Path of War compared to Spheres of Might


Advice and Rules Questions


I've read Spheres of Might through, but Path of War is taking me longer for various reasons. Is there anyone who's used both who can give me a quick idea of how PoW compares to SoM? Like, if you use both what is the purpose of using one over the other?


Path of War is an interesting spend-slots kind of martial combat system. You kiiiind of get a combat style, but it's mostly picking a few techniques that do what you want to do.

Spheres of Might is better for making a consistent combat style, and overall I like it better. It gives martials a variety of cool things to do without really locking them out of what they want to be doing. Spheres of Might also has some good non-combat options for classes, allowing martials to better contribute outside of stabbing things.


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Spheres of Might gives you talents you can combine in various ways; Path of War gives you discrete abilities that are activated as actions. (PoW does give you some passive things, but they're mutually exclusive with each other; you can't have two passive maneuvers active at once.)

I use both in most of my games, and in that context, PCs who dip into both systems tend to use SoM to represent what they are and PoW to represent what they do- their "signature moves", in a way.

Liberty's Edge

One thing I think needs to be mentioned is that SoM isn't going to do big numbers. For the most part a character using spheres of might is going to have roughly similar bonuses to hit and damage as a character outside of that book, but they will have more tricks. Path of War, on the other hand, is going to throw around bigger numbers.


Yeah, it's worth mentioning that Path of War classes and archetypes will outcompete low-tier first-party martials like the Chained Rogue or Swashbuckler in raw numbers while simultaneously matching or exceeding their versatility. In many ways I consider them more balanced than core, but you do need to treat them as low T3/high T4 classes.


Which is not as bad as it sounds since Warrior outcompetes Swashbuckler in raw numbers. A level 3 Warrior's Greatsword +8 (2d6+4/19-20) or (with Power Attack) +7 (2d6+7/19-20) with 20 AC beats a level 3 swashbuckler's Scimitar +8 (1d6+7/18-20) with 19 AC.


Path of War is making regular martials into spellcasters. They have spell slots, spell levels, DCs, and more. The main difference is casters regain spells once per day, path of War regains after 1 minute.

Spheres of might is building blocks and a good way to give PCs options.


I don't know if this helps cause I don't use both.

But I am the reverse of OP. After looking it over, Path of War started to click with me and I've gotten to the point of "Click click click, Ding" OH I get it.

Spheres of Might however seems to go far beyond and basically reinvent the game. To the point it has it's own Wiki set up.

So I don't know, guess I'm saying Path of War might be easier to bolt onto a game than Spheres?


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MerlinCross wrote:
But I am the reverse of OP. After looking it over, Path of War started to click with me and I've gotten to the point of "Click click click, Ding" OH I get it.

It's not that it doesn't click: I read Book of 9 Swords back in the day, I know how it works already.

I'm just taking a really long time to read the rules. The Spheres of Might wiki's layout just made it easier to get through. By contrast Path of War is up on d20pfsrd.com and.....that place needs a cleaner layout. Too distracting.


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@MerlinCross: Actually, Spheres of Might doesn't add or change a whole lot. Most of the system is basically "When you can do a Vital Strike, you can also do this stuff". About the only thing it really adds is a condition. Think of the spheres as really expansive Style feat chains and you're most of the way there. XD You may find this page helpful, too.


SilvercatMoonpaw wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:
But I am the reverse of OP. After looking it over, Path of War started to click with me and I've gotten to the point of "Click click click, Ding" OH I get it.

It's not that it doesn't click: I read Book of 9 Swords back in the day, I know how it works already.

I'm just taking a really long time to read the rules. The Spheres of Might wiki's layout just made it easier to get through. By contrast Path of War is up on d20pfsrd.com and.....that place needs a cleaner layout. Too distracting.

Sorry I misunderstood. I agree the Path of War section needs to be cleaner.

But Spheres of Power wiki looks like it's own GAME rather than modified rules.

GM Rednal wrote:
@MerlinCross: Actually, Spheres of Might doesn't add or change a whole lot. Most of the system is basically "When you can do a Vital Strike, you can also do this stuff". About the only thing it really adds is a condition. Think of the spheres as really expansive Style feat chains and you're most of the way there. XD You may find this page helpful, too.

Yeah no that's just too confusing still. What is this progression? How's Martial Tradition different from Spheres? Martial Focus what? And none of this sounds like Pathfinder. If I wanted to be a sneaky character what is that? Conscript + Scout + What Tradition?

No I think I'll just stay with Pathfinder Rogue. And then if I want to throw some spice on that, Thrashing Dragon Discipline from Path of War. Cause it says it favors Two Weapon Fighting. Yeah Path of War adds classes but it also seems to give rules for how to use it without the new classes. Spheres I have no idea where to even look for that if it's possible.

I just want to roll up Fighter, with a claymore.


.....Probably on the pages that say "Using Spheres of Power" and "Using Spheres of Might", which are about the first thing the "How to Build an X" pages link to and serve introduce the systems and explain how they work. The answers to all of your questions are explained on these basic info pages. Frankly, Pathfinder's normal spellcasting system is way more complicated than anything in Spheres - but if you still find it too complicated, then yeah, they're probably not the right systems for you.

(And that's okay. Not everyone enjoys every alternative ruleset. Spheres is very, very good if you like building creative character concepts and really taking control of your fighting style, but if you just want to roll up a fighter and hit things with a big weapon, then it's probably more bits and pieces than you're looking for. That said, Spheres of Might is specifically designed to be playable alongside non-SoM characters, so you don't have to worry even if other people in your group are using it. XD)

Liberty's Edge

Basically what it comes down to is Path of War is a selection of moves you bolt on to your character. They're gated by level and your numbers get bigger as you go up levels, but that is almost all it does. A fighter is a fighter and a rogue is a rogue.

Spheres of might gives you control over how you fight. It allows you to divorce your concept from your class. Do you want to be a dirty sneaky knight? Go unchained rogue (with a spheres of might archtype) with knight as your martial tradition.


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I found Spheres baffling for a while too, but then it "clicked" for me. It's got an extremely simple backbone with an intimidating amount of content built off that, but all you really need is to learn the backbone and then sift through the content for what best represents the concepts you have in mind.


MerlinCross wrote:
And then if I want to throw some spice on that, Thrashing Dragon Discipline from Path of War. Cause it says it favors Two Weapon Fighting. Yeah Path of War adds classes but it also seems to give rules for how to use it without the new classes. Spheres I have no idea where to even look for that if it's possible.

I can see how it's confusing: the feat you can spend to gain a combat sphere is "Extra Combat Talent", which makes it seem you already need to have a combat sphere from somewhere else. Except not really: it has no prerequisites, meaning you can take it whenever and gain a combat sphere.

That's all you need to start. Everything works off BAB, with martial focus being an occasional thing.


It's probably best to compare Spheres to Psionics. Martial Focus fufills the same purpose as Psionic Focus, while magic talents powered by spell points is pretty similar to powers known powered by power points. If you can understand Psionics, it shouldn't be too difficult to understand Spheres, IMHO.


I'll throw my hat into the ring for a moment, though I think others got most of the gist down.

Path of War bolts new stuff onto you, and changes combat by basically literally giving you spells.

Spheres of Might changes how you fight as a whole by letting you build a concept from scratch, and encourages cinematic combat by generally changing the paradigm of what you're doing rather than adding new things (though a SoM character and a non SoM character can be in the same campaign and survive)

As you can probably tell from how long the section was, I personally greatly prefer spheres because of this. it's so customizable and (to me at least) clicked a lot easier on even a cursory reading than my time with path of war (I mean I got all the mechanics, but I still often think regularly "Wouldn't it be cool if I made a ____ with a spheres build?" in a way that just doesn't happen with path of war)

Also if I can make a tangent real quick, my favorite part of the original book of 9 swords was the lore and story more than the weeaboo fight magic itself, and I'm really sad that path of war didn't even try to make that same kind of lore for the system.

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