The Stormbound (Priority Review)

The Stormbound

This base class supplement clocks in at 46 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page introductory notes/editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 39 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreon supporters.

The stormbound class is an akashic base class, but all required information to run this is included in this pdf.

After a brief introduction, we start off with the stormbound class. The stormbound is an akashic class that gets d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, and proficiency in simple and amrtial weapons, and while they are proficient with light armor, medium armor and shields, metal armor reduces the essence capacity of the stormbound by 2 to a minimum of 0, and the veils the stormbound shapes only require half as much damage to sunder and halve their hardness. Shields and armor made from veils are exempt from this rule, even if they manifest as metal. Chassis-wise, we have a ¾ BAB-progression alongside good Fort- and Will-saves, and Wisdom is their governing ability score for veilweaving, with the saving throw DC being 10 + the number of points of essence invested in the veil, plus the stormbound’s veilweaving modifier.

The stormbound receives a unique veilweaving slot, dubbed the “Storm slot”; the stormbound receives an additional veil shaped per day, denoted via the +1 in the class table, which must be used to shape a Storm veil. Unlike regular veils, the stormbound cannot allocate essence to or from a Storm veil. At the beginning of a combat turn, the stormbound gains a temporary point of essence that can ONLY be allocated to a Storm veil, but doing so is a free action, and it lasts for 1 minute after the combat ends; re-entering combat resets the duration. The stormbound cannot stockpile this temporary essence: If they do not allocate it immediately, it is lost. When not in combat, the stormbound can spend a full-round action to meditate, treating this round as a round of combat; they can only generate this temporary essence up to half their maximum essence capacity, rounded up, minimum 1.

So, you’re all familiar with my seething hatred of “per encounter/combat”-mechanics, but this one does a remarkably good job covering its basics – non-combat use is possible (so less temptation to try to cheese the engine), a concrete duration is provided, and meditation generally slows things down enough that the stormbound can’t quickly refresh or walk through the dungeon charged. Add the sidebar that explicitly provides a caveat to avoid fake combats, and this does a solid job at keeping the combat-related abilities in line. As far as veils are concerned, we start off with 1 (+1 Storm) and increase that up to 10 (+1 Storm); essence capacity starts off at 1, and increases by 1 every class level attained. Chassis-wise, this makes the guru a valid frame of reference, but we’ll see how that develops. At 12th level, this btw. increases by another additional point of temporary essence.

The stormbound has the constant benefits of endure elements, and, as a free action on their turn, they may exempt up to veilweaving modifier + ½ class level (rounded down) creatures from the harmful effects of the Storm veils shaped; targets thus protected automatically succeed their saving throws versus Storm veils, attack rolls and combat maneuvers prompted miss the targets, and if damage would be incurred, it is reduced to 0; these properties also apply to the stormbound, even while they are unconscious, but while the stormbound is unconscious, the protection extended to allies vanishes. Penalties that do not have a saving throw to mitigate still apply. This is the so-called “weatherproofing” ability. Now, as you can see, this ability firmly situates the stormbound in higher fantasy confines; a level 1 stormbound will usually be able to reliably weatherproof with endure elements an entire party of allies, which does eliminate the struggle usually associated with low-level weather-threats, so if you’re planning on running the class in such a campaign, I’d advise caution. On a design perspective, when looking at the Storm veils, this could have been more interesting: You see, the Storm veils tend to cause AoE-damage that has no save and doesn’t differentiate between friend and foe; however, unlike comparable effects, it tends to have a decent range. This could have rendered the ability an interesting tactical decision to use if it involved some sort of strategy; since most stormbound will be able to exclude their party members from the effects from the get-go, that decision is lost. But I’m just musing right now.

At 2nd level, and every 2 levels thereafter, the class gets a chakra bind, in the progression of Feet, Hands, Head, Wrists, Shoulders, Headband, Belt, Neck, Chest, Body, so essentially the vizier’s progression, with Hands and Feet switched around, and Neck and Belt switched around. This is interesting, in that Feet veils tend to gravitate, as a tendency, towards passives, while Hand veils are more offensive in focus; the same can generally be stated for the Belt vs. Neck, the latter having the rather popular gorget of the wyrm. The Storm slot becomes available for chakra binding at 9th level, and at 11th level, the stormbound can shape two veils in the Storm slot, operating like Twin Veil. Okay, but when you also have Twin veil, does that mean you can bind three veils to the Storm slot? Four? You see, while the effect specified by the ability behaves as Twin Veil, it’s not actually Twin Veil, it just *functions* as such, which means that the “same effect doesn’t stack”-clause does RAW not apply here. Pretty sure that this is a glitch.

The stormbound gains improved essence capacity at 3rd level, 9th level, and 15th level. EDIT: I had a factual error here: The final capacity is gained at 15th level, not 19th. Mea culpa. The capstone ability is an outsider apotheosis with 3 damage immunities and quicker re-assigning of veils. Okay, I guess, but not that interesting. What is, however, interesting, would be that 1st level and every 2 levels thereafter net a so-called storm power. These are essentially talents, and where applicable, the saving throw is the customary 10 + ½ class level + veilweaving modifier. Storm powers have different power levels, with new ones unlocking regarding their prerequisites at 5th level, 9th, 11th and 17the level, with one storm power situated with a 13th level prerequisite.

To give you an idea: We have a medium-range option to suppress Storm veils or dispel weather-controlling magics via opposed veilweaving checks (not the biggest fan of opposed rolls, but valid); the ability gets the clause for spellcasting right, and has a success criteria wherein, if you really beat the enemy, the duration of the suppression lasts longer. To avoid spamming this versus spells, it has a hex-caveat (applies RAW only regarding attempt to dispel spells thus!) that limits you to one attempt versus a given effect in 24 hours. The power also allows for the suppression of your own storm veils.

Distracting current is a close range debuff, and you can invest essence to increase the penalties inflicted; once more, spamming is prevented with a hex caveat. Alternatively, we have at-will feather fall, and a power that lets you, when using a [Weapon] veil or natural weapons granted by the veil, use your stormbound level as BAB, making you a full BAB front line assailant, with an added bonus – you get to use veilweaving modifier instead of Strength modifier to determine damage with these. This is very, very powerful.

Compare this one with being treated as one size category larger for the purpose of being checked or blown away by wind, and versus maneuvers that move you, and halved penalties for skill checks and ranged attack rolls due to wind. Or the one that lets you fire close-range icicles at will (with moderately-scaling damage output; +1d6 per 4 levels – which, however, can be increased with essence investment); sonic armor nets you class level temporary hit points as a move action, and when an enemy hits you in melee (important caveat!) while you have those, they take sonic damage equal to the current temporary hit points you have, and risk becoming briefly deafened on a failed save. For an essence invested, this increases by +3 temporary hit points. *sigh* This can be exploited for infinite healing via the usual transferal means. Making the armor more potent, but imposing a hard cap on this instead would have probably been the better choice here.

Then again, some of you are rolling your eyes right now, so let’s move on to the *actual* healing storm power, namely soothing rain: Much to my joy, this one nets you pretty potent healing that reduces its effectiveness whenever the same target benefits from it within a 24 hour timeframe, and it can be selected multiple times, which provides a “buffer” of sorts before healing is reduced for each target. Unless you’re playing in a very large group, this amount of healing is okay. Storm lash nets you a lash of lightning – cool! Veilproofing…is certainly pretty at least in the wrong level-range. It extends the weatherproofing ability’s immunities to Storm veils for allies to ALL veils. This should be unlocked at a much higher level.

A similar issue applies to a faster unseen servant with a Strength of 10 + veilweaving modifier and a fly speed of 30 ft. (perfect). Doesn’t sound like much? Well, this means you get perfect flight at level 1, bypassing the usual restrictions. You see, the unseen servant spell usually explicitly states that the servant can’t fly; that it can’t perform anything that requires a skill check. Special rules override larger ones, so while the unseen servant can’t succeed in anything like hovering, tight turns or the like, it *can* very much carry the stormbound or their allies around (which does NOT require a skill checks, and which the unseen servant thus probably can do due to the increased Strength!) , provided it does so in a way that doesn’t require a Fly check. This storm power should have been altered, or moved to the section with the 5th level prerequisites, or better, further. I am pretty sure that this is a glitch. Why? The 5th-level prerequisite power “Lifting gale” nets you at-will levitate AND requires that you previously take the at-will feather fall power. Why would anyone do this, when you get infinite unseen servants with perfect fly speed, and the explicit Strength required to carry most characters, apart from the full-armored fighter? Or the one that also requires the feather fall power, but nets you 20-ft fly speed with poor maneuverability?

The internal balancing being inconsistent regarding these storm powers may also be seen in e.g. “Channel the Storm” – you gain ½ your maximum essence capacity that you can only invest in Storm veils. Hmm, let me think for a bit: Should I take this or at-will levitate? */sarcasm*. Or the one that increases the radius of Storm veils by their base radius for each point invested in them beyond the first, treating further ranges as essentially weapon ranges, with the veils treated as having less essence invested in them at higher range increments? This is REALLY INTERESTING, particularly since Storm veils are close range, though one 11th level storm power lets you upgrade that to medium (and retain control whether you want them to be medium or close); compare that with the 17th (!!) level power for at-will control weather.

The storm powers, as a whole, are weird. They seem to be based on hexes, but tie advancement to of their benefits weird components. If you, for example, made the bad call of getting at-will levitate, you’ll most assuredly be excited to hear that, at 13th level, you can activate it as a move action and move up or down once per round as a free action. Gamechanger, right? At 13th level? I tried pretty hard to deduce the reasoning behind some of the prerequisites imposed, as some storm powers make perfect sense in their context, while others don’t; some are clearly roleplaying facilitators, while others provide brutal mechanical advantages. And it drives me bonkers that I can’t see a pattern for the deviations.

This also extends, to a much lesser degree, to the favored class options, namely the comparison Belaran vs. Ifrit. Belarans increase their essence capacity of Storm veils with the Fire OR Cold descriptor by +1/8; ifrit only get this benefit for the Storm veils with the Fire descriptor.

This bothers me to now end, for the class does bring something extremely interesting to the table, namely that it focuses on soft/hard crowd control. The Storm veils, of which 12 are provided, are cylinders with a height of 50 ft. + 5 ft. per veilweaver level (or ceiling/ground) and a radius of 25 ft. + 5 ft. per veilweaver level. The cannot be sundered, and here’s the thing: The shaper is NOT immune to them (which also explains the “immunity storm power” available at first level); the storm veils generally focus on dealing energy damage, while adding additional effects; interesting here: there is an option that allows you to inflict essentially poison damage – which is codified as untyped in PF1e, but provides immunity for those with poison immunity. The Storm veils also provide pretty potent terrain control and debuff options; take, for example, “The Blizzard”, which deals cold damage and also fatigues targets on a failed save (no stack up to exhausted, but barbarian’s still cry), but also has the option to make the affected area difficult terrain via snowfall. When you stop the snowfall, it melts away at the end of your turn. That is an interesting effect. It should be noted that, while damage tends to look pitiful (1d3 etc. as a baseline), the damage caused is AUTOMATIC at the end of your turn; no save or the like to negate, which can make this rather deadly at lower levels. It should also be noted that the veils have a few more formatting glitches (lower caps saving throw, missed italics) than I’d have liked to see. And yet, I really like the idea of Storm veils. I have a soft spot for aura-based characters, and this has interesting options.

It is, alas, a somewhat uneven array of veils regarding internal and external balancing. There is a pretty solid blaster-style veil, which doesn’t have ANY detrimental aura effects, and just lets you fire bludgeoning damage that can cause the target to catch fire, with essence investment as potential for more damage. Alas, for you powergamers out there, this thankfully at least requires an attack to hit, and only targets one enemy.

Compare that with the veil that decreases visibility. Or that one, with the one that lets you generate banks of darkvision impeding fog that can be rendered more dense and even made into something akin to solid fog is sufficient essence is invested in it. (Which is a nice angle – these veils tend to have a threshold of sorts, where their benefits become more pronounced than linear scaling, often adding new options.) I was talking about internal balance being weird: The sirocco is essentially like the blizzard, save that it deals fire damage, and causes the sickened condition…and it has neither the barbarian lock power, nor the terrain control effect of the blizzard, but the condition remains until cured. The direct comparison here makes pretty evident that the blizzard may have overshot what it’s supposed to do. Compare that to “the scouring”, which has slashing and piercing damage as a baseline…but also reduces visibility to 30 feet, with essence invested allowing that to go as low as 5 ft. in 5 ft.-steps. This applies to all senses based on sight. The effect is interesting, even in its baseline, in that it breaks line of sight beyond 30 ft. – reliably. In short, it may not be *much*, but the Storm veils differ in utility.

But in comparison with regular, damage-dealing veils, how does this fare? Let’s stick with the fire-based one, shall we, and compare it to the gauntlets of the storm: The conflagration lets you use your veilweaving modifier to hit instead of Dexterity with the ranged touch attack it requires, and deals a base of 1d6 bludgeoning damage; for each essence invested, the initial damage increases by +1d6; bludgeoning damage on odd-numbered points invested, fire damage on even-numbered ones invested. For every two points invested here, the saving throw DC increases by +1, and the secondary burning damage by +1d6. Okay, so for 3 essence invested, we’d have 3d6 bludgeoning, 1d6 fire, +2d6 secondary fire if the target fails its save. For the gauntlets, we have 1d6 cold, 1d6 sonic and 1d6 electricity damage, but ONLY as a melee touch attack, NOT as a ranged touch attack. It does have the energy versatility going for it, though. However, it does NOT not with the veilweaving for Dex-to-atk caveat, which should, at the very least, make difference of at least +4 to atk in most instances. The Gauntlets are only available to the vizier among the core akashic classes, who has a ½ BAB-progression; still since the stormbound can also gain these, and they start outperforming the fire stuff, this seems like a clear case, right? Well, that’s where the aforementioned threshold comes in:  If this is too esoteric an example for you, let’s take a more clear-cut one: Polar snowshoes vs. the blizzard. Polar snowshoes net you a whopping 1d4 cold damage in a 10 ft. aura, +1d4 for every essence invested, and the ability to generate some movement-related benefits when used with chakra bind. While the blizzard has slightly less damage per essence, it has the difficult terrain option, the option to fatigue, when chakra bound, to be intensified – oh, and it affects AoE and doesn’t allow for a saving throw to reduce damage. The aura of polar snowshoes? Fortitude halves. And its AoE doesn’t grow, unlike the blizzard.

Okay, one can still chalk that up to the Storm veils being class-exclusives, right? Okay, let us take a look the significant amount of non-class exclusive veils herein, for example winter’s somnolence, which conjures a scythe dealing nonlethal cold damage, lethal cold damage versus undead. It’s a weapon veil, so you can get full BAB with it, and use veilweaving to calculate base damage, provided you chose the right storm power. The hand chakra bind lets you add up to a +5 enhancement modifier that you can also use to instead choose a variety of special weapon properties, which are not properly in italics in the text.

For undead, it bypasses all damage reduction, resistances and immunities, which is pretty nifty. A creature struck must also succeed a Fort save, or have its speed reduced by 5 ft. for one round (yes, all speeds and stacking with itself), +1 round per essence invested in hands; on a critical hit, it’s save or fall asleep. For each additional point of essence invested, we have +1d6 cold damage. The chakra bind to wrists expands upon the means to cause targets to fall asleep/reduce the target’s speed. Know where things become weird? “This bonus damage is multiplied on a critical hit.” Yep, the essence invested-based bonus damage is multiplied. For a scythe. That’s x4 without even trying. That’s a pretty good visualization of the subtle hiccups with the veils here. In comparison to other melee/atk-based veils, the damage potential here is insane. And this bothers me to no end. Why? Because the general ideas presented are pretty darn awesome, and there is some care here – it’s just…inconsistent? Take the storm gauntlets – these do not duplicate an error that was present in their original iteration (electric instead of electricity damage); but in another veil, we see exactly this hiccup.

And the pdf does get these fine balancing aspects and utility concerns right in quite a few a cases: Traveling the planes and even planets (somewhat unreliably) via a utility veil? Cool! Or what about sabatons of the storm, which BUILD on Storm veils:  You can make a trail of storm energy behind you – 1d4 electricity, 1d4 sonic, 1 d4 cold damage, plus movement halved for 1 round if affected, with the  caveat that a target can only be affected once per round? Cool, right? Essence invested increases damage for all three…and outperforms the aforementioned gauntlets in damage dealt, but has a save to negate. This Is *interesting* While I consider 3d4s different energy damages sans essence invested a bit overkill at low levels, it’s contingent enough to render it a fun trap-option. Granted, it outperforms polar snowshoes by quite a bit in pure damage, but is has the movement contingency. This shows that these weren’t designed sans care; or take the robe of the worldwalker, which lets you choose two energy types from the usual suspects and grants resistance, alongside scaling bonuses to a whole array of checks and the like pertaining forced marches and so on – and lets you sleep in armor. Unlike e.g. frostbite halo, it doesn’t offer the same increase to damage with one energy type, though, and has the Body slot, more valuable than the halo’s headband.

On the other hand, we have brume treads, arguably the most powerful Feet-veil; it lets you ignore the adverse movement effects of difficult terrain, and always 5-foot-ste, +2 insight bonus to Acrobatics; for each essence invested in this, the Acrobatics bonus increases by another 2, and you also get +5 ft. land speed; when chakra-bound, this also nets you full speed in armor, ignore movement penalties, etc. Compare that to coward’s boots. +5 ft. base speed, +5 ft. for essence invested. The chakra bind of coward’s boots nets you Essence of Movement – scaling dodge bonus to AC vs. AoOs, and per essence invested, a +1 insight bonus to Acrobatics. Brume treads outperforms this SO HARD, you’d have to be stupid to ever look at coward’s boots again. And yes, brume treads are intended to be available for all core akasha classes.

Okay, so, this review’s already insanely long, so let’s talk about the archetypes: The Devotee of the Storm replaces the first level storm power with hunter’s spellcasting, but has a diminished chakra bind sequence. They lose essence capacity in favor or Endurance and a bonus vs. mundane storm effects, and later do not leave tracks and teleport between storms. The wind whisperer gets essentially an eidolon reskinned as a storm spirit minus evolutions, but with essence; these spirits veilweave via Wisdom, while the wind whispered uses Charisma; the storm is essentially outsourced to the pet, which gets its own essence capacity and pool of essence. The wind whisperer has half the essence at each level, rounded up, but veils shaped are divided among the pair, and the spirit also learns the chakra binds. This is very strong, as e.g. even the weatherproofing aspect is shared. Would not allow this one in my games.

The pdf also offers two 10-level PrCs: The Storm Warrior gets full BAB-progression, ½ Fort- and Ref-save progression, d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, and requires the new akashic Storm Scoured feat, which reduces the penalties weather imposes based on essence invested. The idea here is that of a warrior type character who gets limited access to Storm veils without actually becoming a full veilweaver, using a temporary essence engine. Interesting! The second PrC would be the Veilshifter at d6 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, full veilweaving progression, ½ BAB and Will-save progression. This one is all about quickly unshaping and reconstituting veils, as well as the ability to take multiple Twin veils. Do not allow this PrC if you value the balance of your game.

The feats contained herein include a feat-based option to exclude allies from veil effects, a feat to dabble in Storm veils, and several (Confluence) veils – these require that you’re able to form two specific storm veils, enhancing those. I really love the idea here, I just wished this had been integrated into the core Storm veil engine instead of being outsourced to feats, since the core class already has the multi-storm trick hardcoded into it. Rebalancing the storms and including this at higher levels? That’d have been neat indeed!

The supplement also features 3 magic items: Imbuement gems allow you to outsource weapon/armor enhancement bonuses to these gems when forming akashic weapons/armor, and switch between the regular and these benefits. Yeah. No. There is a crook in three power-levels that lets you treat Storm veils as having additional essence invested in them. Finally, there is a totem that lets you expand the Storms to the radius of miles (!!), but weighs 5K lbs. – an interesting story item.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are…weird? On one hand, we have complex caveats caught, rules-language in complex scenarios performed admirably well; we have carefully vetted content…and then, we have some formatting hiccups. We have veils and components obviously very carefully balanced next to blatant power-escalation, which renders the class a very much uneven experience. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard, with quite a few nice full-color artworks I haven’t seen before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Hel Kennette’s stormbound base class was an exercise in confusion for me; I have rarely seen a class with such complex and thoroughly INTERESTING framework, that shows, very well I might add, that the author generally knows what he’s doing. That being said, in the same way, this does feel like it’s one dev-/content editing pass short of realizing its potential. An additional set of eyes would have e.g. caught the VERY uneven balancing of the storm powers, which range from being powerful engine modifications to “almost fluff.” That being said, I was duly impressed by the concepts of the vast majority of veils herein, if not always their mechanical tweaking/execution. It’s exceedingly hard to design for akasha due to the sheer number of moving parts that the system offers. And this class certainly shows that the designer is capable.

BUT. Beyond its internal balance re storm powers being off, it also pushes the power-level of akasha further; not in overt ways, mind you – it’s a lot of small components that work together, but which, as a whole, can eliminate some checks and balances. If your players have a pronounced enough degree of system mastery, this might well suffice to compromise the system. On the other hand, it’s pretty easy to make a stormbound that is significantly less powerful than what the class can deliver regarding performance. The reliable AoE energy damage output is an interesting angle, but as a whole, I can’t help but feel that the class either underestimates, or willfully ignores what you can inflict with a properly-calibrated veilweaver. The significant degree of oscillation between a well-optimized stormbound and one made by the average joe/jane is what made this so hard on me.

I can see this class not upset some groups and work like clockwork; I can also see it really being super-problematic. Comparing this to other akashic classes, it certainly can be very strong. Would I allow this class in my game? No. Do I think it’s problematic? Yes. Do I think it could have been vastly improved by applying the same care that obviously went into some aspects of the pdf to the entirety? Heck yes. But do I also think that this can be a fun supplement? That this can work without upsetting the game’s balance if the players are kind enough? Yes. If you’re running a high-powered game, then checking out this class may well be a pretty good idea for you and yours! Just be VERY careful regarding allowing everything here.

In the end, to me, this represents a mixed bag. A clever class with genuinely exciting ideas that’s missing the final polish in power-level consistency, some finer rules components and formatting to really excel. This is incredibly close to becoming excellent in pretty much all ways – I can taste it! Heck, if I have the time at one point, I might clean up this class for my games, go with a fine-toothed comb through it and tweak it to the level it deserves to be. It’s like running a marathon, then stumbling on literally the last few inches. My final verdict will be 3.5 stars, with a tentative recommendation under the caveats noted before. For me, personally, I’d round down, and I suggest you do the same if akasha’s meticulously-calibrated framework is as important to you; as a reviewer, though, I do have an in dubio pro reo policy, and tables enjoying high-powered classes and power-increases might get a kick out of this, which is why my official verdict will round up.

You can get this class here on OBS.

You can directly support Cobalt Sages Creations here on patreon.

Want more akasha?

The phenomenal City of 7 Seraphs hardcover can be found here!

The Akashic Mysteries book can be found here.

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Endzeitgeist out.

Comments

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7 Responses

  1. Hal Kennette says:

    Hey there EZG, thanks for the review of Stormbound!

    Stormbound was my first major solo-release as a writer and developer, and I think that roughness shows a bit in the final product. I am still proud of it, even if there are definitely things I would change now if I had the chance. Sadly, you eventually just have to put down the pen and let it get released.

    As far as the review itself goes: I think it is on-point in a lot of areas, but there are a few nitpicks I feel are worth bringing up:

    Essence capacity: Stormbound has their essence capacity increase at 3/9/15, identical to the Radiant and Nexus. I’m not sure where you got the level 19 increase from, I went to double check the PDF and it was 15 there as well.

    Twin Storm: The ability says that it otherwise functions as the feat, which sort of heavily implies (if not outright states) it wouldn’t stack with the feat it otherwise functions as. The wording here is even more restrictive than the wording of similar abilities found in the Vizier’s Twinveil Ring (At 15th level the vizier can shape and bind up to two veils which occupy the Ring slot.) and the Eclipse’s Dark Intensity (From 10th level on the eclipse may shape and bind an additional veil in either their Hands or Feet slot, chosen when they shape their veils for the day.), neither of which are mentioned in your reviews of those classes as an issue.

    Fury of the Storm (Storm Power): This is the ability that lets the Stormbound use their veilweaver level in place of BaB with [Weapon] veils. You claim this ability is “Very Powerful”, but every other akashic class that has Weapon-like veils on their list already uses their Veilweaver level in place of their BaB. This ability is actually WEAKER than the options given to other akashic classes, but you make no mention of this. You also don’t even mention that Stormbound have to spend money to enhance the power of their [Weapon] veils by enhancing them, whereas other akashic classes get their veils automatically enhanced for free when investing essence in them. This ends up making Stormbound weaker with weapon-veils than other Akashic classes, especially those found in Akashic Trinity. The Storm Power was balanced around the fact that other Akashic Classes are already doing this for free with no investment.

    Veil Balance: Some of your comparisons here are… unfair, in my opinion. Comparing Storm Gauntlets as an example but completely leaving out that Storm Gauntlets allows you to make its touch attacks in place of any melee attack is frankly unfair. Obviously, if more than half of the compared veils abilities are left out then what I wrote looks overly powerful in comparison. There is also the argument that I was pushing the power level of veils, and bringing comparisons to Coward’s Boots, while Akashic Trinity already pushed the power level of veils well above the levels found in Akashic Mysteries, INCLUDING a straight upgrade to Coward’s Boots via the Boatman’s Ferry veil, which also lets you ignore all difficult terrain, lets you walk on water, AND gives a larger increase to movement speed with essence investment. It just feels a bit unfair that I am being knocked points here for “pushing the balance” of Akasha as a subsystem when it was already heavily pushed by Akashic Trinity, which wasn’t even mentioned in your review of that product.

    —–

    Otherwise, I feel like the review is on-point (including the score). It just feels a bit… overly harsh in the balance aspects when compared to your previous reviews of Akashic products (Zodiac and Akashic Trinity in particular) which also did a lot to push the balance of Akashic as a subsystem, especially in comparison to Stormbound, but had almost no mentions about that in the review of those products.

    • Thilo Graf says:

      Heja Hal!

      Thank you for commenting! First of all: I’m sorry you felt that I misrepresented the class in some aspects. However, I do stand by my arguments and conclusions.

      Essence Capacity: Rectified. Apologies for the glitch!!

      Twin Storm: The ability needed to be more precise due to the special slot, so I liked that. However, when you take a look at Twin Veil, you still have the issue with shaped veils rules syntax between shaped veils and chakra, which the vizier’s twinring veil or the eclipse’s dark intensity does not have. And yes, it should specify interaction between “acts as Twin Veil” and actually having that feat.

      Fury of the Storm:
      To be honest, this looks like an argument made in bad faith to me, but I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt.
      You’re incorrect in asserting that other veilweaving classes get the ability to use weapon veils using their veilweaving modifier as BAB and substituting said modifier for Strength on a global scale. If that were the case, e.g. loyal paladin’s spear of light wouldn’t have the explicit caveats for using veilweaver level as BAB. The comparison with akashic trinity is also false – the supplement, at no point, specifies such an ability to apply to its classes.
      “Weapon-like veils are veils that can be wielded and used as a weapon, such as the Loyal Paladin’s Spear Of Light or the Sword Of Justice. These
      veils use the same damage dice and critical statistics as any weapon they are described as acting as.”
      There is no global rule in place there, and e.g. radiant, nexus and eclipse do not have an option comparable to Fury of the Storm.

      The thing that made me question your intention here, though is that you genuinely field being able to enchant weapon and armor veils as WEAKER. I was genuinely baffled here.
      If anything, I should have started screeching to the high heavens how OP the the option to freely enchant [armor] and [weapon] veils is, but figured that, since you presented that as global rules (which they aren’t if they’re supposed to apply only to the stormbound – but the presentation suggests otherwise, and if I assumed that you intended this as a “restriction” applying only to the stormbound, it’d be a hugely OP net power – and flexibility-gain, not a restriction), they should be applied to all veilweavers. This is literally the only way in which this isn’t atrociously OP, and I gave you the benefit of the doubt there in treating these rules as intended for global application.
      The comparison is also weird when you assert that the stormbound is weaker with weapon veils – this is simply not true. The weapon veils of the stormbound have comparable upgrade options that work just as automatically – see e.g. winter’s somnolescence.

      Veil balance: I am sorry if you feel I misrepresented your veil, but I really think I didn’t.
      Using storm gauntlets is a valid comparison, and I EXPLICITLY, with ALLCAPS, highlighted the difference between melee and ranged touch. I couldn’t have made this more clear. And I didn’t make the veil out to be OP in comparison; I provided this comparison so that readers can judge for themselves. I did NOT leave out that you make the attack as touch. It’s right there!! I don’t see your problem there/why you think I misconstrued the power-level of your veils. (And feel free to use the wayback-machine; I did not alter the text.)

      Your comparison between boatman’s ferry and coward’s boots is also flawed; boatman’s ferry is exclusive to vizier and nexus; they are also purely utility, not, like The Blizzard utility plus damage, plus condition, plus no means to negate plus larger scale AoE effect.

      If your argument is that boatman’s ferry is better than polar snowshoes, I’d like to point out that the snowshoes are only on the vizier’s list, who is the full caster, who has a larger risk in melee than the stormbound (worse chassis), and the fellow has to contend with tiny aura, saves, etc. Boatman’s ferry is the better utility veil for vizier and nexus, but it has no inherent damage capacity whatsoever.

      So, as far as I’m concerned, a utility veil with damage capacity exclusive to one class (vizier) vs. that of another (stormbound), is actually pretty fair, pretty lenient on storm veils, to be honest. Btw., polar snowshoes only apply their damage at the end of the creature’s round, whereas The Blizzard causes damage at the end of the stormbound’s turn, which is another aspect that makes it MUCH BETTER – you can run/retreat from the shoes on your turn; you can’t do that for The Blizzard.

      Just my 2 cents.
      If anything, I expected to catch flack for being so comparably lenient on the stormbound’s power due to really enjoying the concepts and ideas at work here. Just goes to show.

      Cheers and all the best!

  2. Hal Kennette says:

    Sorry, I am definitely not trying to argue in bad faith here. Akashic Magic is a really complicated subsystem with a ton of moving parts and a lot of changes over the years after its release that aren’t immediately obvious.

    I might not have been clear enough with the Fury of the Storm comments, let me try to clarify:

    Stormbound’s Weapon Veils and Fury of the Storm were balanced against Akashic Trinity’s weapon veils, all of which grant full BaB when using them. It is not a “global rule” but it is a rule that Sayre has followed in all of his Akashic Releases since Akashic Mysteries with Weapon-Like veils he writes.

    Examples of such veils include: Sword of Justice, Reaper’s Scythe, Cloak of Thorns, Sable Shots, Ebon Stars, Efreeti’s Brass Scimitar, Shahzada’s Dissolution and Blackened Pitchfork. This also applies to Loyal Paladin’s Spear of Light and Hand Cannons from Akashic Mysteries, the original two “weapon-like” veils.

    The majority of these veils ALSO get their enhancement bonuses *for free* when invested withe essence. For example, the reaper’s scythe gets +1d8 damage per Essence invested, and when its bound it ALSO gets +1 enhancement per essence that can be traded from a list of special abilities (in addition to its other bind effects).

    Fury of the Storm and the [Weapon] and [Armor] Descriptors were balanced with Akashic Trinity, and Sayre’s new balance point for Akashic Content, in mind.

    Fury of the Storm also only replaces Strength with Casting Mod for *damage* rolls with Weapon Veils, so you still need Dex or Str to actually hit with them. This was an attempt to allow a more hybrid-playstyle with the class, and after thoroughly playtesting it I didn’t feel like it was too strong. It is mostly a boon to Dex-based Stormbound, who could have also just taken feats to get Dex to damage instead.

    Winter’s Somnolence getting an Enhancement bonus from Enhance is an error that I somehow left in. I found that Akashic Trinity’s balance point for Weapon-like veils was way too powerful in playtesting, so mid-way through creating the book I swapped from the Akashic Trinity-style Weapon-like veils to DSP’s new [Weapon] veils. It seems like I missed rewriting Winter’s Somnolence for the new effect. Will have to see about getting it hotfixed when CSC gets moving again.

    ——-

    Regarding the Storm Gauntlets comparison: I think you are missing my point here. Storm Gauntlets has an additional ability which you didn’t mention. I had to go back and double check, because its a *really* important part of why its damage is so much lower: “This touch attack can be used any time you could make a weapon attack.” This is a pretty important balancing factor. Yes, they are only available to the Vizier natively… but in Akasha, you can simply take a feat to grab any Veil you wish.

    The comparison between The Blizzard and Polar Snowshoes is a fair one, the Blizzard pushes the power level because it is a unique slot that requires a lot of investment for a non-Stormbound to get and utilize, whereas a ‘normal’ veil like Polar Snowshoes can be grabbed by any Veilweaver with a feat… which is why I didn’t comment on it at all. It was valid criticism. Polar Snowshoes is also regarded as one of the weaker Veils in the game, so I felt like providing an “improved” version as a class-specific veil wouldn’t be pushing things too hard.

    I brought up Coward’s Boots, Brume Treads, and Boatman’s Ferry as specific example because they all fill the same niche, but Brume Treads were provided as an example of being too strong, but Boatman’s Ferry is even stronger.

    Coward’s Boots give 5 Speed + 5 per essence, and grants +1 AC versus AOO’s while moving per essence when bound. It is “only” available to the Guru and Vizier (but can be easily grabbed via a feat for other classes).

    Boatman’s Ferry (which came out before Stormbound) grants immunity to all difficult terrain, the ability to walk on water, +10 speed per essence, and when bound maximizes your damage rolls w/ positive energy against undead and interacts with doom marks. Of note: the Reaper’s Scythe veil deals *ALL* of its damage as positive Energy Against undead, and gets +1d8 damage from its essence investment. Its a ridiculously powerful combo. Boatman’s Ferry is available to the Nexus and Vizier (and anyone who wants to grab it by spending a feat).

    Brume treads gives the ability to ignore difficult terrain, the ability to 5-foot step in difficulty terrain (which is implied by ignoring it, this was here to clarify it), and +2 acrobatics. It also grants +5 speed and +2 acrobatics per essence. When bound, it grants you an improved ability to ignore movement impairing effects. Brume Treads are available to Daevic, Guru, Stormbound and Vizier (and anyone who wants to grab them using a feat). The only “strong” note with the class choice here is granting it to Daevic, who desperately needed a mobility veil in their kit, so I gave them one.

    ——-

    My other concern in general is that the Akashic Trinity review did not mention the Veils printed in that book at all, nor how they pushed the power levels of Akasha as a whole… but I am being accused of pushing the power levels of veils because I balanced mine around that new power level introduced with Akashic Trinity.

    It feels a bit unfair that I, and my product, are being criticized for something that I didn’t directly have a hand in, only an over-all balance change to the system that adjusted my product to match.

    ——-

    Hopefully this helped clarify the points I was trying to make! The conversation regarding the balance of Akashic Magic is kind of a complicated one that is difficult to have over long-form comments like these.

    • Hal Kennette says:

      Oops that was supposed to be a reply to your response above.

    • Thilo Graf says:

      Heja Hal!

      Thank you so much for clarifying! I’m glad you’re up for a civil discussion! (And yeah, online discussions often don’t lend themselves too well to complex arguments, hence me always stating when I think that some point seems weird.)

      Apologies for response delay and relative brevity, life is crazy.

      I now understand why you feel unfairly treated by the review, though I do not concur with your assessment of akashic trinity and stormbound.

      Shape Veil isn’t a good argument; feats are pretty valuable for any akashic class (more so than for most classes), and Shape Veil does not have the akashic descriptor, which is a drawback in an of itself even before taking the feat-loss into account. Spending one feat on a single veil is a significant investment.

      Your assertions re Storm’s Fury seem contradictory to me: On one hand, you say that you took out the enhancement bonus out of your veils, and on the other hand, you made ENCHANTING weapon veils, opening them to the *entirety* of the magic item creation system out there, as a balancing choice. That seems absurd to me. The choices available in vanilla akasha for weapon-like veils are very specific regarding viable enchantments, and for a reason. It’s also why they have the hardcoded enhancement progression – to make the math come out right. Storm’s Fury also makes the bonus independent of chakra and essence invested. I operated for the stormbound under the premise of your changed system. And in your flexible system, the full BAB granted by the ability is overkill. Heck, even without this, the ability is very strong.

      (And this is not getting into how widely the storm powers oscillate in utility. Storm’s Fury is VASTLY superior in comparison with many other options within the class.)

      I 100% concur with the fact that boatman’s ferry is a good choice for taking with Shape Veil, mind you! But it still requires a feat. So is it worth getting, instead of other akashic feats? Less clear-cut. Having a feat or not having a feat is a pretty big deal.

      From your reply, I can discern three issues:
      1) You consider your revision of weapon/armor veils as inferior to the default veils, whereas I consider it to be vastly more powerful.
      2) You value reliable, infinite-duration AoE damage as significantly less potent than I do, which I *assume* balance decisions hailing from number-crunching (where the damage looks pretty solid, but not outstanding) versus actual in-game use. I might be wrong, but it does look like a good job at math versus seeing what it can do at the table. (Or a problem of playtesters not properly trying to minmax the fellow for actual table utility.)
      3) You feel unfairly treated, because I went into less detailed comparisons in akashic trinity’s review. For this, I thoroughly apologize. I do not want you to feel unfairly treated.

      To explain: I’ve playtested AT and Stormbound extensively. And yes, AT is strong. My tests made my table unanimously conclude that the stormbound is stronger, regardless of the weapon/armor veil change. Try running an optimized stormbound solo through a low- or mid-level dungeon, and then try doing the same with any class from AT. In a party, the phenomenon can be seen as well. I deliberately did not use akashic trinity in my comparisons, since the stormbound does not reference its content.

      Just to note: If your proposed weapon/armor veil engine is applied to the entire system, it breaks and clearly pushes the power-level of the entire system…by quite a lot, I might add – hence I reviewed this under the premise of you only intending it for the stormbound.

      To close: I’m, happy I now understand your position, though I don’t share your perspective. If the stormbound gets an update, let me know. As provided in the pdf, I still think that, if anything, I was lenient on the stormbound because it delivers something I love to see, because of how unique and interesting it is.

      Cheers and all the best!
      Thilo

      • Hal Kennette says:

        Most of those responses are fair enough, though I would argue that the strength of a class doing solo-adventuring isn’t a good measure of balance. I playtested Stormbound for a few months with numerous builds, most of them intentionally trying to break the game, and it didn’t feel incredibly overpowered in my play group. My playgroup may be more skilled at character creation than the average group however, I will admit.

        I don’t understand your belief about spending WBL on Veils to be stronger than getting the bonus from Essence natively. I playtested this *heavily* over the course of a few months, and didn’t come anywhere near the same conclusion.

        Let me provide an example:

        A 5th level Character has a WBL of 10,500 GP. They can spend up to half of this on a single weapon.

        A 5th level Stormbound has an essence cap of 3, and so does a 5th level Nexus.

        The stormbound takes their weapon veil and has it enhanced, giving it a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls.

        The nexus invests 4 essence in their weapon, granting them a +2 Enhancement Bonus at 5th level.

        Because the way weapon veils work, you will nearly always have them enhanced with their maximum allotment of Essence when attacking with them to get bonus damage/other effects, so the fact that the Nexus *has* to have their weapon invested to get the Enhancement bonus is sort of a moot point. The nexus also gets the benefit of being able to invest their WBL into other sources, such as added defenses or utility items.

        This gets even worse at higher levels. At 7th level, you have a WBL of 23,500 (maximum single item of 11,750). Both Stormbound and Nexus has an essence cap of 3 at this level, and both have access to the Enhance Capacity feat, which is generally a must-have on most akashic builds, and will generally be placed on the Veil that centers as the crux of a characters build. For a weapon-like veil user, this would be said veil.

        The stormbound enhances their weapon-veil to a +2 bonus (or a +1 bonus plus another effect) for 8,000 gp. They allocate 4 essence in it when making their attacks to gain maximum benefit from its damage. In this case, lets say +4d6 damage plus any other bind effects.

        The nexus purchases a Lesser Akashic Catalyst (8,000 GP) and attaches it to their weapon-like veil. They now invest 4 essence into it, and have an effect essence investment of 5. They now have a +5 Enhancement Bonus to attack and damage rolls, and deal +5d6 damage plus the bind effects. On top of this: Akashic Catalysts can be moved to other veils outside of combat, increasing utility. AND in combat, the Nexus can reinvest their essence in their weapon to change its special abilities. If they don’t need +5 Enhancement bonus at 7TH LEVEL for some reason (which essentially lets them bypass nearly all forms of DR as well), they could have any of the selection of weapon special abilities available to their weapon-like veil.

        Let’s apply this to actual veil examples using the above characters, using the most closely related weapon veils as possible. Lets say they both also have +22 Str (starting Str 20 plus a +2 Belt), and the Stormbound has selected the Fury of the Storm power.

        The Stormbound shapes Winter’s Somnolence and has it enhanced to +2, they also invest 4 essence in it. They have a +15 bonus to hit, and are dealing 2d4+4d6+8 damage on a successful hit.

        The Nexus shapes Reaper’s Scythe and applies their Lesser Akashic Catalyst to it, and also invest 4 essence in it. They have a +18 bonus to hit, and are dealing 2d4+5d8+11 damage on a successful hit. If the Nexus chooses not to spend their 8,000 gp on the Akashic Catalyst, they are *still* ahead of the Stormbound, dealing 2d4+4d8+10 damage with +17 to hit, and have 8,000 more GP to spend on items.

        I simply don’t understand the situations in which an (Enhance Weapon or Armor) veil will beat out a Weapon-like veil in power at any given level, except in extremely niche instances where you have spent a ton of money on enhancing your Weapon/Armor veil, and then don’t actually invest essence in them. ESPECIALLY considering that weapon-like veils often have some of the more useful weapon properties available to them. You do gain some small utility from being able to select from any of the available weapon propertiesfor an Enhanced veil, but so few of those properties are actually more powerful than simply breaking the games intended math in half that I don’t see them being a powerful enough tradeoff to justify it.

        • Thilo Graf says:

          I only mentioned solo-adventuring to drive home the point; the issue is, if anything, exacerbated by having a party to keep the stormbound out of harm’s way. The fact that it is very much possible, though, is not a good sign. And yes, we tried that.

          Re weapon veils vs. paying for enhancements: There are three points at play here:

          1) You compare a closed system at peak efficiency with an open system, which has, even if you go only by Paizo content, its serious issues in power-level consistence. If you add 3pp material, this is exacerbated.

          2) Your calculation is based on the assumption that you’ll always have maximum essence invested in your weapon, when this is something that, in my experience, can happen in game when going to the offense, sure, but which also cannot be reliably maintained in an actual play environment. See the essence invested point I made.

          3) You compare single-target weapon damage potential with single-target weapon damage potential, when the stormbound gets reliable AoE damage output plus terrain control in addition to the single weapon output, plus the open system.

          To state this clearly: I did not complain explicitly about all of this in the review, because I operated under the assumption of you wanting this system to apply to the stormbound only, to offset its reliable AoE-damage output, which is still escalating pretty swiftly with # of enemies faced. If you wanted the “enchant veils”-angle to apply universally (which is implied, since you don’t present this option as part of the class rules, but as part of the global akasha rules), that’d break the system; I gave you the benefit of the doubt here, though, assuming that you made this decision consciously. I still think it’s borderline when limited to the stormbound as a whole.

          Cheers!

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