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D&D 5E [Let's Read] Spheres of Power & Might for 5e

Libertad

Adventurer
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Back in 2014 a small publisher by the name of Drop Dead Studios created an alternative magic system for the Pathfinder Role-Playing Game. Divorcing itself from Vancian mechanics, Spheres of Power was intended to cover a wider variety of magical powers as seen in various kinds of popular culture, highly customizable for GMs inspired by their favorite pieces of non-D&D media or who wanted a more open-ended spellcaster beyond the traditional arcane/divine and spells-per-day divides.

Spheres of Power initially remained obscure but in time became the flagship series for Drop Dead Studios as it grew in popularity, spawning miniature sourcebooks for new magical talents and traditions. Eventually a sister sourcebook was made: Spheres of Might, expanding the rules to cover martial character concepts. It was popular as well, and managed to address the various shortcomings of martials and noncasters in the Pathfinder system, such as giving them meaningful options outside of combat, eliminating feat-tree-progressions where one had to build their entire character concept around doing one or two interesting tricks well, and reliable access to inherent abilities which can afflict enemies with various status effects beyond straight damage-dealing.

Although Pathfinder is still Drop Dead’s preferred RPG, there was enough demand to fund a Spheres conversion to 5th Edition D&D. As 5e has much less emphasis on character customization and toolkit-style approaches to rules, it was debatable to what extent they could do a faithful conversion.

As a backer and owner of both books, I’m pleased to say that Spheres of Power & Might managed to thread this needle in a pretty satisfactory way. While far from an exhaustive playtest, I have run a few games using the Spheres books and overall the options are pretty balanced while also being useful. Although there are some things the Spheres system cannot do, overall it can very easily replace the default classes and options in 5e with a minimum of fuss.

I’ll note that the vast majority of the two books’ content are OGL and have their own online Wiki. Due to this, I’m going to do less paraphrasing than I’d usually do. Instead I’ll offer more personal opinions, interesting combos between spheres and classes where warranted, and several overall faithful conversions of characters from various shows, video games, and other media to show how much the Spheres system can deliver on their vaunted promises.

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Chapter 1: Introduction

This short chapter outlines the basics of Spheres of Power. In short, the types of magic-users in this system are referred to as spherecasters to separate them from the core rules’ Vancian magic system. Casting traditions are open-ended thematic explanations of how a spherecaster wields their magic, while spheres proper encompass a broad umbrella of related supernatural powers known as magic sphere effects. Each sphere has talents which grant new magic sphere effects or new ways to exploit existing sphere effects, and characters gain talents by leveling up or via feats. Barring optional Advanced Talents, talents can be spent more or less without restriction and in any order desired provided one has the appropriate sphere. In this last case, one can spend a talent to “unlock” access to a new sphere.

Although there are new classes (and spherecaster versions of existing classes), this book for the most part does not restrict certain kinds of magic by class or subclass: all of the options within are meant to be customized for players to build their caster concepts just right, defining choices as “here is what they do” rather than setting down mandates by fluff or setting, promising versatility “without the need for complex multiclassing and homebrewed subclasses.”

Magic sphere effects use most of the basic categories of 5e spells: they have Casting Time, Range, Duration, allowable Targets, Saving Throws if applicable, and may or may not be Concentration. Many sphere effects can be used at-will, but more powerful ones require a cost to be paid in Spell Points, a resource for spherecasters which refills every long rest. Furthermore, some sphere effects can be Augmented, allowing for effects of greater magnitude via the payment of Spell Points. A spherecaster cannot “nova” all of their Spell Points in one go, and the maximum amount one can spend on a single sphere effect is equal to the caster’s proficiency bonus. Finally, a spherecaster’s Key Ability Modifier (KAM) corresponds to a mental ability score which determines their spellcasting ability checks/attack modifiers and Sphere DC much like Vancian Magic (proficiency bonus + KAM for attacks, 8 + proficiency bonus + KAM for DC), and also grants a number of bonus Spell Points equal to the ability score modifier.

There’s some miscellaneous rules and cases explained, such as determining Spell Points via multiclassing (both values are added but Key Ability Modifier is added only once), determining the magic sphere effect’s equivalent level when interacting with Vancian systems (level equal to number of Spell Points spent, or cantrip if 0), whether or not one can stack effects that double proficiency bonuses (you can’t), ways to identify a magic sphere effect or casting tradition (Arcana skill, or Perception if the casting tradition has no observable effects), how to determine ability score prerequisites for multiclassing (13 in one’s Key Ability Modifier), and so on.

The final entry proper in this chapter explains how to build a character. It’s very much like typical 5e chargen, although casting tradition is listed first, followed by race, class, attributes/background/proficiencies, and finally talents and feats. It even has a sample PC built step-by-step.

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Chapter 2: Casting Traditions

Not all magic is cast the same way, even if some of their effects are the same. This chapter gives rules for simulating the variety of “magic systems” in RPGs and broader media, from mages reciting magic words on scrolls to psychics shaping reality with mental concentration.

Casting traditions are comprised of five major parts: a description of the concept, the relevant Key Ability Modifier, Drawbacks which imply penalties on the caster in exchange for more Spell Points or Boons, Boons which grant some advantageous benefit, and two magic spheres handed out for free on top of the ones gained via other sources; two free talents for unlocking spheres, basically. Optionally, casting traditions give Granted Items out as bonus equipment if a Drawback makes their use necessary for spellcasting. Much like Spheres, casting traditions are not limited by class, although there’s a table outlining which Traditions map easily to existing core class concepts. There are also guidelines for making one’s own casting tradition, but for those who want to grab and go there’s 19 sample traditions along with just as many subtraditions which are basically minor configurations.

Drawbacks: Drawbacks are restrictions placed upon a caster, forcing certain conditions to be met in order to cast the magic effectively (or at all) or impose a penalty every time 1 or more Spell Points are used. A spherecaster may have anywhere from 0 to 5 Drawbacks, and the greater the number of Drawbacks the greater the number of bonus Spell Points they gain. 0 Drawbacks grants none at all, but 5 grants +1 per level in a casting class, with the intermittent numbers granting Spell Points on a fractional basis (example: 3 Drawbacks grants +1 per odd level in a casting class). A spherecaster can elect to gain less bonus Spell Points in exchange for Boons, “sacrificing” 2 or 4 Drawbacks for 1 or 2 Boons respectively.

Although I’ll cover the classes properly in the next chapter, Drawbacks are a great way for spherecasters with a low Spell Point progression to bolster up this weak spot, particularly in the case of gish types who prioritize physical stats. For the new ones in this book, 2 classes grant a half-level progression and 3 classes progression equal to the class level. For Spherecasting versions of existing classes, 3 grant half-level progression, 5 grant full-level progression, and the caster subclasses that normally grant up to level 4 spells (Arcane Trickster & Eldritch Knight) grant a mere one-quarter level progression. As 1 or 2 Drawbacks don’t really give a lot of Spell Points on their own and most campaigns don’t last beyond 10th level, players are heavily encouraged to take an all or nothing approach for Drawbacks: gain 3-5 for appreciable advancement, or 2-4 to spend on Boons which are useful at all levels of play.

As the text differentiates “spherecasting class” from the core Vancian options, the phrase “casting class” makes me wonder if the bonus Spell Points from multiclassing in a Vancian class count for this purpose or not. The book does talk about multiclassing, albeit only in the context of spherecasting choices rather than a Vancian/Spheres mixture.

There are 24 Drawbacks to choose from, and include the more familiar such as Verbal Casting which requires the caster able to speak loudly, or Material Casting which requires the spending of 1 gold piece per Spell Point and a component pouch for 0 Spell Point effects. There’s a few new interesting ones present, such as Coy Caster which forces the caster to succeed on a Key Ability Check to cast a spell when they believe they’re being observed, Skilled Casting which requires the caster to succeed on an ability check with a skill or tool in order to cast the spell, and Draining Casting which deals 1 HP damage per Spell Point spent (2 at 11th and higher levels) which cannot be recovered until the next long rest. A few Drawbacks are considered debilitating enough to count as 2 when taken, or impose a more restrictive penalty when taken twice.

Boons: Boons grant special perks and abilities, and are gained either via Drawbacks or the Additional Boon feat detailed later in this book. There’s only 14 boons, but they grant various useful features. Aptitude, for example, grants proficiency in a skill or tool tied to Skilled Casting or double proficiency if already proficient, Easy Focus grants advantage on saving throws to maintain concentration, Fortified Casting lets one choose Constitution as their Key Ability Modifier if they have the Draining Casting Drawback, Physical Magic allows a caster to delay the effects of a spell and imbue them into physical objects which can be activated by others (albeit with some restrictions), while Ritualist and Spellbook allow a spherecaster to learn and cast Vancian spells as rituals* or a limited number of times per long rest respectively.

*like the Warlock’s Book of Ancient Secrets.

Of special note are Boons which increase a caster’s proficiency bonus for the purpose of using magic sphere effects under certain conditions. A caster cannot exceed half their normal proficiency bonus this way, but even a +1 bonus is still quite significant. They come with some restrictive requirements, such as suffering one level of exhaustion per use (Overcharge), only if at 50% or less of maximum hit points (Deathful Magic), or when your current number of Spell Points is 0 (Empowered Abilities).

While several of the Drawbacks can be situational in how much of a penalty they are, the Boons are overall useful for a broad variety of builds. Easy Focus and Fortified Casting are pretty attractive for warrior-mage builds, and Aptitude is great in that it makes the spellcaster an expert in some skill or tool related to their thematic magical style. Technically any skill or tool is allowable, although your GM may need some convincing if you take a highly-useful one such as Perception.

Multiple Traditions: This variant rule at the end explains that in most cases a character has a single casting tradition which they maintain throughout their career. But those who multiclass may choose a second casting tradition, which has its own Key Ability Modifier that may be the same or different as the first and grants a second set of spheres/talents. One cannot “double up” on bonus Spell Points, and whenever a spherecaster uses a magic sphere effect they must choose which tradition to use and can only use drawbacks, boons, and magic talents associated with that particular tradition.

Personally speaking the Multiple Traditions rule sounds a bit complicated and will result in more book-keeping, something which runs counter to the relatively straightforward and open-ended nature of the Spheres sourcebooks.

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Chapter 3: Classes

Converted Core Classes

Although it has some new and very broad classes, Spheres of Power has options for converting the existing core classes. Every class (and subclass in the case of Arcane Trickster and Eldritch Knight) trades out their Spellcasting and Cantrips in exchange for a Spell Pool progression, magic talent progression, and a casting tradition. Casting traditions and talents are unrestricted, so you can easily have a Warlock who uses Wisdom as their Key Ability Modifier, a Druid who calls upon conjured minions to their aid via singing like a Disney Princess, or a Paladin who can shapeshift into various elemental forms as but a few possibilities. Each class has specific discussions for some minor class features, but to sum up the broader points:

1. Classes who have Ritual Casting can still cast Vancian spells as rituals a la the Ritualist boon covered above.

2. Class features which specify spell slots instead substitute spell points, and subclasses which grant bonus spells (Paladin’s Oath, Warlock Patron, etc) instead grant a bonus talent every couple levels from a sphere thematically associated with the subclass. The player and GM work out what makes the most sense in this last case.

3. Classes which have a Spellcasting Focus can use the appropriate item as a spellcasting focus when using magic talents or abilities regardless of casting tradition. As this doesn’t grant any boon or bonus Spell Points, it’s more of a thematic decision.

4. Sorcerers are a particularly notable class for spherecasting conversions, as instead of gaining Sorcery Points they gain additional spell points equal to their level and can apply Metamagic options to magic sphere effects. As these bonus SPell Points stack with other options of gaining Spell Points, spherecasting Sorcerers are by far the best class for Drawbackless builds and for using more powerful sphere effects more often.

5. It’s not explicitly called out in the text, but Eldritch Knights and Arcane Tricksters get a notable upgrade. The default ones had spell access limited to two schools. But as Spheres of Power has no such restrictions, these subclasses can pick whatever magical effects they desire. They’re still limited by their low Spell Point and magic talent progression, but they have a wider floor of choices.

6. Rangers and Paladins have Blended Training, which means that they can choose to gain a martial talent instead of a magical one if Spheres of Might is in play.

We also have two more Fighting Style Options: the first is Magic Spheres Adept, which grants the person a Casting Tradition but they do not gain any spell points (if they gain a spherecasting class later they trade this in for 1 bonus magic talent); and Natural Weapon Fighting, where attacks made only with natural weapons crit on a 19-20. The former is a good way to simulate dabbler-style characters, although the inability to Augment one’s spells is pretty restrictive. If anything, it encourages one to not take any Drawbacks save for the purposes of Boons. Expect to see a lot of Fighters who can cast spells silently in full plate while being grappled with this option (which isn’t a bad thing, but is a rather amusing mental image)!

Our chapter ends with a very brief Spell/Sphere Conversions list, made for classes that grant particular benefits or bonus spells based on the Vancian schools of magic. Instead of a blow-by-blow account of every core spell, the book gives a list of Spheres that closely map to each of the eight Schools. As is to be expected, Abjuration, Conjuration, and Evocation cover a large number of spheres (3), while Divination, Enchantment, Illusion, and Necromancy a fewer 1-2 each. Transmutation wins out by far, having 6 (!!!) appropriate spheres.

New Classes

Spheres of Power grants us 5 new classes and 27 subclasses, the latter of which has a variant for those using Spheres of Might. The classes proper are quite versatile; many of their core abilities make use of spheres in some way and have pretty broad abilities, with the subclasses emulating more specific concepts. Beyond those options, the initial proficiencies are very customizable: every class grants at least one type of artisan’s tools and/or musical instruments as a bonus proficiency, 3 of the classes allow the choice of 2-3 skills of the player’s choice rather than being restricted to a class list, and 2 of the classes allow customizable proficiency in one common save (DEX/CON/WIS) and one uncommon save (STR/INT/CHA). A few subclasses grant a bonus sphere talent of an appropriate sphere for the use of subclass abilities, but most do not heavily rely upon one kind of Sphere to use.

And if one is using Spheres of Might, 3 classes have the option to trade out martial weapon and medium armor proficiency (light in the Elementalist’s case) in exchange for gaining a martial tradition, which are like casting traditions but for Fighting Styles. Furthermore, every class save the Incanter can also take martial talents upon leveling up from that sourcebook, either via a default class feature in the case of Mageknights and Prodigies or via specific subclasses in the case of Elementalists and Soul Weavers. So in the Spheres system the casting classes can be even more customizable on the fighting front with Spheres of Might!* Putting this all together, two of the same classes can play very differently and occupy different roles in an adventuring party.

*Worry not, martial-lovers, Spheres of Might has many gish-friendly options as well!

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The Elementalist is a blaster caster, gaining the Destruction sphere for free, can mix different blast types together via the same casting, deal bonus damage of a specific type via a Favored Element, and later gain Evasion, resistance to their Favored Element damage type, and proficiency in all saving throws to better resist adverse effects. They gain 5 subclasses related to how they wield this powerful energy: Aspirant grants them more favored elements, Doomblade grants more gish-style features such as martial talent access and Extra Attack, Geomancer lets them apply Favored Element damage bonus to Nature/Weather sphere talents and can cast Destruction sphere effects alongside them during the same round, Inspired Kineticist lets them temporarily learn and swap out different Destruction talents and favored elements, and Primordial lets them turn into an elemental via the Alteration sphere and and apply Destruction talents to their natural weapons.

Assessment: The Elementalist is the most “locked-in” of the new classes rolewise. The majority of their non-defensive class features relate to the Destruction sphere, and with that 1-3 damage types at most. Each of its subclasses tie back into these features instead of granting all-new traits. While the class is good at what it does, it definitely stands out in comparison to the following four, which limits its appeal to me, personally speaking.

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The Incanter is the “pure mage” of Spheres of Power. They get the best progression on both Spell Points and talents by level, and its Hit Die and proficiencies push the class into a “fragile caster” role. The class’ core features relate to the manipulation of Spell Points, such as regaining 2 + half Incanter level during a short rest once per day or sacrificing Spell Points to absorb HP damage on a 1-1 basis.

The Incanter has the largest number of subclasses by far, 9 in total: the Arcanist is a ‘generalist mage’ who can gain temporary talents from a magic sphere for 1 minute and add proficiency bonus to ability checks of Universal sphere magic; Esper is a psychic who can set up a mindlink to grant minor buffs on allies and penalties on enemies; Fey Adept enhances the effects of Dark/Illusion/Light sphere abilities like making illusory objects real and persisting for a time when concentration on the spell ends; Green Mage grants the class a fey familiar and some druidic buffs (animals won’t attack you, can breathe underwater, etc); Necromancer lets the class buff their Death sphere abilities and take control of other undead; Priest grants Turn Undead/Channel Divinity of an appropriate domain and access to some Cleric spells as rituals; Soothsayer enhances the use of Divination and Fate sphere abilities and rolls 2 d20s at the end of a long rest which they can swap out for the result of a perceived creature’s roll; Summoner lets the Incanter keep things summoned via Conjuration/Creation spheres for longer periods, along with some benefits like being immune to losing concentration on such effects from taking damage; finally the Temporalist grants increased movement and teleportation speeds along with rerolling failed rolls and even temporarily stopping time as a capstone ability.

Assessment: The Incanter is similar to the Vancian “pure caster” classes in that the bulk of their abilities are tied not with class features themselves but what magic spheres and talents that they learn. What’s interesting is that the converted “pure caster” classes such as Bard and Wizard learn magic talents every odd level, but the Incanter is the only class that learns one magic talent every level. So if going by just the Spheres system they get a leg up on the core classes in that department.

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The Mageknight is your all-purpose gish class, with the Hit Die and proficiencies to match. They have the worst progression in both Spell Points and magic talents, encouraging them to be more specialized in what magic they learn to better bolster their fighting prowess. The class grants Fighter abilities such as a Fighting Style and Extra Attack, but the class also grants Spell Combat. This feature allows them to make an attack as a bonus action when casting a magic sphere effect under certain limitations, with less restrictions as they level up. They also gain martial focus which they can expend to use certain class features: this mechanic is more detailed in Spheres of Might, but basically it’s like Inspiration in that you either have it or you don’t, and various class features and martial spheres grant you special moves and buffs when you expend it or for as long as you have it. You can expend it to treat a STR/DEX/CON save as a 10 instead of rolling as a universal feature, and can regain it via the Dodge action or via certain attacks and actions with the appropriate class feature or sphere ability.

The Mageknight has a mere 4 subclasses, all of which grant bonus talents from up to 2 spheres related to the appropriate subclass. The Armorist makes them create and maintain weapons and armor faster and better via magic, the Spellblade grants them new attacks and defenses in combat such as gaining a temporary spell point when critting or KOing a foe, Psionicist lets them create a kinetic buffer that can absorb a certain threshold of HP in damage as well as move and evade attacks better, and Shapeshifter improves the speed they can shapeshift into a new form and the duration of the various forms they can take via the Alteration sphere.

Assessment: The Mageknight is versatile in that its otherwise low talent and spell progression is partially alleviated via the subclasses, all of which have bonus sphere options that contain more utility talents and options beyond straight offense. Comparisons will inevitably be made to existing gish options such as the Eldritch Knight, Paladin, and Ranger. For the latter class’ spherecasting versions, the Eldritch Knight doesn’t have Blended Training which limits their martial talent options, and they have less Spell Points and talents. But the Eldritch Knight has Action Surge which is still just as good in the Spheres system as it is in core 5e. Furthermore, they have access to heavy armor proficiency by default unlike the Mageknight, which helps in regards to staying power. That is, unless Spheres of Might is being used for variable alternate proficiencies based on martial traditions.

Paladins and Rangers by contrast gain one less magic talent* but have the same Spell Point progression. Paladins are still great in the DPS department via divine smite, and the Ranger is still on the low end given their situational core class features. By contrast, Mageknights are more half-martials and half-casters, encouraged to either buff and extra attack or fire off spells and attack as a bonus action, with subclasses determining more specific roles and actions.

*Rangers without a subclass that grants bonus spells have six less bonus talents.

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The Prodigy is the other gish class of Spheres of Power, although it functions differently in play than the Mageknight. It has martial focus and a better level-based magic talent progression, but the majority of its class features revolve around a combo-building mechanic known as a Sequence. Basically a Prodigy gains Links in combat via performing certain actions, and loses Links if they don’t take an appropriate action each turn or remain in certain negative conditions for too long. Links can be spent to perform a Finisher, which tend to be multi-target attacks or grant a boost to the Prodigy in some way like regaining martial focus or rerolling a failed saving throw .

There’s a default list of Links and Finishers all Prodigies have, but new ones can be accessed based on what spheres they possess. Spheres of Might to be specific, which technically makes the class require both books to use unless you’re fine with the default options. Magical spheres do not make use of Links or Finishers, but every time the Prodigy builds a new sequence (0 links to 1) they gain a single persistent buff effect dependent on what magic sphere they have access to and choose for this particular Sequence.

Prodigies have a mere 3 subclasses, 4 if we count one of them possessing a variant. Each subclass save the Core Battleborn grants temporary access to bonus talents which are reset after a short duration (in the case of a Mimic) or at the end of a long rest. The Battleborn is the option for focusing more on martial endeavors: it’s Core version grants features such as 1-2 Fighting Styles, greater critical threat range on spells and weapon attacks, can attack up to 3 times via Extra Attack, and can spend a spell point to add proficiency to a nonproficient saving throw. The Spheres of Might version grants temporary bonus martial talents instead of Fighting Styles and the saving throw bonus is replaced with being able to change out one of the subclass bonus talents with a Spell Point and reaction. Mimic’s Calling grants the most bonus spheres but with more limited conditions and duration: you can mimic a magical or martial sphere effect or Vancian spell by observing it in action and making a key ability check plus proficiency against the sphere/spell DC, and the duration ranges from 1 minute or until the next short/long rest depending on level. Finally the Savant’s Calling grants bonus swappable talents like the SoM Battleborn but for magical spells, and can expend martial focus to reflect hostile spells both Vancian and sphere back on enemy casters.

Assessment: As you can see in the link, Prodigies have many abilities to use in combat, highly dependent on what spheres they learn. The building and spending of Links can feel very satisfying when you get off a Finisher in battle, and the sphere-specific Links all relate to the use of a martial sphere’s primary feature. The magic sphere buffs are pretty good, although some are more attractive than others. Destruction’s damage boost is great for just about any build, while Nature’s air geomancy package is great for characters who can manage to stay out of melee. Options such as Mind’s 1d4 penalty on Wisdom saves is situational given that it’s best used to set up another party member using an ability with that save, while Life’s HP regeneration will be too low to matter given how quickly most combats end in 5th Edition.

As for the subclasses, they are all pretty open-ended in versatility, granting potential new talents every long rest like a Vancian caster preparing spells. The Mimic is the odd one out and also quite situational partially due to the fact that sphere abilities are more or less a PC thing. The Pathfinder version of the system made bestiaries for sphere-using monsters and NPCs, but in 5e there are no writeups or guidelines for making such characters on the GM side of things. A Mimic will most likely replicate either the sphere talents of fellow party members or Vancian spells of enemy monsters and mages.

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Our final class in Spheres of Power, the Soul Weaver is the more “spiritual” of the five classes, drawing power from deities, spirits, and otherworldly beings. In the Pathfinder version they were a class similar in mechanics to Clerics, gaining the ability to channel energy and their choice of either the Death or Life sphere as a bonus talent. But in 5e they can mimic a wider variety of spellcasters, Channeling Energy being relegated to the Incanter Priest. As a core class they are accompanied by 2-5 invisible souls (which flavorwise can be things other than souls) which can be expended to gain temporary access to magic talents the Soul Weaver doesn’t possess for 1 minute. These souls are replenished every short or long rest, and a soul can also be expended to occupy a nearby space which the Soul Weaver is considered to occupy for the purposes of line of sight, and at higher levels they can expend 2 souls to turn a failed save into a success.

Soul Weavers gain 6 subclasses, 4 of which grant bonus talents from 1-2 thematic sphere options in line with the subclass, 1 of which can grant access to martial talents via expending of souls as well as a martial tradition, and 1 which grants neither. Path of the Gothi centers around buffing allies and gaining knowledge from the possession of ancestral souls; Path of the Lichling makes the Soul Weaver more undead over time (with defenses to match) and can expend souls to cause damaging necrotic growths to grow on targets; Path of the Medium can gain skill and tool proficiencies and minor class features (1d6 sneak attack, one martial weapon + Fighting Style, etc) from being possessed by a spirit; Path of the Undertaker is a gish option that grants Extra Attack and the ability to expend souls to empower their weapon attacks with necrotic energy; and Path of the White Necromancer grants healing capabilities and their reanimated undead are intelligent and loyal minions if a soul is expended during their creation. Path of the Wraith is a special case as it doesn’t grant bonus talents martial or magical; instead the character can become more like a ghost, spending Spell Points to become temporarily ethereal and can possess the bodies of targets who fail a Charisma save. The ethereal and possession benefits increase in scope at higher levels, such as gaining energy resistances and a flight speed for the former and being able to possess a wider variety of creature types and for longer durations for the latter.

Assessment: The Soul Weaver is an interesting class. It has slightly better Hit Die than an Incanter but the same lackluster weapon and armor proficiencies. It comes off as a pure caster, and its temporary talent-learning via souls is similar to the Prodigy subclasses and Incanter Arcanist. But multiple uses as well as recharging on a short rest points to it being more heavily relied upon than the latter classes. Barring the Undertaker, most of the subclasses encourage indirect aid and ranged combat. Even the wraith is encouraged to bodyhop and soak up damage that way, and the Medium’s minor class features aren’t good enough to replicate a real fighter/rogue/etc.

Thoughts So Far: Minus a few edge cases, Spheres of Power has a pretty promising start. Such cases tend to be in regards to particular classes or subclasses, such as the Elementalist’s shoe-horned role or the situational aspects of the Mimic or Path of the Medium. But overall the classes are pretty open-ended and have a lot of meaningful options. Combined with the spheres, it’s not hard at all to fine-tune the system to make just the character you want.

Join us next time as we dive into the meat of the system in the first quarter of Chapter 4: Spheres!
 
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Libertad

Adventurer
Chapter 4: Spheres, Part I

By far the longest chapter in the book, we’ll cover the Spheres in four parts. Before beginning there are some universalities I should bring up. Unlike in traditional 5th Edition, a lot of concentration duration sphere effects can last the duration without the need for concentration if Augmented with 2 Spell Points. This means that stackable buffs are easy to do, but can get pretty pricey on a caster’s personal reserves.

Secondly, about half of the spheres (11 or 12 depending on what package you take for the Universal sphere) grant a bonus talent when unlocked. This is particularly the case when the default sphere’s effects can’t do much on their own and need a talent to be used to their fullest. Just about every sphere automatically comes with 2 default sphere effects that can either be used just fine on their own or are meant to be used with talents. It’s something that I can see tripping up newcomers, so I figured it’s best to point this out explicitly.

Thirdly, talents in a sphere are separated into different types via parenthetical tags, and those that don’t fit into any neat category have the (other) tag. For example, the Destruction sphere has (blast type) talents which determine the damage and negative conditions imposed by the default Destructive Blast sphere effect, while (blast shape) determines in what form the Destructive Blast manifests.

Fourthly, most Spheres have Variants, which alter how the caster uses magic from the Sphere. They’re optional and usually take the form of some restriction, like only being able to use one instead of both basic magical sphere effects, a more limited selection of targets or types, or some material or condition that can easily overcome the magic. In exchange for taking a Variant, a spherecaster gains a bonus magic talent of their choice or a specific one typically in line with the Variant’s theme.

Finally, every Sphere has Advanced Talents, separated at the end into their own category. They are talents which are either more powerful than the default selections or which can alter the setting assumptions in a significant way. For instance, the Warp sphere’s Planeshift talent may not be appropriate for games where otherworldly realms are unapproachable or sealed off, while the Universal sphere’s Extreme Reach talent can make certain spells affect targets up to several football fields away. Unlike Basic Talents (the default option), Advanced Talents usually have a level-based prerequisite, usually 5th or 11th but sometimes as high as 17th, and a few may even have other talents as prerequisites.

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The Alteration Sphere allows the caster to transform themselves or other targets into different forms via Shapeshift. Shapeshift forms aren’t stackable, either with themselves or with similar effects such as wildshape, but the caster can apply 1-4 traits to the form based on their level, and learning default forms grants a new set of traits which can be applied to other forms. Alteration talents are split between (genotype) talents which provide a base form along with limbs, speed, natural weapons, and selectable traits, while (trait) talents grant new traits that can be applied to any form. Most genotype and trait talents do not cost Spell Points by default, with exceptions being particularly powerful features like the Construct form’s resistance to nonmagical physical damage or Size Change which can shift one’s size (and thus bonus damage and reach) by 1-4 categories based on level. The Advanced Talents include options such as granting vulnerability/immunity to an energy type, fusing two creatures into a single body, and a literal Save or Die for creatures damaged via the Twisted Body talent (think warping a creature’s form violently). Interestingly there are some traits which are not advanced but level-locked, such as the Undead (genotype)’s incorporeal form requiring the caster to be 15th level in order to bestow it. It’s a bit of an oddity vs the rest of this book, but the choices make sense given their powerful utility.

Combos: The natural weapons of the various genotypes are considered unarmed weapons, which makes the Sphere a nice buff to place on Monks, Tavern Brawlers, and similar bare-knuckle fighting types. The text calls out that spells requiring verbal and/or somatic components may not be able to be cast if the new form cannot gesture or speak appropriately, which makes Alteration a great debuff to use on many enemy spellcasters. Talents that increase one’s reach can be stacked via Augmentation in order for shapeshifters to hit opponents from very far away, and with Spheres of Might’s Guardian sphere and the Equipment sphere’s Polearm Guard talent they can make a lot of opportunity attacks from farther distances. The Enhancement sphere has several talents which can be applied to natural attacks and movement speeds.

Existing Comparisons: One’s mind would immediately leap to the Polymorph spell and the Druid’s Wildshape when looking at this sphere. The advantages of Alteration is that they can be taken by lower-level characters in the case of Polymorph and has a wider variety of creature types to morph into in the case of Wildshape. But what Alteration cannot do is outright give every special ability and replacement hit points of Monster Manual entries; instead the sphere grants a brief template which can be customized via a set of various traits. The sphere’s default duration is shorter, but barring Augmentation it is not limited-use and effectively an at-will feature.

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The Conjuration Sphere is your all-purpose minion-summoning sphere. The basic sphere lets you summon an entity known as a companion, whose base stats are determined via a (base) sphere talent, while (form) talents apply further persistent benefits to the companion. Instead of outright summoning entries from the Monster Manual, every (base) talent has a default stat block with several features (usually AC, HP, and proficiency bonus) that increase or are gained based on the spherecaster’s level. Companions by default are limited in that they cannot perform non-Dodge actions unless the summoner spends their bonus action, and only one companion can be summoned at a time.

Although there’s a diversity of creature types, some are typecast into certain roles. Giants are by far the best option for melee damage, while fiends start out imp-sized and don’t gain Multiattack or the ability to treat their natural attacks as magical via leveling up, which makes the type a heavier investment to turn into a martial brute. The (form) talents are quite versatile, and range from abilities such as increasing AC and HP, granting proficiency in skills, tools, and saving throws, the ability to Augment new sense types onto them upon their summoning, and even a few minor class features such as a low-level rage, flurry of blows, and sneak attack. Advanced Talents include options such as outright summoning extraplanar Monster Manual entries in the vein of Planar Binding and the removal of the bonus action and one companion at a time restrictions, making the sphere closer in line with typical summoning.

Combos: The Evolved Companion talent is explicitly meant to apply Alteration sphere (trait) talents to the companion. Spells and abilities which can activate via trigger such as the Physical Magic boon or the Universal sphere’s Contingency advanced talent can have a companion activate them via their own actions. The Magical Companion (form) talent grants the companion a casting tradition, which means they can have their own pool of Spell Points to apply magical effects beyond the summoner’s own reserves. Companions can be dismissed on the caster’s turn without an action, allowing for less-risky scouting and setting up of ambush traps.

Existing Comparisons: The various summoning spells such as Conjure Celestial are the closest approximations, although the companion stat blocks have a lot in common with “pet creature” class features such as Tasha’s revised Beastmaster and the Circle of Wildfire’s Wildfire spirit. The summoning default sphere effect is also concentration and has the same duration as most Conjure X Creature spells, although the casting time is far longer at 10 minutes, requiring Augmentation to cast as an action. On its own, the Conjuration sphere is less versatile and powerful than traditional 5e summoning, although like Alteration it has a lower floor of entry and a wider variety of choices in thematic types. You can still replicate shenanigans such as the Pixie dance crew or Planar Binding efreeti via the Advanced Talents, and it’s still a useful sphere given it adds a creature to aid the party.

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The Creation Sphere summons objects like how Conjuration summons creatures. The default sphere abilities allow the caster to Alter touched material via healing or dealing HP damage, while Create can conjure simple objects out of vegetable matter whose size increases with level and whose materials and complexity can be expanded via the right choice of talents. (alter) talent allows the caster to reshape material to greater degrees, such as changing its physical composition to reforging material via crude changes. The majority of talents fall into the (other) category, including catapulting ranged materials to be flung at enemies via a ranged attack (resisted by DEX save rather than an attack roll, perfect for frail and clumsy casters), creating non-harmful objects that can be placed directly on a creature to Restrain them, and making materials out of translucent magical force that can block incorporeal travel. The Advanced Talents include options which can outright disintegrate cubic blocks of material and bypassing their HP, reshaping living creatures by altering the number of limbs and restoring/removing natural senses, and creating food and water...which costs a Spell Point by itself, so no ending world hunger this way.

There’s even a table for the hit points and damage threshold of objects by size and material, along with the amount of damage dealt by falling objects based on size (or weapon type if a weapon), which is rather handy.

Combos: The Alchemical Creation talent is useful for people with the Alchemy sphere from Spheres of Might, particularly when creating items they possess as formula/poison talents given that they can use these to greater effect. Talents which can make objects harder to identify as fakes or be made permanent via Exquisite Detail and Permanent Change (an Advanced Talent) can be a good way for PCs to make some quick cash provided they don’t mind the consequences of being exposed as hucksters. Transparency plus Object of Force talents can be useful for providing protection to characters with a gaze-based attack, while using Forge to hollow out a tunnel and using Altered Burst on the roof to make a weaker material can be a good quickly-made pit trap. Spears are an effective weapon to create via the Catapult talent, as they don’t have to be made of iron unlike some other popular weapon and polearm choices.

Existing Comparisons: Spells which immediately come to mind for this are Creation, Shatter, Stone Shape, and Fabricate. Damaging object creation spells such as Conjure Volley and Steel Wind Strike are better replicated via the Destruction sphere given their main purpose is to harm rather than creation in and of itself.

The Creation sphere has several advantages over the 5e spells. For one, the sphere effects are cast as an action by default rather than several minutes like Fabricate or Creation. Secondly the size of the affected objects can be increased both by level and via Augmentation, whereas Fabricate can only affect up to Large objects and Creation requires high-level spell slots to affect a similar number of cubic feet. Stone Shape is closest to the Forge talent combined with Expanded Materials to affect stone, but costs a 4th-level slot while the sphere equivalent would be 2 Spell Points. Create Food and Water affects 3 times as many people as the Sustenance sphere talent, but the former is a 3rd level slot while the latter is 1 Spell Point, so they’re about the same. In fact, Sustenance has a longer casting time unless Augmented but has a lower barrier to entry (1st level).

While Spell Points are still a limiting factor, given how the core casters only have a couple of 5+ level spell slots to use at a time at all but the highest levels and spherecasters have many ways to boost their Spell Points, a pure mage spherecaster can perform object creation magic faster, at earlier levels, and more often should they so desire.

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The Dark Sphere specializes in the creation and manipulation of darkness. The default sphere ability allows one to create a 15 foot radius of darkness which nonmagical light cannot illuminate, and (darkness) talents can further enhance and alter this ability. The other default ability allows one to apply a (meld) onto a target which is typically a buff, and we have the ability to grant Darkvision 60 feet or +30 feet to it as an existing sense by default. Most (darkness) talents involve imposing various debuffs on those who are within the sphere, such as disadvantage on saving throws, wandering in a random (or controlled by the caster if Augmented) direction, dealing necrotic damage equal to the creature’s Hit Dice, and squares counting as difficult terrain. There are two more beneficial talents, such as Shadow Tag which allows one to know the direction and status of those who pass through the darkness and Tenebrous Legerdemain which allows one to move and steal objects from a distance within the darkness. The (meld) talents include things such as creating a band of blinding darkness around a creature’s head, granting one immunity to negative effects from (darkness) effects, and pulling a target’s shadow off of them to turn into a noncombatant scout. There’s a few nifty (other) talents perfect for roguish types, such as stashing items in an extradimensional shadow space, being treated as covered by lead vs divination, and creating holes of darkness on objects to pass through them. The Advanced Talents include things such as turning incorporeal within one’s own area of darkness, traveling overland via the Plane of Shadow, and turning a Shadow Lurk into a more fully-formed creature that can attack and deliver spells as though it were the caster.

Combos: Characters with darkvision can gain an advantage on adversaries without it via the basic darkness sphere effect if my below interpretation is correct. The Disorienting Darkness talent forcing creatures to move in an unwanted direction is great for directing enemies into waiting combatants and hostile terrain. Darkness talents which impose disadvantage on saving throws or restrain the target’s movement are good for letting allies set up more effective AoE attacks. Obscure Passage’s shadowy holes can be used to create pit traps if the caster knows what’s directly underneath the floor and for creating murder holes for ranged attackers benefitting from Clearsight. One with the Void (turning incorporeal) will be of limited use unless combined with Clinging Darkness to allow the darkness effect to move with an object or creature.

Existing Comparisons: The most immediate spell that comes to mind is the core Darkness spell. The text is a bit unclear as to how similar the default sphere ability is, specifically whether or not those with darkvision can see through it. Apparently those with that sense type can, for there’s a talent called Pure Darkness that reduces Darkvision to 5 feet and reduces the range of all other sense types by half in the radius. This implies that the default darkness can be seen through with that sense type. The radius is also half size unless Augmented via the Greater Darkness talent. The Darkvision meld talent is similar to the spell of the same name, although it can be cast at will but has a longer casting time unless Augmented and a shorter duration. The various debuffs don’t have many equivalent effects, at least in regards to requiring or playing off of shadow magic themes. Most of them aren’t augmented meaning that they can be used at will but require affected creatures to be within a relatively small AoE. The turning incorporeal is similar to the Etherealness spell, albeit it has a lower minimum level requirement and stricter conditions. As both it and the basic darkness sphere effects are concentration, the latter has to be Augmented, making it rather pricey over time in terms of Spell Point cost.

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The Death Sphere is the other major minion-summoning sphere. Its default sphere abilities include a debuffing ranged attack known as Ghost Strike which has a base ability to increase a target’s exhaustion level, while Reanimate turns the remains of an appropriate creature type into an undead under the caster’s mental thrall. Like Conjuration there are (undead) talents which determine the undead’s base stat block, while (reanimate) talents allow for the addition of persistent enhancements onto such undead creatures. (ghost strike) talents are different in that they grant new forms of debuffing actions, such as imposing curses on a target, making them vulnerable to slashing/piercing/bludgeoning damage,* short-duration paralysis, and necrotic damage that grants the caster temporary hit points. (reanimate) talents are persistent benefits, many of which have to be Augmented to apply, and include things such as granting natural attacks or higher damage die on existing attacks, the ability to impose the Frightened condition on a failed Wisdom save, applying the Troop template to an (undead) stat block if cast within a mass grave or similar area, granting proficiencies in weapons/armor/skills/etc, and applying (trait) and (genotype) talents from the Alteration sphere. The various (undead) talent stat blocks include iconic creatures such as Ghouls, Shadows, and Skeletons, who tend to have variable Hit Points based on the reanimated target, their AC is equal to the caster’s sphere DC, and have their own means of being reanimated. For example, Zombies require a corpse, Will-O-Wisps a dying 0 HP target (or who died within 3 rounds of the Reanimate casting), and specters and poltergeists objects of the deceased.

*or downgrading immunity to resistant to “normal”

Interestingly the various condition immunities and special abilities typical to undead aren’t universal on all stat blocks; even Poltergeists and Shadows don’t start out Incorporeal by default, and (reanimate) talents are meant to fill in the gaps. Advanced Talents include the ability to project one’s spirit to the Ethereal and Astral Planes, able to reanimate more powerful types of undead such as mummies and vampire spawn, and allowing reanimated creatures to gain partial access to any spells or martial spheres they had in life.

There is one talent I do have to call out: Trained allows creatures with class levels to retain all nonmagical features from those levels. As NPCs are not built with class levels by default, and one cannot use the Death sphere to reanimate someone with a Challenge Rating greater than 1/4th the caster’s level, this is useless as-is. You can’t use it to reanimate your fellow PCs into undead unless they’re wildly underleveled, and NPCs who do have some class features such as Sneak Attack aren’t really built in the same fashion as PCs and so are highly subject to GM Fiat.

Combos: Ghost Strike is good for setting up targets for debilitating attacks, and Vulnerability is great given how common physical attacks are for characters and undead minions. Abilities that can buff characters are useful for undead, as mentioned under Alteration and Conjuration.

Existing Comparisons: In comparison to the Conjuration sphere, Reanimate has a faster default casting time but a shorter duration. Additionally undead reduced to 0 hit points cannot be reanimated again, unlike summoned creatures who cannot be summoned again until the caster finishes a long rest. Finally, the Death sphere by default allows the simultaneous maintenance of multiple undead, up to one’s proficiency bonus. Undead still require a bonus action to take non-Dodge actions, although they can still defend themselves from hostile creatures if not commanded and the bonus action enhances all undead. This makes Death a better hordemaster style sphere than Conjuration.

As for the official rules, one cannot help but look at the Animate Dead, Create Undead, Summon Undead, and Danse Macabre spells. Generally speaking such spells have longer durations, although the instantaneous ones get out of the caster’s control if not cast again in 24 hours. Summon Undead is closer in line with the Death sphere in that it has a default template and variable AC and HP, although it has a limited number of special abilities whereas the Death sphere has a larger amount of customization via (reanimate) talents. Additionally, the official spells require undead minions to remain close by to be animated/under the caster’s control, whereas the Death sphere has no maximum range. In fact, there is a talent which lets the caster perceive senses through their undead minions, and talents which grant them incorporeal movement are Basic to take* which makes the Death sphere great for scouting purposes. Additionally, the four official spells don’t have options for incorporeal undead, while Spheres does via talents. While the sample stat blocks for the higher-power undead may not be equal to their Monster Manual counterparts, they do allow for a PC to have their own coterie of vampire spawn should they so desire.

*Other means of becoming or granting incorporeality in Spheres of Power require either an Advanced talent or 15th level minimum for the Alteration sphere.

Troops: This new rule is meant to simulate masses of otherwise-identical creatures attacking as an organized force. It’s a simple template added onto a creature, where the damage of their non-magical weapon attacks increase by two sizes (d4 to d6, d6 to d10, etc) and doubles the number of dice rolled. The latter effect applies for as long as the troop’s HP value is 51% to 100% of its maximum value. In Spheres of Power, the Troop template is applied to Conjuration companions via an Advanced Talent or a basic talent for Death’s undead minions. In the latter case the caster can only maintain a single Troop and no other undead at a time.

As you can tell, the Troop template is a great way to buff up the damage value of a minion stat block’s attacks. But it doesn’t make them hardier or more resistant to damage.

Thoughts So Far: The first couple of Spheres have a wide assortment of neat features, with an emphasis on lower barriers of entry and Augmented effects being more the exception than the norm. They tend to not be as powerful as the official spells by default, but Augmentations can help bridge the gap. Given how shapeshifting and summoning spells in traditional D&D tend to be overpowered given that they out and out add monsters of wildly varying balance to the PCs’ sides, creating default templates which are improved via level and talents is a good compromise.

I felt a bit iffy on the Dark sphere. While granting darkvision can be useful in a party of humans, the commonality of that sense type on both sides of the GM screen means that getting the more interesting abilities is a bit of a talent tax. Creation suffers a similar fate in that it requires a talent to be able to create materials besides non-living vegetable matter unless one dips for a restrictive Variant. And Death seems a bit powerful, especially when paired up besides Conjuration; even if the latter sphere makes it easier to summon minions, the types of places most adventurers go to have no shortage of the dead and the dying. But overall, all five spheres have various useful abilities for a variety of caster concepts.

Join us next time as we stat up Shantae and cover the next five spheres!
 

Libertad

Adventurer
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Shantae
Medium Humanoid (Air Genasi)
Mageknight 8; Shapeshifter Path


Armor Class 16
Hit Points 68 (8d10+16)
Speed 30 ft.

STR 9 DEX 16 CON 14 INT 10 WIS 10 CHA 16 (27 point buy, +2 DEX, +1 CON Air Genasi, +1 CHA feat)

Saving Throws Dexterity +6, Charisma +6
Skills Acrobatics +6, Athletics +6, Perception +3, Performance +9
Tools Disguise Kit, Drums, +1 Artisan’s Tools/Musical Instrument
Senses passive Perception 13
Languages Common, Primordial


Background: Entertainer

Feats: Extra Magic Talent (+1 CHA, bonus magic talent), Magical Expertise (2 bonus magic talents)

Casting Tradition: Dancing
Key Ability Modifier:
Charisma
Sphere DC 14; Spell Points 7
Boons: Aptitude (Performance), Easy Focus; Drawbacks: Magical Signs, Skilled Casting (Performance), Somatic Casting 2, Variants: Lycanthropic (Alteration)
Alteration Sphere - Animalistic (genotype), Anthropomorphic (genotype), Aquan (genotype), Avian (genotype), Enhanced Attacks (trait), Plant (genotype), Size Change (trait), Vermin (genotype) (+3 bonus talents from subclass & variant)
Destruction Sphere - Aura (blast shape), Extra Blast Type (Bludgeoning, Lightning, Physical), Fire (blast type), Poison (blast type), Ray (blast shape), Sculpt (blast shape) (+4 bonus talents from feats & Alteration sphere)

Martial Tradition: Performer
Sphere DC
14
Athletics - Mighty Conditioning (use better of STR or DEX for Athletics/Acrobatics)
Dual Wielding
Equipment
- Unarmored Training, Unarmed Training (unarmed are finesse weapons, deal 1d4 or 1d6 with versatile property; AC is 10 + DEX + CHA modifiers when unarmored and not using shield)



Special Abilities

Ambidexterity (Dual-Wielding):
Expend martial focus to make off-hand attack without expending bonus action.

Destructive Blast (Aura): action to activate, bonus action to use. 10 foot radius, 1 round, Dexterity or Constitution Saving Throw. Hit: 9 (2d8) bludgeoning, fire, lightning, piercing, poison, or slashing damage. Rider Effects: knock target back 5 feet (bludgeoning), target poisoned until start of next turn (poison), advantage/disadvantage for attacks/saves vs metal-armored targets (lightning), catches on fire taking 2d8 fire damage per round (fire), or is not treated as magical for purposes of resistance (physical). Special: Augment 1 SP to increase to 4d8 damage, increase rider effect to push target back 20 feet (bludgeoning, taking 1d6 +1d6 for every 10 feet they’d move if colliding with object), becomes frightened for 1 minute (fire), stun until start of next turn on failed save (lightning), poisoned for 1 minute (poison), affected squares become difficult terrain for 1 minute (physical), duration increases to 1 minute, or Augment 2 sp to not need concentration.

Extra Attack: Attack twice instead of once with Attack action.

Fighting Style: Natural Weapon Fighting: Crit on 19-20 when attacking only with natural weapons.

Shapeshifter Path: +2 Alteration sphere talents.

Steal Language: Can speak and understand one language of a touched creature until the next long rest.

Unending Breath: hold breath indefinitely.


Actions

Extra Attack:
Shantae can attack twice when using the Attack action with any combination of weapons.

Destructive Blast (Ray): Melee or Ranged Spell Attack: +6 to hit, 30 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d8) bludgeoning, fire, lightning, piercing, poison, or slashing damage. Rider Effects: knock target back 5 feet (bludgeoning), target poisoned until start of next turn (poison), advantage/disadvantage for attacks/saves vs metal-armored targets (lightning), catches on fire taking 2d8 fire damage per round (fire), or is not treated as magical for purposes of resistance (physical). Special: Augment 1 SP to increase to 4d8 damage, increase rider effect to push target back 20 feet (bludgeoning, taking 1d6 +1d6 for every 10 feet they’d move if colliding with object), becomes frightened for 1 minute (fire), stun until start of next turn on failed save (lightning), poisoned for 1 minute (poison), affected squares become difficult terrain for 1 minute (physical), duration increases to 1 minute, or fire 3 at a time vs different targets.

Unarmed Strike: Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 or 7 (1d4+4 or 1d6+4 bludgeoning damage). Special: Critical on 19-20, +/- 1d4 or 1d6 for size category changes by 1-2 sizes. Depending on her form Shantae’s damage type, reach, and other properties can differ.

Mingle with the Wind: Cast Levitate once per long rest.



Bonus Actions

Shapeshift:
can gain access to a single genotype talent for up to 10 minutes concentration with up to 2 traits beyond base talent benefits. Special: Augment 1 SP to change up to 2 size categories larger or smaller, 2 SP to not need concentration.

Quick Transformation: Can shapeshift self as a bonus action.

Spell Combat: Can make one weapon attack as bonus action whenever cast 0 spell point magic sphere effect as an action.


Equipment

5 Potions of Healing, Pulled Pork Sandwich (as Potion of Greater Healing), Shampoo, Entertainer’s Pack

Conversion Details: I picked Shantae because her form of magic is rather peculiar: changing into various animals and monsters via the power of dance! She seemed a great choice for showing off the Spheres system’s toolbox nature given the disparate magical types (bardic for dancing, druidic for shapeshifting).

Shantae has a lot of options at her disposal, mostly in the form of shapeshifting. I didn’t include all of them in the above stat block as that would make things too complicated, but with the above talents she can reliably take the forms and abilities of all of the creatures from the game series. She can also mix and match certain traits from different genotypes, something she cannot do in the games. As just a sampling of her abilities, Shantae can…

1. Gain alternative movement speeds, such as climbing, swimming, flight, and increased land speed.
2. Grow as large as an elephant (huge) or as small as a mouse (tiny) and deal greater/lesser damage with weapon attacks as a result.
3. Gain darkvision, blindsight, and/or scent.
4. Gain hands capable of fine manipulation and speak normally in any form.
5. Deal piercing or slashing as well as bludgeoning with natural weapons, all of which are treated as magical.
6. Create a web net to entangle targets.

I gave her the Destruction sphere as well to simulate the fire magic and pike ball spells from the video games, and her hair attack is basically a reflavored unarmed strike. I did have to borrow some rules from Spheres of Might, although for the appropriate martial spheres I included the effects in parenthesis.

Finally, I’ll note that this isn’t a holistic conversion. In the second game she lost access to her magic and made heavier use of gear; such a conversion would effectively be a new write-up. I also didn’t include the more obscure transformations, such as the Sophia III or Gem Jug forms given their optional nature.

If one were to try and build Shantae in default 5th Edition, they’d likely try for a Moon Druid or a Bard using Polymorph. While the former is a pretty powerful subclass, both options are still limited by uses per long rest, and if you wanted to change into another form you’d have to go back to normal and wildshape/polymorph again, costing precious uses. Shantae, on the other hand, can shapeshift as often as she desires. The only real limited-use features are using Spell Points to maintain forms and Aura blasts without concentration, or if she wants to deal a lot of damage with Destructive Blast. For that reason she doesn’t really need Spell Points unless she has to guarantee she won’t lose her shapeshifted status when taking damage.

Edit: I realized that the bonus sphere in Destruction wasn't assigned to Alteration. I also realized that Shantae also has a magic attack (Flamethrower) that's a straight line, as well as a lightning-based attack (Storm Puff) in the games. I upped her level by 1 in order to give her an extra feat for 2 more magic talents: Extra Blast Type and Sculpt, both in Destruction. Neither Alteration sphere blast type seemed appropriate for her, but I chose Poison as the Form-Breaking one seemed a bit too "body horror" for the otherwise cheerful franchise.
 
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Libertad

Adventurer
Chapter 4: Spheres, Part 2

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The Destruction Sphere is a broad overview of the myriad kinds of damage-dealing magic. The basic sphere ability is a Destructive Blast, which is akin to those damaging cantrip spells in default 5th Edition but can be Augmented to deal a lot more damage based on level. The two major talent types are (blast shape), which determines the damage type of the Destructive Blast as well as a “rider effect” which is a secondary condition imposed on a target, and (blast shape) which determines how your Destructive Blast manifests, such as a ray, sphere, line, or cone.

Destruction is a pretty unique sphere in that it’s built to grant you lots of bonus talents if you go for a jack-of-all-trades caster type: upon gaining access to this sphere you select one (blast type) and (blast shape) talent each of the caster’s choice, and for every other sphere you gain access to you gain a bonus (blast type) talent in line with that sphere’s themes. Additionally, blast types related to the Nature or Weather spheres have 0 Spell Point Augmentations called Draw on Nature where the caster manipulates existing terrain and weather to form the Destructive Blast. This means that the spell is considered nonmagical for the purposes of bypassing magic-related resistances and immunities.

There’s a lot of (blast type) talents, and they all have interesting rider effects, some of which can be Augmented for greater and longer-lasting effects. For example, the Degrading talent (Enhancement sphere) treats future attacks vs the damaged target that turn to be treated as magical (and temporarily lose any HP regeneration abilities if Augmented), while Teleporting (Warp sphere) can forcefully teleport the target 5 feet in a direction of the caster’s choice (20 feet if Augmented) provided that they end up on a non-damaging solid surface capable of supporting their weight. The (blast shape) talents are fewer but also diverse, ranging from the typical single-target Ray (multi-target different creatures if Augmented), the counterattack Retribution activated as a reaction, and the concentration-buff Blade which places the damage type and rider effect (but not damage die) onto a nonmagical weapon or natural attack. Advanced Talents include things such as Cloud which turns the Destructive Blast into a long-lasting obscuring cloud, or Disintegrate which deals additional damage equal to the spherecaster’s level and reduces KO’d targets to fine dust.

Combos: Talents which can control and restrain enemy movement such as Confining, Ice, and Teleporting are good options for battlefield control. Applying energy types onto physical weapons via Blade is a good means of getting around energy resistances and immunities for the physical attackers in one’s party. Some (blast type) talents impose disadvantage on saves vs magical sphere effects of other Spheres, an ideal set-up for a follow-up spell attack. The Aura or Retribution (blast shape) talent plus the Bramble, Ice, or Restraining (blast type) talents are a good means of shutting down enemy movement that passes near the caster or who attacks them respectively. The Explosive Orb (blast shape) talent is intentionally designed to intersect with the Alchemy and Trap spheres from Spheres of Might, and the Equipment sphere’s Sling Combatant can work with it as well.

Existing Comparisons: Damaging spells such as Fireball, Lightning Bolt, Cone of Cold, and Chain Lightning come to mind when thinking of Destruction. What makes the Destruction sphere different is that barring Disintegrate and the unaugmented Scorching talents, virtually none of the options simply deal straight damage. The basic Destructive Blast is on par with cantrips from the official sourcebooks, although the Blaster Adept talent can allow the spherecaster to apply their Key Ability Modifier to the damage which can give a better average result. The Augmented version increases the damage to 1d8 + 1d8 per 2 levels of the spherecaster, allowing for a maximum 11d8 window.

I decided to look at some popular damaging spells and input the maximum possible value for their damage dice based on 9th level spell slots if applicable. Fireball, Lightning Bolt, and Melf’s Acid Arrow all have roughly similar average damage values of 45 to 50 in comparison to Destructive Blast, although Cone of Cold inches out a slightly higher result due to a maximum 12d8. Ice Storm, Flame Strike, and Sunburst all have lower averages given either a lack of higher spell slot options or having a lower ceiling of average damage. The two major damaging spells that win out over the Destruction sphere are Disintegrate and Meteor Swarm, although those have some very hefty spell slots so they can’t be used more than once per long rest in most gaming groups.

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The Divination Sphere is all about knowing the unknowable and enhancing one’s senses. Its talents are split between (divine), which allows the caster to detect certain creatures, objects, and phenomena based upon the appropriate talent, and (sense) which enhances the caster’s perception and senses in some meaningful way. The caster gains one (divine) and one (sense) talent each of their choice upon first gaining this sphere, and much like Destruction a bonus (divine) talent is granted for every other sphere that the caster knows.

Divining normally takes 10 minutes and can persist as Concentration for an equally long time, but can be Augmented to be cast as an action. This process can be sped up via the Fast Divinations talent, which reduces the unaugmented time down to 1 minute and also allows the caster to “swap out” different (divine) talents without ending the duration and requiring a new casting. Sense is much faster to cast and longer-lasting. There’s a special type of Augmentation known as Recall Lore for (divine) talents which allow detection of certain creature types. If the caster succeeds on an appropriate Intelligence skill check they learn what type of creature the divined subject is, and there’s an (other) talent known as Invasive Divinations which can grant knowledge of their immunities, resistances, and vulnerabilities via this successful check.

The (divine) talents include various kinds of detection, from certain monster types, performing psychometry on objects to discern their history, extraplanar portals and influence, a creature’s thoughts, sustained injuries, diseases, and similar afflictions, Augury which more or less works as the original spell, and Foresight which is similar to the Guidance cantrip and Bless spell but can be granted as a reaction to an ally (but only once per casting unless the talent is taken multiple times). The (sense) talents are broader and include things such as Blindsight, being able to understand spoken and written languages, advantage on initiative checks and don’t grant enemies advantage on attacks when caught unaware, +5 on passive Perception checks vs traps and hazards, and the ability to see invisible and ethereal creatures normally via a successful Perception check made with advantage. Advanced Talents include options such as scrying and true seeing (functions similar to the original spells), x-ray vision, and the ability to find any one object or creature regardless of distance or planar boundaries.

Combos: The Blindfolded Oracle, Scent, and Tremorsense (sense) talents can be a good combination when used in conjunction with Dark and Illusion spheres to allow the buffed ally to ignore the magic’s visual obscurations. Sniper’s Eye is a great option for ranged combatants, while spells which can disintegrate and make holes in substances that block divinations can be a good means of extending one’s (divine) talents beyond such defenses. Discern Individual explicitly calls out the Scout sphere in Spheres of Might, while a caster possessing that sphere and the Detect Information talent of the Divination sphere can reroll a failed Scout check if using the Investigation skill.


Existing Comparisons: More than the other spheres covered so far, there’s a lot of talents which map very closely onto existing spells. The Divination sphere’s Divine ability is slightly better than the low-level Detect X spells in that it has a 120 foot range unaugmented rather than 30 feet, but a longer default casting time. Additionally, sphere equivalents to things such as Scrying and True Seeing do not have expensive material components required to cast. Although the original True Seeing isn’t a Concentration spell, while the original Scrying is a bit worse in that the Spheres version doesn’t require secondhand knowledge of the target (+10 save modifier but requires something like a likeness or possession) and can scry on other planes of existence (+5 save modifier). But what the original Scrying has as its advantage is that the Spheres version cannot be used again on a target who succeeded on the save for 24 hours.

Generally speaking, the advantage of Divination Sphere talents is that such effects can be cast more often and generally cheaper than in the Vancian system, albeit typically with a longer casting time unless Augmented.

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The Enhancement Sphere is all about buffing and debuffing. Talents are split into (degrade) and (enhance) tags, which should be self-explanatory. A lot of talents also allow for both options when taken. Talents range from animating objects as commanded minions, bestowing intelligence on a tree or object, degrading weapon attacks to roll the minimum value on damage dice and rendering them incapable of critical hits, granting a weapon/armor/clothes a magical bonus of +1 to +3 dependent on level, granting disadvantage/advantage on STR/DEX/CON or INT/WIS/CHA ability checks, or causing a creature to become blind, deaf, or lose access to a special sense type. Advanced Talents include such options as Augmenting buffs and debuffs to a 30 foot AoE that lasts for 1 week and Reversing Gravity within an area.

Combos: As this entire sphere weakens and strengthens various abilities, the potential combinations are endless. But for just a few ideas, Enhance Poison goes well with (poison) talents from the Alchemy sphere in Spheres of Might, while Mental/Physical Enhancement goes well with characters whose features involve opposed ability checks such as grapplers.

Existing Comparisons: Enhance Ability is the most obvious comparison for Mental & Physical Enhancement talents, as is Elemental Weapon for the Energy Weapon talent, Longstrider for the Speed Control talent, and Blindness/Deafness for the Steal Ability talent. Some of the more iconic buffs such as Bless, Enlarge/Reduce, and Haste are technically covered by other spheres in this chapter. Barring Blindness/Deafness, the core spells have longer durations but have ranges of touch. Additionally, Elemental Weapon has a higher ceiling on bonus damage and also grants a bonus to attack rolls, while Energy Weapon has a simple 1d6 but also grants necrotic and radiant as additional damage types. Enhance Ability is more limited in that it applies advantage to one type of ability check rather than Sphere’s 3, but in the case of the physical options grant one additional minor benefit and can also multi-target via higher level slots. Enhance/Degrade abilities can also be multi-target, but requires the Mass talent from the Universal sphere. Longstrider can multi-target but only has a maximum +10 speed, while Speed Control can be up to +25 feet at 17th level.

Generally speaking, Enhancement sphere talents typically have dual-purpose debuff/buff options barring the imposed Variants and 30 foot range, but have a shorter duration and are single-target unless Augmented with Universal sphere talents. Granted, higher-level slots are technically Augmentations so this last part is neither a point in favor or against either system.

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The Fate Sphere is strange in that it while it has a specific divine/cosmic theme, the talents proper range the gamut of options and tend to be more suitable for certain party arrangements and character roles than being either broadly useful or more focused. There are three different talent tags: (consecration) infuses a small radius with magic centered on a target and moves with them that can enhance, harm, and ward off creatures in various ways; (motif) talents are named after Tarot cards which can represent some cosmic entity in the setting, granting a persistent buff onto a target and a greater yet shorter-duration buff when the motif is dismissed; and (word) talents are instantaneous abilities the caster creates by drawing upon cosmic words of power.

The (consecration) talents include options such as allowing affected targets to deal 1d4 extra radiant damage, imposing a random negative condition on creatures of opposed alignment, granting advantage on Wisdom and death saving throws, a one-time 1d4 bonus to an attack or saving throw per person within the aura, and magical silence that also grants resistance to thunder damage (immunity if Augmented). The (motif) talents include options such as being able to assess the Challenge Rating of a target they can see and a dismissal that grants +2 to attack rolls and AC vs such scanned enemies, the ability to spend a temporary inspiration point and a dismissal to add their Proficiency bonus to a d20 roll (doesn’t stack with similar double-proficiency granting abilities), and can’t be surprised or give advantage to enemies the target can’t see and the dismissal causes adjacent invisible enemies to become visible. The (word) talents include abilities which can grant advantage on the next d20 roll, exorcise a possessed creature, can magically open or close a portal, lock, or the eyes and mouths of a creature, and forcing a creature to roll a Charisma save whenever they’d damage a creature/object or else damage themselves instead. Advanced Talents include the ability to restore a target’s original alignment if changed by external forces, cause (word) talents which are curses to become permanent until dispelled, and the ability to allow allies within 30 feet of a target affected by a (motif) talent to benefit from that motif.

Combos: Serendipity’s d4 bonus can stack with Divination’s Foresight and Mind’s inspiration for some pretty hefty bonuses. The Empress and the Fool motif talents applied on the same target can turn the latter’s disadvantage on saving throws into advantage and a +5 bonus to boot, with Enhancement’s Staunch Resistance granting proficiency in an unproficient saving throw. Previously-explained battlefield control options in Destruction (and the Creation sphere’s Restrictive Creation and Fate’s Bondage talent) combined with (consecration) talents can force enemies to remain within the AoE and suffer penalties. The Lovers (motif) talent combined with abilities that can create/summon multiple allies is a great way to boost saving throws quickly. The Soothe (word) talent and an Augmented Purity (Consecration) talent are designed to aid abilities which can heal.

Existing Comparisons: A few of the Fate sphere talents correspond to the alignment-based and “holy” spells in default 5th Edition, although a large amount don’t have any immediate corresponding spells. There’s quite a number of talents that allow advantage on a variety of rolls or play around with dice results such as Bless (word) and the World (motif) talents. The Hallow talent is the same as the core spell’s fiend/fey/etc repellant albeit shorter in duration and casting time. The Reveal Alignment talent may seem similar to Detect Good & Evil, but one thing it doesn’t have is that it reveals the alignment of all creatures within the area of consecration, extraplanar or no, something which cannot be done in basic 5th Edition. The Silence talent is the same as the core spell save that thunder damage isn’t negated, merely halved, unless the spell is Augmented. The Mark (word) talent is close to Hex and Hunter’s Mark in that it grants the caster bonus damage vs the affected target, and two sample abilities are even called out as functioning as such spells for the purposes of other features.

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The Illusion Sphere is another broad sphere, focusing on the creation of false realities. Like any such school of magic in D&D, it has a semi-lengthy discussion on cases in regards to using illusion for cover, at what point people can reasonably disbelieve illusions, and non-deception uses for the sphere. The two basic sphere abilities include Figment which creates an illusory vision within a 10 to 50 foot cube depending on level and Augmentation, and Glamer which is a personal illusion applied to a creature or object. Talents are divided between (glamer) which affects the latter, (sensory) which expands non-visual senses and removes or alters an illusion’s magical aura, and (other) which covers everything else. There are a mere two (sensory) talents which cover the non-visual senses and altering magic auras, and possession of either of them grants new Augmentation options to other Illusion talents. The (glamer) talents include creating decoy copies, creating an illusionary disguise, and one which covers a lot of abilities: blurring oneself to impose disadvantage and obscurement vs incoming attacks, invisibility, advantage on auditory-based Stealth checks, and evading special sense types. (other) talents are a diverse bunch such as creating multiple independent illusions within the figment cube, taking control of an existing illusion, creating illusionary obstructions that can remove the sense of hearing/touch/smell/etc to impose various debuffs on targets within, and the ability to choose a limited number of targets to automatically disbelieve your illusions. The Advanced Talents include granting an illusion intelligence to interact with the environment, making illusions permanent until dispelled, and changing psychic damage dealt via offensive illusion options to deal other damage types.

Finally, there is an optional variant list of (figment) talents which impose specific hard-coded rules as opposed to open-ended magical abilities common to illusion magic. This is intended to save gaming groups headaches from unclear interpretations. The 4 figment talents can grant disadvantage on enemy attacks, cause targets within the area to be heavily obscured, turn the ground into difficult terrain, and impose disadvantage on Perception checks.

Combos: One’s imagination is the limit in regards to compatibility with other talents, spells, and class features. Selective Illusions plus the creation of visual illusions allows attackers to attack from behind cover and surprise targets, while Veiled Illusions with an altered magical aura combined with an illusory monster can be a good way to get enemy casters to cast and prepare for the wrong types of attacks and spells.

Existing Comparisons: Blur, Disguise Self, Invisibility, Mirror Image, and the various “create illusion” spells are the most direct inspirations for this sphere. The Illusionary Disguise talent is functionally identical to Disguise Self save that it’s concentration and lasts a shorter duration. However as it requires a Spell Point to cast even unaugmented it loses out by default, although the Greater Illusions talent can grant it tactile components which Disguise Self cannot do. The Obscure talent’s ability to impose invisibility is like the spell of the same name, save that the default Obscure is 60 foot range instead of touch and has a shorter duration. However, gaining the equivalent of Greater Invisibility is easier to do at lower levels given it costs a mere 2 Spell Points to Augment it to not end if the target attacks someone. And unlike Greater Invisibility it has a far longer default duration.

As for the various image/illusion creating abilities, the default Figment is pretty similar to Silent Image, with the various talents applied to it simulating higher-level spells. The total dimensions in cubic feet are similar (Programmed Illusion, the highest-level one, being 30 cubic feet) although the Illusion sphere can reach a greater maximum result especially if combined with the Universal sphere’s Widen metasphere talent. There’s even an Advanced Talent, Mirage, which can easily replicate the Mirage Arcana spell, and Permanent Illusion and Intelligent Illusions can do similar things for Simulacrum and Programmed Illusion (albeit Simulacrum is semi-real). As for Mirror Image, the Decoy talent functions identically save that it creates 1 duplicate by default but can create 3 more via Augmentation, 1 better than the core spell. As for Blur, the Obscure talent ends if the target casts a spell or sphere ability or attacks which is a point in Blur’s favor. But a point in Obscure’s favor is that one can Augment it to apply to enemies with non-visual special senses such as Blindsight.

Thoughts So Far: These spheres continue the tradition of granting moderately-useful at-will abilities with more talents and Augmentations to replicate the more powerful kinds of Vancian casting. I do like how Destruction does interesting things beyond just straight damage and is generous with bonus talents; as the caster can only really fire off one Destructive Blast a round, it is kind of a waste to have a bunch of different talents that merely alter the attack when so many other sphere talents grant more versatility and have longer-lasting durations. Divination is also good, although I find it a bit curious how more than a few talents directly copy existing spells with a few differences. Enhancement is a very strong sphere in that its various talents are useful for just about any character concept. Fate is one I’m having trouble judging, as so many of its talents are so different from each other that it’s hard to come up with an all-encompassing opinion. I do like the concept of the (motif) talents, with the Tarot names being but suggestions for the titles of significant cosmic figures in one’s personal setting. Illusion is much like the school of magic from the core rules in being very powerful based on player creativity, although I did appreciate the variant talents for groups intimidated by this.

Join us next time as we stat up Megaman and cover the next 5 spheres!
 
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Libertad

Adventurer
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Megaman X
Medium Warforged
Prodigy 10; Mimic’s Calling

Armor Class 19 (+2 Breastplate, +1 AC from Integrated Protection)
Hit Points 83 (10d8+30)
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.

STR 10 DEX 16 CON 16 INT 16 WIS 10 CHA 10 (27 point buy, +2 CON, +1 INT Warforged, +1 INT feat, +2 DEX ASI)

Saving Throws Dexterity +7, Intelligence +7
Skills Acrobatics +11, Athletics +8, Insight +4, Intimidation +4, Investigation +7, Perception +4 (Specialized Design)
Tools 1 Gaming Set, Alchemist’s Supplies (Specialized Design), Smith’s Tools, Tinker’s Tools, Vehicles (Land), +1 tool proficiency of choice
Senses passive Perception 14
Languages Common, 1 other language

Background: Soldier

Feats: Extra Magic Talent (+1 INT, bonus magic talent)

Casting Tradition: Variable Weapon System
Key Ability Modifier:
Intelligence
Boons: Overcharge; Drawbacks: Focus Casting (firearm), Prepared Caster
Sphere DC; 15 Spell Points 8
Destruction - Aura (blast shape), Blade (blast shape), Chain Blast (blast shape), Explosive Orb (blast shape), Extra Blast Type x2 (Corrosive, Gale, Ice, Physical, Restraining, Scorching),
Lightning (blast type), Sculpt (blast shape), Siphoning (blast type) (+2 bonus talent from feat & Universal sphere)
Universal - Reaching (metasphere), Widen (metasphere)

Martial Tradition: Maverick Hunter
Key Ability Modifier:
Intelligence
Sphere DC 15
Athletics - Rapid Motion, Spider’s Touch (+1 bonus talent from being proficient in Acrobatics & Athletics)
Equipment - Armor Training, Futuristic Voyager (proficient in medium armor & shields, proficient in futuristic weaponry)
Barrage - Ceaseless Ammo (can make ranged weapon attack as bonus action, never run out of ammo if have at least 10 rounds)
Tinkerer - Futuristic Firearms, Ranged Weapon Improvement (+1 bonus talent from being proficient in Tinker’s Tools) (can create up to 6 accessories or gadgets per short or long rest, can create accessories to put on ranged weapons to enhance their capabilities)

Special Abilities

Constructed Resilience:
advantage on saves vs poison, resistance to poison damage, immune to disease, don’t need to eat, drink, breathe, or sleep.

Destructive Blast (Aura): action to activate, bonus action to use. 10 foot radius, 1 round, Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution Saving Throw. Hit: 9 (2d8) damage, variable type (acid, bludgeoning, cold, fire, lightning, piercing, psychic, slashing, thunder). Special: Augment 1 SP to increase to 29 (6d8) damage, increase rider effect, or Augment 2 sp to not need concentration.

Sequence: Max 4 links. Gain links by doing special actions in combat. Can spend links to perform Finishers.

Extra Attack: Attack twice instead of once with Attack action.

Expertise: Acrobatics, Athletics

Focused Sequence: expend martial focus to increase sequence by 1 link.

Destruction Rider Effects: grappled until end of next turn (restraining, STR save), doesn’t count as magic (physical, augment 1 SP difficult terrain for 1 minute in affected squares), gain 1 temporary spell point (siphoning), disadvantage on saves vs Air package Nature sphere and Weather sphere talents until end of next turn (gale, augment 1 SP 1 minute), reduce movement speed by 10 feet (ice, CON save, augment 1 SP encase in ice and restrain for prof bonus rounds or until make STR save), advantage on attack rolls vs metal targets and creatures can’t take reactions until end of next turn (lightning, augment 1 SP stun until start of your next turn on failed save), take additional damage equal to proficiency bonus (scorching, CON save, augment 1 SP gain 1 level of exhaustion on failed save until next short or long rest)

Imbue Sequence: Gain mystic energy tied to one magic sphere. Destructive Edge (Destruction, add class level to 1 damage roll, damage matching a chosen blast type)

Integrated Protection: +1 AC, can adhere armor to the body and cannot be removed against your will.

Integrated Techniques: Athletics (gain link if tumble through target’s space or dodge opportunity attack), Barrage (finisher, make one ranged attack per link in sequence targeting different creature each time)

Sentry’s Rest: can see and hear during long rest.

Unbroken Sequence: expend martial focus to prevent sequence from ending for 1 round if it would end due to Conditions.

Actions

Barrage Sequence Finisher:
Make one ranged attack per link in sequence, but no creature can be targeted by more than one attack. Can move as normal between attacks.

Destructive Blast: 60 feet, Ranged Spell Attack, +7 to hit or Dexterity save to avoid. Hit: 9 (2d8) damage, variable type (acid, bludgeoning, cold, fire, lightning, piercing, psychic, slashing, thunder). Augment 1 SP to increase to 29 (6d8) damage, increase rider effect, or Augment 2 sp to not need concentration.

Laser Pistol: Ranged Weapon Attack, +7 to hit, range 80/240. Accessories: Ranged Weapon Improvements (Far-Sight Scope, Pressurized Shot). Hit: 14 (3d6+3) radiant damage. Special: Pressurized shot can deal +1d10 damage, Destructive Edge adds +10 damage of a blast type of choice.

Pressurized Shot: Build up pressure in Laser Pistol, deal +1d10 damage next attack within 1 minute.

Bonus Actions

Barrage:
make additional attack with ranged weapon when attacking with weapon, don’t add ability modifier to damage of attack.

Focused Sequence: expend martial focus to cease concentration on a magic effect.

Rapid Motion: perform the Dash action.

Reactions

Mimicry:
make Key ability check + proficiency bonus (+7) vs sphere or spell DC of spell, cantrip, or martial/magical sphere effect. If successful, learn base sphere or talent, up to 3 at a time, until the next short or long rest. Spells cost spell points equal to half spell’s level to activate, cantrips 0.

Equipment

+2 Breastplate, Laser Pistol, Smith’s Tools, Tinker’s Tools

Conversion Details: Although Elementalist may seem a surefire choice for a run-and-gun build, the Mimic’s Calling of the Prodigy class was to me a more faithful conversion of the Blue Bomber. I created a custom casting and martial tradition reflecting Megaman’s futuristic setting, and specialized heavily in the Destruction sphere, with the Universal sphere choosing 2 metasphere talents to alter and enhance the size and range of the former sphere’s abilities. He’s also notable for being nimble, so for martial sphere talents I chose Athletics to simulate his speed dash and wall-climbing abilities. For his trademark X-Buster I gave him the Tinkerer sphere, allowing him to build and upgrade a laser pistol. The Destruction sphere’s Blade blast shape lets him apply the blast types and damage of his magical sphere effects to the weapon, and as his tradition uses it as a spellcasting focus that further reinforces the idea of him using it during the times he chooses to use other blast shapes. The Pressurized Shot upgrade for the Tinkerer sphere’s Ranged Weapon Improvement talent is a great choice for the iconic charged shot Megaman can do, and combined with the Destructive Edge Imbued Sequence and Extra Attacks he can dish out a lot of damage per round. Ironically he doesn’t have much need of the non-Blade (blast shape) talents if focusing mostly on damage; such talents are better for AoE affects.

Last but not least, the Mimicry ability allows Megaman to temporarily gain access to observed spells and sphere effects. This is a good way of further expanding any X-Buster abilities that may not be covered by the above talent choices. As he can maintain up to 3 at once, that’s a good number of choices to have on hand.

Building Megaman within the default 5th Edition rules would be much harder. It would most likely be accomplished via starting out as a Fighter and then multiclassing into Wizard, specializing in various damaging energy attacks. However, the crux of that build’s abilities would be tied up in spells as opposed to enhanced physical attacks, with not much room for physical mobility. And those attacks cannot have their entire damage type changed to the various energy choices, which don’t seem to exist anywhere in the default 5e rules. In Spheres, Megaman’s default laser pistol can do an awful lot of damage by itself, the Destruction sphere’s rider effects allow for a versatile assortment of negative effects to impose on enemies, and he has plenty of damage types to choose from for taking advantage of various vulnerabilities. Additionally, his casting tradition is such that he can use his magical abilities without the need for verbal, somatic, or material components beyond a firearm as a focus. All he has to do is point and shoot!
 
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Libertad

Adventurer
Chapter 4: Spheres, Part 3

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The Life Sphere covers the healing arts, from hit points to negative status effects and various maladies. Life is notable for having three default sphere abilities: Cure heals 1d8 to 4d8 + Key Ability Modifier hit points for 1 Spell Point, Invigorate gives a creature temporary hit points equal to the caster’s proficiency bonus, and Restore ends or suppresses the blinded/deafened/paralyzed/poisoned conditions or one disease for 1 Spell Point. The sphere has no special tags, and the various talents enhance these three abilities in some shape. Talents include expanding the number of curable Conditions for Restore, Adrenaline Surge allows a target effected by a Life sphere ability to perform a reaction from a list of six choices (move up to speed, make an attack, stand from prone, etc), transferring cured diseases and conditions onto a nearby target, automatically diagnosing any conditions affecting a living creature with a bonus action, healing a greater number of HP at once ([5 x level] + KAM), and reviving a target who has been dead for no longer than 1 round at the cost of increasing their exhaustion. The four Advanced Talents include regenerating lost limbs, the ability to simultaneously cure all conditions affecting a target with one Augmented casting, and two that can resurrect creatures from the dead with Greater Resurrection having less restrictions.

Combos: As the default sphere effects are touch range, taking the Universal sphere’s Reaching talent allows one to heal at range. Adrenaline Surge is useful for granting allies additional attacks and movement, while the Universal sphere’s Contingency effect combined with a healing or resurrection spell can be useful in saving a character from a dire fate.

Existing Comparisons: The various healing spells are the most direct comparisons, particularly Cure Wounds, Lesser & Greater Restoration, and False Life for the default sphere effects. The Life sphere by default can emulate Cure Wounds and Lesser Restoration, the latter of which is a 2nd level spell, allowing a spherecaster to have a lower barrier for entry. Heal is similar to the Greater Healing talent, while Greater Restoration is akin to Restore Mind and Restore Movement talents, with Remove Curse closest to the Break Enchantment talent. Heal has a lower default amount it can restore at the level it’s attained by a Cleric (70 HP at 11th level vs Greater Healing’s 55 + KAM at 11th level), but Greater Healing can restore up to 100 HP + KAM whereas Heal can only do 90 hit points at most but also cures blindness, deafness, and disease at the same time. Detect Disease and Poison is closest to the Diagnose talent, but the latter can cover a wider variety of conditions and also is at-will given it has 0 Spell Point cost by default. Vancian casting edges out when it comes to granting temporary hit points, where False Life can give a maximum of 48 temporary hit points via a 9th level slot whereas the Life sphere can grant a maximum of 20 with the Greater Invigorate talent. However, False Life lasts for 1 hour, while Invigorate can be augmented to last until the next long rest. Additionally, there’s a talent which allows the spherecaster to heal undead and constructs, something the default healing spells cannot do.

For Greater Restoration, the default spell requires 100 gp as a consumable material component, which is a point against its favor, although it is but a single spell while spherecasters wishing to emulate it closely will need to take 4 talents. The Resurrection talent functions a bit differently from the spell of the same name; it doesn’t require expensive material components, but it doesn’t neutralize any diseases or poisons afflicting the creature when it died, nor does it restore missing body parts. On the other hand, the caster doesn’t have disadvantage on d20 rolls until the next long rest. The True Resurrection talent requires no components but affects creatures who have been dead for 100 years rather than the core spell’s 200, and the disadvantage on d20 rolls is applied. The Resurrection and Greater Resurrection talents have prerequisites of 11th and 15th level, meaning that spherecasters learn them 2 levels earlier than core Clerics.

Mass versions and multi-targeting via higher level spell slots can be emulated via the Universal sphere’s Mass talent (again a lower max amount but not as costly as high-level spell slots), although the only thing that the Life sphere cannot emulate is the Reincarnate spell. Which ironically can be done via the optional Wild Magic rules in the back of this book.

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The Light Sphere focuses on creating and manipulating light. It has three default abilities: glow causes a creature or object to shed magical light, brighten increases the radius of a glowing object’s shed light, and lens is a personal buff/debuff that bends or alters light. (glow) talents apply various effects on objects and creatures glowing, such as granting them saves against the frightened condition, imposing a penalty on attack rolls and Perception checks (blind if Augmented), restraining a creature and prevent it from extradimensional travel if it can’t succeed on a casting ability check, transform into light to move through solid objects, make a creature appear larger which increases its reach and damage with weapon attacks (and it’s not Concentration which makes it great for buffing), and cause creatures to be fascinated by the glow or compelled to follow it on failed saving throws. (lens) talents include such options as allowing a creature to hide more easily, gain infravision, can spend a reaction once per round to impose disadvantage on an oncoming attack, and allow a target to see farther areas via 1-4 90 degree angles (see around corners basically). (nimbus) talents are 0 Spell Point augmentations which can make a glowing object shine differently, such as double or quadruple distance, in a cone area, or as a trail of light. The two Advanced Talents include the ability to extend a glow to a 2-5 mile radius, while the other allows a target to be in two places at once by splitting into refracted light and reappearing in one of the two areas on their next action or when they’re attacked.

Combos: Encompassing Light’s damage/reach increase goes well with sphere and spell abilities that increase size and therefore reach. Lure Light is good for getting creatures to walk into traps and ambushes set up by the party. Divination (sense) talents that allow a creature to rely upon non-visual senses are good ways for them to avoid harmful Light sphere abilities when in close proximity to affected enemies. Periscope’s ability to see around corners is great for ranged builds and abilities dependent upon line of sight.

Existing Comparisons: Dancing Lights, Daylight, Faerie Fire, and Light are the closest talents, with Pyrotechnics, Sacred Flame, and Sickening Radiance close to the more offensive talents. There’s no real ability to make Light sphere effects permanent like 5e’s Continual Light spell, while Color Spray and Sunbeam are best emulated via the Destruction sphere’s Radiant blast type given it can impose blindness along with the Chain Blast and Sculpt blast shape talent. Moonbeam has no real approximation; forcing a shapechanger to go back to their original form likely falls under the Dispel package of the Universal sphere.

As for the Light sphere’s default effects, it has a much farther range of 120 feet vs the Light cantrip’s touch, although brighten and glow’s duration are much shorter and Concentration-based at 1 and 10 minutes respectively. There is a talent called Dancing Lights which allows the caster to not have to target a creature or object to make a glow effect, although the ability to form into a shiny humanoid is better emulated via the Illusion sphere. Sacred Flame has its closest equivalent with the Flare talent, although the latter can deal half damage to adjacent targets and can be augmented to affect multiple targets glowing if the Dual Light talent is possessed. Faerie Fire’s closest equivalent is the Guiding Light talent which grants advantage on attack rolls targeting the glowing creature, but to be multi-target the Mass talent of Universal will be necessary. Sickening Radiance’s damage and exhaustion is closest to the Sunstroke talent, albeit the latter deals much less damage and doesn’t make it impossible to be invisible unless used in conjunction with Revealing Light. Better means of dealing damage with exhaustion can be accomplished via Destruction's Draining or Scorching blast type talents, although they deal different damage types. Pyrotechnics’ blinding ability has its counterpart in Blinding Light, although the latter has a much larger affectible radius. Extradimensional travel blocking is perhaps the most unique talent; the closest core spell is Forbiddance, which takes a longer time to cast but covers a wider area and lasts longer.

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The Mind Sphere covers mental compulsions of all kinds. Its sole default ability involves placing a Charm on a creature, with a Spell Point cost based on its level of power: Lesser, Greater, and Powerful. Lesser charms cost nothing but those who succeed on a save cannot be affected again until the next long rest, while being able to access Powerful Charms requires a talent. There’s also a table of Requests ranging from “Very Simple” to “Against the Creature’s Nature” in determining how far one can push their charms. The only descriptive tag is (charm), talents which range from removing particular memories, making a subject regard the caster in a friendlier light, causing them to be Frightened, buffs that can grant bonuses to checks and saves, involuntary movement, reading minds, and seeing through another target’s senses. You can only affect creatures of your same type (usually humanoid) unless you take the Expanded Charm talent. Advanced Talents include making a target undetectable to a specific creature, inducing permanent madness, creating a mental bond where the caster and subject treat each other as the same target for mental effects, and outright mind control.

Combos: The Courage and Inspiration talents are great buffs for virtually any ally or build given the widely applicable bonuses to rolls. Mind Spy and Project Thoughts are good for scouting purposes by keeping contact between the caster and target, while Illusion spells that create false environments and objects can make requests of an enchanted target seem more reasonable if they fall for the illusion.

Existing Comparisons: Naturally the School of Enchantment comes to mind! There’s an awful lot of highly similar talents to existing spells, even down to the names in the cases of Confusion, Enthrall, and Suggestion. The Mind sphere has a bit of a talent tax in that it can only affect one creature type by default, and its default range of 30 feet makes it rather short-range in comparison to some longer-range spells such as Confusion and Enthrall. The Lesser Charm versions are akin to nerfed versions of existing spells, with the Greater Charm versions akin to the default effects. But a few things the Mind sphere can do that the official spells can’t are potentially higher maximum ranges if supplemented with the Universal sphere’s Reaching talent, targets don’t automatically know that they’ve been charmed at the end of a talent’s duration, longer-duration Concentration versions of Command and Enthrall, a Sleep spell that is single-target by default but targets Wisdom rather than hit points, and a Powerful Charm version of Fear which can make affected targets unable to take actions. I also cannot find an equivalent spell to the Inspiration talent’s Greater and Powerful Charm versions, which grant +2d4 to an ability check or attack roll and allow the target to reroll the d20 and add the bonus in the case of Powerful.

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The Nature Sphere covers a very broad concept. Its two default abilities are geomancy, which manipulates surrounding elements of the environment, and spirit which buffs the caster with spiritual energy. Upon gaining access to Nature the caster chooses one of six packages corresponding to natural elements: Air, Earth, Fire, Metal, Plant, or Water. Each package grants 3 abilities, such as Water allowing the caster to generate fog, freeze liquids, and whirlpools, or Plant which causes an AoE entanglement via vegetation, spontaneously grow nourishing plants, and cause nearby plants to come to life and pummel targets within their reach. One can learn an additional package via a talent that can be taken multiple times.

Some (geomancy) talents require the caster to have an existing package in line with the favored element, while others have none but grant more abilities the more packages the caster already has. These talents include the ability to create a volume of material appropriate to their package, further manipulate elements such as sculpting stone and generating waves to push targets, reshaping metal equipment or chilling and heating them to dangerous temperatures, and creating hazardous terrain such as stone spikes and toxic air. The (spirit) talents are buffs that include allowing the caster to speak with animals and natural materials, a rechargeable breath weapon dealing damage appropriate to a possessed geomancy package, gaining resistance to appropriate damage types, alternative and easier means of movement such as airwalking and melding into solid objects, and creating weapon attacks such as a bramble burst from wooden weapons or summoned thrown icicles. Advanced Talents include making powerful natural phenomena such as earthquakes, eruptions of boiling water which rapidly cool to freezing temperatures, the ability to explode into fire and revive like a phoenix, and massive growth of plant life in a 1 mile radius.

Combos: Destruction sphere talents which can Draw on Nature can be used in conjunction with Create Nature to supply the needed material, and is explicitly called out as an Augmented option. The Metal geomancy package and accompanying talents can be used to create and enhance metal weapons and armor. The limited visibility of various fog-like effects combine nicely with non-visual Divination (sense) talents. Air Mastery’s ability to breathe in and release gaseous effects can be used to move around Destruction sphere talents benefiting from the Cloud (blast shape). Forge Earth can be used to make walls and barriers thinner for easier passage for travel and divination-based abilities.

Existing Comparisons: This sphere draws heavily from the Druid’s spell list, and attempts at holistically covering all those spells is beyond this review. One thing I will point out is that there’s no equivalent to the Goodberry spell. The Nourishment ability of the basic Plant geomancy package does a similar thing for physical sustenance, but they don’t restore hit points. The Speak with Beasts talent is similar to Speak with Animals, although it requires Concentration and cannot be cast as a ritual. The Chill Metal and Heat Metal talents are akin to the Heat Metal spell, although the talents have a lower damage cap (4d8 vs the core’s 9d8) but cost no Spell Points by default so can be used at-will. The Hazardous Terrain talent’s creation of spiky ice or rocks is akin to Spike Growth, although they cost no Spell Points by default, don’t require Concentration, and deal less damage (equal to caster’s level vs 2d4 per 5 feet) but act as caltrops so can decrease an affected target’s movement. The Wall of Stone spell is similar to Create Nature’s earth geomancy option, although it can create a larger area of effect which can become permanent, while Creature Nature’s duration is instantaneous so it’s “permanent” by default. Move Earth is similar to the Forge Earth talent and Manipulate Nature’s sculpt stone option, the latter of which targets smaller areas of effect and has shorter ranges but are instantaneous and not Concentration effects. The Earthquake talent is similar to the spell of the same name but doesn’t deal damage to structures in contact with the ground.

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The Protection Sphere provides options for casters to better defend themselves and their allies. The sphere provides three (technically two) basic sphere abilities. Aegis is a personal buff that is granted to a target and comes with a default option to replace a character’s AC with the caster’s Sphere DC; Succor is a long-range reaction-based sacrifice of an existing aegis to provide an immediate benefit; and Wards are cylindrical AoEs which provide a benefit to those within during its duration. Ward automatically comes with an existing option, Barrier, which creates a transparent cylindrical wall that can block attacks and movement from crossing. There are three talent tags named after each ability, but there’s a fourth (barrier) tag which improves the default Ward option. More than a few talents have two tags, most commonly (aegis) and (ward) and can be cast in either of those two ways.

(aegis) talents are versatile and range from granting energy resistance, the ability to survive without air, can exclude a number of targets equal to their Proficiency Bonus from AoE abilities, impose disadvantage on attack rolls directed to allies within 10 feet, resistance to nonmagical bludgeoning/piercing/slashing damage, and dealing psychic damage to those who harm the bearer. There’s only 2 (barrier) talents, one of which can reshape the barrier into a dome or sphere, and another that can shape it into flat vertical panels and the caster can restore hit points to a damaged barrier. (succor) talents include granting immediate resistance to an incoming attack, reroll a saving throw just rolled, and dealing psychic damage to an attacker (and can stack with the aegis version if the attacked party is benefiting from such a spell). (ward) talents include preventing those within from disguising or concealing themselves if they fail a Wisdom save, can exclude an element of a particular physical material, form of energy, or physical properties from entering into the ward on a failed failed Strength check, and a spell suppression field that prevents magical abilities from being used unless the user’s spellcasting ability check beats the spell/sphere DC. Advanced Talents grant Augmented versions of greater effects to existing talents, such as immunity to most environmental conditions and resistance to several energy types, an actual antimagic field, and making a target undetectable via divination magic.

Combos: Friendship is useful for blaster-caster types who don’t want to worry about friendly fire. Guardian is good for tanks who want to impose penalties on creatures who choose to attack other targets. Barrier is good for herding enemies into a closed area to be affected by abilities that don’t require attacks to cross, such as coming from underneath. Obscurity and the Unplottable talents are good for roguish and scouting types, The Shield aegis acts as a normal shield, meaning that it can be enhanced via the Enhancement sphere’s Enhance Equipment talent and can benefit from Shield sphere talents from Spheres of Might.

Existing Comparisons: Abjuration magic and spells which conjure walls are the most immediate comparisons. The default Armored aegis ability is similar to Mage Armor although it can have a potentially higher max AC depending on the caster’s Sphere DC. The Shield aegis is similar to Shield of Faith, although the Protection sphere has a much shorter touch range by default than SoF’s 60 feet. Peacebound is similar to Sanctuary save in that the talent does not allow for the option of the attacker choosing a new target, instead preventing them from doing harm at all on a failed save. Energy Resistance is like Protection from Energy except for a shorter initial duration and can be turned into a ward form rather than being single-target. Protected Health is similar to Protection from Poison in regards to advantage on saves and resistance, but neutralizing poison is better covered by the Life sphere. The Anti-Magic Aura talent is like Antimagic Field except that it has a lower minimum level to take (11th vs most core caster’s 15th) and a shorter duration by default unless lengthened via Universal’s Extend talent. Unplottable is similar to Nondetection, although it has a much higher minimum level than the core spell (15th vs 5th), the first time in this book we have a Sphere option being later-level than a core equivalent. Exclusion is akin to Antilife Shell but can cover a wider variety of creatures and materials. There’s no equivalent talents for Warding Bond or Shield.

Thoughts So Far: A lot of these spheres have trade-offs both ways in comparison to core spells, albeit some of them are a bit more restrictive than previous entries. Mind’s talent tax to effect other creature types is rather punishing unless you’re just dipping in it for buffs to grant to fellow party members or you’re dedicated to being an enchanter. Life has a clear advantage in being cost-efficient in terms of consumable materials and being able to heal more maladies at lower levels, and Adrenaline Surge is pretty handy in that it makes healing mid-combat a more attractive option by effectively granting party members additional actions. Light is a bit of a hard sell given that the default sphere is akin to a single cantrip that may be of limited use in a Darkvision-heavy party, although it has some useful talents like the extradimensional-blocking Bound Light. Nature has many attractive options given the commonality of certain elements, although some packages may be more situational depending on the terrain type in an adventure unless one takes Create Nature. Protection seems to have the biggest downgrade on account of the non-Succor abilities being touch-range by default, and multi-targeting aegis abilities via the Mass talent will have a very short duration unless further Augmented by the Extend talent.

Join us next time as we cover the rest of the spheres in this chapter and stat up Aang from Avatar: the Last Airbender!
 

Libertad

Adventurer
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Aang
Medium Human (Variant)
Elementalist 12; Path of the Geomancer


Armor Class 18
Hit Points 63 (12d8)
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.

STR 10 DEX 16 CON 11 INT 10 WIS 20 CHA 10 (27 point buy, +1 DEX/WIS Variant Human, +2 WIS feats, +2 WIS ASI)

Saving Throws Dexterity +7, Charisma +4
Skills Acrobatics +7, Athletics +4, Medicine +9, Religion +4, Stealth +7 (Variant Human)
Tools Painter’s Supplies
Senses passive Perception 15
Languages Common +1 extra language


Background: Hermit

Feats: Magical Expertise, Extra Magic Talent x2

Casting Tradition: Bending
Key Ability Modifier:
Wisdom
Bonus Magic Talents: Nature (air geomancy package), Air Mastery
Boons: Metasphere Specialist; Drawbacks: Somatic Casting 2; Variants: Nature Bound (Destruction)
Sphere DC; 16 Spell Points 17
Destruction - Blade (blast shape), Explosive Orb (blast shape), Extra Blast Type (Bludgeoning, Fire, Ice), Gale (blast type), Razor Wind (blast type), Ray (blast shape), Sculpt (blast shape) (+3 bonus talents from variant, feat, Nature Sphere)
Divination - Blindfolded Oracle (sense), Divination: Detect Density (divine), Detect Magic (divine), Dowsing (divine), Detect Dragons (divine), Detect Nature (divine) (+4 bonus talents from Destruction, Nature, Telekinesis, Universal spheres)
Nature - Nature: Air Mastery (geomancy, air), Expanded Geomancy (Earth, Fire, Water), Fog Mastery (geomancy, water), Forge Earth (geomancy, earth), Manipulate Nature (geomancy), Resist Elements (spirit), Water Mastery (geomancy, water) (+4 bonus talents from feats, subclass)
Telekinesis - Pushed Movement
Universal - Metasphere Package: Reaching 2 (metasphere)

Martial Tradition: Ascetic
Bonus Martial Talents:
Athletics, Dual Wielding, Equipment (Unarmed Training, Unarmored Training)
Sphere DC 16
Athletics - Tumbling Recovery (drop prone at any time even out of turn. When knocked/dropped can spend bonus/reaction to move 10 feet in any direction, advantage on DEX save/disadvantage on oncoming attack if used to avoid)
Dual-Wielding
Equipment
- Unarmed Training, Unarmored Training (unarmed are finesse weapons, deal 1d4 or 1d6 with versatile property; AC is 10 + DEX + WIS modifiers when unarmored and not using shield)



Special Abilities

Ambidexterity (Dual-Wielding):
Expend martial focus to make off-hand attack without expending bonus action.

Divine: 10 minute casting time, 120 foot area, range self or target up to 30 feet, Concentration up to 10 minutes. Choose divine talent possessed, able to detect location of appropriate creatures or objects. Augment 1 SP to cast as an action, Augment 2 SP to remove Concentration.

Elemental Aid: Add +1d8 to AC, STR/DEX/CON ability check or saving throw once per short rest.

Elemental Defense: Resistance to thunder damage.

Evasion: When rolling DEX saves, success does no damage instead of half, half damage if fail.

Favored Element: +1d8 damage when using thunder damage types w/ Destructive Blast or damage rolls with Nature or Weather sphere effects.

Natural Movement: Gain climb speed equal to walking speed, can move up and down vertical surfaces and upside down along ceilings.



Actions

Unarmed Strike:
+9 to hit, range touch, 1 creature or object. Hit: 5 or 6 (1d4+3 or 1d6+3 bludgeoning damage). Special: If using Blade blast shape damage type is same as blast type infused, deals +3d6 damage of that type on a critical hit.

Quarterstaff: +4 to hit, range touch, 1 creature or object. Hit: 3 or 4 (1d6 or 1d8 bludgeoning damage). Special: If using Blade blast shape damage type is same as blast type infused, deals +3d6 damage of that type on a critical hit.

Cantrips: Can cast druidcraft, prestidigitation, or thaumaturgy.

Catch: +9 to hit, range 120 feet, 1 Medium projectile or thrown object seen. Attack negated if win on ranged spell attack contested by attack roll. Augment 1 SP to use as a reaction or target Huge size.

Destructive Blast: +9 to hit, range 120 feet, 1 creature or object, either a 5 foot cube, 20 foot sphere (Explosive Orb), melee/ranged spell attack (ray), or 5 foot radius or 30 foot cone or 120 foot by 5 foot line (Sculpt). Hit: 14 (3d8) variable damage type (bludgeoning, cold, fire, slashing, thunder). Augment 1 SP increase damage to 34 (7d8) damage; Explosive Orb: 0 SP to materialize as tiny globe, 1 SP globe lasts 8 hours or as 20 foot radius sphere; 1 SP shoot out 4 rays all at different targets (ray); 1 SP as 30 foot cone or 120 foot by 5 foot line.

Destruction Rider Effects: bludgeoning damage, push target back 5 feet, Augment 1 SP up to 20 feet (bludgeoning, collide with object deals +1d6 bludgeoning +1d6 for every 10 feet they would’ve continued); fire damage, catch fire on failed DEX save, taking 3d8 fire damage per round, Augment 1 SP frightened until flames are extinguished (fire); thunder damage, disadvantage on saves vs air package of Nature sphere and (wind) talents of Weather sphere until end of next turn, CON instead of DEX saves for blast shapes, Augment 1 SP penalty lasts for 1 minute (gale); cold damage, speed reduced by 10 feet until end of next turn, CON instead of DEX saves for blast shapes, Augment 1 SP encase in ice for 4 rounds, STR save or 36 damage to AC 10 ice frees them (ice); slashing damage, suffer -1 AC until end of your next round, penalties stack, CON instead of DEX saves for blast shapes, Augment 1 SP to increase penalty to 1 minute (razor wind).

Fly: range 120 feet, Concentration up to 10 minutes, 1 creature or object seen, 1 SP. Grant 60 foot fly speed, Augment 2 SP to remove Concentration.

Geomancy: range 120 feet, instantaneous or Concentration up to 1 minute. A whole lotta different special abilities (air, earth, fire, water). Augment 2 SP to remove Concentration.

Help/Hinder: range 120 feet, Concentration up to 10 minutes, 1 creature or object seen. Increase or decrease all movement speeds by 20 feet. Double falling damage if hindered, halved if increased, STR save to resist. Augment 2 SP to last without Concentration.

Levitate: range 120 feet, Concentration up to 10 minutes, 1 Medium creature or object seen. Can move target 60 feet in any direction each round further as bonus action. Augment 1 SP to target unwilling (STR save) or Huge Size, 2 SP to last without Concentration.

Projectile: +9 to hit, range 120 feet, 1 Medium creature or object seen. Telekinetically lift a willing creature or object and hurl it at other target within range as spell attack roll vs AC. Damage depends on size or if a weapon. Augment 1 SP to target Huge size.

Sense (blindfolded oracle): cost 1 SP, range self or target up to 30 feet, Concentration up to 1 hour. Grant self paranormal senses (blindsight) with a range of 30 feet. Augment 1 SP sense acts out to range of 120 feet, 2 SP to remove Concentration.

Spirit (Resist Elements): range self or target up to 30 feet, Concentration up to 10 minutes, can grant resistance to bludgeoning, cold, fire, piercing, slashing or thunder damage. Augment 1 SP reduce to 1 bonus action or reaction but reduce duration to 1 round, regain 3d6 hit points when resisting damage once per short rest, 2 SP to remove Concentration



Bonus Actions

Admixture:
Can add second blast type, damage split equally if different damage types twice per short rest.

Blade Rider Effect: Can apply the rider effect of blast type if using a weapon with Blade blast shape.

Elemental Movement: increase all movement speeds possessed by 15 feet for one round.

Nature Surge: When using a destructive blast, can cast Nature or Weather sphere ability if casting time is normally 1 action, twice per short rest.

Tumbling Recovery: Can move 10 feet in any direction if drop prone. If used to avoid an attack or area effect, impose disadvantage on attack roll and gain advantage on Dexterity saving throw.



Reactions

Tumbling Recovery:
Can move 10 feet in any direction if drop prone. If used to avoid an attack or area effect, impose disadvantage on attack roll and gain advantage on Dexterity saving throw.



Equipment

Quarterstaff, explorer's pack, feed (for Appa)

Conversion Details: It’s been a while since I watched the show, so I used this compilation video as a reference guide and some shorter ones for the other three elements. This stat block is at a later point in the Last Airbender, sometime around Book 3 before the Sozin’s Comet finale.

I was torn between making Aang a pure Elementalist or dipping into levels of Scholar. The latter class has a Study which grants them the ability to make hang-gliders along with more martial talents. But as the hang-gliders don’t grant true flight until 11th level in the class and I can get much the same thing with a Telekinesis talent, in the end I chose to go pure Elementalist.

I chose Elementalist with a custom Bending Casting Tradition and the Ascetic Martial Tradition. While there’s an Air-Rider Kineticist tradition, bending in TLA isn't draining to the point that it causes the users personal harm, so I decided to just have Somatic Casting twice as a drawback to gain the Metasphere Specialist boon. For that boon I chose the Reaching talent of the Metasphere package twice: not only does this make most of Aang’s sphere abilities much longer range, it also gives him the 3 big utility cantrips which can simulate minor bending arts not otherwise covered by talents. Beyond the obvious Destruction and Nature spheres, I dipped into Divination and Telekinesis. Aang learns from Toph how to sense vibrations and tremors, so Blindfolded Oracle seemed perfect, while for Telekinesis the Pushed Movement talent can grant him outright flight and greater speed which can both emulate his airbender staff’s flight and air scooter* abilities respectively. For the Geomancer subclass I chose a climb speed as Aang demonstrated being able to use airbending to run up walls. He’s also very mobile and evasive in combat, so I had him start out proficient in Acrobatics and Athletics, choosing the Athletics sphere as a bonus talent for Hermit to grant him Tumbling Recovery which does a good job of mimicking his fighting style.

*that orb of wind Aang sits on to move around faster.

For Destruction talents I chose the Nature Bound variant, given that benders in the setting don’t create elemental energy out of nothing but instead draw it from existing places. While Aang is capable of using his bare fists (sometimes wrapped in stone) and staff when fighting, the majority of the time he uses bending arts. He does have a Blade blast shape to enhance weapon attacks, but it is not his most effective feature.

Thanks to his Nature geomancy packages and talents, Aang has a lot of options both inside and outside of combat. Listing each ability would’ve made the stat block too long so I settled with linking to the Nature sphere, but for a short list of possibilities, Aang can…

Create a gust of wind manifesting as a line or cone that can push back up to Huge-sized objects and creatures and put out flames of the same size.
Telekinetically catch, levitate, or throw up to Huge-sized objects.
Climb up sheer surfaces and fly.
Manipulate the four elements to damage targets and impose various negative conditions upon them.
Create a geyser of air that flings a target skyward.
Reshape a stone object of Medium size into something else.
Create a wave of water that can push back targets up to 20 feet.
Create a 20 foot square cloud of sand and loose dirt to blind those caught within, create a tremor to knock targets prone, or create difficult terrain.
Create a 20 foot cube of damaging bitter cold.
Move a Huge-sized cube of fire or water anywhere within their geomancy range, or a 15 foot cube of dirt or sand.
Cause himself and up to 4 additional creatures to slow their ascent, falling safely.
Create a 20 foot radius of obscuring fog, which can take the form of biting blades of wind, a whirlwind vortex of sand or dirt, blinding ash or smoke, or thick fog that imposes a penalty on enemy attacks and forbids them reactions.
Gain resistance to a number of physical and energy damage types, and even heal when resisting such damage.
Perform nifty party tricks with cantrips!

Given the amount of talents gained, I decided to make a table when building Aang, listing his talent choices by level. While it doesn’t follow the logical progression of learned and demonstrated abilities in the show, I went with the abilities he’s demonstrated using near the end of Book 3 rather than trying to emulate a “TLA but a 5e campaign” feel. So just because Aang Earthbend at 1st level doesn’t mean that’s the level he was when the group recruited Toph!

Talent Progression by Level

Elementalist 1st: Destruction (+2 bonus talents from variant, Nature Sphere): Extra Blast Type (Bludgeoning, Fire, Ice), Gale (blast type), Razor Wind (blast type), Ray (blast shape); Nature (+2 bonus talents from feat): Air Geomancy Package, Air Mastery, Expanded Geomancy (Earth, Water)
Athletics: Tumbling Recovery (+1 bonus from skill proficiency); Dual Wielding; Equipment: Unarmed Training, Unarmored Training
Elementalist 2nd: Nature: Expanded Geomancy (Fire), Blade (blast shape) (+1 bonus from subclass)
Elementalist 3rd: Forge Earth
Elementalist 4th: Manipulate Nature (geomancy), Water Mastery (geomancy) (+1 bonus from feat)
Elementalist 5th: None
Elementalist 6th: Resist Elements (spirit)
Elementalist 7th: Divination: Blindfolded Oracle (sense), Detect Magic (divine), Detect Dragons (divine), Detect Nature (divine) Dowsing (divine), (+3 bonus from Destruction, Nature, & Universal spheres)
Elementalist 8th: Fog Mastery, Sculpt (blast shape) (+1 bonus from feat)
Elementalist 9th: None
Elementalist 10th: Telekinesis; Divination: Detect Density (divine) (+1 bonus from Telekinesis sphere)
Elementalist 11th: Telekinesis: Pushed Movement
Elementalist 12th: Explosive Orb (blast shape)


Edit: I realized I miscalculated when assigning Aang's Destruction sphere talents. A few require certain geomancy packages to have before being taken unless bypassed via the Extra Blast Type talent. He also had a bonus Weather sphere talent (Lightning blast type) without having said sphere. I replaced Lightning with Razor Wind.
 
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Libertad

Adventurer
Chapter 4: Spheres, Part 4

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The Telekinesis Sphere covers moving objects at a distance via magical force. The three basic sphere abilities include being able to “catch” a ranged weapon attack via an opposed spell attack roll, “levitating” a willing target or unattended object up to 20 feet in any direction per round (not just vertically), or throwing a willing target or object to deal damage with a ranged spell attack. The size of affected objects is based on level, and can be further Augmented to affect targets up to 2 size categories larger. There are three tags named after each effect, as well as a fourth tag, (gravity) which grants unique AoE abilities. (catch) talents include options such as being able to “block” melee attacks and throwing ranged attacks back at the attacker, while (levitate) talents include being able to use telekinesis for fine manipulation of objects like lockpicking from a distance or using lifted items as shields and weapons. (projectile) talents include options such as doing an AoE instead of a single-target attack based on the thrown creature/object’s size, a “homing attack” that can make an additional reaction attack once per turn for every time it misses, and creating pure telekinetic force to throw rather than using a creature or object.

The (gravity) talents include creating zones of heavy or light gravity which can alter falling damage and impose disadvantage/advantage on appropriate checks, or altering an area’s friction to either increase or decrease movement that passes through the AoE. There’s a few nifty (other) talents, such as granting immunity to falling damage, gaining flight, and blindsense. There’s not very many Advanced Talents, with half greatly enhancing the duration of Telekinesis abilities and the others controlling targets like a puppet or turning the caster’s projectiles a living railgun with a mile-long range increment that creates stun-inducing AoE shockwaves.

Combos: Gravity Shift’s Light Gravity effect is great for two-handed fighters as it grants advantage with such weapons. Speed Zone and Pushed Movement’s Help/Hinder ability laid on top of other movement-enhancing effects can allow characters to nimbly move across the battlefield. The Finesse talent combined with the Universal sphere’s Reaching talent and the right use of sensory enhancements such as the Light sphere’s Periscope allows the caster to act as a telekinetic poltergeist, manipulating objects in other rooms and far-away locations. Dampening Field’s Inertial Armor combined with the Linear Acceleration Advanced Talent can transport a character up to a mile in a single round. Casting the Illusion sphere’s Obscure glamer on a large object makes for a nice moveable “invisible wall” when used with Telekinesis. An appropriate sense type or Selective Illusions can allow one’s allies to perceive it.

Existing Comparisons: Mage Hand, Catapult, Fly, Tenser’s Floating Disk, Levitate, Telekinesis, and Bigby’s Hand are the most well-known telekinetic spells. The major advantage that the sphere has over Mage Hand is that the controlling force is not visible unless the Manifestation variant is applied; in order to make such an effect “invisible” in the core rules the Arcane Trickster rogue archetype or the Telekinetic feat must be taken. And unlike the core spells the Telekinesis sphere doesn’t specify weight limits on affected material: the size category is the only thing that matters, which in some cases can be advantageous in regards to moving particularly dense objects and creatures. Additionally, only Bigby’s Hand specifies the use of damage as part of the spell itself; the implication is that the rules for falling damage would be in use. Spheres of Power’s explicit tables for projectile damage and falling objects (covered back in the Creation sphere) means that there’s a lot less GM fiat and more baked-in effects. Pushed Movement’s Fly option is virtually the same as the Fly spell save it’s single-target by default and has a lower default speed of 20 feet, but can eclipse the official spell by going up to 80 feet at 17th level.

Close But Not Quite Spells: A few such spells that would otherwise fall into this category flavor-wise exist in other sphere talents: moving enemies and dealing damage at the same time such as Dust Devil can be covered by Destruction, while moving “elemental” features such as Control Water and Move Earth can be covered by appropriate Nature packages. Similar options which can be flavored as “telekinetic” in controlling movement also apply: Hold Person/Monster can be covered by Mind sphere’s Paralysis talent, while the Slow spell has a similar talent in the Time sphere.

Catapult Note: I did notice that the Catapult core spell’s mechanics are already covered by a talent of the same name in the Creation sphere; in hindsight I would go back and edit my earlier post to include it, but as most readers already made it this far I’ll include it here. The major difference is that Catapult creates an object anew rather than being cast on an existing one; it’s damage dice also has a higher maximum cap (10d8 via 9th level slot vs Sphere’s 6d8 for a 3 SP Augmentation with a Gargantuan object). Catapult is also explicit about object weight (45 pounds max) but as the Creation sphere also goes mostly by size that means the Spheres version can affect and create much heavier objects.

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The Time Sphere is self-evident over what kind of magic it manipulates. It’s only major tag, (chronos), manipulates time around a subject, usually as a buff or debuff but in some cases can do other things. The (chronos) talents include such options as copying the Haste/Slow spell effects albeit at a hefty 2 Spell Point cost, pulling things from parallel realities to impose negative conditions on a target, delaying damage dealt to a subject, retroactively editing the past to purchase/research/influence things akin to a limited enchantment/creation/divination spell, playing around with the action economy by “storing” actions to be used in a later round or taking an extra action by losing it the next round, and aging/de-aging a target which can impose penalties on rolls, increase the size of plants, and decay/restore objects. Other talents include suppressing/speeding up magical and natural healing or turning a (chronos) talent into an AoE sphere or wall. The Advanced Talents allow one to see into the past, allow a character to retrain their last class level, and make a “time clone” of the target.

Combos: The Time sphere is incredibly open-ended and has options useful for virtually any build. Adjusted Frequency, Rapid Response, Retry, and Shift Time all aid or hinder characters taking actions, while Repetition and Second Chance can aid all manner of die rolls. Throttle Duration is great for extending time-based buff spells and ending negative effects early (and the reverse for enemy targets), while the Hasten Rest Advanced Talent allows a target to gain the benefit of a short rest much faster than usual.

Existing Comparisons: I’ll admit, I had quite a bit of trouble looking for equivalent spell options in the official rules beyond a few. There are a lot of talents here which allow for rerolls of d20 results, which tend to be very rare as spells in 5th Edition. Talents such as Age, Casualty, and Retroactive Preparation all have a broad variety of pre-selected possibilities which emulate some common debuff/enchantment/creation spells albeit in different ways than the typical core magic. The Adjusted Frequency’s Haste and Slow effects are identical to the spells of the same name, as is Time Stop.

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The Universal Sphere is much like Fate in being a random grab-bag of disparate effects. There are no default sphere abilities: upon taking this sphere the caster selects one of five packages, and with the exception of Dispel and Manabond they are meant to enhance the abilities of other spheres rather than doing anything on their own.

The Dispel package grants the caster the ability to dispel a single active magical effect, and can be Augmented to be cast faster, dispel multiple effects at once, or grant auto-success on dispelling weaker spells. Its talents add Augmented options such as imposing disadvantage on the original caster’s spell attack rolls and granting advantage on those who must save vs the caster’s magic, dealing damage on a target or object affected by the dispelled magic, and reassigning the spell’s targets rather than outright dispelling it.

The Dual Sphere talents have pseudo-prerequisites in that each one is meant to enhance the general abilities of two Spheres in ways that their magic complements each other. In some cases they call out an explicit package or talent, such as an appropriate geomancy package for Nature. Talents include applying Alteration shapeshifting effects on an Animated Object (Alteration/Enchantment), being able to create a limited number of undead for free when the weather is stormy (Death/Weather), and allowing the caster and an ally benefitting from an aegis to swap places via teleportation (Protection/Warp).

I decided to count up the number of dual sphere talents and which spheres they affected. There’s even one talent which has 3 spheres as a prerequisite, drawing upon Death, Weather, and the Mass metasphere talent of the Universal sphere. There is quite a bit of favoritism in the results. A few make sense: Destruction and Enhancement are quite broad in themes while the latter seems tailor-made for Dual Sphere stuff, but Death and Light have a platter of options while spheres such as Conjuration and Fate suffer a lack of choices.

Alteration 3
Conjuration 1
Creation 2
Dark 4
Death: 9
Destruction 4
Divination 3
Enhancement 6
Fate 1
Illusion 2
Life 2
Light 7
Mind 2
Nature 4
Protection 5
Telekinesis 3
Time 2
Universal 1
Warp 4
Weather 2

The Mana package grants the ability to Manabond, a ranged effect that establishes a magical connection between the caster and target. The various talents grant both beneficial and adverse effects, from the target gaining or losing resistance of 1-4 damage types, willingly transferring spell slots or spell points between caster and target, causing the target to be automatically seen and heard for 1 round by those within range regardless of sense type, and causing the target to make a Charisma save whenever they cast a spell or sphere ability or take damage.

The Metasphere package is the metamagic answer for Spheres of Power. The package grants knowledge of 3 utility-based cantrips (druidcraft, prestidigitation, & thaumaturgy), and the talents grant various Augmented options which can apply to virtually any sphere effect. Choices include extending the maximum duration of a sphere ability, binding a sphere effect into a glyph which can be triggered, a multi-target option for single-target effects, and doubling the maximum size of AoE effects.

I must call out one talent in particular: Reaching is a great option in that it increases the range of all magic sphere abilities for free, and can be taken up to 3 times for further increments. It has an Augmented option to double the range, but perhaps one of its most useful features is changing self-range spells to touch range (and higher increments if taken multiple times). This means that sphere effects which otherwise benefit just the caster or radiate out from them can be placed onto other creatures and areas. Finally, it showcases a major strength of spherecasters over their core counterparts: most 5th Edition spells are rather short-range, usually 30 to 120 feet for ranged ones, and there’s not many options to increase them beyond a few class features such as a Sorcerer’s Metamagic or a Warlock’s Eldritch Sphere invocation. With Reaching taken 3 times, a mere 30 foot range spell can extend out to 300 feet, and if combined with the Extreme Reach Advanced Talent and an Augment the maximum possible range within the Spheres system is a whopping 4,000 feet!

Wild Magic is our final package, making use of the optional Wild Magic rules in the back of the book. The default ability allows for the creation of a Chaos Aura which increases the wild magic chance of all creatures by 50% within the AoE, while talents grant additional ways to raise and lower wild magic results whether or not a Chaos Aura is in use. The talents include being able to exclude a limited number of creatures from the Chaos Aura’s effect, increasing the wild magic chance of a creature damaged by the caster’s weapon attack by 100%, gaining temporary access to a talent from a possessed sphere for a limited time albeit at the cost of a +100% wild magic chance per casting, and spending a Spell Point as a reaction to alter the result of a wild magic die roll.

Wild Magic Overview: We can’t really talk about this package without looking at the underlying system. Basically it’s a trio of 1d100 tables representing the chaotic and unpredictable results of certain spell energy going out of control. An initial percentage chance is rolled whenever a caster is at risk of wild magic, and if the target percentage number is rolled at or below then a Wild Magic Event table is rolled upon. The Cantrips table is something any wild magic user (drawback, package, or GM-definied circumstance) can do as an Augmented option to impose on a nearby target. The Universal table is broader and covers more typical uses like rolling under the percentage chance for the drawback/Universal package, while Major Events only occur if the percentage chance increases to 200% or above.

Each table has an individual result, meaning we have 300 different possibilities for Wild Magic. They range the gamut of harmless cosmetics, helpful benefits, and deleterious events. Their general scope and power varies on the table, with Major Events allowing for some truly astounding possibilities such as all casters in a 10 mile radius learning the Calling advanced talent as planar boundaries weaken. The Cantrips and Universal results are almost never permanent and tend to either replicate existing spells or sphere abilities or grant some minor or moderately useful/inconvenient effect.

As even a single table has a myriad number of results, wild magic users can’t really game the system to a satisfactory degree in ensuring beneficial results for their allies and negative results for enemies.

The remaining talents are few. (other) talents include being able to dispel or create a manabond as a reaction, the ability to spend Spell Points to regain martial focus, or gaining access to a new Universal package. The Advanced Talents include being able to make a spell Contingent and triggered by a specific circumstance determined by the caster, decreasing the Spell Point cost of Augmented metasphere talents, and Extreme Reach which increases the range of all magic sphere abilities even further with a brief new table of ranges.

Combos: As the overwhelming majority of Universal talents are meant to enhance existing spells, they’re meant to be used as combos by default with rather self-evident effects. However, the Expunge and Flow manabond talents and the Chaotic Counter wild magic talent explicitly reference spell slots, allowing for some synergy with Vancian casters.

Existing Comparisons: Dispel Magic for the Dispel package, the Sorcerer’s Metamagic class feature for the Metasphere abilities, and the Wild Magic Origin for the Wild Magic package are the closest equivalents. For Dispelling, the unaugmented Spheres version is less powerful, with a shorter range, longer casting time, and no auto-success results. In terms of the maximum possible level of magic, the Spheres version can only do up to level 6 Vancian spells or 6 Spell Point Augmented magic vs the original being able to do 9th level spell slots.

As for Metamagic vs Metasphere effects, Distant Spell, Extended Spell, and Quickened Spell all have counterparts in the Extended, Quicken, and Reaching talents. Overall the talents are less costly and Extended and Reaching can be Augmented to reach beyond the Sorcerer’s equivalent improvements. The Wild Magic Sorcerous Origin merely has one table and whose triggering circumstances are less controllable due to GM Fiat. The Spheres version of Wild Magic, on the other hand, has drawbacks and talents which are more in the hands of players to control.

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The Warp Sphere is all about moving beyond the boundaries of the third dimension...or in this case, the Material Plane. The default sphere ability grants at-will short-range teleportation whose range increases by level and can be Augmented even further. The major talents are divided into (space), which doesn’t involve teleporting in and of itself but touches upon similarly-themed abilities, and (teleport) which modifies the default effect. The (space) talents include being able to create gaps in solid objects and walls to pass through, distorting space to alter a target’s effective size category, the creation of small extradimensional storage spaces, self-closed loops which prevent creatures from leaving a small area of effect, and being able to block extraplanar travel and banish extraplanar creatures back to their home plane. The (teleport) talents include being able to make a creature’s attack target somewhere else by teleporting the strike, teleporting as a reaction which grants advantage/disadvantage on rolls for the caster to avoid harm, can teleport unwilling creatures and objects, and the creation of recall points and teleport beacons that can allow targets to teleport to the appropriate space and regardless of distance respectively. There’s a lot of Advanced Talents, such as long-range teleportation like the standard spell, travelling to other planes of existence, creating teleportation portals that others can use, and the ability to create a personal demiplane with alterable terrain.

Combos: The default ability alone expands one’s personal mobility. Combined with the Universal sphere’s Reaching talent, one can “save” allies from sticky situations by teleporting them to safety. Unwilling Teleport is great for battlefield control in moving enemies into optimal spaces, and Teleport Object has all sorts of creative uses. Teleport Beacon is a good tool for scouting, while Create Gap has similar applications to the Dark sphere’s Obscure Passage. Distort Size can be useful in being combined with reach-increasing effects such as the Light sphere’s Encompassing Light. Splinter plus Unwilling Teleport can be used to deal quite a bit of damage from falling and other hazards. The target’s advantage on the saving throw for the latter effect can be negated via the Degrade version of the Enhancement sphere’s Mental Enhancement talent.

Existing Comparisons: Arcane Gate, Dimension Door, Gate, Misty Step, Planeshift, Teleport, Thunder Step, Transport via Plants, and Word of Recall are the big teleportation-style spells. Banishment, Blink, Demiplane, Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion, and Rope Trick cover the not-quite-teleporty but still space-themed spells.

But before covering the spells, one thing Spheres of Power can do that the default rules can’t is true utility at-will teleportation. The Way of Shadow Monk and Shadow Sorcerer both get such options, albeit at 6th and 14th level and only in dim light and darkness. The Warp sphere has slightly lower ranges at equivalent levels but can be used outside of dark spaces. The Horizon Walker Ranger also has an at-will teleport but it’s super-short range and only really useful in combat. One other major advantage the spheres teleporter has are Advanced Talents which can teleport an effectively unlimited number of targets (as many creatures within the spell range) and up to Gargantuan size objects. The former is the aptly-named Teleport Army, and as the default effect can be enhanced via Reaching and Extreme Reach...that’s far and above the 8 willing creatures limit of most official teleportation spells!

Now onto the spells proper, Dimension Door has a higher maximum range by default as well as one willing creature. Warp cannot do multiple targets at once unless used in conjunction with the Mass sphere. Misty Step is a bonus action which can go up to 30 feet, so it has an advantage over default Warp albeit the Quick Teleport talent can reduce the casting to 1 bonus action as well and the default effect can be Augmented to gain an equivalent range. Misty Step has an effect of self only, a point in Warp’s favor. As for Thunder Step, there are no Warp sphere talents that allow the target to teleport and damage nearby creatures upon leaving. The Splinter talent is directly damaging, but only effects targets (usually unwilling) teleported in such a way. Recall and Teleport Beacon are similar to the Word of Recall Spell, albeit Word of Recall has no effective time limit for how long the “recall point” can last. Arcane Gate has some similarities with the Portal talent, although the talent has a lower level-based prerequisite and a higher maximum duration but the core spell has a longer base range. The True Teleport talent is almost identical to the Teleport spell, albeit it has a lower level-based prerequisite and doesn’t allow for 8 willing creatures by default. The Planeshift talent is much like the spell of the same name, but has no expensive material component by default, a lower level-based prerequisite, and cannot target 8 willing creatures or banish an unwilling creature by default.

Plane Manipulator’s Banishing Touch is much like Banishment but has a range of touch and is instantaneous rather than Concentration duration. Extradimensional Room is similar to Rope Trick in creating a pocket dimension, although the talent can hold less creatures by default although the duration is effectively instantaneous as long as it’s in use. As for the Create Demiplane talent, it’s similar to the Demiplane spell albeit it has a much more detailed entry on how the caster can change the internal terrain and effects.

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The Weather Sphere is different from Nature in that it has more specific effects and mechanics. Its two default abilities and talent tags are Mantle and Shroud, respective buffs and debuffs whose effects are determined by the weather. We have a list of rules for this, with six types of weather (aridity, cold, heat, precipitation, storm, and wind) along with degrees of Severity from 0 to 4. Each Severity beyond 0 has its own effects and a few have means of downgrading the effects like appropriate clothes and drinking enough water. All but one (mantle) talent has six different benefits which trigger if a certain weather type is Severity 1 or greater, and include things like dealing retaliatory energy damage to attackers, bonus movement speeds and mobility effects, and utility effects like becoming immune to opportunity attacks and preventing mantled creatures from becoming undead. The (shroud) talents correspond to a specific weather type, which give the option of 2-3 localized debuffs where the weather alters around the target and includes things such as thunderclouds dealing intermittent lightning damage, battering winds imposing disadvantage on ranged attacks and Dexterity saves, and reducing movement speed by half. The four Advanced Talents are highly-themed, relating to a base Control Weather talent and 3 additional talents which allow it to be cast more quickly, at greater duration or range, and grants the ability to choose the location of random Storm effects such as lightning strikes. The default Control Weather creates a 30 foot radius of localized weather which can increase or decrease the Severity of a specific weather type.

Combos: Aridity Severity’s disadvantage on saving throws vs exhaustion meshes well with the Death sphere’s default Ghost Strike and the Destruction sphere’s Draining and Scorching blast types. Precipitation’s visibility limiting can go well with Divination (sense) talents that allow the caster to non-visually pinpoint targets as well the Solid Fog ability of the Nature sphere’s Fog Mastery talent. The Dynamic talent’s Flame Zephyr and Ice Skates can stack with existing movement-enhancing abilities such as the Enhancement sphere’s Speed Control or Telekinesis’ Pushed Movement and Speed Zone.* The Hostile talent’s Fever and Razor Wind applications go well with effects that rely on natural weapons and unarmed strikes. Utility’s Breezespeech ability is great for scouting due to effectively limitless long-distance communication.

*provided at least one is Augmented to remove concentration.

Existing Comparisons: The Control Weather talent and spell are the most obvious comparisons, although I’m having trouble finding equivalents for the various Mantles and Shrouds. For Control Weather, the spheres talent has a much shorter range both regular and Augmented (30 feet or 1 mile vs’ the core spell’s 5 miles) as well as a shorter duration (1 hour vs 8 hours). The spheres version has the advantage of being much more explicit on rules and effects, with the 5e spell much more at the whims of GM Fiat.

Thoughts So Far: The last five spheres have various improvements in comparison to official rules counterparts, with the Advanced Talents in particular notable for their loosening of restrictions. Telekinesis no longer explicitly mentions weight and instead goes solely by size; Warp gives at-will teleportation and a potentially wider degree of targets; Wild Magic gives players a greater degree of control over in triggering if not necessarily selection of effects; and explicit results for the negative effects of Weather conditions. All of these reduce the amount of GM Fiat and also have the appropriate rules conveniently placed within their respective sphere entries.

I’m quite fond of the first four spheres. Telekinesis’ ability to throw allies as damaging projectiles (and a talent which can negate damage suffered by being flung) is likely going to be chosen for humorous yet effective applications. Time has a bountiful offering of broadly-useful talents, and you can’t go wrong picking the sphere for most builds. I love how Universal’s metasphere package grants the 3 popular utility cantrips all at once; it’s very appropriate for a lot of settings where harmless yet whimsical kinds of minor magic shouldn’t be a major restrictive selection due to limited cantrip slots. Warp is cool both in form and feature, although I feel that there are some potentially broken combos. For instance, True Teleport + Unseeing Teleport + Unwilling Teleport being used to teleport an enemy to the bottom of the ocean or out of the country. I feel rather iffy on Weather; its most signature feature is relegated to an Advanced Talent, while the Mantles and Shrouds can be highly situational and limiting depending on the climate of the adventure and setting.

Join us next time as we stat up Noctis from Final Fantasy XV and finish up the book with Additional Rules and a Game Master’s Guide!
 

Libertad

Adventurer
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Noctis Lucis Caelum
Medium Human (Variant)
Armiger 12; Antiquarian


Armor Class 16
Hit Points 100 (12d10+24)
Speed 30 ft., teleport 30 ft. (90 feet if Augmented 1 SP)

STR 16 DEX 10 CON 14 INT 10 WIS 10 CHA 16 (27 point buy; +1 STR, +1 CHA Variant Human, +1 CHA Extra Magic Talent, +1 CON Resilient)

Saving Throws Charisma +7, Constitution +6, Dexterity +4; Intelligence +4 or Wisdom +4 via Faith in Steel
Skills Acrobatics +4, Athletics +7, History +4, Persuasion +7, Survival +4 (Variant Human)
Tools Pinball (Gaming Set), +1 Artisan’s Tools
Senses passive Perception 10
Languages Common plus 1 other

Background: Noble

Feats: Combat Training, Extra Magic Talent, Magical Expertise, Resilient (Constitution)

Casting Tradition: Magic of the Lucii
Key Ability Modifier: Charisma
Bonus Magic Talents: Destruction, Warp
Boons: ; Drawbacks: Focus Casting, Magical Signs, Prepared Caster; Variants: Personal Warp (Warp)
Sphere DC 15; Spell Points 12
Destruction - Explosive Orb (blast shape), Extra Blast Type (Ice, Lightning, Scorching) Fire (blast type), Teleporting (blast type)
Warp - Distant Teleport (teleport), Emergency Teleport (teleport), Extradimensional Storage (space), Quick Teleport (teleport)

Martial Tradition: Knightly Arts
Key Ability Modifier: Charisma
Bonus Martial Talents: Athletics, Equipment (Armor Training, Knightly Training), Fencing
Sphere DC 15
Athletics - Air Stunt, Scale Foe, Wall Stunt, Whirlwind Leap
Berserker - Juggernaut (adrenaline), Sever
Equipment - Armor Training (discipline), Knightly Training (discipline), Modern Voyager (discipline)
Fencing - Parry & Riposte, Repositioning Strike (exploit)

Customized Weapons
Daggers: Dual-Wielding sphere, Equipment (Throwing Mastery)
Greatsword: Berserker (Heavy Swing), Fencing (Ankle Strike)
Lance: Equipment (Polearm Guard), Fencing (Lunge)
Longsword: Athletics (Dizzying Tumble), Fencing (Arm Strike)

The above are the 4 weapons Noctis typically has customized. Alternatively, there are 2 more weapon types he may have access to:

Firearms: Barrage sphere (Hammer Shots)
Cerberus (Sniper Rifle): Sniper sphere (Perfect Shot)
Armiger Chain (Magical): Destruction (Extra Blast Type [Kinetic, Physical, Radiant], Sculpt [blast shape])

Special Abilities

Customized Weapon: Can make 4 weapons per long rest customized, each one grants 2 bonus talents pre-selected at time of customization to be used as one as it’s wielded.

Destructive Blast Rider Effects: fire damage, set on fire on failed DEX save, take 3d8 fire damage per round, Augment 1 SP are frightened until extinguished (fire); fire damage, deal 4 additional damage that bypasses resistance/immunity and isn’t affected by vulnerability, Augment 1 SP to inflict 1 non-stacking level of exhaustion on failed CON save (scorching); cold damage, reduce movement by 10 feet for 1 minute, Augment 1 SP to encase in ice and restrained for 4 rounds, STR save or 36 damage to AC 10 ice frees target (ice); lightning damage, advantage on attack rolls or disadvantage on target’s save if wearing metal armor, Augment 1 SP to stun until start of next turn on failed CON save (lightning), force damage, teleported 5 feet in direction of choosing on failed WIS save, Augment up to 20 feet (teleporting)

Extra Attack: May attack twice instead of once when using the Attack action.

Faith in Steel: Gain proficiency in a mental saving throw of choice when wielding customized weapon with at least one magic talent.

Juggernaut (adrenaline): Suffer -2 AC until end of next turn to be immune to difficult terrain and nothing can reduce movement speed.

Quick Draw: Can stow and re-equip weapons when using an Action with the weapons.

Quick Teleport (Augment 1 SP): can teleport in place of normal movement.

Rapid Assault: Expend martial focus after using Attack action to make up to 2 additional attacks, each targeting a different creature.

Repositioning Strike (exploit): If feinted a target (melee attack w/ advantage) can move target 5 feet to different space within reach.

Sever: When crit with melee weapon can expend martial focus. Limb is severed on failed CON save, take 1d6 necrotic damage each round until healed. Severed limbs can halve movement, remove attacks and abilities, or become prone and reduce movement to 5 feet depending on what kind of or how many limbs are severed.

Teleport: Teleport self + carrying capacity to any place within 30 feet and line of sight. Augment 1 SP to extend reach to 90 feet.

Variable Customization: Can change 1 talent granted by a customized weapon during a short rest.

Whirlwind Flip: Regain martial focus when succeeding on tumbling through hostile creature’s space.

Wall Stunt: Can run up air, creatures, & walls as if they were flat ground albeit treated as difficult terrain.

Actions

Customized Weapons: +7 to +9 to hit, range 5 ft., 1 creature or object. Hit: 8 (1d8+5 or 1d12+1) longsword or lance, 7 (1d4+5) dagger, 11 (2d6+4) greatsword.

Cerberus: +4 to hit, range 80/240 ft., 1 creature or object. Hit: 11 (2d10) piercing damage.

Destructive Blast: range 30 feet, 5 foot cube, DEX save. Hit: 14( 3d8) damage of variable type. Can Augment to make as a tiny globe that can be thrown. Augment 1 SP to have globe last for 8 hours instead of 1 minute, or make AoE 20 foot sphere.

Extradimensional Storage: Permanent extradimensional space holds 120 pounds of non-living material, and can create a portal to it within arm’s reach. Augment 1 SP to create a portal without an action.

Feint: Can choose to use Help action on self. Next attack roll before end of next turn will have advantage.

Bonus Actions

Quick Teleport (Augment 1 SP): Teleport self + carrying capacity to any place within 30 feet and line of sight. Augment 1 SP to extend reach to 90 feet or teleport in place of movement for that round instead of as an action.

Scale Foe: Can make Acrobatics or Athletics check to climb into a bigger creature; creature has disadvantage on attacks made against climber.

Reactions

Destructive Blast (Globe, Augment 1 SP): range 20/60 feet, 5 foot cube, DEX save. Hit: 14( 3d8) damage of variable type. Is triggered to explode if within 30 feet. Augment 1 SP to have globe last for 8 hours instead of 1 minute, or make AoE 20 foot sphere.

Emergency Teleport: Teleport self + carrying capacity 10 feet to any space. If used to avoid attack or AoE impose disadvantage and gain advantage on save respectively (take no damage instead of half if successful save).

Parry & Riposte: Expend martial focus to make melee damage roll, subtract from result of attacker’s damage. May attack and add (exploit) talent if final result is 0 or less.

Equipment

+2 Leather Jacket (as breastplate), Engine Blade (+2 longsword), +1 greatsword, +1 lance, pair of +2 daggers, Cerberus (hunting rifle), Regalia (automobile)

Conversion Details: I based this build off of one I did for the Pathfinder version of the Spheres system. Fortunately I was able to do a faithful conversion both to that one and to Final Fantasy XV’s Noctis. I didn’t have to multiclass in this one on account of the Armiger class in the 5th Edition version of Spheres of Might having a subclass which grants it a casting tradition. I will note that while Noctis can at-will teleport, he cannot so easily cover long distances as seen in some moments during the video game without the use of Spell Points. As this is an ability that only really sees use in combat (teleportation when simply traveling is short-range and horizontal), this isn’t too bad. The Destruction sphere represents his use of Elemancy, magic which manifests as explosive items he can give to others, which the Explosive Orb’s globe creation ability emulates perfectly. Extradimensional Storage represents Noctis’ ability to pull weapons (and sometimes other objects) out of thin air.

Noctis is highly mobile both through the Athletics sphere and the Warp sphere. Even when he’s not using the latter he can still move through the air for a short distance before he has to fall. I chose not to give him outright flight as Noctis can fall and the only time he possesses such an ability is during a limited “power up” status, so the Athletics sphere’s Air Stunt talent combined with Scale Foe when fighting giant creatures (of which there’s a lot of in FFXV) can help him from falling too badly after teleporting high up in the air. When combined with Berserker’s Juggernaut talent, Noctis can move at his normal speed from climbing and moving through midair rather than treating it as difficult terrain. The Fencing sphere’s Parry & Riposte does a good job at reflecting his ability to well... parry enemy attacks in melee. And just like in the games the Armiger class lets him rapidly change weapons in the middle of an attack chain, and each weapon is further customized to grant access to unique talents. Noctis can even emulate the “Armiger Unleashed” special moves from the game where he summons spectral weapons to attack his foes. He does this via preparing a Customized Weapon granting access to the Destruction sphere’s Extra Blast Type and Sculpt (blast shape) talents. Finally, the Berserker’s Sever talent and the body-part striking Fencing talents granted via his Customized Weapons simulate the video game’s ability to strike and even sever limbs of monsters to reduce their fighting prowess.

But beyond all this, Noctis is incredibly versatile. He can change out the talents in his Customized Weapons during short and long rests (the former just 1 talent), and even what weapons are Customized during a long rest.

Talent Progression by Level
Level 1: Athletics (Whirlwind Leap, +1 talent from skill training), Equipment (Armor Training, Knightly Training), Fencing (Parry & Riposte, Repositioning Strike, +2 talents from feat)
Level 2: Athletics (Wall Stunt)
Level 3: Destruction (Explosive Orb [blast shape], Fire [blast type], Teleporting [blast type], +1 bonus talent from Warp Sphere), Warp (Emergency Teleport, +1 bonus talent from variant)
Level 4: Athletics (Scale Foe), Warp (Distant Teleport, +1 bonus talent from feat)
Level 5: None
Level 6: Athletics (Air Stunt)
Level 7: Extra Blast Type (Ice, Lightning, Scorching)
Level 8: Equipment (Modern Voyager), Warp (Extradimensional Storage, Quick Teleport, +2 bonus talents from Magical Training)
Level 9: None
Level 10: Berserker (Juggernaut)
Level 11: None
Level 12: Berserker (Sever)
 
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Libertad

Adventurer
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Chapter 5: Additional Rules

This chapter covers three additions for Spheres-using games: new feats, sidekicks, and wild magic. As we covered that last one in our review of the Universal sphere, we’ll cover just the first two.

We have eight new Feats. Five of those are broad in scope: Additional Boon gives a bonus casting tradition boon, Extra Spell Points grants more Spell Points equal to one’s Proficiency Bonus, and Magical Training grants the character a casting tradition. In this last case, the feat is swapped out for an appropriate one if the character ever multiclasses into a proper spherecasting class. Two feats can be taken multiple times: Extra Magic Talents grants +1 to a Key Ability Score and a bonus magic talent, while Magical Expertise grants two bonus magic talents.

The three remaining feats are narrower in scope. Photosynthesis requires the Light sphere but allows the character to heal better and faster in bright light and avoid the need for food or drink if they get an hour’s worth of sunlight. Transformation grants the character an Alteration (genotype) talent and a limited number of bonus traits based on level. Finally, Venomous Soul requires the character to have appropriate Alteration sphere talents or natural abilities which grant them innate poison. The character can spit their poison as a ranged attack, spray poison onto foes who crit them in melee, and apply their poison to a weapon or unarmed strike via their own blood (in exchange for some minor damage).

Extra Magic Talent and Magical Expertise clearly stand out in that they give out talents. Magical Training is something to take for dabbler types, and it’s better than the Magic Spheres Adept Fighting Style given that it grants some Spell Points. Additional Boon is more situational given that the same result can be taken via the right Drawbacks. Transformation and Venomous Soul are specific towards certain builds, and as poison is a commonly resisted/immune damage type and condition the latter may not be very attractive. If anything Transformation is more restrictive on account that someone taking Magical Training can grant up to 3 Alteration talents effectively (2 from casting tradition, 1 from Lycanthropic Drawback), although the Transformation feat equivalent is indefinite and non-Concentration in duration which may be useful for some builds.

Sidekicks is based on the system from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. An NPC ally of CR ½ or less has a special kind of class added to them which is inferior to the core classes but still allows a sense of progression when adventuring with the PCs. The book notes that Sidekicks are better supported in Spheres of Might given that book’s Leadership sphere, although we get a Spherecaster class for this book. Basically it has poor progression in both Spell Points and magic talents, and its unique class features include the limited regaining of Spell Points during a short rest based on class level and at 20th level are immune to losing Concentration due to damage on a magic sphere effect or spell.

Sidekicks are a neat idea, although the application gives me pause. There’s an awful lot of different creatures and NPC types who in spite of a fractional CR can be far more effective than others. Pixies are CR ¼ but come with a generous helping of useful magical abilities, while the CR ½ Thug is one of the best options for a generic “melee attacker” type.

Chapter 6: Game Master’s Guide

This super-short chapter has three brief outlines on adopting the Spheres system for personalized campaign content. The first part, Creating Custom Options, talks about making new talents and balancing them against existing guidelines. It shows off a new Mind sphere talent, Command Computer, as the kind of magic that would show up in a more modern/science fantasy style world.

Creating Magic Items provides 3 new spherecaster-exclusive magic items. Robe of the Spherecaster grants an AC and saving throw bonus against three magic spheres of the attuned user’s choice, while Rod of the Spherecaster adds an equivalent bonus to spell attack rolls and save DCs of three chosen magic spheres. Wand of the Spherecaster is different, granting 2-6 charges based on rarity which can substitute for Spell Points for a single magic sphere chosen at the time of attunement. Scrolls and Spheres of Power discusses ideas on how to incorporate scrolls as treasure in a party where only spherecasters are played. The three options are as follows: pherecasters can choose a single Vancian class’ spell list to be able to be used for the purpose of activating scrolls, a scroll can be used if the spherecaster has a sphere thematically-related to the spell in question, and/or only spherecasters who can cast spells as rituals can make use of scrolls.

I overall like this new material albeit not to a strong degree. The Custom Options is useful advice, while the Magic Items give spherecasters cool toys to play with that directly enhance their abilities. I do like how scrolls still have a place in Spheres-only games too, choosing to adopt a common magical treasure rather than replacing it wholesale or axing it without any thought to the repercussions of those poor, poor treasure generation tables.

Final Thoughts (on Spheres of Power): Over the past year I’ve reviewed many 3rd party books for 5th Edition ranging in quality, and Spheres of Power is perhaps one of my favorites. It more or less succeeded on its proposed mission statement of being a highly customizable alternative magic system, and that it managed to do so in the comparatively-restrictive* 5th Edition is all the more impressive. The sample builds I managed to create show that converting characters from various bits of popular media is doable without the need for excessive homebrew and multiclassing. The number of options is impressive, but they manage to be mechanically balanced and meaningful choices unlike the worst glut of 3.5/Pathfinder options. There are some options that fall short, but overall these are more individualized cases than systemic issues.

*to the original Pathfinder rules.

But before ending this review, I wanted to touch upon broad strokes of the Spheres system’s advantages and disadvantages in comparison the core rules. Previously I covered things on a sphere-by-sphere basis, now I’m painting in broad strokes.

What Spheres of Power Can Do That Default Casters Can’t

Buff Stacking: The ability to cast virtually any spell without Concentration if properly Augmented is a major game-changer for buffs. The limitation is Spell Points and the likelihood that such enhancements won’t last beyond a fight or two, but it’s still significant for parties that have lots of Spell Points to burn and/or have a sparse assortment of encounters.

Character Customization: Although 5e’s default spells run a diverse gamut, Spheres of Power allows for more fine-tuning on every significant aspect of your character, from how they cast their magic to what magic they have access to to even modifications on how the spells themselves are cast.

Cheap Magic: Even the Material Casting Drawback’s gold piece requirements quickly become trivial if using typical treasure generation rules. There are no sphere effects requiring hundreds or thousands of gold pieces worth of magical components to cast. As gold isn’t as important for PC advancement in 5e as the previous two Editions, this is more of a flavor choice than a significant game-altering one.

Less GM Fiat: Even the broadly-applicable Illusion sphere has alternative talents with more explicit benefits. Many sphere effects and talents have precisely-worded rules over vague implications, and in cases where new rules and sub-systems are needed they are provided within easy page-flipping distance.

Long-Range Magic: As I discussed with the Universal sphere’s Reaching talents, it requires a moderate investment of talents to make a long-ranged caster. Spherecasters can more easily approach the range values of 3.5/Pathfinder magic save for all but the Long range spells of those latter systems...and perhaps even more with the Extreme Reach Advanced Talent!

Lots of At-Will Effects: Most core classes learn 2 cantrips at character creation, and may have 5-6 by the highest levels. A few Warlock invocations allow for at-will casting, but for very specific spells. Otherwise most spells and many class features refresh based on short and long rests. In Spheres of Power, virtually every Sphere at its basic level grants effects which can be used for free, along with many talents which grant new and altered effects. Even at low levels a spherecaster can pick up enough at-will magic effects to dwarf a core caster’s cantrips, while Universal’s metasphere package grants three cantrips for free!

What Default Casters Can Do That Spheres of Power Can’t

Highest of the High-Powered Magic: Although Spheres of Power can simulate a broad arrangement of D&D power levels, the high-level spells on par with Meteor Swarm and Wish aren’t replicable in the Spheres system barring a few exceptions. Meteor Swarm is still the king of damage, Shapechange can change you into adult dragons with most of the abilities thereof, and Simulacrum can create semi-permanent clones with the original’s abilities. There are some Advanced Talents which can approach or mimic the power level of such spells, although overall a core Vancian caster still has a higher ceiling which they can clear.

Higher Floor for Damaging Spells: Particularly at lower levels, Vancian casters have a better minimum damage die for several spells such as Fireball and a higher max damage cap for the 9th-level slots. Eldritch Blast is a d10 making it edge out most d8-based at-will damaging sphere effects. Spherecasters can catch up, although their secondary effects for things like blast type talents are meant to make up for this. When it comes to pure damage-dealing spells, Vancian casters win out overall.

Wholesale Spell Replacement: In the case of Clerics, Druids, and Wizards with long spellbooks, Vancian casters can more easily rebuild their entire character magically-speaking between long rests. Spherecasters have options which let them temporarily gain access to and swap out talents, but only ever a few at a time. Vancian casters with a respectable prepared spell list have more freedom to remake themselves at middle to high levels.

Join us next time as we cover the martial side of this magical equation with Spheres of Might!
 

Libertad

Adventurer
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Chapter 1: Introduction

The concept of Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards was widened during the advent of Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition when the spellcasting restrictions of previous editions were removed. When Pathfinder became its spiritual successor, more than a few of their own designers refused to believe the evidence at the time, downplaying its potential problems by shifting the blame to players and GMs, making design decisions and errata that held martial characters to the bounds of “realistic physics,” and an active fanbase which cheered them on whenever they nerfed useful nonmagical features and feats deemed “overpowered.” In spite of many players insisting that there was no sign of imbalance, it was apparent to many people both in mechanics and actual play experience. Solutions for “fixing fighters” and noncasters were extremely popular, both in professional third party publishing sourcebooks and homebrew material.

Spheres of Might was one such attempt in the former category, and along with Path of War was one of the better-known sourcebooks catering to this demand. Path of War’s method was to make a pseudo-Vancian maneuver system of special moves which refreshed between encounters, albeit with a heavier emphasis on combat over general-purpose utility. Spheres of Might, on the other hand, focused on a more even mixture of combat and noncombat options for noncasters, focusing on more at-will abilities and special moves triggered by a binary feature known as martial focus which could refresh in the middle of an encounter by performing certain actions under the right conditions. Both books were popular by those who sought to bridge the caster/noncaster imbalance, although they did so in rather different ways.

With that history lesson out of the way, we’ll cover how Spheres of Might’s conversion went for 5th Edition. Much like Spheres of Power it makes use of Spheres arranged by themes and styles of fighting, with Key Ability Modifiers used for determining the Sphere DC of certain attacks and Martial Traditions to determine one’s starting spheres. Legendary Talents are identical in every way to Spheres of Power’s Advanced Talents besides the name, and an advantage of the system is that virtually every Sphere and talent can be taken at virtually any level with no prerequisites.

But there are some new terms. Instead of using Spell Points and Augmentation to split more limited-use features, Might makes use of Martial Focus. Anybody who possesses martial talents (as well as Spheres of Power’s Mageknight and Prodigy classes) can gain martial focus, and you either have it or you don’t. You can expend martial focus in order to use special abilities or enhance existing ones depending on the talent or class feature in question, and there exist various talents and features which let you regain it as a bonus action or reaction under certain circumstances. But on its own, martial focus can be expended to treat an STR/DEX/CON save roll as a natural 10, and it can be regained after a minute of rest or taking the Dodge action, and it can also be lost if you get KO’d or go to sleep/elven trance. Additionally, there are things known as Special Attacks which are alternative ways of performing an attack via the Attack action and replace an existing regular attack. You can only make one Special Attack per round if you have means of making extra attacks. Finally, there’s a new Fighting Style Option known as Martial Spheres Apprentice which grants a bonus martial talent and the ability to achieve martial focus if not already possessed. Finally, there are Class Options where those possessing a core class that is “martial” (barbarian, fighter, monk, paladin, ranger, or rogue) can choose to forego taking a subclass, instead gaining 2 martial talents at any level they’d normally gain a subclass feature.

Finally we have a process on How to Build a Character, which details a sample step-by-step process of building PCs under Spheres of Might in a similar fashion to how Spheres of Power did it.

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Chapter 2: Martial Traditions

Martial Traditions are Spheres of Might’s answer to Casting Traditions. Martial Traditions represent various backgrounds of how a character came into a life of violence and/or self-defense. Every Martial Tradition derives from one of the PHB Backgrounds, each of which has three Traditions to choose from. A Tradition also has a Key Ability Modifier derived from one of the three mental ability scores (each Background having 3 Traditions of each score), as well as four bonus Talents the PC gains for free. Finally, a Martial Tradition has its own list of Starting Equipment which a PC can choose instead of their default Background if they so desire. Virtually every Tradition grants 1-2 talents from the Equipment sphere in determining major weapon/armor proficiencies, 1-2 other spheres which are unlocked at the base level, and in some cases have a Variable option where a character can choose a bonus talent in line with the Tradition’s themes or an additional Equipment talent.

There are also guidelines for designing one’s own Martial Tradition which follows the above guidelines. With 39 Martial Traditions spread across 13 Backgrounds, we aren’t exactly starved for choices: we have options ranging from iconic fantasy RPG concepts such as Knight (Noble) and Street Tough (Urchin) to less conventional options such as Witch (alchemy rather than magic, Hermit) and Ruin Delver (Sage).

Every Spheres of Might class starts out with a Martial Tradition by default, but the core “martial” classes save the Monk all have the option of starting play with a Tradition in exchange for trading in starting proficiencies: typically all martial weapons, medium armor, and shields, and in the Rogues’ case their “roguish weapons” plus 1-2 skills (or 1 skill and thieves’ tools) in place of a skill. As for why, Spheres of Might’s martial characters aren’t omniversal weapon and armor masters. Their Tradition determines their preferred weapons and armor, and Equipment sphere talents typically grant proficiency in 5-7 themed martial weapons per talent or one higher category of armor (along with shields if already proficient in light or medium armor). As the core rules have 24 martial weapons (14 are simple), most Martial Traditions aren’t exactly starved for choices. In my personal experience most players tend to stick with 1-2 weapons over the course of play (1 melee and 1 ranged or 2 melee and a backup ranged), so this isn’t as big of a penalty as it seems. As for why the Monk doesn’t get such a choice, their class features are already equivalent to a martial tradition and deeply tied into their class as they level up.

Martial Traditions are a bit simpler than Casting Traditions given the lack of Drawbacks, Boons, and thus Spell Points, but the granting of 4 bonus talents rather than 2 is meant to make up for this.

Chapter 3: Classes

With 7 classes and 31 subclasses (33 if we count variants), we have a lot of options for building our warriors of the Spheres. And like Spheres of Power they are more akin to generic “templates” in concept rather than baked-in roles. Every class allows the character to pick any 2-4 skills in which to be proficient rather than a specific list, and three of them allow the character to choose one uncommon save and one common save in which to be proficient. Each one is proficient in light armor and simple weapons by default, with further proficiencies determined by Martial Traditions and talents. Finally, each class save the Scholar gains Extra Attack given their “fighter” inclinations.

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The Alter Ego is our first class, a person who is not one but several people. Depending on the subclass this may be literal, such as two souls sharing the same body, or metaphorical such as a spy living a double life. As part of their core features they have two Personas (or 3 with Troubador subclass), which are broad literary archetypes that replicate the features of other (core) classes to a limited degree and grant a number of bonus talents that can only be accessed in that particular Persona. The Alter Ego can only be in one Persona at a time, and each Persona is treated as its own person for the purpose of alignment and divination spells. The subclasses further flavor the origin and nature of the multiple Personas, such as a Jekyll & Hyde style Chemist, a magical girl-style Empowered form, the otherworldly Possessed which can be an entirely different character mechanics-wise if so desired, a Troubadour who can act so well they have three Personas and can fool truth-compelling magic, and a Vigilante whose “civilian” persona can aid in skill checks and downtime activities for their crime-fighting identity.

Assessment: It may be easy to think of the Alter Ego as Spheres of Might’s “rogue class,” and it can definitely be built that way. However, the subclasses and Personas can grant them a variable range of party roles beyond what their talents can bring. The Mentor Persona and Empowered subclass can make the Alter Ego a limited caster (with both Vancian and spherecasting versions), while the Dragon and Hero Persona and Chemist subclass can make them a better straightforward warrior in the vein of the Barbarian or Fighter. The Antihero and Lover Personas and the Troubadour and Vigilante are closer to typical stealth/scout/skill using roles, while the Fool Persona and Possessed subclass are the odd ones out in having some rather broad features. Pathfinder’s Troubadour was very much in the vein of a bard, being a gish caster with stealth and social-themed skills and class features, but the 5th Edition version is a lot more broad than this.

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The Armiger is the opposite of a weapon specialist. They rely on a set of Customized Weapons which they can swiftly draw and use in rapid flourishes between attacks. Their core features revolve around maintaining 3-5 Customized Weapons based on level which grant them bonus talents as long as they’re wielded and can switch out these talents and what weapons are Customized every long rest. Their other features involve being able to draw and re-equip weapons faster and in between attacks, with higher-level features allowing them to do this better and switch out weapon talents more frequently. The Armiger’s three subclasses include a spellcasting Antiquarian (Vancian or spherecasting) which lets them place spell slots or magic talents into Customized Weapons, a mobile Commando who relies upon speed to impose negative statuses on foes and regaining martial focus when switching weapons after critting/killing/succeeding on contested ability checks, and a Polymath jack of all trades both in and out of combat who gains a variable Fighting Style, increased proficiency bonuses on non-proficient skills, and can change more weapon talents when using their higher-level Armiger class features.

Assessment: The Armiger is similar to the Vancian Wizard in that while it doesn’t have a lot of talents all at once, it has a potentially wide variety to choose from between long rests. The use of customized weapons to encourage the right tool for the job is a neat feature, and their limited ability to use different weapons between attacks allows for some nice combo potentials. However, their assortment of Customized Weapons will depend greatly on their existing proficiencies. Some Equipment talents grant proficiency in a narrow band of weapons which are functionally similar, while others have a more diverse assortment. As there are few restrictions as to what kinds of talents can be imposed via Customization, an Equipment talent granting proficiency in a weapon is entirely possible, although that’s kind of a waste just for one weapon unless one is two-weapon fighting.

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The Artisan specializes in knowing how to build and break things. They can substitute a d6-12 damage die with a weapon or improvised weapon based on level via Deadly Tools, gain double proficiency in any artisan and thieves’ tools in which they’re proficient, and at higher levels gain features such as crafting items faster and cheaper, expending martial focus to roll double the damage die with the Deadly Tools ability, and can dispel magic effects and curses on targets and ignore alignment/class/race restrictions when using magic items. They have four subclasses reflecting a certain type of trade, each granting a bonus tool proficiency and sphere talent: a Chef who can buff the party between rests with hearty foods and brewed potions; a Sapper whose traps are deadlier and can make temporary Glyphs of Warding; a Smith who can damage the equipment of enemies, imbue non-magical weapons and armor with enhancement bonuses during long rests, and grant 1-2 equipment-based buffs to party members between long rests; and a Technician who can craft advanced devices such as constructed drone companions, vehicles with variable movement speeds, and suits that can physically enhance the wearer.

Assessment: The Artisan is pushed into a skill-user role more by encouragement than by force, with a fair amount of utility and party aid abilities via the subclasses. Deadly Tools is rather useful for those who specialize in light weapons such as daggers, for right off the bat it gives them a better damage die. It’s also a class that can afford to neglect STR/DEX for physical attacks on account that the Equipment sphere’s Toolkit Training lets one use tools as improvised weapons and substitutes one’s Key Ability Modifier for attack and damage rolls. The subclasses vary a bit; the Chef gains a rather situational initial feature and an underwhelming capstone, while the Sapper (along with the Trap sphere in general) necessitates a certain play-style of cloak and dagger scouting and ambushes that other PCs may not care for. The Technician’s Inventions are a definite high point in part because they can be swapped out during a day of downtime rather than stuck as permanent choices. Additionally, it’s entirely possible for the Artisan to grant a “group flight” for small parties at 6th level by taking an Air Vehicle as 2 inventions (the subclass can choose to make additional inventions at a time or grant a single invention enhanced benefits if “taken multiple times”).

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The Commander occupies the “party buffer” role of classes. Its core features include spending a bonus action to let an ally make a weapon attack as a reaction, a limited-use d6-d12 Command die based on level that can be added to an ally’s d20 roll, and can spend an action to restore the martial focus of allies 1-3 times per short or long rest based on level. Each subclass grants a bonus sphere talent related to its theme: the Captain uses Commands that can subtract enemy damage and synergizes with the Guardian sphere’s patrol package; Drill Sergeant grants the ability to grant 1-3 known martial talents to allies between long rests and synergizes Commands with the Gladiator sphere’s boast and demoralize options; General grants persistent buffs and wider-ranging tactics talents from the Warleader sphere; and the Leadership sphere-friendly Politician lets one make money every day from connections and has the ability to call in NPC specialists 1-3 times per week to help out with specific tasks.

Assessment: The Commander cannot do many things on its own as a class, with the majority of features helping allies perform better. The subclasses more or less follow suit, with different types of aid based on the favored sphere. The General subclass is perhaps the most “physical” given that the Guardian sphere’s patrol package encourages opportunity attack and reach weapon-focused battlefield control builds. The Politician is the most open-ended but also situational on account of their Specialists and features which require some downtime and contact with civilization to make use of, as opposed to more immediate effects for dungeon-crawling parties.

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The Conscript is the broadest class in Spheres of Might. Whereas the other classes granted martial talents at a rate of ½ (Alter Ego, Armiger, Scholar, Striker)to ¾ (Artisan, Commander ) level progression, the Conscript is the only one that gains a martial talent every level. It doesn’t have many core features, going for broader-use things such as Second Wind like a Fighter or gaining temporary access to a bonus talent and an additional independent martial focus as 18th and 20th level abilities. The majority of class features are from one of seven subclasses: Brawler treats the character as being 1-2 size categories larger for grapple/shove/etc maneuvers, deals additional unarmed strike damage, and can wield heavier weapons in one hand; Fury is a discount Barbarian that has a slower-progression rage along with bonus movement speeds and immunity to being Frightened; Knave’s a discount Rogue with partial Sneak Attack and some other thief-like features; Marshal enhances the use of the Scout sphere’s scouting feature and grants 1-2 Favored Enemies as a Ranger; Mechanic focuses on the gear-based spheres (Alchemy, Tinkerer, Trap) and grants an additional amount of formula, poisons, and gadgets to be created between rests and lets the Conscript activate them and Trap sphere talents faster; Paragon grants a Fighting Style along with morale-boosting Warleader sphere features to allies; Sentinel focuses on the Guardian sphere such as halving the amount of damage unloaded from that sphere’s delayed damage pool or can challenge another creature if a challenged target is reduced to 0 HP; and Warrior is the most generic, allowing a “reckless attack” where the character gains advantage on all attack rolls but suffers advantage on all attacks directed towards them, along with later level features such as a once per long rest ability to survive a blow at 1 HP that would reduce them to 0 HP, can expend martial focus to ready an Action as a bonus Action, and can attack 3 times instead of twice when using Extra Attack.

Assessment: More than any other class in Spheres of Might, the Conscript will be defined mostly by their choice of sphere talents. The subclasses are a bit specific, usually enhancing a sphere or certain way of fighting. In the original Pathfinder version, the Conscript was very much a “build your own class” to the point that one possible build was just to have nothing but bonus feats and bonus talents while still being versatile and relevant unlike the poor Fighter. The 5e Conscript is a bit of a spiritual successor, albeit the Warrior subclass is the only option that can truly be “broad” in terms of its granted features.

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The Scholar is the mind-over-matter skill user of Spheres of Might. They have a pretty fragile d6 Hit Die (the other 6 classes are evenly split between d8 and d10) and are the only class without Extra Attack. Their core class features involve substituting their KAM for Strength for carrying capacity, can spend 5 GP on “generic equipment” for class features that help create particular items, gain Scout and a gear-based sphere (Alchemy, Tinkerer, orTrap) as bonus spheres, and the rest of their features are part of their subclass or Studies. Studies are chooseable abilities related to a field of knowledge that grant the Scholar certain persistent benefits, with more than a few granting a bonus talent from a sphere and/or proficiency (or double proficiency) in a skill or tool. There are 18 Studies to choose from and the Scholar can learn up to 10 (9 by level, 1 by subclass), and includes such options as Physics (gain Brute sphere and substitute KAM for Strength for sphere abilities), Meteorology (can craft a lightning rod quarterstaff can can shoot lightning and absorb lightning damage), Chemistry (create single-target flashbang grenades that can blind and deafen on a failed save), Aerodynamics and Marine Studies (gain Athletics sphere and can build gliders which can initially grant glide speed and flight at higher levels or underwater-breathing devices), and Arcane Studies (can cast Vancian spells as rituals like a Warlock’s Book of Ancient Secrets). The three subclasses are Archaeologist (jack of all trades, more skill proficiencies, 1 study of choice, can attune to more magic items), Natural Philosopher (can learn Material Impositions which enhance Chemistry’s flashbang grenades and allow one to gain near-supernatural abilities from certain physical substances), and Occultist (can learn more Vancian spells as rituals related to themed Esoteries).

Assessment: The Scholar’s low Hit Die and talent progression (with scant few bonus talents unlike the Alter Ego or Armiger) along with less direct Studies pushes the class strongly into an indirect fighter and skill-user role. In this role they are clearly the best, for they can gain proficiency and even double proficiency in a fair number of skills this way without the use of sphere talents. The Studies vary a bit in attractiveness: Linguist’s 4 bonus languages is boring and easily superseded by spherecasting and Vancian options that allow a magic-user to speak them all, while Chemistry’s flashbang grenades can be simulated by certain talents and only really shines if one particular subclass is taken. As for the subclasses, Archeologist feels a bit boring although their skill and magic item attunement bonuses have potential to be effective with the right builds (and a generous GM), with Natural Philosopher and Occultist possessing more immediately compelling abilities. Both of these subclasses have some pretty good choices, although in the case of Occultist the bulk of their abilities are going to be done either out of combat or cast before encounters in the case of long-duration spells.

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The Striker is our final class, and it’s similar to Spheres of Might’s Prodigy in that it has an ability which can only trigger and be spent during combat. Strikers gain points of Tension whenever they damage a foe or take damage from a foe, and can spend Tension on Techniques such as gaining stackable bonuses to attack/saves/AC and being able to take certain actions as bonus actions. Higher-level class features grant them new ways to gain and spend Tension. There are 3 subclasses, one of which has a variant depending on whether Vancian magic or spherecasting is being used. The Boxer focuses on unarmed combat, gaining appropriate bonus Equipment talents (or bonus talents of their choice if they already have them) along with improved unarmed strike damage and some more defensive abilities at higher levels; the Bloodriser grants spellcasting (buffs and offensive magic up to 4th level in Vancian) and the ability to spend Tension in place of Spell Points (spherecasting) or to cast spells faster or via higher level slots (Vancian); and the Skirmishing Scout encourages the use of Stealth, such as being able to gain Tension for 1 minute outside of combat, along with higher level features such as bonus damage when making attacks while hidden, grant +10 to Stealth when spend 1 minute camouflaging themselves, and cannot be tracked via nonmagical means.

Assessment: The Striker is the most combat-focused of Spheres of Might’s base classes. With the exception of perhaps the Armiger,* all of the prior classes’ default features had options for non-combat and utility applications. The Striker’s subclasses can help a bit in this front, although even the Bloodriser and Skirmishing Scout’s features are meant either as a bonus for engaging in combat or to help prepare them for when the battle begins. On the other hand, the Striker is a very effective fighter. The requirements for gaining Tension are very easy to meet, and the bonuses to AC and non-skill related d20 rolls can help push them to the upper limits of bounded accuracy.

*and even then that depends on what talents they select for their weapons.


Thoughts So Far: I have overall positive feelings in regards to the initial chapters of Spheres of Might. My major concerns revolve around the restriction of Martial Traditions to Backgrounds. As Casting Traditions had no such limitations, it feels a bit restrictive even if most Martial Traditions are meant to combine thematically with their parent Background. The classes are quite open-ended, although I can’t help but feel that Alter Ego and Scholar will be a bit narrower in focus in regards to player imagination. I can imagine Armigers, Commanders, and Conscripts easily filling a variety of concepts and build ideas, although the “maintaining two identities” Alter Ego and “frail but brainy” Scholar push one’s mind to a more limited range of ideas. This isn’t a problem with the system so much as how players may approach building them.

I also like how while not their major features, virtually every class save the Conscript has some means of gaining magical aid. In the case of those who don’t have outright magical subclasses, the Artisan can make use of and even craft a limited subset of magical items, the Commander’s Politician subclass can call upon magic-using Specialists, and the Scholar’s Occultist subclass can make use of Rituals. While none of the spherecasting subclasses have Blended Training to the point that they can freely take magical talents with martial talent slots, a few choice bonus talents can still make them respectable gishes.

Join us next time as we cover the first couple of Spheres and stat Geralt of Rivia from the Witcher!
 

Libertad

Adventurer
Chapter 4: Spheres, Part I

Note: I forgot to mention a specific bit of terminology. Those who make use of martial spheres are known as Practitioners, in much the same way that those making use of magic spheres are known as Spherecasters.

Unsurprisingly the longest chapter in the book, we’ll cover Might’s Spheres in four parts. There are 22 different Spheres covering a variety of fighting styles, tools, and non-magical skills, although 2 of them are special cases and will be reviewed out of order. The first is the Equipment sphere, which is the universal Sphere for determining armor/weapon proficiencies and has some talents designed for specific weapon usage. The other is the Leadership sphere, which grants the character NPC minions. It’s not suitable for all campaign styles and labeled an optional Sphere, and so will be covered last.

Like Power there are Spheres which have default abilities when unlocked, and others grant you a bonus talent when taken. However, what separates Might from Power is that about half of the Spheres (10 out of 22) grant proficiency in a skill, tool, or in one case weapon group when the base sphere is taken. And in the former two examples if you’re already proficient with the skill/tool then you either gain another proficiency (in the case of Alchemy or Athletics) or a bonus talent from the sphere to reward your focus. Furthermore there are many talents in those spheres and others which can grant you proficiency in such things or double proficiency if already proficient. What this means is that it’s relatively easy to create skill-monkey characters with the right spheres and talents even if your default class doesn’t grant many skills. This is in line with the original Pathfinder rules which gave you skill ranks for free when taking certain spheres and talents. Like Power there are basic talents that can be taken more or less prerequisite-free as well as Legendary Talents which are optional via GM discretion and have steeper (usually level-based) requirements. Talents are separated into parenthetical tags denoting whether or not they make use of a base sphere ability, and most have Variants which can grant a bonus talent in exchange for more restricted use of the default sphere abilities.

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The Equipment Sphere is the major determinant for our Sphere-user’s favored weapons and armor. It has no default sphere ability, instead granting a bonus talent of choice if taken by someone who didn’t have a Martial Tradition (otherwise the initial talents are pre-selected). (discipline) talents determine weapon proficiencies, while (other) talents cover armor proficiency* and miscellaneous abilities. Most (discipline) talents grant proficiency in 5-7 martial weapons, while a few grant less but have special abilities. For instance, Crossbow Expert grants proficiency in all crossbows but allows all wielded ranged weapons to ignore half and three-quarters cover, while Bombardier Training allows one to be proficient in alchemical items and can hit an adjacent target if the initial attack roll misses. Rock Toss is notable in that it allows you to throw heavy objects and even creatures in general as heavy-hitting thrown weapons, while Staff Mastery can turn quarterstaffs into Reach weapons and grants the two-weapon “d4 bludgeoning” attack of the Polearm Master feat. The weapon groups of (discipline) talents are such that taking two of them can be enough to grant a character more than enough diverse proficiency options to last them an entire campaign, although going for a “proficient in everything” build creates diminishing returns as there’s a bit of overlap in weapon types between several (discipline) talents.

*which seems counterintuitive.

Non-discipline talents don’t grant proficiency save in the case of Armor Training, but do other things. Einhandler lets one make an opportunity attack as a reaction vs a missed attack when fighting with finesse weapons one-handed and without a shield, while Mystic Fists treat unarmed strikes as magical and let them deal piercing or slashing damage in addition to bludgeoning. There’s a lot of useful talents here for those who wish to specialize in a certain weapon or armor and shield type. Legendary Talents grant proficiency in “advanced era” equipment, such as modern day firearms and grenades.

Combos: Crossbow Expert is a good choice for non-crossbow “sniper” type characters. Rock Toss combined with Throwing Mastery lets a thrown creature boomerang back towards the thrower, while the Telekinesis’ Dampening Field can negate damage done to the thrown creature. The Alteration sphere’s Size Change, the Brawler subclass, and Brute sphere’s Muscular Surge lets the Rock Tosser lift and throw creatures and objects of larger size categories. Staff Mastery goes well with the Dual-Wielding sphere given it’s considered two-weapon fighting, while Expert Reloading lets one use the Barrage sphere with Loading property weapons easily. Polearm Guard plus the Guardian sphere’s patrol package and Fencing sphere’s Lunge lets a character strike and even shut down movement from farther-away targets. Sling Combatant and Bombardier Training are ideal for Alchemy sphere abilities, while Throw Shield specifically calls out the Shield sphere. Whip Fiend can work well with the Athletics sphere’s Rope Swing talent.

Existing Comparisons: Quite a bit of these talents (and some talents in other spheres as well) derive partial benefits from quite a few feats. Crossbow Expert’s cover-ignoring attack comes from Sharpshooter, while Expert Reloading has a similar ability to the Crossbow Expert PHB feat but applies to Reload property weapons in general. This highlights a pretty nifty advantage of Spheres of Might; in traditional 5th Edition many characters are torn between the choices of taking a feat or an Ability Score Increase every 4 levels. By splitting like-minded feat benefits into individual talents, this eases the burden for martial characters while also having a faster sense of progression. This is similar to the original Pathfinder version, which made certain talents count as Associated Feats for the purposes of meeting prerequisites for other feats, Prestige Classes, and the like. As even Pathfinder talents were virtually prerequisite-less, this gave Sphere Practitioners a lot more freedom in character-building.

Just for fun: I decided to see how many talents it would take to gain near-universal weapon and armor proficiency to be closer to the “core martial” classes. Being a Githyanki with the Pikeman Martial Tradition starting out gives them proficiency in all armor and shields along with every non-whip reach weapon and “sword-suffix” weapons. Bruiser Training and Rogue Weapon Training make them proficient with every PHB weapon save the Longbow and Net, although at that point they aren’t really starved for choices. Spheres of Might also has four new weapons which are also covered in the Equipment sphere talents, so taking Custom Training (3 weapons of choice) 2 more times expands them to all manufactured weapons. For unarmed strikes and improvised weapons they’d need Unarmed Training and the Barroom sphere (detailed later).

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The Alchemy Sphere specializes in volatile mixtures, poisons, medicine, and chemical enhancements. The base sphere grants proficiency in alchemist supplies or a poisoner’s kit and lets one create a batch of formulae or poison every short rest whose number is based on one’s Proficiency Bonus + the number of talents possessed in the sphere. Talents who share the same name as an existing piece of equipment, such as alchemist’s fire, lets the character apply the talent’s benefits when using that item, and virtually every talent has a Potency option that makes its effects more powerful when martial focus is expended. (formula) talents include classic options such as Alchemist’s Fire and Holy Water, giving many options for various kinds of energy damage and negative conditions to impose on targets, along with more beneficial talents such as Salve which restores Hit Points or War Paint which grants advantage/resistance to various effects depending on the color of the paint. (poison) talents are self-explanatory and impose various negative conditions and even damage to targets that fail a Constitution saving throw. (other) talents are auxiliary benefits that can enhance and alter how formulas and poisons are used and applied, while Legendary Talents include more potent effects such as powerful explosives, being able to create Sovereign Glue or a Universal Solvent, poisons that can lower one’s Proficiency Bonus or petrify, and even a youth-granting elixir or philosopher’s stone which are incredibly costly to make (an exception to the otherwise “free” rules for alchemical creation if possessing the right tools).

Combos: Energy-damaging formulas applied to weapons don’t mention that they can’t stack with each other, so multiple characters with martial focus and the right Alchemy talents (as well as Enhancement’s Energy Weapon talent) can focus on a single weapon that deals several d6s of various energy damage. Performance Enhancer’s advantage-granting on certain ability checks can be combined nicely with abilities that focus on skill use, such as the Brute, Scout, and Wrestling spheres. The Alteration sphere’s Enhanced Poison talent can apply to (poison) sphere talents, while the Equipment sphere’s Poison Blowgun Expert can increase their DC to further guarantee their effectiveness. The Creation sphere's Alchemical Creation talentcan be used to make more formulas and poisons. Gaseous Application plus the Nature sphere’s Air Mastery talent lets a character relocate the gas to another square by breathing it in and releasing elsewhere, while the Barroom sphere’s Brutal Breaker base ability grants proficiency in alchemical weapons given their improvised weapon status, and that sphere’s (fragile) talents can grant further damage and debuff on top of the existing effects. The Barroom sphere’s Alchemical Dragon and the Tinkerer sphere’s Pressurized Liquid Applicator talents can turn alchemical items into AoE attacks. The Leadership sphere’s Alchemists (followers) talent allows one to craft and maintain 1 more formula/poison than normal.

Existing Comparisons: In terms of feats and subclasses, there aren’t many abilities which replicate Alchemy sphere talents. The closest is the Artificer Alchemist’s Experimental Elixir, which both has generally fewer uses in terms of refresh rate and a smaller number of potential effects. There is an Alchemist feat for Unearthed Arcana, but it doesn’t really map to any sphere talents save for proficiency-doubling for the appropriate tools.

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The Athletics Sphere focuses on mobility of all kinds. As a base sphere ability it grants proficiency in either Acrobatics or Athletics (or a bonus talent if proficient in both) and lets one regain martial focus when taking Dash or Disengage as an Action but not as a bonus action. The sphere has 3 (motion) talents which apply buffs or a debuff when the character moves a certain amount or through a hostile creature’s space, but the vast majority of talents are miscellaneous (other). Some interesting choices include Mighty Conditioning which lets one use STR or DEX for Acrobatics or Athletics and DEX for determining jump distance if so desired, Rope Swing which lets someone move through squares in midair and even stop in midair provided that there is something their rope/whip/tentacle/etc can latch onto, Tumbling Recovery which lets the character drop prone and move 10 feet to avoid hostile effects with advantage/disadvantage as appropriate, and Wall Stunt which lets one ascend vertical surfaces and even larger creatures as difficult terrain. Legendary Talents include such options as gaining fly, swim, and burrowing speeds, short-term speed boosts in exchange for a level of Exhaustion, and creating afterimages which can foil enemy attacks by having them target the duplicate.

Combos: Mighty Conditioning can make a DEX-focused shover/grappler build possible. The Alteration sphere’s Aberrant Body and the Tinkerer sphere’s Artillerist Gadgets grant a natural reach weapon and item respectively that can be used with Rope Swing. Capoeira Spin works well with removing the prone penalty from Tumbling Recovery, while Scale Foe calls out uses with the Beastmastery and Wrestling spheres. Sudden Flank’s granting of advantage goes well with the (exploit) talents and Fatal Thrust base ability of the Fencing sphere given the latter’s melee-based requirement. Rapid Motion, Swift Movement, and Speed Boost can stack with other movement-boosting effects to make a very speedy character, as well as take advantage of the “must move at least 40 feet” greater aspect of the Moving Target talent without spending one’s Action on movement. Shark Swim and Strong Lungs allows a character to hold their breath for hours, which can work nicely for storing gas-based attacks for a long time with the Nature sphere’s Air Mastery talent as mentioned before.

Existing Comparisons: Rapid Motion clearly has origins with the Rogue class’ Cunning Action and helps increase the mobility of sphere-users. Mighty Conditioning’s use of Dexterity to determine jump distance is similar to the Thief subclass’ Second-Story Work. The various Legendary Talents which grant variant movement speeds are similar to Spider Climb, Alter Self’s Aquatic Adaptation, and the at-will teleports of the Way of Shadow Monk and Shadow Magic Sorcerous Origin. In Spheres of Might’s case they are permanent effects and the teleportation requires using Dash and expending martial focus, so they’re a bit more powerful on account that they cannot be dispelled, don’t have a set duration, or must be used under a certain kind of illumination. In exchange, they require payment in talent slots which don’t grow on trees.

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The Barrage Sphere is a ranged combat exclusive sphere, focusing on firing off flurries of projectiles in comparison to the Sniper sphere’s range and accuracy. It grants no bonus proficiencies upon taking it, instead granting a Special Attack known as a Barrage where a character can make an additional ranged attack in addition to a normal attack as a bonus action that doesn’t apply one’s ability bonus to damage. Sort of like a ranged Two-Weapon Fighting in rules mechanics. (barrage) talents enhance or alter the Barrage in some way, such as intentionally missing the bonus action attack to gain advantage on the regular one, replacing the bonus attack with a melee attack or shove, the bonus attack striking the regular attack to turn up to 90 degrees mid-flight and strike around corners and behind cover, and so on. (other) talents include options such as recovering more spent ammunition from the battlefield after combat, regaining martial focus if hitting with at least two attacks when making a Barrage, and being able to make opportunity attacks with ranged weapons by treating them as a melee weapon with the Reach quality. The three Legendary Talents include attacking with a selective 30 foot AoE cone, never running out of non-magical ammo as long as you have 10 pieces of that particular ammunition, and using arrows and bolts to create staircases and platforms when shot into walls, large creatures, and the like.

Combos: Hammering Shots expends martial focus when making a Barrage to add one’s ability modifier to the bonus attack, but Blitz Focus lets one regain martial focus if at least two attacks hit when making a Barrage, meaning that one could effectively not use martial focus if two attacks hit that round. Mixed Barrage’s shove capability works well with the Brute sphere which is also focused on shoving. While the Sniper sphere’s Snipe Shot and related talents are a Special Attack and cannot be used with a Barrage, that sphere’s Deadly Aim ability applies to all ranged attack rolls which have advantage which means that it can work with Distracting Shot. Additionally the Fencing sphere’s (exploit) talents come into play when making an attack with advantage, and not just melee attacks. The Sniper sphere’s Trap Technician allows one to disable traps with ranged attacks, meaning that if done as part of a Barrage you can feasibly disable several traps at once if you’re ever in such a sticky situation. The Haste spell, the Time sphere’s Adjusted Frequency, and the Equipment sphere’s Splitshot can grant additional attacks, making it easier to regain martial focus via Blitz Focus and also get in more attacks. The Equipment sphere’s Point-Blank Shooting removes disadvantage on ranged attacks from being within 5 feet of a hostile creature, making it ideal for Mixed Barrage, and that same sphere’s Expert Reloading lets one use weapons with the Reload quality with the Barrage sphere. The Scout sphere’s Wind Reader is ideal for ranged weapon users in ignoring environment-based disadvantage. Using Cone of Death with thrown alchemical items can be a way of performing an AoE alchemical attack, albeit pricey unless one invests in the Alchemy sphere!

Existing Comparisons: The Ranger’s Hunter subclass has a Volley ability which is similar to the Barrage sphere’s Cone of Death, albeit it’s longer-range and hits all enemies within a 10 foot radius rather than a larger cone. The Arcane Archer’s Curving Shot sounds similar in the “bonus use to effectively gain advantage via reroll” although that class’ magical arrow shots can only be used twice per long rest rather than being effective at-will abilities (plus or minus martial focus).

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The Barroom Sphere is a bit narrower in thematic focus than the previous spheres. It specializes in the use of improvised weapons and alcoholic beverages to apply various buffs and debuffs in combat. It has two base default abilities: Brutal Breaker makes one proficient with all improvised weapons and can grab and attack any such weapon as part of the same action, while Hard Drinker treats drinking any liquid including potions as interacting with an object and can grant the Drunk status for 1 minute whenever an alcoholic beverage is imbibed. Certain talents can trigger special abilities by expending this Drunk status, requiring one to get drunk again before performing similar abilities. However, a person can only consume a number of such beverages before suffering the poisoned condition (which can be altered via the Conscript’s Brawler subclass and the Iron Liver talent), which makes it limited-use.

(drunk) talents are mostly buff-related in nature, such as gaining temporary hit points, gaining +2 to STR, DEX, or CHA for a limited number of rounds, gain advantage when escaping grapples and restraints, vomiting to reroll a failed save against an ingested poison and turning an adjacent square into difficult terrain that can knock people prone who move through it, and dealing 1d6 unarmed damage if a lower damage die and expending Drunk status to auto-roll max damage with unarmed strikes.

The (fragile) talents specifically require use of fragile objects which are improvised weapons made of weak material, typically softer than iron unless one has the Steel Breaker Legendary Talent. They include wielding such objects as +1 AC shields and breaking the object as a reaction to turn a critical into a normal hit, breaking the weapon to deal bonus damage based on level, and imposing the Confused condition on a failed CON save. That last one, Concussion, has a bit of strangely-worded text:

A confused target can’t take reactions and must roll a d10 at the start of each of its turns to determine its behavior for that turn. You can expend your martial focus as a reaction to increase the result of the d10 rolled by your key ability modifier.

Increasing the result sounds good, right? Well a result of 1 is random movement, 2-6 can’t move or take any actions, 7-8 hits a random creature with a melee attack, and 10 or higher the creature can act normally. While I can see certain higher results being better than others, there’s not as much control given it’s a static number that only goes up, so a character with a +4 or +5 KAM may very well be less able to impose the “can’t take actions” penalty if doing so is more advantageous than a random weapon attack.

The (other) talents don’t fit anywhere else, such as being able to deal damage with any object including those that bear no resemblance to a standard weapon (1d6 or 1d8 instead of 1d4), being able to throw any weapon with a 40/120 foot short and long distance range, and being able to spend Hit Die to heal oneself when drinking an alcoholic beverage. We have a lot of Legendary Talents, such as being able to drink alchemical liquids and poisons and spit them out as a 15 foot AoE cone, break a fragile weapon as a reaction to automatically crit, expend Drunk status to gain resistance to bludgeoning/piercing/slashing damage against one attack, and treat unarmed strikes and improvised weapons as +1 magical weapons.

There are a few talents which feel a bit...underpowered. Surprise grants advantage on an attack roll when attacking a target with a weapon they weren’t aware of (including improvised weapons that haven’t been used in a hostile manner), which honestly sounds like something you’d gain advantage for by default. Additionally, the Blazewater Legendary Talent allows one to spill alcohol on a weapon and light it on fire to deal +1d6 fire damage, which is the same as the use of the Alchemist’s Fire talent. Granted, that last one requires the expenditure of martial focus and a more expensive or limited-use item, but given the former’s 7th Level prerequisite I expected something more.

Combos: The Alchemy sphere’s Panacea, the Life sphere, and magic which can remove the Poisoned condition are good ways of mitigating the overuse of (drunk) talents. Drunken Boxer works great when combined with features and talents which increase one’s unarmed damage, such as the Equipment sphere’s Unarmed Training and Mystic Fists talents and the Alteration sphere’s Size Change. A Charisma-using spellcaster or practitioner can boost their spells and abilities via Miracle Drink. Improvised Shield specifically calls out use of the Shield sphere. As mentioned before, alchemical weapons count as improvised weapons and work well with this sphere. Bottle Rocket greatly extends the range on most thrown weapons and is a good choice for those using them with the Barrage and Sniper spheres. The Blazewater Legendary Talent should be able to stack with other +1d6 energy damage Alchemy talents and the Enhancement sphere’s Energy Weapon talent.

Existing Comparisons: The two things that most immediately spring to mind are the Tavern Brawler feat and the Way of the Drunken Master Monk subclass. In the case of the former the improvised weapon proficiency and unarmed strike damage increase is similar to the Barroom sphere and Equipment’s Unarmed Training talent, in line with the “2 talents equals 1 feat” balance. But the ability to grapple when attacking with an improvised weapon matches none of the existing Barroom talents. As for Drunken Master, very few of its class features map to Barroom either. This makes Barroom more or less its own thing as far as I can tell.

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The Beastmastery Sphere is one of this book’s minion-centric Spheres, the other being Leadership. It grants proficiency in Animal Handling (or 1 bonus sphere if already proficient) along with one of two packages. The Rider package and (ride) talents center around mounted combat, and its base ability allows the mount to gain an evasion-like effect (half/no damage on DEX save damaging effects). The Tamer package and (tamer) talents focus around training animals to be loyal and able to perform special tasks. Unlike Spheres of Power’s Conjuration or Death spheres which provide default stat block templates that are further customized by talents and leveling up, the beasts gained via the Tamer package are out and out Monster Manual creatures of the Beast type with a variable maximum Challenge Rating based on one’s character level. And the Broad Skills talent can let one domesticate any non-Humanoid creature provided it has a maximum unadjusted Intelligence of 4.

Needless to say, this is a Sphere with a lot of open-ended possibilities. Just look at this list and sort by Intelligence. Beasts overall stick to one role, that of physical melee attackers who may have a special sense type or alternative movement, but you may be able to get a Flailsnail with its AoE stun effect, a Beholder Zombie with its multiple eye rays, a Stone Defender bodyguard to remain by your side at all sides to grant you +5 AC as its reaction, or even a hydra or clay golem at the higher levels!

The (ride) talents include substituting your Animal Handling in place of your mount’s Acrobatics/Athletics, redirect attacks targeting the mount to hit you instead, have your mount do the Disengage action as a bonus action, or take temporary control of a creature you climb on by making it a mount if it fails a CHA save. (tamer) talents include granting yourself and your tamed creature the benefits of the Help action as joint bonus actions, boosting the other’s AC by 2 as a reaction while within each other’s reach, making an attack as a reaction if your tame beast succeeds on a grapple or shove, and you and your tamed creatures use the individual’s highest passive Perception for the whole group. Legendary Talents include short-term mind control to tame a creature by expending martial focus, the ability to summon all of one’s animal allies with a bonus action (they still have to get there normally), and the ability to speak with animals. The first mentioned ability is Beast Tamer, and there are 4 other Legendary Talents which have it as a prerequisite and build off of it, such as increasing its duration and range.

Combos: Acrobatic Mount mentions that it can be used with the Athletics sphere’s (motion) talents, while that same sphere’s Scale Foe can be used with Bronco Buster by substituting Strength (Animal Handling) for Strength (Athletics) checks. The Commander’s Drill Sergeant subclass can grant animal allies temporary sphere access, and Brute and Wrestling are highly appropriate for many animals and several Beastmastery talents make use of them in grappling or shoving enemies. Focusing Connection used on a mounted animal is an easy way to regain martial focus as long as you’re not dismounted. The Leadership sphere’s Rangers (followers) talent has those allies automatically capture a set number and CR of beasts each day which you can tame. The Scholar’s Zoology Study adds KAM to the Practitioner’s effective level for determining the CR of tamable beasts, making it useful for a 2-level dip for characters focusing on this sphere.

Existing Comparisons: The Conjure Animals spell is the closest approximation to this sphere, although given the Broad Skills talent other Conjure [Creature Type] spells can fit the bill. Generally speaking those spells have lower maximum Challenge Ratings save for the higher-level ones, and are Concentration spells with limited duration while Beastmastery’s tamed creatures are indefinite in duration barring the Beast Tamer Legendary Talent. The Mounted Combatant feat’s three features are available as individual talents, so that’s a pretty direct comparison.

Thoughts So Far: These six Spheres have a fair amount of variation between each other and a good assortment of offensive, defensive, and utility features. If anything Barrage stands out as being the only one with mostly attack-themed options. The Alchemy sphere has a lot of energy type damage and useful means of non-magical healing and debuffs, although it’s Elixir of Youth and Philosopher’s Stone talents felt too expensive and high level to be of use in most games. Athletics is a neat Sphere, granting many kinds of mobility rather than anything directly offensive. I really like Beastmastery, although I feel that certain monster combos are bound to be overpowered with anything that broad. If I had to pick a least favorite it’d be Barroom. The alcohol and drunk status stood out as being limited-use while also imposing a debilitating condition.

Join us next time as we cover the next 5 spheres and stat up Shovel Knight!

PS
I know you’re all still waiting on Geralt, but I promise to get around to him in my next post.
 
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Libertad

Adventurer
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Geralt of Rivia
Medium Humanoid (Witcher)
Prodigy 15; Battleborn (Spheres of Might)


Armor Class 17
Hit Points 123 (15d8+45)
Speed 30 ft.

STR 14 DEX 12 CON 16 INT 14 WIS 12 CHA 8 (27 Point Buy, +2 CON, +1 INT)

Saving Throws Dexterity +6, Intelligence +7
Skills Arcana +7, Athletics +7, Investigation +12, Nature +7, Perception +11, Stealth +6, Survival +6
Tools Alchemist’s Supplies (Prodigy class), Poisoner’s Kit (Witcher race), Smith’s Tools (Prodigy class), +1 Musical Instrument (Outlander background)
Senses passive Perception 21, Darkvision 60 ft.
Languages Common plus one other

Background: Outlander

Casting Tradition: Witcher Signs
Sphere DC
15; Spell Points 9
Bonus Magic Talents: Destruction, Protection
Boons: Metasphere Specialist; Drawbacks: Magical Signs, Somatic Casting 1; Variants: Protection: Limited Protection (Aegis only), Protected Soul
Destruction - Confining (blast type), Extra Blast Type (Bludgeoning, Kinetic, Warding), Fire (blast type), Frightful (blast type), Sculpt (blast shape) Slowing (blast type); +4 extra talents from Mind, Protection, and Time spheres
Mind - Confusion (charm), Enthrall (charm), Expanded Charm, Suggestion (charm) (+1 extra talent from Magical Expertise feat)
Protection - Obstruction (aegis), Punishment (aegis) (+2 extra talents from Variants)
Time - Adjusted Frequency (chronos), Time Freeze (chronos)
Universal - Glyph (metasphere), Mass (metasphere), Quicken (metasphere) (+3 extra talents from Boon and Magical Expertise feat)

Martial Tradition: Witcher Schooling
Key Ability Modifier:
Intelligence
Sphere DC 15
Bonus Martial Talents: Alchemy, Equipment (Armor Training), Fencing, Scout
Alchemy: - Alchemist’s Fire, Basic Poison (poison), Flash Powder (formula), Gaseous Application, Performance Enhancer (formula), Salve (formula), Specialized Venom (constructs, elementals, undead) (+4 extra talents from Intuitive Combatant feat, subclass, and tool proficiency)
Equipment: - Armor Training, Bombardier Training
Fencing: - Ankle Strike (exploit), Parry Anything, Parry and Riposte (+2 extra talents from Combat Training feat)
Scout: - Target Weakness (research), Track the Scene

This talent may be exchanged for another every short rest

Special Abilities

Alchemy:
Can create up to 12 formulas or poisons at a time every short or long rest in any combination, lasting for 1 day. Alchemist’s Fire (1d4/4d4 fire damage, set target on fire failed DEX save), Thunderstone (1d10/3d10 thunder and deafened for 1 minute/stunned for 1 round minute on failed CON save), Basic Poison (1d4/3d4 poison damage and the poisoned condition for 1 round on failed CON save), Performance Enhancer (gain advantage on STR/DEX/CON ability checks and saves for 1 minute but disadvantage on INT/WIS/CHA ability checks and saves), or Salve (target spends HD to heal themselves, adds +2 HP and/or +3d8). Alchemist’s Fire and Performance Enhancer may be exchanged for other talents one meets prerequisites for every short rest.

Ankle Strike (exploit): If feinted (melee attack w/ advantage) creature falls prone on failed DEX save.

Destruction Blast Rider Effects: bludgeoning damage, push target back 5 feet, Augment 1 SP up to 20 feet (bludgeoning, collide with object deals +1d6 bludgeoning +1d6 for every 10 feet they would’ve continued); fire damage, catch fire on failed DEX save, taking 3d8 fire damage per round, Augment 1 SP frightened until flames are extinguished (fire); psychic damage, frightened until start of your next turn on failed WIS save (frightful, Augment 1 SP to extend duration to 1 minute, new save each round); force damage, unable to move closer to caster until start of caster’s next turn (confining, Augment 1 SP take additional force damage equal to damage dice rolled if willingly move from current space); bludgeoning damage, gain resistance to first damage attack or effect of creature before start of your next turn (warding, Augment 1 SP to choose up to 5 damaged creatures); force damage, knocked prone on failed STR save (kinetic, Augment 1 SP creatures made prone cannot stand up unless make STR save as an action or bonus action); force damage, can only use action or bonus action for 1 round on its turn if fail WIS save (slowing, Augment 1 SP to stun instead).

Expertise: Investigation, Perception

Extra Attack: May attack three times instead of once when using the Attack action.

Fatal Thrust: Whenever attacking in melee with advantage can reroll one of the d20s used for advantage roll.

Flawless Sequence: Don’t lose link from sequence if failed to add a link since beginning of previous turn.

Focused Sequence: expend martial focus to increase sequence by 1 link.

Glyph: Augment 1 SP to bind magic sphere effect into a 5 foot cube that lasts for 1 hour or until triggered. Augment 1 SP to increase size to 20 foot cube, increase duration to 24 hours, or Augment 4 SP to last indefinitely but reduces max Spell Points by amount until triggered or dispelled.

Imbue Sequence: Gain mystic energy tied to one magic sphere. Defended (immediately gain benefit of one aegis), Destructive Edge (Destruction, add class level to 1 damage roll, damage matching a chosen blast type), Mind Breaker (creature subtracts 1d4 from WIS saves until end of next turn whenever damaged/shoved/grappled by prodigy), or Time Slip (+10 speed).

Inspired Hit: all weapon and spell attack rolls crit on 19-20.

Intuitive Combatant: Every long rest can replace one martial talent known with a different talent. But only talents gained via leveling up (see Talent Progression by Level below).

Mass: Augment 1 SP to decrease magic sphere ability with duration of at least 10 minutes by 2 steps to increase number of targets by 5, counts as a single effect for purposes of Concentration. Augment 2 SP to apply to magic sphere ability with instantaneous duration if willing targets,* or Augment 3 SP to target the unwilling instead.

*unlikely, most magic sphere effects known are self-targeting or offensive in nature.

Prodigious Skill: Spend Spell Point to treat a d20 ability check as a 15 instead of rolling.

Resilient Physique: Immune to all diseases and advantage on saving throws vs effects that inflict the poisoned condition and deal poison damage.

Sequence: Gain 6 max links. Gain links by doing special actions in combat. Can spend links to perform Finishers.

Track the Scene: advantage on ability checks to find and follow tracks, can determine general information when following tracks up to 14 hours old.

Unbroken Sequence: can prevent a sequence from ending for 1 round if it would end due to Conditions.


Actions

Aegis:
range self, concentration up to 1 hour. Gain resistance to nonmagical bludgeoning/piercing/slashing damage (Obstruction) or creature takes 3d4 psychic damage whenever damaging bearer of aegis (Punishment). Augment 2 SP to remove Concentration.

Alchemical Item: +6 to hit, range 2/60 ft., target 1 creature or 5 ft. cube if Gaseous Application. Auto-hits willing targets.

Alter Time: range 30 ft., target 1 creature. Can grant benefits of Haste (as spell) or Slow on failed WIS save (as spell) for 2 SP. Or can freeze time in a 20 foot cube for 1 SP.

Cantrips: can cast druidcraft, prestidigitation, or thaumaturgy.

Carpet Bomber Finisher: Throw one formula or poison per link in Sequence. Creature cannot be affected by more than one formula or poison from this ability.

Charm: range 30 ft., duration varies, target 1 creature (or 6 if Mass). Forces d10 table of random behavior for 1 round on failed WIS save (Confusion, Greater is 1 minute concentration), make target charmed for 1 minute concentration (Enthrall, Greater is 1 hour), or plant suggestion for very simple requests into targets mind for 8 hours or until action is completed (Greater can do basic and very simple requests). Augment 1 SP to use Greater Charm effect.

Destructive Blast: range self, 5-foot radius or 30-foot cone or 120-foot by 5-foot line, saving throw varies. Hit: 14 (3d8) variable damage type plus rider effect. Augment 1 SP to deal 39 (8d8) damage instead.

Feint: Can choose to use Help action on self. Next attack roll before end of next turn will have advantage.

Light Crossbow: +6 to hit, range 80/320 ft., 1 creature or object. Hit 5 (1d8+1) piercing damage. Crit on 19-20.

Longsword: +10 to hit, range 5 ft., 1 creature or object. Hit 9 (1d8+5) slashing damage plus 7 (2d6) fire damage if Ard’aenye is being used). Crit on 19-20.


Bonus Actions

Focused Sequence:
expend martial focus to cease concentration on a magic effect.

Quicken: Augment 1 SP to reduce casting time from 1 action to bonus action when targeting self or held object with magic sphere effect. Augment 2 SP (1 SP more) to do when targeting any single willing creature.*

*unlikely, most magic sphere effects known are self-targeting or offensive in nature.

Scout: Learn enemy Vulnerabilities, Resistances, & Immunities if within 120 ft. and succeed on DC 20 Investigation or Perception check.

Target Weakness: next attack made against scouted creature with weapon attack treats half total damage as type target is Vulnerable to. Expend martial focus to use without an action.


Reactions

Alter Time:
Can freeze time in 20 foot cube for 2 SP (including Augmented cost).

Parry & Riposte: Expend martial focus to make melee damage roll, subtract from result of attacker’s damage. May attack and add (exploit) talent if final result is 0 or less. Can also work on spells and ranged attacks.

Succor: If Punishment Aegis is up, can be dismissed to deal +3d6 psychic damage vs attacker.

Equipment

Aerondight (+3 silver longsword), Ard’aenye (treat as Flame Tongue longsword, +3 to attack and damage), Raven’s Armor (+3 Chain Shirt of Resistance [Poison]), light crossbow, alchemist’s supplies, poisoner’s kit, Roach (draft horse), Witcher’s Medallion (As Lantern of Tracking [see Rime of the Frostmaiden] save its creature type corresponds to all 10 types and never runs out of light)

Conversion Details: Yet another conversion from an earlier Pathfinder build! Technically speaking this is an “advanced Geralt” near the end of Witcher 3, where he has enough Ability Points to afford most choices on his Combat, Signs, and Alchemy skill trees as well as possessing his iconic alchemical recipes. As a result, his level and stat block are very high in comparison to other builds I’ve done. Lower-powered versions of Geralt not yet at the end of his career will likely have more focused builds with less talents, so I made sure that the only Legendary Talent I took was the Fencing sphere’s Parry Anything (5th level).

I chose Prodigy on account that it allows for free selection of both magical and martial sphere talents, and I needed a good amount of both for an authentic Geralt. In terms of his magical abilities I made a new Casting Tradition, detailed below. Geralt and most Witchers aren’t magical specialists, relying upon five simple Signs, or spells, that can be used quickly in combat. The Aard and Igni signs were easy to simulate via the Destruction sphere, particularly the Fire blast type and various movement and prone-inflicting blast types such as Kinetic and Confining. Yrden could be flavored as the Universal sphere’s Glyph talent combined with Destruction talents (particularly Slowing) and the Time sphere’s Time Freeze talent. Quen was the hardest to replicate on account that there’s no “auto-negate damage from the next hit” type of effects in Spheres of Power or default 5th Edition for that matter. Thus, I focused on two Protection talents that can reduce incoming damage and damage attacking enemies in turn to give the best equivalent effects. For Axii I relied upon a few Mind talents, ones which could manipulate targets for out of combat and utility use (Enthrall and Suggestion) and one which can turn enemies on each other (Confusion). For the Axii ability to stop a creature in its tracks, the Slowing blast type (which coincidentally was gained via the Time sphere) has an Augmented version that can stun targets.

For combat talents, I wanted medium armor proficiency to give Geralt a respectable AC, and also let him be good at throwing alchemical items to simulate his “bombs” so I chose the aptly-named Bombardier Training. Fencing was a good choice in that it gave good options for him to knock enemies prone non-magically via Ankle Strike and can parry enemy attacks via the Parry and Riposte and Parry Anything talents. Scout was my next choice as it granted the incredibly useful ability to learn of enemy weaknesses and resistances, a necessity for any Witcher worthy of the title. For the specific talents, Target Weakness and Track the Scene reflect abilities Geralt could do in the video games. For the Prodigy class’ Expertise feature I assigned the two skills to Investigation and Perception, reflecting Geralt’s keen senses and eye for detail.

Finally, Alchemy is Geralt’s most-invested sphere. Thanks to the Intuitive Combatant feat and the bonus talents from the Battleborn subclass, Geralt is by no means limited to the talents provided. Swapping out certain Alchemy talents for others he doesn’t currently know, such as Alchemist’s Fire for Flash Powder, represents him preparing different types of poisons, bombs, and concoctions during rest periods to fit the situation. He can even assign such talents to non-Alchemy sphere talents if so desired. In an odd way that’s in keeping with the video games, as there are special potions which can be purchased and drunk to retrain one’s skills.

But onto Alchemy proper, I focused on the talents in keeping with some of the more well-known alchemical items seen in the games. Salve represents the healing Swallow, while Alchemist’s Fire represents Dancing Star. The Basic Poison along with Specialized Venom represents various oils Geralt coats his blade with in order to better harm monsters.* Those aforementioned talents, combined with Gaseous Application can represent gas-based bombs such as Dragon’s Dream and Devil’s Puffball. Thunderstone represents the Samum bomb, and Performance Enhancer can represent various physically-minded decoctions that grant a persistent buff. Switching one’s Alchemy talents around can further simulate other choices, such as Alchemical Ice for Northern Wind, Flash Powder for Zerrikanian Sun, and even the Bomb Legendary Talent for Grapeshot!

*and Scout’s Track the Scene can be a good reflavoring of this as well.

But all of these options come at the expense of Ability Score Increases. Although partially made up for via some very powerful weapons and armor, Geralt’s highest ability score is his 16 Constitution, with Strength and Intelligence both 14. While his high level makes him rather powerful, he does punch a bit below his weight class in several areas.

Talent Progression by Level

Level 1 Prodigy: Alchemy (Basic Poison, Salve, +1 talent from tool proficiencies), Destruction ([confining], fire, sculpt, +1 talent from Protection sphere), Equipment (Armor Training), Fencing, Protection (Obstruction, Punishment, +2 talents from Variant), Scout (Target Weakness, +1 talent from skill proficiency), Universal (Glyph, Quicken, +2 talents from Boon);
Level 2: Alchemy (Alchemist’s Fire, +1 talent from subclass), Destruction (frightful, +1 from Mind sphere), Mind (Enthrall)
Level 3: Mind (Expanded Charm)
Level 4: Alchemy (Thunderstone, +1 talent from Intuitive Combatant feat), Destruction (slowing, +1 talent from Time sphere), Time (Adjusted Frequency)
Level 5: None
Level 6: Destruction (Extra Blast Type [Bludgeoning, Kinetic, Warding])
Level 7: Scout (Track the Scene)
Level 8: Fencing (Ankle Strike, Parry Anything, Parry and Riposte, +2 talents from Combat Training feat)
Level 9: None
Level 10: Alchemy (Performance Enhancer, +1 talent from subclass), Mind (Confusion)
Level 11: Alchemy (Specialized Venom [Constructs, Elementals, Undead])
Level 12: Alchemy (Gaseous Application), Mind (Suggestion, +1 talent from Magical Expertise feat), Universal (Mass, +1 talent from Magical Expertise feat)
Level 13: None
Level 14: Time (Time Freeze)
Level 15: Bombardier Training

Edit: As Geralt doesn't possess any of the Universal packages tied into the relevant Destruction blast types, he doesn't get a bonus blast type from that sphere.

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By Warrior of Zelda on Deviantart

New Race: Witcher

Ability Score Increase:
Your Constitution score increases by 2 and your Intelligence score increases by 1.

Age: Witchers are theoretically immortal, although their dangerous lifestyles means that virtually all of them die from violence or acts of nature within the first few centuries at most. They reach maturity in line with their original species before the Trial of the Grasses.

Alignment: Alignment is dumb and doesn’t map well onto the world of the Witcher.

Size: The majority of Witchers are transformed humans, with a few of elven origin and no known dwarves, halflings, or monsters. Your Size is Medium.

Speed: Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision: You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only in shades of gray.

Witcher School Training: You have proficiency with the longsword, rapier, scimitar, and shortsword.

Tool Proficiency: You gain proficiency with your choice of either alchemist’s supplies or poisoner’s kit.

Monster-Wise: You have proficiency in Arcana and Nature.

Resilient Physique: You are immune to all forms of disease and have advantage on saving throws versus effects that cause poison damage or the poisoned condition.

Languages: You can speak, read, and write Common and one other language of your choice.

Casting Tradition: Witcher Signs
Key Ability Modifier:
Intelligence
Bonus Spell Points: None
Bonus Magic Talents: Choose two: Destruction, Mind, or Protection
Boons: Metasphere Specialist*; Drawbacks: Magical Signs, Somatic Casting 1; Variants: Limited Protection (Aegis only), Protected Soul

*Witchers typically take the Glyph and Quicken talents, the former to simulate Yrden and the latter to allow quick follow-up attacks after using a Sign.

Martial Tradition: Witcher Schooling
Key Ability Modifier:
Intelligence
Bonus Talents:

Equipment sphere:
Armor Training
Alchemy sphere
Scout sphere
Variable:
Witchers gain one talent in line with their school: the Berserker sphere (Bear), the Fencing sphere (Wolf), the Scoundrel sphere (Viper), Equipment’s Crossbow Expert (Bear or Viper), or Scout’s Heightened Awareness (Griffin).
 
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Libertad

Adventurer
Chapter 4: Spheres, Part 2

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The Berserker Sphere is our next combat-heavy sphere. Its two base abilities include Adrenaline where one suffers a -2 AC for a round in order to gain the benefits of a buff, and Batter which is a Special Attack made with a melee or thrown weapon which “batters” a target to make them vulnerable to other Berserker talents. The former ability involves making use of (adrenaline) talents such as reducing all incoming damage by one’s proficiency bonus, increasing one’s land speed by 5-20 feet depending on level, and expending martial focus to reroll a missed weapon attack roll. The latter ability makes use of (exertion) talents which apply a debuff to a target* such as -1d4 on all attack rolls, being unable to take bonus actions/reactions on a failed CON save or stunned if already battered. There’s a lot of other untyped talents, such as Brutal Strike which takes the -5 attack/+10 damage of Great Weapon Master but extends it to any melee/thrown weapon when battering a target, Bloody Counter where the character lets a melee attack auto-hit them in exchange for performing a counterattack along with an (exertion) talent, and Deathless which grants advantage on all death saves and helps them recover faster when stabilized at 0 HP. Legendary Talents include using a weapon attack to tear a fabric in space-time to perform long-range teleportation in exchange for an exhaustion level, severing a target’s limb if critting and expending martial focus, and the ability to raise surrounding terrain and create holes when using the Shatter Earth talent.

*Shatter Earth, which turns surrounding squares into difficult terrain by shattering the ground instead of hitting a creature.

There is one Legendary Talent that leaves things unclear rules-wise. Spell Sunder only has a 5th level prerequisite and allows one to temporarily dispel ongoing spell effects on a target when attacking them. But it briefly references the Brutal Strike talent as part of the required action. As that talent is not a prerequisite, it begs the question of whether or not it is necessary in the use of Spell Sunder.

Combos: The Fencing sphere’s Parry & Riposte can reduce an attack’s damage via your own weapon damage roll, so the +10 bonus from Brutal Strike can be very helpful for this if the GM rules that it can apply. Additionally, the -5 penalty can be further mitigated via the many ways of gaining advantage, and the Fencing sphere’s Fatal Thrust base ability can help even further in rerolling one of the advantage d20s. The Juggernaut (adrenaline) talent makes one immune to difficult terrain and movement-slowing effects, which lines up well with Athletics sphere talents that grant alternative movement speeds being treated as difficult terrain. Furthermore, Shatter Earth can affect stone or a softer material, while Athletics Terrain Glide can only move through dirt or loose soil; the former talent combined with Alter Terrain in making a 5 foot deep hole can thus bypass any hard surfaces in buildings and roads to tunnel underground if the climate allows for it. The Equipment sphere’s Throwing Mastery talent is useful in applying a boomerang effect to thrown weapon attacks so you don’t have to waste actions drawing new weapons after the throw. The Atavism Legendary Talent lets one be treated as their original creature type or Beast for beneficial effects such as Beast Bond. A fellow PC with the Beastmastery sphere’s Bronco Buster talent can treat the Berserker-user as a mount and let them gain the benefits of (ride) talents. A few Legendary Talents in the Wrestling sphere have the Shatter Earth talent as a prerequisite.

Existing Comparisons: The two benefits of Great Weapon Master exist as separate talents with wider applications beyond that feat’s Heavy quality prerequisite. The Mobile feat and Ranger’s Land Stride can allow one to move normally through difficult terrain, albeit under different circumstances than the Juggernaut talent. The Destruction sphere’s Slowing blast type talent has a similar action negation/stun effect as the Heavy Swing talent. The Great Destroyer talent’s double damage to and advantage on breaking objects is actually the same as the Siege Monster monster quality, although the talent’s advantage part is an added bonus. The Battlemaster Fighter’s Sweeping Attack is similar to Reaper’s Momentum in granting a cleavelike bonus attack on another target, although Battlemaster just does one additional attack while Reaper’s is potentially unlimited albeit at the cost of a hefty -5 penalty to all attack rolls.

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The Brute Sphere is the other “strong guy” offensive sphere, centering around the use of shove and overrun actions. It grants proficiency in the Athletics skill (or +1 talent if already proficient) and its base ability allows one to move a shoved target even further by a number of feet equal to the result they failed by and also suffering bludgeoning damage. (manhandle) talents are added effects on top of shoving, such as imposing disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks for 1 round on a failed CON save, reducing their movement speed to 0 on a failed DEX save, immediately making a second shove to push them even further, or being able to perform a follow-up disarm (and a Scoundrel’s trick talent if applicable) or grapple check. Untagged talents include being able to shove a creature into another target and make a free shove attempt to knock them prone, can shove a target as a bonus action whenever you damage them with a melee weapon, a temporary “surge of strength” which grants several possible benefits in exchange for later exhaustion, and dealing an additional 1d6 bludgeoning damage for every 5 feet a shoved target would otherwise move when they collide with a wall, large object, or other creature that halts their shoved movement. The Legendary Talents include a bunch of non-shoving related “super strength” effects, such clapping one’s hand to generate an AoE burst dealing thunder damage, stomping the ground to create an AoE effect to knock nearby targets prone, and a (manhandle) talent which can temporarily throw a target into the Ethereal Plane.

Combos: As shove and overrun attempts rely upon the Athletics skill, the Athletics sphere’s Mighty Conditioning allows one to substitute Dexterity for a Brute focused build. The Scholar’s Physics Study similarly lets them substitute their Key Ability Modifier for uses of shoving, grappling, and Brute sphere effects. The Perpetual Motion applying a second shove attempt combined with Hammer can add up to a lot of d6s when slamming a foe into a wall or similar solid structure. Muscular Surge’s effective size increase can work well with the grappling-focused Wrestling sphere, while the Conscript’s Brawler subclass can further enhance one’s effective size category. Get Over Here specifically calls out the use of various “tether” style abilities from Spheres of Power as well as Athletic’s Rope Swing talent in regards to applying shove attempts to tethered creatures. The Robbery (manhandle) talent lets one apply a Scoundrel sphere (trick) talent when stealing from a shoved target. The Dropkick talent’s jump-based movement can benefit from talents which increase movement and jump distance such as Athletic’s Polearm Vault and Brute’s own Muscular Surge. A huge amount of other spheres have talents that relate to shoving: Barrage’s Mixed Barrage, Beastmastery’s Mounted Maneuvers, Dual Wielding’s Combo Maneuvers and High-Low Combination, Equipment’s Versatile Shield, Gladiator’s Boast base ability and several talents (Exemplar, Cow Enemy, Daunting, Derision), Guardian’s Guardians Focus, Leadership’s Opportunistic Teamwork, Shield’s Smashing Counter, Warleader’s Deadly Herdsman, and Wrestling’s Ground Game.

Existing Comparisons: As far as I can tell the vast majority of the Brute sphere is original content, and from what I could find in the official rules the only subclasses and feats that make reference specifically to shoving in the triggering of special abilities is the PHB’s Shield Master whose equivalent was covered by Equipment’s Versatile Shield talent. The Battlemaster’s Pushing Attack sounds like it’d qualify as a similarity, but it’s not actually a shove in terms of game mechanics even though it performs pretty much the same result.

It’s not a 5e option, but back during 3rd Edition there was a popular Fighter subclass known as the Dungeoncrasher. Its major class feature gave some rather massive damage bonuses when the Fighter pushed foes into walls and other solid structures, and I see a lot of its inspiration in the Hammer talent.

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The Dual Wielding Sphere covers two-weapon fighting both melee and ranged. It grants three base abilities: can expend your martial focus to make an off-hand attack without needing to spend a bonus action, +1 to AC when wielding a separate melee weapon in each hand, and can draw or stow two one-handed weapons at once. Its (dual-wield) talents grant added effects to one’s offhand attack, such as substituting an attack for a grapple, shove, or Help action, not provoking opportunity attacks from damaged creatures for 1 turn, and making an additional attack provided that attack targets a different creature. Other talents include being able to have both wielded weapons deal the same damage die and type if so desired, able to two-weapon fighting with non-light weapons, and expending martial focus to shove a creature if both the main and offhand attacks hit. The two Legendary Talents include doing an AoE spin attack against all foes within 15 feet and the ability to wield a third weapon in a mouth or a third prehensile limb if possessed.

Combos: The Two-Weapon Fighting Fighting Style is great when paired with this sphere in granting bonus damage to the offhand attack, something the Dual Wielding sphere doesn’t grant oddly enough. Combo Maneuvers and High-Low Combination work well with the Brute sphere, while Perfect Set-Up is good for the Fencing sphere’s (feint) talents and Fatal Thrust ability given its granting of the Help action. Dancing Display’s negation of opportunity attacks is good when paired with Athletics’ Dizzying Tumble given it requires moving away from a hostile creature. The Shield sphere’s Guarded Stance treats a held weapon as a shield, allowing one to make use of that sphere’s core ability and talents when dual-wielding. Furthermore, Dual-Wielding’s Focusing Defense and Shield’s Reactive Defense both rely on taking the Dodge action, and the former’s AC bonus makes it more likely for the latter’s ability to trigger. A weapon benefiting from an unorthodox damage type via a magic property or spell enhancement can apply this benefit to another held weapon courtesy of Asynchronous Swing.

Finally, Dual Wielding is great for builds reliant upon making many attacks. The base ability lets one make an off-hand attack via no action by expending martial focus. The Greater Focus feat and the Conscript’s Master of Combat class feature grant additional independently-maintained martial focuses, while Extra Attack, Action Surge (from either the Fighter or the Alter Ego’s Hero Persona), a Haste effect from the spell of the same name or the Time sphere’s Adjusted Frequency, and the bonus action attack from Barrage’s Barrage ability, the Equipment sphere’s Hand Crossbow Mastery, a Scimitar of Speed magic item, or even just a regular two-weapon fighting offhand attack (on top of the expended martial focus’ no-actions) can add up to a lot of attacks per round.

Existing Comparisons: Two of Dual Wielding’s base abilities and one talent copied the Dual Wielder feat benefits from the Player’s Handbook. Besides that, there’s not many other official feats, subclasses, and spells that specifically make reference to offhand attacks that I know of. The Dancing Display opportunity attack-negating talent is similar to the Swashbuckler Rogue’s Fancy Footwork class feature, although that feature merely involves making a melee attack with no other bells or whistles.

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The Fencing Sphere focuses on nimble maneuvers to set up enemies for debilitating strikes. Its core abilities include Fatal Thrust which allows one to reroll one of the d20 rolls for melee attacks made with advantage, and Feint where you can choose to grant the Help action to yourself and thus gain advantage on the next attack roll made. Using Help in giving someone (including yourself) an attack roll advantage is called a “feint” which (exploit) talents require but apply only to your own attacks. However, these talents don’t require that they be made with melee attacks; only Fatal Thrust specifically calls this out, so you can totally “Help yourself” when using a ranged weapon and apply an (exploit).

(exploit) talents center around various debuffs, such as making the target lose the ability to make opportunity attacks for 1 round, falling prone on a failed DEX save, moving them 5 feet to a different space within reach, or expending martial focus to blind an opponent for 1 minute or until they spend an Action to unblind themselves. Untagged talents include being able to feint as a bonus action, a “blade bind” which grapples the target but allows them to also break free if they drop the held weapon beyond the usual means of countering grapples, expending martial focus to parry a melee attack by reducing its damage by an amount equal to your weapon damage roll, and treating one’s melee reach as 5 feet more but suffering -2 penalty on attacks vs adjacent targets. Legendary Talents include the ability to parry ranged and spell attacks, an (exploit) that can temporarily increase a target’s exhaustion level and stack with itself, a “vacuum cut” which increases a melee attack’s reach by 30 feet, and a more advanced “vacuum slice” that instead targets all opponents in a 30 foot line.

Combos: Expert Feint reducing a feint to a bonus action is helpful for Conscript Knaves and Rogues given it grants them an easy means of applying Sneak Attack. The Conscript Warrior’s Reckless attack grants advantage on attacks and thus opens up the use of (exploit) talents. The attack penalties for Berserker’s Brutal Strike and Sniper’s Deadly Shot talents can be mitigated via Feints and Fatal Thrust in the case of Brutal Strike. The opportunity attack negation by Distracting Blades works similarly to Dual-Wielding’s Dancing Display in regards to using abilities such as Athletic’s Dizzying Tumble. The movement reduction on Leg Slash can combine nicely with similar effects such as Alchemy’s Alchemical Ice and Paralytic Venom, Barrage’s Suppressing Fire, Berserker’s Leg-Smasher and Sever, Dual-Wielding’s Dizzying Combination, and the Time sphere’s Adjusted Frequency or Destruction’s Slowing blast type. Lunge’s reach increase goes nicely with Equipment’s Polearm Guard and the Guardian sphere’s Patrol package in regards to triggering opportunity attacks from farther away along with some close-range battlefield control. Berserker’s Brutal Strike damage bonus can be helpful if allowed to be added to Parry and Riposte: the latter talent doesn’t require an attack roll, so while +10 damage reduction may seem a bit powerful it can only apply to a target that’s been battered if ruled in such a way. Traitorous Blade’s bonus action attack with a disarmed weapon can synergize with Dual Wielding if made as an offhand attack. Bind Weapon’s grappling effect can synergize with the Wrestling sphere, particularly (slam) talents. Dual-Wielding’s Perfect Set-Up lets one use the Help action in place of an off-hand attack and can be used for opening up an (exploit) use.

Existing Comparisons: Fencing’s Footwork talent is similar to Athletics’ Tumbling Recovery, although the former can only be triggered on a reaction while the latter can trigger on a bonus action but requires one to drop prone in order to use. The few talents that involve disarming a target are similar to the Battlemaster’s Disarming Attack maneuver, although that one merely disarms and adds bonus damage, while Fencing’s talents do other things instead of damage such as a blade bind grapple or catching and then attacking with that weapon. The Battlemaster’s Feinting Attack and Lunging Attack also do similar things to Fencing sphere abilities, although the former maneuver only works on creatures within 5 feet and the latter only applies to one attack made that turn.

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The Gladiator Sphere makes use of psychological tricks in demoralizing one’s foes and instilling confidence in oneself and one’s allies. The default abilities are Boast and Demoralize. The former triggers as a reaction whenever the character crits, KOs, or grapples/shoves a hostile creature, and comes with a base (boast) ability that grants oneself advantage on their next attack roll or contested ability check. The latter is an action that imposes the Frightened condition on a target within 30 feet who fails a CHA save or a bonus action if martial focus is expended. (boast) talents provide new boasts the character can make, such as forcing a foe to choose a new target or waste a hostile action on a failed WIS save until the start of your next turn, allowing nearby allies to hide even when observed by calling attention to yourself, and letting nearby allies make new saving throws against ongoing effects. (demoralize) talents allow for new uses and additions to the base ability, such as performing as a bonus action with no martial focus expending when damaging/grappling/shoving an enemy, using it as a reaction when critting/KOing a foe, and targeting additional foes at once. (fear) are talents which apply only to targets already Frightened of the character, granting advantage on attack rolls or provoking opportunity attacks when the Frightend target fails an attack/grapple/shove attempt. There’s many untagged talents, such as new means of performing boasts and doubling the range of Boast and Demoralize. Legendary Talents include Frightening hostile opponents within 30 feet if they fail a WIS save (no action required), automatically critting vs frightened enemies with a CR less than one’s proficiency bonus, and expending martial focus to ignore a target’s immunity to the frightened condition (albeit they save with advantage).

Combos: As many talents rely upon shoves and grapples, Gladiator goes well with talents from the Brute and Wrestling spheres. Alchemy’s Frightening Hallucinogen, Barroom’s Menacing Belch, Retribution’s Terrifying Hook and Violent Pressure, Warleader sphere’s Frightful Roar, and Wrestling’s Grandstanding Slam provide other means of applying the Frightened condition and thus (fear) talent effects. For Spheres of Power, Conjuration’s Frightful Presence, Dark’s Fearful Darkness, Death’s Frightful reanimate talent, Destruction’s Fire and Frightful blast type talents, Illusion’s Illusionary Obstruction, and Mind’s Fear talents also grant the Frightened condition. The Distracting Display Boast is useful for Sneak Attackers, possessors of the Scout sphere, and others who require hiding from one’s opponents in order to maximize their potential. Two or more characters with the Menace talent and/or the Destruction sphere’s Confining blast type can more effectively box in a target and/or force them into an ideal direction of movement.

Existing Comparisons: The Battlemaster’s Menacing Attack is similar in imposing the Frightened condition on a target via a damaging attack, although Gladiator provides a wider means of doing so. The Berserker Barbarian’s Intimidating Presence can also do this, having very similar wording to the Demoralize ability albeit Gladiator doesn’t end if line of sight or distance limits are broken a successful save doesn’t negate further uses of Demoralize to that same creature. There are other frighten effects such as the Archfey Warlock’s Fey Presence or the Draconic Bloodline Sorcerer’s capstone ability, but those are usually rest-based and target an AoE effect for targets (which the Aura of Fear Legendary Talent can also do and at a lower level than the Sorcerer). The reaction-based boasts have some rather open-ended buffs which make it hard to directly trace specific official spells and features for them.

Thoughts So Far: The Berserker sphere feels a bit like a Barbarian But Not Quite in its focus on powerful strikes and direct offense. It is a bit of a heavy talent investment for the offensive side of things, as the only talent granted for free is an (adrenaline) one rather than the more offensive (exertion) choices. There’s a few talents which grant a boon when a target’s reduced to 0 HP, particularly the martial focus restoration one, which in comparison to similar choices in other spheres is going to be relatively rarer unless you’re fighting low-HP mooks a lot, while the -5 attack talents are risky propositions unless you have means of gaining easy advantage. Additionally Shatter Earth seems a popular prerequisite for other Legendary Talents, but given that it doesn’t trigger when hitting a foe and its affected squares are rather few it doesn’t really feel worth using when there are spells which can cover a wider AoE like Destruction’s Physical blast type combined with the right blast shape talents. It’s for these reasons that Berserker ranks relatively low for me.

I like Brute more in the fact that it has a good amount of debuff and battlefield control options for brawny fighter types, and the super-strength Legendary Talents are pretty cool. It has a lot of synergy with other spheres given how common the shove maneuver is in Spheres of Might, and I can see a lot of characters taking Follow-Through to knock around enemies when attacking them. I’m a bit mum on Dual-Wielding: the major focus on offhand weapon attacks is a bit unfortunate when such attacks don’t add ability modifiers to damage, so I feel that most people taking this sphere are going to select classes granting access to the Two-Weapon Fighting Style in order to make up for this which is rather limiting for the otherwise open-ended Spheres system. Fencing has a surprising amount of applicability to builds besides finesseable quick fighters as one would presume, which makes me rate it highly. Gladiator is another one that rates rather low for me. The triggers for Boast means that one needs to specialize in shoves and grapples to make it occur more often unless one invests in talent taxes that also allow one to boast when succeeding on saving throws or when an attack/grapple/shove misses the character. While the (boast) talents include various useful effects, it does push one into making use of Brute and/or Wrestling sphere talents to be useful. As for Demoralize, while there’s a Legendary Talent which bypasses this, the Frightened condition is one of the more common ones for monsters to be immune to, on par with Charmed and only less common than Poisoned. On the other hand, while one of its talents grants proficiency (or double proficiency if already proficient) in Intimidate, I do like how the (demoralize) and (fear) talents mean that a character doesn’t need the Intimidate skill or even a high Charisma to instill fear and dread in their opponents.
 

Libertad

Adventurer
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Shovel Knight
Medium Human (Variant)
Conscript 9; Paragon


Armor Class 20 (18 when using adrenaline talents)
Hit Points 76 (9d10+18)
Speed 30 ft. (+10 ft. w/ martial focus)

STR 18 DEX 10 CON 14 INT 10 WIS 10 CHA 14 (27 point buy: +1 STR Variant Human, +1 CHA Variant Human, +2 STR Combat Dabbler feat x2)

Saving Throws Charisma +6, Dexterity +4
Skills Acrobatics +12, Athletics +8, History +4, Perception +4 (Variant Human), Persuasion +6
Tools Joustus (card game), Mason’s Tools
Senses passive Perception 14
Languages Common plus 2 languages of choice

Background: Noble

Feats: Combat Dabbler x2 (+2 STR), Combat Training

Martial Tradition: Knight
Sphere DC 14
Athletics - Air Stunt, Mighty Conditioning, Mobility, Rapid Motion, Sudden Flank, Swift Movement, Training (Acrobatics), Wall Stunt, Whirlwind Flip
Berserker - Alter Terrain, Juggernaut (adrenaline), Ruinous Tread, Shatter Earth (exertion)
Equipment - Armor Training x2, Knightly Training (discipline)
Warleader

Special Abilities

Adrenaline (Juggernaut): Take -2 AC to not be affected by difficult terrain and cannot have movement speed reduced until the start of next turn.

Air Stunt: Can “run” up walls, two size category larger creatures, and air, treating movement as difficult terrain.

Exertion (Shatter Earth): Can spend an attack as part of Attack action and expend martial focus to turn all spaces within 5 feet, a 10 foot cone, or 15 foot line into difficult terrain, those passing through fall prone on failed STR or DEX save. May also create 5 foot deep holes in the ground of affected squares and also choose to raise terrain by 5 feet in squares adjacent to affected squares.

Extra Attack: May attack twice instead of once whenever taking the Attack action.

Fighting Style - Defense: +1 AC when wearing armor.

Mobility: Opportunity attacks have disadvantage when leaving hostile creature’s reach.

Ruinous Tread: May choose to make squares difficult terrain whenever leaving them.

Sudden Flank: gain advantage on next attack before end of your next turn against creature that you successfully tumbled past.

Swift Movement: All movement speeds +10 ft. when have martial focus.

Whirlwind Flip: Regain martial focus when succeeding on tumble (action or bonus action) vs hostile creature.

Actions

Shovel: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., 1 creature or object. Hit: 8 or 9 (1d6+5 or 1d8+5 if two-handed) piercing damage.

Throwing Anchor: +8 to hit, range 20/60 ft., 1 creature or object. Hit: 6 (1d4+4) bludgeoning damage.

Shout (Fierce Shout): Can affect self and all allies within 10 feet to gain +4 damage on first attack made within 1 round.

Bonus Actions

Rapid Motion: Dash as bonus action.

Rousing Leadership: Perform shout as a bonus action whenever reduce enemy to 0 HP.

Second Wind: Can regain 1d10+9 hit points once per short or long rest.

Tactics (Aggressive Flanking): all allies within 20 feet who can see and hear gain +2 on attack rolls vs hostile creature if at least 2 allies are within its reach. Takes bonus action to maintain each round.

Equipment

+1 full plate, +1 shovel (reflavored spear), 10 throwing anchors (reflavored light hammers), Phase Locket (reflavored Cloak of Etherealness but lasts for 2 rounds), Wand of Fireballs

Conversion Details: As my first purely martial build, Shovel Knight’s end result was pretty fun to stat up: a full-plate wearing Strength-focused mobile fighter jumping and tumbling through enemy spaces and breaking up the ground to create holes and difficult terrain. I chose to give him the Knight Martial Tradition as it was most in keeping with his theme, even if the Warleader sphere ends up going to waste. For class I chose Conscript due to the unparalleled talent progression, and the Paragon subclass with the Defense Fighting Style to shore up his Armor Class and also due to its “inspirational figure” flavor text. I extensively focused on both Athletics and Berserker, choosing talents which play well off of each other. Shovel Knight’s keymark ability doesn’t actually make him jump as per the 5e rules: rather he makes use of the Air Stunt talent to vertically move through the air. Combined with Swift Movement to increase his base speed, Rapid Motion to let him Dash as a bonus action, and the Berserker sphere’s Juggernaut talent to ignore treating air as difficult terrain, Shovel Knight can cover great distances despite not technically flying. He can still fall if ending his turn in mid-air, in keeping with the platforming theme with is why I didn’t choose the Sparrow’s Path talent.

But beyond just clearing vast aerial distance, the Athletics sphere also helps simulate Shovel Knight’s signature attack of using his shovel as a pogo stick to strike and bounce off of enemies before landing to strike again. Air Stunt covers the aerial movement, but Mobility makes it hard for opponents to strike when Shovel Knight leaves their reach,* while Sudden Flank and Whirlwind Flip grant him benefits when he successfully tumbles through their squares. Thanks to Mighty Conditioning he doesn’t need a high Dexterity score to tumble, substituting Strength instead.

*and when rolling with disadvantage against an 18 or 20 AC means that even the strongest opponents risk missing him.

For his signature digging ability, Shovel Knight makes use of the Berserker sphere’s Shatter Earth talent enhanced by Alter Terrain to create holes in the ground and dig up surrounding dirt. Ruinous Tread allows squares he moves through to count as difficult terrain, which will not negatively impact him if he makes use of Juggernaut. Although the text implies that Ruinous Tread only works on solid ground, the rules wording implies that it can affect squares in midair, which if interpreted as such can make it harder for foes to give chase when he bounces away with Air Stunt.

Talent Progression by Level

Level 1: Athletics (Rapid Motion, Sudden Flank, Swift Movement, +3 talents from Combat Training feat and skill proficiency), Equipment (Armor Training x2, Knightly Training), Warleader
Level 2: Athletics (Wall Stunt)
Level 3: Berserker (Juggernaut)
Level 4: Athletics (Mighty Conditioning, +1 extra talent from Combat Dabbler feat), Berserker (Shatter Earth)
Level 5: Athletics (Air Stunt)
Level 6: Athletics (Mobility)
Level 7: Berserker (Alter Terrain)
Level 8: Athletics (Whirlwind Flip, +1 extra talent from Combat Dabbler feat), Berserker (Ruinous Tread)
Level 9: Athletics (Training - Acrobatics)
 

Libertad

Adventurer
Chapter 4: Spheres, Part 3

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The Guardian Sphere allows a character to serve a “tank” role by occupying the enemies’ attention. It has three default abilities, with the first automatic and only one of the other two being chosen:* a Delayed Damage Pool where the character can temporarily absorb all damage done to them for one turn before suffering it on the next turn, a Challenge which imposes disadvantage on a target’s attack rolls when they perform offensive actions that don’t include the character as a target, and Patrol which sets up a zone where the character gains bonus opportunity attacks and movement which is triggered when someone moves into/out of/through the zone. (challenge) talents influence the ability of the same name, such as imposing disadvantage on concentration saves on a challenged foe within reach or can end a challenge early to turn a challenged target’s critical hit into a normal one. (resilience) tags include increasing the amount of hit points that are stored in a Delayed Damage Pool as well as negating Conditions and hostile magical effects by turning them into HP damage that is then stored in the pool. (zone) talents give new features to one’s patrol, such as allies gaining +1 AC while within the zone, making opportunity attacks whenever an enemy makes an attack against anyone within the zone, and reducing enemy movement to 0 if they are damaged from your opportunity attack. There’s a few untagged talents, such as Defend Other which allows one to spend a reaction to redirect enemy attacks towards yourself and additional ways of regaining martial focus via Challenges and Patrols. Legendary Talents include options such as forming a bodyguard-style bond with a creature to know of their location and teleport to their location, forcing challenged creatures to succeed on a Wisdom save to voluntarily move away from the character, and dealing radiant or necrotic damage to a challenged target when they attack people other than you.

*with a talent granting use of both default abilities

Combos: The Conscript’s Sentinel subclass is specifically meant to enhance Guardian sphere abilities, and its ability to halve the damage dealt from the emptying of a Delayed Damage Pool really increases a character’s staying power. As the size of a Patrol is based on reach, abilities and talents which increase reach are highly useful, such as the Fencing sphere’s Lunge, the Light sphere’s Encompassing Light, the Alteration sphere’s Size Change, and so on. Additionally, as movement from triggered opportunity attacks cannot exceed your regular movement you can make that round, talents and abilities which increase your speed such as the Athletics sphere’s Swift Movement and the Enhancement sphere’s Speed Control are useful. The Stand Still talent’s speed reduction effect combined with the Alchemy sphere’s Paralytic Venom can be a quick way to impose the paralyzed condition upon a target. The Barrage sphere’s Vigilant Sharpshooter allows one to treat a ranged weapon as a melee weapon with the Reach quality and make opportunity attacks with it, allowing it to be used to make patrol attacks. The Destruction sphere’s Blade blast shape can instill blast types into a weapon and can thus be used with a patrol attack, allowing for some neat battlefield control possibilities such as the Bludgeoning and Teleporting blast types.

Existing Comparisons: The Sentinel feat from the Player’s Handbook is a clear inspiration for the Guardian sphere, particularly the effect of stopping enemy movement via an opportunity attack. The Oath of the Crown Paladin’s ability to take damage intended for a nearby target is reminiscent of the Defend Other talent, albeit that one’s ability to be combined with movement from a Patrol makes it have a greater potential “reach.” The mechanics of the Challenge ability are reminiscent of the Battle Master Fighter’s Goading Attack maneuver, although that one requires the Fighter to first hit the opponent, has a shorter default duration, and doesn’t grant the marked target advantage on rolls against the character. Another difference is that Challenge occurs when the target fails a Charisma saving throw, making it less dependent on a foe’s Armor Class and more dependent on their force of personality to resist the bait. Another comparison can be made to the Swashbuckler Rogue’s Panache ability, although that one also prevents the “challenged” creature from making opportunity attacks to others and can be ended sooner via other conditions.

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The Retribution Sphere focuses on prepared counterattacks. Its default ability is Counterstrike, a Special Attack where one attack can be readied to trigger based on 1-4 potential hostile actions* rather than an entire Action if one possesses Extra Attack. The Counterstrike deals additional damage equal to one’s proficiency bonus, and if it successfully hits then the character regains the use of their Reaction if it was already spent. This is pretty good for potential action economy combos; additionally, a character doesn’t have to potentially waste their entire round setting themselves up for an attack that never comes via the usual means of Readying an action, and a successful counter rewards them by making it not even cost an action but instead a single attack. (counter) talents specifically enhance one’s counterstrike by imposing negative effects beyond damage such as halving their movement, launching them into the air via uppercut, or making them unable to speak or use mouth-related abilities like breath weapons. Untagged talents include being able to move half one’s speed before making a counterstrike, can make an additional melee attack on top of the readying action which deals no damage but forces a struck opponent to stay within the character’s reach, and choosing to intercept attacks which can be negated via rolling higher on the contested attack roll. There’s only 2 Legendary Talents; the first one lets one jump after an uppercutted enemy to make an additional attack against them in midair, and the second one prevents a target who has been countered from performing the same action that triggered the counterstrike on a failed CHA save.

*based on level.

Combos: As discussed in prior Spheres, abilities which enhance one’s movement can let someone move faster when using Raging Bull (bonus movement before a counter) and cover more ground. Abilities and talents which can force an opponent to act a certain way (such as running away via the Frightened Condition) can be applied as a Counterstrike trigger for a better set-up. Launching Uppercut has some utility uses for willing targets launched. Intercepting Strike mentions that one cannot intercept spell attacks or massive ranged weapons “unless you are using such a massive weapon yourself somehow.” The Equipment sphere’s Rock Toss talent, Conscript’s Brawler subclass, the Alteration sphere’s Size Change, and the Telekinesis sphere’s Dancing Weapon an/or Orbit talents can feasibly allow a character to wield such massive weapons.

Existing Comparisons: While there are various Reaction abilities that can counter/parry/etc, the concept of setting up a “counterattack” in exchange for increased boons or choosing a single attack to “ready” while otherwise acting normally in a combat round don’t have any official equivalents of which I am aware.

As a means of self-comparison, this Sphere was originally known as Boxing in the Pathfinder version of Spheres of Might and thus could only be used with unarmed, natural, and light melee weapons. While there is a Variant in the 5e version that restricts its use to unarmed attacks, Retribution opens it up by making it a general “counterattack” sphere independent of weapon type.

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The Scoundrel Sphere subscribes to the school of hard knocks style, focusing on unbalancing and disorienting opponents to better set them up for attacks. While previous Spheres had various effects that imposed disadvantageous conditions upon foes, Scoundrel makes it the default. It grants Sleight of Hand (or 1 bonus talent if already have it) as a free proficiency as well as a (trick) talent but has no default abilities. The Scoundrel sphere’s talents instead enhance existing actions as well as a new one in this book that any character can use: Dirty Tricks, which are Sleight of Hand checks that can impose a negative effect for 1 round to 1 minute depending on the effect unless undone earlier via the target spending an action. (trick) talents apply to Dirty Trick or Steal attempts, such as also being able to make a single attack against the target, able to use Dirty Tricks up to 10 feet away, and switching a stolen object on a target’s person with something else (including volatile alchemical items that can be rigged to explode). Untagged talents include making a disarm attempt as a reaction to disarm a foe of an attempted attack with that weapon, gaining the benefits of partial cover as long as an ally’s adjacent to you, and being able to redirect enemy opportunity attacks to another target via a Dirty Trick attempt. Legendary Talents allow the Scoundrel to steal increasingly implausible things, such as armor or worn clothing, a target’s skill proficiency, and even their heart which gives them the charmed condition in regards to you!

Combos: The Switcheroo talent already mentions its use with Alchemy sphere talents, although the Tinkerer sphere’s Artillerist Gadgets also qualifies given it allows for the creation of an explosive detonator. The Conscript’s Knave subclass can add Sneak Attack damage when the character successfully uses a Dirty Trick or Steal attempt on a target. If a Rogue has access to the Twist the Knife or Quick Thievery talents then they can easily set up a target for being Sneak Attacked via an initial Dirty Trick. The Alchemy sphere’s Contact Poison Delivery mentions its use via Dirty Trick and Steal actions, as does Brute’s Robbery talent. Filthy Distraction’s imposition of disadvantage on Perception checks works nicely with Scout’s Fast Stealth, where one can perform a Dirty Trick or Steal as an action and then Hide as a bonus action. Improved Grifting lets one add double proficiency to Sleight of Hand checks, which works well with the Trap sphere’s Sneaky Trapper in better hiding temporary traps. The Leadership sphere’s Friends in Low Places mentions that followers can Help in aiding rolls with Sleight of Hand in “a large enough place.” While this may not have immediate combat purposes, if followers are turned into a Sidekick via that sphere’s Squad Legendary Talent then it’s more feasible that they should be able to do so.

Existing Comparisons: The Steal Identity Legendary Talent is similar to the Assassin Rogue's Imposter class feature, although the talent has a shorter onset time and an explicit duration. The Misdirected Attack talent is similar to the Mastermind Rogue’s Misdirection ability, although they both have different qualifications for triggering.

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The Scout Sphere is another “Rogue-friendly” sphere, although this one involves more reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering. It grants Stealth as a bonus skill (or +1 talent if already proficient), and its default ability allows the character to learn a target’s Vulnerabilities, Resistances, and Immunities to damage types and conditions via a successful DC 20 Investigation or Perception check. Creatures who have been successfully rolled against are considered “scouted,” and (research) talents grant the character additional benefits against them such as critting on a 19-20, having +2 AC vs their attacks, and expending one’s martial focus as a bonus action to scrounge up materials which treat half the damage of their next attack as being of a type the scouted creature is Vulnerable towards (basically 1.5 times the damage such an attack would normally do). The untagged talents include things such as gaining proficiency/double proficiency in Disguise Kits, Investigation, Perception, or Stealth, being able to Hide as a bonus action, gaining advantage on all WIS saves and Investigation checks vs Illusion spells and Illusion sphere abilities, and ignoring disadvantage on ranged weapon attacks imposed by weather and similar environmental effects. There’s a few Legendary Talents which allow one to multi-target creatures via a single scouting roll, being able to read the mind of a scouted creature, and being able to scout creatures even if they’re not present as long as their tracks are analyzed.

Combos: The Divination sphere’s Discern Individual specifically calls out granting advantage on rolls for the Scout sphere’s primary ability, while the Enhancement sphere’s Mental Enhancement talent and Alchemy’s War Paint (yellow paint) provide other means of granting advantage on such rolls. The Empirical Tracker Legendary Talent combined with the Leadership sphere’s Detectives followers talent or the Team Lookout sidekick talent can easily be justified in the use of granting advantage on the scouting roll if such characters are present.

Existing Comparisons: There’s some conceptual similarities with the Ranger, most notably the Monster Slayer subclass which has a feature that can do the same thing as scouting although it doesn’t require a roll, cannot get past anti-divination measures, and can only be used a limited number of times per long rest. Whereas the Scout sphere’s only limitation is on rolls for individual targets. The Track the Scene talent grants advantage on rolls to track creatures and learn general details about them this way, closer to the general Ranger.

The Recall Lore Augmentations of various (divine) talents in the Divination sphere accomplish similar things to the Scout’s primary feature, albeit are limited to certain creature types in line with the talent and focus on Arcana/Nature/Religion rather than the broader Investigation/Perception skills. The talents which grant limited detection of magical auras, scrying, and tremorsense/blindsight also borrow some inspiration from that sphere as well as more general divination magic.

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The Shield Sphere is a defensive-minded one, requiring the use of a shield in order to use or a talent to substitute a weapon as a pseudo-shield. Oddly it doesn’t grant proficiency in shields by default, as one needs the Equipment sphere’s Armor Training to do that! The sphere’s default feature allows one to spend a reaction to gain +2 AC vs an incoming attack, and (deflect) talents allow the character to perform additional effects against these triggered attacks such as shoving or disarming the attacker or breaking the shield to turn a critical hit into a normal hit. Untagged talents include expending martial focus to apply the AC bonus vs all valid triggering attacks for the round rather than just one, granting the AC bonus to allies within one’s natural reach, and can substitute one’s AC with a rolled attack roll result rather than gaining the +2 bonus. There’s only two Legendary Talents which are short and sweet: one allows the character to apply the AC bonus to spell attacks,* while the other grants the character a bonus on all saves equal to their shield’s AC bonus but can’t stack with saving throw bonuses that “allow you to add an ability modifier to saving throws, such as the paladin’s aura of protection.” Which seems to be a rather specific kind of bonus, but I’m not complaining.

*which is odd, as the default sphere ability didn’t specify certain attack types or preconditions besides attacks “you are aware of.”

Combos: The Guarded Stance talent lets one treat a held weapon as a shield for the purpose of the default sphere ability, which lets it be more easily used with shieldless options such as the Dual-Wielding sphere and the Duelist Fighting Style. The Equipment sphere’s Throw Shield talent specifically calls out the use of the Shield sphere’s Cover Ally talent, and its range can be extended even further via the Far-sight Scope application of the Tinkerer sphere’s Ranged Weapon Improvement talent and/or the Barroom sphere’s Bottle Rocket talent. The Equipment sphere’s Versatile Shield talent or the Tinkerer sphere’s Integrated Weapon talent allows one to wield a shield and a two-handed weapon at the same time and can thus benefit from this sphere. Catch Blade and Smashing Counter (deflect) talents allow one to disarm or shove attackers, which goes well with the Brute sphere and a few Fencing sphere talents. The Barroom sphere’s Improvised Shield can turn a weapon into a temporary shield. The Gladiator sphere’s Deafening Clangor Legendary Talent specifically requires possessing the Shield sphere as a prerequisite. The Trap sphere’s Trapped Shield talent lets one place traps directly onto a wielded shield.

Existing Comparisons: There are two talents which are similar to benefits of the Shield Master feat from the PHB. The Protection Fighting Style is similar conceptually to Cover Ally, although the former has a greater effect (disadvantage on attack roll vs +2 AC) whereas Cover Ally can include a higher potential reach than the 5 feet of the Fighting Style option.

Thoughts So Far: Of the five spheres in this post, I’m most fond of Guardian. Dungeons & Dragons has had a rather troubled history when it comes to simulating “tank” concepts. While the Fighter could theoretically fill this role by physically interposing themselves between monsters and the rest of the party, there are many means of overcoming mere space and distance. Guardian goes for battlefield control options in extending one’s movement and reach, while also imposing a “bad things will happen to you if you attack anyone else” debuff that inconveniences opponents who choose to ignore the Guardian.

Retribution seems like a cool concept, but the low amount of triggers and the wide amount of actions that can be taken requires a bit of guesswork on the player’s part unless party members use abilities that manipulate enemy actions to some extent. On the one hand, the acceptable triggers are pretty broad, so I may be better able to gauge its usefulness with some actual play experience (none of the PCs in my Spheres games have this sphere).

I like both Scoundrel and Scout. The former adds a universal Dirty Trick rule to the game that’s broad in its usefulness, while the sphere’s various means of confounding enemies and even stealing items in the middle of combat allow for some clever play. Scout’s base feature is useful in that it grants a useful feature in determining enemy weaknesses and resistances, and it has a decent amount of skill-granting/doubling talents. I do feel that the Track the Scene talent is a bit limited in being restricted to a target’s physical tracks and not more general “crime scene evidence” stuff. And barring the advantage on tracking rolls the rest of the talent feels like something someone can do on a good enough skill check result.

I don’t have any strong feelings on Shield. This is more due to my personal preference in not tending to play sword and board style characters, and its “ally defense” talents feel inferior to Guardian’s even though I realize that making them on par may steal a bit of that sphere’s thunder.

I am currently unsure of who my next converted character should be. In my previous entries I did my best to do characters whose powers and abilities were in line with one or more of the spheres reviewed in the prior post. I was considering Ezio from Assassin’s Creed given that Scoundrel and Scout (along with Athletics for parkouring) seem right up his alley given my experience with Assassin’s Creed Origins. But Ezio’s story spans a trilogy of games which I haven’t played, so I’d be treading in unknown waters. But I’ll be more than happy to hear advice from fans of the character if such spheres are indeed relevant for one of the most dateable men in video games!

Alternatively I’m considering Corvo from Dishonored, a character from a franchise that I have played. Although an authentic conversion may require some multiclassing with Soul Weaver given that one of his powers (Possession) can only really be simulated by the Wraith subclass rather than sphere talents.

Join us next time as we review all but one of the rest of the spheres and convert an undetermined character!
 

Libertad

Adventurer
Chapter 4: Spheres, Part 4

While I planned to intersperse this and the last post with another character conversion, the current one is taking some time on my part so I decided to release the final part of Chapter 4 early.

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The Sniper Sphere is the other big ranged combat sphere, focusing on range and accuracy. Its default ability is Deadly Aim, where you can reroll one of the d20s of ranged attack rolls made with advantage. You can make a Special Attack known as a snipe shot which (snipe) talents can modify, including options such as pushing a target 5 feet and knocking them prone if they hit a solid surface, grappling a foe until they take an action to remove the weapon/ammunition if they fail a DEX save, and piercing through a target and hitting another target behind them (and a potential third target after that). The untagged talents include taking a -5 penalty on the ranged attack roll of a snipe shot to deal +10 damage on a hit, ignoring disadvantage on attack rolls when attacking at long range, and expending martial focus to disable a trap with a ranged attack roll. The Legendary Talents include causing a target reduced to 0 HP to explode in a shower of blinding gore, firing a “phasic shot” that ignores cover and effects that hinder ranged abilities, and can attack targets up to 1 mile away albeit with disadvantage.

Combos: The Glue and Solvent Legendary Talent of the Alchemy sphere can be an effective option when combined with ammo and a talent that imposes a penalty on a target unless they remove the struck ammunition, effectively becoming a permanent duration debuff. The Bouncing Shot talent and Star Scraper Legendary Talent can be further enhanced with means of locating one’s target if they’re not within line of sight, such as via the Divination sphere’s Scrying Advanced Talent, the Light sphere’s Periscope talent, and Scout’s True Sight Legendary Talent. The Far Shot talent removing disadvantage on long range attack rolls is very useful for extending the effective range of weapons, and the Barroom sphere’s Bottle Rocket talent for thrown weapons and the Tinkerer sphere’s Ranged Weapon Improvement can stack nicely with this. The Scout sphere’s Wind Reader lets one ignore disadvantage from weather sources, which is situational but can be useful depending on the campaign and environment.

Existing Comparisons: The -5 attack/+10 damage is similar to one of the Sharpshooter feat abilities, as is the talent ignoring disadvantage on long range rolls. The Weapon Shot talent’s ability to disarm a held item is similar to the Battlemaster Fighter’s Disarming Attack, although the Maneuver requires an STR save while the Sniper talent forces a DEX save. The Intercepting Shot talent is a ranged attack version of Retribution’s Intercepting Strike.

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The Tinkerer Sphere grants knowledge of how to build advanced technology. The flavor can vary, from steampunk to magitech to futuristic technology depending on the setting, with a few suggestions. This sphere is like Alchemy in that it grants you a number of items you can build every short or long rest, but unlike Alchemy most are persistent objects rather than consumables. The sphere’s default feature grants proficiency with tinker’s tools and one (gadget) talent of choice (and an additional talent if already proficient). This sphere is notable in its tags: (gadget) signifies any sort of device built with this sphere, while (accessory) is something which can be added onto an existing piece of equipment in order to enhance it. Virtually every talent has the (gadget) tag, and many of those talents also have (accessory), making a good amount of talents dual-tagged.

Most Tinkerer talents provide a list of potential pieces of equipment rather than just one ability, and include options such as footwear which can grant alternate movement speeds, handheld detonators which can explode based on a time-based trigger, a pseudo-hookshot which can grab and retrieve objects from a distance and also allow reel the character in to a hooked surface, walkie-talkie like devices that allow for long-distance communication, goggles which can grant alternative visual senses and advantage on rolls for certain visual activities, accessories for one’s weapons which can alter the damage type, remove disadvantageous qualities such as Heavy or Loading, or treating them as magical for the purpose of overcoming damage resistance. The Legendary Talents mostly cover devices from Renaissance to Futuristic eras, and if not playing in a campaign of that style then certain Tinkerer talents are required as prerequisites in order for the character to properly discover/invent the desired Legendary Talent. It goes without saying, but the weapons of more advanced eras are explicitly better than earlier-era ones, barring cases such as the relatively short ranges of Renaissance firearms or where a laser gun’s energy damage type may be disadvantageous in comparison to physical damage types. Modern Firearms have better range and deal more damage than Renaissance Firearms, while Futuristic Firearms can deal a whopping 3d6/3d8/6d8 damage per shot depending on the weapon. But melee-lovers can rejoice, for we also have options like stun batons and gravity hammers which have their own special abilities on top of straight damage!

Combos: The nature of the Tinkerer sphere means that it’s best taken in conjunction with other builds rather than focusing on the sphere in and of itself. But for a few specific examples: the Trap sphere’s snare ability mentions that consumable items from the Tinkerer (as well as Alchemy) spheres can be used for it, while the Detonator application of the Artillerist Gadgets talent can be used with poisons and alchemical items. Integrated Weapon is good for taking advantage of the Shield sphere given it can combine a weapon and object in a way that both items can be used at once, Ranged Weapon Improvement can get rid of the Loading property of weapons to let them be used with the Barrage sphere more easily, the Suit Improvement’s Camouflage application is good for users of the Scout sphere and stealthy characters in general for hiding, Ranged Weapon Improvement’s Far Sight Scope used on a shield with the Equipment sphere’s Throw Shield and the Shield sphere’s Cover Ally talent can apply the +2 AC and (deflect) talents to allies up to 40 feet away, or 80 feet with the Barroom sphere’s Bottle Rocket talent. Weapon Damage Pack is a great way to take advantage of enemy Vulnerabilities and Resistances by altering a weapon’s damage type. The Artillerist Gadgets Detonator application along with the Scoundrel’s Switcheroo talent can put the detonator on a person and set it to explode at a later time. The Detonator can also be activated or deactivated at will via the Remote Control talent. A Prosthetic’s granting of advantage on ability checks related to the replaced limb is useful for the Athletics, Brute and Wrestling spheres as well as any class feature or talent that covers the use of skills involving physical activities. The Rucksack’s Turtle Shell application combined with the Athletics sphere’s Capoeira Spin and Tumbling Recovery removes many negative conditions of being prone. Pressurized Liquid Applicator specifically calls out the device as being compatible with alchemical weapons and thus talents from the Alchemy sphere.

Existing Comparisons: As far as I can tell, the majority of these talents are original in the applications of what they can do. However, the Legendary Talents granting one the ability to build advanced era equipment more or less copied the rules for Firearms and Explosives from the Dungeon Master’s Guide, albeit the Modern and Futuristic Melee Weaponry options are original.

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The Trap Sphere is an unconventional sphere in that its best applications are not performed in the middle of combat. It grants proficiency in thieves’ tools (or +1 talent if already proficient) and allows a character to spend 1 minute creating a trap (or an action by expending martial focus) which has a trigger zone of 1-4 5-foot cubes based on level. By default the sphere grants knowledge of how to build dart traps which deal damage to whoever triggers it, and snares which can be a tripwire that renders the victim prone or an activation trap which triggers some kind of consumable item. Said items can include items built from the Alchemy and Tinkerer spheres as well as magic items. (dart) talents grant new and improved modifications to dart traps such as creating a restraining net, dealing more damage, altering the damage type, or rendering it nonlethal. (snare) talents grant new types of snares, such as a blinding flash, a loud discernable noise for alarms, a choking noose, or the creation of difficult terrain. (trigger) talents can change how the trap is triggered, including aerial opponents, remote-control, and allies never trigger it unless they choose to. There’s quite a bit of untagged talents such as making a reaction attack against someone who triggers one of your traps, expending martial focus to place a trap on a ranged weapon to be launched from a distance, expending martial focus to place a trap in a square you move over when taking the Disengage action, and expending martial focus to place a trap onto a shield which is triggered when someone misses the shield-wielder in melee. There’s only two Legendary Talents: one treats damage dealt by a trap as magical for overcoming damage resistance and immunities, while the other allows for the creation of a dart that emits an antimagic field on a struck target or area.

As you can tell, quite a bit of talents require expending martial focus, and using traps in battle more or less requires this. Due to this the Trap sphere is unorthodox in that it requires a certain playstyle most advantageous to PCs who have more freedom to choose their battles and where they take place.

Combos: The default snare ability already specifies its use with Alchemy and Tinkerer sphere items. Using Illusion spells and sphere effects to better disguise the location of one’s traps is a good idea, while the Light sphere’s Hypnotic Light talent can be used to lure enemies into triggering a trap. The Aimed Shot talent allows one to use Sniper sphere (snipe) talents with the triggering dart. The Magic Trigger talent can conceivably be used to trigger magic sphere effects via instilled objects if the Physical Magic boon for Casting Traditions is taken. The Scoundrel sphere’s Improved Grifting adds double proficiency to Sleight of Hand checks, letting one better hide traps via the Sneaky Trapper talent. Trapped Shield calls out the use of the Shield sphere and its (deflect) talents. This is a more theoretical option depending on GM leeway, but combining Thaumic Sink’s antimagic dart with the Alchemy sphere’s Glue and Solvent talent can be a good way of more reliably sticking the antimagic field onto a target. However, as sovereign glue is a magic item this may be subject to GM fiat. The bond itself can only be broken via a list of 3 ways, which doesn’t include an antimagic field as an option, so YMMV.

Existing Comparisons: Where else can one compare this sphere than to traps in the official rules? One thing notable about the Trap sphere is that its maximum potential damage is quite limited in comparison to the official ones unless combined with some damaging magic items/spells. Another notable thing is that the various DCs for spotting and disarming traps depend on the character’s sphere DC, and attack rolls made with traps use the character’s proficiency bonus + Key Ability Modifier. The Trap sphere doesn’t have traps roll on their own initiative nor do they cost money to set up. The Falling Net is similar to the Net talent, although the official one has more wording in its rules while the sphere talent is comparatively vague. For example, Falling Net has a set amount of damage, while the talent merely mentions “destroying the trap via damage” as a way to get out.


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The Warleader Sphere makes use of speeches and tactics to enhance the fighting prowess of one’s companions. It’s different from Leadership in that Warleader focuses on buffing the companions one has, while Leadership grants the character new NPC minions. Oddly enough Warleader grants no training in any skill proficiencies, and its two default abilities include tactics which are activated and maintained every round as a bonus action, and shouts which can benefit the character as well as allies via an immediate or short-duration effect. Tactics require allies to be within 20 feet of the Warleader upon initial activation, and shouts 10 feet. (shout) talents grant ways of using shout that require expending martial focus save for one exception, such as restoring the martial focus of allies, allowing affected allies to make a new saving throw vs a negative effect, and advantage on saves vs charmed and frightened condition effects for 1 minute. (tactic) talents grant new forms of using tactics, such as allowing allies to perform the Help action on each other as a reaction, using a reaction to let an ally ignore one source of disadvantage on a roll, and gaining +2 bonus on saving throws vs certain kinds of negative effects. Untagged talents include things such as increasing the AoE of shouts and tactics, choosing to increase one’s exhaustion level for 1 minute in order to shout without expending martial focus, and allowing allies benefitting from one’s shout or tactics to grant martial focus to the Warleader by spending an action. The Legendary Talents include some rather cool things, such as a shout that revives a recently-dead creature, a tactic that grants temporary hit points to an ally who would be reduced to 0 HP, and a shout that is an AoE attack that deals thunder damage and can push over and deafen targets.

Combos: Like Tinkerer, Warleader is primarily an “enhance existing capabilities” sphere, rendering the discussion of combos a bit open-ended in this regard. Healing magic and the Life sphere’s Greater Restore can be a good means of countering Roaring Reservoir’s exhaustion-inducing effect, although its 1 minute duration means that expending a Spell Point or spell slot is costlier than usual. The Verbal Commands talent combined with long-distance communication such as the Tinkerer sphere’s Communication Devices and the Mind sphere’s Project Thoughts can allow one to issue tactics to characters from far away. Frightful Roar’s imposition of the Frightened condition can work well with the Gladiator sphere’s (fear) talent benefits. Deadly Herdsman’s granting of shove as a bonus action works well for users of the Brute and Gladiator spheres. The Master’s Aura Legendary Talent works well with the Wrestling sphere by effectively charming those you grapple, and can further benefit via the Prodigy class’ Imbue Sequence with the Mind sphere by reducing a grappled target’s saving throw result.

Existing Comparisons: The Glamour Bard’s Mantle of Inspiration and the Rally Battlemaster maneuver do similar things as the Rousing Claxon talent in granting temporary hit points. Harangue’s allowance in rerolling a failed saving throw is similar to the Bannaret/Purple Dragon Knight Fighter’s Bulwalk feature, albeit the talent can be multitarget. The Courier’s Dash talent’s speed boost increase is similar to the Oath of Glory Paladin’s Aura of Alacrity, although the talent can have a longer duration if bonus actions are maintained. The Preparation talent grants a bonus to allies equal to the character’s proficiency bonus, and one of the rare ones that requires targets to refresh on a long rest in order to benefit again. The Oath of the Watchers Paladin has an aura that grants the same bonus, albeit it’s effectively unlimited-use.

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The Wrestling Sphere focuses on grappling. It has no default effect, instead granting 1 (slam) talent upon unlocking. (slam) talents can be applied as a bonus action when initiating a grapple or starting one’s turn grappling a creature, and our options include ending the grapple to throw the target 10 feet away, forcing a target to suffocate and fall to 0 HP after being grappled for a number of rounds equal to their CON modifier, and picking up the target and swinging them around as a melee weapon that deals damage to both the grappled target and those hit by them. Untyped talents include such options as shoving a grappled target as a bonus action or as a reaction if a target grapples you, grappling a target as a bonus action if you deal damage to them with a weapon, and imposing the restrained condition on a grappled target and being able to restrain them with ropes/manacles/cuffs if you restrain them for 1 round. The Legendary Talents include ending the grapple by slamming a target through the earth, removing a non-vital limb, and treating a grapple check as the result for a dispel magic effect.

Combos: Athletics’ Mighty Conditioning allows a Dexterity-based grappler to be a reality. Athletics’ Training talent and Brute’s Greater Brute can grant proficiency/double proficiency on Athletics, which is vital for grappling. The Piledriver talent has to be used with an unarmed strike, so talents such as Unarmed Training and Mystic Fists are nigh-essential. Pummeler grants advantage on attack rolls against targets one grapples, which goes nicely with the Fencing sphere’s Fatal Thrust, while that sphere’s Bind Weapon talent can initiate a pseudo-grapple via a disarm attempt. The Gladiator sphere’s default abilities can be activated more frequently via shoves and grapples and is more effective when paired with this sphere and/or Brute. Brute’s Muscular Surge allows you to be treated as one size larger for determining who you can grapple, and the Conscript’s Brawler subclass has similar stackable features. Ground Game’s granting of a shove as a bonus action while grappling can work with the Brute sphere’s various talents. Talents that help maintain grapples can be combined with effects that deal additional damage from close contact such as the Destruction sphere’s Aura blast shape. Athletics’ Scale Foe has uses for those who possess the Wrestling sphere. As mentioned under Beastmastery, the granting of Wrestling sphere talents to animal companions via the Drill Sergeant Commander class can be useful, particularly for ones with very high Strength scores and natural attack damage. The Conjuration sphere’s Undead talent and summoned companions with the Ravenous Creature talent have special attacks which are initiated via a grapple and can similarly benefit from such talents. The Earth-Shattering Slam and Tombstone Burial Legendary Talents have Shatter Earth from the Berserker sphere as a prerequisite. Targets picked up via the Living Weapon talent can be turned into thrown weapons as per the Equipment sphere’s Rock Toss talent. The Alteration sphere has many great choices for grapplers: the shock trait from the Aquan talent says that the ability can be used as a reaction on a successful grapple, the Serpentine talent grants new attacks when grappling, the Tendril trait of the Aberrant Body talent allows one to make grapples at a distance, the Stinging Tail trait of Additional Limbs can be used in a grapple as a bonus action, and the Prickly talent’s Spines trait deal additional piercing damage against those who attempt to grapple you.

Existing Comparisons: Two talents simulate the benefits of the Grappler feat from the PHB. The Pin talent is similar to imposing the restrained condition, but also has the added benefit of being able to apply rope, manacles, and other binding items during the grapple to keep them restrained even when it ends.

Thoughts So Far: The final five spheres have an interesting mix of abilities. Sniper is a very strong option given the effectiveness of ranged combat, and the debuffs one can impose via targeted shots with the right talents are a cool touch. Tinkerer is a bit mixed in that there are several talents and gadgets which can be very useful for all manner of builds and parties, although a few are rather situational. I can see the Weapon Damage Pack being popular, while Communications Gadgets can make sending a rogue/familiar/etc to scout the dungeon a less risky proposition. Trap rates rather low for me: as mentioned before, it’s most effective for a certain play-stye and is best used with other talents for the most versatility, and I would’ve liked to see more complicated traps being built via Legendary Talents. Darts and snares are functional, but it would’ve been cool to have things like rolling boulders, spiked pits, pendulum scythes, and the like. Warleader has a good assortment of group-based buffs, and being able to give and receive martial focus between the character and allies allows for some great set-ups. Frightful Roar is a bit underpowered given that it needs to be taken twice in order to act as a long-term fear debuff, and the shouts in general requiring martial focus means that they either require some generous allies to give it back to you via the Focusing Tactics talent or to take a talent yourself that can restore it via a bonus action or reaction. Finally, Wrestling has a lot of good options for grapplers, although the Choke Hold talent’s “reduce to 0 HP” after a set duration seems potentially powerful. However, it’s most effective against low Constitution enemies; those with bonuses of +3 or more can last quite a while over the span of a typical 5e combat. Given that the grappler is forcing themselves to maintain a grapple and giving up a bonus action each round on that enemy only, and that it can’t be used on creatures that don’t need to breathe, those things act as a limiter.

Join us next time as we finish up this book with the Leadership sphere, new equipment, and some more character conversions!
 

Libertad

Adventurer
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Chapter 5: Additional Rules & the Leadership Sphere

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I covered the Leadership Sphere out of alphabetical order for a few reasons. First, it is “optional” in the sense that GM permission is required to take it up and above such permission when using 3rd party products. Second is the fact that while it can technically be taken at any level, it has a sense of renown in the way that being a minimum of 5th level is suggested as a rule for GMs to include.* Thirdly, much like Beastmastery the Leadership sphere and its talents cannot be taken temporarily or by NPC allies such as animal companions and summoned creatures. Fourthly, for campaigns that place emphasis on warfare, domain building, and similar ventures, the entire party can have a “Leadership pool” where they all contribute talents and make use of followers and sidekicks as a group, and can also gain talents “for free” without needing to wait to level up if they spend enough money and complete quests that grow their power and influence.

*This kind of screws over the Commander’s Politician subclass, which gets a Leadership sphere talent as a bonus at 2nd level.

The Leadership sphere grants Persuasion as a bonus skill (or +1 talent if already possessed) and centers first and foremost around recruiting loyal companions. The companions are divided into two types, both with their own packages and talent tags, and any costs for food, living standards, and basic equipment is abstracted and already presumed to be taken care of. Sidekicks are characters with special skills and training setting them above the common clay, and apply special sidekick classes on top of an NPC/monster stat block of CR ½ or less. Their total number of levels is half that of the Leadership PC’s rounded down, or ¾ or equal if the Greater Recruitment talent is taken once or twice.

Followers are noncombatant characters forming into 1-4 groups of 20 based on level. Individual followers are treated as Commoners or collectively as the Troop template applied to the Commoner stat block, and depending on their talents can perform specialized tasks that can aid the character. (followers) talents are varying kinds of specialized skills they can perform as a group, usually granting them additional proficiencies and the ability to provide the Help action to characters using such checks. For example, the Healers talent traits them in Medicine, lets the followers supply free healer’s kits (that can’t be stockpiled or sold), and those spending Hit Die to heal in their presence roll one die type higher (max d12). Priests and Scholars have ritual books allowing them to cast low-level cleric and wizard ritual spells, while Rangers allow the party to move at normal speed over difficult terrain and can find and capture animals up to a certain CR automatically. The Soldiers talent allows followers to fight in combat as (rather weak) combatants, but can be taken multiple times to grant followers martial talents.

Sidekicks already get a whole stat block and class, so the talents part of this package grant them advantageous abilities and moves when used with the Leadership PC. Such (sidekick) talents include the PC and sidekick sharing the highest Perception check result when within 30 feet of each other, triggering an opportunity attack when the other succeeds on a disarm/grapple/shove, and gaining non-stackable +1 AC or to weapon attack rolls when within 5 feet of each other. Legendary Talents include such options as being able to gain additional sidekicks albeit having to split their total effective levels between each other, followers gaining flight speed from magic/flying mounts/etc, expending martial focus to impose the Charmed condition a non-hostile being, and applying undead abilities and immunities to sidekicks. One very notable talent turns a single troop of followers into a sidekick whose level progression is slower and uses one of 3 stat block templates based on the class in question, but gains 3 Hit Dice for every level they gain and have the increased damage of a troop template.

Squad is a bit unclear on one aspect. As it is a follower troop becoming a sidekick, do all the proficiencies gained from (followers) talents carry over?

Combos: The Alchemists and Artificers follower talents grant one additional use of Alchemy formulae and Tinkerer sphere gadgets for party members. Followers with the Friends in Low Places talent who become a Troop can use the Help action on Sleight of Hand checks, good for those with the Scoundrel sphere and the Sneaky Trapper talent. The free granting of healer’s kits from the Healers talent works nicely with a Scholar that took the Medicine study or any character with the Healer feat. If one has access to Vancian spells with the ritual tags, they can be taught and transcribed into the ritual books of followers with the Priests and Scholars talents provided that the spells are 1st level or lower, while the PC can also learn such spells from their ritual books. The Rangers talent’s ability to automatically capture beasts is an easy way to gain animals to tame via the Beastmastery sphere. The Opening Maneuver and Opportunistic Teamwork sidekick talents work well if the PC and/or sidekick make use of the Brute, Gladiator, or Wrestling spheres. Sidekicks turned into undead via Master of the Dead can avoid friendly fire from the cone-based AoE Greater Ghost Strike talent from the Death sphere given that ability doesn’t affect undead creatures barring a few talent exceptions. An Artisan of at least 9th level with the Smith subclass and Mystic Craftsman can have their followers craft magic arms and armor. Sidekick troops gained via the Squad template are ideal for builds focusing on reach and Guardian (zone) talents given the large amount of squares they can affect in close combat, and their advantage on Strength checks makes them ideal users of the Brute and Wrestling spheres and other abilities that make use of the Athletics skill. Additionally, the increased weapon damage dice and die size from the troop template can make for some large dice pools when used with certain damaging Alchemy sphere talents or Advanced Era weapons courtesy of Tinkerer.

Depending on GM leniency, certain stat blocks are very effective to have as sidekicks. The Thug has a good amount of hit points and advantage on attack rolls when fighting side-by-side with allies. Pixies are frail but come with a lot of powerful spells and effectively-persistent invisibility. Svirfneblin have some useful spells and a good long-duration means of poisoning weaker foes. Lizardfolk are one of the stronger fractional CR humanoid options. Although limited in daylight operations, shadows have a lot of resistances and immunities and can soften up melee-reliant enemies. Sprites have a potential save-or-suck poison with their arrows as well as persistent invisibility. Grimlocks aren’t very strong in terms of statistics, but their 30 foot blindsight grants them a lot of potential utility and scouting options.

Existing Comparisons: The concept of sidekick classes comes from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, as does the “add the class onto an NPC/monster stat block of CR ½ or less,” although the particular classes in Spheres of Power & Might are their own original creations. However, sidekicks gaining 1 level for every 2 the PCs gain without a talent tax is a new addition, whereas in Tasha’s they gained levels at the same rate as PCs. Followers don’t have any concrete equivalents in the official 5th Edition rules.

However, the Leadership sphere draws most of its influence from earlier Editions of Dungeons & Dragons. 3rd Edition had a controversial feat of the same name that gave the PC a sidekick known as a cohort and a variable number of low-level followers, while in AD&D PCs who reached a certain level could automatically attract loyal followers with skill sets in line with their class.

Sidekicks are being reviewed slightly out of order because they tie into one of the Leadership sphere packages. If you recall I talked about the Spherecaster sidekick class back in Spheres of Power, but besides its existence there wasn’t much in the way of discussing how it interacted with the rest of the system. Or how it can be of use to players besides the assumed use with the rules of the same name in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. Well Spheres of Might has answered that question, and to help encourage Leadership-eager PCs we have 3 new Sidekick classes!

Each class follows typical rules for existing classes in terms of Proficiency Bonuses, Ability Score Increases, and martial talent progression (1 at every even-numbered level). However, their Hit Die is the same as the original monster/NPC type as the stat block to which the class is being added, gaining 1 Hit Die per level. They also don’t have free selection of martial traditions: each Sidekick class can only choose martial traditions related to one of two Key Ability Modifiers. Explorers cannot choose Wisdom-based Traditions, Students can’t choose Charisma, and Veterans can’t choose Intelligence. They also gain proficiency in one additional saving throw rather than the default two and their additional skill proficiencies are pre-defined save one free choice by the player. Explorers gain pseudo-Ranger movement and survival based abilities, Students gain Evasion and various skill-boosting features like a Bard’s Jack of All Trades, and Veterans gain quick reflex-style stuff such as advantage on initiative rolls and on Dexterity saving throws vs effects that they can see.

The classes are obviously lackluster in comparison to the other sphere-using classes; they’re the kind of things you’d choose for an NPC companion and not a PC of your own.

We have fewer Feats for Spheres of Might than we do its magical sister sourcebook; 4 instead of 8, but they are more or less universally useful for a wide variety of builds. Combat Dabbler gives 1 bonus martial talent and +1 to an ability score of choice (unlike Power’s Extra Magic Talent which only increases the Key Ability Modifier), while Intuitive Combatant also grants 1 bonus martial talent but lets the character replace 1 martial talent with another every long rest. Combat Training grants two martial talents, while Great Focus allows the character to maintain and expend a second independent martial focus (or 3 if a 20th level Conscript). While I’ve used the talent-granting feats for the majority of my builds, I can see Great Focus being a worthy choice for those who take spheres that have a lot of expending talent options such as Alchemy.


This tiny chapter covers new equipment introduced in this book: 4 martial weapons and 9 alchemical items, to be specific. The weapons all have a particular theme in mind: the two new melee weapons include a garotte, a finessable weapon that can be used while grappling to choke a target, and a lasso is a thrown weapon that deals no damage but can impose the restrained condition as long as you continue to hold onto it. The two ranged weapons include a bola which deals 1 plus Dexterity modifier damage and knocks a target prone on a failed DEX save and they stay prone until their bonds are cut, and a net crossbow which can be loaded with a bola or net to shoot at a far greater distance.

Besides the rapier, the garrote is the only 1d8 finessable weapon type in the game when using Spheres of Might.* And given how I outlined earlier how one can use the Athletics sphere to make a Dexterity-based grappler a viable build, the garrote is great for this purpose.

*And the Sling Combatant talent gives you the only finessable bludgeoning weapon, and Staff Mastery makes the quarterstaff and polearms finesseable as well. Lot of DEX-friendly options here!

The new alchemical items are normal versions of the Alchemy sphere talents of the same name. Quite a few of them are actually 3rd Edition D&D items that never made the transition to 5th such as tanglefoot bags and thunderstones. Others look entirely new, such as smelling salts and itching powder. We have three pseudo-alchemist fire items that deal energy damage and can impose negative conditions on a target (or in the case of Bottled Lightning, easier to hit metal targets). Four items deal no damage but impose some negative condition or reduce a target’s speed to 0 in the case of the Tanglefoot Bag. And the final two are the visibility-limiting Smoke Bomb and Smelling Salts which can wake up an unconscious target but makes it impossible for them to smell for 1 minute.

Thoughts So Far: I can understand why the Leadership sphere would be a restricted option, but I’m glad that it exists and can make for some interesting campaigns. The balance of the talents are a bit questionable; a few are meant to explicitly aid other sphere types and in some cases class features, but others hew closer to the situational side of things. For example, the bonus languages of Linguists can be easily superseded by language-speaking spells, while Managers lets followers operate businesses in the PCs’ absence which isn’t going to be of use in most murderhobo/traveling campaigns. I already talked about the questionable balance between different NPC/Monster stat blocks even of a fractional CR. A 1st-level party gaining an NPC Thug with a (rather limited) 1st-level class is an incredibly powerful sidekick.

I don’t have much strong feelings on the new equipment, but I am a bit pleased to see some earlier edition alchemist-themed items showing up in 5th Edition again.

Our book ends with three Appendices, collecting information from the rest of the book as well as default rules. One appendix has a selection of combat actions both new and existing along with parenthetical suggestions of what spheres are useful for them, while another appendix compiles all of the new and existing Conditions. The third appendix contains creature statistics, three sample CR ⅛ humanoids to be used with the Sidekick classes, and 4 Troops stat blocks for Commoners and the 3 Sidekick classes present in this book (but no Spherecaster oddly enough).

Final Thoughts: I like Spheres of Might, and feel that it grants a lot of interesting options for PCs who feel that noncasters in the base system are too one-note and lacking in customization. There are a lot of play-styles and concepts for martial/roguish characters here that can’t be done easily or at all in default 5th Edition, and even classes with poor talent progression still have a genuine sense of progress where they can do new things as they level up instead of the same thing but better if so desired. While feats are still very useful, the fact that so many talents do similar things as existing PHB ones can better free up PCs from the dilemma of boring yet practical Ability Score Increases vs foregoing that boost in lieu of new things to do. I also like how there’s a lot of options that are effective for skills and noncombat functions such as the Leadership and Tinkerer spheres, so your fighter-types can also excel in certain actions off the battlefield with little investment.

However, I don’t like it as much as Spheres of Power. While I do respect how both books are generous with granting “at-will options,” Spheres of Might’s use of martial focus as Power’s Spell Point/Augmentation equivalent made many options feel comparatively conservative. Even within the Sphere system itself there are cases where something that is a regular option in Power is a Legendary Talent in Might. Compare the Nature sphere’s Forge Earth with Berserker’s Alter Terrain: the former can work at range rather than melee and affect a wider possible AoE, all without the use of Augmented Spell Points. While it costs a Spell Point to activate, the Divination sphere’s Blindfolded Oracle has a larger Blindsight range than Scout’s Sight Beyond Sight, which is at-will but costs a bonus action plus the expenditure of martial focus for a mere 10 feet. There’s also the fact that many spheres encourage a “chaining up” of effects moreso than in Power. The Athletics sphere on its own grants a skill proficiency and new means of restoring martial focus, which doesn’t have as much oomph to it as Fencing’s Fatal Thrust or Retribution’s Counterstrike defaults. The Trap sphere expects to be used in conjunction with other spheres unless one’s a fan of darts. It’s still possible to make effective builds without a heavy investment in talents, but it is a marked difference from Spheres of Power which has more spheres and talents that can be functionally useful in isolation.

But overall, the “Spheres of” books rate pretty high and make for a fun alternative for building PCs. I don’t know what product I’m going to review after this one. I’m leaning towards the Eat the Rich! Series, although part of me also wants to try branching out beyond 5th Edition and setting books if only to make things interesting. I should have an answer around early September.

But before I do that, I’m going to make 2 more converted characters in my next posts!
 
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Libertad

Adventurer
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Ezio Auditore da Firenze
Medium Humanoid (Variant Human)
Conscript 17; Knave

Armor Class 18
Hit Points 106 (17d10)
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.

STR 10 DEX 16 CON 10 INT 14 WIS 10 CHA 14 (27 point buy, +1 DEX variant human, +1 INT variant human)

Saving Throws Dexterity +9, Intelligence +8
Skills Acrobatics +9 (Variant Human), Athletics +6, History +8, Insight +6, Perception +12, Persuasion +14, Sleight of Hand +15, Stealth +9
Tools Alchemist’s Supplies, Poisoner’s Kit, Thieves’ Tools, Tinker’s Tools
Senses passive Perception 22, blindsense 10 ft.
Languages Italian, Turkish

Background: Noble

Guild Trained
Sphere DC 16
Key Ability Modifier: Intelligence
Alchemy - Bomb (formula), Confusing Hallucinogen (poison), Paralytic Venom (poison)
Athletics - Spider’s Touch
Equipment - Bruiser Training (discipline), Renaissance Voyager (discipline), Point-Blank Shooting, Poison Blowgun Specialist, Rogue Weapon Training (discipline), Unarmed Training (discipline)
Leadership - Friends in Low Places, Improved Leadership, Soldiers
Retribution
Scoundrel
- Improved Grifting, Switcheroo (trick), Twist the Knife (trick)
Scout - Analytical Gaze, Deadly Strike, Empirical Tracker, Fast Stealth, Great Senses (Perception), Inimical Gaze, Track the Scene
Tinkerer - Suit Improvement
Trap

Special Abilities:

Alchemy:
Can craft 9 doses of formula or poison per short or long rest. Each bomb counts as 2 doses. Confusing Hallucinogen imposes random actions as Confusion on failed CON save, Paralytic Venom decreases movements by 10 ft. per failed save. Bombs deal 3d6 fire damage or 6d6 of martial focus is expended.

Athletics: Regain martial focus when use Dash or Disengage as an action, also climb speed equal to base land speed.

Blindsense: aware of any hidden or invisible creature within 10 ft. if able to hear.

Evasion: when have to DEX save vs damaging effect, success is no damage, failure half.

Extra Attack: Attack twice instead of once whenever take Attack action.

Followers: Has 80 followers which count as 4 troops of Commoners. Proficient in Intimidate, Sleight of Hand, simple weapons and light armor, can use Help action for skills, and can help find fences, buy/sell stolen items, and bribe officials to overlook crimes.

Point-Blank Shooting: Suffer no disadvantage on ranged attacks made within 5 ft.

Poison Blowgun Specialist: increase save DC of any poison by proficiency bonus when using blowgun with poison. If already adding proficiency, add double proficiency by expending martial focus.

Retribution: Can give up one attack from Attack action to ready as an attack, deal +6 damage if it hits based on 4 potential triggers.

Sneak Attack: deal +4d6 damage to creature hit with attack when have advantage on the roll, or after successful use of dirty trick or steal attempt.

Switcheroo: If successfully steal from a target, can replace the stolen item with another item. If the item is volatile or Alchemy sphere formula, it can be rigged to explode at the end of turn.

Tinkerer: Can maintain up to 7 gadgets every short or long rest. Choices include air bladder (1 hour of breathable air), camouflage (lightly obscured for 1 minute, can hide even if observed), parachute (activate while falling as reaction, take no falling damage and fall 60 feet per round), or slick materials (advantage on Acrobatics to resist or escape a grapple).

Track the Scene + Empirical Tracker: Advantage on checks to find and follow tracks, learn general information when following tracks up to 17 hours old. Can scout a creature by targeting the tracks.

Trap: Set temporary traps that cover up to 4 5-foot cube spaces. Trap can either be a dart (+8 to hit, 4d6 piercing damage) or a Snare that is a tripwire knocking targets prone on a failed save or activates an item such as a consumable Alchemy sphere item.

Actions

+3 Dagger of Venom:
+12 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature or object. Hit: 8 (1d4+6) piercing damage plus 11 (2d10) poison damage and gain poisoned condition if fail DC 15 CON save. Special: +8/17 damage if scouted and first attack vs surprised creature, +15 (4d6) if Sneak Attack applies, +6 if successful Counterstrike.

+1 Light Crossbow: +10 to hit, range 80/320 ft., one creature or object. Hit: 7 (1d8+4) piercing damage. Special: +8/17 damage if scouted and first attack vs surprised creature, +15 (4d6) if Sneak Attack applies.

+2 Blowgun: +11 to hit, range 25/100 ft., one creature or object. Hit: 4 piercing damage. Special: +8/17 damage if scouted and first attack vs surprised creature, +15 (4d6) if Sneak Attack applies.

Dirty Trick: Roll Sleight of hand vs target’s Athletics or Acrobatics. If successful can deafen for 1 minute, knock prone, halve movement speed for 1 minute, grapple or blind for one round. Can make a single attack against a target as well.

Scout: Roll Investigation or Perception against target within 120 feet vs DC 20. If successful, learn Vulnerabilities, Resistances, Immunities, and apply (research) talent effects against them for 24 hours or until the next long rest. If fail, cannot scout that target for 24 hours. Can expend martial focus to scout all creatures within 60 ft. or gain advantage or +5 bonus on skill check.

Bonus Actions

Fast Stealth:
take the Hide action.

Second Wind: regain 1d10+17 hit points once per short or long rest.

Reactions

Parachute:
Fall 60 feet per round and take no falling damage when landing.

Equipment

+3 Glamoured Studded Leather, +1 Light Crossbow, +2 Blowgun, +3 Dagger of Venom, Alchemist's Supplies, Poisoner’s Kit, Thieves’ Tools, Tinker’s Kit

Special Thanks: To Ablative and Aêtava of Discord for their invaluable advice and knowledge of the series for building the Spheres version of Ezio.

Conversion Details: As I never played the Ezio-based Assassin’s Creed games, I relied upon outside help and YouTube clips to get a sense of the man’s capabilities. Like Geralt I had to make him high level to reflect his many skills and talents. I had to break the rules a bit in regards to his Martial Tradition given that he grew up as part of the nobility in Renaissance Italy. Guild Trained seemed the most appropriate Tradition for the Assassin Brotherhood, given their use of bombs, poisons, and general skullduggery.

This stat block reflects Ezio when he becomes a high-ranking assassin where he’s training and ordering new recruits and agents for the Brotherhood, which is represented by his Leadership talents in the upper levels. He doesn’t really commit to any one style, having talents spread out among a whopping nine spheres. Alchemy shows off his poisons and explosives, and Athletics’ Spider’s Touch represents his ability to climb just about any vertical surface. Ezio had training in a variety of weapons, not all of which were stereotypically roguish, reflecting his large amount of Equipment talents and the Intuitive Combatant feat which can let him swap out talents for other weapon groups (and talents in other spheres) if the need arises. The Scoundrel sphere’s Switcheroo represents how he can subtly plant bombs and other objects on passersby without getting noticed, and the Trap sphere at its base gives him proficiency in thieves’ tools and lets him set up bombs to be triggered via a snare. Scoundrel’s Twist the Knife, the Conscript Knave’s Sneak Attack, and Scout’s Deadly Strike all represent his ability to inflict great harm on foes he catches unaware.

For Scout I gave Ezio Fast Stealth to represent his quickness in hiding even from onlookers who caught him in the act, while Analytical Gaze, Great Senses, and Inimical Gaze better allow him to scout targets and apply his Deadly Strike against them while also learning of weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Track the Scene and Empirical Tracker represent his ability to form detailed clues from people merely by tracking them. I gave him merely the base sphere in Retribution, whose base ability at his level can counter a broad variety of effects. Finally, I gave him Tinkerer for the Suit Improvement talent which has a Parachute option, and Camouflage is pretty nice as well. Finally for Leadership I chose the Followers package rather than Sidekick as the recruits Ezio trains are multiple rookies rather than a single competent partner in arms, and Improved Leadership’s proficiency doubling in Persuasion reflects his legendary charm.

Talent Progression by Level

1st: Alchemy (Confusing Hallucinogen), Athletics (+1 from Combat Training), Equipment (Poison Blowgun Expert, Rogue Weapon Training), Scoundrel (Switcheroo), Scout (+1 from Combat Training)
2nd: Athletics (Spider’s Touch)
3rd: Scoundrel (Twist the Knife)
4th: Scout (Deadly Strike, Empirical Tracker, Track the Scene, +2 from Combat Training)
5th: Alchemy (Bomb)
6th: Alchemy (Paralytic Venom)
7th: Retribution
8th: Equipment (Renaissance Voyager), Scout (Analytical Gaze, Inimical Gaze, +2 from Combat Training)
9th: Scout (Fast Stealth)
10th: Equipment (Bruiser Training)
11th: Tinkerer (Suit Improvement)
12th: Leadership (Followers package, Friends in Low Places, Improved Leadership, Soldiers, +3 from Combat Training & skill proficiency)
13th: Trap
14th: Scout (Great Senses-Perception)
15th: Alchemy (Master Chemist)
16th: Equipment (Point-Blank Shooting, Unarmed Training, +1 from Intuitive Combatant feat)
17th: Scoundrel (Improved Grifting)
 
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Libertad

Adventurer
mr7YLaM.png


Link, the Hero of Time
Medium Humanoid (Wood Elf)
Conscript 10/Mageknight 4; Mechanic/Spellblade

Armor Class 18, 20 when using Active Defense
Hit Points 102 (14d10+14)
Speed 35 ft.

STR 16 (27 with Silver Gauntlets) DEX 14 CON 12 INT 14 WIS 12 CHA 10 (27 point buy, +2 DEX Elf, +1 WIS Wood Elf, +2 STR Combat Dabbler x2)

Saving Throws Dexterity +7, Strength +8
Skills Animal Handling +7 (class), Athletics +8 (background), Perception +7 (Elf), Persuasion +5 (class), Survival +7 (background)
Tools Alchemist’s Supplies (sphere), Ocarina (background), Tinker’s Tools (class)
Senses passive Perception 17, darkvision 30 ft.
Languages Hylian (Common), Kokiri (Elven), Sylvan

Background: Outlander

Feats: Combat Dabbler x2, Magical Expertise

Casting Tradition: Great Fairy Magic
Key Ability Modifier:
Intelligence
Drawbacks: Focus Casting (Ocarina), Somatic Casting; Boons: Easy Focus; Variants: Protection (Limited Protection [aegis], Protected Soul), Warp (Limited Warp [only to other rooms in dungeons or places keyed to Ocarina melodies], Taxing Teleport)
Sphere DC; 15 Spell Points 4
Destruction - Aura (blast shape), Blade (blast shape), Blaster Adept (Ice Illuminating, Razor Wind), Confining (blast type), Fire (blast shape), Razor Wind (blast type)
Protection - Energy Resistance (aegis), Obstruction (aegis), Resistance (aegis)
Warp - Distant Teleport (teleport), Teleport Beacon (teleport), True Teleport (teleport), Unseen Teleport (teleport)

Martial Tradition: Weapon Master
Key Ability Modifier:
Intelligence
Sphere DC 15
Alchemy - Bomb (formula), Thunderstone (formula)
Equipment - Armor Training, Bombardier Training (discipline), Bushido Training (discipline)
Fencing - Footwork, Lunge
Leadership - Greater Recruitment x2
Retribution
Shield
- Redirecting Shield (deflect), Perfect Redirection
Tinkerer - Artillerist Gadgets (gadget), Footwear (accessory, gadget), Goggles (gadget)

Special Abilities

Alchemy:
Create up to 7 formulas every short or long rest. Can be a thunderstone that deafens for 1 minute and deals 1d10 thunder damage (expend martial focus to stun for 1 round and deal 3d10 thunder damage), or bomb that deals 3d6 fire damage in 5 foot radius (expend martial focus to deal 5d6 damage). Each bomb counts as 2 formula, and can have up to 10 additional formula due to subclass.

Counterstrike: May give up one attack from Attack action to ready melee attack. Deal +5 damage and regain reaction if hits, set up to 3 triggers for that attack.

Danger Sense: Advantage on Dexterity saves vs effects one can see.

Destruction Sphere Rider Effects: fire damage, targets set on fire on failed DEX save and take 3d8 fire damage until extinguished, Augment 1 SP targets are Frightened (fire); slashing damage, resist with CON instead of DEX, targets hit suffer stacking -1 AC until end of next round, Augment 1 SP to increase duration to 1 minute (razor wind); radiant damage, creatures become visible in dim light and suffer disadvantage on Stealth checks until start of next turn, Augment 1 SP become visible in darkness as well (Illuminating); cold damage, CON save instead of DEX save, targets reduce speed by 10 feet for 1 minute, Augment 1 SP to be encased in ice and are Restrained for 5 rounds or until broken out of 42 HP AC 10 ice (ice); force damage, cannot move closer to caster until start of next turn on failed STR save, Augment 1 SP to deal 3 force damage if they willingly move from space (confining); force damage, conjured or summoned creatures have disadvantage on saves and attack rolls have advantage, use CHA instead of DEX save, Augment 1 SP to affect any target not on native plane, Augment 4 SP to cause conjured/summoned creatures to be banished back to home plane on failed CHA save (dismissing).

Destructive Blast (Aura): Action to raise up for 1 round, bonus action to activate. Affects all creatures within a 10 foot radius, dealing 3d8 damage on failed DEX save (half damage success if Augmented for 1 SP or more). Augment 1 SP to increase duration to 1 minute or 2 SP to remove Concentration.

Draw Power: Gain 1 temporary Spell Point until end of next turn when reduce target of CR 7 or more to 0 HP or crit.

Extra Attack: May attack twice instead of once when using the Attack action.

Fatal Thrust: When rolling melee attack with advantage may reroll one of the 2 d20s.

Feint: Can use Help action on self to gain advantage on next attack roll.

Fey Ancestry: Advantage vs charmed condition, cannot be put to magical sleep.

Fighting Style: Magic Spheres Adept: Gain 1 bonus magic talent.

Footwork: Expend martial focus to move up to 10 feet, impose disadvantage on oncoming attack or gain advantage on DEX save if in response to an attack.

Gadgets: Can make up to 8 gadgets every short or long rest. Can have up to 10 more due to subclass. Gadgets can be handheld Detonator that deals 3d6 fire damage in 5 foot radius (or detonate alchemy formula) and set after 1 round to 1 hour, can be Hook and Pulley that can pull objects or pull self up to 30 feet in straight line, Launcher that doubles range of thrown weapon, footwear that grants alternate movement capabilities, or goggles granting various sensory enhancements.

Lunge: As long as you have martial focus, increase melee reach by 5 feet in exchange for -2 on attack rolls vs. adjacent targets.

Mask of the Wild: Can hide even when lightly obscured with access to natural phenomena.

Technically Minded: Can create 10 additional formula or gadgets in any combination.

Actions

Active Defense:
When wielding shield may increase AC by 2 against attack you are aware of. Can expend martial focus to use this without spending reaction or redirect attack to another target within the attack’s reach or range.

Aegis: Grant benefit of aegis to self for up to 1 hour Concentration, Augment 2 SP to remove Concentration. Gain AC 17 (Armored), Resistance against choice of acid/cold/fire/lightning/radiant/thunder (Energy Resistance), or Resistance to nonmagical bludgeoning/piercing/slashing damage (Obstruction), or can spendable Reaction to gain advantage on saving throw (Resistance).

Attack: +11 to hit (Master Sword), +7 to hit (boomerang, shortbow, or formula), +10 to hit (Megaton Hammer or Biggoron’s Sword), range 80/320 (shortbow), 30/120 boomerang), or 20/60 (alchemical item), reach 5 ft. (melee) or 10 ft. (lunge), 1 creature or object. Hit: 10 (1d8+6) slashing damage (Master Sword), 4 (1d4+2) bludgeoning damage (Boomerang) 12 (2d6+5) bludgeoning or slashing (Biggoron’s Sword or Megaton Hammer), 5 (1d6+2) piercing damage (shortbow), 5/17 (1d10/3d10) thunder damage (thunderstone) or 11/19 (3d6/5d6) fire damage (bomb). Special: +2d10 radiant damage vs fiends or undead and sheds light in 10 foot radius (Master Sword), can make new attack vs adjacent creature if miss original target (alchemical item), deafened for 1 minute or stunned for 1 round (thunderstone), affects targets within 5 foot radius (bomb). If attuned to Silver Gauntlets add +5 to attack and damage of all melee attacks.

Destructive Blast (Blade): one melee weapon, natural weapon, or 20 ammo deals damage of chosen blast type for 1 minute and deal +3d6 damage on critical hit, Augment 1 SP to affect 5 weapons or up to 100 ammo, Augment 2 SP to remove Concentration.

Teleport: Must be Augmented for 1 SP, move self 300 feet. Augment 1 SP to not need line of sight, Augment 2 SP to teleport up to 1,000 miles but suffer potential d100 Mishap depending on familiarity.

Teleport Beacon: Designate touched spot, creature, or beacon as personal dimensional beacon for 24 hours but can only have 1 at a time. Augment 1 SP to make an additional one without removing previous ones, Augment 1 SP to return to beacon regardless of distance as long as on the same plane.

Bonus Actions

Destructive Blast (Blade):
Apply rider effect of chosen blast type when successfully hit with weapon

Second Wind: Heal 1d10+10 hit points per short or long rest.

Spell Combat: expend martial focus to make a single attack whenever cast magic sphere effect of 0 Spell Points as an action.

Reactions

Aegis (Resistance):
gain advantage on one saving throw.

Quick Application: use a formula or poison or activate a gadget.

Equipment

Alchemist’s Supplies, Biggoron’s Sword (+2 Greatsword), Boomerang, Goron Tunic (as Breastplate of Resistance [fire]), Master Sword (Longsword, as Holy Avenger but Link can ignore class prerequisite), Megaton Hammer (+2 Maul), Mirror Shield (as Spellguard Shield), Ocarina of Time (Spell Focus), Shortbow, Silver Gauntlets (as Belt of Giant Strength: Cloud Giant), Zora Tunic (as Breastplate of Water Breathing, like Potion of Water Breathing but permanent)

no63GEi.png


Navi is Link’s trusty fairy sidekick. She uses the stats for a Sprite, but with 14 levels in the Spherecaster sidekick class the following adjustments:

  • She has 44 hit points.
  • Her Proficiency Bonus is +5.
  • Her Intelligence is 18.
  • Her Wisdom saving throw is +6.
  • Her attack bonus with the longsword and shortbow are +5 and +9.
  • The DC for her shortbow poison and Heart Sight abilities are 13.
  • She has the Skilled feat.
  • Her skills are Arcana +9, Nature +9, Perception +6, Religion +9, and Stealth +11.
  • Her passive Perception is 16.
  • She has the Natural Casting Tradition, albeit she uses Intelligence instead of Charisma as her Key Ability Modifier. She has 11 Spell Points, and up to two times per long rest she can recover 5 Spell Points at the end of a short rest.
  • She has the following spheres and talents: Divination (Detect Aberration, Detect Constructs, Detect Dragons, Detect Elementals, Detect Fiends, Detect Monstrosity, Detect Oozes, Detect Nature, Detect Secrets, Detect Shapechanger, Detect Spellcasters, Detect Summons, Detect Undead, Fast Divinations, Invasive Divinations, See Hazard [sense]), Light (Guiding Light [glow])

Conversion Details: This stat block represents Adult Link near the end of Ocarina of Time, sometime during Gerudo Valley and the Spirit Temple. Once again I had to do some minor cheating. Link from Ocarina of Time is closest to an Outlander in background, but his Martial Tradition is closest to Weapon Master. Although there’s no overtly Japanese-style weapons in OoT, Bushido Training gives him proficiency in greatswords and mauls which match up to the Biggoron’s Sword and Megaton Hammer, while his Wood Elf subrace grants him proficiency in the typical sword and bow stuff. The Shield sphere and talents represent his use of shield in combat as well as the Mirror Shield’s ability to deflect magical attacks, while his Fencing talents and Retribution sphere represents the game’s combat system where you wait for an opening which was inspired by Chanbara theatrical swordplay. Alchemy and Tinkerer represent the variety of gadgets and tools Link has access to, such as deku nuts (thunderstone), bombs (bombs), the Lens of Truth (Goggles), Hookshot (Artillerist Gadgets), and Hover Boots (Footwear). The talents of his Casting Tradition are in line with the magical items Link gains access to, such as Destruction’s Fire, Ice, and Illuminating blast types for the Fire/Ice/Light Arrows (Blade blast shape) and Din’s Fire (Aura blast shape), and Razor Wind for his magically-charged Spin Attack (can be Aura or Blade depending on appropriateness). For more utility features there’s Protection for Nayru’s Love and Warp for Farore’s Wind and the various Ocarina songs that teleport Link to a specific location. I wanted the Master Sword to be special and looked for the closest Legendary-rarity magic item. The Holy Avenger seemed the best choice, although it being restricted to Paladins was impractical given that building Link as a Spherecaster Paladin would’ve given him much less talents to work with.

In regards to his equipment, Link actually has more magic items than which he can attune to at once. Typically he has an armored Tunic, Mirror Shield, and Master Sword as his attuned items. The Silver Gauntlets can really increase his attack and damage output albeit at the cost of one of these items. So he typically uses the gauntlets to lift and move heavy objects rather than in direct combat. The Golden Gauntlets once obtained can be treated as a Belt of Giant Strength: Storm Giant.

The Leadership sphere’s sidekick package and Greater Recruitment grant Link a trusty fairy companion in the form of Navi. Using the Sprite as a base,* I specialized in the Divination sphere, with the Light sphere’s Guiding Light representing her hovering near an enemy to initiate Z-Targeting where Link focuses on the foe more intently. Her various Divination spheres and the Skilled feat make effective use of Recall Lore, as Navi in-game knows the habits and weaknesses of virtually every enemy. The Detect Secrets and See Hazard talents represent her ability to discover and warn Link about various hidden passages and traps in dungeons.

*It has a higher Intelligence than a Pixie, and its Heart Sight seems more thematically appropriate for a knowledgeable fairy.

Talent Progression by Level (Link)

Level 1 Conscript: Martial Tradition: Equipment (Armor Training, Bushido Training), Fencing, Retribution; Level: Alchemy (Thunderstone)
Level 2 Conscript: Level: Shield
Level 3 Conscript: Level: Fencing (Footwork)
Level 4 Conscript: Level: Alchemy (Bomb); Combat Dabbler Feat: Fencing (Lunge)
Level 5 Conscript: Level: Leadership (sidekick package, Greater Recruitment [+1 talent from skill proficiency])
Level 6 Conscript: Level: Leadership (Greater Recruitment)
Level 7 Conscript: Level: Equipment (Bombardier Training)
Level 8 Conscript: Level: Shield (Redirecting Shield); Combat Dabbler Feat: Shield (Perfect Redirection)
Level 9 Conscript: Level: Tinkerer (Artillerist Gadgets, Footwear Improvement [+1 talent from tool proficiency])
Level 10 Conscript: Level: Tinkerer (Goggles)
Level 1 Mageknight: Casting Tradition: Destruction (Confining [blast type], Fire [blast type], Blade [blast shape], +1 talent from Protection sphere), Protection; Variants: Protection (Energy Resistance, Obstruction); Level: Destruction (Blaster Adept [Ice, Illuminating, Razor Wind])
Level 2 Mageknight: Fighting Style: Warp; Variants: Warp (Distant Teleport, Unseen Teleport); Bonus Talents: Destruction (Dismissing [blast type])
Level 3 Mageknight: Level: Warp (True Teleport); Path Talent: Destruction (Aura [blast shape])
Level 4 Mageknight: Magical Expertise Feat: Protection (Resistance), Warp (True Teleport)

Talent Progression by Level (Navi)
Level 1: Casting Tradition: Divination (Detect Monstrosity, See Hazard), Light.
Level 2: Light (Guiding Light)
Level 4: Divination (Fast Divinations)
Level 6: Divination (Invasive Divinations)
Level 8: Divination (Expanded Divinations [Detect Constructs, Oozes, Fiends])
Level 10: Divination (Expanded Divinations [Detect Undead, Dragons, Secrets])
Level 12: Divination (Expanded Divinations [Detect Elementals, Nature, Spellcasters])
Level 14: Divination (Expanded Divinations [Detect Shapechanger, Aberration, Summons])

Why does Ganondorf hate the Internet? Too many links!

While Ocarina of Time is perhaps the most well-regarded game in the series alongside Breath of the Wild, other incarnations of the legendary hero can be done by altering a few talents (and maybe even a class) here and there. Additionally, many aspects of the above stat block exist in multiple games, such as the Spin Attack. While making each one a unique stat block is beyond the scope of this post, here are a few suggestions.

Breath of the Wild: Is Proficient in Stealth, likely has Intuitive Combatant in order to gain various (discipline) talents to use virtually any weapon. Paraglider likely comes from the Aerodynamics Study of the Scholar class and Parachute of the Tinkerer sphere’s Suit Improvement talent. Magnesis Runes are Telekinesis with a Variant limiting its use to magnetic objects. Stasis is the Time sphere’s Time Freeze talent. Cryosis is the Freeze function of the Nature sphere’s Water geomancy package. Camera is Tinkerer’s Recording Gadgets talent.

Link to the Past: Link is likely an Armiger with the Antiquarian subclass to represent the variety of possible effects from items here. Pegasus Boots and Zora Flippers can be represented by Tinkerer’s Footwear. Magic Powder can be represented as the Alteration sphere Augmented to effect unwilling targets. Fire Rod and Ice Rod can be represented by Destruction’s Ray blast shape talent in conjunction with the Fire and Ice blast type talents. Cane of Somaria can be represented by the Creation sphere, Shovel Nature’s Forge Earth talent, and the various Medallions Destruction’s Explosive Orb blast shape with appropriate blast type talents.

Skyward Sword: Beetles can be represented with the Beastmastery sphere’s Tamer package. The Digging and Mogma Mitts can be represented by Athletics’ Terrain Glide. The Gust Jar can be represented by the Nature sphere’s Air geomancy package. Water Dragon’s Scale can be represented by Tinkerer’s Footwear that grants a swim speed.

Twilight Princess: There’s no magic meter in the game so Link is likely a full Conscript. Gain the Transformation feat to assume wolf form. Midna is a sidekick similar to Navi but has Warp’s Planeshift talent to transport herself and Link to the Twilight world, the Dark sphere’s One With the Void to become incorporeal and Shadow Stash to store Link’s items when he’s in wolf form, and Alteration’s Blank Form talent to assume the appearance of various humanoids. Hawkeye can be simulated using Tinkerer’s Ranged Weapon Improvement, and the Spinner is like the Footwear option that grants a climbing speed.

Wind Waker: Link has talents in the Barroom to represent use of breakable items and the ability to pick up and throw various items and objects, even heavy melee weapons. The Grappling Hook can be represented by Athletic’s Rope Swing, Picto Box represented by Tinkerer’s Recording Gadgets, and the Deku Leaf can be represented by Nature’s Air geomancy package.


And with that, I am done with my Let’s Read of Spheres of Power & Might. It’s been a fun ride since I began nearly a month ago. I hope that I did due diligence in showcasing the strengths of the system and being critical where it’s warranted.
 
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