So, Lost Spheres Publishing, back in the day, began with the Transcendent 10-series. While these represent the early works of the company, the company flew under my radar for a long while, so it’s high time we took a look at the series, right? It should be noted that the company has evolved since then – reviews of more current books will hit sites soon as well. But how do these early works hold up against the test of time? Let’s find out!
One thing I really enjoy about this series would be the designer’s commentary that is provided for each respective piece of design – they help a GM and player to properly contextualize the content, which is particularly helpful for folks who don’t have a veteran’s level of system mastery. The pdf predates the ACG and OA, and as such, I will not complain about a lack of representation of the classes from these books in the spell-lists.
Anyways, this pdf is 8 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, ½ a page blank, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This installment of the series introduces a new feat-descriptor, with the eponymous (Heartbound) feats. Heartbound feats are akin to teamwork feats in that they require another character to work, but there is a crucial difference: The feats do NOT need to be the same. However, you do designate a Heartbound partner upon taking the feat, and said partner becomes important when it comes to triggering the effects of the feat.
All of the following feats are Heartbound feats, and as noted before, they come with design notes, elaborating the respective design decisions.
-All’s Fair: When you see your love harmed, which is defined as taking damage, ability damage (oddly, not drain) or incur a negative condition as part of the actions of an enemy, your attacks may target the foe as though he was flatfooted in the following round. This oversight regarding drain btw. extends to all feats that adhere to this formula of harm. The sneak attack prerequisite is nice, and I enjoy where this feat attempts to go. There are a few rough spots here, though: “The following round” is a weird duration for the trigger; “until the end of your next turn” would make more sense. Additionally, I think that the feat would make more sense when the “being treated as flatfooted” would only work in the context of sneak attacks to avoid cheesing. Other than that, this, idea-wise, represents a good idea to render sneak attack more feasible and enhance teamwork.
-Heart’s Vengeance: Upon seeing your love harmed, you increase (not gain – important distinction) morale bonuses to atk and damage by +1, which increases to +2 at 11th level. Compared to the first feat, this may well be a bit weak, as its utility partially depends on how you read the “increase” component. That being said, it is pretty evident that gaining the bonus if you don’t currently have a morale bonus, is what’s intended here, and the GM advice does clear up this minor ambiguity. Still, I’d have preferred that to be explicitly stated in the rules-text.
-Inspiring Glance: Aid another the partner as a swift action with a range of 30 ft., usable up to Cha-mod times per day. Here, the benefit should be increased to account for Pathfinder’s increased power-level since the release of the pdf.
-Love’s Resolve: This one is inspired. When witnessing your love come to harm and prevented from acting due to an ongoing effect from a failed save, you get an immediate action rereoll. Con be used Con- or Wis-mod times per day. This is so iconic, so present in media etc., that it frankly baffles me why it hasn’t been a more central part of the game. Definite winner here!
-Magic Entwined: Beneficial spell effects you cast on the partner are resolved at +4 CL. Potent, but cool. Other creatures get the regular spell effects.
-Polyamorous: May be taken more than once; lets you select +1 heartbound partner.
-Songs of the Heart: Morale bonuses you grant your partner are increased by +1 and last for 1 round longer, but only for the partner. Cool.
-Surge of Passion: Choose either Charisma or Constitution. That ability score modifier times per day, as an immediate action, you can grant yourself 4 temporary hit points er heartbound feat you possess, including this one.
-Wordless Bond: Nets you basically telepathy with your partner, with a range of 10 ft. per heartbound feat you have. Nice.
There is one feat herein, which is not a heartbound feat:
-Heartbinding Spell (Metamagic): Creatures affected by a mind-influencing spell with this feat added are considered to be Heartbound partners; cost +1 spell level. This one is really cool regarding its ramifications, etc..
The pdf also sports a new spell as bonus content: Heartbound call is a 1st level immediate action spell that lasts for days and conveys a general sense of direction for your partner to find you, as well as a bonus to Diplomacy, Sense Motive and Survival to find you. We also receive a new psionic power, call partner, which is basically the psionic version of the spell, with 2 augments, one for increased bonuses, and one for a 4 power point correspond.
Editing and formatting are solid, if not perfect. There are some minor deviations in rules-verbiage and a few hiccups, but as a whole, I have considerably enjoyed this. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard with read highlights and a subdued border. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.
Christen N. Sowards’ heartbound feats are an enjoyable concept. The line of sight requirement is interesting, and the benefits are, in a couple of cases, significant enough to warrant taking these feats. Taking them also represents a roleplaying opportunity, and such blending of flavor and mechanics is something I generally really enjoy. Now, not all feats are gold or have aged too well, but the pdf still offers plenty of inspiring material that allows you to depict the behavior of power-couples throughout fantasy media at the table. This may not be a perfect offering, but if the concept intrigues you, it’s worth checking out. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, a mixed bag on the positive side of things, but I can’t round up for it.
You can get these feats here on OBS!