Spheres Of Power

List of Spheres

How to use Spheres of Power

Spheres of Power is a completely new magic system that may be used alongside or may completely replace the standard Vancian spell system.

Like spells, the spheres grant a magic user the ability to accomplish great things that would otherwise be impossible. Bending fire, summoning angels, layering enchantments on an unsuspecting creature’s mind: all of this and more is possible for a master of the spheres.

Like spells, spheres require levels in a magic-using class. Using a sphere ability provokes an attack of opportunity (unless cast defensively), requires a concentration check in difficult situations, ceases to function in an anti-magic field, and is subject to spell resistance. Unlike spells, however, sphere abilities do not require gestures or magic words, nor are they divided between Arcane and Divine sources (although see Casting Traditions—a way for players and GMs to re-introduce these particulars and distinctions). Likewise, just as a fighter may take levels in other martial classes without sacrificing his combat ability, a caster may take multiple casting classes without necessarily dividing his power.

Where the Vancian magic system grants access to spells and spell levels, magic users using the Spheres of Power system (referred to as ‘casters’ in this book) use spheres and talents. There are 20 spheres contained in this book, including Alteration, Creation, Conjuration, Dark, Death, Destruction, Divination, Enhancement, Fate, Illusion, Light, Life, Mind, Nature, Protection, Telekinesis, Time, War, Warp, and Weather.

Spheres provide a caster with a broad magical focus; for example, powers that deal with moving objects through space are contained in the Telekinesis sphere, while powers that deal with manipulating winds and rain are contained in the Weather sphere. Each sphere provides the caster with an at-will ability, which may be further refined through gaining talents associated with that sphere.

Beyond the spheres themselves, there are several terms that must be explained for use with this system: Magic Talents, Caster Level, Casting Ability Modifier, Casting Time, Distances, Spell Points, Saving Throw Difficulty Class, and Magic Skill Bonus and Magic Skill Defense.

Magic Talents

As a caster gains levels, they gain magic talents. Magic talents, like feats, may be spent to allow a caster to gain new powers and abilities.

Whenever a caster gains a magic talent, they may spend it in one of two ways: to gain a new base sphere or to gain a talent associated with a sphere they already possess.

The number of magic talents a caster gains differs between classes, but all characters gain two bonus magic talents the first time they gain a level in a casting class, regardless of which class is chosen. Once a talent is spent, it cannot be changed except through retraining, which follows the same rules as retraining a feat.

Caster Level

Caster level is not as synonymous with class level in SoP as it is with most of the core Pathfinder spellcasting classes. Instead, it would be more appropriate to think it as akin to Base Attack Bonus: as a creature gains levels in a casting class, they gain caster levels at different rates depending on the class chosen. A multi-classed caster determines his total caster levels by adding together his caster levels from all his classes, similar to how Base Attack Bonus is cumulated between all classes. A caster level of 0 is treated as if it were 1 when determining a caster’s capabilities.

All casting classes fall into one of three categories: High-Casters, Mid-Casters, and Low-Casters. Each of these groups gains caster levels at a slightly different rate, as indicated by the table below.

Level High Caster Mid Caster Low Caster
1 +1 0 0
2 +2 +1 +1
3 +3 +2 +1
4 +4 +3 +2
5 +5 +3 +2
6 +6 +4 +3
7 +7 +5 +3
8 +8 +6 +4
9 +9 +6 +4
10 +10 +7 +5
11 +11 +8 +5
12 +12 +9 +6
13 +13 +9 +6
14 +14 +10 +7
15 +15 +11 +7
16 +16 +12 +8
17 +17 +12 +8
18 +18 +13 +9
19 +19 +14 +9
20 +20 +15 +10

Casting Ability Modifier

Not every class in the Spheres of Power system uses the same mental ability score when determining their magical potency. Just as with the Vancian magic system, some classes use Intelligence, some use Wisdom, and others use Charisma. In Spheres of Power, this is called their casting ability modifier (CAM). Casting ability modifiers are used to determine the Difficulty Class of sphere abilities, as well as the caster’s total number of spell points.

When adapting an existing class to the Spheres of Power system, use whichever mental ability score was originally used when determining spell potency. For new classes listed in this book, their mental ability score is listed, or in some cases (incanter, hedgewitch, mageknight, and thaumaturge) the player is allowed to choose whichever ability score he prefers.

If a caster takes levels in multiple casting classes, they must select which of those classes’ casting ability modifiers they will use as their casting ability modifier; only one may be applied.

Casting Time

Most sphere abilities require a standard action to use, but there are exceptions. Certain abilities, such as metamagic feats and some drawbacks, may increase or decrease a casting time by a certain number of ‘steps’ as seen in the chart below.

Casting Times
1 hour
10 minutes
1 minute
1-round
full-round action
standard action
move action
swift action

Note: Unless otherwise specified, a sphere ability cannot have a shorter casting time than a swift action, nor a longer casting time than 1 hour.

Distances

Many sphere abilities use Close, Medium, and Long as indicators for their range. Just as with spells, Close equals 25 ft + 5 ft per 2 caster levels, Medium equals 100 ft + 10 ft per caster level, and Long equals 400 ft + 40 ft per caster level.

Spell Points

Along with gaining caster levels, casters using the SoP system also gain a spell pool, which accumulates spell points as they gain levels. Spell points are a measure of a spellcaster’s capability and are spent to increase the power of their various sphere abilities. Each caster gains a pool of spell points equal to their class level plus their casting ability modifier. Just like with caster level, a caster adds together all their levels in Sphere casting classes when determining the size of their spell pool. If they possess levels in multiple casting classes, add those class levels together when determining the number of spell points possessed.

A caster’s spell pool refreshes every day after roughly 8 hours of rest.

Saving Throw Difficulty Class

Whenever a sphere ability calls for a saving throw, the Difficulty Class (DC) for that saving throw is equal to 10 + 1/2 the caster level + the caster’s casting ability modifier. If the targeted creature meets or exceeds this number with their saving throw, they often reduce or negate the effect. If a caster chooses to use an effect at a lower caster level than his maximum, the DC is also lowered.

Magic Skill Bonus and Magic Skill Defense

Sometimes, it isn’t a caster’s raw power that is important, but rather his skill and experience with magic in general. This includes concentration checks or times when a caster directly pits his magic against that of another caster. At these times, the caster’s magic skill bonus (MSB) and magic skill defense (MSD) are used to determine the outcome.

A caster’s MSB is equal to his total levels in casting classes.

A caster’s MSD is equal to 11 + his total levels in casting classes. Sometimes, a power or circumstance will call for a magic skill check. At this point, the caster making the check rolls a d20 and adds her MSB to the roll. If this equals or exceeds the target’s MSD, the check succeeds. If not, the check fails.

When a Sphere caster makes a concentration check (as called for by the Pathfinder Core rulebook), instead of rolling a d20 and adding his caster level + his casting ability modifier, he rolls a d20 and adds his MSB + his casting ability modifier to the roll. Treat an effect’s caster level/2 as the effective spell level for this purpose. A spellcaster may always choose to manifest a magical effect at a lower caster level than his total in order to make a concentration check easier.

When attempting to penetrate a creature’s Spell Resistance, she rolls a d20 and adds her MSB to the roll.

An MSB is also used when attempting to counter another caster’s magic, such as when using the Counterspell feat.

Any feat or ability that would normally call for a caster level check instead calls for an MSB check. Any feat or ability that normally adds to a creature’s caster level for the purposes of one of the caster level checks listed above instead adds to their MSB for that purpose.

When combining SoP with the core Pathfinder magic system, whenever a caster level check is called for or when a DC of 10 or 11 + a creature’s caster level is called for, the character’s MSB and MSD should be substituted respectively.

Spellcrafting

Spellcrafting is a system that allows casters to create and use custom magical abilities that otherwise would be outside the scope of the Spheres of Power system. Unlike advanced talents, rituals, and incantations, spellcrafting does not necessarily deal with world-affecting magic (although such spells can be crafted using advanced talents), but rather allows players and GMs to customize a caster’s magic to create something truly unique.

In its simplest form, a spell is a sphere effect that has been augmented and added to with talents it otherwise could not use. Like unaugmented sphere effects, a spell has a base sphere from which its caster level and DC is derived, and often requires the expenditure of spell points.

While the rules presented below are designed to aid in spellcrafting, in the end spellcrafting is purposely left vague to encourage creativity, mystery, and wonder. Like magic items, spellcrafting is much more fun when a spell has more personality than simply being a combination of effects.

Creating a Spell: Spellcrafting is as much art as science and is a similar process as inventing spells with the core Pathfinder magic system, in that good sense and judgment are just as important to creating a balanced spell as the math itself. GMs are encouraged to adjust the casting time, spell point cost, and content of a spell if it is exploitative or disrupting of gameplay.

To create a spell with spellcrafting, first choose a base sphere ability (shapeshift, glow, destructive blast, etc.) augmented by talents as normal. This base ability determines the spell’s base sphere and all associated numbers such as saving throws, spell point cost, and caster level if, as is the case with the elementalist, eliciter, or shifter, their caster level is different with different spheres. This also determines the spell’s number of targets, duration, etc.

Next, choose additional sphere abilities, talents, and other augmentations to add to the base sphere ability. You must possess every sphere and talent to be used in the created spell, and a sphere ability or talent may not be applied twice to the same spell. With every alteration made, the spell gains or loses complexity. The more complex a spell is, the greater its casting time and the more spell points it costs to use.

Every base sphere ability that is added to the spell beyond the spell’s initial base ability increases the spell’s complexity by 2. This includes destructive blasts, darkness, glow, geomancing, and other effects.

Sometimes, you may wish to add the effects of a talent independent of adding a base sphere ability. This could include adding multiple (blast type) talents to a destructive blast, applying a (light) talent to a geomancing ability, or applying a talent like Group Charm to a destructive blast to allow it to affect multiple individual targets. In each of these cases, the spell gains 1 complexity, and any spell points required by the talent are added to the spell’s spell point cost.

With GM permission, other changes to a spell may increase or decrease the complexity. This could include targeting a creature other than yourself with a (spirit) Nature ability (+1 complexity), shortening a duration from 1 hour per caster level to 10 minutes per caster level (-1 complexity), increasing a casting time by 2 steps (-1 complexity), etc.

Once you have determined a proposed spell’s complexity, compare the result to the table below. This shows how many additional spell points the spell costs to use, as well as the increase to casting time. No spell can have a negative complexity.

Complexity Cost/Time Increase
1 0 spell points, 1 time increase
2 1 spell point, 1 time increase
3 1 spell point, 2 time increases
4 2 spell points, 2 time increases
5 2 spell points, 3 time increases
6 3 spell points, 3 time increases
7 3 spell points, 4 time increases

Once a particular spell has been created, it may be added to through further research, but cannot be fundamentally changed except through the creation of a new spell. Creating a spell is a process similar to creating a magic item, and takes 1 day of research per talent involved, at the end of which a caster must pass a Spellcraft check with a DC equal to 5 x the number of spheres and talents involved, or have their efforts wasted. A caster may only retain a number of spells in his repertoire at a time equal to his casting ability modifier. If a caster researches a spell after he has reached this limit, he must decide which of their previous spells will be lost from his memory to make room for the new spell.

A caster may augment a spell by adding more talents to it, through an additional day of research per talent, and a new Spellcraft check at the end of the process.

Adjusting Durations: If your base ability has a duration of concentration and you are adding abilities with a duration of 1 minute per caster level or longer, reduce the spell’s cost by 1 spell point. If your base ability has a duration of 10 minutes per caster level or longer and you are adding abilities with a duration of 1 round per caster level or shorter (including concentration), increase the spell’s cost by 1 spell point and decrease the spell’s duration by one step (1 hour per caster level becomes 10 minutes per caster level, 10 minutes per caster level becomes 1 minute per caster level).

Spellbooks

If a caster possesses the Craft Spellbook feat, they may write down the spells they know, as well as any spell after it is researched. Writing a spell down in a magic book takes 1 hour per sphere or talent involved in the spell and requires 1 page per sphere or talent involved in the spell.

If a caster finds a spellbook he has not created himself, he must decipher its writing through either a successful Spellcraft check (DC 20 + the spell’s complexity), a read magic spell, or the basic sense ability from the Divination sphere in order to understand it. Once a spell has been deciphered, it needn’t be deciphered again by the same caster.

If a caster possesses all of a spell’s prerequisite spheres and talents and has deciphered the writing, he may read from the spellbook and use that spell as if it were in his repertoire. This takes 2 rounds of uninterrupted reading in addition to the spell’s usual casting time. Alternately, the caster may spend an hour per page reading and practicing a deciphered spell to add that spell to his repertoire as if he had just researched it. A caster may attempt to cast a spell from a spellbook without meeting the prerequisites, but he must pay an additional spell point for every sphere or talent not possessed and suffers a cumulative 10% chance per missing prerequisite that the spell will not manifest; the caster will instead suffer a mishap chosen by the GM. A caster cannot use a spell that requires an advanced talent unless they possess that talent. Example mishaps are detailed below:

  • A surge of uncontrolled magical energy deals 3d6 points of damage to the caster.
  • Spell strikes the caster or an ally instead of the intended target, or a random target nearby if the caster was the intended recipient.
  • Spell takes effect at some random location within spell range.
  • Spell’s effect on the target is contrary to the spell’s normal effect.
  • The caster suffers some minor but bizarre effect related to the spell in some way. Most such effects should last only as long as the original spell’s duration, or 2d10 minutes for instantaneous or concentration spells.
  • Some innocuous item or items appear in the spell’s area.
  • Spell has delayed effect. Sometime within the next 1d12 hours, the spell activates. If the caster was the intended recipient, the spell takes effect normally. If the user was not the intended recipient, the spell goes off in the general direction of the original recipient or target, up to the spell’s maximum range, if the target has moved away.

Unlike a ritual book, a spellbook is simply a notebook detailing the theory involved in a spell’s creation, and as such, has no cost in magical components to create. Spellbooks have no market value of their own, and while they may be found, they are rarely bought and even more rarely sold.

Examples

Example Spells

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