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Drawbacks

Drawbacks come in one of two forms: general and sphere-specific. General drawbacks must be selected as soon as the caster gains her first level in any spellcasting class. Sphere-Specific Drawbacks must be chosen as soon as the caster gains the drawback’s prerequisite sphere.

General Drawbacks

General drawbacks deal with the manner in which a caster uses their magic. Do they gesture? Must they speak in a resounding voice? Do they require a special magical focus or magical component? General drawbacks grant the caster bonus spell points (although they may also grant boons, as detailed under Boons below), according to the following chart. Some drawbacks are especially powerful; these drawbacks count as two drawbacks when determining the number of bonus spell points gained.

With GM permission a general drawback may be removed, but the caster must lose the bonus spell points or boons gained from that drawback.

Number of DrawbacksBonus Spell Points
1+1, +1 per 6 levels in casting classes
2+1, +1 per 3 levels in casting classes
3+1 per odd level in a casting class (1, 3, 5, etc.)
4+1, +1 per 1.5 levels in a casting class (2, 3, 5, 6, etc.)
5+1 per level in a casting class

Balancing Drawbacks

While some general drawbacks provide their own balancing mechanics (Extended Casting, Addictive Casting, Painful Casting, etc.), others depend on the situation around the caster in question (Verbal Casting, Material Casting, Focus Casting, etc.). GMs are encouraged to think about the implications of these drawbacks from both a storytelling and mechanical perspective when using them in a game.

Material Casting, for example, leaves a lot of questions for the GM to determine, depending on the setting in question: Are materials expensive? Are they common? Will the player run out and need to spend time hunting for more? Even if the GM has not built this drawback into his world, it becomes a subject which both the player and the GM should discuss so they both understand the role the material will play during the game. Similarly, if a character takes Focus Casting, it means he now waves an item around to cast his magic; an action many enemies will notice and try to take advantage of. If this drawback has been incorporated into the world (for example, all magic-users must use a wand to cast spells), then disarming an opponent’s focus would become a common combat technique that may be employed and must be guarded against. In fact, if no enemy ever attempts to take the focus from the caster, it could be argued the player has gained all of the benefits of the drawback with none of the detriments.

List of General Drawbacks

Addictive Casting: Your magic is addictive. Whenever you spend one or more spell points, you must pass a Fortitude save against your addiction DC (Your addiction DC is 10, + 1 for each roll you have previously made. Thus, your first roll would be a DC 10, the second a DC 11, the third a DC 12, etc.). If you fail this save, you gain a minor addiction, suffering a -2 penalty to Constitution. Spending a spell point mitigates this penalty for 1 minute.

Each day you do not use a spell point, you may make a Fortitude save against your addiction DC to overcome your addiction. After making a save in this fashion, your addiction DC is reduced by 2. You must succeed at 2 consecutive saves to overcome your addiction. Unlike normal addictions, an addiction to magic cannot be cured with magic, although the Heal skill can be used to help overcome addictions similar to overcoming diseases.

If you already possess a minor addiction and fail your Fortitude save after spending spell points, you gain a moderate addiction. This gives you a -2 penalty to Constitution and Strength, and requires 3 saves to overcome. If you fail your save and already have a moderate addiction, you gain a severe addiction, suffering a -2 penalty to Dexterity, Constitution, Strength, Wisdom, and your primary casting attribute (if not Wisdom).

If you overcome an addiction and later gain it again due to failing your Fortitude save, your addiction DC resets itself to its highest previous amount. This counts as 2 drawbacks when determining the number of spell points gained.

Draining Casting: Using magic saps your lifeforce. Using any sphere ability deals you 1 point of nonlethal damage which cannot be healed through any means except rest. This increases to 2 points at 5th caster level, 3 points at 10th caster level, 4 points at 15th caster level, and 5 points at 20th caster level. Creatures immune to nonlethal damage cannot gain this drawback.

Extended Casting: Your magic takes longer to use than normal. When using an ability gained from a sphere or talent, increase the casting time by one step: swift actions become move actions, move actions become standard actions, standard actions become full-round actions, full-round actions take 1 full round to complete, and 1-round actions take 1 minute to compete. This drawback counts as 2 drawbacks when determining the number of spell points gained.

Focus Casting: Your magic requires you to use an item such as a wand, holy symbol, ring, or staff to create magic. Using magic without your focus requires you to make a concentration check (DC 20 + 1/2 the caster level) to produce the desired effect. Failure means time (and any spell points) are spent, but no effect happens. If a focus is lost, stolen, or broken, the caster must create a new focus by securing the necessary item and spending 8 hours bonding with it. At the GM’s discretion, however, another caster’s focus may be used instead.

Magical Signs: Your magic is accompanied by a tell-tale sign; for example, your body glows brightly, the sound of tortured souls shriek as you cast, feelings of a deep chill affect all creatures within 30 ft. All nearby creatures know when you are using magic, as well as the nature of the magic used.

Material Casting: Your magic requires the expenditure of specific materials: precious metals, rare components, etc. The exact nature of this material should be worked out with the GM, but as a rule of thumb, this should cost a silver piece worth of materials per caster level per ability used.

Painful Magic: Your magic consumes you the more you rely on it. You must pass a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 the ability’s Caster Level) whenever you use magic, or be sickened for 1 round. If you use magic while sickened, you must pass a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 the ability’s Caster Level) or be nauseated for 1 round.

Prepared Caster: You must prepare your magic beforehand to use it. After resting to regain spell points, you must assign each of your spell points to a sphere you possess. You cannot spend more spell points in a given sphere in a day than you have assigned to that sphere.

Skilled Casting: You must create your magic through singing, drawing, or some other activity. Your magic is tied to a particular Perform, Profession, or Craft skill (although with GM permission another skill may be substituted). You must succeed at a skill check to use any sphere ability. The DC of this skill check is 15 + the ability’s caster level. For every 2 points by which this skill check falls short of this DC, the ability manifests at -1 caster level. If this reduces the ability to a caster level below 0, the manifested ability fails and any spell points used are lost.

A caster with Skilled Casting must be able to perform their skill to use their magic, which is similar to but not the same as possessing other drawbacks. For example, a caster who must draw to create magic must have at least one hand free, although unless he also possesses Somatic Casting he may do so while wearing heavy armor without a chance of arcane spell failure. Likewise, a caster who uses music to create magic must be able to speak, but unless he also possesses Verbal Casting he can do so quietly and not break Stealth.

Somatic Casting: You must gesture to cast spells—a process that requires you to have at least 1 hand unoccupied. When using magic, you cannot wear armor heavier than light without incurring a chance of arcane spell failure.

You may select this drawback twice. If taken a second time, you cannot wear any armor or use a shield without incurring a chance of arcane spell failure.

Verbal Casting: You must speak in a loud, clear voice to cast spells. Using magic alerts all nearby hearing creatures to your presence and location, effectively breaking stealth. You cannot cast in an area of magical silence, or in any other situation where you are unable to speak clearly.

Wild Magic: Your magic is not entirely stable and can result in a variety of unwanted effects. Whenever you spend a spell point, there is a 10% chance an unexpected event happens alongside your magic. Roll as if you had activated a rod of wonder. Add that effect to those you produce with your magic. At the GM’s discretion, wild magic tables, or even tables of his own creation, may be added to the possible effects your magic can create.

Sphere-Specific Drawbacks

Rather than grant bonus spell points, sphere-specific drawbacks grant the target an extra magic talent in their prerequisite sphere. A creature does not gain this bonus magic talent until they gain the sphere-specific drawback’s prerequisite sphere. A sphere-specific drawback may be removed by spending a magic talent, in essence ‘paying back’ the talent gained from the drawback.

Alteration

Beast Soul: (Requires Alteration) You cannot bestow the Blank Form. You must select a talent that grants a form with the bonus talent gained through this drawback.

Lycanthropic: (Requires Alteration) You can only target yourself with your shapeshift ability. You cannot gain the Mass Alteration nor Ranged Alteration talents.

Conjuration

Elongated Summoning: (Requires Conjuration) Summoning a creature requires 1 minute of concentrated effort, rather than only a standard action.

Creation

Limited Creation: (Requires Creation) Choose either alter or create. You cannot use this ability, nor take talents which augment this ability. You may still gain Expanded Materials if you choose not to be able to create objects.

Material Focus: (Requires Creation) You may only create or alter objects of a single, special substance such as ice, cloth, bones, etc. You may choose iron or stone as your material, in which case you do not gain an extra magic talent from this drawback. You cannot take the Expanded Materials talent. You may choose shadowstuff as your material (you still receive the additional talent with this choice). Shadowstuff has hardness 5 and 10 hp per inch.

Dark

Meld into Dark: (Requires Dark) You cannot create darkness, and you may only target yourself when granting a (meld) talent. You may only select (meld) talents and Quick Meld from the Darkness sphere. However, you may also use (meld) talents in all dim light and darkness, not just areas of your darkness.

Death

Deathful Touch: (Requires Death) You may use ghost strike as a melee touch attack, but not as a ranged touch attack. You can only make melee attack with the Cryptic Strike talent. You cannot gain this drawback if you have selected ghost strike with the Necromantic Limit drawback.

Necromantic Limit: (Requires Death) Choose either ghost strike or reanimate. You cannot use this ability, nor take talents which augment this ability.

Destruction

Aligned Combatant: (Requires Destruction) Choose an end of the alignment spectrum that you possess (good, evil, lawful, or chaotic). Your destructive blast deals no damage to creatures who possess this alignment and full damage to creatures of the opposite alignment (evil for good, lawful for chaotic, etc.). Neutral creatures (those who possess neither your selected alignment nor its opposite) suffer half damage from your destructive blast.

Energy Focus: (Requires Destruction) You may only make a destructive blast of a single energy type. You may not gain any blast type talents, except with the bonus talent gained from this drawback.

Destructive Touch: (Requires Destruction) You may only make melee touch attacks with your destructive blast. It cannot be used as a ray attack. You may not select the Explosive Orb, Extended Range, or Guided Strike talents. If using the Energy Wall or Energy Sphere talent, the ability must begin in a square that is adjacent to you. If using the Rebuff talent, you can only protect yourself or an adjacent target with that ability.

Divination

Limited Divination: (Requires Divination) Choose either sense or divine. You cannot use this ability, nor take talents which augment this ability.

Hidden Magic: (Requires Divination) You do not gain the base divine ability to detect magic, nor the base sense ability to decipher magical text. You may still gain other senses through magic talents and gain the ability to detect other things (undead, charms, etc.) through the divine ability.

Enhancement

Bodily Enhancement: (Requires Enhancement) You cannot enhance equipment and objects with your enhancements, only creatures. You must choose an (enhance) talent with the bonus talent gained by this drawback.

Personal Magics: (Requires Enhancement) You may only target yourself and your own equipment with your enhance ability. You cannot take the Ranged Enhancement talent, and any magic (except for the Bestow Intelligence, Lighten, and Animate Object talents) bestowed on an object ceases to function when wielded by another creature.

Fate

Neutrality: (Requires Fate) You lack a strong connection to any alignment type. You cannot use the hallow word.

Personal Fate: (Requires Fate) You may only target yourself with your words.

Illusion

Disappearance: (Requires Illusion) You cannot create illusions or tricks, except to make things disappear. You must select the Invisibility talent as your bonus talent for this drawback.

Personal Illusion: (Requires Illusion) You may only place your illusions onto yourself. You must select the Illusionary Disguise talent as your bonus talent for this drawback.

Life

Limited Restoration: (Requires Life) Choose either restore or cure/invigorate. You cannot use this ability or abilities, nor take talents that only augment those listed abilities.

Regenerate: (Requires Life) You may only target yourself with your Life sphere abilities.

Light

Touch of Light: (Requires Light) You cannot cause objects to glow as a ranged touch attack. You cannot take Ranged Light. If you use the Area Glow talent, you must center the effect on yourself.

Mind

Animal Shaman: (Requires Mind) You may affect animals and vermin with your charm effects, but not any other creature type. This does not grant a bonus talent.

Empath: (Requires Mind) You cannot plant suggestions into a target’s mind, as the Mind sphere base suggestion charm. You must select a (mind) talent with the bonus talent granted by this drawback.

Nature

Nature Spirit: (Requires Nature) You cannot use geomancing powers, only (spirit) talents. You cannot gain talents that augment the geomancing power, but you may select any (spirit) talent, even if it would normally require a geomancing package you do not possess. You must select a (spirit) talent with the bonus talent granted by this drawback.

Protection

Limited Protection: (Requires Protection) Choose either ward or aegis. You cannot use this ability, nor gain talents that augment it.

Protected Soul: (Requires Protection) You cannot target other creatures with your aegis, only yourself. You cannot select this drawback if you choose aegis as your lost ability with the Limited Protection drawback.

Aligned Protection: (Requires Protection) Choose an end of the alignment spectrum that you possess (good, evil, lawful, or chaotic). Your wards and aegis only provide protection against creatures of the opposite alignment (evil for good, lawful for chaotic, etc.). Creatures who possess your selected alignment or are neutral (those who possess neither your selected alignment nor its opposite) are not stopped by your barriers, hindered by your wards, and your aegis provides no protection against attacks that originate from those creatures.

Telekinesis

Limited Telekinesis: (Requires Telekinesis) You may only use your telekinesis on one type of material (water, metal, stone, etc.) chosen when you gain this drawback.

Time

Personal Time: (Requires Time) You may only target yourself when using alter time abilities that target creatures. You cannot gain the Ranged Time or Group Time talents.

Altered Time: (Requires Time) You cannot use the haste and slow alter time abilities. You must select a (time) talent with the bonus talent gained through this drawback.

War

Battle Manipulation: (Requires War) You cannot create totems, but you may still use (rally) talents. You may target a creature with your (rally) talents, treating all creatures within 30 ft. of you as if they were within the area of one of your totems. You must select a (rally) talent with the bonus talent gained through this drawback.

Solo Combatant: (Requires War) You cannot target other creatures with your (rally) talents, only yourself. You must select a (rally) talent with the bonus talent gained through this drawback.

Warp

Limited Warp: (Requires Warp) You may only teleport when within an area that meets a specific condition and can only choose a destination that also matches that condition. Choose one of the following conditions or speak with your GM about finding another appropriate one: you can only teleport to and from areas of dim light or darkness; you can only teleport to and from a body of water; you can only teleport to and from fire; you can only teleport to and from a living tree. You cannot gain this drawback if you possess the Bender drawback.

Personal Warp: (Requires Warp) You may only target yourself with your teleport ability. You cannot gain the Unwilling Teleport or Group Teleport talents. You cannot gain this drawback if you possess the Bender drawback.

Bender: (Requires Warp) You cannot teleport, you may only bend space. You must select a (space) talent with the bonus talent gained through this drawback.

Weather

Focused Weather: (Requires Weather) You may only affect one weather category: Wind, Precipitation, Cold, or Heat. If you choose cold you may lower the severity of heat but cannot increase it. If you choose heat you may lower the severity of cold but cannot increase it. You cannot take talents that alter an aspect of the weather you cannot affect.

Boons

Boons are the opposite of drawbacks: instead of adding limitations and requirements to a caster’s magic, they add bonuses and benefits. A caster must possess 2 general drawbacks for each boon gained. Drawbacks used to purchase boons in this way are not counted toward bonus spell points.

Deathful Magic: The closer you are to death, the more powerful your magic. When you are at half hit points or less, you gain a +1 temporary bonus to your caster level. When you are at 1/4th your total hit points or less, this temporary bonus increases to +2.

Easy Focus: When maintaining a sphere ability through concentration, you only need to spend a move action to maintain concentration instead of a standard action. This does not decrease the sphere ability’s casting time, only the action used to maintain concentration.

Empowered Abilities: Your magic grows in strength the more you use it. If your current number of spell points is half your total spell points or less, you gain a temporary +1 bonus to your caster level. If your current number of spell points is 0, the temporary bonus to your caster level becomes +2.

Fortified Casting: You may use your Constitution as your casting ability modifier if it is higher than your usual casting ability modifier. You must possess the Draining Casting drawback to select this boon.

Metamagic Expert: Whenever you augment a sphere ability with a metamagic feat, that sphere ability manifests at +1 caster level.

Overcharge: You may overcharge your magic, giving yourself great power at the cost of your own strength. Whenever you use a sphere ability, you may give yourself a +2 bonus to your caster level for that ability, but you become fatigued afterward. If you are already fatigued, you become exhausted. If you are exhausted, you collapse to the ground unconscious for 1d4 rounds.