Transcendent 10 – Spells of Synergy – Elemental Exchanges
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, 1 /2 page blank, leaving us with 4.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Now, as before regarding the spell-centric installments of this series, we get an explanation of a core design tenet here, namely elemental balance. This should be no news for experienced players, but we do get a list of the 4 classic elements, with associated energy types and opposed elements and their energy types – so in the unlikely case that you are new to this, you’ll have the concept explained here. Once more witches don’t get these new spells.
All right, the first spell herein would be elemental duality, which clocks in at level 2 for alchemist, magus and sorc/wiz, level 3 for the druid. The spell allocates two opposing elements to two limbs: A limb may not share two such focal points. The caster may then launch energy (2d6, +1d6 for every 4 caster levels after 3rd, up to 5d6) as ranged touch attacks with Medium range , or add this damage to a melee attack executed with the limb chosen as the focus. Casting the spell includes executing an attack, btw. Okay, does this only work for unarmed/natural strikes? Or can it be combined with spellstrike? In the latter case, it represents a bit of an overkill, as far as I’m concerned. Elemental oscillation clocks in at 4th level for druid and summoner, 3rd for sorcerer and wizard and is interesting: You make a ranged touch attack: If you hit, the target suffers 1d6 per levels of the first element chosen, on the subsequent round the same amount from the opposing element. Breaking concentration or line of effect breaking ends this and the spell alternates between the damage types for its duration. This one is interesting: Damage is enough to make it viable, but not too high to make its added flexibility an issue. I like it.
The pdf proceeds to introduce us to Elemental reaction, which exists in two versions: The lesser one clocks in at level 5 for inqui/cle/oracle, 4 for druid/magus/sorc/wizard. It can be cast as an immediate action and allows you to basically copy a hostile (not healing cheesing) spell with an energy descriptor an enemy casts and target the enemy with it. While it specifies that the caster must be in the new area of effect of the spell (and thus covers touch etc.), the spell’s range could be misinterpreted as substituting that of the copied spell. In short, this could be a bit tighter in its rules. The spell can only affect spell levels of 3rd or lower…does that mean that you have to identify the spell being mimicked first or not? I assume no, but that makes casting it a bit of a guessing game. The greater version clocks in at level 9 for cleric/oracle and sorc/wizard, 8 for druids and 6 for magi/inquisitors; it can mimic spells of up to 7th level.
Oppositional echo is 3rd level for sorc/wizard and magus, 4th for the divine casters and is pretty cool: You copy an elemental spell of an allied caster and inverse the elements, targeting the same area/target. Like it! Opposition sheen is available at 4th spell level for cle/oracle, magus and sorc/wizard and represents an immediate action shield that can negate incoming elemental attacks – if you make your CL-check. This is dynamic, not 100% reliable AND also covers supernatural attacks…so yes, it can shield you, theoretically, versus that dragon breath…if you make the CL-check based on HD… I LOVE this. Even cooler, you get a short-lived defensive aura. Two thumbs up for this onne!
Reactive echo cascade clocks in at 9th spell level for the full casters. You copy a hostile elemental spell and rebuttal it with 3 versions of the same spell (!!) that use the other elements and energies. 5th level is, balance-wise, the maximum spell level you can affect thus. Really cool. Shared opposition clocks in at 3rd level for cle/oracle and magus, 2nd for druid and sorc/wiz. It requires a phyiscla bond with another spellcaster and assigns one element to each. Each spellcaster gets a reservoir of 2d6 energy damage dice, +1d6 per round. These may be used to enhance energy damage of the assigned element. Cool cooperative casting boost! Tormiand’s triad clocks in at 4th level for magi and sorc/wizards. This generates basically a triangle that can fire either fire, cold or electricity bolts as ranged touch attacks over 3 rounds, one bolt per round, or blast all of them at first round. Damage caps at 10d6 per bolt. While the spell is in effect, the caster suffers a penalty to Dex as well as minor energy resistance, depending on energy left. Interesting one. Tormiand’s tetrastrike would be the 6th level upgrade for the spell, instead covering all 4 base energy types and capping at 15d6 maximum damage per bolt.
The pdf also includes two new feats: Oppositional Might nets +1 DC when alternating between opposing elements with powers etc. Elemental Breach makes a target you hit with a melee attack that deals energy damage suffer a short-lived, minor penalty to saves versus that energy. Both feats are functional, but their rules-language could be tighter. It’s energy damage, not elemental damage, for example.
Editing and formatting are okay – bolding, italicization and the like hasn’t been implemented in a truly concise manner and there are a couple of instances where minor aspects or the rules-language are a bit wonky. However, at the same time, the pdf manages to get complex and difficult concepts represented in a tight manner, so yeah – flaws in the details, but the ambitious big picture stands., The pdf adheres to a 2-column full-color standard, has no interior artwork and no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.
Christen N. Sowards’ humble little book of elementalism spells is actually rather interesting and holds up pretty well. While not all spells are perfect, I found myself genuinely excited about some of them, and considering the amount of spells I’ve read, that means something. The formatting shortcomings are a tad bit grating, though. Still, while a bit rough around the edges, and while the bonus feats are somewhat sucky, this is still worth checking out. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.
You can get these spells here on OBS!