The Worldwalker’s Handbook
The final Spheres of Power expansion-book clocks in at 31 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This review was moved up in my reviewing queue because all the other Spheres of Power expansions were requested, and I’m somewhat OCD and can’t stand not having covered the last one. Please don’t use that against me. ;P
We begin this supplement with 4 new archetypes, the first of which would be the Broadcast Blade for the mageknight class, who is locked into the Warp sphere as the 1st level magic talent, unless they already have it. Pretty big deal: The mystic combat at 2nd level is replaced alongside 4th and 8th level’s bonus feats in favor of the broadcast ability. This ability lets the character use a standard action to twist space and make a single melee attack against an AoE, with variables of the attack applying to all targets in the area; at 11th level, this ability allows for the execution of two such strikes as a full-round action. This ability has a synergy with the Pouncing teleport basic talent – so let’s examine that one, shall we?
Pouncing Teleport lets you spend a spell point to increase the casting time of teleport by one step in order to make a single melee attack after successfully teleporting. Additionally, you can spend an additional spell point to make a full attack or take an attack action instead of an attack – this is particularly important in conjunction with Spheres of Might, where attack action are much more valuable than attacks. This talent would be super brutal, were it not for it’s a) cost and b) the fact that it explicitly states that it may not be used in conjunction with contingencies or other effects that reduce the casting time of teleport. As a nitpick: Having the step-increases spelled out would have been nice, but with sufficient system mastery, this is a non-issue. But back to the archetype!
Broadcast’s shapes available for attacks are unlocked over the levels – at 2nd level, the character can attack in a “lance shape – i.e. a line of up to 10 ft., +5 ft. at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter; 4th level unlocks the scythe shape, which is represented by 5 contiguous squares within reach, with an additional square unlocked at 10th level and every 5 levels thereafter. 8th level unlocks the axe shape, which is a 10-ft. cone, +5 ft. at 20th level and every 10 levels thereafter. I really like this engine! The action economy limitations and angle is really neat! 3rd level nets the ability to use teleport as a swift action when only teleporting short-range and only herself, but at the cost of a spell point. The range increases every 4 levels thereafter by +5 ft., with the ability replacing stalwart. The capstone eliminates the spell point cost, and allows for two strikes against targets as a standard action with broadcast. 6 mystic combats are included, which feature getting Pouncing Teleport as a bonus magic talent and the option to take +2 to atk, -2 to AC; sharing shield bonuses scaling dodge bonus after teleport, excluding squares from broadcast – some nice ones here. At 11th level, the mystic combat that allows for the use of different broadcast shapes when attacking twice with it, is well-situated. Finally, the mystic combat may grant Spatial Reach, using character level as caster level – this is a new basic magic talent with the (Space) tag that increases movement speed by +10 ft, and also enhances natural reach by +10 ft., though this increased reach is not taken into account for the purpose of threatening targets. These two benefits increase by +5 ft. every 5 caster levels attained, and the effect lasts as long as concentration is maintained, or 1 minute per caster level for 1 spell point. The author suggests for the archetype the Personal Warp drawback – an assessment with which I concur. Impressive beast – I like how it plays!
The Dimension shifter archetype for the, big surprise there, shifter class (the SoP one) replaces Handle Animal with knowledge (planes) and gains Blink as a bonus magic talent, using shifter level for caster level if it is higher. This replaces wild empathy. Blink is a new (space) basic magic talent, and its effects may be applied ina beneficial or detrimental manner. As a benefit, the talent nets an effect similar to concealment (20% miss chance, +5% per 3 caster levels, maximum 50%); as a detrimental effect, this affects the target’s attacks as though they were all executed against the selfsame miss chance, with a Will save to negate. Force effects ignore this miss chance. Since the tag makes this require a standard action and touch, and since the miss chances don’t stack, I’m good with this.
In lieu of quick transformation, we have the synergy of shapeshifting with personal-only Blink (not properly capitalized), which may both be maintained with the same concentration check; this extends to the option to spend 1 spell point to maintain the effect sans concentrating on it. Instead of endurance, we have the means to see and hear ethereal creatures within 30-ft., which is a pretty cool angle. Lingering transformation is replaced with Dive at 4th level – for a spell point, the dimension shifter may take a special move action called “dive” – 30 ft., and the dive can move through solid objects and floors, but not force effects or those that would block ethereal or incorporeal movement; being trapped inside such an object, as always, causes damage. 17th level allows for longer movement as a full-round action, and provides synergy with a follow-up ability of dive, see below.
Steal language is lost in favor of ghostly touch, which lets the character interact with incorporeal and ethereal targets as though they were solid, making natural attacks count as magical. She also gets natural armor to AC vs. the touch attacks of incorporeal creatures. Extended transformation is replaced at 9th level with the submerge ability, which allows the dimension shifter to remain in solid objects when diving for a limited amount of time. This is a surprisingly complex and fun tool that I genuinely haven’t seen so far – it’s potent in the hands of a clever player in just the right ways. Kudos!
Instead of boundless communication, we have ghost claws, which lets the dimension shifter 1/turn resolve a natural attack as a touch attack while blinking; for one spell point, the character may resolve all of them as touch attacks until the start of her next turn. This is very strong, but limited and, at 11th level, properly placed. 15th level provides the ghostly presence ability, which lets the deimsnion shifter spend a spell point as an immediate action while blinking to halve all damage, save that sourced from incorporeal targets, ghost touch weapons (formatting missing) and force effects. Cool: She can also become weightless as a free or immediate action (kudos for catching that!); 20th level delimits dive and eliminates the spell point cost, as well as the limitation on time spent in objects etc. – this archetype is another winner as far as I’m concerned. The dive ability requires an experienced GM to avoid breaking dungeons etc., but personally? Love this! It’s an archetype engineered to reward clever players.
The drifting lotus would be an unchained monk archetype, who replaces Knowledge (history) and Ride with knowledge (arcana) and Knowledge (planes), and the class is proficient with simple weapons and light armor and begins play with a martial tradition, if this is the first level. The archetype is a Low-Caster using Wisdom as governing ability modifier (erroneously called “casting stat modifier” here), and replaces stunning fist with this. The archetype has a spell pool of class level + casting ability modifier. Additionally, the archetype may spend spell points as ki points for the purpose of ki powers, and as long as she has a spell point, she may execute ki strikes – i.e. treat her unarmed attacks as progressively better substances to bypass DR – these have been btw. listed again for your convenience. ´Before you become worried – this replaces ki pool, so no, the archetype has not just blown a limited resource out of proportions. Instead of a monk’s regular unarmed strike, we have access to the Open Hand sphere and a bonus combat talent, and flurry of blows is replaced with the Warp sphere and Pouncing Teleport, as well as the Personal Warp drawback. Minor nitpick – the chassis does not specify the type of practitioner the drifting lotus counts as. Why is this minor? Well, for one, Spheres of Might defaults to Wisdom as practitioner modifier if not stated otherwise, where relevant; secondly, the archetype has no combat talent progression. This means that it behaves as a kind of archetype that is simulating aspects of the Spheres of Might system without being fully part of it. I can get behind that, but for purposes of future-proofing, I’d have preferred this to be more explicitly integrated in the system.
Oh well, in lieu of style strike, we have the lotus style ability – 1/turn after successfully using teleport, the archetype gains the effects of a single lotus style. 9th level and every 4 levels thereafter yield an additional one, and starting at 15th level, two benefits may be gained from a single one, or two parallel ones from two teleports – kudos for catching the latter! 8 such lotus styles to choose from have been included, and feature, among other things, the ability to be in two places at once (with all the risks and rewards that may entail), add a second, ultra-short range teleport (no enhanced with any Warp talents), controlled falling/gliding/hovering, immediate action pursuit, manipulating the target’s momentum to bull rush them or a defensive ability that may render targets sickened. Interesting!
We also receive the dreamwalker hedgewitch tradition, which nets Dreamspace as a tradition benefit. – this is a (Dual Sphere) feat for Mind and Warp introduced herein, and we need to talk about it for the tradition to make any sense. The feat grants you the ability to project your mind into a quasi-real space while asleep – the dreamspace. This is just a 10-ft. cube (+10 feet every 4 character levels, with arrangement determined upon gaining the level), and you get to determine ambient light, temperature and cosmetics anew when entering this dreamspace, or as a standard action. Since unconscious thought plays a role, the character has no perfect control over the dreamspace per se; the area may hold up to heavy load unattended objects, which vanish from reality while held in your dreamspace. Here’s the issue – what happens to the items stored if you die? You can leave them RAW in the dreamspace, and they don’t necessarily return to real life, since this lacks the death caveat that e.g. Extradimensional Storage has. So gather round all those pesky artifacts and cursed items and have them die with the dreamers. Pretty sure that this was not intended, as the primary function of the feat is freeing time for crafting, research, training, etc.
Anyhow, back to the tradition. The tradition power allows you to spend a spell point to merge your dreamspace with another creature’s dreams, which requires the target being asleep and some sort of sympathetic connection; the target gets a save to resist, and you can freely disconnect. If the target can be touched, the ability does not have the cost. 5th level lets you do this merger, causing the target to fall asleep, on a failed save 8and they may repeat the save on subsequent rounds) – furthermore, this is balanced by a hex-caveat. 13th level allows for the creation of a mass dreamspace of a connected group. We have 5 tradition secrets that allow for the dabbling in dreamwalking, a more efficient sleep-substitute, larger dreamspaces, affecting more targets at one time and full control over dreamspace locale cosmetics. The tradition features two grand secrets – one allows you to teleport to the target, and one nets you limited control over subjective time in dreamspace – both are pretty potent and as such bear their classification as analogues to advanced talents, explicitly spelled out, rather well. The tradition mastery eliminates the spell point cost for merging dreamspaces with other creature’s dreams. Beyond this tradition, we have two hedgewitch secrets – one for dabbling in dreamwalking, and one that allows you to create a poppet as a sympathetic link to a creature, regardless of distance, with casting ability modifier limiting the amount of poppets you can have at a given time. The grand secret presented allows you to gain an untyped magic item slot.
Armorists update Extradimensional Storage, which may now be taken twice. 4 mageknight mystic combats are included. (Their header-formatting differs slightly from how these are usually presented, but here, this actually enhances the ease with which this can be read, so I’m good with the choice.) – Collapse armor lets you treat any armor as collapsible (nor properly formatted), save that you can collapse or recall it as a swift action – as a free action for a spell point. Collapsible is btw. a new +1,000 GP special property that lets you collapse armor down to a single piece, such as a gauntlet or the like, with negligible weight, which is pretty cool! Ritual tracker lets you track by mystic signs instead of tracks – Spellcraft instead of Survival, and you may do so to track swimming and flying creatures and even those using trackless step, and yes, even teleports. Nice! Veil piercer lets you freely touch incorporeal and ethereal targets and have your attacks count as magical for this purpose – and this does not halve damage. Basically, this one is an improved version of ghost touch that really lets you destroy such targets. Finally, there would be hunter’s mark, which requires the marked ability gained at 7th level, and lets you sense the direction and distance of marked targets, and you may teleport to them for one spell point – formatting missing.
5 different rogue talents complement this section – here, we have Hidden Space, which is a tweak on Extradimensional Storage as an SP; it also may be taken twice. What? Yep. The magic talent it is based on has been updated; it may now be taken twice, and taking it a second time increases the weight limit, and allows you to retrieve objects as a move action, which also may be used to remove or don an item. A similar update has btw. been applied to Extradimensional Room, which allows you to now bar the room. The rogue talent Hidden Space may be taken twice to reflect the changes made to Extradimensional Storage. Now you see it, the follow-up rogue talent, allows for even quicker object retrieval, and allows you to use this in conjunction with Sleight of Hands. Speaking of which – the skill, steal maneuvers and manipulating objects can benefit from a reach-increase, which scales with class levels attained. Better slipping through creases and the like may also be found. Finally, there’s another Hidden Space follow-up, which allows you to dump loose items to generate difficult terrain and spill liquids etc., provided you have them stored inside the Extradimensional Space. Nice potential here!
The pdf contains 18 basic magic talents, not counting aforementioned updates, and we’ve covered a few of them already, so let’s see what the rest does! Let’s start with the untagged talents, shall we? Here, we have Imbue Teleport, which is a gamechanger – instead of instantly having the effects of teleport when touching a target, the target gets the ability to teleport themselves once, using the caster’s stats to determine variables – the target may only teleport themselves, and an imbued teleport only works for 1 hour per caster level, or until used. A single caster may only have one such imbued teleport in effect at a given time, plus another one at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. This is a great talent in every way – for specific campaigns. It allows for basically low-level contingency, and makes heists, security, kidnappings and the like all more complex and pretty hardcore, courtesy of the lack of minimum levels required. It is not broken per se, but it does radically alter some assumptions on how a given fantasy world operates, ones that are usually restricted to high-level wizard options, so implementing this talent should be carefully considered by the GM. Isoport lets you manipulate orientation and velocity of targets affected by teleport, allowing you to turn charges or running beings, cancel falling, etc. – this typically requires, obviously, a readied action; as swift action, you may alter targets thus without using teleport, and you may spend a spell point to use this talent as an immediate action; with Unwilling Teleport, you can affect unwilling targets as well.
Ranged Bend extends the range in which targets may be affected by (space) talents from touch to close range, with each additional taking of the talent increasing range by 1 step. Recall lets you increase casting time of teleport by one step before applying it to have the target, sans action, decide to return to the recall point, provided it is within medium range. This lasts for 1 round per caster level or until used. This RAW can be used with imbue Teleport, which is very potent; I’d strongly advise in favor of requiring at least some action (immediate or swift) to enable the recall. Segmented Warp lets you split a teleport in two for a spell point, with only one action between them, and the second teleport may not require an action to cast, but does provoke an AoO. The split teleports share the original’s maximum distance, which may be freely distributed between the two. See, this one? This is cool. Warping Strike lets you make a single weapon attack as a standard action, and if the target is damaged, you may apply a (space) talent or teleport as part of the same action. This may be used in conjunction with Spell Attack and, if available, with Unwilling teleport to affect unwilling targets. The talent should specify that it can only apply teleport or (space) talents that did not have their casting increased beyond a standard action to avoid obvious loopholes.
Beyond those we’ve already mentioned, we also have a selection of (space) talents here: Avert makes attackers require to have to make a Will-save or miss, requiring usually a readied action, or it can be used as an immediate action for 1 spell point; very cool angle: When using total defense, you can do that sans paying a spell point. Nice! Create Gap lets you create temporary holes in structures and accounts for targets potentially falling through, Again, awesome. Dimension Pierce lets you designate targets as capable of interacting with incorporeal and ethereal targets, and Distort Size allows you to modify the space occupied by a creature, which is an incredibly cool rules operation that I haven’t seen before. Flex Space allows you to create special difficult terrain, which even allows you to further enhance the costs of difficult terrain, which once more, is a genuinely exciting trick! Kudos! Fluctuate lets you keep teleporting the target short distances for a spell point, and may make this a duration effect. Looped Space manages to actually depict the notion of targets in a looped space moving according to the paradigms your whims have set for the space, as if trapping them in a möbius strip. Warp Link lets you establish a link to a target, knowing distance and the like. Since this doesn’t teleport, Unwilling Teleport is not required. Mostly interesting for hunter-style characters and those using Teleport Beacons. Wormhole, finally, creates basically a portal.
The book contains 5 advanced talents – these include Enduring Portal (self-explanatory); Mass Teleport also does pretty much what it says on the tin, and the same goes for Teleport Structure, though the latter btw. also works for vehicles. Store Structure nets you basically the amped up version of Extradimensional Storage, allowing you to ignore weight etc. for spell points. Warp Manipulator lets you create a dimensional anchor as a failsafe for teleportation effects as an immediate action, and also redirect it. Classic! These are all well-situated in the advanced talent chapter. The pdf also features two incantations – the 6th level The River Returns lets rivers be linked – and the concept is actually glorious. I can picture a whole, unique campaign setting inspired by this incantation! The Motion Archival is a 4th level incantation puts an object or creature in th Ancestral Repository, to be looked after by the place’s guardians – basically a cool take on exile/dealing with villains-. Once more, awesome!
The pdf also features 12 feats. Companion Teleport lets you teleport familiars, companions, etc. along, and no, it can’t be cheesed with ranged Teleport. Cosmologist lets you add traits to the Create Demiplane, even if you don’t meet the sphere-prerequisites. Dimensional Archer and Dimensional Athlete would be two (Champion) feats – the former lets you fire shots that have a chance of preventing teleport, an effect to combine reload and teleport, and a means to have your ammunition bypass cover, but not concealment, by bending space – the two special shots cost a spell point. Like it! The second feats lets you apply (motion) talents to teleports – and thankfully, it does get right that teleportation should be treated as its own mode of movement. It’s already potent enough. Divining Beacon (Dual Sphere) makes your Teleport Beacons also grant you some idea and act as potential scrying sensors for divine. Flash Warp (Dual Sphere) provides glow and teleport synergy, and Stasis Storage, the final (Dual Sphere) feat lets you send your Extradimensional Storage beyond time – this can save creatures, maintain the existence of things falling apart, etc. World In Miniature is another feat building on the Extradimensional… talents, with 6 different types of possible world, based on geomancing. Pretty sure that this should be (Dual Sphere) as well, and the “Benefit”-line’s header isn’t bolded. Speaking of which – also pretty sure that Extradimensional Shadow should be a (Dual Sphere) feat – it blends Dark and Warp, fusing Shadow Stash and Extradimensional Storage, which can result in some seriously cool tricks. Jump Scare lets you Intimidate after teleports. Skillful Disappearance is pretty cool and has a couple of additional benefits if you have sufficient ranks in various skills, allowing you to synergize Disguise, Stealth and Intimidate etc. with your teleports. Like it.
The book also contains 5 nice magic traits, and 4 sphere-specific drawbacks – liked them all. 5 alternate racial traits are provided (aasimar, changeling, dwarf, fetchling, tiefling). Beyond the previously mentioned one, we have another new magic weapon property, phasic, priced at +2, which allows your weapon to bypass a single object’s cover, with parameters and sight-interaction duly notes. Well-priced. 8 specific magic items are provided. Bottomless Flasks can hold up to 20 gallons; dashing cloaks have charges that allow you to teleport – the cost for using it is contingent on the activation action. Keyhome can be used to lock up an extradimensional space. Patch Hole is basically a portable Create gap. Pockets of holding can hold small amounts of objects. Storage spheres come in 7 categories – they can hold vehicles or structures, and the larger the target is, the better/more expensive the sphere must be. Like it! Twin caskets are great for smugglers, allowing for contents to be switched. Finally, waystones act pretty much as what you’d think – Warp-users can invest spell points in them to return there.
Editing and formatting on a formal level, are good, but not perfect – I noticed a couple of hiccups particularly among the formatting components. On a rules-language level, the pdf generally manages to reach pretty impressive heights, but also, alas, has a few of components that need either a whack with the nerf-bat and a few instances where minor clarifications would be in order. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, with interior artwork featuring mostly stock art with a few pieces I hadn’t seen before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Amber Underwood has managed to write a furious finale for the Spheres of Power-Expansion Handbooks. The Warp sphere isn’t easy to write for, and probably only rivaled by Time and Illusion in complexity, and what has come out of the design here? It is AWESOME. This is easily my favorite crunch-book penned by Amber Underwood so far, featuring a wide array of options that genuinely manage to be NOVEL. I know, after all this time? It’s one huge feat! Moreover, the supplement has succeeded in providing several compelling options that open up whole new vistas of storytelling, that could inspire whole civilizations and settings! While full implementation of the content herein requires an experienced GM (or prior vetting of content), I can’t help but be utterly enamored by this one. Were it not for the glitches (which don’t break the content), this’d be one of the best Spheres-handbooks released so far. Even with the minor hiccups within, this should be considered to be a must-own for all fans of Spheres of Power. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars,, rounded down – but this still does receive my seal of approval for its amazing design paradigms and daring to go beyond the usual.
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