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Spheres of Power: Hero Lab Files
by Carl A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/30/2017 10:28:45

These are really helpful if you use Hero Lab. Selecting the various Spheres of Power, making sure any bonuses are respected, etc is really useful.

For example, a 20th level Elementalist counts as a 15ht level caster for most Spheres. But for the Destruction Sphere they'd count as 20th level, which affects the damage they do, their Save DC, their range, etc. After the last update (make sure you read the README included so you set the Source correctly to get these updates) that difference in casting levels is correct, with the exception of range. Since that is only listed on the general Spheres tab, it won't list the proper close, medium, and long ranges for Spheres where the caster has a higher level. If they were included on each tab, as save DC is, this wouldn't be a problem anymore, but is a very minor issue.

If you use HL and SoP, this is a must-have.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spheres of Power: Hero Lab Files
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Spheres Apocrypha: Destruction Talents
by Kevin T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/19/2017 05:33:25

I love seeing more talents for Spheres of Power! What's next?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spheres Apocrypha: Destruction Talents
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The Vivomancer's Handbook
by James E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/15/2017 20:36:51

Disclaimer: I backed the Patreon campaign creating these supplements, and paid the full price for this product.

All right! We're more than halfway through the Sphere expansions, and here we get to an interesting one - Life. Healing is tricky, since you don't want it to be so good that enemies aren't a threat, but you also don't want it to be so weak that it's not worth taking at all.

The book opens with new class options, including a healing-based Alchemist, a healing-based Ranger, a hea- look, you get the idea. There are also options for the Barbarian/UC Barbarian, Druid, and Soul Weaver as archetypes, plus class options for the Armorist, Incanter, Mageknight, Monk, Rogue, UC Rogue, Slayer, and Witch.

From there, we get to the new talents for the book. Aside from the usual selection of new generic talents (for example, you can add a Life Sphere ability to attacks - hi, undead slayers), the Vivomancer's Handbook adds Vitality talents, which can be used to add effects when Life talents are used. For an example, the first Vitality option presented gives a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls. Vitality benefits have a hard limit - either one minute or until they fail a saving throw or get hit by an attack, whichever comes first. Still, the ability to buff someone while healing them is pretty nice, and any Full Caster healers are likely to take at least one talent.

True to form for the Handbooks, we also get a few new Advanced Talents. These include a massive boost to life force, a guarantee of bringing creatures above 0 HP, and the ability to temporarily have a creature ascend to a better version of itself.

Heading through, we have a few more minor options, and then we get to the Feats. A new type of feat is introduced here - Anathema feats, which are based around a feat of the same name and require Channel Energy, Fervor, or Lay on Hands. Anathema is an aggressive ability that essentially turns the healing power into a damaging ray - and while this isn't so different from the Destruction Sphere, it doesn't actually run off of Spherecasting at all. This makes it easy to integrate into a non-Spheres game - or, for classes with weaker casting (hi, Paladins), to essentially give them 'full' damage progression.

The book finishes off with new traits, new drawbacks, new equipment, and various other minor options. The actual close is a guide for playing a Life-oriented character, much like we've seen in a few previous Handbooks.

All-in-all, this is a solid release. Healing may not be quite as flashy or fun as things like Destruction, but author Andrew Gibson (and contributors Amber Underwood, Derfael Oliveira, and Trevor Stevens) did an excellent job making Healers more fun and flexible. I wouldn't go as far as saying this book is needed for a Spheres game, but if someone wants to play a healer, it's definitely worth getting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Vivomancer's Handbook
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Spheres of Might
by James E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/15/2017 13:08:12

Disclaimer: I backed the Kickstarter campaign for this product and paid for a digital copy, a hard copy, and Hero Lab files. At the time of this review, only the digital copy was released, so that is the only thing this review will consider.

After less time than I expected, it's here - the martial companion to the much-loved Spheres of Power book, whose main tome and later expansions I've been reviewing.

Much like its predecessor, the main goal of Spheres of Might is to replace a system in the game (in this case, martial combat) with something more flexible and fun than trading full attacks with foes. Despite that, it's not necessary for everyone at the table to be using it - there are few truly new mechanics introduced, so it's easy to incorporate both into any given game.

The martial talents presented in this book fall into two categories. Basic talents have no prerequisites and are pretty much all extraordinary abilities, making them suitable for just about any game. Legendary abilities are more supernatural and fantastic in nature, and are only available with GM permission. (This is NOT the same setup as Spheres of Power's Advanced Talents system. Advanced Talents can be game-changing. Legendary Talents, on the martial side, are still broadly within the range of what a character could normally do in Pathfinder. Admittedly, some effects were largely caster-only before, but that's really not a problem here.)

After an introduction that provides some flavor and discusses the goal of the book, the tome moves on to introducing the combat spheres. Like the magical spheres, characters are divided into three progressions: Expert (Full), Adept (Medium), and Proficient (Low). Immediately following this is a conversion table for non-SoM classes, allowing them to exchange certain feats for combat talent progression. In addition, 4th-level/Low Casters can trade their casting for Proficient progression, while 6th-level/Mid Casters can exchange their spells for Adept progression. Full casters cannot exchange their spells (and honestly, that's probably for the best, because they usually have low BAB and wouldn't get much value from this system anyway.)

What this book doesn't have is gish/hybrid classes or options. Those are set to appear in a different book, and aren't part of the core rules here.

Following this, we get to the new terminology. Among the new things introduced is Martial Focus, which will be familiar to people who've used Psionics. Essentially, martial focus is something you can expend to activate certain abilities, or to Take 13 (not 10) on a Fortitude or Reflex saving throw. Some abilities also require you to have it 'on', so it serves as something of a limiter to stop characters from doing too many things at once.

The last bit of the introduction covers some clarifications on rules (including double-barreled weapons, improvised weapons, unarmed attacks, and so forth).

After all of that, we finally get to character creation. The most important part of this is the Martial Tradition, an explanation of how and where a character learned to fight. The book encourages limiting traditions to particular groups as a way of emphasizing their flavor and differences, but that's not actually required.

Martial traditions aren't nearly as optional as casting traditions in Spheres of Power - the new classes expect you to take them, and guidelines for converting non-SoM classes are included. Broadly speaking, though, each tradition offers four talents worth of benefits: Two from the Equipment sphere, a base sphere (or choice between two base spheres), and one additional thematic talent. Simple rules for creating new traditions are included, but mostly come down to "don't focus too much in anything besides Equipment, and don't do solely offense or defense".

Following this is a long list of new traditions, from Animal Trainers to Courtesans to Gladiators. It's a thorough list, and looks like it covers most base concepts.

Next up, we have the classes. These include the Armiger (Full BAB/Low Progression, but gets bonus talents on customized weapons they can rapidly swap between), the Blacksmith (Full BAB/High Progression, improves the party's gear while hitting foes pretty hard), the Commander (Mid BAB/Mid Progression, best for directing and buffing allies), the Conscript (Full BAB/High Progression, effectively Spheres of Might's Incanter in that it's less a class and more a build-your-own-warrior thanks to tons of extra feats and talents), the Scholar (Low BAB/Low Progression, focused around making and using a variety of substances and traps), the Sentinel (Full BAB/High Progression, very much a walking tank who can endure things), the Striker (Full BAB/High Progression, a mobile, risk-taking combatant), and the Technician (Mid BAB/Mid Progression, creates gadgets and inventions, including independent minions).

After this, we get a nice set of archetypes, both for the new classes and many of Paizo's releases. Note that the Archetypes for Paizo's classes are all quite distinct, rather than being pre-made versions of the conversions listed above.

Finally, we get to the Spheres themselves. Much like Spheres of Power, each of the spheres here is focused around a particular concept, such as Alchemy, rapid-fire Barrages, Boxing, or the use of Traps. There are 23 spheres provided - although the Equipment sphere is a little different in that it's mainly a collection of proficiencies. That's not to suggest there's no other value in it, though, because its non-Discipline options can be beneficial for many different character concepts.

One key point to note here: Some Spheres are extremely similar to feats. These are specifically called out, and compatibility is built into the system. You can always take an associated talent instead of the feat (if, say, you got the feat as a bonus from your class), and having the talent counts as having the feat. That's a nice - and important! - touch.

The Legendary (supernatural/magical) talents follow the normal ones, split into their own section to make it easy for a GM to add or remove them from a game. Since many of these have prerequisites - some as high as 20th level - they're not likely to see much use early on.

The rest of the book focuses on the standard extra options for a new system - feats, traits, favored class bonuses, drawbacks, and new pieces of equipment are all included. There's also a GM toolbox (with suggestions for cinematic combat, monster-exclusive talents, example monsters from CR 1 to CR 21, and sample characters if you want to dive right into playing with them.

Starfinder fans get a special treat at the end of the book, with a conversion section meant to work in tandem with the SFCRB's Legacy Conversion chapter.

All in all, I'm extremely happy with this book, and I'm looking forward to a full playtest run. Martial characters just got significantly more interesting - so if your old Fighter is starting to feel a little stale, it might just be time to dive in and try something new. This gets a full 5 stars from me, and I'm eagerly awaiting my physical copy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spheres of Might
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Spheres of Might
by Derfael O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/15/2017 11:41:06

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spheres of Might
by Talore V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/13/2017 20:09:45

Do you want to make a martial character that does something other than full attacking? Do you want easy access to unique and memorable abilities for both allies and enemies? Do you like fun? If you answered yes to any of these, Spheres of Might is worth your time.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spheres of Might
by Trent H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/12/2017 10:48:08

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



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wizard's Academy
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/22/2017 05:48:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, this massive module & bestiary clock in at 214 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a whopping219 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Wait, before we dive into the module: If you are only interested in the bestiary section, which takes up 124 pages of the pdf, you should know that it is available as a stand-alone file, as "Fantastical Creatures and How to Survive Them - A Student's Guide for Adventure & Study." If you want to know about these creatures and what I think about them, please consult my review of that tome - the combined reviews should provide the information you need for an informed decision.

The next thing you need to know before we get into the nit and grit of this module would be that this is very much a highly modular book: This is reflected in the villain choice, who is randomly determined for massive replay value. Adding further to that would be the tiers: The book features color-coded boxes for 5 tiers and different objectives for players, depending on the raw power-level:

Tier encompasses levels 1-4; tier 2covers levels 5 - 8; tier 3 levels 9 - 12, tier 4 levels 12 - 16 and tier 5 levels 17 - 20. So yeah, you may run this module in a wildly different way, multiple times, if you're so inclined. It should also be noted, in case you're not aware of that, that this module makes ample use of the Spheres of Power system.

All right, and this is as far as I can go without diving into SPOILER-territory. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! Windfell Academy is situated on the world of Skybourne and can relatively easily be used in any world that has a sufficiently prominent and organized magic tradition - as such, it fits best with high fantasy worlds. But the academy is different from regular schools: One look at the stats for the professors should make clear that this is quite probably THE wizard's academy of the world. They pretty much almost all clock in at epic CR 20s, with the headmaster transcending even their mighty powers. The academy circles the planet atop a massive, floating island...and it specializes in secondary education, which, yes, means that this place is for the pros. As such student disappearances are not really uncommon - but lately, they have been happening more often...and a month ago, none other than the headmaster has vanished!!

The deputy headmaster, the tiny gnome archmage Tocs has vowed to keep the school open...but the headmaster needs to be found...and it is quite likely that the PCs, enrolled as students, will have all of their hands full with the rigorous studying required - here, the module is somewhat reminiscent of Persona, in that tiredness, end of the week tests, classes and adventuring have to be managed by the party. A teacher will be designated ally, one villain, and this constellation influences directly the read-aloud text and respective interaction that the various events that are interspersed throughout the module's day-to-day-routine. These events also include tests of various types of prowess and may yield information, magical items, etc.

The module also allows for the gathering of rumors, provided your time-management skills are up to par, and a small cadre of supporting cast characters, no less colorful than the amazing Profs, makes for a nice help. Speaking of them: Beyond the stat-information provided in the bestiary section, the respective professor entries sport the villain clues...and in e.g. the tier 5 scenarios, they have the Great Ally - a vastly powerful wildcard that makes their threat even more potent. Better yet, the colorful and intriguing Professors, amazing characters one and all, feature valid justifications for being both allies, villains or neutral parties - the module manages to retain its internal logic in all of the characters. Impressive indeed!

The academy, just fyi, covers no less than 4 floors and 2 dungeon levels (all featured on player-friendly maps denoting the respective areas - for they ARE the regular spaces of the academy) - and now that the basic set-up of the plotline has been customized, the adventuring can begin...though it should be noted that the surrounding landscape is also properly mapped...and that is not even the primary adventuring locale, for there are levels of secret dungeons under the academy - abandoned, at least seemingly, and teeming with dangerous threats, powerful foes and highly modular challenges. the dungeon-levels are massive, their effects are creative and diverse...and with rooms like vampire kitchens, abomination fighting arenas and the like, are certain to remain with the players long after the module is done.

Now here is the truly amazing aspect of the respective modularity: Each of the professors has his/her own lair - a final mini-dungeon, if you will - and these are fully mapped in gorgeous full-color as well - and yes, they are befitting of the respective personality! From caverns with underground rivers to floating castles, mighty workshops and the like, the respective boss lair-mini-dungeons are highly hackable and easy to use as stand-alone, smaller dungeons.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious accumulation of hiccups. Layout adheres to a nice 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf sports solid, sketchbook-like artworks, which in particular make the bestiary section really feel like a field guide - it is an acquired taste, though, and will not sit 100% well with everyone. The cartography in full-color is excellent, though I do wish we got key-less versions to hand out to players slowly and in pieces...or VTT-maps, something like that - particularly since quite a bunch of the maps are really, really nice. This constitutes my own serious complaint against this pdf.

Adam Meyers, with Andrew Stoeckle, Derfael Oliveira, Michael Uhland, Douglas Schaub, John Little and Casey Hayes, has created a massive, extremely modular adventure/ supplement that really surprised me.

Why? Because I really, really hate Harry Potter. I am not the biggest fan of the magic school trope. But this one is amazing - it is bonkers, creative and the unique professors and personalities are thoroughly captivating. The schedule and time management issues, the modularity - all of these potentially enhance the value of this book...oh, and as a bonus, it manages to feel a bit like playing a Persona game. Heck, I bet I could easily craft a whole campaign against the backdrop of this module and its evocative academy - add characters, students, etc. and there you go! Additional dungeons and materials are similarly easily sprinkled in, blending to a degree the boundaries between module and campaign setting. Particularly as a high-level module, when you get to use the cool NPCs and high-level threats, this really shines.

In short: This is well worth getting! The colorful NPCs and creative monsters and the modular set-up make this a really interesting offering that has plenty to offer beyond the plotline it features. In short: I really love this. If you're using Spheres of Power, then this is pretty much a no-brainer-purchase...and even if you don't, this may be worth it for scavenging-purposes. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, with only the lack of player-friendly maps costing this my seal of approval. Well worth checking out!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wizard's Academy
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Fantastical Creatures & How to Survive Them: A Student's Guide for Adventure and Study
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/22/2017 05:45:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive bestiary clocks in at 130 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page blank, 1 page back cover, leaving us with no less than 124 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this supplement, true to its premise, with an in-character introduction - this book is very much crafted as a kind of field notebook of creatures, with prose featured as a framing device and Winterlynn Graysun, graduate of Windfell Academy, as the narrative voice framing the content herein.

Which brings me to something to bear in mind: This bestiary is actually included in the massive "Wizard's Academy"-adventure, also released by Drop Dead Studios. If you want to get the adventure, skip this book - its contents are included in the module! This stand-alone file is provided, properly designated, for all those of you who are interested in these critters, but not the adventure.

If I have not dropped the ball big time, you should see this and the adventure-review hit sites at the same time, so make sure to check out the adventure-review as well to make an informed decision!

Now the next thing you need to know is that this bestiary makes ample use of the Spheres of Power-rules. While usable without them in a somewhat restricted manner, to get all out of this, you need that book. D'unh. I know. It's like saying "Beware, the psionics bestiary requires psionics!" - Still, if I don't say such things in the preface, someone is bound to complain.

All right, that out of the way, the creatures herein range, CR-wise, from a lowly CR 1/4 all the way up to an impressive CR 25, with particularly the higher levels sporting quite a few nasty adversaries - due to the adventure being highly modular and the bosses...well being plentiful.

But let us get back to the matter at hand, namely the framing device of the narrator, which does a rather nice job at rendering this book a better read than you'd honestly expect it to be - it does not read like simple a massive collection of stats, which, to me, is a big plus. The first array of creatures herein deals with the wonderfully twisted abominations, failed, dangerous experiments of the academy's experiments: In this section, we find the mighty, alteration-sphere using dragon horror, which can use it to grant itself lethal enhancements to its already potent physical attacks.

Abominations are indeed interesting creatures - horror #9, for example, is significantly more tactical than you'd expect - it can eat foes, sure - but it is immune to two of the physical damage types: Damage from one of these types causes it to split! And yes, we actually do get stats for the smaller, split versions. I really like this callback to old-school gaming and splitting foes. Horror #17, a plant-like golem-thing with access to both plant and dark spheres makes for another dangerous foe...but it pales before...Mr. Mouth!

Perfect example of "wizards doing horrible things", it is a mindless, ever-hungry thing of mouths, an aberrant, lunging, roughly humanoid mouth-thing. In spite of the sketch-like artwork...this thing is seriously creepy! On the celestial side, we are introduced to the avenger archon in various statblock iterations as well as the choir and herald angel variant with their potent sound-abilities. The virtuous, caring counterpart to the succubae, the caring primary also makes for an angel that seriously should probably have been made much sooner - and the wife of Gideon makes for a cool high-level variant of said being. Speaking of angels - yep, there is a version of the solar here. Yes, he will END you.

While we're at the subject of "end" - the book does cover a nice version of the psychopomp and adds some seriously nice lore via the meta-narrative here. Did you know that it makes a difference if they come with hoods raised or lowered? From here, we move towards the construct chapter, where we are introduced to the colossus subtype, which is defined, among others, by being REALLY BIG...and by having an elemental soul. No less than three variants of Mark I are provided (CR 7, 10 and 15), while the smaller, spider-like Mark II can alter its physical composition...and then there is Mark V. CR 24, dubbed "God-killer" it has cannon-fingers, is very, very strong...and outside of combat it brews a mean cup of tea and is fond of riddles...yeah. Did not see that coming, did you? I told you the pdf's creatures gain a lot by the well-written prose!

There also are cyborgs, though these do not use the Technology Guide rules, instead using the spheres system to represent their abilities. The book also contains a selection of synthetic lifeforms. Experimental golems made of shadow, telekinetic force or raw magic can also be found...but weirder would be time toys. Which self-replicate, ostensibly by stealing time!

The book also covers fey, providing takes on leprechauns (in 3 variants), nymphs (in 5 variants - including star nymphs!!), 6 satyr variants (including the NASTY demi-god satyr-king)...and the book does feature an array of different infernals as well, ranging from the nightmare-themed alp to variant cambions to corrupters, dealmakers, imps, the mighty Cr 19 merchants of hell, CR 23 Charon...and succubae - including some interesting notes on the nature of incubi.

In the section on magical beasts, we learn about echo bats, the GIM (Giant Invisible Mantis), unicorns and the planar-fabric manipulating warp spiders. Among the monstrous humanoids, we can find embodiments of the ID and the merps (heads with arms sticking out and nasty magical might), which are presented in a wide variety of power-levels.

At CR 20, the mighty bodhisattva comes with unique talents and a magic item associated with these semi-divine native outsiders, and two oni, 2 rakshasa, 2 yaksha and 2 yaoguai complement the exotic array of these folks.

Among the plants, things get weird - with clockwork vines that work not unlike machinery...and something that made me laugh incredibly hard. The Gazebo. (If you're not familiar with why this is hilarious, google it - it's a classic in-joke of roleplaying games...) The book also contains variants of guardian plants, the disturbing venus fisher (talking about nightmare-fuel there...)...that plant is NASTY. And it's smart.

On the undead-side, we get death knights and 3 variants of draugr...oh, and there is Janus, god of portals. CR 25. Don't mess with him. We also get variants of skeletal students...and from there, we move on to the mighty teachers of Windfell Academy.

They are worthy of being big bosses, one and all, and come with detailed notes. These guys include a lich in charge of healing and necromancy (who also tried to take over the world once, but that's long past...). Professor Clik, a clockwork automaton, claims she built herself...and she is no less powerful than the mighty lich. Oh, and yes, these guys and gals have unique artifacts and tricks galore up their sleeves.. There also would be a mighty black unicorn professor...and Fexmet. Professor fexmet is a ferret and was once a wizard's pet. It's a frickin' CR 20 ferret. The caretaker of the academy would btw. be Geemet, the goblin unchained rogue (including a living, intelligent dagger). The headmaster was once the hierophant druid...of the whole world. Professor Meeda would be the teacher of shapeshifting and battlemagic, and hence, her artwork depicts her as a winged, 4-armed reptilian. She also is LG. Oh, and there would be Savesha - a reformed succubus, who has managed to actually change her own TYPE. Yeah, she is one amazing character - and the presentation of her as a strong female character, all sans resorting to the seduction-trope, is pretty nice to see! There also would be a Tiny, venerable gnome Toc (don't ask about either height or age...) and professor windjina. A weremantis - and perhaps a former queen...and she is pretty much dangerous...the inverse of the reformed succubus, if you will.

The book closes with a list of universal monster rules and a handy appendix that groups the statblocks by CR.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no undue hiccups or issues. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard with a blend of sketch-like pencil-style drawings that actually first felt a bit jarring, but grew on me fast - the illusion of a field guide is enhanced by teh style. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, with detailed, nested bookmarks.

Adam Meyers, with contributions from Andrew Stoeckle, Derfael Oliveira, Michael Uhland, Douglas Schaub, John Little and Casey Hayes, has created a bestiary that is much, much better than I hoped it would be. I expected this to be basically: "Let's convert critters to Spheres of power-the bestiary". It is so much more than that.

While there are conversions in this book that cover the basics, this stands out due to two things: 1) The unique creatures are absolutely amazing and evocative. 2) The book is a joy to read due to the framing device employed. I really had fun dissecting this tome of critters and more than once, I was inspired by the commentary. Oh, and the staff of the wizard's academy is inspired indeed. High-powered, mighty and creative, they are amazing, cool NPCs that ooze creativity and flavor. What more can you ask from a book like this? It should also be noted that the dangerous, whimsical and at the same time distinctly far-out nature of a Wizard's Academy is perfectly encompassed by the mighty NPCs herein - better than in pretty much any supplement on the subject matter I've read.

This is well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval and every campaign using Spheres of Power should at the very least get this bestiary, even if you don't want to run the module.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantastical Creatures & How to Survive Them: A Student's Guide for Adventure and Study
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The Shapeshifter's Handbook
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/08/2017 04:43:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Spheres of Power-expansion handbooks clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 37 pages of content, so let's take a look!

After a brief introduction to the matter at hand, we begin with a new Monk archetype (compatible with unchained monks as well), the Beastsoul Monk, who gains Transformation instead of the usual level 1 bonus feat. (This would btw. be a feat that nets you access to a no-spell point cost alternate form). Starting at 2nd level, Hybrid Transformation and Improved Transformation are added to the bonus feats available. Transformation may be chosen multiple times, with each feat granting a new form. The archetype may employ natural attacks while flurrying, gaining Str-mod to damage with them while flurrying, but the monk loses the increased unarmed strike damage. The archetype may choose from a number of monk abilities and instead gain the Alteration sphere - to nitpick: The reference to the standard monk refers to these as ki powers, which is inaccurate. Unchained monks lose all ki powers in favor of the sphere. The archetype is a low caster, using ki instead of spell points and CLs don't stack with Advanced Magical Training (not properly capitalized).

The second archetype would be the experimentalist thaumaturge, who gains the ability to generate casting attribute modifier vials, so-called alchemical boosts, which may be drawn and consumed as a standard action, granting temporary boosts to sphere-based casting, with the bonus scaling over the levels., but each time the boost is used, the character has a percentile chance of being nauseated. Additionally, such a boost nets the benefits of an Alteration sphere trait known, which are increased in increments of 5 levels. This allows for synergy with shapeshift and the benefits may thankfully not be stacked. This replaces forbidden lore. 2nd level yields the option to preserve and consume the remnants of dead creatures, allowing for either the disguise as the creature or mimicking of its abilities - by choosing an appropriate sphere talent. This is pretty much wide open and would really have needed imho a table of sample correlations between critters and sphere talents - could e.g. a creature with lunge grant the thaumaturge pounce? Am I missing something? Both are options of Bestial Reflexes, after all...The maximum cap of samples that may be preserved is increased at 6th level and every 4 thereafter and a handy sidebar allows for alternate dressing for anyone not comfortable with the potentially cannibalistic implications of the option. The archetype, unsurprisingly, gets the Alteration sphere with either Lycanthropic or Fleshwarper as drawback and 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter net alchemist discoveries instead of invocations. Instead of bonus feats, they gain the option to choose sneak attack instead of an alchemist discovery.

The protean shifter gains the Alteration sphere and the Beast Soul drawback with Anarchic Transformation, which is gained as normal. This modifies shapeshifter and the archetype gains breadth of form, which lets you, as a standard action, grant yourself an Alteration sphere talent you did not have, provided you meet the prerequisites. This lasts only temporarily and thankfully has a hard daily cap of 3 + 1/2 class level uses per day. Multiple uses do not stack and 5th level yields 2 talents, or the option to select one as a move action. The action economy improves throughout the levels, at 9th and 17th level, with 13th level increasing this all to 3 talents. Instead of endurance, 3rd level nets quick transformation. This is pretty wide-open and potent - not an option I'd allow in a gritty game, but suitable for most.

The second shifter archetype herein would be the warshifter, who gains the Lycanthropic drawback in conjunction with the Alteration sphere. They add Acrobatics to their class skills gain access to 3 maneuvers from Broken Blade, Primal Fury and Thrashing Dragon and has 3 maneuvers readied at first level, 1 stance and increases that to 15 maneuvers known, 7 readied, up to 5 stances and maximum maneuver-level of 6th. This replaces the transformation-tree of abilities and bestial traits. Yes, you read right - this is a Path of War/Spheres of Power-crossover archetype. Personally, I think the systems don't blend too well and the archetype uses two of my least favorite disciplines, but your mileage may vary.

The Resizer mageknight archetype loses medium armor proficiency (which is not bolded properly) and gains Size Change of the Alteration sphere, treating class level as CL, lasting for 2 rounds + 1 per level - and the resizer may choose to reduce the number of traits gained from shapeshift to retain use of the ability while subjected to it. This replaces 1st level's magic talent. At 11th level, this may be used as a swift action sans paying spell points and may be used at the cost of one spell point as an immediate action, replacing mystic defense.

2nd level lets the character ignore size penalties when changing sizes and is treated as mystic combat, but replaces it. 7th level nets permanent size changes. 15th level nets further size increases, allowing the character, with the right talent, to become gargantuan, with the right advanced talent even Fine or Colossal, replacing draw power. The mystic combat options net you grab and allow you to beat foes to pulp with their buddies, which is pretty cool and generally concisely-presented. I am not sold on this one: Size increases can be incredibly potent and the lack of costs at high levels and ridiculous sizes can be pretty problematic in some games, particularly sans the penalties. Not in all games, mind you, and I can see this work well for some campaigns, but it is an archetype that requires some serious GM-oversight and player mastery.

We do gain 3 arsenal tricks that tie in with the new wild fang property, summon morphic weapons as Grafted ones, and add wild (see SoP) to summoned armor and shields. 8 bestial traits cover temperature adaption, better spider climbing, grab, grafted weapons, better jumping...and Leaping Attack,. which is OP: Jump as part of a charge - if you clear the target's height (which is NO issue, considering how far you can boost such checks...), you treat it as flat-footed and increase threat range - worse, the threat-range increase stacks, which is a violation of how such things usually happen. I'd strongly suggest banning this. Shaping limbs into weapons and growing spines are neat tricks.

Graft Weapon is also available as a Mystic Combat option and we get better grappling, silvered weapons (and spell point auto-crit confirming versus polymorphed creatures, which BEGS to be abused to smithereens...) as well as the option to cancel out shapechanging via spell point empowered attacks.

The third chapter is massive and includes a ton of really versatile Alteration sphere talents - Aberrant Body, for example, unlocks acid spit, flanking immunity, an aboleth's mucus cloud (airborne, potentially choking foes - though thankfully, that can be offset by cleaning the mucus!) and roper strands. Aerial Agility unlocks Hovering, improved maneuverability and wingover as options. Agile Transformation nets +2 dodge bonus (Notes stacking with other dodge bonuses - which is redundant; dodge bonuses stack with each other.), Evasion (not italicized, which it should be in this context), +4 initiative (ouch) and uncanny dodge (improved if you already have it). That's, again, one talent. We can go through the whole chapter this way - we get aquatic tricks, ooze tricks, etc. and even find swarm transformations here. Now, the base SoP's Alteration sphere justifiably is considered to be one brutal array of options and this further enhances that - if you're looking to make a deadly shifting character, this one will yield enough material with the versatile traits available for each of the talents. Comparable spheres will certainly look with unmitigated envy at the potent options here and a player with sufficient system mastery can make some truly frightening builds here.

The advanced talents chapter allows these options to be further enhanced - diffused swarm forms, energy immunities and vulnerabilities, fusing two creatures into an amalgam, regeneration, the Size Mastery talent that allows for further size control or Star-spawn Transformation allow for potent tricks. All in all, a nice chapter for the more high-powered campaigns.

The pdf also sports 3 incantations - one to permanently fuse two creatures, one to make shapechangers and one to reconfigure the flesh of a target. Big plus: The Adaptation-section provides guidance for generating your own content within the confines of the Sphere, using the platypus as an example. The feat chapter sports aligned attacks as soon as 5th level (which is too soon), free counterspells when initiating a grapple (cool: Gets interaction with anti-grapple effects right), feats that help with Fusion tricks, Cursed shapeshifts, high-level grapple/swallow whole synergy, reflexive disarming transformations, Disguise shifts and retaining some tricks while under Transformation. A tree for Two-Head-enhancements can be found and we do get the option to spit venom, reflexive poison ichors...pretty extensive array here.

The pdf does sport 3 nice drawbacks as well as 4 traits and 14 alternate racial traits for a variety of races beyond the core. The equipment section contains a lycanthrope hunter's kit, oil that helps against shifters, an iteration of the transformative wolf pelt and a stabilizing vest. The 7th chapter provides advice on handling shapeshifting in game (kudos for the inclusion!) as well as handy tables that correlate creature types and form talents as well as form talents and casting abilities.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal, rather impressive on a rules-language level - while I noticed a couple of formatting glitches and hiccups, more than usual for the series, the complex rules-language and operations required have been handled rather well as a whole. Layout adheres to the two-column full-color standard of the series and the pdf uses a blend of nice original pieces and stock art. The supplement comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Andrew Stoeckle's take on shifters should put a smile on the faces of players, particularly those who enjoy tinkering and optimizing the material: The already extremely impressive array of options of the base sphere has been significantly expanded by this book, adding a serious array of versatility to the arsenal of options herein. This should be considered to be a must-buy for any fan of the Alteration-sphere, though GMs should talk with their players about some of the combos herein: The sheer versatility of options allow you to make truly fearsome shapechangers, to the point where they may be a bit overbearing for more conservative campaigns.

That being said, this pdf should most certainly be considered to be a required purchase for fans of the spherecasting engine - as such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Shapeshifter's Handbook
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The Shapeshifter's Handbook Hero Lab Files
by Timothy W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/13/2017 10:33:46

The author fixed the original problems so now this package loads correctly into Hero Lab. It works well though I still cannot give a 5 star review since every time I purchase hero lab files from Drop Dead games I wonder if it will break my Hero Lab again. The author seems to believe that asking people to contact them rather than leaving them a bad review is a good replacement for a good QA process. I have to disagree. I cannot get back the six hours it took me to determine which hero lab files were causing my problem to make the initial report and without significant steps to upgrade the QA process I do not believe this author will ever get a 5 star rating from me.

As of 07/13/2017 this package works fine with my hero lab with all of the other Spheres of Power packages loaded. I also have a significant number of paizo books loaded so if you find it doesn't work, it seems that it is most likely because there is an unstated dependency. If you own all of the like material then you shouldn't have a problem.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Shapeshifter's Handbook Hero Lab Files
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The Illuminator's Handbook
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/11/2017 04:40:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

This installment of the Spheres of Power-expansions-series clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1/2 a page blank, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 19.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

After a brief introduction and explanation on how to use this book, we move on to new class options, the first of which would be the astrology hedgewitch tradition, which nets Knowledge (Geography), Knowledge (planes) and Perception as class skills and the Light sphere as a bonus magic talent. As a tradition power, these gals may project a so-called celestial aura as a swift action, which affects all allies (including the hedgewitch) within 30 ft. and lasts until dismissed - only one such aura may be projected at a given time and it increases the lighting levels up to normal. 4 types are included, of which you must choose 2. Moon nets an untyped (should probably be typed) bonus to Fort-saves and replenishing temporary hit points. Planet nets resistance to either fire or cold, with class levels added as scaling device. Star grants an untyped Perception bonus as well as a scaling initiative bonus (ouch) and Sun adds fire damage to weapon damage rolls, 1d4, +1d4 for every 5 class levels. Personally, I think that Moon, Star and Sun are significantly stronger than the other two options. The tradition secrets, 5 of which are presented, allow for the expansion of the aura radius or the ability to gain another aura. You can also gain an oracle revelation from the heavens mystery, modify the light-level of the aura...and the final one, the grand secret, lets you project two auras at once. The tradition mastery increases your character level by 5 for determining aura potency and lets you change auras as a swift action. A new hedgewitch secret lets you dabble in the tradition.

The pdf also contains archetypes, the first of which would be the glass-eye gunmage, who replaces Knowledge (local) with Knowledge (arcana) and Sleight of Hand with Spellcraft. He must also swap out two deeds of his choice, one at 1st and one at 3rd level. Instead of the first-level deed, he gains Lens Array, which nets a Perception bonus and allows for grit-expenditure to reroll Perception. The 3rd level deed lets him ignore penalties to Perception for being distracted or asleep and may expend 1 grit at the start of battle to not be treated as flat-footed. At 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the gunmage gains (lens) talents from the Light sphere, treating class levels as casting levels and using grit as a resource. EDIT: Big kudos to Amber Underwood and Drop Dead Studios - the previous issue in the lens-talents has been fixed, which means that the archetype works properly now! :D

The radiant paragon shifter replaces Handle Animal with bluff and gains the Light sphere at 1st level at full CL, as well as the Touch of Light drawback. This replaces animal empathy. The archetype also employs the new Bioluminescent Transformation feat at 3rd level, which adds glow to shapeshift, allowing for some combo potential. 8th level provides two unique traits to add to shapeshift - +1/2 caster level bonus to Stealth checks (untyped - meh) or demoralize as a swift action via sudden color-shifts. This replaces poison immunity.

The third archetype would be the sun warrior, based on the mageknight class, who replaces Handle Animal with Intimidate, uses Cha as casting ability modifier and is locked into the Light sphere at first level. The archetype also gains the Glory talent instead of gaining resist magic, and uses her class level as caster level "on" glows benefitting from Glory - which lets your glow shed low-range bright light for combo set-ups. This may be as well a place as any to note that the rules-language has some cosmetic deviations in the finer details - mostly nothing glaring, though. When the sun warrior would gain a mystic combat ability or bonus combat feat, the archetype may choose solar radiance abilities instead. 5 of these are presented and include for increased radius for Glory, selective light talent application when affecting equipment, more Light talents, lending the glow (not italicized here) affected by Glory to allies and free action Searing Light application ties in for a cool combo. By FAR the coolest archetype herein and the only one I really liked. It also lends itself very well for Dark Souls-esque characters: "Do you even praise the Sun, brah?" I'd enjoy playing this guy!

From here, we move on to basic talents, which include a minor errata for glow: When you create a glow you may cause it to shed bright light as part of the same action, but otherwise follow the normal rules for causing a glow to shed bright light. To give you a brief summary: (Lens) talents can be placed as a standard action on targets within glow, potentially requiring melee or ranged touch attacks to hit. Spell point expenditure can increase duration to 1 hour per CL. Among the (lens) talents, we can find Aiming Scope (here, proper bonus types are thankfully reinstated...) and the lenses include an option that nets you the option to Hide in Plain Sight - which is usually unlocked at a higher level - imho, this should have a minimum level requirement. Forcing rerolls from attackers and using lenses to ignore miss chances for living creatures is pretty potent - a reduction may have been more viable there. EDIT: Dim Lights only grants immunity to one's own lights to the target, but its wording could sue improvement - "You cause a target to suffer no ill effects from light." could be read as superseding/complementing the benefits of the talent.

(Nimbus) talents modify glow, but only one may b applied per glow. You may switch these as a free action, but they thankfully affect an area only once per round. These include the ability to make light-show style beams, selectively illuminate cubes or leave trails of light. There btw. also is an option to bypass the 1-nimbus restriction.

Beyond these subtypes, we also get quite an array of other talents - bending radiance, shedding black light, generate patterns that may cause targets to fall prone and we have dual application of light talents to glows. Very interesting would be Flash, which eliminates the end of turn only restriction imposed on the application of (light) talents. Having glow linger and controlling intensity as well as gaining artistic modifications of glows make for interesting, flavorful options. Nonlethal damage via glows also makes for a nice option.

The advanced magic chapter lets you generate motes of Dancing Lights glows, which is cool...but Diffuse Body is really intriguing. When you move while under the effects of Flicker, you actually move in two places - and only upon being attacked or targeted, you decide which location you are...basically Schrödinger's caster. Permanently imbuing objects with glow is nice, I guess. With another talent, you can turn a creature affected by Flicker into a being of pure light - very potent and thankfully locked behind an appropriate prereq-array...and the form may be further upgraded with vast movement superiority via Light Speed. Making the glow turn prismatic is similarly cool and Con-draining radiation light is cool. The chapter also contains two rituals - reflection/refraction, which alters objects and beacon pillar, creating a bauble you can crush to emit a beacon of light.

The feat-chapter includes Dual Sphere feats for Auroras and propulsion via beams, +2 MSB and MSD for Light sphere effects, doubled when trying to make an opposed check versus magical darkness; Firing light-based destructive blasts that are not hindered by windows, but by light-blocking things is nice. Creations of hard light, Photosynthesis. not a fan of addition of untyped damage to Searing Light, myself. 5 solid traits also are here and we get 3 sphere-specific drawbacks and 3 alternate racial traits. No complaints there.

The equipment section defines different light sources and types - motes, strobes, etc. -handy. Cool: radiant edge weapons project deadly light, slightly increasing their reach (Can I hear Burnt Ivory King?), but sans increasing the threatening range. Staves with sunset let glows linger slightly. There are 3 specific magic items, a veil that fortifies versus the dazzled condition, the brush that generates colorful ink and a nice miniature orrery. The pdf concludes with 6 radiant tattoos, which shed light and allows for hypnotizing targets while dancing, for doubling as a divine focus, etc. - no complaints here.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good for the most part - in fact, the material is generally very good, though the class section could use some refinement - it has a couple of minor hiccups. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series. EDIT: The previously migraine-inducing bright, yellow headers have been dimmed down. Thank the deities! Artwork is a blend of the nice cover and some okay stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Amber Underwood had a relatively challenging task here - the sphere is simply not as "sexy" as some of its brethren, though this book does a valiant job enhancing the Light-options. While I disagree with some of the design decisions, as a whole, this is a well-made supplement with some minor imperfections. EDIT: With the headers and the archetype-glitch fixed, this now is a proper addition to the series, worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Illuminator's Handbook
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Vigilantes of Skybourne
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/08/2017 04:55:34

5/5 Throwing Knives (no shuriken for lack of dead turtles) but 3.5/5 Brobarangs so 4/5. Full video review here: https://youtu.be/kJakX-SYXMs?t=1m

--Cool Shredder



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vigilantes of Skybourne
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The Nyctomancer's Handbook
by James E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/10/2017 00:01:17

Disclaimer: I support the Patreon campaign funding Spheres of Power's handbook expansions, and as such I paid the full price for this product.

After some delays, the next book in Spheres of Power's line of expansions is here! I'm not much of a Dark user myself, but it's a nice counterpart to the Illuminator's Handbook, and not exactly an uncommon choice for characters.

Falling into the regular format these Handbooks have developed, this product opens with seven new archetypes.

The Darkshaper is an archetype for the Armorist that focuses on manipulating the user's shadow, which can be animated as an extra limb, make attacks, and generally change shape to be useful.

The Invidian is an archetype for the Symbiat, trading their psionic partner for a shadow demon. Their main feature is the Blackened Psyche, which allows for things like granting cover to allies or designating opponents as flanked against certain attacks.

The Nocturnal Predator is Batma- I mean, a shapeshifter focused on killing their foes in the dark. Most notably, they gain the Dark Sphere at full caster level progression (and don't lose progression in Alteration), which is a fairly notable benefit. To help balance this, the Nocturnal Predator also gains two Drawbacks without any extra talents for it (unless they already had the Spheres from a different class, which most won't).

The Shadow Boxer is an archetype for the Unchained Monk, and as the name implies, they can manipulate their shadow to strike their foes. It's a lot like the Darkshaper, really, but they have excellent reach (in all directions, including up), and they also gain some minor use of the Dark Sphere and can spend their Ki points to fuel its powers.

The Skulk is an archetype for the Fey Adept, trading powers of illusion for darkness and gaining the ability to steal shadows and fake the target's powers. Duplicating a foe's powers can be fairly potent, and I'd definitely recommend diving all-in on the flavor for this archetype.

The Talent Thief is an archetype for the Unchained Rogue that's a lot like the Fey Adept, covering the same general ground of stealing abilities. There is a limit on this in that you need to confirm a critical hit - which rather noticeably narrows the variety of builds this archetype will be effective for. (I can't actually dislike that too much - archetypes are usually all about playing in a particular way to begin with, but it's important to know if you want to use it.)

The Void Gazer is an archetype for the Thaumaturge that swaps their usual invocations for those with a darker theme. They also get the Clouded Vision curse of the Oracle.

After all of that, we finally get to the most important part of this book - the new basic magic talents. I was very happy to see that, once again, a Handbook contains new types of talents for a sphere. The new types introduced are Blots (flat surfaces of darkness with particular effects) and Shadows (which manipulate a shadow directly) - both of which offer definite new possibilities for casters.

The talents themselves include things like causing targets to quite literally choke on darkness, blindfolding someone with their own shadow, and extinguishing mundane sources of light (and magical sources of fire - a minor but useful utility, especially because it doesn't cost a spell point to use).

We also get a few augmented talents - new abilities that can be acquired by taking a talent multiple times. This isn't new to Spheres of Power - Fast Divinations had this - but it's still fairly rare.

To cap out the new powers, the Advanced Magic includes some new advances talents (like animating your shadow for a long period of time and creating fields that null alignments) and an Incantation to summon up a revenant shade.

The next chapter focuses on player options, starting with a variety of new feats that aid in the use of the Dark Sphere. Among them, we see things like free use of the Obfuscation talent in areas of dim (or darker) light, and Sickening targets at the same time you Fascinate them to really stack those ailments.

We also get three new traits, a handful of new drawbacks (including one for the Light sphere), and new Alternate Racial Traits for Fetchlings, Tieflings, and Wayang. Familiars aren't left out, either, as they get a nice new Archetype.

Section 6 is pretty short - just two pages - but it includes a few Wondrous Items, a Minor Artifact, and several new enchantments for weapons and armor. Three of these are GP-based, rather than magical, so they can easily be added to newly-crafted gear. The book wraps up with a new template and a sample creature.

All in all, this book nicely fits into what I've come to expect from Spheres of Power's handbooks. I was especially pleased to see the new Talent types, since those are an excellent way to add variety to a new Sphere without deviating from its central theme. If you enjoy Spheres of Power and plan on heavy use of the Dark Sphere, you're definitely going to want to pick this book up.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Nyctomancer's Handbook
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The Enhancer's Handbook
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/28/2017 07:51:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Drop Dead Studios' expansion-books for Spheres of Power clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 23 pages of content, so let's take a look!

All right, after some introductory prose and advice on navigating this book, we begin with a selection of archetypes, the first of which would be the Herculean Scion for the mageknight, who replaces 1st level's magic talent with a domain power of a domain of her choice, with 2nd level increasing the CL to class level for enhancements that target the scion - in short: Full CL-self-buffs. 7th level replaces marked with immunity to all poisons and diseases, with 11th level providing DR 3/- that improves every 4 levels thereafter by 1, replacing mystic defense. As a capstone, self-targeting enhancements instead last 24 hours and nets an outsider apotheosis.

The wizard may elect to become an eclectic researcher and is considered to be a high caster, with a spell pool of class level + Int-mod points, 2 magic talents every odd level and 1 every even level, with 1st level netting the Spellcrafting and Create Spellbook feats as well as the focus casting drawback with the spellbook as the focus. This spellbook is known as a researcher's notebook and 1/day a spell cast from it may be reduced in complexity by 1, with 10th and 18th level providing further decreases in complexity. Here's the deal, though: The archetype receives so-called name-bound spells that only the archetype may properly cast, gaining the option to enhance such spells in special ways, allowing for the application of enhancement of magically duplicated weapons or armor generated via spells. This...is at once awesome and ridiculously strong in the hands of a system-savvy player. That being said, it is also a very creative and potentially very rewarding exercise for experienced players. The wide-open nature of the engine thus created can result in the requirement of GM-calls here, though that is the consequence of a system-inherent property and not necessarily the fault of the archetype.

The snake-oil salesman replaces sneak attack with being a low caster as well as class level + Cha-mod spell points, with enhancement as a bonus sphere at 1st level and magic talents at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter. Trapfinding is replaced with bonuses to Appraise and Bluff. The enhancements of the class can be delivered via pills or oils to creatures and weapons, gaining the special delivery drawback. 4 special rogue talents allow for lingering effects, better magic and poisoning. Personally, I would have liked the concealing poisons talent to specifically state its DC without requiring the looking up of the precedence, but that is a minor and cosmetic inconvenience that stems probably from me not exclusively playing with the spheres system. 5th level replaces uncanny dodge with Brew Potion, allowing for once again, complexity modifications. It should be noted that "primarily Enhancement effects" is pretty wobbly as far as rules-verbiage is concerned. That could have been solved more elegantly. Higher levels net quick pill-swallowing and resilience versus negative side-effects, with the capstone providing some fun options to really sell prouct.

The spirit-wielder fighter replaces bravery with the option to awaken one weapon, which proceeds to gain the Enhancement sphere at 3rd level and the weapon's Cha-mod as spell pool. The weapon may select a casting tradition and receives additional magic talents at 7th, 11th and 15th level, replacing armor training. 5th, 9th and every 4 levels thereafter and 17th level enhance the weapon's resilience, with 19th level further enhancing the weapon. As a capstone, the awakened weapons are resurrected alongside the character and are part of the being for these purposes and the weapon may not be disarmed...and the character may 1/round take 10 for an atk with it. The final archetype would be the whitesmith armorist who replaces summoned equipment with the Enhancement sphere and treats the full character level as CL for object enhancement. Special qualities may also be applied from enhance equipment thus by the archetype, with +1, +1 at every 5 levels. Instead of bound equipment, the bonus further increases by +1, with 7th level and every 4 levels further enhancing the bonus. 5th level allows the whitesmith to repair broken objects and adds a further weapon affected, +1 object affected at 10th level and every 5 levels thereafter. 19th level allows for swift action concentration on enhancement, with the capstone allowing for spell point expenditure for doubling the number of additional objects affected - basically, a god-weapon-smithing one.

The pdf also contains a significant array of new basic talents that allow for the increase of the potency of poisons, optional spell point expenditure for more enhancements when using options that allow for multiple options...which can be a bit weird when interacting with class/archetype abilities that add additional benefits. A bit of clarification for such interactions would certainly be appreciated. Temporary reduction of fatigued/exhaustion conditions and there are more than a few similar...well...enhancers. From better movement to generating a magical sink as a kind of dispelling buffer to finally, an option to render items more fragile or adding bleed effects to weaponry - the array is generally solid. 4 advanced talents are also included, one of which lets you employ aegis and enhancement not suppressed by antimagic, one to go ascetic via spell points, one to grant temporary sentience via Embodiment of Magic to non-instantaneous effects - this would btw. be a pretty complex template with a CR-enhancement of 2/3 HD, +1/4 potency that allows for the creation of critters based on spells...which is VERY cool and may make this, scavenging-wise, pretty worthwhile even if you're not that interested in SoP.

Regarding somewhat problematic options: I generally like how referential enhancement makes enhancements acts as bursts for +2 spell points...the question remains, though, if such bursts can enhance options that are defined by self-only targets and enhanced thus. Would a herculean scion's enhancements of his tricks potentially be expanded? Do the class abilities or the talents take precedence here? It's these interactions where the system obviously could have used some slightly more precise notes, since it's not 100% evident which takes precedence.

A total of 3 incantations, from talking to locks to making statue servants or forming stone as clay, these are pretty amazing. Kudos! The feats are arguably the crunchy heart of this installment of the series: Two feat categories are introduced here: Drawback feats allow for taking alternate benefits from drawbacks, which is amazing, as it allows for further customization and differentiation between crafted traditions. These include interaction between addiction and enhancements, bonuses to MSD for slower and more deliberate casting, etc.

Secondly, there would be the category of proxy feats, which builds on enhanced creatures acting as Circle Casting candidates, manipulating the respective proxy enhancements build upon that feat's effects - basically, via these feats, you can gain, for example the option for a proxy expending an immediate action to get you a reroll, etc. These basically are a bit like a chopped up tactician/collective-generating archetype...interesting, though I think the engine would have perhaps worked better in the context of an archetype...but that may be me. The other feats contained herein also represent some serious gems - extended options for making weaponry aligned, multiple expansions for animated objects and shapeshifting enhanced objects is similarly cool...though this one needs some system-mastery and sports a component that could use a bit clarification: The enhancement becomes a shapeshift, I get that, but do class abilities and talents modifying enhancement apply? Those that modify shapeshift? Both? The interaction is a bit problematic here - not to the point where the material doesn't work, but to one where I can easily construct cases where the interaction becomes somewhat opaque. I also couldn't find Fate Magnet in either the book or SoP, so not sure whether this is an option that will be released to the public in the future.

Very cool: A total of 9 different sphere-specific drawbacks can be found within these pages, with 2 new boons included as well - a total of 6 traditions have been tailor-made for the book as well. The pdf concludes with the bestiary-section, which includes truly ginormous colossal items, from colossal+ to colossal+++, CR 12 to 16, 3 sample embodiments of magic and a whole section that expands the animated object section with special material, notes on animating structural features and several new abilities and flaws for the respective items.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good in both formal and rules-language levels. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has a decent blend of stock and original pieces. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Marcus Dirr didn't have an easy task here - Enhancement is simply not as "sexy" as a concept as some other themes for Sphere-handbooks and he did a more than valiant job, focusing on some interesting rules-operations. The feats contain some seriously intriguing gems and the focus on spell customization is cool. The magical embodiments are pretty amazing as well...but in this pdf, more so than in previous handbooks, it becomes pretty evident that the SoP-system, when not handled very carefully, can easily result in some glitches in the interaction between the highly modular components. This does not make this a bad book in any way, but it makes it an installment that could have used some further streamlining. As a result, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, still rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Enhancer's Handbook
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