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, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, ½ a page blank, leaving us with 4.5 pages of content. A minor complaint will be evident from a formatting perspective from the get-go: The lines like “Range” etc. have not been bolded.
Design-wise, the spells herein focus on a reallocation of functions, with the stated and explicit design-goal of making multiclass options and theurgic interactions more viable. Also helpful for newer players, the pdf explains the term “ally” to also refer to the caster and what a bonded companion constitutes.
Now, let’s take a look at these spells, shall we?
–Anoint Mystic Bond (Cle/oracle 3, druid 3, inqui 2): This one is interesting, in that it targets an arcane caster and the bonded companion. Both master and companion get luck bonuses to atk, weapon damage and Str-based checks. Interesting: Smaller sized companions increase the bonus and both caster and companion get access to a combat or teamwork feat while the spell lasts, but the caster needs to have such a feat. Additionally, the companion must have an open headband or head magic item slot and item restrictions of eidolon/summoner are retained. The slot prevents the spell from being utterly OP for summoners and the size-caveat makes the option to send fragile familiars into the fray seem more rewarding. All in all, an interesting buff.
–Blood of the Gods (Cle/oracle 2, inqui 2, druid 3): This one can only target a spontaneous arcane spellcaster – here, we can see an effect of aging – the target-line should probably specify that the caster needs to have the bloodline class feature. You choose a domain and for the duration, the arcane caster can cast domain spells of the selected domain as though they were spells known, but loses access to the bloodline spells…but here’s the catch: Only while you maintain contact with the target! The story-implications of enslaved sorcerers are great and I found myself enjoying this one.
-Bridge of Life (bard/magus/sorc/wiz/witch 5): Can be cast as a swift action and targets a divine spellcaster and a wounded ally in close range, allowing the divine caster to cast healing spells at range to the target, though each cast decreases the duration of the spell. I LOVE this – the duration decrease is elegant; the action required is important and the spell-level appropriate.
–Deconstructive Infusion (bard/magus/Sorc/wiz 5): This is another really interesting spell, as it targets a spell effect and an allied positive energy channeler. The spell duplicates dispel magic (not italicized properly in the text) and grants bonus dice to channel energy uses of the channeler. If the granted bonus dice exceed the channel dice, the channeler may instead gain an additional channel energy use, which are retained, up to the maximum. Otherwise, these bonus dice must be used within 1 round/level. This is SO ELEGANT. The spell-level-based mechanic prevents cheesing via cantrips etc.
–Energy Channeling Lens (bard/magus/sorc/wiz 2): This one conjures a lens that can only be damaged by physical attacks. The lens may be moved by 30 feet per round, but does not specify an action for doing so. The lens may either be positive or negative energy and must be placed on one side of the cleric channeling energy. Positive energy lenses may be attuned to acid or fire, negative energy lenses to “lightning or cold” – that should be electricity. Every 1d6 channeled into the lens is converted into 2d6 of the chosen energy type, but before you complain here, the area of effect is modified: The lens generates a 5-foot wide line that is 10 ft. per channel die long. In spite of the minor hiccups, an inspired little spell.
–Resplendent Mercy (bard/wiz/sorc/witch 2): This targets a character with access to mercies and makes the next use not count to the daily maximum, with a further upgrade once the character reaches 10th CL.
–Sacred Censure (cle/oracle/inqui 2, druid 3): Mutual lockdown – target an arcane spellcaster; if he fails the save, neither he nor the divine caster may cast spells. And yes, the cleric may not use SPs or trigger spell-completion items either. I love this one. It’s really strong, but it is a godsend (haha) for grittier campaigns where “the church” is hunting those practitioners of black magic.
–Spell Sheathe (inqui/pala/ranger 2): Swift action cast targeting your weapon, you may ready the weapon to contain the power of the next spell an allied arcane caster casts while touching the weapon. This makes the weapon behave as spell storing sans level cap. Personally, I think that implementing a scaling mechanism regarding maximum spell levels here would have made sense.
-Unleashed Power (cler/oracle/inqui 2, druid 3): This one targets an allied prepared spellcaster, who gains the ability to 1/round, as a standard action, convert spells into rays that deal untyped damage – 2d6 per spell level. I am never a fan of untyped damage, but I do like that the converted spell level determines the range, which prevents mundane ranged weaponry from being outclassed.
-Vision of Glory (bard 3, sorc/wiz/witch 4): Targets caster and a divine spellcaster with at least one domain. Grasping the head of your ally, you open their eyes to the truths of deities/nature – the character gains access to a domain of his belief and prepared domain spells may be used to spontaneously cast spells from the revealed domain. Minor complaint here: This should specify that the spells need to have the same level. Domain powers exchange, including limited use tricks, is properly depicted, though. Passive abilities are not provided.
The final page contains two bonus feats:
-Eldritch Smite: When activating smite evil, you can, as a free action, sacrifice an arcane spell, which increases the damage of the first attack vs. the smite target by 2d6 per level of the spell sacrificed. This only affects evil targets. The arcane caster/pala-combo isn’t too strong, so I can live with the damage increase here.
-Focal Mage: While you have a channel energy use left and hold the divine focus/holy symbol, you gain +1 sacred bonus to CL for arcane spells. As a swift action, you may expend a channel energy use to gain a sacred bonus to CL equal to the channel dice, but only for the next arcane spell cast. This is pretty cool, but should NOT be used in conjunction with a regular theurgic class option – if you have full progression for both divine and arcane spells, this becomes very broken very fast.
Editing and formatting are good on a formal level – a few components are capitalized that shouldn’t be and I noticed similar minor hiccups like a doubled “range” word, but that’s about it. Rules-language deserves being applauded – the rules are, for the most part, extremely tight and precise, in spite of the high level of difficulty of the operations executed. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn’t need them.
Christen N. Sowards continues to impress here – I expected something much simpler and blander when opening this pdf. This humble pdf provides a quality of design you seldom get to see – the spells intricately weave teamwork options for the group to use, often tapping into truly innovative and intriguing ways in which they are balanced. While not all spells are perfect, those that are really excited me like few spells these days manage to do, making me want to integrate them into my campaign right away. Heck, some even actually managed to inspire some ideas for cults, traditions, etc. While the formal rough patches prevent me from rating this the full 5 stars, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down – and this is one of the rare cases where a pdf still gets my seal of approval, in spite of some formal hiccups. After having read literally thousands of spells, this still stands out. So yeah, very much recommended!
You can get these surprisingly inspiring spells here on OBS!