Spheres Apocrypha: Nature Package – Air
This installment of the Spheres Apocrypha-series clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This pdf, as would be expected, does come with rules for the air package, which has 3 basic features – conjuring a breeze requires concentration and air, instantaneous gusts of wind, and finally, air purification, which works with dangerous vapours, but not in e.g. a vacuum – some sort of gas needs to be there. This is interesting in as much as it changes how deadly gasses can be in Pathfinder, offering an option that is pretty rare in the vanilla game from the get-go. As a minor nitpick: The subheaders for these are only italicized, when in the main book, they were also bolded. It should be noted that air manipulation becomes difficult when strong winds and weather effects abound, providing sample MSDs for different wind-strengths and clarifying that this doesn’t dispel weather effects. As another nitpick, there are a few spell-references that aren’t italicized properly.
As is to be expected, we get some updates for content: Imbue with Nature (Destroyer’s Handbook) can now yield the geomancing package and air blasts; if you have the Divination sphere, you may use Divine Elements to note the presence of breathable air, toxic gasses, etc.; the Nature Barrier from the Geomancer’s Handbook may be used to create mist/cloud barriers, and Zoetic Geomancy may make Geomancy-born air elementals (formatting slightly weird, but that’s just aesthetics). Finally, and I got a huge smile out of that, the Prodigy class from Champions of the Spheres gets an expansion for Imbue Sequence (Nature), allowing for AC-bonuses vs. ranged attacks. The pdf also includes a recap/summary of Nature Sight, differentiating between cloudsight, metalsight, etc., based on package. As an aside: It’d have been nice to see a wind warrior update.
The pdf also features 11 talents: Absorbing Inhalation (air, spirit), allows you to inhale harmlessly and completely smoke, mist, and similar gasses, with proper rules for inhaling magical gasses, and may hold your breath, keeping it inside; then, you can exhale the cloud in a massive 60 ft.-cone. While the talent accounts for the case of inhaling gaseous creatures, it, alas, does not state what happens when you exhale them, where they’re positioned, etc. Additionally, this lets you make small clouds pretty massive cones, and it doesn’t specify how this interacts with the duration, if any of the respective cloud-effect. So yeah, cool visuals, but flawed execution.
Air Ball, also tagged as (air, spirit), allows you to become basically a hovercraft character – while you can’t cross deep liquids with it, it makes tracking you harder. Air Geyser (air geomancing) flings a target into the air on a failed save. Air Leap (air) enhances your jumps (with the option to expend spell points); Air Support (air, Spirit) lets you temporarily increase or decrease movement speed for a spell point. Airlord (air) helps dealing with winds in severe weather. Buffeting Winds (air, geomancing) allows you to spend spell points as an immediate action to counter attacks, granting a deflection bonus to AC, miss chance vs. ranged attacks, and moderate fortification. Create Air (air, geomancing) does what it says on the tin, and so does Feather Fall. Steal Breath (air, geomancing) forces the target to hold their breath (double the number of rounds lost, and actions eliminate quite a few rounds of breath…). Problem: This is a concentration effect, and while Fortitude negates, it doesn’t state whether this ends the entirety of the effect, or just allows for one use of an ability that would require breath. I assume so, but yeah. Wind Blades (air, geomancing) is cool: It creates a cloud of winds that requires a Fortitude save or take slashing damage from movement in the area, with higher wind speeds increasing the damage caused.
The pdf also features the Whispering Wind (air, geomancing) advanced talent, which, as you might have expected, does pretty much what it says on the tin, delivering a short message within 1 mile per caster level.
Editing and formatting are okay on a formal and rules-language level. Considering the brevity of the pdf, there are a few more snafus than I expected. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, and the pdf has no artwork or bookmarks, but needs none at this length.
Derfael Oliveira delivers a pretty neat and inexpensive expansion for geomancers, one that adds a component I considered puzzling in its absence – I do like this pdf and think that the nature package is a great expansion for the sphere. On the other hand, the pdf does sport a couple of issues, and particularly the supremely cool, but flawed Absorbing Inhalation could use some clarification. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down; a mixed bag on the positive side of things.
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