoy the class more than I figured I would!

The striker gets d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, good Fort- and Ref-saves, full BAB-progression as well as Expert martial progression governed by Constitution. The class is something of a monk-ish specialist, but that, at least in theory, sounds less interesting in the system, with monk-ish powers not more broadly available. Well, instead of just slapping several talents on the class, the striker takes a different approach: It is, in essence, a mana-bar martial. Let me explain: The striker has a resource called “tension” that increases upon taking damage, upon successfully hitting creatures, and upon moving a lot. This builds and may be expended to generate special effects, with the class gaining striker arts, which can provide unique effects or expand the ways in which you can spend the resource. And no, you can’t hoard it out of combat, and it doesn’t have a dumb per-combat mechanic. The playing experience here is really interesting and fun – but from all the classes, this is one that has the most expansion potential. Basically, you have a cool resource-management game in addition to the spheres-engine, making this a surprisingly strategic class to play.

Finally, there would be the technician, who receives d8 HD, 6 + Int mod skills per day, good Ref- and Will-saves, 3/4 BAB-progression as well as adept martial progression governed by Intelligence. This class takes up no less than 18 pages, and it is a BEAST. This is, in essence, the practical inventor to the scholar’s more theoretic approach; the sapper, the golemsmith, the pulp fantasy exploring inventor. It is the most complex class herein and the one that requires the most amount of system mastery, but it rewards you for allowing for an impressive amount of different concepts being realized even before you begin diving into the depths of the spheres system.

Now, the book also contains a ton of archetypes for your perusal: Alchemist, antipaladin, brawler, cavalier, fighter, gunslinger, hunter, investigator, magus, monk, paladin, ranger, ninja, rogue, samurai, slayer, swashbuckler, thaumaturge and even the vigilante get their due here, and that is before we take a look at the archetypes for the new classes, some of which made me smile from ear to ear. Battlefield armigers, for example, modify their chassis to instead make an improbable weapon, like an axe-bladed crossbow or the like. The iron chef blacksmith is a neat take on the battle cook, while the techsmith provides the means to poach in the technician’s playground, while doctor or slime savant scholars make for meaningful tweaks of the base engine of the class. Some of these tie in with the spheres system to a rather impressive degree, with e.g. the adamant guardian changing the focus of the sentinel from challenges to patrols, while another interacts with the berserker sphere. There also would be basically a true neutral paladin-ish variant here. Striker can opt for blackpowder or mutation specialties, and expert shadowed fists, scouts and grappling specialists are covered here as well. Technicians may elect for the mad scientist archetype (yes, you can make shrink rays…), and a suit pilot and basically a mythbuster can also be found here.

The whole classes/archetypes-chapter has been a huge surprise for me. You see, as much as I like Spheres of Power, I’m not the biggest fan of its classes. To me, they always felt like vessels to conduct the sphere-engine, not like truly distinct concepts that would make me go for them on virtue of their own engines. This book does not suffer from this limitation. I absolutely would love to play, in slightly varying degrees, all the classes introduced within this book. There are a TON of amazing concepts here and the engines presented for the classes are actually compelling and interesting BEFORE you start adding the sphere-engine! Furthermore, the classes herein allow you to do unique things that set them apart before diving into sphere-selection. That is a huge plus as far as I’m concerned. Add to that the fact that the classes actually manage to present compelling engines that reward versatile playstyles even before the main meat of the system is in place, and we have what must be called a resounding success.

Part II of my review can be found here!


Finally -


Using a friends PDF of this atm (waiting for print to be available). Read it cover to cover. The Legendary talents are the funnest part of this book and some of the Martial spheres are a bit weak IMO but overall lot of flavor and good design. Easily a 5 star product, on par /w Ultimate Psionics as far as content quality and a big step up in overall quality from DDS other titles. Waiting for handbooks now :)


5/5

Disclaimer: I backed the Kickstarter for this project and followed it since the beginning and participated in the playtesting of this material.

One thing that I would like to say upfront is that if you are ONLY planning to purchase this product in hopes that it will make martials on-par with Tier 1 classes (such as the Wizard, Cleric, and Druid), DON'T. Even if your game has replaced core vancian spellcasting with spherecasting, Spheres of Power is still without a doubt superior to martials using Spheres of Might. It has been discussed at length that it wasn't the mission of Spheres of Might to fix martials in that regard.

What I will say this product does do, is allow you to build martials who are defined not so much by their class, but how you build them, and it all starts with Martial Traditions.

In Core pathfinder, all too often you will find GM's and Players who are under the false impression that in-order to play a specific character concept, you must have levels in a base class or prestige class which matches the name. For example, if you want to play a ninja, you must have levels in the ninja class; if you want to play a samurai, you must have levels in the samurai class; if you want to play a druid, you must have levels in the druid class, etc.

Spheres of Power (the older companion product), throws this notion out the window with the use of Casting Traditions. With casting traditions you can play any spherecasting class and just choose the relevant casting tradition. For example, you could be an Armorist with the druidic casting tradition, a Hedgewitch with the druidic casting tradition, or an Incanter with the druidic casting tradition; it makes no difference.

Spheres of Might, does the same thing for martial characters with the use of Martial Traditions. Which allows you to define your character even further by defining just how your character was trained. Where you a knight? A thief? A gladiator? There are martial traditions for these and 30+ more, while also including guidelines to creating your own. And that is just the beginning.

After picking your martial tradition (which determines bonus starting proficiencies and starting combat spheres), you can further build, define, and expand your character even further by picking up spheres and talents from a list of 20+ combat spheres which cover aspects such as Alchemy, Beastmastery, Dual Wielding, Sniping, and Scouting (just to name a few).

Spheres of Might also includes Legendary Talents (which like Advanced Talents from Spheres of Power) must be approved individually by a GM. Personally, for a number of legendary talents, I feel they were locked behind a specific level unnecessarily. Most notably legendary talents such as Sever, which allows for the amputation of limbs (but is locked behind a BAB prerequisite of +11). The problem I see with this is that it infers that soldiers in war do not experience limb loss unless fighting something with 11 or more HD. It also infers that a medieval surgeons cannot amputate limbs before 11th level. Ofcourse the authors have repeatively given their explanation for such saying that it is because they don't want players to lose limbs before magic is available which can restore the condition (which I feel is a weak argument, seeing that death is a condition that players face at 1st level without affordable means or restoring that condition). However, these small gripes are not ones that I consider strong enough to reduce my rating of this product significantly.

Spheres of Might also offers a wide range of new base classes (and archetypes) which utilize Spheres of Might to its fullest potential, all of which I feel are fun alternatives to a number of Paizo Classes. For example, the Scholar class could easily fill the role of a number of classes (alchemist, bard, cleric, or wizard); whereas the rogue class could easily be replaced by the new Conscript, Striker, or Technician class (depending upon the type of rogue built).

For GM's Spheres of Might includes an array of pre-statted monsters ranging from CR 1-20, aswell as fast and easy guidelines for giving Martial Traditions to monsters.

Personally, I feel that Spheres of Might shines the most when combined with Spheres of Power, as they compliment each other nicely by lowering the power of casters, while raising the utility of martials; and while Spherecasters are without a doubt still superior to Spheremartials, this product does allow a martial to more fully enjoy his contribution to the game table.


Plenty of neat options for a different kind of Martial character

4/5

This book offers Martial Options for players that want less full attack and more Action Movie/Anime/Video game imagery. If you play a martial to optimize your DPR and make all the full attacks, then at the very least, the Spheres of Might provide utility, movement, and defenses, as well as something more meaningful than just regular attacks when you can't full attack.

If you want to play like the book wants you to play, with less full attacking and using all your actions to do different things, then you'll probably enjoy this, and they have some fun creative classes to take advantage of the system, as well as some archetypes and easy conversion system for the first party classes.

effects scale well, so your debuffs and bonuses can stay relevant in to the late game.

Very notably, the Guardian Sphere does a decent job of letting people play tanks.

While most of the content seems relatively balanced, there's some things that leave me scratching my head, like the sentinel class gaining evasion across all 3 saves.

All in all, I like this book and the direction it goes, but I'd like it a lot more if there were more options competative with full attacks.


Return of the (Sphere) King

5/5

So I've been following this since the playtest, and I gotta say, it's every bit as good as I expected. I was hoping for combat to get fixed, but with spheres of might, we've got so many options and ways to do that with tons of utility that you won't see in core. The math on it is also solid, making it play well at just about any table, as well as being super newbie friendly. This is my new combat system along with spheres of power, and I could honestly just see using these two books for any game I run.


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Except that the duration of a War Totem is Concentration. In order to set it to 1r/level the Incanter needs to expend a limited resource. Further it requiers a standard action to activate.

The Conscript can trigger a Tactic as a move action, maintain it as a Swift or Move action and even switch the effects of the tactic while it is active

you are compairing apples and oranges. Yes they are both Spheres that focus on a similar effect, but the way in which they function is fundamentally different

Shadow Lodge

Yes, and concentrating is a move action. Guess what everybody has at least one of a round? Once they have it up it's staying up and they can still either use another sphere or move at their discretion.


Concentration is a standard action


Unless you have the boon to MAKE it a move action, anyway. And some classes can concentrate on specific things as a move action. XD But yeah, that's a pretty good limit on power.


I must say, it was quite a shock to get online today and see this revision with 5 ranks per talent thing.
In my opinion, it is a nerf not needed (and likely won't appear in games gm'd by me), but what about some compromise like a new talent for every such sphere granting ranks in the associated skill like it is done with the Craftsman talent in the equipment sphere?

Silver Crusade

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Let me talk a bit about the decision to remove full ranks for just the base sphere and instead split them up. Our decision was based on the logic of if you are in fact dedicated to the sphere in question, you're going to be getting your ranks just fine, so it's not really an issue. The skill spheres aren't really weaker than the base spheres, so giving the benefit of an extra skill point (even one locked into a specific skill) for one sphere was judged to be too good. It made the sphere too dippable, especially in the case of drawbacks, and so we decided to limit the power of a single talent in this situation.

For most full practitioners, being able to spare a talent or two for skill ranks (and obviously the talent itself) shouldn't even be close to difficult, and even 3/4th practitioners shouldn't have much of an issue with it. We don't see this as taking nice things away from martials (look at the skill ranks of all of our classes in this book, with armiger/blacksmith/conscript/sentinel/striker having 4+ skill points, commander/technician having 6+ skill points, and scholar having 8+ skill points), we look at it as trying to balance these additional skill points.

Anyone comparing this to the feat that gives you +1 skill point per level isn't considering that a sphere gives you an innate ability, and quite a few of our spheres were giving very powerful skills (diplomacy, intimidate, stealth), things which would easily be taken by most characters. We'd like to believe the skill spheres offer enough content that following through for an additional 3 talents isn't pulling teeth, as there's quite a lot of general talents in there which are utility enough to consider regardless, with martial traditions helping to speed this along even further.

We are listening to your concerns here, but I thought I'd give you the rationale for this decision.


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Skills are the sorts of things martials should already be able to do. The idea of a fighter who can 'only' fight is a terrible thing; the iconic medieval fighter, the knight errant, was expected to know horsemanship, heraldry, how to repair his equipment, athletics, diplomacy, intimidation, etc., etc..

However, there's only so much we can give out with a single talent and retain some semblance of balance. We are already giving out some talents that are the equivalent of 2 or more core feats, and things like Fencing are giving out full ranks in Bluff AND half-level sneak attack.

I honestly agree with most of the complaints in this thread; they went through my head as well when we discussed this change. At the end of the day, though, conscripts with SoM are better skill monkeys AND better fighters than either the core skill monkeys or core fighters, and we can't claim to be able to play next to core if we didn't cap that advantage at least a little.

I hate to introduce an extra layer of bookkeeping with this change, but at the end of the day we thought there were few builds it would even effect; so long as you've spent 4 talents in a skill sphere by level 20, nothing changes in your build. If you have, say, 2 skill spheres you only plan to spend 2 talents in each by level 20, you can spend 1 of your class's skill ranks per level filling in the gaps and still end up with them at max rank by level 20.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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Dragonborn3 wrote:
Yes, and concentrating is a move action. Guess what everybody has at least one of a round? Once they have it up it's staying up and they can still either use another sphere or move at their discretion.

If you're having to choose between moving or using your abilities, you're already at a disadvantage against most of our martials, who have multiple ways to move and hit effectively round to round. Mobility combined with effective offense, especially once it becomes something everyone has instead of being unique to casters and the occasional pouncer, has a significant impact on the game.

Mikaeru Kira wrote:

I must say, it was quite a shock to get online today and see this revision with 5 ranks per talent thing.

In my opinion, it is a nerf not needed (and likely won't appear in games gm'd by me), but what about some compromise like a new talent for every such sphere granting ranks in the associated skill like it is done with the Craftsman talent in the equipment sphere?

The Craftsman talent is significantly weaker than the base spheres that grant skill ranks. All it does is give you ranks in Craft, a time-consuming non-combat skill. The base spheres are giving you a package of abilities alongside your first 5 ranks in a given skill. Craftsman is how the skill spheres worked before, so it wouldn't really be a compromise, it would be us rolling back the balancing changes we made.

Since the main thrust of the issue seems to be how this affects classes that were using spheres to shore up a weak chassis, like the Fighter, as opposed to the SoM base classes which all tend to have lots of skills and strong utility options (Armigers get 4+ and can set up one or more customized weapons to cover sphere skills, Blacksmiths get 4+ and learn Skilled Craftsman, which is basically Bardic Knowledge for crafting, Commanders get 6+ and a number of class features that can expand, improve, or replace various skill needs, Conscripts get 4+ with a customizable skill list and a ton of bonus talents, etc.) I wanted to talk about what that actually looks like at the table.

For example, a Fighter. Now one of the reasons the Fighter archetype is the only one that gets the ability to take a martial tradition and keep their weapon proficiencies is because we know that they do have a weaker chassis and even if you're using Weapon Master's Handbook to shore up their skills most of that won't kick in until at least 6th level. But assume that you're not or can't take the archetype for whatever reason and you're solely grafting skills and talents onto this guy with feats. You decide (for the sake of discussion) that you want to take the Fencing sphere, both for the bonus precision damage and because you want the free ranks in Bluff. You've now got Bluff covered through 5th level and you get your bonus damage. If you never take a sphere talent again, then when 6th level rolls around you've still spent 5 levels as a 3+Int class and now that Climb and Swim are starting to taper off in usefulness, you can start shifting those skills into progressing options that will be more useful going forward. Or, you can take another Fencing talent; Fast Feint is a really good option here since you can feint, move, and attack, and Focusing Feint is a solid choice too since it will let you use Fast Feint repeatedly without having to break in your combat routine. Taking just one of those means that you've got Bluff covered until 10th level, while taking both means that Bluff will continue to progress until 15th level, likely beyond the span of many people's games, and well into the point where you should have a significant number of options available to decide how you want to navigate those last 5 levels.
When you bring martial traditions into the mix, it can get even better for the Fighter; if the fencing Fighter mentioned above takes a discipline like Dedicated Duelist, he's not just getting his entire foundation as a Dexterous combatant, he's also getting his first 5 ranks covered, which means that the character mentioned above needs even fewer talents to keep rolling through Bluff. Since he's a Fighter, if he decides the accuracy bonus, skill ranks, and related benefits are more important than the bonus dice, he can take the Distracting drawback and have 10 ranks worth of Bluff covered before he even moves on from his Martial Tradition and starts using his feats.
The one thing that this change really stops is shot-gunning multi-sphere builds for skill ranks, which was a common issue we were seeing alongside shot-gunning for drawbacks, where these really broad but shallow builds were being used to create builds that were unacceptably better than a more focused build could hope to match. Before the changes to skills and drawbacks, it was so much better to take a multi-sphere build than a single or dual sphere build that the only reason (from a mechanical perspective) not to do it was because you hadn't figured out the right combo of spheres and drawbacks to pull it all together yet. There were also other issues that were systemic but less likely to affect players directly (other than scholars), like high level creatures and characters having to take half a dozen Craft skills just so they don't run out of things to put their overflowing skill points into, or characters using talents as overly cheap dips to auto-qualify for completely unrelated abilities that key off shared skills while also getting a nice combat perk.
For us, one of the biggest things to look at is how those spheres still compare even with the changes. There's still almost nothing you can spend a feat or talent on that's better than a base sphere. They're still super relevant in the early levels when skill ranks are at their most valuable as a standalone resource and not just "that thing I'm putting ranks in so I can take XYZ feat/PrC/special ability". They still grant retraining, so if you take one talent in e.g. Fencing at 1st level and don't take another until 9th, you can pop those skill points over into another skill once you get your Bluff ranks from the talent. Just instead of getting one or more special abilities and 20 free ranks, you're getting one or more special abilities and 5 free ranks.

Shadow Lodge

Will the Spheres of Power drawbacks be nerfed as well?


Dragonborn3 wrote:
Will the Spheres of Power drawbacks be nerfed as well?

Probably not, at least en masse. With very few exceptions, using a drawback to get a talent from SoP results in replacing one standard action with another, or adjusting the size and scope of what your standard actions can do; an adjustment of options rather than an escalation of power. In SoM, drawbacks with the ability to pick any talent you wanted often resulted in replacing one of two standard actions with a move or swift option, or growing the number of combo'ed powered that activat off of your attack action, meaning the drawback often resulted in a calculated growth of power of the non-drawback taker, which is what we wanted to avoid.

Shadow Lodge

So... the thing that made SoM so cool was the reason SoM drawbacks get the nerf and SoP drawbacks won't. Understood.


Dragonborn3 wrote:
So... the thing that made SoM so cool was the reason SoM drawbacks get the nerf and SoP drawbacks won't. Understood.

Pretty much. The problem with making Spheres of Might unique from Spheres of Power is that it requires its own unique balance considerations.


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Well, for what it's worth, I'm quite happy with the way Spheres of Might has turned out. ^^ It's already starting to see a fair bit of use in my games, and I generally like the recent changes.

Shadow Lodge

It is very weird to see Martials getting made weaker to bring them in line with Casters.

Like someone put up a mirror of opposition and Paizo looked in it XD


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I also like this change, for precisely the reasons N. Jolly and Adam gave. Given that you can spend feats to get spheres, giving a full skill rank + the ability the sphere gives would make them strictly better than other good feats, like Cunning.


Well, it's not just casters they have to balance against. XD I think one of the explicit goals of Spheres of Might was to... how do I put this... not be totally outright better in some things than existing classes. Like, if you just want to do HP damage, a Fighter is still going to be better than pretty much any Practitioner. Similarly, I don't think they wanted it to be too easy to become better at skills than existing skill-focused classes.

You can still get quite a few skills in Spheres of Might, depending on your build, but it's a lot harder to dip in and max a ton of them with ease now. ^^ I tend to think of Practitioners as being somewhat split between damage and debuffing (or occasionally buffing), with the potential for decent skill use as well. In other words, they're good in all of these areas and can be played quite viably, but they're not the best at any of them.

Shadow Lodge

Well, I don't think they quite managed it. If I have a choice between mundane martials or a SoM... I'm going with SoM. Heck, even something like a paladin or ranger I'll be using the SoM archetypes. Versatility and style, while maintaining decent damage(or outright slaughtering something?) are going to win.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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Dragonborn3 wrote:
Well, I don't think they quite managed it. If I have a choice between mundane martials or a SoM... I'm going with SoM. Heck, even something like a paladin or ranger I'll be using the SoM archetypes. Versatility and style, while maintaining decent damage(or outright slaughtering something?) are going to win.

Make no mistake, we do want you to play our classes more than the pre-existing options (we did spend a lot of time working on them after all), and we definitely wanted our martial options to be more versatile and well-rounded than what you find in core. But we want that to happen within the existing framework of the game, not breaking the numbers. As an example, if we take a Paizo-only Fighter and drop him alongside a Conscript, at most levels what we expect is that the Conscript is going to be a better adventurer, with more skills, utility, and cool moves. But we also expect that the Fighter is going to have a more consistent baseline in areas like AC and/or average damage per combat, which is currently the case, assuming equal optimization and access to the Weapon Master's Handbook and Armor Master's Handbook for the Fighter. There's some variation with levels and build and they're both classes with a ton of areas where you can make choices that will shift things one way or another, but by and large the Fighter's niche in the areas of combat DPR and AC aren't overly challenged by the Conscript's existence.

Of course, put side-by-side in a game, the Conscript is generally going to feel like a superior choice, even in instances where the Fighter is in its niche; it's all well and good that the Fighter has a higher average damage, but no one is going to care about that when the Conscript burns focus to backflip off a wall and land in a spinning AoE trip attack with his spear to knock down a bunch of enemies and then burn up all his AoOs for the round to use ...And Stay Down! to inflict bleeding wounds that leave the whole group of enemies slipping in their own blood.
Basically, if you want to play a Blacksmith or Conscript because it's way cooler than a Fighter and you get to pull off badass combat moves, then that's exactly what we want. If you're playing them because they're just plain better in every single way, then that's significantly less awesome. Fighter may not be the best comparison point as honestly the Conscript can crib a lot of his tricks and Fighter has a weaker chassis than most other classes, but you can sub in Barbarian/Cavalier/Slayer/Ranger/etc. and it's still the same end result. We definitely want you to play our classes, but because they've got style, flair, and are well-rounded adventurers with cool hooks, not because they're just throwing around bigger numbers than their core counterparts.

Shadow Lodge

Kind of proved my point with your backflip example. Those enemies are as good as dead. ^_^

For what it's worth, I've already got an idea for my iconic goblin to be an Iron Chef. I just wish they didn't still have a ton of blacksmith stuff after the archetype is applied(which is likely due to word count and spacing). It feels like cooking is a hobby for the archetype.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Dragonborn3 wrote:
Kind of proved my point with your backflip example. Those enemies are as good as dead. ^_^

But not really moreso than if they were caught up in a black tentacles spell or something similar. And a fighter could, potentially, make a Whirlwind Attack of trips with a reach weapon and use his AoOs to deal more damage, though the ease of set-up and general cool factor with the conscript is going to be higher. We just wanted to create that niche protection, and I think we more or less did. In the fighter's case the niche just happens to be "raw numerical advantage", which doesn't hold up to inspection as well against the conscript's sheer cool factor with slightly lower numbers.

Quote:


For what it's worth, I've already got an idea for my iconic goblin to be an Iron Chef. I just wish they didn't still have a ton of blacksmith stuff after the archetype is applied(which is likely due to word count and spacing). It feels like cooking is a hobby for the archetype.

Iron Chef is already one of the higher word-count archetypes, so trading out any more would have really exceeded what we had available to work with. There has been some talk about doing a "Tradesman's Handbook" or something like that uses archetypes to turn various classes from SoM into different kinds of adventuring professionals like fletchers, carpenters, etc., and if we do end up following through with that we may get to revisit the Iron Chef with additional options and expanded choices (preserving the existing Iron Chef as a less invasive entry for people who prefer the current version).


Excuse the poke, but:

Considering this document had a Starfinder conversion in it, is one for SoP in the near future? Or are you waiting to do a more thorough version or something?

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

SilvercatMoonpaw wrote:

Excuse the poke, but:

Considering this document had a Starfinder conversion in it, is one for SoP in the near future? Or are you waiting to do a more thorough version or something?

The Starfinder conversion for Spheres of Power is an ongoing project. Due to some inherent differences in the systems, the SoP conversion requires a lot more work and fine-tuning, so it just can't be adequately served by a quick conversion chapter like we did for SoM.


Ssalarn wrote:
....so it just can't be adequately served by a quick conversion chapter like we did for SoM.

Makes sense.


When you do the Hero Lab files will it include a monster template to convert monsters to SoM system?


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Been awhile since I chimed in here but I'm a fan of the changes. The reasons given were exactly what went through my head when I saw the changes that were made. Makes sense.

I also love the Scholar I created for an ongoing campaign. My Vigilante become completely aggravating to play and my GM told me it was cool to make a new character.

The GM might be slightly regretting letting me do this however, the Scholar is a very strong class and I definitely tried to maximize my effectiveness.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Wraithguard wrote:

Been awhile since I chimed in here but I'm a fan of the changes. The reasons given were exactly what went through my head when I saw the changes that were made. Makes sense.

I also love the Scholar I created for an ongoing campaign. My Vigilante become completely aggravating to play and my GM told me it was cool to make a new character.

The GM might be slightly regretting letting me do this however, the Scholar is a very strong class and I definitely tried to maximize my effectiveness.

Sorry to hear your vigilante wasn't working out. Out of curiosity, what build are you using for your scholar?


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I'm not too sad about the Vigilante. It was a character that was set up as tactical combat support and have some good RP stuff. Well, the group isn't exactly tactical in combat and RP doesn't occur very often. He was almost useless.

Well, I had to start the Scholar out at level 10 and quickly leveled to 11.
Let me try and recall all that I can without my sheet.

Tradition - Canny Huntsman

Equipment - I think I put something else into equipment for a future feat but I don't remember right yet.

Sniper Sphere - Focusing Reload, Thread the Needle
Scout Sphere - Find Gap, Identify Rhythm, Uncanny Dodge
Alchemy - Salve, Improved Bottled Lightning, Improved Acid Flask, Improved Tanglefoot Bag

I blew a few feats into Extra Combat Talent to pick all that.

Knacks - Academic Knowledge, Expert Healer, Martial Study, Trick Arrow, Cunning Socialite, Cunning Attacker

Another feat into extra Knack, can't give that up with so many wonderful options.

Materials - Howling Herbology, Circle of Salt, Silver, Gold, Ammonium Nitrate

I figured a DC amping material with some dispels and holy damage rounded out some usefulness the party definitely lacked. I just picked up Ammonium Nitrate so powerful CC is also going to be awesome.

Feats: Extra Knack, Toughness, Fast Learner, Extra Combat Talent...

Don't remember exactly and it wasn't in that order obviously.

I went Human and traded out the bonus skill point and feat for Skill Focus feats and a scaling bonus on Craft (alchemy).

I have pumped healing as hard as I can and picked up the relatively cheap magic item to further supplement it. With Expert Healer and the benefits level 11 gives me, I can turn a healing kit into a miraculous tool.

My offense is mainly focused on identifying something (swift), communicate weakness (move), throw basic flashbang (standard).

Following turns my actions could vary greatly but I try to shoot something with a trick arrow flashbang that burns focus to augment with a material (standard). This forces a Thread the Needle save and a Flashbang save. The DC is very high since I prioritized Intelligence over everything else. A move action later and I have focus back with Focusing Reload. With my swift I can continue identifying targets for future move actions or heal people.

My weaknesses are my saves and to a small degree my AC. Identify Rhythm helps a bunch as well as Uncanny Dodge and I plan to grab a few buckler focused feats to use it while I use my bow. Circle of Salt is going to be my save booster, at least when it comes from spells and supernatural sources. A constant source of SR should also help, though nothing has tried to pierce it yet.

There are lots of other ways I could have taken this but it works very well. Perhaps even too well, I've told the other players that if they feel this character is over-contributing, I'll tweak him down some.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Nice! I played around quite a bit with archer scholar builds during playtesting, and they can be very efficient and effective with the trick arrows knack and the right impositions.

Me going on about the scholar I'm currently playing:
My current scholar is actually level 11 as well, but she's more of a minionmancer/controller with a juiced up super-pet from knacks (Animal Training Small and Large, Genetic Modification, Experimental Evolution), the Brimstone, Circle of Salt, Dowsing Rod, Gold, and Ooze impositions, and several talents sunk into Beastmastery for a pair of trained eagles. She'll fly around on the animal companion/familiar, a winged panther (big cat), while attacking with her flashbangs. She uses the eagles to drop improved alchemical items (primarily grease or tanglefoot bags), or deliver salves/panaceas to party members in the event she can't/shouldn't take care of needed healing or condition removal herself. The cat's large size and 40 ft. fly speed mean that she generally doesn't have much trouble getting to an ally if necessary, and that combined with the control options she has from her sulfuric detonations, improved alchemical grease and tanglefoot bags, as well as her base flashbangs, mean that her relatively weak defenses are rarely tested since it's very difficult for enemies to reach or target her. She has a living mirage as her bottled ooze from the imposition that she typically saves for particularly difficult battles or situations where she can position it on the battlefield as kind of a giant trap for enemies.

The other three members of the group are a halfling saurian shaman druid with an allosaurus animal companion, a necromancy wizard, and a half-elf bard with the Duelist and Fencing schools. Amusingly enough, the whole party, despite being fairly unusual in composition, is actually very appropriate for the setting since we're using the Eberron Campaign Setting from 3.5.


Hi all, two questions:

1) I'm not closely tracking this thread, but it sounds like there have been some recent adjustments to the rules? If so, will those changes be reflected in the print version?

2) Any idea when the print version will be available for order?

Thanks!


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Yes, there was an errata update, and I'm pretty sure it'll be reflected in the print version. Said print version should be coming soonish.


Something else I've noticed about the "gain 5 ranks" method (or errata for the wiki):

Sky Spider's Climb requires "Climb 5 ranks". Various other Legendary Athletics Talents also require ranks in skills. Can you qualify for these as soon as you take a base sphere/package that grants 5 ranks but don't have enough levels that you'd be allowed to put that many skill ranks in normally?

I assume no, but wanted to point it out.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

SilvercatMoonpaw wrote:

Something else I've noticed about the "gain 5 ranks" method (or errata for the wiki):

Sky Spider's Climb requires "Climb 5 ranks". Various other Legendary Athletics Talents also require ranks in skills. Can you qualify for these as soon as you take a base sphere/package that grants 5 ranks but don't have enough levels that you'd be allowed to put that many skill ranks in normally?

I assume no, but wanted to point it out.

As noted in the entries, you're still capped to a maximum number of ranks equal to your total Hit Dice, so you won't actually have 5 ranks until you're at at least 5 HD (typically level 5 unless you have racial HD).


Ssalarn wrote:
As noted in the entries, you're still capped to a maximum number of ranks equal to your total Hit Dice, so you won't actually have 5 ranks until you're at at least 5 HD (typically level 5 unless you have racial HD).

Missed that.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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Kryzbyn wrote:
Have you guys done any kind of podcast as a "Spheres 101" to help understand how this system works?

I was hanging out with the guys from the Digital and Dice podcast last night and we talked a bit about what Spheres of Might is, what inspired it, and walked through the basic steps of building of a Spheres of Might character.

You can see the full video here!


Hm. One question regarding the 'Unarmed' Spheres: Is there any limitation of sorts to how their talents can be used?

Specifically, I am wondering about the "Snap Kick" Talent in Open Hand.

I am building a character with a reach weapon that will get to trip people approaching with their Combat-Reflex AoO.
So Snap Kick would be great.
No need to pick up Greater Trip, resolve the extra attack for tripping AFTER target is prone, AND get a chance to stagger them(until the end of their NEXT turn, no less...so I get a regular round, then they are staggered during theirs and struggling to get up if everything works out - PS: I could see the reading as staggered instantly ending their turn and the condition ending - but still).

Now I know the Talent Name is flavor, but it feels like maybe that was supposed to be a combination of Vicious Stomp and Greater Trip, as a unarmed strike against a adjancent enemy?
Being able to use a reach weapon well, it feels like a very powerful single talent, so wanted to make sure it is intended to work that way?

(Plus Fencing+Ankle Strike+Feint Strike during my turn would profit as well...)


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Numerous other talents of the same type cite limitations, like having to use an unarmed strike. Snap Kick does not. It seems unlikely they would have left the prerequisite out that way, so... go ahead and use it with reach weapons? ^^

Silver Crusade

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Agreed with GM Rednal here; since it doesn't state it requires an unarmed strike, go ahead and use it with reach weapons!

Shadow Lodge

Works quite thematically with a Greataxe too.


I have been reading up on the Berserker Sphere, and I want to make my players fight a dragon that uses it. It would be terrifying. Advancing Carnage to make multiple attacks while moving, Spell Sunder, attacks that stagger.... plus he could use Rift Strike to escape to his lair in a pinch.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Ssalarn wrote:
Kryzbyn wrote:
Have you guys done any kind of podcast as a "Spheres 101" to help understand how this system works?

I was hanging out with the guys from the Digital and Dice podcast last night and we talked a bit about what Spheres of Might is, what inspired it, and walked through the basic steps of building of a Spheres of Might character.

You can see the full video here!

I mention DDS' big bundle sale from the Open Gaming Store in the video, that bundle is now also available on DriveThruRPG!

Matrix Dragon wrote:
I have been reading up on the Berserker Sphere, and I want to make my players fight a dragon that uses it. It would be terrifying. Advancing Carnage to make multiple attacks while moving, Spell Sunder, attacks that stagger.... plus he could use Rift Strike to escape to his lair in a pinch.

I love using spheres on monsters in general. Dragons are really fun because you can mix attack actions in with Flyby Attack and they have massive physical power to hang all the spheres on.

Shadow Lodge

Why the goblin scholar's FCB change? I thought it was quite fitting.


Thanks @Rednal + @N.Jolly

Also from my Whip-Vigilante(who is now seriously looking forward to getting Cunning Feint and Improved Whip Mastery) :)

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Dragonborn3 wrote:
Why the goblin scholar's FCB change? I thought it was quite fitting.

It was just a bit a stronger than the average curve for FCBs and had overlap with another FCB that was also very appropriate (I believe it was the tiefling's), so we needed to update it but also wanted to keep them in a position where they were still going to have an edge with their explosives.

Shadow Lodge

It's no stronger than similar FCBs(half-Orc alchemist for instance?), and since it was just fire damage it was weaker.

Looking at my copy(freshly re-downloaded for the latest version), if anything, tiefling would've been better to become just the bonus to sulfuric detonations to bring it in line with Aasimar.

Shadow Lodge

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So in an effort to get away from my usual questions or complaints, I'm going to post abit about my next creation.

Most Pygmy Wyverns are content to be simple ambush predators. It makes sense. They are perfectly suited to picking off prey that already looks weak. One sting and their muscles start to weaken.

Not so for the Forest King. A tenacious creature, this Pygmy Wyvern has worked on its own to make its poisons more dangerous and carried while also shoring up its own weakness and figuring out the best ways to attack. Remember that the calm and peace of the forest is as dangerous as anything else.

Pygmy Wyverns(made using the Talented Bestiary) are a subspecies of Wyverns that prefer to dart in, sting an unaware prey creature, then get away to let their poison lower their target's Strength score so it's safer to go in and either repeat the process or end the hunt.

The Forest King named himself when he realized he was the most dangerous thing in the area. He has five levels of Conscript(making him CR 7) with the Assasin monster tradition. His Conscript specializations are Evasion, Indomitable Wil, and Specilization in the Duelist Sphere to give him Death by a Thousand Cuts..

I can't remember all of his talents right now, but he does have Virulent Bite so his Alchemy talents and poison work with his Bite and Sting attacks. He should be a decent challenge for level 5 characters. Maybe 4 if you worry about action economy. ^_^

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Dragonborn3 wrote:

So in an effort to get away from my usual questions or complaints, I'm going to post abit about my next creation.

Most Pygmy Wyverns are content to be simple ambush predators. It makes sense. They are perfectly suited to picking off prey that already looks weak. One sting and their muscles start to weaken.

Not so for the Forest King. A tenacious creature, this Pygmy Wyvern has worked on its own to make its poisons more dangerous and carried while also shoring up its own weakness and figuring out the best ways to attack. Remember that the calm and peace of the forest is as dangerous as anything else.

Pygmy Wyverns(made using the Talented Bestiary) are a subspecies of Wyverns that prefer to dart in, sting an unaware prey creature, then get away to let their poison lower their target's Strength score so it's safer to go in and either repeat the process or end the hunt.

The Forest King named himself when he realized he was the most dangerous thing in the area. He has five levels of Conscript(making him CR 7) with the Assasin monster tradition. His Conscript specializations are Evasion, Indomitable Wil, and Specilization in the Duelist Sphere to give him Death by a Thousand Cuts..

I can't remember all of his talents right now, but he does have Virulent Bite so his Alchemy talents and poison work with his Bite and Sting attacks. He should be a decent challenge for level 5 characters. Maybe 4 if you worry about action economy. ^_^

I love hit and run Assassin Tradition monsters :)

One of the things I really like Assassin and Power Forward type monster is that their ability to move in and out of combat, or to knock the party around and force them to burn movement and potentially eat AoOs trying to get back into damaging range, is how they force the party to start using tactics and leveraging their abilities. I had a digmaul in a game that was very similar to your Forest King (just lower level and using climb instead of flight), and it was one of the encounters that really got my players turned on to what Spheres of Might really is and how it opens up the ways you can run and participate in a combat.

Shadow Lodge

What I did was pick talents first and then figure out the best way to do it. Which turned out to be Conscript 5.

Back home now, so I can look at the write up I've partially completed.

Tradition: Assassin
Tradition Talents: Athletics(Fly package), Mobile Striker, Duelist Sphere, Debilitating Injuries(Bleed)

Class Level Talents
Alchemy(Poison), Virulent Bite, Disabling Poison, Drowsy Poison, Painful Venom

Feats: Weapon Finesse, Skill Focus(Stealth), Fly-by-Attack(I wasn't sure if it needed this with Mobile Striker), Ability Focus(Poison), Extra Combat Talent(Defensive Slice).

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Dragonborn3 wrote:

What I did was pick talents first and then figure out the best way to do it. Which turned out to be Conscript 5.

Back home now, so I can look at the write up I've partially completed.

Tradition: Assassin
Tradition Talents: Athletics(Fly package), Mobile Striker, Duelist Sphere, Debilitating Injuries(Bleed)

Class Level Talents
Alchemy(Poison), Virulent Bite, Disabling Poison, Drowsy Poison, Painful Venom

Feats: Weapon Finesse, Skill Focus(Stealth), Fly-by-Attack(I wasn't sure if it needed this with Mobile Striker), Ability Focus(Poison), Extra Combat Talent(Defensive Slice).

Generally it's an "either or" situation with Mobile Striker and Flyby Attack; if you're going to be swapping between multiple movement modes like land and fly speeds, Mobile Striker would probably be preferred, but if you primarily fly and you have an ability like a breath weapon, Flyby Attack might be the better way to go. You don't really need both, but they each have some functionality the other doesn't, so it's not the worst thing if you're picking both up.

Shadow Lodge

I'll keep it then, in case it comes up. I just shudder to think of creatures like this in water. Aquatic combat is killer for player characters at almost every level.


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I hope it's not nagging if I ask again about news on a print version?

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