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Want a break from Vancian magic? Spheres of Power gives you a whole new way to run magic in your games.
966 backers pledged $39,557 to help bring this project to life.

Spheres, Talents, and Spell Points

Posted by Adam Meyers (Creator)

We’re only 5 days into the kickstarter, and already we’re at 400% funding. I know I say this a lot, but thank you for letting us make this book something truly marvelous. 

Today we’d like to talk a little bit more about some of the elements that make up the Spheres of Power spellcasting system, and give you an idea of how SoP spellcasting works.

Overview 

With Spheres of Power, we’re striving to give you a system that embodies both versatility and simplicity. Spellcasting can be notoriously complex for new players to learn, and even old veterans occasionally discover that a spell has a material component, longer casting time, or other requirement they just hadn’t realized was there. Spheres of Power, on the other hand, strives to unify and simplify the spellcsting experience, presenting magic in a way that no longer requires you to steer new players toward the martial classes. At the same time, it frees magic from the limits of codified spells, spell lists, and spell progressions, giving you the ability to not only build a caster as you see fit, but also to easily adapt magic itself to fit your world, adding setting trappings, alterations, drawbacks, and houserules with ease. 

And for those who are concerned, while the Spheres of Power system is completely different from the default system of Pathfinder, it can also easily coexist with the spellcasting system Pathfinder already uses. A guide will also be contained in the book to help translate old classes concepts to the new system, if a GM desires to do so.

The magic system of Spheres of Power is made up of three parts: Spheres, Talents, and Spell Points. 

Spheres 

Spheres represent a base, archetypal way of manipulating the world. They are the basis of the Spheres of Magic system, and connect to broad, universal effects, concepts, and ideas. Each sphere contains a base ability that scales as you level, and grants the spellcaster access to talents that further refine and augment its focus. 

As of this moment, the spheres that will be contained in the book are: 

  • Destruction: The manipulation of raw power, energy, and elements. 
  • Alteration: Changing objects, creatures, and yourself into other forms and boosting physical abilities. 
  • Divination: Reading signs and omens, learning the future or past, and having dreams and visions. 
  • Illusion: Deceiving the senses through imagery, sound, and other trickery. 
  • General: The general sphere is not a sphere, but rather a combination of abilities and augmentations available to all casters. Options for dispelling and counterspelling can be found here. 
  • Theurgy: The manipulation of life and death. Includes Cure and Inflict effects. 
  • Mind: The manipulation of other’s minds, including charms, compulsions, and telepathy. 
  • Nature: Commanding plants, animals, and the natural world. 
  • Protection: Barriers and other forms of protection. 
  • Telekinesis: The manipulation of objects through space. 
  • Warp: The bending of space, including teleportation and rift effects. 
  • Conjuration: Summoning otherworldly creatures. 
  • Enchantment: The enhancement of equipment and the creation of magic items. 

Each sphere grants at least 1 default ability that scales as the character gains caster levels. For Destruction, this is the ability to spend a standard action to make a touch attack or ranged touch attack that deals 1d4 force damage for every odd caster level possessed. For telekinesis, this is the ability to mentally move objects up to 5 lbs per level up to 20 ft per round. These abilities are always useful and always available, but the real fun of a sphere comes when it is combined with talents.

Talents

A caster gains magic talents in the same way a rogue gains rogue talents, or a fighter gains combat feats. Low-progression casters gain a talent every other level, with more spell-focused classes gaining a talent every level, or sometimes even more. 

Talents usually relate to a particular sphere, letting you augment the base ability, add new effects, or gain completely new powers. For example, the destruction sphere contains talents to create area blasts, change the element of the attack, an debilitating effects, etc. The telekinesis sphere, on the other hand, contains talents to increase weight limits, make ranged combat maneuvers, grant flight speeds, and for throwing enemies into the ground or each other. 

While the basic ability of a sphere maps to a specific concept, talents may also be taken to greatly diversify a sphere’s abilities, allowing casters to remain versatile even while specializing. For example, You can use a destruction blast as an immediate action to counter an attack, you can use telepathic abilities to attack a foe’s mind, and many more. 

This system of versatile, at-will abilities is designed to make casters fun, versatile, and easy to balance whether you're playing a game focused on court intrigue or extensive dungeon crawls. However, as magic is the power to shape reality itself, there are certain things that are simply too powerful and too wondrous to be used so frivolously. Things that cause side-effects, drain the magic-user of power, or are only accomplishable by the most powerful casters. For these abilities, we use spell points. 

Spell Points 

Spell points are a simple pool, similar to the ki pool of a monk, or the arcane pool of a magus, and are used to perfom the truly wondrous and powerful forms of magic. These abilities may require the spellcaster to spend 1, 2, or even 3 spell points, depending on the effect to be enacted. Spell points are also used to combine effects from different spheres into powerful, complex spells, and perform the grand magics that make spellcasting fun and iconic. The process of combining spells is also a fairly simple, but also fairly large, topic, so we'll give it its own update at a later date to expand on it much more fully.

The Next Stretch Goal

When we asked what stretch goal people wanted to see next, the thing most requested was to just expand the basic book with more classes, spheres, talents, etc. While fun things (including Ben Wootten!) will definitely appear later, our next stretch goal is going to add even more crunchy content, including a new class (the Hedge Witch, a caster who gains very few talents, but can empower her abilities to unbelievable heights,) 6 new Spheres (Time, Light, Dark, War, Weather, and Fate,) and an even bigger art budget. We haven't gotten the final quotes back from the printers, but we might even be able to abandon black and white entirely and make the basic $25 book fully-colored (fingers crossed.)

It looks like we're going to be unlocking the exclusive adventure “Wizard’s Academy” tomorrow, so next time we'll bring you a look into what that will contain.

See you tomorrow,

Adam

Comments

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    1. Stephen C. Young on

      Pathfinder's "Mythic Adventures" comes out in a week or so. Any plans to include some 'mythic' abilities to this book? Could be a nice Stretch Goal.