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View Full Version : Pathfinder Spheres of Power Occultist Archetype - PEACH



pi4t
2018-07-05, 03:46 PM
Spheres of Power has archetypes for most first party casters, but is lacking ones for the psychic spellcasters. Since the Occultist has its own weird rules for learning spells and is heavily reliant on the core spell school system, it's not obvious how it should be converted to spheres of power. I thought I'd give it a go. Feedback gratefully accepted!

Sphere Occultist

Casting: The sphere occultist may combine spheres and talents to create magical effects. The sphere occultist is considered a Mid-Caster and uses Intelligence as his casting ability modifier. Unlike most sphere casters, the sphere occultist does not get two bonus talents at first level. This replaces the spells and knacks class features.

Spell Pool: The sphere occultist gains a small reservoir of energy she can call on to create truly wondrous effects, called a spell pool. This pool contains a number of spell points equal to her level + her Intelligence modifier (minimum: 1). This pool replenishes once per day after roughly 8 hours of rest.

Implement Talents: A sphere occultist does not gain magic talents directly as he levels up. Instead, each of his implements provides its own selection of talents. At first level, each implement gives access to only one talent, but this increases by one at third level, and every three levels thereafter. Each implement can only give talents in specific spheres, as shown in the following table:



School
Spheres


Abjuration
Fate, Protection


Conjuration
Conjuration, Creation, Warp


Divination
Divination, Time


Enchantment
Mind, Nature, War


Evocation
Destruction, Light, Weather


Illusion
Dark, Illusion


Necromancy
Death, Life


Transmutation
Alteration, Enhancement, Telekinesis



An implement may also have sphere-specific drawback in return for extra talents, as usual. If the sphere occultist chooses a second implement from the same school, he can combine them together to determine his overall abilities, and does not have to duplicate talents he's already chosen. For example, if a sphere occultist has a wand implement (evocation) with the destruction sphere and the Chain Blast shape, and later chooses a staff (also evocation) as an implement, he can give the staff the Mana Siphon blast type without having to first give it the destruction sphere; and can then apply both Chain Blast and Mana Siphon to a destructive blast. If he chooses a panoply instead of an implement, he still gains the usual number of talents, which are applied to any or all of the implements in the panoply as the sphere occultist wishes. If the sphere occultist takes the Extra Magic Talent feat, or learns new talents from some other source, he must apply them to one of his implements, and obey the usual rules about which spheres he can choose from. This ability modifies the implements ability.

Item-based Casting: The sphere occultist must choose a magic tradition which includes the focussed casting and prepared casting drawbacks (or modify another tradition to add these drawbacks). He gets the usual reward of extra spell points (or a Boon) for taking these drawbacks. Rather than having one focus for all his casting, each of his implements counts as the focus for the talents it provides. If the sphere occultist is missing multiple foci for an effect he is attempting to produce, the concentration DC increases by 5 for each additional missing focus.

The sphere occultist does not assign spell points to spheres as a prepared caster usually does. Instead, he assigns his spell points to his implements. Each point may be spent in any sphere associated with the implement's school (even if the talents being used are actually coming from another implement of the same school). If he loses access to an implement, he cannot use any points stored in that implement. The sphere occultist may also choose to save generic spell points inside his own body, but these cost twice as much to use and do not give resonant focus abilities.

Mental Focus: A sphere occultist does not gain a pool of mental focus. Any of his abilities that refer to mental focus invested in an implement instead apply to spell points assigned to that implement. This ability modifies the Mental Focus ability.

Resonant Powers: The following resonant powers work differently for the sphere occultist:
Conjuration (Casting Focus): When casting spells from the Conjuration, Creation or Warp spheres, the sphere occultist adds 1 to his caster level for every 2 spell points placed in the implement (to a maximum bonus equal to his sphere occultist level), for the purposes of range and duration only. Apply this increase after other effects that increase these values, and does not apply if the sphere occultist is casting without using the implement.
Evocation (Intense Focus): When using a destructive blast, a caster (any caster) can use the implement as a focus to add 1 point of damage of the same type to every creature damaged by the blast for every 2 spell points in the implement, to a maximum of 1 + 1 per 2 sphere occultist levels. This bonus damage is capped at the minimum damage the blast could otherwise do (so a hypothetical blast that had a splash effect doing 1 damage to nearby enemies would still only do 2 to them). Blasts that do not deal hp damage do not benefit from this effect. Also, when using a light or weather sphere spell, the sphere occultist adds 1 to his caster level per 2 spell points placed in the implement, for the purposes of duration only.
Necromancy (Necromantic Focus): Whoever possesses the implement can reanimate and control an additional 2 Hit Dice of undead for every point of mental focus invested in the item (to a maximum number of Hit Dice equal to 4 your occultist level) when using the reanimate ability of the death sphere, the animate dead spell, or similar abilities. This number is total, not per ability - you don't get twice as many because you have both the talent and the spell, for example. If, when the sphere occultist next prepares his spells, the caster has more Hit Dice of undead than he would normally be allowed, then he loses them according to the usual rules for the effect that gave him control over them. This can be avoided, however, if the sphere occultist immediately invests enough spell points in the implement to cover all the excess HD of undead.
Whoever possesses the implement also improves their abilities with the Life sphere; any hp healing they grant is increased by 1 for every 2 spell points in the implement, to a maximum of 1 + 1 per 2 sphere occultist levels. For abilities like Revitalise that give an ongoing source of healing, this instead increases the duration by 1 round for every 2 spell points in the implement, with the same maximum.
Finally, undead take a -1 penalty on saving throws against the sphere occultist's magic per 4 spell points assigned to the implement.



Recommended Casting Tradition: The classic feel of the occultist can be recreated through taking the Emotional Casting and Rigorous Concentration drawbacks, as well as the mandatory Focussed Casting and Prepared Casting drawbacks.

Multiclass Sphere Occultists: A sphere occultist who multiclasses into another spherecasting class does not receive new implements from his non-occultist levels. He does gain new talents (though not the two bonus ones normally gained at first level). He must apply these to his implements, as usual for a sphere occultist getting talents from other sources. His caster levels stack normally. A spherecaster wishing to multiclass into sphere occultist must have a tradition with the Focused Casting and Prepared Casting drawbacks. He must assign all the talents he already has to his initial two implements; if he is unable to do this because he has too wide a variety of spheres, he may not take levels in sphere occultist. He does not gain any new talents for his first level of sphere occultist; the two talents that come attached to the implement of a first level sphere occultist are the two bonus talents given by his other class. (Note that this also means both implements must have at least one talent in them). With GM permission, the character can adjust his talents and tradition to fit the requirements.

Of course, the spherecaster is also free to treat his sphere occultist casting as a separate casting tradition as per the usual rules, in which case he can multiclass freely. However, levels in sphere occultist will always progress the same tradition (the one discussed under Item-Based Casting).

kglusing
2018-07-06, 07:28 AM
Without having the book in front of me at the moment, this looks solid. I appreciate that you kept as much of the occultist's identity as possible.

That said, for some this could be next-level complication. Spheres of Power/Might is already a meatier set of rules to contend with, and adding that to the occultist's built-in complexity would mean a lot of extra tracking to be sure you've got your right talents organized with your specific implements and whatnot.

Not that it shouldn't be done. You've got a lot of good thoughts here, and anybody willing to put the extra effort into it could have a lot of fun with this archetype. If you were going to do more with it than just use it at your table (or even if you are), I would suggest a small, one page, specialized sheet where you could track the extra notes. It could be customized to fit whatever theme you're running with.

pi4t
2018-07-06, 08:58 AM
I'm not sure that the archetype adds as much complexity as you imagine. Most of the more complicated rules are just edge cases for when you do things like multiclassing or taking two implements for the same school. If you're not doing things like that (and most occultists probably won't) then all that happens is that every third level you get one new talent in a sphere associated with each implement school you've chosen. And when you unlock a new implement, you get the appropriate number of new talents, which are all in the spheres associated with that implement's school. Except where you have two implements of the same school, you don't really need to explicitly note which implement each talent is coming from - it's easy to reverse engineer when you need to, as each sphere is associated with only one school. Indeed, it shouldn't take any more organisation than sorting your talents by sphere does normally. Which implement is used for each sphere only comes up for flavour (admittedly an important part of the class) and on those rare occasions where you lose access to some (but not all) of your gear.

My biggest worry at the moment is whether I've got the rate of talent progression right. The archetype gives relatively few talens at low levels, but the number grows quadratically as you get more implements. This also true of the vanilla occultist and, in a way, I think it's a part of its charm, but I don't want to leave players stuck with nothing to do at the low levels, or having too much at high levels. Currently, you get six talents at level three...which seems like a lot, but you're having to split them between three (or more) different spheres, with exactly two in each sphere. Unless you take multiple implements in the same school, but then you don't get new focus powers and things, so there's an inherent and strong reason not to do that. And you then get no more talents until 6th level. At higher levels, though, things might get a bit too much.

A.J.Gibson
2018-07-09, 07:11 PM
A few things:

Why is Time part of divination? Just to make certain you have two spheres for each school?

How many talents are you giving out? It seems like a lot. A mid-caster usually gets 15 by 20th level, so you should probably be handing out 2 per school, with maybe an extra granted as a bonus somewhere. You could just say 'when you get the school you get a talent, and another talent 2 levels later' to make it more evenly dispersed.

How are you dealing with resonance powers? Several of them don't work with spheres. Also, a lot of mental powers are really strong in the spheres system - this was the major complaint with my attempt to make an occultist archetype.

Finally, you've put restrictions on what traditions the character has, but what happens if they start as a different class?

pi4t
2018-07-09, 07:51 PM
A few things:

Why is Time part of divination? Just to make certain you have two spheres for each school?

Mostly, yeah. Otherwise divination (the school) is rather empty, especially as divination (the sphere) isn't really something you generally spend too many talents on. Also, divination is all about seeing the future, and thus has some connections with time. More than any other school, anyway. Nature in enchantment is another oddity, since it doesn't really seem to fit anywhere very well. Arguably evocation, but then that would end up with 4 spheres...


How many talents are you giving out? It seems like a lot. A mid-caster usually gets 15 by 20th level, so you should probably be handing out 2 per school, with maybe an extra granted as a bonus somewhere. You could just say 'when you get the school you get a talent, and another talent 2 levels later' to make it more evenly dispersed.

It is a lot, perhaps too much. But I don't think just giving two talents per implement is enough. Remember that unless you take multiple implements for the same school (which then cripples your other class abilities) you don't get to stack many talents in one sphere, so you're going to end up very jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none, which will naturally be less powerful than the number of talents indicates. And even at level 20, the total number of talents you get is 56 (7 implements, and 8 talents per implement). That sounds like a lot, but the incanter can get 42 by that point, with a better CL progression and no restrictions on how they're spent. Granted the occultist gets 3/4 BAB, good fort saves and the mental focus powers on top of his talents while the incanter gets nothing, but I'm not convinced that's enough to outweigh the full CL. And that's at level 20 - at lower levels, the difference is smaller. At level 10, for example, the incanter has 22 talents while the occultist has 25 - and he's just gained his 5th implement, so that's one of his better levels for talents. He doesn't gain any more at all at level 11. And yes, that progression is weird, but it's a necessary side effect of making all your implements be equally powerful, regardless of which level you chose them at. I feel that's an important feature of the occultist, and worth a somewhat odd progression speed.


How are you dealing with resonance powers? Several of them don't work with spheres.

Good point. I'll amend the archetype after writing this. It's only Conjuration and Evocation that strictly need adjusting, and they're both fairly simple, but necromancy could also use some adjustment as it doesn't help with the life sphere at all currently.


Also, a lot of mental powers are really strong in the spheres system - this was the major complaint with my attempt to make an occultist archetype.

Mind enlarging on this? (I'm writing this at half past one in the morning, which may explain why I'm failing to see the point you're making here...)


Finally, you've put restrictions on what traditions the character has, but what happens if they start as a different class?

It's in the section on multiclassing. Essentially, if you have the wrong tradition (or your talents don't fit into the two implements you'll get from taking your first level of occultist) then you can't do the multiclass. With the standard "ask your GM if you can retrain the problematic stuff" clause.

A.J.Gibson
2018-07-09, 11:18 PM
Mostly, yeah. Otherwise divination (the school) is rather empty, especially as divination (the sphere) isn't really something you generally spend too many talents on. Also, divination is all about seeing the future, and thus has some connections with time. More than any other school, anyway. Nature in enchantment is another oddity, since it doesn't really seem to fit anywhere very well. Arguably evocation, but then that would end up with 4 spheres...


So? If you don't want Divination talents, don't take that school.



It is a lot, perhaps too much. But I don't think just giving two talents per implement is enough. Remember that unless you take multiple implements for the same school (which then cripples your other class abilities) you don't get to stack many talents in one sphere, so you're going to end up very jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none, which will naturally be less powerful than the number of talents indicates. And even at level 20, the total number of talents you get is 56 (7 implements, and 8 talents per implement). That sounds like a lot, but the incanter can get 42 by that point, with a better CL progression and no restrictions on how they're spent. Granted the occultist gets 3/4 BAB, good fort saves and the mental focus powers on top of his talents while the incanter gets nothing, but I'm not convinced that's enough to outweigh the full CL. And that's at level 20 - at lower levels, the difference is smaller. At level 10, for example, the incanter has 22 talents while the occultist has 25 - and he's just gained his 5th implement, so that's one of his better levels for talents. He doesn't gain any more at all at level 11. And yes, that progression is weird, but it's a necessary side effect of making all your implements be equally powerful, regardless of which level you chose them at. I feel that's an important feature of the occultist, and worth a somewhat odd progression speed.


Keep in mind they also get 10 mental powers and several resonance powers, which are similar to sphere talents. Aside from that, limiting what a character can buy with a resource doesn't decrease the value of the resource unless you're forced to buy inferior options.

If you want to fix the problem with forced generalization, then give the sphere occultist a talent every odd level and then 1 bonus talent when they get an implement, so they can use the bulk of their talents to specialize. Or just make them mid-casters and dispense with that aspect of the archetype.



Mind enlarging on this? (I'm writing this at half past one in the morning, which may explain why I'm failing to see the point you're making here...)


In archetypes of power thread, starting at post 106, is why the cryptomancer was moved from the protection playtest. Long story short: occultist has access to a lot of spells via their mental powers, and they put a lot of spheres stuff to shame. But converting mental powers to spheres would essentially rewrite the class, at which point, why bother?

pi4t
2018-07-10, 06:27 AM
So? If you don't want Divination talents, don't take that school.

But what if you don't want to spend an entire implement's worth of talents on Divination, but would still like to take the sphere? That's quite a common approach, as Divination has a somewhat limited repertoire, and its effects tend to do the same kind of thing. With any other sphere, that would be fine as you can just spend the rest of the implement's talents on something else in the same school. But if the Divination school only has one sphere - especially when that sphere's Divination - that makes it notably worse than the other schools. I'm also trying to spread the spheres around so that people take a variety of different implements.

Besides, Time doesn't fit into any of the other schools any better.


Keep in mind they also get 10 mental powers and several resonance powers, which are similar to sphere talents. Aside from that, limiting what a character can buy with a resource doesn't decrease the value of the resource unless you're forced to buy inferior options.

Point taken about the mental/resonance powers.

In general, yes, limiting what a character can buy isn't a balancing point. However, I believe that in this case, you are forced to buy inferior options. You're obliged to put exactly N of your talents into each school you have an implement for. This means you can never really do more than dabbling in a given sphere (to use the terminology from stack's optimisation guide). Since you can only normally use one sphere at a time, but can often use a lot of talents within the same sphere simultaneously, I find that it's generally best to specialise in one or two spheres, and then dabble in some others for when those specialities aren't going to be useful, rather than attempting to dabble in everything. You yourself acknowledged this in the Cryptomancer discussion: "It also forces diversification in a system that generally doesn't want you to."

Also, the limits are restrictive enough that sooner or later, you're bound to be unable to choose the option you really want.

I suppose they do need to have their talent rates slowed down at higher levels, though. My first instinct is to use the triangle numbers (each implement gets a new talent at levels 1, 3, 6, 10, 15 and then another one level early at level 20) but that does have the disadvantage that both 6th level and 10th level give you implements as well, meaning you have a very large jump at that point.


If you want to fix the problem with forced generalization, then give the sphere occultist a talent every odd level and then 1 bonus talent when they get an implement, so they can use the bulk of their talents to specialize. Or just make them mid-casters and dispense with that aspect of the archetype.

That would certainly be a balanced class, but I don't consider the forced generalisation a "problem". It's an inherent feature of what the occultist is about - channelling their magic through a variety of different implements which all do different things. It's what sets them aside from other classes, and it's the thing that all their class abilities is built around - frankly, if you don't want your character to be doing that, then I don't see why you'd want to play an occultist (except, perhaps, for munchkining reasons). Thus, stripping it away from the sphere occultist makes this entire exercise pointless; there's nothing left that the sphere occultist does which other classes and a bit of reflavouring can't do too (albeit sometimes in a slightly different way, mechanically).


In archetypes of power thread, starting at post 106, is why the cryptomancer was moved from the protection playtest. Long story short: occultist has access to a lot of spells via their mental powers, and they put a lot of spheres stuff to shame. But converting mental powers to spheres would essentially rewrite the class, at which point, why bother?

I'm not sure they really "put a lot of spheres stuff to shame". Yes, high level vancian spells are far more powerful than high level spheres abilities, but the occultist's mental powers can all be chosen from level 1, and so generally mimic low level effects. I contend that most of them can be duplicated by only at most a couple of spheres talents, and generally by only one. As an example, I'll go through the transmutation school powers and discuss each of them in turn. The transmutation school is one of the strongest ones for powers, so if it's reasonable then the rest should be as well.

Resonant Power: Enhancement sphere, with the Personal Enhancements and Bodily Enhancement drawbacks, and the Deep Enhancement and Physical Enhancement talents. Not quite as good as it only lasts 10 mins per level, but essentially the same ability.
Base Focus Power: Ok, this one can't be duplicated since there aren't any sphere abilities I know of that add to an existing enhancement bonus, magus-style. However, several sphere classes can give the magus's arcane pool, and allow you to power it with spell points. This has a similar effect (other than the fact that the occultist ability allows you to add Bane to the weapon, which really should never have been allowed...)
Mind over Gravity: Alteration sphere, Lycanthropic drawback, Avian transformation. You end up with a lower maneuverability and, until level 10, only 30ft fly speed, but on the other hand you get a menu of other abilities along with it, and can use it without spending spell points if you can spare the actions to concentrate on it. And you can get it two levels earlier, for what that's worth.
Philosopher's Touch: Enhancement sphere, Versatile Weapon. No drawback as apparently there isn't one that trades away Enhance Equipment for some reason...? Anyway, this bypasses only a limited amount of DR, but bypasses DR/[anything], not just cold iron or adamantine. Or you could just buy a cold iron weapon; this isn't really a particularly good power.
Quickness: Time sphere, Improved Haste. Doesn't give you the (miniscule) extra bonus to AC and reflex saves, but also lets you concentrate on it rather than spending a spell point if you want, and gives you a stagger inflicting touch attack.
Size alteration: Alteration sphere, Size Change. Costs two talents, but lasts for 1 minute per level rather than one round per level, and at higher CLs it lets you change the size more than one step. Oh, and you can also give a menu of other traits to the target if you prefer, and can maintain it by concentration.
Sudden Speed: Not sure how to do this one as a swift action without resorting to external abilities like Quicken Spell. It's not exactly drastically more powerful than the other abilities on this list, though.
Telekinetic Mastery: The telekinesis sphere itself is similar to this. It's a bit tricky to say exactly how they compare (since they use slightly different mechanics, and in particular there's no equivalent of the violent thrust) but at a cursory glance it looks about the same. And of course the violent thrust option can be duplicated by the destruction sphere's base ability.