Spheres of Power is an alternative magic system that can be used alongside the standard magic system or may completely replace it, and like many optional systems is easily adapted to the third edition of the world’s oldest roleplaying game, as well as many other table-top RPGs.
For many, magic is the heart of the fantasy roleplaying experience. It’s what gives a setting its appeal, the heroes their power, and the villains their terrifying capacity for destruction. As such, the rules and capacities of magic determine what kinds of stories can be told—after all, a world where magic is reliable and divided between arcane and divine sources is different from one where magic is risky and only wielded by a select few. Likewise, a magic user who can cross dimensions at will has a very different adventuring career than one who must use a horse to travel, even at the heights of his power.
This section covers the basic rules for the Spheres of Power system. Rather than gaining spells, casters choose areas of magic (spheres) they will possess mastery over, and use magic talents to further refine, empower, and develop their magical skill. This section also covers the basics for working the spheres, including caster level (the measure of a caster’s raw power, akin to the way Base Attack Bonus measures a character’s martial prowess), Magic Skill Bonus and Magic Skill Defense (a number similar to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game’s caster level, which is used for opposed checks, overcoming spell resistance, and making concentration checks), as well as rules for how these systems work when mixed with the more-familiar spell system from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game’s core magic system.
Eleven base classes and one prestige class give players and GMs a series of options designed from the ground up for use with the Spheres of Power system.
Armorist: The armorist binds weapons and armor to her service, creating items of vast power to fit her needs. With little need for outside equipment, an armorist can temporarily create weapons and armor for her allies and summon powerful equipment onto her own body.
Elementalist: A master of destructive magic, the elementalist can summon and control raw power in a variety of forms and can bring death to his enemies through fire, ice, lightning, and other ways.
Eliciter: Few creatures are as adept at manipulating minds as an eliciter, who can manipulate a creature’s emotions to both empower and enslave.
Fey Adept: The secret of the Fey is the mastery of illusion magic to the point of crafting reality, and the fey adepts are their mortal students. A fey adept manipulates perception and reality to a startling degree, using illusions to accomplish tangible effects.
Hedgewitch: No two hedgewitches are exactly alike, as this class excels at mixing and matching the powers of other classes through the use of its traditions. A hedgewitch could be a master of herbal magic, a dealer in forbidden arts, a charlatan, or all of the above.
Incanter: The undisputed master of magic, the incanter gains more magic talents than any other class, and is perfect for those who enjoy power and versatility in their casters.
Mageknight: When a warrior seeks to increase their power through magic, they often choose the path of the mageknight. Mageknights combine weapons and spheres to become a deadly force on the battlefield.
Shifter: Shifters use their magic to manipulate their bodies, ever-changing to suit their needs and overcome challenges. Shifters take on a variety of forms until few are sure which is their real one, if there even is such a thing.
Soul Weaver: Masters of both life and death, soul weavers are mediums, healers, necromancers, and summoners of spirits and shades. A soul weaver may either bless or curse the living and can enact powerful magic on those who fall under their sway.
Symbiat: Symbiats are masters of telepathy and telekinetics, using psionic magic to accomplish impressive feats. Symbiats use their power with a level of detail and finesse no other caster can copy, pushing their bodies to inhuman extremes or reading their opponent’s mind to stay one step ahead of its movements.
Thaumaturge: There are those who seek power down forbidden or unsafe paths, risking their bodies and souls to lift their magic to heights few would dare to tread. These are thaumaturges, and few can match their raw magical might.
Bokor: The bokor is a prestige class that combines the core Pathfinder spell system with the this system sphere system, representing those casters willing to study magic in all of its forms.
This section concludes with a series of archetypes designed to adapt existing core classes to the Spheres of Power system.
This section covers a series of optional magic rules, which both players and GMs can use to increase the scope of their adventures. This includes magic such as resurrection, long-distance teleportation, planar binding, and other magical feats that, depending on play style, may or may not become part of any given campaign. This magic is divided into four systems for ease of use:
Advanced Talents: These abilities function similarly to standard magic talents, but they have strict requirements and can greatly increase the scope of a base sphere’s power.
Rituals: Rituals allow a caster to invest time and material components to create magical effects. Rituals provide the utility of spells to a world of spheres.
Spellcrafting: Spellcrafting allows casters to create unique expressions of magic such as signature spells or other abilities outside the scope of the standard this system system.
Incantations: Similar to incantations from older roleplaying systems, this magic system allows creatures to use skill checks and strict criteria to accomplish great feats of magic, often in a campaign-centric way that adds wonder and mystery to a plot.
Feats can be found here as well as rules for creating a caster’s tradition.
A caster’s tradition is a shorthand for the rules and regulations that are associated with a particular caster’s magic style. In the core Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, these are things akin to a wizard needing a spell book and materials to use his magic, as well as his need to gesture and speak in a magical language. Likewise, it is similar to a cleric’s need to pray to her Deity and use her holy symbol as a focus in order to cast spells. Casting traditions allow not only players to customize the why’s and how’s of their magic users, but also GMs to dictate the rules of magic in a particular world, allowing them to create settings that otherwise would not translate well to the magic rules of the core Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
This section covers not only how to adapt Spheres of Power for the creation of pre-existing magic items, but also includes new rules for the use and creation of magic items.