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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.
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Drawbacks and Classes

Posted by Adam Meyers (Creator)

The video isn’t working out, so the information I would have given there I’m now giving here. We’ve already discussed a bit about spheres, talents, and spell points. This leaves us with the last big part of character customization: drawbacks.

Drawbacks

Drawbacks, like monk vows, affect the very way your character is played, granting you greater power in exchange for self-imposed limitations. In the Spheres of Power basic system, for example, there are no material components, elongated casting times, required skill checks, side-effects, magical addictions, etc. Drawbacks, however, allow you to add those to your character in exchange for extra talents or spell points.

What Drawbacks do when combined with Spheres and Talents is create what you could call a ‘concept builder’ for magical classes. As an example, let’s say you want to build a rune-writer. This character must literally ‘write’ magic runes in the air to create magic effects (a very time-consuming process.) This character, would be created by taking the drawbacks for elongated casting times (full-round action instead of standard action, move action instead of swift action, etc.,) and for requiring a skill check (Profession Calligraphy) to cast spells. These detriments would apply to all magical effects your character creates, but would also grant you extra talents and spell points to help you achieve greater power.

In addition, This character's focus will be controlling the earth and elements by summoning energy, controlling the weather, and manipulating the natural world. This would be achieved by selecting the appropriate spheres (destruction, nature, and weather) and further refined by choosing talents (such as those allowing elemental blasts, earth manipulation, commanding of winds, etc,) In this way, you have created your character out of drawbacks, spheres, and talents, completely according to your specifications.

Classes

As we've mentioned, there are basic rules contained in Spheres of Power for adapting all existing spellcasting classes. In addition, we are including 6 classes (with a 7th on stretch goal,) to give you even more fun options.

The Arcanist: The arcanist is a blank slate on which to hang your spheres, talents, and drawbacks. Free of preconceived ideas and setting-specific options, the arcanist is perfect for those who want to build casters entirely to their specifications, or who want to dabble in as many talents and spheres as possible.

The Mage-Knight: Like the arcanist, the mage-knight is a generalist class, only more focused on martial prowess than pure spellcraft. While he contains a few fun martial-focused abilities, he is primarily there to allow players to build warrior-casters as they desire.

The Elementalist: A manipulator of energy and the world around him, the elementalist is a devastating force of destruction and power. Sometimes called a war mage, elementalists are almost zen-like in their pursuit of elemental control, some even achieving a sort of fusion with their favorite element, becoming almost elemental themselves.

The Soul Weaver: The necromancer, the priest, the medium; the soul weaver is all of these and more. Where clerics deal with the dead through their alignment and god, to the soul weaver the manipulation of the dead is not a good nor an evil act. The dead are simply tools, allies, and confidants, and are the source of their powers.

The Thoughtspinner: A master of the mind, the thoughtspinner is the Spheres of Power version of the iconic psychic warrior. The thoughtspinner turns the minds and thoughts of her enemies against themselves, reading the minds of the enemy to stay one step ahead of them, and granting bonuses to her allies by relaying their thoughts to each other.

The Shadow Mage: The shadow mage draws his power from the plane of shadows itself, wrapping it around himself like a cloak. Shadow itself is a versatile substance, and an expert shadow mage can create illusions, transform his body, or even grow claws of pure shadowstuff. Like the rogue, the shadow mage is a master of utility and dealing damage to his foes, many of whom never see his face until its too late.

We also have the following class on stretch goal, which I’m rather excited to do, and wish we’d included right from the beginning:  

The Hedge Witch: The hedge witch is a shaman, combining ritualistic practices with magic power. The hedge witch does not possess many talents, but those she does possess, she can empower to greater heights than her fellows. Some call hedge witches backwards or uneducated, but hedge witches know the power of their traditions, and woe be to those who cross a hedge witch and her magic.

Stretch Goals

We’ve just passed $9,000 and unlocked the bestiary! Not only does this book contain SoP versions of iconic magic monsters, it also includes a large collection of NPCs, giving GMs everything they need to throw the might of the Spheres at their players with a minimum of prep.

We'll update the stretch goals soon, but first we have a question: We've heard some interest in what could be called 'alternate' magic rules: rituals that allow spellcasters to combine their powers, or options that allow non-spellcasters to perform incantations to provide them a bit of power and protection in a dangerous, magical world. 

Is this something that you would like to see included in Spheres of Power? There are already systems to this effect, but if people have an interest seeing these things handled in Spheres of Power, we certainly can include them. This would make Spheres of Power an even more all-inclusive book of magic, providing GMs and Players with options to explore the magic of the common man, as well as the powerful rituals that no single caster can perform alone. Like everything else in Spheres of Power, this would be designed around being modular, easy to understand, and easy to modify for those GMs that wish to include, remove, or alter the rules however they see fit.

Other Business

We’re still waiting on the quote from our printer, but once we have those numbers we will be adding hardcover options, retailer options, and more. We’re also looking into Paypal options, for those who aren’t able to process their payments through Amazon.

Thank you all again, and hopefully we’ll see some of you at Gen Con!

Adam

Comments

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    1. Michael Finigan
      Superbacker
      on

      Rituals & Co-Op magic are good. Would also like to tattoos included in magic items, or as a Drawback. Could also be cool to see rules on the magic of legend (e.g. The Sword of Charlemagne, or The Bow of Odysseus) - items that become magical because of their association with legendary people...isn't that how the Hand of Vecna became the relic it is???
      Just a couple of thoughts

    2. Dresvin
      Superbacker
      on

      +1 for rituals and common magic

      @sleet That is a cool idea, basically you wanted to turn a fireball into a Kame Hame Ha! (Charge Spell for 63 rounds, or 4 and a half episodes, deal lots of damage, unless your opponent is super powerful in which case... deal 0)

    3. Missing avatar

      Sleet
      Superbacker
      on

      Rituals do sound like an awesome thing to have in this book.
      I'm a little surprised at how the drawbacks work, I was expecting something one could use as an optional way to tweak individual spells in order to alter them (say, making this fireball spell take a longer period to cast so I could stack more damage on it) rather than something that applies to everything the character does. Both sound like completely reasonable ways to do it, but I was hoping for a way to make particular spells more awesome, while still being able to sling simple spells around at the drop of a hat.

    4. John Buckley on

      I would like to see something on Cooperative magic, where several spellcasters can pool their energy to cast a more powerful spell. Preferably without requiring each caster to have to take feat for it first.

    5. Simon Collins on

      Yes, I'd like to see alternative magic rules for rituals.
      Particularly something for bringing spirits/demons/angels, etc. from the planes to the Material Plane to carry out a task - a longer term stay than the simple 'several rounds' summoning of current Pathfinder rules.
      Rituals to bind spirits into objects and places to make them magical until the spirit is released.
      Rituals to channel spirits to provide esoteric knowledge, or to lend innate abilities.