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Lost Spells of Canthar - 10 Conjurations
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/30/2018 05:32:42

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 5.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, some notes first: This review is, in a way, not necessarily fair. This pdf has been released quite a while back, and as such, the spells do not note whether they should be made available for the Advanced Class Guide classes or the Occult Adventures classes. In a way, this review is a check of how this held up. The supplement, one could claim, is a continuation of the Transcendent 10-series, which is why I will tag them as such on my home page. In contrast to the designer’s commentary present in said series, we have we have a mixture of brief pieces of fluff, explanations and in-character comments here. Since I really adored some of the rough, but still very much inspired options in the Transcendent 10-series, how do the spells within hold up?

Jaunt portal, a level 5 spell for sorcerers and wizards that lets you think with portals: You create a portal in close and one in medium range, creating basically a two-way portal. Love it! And yes, this does take velocity into account and handles overlap by basing its rules on the portal consuming movement and potentially requiring squeezing. This certainly holds up! Caravan portal is a level 6 sorcerer/wizard spell, save that it extends to a greater range, as implied by the name. This spell can change the mechanisms of fantasy economies rather drastically, so a GM should check whether this fits the respective creative vision of the setting.

Gas trap is a 4th level spell that most vampire hunters will consider to be rather helpful. This touch spell targets a gaseous creature and entraps it in a force barrier, allowing the caster to bottle or similar container. Personally, I do think that inquisitors should get this spell. Minor nitpick: There is an instance of an ability score not properly capitalized. There also is a mass version of this spell included. Recall companion lets you call an ally to your side, though you must have had mental or physical contact. This is a simple 5th level spell /4th for summoner) at first glance, but honestly, it can be a game-changer – and it does allow for the classic “evil wizard calls champion”-angle. I am a bit torn on this one, but ultimately, I do like it. The level 8 (level 6 for summoners) mass version of the spell, oddly, has a restriction the regular one does not: It only works for Medium creatures (size not properly formatted) – which kinda makes me think that the former spell probably was intended to have the same limitation.

Summon weapon, a second level spell for sorc/wiz and summoner summons a weapon with a scaling enhancement bonus, which also governs the special weapon abilities it can have. (These are not properly formatted in the flavortext.) Interesting, though: If you know the weapon to call, the spell succeeds; if not, there only is a percentile chance of calling it. This, in a way, can be problematic, as it doesn’t create a weapon, but instead temporarily steals one from a vault. This can, on the one side, wreck a carefully-crafted plot…or it can allow you to craft a rather amazing magical mystery-scenario. Translocation trick teleports a small item away, and can be used in conjunction with Sleight of Hand. Transport, at 3rd level, nets you charges that duplicate translocation trick on objects, dimension door on creatures – and the latter is problematic. The spell should, balance-wise, be at least level 4. Finally, true creation, only available for clerics and sorcs/wizards capable of casting the lofty heights of level 9 spells, and it nets you…creation. Permanent. And yes, lost bodies or even living creatures are possible here, though the latter lacks any meaningful guidelines.

Conclusion:

Editing is rather good on a formal and rules-language level, but formatting flaunts conventions rather often. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf uses distorted stock art as artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Donald J. Decker’s lost spells contain some gems that actually still hold up very well, even after all of this time. They are high-impact spells, exotics that can fuel adventures or radically, if broadly available, change the dynamics of how your world works…or allow you to finally present some distinctly high-fantasy concepts. As a whole, this is still well worth getting. It is raw regarding its formal criteria, but it also sports this gleeful excitement that renders it more interesting than I frankly expected it to be. hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Lost Spells of Canthar - 10 Conjurations
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Lost Spells of Canthar - 10 Necromancies
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/30/2018 05:21:52

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 5.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, some notes first: This review is, in a way, not necessarily fair. This pdf has been released quite a while back, and as such, the spells do not note whether they should be made available for the Advanced Class Guide classes or the Occult Adventures classes. In a way, this review is a check of how this held up. The supplement, one could claim, is a continuation of the Transcendent 10-series, which is why I will tag them as such on my home page. In contrast to the designer’s commentary present in said series, we have we have a mixture of brief pieces of fluff, explanations and in-character comments here. Since I really adored some of the rough, but still very much inspired options in the Transcendent 10-series, how do the spells within hold up?

Dead watcher, a spell for level 1 clerics, sorc/wiz and witches, makes a corpse basically a surveillance camera that records what it perceives - cool here: This manages to get the material component and when the opal disintegrates done right. A simple and rewarding spell, though “same acuity as an average person” unfortunately is not proper rules-language. I like this, but it needs a bit of polishing. Eyes of the dead does the same for corporeal undead, allowing you to see through them, but has an interesting twist in that the affected creatures may actually not be aware of the sensory hijacking, and you can choose to project hearing or sight – but once both are returned to your body, the spell ends. This is intriguing.

Enfeeble is a sorc/wiz or witch spell at 5th level and is a save-or-suck: The spell reduces Strength and Dexterity to 1. Bizarre: the creature may drop items in excess of the carrying capacity as an immediate action to the floor. Okay. Why would anyone? Also: Creatures and NPCs with a full BAB HD take -4 to the save. This spell sucks and is just not fun.

Mortal advantage is a level 9 spell for clerics, sorcs/wiz and witches, and it‘s rather cool: It forces the touched creature into an incorporeal state and into your body, forcing the target to possess you. The spell is particularly useful versus outsiders etc., and while thus housing the target, you have a much better place for negotiation. Ride the dead, a level 4 spell for the aforementioned full casters, is a variant of magic jar (not properly italicized) that renders you incorporeal and makes you possess an undead creature, which severely limits your options, but allows you to stowaway…and fortify undead thus ridden via channel energy, if available. Tighter explanation of what you can and can’t do while possessing an undead would have been nice here. Scare to death is an 8th level fear and mind-affecting spell that is a conical save or suck that kills you on a failed Fort-save after a failed Will-save. (As such, it probably should also be a death effect.) Additionally, even if you save, you take 1 Constitution damage per round; Fort-saves on subsequent rounds prevent this ability score damage. The verbiage here is a bit confused regarding sequence. I assume that failure on the Will save and success on the Fort-save paralyzes you, but I am honestly not sure.

Terrify, another fear and mind-affecting spell, may be an explanation for this, as this one both panics and then paralyzes the targets, getting the sequence right here. It’s a save or suck, but at level 6, I can live with this one. Touch channel, a level 3 cleric and sorc/wiz spell, lets you deliver touch spells of up to 4th level through the target. Touch spell charges are “treated as though you were holding the charge yourself.” Okay, so does the target hold the charge, or the caster? The greater version is level 7 and extends the maximum level channeled to 9th, but obviously suffers from the same hiccup. (As an aside: The flavor-text here hasn’t been properly italicized, making this a bit confusing. The final spell herein would be turn the tables, which allows a possessed creature another save to, bingo, turn the tables on possessors, which is a rather interesting option.

Conclusion:

Editing is per se good, though there are a few details where the rules-language could be tighter. Formatting is really rough: The pdf sports a bunch of wrongly formatted aspects, including a bunch of missed italicizations. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf uses b/w stock art. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

So, here’s the thing: This is a rather rough pdf. The supplement has quite a bunch of different formal hiccups that shows that it’s an early work. However, Donald J. Decker’s spells actually do still have some rather intriguing components to offer, and with a bit of polish here and there, allow you to tell truly interesting stories, with particularly the possession angles being a rather engaging aspect. As a pdf, this may not be perfect, but at the low price-point, it may be worth checking out if the above concepts sounded interesting to you. My final verdict will hence clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Lost Spells of Canthar - 10 Necromancies
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Classes of the Lost Spheres: Zodiac
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/19/2018 04:29:09

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Classes of the Lost Spheres-series clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page blank, 1 page back cover, and 5 pages of SRD, though it should be noted that a part of one statblock can be found on the first SRD-page. This leaves us with 32 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

The zodiac class gets, chassis-wise, d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with light and medium armor and shields, except tower shields. They get ¾ BAB-progression as well as good Fort- and Will-saves, and their essence improves in a linear fashion over the levels, starting with 1 essence at first level, and increasing that to 20 at 20th level.

The zodiac is an akashic class, using veilweaving to form unique magical benefits. At this time, I have presented how akasha works in detail not only once, but twice: Once in Dreamscarred Press’ “Akashic Mysteries” and once in Lost Spheres Publishing’s “Akashic Trinity.” Both of these present really cool classes, and akasha, as a subsystem for magic, is super-interesting to me. I assume familiarity with the system in this review. It should be noted that this is a stand-alone supplement – you do not require Akashic Mysteries or Akashic Trinity to make use of the class: The basic rules of akasha, how veilweaving, shaped veils etc. work is explained within.

The zodiac handles the akashic engine in a couple of unique ways, but more on that later. At 1st level, the zodiac gains the ability to tap into the so-called constellations. Constellations can be manifested as either forms of equipment (in which case they occupy the appropriate slots), or as champions, but not as both at a given time; a given constellation may only be manifested once at any given time by a zodiac. Champions called forth by the zodiac are always the same and retain feats, skills etc., and they are capable of understanding the zodiac. In case of the zodiac being unable to command them, they use their best judgment. Most champions gain levels and improve as animal companions, with zodiac levels being substituted for druid levels to determine progression. The manifestation of a constellation is a standard action that imposes essence burn, depending on the precise manifestation chosen, on the zodiac. While the manifestation is ongoing, this essence burn may not be recovered. If the zodiac loses consciousness, manifestations are automatically dismissed, but otherwise, they have no set duration. Reducing a manifestation’s hit points to 0 does dismiss it, and if it is then called upon once more, it manifests with only 1 hit point and all conditions previously in place and not yet elapsed, if any - unless 24 hours have passed, in which case, the manifestation is fully restored. Manifestations may be healed or repaired as usual. Manifestations also act as essence receptacle, with unique benefits for having essence invested in them.

A total of 12 such constellations are provided, though there is a cosmetic snafu among the bookmarks, which erroneously puts 7 of them under the “champions”-header. (The other 5 also have champions, so I figure that this stems from a previous version.) Each of the constellations has an element associated with it, and constellations of an element opposed to one currently in place by the constellation in effect cost more essence to manifest. Each constellation comes with a bit of flavor text in all-caps introducing it, and then proceeds to list element in question and manifestations granted in their own lines. Below these, the respective manifestations are listed, with essence costs in brackets. As a minor complaint, the formatting of the subheaders of the respective manifestations sports two cosmetic glitches on page 11: Once, champion is underlined instead of bolded, and once it’s not bolded. These are cosmetic, though. Each of the manifestations of a given constellation furthermore has an essence-invested line, which allows, as noted before, for further modification. It should also be noted that the essence cost required for a given manifestation acts as a kind of limiting factor for the options granted by the zodiac: The costs to manifest a champion, for example, span the gamut from 4 to a whopping 12, which imposes some strict limitations on the potent abilities granted. The other manifestations, i.e. armor, equipment and weaponry, are significantly less costly.

To give you a couple of examples: The archer constellation can, for 5 essence, manifest a hunter’s bond-using elven ranger with archery style that also has a scaling magical bow or crossbow; for essence invested, CMD versus disarm and trip as well as base movement speed increases. The champion granted by the bull constellation would be a war bull animal companion with a starting Intelligence of 6, who, unsurprisingly, receives boosts to CMB and CMD pertaining bull rush and overrun attempts. Sometimes, you get to choose: Fish, for example, lets you choose between dolphin and shark, and e.g. the sea goat’s champion would be a Capricorn that improves at zodiac level 4 and every level thereafter. Twin nets a scaling rogue – you get the idea. Now, if that sounds like a lot of work for players and/or GM, depending on who usually builds cohorts, let it be known that the pdf does note that only prepared companions should be options that can be called forth. The different essence values and use of a couple of already pretty much done companions also speed up the process. Finally, the discrepancy regarding essence cost and thus, minimum levels required, also means that this task is, thankfully, spread over the progression and makes handling this aspect comparatively quick and painless, considering what it does.

As far as equipment is concerned, one example would be a wooden mask that allows for wild empathy use as though class levels equaled druid levels, and also yields speak with animals as a constant effect. Essence invested in this example would yield bonuses to Handle Animal and wild empathy checks. Manifesting the ram’s equipment nets a properly (type and damage type! YEAH!) codified primary natural gore attack, courtesy of the ram helm (Small and Large zodiac damage values included as well!) that scales, with essence invested enhancing charge attacks – fitting, right? Interesting would be the item granted by the scales: It’s a rod, which allows the wielder to channel the forces of balance: When the wielder is hit, the rod gains healing power (with a cap), and when healed, the wielder can choose to forego healing and charge the rod with damage. Damage and healing, as well as the complex action economy situation here are properly codified, and, in an impressive feat of design prowess, these rules also prevent any form of cheesing I could think of regarding the stored healing etc. Once essence is invested, damage healed/dealt by using the rod is increased by +2 per point of essence invested.

Let’s take a brief overview of what the different armor manifestations, if any, can do, shall we? Here, we get scaling armors and weapons, with e.g. hide armor granted by Lion, and Crab providing one the wearer is proficient with. The archer can yield a ranged weapon (no firearms, and composite bow Strength ratings are taken into account), while the druid nets clubs. It should be noted that essence-investment is taken into account and used to differentiate between the constellations. For convenience’s sake, let us list the respective options by element, shall we?

Air: Armors 0; Champions 2 (Druid, Twin); Equipment 3 (Druid, Scales, Twin); Weapons 2 (Druid, Scales).

Earth: Armors 0; Champions 3 (Bull, Sea Goat, Scorpion); Equipment 3 (Bull, Sea Goat, Scorpion); Weapons 1 (Scorpion)

Fire: Armors 1 (Lion); Champions 3 (Archer, Lion, Ram); Equipment 1 (Ram); Weapons 2 (Archer, Lion).

Water: Armors 1 (Crab); Champions 3 (Crab, Fish, Water Bearer); Equipment 2 (Fish, Water Bearer); Weapons 0.

From this, you’ll note a few distinct oddities – not every element gets an armor or a weapon, and water end up one manifestation short of the others – however, it should be noted that water gets the strongest champion manifestation, so that may have been intended. It also should be noted that this tends to be no real issue, considering that the zodiac gets automatic access to ALL of these manifestations and constellations. This HUGE amount of options is hardcoded right into the class, allowing for a TON of player agenda at any given point. Speaking of which, there is one very important choice at first level: The orbit.

Essentially, the zodiac is two classes in one: If you choose a lunar orbit, you focus on enhancing your champion: You reduce the cost of champion manifestation by 1 to a minimum of 1 and gain an additional point of essence at 1st level, 2nd level and every even level thereafter. This makes the class, unless I am sorely mistaken, eclipse even the vizier regarding essence, which may be slightly overkill. At 4th and 6th level, the lunar zodiac gets Access Low Chakra (Head, Feet or Hands) as a bonus feat; 10th and 12th level provide Access Middle Chakra Slot (Wrists, Headband or Shoulders), and 14th and 16th provide Access Higher Chakra Slot (Neck, Belts). These feats, included within, basically double as a free-form way for characters to gain access to chakra binds to the respective item slot – an option that vastly enhances the flexibility of this system. For the purpose of the zodiac, the chakra bind choices add player agenda into what previously was a linear progression in the akashic context – something I definitely applaud. Something one may easily overlook here in power-comparison would be that the lunar zodiac is missing a couple of the chakra-binds that the vizier can get, for example. The highest level ones (chest, body) won’t be unlocked by the zodiac, and each category only unlocks two of the bind slots, not all three. But let us return to look at the rest of the lunar orbit’s engine, shall we? Lunar zodiacs use Charisma as their governing veilweaving key ability modifier and may shape two veils per day, plus an additional one at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter. They may reallocate essence as a swift action.

The second orbit available would be Solar. These zodiacs gain access to proficiency with heavy armor and all martial weapons. They use class level instead of BAB when wielding the weapon manifestations of their constellations and for the purpose of feat effects based on BAB. The solar zodiac also gets a bonus feat on 2nd level and every even level thereafter, chosen from akashic, combat and teamwork feats. Shape Veil is also on this list. It should be noted that for these, the class uses zodiac level as BAB-prerequisite instead. If solar zodiacs take Shape Veil, they use Charisma as veilweaving key ability modifier. So yeah, the solar orbit is basically a veil-less akashic class! Interesting!

At 3rd level and every 6 levels thereafter, the zodiac’s essence capacity for all essence receptacles increases by 1. 5th level further reduces the cost of manifesting opposed element constellation manifestations, from 3 to 2. Additionally, for each constellation of a matching element manifested, the zodiac and his champion inflict +2 damage with weapon attacks and veils shaped that deal hit point damage, with the element governing the energy type as per convention – air adds electricity damage, earth acid – you get the drift. At 11th level, the essence penalty for opposing element constellation manifestations is further reduced by 1, and complimentary elements (fire and air, or earth and water) may now be treated as the same element for the purpose of determining the benefits of the bonus damage: With one earth and water manifestation in place, he’d for example deal +2 acid and +2 cold damage. 17th level gets rid of the essence penalty completely, and having a weapon or armor manifested renders the zodiac immune to the energy type of the corresponding constellation’s element. A manifested champion gains immunity versus their constellation’s energy, but manifesting a champion does NOT bestow the immunity on the zodiac.

7th level provides ½ class level uses of stargazing: An immediate action 1d6 surge to an attack, save or skill check. This must be rolled after rolling the check, but before results are made known. 13th and 19th level increase the die size of this surge to d8 and d10, respectively. At 20th level, we have different capstones, depending on orbit: The lunar orbit zodiac may bind to the body slot and make manifested champions take half damage incurred, and the zodiac may have half damage of a champion apply to another champion instead. The solar orbit zodiac gets immunity to death effects and ability drain, as well as twice the recovery of ability damage. Additionally, manifested armor or weapon cannot be disarmed or sundered. The class comes with a veil-list and 11 favored class options: Cool here: Each gets their own flavor-text. Less cool: The undine FCO does RAW nothing, as it only applies its benefits to water weaponry – and there is none. The animal companion stats for champions have btw. been included for your convenience, which is a huge plus, and same goes for the statblocks required – you won’t need to flip books.

Now, I have already noted a couple of feats, so here goes: The pdf contains 12 feats, of which 5 are, at least to my knowledge, reprints. The new feats include 2 feats that allow for dabbling in the constellation engine. Expanded Veilweaving is SUPER-important: At 11th veilweaving level, it allows you to increase the maximum veils shaped by one. This ALSO applies if you use Shape Veils and have no veilweaving class level, which is REALLY smart. Definite winner there. Stellar Strike is an akashic combat feat that allows you to enhance the damage caused by your constellation weapons via essence investiture, and there are 3 chess-themed feats: Queen’s Knight (enhance loyalty between you and champion, preventing compulsions etc.); King’s Castle (allows you to intercept attacks on allies; great for tank-y characters) and Pawn’s Sacrifice (use Sense Motive to redirect the attack to a veil companion or champion). The latter is a bit iffy, due to how easily Sense Motive can and will be boosted through the roof, but since it is no attack negation, but rather a redirect, I’m pretty good with it. I’d feel better about a hard-cap of uses or a cool-down, though. 4 neat traits are included in the deal as well.

There are three archetypes included: Albedo fighters gain Perihelion pauldrons and reflect rays; knights that are literally, clad n light. The celestial knight cavalier uses a quadruped champion as mount (essence cost 4 or less, until 8th level) and later gains the weapon, armor or equipment options of a constellation. The prism mage wizard archetype is based on the Aurora lenses veil, and basically represents a cool concept of the spellcaster who also happens to dabble in magical lenses.

The pdf follows the trend established in Akashic Trinity, in that the new veils presented within are grouped by theme, providing leitmotifs that help contextualize the veils. Three such themes are provided: Starry Elements, Priestly Raiments and Apparel of the Merchant Prince. This, at least to me, makes these more interesting, exciting. You get the idea. A couple of these are reprints, though we do get new ones here. It should also be noted that the traditional one –letter code for the veil chakra-binds for the classes has been omitted this time around. Personally, I welcome this: A concise table for each class simply makes more sense and, as this is the 7th veilweaving class, things would become cluttered, fast. These veils are of the excellent quality we’ve come to expect from the author. EDIT: I was asked to state what I think about them, so there goes: Aurora Lenses are a godsend; these lenses allow for counterspelling of spells and psionic powers for veilweavers. The Mask of Elemental Adaptation is a means to convert energy damage taken to a chosen type, with sensible caps. Perihelion pauldrons allow you to retaliate with energy when assaulted in melee. Shooting Stars let you fire those, with the bind adding them to be used as basically a weapon. Star Metal Bracers allow for energy type change. While Stellar Stompers can generate energy bursts and, provided sufficient essence is invested, even propel you forward. I really liked these veils!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Considering the depth and complexity of the subject matter at hand, it is pretty impressive to see such a tight pdf here. Layout is GORGEOUS and adheres to a 2-column full-color standard (Liz Courts did the graphic design – no surprise it looks this damn good!) that is enhanced by absolutely stunning, original full-color artworks by Bryan Syme. This pdf is beautiful indeed! Look at the cover – yep, that’s the same artwork quality as inside. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.

Michael Sayre’s Zodiac is a super-impressive class; From a design perspective, it manages to portray a pet-class that feels and plays radically different from pretty much any other pet-class out there. This does not play like a summoner, spiritualist, tinker, etc., and the distinction is not solely based, as one would assume, on akasha access. Instead, the zodiac embraces player choice and freedom to a degree that is almost baroque in its splendor, in a good way. The immediate access to the totality of constellations, to what a lazier designer would have made a bloodline-like fire and forget choice, renders the zodiac very flexible and interesting in its overall themes and options – from level 1, you will have quite an assortment of tricks.

And then, there would be the orbit class feature.

Most designers would have made two classes instead, or made this an archetype – here, it is part of the core design paradigm and as such, it is something that should be applauded. That being said, it also represents the one component of the base class where I am a bit weary. You see, the uneven nature of manifestations among constellations, as noted above, isn’t as relevant for the lunar zodiac as for the solar one. The solar zodiac indeed has some choices among constellations that are frankly better than others. My own design experience tells me that this likely stemmed from a shifting of elements associated with constellations, but I’m not sure. Either way, I do think that a few tweaks to the constellation abilities could make this a tad bit more “even.” The solar zodiac, in case you were wondering, performs approximately on the level of the better martial classes – so better than the fighter (but who doesn’t these days…), for example, but not on a level that would present an issue in most games.

How to rate this? Oh boy, this is where things become difficult for me. You see, this sense of an inequality between the elements of constellations and their respective power is something I find hard to ignore; there are a few cosmetic hiccups as well…and yet. And yet, I honestly believe that the zodiac is one damn cool class. I can see myself actually choosing to play, wanting to play these fellows, and considering the vast wealth of class choices at my disposal, this is something. The class could work, courtesy of champions, wonders for a 1-on-1 game with only one player; the champions could offer a ton of roleplaying potential. And the design is daring. Whenever there is one way to do things in a safe and bland way, the pdf instead goes on and does things in a creative, harder, but also more interesting way.

So yeah…what to do? Well, first of all, I can’t rate this 5 stars – the aforementioned hiccups and the uneven elemental distribution regarding constellation manifestations makes that impossible. However, at the same time, I don’t feel justified rounding down, as this does not present anything broken, as the craftsmanship of what’s here is simply too precise. Hence, I will round up. I also really love the wondrous ways the akashic engine was tweaked and modified here; the constellation engine is a bountiful ground for further design choices, and the means to expand upon the options presented by Shape Veil should let a sigh of relief escape from more than one dabbler in the akashic arts. As such, and due to me really enjoying the wonderful flexibility the class offers, I will also add my seal of approval to this file.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Classes of the Lost Spheres: Zodiac
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City of 7 Seraphs - Akashic Trinity
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/07/2018 03:43:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of new akasha classes clocks in at 57 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages blank (one of them only lists a few favored class options), leaving us with 51 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Full Disclaimer: While I did contribute material to the City of 7 Seraphs Kickstarter, I did not have a hand in any way, shape or form in the creation of this pdf. The material was already done before I got on board.

Now, much of this may be familiar for those familiar with Michael Sayre’s excellent work on Akashic Mysteries, but this pdf very much works like a stand-alone – it explains akasha, so you do not need to get Dreamscarred Press’ Akashic Mysteries-book. So yeah, since this works as a stand-alone book, let me quickly reiterate:

Akasha is basically a primal form of power that can enhance magic or psionics, for example, but it is also distinct from it. Mechanically, it could be described as “Incarnum that doesn’t suck.” Flavorwise, akasha manifests as veils, upheld by the focus of their wearer. Practitioners of akashic arts are known as veilweavers, for this reason. Veils are powered by essence, and this resource, while usually not expended, is invested into a receptacle – this can be a veil, an akashic feat or other ability. Investing essence or changing it is a swift action. When a character gains access to a veilweaving class, they have the potential to manifest and utilize any veil of that class. However, there is a limit here beyond the essence: Every veil is associated with a chakra, even if it is not bound to it. Chakras are points on the body that conduct magical energy, and veils do not interfere with magic items worn in the respective chakra slot. Veils manifest as translucent, eldritch constructs surrounding the body part. The slots are Hands, feet, head, wrists, shoulders, headband, neck, belt, chest, body. Some veils may be manifested to more than one slot, and some classes may yield additional slots or unique veils not usually available. Veils can be bound to a slot to increase their potency once a character has reached a certain level. In order to unleash a veil’s most potent abilities, this is what you have to do. Most veils are subject to SR, though exceptions do exist. Veils may be sundered, though reforming them is pretty quick, and they may be targeted by abjuration magics. Being ephemeral, they are easy to disguise…unless essence is invested in them, at which point they become less than subtle.

Some abilities and feats require that you bind essence in them. It is important to note the difference between “binding” and “investing” essence – invested essence can be quickly redistributed, while bound essence remains “locked” in place for 24 hours or until the veilweaver next shapes veils, which happens after the usual resting period. Critters summoned by veils may not be dismissed, but sundering the veil immediately gets rid of the critter. Veils have descriptors like spells, and some abilities cause essence burn – this essence becomes basically expended until the character has rested. However large the essence pool of a character may be, they can only invest a fixed amount of essence into a given receptacle. This limit is strictly governed by character level, and is known as essence capacity: The value starts at 1 and increases to 2 at 6th level, and by a further +1 every 6 levels thereafter, for a maximum of 4 at 18th level. This is extremely important for balancing akashic arts.

Veils do not require conscious effort to maintain, per-day abilities are note, and similarly, stacking, temporary hit points and weapon-like veils are covered: It should be noted that the latter are assumed to be proficient for the veilweaver manifesting them. If this system sounds complex to you, believe me, that it really isn’t – it has a lot of moving parts you can play with, but the basic ideas are easy to grasp and its functionality fits on a mere two pages, accounting for even esoteric components.

Now, it should be noted that this pdf focuses on the veils and 3 classes designed for the City of 7 Seraphs – this is basically the book that nets you the classes sans setting etc., and this is how I will rate it.

The first class would be the Eclipse. The eclipse gets d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, ¾ BAB-progression and good Fort- and Ref-saves. The class begins with 1 veil and essence and increases that to 7 veils and 20 essence, at 20th level. Eclipses get proficiency with simple weapons, hand crossbow, longsword, rapier, sap, shortbow, short sword shuriken and sword cane as well as bucklers. The save DC for their veilweaving is 10 + essence invested + Intelligence modifier. The class begins play with darkvision 60 ft., or otherwise increases darkvision by 30 ft. The eclipse may invest essence in this ability to increase the range of darkvision by a further 20 ft., and at 4th and 12th level, the essence capacity of this ability increases by 1. At 4 points of essence invested, the eclipse may see through supernatural darkness, while at 7 points invested (possible due to increased essence capacity), we have immunity to being blinded or dazzled and a properly typed, hefty bonus to saves vs. gaze attacks.

The other first level ability provided would be occultation, which, as a standard action, creates a shadowy copy of the eclipse. This copy manifests in an adjacent square, sharing the eclipse’s statistics (including height and weight!), items and veils, excluding consumables. This copy is immediately destroyed if it takes any damage or fails a save versus any spell or effect. An eclipse may freely switch perceptions between their self and the occultation, though the occultation only has a single move action per turn and can threaten enemies, make AOOs, etc. – AoOs executed count towards the per-round limit of the eclipse. It should be noted that the reference regarding attacking through the occultation becomes relevant at 11th level – explicitly stating this would be didactically more sensible, as this can create temporarily confusion prior to reading the advanced ability upgrade gained later. The eclipse may never move more than 50 ft, +50 ft. per class level, away before blinking out. When not having an active occultation, the eclipse gets +1/2 class level as a competence bonus to Stealth and as armor bonus to AC.

Occultation improves at 5th, 11th and 17th level: 5th level increases the range at which the occultation can spawn and also nets the occultation a perfect fly speed of 60 ft.; 11th level adds a second copy and lets the eclipse use an attack action or ability that would require a standard action to activate through them. 17tth level makes defeated occultations collapse into a miniature black hole that can cause massive damage to those nearby that fail their saves. This black hole is VERY damaging, and the lack of limit on this particular ability is troubling – I’d strongly suggest making the black hole effect require essence burn.

Second level nets trapfinding as well as Enigma. These may be used whenever the eclipse uses an attack action, including a targeted veil (i.e. non-AoE-veils that require choosing one or more targets) against an opponent (this prevents use for ally-buffs/personal veils), versus an opponent that is flat-footed, flanked or denied Dex-bonus to AC, or unaware of the eclipse’s presence. If the veil/attack misses, the enigma effects are wasted, and if multiple attack rolls are executed, only one needs to hit to deliver the enigma. Only one enigma may be applied to an attack action of veil activation. Additional enigmas are granted every 2 levels after 2nd, and 12 enigmas are provided. These include scaling cold damage, scaling Wisdom damage, a disrupting attack, a Strength/Dex-buff + Wisdom debuff…these are per se nice. I loved how the disrupting attack can make you lose martial or psionic focus (yes, this is Spheres of Might-compatible!). That being said, there is an enigma that is broken and needs a cap: Draining blow can replenish essence burn (which is super strong) AND also would allow you to replenish power points, ki points, grit points etc. – you know, LIMITED RESOURCES. Bear in mind that enigmas have NO DAILY LIMIT. This utterly delimits several limited resources, so let me grab my bag of kittens, while my occultation sets up flanking…let the slaughter begin.

This guffaw is uncharacteristic for the designer. The ability needs a hard cap. Bonuses, a high-level echo – the other enigmas are solid and the save-or-die assassination strike is relegated to a high enough level. Chakra-binding is unlocked at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, in the sequence: Hands, feet, Head, Wrists, Shoulders, Belt. At 7th level and every 6 levels thereafter, the class gets improving shadow armor: At 7th level, this translates to Hide in Plain Sight; 13th level nets dimension door between dimly lit or darker places, and 1/day shadow walk as a SP, +1/day for every 3 levels thereafter. 19th level nets a cool one: When reduced below 0 hp, as an immediate action, the eclipse can grant 60 hp, but prevents further occultation creation – why is this relevant? Well, all these shadow armor abilities only work while you have no occultation deployed! This is pretty clever! 8th and 14th level increase all essence capacity of receptacles by 1. From 10th level onward, eclipses may shape an additional veil on either feet or hands, chosen anew each day. When binding them to a hand, you can attack with two-weapons as a single attack action, at -2 to atk. Two veils on feet increase movement rate by 20 ft. If no two veils are shaped in either slot, the eclipse treats veils as 1 more point of essence invested; this explicitly allows the eclipse to exceed the usual limits. The capstone is called, probably as a nod to ole’ Ravenloft, Darklord, and allows for the binding of all darkness-descriptor veils, regardless of slot. Additionally, we have an apotheosis of sorts – no breath, no dying from old age, as well as a minor defense bonus in areas of dim light or less, get a nightshade’s darksense and may detect living beings and health with a combined blindsense and nondetection.

A veil list is included and we get favored class bonuses for dhampir, drow, dwarf, fetchling, gnome, halfling, human, orc, oread, sylph and undine.

The second class within would be the nexus, who gets d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as light and medium armor and shields, excluding tower shields. The class gets ¾ BAB-progression and good Fort- and Will-saves. Veilweaving is governed by Charisma, and we start at 1 veil and essence, and increase that to up to 10 veils and 20 essence at 20th level. 3rd, 9th and 15th level provide improved essence capacity, increasing the essence receptacle limit by 1 each. 2nd level nets chakra bind, with every 2 levels thereafter providing the next in the sequence of hands, feet, head, wrists, shoulders, headband, neck, belt, chest, body.

The nexus, flavor-wise, is attached to more than one plane and as such may channel destructive planar energies. This is exemplified by the planar detonation ability gained at first level: This is a ranged touch attack with close range that inflicts 1d6 piercing damage, +1d6 for every 2 class levels beyond 1st. (As an aside – feats to change physical damage types or an integrated switch would make sense here…) The nexus may take essence burn to increase that damage to 1d6 per class level + ½ Charisma modifier. When wielding a weapon-like veil, the nexus may make a single attack as a full-round action, adding planar detonation to the damage inflicted. Starting at 6th level, this may be done as a standard action. The capstone nets outsider apotheosis as well as a kind of pretty strong authority, depending on one choice that is based on the defining class feature of the class, the so-called convergence.

At 1st level, 4th and every 4 levels thereafter, the nexus becomes more attuned to a single plane. The nexus may choose to be treated as though of the plane’s alignment for the purpose of alignment-based effects (cool), and the nexus may either choose a new convergence at the respective levels, or advance an already existing one. Convergence ability saves are DC 10 + ½ class level + Charisma modifier, and identical benefits from two convergences actually do stack. Each convergence has 4 tiers of ability progression, but we do not get the full outer plane spectrum within – we do get 5 convergences, which at 4 tiers each, does provide for quite an array of choices, though. Theme-wise, we get Hell, Elemental, Heavens, Abyss, Underworld. Minor formatting nitpick: The Abyss’ convergence’s “Tier 1”-header is not properly bolded. Convergences unlock energy types for the damage caused by the planar detonation blasts, and the abilities allow for essence burn to generate shaped AoEs instead, summon forth outsiders, grant powerful SPs or add weapon qualities – At 4th tier, for example, any slashing weapon wielded by a Tier-4 nexus is considered to be vorpal! Ouch! Heaven’s 4th tier nets you a 1/week auto-resurrection…these are really cool, easy to design, and I certainly hope we’ll get more! Favored class option-wise, we get aasimar, dhampir, elf, fetchling, gnome, human, ifrit, oread, sylph, tiefling and undine.

The third class among the akashic classes within would be the one that perhaps looks blandest on paper, but plays much better than it looks: The radiant gets d6 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor,1/2 BAB-progression, good saves in all 3 categories, and they begin play with 1 veil and 1 essence, and increase that to 8 and 30, respectively. The veilweaving of the class is governed by Wisdom, and 3rd, 9th and 15th level increase essence capacity. Chakra binds are granted at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, in the sequence hands, head, headband, neck, belt, body. The radiant may reclaim and invest essence into allies within 60 ft. – the ally can move out of this range, but doing so makes reclaiming essence invested cause essence burn equal to the reclaimed essence. If the ally reenters the 60 ft. range, this essence burn is not taken. For each point of essence invested in an ally, the ally gets 5 temporary hit points as well as a +1 insight bonus on all saves. The temporary hit points replenish once per minute while the ally has essence invested. If the ally suffers from the diseased, poisoned or fatigued condition while essence is invested in them, the radiant may draw out this condition as part of reclaiming essence. The radiant gets a save versus the condition, if any. This ability is known as the akashic bond, and it is the cornerstone of the radiant.

Starting at 4th level, the radiant may spend a standard action to attempt to invest essence into an unwilling target, risking essence burn if the target makes the save. Such targets then take a -1 penalty to atk and damage per point invested. Additionally, while an enemy has at least one point of essence invested in them, the radiant may attempt to redistribute a condition to this target instead of herself. This ties in with the linear martyr’s renewal ability-tree: At 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter, the radiant learns to draw more negative conditions out of targets, and also is automatically cured of an ever-increasing array of conditions when drawing them out of her allies.

Starting at 2nd level and every even level thereafter, the radiant also gets a vivification, of which 10 are provided. These add further numerical bonuses to essence invested in allies. These include attribute bonuses, DR, damage boosts, ability damage healing (and drain to damage conversion), etc.

Oh, and if you’re concerned about HD-based fragility: The radiant adds Wisdom modifier to Constitution modifier for the purpose of determining Fort-saves and for determining hit points – but only when leveling in the radiant class! Nice catch to prevent dipping-abuse. Wisdom modifier is also used to determine the maximum number of negative hit points prior to dying. At 19th level, the radiant may return a fallen ally to life at maximum hit points as a standard action – this does cost 6 essence burn and requires that at least 50% of the body’s still there. The capstone makes the radiant and allies invested with essence immune to death effects while the radiant is conscious. Additionally, when an ally would be killed, the radiant may, as an immediate action, take essence burn to negate 10 points of damage per essence burned. The radiant also doesn’t die of old age anymore and is immune to age-modifying effects as a byproduct of this capstone. The favored class options encompass aasimar, elf, gathlain, ghoran, gnome, human, ifrit, oread, ratfolk, sylph and undine.

All right, so far so good! The second half of the book is devoted to a ton of new veils – though there is a difference here. These veils don’t just come as unrelated series of options – instead, they feature 12 different themes, like “Angelic Armaments” – this one alone does encompass 10 different veils! The total section included more than 80 (!!) veils, vastly expanding your options. And yes, the section does note not only the new classes: Viziers, gurus and daevics are mentioned in the respective lists. There are a few minor inconsistencies here. It should be noted that this pdf does a better job at descriptor-ing the respective veils. And yes, the veils do now, as you can glean from the alignment-themes, alignment-based descriptors. So yes, mechanically, I consider these to be neat: Ever wanted to have angelic wings, a halo, a flaming sword and vambraces inscribed with holy scripture? What about a halo? Yeah, I do want to go “avenging angel” on evil doers! There is a set of veils modeled after Charon – the feet-bind effect of boatman’s ferry lets you glide across liquid and makes you a deadly adversary, and there are inter-veil combos here! Charon’s five rivers amulet, for example, adds doom marks to those that dare attack you. The whole set’s veils have additional effects when vanquishing foes with doom marks on them! For maximum synergy effects, you may need to do some thinking, but that’s the beauty of the system – you can get basic functionality out of these, then discover the veil-combos (further enhanced by the set-leitmotifs) and then discover even more combos!

Vampiric healing, halting ongoing effects via partial stasis in time, shrouding yourself in a flowery regalia (though Daevic is missing from the list of classes that get the veil here, even though the class seems to be supposed to do so)…what about a cloak of thorns or the Heart of Yggdrasil, djinn-themed veils, ones that focus on the eternal darkness, blasting foes with light, become the lurker in light (which ENHANCES your Stealth in light!), attack foes with hellish pitchforks, manifest barbs…some pretty cool ones. There is one ability that could be used to cheese essence burn, demon lord’s hunger: While it requires 18th level to bind, the ability allows you to inhale souls, which boils down to save or die and minor essence regeneration. Granted, a target can only be affected once per 24 hours by it…but I have a whole bag full of delightfully fluffy kittens…On the plus side: Healing is tightly kept in check and in line, including other abilities like flight etc. – the ability-dispersal does speak of a firm grasp of not only overt, but also of covert design paradigms. An exception to this would be unicorn feathering’s neck chakra bind, which nets a burst-y heal whenever you or the unicorn allies called confirm a crit (18 -20/x3 due to the veil’s modifications). This should have a fixed cap. That being said, I’m calling these out since the material otherwise is really refined and diverse…and sports some awesome visuals. Oh, and it may be a small thing, but I like that every veil gets a small flavor-description.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good – I noticed a few very minor formatting glitches and rules-oversights…but frankly, many public playtests fail to deliver such a concise and dense system at this level of quality. This is impressive. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks. The artworks within are full-color, original, and frickin’ fantastic. Inspiring, with their very own, internally-consistent style. This is a beautiful supplement.

Michael Sayre is one of the crunch-designers that doesn’t screw around. There is no blandness, no mediocrity here – just high-concept, complex, math-heavy design, clad in inspiring fluff. If you already own Akashic Mysteries, then you need to get this by virtue of the veils alone – they are worth the asking price on their own.

That being said, let’s discuss the classes: The radiant is a unique playing experience and has, chassis-wise, a ton to offer – the class can actually help party-tanking capability greatly and makes for a really unique defender-style character. The nexus also has its own niche: The class, once you know the akashic system, makes for a super-easy to make blaster. It doesn’t try to out-kineticist or out-ethermage the complex blaster list, instead representing a great beginner’s class: It’s viable from the get-go, even if you don’t yet understand the akashic system and is superbly noob-friendly. In short: It’s the warlock-y blaster that works for gritty games without being invalidated in high-power games. It also won’t bore experienced gamers, courtesy of the akashic engine. Your character died? Make one of these, start blasting away, and slowly get into the akashic system. Impressive. The eclipse is also inspired in its own way – while I am weary of two of its abilities (which should get a nerfbat-whack), it has its unique role: An akashic killer who does the disposable shadow-clone angle really well, and in a way that should even work for lower-powered games. In short, I consider all of these classes to be inspired in some way.

Now, there is one thing to note: Each class will leave you wanting more. More convergences, more vivifications, archetypes – it is within the nature of this pdf and its intent as a decoupling of classes from setting, but DAMN, did I want more! As far as rules-integrity is concerned, I can name a TON of files that do not attempt even remotely anything as complex as this one does, which do worse. Summa summarum, I came up with a grand total of 3 potentially problematic components, and none of them is a deal-breaker. While I do maintain that the essence burn-healing of eclipse and the veil should be limited, I still consider this to be an inspired file. And you get a LOT of really dense, high-difficulty rules for the price-point.

How to rate this? Well…here things get tricky. I really like the akashic system, and I like the classes herein more than the original 3 classes. I like the veils more…but at the same time, the very few minor blemishes do drag this down from the lofty praise I’d otherwise bestow upon it. I also found myself wishing we’d have gotten a single book for each class, with more options per class…but hey, there’ll be expansions in C7S, and perhaps we’ll get to see even more! Still, as a reviewer, I have to take these factors into account, and they are what drags this down to 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform. I will still add my seal of approval to this gem, though – If you like akasha or even remotely are interested in it, get this asap!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
City of 7 Seraphs - Akashic Trinity
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Mythic Paths of the Lost Spheres
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/20/2018 05:48:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive supplement clocks in at 78 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, 2.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 71.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested by my patreons.

So, as the pdf notes, the book contains, no surprises there, new mythic paths. However, there is one distinct difference here, namely that the book has been crafted with an eye towards providing options for some of the more popular 3pp-materials: Psionics, pact-magic-based spirit-binding, temporal shenanigans (Time Thief and Warden), as well as e.g. Rite Publishing’s take of shapeshifting via the taskshaper. The pdf thus provides a lot of synergy if you have these respective supplements. However, at the same time, the book does not lose its value for groups that do not employ there – the mythic paths that help for the respective subsystems are fully viable even without using e.g. pact magic, sporting plenty of options that do not require the use of such a subsystem. In short: While the support is here, the designs within do not force you to employ these systems.

After the introduction, we begin with some cosmological ideas, namely the Lost Spheres as a kind of meta-setting that also codifies power-sources. You can run with this brief summary or ignore it; once more, the pdf does not force you to buy into a cosmological conception, which is a good thing in my book. Similarly, I believe that thinking about magic this way makes sense. In my homegame, I tend to precisely codify magic in a kind of almost scientific way, as that is what my players and myself enjoy the most. Having a solid structure that can be explained and elaborated upon can also yield really interesting thought-experiments that the PLAYERS can undertake, solving magical issues, rather than limiting the solving of a magical problem with just a roll of the dice. I developed my own system regarding the function of magic pretty much on a similar basis as the one that this book posits in brevity….but I digress. In short, it makes sense to think about magic in a somewhat structured manner.

The aforementioned Lost Spheres are also noted in the appendix, where we learn about the Black lattice in the shadow plane, the City at the End of Dream, a planar doppelgänger world, and much more. While these are fluff only, they have aged surprisingly well due to this, and if you’re also a SFRPG-GM looking for some amazing ideas for creative worlds, then this appendix delivers.

This book contains a total of 10 different mythic paths, with each of the paths, obviously, codifying abilities by tier 1st, 3rd, 6th – as established. The paths all span the full 10 tiers and come with a brief discussion regarding the role of the respective characters, including a paragraph that contextualizes them within the aforementioned Lost Spheres.

Note: I am beginning this review with my discussion of the previously released stand-alone mythic paths, with my reviews duplicated for the sake of completion. I will note below when the discussion of previously not covered material begins.

All righty, that out of the way, let us take a look at those mythic paths! The first would be the godhunter, who gains 5 hit points per tier and the devour the divine ability, which may take one of three shapes: You can choose to either spend mythic power as an immediate action to add your tier to a saving throw AND gain a reroll versus a divine effect. On a success, you are not affected and instead heal hit points based on tier, which btw., when exceeding your maximum hit points, can partially be converted to temporary hit points. The second option lets you spend mythic power as an immediate action to collect divine remnants, so-called detria. These act as ameans to duplicate, spell-storing style, one divine spell or spell-like ability of a creature slain. These may only be used by the godhunter that created them, and require UMD to activate. This one, RAW, does require a lot of spell/SP-tracking and can become pretty potent. Considering the value of mythic power, I have no issue with the power-level this has, and detria cannot be stockpiled as a balancing caveat. The third option represents the means to spend mythic power for a tier-based bonus to atk, and bonus damage versus divine spellcasters and outsiders. The path nets a path ability every tier and the capstone ability nets basically advantage on saves vs. divine spells cast by non-mythic targets, as well as SR versus divine spells.

Now, as far as path abilities are concerned, we have the option to get another one of the aforementioned devour the divine abilities. We have means to prevent teleportation and plane shifting, or, for example, a means to extend the benefits of the aforementioned attack/damage boost to any target currently affected by a divine spell, which is pretty interesting. Making detria behave as potions is nice…but I really like the means to for example steal channel energy uses. The path abilities also include interesting passive abilities – like divine spellcasters needing to save versus their own spells when targeting the godhunter, potentially being dazed for a round. Minor complaint here – the ability only specifically mentions targeting, meaning that area of effect effects not necessarily being included. Extending the benefits of the healing option to allies targeted nearby. Reducing the CL of hostile divine spells to determine duration is also nice – though I think that rounds reduced to 0 should probably cancel out this component; that, or have a 1 round minimum duration. Cool: There is an ability that lets you hijack divine spells. Item-use, transfer wounds.

Among the 3rd tier abilities, we have the means to employ metamagic feats via the burning of detria; imposing basically disadvantage (roll twice, take worse result) on concentration checks is intriguing. Leeching off excess healing in the vicinity. On the nitpicky side, the Hungry Zeal ability, which nets another use of the Zealotry ability, should specify the requirement of the Zealotry ability. Limited domain poaching and becoming immune to a domain of a vanquished spellcaster makes for some cool tricks – particularly since the latter is balanced, once more, by tier, having a sensible scaling. In short, as before, this offers further upgrades, building on previous tricks. The 6th tier abilities include means to hold more detria at once, as well as the option to use detria for Item Creation purposes…or what about tattoos infused with detria that render you immune to a divine spell, with the maximum spell level gated by tier? Yeah, cool! All in all, I enjoyed this mythic path and consider it to be a nice means to play a dedicated foe of a selection of, or all deities and their agents.

The second mythic path of the lost spheres to have had a previous, stand-alone release, would be the Hollow One, who gets 3 hit points per tier and is really interesting: One of the base abilities of the path allows you to temporarily assign a negative condition, bad pact (pact magic!), disease of the like and switch it to another creature temporarily. This handling of affliction transfer is pretty tough to get right, and, much like before, the pdf does something smart in that it concisely codifies such terms. I also enjoyed the second of these abilities, which allows you to grant yourself a boon, which scales depending on by how many afflictions you’re affected, capping at tier to prevent abuse. Thirdly, you can use a swift action (SANS mythic power expenditure!) to ignore the detrimental effects of such an affliction. The base abilities already entwine rather well and promise some cool stuff for the path abilities here. The tier 10 option allows you to regain mythic power, allowing you to regain one if affected by two afflictions in a single round.

Among the path abilities, we have access to forlorn feats from that Transcendent 10-installment and a really cool one: Gain Charisma for every curse you suffer from! Similar tricks can be applied to other ability scores, making this a great offering for the angsty, doomed antihero that draws strength from a doomed fate thrust upon him. An aura that renders 1s and 2s automatic failures, ignoring possessions by entities…and the path builds on that: In an AMAZING idea, the path offers the means to tap into the SPs and psi-like abilities of possessing entities! That is frankly glorious! Stealing possessions and curses, leeching off supernatural abilities, gaining sneak attack based on tier versus creatures targeting you with an affliction (should specify that it lasts only for the duration of the affliction), negative energy channeling per affliction borne…or what about making morale or insight bonus granting abilities count as curses? What about reflexive rage or bloodrage? You can tap into the skills of possessing creatures as well. What about delivering poisons that affect you?

At 3rd tier, we have access to an oracle mystery, fast healing contingent on curses borne (not a fan), spreading afflictions in an aura…or, if you’re going for pact magic, bind a spirit OPPOSED to the first one! And that’s only a selection! Gating in an outsider with an opposed alignment that may be heartbound to you is also really cool and rife with RPG-potential. Even though Im not happy with every single aspect of this path, I adore it to bits – this one requires serious system mastery to pull off, but rewards you with as close to playing Many-as-One as I have seen in pen & paper games. Two thumbs up, flavor-wise one of my favorite mythic paths ever.

Begin of the discussion of not yet reviewed material right here!

The Hivemaster would be the first previously unreleased path, who gets 4 hit points per tier and a selection of 3 different base abilities: One lets the character respawn a dying summoned or undead creature with another one, fully healed, or re-establish control over a dominated/charmed target. This is problematic, as it contradicts base summoning rules: A summoned creature reduced to 0 hp is returned to whence it came, while an undead is destroyed – neither can, RAW, be dying, making this aspect simply not work as intended. Temporarily making the next creature to come under your command count as mythic is nice, though the lack of specifics regarding tiers can be slightly problematic; while many abilities only distinguish between mythic/non-mythic (for which this is obviously intended), there also exist comparative tier-based mechanics that aren’t taken into account. Granted, these are rare, but it would still have been nice to see. Still, I assume this to be working as intended, sans tier-reference, and will not take this criticism into account for the purpose of my final verdict. The third ability calls an additional creature or lets you dominate an additional target. Odd here: the verbiage refers to dominate specifically, which does not include charm, an option very much present in the first of these ability choices. Verbiage-wise, employing descriptors would have been a way to more tightly codify this one. The capstone is potent: When your servitors (including summoned beings and dominated ones) kill a mythic foe, you regain one use of mythic power.

The aforementioned design-paradigms established in the godhunter path can also be found here: More base abilities and those that build upon them. Adding plants, vermin, undead or constructs to the controlled roster and affecting them with mind-affecting spells etc. can be found; here, the finer balancing aspects of the game should have assigned the construct abilities to a higher tier, for constructs very much rely on their immunities for defenses, which this one bypasses. On the positive side, making your own custom summon list is a cool, creative endeavor for players and GMs alike, though this ability does require somewhat advanced knowledge on the part of the GM in order to make up for the inadequacies of the CR-system, though that is no fault of the ability, and rather a system-immanent one. Doubled undead-controlling HD, and mythic power-based instant spawning are interesting. Problematic, even for mythic adventure’s high power level, would be blanket life link between one another for all summoned critters, pooling hit points of sorts. Once more, this is very potent and should, at the very least, probably be assigned to 6th tier+ OR have a mythic power cost. I have no issues regarding the means to pay mythic power to apply evolutions or mutations to targets summoned, astral constructs created, etc. Leadership, gaining a defensive boost equal to the number of adjacent, controlled creatures, harder to detect control…there are some gems here. There are a couple of rules-terminology issues here, like a control DC, but there also are cool tricks, like making servitors assume the forms of other beings controlled. Forcing targets to take hits for you once per round is pretty damn potent and probably should have at least action expenditure or a cost associated at this tier. There also is a nice means to have summoned beings sport a Heartbound feat from the Transcendent 10-series.

At 3rd tier, we have template addition and an interesting idea that can transfer a magic item benefit from a controlled creature to the hivemaster – nice: Slot-issues are taken into account! Also at this tier, you can have the psionic tactician’s collective. I also loved the idea to blow up your summoned creatures in channel energy bursts…and at 6th tier, this may extend to dominated targets, though these get at least two saves. Still, usually the like grants a +4 bonus to saves. Anyways, among the 6th tier abilities, we have the option to reflexively possess servants via marionette possession, which is nice. (Minor complaint: raise dead reference not italicized.) I also like the option to follow a dismissed extraplanar creature controlled to the homeplane. The hivemaster has potential and is a good idea that is pretty well-executed. However, it also has more rough edges than the godhunter and sports a couple of design-decisions that are flawed or balance-wise, problematic.

The master of shapes, unsurprisingly, would be the shapeshifting specialist here, gaining 5 hp per tier. This one has the base abilities to reassign shapechange/metamorphosis, etc., combine a charge with such an effect or immediate action cast a spell or use an ability that conveys resistance or immunity to an effect you’re exposed to. Once more, we have mythic power-replenishment as the capstone, this time assigned to defeating targets when activating shapechanging. Hand me that bag of kittens, please…

The tier abilities allow for the creation of an additional item slot, wielding weapons of a size larger, transferring weapon abilities to the natural attacks of new forms (OUCH!), growing pustules that allow you and your allies to poison weapons etc., growing a node that can be enchanted as a brow slot…etc. There are further means to conceal rings, wondrous items, etc. in your form, with a further upgrade that makes conceal, integrated rings no longer count against the total number slots. Combining Elemental Body with the aforementioned reactive resistance base ability…interesting. Multiclass characters will particularly love e.g. the means for combo’d taskshaper/psionic characters to spend power points to regains moments of change, and there is a similar means to convert wildshape uses into moments of change.

At 3rd tier, there is one that I am not 100% happy: Bonuses of the same type, but different origins that alter the character’s shape, can stack with the Alpha Form ability; it is, in short, an invitation to min-max, offsetting an important balancing factor. Using mythic power to tap into SP/psi-like abilities is interesting, and it can be used to instill chemical imbalances to duplicate rages or cognatogens. There also is one that allows you to gain a short-lived, low-cost wondrous item or temporarily gain feats you have witnessed – however, this should clarify that it requires meeting prerequisites. There also is a marionette possession variant based on parasites and resisted by Fort-saves. While “alchemist class feature of your tier” is not perfect, I do like the idea to make blood volatile and bomb-like, and discovery-synergy is fun. Among the 6th tier abilities, we have blue magic-style access to supernatural abilities, duplicating physical forms of those touched, and limited recharging of integrated wands, which, at this tier, is probably okay. Gaining an internalized sub-mind akin to a psicrystal, with schism-tricks, is also rather cool. I kinda like this path, though it is pretty broad in its scope. Not as cool as the best ones herein, though.

Next up would be the overmage, who gains +3 hp per tier, with the base abilities providing immediate action,. Mythic power-based counterspells and mimicking, with restrictions powers, spells and feats used are nice, but using a full-round action and mythic power to cast a spell (up to tier level) from another source, using your primary casting attribute. The 10th tier ability requires that a single creature has to fail 3 saves versus different effects you generated.

The path abilities of the overmage allows for the lacing of spells into bombs, including affecting targets in splash range, at -2 DC or half damage. This is still VERY powerful in the hands of the right build, namely one focusing on single-target kill-spells that suddenly can target multiple beings. Really cool, tapping into the sense of consistency and logic I mentioned previously, there is an ability that allows for the use of bloodline-using characters to make extracts, with a solid limitation. Lacing familiars with the ability to temporarily add spells to your array of spells known is also creative. Synergy with the mosaic mage. Dispelling wrack has a somewhat annoying glitch, lacking the word “damage”, which makes the ability look almost like it eliminated spell slots. Access to mutagens and the means to use any spell slots of classes to cast spells known is interesting, if potentially rather strong – as you can glean, this is another path that can be rather potent in the hands of a player with sufficient system mastery. Indeed, there is a path ability that provides full synergy between spellcasting classes, with tier as the limit. This is very, very potent in the right hands. An oracle mystery, short-term item-benefits, dual casting – the powers here are significant, and frankly, quite a few of these should be restricted to a higher tier.

At 3rd tier, sacrificing arcane spells as part of a turning attempt to improve the attempt is per se nice, but lacks a prerequisite. Improvements of previous abilities and Leadership-synergy copied effects are creative and complex, while bonuses gained when casting are interesting. The path also has the means to pay psionic power points per spell level to retain spell slots or cast even three spells with a combined full-round + swift action…ouch. This one should imho be 6th tier. Speaking of which: Here, we get eidolons, or a synthesist’s fused eidolon. Interesting and really cool: This tier also allows for the removal (or gaining!) of an archetype! I have never seen the like, but it is a complex and work-intense, but also rewarding ability. Gaining essentially a mythic power-based retributive strike, is amazing. (As a nitpick: Mythic power is not known as points in rules-language, but this is aesthetics.) I like the concept of this super-theurge, but at the same time, I am very wary of its vast power. Several of the lower-tier abilities belong to a higher tier in my book, and compared to the archmage, this one can blow the classic mythic path away.

The second magic-themed path would be the scion of high sorcery, who also receives 3 hp per tier. Basic path ability-wise, we get an ability that can change the face of the gaming world,, namely the option to use mythic power to cast spells of family members removed 1 generation per tier. The importance of blood-relation can account for mighty caster-dynasties and carry, concept-wise, whole campaigns. Similarly, using mythic power to lend targets spells to relations and rerolls of saves is nice…though the latter option allows you to regain a spell slot upon success. Aesthetics-wise, this should have a minimum spell-level, though the mythic power expenditure prevents abuse. The capstone tier halves damage from arcane sources after all other reductions. 1/round, when saving successfully versus an arcane effect, you regain a use of mythic power.

As before, we get once more the option to get more basic path abilities, and temporarily gain bloodline arcana or powers from a blood-relationship, which lacks a limit based for the powers; low level characters can get access to high-level bloodline powers, which is not okay. Higher maximum age. Extracting blood from targets, learning bloodlines, switching bloodline spells, gaining channel energy and aura (and godling-synergy, if using RGG’s Godling-rules). Did I mention making elementals of blood or temporarily gaining a creature type related to your bloodline when using your bloodline spells? Yeah, cool! On a nitpicky side, quite a few of these should specify the requirement of a bloodline as a prerequisite. Providing surge for followers and the inverse switching of bloodlines (air to earth, for example) is also cool – though, as a minor and purely aesthetic complaint, the opposite of the celestial bloodline could be construed to be abyssal, not infernal. Still, this is nitpicking at the highest level.

Among the 3rd tier abilities, we have the means to draw power from the falling of blood-related allies, delivering touch spells through lifeblood elementals and imbuing magic in allies is interesting. There is also a means to regain Constitution damage (as an aside – the ability score is not capitalized in this path). 6th tier allows you to awaken sorcerous powers in others (EPIC!), via quick retraining, and there is an ability that allows the scion to suppress spontaneous casting ability, potentially permanently. This should probably be codified as some sort of effect, and while I love it, the presentation is a bit awkward, as more mythic power can be spent for longer durations –a table would have been more elegant here. Speaking of rough edges – the next ability mistakes “lethal damage” for “being killed”, and lacks an italicization. The idea here is to enter a target upon being killed, which is cool; however, lethal damage in PFRPG is every damage that is not non-lethal. There is also a Will-save reference not capitalized properly. The formatting and rough parts aside, this path is awesome. The idea here can carry whole campaigns and deserves applause, though I wished the path received a little polish to make it shine as brightly as it deserves to.

Next up would be the super genius, who gains +4 hp per tier. This one…is problematic, to a degree. One of the basic abilities allows for the substitution of Knowledge skills for an attack roll, something I only consider to be palatable due to the mythic power-requirement. The second one uses a similar ability to render targets flat-footed, and another one has AC as the benefits of such a basis. The capstone allows the regaining of mythic power from defeating identified targets. The path abilities allow for the addition of Intelligence modifier to atk and damage for 1 round per mythic tier. Enhancing items temporarily by tier via UMD and mythic power, denying divine authority (i.e. passive save bonus, plus the option to use Knowledge (religion) as SR versus divine effects, using Handle Animal for magical beasts, gaining Sense Motive-based Ac-bonuses, substituting Wisdom for Constitution modifier, Strength for Charisma, Dexterity for Wisdom…you get the idea here. The power here varies rather significantly, with one really weak one allowing for movement alongside vertical surfaces – per point over DC 30, 5’; contrast that with the potent ability-score substitution and you’ll know what I meant.

At 3rd tier, we have some really potent ones: Using Autohypnosis skill checks to negate the last damage taken, provided the check exceeded damage, for example. As you can see, the theme of the super-genius is basically skill-use, and that, system-immanently, is somewhat problematic, considering how easily skills can be blown through the roof via items and spells. Now, granted, the path does not necessarily allow for super-cheesy breaking of rules, but neither is it particularly elegant. Synergy regarding Inspired Creations from Profession (Cook) is nice; on the other hand, a 6th tier ability nets one 1st level psionic power, usable 3/day. Further taking of the ability allows for the selection of another power, one level higher. This one does not feel exactly like a 6th tier power. I am not a particularly big fan of this one.

Next up would be the timelord, who gains +3 hit points per tier, with the basic abilities allowing for feat-or spell-substitution. I like the idea to delay a d20-result, and the third ability lets you sacrifice value to gain items, drawing them from another timeline. The capstone nets you one mythic power whenever a mythic effects ends on you. As you can probably assume, the path is particularly suited for time thieves/wardens and clairsentience-specialists. The 1st tier abilities include temporary evolutions. Maximizing an attack’s damage and all random results is BRUTAL for 1st tier and should be relegated to a higher tier. Extending the delaying of d20 rolls to nearby allies, quickened natural rest, extended durations, retracing a move action…interesting. Speaking of which: The deferred d20s may be stored with the right ability, suddenly behaving as a pool. Quite a bunch of abilities are based directly on using this fate pool. Motes of time synergy and the like render this, ability-interaction-wise, one of my favorites within this book. The means to 1/encounter rolling advantage on a save, alas, annoying refer to per-encounter abilities, so please picture me inserting my old rant on how per-encounter mechanics make no sense in-game.

That being said, power-level-wise, the timelord’s 1st tier abilities feel more on par with one another than those of quite a few other paths herein. The innovative ideas here also extend to the higher-tier abilities: Choose an attack type, and this will then make the lowest damage rolls be treated as +1 higher, i.e. 1s as 2s – after that, the ability further improves. There is also a GENIUS ability here: When an ally dies, the timelord can alter the timeline so he did not join the PCs; instead, the no-longer-deceased PC met up with another character, who then proceeds to become the new PC of the player. New and old PC know each other, so there is, indeed, a reason for the new PC knowing about current themes. I absolutely adore this!! IT’s easily one of my favorite mythic powers ever! Did I mention the means to fuse stored d20 rolls into aevum? Among the 6th tier tricks, splitting into actual two beings that share a single hp pool, is potent – but while it is active, you may not use any other mythic powers. Slightly problematic here – the ability has no daily cap or power-activation requirement. Shielding areas versus temporal manipulation is nice; however, personally, I also adore the means to replace yourself with a tightly-codified alternate of yourself.

…okay, I am a Dr. Who fan, and I adore the ideas and execution here. Winner!

The next path takes the award for best name of a mythic path, ever: Will-of-all. Come on, that is cool! The path gets 3 bonus hit points per tier and allows with the base abilities, to either share a feat, regardless of prerequisites, with allies. A complaint here would pertain the necessarily limitation for metamagic feats being based on tier and spell level adjustment – here, total modified spell level would have made more sense. The second ability allows you to sacrifice a spell slot, spell known or power points sufficient to manifest a power as a swift action, allowing an ally to regain what you sacrificed, and their next spell/power gets a +1/2 tier bonus to CL. (As a nitpick, since the ability encompasses psionics, it should also reference ML.) This…is brutal. This basically utterly delimits casting and allows for basically pool-sharing, which does not work. Spell slots are not equal for all classes, and neither are power points. This begs to be broken, particularly due to not requiring mythic power expenditure. Thirdly, we have a swift action means to replenish a class ability with daily uses or pool-based mechanics, replenishing it. You can also grant an ally psionic focus. While there is a hard cap imposed based on tier on how many times an ally can be affected by it per day, this should, rules-aesthetics-wise, differentiate between daily abilities, those than can be used more often, etc. – in essence, this is too wide open. As before, there are means to unlock the other basic abilities not chosen at first tier.

The path abilities often blend flavor with mechanics: One lets you set up basically a site of remembrance, and then conveys a sliver of an ancestor’s abilities. I also really like how gaining the mental attributes of a past life! This is REALLY cool. Gaining a collective is super potent and probably too strong for 1st tier, and somewhat to my chagrin, the notion of zones from the rather problematic Transcendent 10-installment returns. These are very problematic, and while indiscriminate, can result in numbers quickly spiraling out of control. On the other hand, there are some true gems here, with the options to establish denial zones that lock down certain tricks. To nitpick: Unfortunately, prerequisites required by path abilities have not been consistently implemented.

At higher tier we have the means to treat character level as class level for binder, manifester, etc. levels, which can be a boon for multiclass characters, and the option, and sharing effects and similarly complex operations are included. The focuses of this one are past lives (represented as alternate spirit Leadership, etc.) as well as superb AoE buff/debuffing. The ideas here are really cool, but the finetuning of this one is pretty tough: This could either be a flavorful, evocative option, or super-broken mess. I like it, but it’s an option that demands a gentlemen’s agreement between player and GM to not minmax the hell out of it. Mythic power is, at 20th level, regained when you or an ally have benefited from a path ability (I assume, one from the will-of-one!) and rolls a natural 20 versus a mythic effect.

The final mythic path included in this tome would be the worldsinger, who gets 4 bonus hit points per tier. The base abilities allow you to expend mythic power as a swift action, to affect a creature that can hear you with a touch-range power, and you may substitute Perform checks for attack. Skills are easily minmaxed and broken, plus this will make megaphone spells and items really popular. I’d have preferred a hard cap on range that scales with tier. As provided, this is brutal. The second option lets you substitute Perform checks for save DCs. Wait. WUT? Sure, mythic foes can expend mythic power as an immediate action to save versus the regular DC, and it does cost mythic power…but yeah. No. Not gonna happen. Immediate action mythic-power-driven countersong of spells or powers is interesting. The capstone nets you mythic power when a non-mythic creature affected by a morale bonus defeats a mythic creature. Nice way to prevent kitten-abuse. As before, the tier abilities allow you to get the base abilities you have not yet chosen. The path abilities…are strangely underwhelming. They require mythic power expenditure and a Perform check (what happens upon failure?) versus a paltry DC (20) – this unnecessarily bogs down gameplay.

There are a couple of innovative, if slightly clunky options here as well: A variety of dances that exchange two ability scores for allies benefiting from your morale bonuses is interesting. Adding a penalty to Will-saves to resist your mind-affecting effects can add a sting to the morale boost and is intriguing. At the same time, balance between path abilities isn’t exactly precise: 10 minutes + 1 mythic power to make a Perform check and have it count as heal for long-term care+ a paltry goodberry? Where can I sign up to waste my path ability? Sorry, I try to keep the sarcasm down, but it’s a tough bastard to get rid of. Synergy with rage or bloodrage that shares them in addition to the boosts in effect. There also is a path ability I frankly don’t understand. “For 1 round per tier damage inflicted due to morale damage bonuses you is returned to attackers as healing. The creatures damaged by these attacks only grant healing if they possess a life-force .” Are attackers healed? Is their damage converted prior or after attacking? Can you still die? No idea. Heartbound feat synergy can be found, and in case you’re currently attempting to play a god-wilder, what about sharing wild surge WITH EVERYONE currently under the effects of your morale bonuses? The path is the bardic superbuffer with a ton of multiclass-based options, but it can be absolutely devastating when handled right. Not a fan of this one.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal and rules-language level, are somewhat inconsistent. On one hand, the pdf gets complex rules-operations of the highest order right, on the other, it fails at more simple ones here and there, becoming more ambiguous than it should be – most of the time due to the difficult concepts this tries to encompass. This is top-tier difficulty, mind you…but still. This could have used a really picky rules-dev. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard that fits a lot of text on the page, and the full-color artworks that are here, are amazing. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience. Nice: the pdf comes with a second, more mobile-device-friendly version that only clocks in at roughly 16 mbs.

Christen N. Sowards’ mythic paths are an impressive book, considering how early in the life-cycle of Lost Spheres Publishing it was released. This book is ambitious and injects a ton of flavor in many of its options, making them feel distinct and not as generic as some of the basic mythic powers. That being said, the rules-language is inconsistent and the book, alas, also is inconsistent in the power-level of path abilities, which range from preposterously potent to laughably weak. That being said, it is my firm conviction that this book, while not a diamond in the rough per se, does have its truly inspired moments. When the book gets it right, it does so triumphantly.

Which leaves me with a bit of a conundrum. You see, this is a flawed book, and there are no two ways around that. I would not allow it sight unseen in my group, and system-immanently, deciding whether an ability works or not, can be a tough call to make for the GM. This requires oversight by a capable, experienced GM who understands the math the rules, the numbers. Without this oversight, some paths herein can wreck havoc with the opposition.

At the same time, I really want to recommend this book. There is so much to be loved within these pages; there is honest passion radiating from the material, and it never is boring. It may not be perfect, but it is a worthwhile addition for experienced groups that can negotiate a suitable power-level. For such groups, particularly if you’re using subsystems like psionics and pact magic, this should be definitely worth a look, though I’d strongly suggest reassigning a couple of the abilities, tier-wise.

How do I rate this? Damn, this is hard. You see, as a person, I cherish the concepts herein; I have the experience to reassign abilities and nerf them, to polish the components herein that deserve applause. Then again, not all paths share this high quality – the stand-alone paths were wisely chosen and feel like they had more polish than will-of-all, for example; some are rather rough around the edges, and I have to maintain consistency with other reviews. So yeah, unfortunately, while, as a person, I’d round up, my official verdict can’t go higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down. For experienced groups using a lot of 3pp with mythic content, this is most certainly worth checking out, though.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Paths of the Lost Spheres
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Mythic Paths of the Lost Spheres - Hollow One
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/08/2018 03:54:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Paths of the Lost Spheres-series clocks in at 15, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Note: This is part of the Mythic Paths of the Lost Spheres-tome and represents a single stand-alone path from the book.

The series was crafted with an eye towards providing options for some of the more popular 3pp-materials: Psionics, pact-magic-based spirit-binding, temporal shenanigans (Time Thief and Warden), as well as e.g. Rite Publishing’s take of shapeshifting via the taskshaper. The pdf thus provides a lot of synergy if you have these respective supplements. However, at the same time, the book does not lose its value for groups that do not employ there – the mythic paths that help for the respective subsystems are fully viable even without using e.g. pact magic, sporting plenty of options that do not require the use of such a subsystem. In short: While the support is here, the designs within do not force you to employ these systems.

The supplement begins by codifying the origin of power-sources, which is helpful – I have more to say on the origins and structure of magical power, but that’ll have to wait until the review of the big book.

The second mythic path of the lost spheres to have a stand-alone release would be the Hollow One, who gets 3 hit points per tier and is really interesting: One of the base abilities of the path allows you to temporarily assign a negative condition, bad pact (pact magic!), disease of the like and switch it to another creature temporarily. This handling of affliction transfer is pretty tough to get right, and, much like before, the pdf does something smart in that it concisely codifies such terms. I also enjoyed the second of these abilities, which allows you to grant yourself a boon, which scales depending on by how many afflictions you’re affected, capping at tier to prevent abuse. Thirdly, you can use a swift action (SANS mythic power expenditure!) to ignore the detrimental effects of such an affliction. The base abilities already entwine rather well and promise some cool stuff for the path abilities here. The tier 10 option allows you to regain mythic power, allowing you to regain one if affected by two afflictions in a single round.

Among the path abilities, we have access to forlorn feats from that Transcendent 10-installment and a really cool one: Gain Charisma for every curse you suffer from! Similar tricks can be applied to other ability scores, making this a great offering for the angsty, doomed antihero that draws strength from a doomed fate thrust upon him. An aura that renders 1s and 2s automatic failures, ignoring possessions by entities…and the path builds on that: In an AMAZING idea, the path offers the means to tap into the SPs and psi-like abilities of possessing entities! That is frankly glorious! Stealing possessions and curses, leeching off supernatural abilities, gaining sneak attack based on tier versus creatures targeting you with an affliction (should specify that it lasts only for the duration of the affliction), negative energy channeling per affliction borne…or what about making morale or insight bonus granting abilities count as curses? What about reflexive rage or bloodrage? You can tap into the skills of possessing creatures as well. What about delivering poisons that affect you?

At 3rd tier, we have access to an oracle mystery, fast healing contingent on curses borne (not a fan), spreading afflictions in an aura…or, if you’re going for pact magic, bind a spirit OPPOSED to the first one! And that’s only a selection! Gating in an outsider with an opposed alignment that may be heartbound to you is also really cool and rife with roleplaying-potential. Even though I’m not happy with every single aspect of this path, I adore it to bits – this one requires serious system mastery to pull off, but rewards you with as close to playing Many-as-One as I have seen in pen & paper games. Two thumbs up, flavor-wise one of my favorite mythic paths ever.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level and rules-language level can be considered to be good, if not perfect, with minor deviations and rough edges here and there; that being said, considering the complexity of the material presented here, the quality of these components is still rather impressive. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a nice piece of full-color artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for yoru convenience.

Christen N. Sowards’ Hollow One mythic path requires some system mastery to get the most out of, sure. It’s also rougher around the edges than the godhunter, for example, and may require a bit of oversight and minor tweaking. Formally, this may not be perfect. BUT DAMN, I adore this supplement! I really mean it! Condition transfer, unique mechanics based on afflictions taken, blending of flavor and rules. The possession-mechanics are NOT for every game; no even close. But OH BOY, this guy represents, hands down, my favorite mythic path ever. It’s inspired in the right ways. It is creative, oozes narrative potential, and actually manages to innovate. It is rough, being an earlier release of the company, but oh BOY can it be pure amazing! Now, as a reviewer, I can’t rate this as highly as I’d like to; it is a bit too rough for 5 stars. However, what I can do, is to rate this 4 stars and designate it as one of the few supplements that absolutely are worth spending the time to add a few final polishing flourishes…and add my seal of approval regardless. I love this fellow, and if you enjoyed the ideas noted, check it out!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Paths of the Lost Spheres - Hollow One
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Mythic Paths of the Lost Spheres - Godhunter
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/08/2018 03:53:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Paths of the Lost Spheres-series clocks in at 15, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Note: This is part of the Mythic Paths of the Lost Spheres-tome and represents a single stand-alone path from the book.

The series was crafted with an eye towards providing options for some of the more popular 3pp-materials: Psionics, pact-magic-based spirit-binding, temporal shenanigans (Time Thief and Warden), as well as e.g. Rite Publishing’s take of shapeshifting via the taskshaper. The pdf thus provides a lot of synergy if you have these respective supplements. However, at the same time, the book does not lose its value for groups that do not employ there – the mythic paths that help for the respective subsystems are fully viable even without using e.g. pact magic, sporting plenty of options that do not require the use of such a subsystem. In short: While the support is here, the designs within do not force you to employ these systems.

The supplement begins by codifying the origin of power-sources, which is helpful – I have more to say on the origins and structure of magical power, but that’ll have to wait until the review of the big book.

This pdf, obviously, depicts the godhunter, who gains 5 hit points per tier and the devour the divine ability, which may take one of three shapes: You can choose to either spend mythic power as an immediate action to add your tier to a saving throw AND gain a reroll versus a divine effect. On a success, you are not affected and instead heal hit points based on tier, which btw., when exceeding your maximum hit points, can partially be converted to temporary hit points. The second option lets you spend mythic power as an immediate action to collect divine remnants, so-called detria. These act as a means to duplicate, spell-storing style, one divine spell or spell-like ability of a creature slain. These may only be used by the godhunter that created them, and require UMD to activate. This one, RAW, does require a lot of spell/SP-tracking and can become pretty potent. Considering the value of mythic power, I have no issue with the power-level this has, and detria cannot be stockpiled as a balancing caveat. The third option represents the means to spend mythic power for a tier-based bonus to atk, and bonus damage versus divine spellcasters and outsiders. The path nets a path ability every tier and the capstone ability nets basically advantage on saves vs. divine spells cast by non-mythic targets, as well as SR versus divine spells.

Now, as far as path abilities are concerned, we have the option to get another one of the aforementioned devour the divine abilities. We have means to prevent teleportation and plane shifting, or, for example, a means to extend the benefits of the aforementioned attack/damage boost to any target currently affected by a divine spell, which is pretty interesting. Making detria behave as potions is nice…but I really like the means to for example steal channel energy uses. The path abilities also include interesting passive abilities – like divine spellcasters needing to save versus their own spells when targeting the godhunter, potentially being dazed for a round. Minor complaint here – the ability only specifically mentions targeting, meaning that area of effect effects not necessarily being included. Extending the benefits of the healing option to allies targeted nearby. Reducing the CL of hostile divine spells to determine duration is also nice – though I think that rounds reduced to 0 should probably cancel out this component; that, or have a 1 round minimum duration. Cool: There is an ability that lets you hijack divine spells. Item-use, transfer wounds.

Among the 3rd tier abilities, we have the means to employ metamagic feats via the burning of detria; imposing basically disadvantage (roll twice, take worse result) on concentration checks is intriguing. Leeching off excess healing in the vicinity. On the nitpicky side, the Hungry Zeal ability, which nets another use of the Zealotry ability, should specify the requirement of the Zealotry ability. Limited domain poaching and becoming immune to a domain of a vanquished spellcaster makes for some cool tricks – particularly since the latter is balanced, once more, by tier, having a sensible scaling. In short, as before, this offers further upgrades, building on previous tricks. The 6th tier abilities include means to hold more detria at once, as well as the option to use detria for Item Creation purposes…or what about tattoos infused with detria that render you immune to a divine spell, with the maximum spell level gated by tier?

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, the pdf is also significantly more precise than what we usually get to see. Considering the complexity of the material, this is commendable. Layout adheres to a solid two-column full-color standard, and the artwork featured is original and impressive. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Christen N. Sowards’ Godhunter is an interesting and long overdue means for mythic characters to depict the foe of certain gods…or, well, all deities! I like this mythic path very much, and while I am not 100% happy with all design-decisions herein, I consider this mythic path to be well worth checking out. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Paths of the Lost Spheres - Godhunter
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Classes of the Lost Spheres: Zodiac
by Kyle L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/21/2018 23:48:47

This product includes a few feats that I feel should have been around sooner, like being able to increase the number of veils you can have shaped, allowing for non veilweavers to have a feat only option for veilweaving. a few reprinted feats and veils, BUT I am fine with this because that means that this product requires no other books to use. as a DM, this means less places I have to swap between. As a player, same verse as the last. We also get a few traits including one that can let you change the weapon type of a weapon-like veil (with a limitation of weapon category light to light, one handed to one handed, and such).

But the true meat is the class: the Zodiac. It has a nice choice between playing a more fighter styled class by picking solar orbit or a more veilweaver styled class by picking lunar orbit. Beyond that, this class functions as a summoning class in a really great way: essence burn to summon a constelation either as a weapon, armor, equipment, or an animal companion/ally.

I don't know if I conveyed anything helpful here, but I really like this class and think it pulls off what it is going for.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Classes of the Lost Spheres: Zodiac
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Transcendent 10 - Feats of the Lost - Figures Forlorn
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/16/2018 05:41:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

So, Lost Spheres Publishing, back in the day, began with the Transcendent 10-series. While these represent the early works of the company, the company flew under my radar for a long while, so it’s high time we took a look at the series, right? It should be noted that the company has evolved since then – reviews of more current books will hit sites soon as well. But how do these early works hold up against the test of time? Let’s find out!

One thing I really enjoy about this series would be the designer’s commentary that is provided for each respective piece of design – they help a GM and player to properly contextualize the content, which is particularly helpful for folks who don’t have a veteran’s level of system mastery. The pdf predates the ACG and OA, and as such, I will not complain about a lack of representation of the classes from these books in the spell-lists.

Anyways, this pdf is 8 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Now, in Feats of Synergy – Heartbound Heroes, we introduced the Heartbound descriptor to denote a special bond between characters. However, the pdf was remarkably silent regarding the effects of the loss of one’s love. Well, this pdf is what addresses this component. While not exclusively for characters with heartbound feats, such characters may exchange them for Forlorn feats upon losing their partner. Forlorn feats represent an extreme trauma of grief, and as such should not be taken lightly. The forlorn feats are as follows:

-Alone, So Alone: After losing your loved partner, you no longer can benefit from Aid Another, instead gaining a penalty. However, you get to choose Constitution or Wisdom, and may use that attribute modifier times per day a swift action to grant yourself a +1 circumstance modifier to any d20, with the bonus increasing by +1 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. This imho shouldn’t apply to saves, but your mileage may vary here.

-Aura of Despair: This is a psionic feat For each forlorn feat you have, you may take a -1 penalty to morale bonuses to all d20s rolls; while you have your focus and thus suffer from the profound loss, creatures within 30 ft. also take this penalty, sans save. This should be classified as a mind-affecting emotion effect. Other than that, one of my favorite Aura-feats released in the series.

-Burn It All Down: For each forlorn feat you have, you may incur a -2 penalty to morale bonuses to hit; for each such penalty incurred you add +2 to damage, +4 to damage vs. objects. This should specify that it only applies to weapon damage, as the penalty is insignificant for some spells etc..

-Embers of the Fallen: Choose one spell per spell level that is not on your class list, but which was on the lost partner’s spell list. These spells may now be learned as spells of your character’s class, at the spell levels of the fallen love. Each spell cast this way imposes a penalty equal to the spell’s level to all saving throws and lasts for spell level rounds. Rules-verbiage is a bit rough here. Also problematic: While the verbiage prevents duplicating spells (once at 2nd or 3rd level due to different classes, for example), the new spells and their interaction with crafting becomes rough. Still, I like the notion of this feat, if not the precise implementation.

-Faces of the Forlorn: Bluff (not capitalized properly) at the start of combat to appear flat-footed, when you are not. The sequence is not 100% clear here; I assume this check to happen prior to initiative being rolled, but then, it can actually provide some issues with how surprise rounds are handled.

-Forlorn Spell (Metamagic): Unlike the heartbound equivalent, this one does have the Forlorn-descriptor. At 1 spell level higher, this is design-wise exciting: It tracks the stats of the creature affected. If it failed the save to the spell modified, it takes a penalty to all stats, skills, ability scores, attack rolls, etc. that isn’t 0 or a positive morale bonus. I like this idea. Problematic here would be that the feat fails to specify how it behaves regarding the penalties of dependent complexes. If both a skill and its governing attribute are penalized, does this translate to twice the penalty? Technically, it’s not the stacking of an effect with itself, but of two different effects of the same spell. This needs a bit of clarification, but represents an interesting “insult to injury” type of debuff.

-Heart of Winter and Spring: Lets you take both heartbound and forlorn feats and count them as each other for the purpose of benefits. Polyamorous may be exchanged for this one upon losing a heartbound partner.

-Sorrow’s Song: Basically inverts the benefits you’d usually grant to your allies via bardic performance and applies them as penalties to the same number of enemies. This is the type of verbiage that works well in houserules, but not in a finalized product, as debuffs should note range, effect type, saves, etc. and just flipping bonus to penalty can become really problematic really fast. I like what this attempts, but the execution is rough.

-Stilled Heart; Select Constitution or Wisdom; the chosen attribute times per day, as an immediate action, you may choose to ignore an effect that would result in a negative condition other than death on a failed Fort- or Will-save, postponing the effect for the chosen attribute modifier rounds. Nice.

-Wordless Pain: Communicate simple concepts sans language or the use of Diplomacy etc.

The pdf also sports a bonus psionic power, absolute loss, which is a mind-affecting telepathy of 4th level for dread, tactician and telepath. The power targets one creature in Medium range, with a Will save to negate. On a failed save, the target gets a Fort-save; if it succeeds this one, it takes untyped (boo!) damage and a penalty to all d20 rolls. On a failure of the second save, it falls to -1 hp and starts dying. The power may be augmented for more (+1d6) damage and penalties (one more) for one power point, or for 2 power points affect an additional target within 30 ft. of the first. This should definitely be a death effect, and is, for the chance of hit point ignoring mega-damage, too powerful. Would not allow it, in spite of the two different saves providing a decent chance to mitigate it.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are solid, if not perfect. There are some minor deviations in rules-verbiage and a few hiccups, but as a whole, I have considerably enjoyed this. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard with read highlights and a subdued border. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Christen N. Sowards’ feats are NOT boring. That is a pretty big plus in and of itself. While he has grown as a designer in leaps and bounds since the release of this supplement, there already is potential and ambition evident here. Indeed, this pdf is a good way to showcase the series’ pros and cons: The GM advice and designer’s commentary is useful and renders the pdf more user-friendly than it would otherwise be. Additionally, the very concept of the feats ties in with roleplaying, as opposed to just providing some crunch. This is a design-paradigm I’d very much love to see more often. Forlorn and heartbound feats, as a duality, are a compelling concept and one, which, while rough around the edges, can be a neat cornerstone of a character concept. Indeed, the concept itself is so prevalent in media, that it may well be worth contemplating revisiting at one point.

That being said, as much as I enjoy the ideas featured in the series, this pdf does feature some aspects where the lack of experience back then shows, regarding verbiage and some finer details of balancing the feats etc. As such, this must be considered to be a somewhat mixed bag that a GM should explain and modify prior to giving it carte blanche. With the material slightly less intriguing/refined than the heartbound file, my final verdict cannot exceed 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Transcendent 10 - Feats of the Lost - Figures Forlorn
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Transcendent 10 - Feats of Synergy - Heartbound Heroes
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/15/2018 05:33:33

An Endzeitgeist.com review

So, Lost Spheres Publishing, back in the day, began with the Transcendent 10-series. While these represent the early works of the company, the company flew under my radar for a long while, so it’s high time we took a look at the series, right? It should be noted that the company has evolved since then – reviews of more current books will hit sites soon as well. But how do these early works hold up against the test of time? Let’s find out!

One thing I really enjoy about this series would be the designer’s commentary that is provided for each respective piece of design – they help a GM and player to properly contextualize the content, which is particularly helpful for folks who don’t have a veteran’s level of system mastery. The pdf predates the ACG and OA, and as such, I will not complain about a lack of representation of the classes from these books in the spell-lists.

Anyways, this pdf is 8 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, ½ a page blank, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This installment of the series introduces a new feat-descriptor, with the eponymous (Heartbound) feats. Heartbound feats are akin to teamwork feats in that they require another character to work, but there is a crucial difference: The feats do NOT need to be the same. However, you do designate a Heartbound partner upon taking the feat, and said partner becomes important when it comes to triggering the effects of the feat.

All of the following feats are Heartbound feats, and as noted before, they come with design notes, elaborating the respective design decisions.

-All’s Fair: When you see your love harmed, which is defined as taking damage, ability damage (oddly, not drain) or incur a negative condition as part of the actions of an enemy, your attacks may target the foe as though he was flatfooted in the following round. This oversight regarding drain btw. extends to all feats that adhere to this formula of harm. The sneak attack prerequisite is nice, and I enjoy where this feat attempts to go. There are a few rough spots here, though: “The following round” is a weird duration for the trigger; “until the end of your next turn” would make more sense. Additionally, I think that the feat would make more sense when the “being treated as flatfooted” would only work in the context of sneak attacks to avoid cheesing. Other than that, this, idea-wise, represents a good idea to render sneak attack more feasible and enhance teamwork.

-Heart’s Vengeance: Upon seeing your love harmed, you increase (not gain – important distinction) morale bonuses to atk and damage by +1, which increases to +2 at 11th level. Compared to the first feat, this may well be a bit weak, as its utility partially depends on how you read the “increase” component. That being said, it is pretty evident that gaining the bonus if you don’t currently have a morale bonus, is what’s intended here, and the GM advice does clear up this minor ambiguity. Still, I’d have preferred that to be explicitly stated in the rules-text.

-Inspiring Glance: Aid another the partner as a swift action with a range of 30 ft., usable up to Cha-mod times per day. Here, the benefit should be increased to account for Pathfinder’s increased power-level since the release of the pdf.

-Love’s Resolve: This one is inspired. When witnessing your love come to harm and prevented from acting due to an ongoing effect from a failed save, you get an immediate action rereoll. Con be used Con- or Wis-mod times per day. This is so iconic, so present in media etc., that it frankly baffles me why it hasn’t been a more central part of the game. Definite winner here!

-Magic Entwined: Beneficial spell effects you cast on the partner are resolved at +4 CL. Potent, but cool. Other creatures get the regular spell effects.

-Polyamorous: May be taken more than once; lets you select +1 heartbound partner.

-Songs of the Heart: Morale bonuses you grant your partner are increased by +1 and last for 1 round longer, but only for the partner. Cool.

-Surge of Passion: Choose either Charisma or Constitution. That ability score modifier times per day, as an immediate action, you can grant yourself 4 temporary hit points er heartbound feat you possess, including this one.

-Wordless Bond: Nets you basically telepathy with your partner, with a range of 10 ft. per heartbound feat you have. Nice.

There is one feat herein, which is not a heartbound feat:

-Heartbinding Spell (Metamagic): Creatures affected by a mind-influencing spell with this feat added are considered to be Heartbound partners; cost +1 spell level. This one is really cool regarding its ramifications, etc..

The pdf also sports a new spell as bonus content: Heartbound call is a 1st level immediate action spell that lasts for days and conveys a general sense of direction for your partner to find you, as well as a bonus to Diplomacy, Sense Motive and Survival to find you. We also receive a new psionic power, call partner, which is basically the psionic version of the spell, with 2 augments, one for increased bonuses, and one for a 4 power point correspond.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are solid, if not perfect. There are some minor deviations in rules-verbiage and a few hiccups, but as a whole, I have considerably enjoyed this. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard with read highlights and a subdued border. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Christen N. Sowards’ heartbound feats are an enjoyable concept. The line of sight requirement is interesting, and the benefits are, in a couple of cases, significant enough to warrant taking these feats. Taking them also represents a roleplaying opportunity, and such blending of flavor and mechanics is something I generally really enjoy. Now, not all feats are gold or have aged too well, but the pdf still offers plenty of inspiring material that allows you to depict the behavior of power-couples throughout fantasy media at the table. This may not be a perfect offering, but if the concept intrigues you, it’s worth checking out. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, a mixed bag on the positive side of things, but I can’t round up for it.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Transcendent 10 - Feats of Synergy - Heartbound Heroes
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City of 7 Seraphs - Akashic Trinity
by Vladimir C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/09/2018 10:59:41

Trinity, my love (no, not The Matrix’)

Akashic Trinity is a kind of preview product for the Pathfinder planar campaign setting/add-on, the greatly expected The City of Seven Seraphs, both by Lost Spheres Publishing. As the name indicates, it is a follow-up product for the awesome Akashic Mysteries by Dream Scarred Press. Both were penned by Michael Sayre. It includes 3 new veil-shaping base classes plus tons of veils for both the new and old akashic adventurers.

What’s inside? Without counting cover, credits, intros and other stuff, we get 51 pages of akashic content for 12/10 bucks (It is on discount right now), which include:

-3 veil-shaping base classes, the roguish Eclipse, the warlockish Nexus, and the feyish, clerical Radiant. Like the other akashic classes, they have a high-fantasy feel and may not be very at home in low-magic or magic-less campaigns. They share a couple of things regarding their veil-shaping: they get increased essence limits and chakra binds, they get a veil class list, and include favored class bonus for races that make sense (not all core races are included for all classes for example).

The Eclipse would fill the role of the akashic rogue, a greatly-asked-for addition to the akashic subsystem. They get simple armor proficiency plus a couple of other rogue-like weapons, plus the buckler (no other armor proficiency), and have a d8 HD, medium BAB, 2 good saves (Fort and Ref), plus a nice rogue-like skill list paired with a generous 6 skill points per level. It is worth noting that their veil-shaping score is Intelligence, which more often than not will increases the skill repertoire of any Eclipse. They also can find traps at 2nd level, including magical ones. Here is where the mundane part of the class ends.

Like other akashic classes they are veilshapers. They get the least veils shaped (and bound) during their progression of any of the veil-shapers (but see Dark Intensity), although they gain essence at the same rate as Gurus, leaving plenty of points for some of their other essence receptacles. Apart from veilshaping, they get several wondrous abilities, the first one being the weirdest (and more awesome) of them all: Occultation. Basically, Eclipses can create a shadow clone of themselves next to them, who have all the stats of the Eclipse (except for consumables and limited use items), although only getting a single move action per turn and being destroyed with any successful attack, when failing a saving throw or getting to far from their creators. Eclipses can proxy their attacks and powers through their clones! (it must have been a nightmare to balance).

At 5th, the clone can be created farther, can fly, and can teleport in dark areas. At 11th, Eclipses can create 2 clones, each with all the abilities as normal, including having only a single move action, but Eclipses can now use their swift action to proxy their attacks and abilities, and I suppose they can still use their standard actions to proxy through their other clone (or act themselves), but it is not mentioned. Finally at 17th level, when a clone is destroyed it creates a very damaging blackhole. I don’t know if this part is balanced, since there is no limit on how many clones can be destroyed and create a blackhole, and I can think of one or two ways to cheap this ability.

When the clone is not in existence, Eclipses are shrouded by darkness and get an Armor bonus and a competence bonus to their Stealth score. At 7th level, this shroud gives them Hide in Plain Sight; at 13th, they can travel through darkened areas as if using Dimension Door, and also Shadow Walk (as the spell) one time per day (more at higher levels). Finally, at 19th level they can kind of “absorb” this shroud to cheat death, but this use prevents both the active and inactive use of occultations until the Eclipse can rest for 8th hours.

They also get a Darkvision ability that can be invested with essence to increase its range and power. They also gain and increased essence limit for this ability, apart from their general essence limit increase common to all veil-shapers, upping the cap for this ability to 8 essence. At 4 essence (usable at 8th level), Eclipses can see in magical darkness, and at 7 essence (usable at 14th level) they become immune to the blinded and dazzled condition and get a bonus to gaze attacks.

They also get a kind of offensive talent called Enigma, at every even level, from a list of 13. Some have level requirements. All Enigmas have a couple of things in common. First, they can only be used against foes that are flat-footed or flanked, have lost their Dexterity bonus to AC, or are unaware of the user. Second, they must be used as part of an attack or a targeted veil effect (if multitarget, only one target is affected). Finally, only one Enigma can be added per attack or veil effect, but there is no mention if you can change Enigmas for iterative attacks. Effects range from cold or negative energy damage, draining (be it ki, grit, spells, power points etc.), profane bonus to attack rolls etc.

At 10th level, Eclipses get to shape and bind two veils in either their feet or hands chakras, getting an extra ability on top of both veils (two weapon attack as a standard action or extra speed). This veil counts as normal for their maximum, and any essence invested in any of the two veils is done separately. If no double veil is shaped, Eclipses can treat either a veil shaped in their feet or hands as if invested with one extra point of essence.

As a capstone, Eclipses add all veils with the darkness descriptor to their lists, and are able to shape and bind them even if they can’t normally do so (because of a unique veil slot, like ring or blood). They cannot age and also don’t need to eat or breath. While in darkened areas, they become more powerful and get enhanced senses (true seeing and deathwatch).

The Nexus would be the akashic warlock/kineticist. They get all simple and martial weapon proficiencies, plus light and medium armor, along medium BAB and d8 HD, good Will and Fort saves, with 4 skill points and a skill list focused on interaction and scholarship. Their veilshaping is charisma-based, with one essence per level like Eclipses. They get 10 veils over their carrers, only behind Viziers, and get all 10 chakra binds, making them very powerful at shaping and binding veils.

Beyond their powerful veilshaping, they get two abilities, first of which would be Planar Detonation. This is very similar to a Kinetic Blast, but is a basic piercing attack that can be modified with their Convergences (see below). They can burn essential to double their damage output, and can as a full-round action (later standard), channel this blast through a weapon-like veil. I was going to rant about their damage output and how they can burn essence to amp it, but note that essence is what make veils and akashic feats more powerful, and it still regenerates at a rate of one point per minute, so while you could leave many points to blast away, you would leave other essential receptacles dry, which makes essential management a tactical decision for every Nexus.

Their second ability is called Convergence, which has a kind of planar bloodline flavor. Unlike bloodlines, you aren’t tied to one progression, instead being able to choose from 5 flavors (with 4 tiers each) for each instance of the ability, which is gained at 1st level and supposedly every multiple of four, but in the table level 20th doesn’t mention a new Convergence. The 5 flavors would be Heaven, Hell, Abyss, Elemental and Underworld, the last two representing Chaos and Law for some undisclosed reason.

Convergence tiers share some things in common. Tier one makes Nexus resistant to two, three or four types of energy, and get a new damage type (with an added effect) for their Planar Detonations. Tier two give Nexus a new area blast option when using their special damage type by burning essence. The (im)possibility of both increasing damage and using area attacks is not mentioned, so I suppose it is possible to do both. Tier three gives you an interactive ability with the plane in question, giving you different abilities like summoning demons, bind creatures in a devilish contract, and negotiating with the powers of death to return a creature to life! Finally, tier gives Nexus a powerful magical ability, from channeling a Balor’s vorpal sword for any slashing weapon wielded, to be able to Resurrect once per day when slayed by an evil creature.

Planar Attunement is their capstone, making them being treated as natives of the chosen plane, no longer aging, and gaining a magical ability to command devils or demons, summoning a planetar, getting treated as friendly by creatures of one of the elemental planes, or getting many psychopomp-y abilities. For some strange reason, this ability is independent of your Convergences, so you could potentially have Convergence tier 3 in both the Abyss and Hell and suddenly getting attuned with Heaven. I would at least require a Convergence tier of 3 (or even 2) in the planar attunement you want as a capstone.

The Radiant would be the akashic cleric/druid/vitalist (this last one from the psionic rules by Dream Scarred Press) that inherited many concepts from the Vedist, a long-awaited akashic healing class that the author teased not long after the . It has the most unusual flavor among the classes, since while light, nature, fey and life are common themes, all them together is not. They have a typical caster chassis: proficiency with simple weapons and light armor only, low BAB with d6 HD (but see Mind over Matter), ALL GOOD SAVES, and 4 skill points with a skill list focusing on nature and scholarship. Their veilshaping is Wisdom-based, getting lots of essence like Viziers, but not as many veils and chakara binds (topping at 8 veils and 6 chakra binds).

At first level they get Mind over Matter, a seemingly-random ability that adds their Wisdom bonus to their Fort saves, HP per level, and negative HP maximum (but see below).

Their main ability would be Akashic Bond, an ability that feels very similar to the psionic Collective. By investing essence in their allies, Radiants give their invested allies a slowly regenerating temporary hit point pool and a bonus to saves. A Radiant that has invested an ally that suffers from poison, disease or fatigue, can reclaim the invested essence and not only absorb the condition, but getting a NEW SAVE (if any). The list of conditions that can be absorbed increase with level progression, and some conditions are instantly cured at higher levels!

At every even level, Radiants learn a Vivification, an extra ability that can be granted to invested allies. One Vivification can be granted for each point of essence invested, with the option of choosing the same Vivification more than once to increase its effects! Abilities go from enhancements to ability scores, damage reduction, bonus to damage or skill checks, and ability damage healing.

While all this maybe gives the impression that Radiants are martyrs, at fourth level they can invest enemies with essence! This forced bond debuffs enemies and lets Radiant transfer any negative condition they can normally absorb to their foes!

At 19th level they get the ability to restore life by burning 6 essence points. As capstone they become immune to aging. They also gain immunity to death effects and share this immunity with invested allies.

-83 new veils. Each is available to at least one of the old classes and one of the new classes, and of course the vizier is among many of them. In the original Akashic Mysteries book, the only thing that somewhat grouped the veils was their descriptors, and perhaps the Daevic’s Passion Veil lists. Here, we have each veil belonging to a thematic list, which range in number from 4 to 10. It is important to mention that the 5 lists that have 10 veils occupy different chakra slots and correspond to each of the five Convergence flavors of the Nexus who, having a normal maximum of ten veils shaped (and bound), could potentially have all the veils from one list shaped and bound at the same time, making specialization in a Convergence possible. Also, some of the favored class bonuses reference these lists. This is design decision I applaud, since it makes choosing veils easier for both players and game masters.

As in Akashic Mysteries, the veils themselves cover a wide variety of effects, from energy attacks, defenses, summons, weapon-like creations, vehicles etc. I found quite a few that wowed me, like Reaper’s Scythe’s positive damage against undead and negative against the living, Duxandu’s Icy Gaze take the idea of giving a cold glare literally, Nymph’s Visage which gives Radiants and Viziers a reason not to dump Charisma (or Daevics and Nexus a reason to take the Shape Veil feat), and the Efreeti’s Scimitar critical effect when bound to the wrists.

There were some weird instances where a veil would be available to a certain class, but in the chakra bind description the class is not mentioned. And in some, ANOTHER class that is not mentioned in the class list of the veil IS mentioned in the chakra bind section. Hyandil’s Flowered Regalia, for example, is available to Guru, Nexus, Radiant and Vizier, but in the chakra bind section, it doesn’t mention Guru and include Daevic instead. At first I thought that maybe the D for daevic suggested the access to the veil via feats, but that would have to be included to all veils for all the classes that get that chakra bind. My best guess is that it’s a typo.

Of Note: Holy sheet of paper Batman! Just when I thought akashic magic went to the right direction of getting away from the alignment flavor of the original Incarnum system, here comes the Nexus and retakes that idea, but well done. The three classes have a very high-magic, distinct feel, and make the idea of an akashic party a reality. And the idea of grouping the veils by theme is just plain awesome!

Anything wrong?: While not bad, the three classes share the capstone of not aging, which takes away a little of the oomph that immunity normally gives. I thoughts that Radiants would get an ability to transfer their HP after reading their description texts and Mind over Matter ability, but if they want to heal they have to use essence and veils I suppose. Some abilities alert my spider-sense(TM), making me feel a bit uncomfortable because of their power level, like the blackhole created when Occultations are destroyed, Halo of Holy Light’s ability when bound to the headband chakra, Cloak of Darkness unlimited shadow conjurations (I don’t remember correctly if you can have more than one conjuration effect at the same time, but if you don’t, I would add this caveat to the ability). Also, tying Convergences to planes is cool, but unless there is a campaign-specific reason to tie the elemental planes to chaos (which sadly remind me of 4th edition “Maelstrom”) or the “underworld” to law, some people might have a problem with that, as will people using different planar cosmologies. That, and the possible typos in the class lists/bound lists of the veils mentioned above.

What I want: I don’t know if there are going to be feats in the final book, but the veil theme lists could/should/must be used beyond favored class bonuses. What about a feat that gives you something for every veil shaped from that list? This would reward a Nexus who shapes veils from their Convergences (maybe Convergences could count as a veil for this purpose?). Also, of course I have to mention it: I WANT CONVERGENCES FOR ALL THE PLANES WITH THEIR ACCOMPANYING 10 VEEEEILS! There, I said it and had to be said LOL. Apart from that, the original triad have a choose-able theme, be it Passion, Philosophy, or Path, so new archetypes were not as much needed as say, new of those options. Eclipses and Radiants, however, would really benefit from some archetypes. When I was reading the book, I kept imagining an Eclipse focused on Occultations or their dark shroud, and a Radiant focused in debuffing through their forced bond.

What cool things did this inspire?: I don’t know why but the Eclipse gives me a strong ninja feel, so a ninja-themed kitsune trickster is a must in my to-play list (or another imperial race, wayang maybe? hey, why do wayangs don’t have a favored class bonus?). Also, a dwarf Radiant NPC for one of those (all really) parties that forget to include a cleric who charges for every single service given LOL (and with their ability score bonuses dwarves make for very good Radiants).

Do I recommend it?: If you have Akashic Mysteries and liked it, then hell yeah! If you don’t, I would suggest buying that product first, get wowed (you will), and then return here. While technically you don’t need that book to use this one, you will lose on all the akashic supporting material like feats and races (and of course veils). Taking into account the pdf only includes the new classes and their veils, and that it doesn’t include all the akashic content of the full book, I consider it an incomplete stand alone, and will rate the existing material with 4.5 Radiant stars, rounded down because of the few things I mentioned before but will round up when they are polished. I hope the publisher adds the remaining content to this pdf when the full book is released but I doubt it; but this is a damned good expansion nonetheless.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
City of 7 Seraphs - Akashic Trinity
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Transcendent 10 - Psionics of Conflict - Zones of Power
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/09/2018 01:07:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

So, Lost Spheres Publishing, back in the day, began with the Transcendent 10-series. While these represent the early works of the company, the company flew under my radar for a long while, so it’s high time we took a look at the series, right? It should be noted that the company has evolved since then – reviews of more current books will hit sites soon as well. But how do these early works hold up against the test of time? Let’s find out!

One thing I really enjoy about this series would be the designer’s commentary that is provided for each respective piece of design – they help a GM and player to properly contextualize the content, which is particularly helpful for folks who don’t have a veteran’s level of system mastery. This pdf was released after Dreamscarred Press had expanded the roster of psionic classes, but before the most current, occult psionic options and classes – as such, it is 100% Ultimate Psionics compatible.

Anyways, this pdf is 8 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 4.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We begin with a definition of the eponymous zones of power: They have a visual display and are indiscriminate. They very palpably emanate from the character in question and they move with the manifester. Now, and this is important, zones do NOT allow for saving throws and, RAW, they ignore power resistance, which sends all my alarm bells into alert-mode. No save and no resistance can be rather brutal. But let’s see how they hold up! The first would be the battlefield manifestation zone, which is available as a 3rd level power for psion/wilder, cryptic, marksman, psychic warrior and tactician. All creatures in this zone except the manifester have cover, and movement is restricted as if by “hindering terrain” – that should be “difficult terrain.” For 2 power points, the zone can be extended by 30 ft., while 1 power point allows for the exclusion of one square, which is cool – but can this square be reassigned? Since the zone can move, this would make sense, but RAW, the hole thus created cannot be reassigned. This is particularly problematic since all the zones sport these two basic augments. There is another augment here, one for 4 power points. This augment makes a move action only amount to 5 ft. (WTF) and makes the zone grant total concealment. Yeah, that is utterly OP and should be handled with a movement penalty and minimum movement instead.

Dimensional interface zone is available for nomad and cryptic as a 6th level power and basically makes the zone behave as a plane, copying its planar traits. The augments have a 5-ft.-square exclusion for 1 power point, +30 ft. radius for 2 power points and for 4, you can extend the duration to 10 min/level. Empathic transfer zone is a 3rd level power for psychic warrior and vitalist (5 power points), 4th level for psion/wilder (7 power points) and 2nd level for dread (3 power points). When you take damage for the first time in a round, roll 1d6 – all targets in the zone take this much damage. The total of this rolled damage is then subtracted from any damage you would take. Broken as all 9 hells. Does someone have a bag of kittens to cheese the hell out of this one? Next.

Energy amplification zone costs 5 power points for psion/wilder and psychic warrior and clocks in as a 3rd level power for them, while kineticists (the psionic ones) can get it as a 2nd level power for 3 power points. Once more, we have the augment for +30 ft., for 5 ft.-square exclusion. The power adds +1d6 to all energy damage of a chosen type. This should specify the energy types available. (What about force, sonic, negative energy? Can it be used to enhance those?); For +2 power points, you can add a second energy or increase the damage by a further +1d6. Not a big fan of the number-escalation here. Lifeforce flare is available as a third level power for psion/wilder, psychic warrior and vitalist. The zone nets a 10 temporary hit points buffer that any creature within can use to decrease damage incurred. The usual shaping augments are included and for +1 power point, you get +10 temporary hit points. Okay, do these replenish each round or not? I like the idea, but the execution is rough.

Necrotic corruption zone is a third level power for psion/wilder, psychic warrior and vitalist, at 5 power point cost, 2nd level for dread at 3 power points cost. It can be shaped with the standard two shape augments for increased emanation radius and 5 ft.-holes. The zone adds +1d6 negative energy damage o each attack, +1 bleed and nets undead fast healing 1. OUCH. For +2 power points, the damage increases by +1d6, for one additional power point, you can increase the bleed incurred by 1.

Probability distortion zone, defensive clocks in at 3rd level for psion/wilder, psychic warrior and tactician, 2nd level for marksman and seer. It nets +1 insight bonus to AC and saves. For 3 power points, this increases by 1. Compared to the other zones, this is pretty weak. Probability distortion zone, hostile clocks in at 3rd level for psion/wilder, psychic warrior and tactician, 2nd level for dread and seer, with power point costs at 5 and 3, respectively. This one is the inverse of the previous zone and instead provides the penalty. Minor nitpick: Penalties in PFRPG are untyped. Probability manipulation zone clocks in at 4th level for cryptic, psion/wilder, psychic warrior, tactician, costing 7 power points. Seers get it as a 3rd level power for 5 power points. This…doesn’t really behave like a zone. Only the manifester has control over it. It nets an immediate action d20 reroll. +2 power points for an additional reroll before it discharges. Odd one.

Finally, warp strike zone clocks in at 3rd level for dread, nomad and psychic warrior, 4th level for the tactician, with 5 and 7 power points as base costs. Okay, this is another zone that needs to die in a fiery blaze. All targets in the zone are treated as eligible for touch attacks by the manifester. I kid you not. The augment for 4 points can even extend that to a 5 ft.-square to get this benefit. Yeah. No. Just no.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting shows, alas, that this is an early work – the later offerings by Lost Spheres Publishing are MUCH better. Bolding isn’t consistent and rules-language in the base chassis has problems. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard with red highlights and the pdf has no artwork apart from the cover.

Yeah, to be honest, this was what I kind of expected from early works in the series. The Transcendent 10-series has positively surprised me with its unique and complex concepts and honest gems that shine through the lack of experience the author had back then. (And rest assured, the new stuff is much more refined!) This extends, to a degree, to this offering. However, unfortunately, the very base engine of the zones is flawed. Moving zones are tricky in PFRPG – I should know, I’ve written a whole class based on the concept and have juggled the concept in more than one of my designs. The zones as defined herein are interesting per se and less problematic than I expected them to be; alas, they sport some seriously problematic exploits and a rather big flaw in the base engine. At the same time, the active zones for manifesters only at the end feel odd, almost like the author had run out of ideas for the base engine. They are, comparably, boring. While I maintain that the concept attempted here is cool and definitely worth pursuing, the execution here, alas, leaves quite a lot to be desired, requiring imho further design-work by the GM to streamline them and make them work properly. As such, my final verdict cannot exceed 2.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Transcendent 10 - Psionics of Conflict - Zones of Power
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Transcendent 10 - Spells of Synergy - Multiclass & Melee
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/05/2018 04:19:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

So, Lost Spheres Publishing, back in the day, began with the Transcendent 10-series. While these represent the early works of the company, the company flew under my radar for a long while, so it’s high time we took a look at the series, right? It should be noted that the company has evolved since then – reviews of more current books will hit sites soon as well. But how do these early works hold up against the test of time? Let’s find out!

One thing I really enjoy about this series would be the designer’s commentary that is provided for each respective piece of design – they help a GM and player to properly contextualize the content, which is particularly helpful for folks who don’t have a veteran’s level of system mastery. The pdf predates the ACG and OA, and as such, I will not complain about a lack of representation of the classes from these books in the spell-lists.

Anyways, this pdf is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1/2 page blank, leaving us with 7.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We begin this pdf with a brief recap of what constitutes a bonded companion for the purpose of this pdf. It should also be noted that, unlike a few of the other entries in the series, the witch-class actually gets some new spell material herein. As before, formatting of spells is missing bolding, but otherwise is pretty tight.

Anyways, let’s move to the spells, the first of which, adduced mastery, clocks in at 2nd level for all classes.This spell lets you touch a ring or item; the caster then can gain a feat of the former owner of that item for the spell’s duration, though he still needs to qualify for it, which is an important measure to prevent abuse. The duration is pretty long and the pdf is smart enough to cover magic item slot-interaction in the context of the pdf. Armament of energy clocks in at 2nd level for all arcane casters apart from alchemist and witch and generates a weapon for which the caster must have proficiency. Attacks executed with the energy weapon substitute the casting ability modifier for Strength and are applied 1.5 if shaped as a two-handed weapon. Here’s the interesting thing: The weapon generates a pool of dice of energy damage chosen from the 4 basic elements (nitpick: It’s electricity damage, not electrical damage) that may be discharged with successful attacks. Now, personally, I think that there ought to be a cap on maximum discharge per hit to prevent nova-crits, for the energy damage multiplies fully, which can result in pretty ridiculous crits. That being said, apart from that, the spell does a lot right and even covers decreased damage die size for sonic damage.

Bond transpossession I is really interesting, in that it allows you to replace a bonded creature with one available from summon monster/nature’s ally, with the type of spell this is based on contingent on the spell list available to the class. This is really cool, at it allows you to have the “right” bonded companion available. It should also be noted that the pdf provides bonus spells for this one – bonded transpossession II – IX. This is important, since the spells, subject to GM approval, can also yield other forms beyond the list, balanced by CR. The follow-up spells properly and appropriately scale this.

Cry of blood can be cast as a swift action and is available for bard, sorc/wiz and cle/oracle. Its components…include 1 round of rage. An ally within earshot under the benefits of a morale bonus you created gains the benefits of rage and potentially rage powers you have and may end a rage-burst thus granted as a free action sans suffering fatigue. Interesting for multiclass characters currently not in rage/the option to cast in rage. Divine echoes is a level 1 spell for bards and the non-nature-themed divine classes and nets the recipients of your morale bonus granting “bard song” (not the proper term) the benefits of sacred bonuses you currently enjoy. It also lets you grant an ally affected smite, though you still have to activate it. Interesting one, though the bonus-sharing can become rather brutal. Eidolonic weapon is available for assassin, blackguard, cle/oracle, sorc/wiz, magus, pala…and wizard? That should be witch. It allows you to draw a weapon you’re proficient with from your eidolon, using its natural attacks as a template to determine its damage.

Sacred savagery is available for antipala, pala and cle/oracle at 2nd spell level and requires one use of channel energy as a component. It allows the character to used the channeled energy to either sustain a limited, morale bonus-granting ability for the duration (which is OP – this should be based on channel dice) or enhance the bonuses. Weird: Here, it is based on channel dice. Sanguine bond clocks in at 2nd level for alchemist, summoner, witch and sorc/wiz, 1st spell level for the ranger. The spell affects the caster and companion and allows the caster to imbibe potions, mutagen and spells and choose to split the duration evenly between caster and companion or have the companion instead be affected. Interesting! Shared instincts clocks in at level for most classes, level 3 for druids, and allows for the sharing of insight bonuses, “precision-based hit and damage bonuses” (what’s the hit bonus here? I know precision damage, but no such bonus exists…) and sneak attack dice (covered under precision, so redundant). This can be really brutal with the right build.

The final spell herein would be trance of divine precision, available for antipala and pala as well as cle/oracle. The spell consumes 1 use of channel energy as a material component. “For the duration

of this spell you add your dice of channeling damage to all critical hits, ranger favored enemy bonuses, and other precision based attacks (such as sneak attack).” Okay, does this mean the NUMBER of channeling dice? Or the actual dice? In the latter case, we have a ridiculous damage escalation in the right hands. The only reason I am not screaming bloody murder here is the multiclass requirement and the fact that casting another spell ends it prematurely. Still, I’d be weary of letting it fall into the hands of a good min-maxer.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are, on a formal level, good if you can look past the formatting convention deviations. On a rules-language level, the pdf attempts highly complex modifications and often succeeds rather admirably in conveying the intent. The verbiage is a bit rough, but considering that this is an early work, it is impressive. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series, is pretty printer-friendly, and we don’t get interior artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Christen N. Sowards’ early design-offerings frankly prove to be much more enjoyable than I thought they would; this Transcendent 10-installment is no different in that regard. There are some genuinely cool ideas and rules-operations here, and while Lost Spheres Publishing’s current releases are much more refined, this already has several components that I’d consider more interesting than whole spell-pdfs of thrice the size. In short, if you can live with the minor rough edges, then this has some creative and interesting design-work that can inspire and provide some cool tricks to develop, tweak, etc. For the low asking price, this is worth taking a look at. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, courtesy of the rough patches and age of the pdf. I will still round up due to in dubio pro reo, though, as this holds up better than it honestly has a right to after all this time. If anything, the Transcendent 10 spell installments are a great way to show what could have been done with spellcasting on a large scale, instead of just substituting a shape and energy type for the oomphteenth fireball clone. I really wish that the ambition and design-paradigms of the series find more traction. If anything, I hope that a few designers out there take a look and think about what spells could be.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Transcendent 10 - Spells of Synergy - Multiclass & Melee
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Transcendent 10 - Spells of Synergy - Elemental Exchanges
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/04/2018 05:47:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

So, Lost Spheres Publishing, back in the day, began with the Transcendent 10-series. While these represent the early works of the company, the company flew under my radar for a long while, so it’s high time we took a look at the series, right? It should be noted that the company has evolved since then – reviews of more current books will hit sites soon as well. But how do these early works hold up against the test of time? Let’s find out!

One thing I really enjoy about this series would be the designer’s commentary that is provided for each respective piece of design – they help a GM and player to properly contextualize the content, which is particularly helpful for folks who don’t have a veteran’s level of system mastery. The pdf predates the ACG and OA, and as such, I will not complain about a lack of representation of the classes from these books in the spell-lists.

Anyways, this pdf is 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 /2 page blank, leaving us with 4.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Now, as before regarding the spell-centric installments of this series, we get an explanation of a core design tenet here, namely elemental balance. This should be no news for experienced players, but we do get a list of the 4 classic elements, with associated energy types and opposed elements and their energy types – so in the unlikely case that you are new to this, you’ll have the concept explained here. Once more witches don’t get these new spells.

All right, the first spell herein would be elemental duality, which clocks in at level 2 for alchemist, magus and sorc/wiz, level 3 for the druid. The spell allocates two opposing elements to two limbs: A limb may not share two such focal points. The caster may then launch energy (2d6, +1d6 for every 4 caster levels after 3rd, up to 5d6) as ranged touch attacks with Medium range , or add this damage to a melee attack executed with the limb chosen as the focus. Casting the spell includes executing an attack, btw. Okay, does this only work for unarmed/natural strikes? Or can it be combined with spellstrike? In the latter case, it represents a bit of an overkill, as far as I’m concerned. Elemental oscillation clocks in at 4th level for druid and summoner, 3rd for sorcerer and wizard and is interesting: You make a ranged touch attack: If you hit, the target suffers 1d6 per levels of the first element chosen, on the subsequent round the same amount from the opposing element. Breaking concentration or line of effect breaking ends this and the spell alternates between the damage types for its duration. This one is interesting: Damage is enough to make it viable, but not too high to make its added flexibility an issue. I like it.

The pdf proceeds to introduce us to Elemental reaction, which exists in two versions: The lesser one clocks in at level 5 for inqui/cle/oracle, 4 for druid/magus/sorc/wizard. It can be cast as an immediate action and allows you to basically copy a hostile (not healing cheesing) spell with an energy descriptor an enemy casts and target the enemy with it. While it specifies that the caster must be in the new area of effect of the spell (and thus covers touch etc.), the spell’s range could be misinterpreted as substituting that of the copied spell. In short, this could be a bit tighter in its rules. The spell can only affect spell levels of 3rd or lower…does that mean that you have to identify the spell being mimicked first or not? I assume no, but that makes casting it a bit of a guessing game. The greater version clocks in at level 9 for cleric/oracle and sorc/wizard, 8 for druids and 6 for magi/inquisitors; it can mimic spells of up to 7th level.

Oppositional echo is 3rd level for sorc/wizard and magus, 4th for the divine casters and is pretty cool: You copy an elemental spell of an allied caster and inverse the elements, targeting the same area/target. Like it! Opposition sheen is available at 4th spell level for cle/oracle, magus and sorc/wizard and represents an immediate action shield that can negate incoming elemental attacks – if you make your CL-check. This is dynamic, not 100% reliable AND also covers supernatural attacks…so yes, it can shield you, theoretically, versus that dragon breath…if you make the CL-check based on HD… I LOVE this. Even cooler, you get a short-lived defensive aura. Two thumbs up for this onne!

Reactive echo cascade clocks in at 9th spell level for the full casters. You copy a hostile elemental spell and rebuttal it with 3 versions of the same spell (!!) that use the other elements and energies. 5th level is, balance-wise, the maximum spell level you can affect thus. Really cool. Shared opposition clocks in at 3rd level for cle/oracle and magus, 2nd for druid and sorc/wiz. It requires a phyiscla bond with another spellcaster and assigns one element to each. Each spellcaster gets a reservoir of 2d6 energy damage dice, +1d6 per round. These may be used to enhance energy damage of the assigned element. Cool cooperative casting boost! Tormiand’s triad clocks in at 4th level for magi and sorc/wizards. This generates basically a triangle that can fire either fire, cold or electricity bolts as ranged touch attacks over 3 rounds, one bolt per round, or blast all of them at first round. Damage caps at 10d6 per bolt. While the spell is in effect, the caster suffers a penalty to Dex as well as minor energy resistance, depending on energy left. Interesting one. Tormiand’s tetrastrike would be the 6th level upgrade for the spell, instead covering all 4 base energy types and capping at 15d6 maximum damage per bolt.

The pdf also includes two new feats: Oppositional Might nets +1 DC when alternating between opposing elements with powers etc. Elemental Breach makes a target you hit with a melee attack that deals energy damage suffer a short-lived, minor penalty to saves versus that energy. Both feats are functional, but their rules-language could be tighter. It’s energy damage, not elemental damage, for example.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay – bolding, italicization and the like hasn't been implemented in a truly concise manner and there are a couple of instances where minor aspects or the rules-language are a bit wonky. However, at the same time, the pdf manages to get complex and difficult concepts represented in a tight manner, so yeah – flaws in the details, but the ambitious big picture stands., The pdf adheres to a 2-column full-color standard, has no interior artwork and no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Christen N. Sowards’ humble little book of elementalism spells is actually rather interesting and holds up pretty well. While not all spells are perfect, I found myself genuinely excited about some of them, and considering the amount of spells I’ve read, that means something. The formatting shortcomings are a tad bit grating, though. Still, while a bit rough around the edges, and while the bonus feats are somewhat sucky, this is still worth checking out. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Transcendent 10 - Spells of Synergy - Elemental Exchanges
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Transcendent 10 - Spells of Synergy - Magical Interactions
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/29/2018 04:52:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

So, Lost Spheres Publishing, back in the day, began with the Transcendent 10-series. While these represent the early works of the company, the company flew under my radar for a long while, so it’s high time we took a look at the series, right? It should be noted that the company has evolved since then – reviews of more current books will hit sites soon as well. But how do these early works hold up against the test of time? Let’s find out!

One thing I really enjoy about this series would be the designer’s commentary that is provided for each respective piece of design – they help a GM and player to properly contextualize the content, which is particularly helpful for folks who don’t have a veteran’s level of system mastery. The pdf predates the ACG and OA, and as such, I will not complain about a lack of representation of the classes from these books in the spell-lists.

Anyways, this pdf is 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 /2 page blank, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, we begin with a couple of rules-addendums for the purpose of this pdf regarding spellcasting. The book introduces a so-called “Source” – this is basically the type of magic and may include divine, arcane, etc.; The pdf mentions other sources as well, a few of which I haven’t seen so far. Not sure we needed that term. “Flow” denotes whether a spellcaster’s casting is spontaneous or prepared. Considering the evolution of the game, this dichotomy may not hold up so well in all circumstances. It also begs the question where e.g. spontaneous conversion and the like fit in here. This can be somewhat problematic once we evolve to the concept of “counterflow” – this denotes sharing a source, but not a flow: E.g. spontaneous vs. prepared arcane spellcasters.

The pdf then goes on to introduce the [Dual-Souled] subtype, which denotes a acreature bound to the life-force of another creature. This nets a +2 racial bonus to saves versus necromancy spells (but RAW, not versus such effects) and the creature may be considered its original type and that of the bound soul’s form. All right, that is fine and dandy…but how does this interact with spells and effects that have different benefits, based on type? Let’s say Xailaius the elf is dual-souled with an orc and ventures into a desolate battlefield of yore that buffs orcs and debuffs elves, what happens? The better result, the worse, both? This needs some clarification. When failing a save versus a death effect, dual-souled creatures can opt to lose the subtype instead of dying, acting as a failsafe extra life of sorts.

Okay, we’ll begin with three bond of magic spells. The lesser one has a Close range and ties two allied spellcasters together; it is cast as a swift action and clocks in at level 1. Both caster and ally may only cast with the permission of the other character, but gain +1 to CL checks. If a partner expends a standard action, the ally instead gains +2 to CL-checks and +1 to the DC of spells cast that round. The greater version targets 1 + 1/per 3 caster levels targets instead and clocks in at 5th level. Also at 5th level, we get the parasitic bond of magic, which only targets one creature, but lets the caster compel the target to grant this boost. Such a compelled boost does allow for a second save, though. I have a few issues with these spells. They should imho only be able to target allies. Otherwise, it’s save or suck for enemy casters – and mutual lockdown isn’t fun for the player of the caster either. The parasitic bond makes for a cool take on the master/apprentice-concept regarding black arts, but the compelling of boost should be classified as an enchantment (compulsion) effect to properly account for immunities/interactions. This would be as well a place as any to note that, strangely, none of the spells herein are available for the witch.

Counterflow negation targets another caster with the other spellcasting tradition and has a Close range, a Will save to negate and clocks in at 3rd level. It results in a mutual lockdown of casters. Inverse consumption clocks in at 5th level and is a 10-minute ritual that is permanent and targets 2 counterflow spellcasters, one of which must be disabled or dying. (Considering the casting time, dying is unlikely.) Upon completion, the disabled or dying caster perishes (and may not be brought back by any means) and the survivor gets the dual-souled subtype. The survivor also gets spells added from the deceased caster, but the rules-language here is slightly wonky – functional, mind you, but yeah. Interesting: Casting this multiple times is an evil act, as stuffing too many souls into you is really bad news for all souls. I am a bit confused whether this means that you could become triple-souled, or whether the benefits of subsequent castings only apply to spells gained. While the spell is permanent, I am also not sure if losing the Dual-Souled subtype ends the spell or not. If so, are the spells retained? Can the character cast it again without it being evil?

Mystic rebirth clocks in at 5th level for druids, 6th for inquis and oracles and also has a 10 minutes casting time. It can only be cast once on a creature and basically is an instant retrain from prepared to spontaneous caster and vice-versa – wizards become sorcerers, clerics become oracles, etc. Now I get the intent here, but the spell does not allow for attribute re-assignment, which means that the new class will probably suck. It also reduces these classes to spellcasting, which can be an issue. Where do you get a bloodline from? Oracles don’t have to have their deity’s alignment, having the option to be unwilling prophets, etc. Not a fan.

There also are two Zenith surge spells, with the lesser clocking in at level 5. This one targets a prepared spellcaster and allows them to change a prepared spell of 4th level or lower to cast a known spell of the same level or lower from the spell-list. The greater version is, oddly, available for oracle and sorcerer 8 as well as bard 8. Did I miss something there? ;) Anyways, it pretty much works like the lesser version, but goes up to spell level 7. I do like the exclusivity of these spells for sorcs and oracles, but as a whole, I don’t think prepared casters needed the flexibility these offer.

Finally, there would be the lesser and greater inverse versions of these, for prepared casters only, he 5th and 8th level Zenith web spells. These allow spontaneous casters to mimic spells successfully observed via Spellcraft (not capitalized properly), provided they show up on their spell list, by expending an appropriate spell slot. Thresholds are 4th and 7th spell-level, respectively.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level are okay; on a rules-language level, the pdf manages to depict complex concepts, but suffers from the base chassis not being perfect. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has no interior artwork apart from the cover. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Christen N. Sowards’ Transcendent 10-series had surprised me with how well it held up to the test of time; this can, alas, not be said about this pdf. The base concepts used by the spells are per se interesting, but can become problematic with the spellcasting modifications that have been released since the pdf’s release. Additionally, the spells, while not bad per se, have a few rough edges that make them less appealing, with quite a few of them boiling down to cheesy mutual casting lockdowns. Unlike the other T10-files I’ve covered so far, I did not find myself liking any of the spells herein particularly. There is some potential here, but the implementation of the spells requires more work than what I’d expect. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Transcendent 10 - Spells of Synergy - Magical Interactions
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