Transcendent 10 – Feats of Offense – Spellcasting & Metamagic
The first offering released by Lost Spheres Publishing back in the day, and first installment of this series, clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, ¾ of a page blank, leaving us with 2 ¼ pages of content, offering, as the name implies, 10 new feats.
It should be noted that there’s a nice difference here that sets this apart from other feat-books: We actually get notes on usage of the feats for each of them, which can be really helpful. Okay, without further ado:
-Cumulative Spell (Metamagic): +1 spell level; choose one spell you know; each time the spell has been cast within 1 round within range of another casting, its DC increases by +1, up to the governing casting attribute bonus. While the wording is a bit rough here, this can be a godsend for blaster specialists, though the feat RAW is tied to a specific spell, which is a bit odd. Still, I can see this work for some campaigns and the DC-cap prevents warfare abuse.
-Sundry Spell (Metamagic): +1 spell level; Choose one spell that allows for a save. For each spell of a different school (!!) you cast before casting the spell you gain a +1 to the spell’s save DC, up to a +7. Brutal? Kinda, but here’s the catch: You must alternate schools to stack up the DC. No, you can’t just oscillate between two build-up spells. And honestly, for the build-up, this is actually interesting. Kudos for a truly interesting design here.
-Life Burn: Choose a number ranging from 1 up to the casting ability bonus. You may choose to add that number to spellcasting DCs and CL-checks with the next spell you cast. Spells modified with metamagic or those with a casting time of a full-round action or longer get a further +1, while quickened spells or swift action casts decrease the boost by 1. After completion of the spellcasting thus modified, you take a number of negative levels equal to the bonus you’ve chosen. If this would make negative levels exceed your character level, you need to make a Fort-save (I assume the triggering spell level’s spell save DC here, but clarification would be nice). On a failure, you’re reduced to negative hit points equal to the modified spell’s spell level and start dying; on a success, you instead become unconscious and take 1 point of Con damage for every negative level in excess of your level. Negative levels incurred fade at a rate of 1 per hour and you may not heal them magically. The bonus may not be applied to harmless effects. Okay, I like this, actually: High risk/reward…but the feat should have an immunity-override caveat for negative levels and a Charisma-substitution caveat.
-Hidden Potential: Okay, here we have a feat with narrative potential: Chosoe one spell from a spell list your character has access to, but which is one spell level higher than what you could usually cast. 1/day, you can choose to cast this spell. If you do, you gain negative levels equal to the spell’s level and if these exceed your character level, you must make a Fort-save (I assume, against the spell’s spell level’s DC, but clarification would be nice); on a failure, you drop to the spell’s level in negative hit points, dying. On a success, you “only” drop unconscious and take the spell’s level in Con damage. The negative levels incurred by the feat fade at a rate of 1 per hour and may explicitly not be cured magically. When you reach the selected spell’s level, you must choose it as the first spell you take, and a new spell is selected. Okay, so what happens once you gain access to 9th spell level? Another oversight: RAW, nothing prevents Con-less creatures like undead or constructs from taking this one. The negative levels should have an immunity-override and a Charisma-substitution caveat…but know what? As a person, I really love this feat, in spite of it not being perfect.
-Thanatotic Instinct: This one requires Hidden Potential. If reduced to negative hit points, you may activate Hidden potential as a free action, even if you have already used it.This is basically a desperate parting shot, considering that a failed save means you’ll be pretty much dead. Slightly weird: Hidden Potential’s effects can leave you on a successful save at more negative HP than what you had before. It’s a minor thing and easily enough to remedy, but yeah. Still: Adore this parting shot.
-Void Casting: Choose one spell that you had prepared, but currently may not cast. You can cast this spell once more, but gain one negative level per spell level upon completion of the casting. We have the same chassis as Life Burn, Hidden Potential, etc. here, which, alas, also means that the caveats mentioned before are missing here as well.
-Insinuating Spell (Metamagic): +3 spell levels; Choose a Ref-save prompting, damage-dealing spell; you change its school to Transmutation and make the damage internal changing save type to Fortitude. Energy resistance (erroneously called “elemental” here) is halved against such spells, but immunity still applies.
-Phantasmal Spell (Metamagic): +2 spell levels: Works pretty much like Insinuating Spell, with the exception that it can be applied to damage-dealing spells that call for Fort- or Ref-saves and converts them into Illusions with the phantasm subtype and the mind-affecting descriptor. As such, they are resisted with Will instead and obviously, quite a few creatures are immune there. To make up for that, energy damage bypasses resistances and immunities and becomes untyped, which I am not a big fan of, but which makes sense from a payoff standpoint. Minor quibble: feat erroneously self-references as Psychic Spell.
-Thanatotic Spell (Metamagic): +3 spell levels. Works analogue to the previous two feats; you choose a Ref-save based spell that deals damage, convert its school to Necromancy, the save of the spell to Fortitude and the energy to negative energy…and yes, this explicitly covers undead being healed. That black fireball not only hurt, it also healed the undead legions…
Editing and formatting are pretty impressive, considering that this was the freshman offering of Lost Spheres Publishing. While I noticed a minor name-hiccup and while the rules-language provided a couple of non-standard verbiage-cases, the integrity is there for the most part, which is honestly more than I can say for a LOT of other supplements. Layout adheres to a basic 2-column standard with subdued lines on the borders. The pdf has no interior artworks or bookmarks, but needs none at this length.
You know, Christen N. Sowards’ Lost Spheres Publishing flew honestly under my radar for quite a while. I only “discovered” the company relatively recently…and if this pdf (and the amazing Shadow Weaver class I’ve covered at the request of my patreons) is any indicator, I am actually in for a treat for once. You see, this pdf may not be perfect and sports a couple of instances where anti-abuse caveats are required…but it still managed to genuinely impress me. Not one of the feats herein is boring. I have not seen one of them done before in that manner. Their design, complexity and ambition bespeak a deep knowledge of not only how complex concepts can be juggled, but of what is actually cool from a storytelling perspective.
I have read a metric ton of feats, to the point where I am bored by most of them, by endless accumulations of bonuses and numerical escalations. The feats herein, in contrast, all have strong leitmotifs and ideas and manage to pursue them in rather unique ways. Is this slightly rougher than what I’d like it to be? Yes. But it is also more fun than I had with a feat-book in quite a while. Considering the freshman bonus, my final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform. If you can live with the aforementioned imperfections this has, then check it out – these are actually feats worth taking, ones that are interesting.
You can get these cool, high-concept feats here on OBS!