How To Build A Practitioner

Looking for help building your first martial practitioner with Spheres of Might? You're in the right place. This page will walk you through the process of creating a character, including the process of selecting a concept and working to flesh it out. Note that this page assumes you know how to create characters under the normal rules of Pathfinder. If you've never made a character before, ask your GM or a more experienced player to guide you through the process.

Step One: Read the Using Spheres of Might Page

This page introduces the Spheres of Might system and covers important things like definitions, save DC's, and how you can spend the combat talents you get.

The most important things from this page are the explanations of Attack Actions and Special Attack Actions. Spheres of Might largely avoids the full attacks encouraged by the normal Pathfinder rules (where characters can make multiple attacks as they increase in level, taking both their standard and move actions to perform). Instead, many of the spheres promote the use of the Attack Action (a standard action attack that you can apply effects to) or a Special Attack Action (a special, specific type of Attack Action), giving characters more flexibility to move around the battlefield. Many spheres require you to make an attack action instead of a full attack in order to gain their benefits.

Be sure to doublecheck your character against this page when you're done. This will help you ensure you have the right numbers on your character sheet.

Step Two: Pick a Class and Theme

Before you start making a character, you need to figure out what kind of character you want to play. Spheres of Might is a flexible system and supports a wide variety of concepts, from unarmed warriors who shatter foes with a single punch to weapon masters who switch tools between every attack. If you don't have a good theme in mind, it will be much harder to create an effective character. As part of this, you may end up selecting one of the martial traditions (or making your own), which essentially describes your character's initial martial training. You may also want to look at the character roles page.

Despite the name, you don't necessarily have to play a combat-focused character - Spheres of Might also allows for extensive and adaptive use of skills.

If you need inspiration, try looking at movies, television shows, artwork, or video games.

If you'd like to stick with Paizo's classes, archetypes exist to convert many of them to martial practitioners. In addition, characters can trade their normal feat progression for a line of combat talents. (This is how you could make a Spheres of Might-using Fighter without taking an archetype.)

If you'd like to use one of the new classes, here's a brief description of each, sorted by progression. Remember that Experts have full progression, Adepts have middle progression, and Proficients have low progression for talents. A character's base attack bonus usually matches their talent progression, but there are exceptions to this (specifically the Armiger class and potentially anyone who traded feats for talent progression). "Practitioner Modifier" refers to the stat that determines saving throw difficulties. Some classes offer a choice or tell you to use the highest of specific scores. If a class doesn't specify a practitioner modifier, it defaults to Wisdom.

Experts Description Practitioner Modifier
Blacksmith Blacksmiths are expert practitioners who excel in the use and maintenance of gear. In addition to providing daily benefits for the party, blacksmiths can also create mundane and magical equipment for people to use. This is a good class to play if you like making your own tools to see you through your encounters. Constitution
Conscript Much like the Incanter in Spheres of Power, Conscripts are essentially a toolkit for building your own class rather than a distinct class of their own. In addition to getting more combat talents than anyone else, Conscripts get plenty of bonus feats that can be spent on even more talents, combat feats, and teamwork feats. They can trade some (or all) of these feats to specialize in a sphere or pick up new abilities. This is a good choice if nothing else matches your idea, or if you want to have maximum control over your abilities. Any Mental Score
Sentinel Sentinels are heavy-duty defenders who use the Guardian sphere to issue challenges and protect their allies. In addition to being experts with medium and heavy armor, Sentinels can rapidly gain temporary hit points and eventually learn to avoid many effects their foes might try to inflict on them. This is a good choice to play if you want the toughest tank you can get. Wisdom
Striker The Striker is a lightly-armored warrior who uses the Boxing, Brute, or Open Hand sphere to engage their foes. Strikers use a Tension mechanic to build up points that they can spend on a variety of helpful effects. At higher levels, their Striker Arts can teach them new ways to use Tension or make them tougher to bring down. This is a good class to play if you enjoy managing a resource and expending it in brilliant combos. Constitution
Adepts Description Practitioner Modifier
Commander Commanders are natural masters of the Warleader sphere. In addition to allowing their Shouts and Tactics to last longer, Commanders can provide additional benefits to allies who are making use of them. This class is most appropriate for groups who enjoy strategy and working together, since much of the Commander's power relies on their allies' willingness to cooperate. Higher of Intelligence or Charisma
Technician Technicians are adept practitioners who excel at dealing with traps. In addition, they gain a variety of Technical Insights and Inventions they can use to cobble together a solution for a problem. This is a good class to play if you like coming up with crazy ideas, then making them work better than they had any right to. Intelligence
Proficients Description Practitioner Modifier
Armiger The Armiger is a Proficient class with Full BAB. In addition to their permanent talents, Armigers bond with customized weapons that grant them additional talents while wielding that weapon, allowing them to rapidly change their entire combat style. This is a good choice if you're looking for flexibility with your character. Any Mental Score
Savant The Savant is technically an archetype of the Thaumaturge class in Spheres of Power, but changes so much that it is effectively a different class in its own right. Savants are uniquely capable of changing all of their combat talents when they rest, giving them unparalleled flexibility when they can successfully predict the encounters they'll have each day. Unusually for a practitioner class, they have high BAB and low talent progression. While Savants don't have very many talents, they're excellent if you want to try different things. Any Mental Score
Scholar Scholars have low BAB and low talent progression, but make up for it with intelligence and planning. They are naturally proficient with the Alchemy and Scout spheres, and can use both their Scholar's Knacks and their Material Impositions to create useful effects. This is a good class to play if you want to interact with the game world more than directly attacking your foes. Intelligence

Step Three: Decide Which Spheres To Use

Broadly speaking, the martial spheres are divided into several overarching categories. Most characters will pick their initial spheres when they select something from the Martial Traditions available in their game, since these are a hybrid of weapon/armor proficiencies and basic combat talents. Note that while these categories are general, some creative character builds may tweak and adjust them. For example, while the Boxing sphere is generally 'unarmed', it can work with any light weapon.

In addition to their basic talents, each sphere has a number of Legendary Talents. These are not like the Advanced Talents from Spheres of Power, which can provide game-changing effects and require specific GM permission to take. Instead, Legendary Talents represent more mystical techniques (as opposed to the basic talents, all of which are mundane in nature). Your GM may freely allow them, deny access to them, or impose special limits (like requiring 5+ talents in a sphere before you can take a Legendary Talent from it), depending mostly on the flavor of their game world and how magical they want martial combatants to be. In general, Legendary Talents are balanced for the levels they can be acquired at, and should not significantly disrupt a game if chosen.

A well-balanced practitioner will typically have some offense, some defense, some utility, and some expertise with their gear. It may take several levels for a character's build to really get going. Remember, Spheres of Might is a flexible system, and there are creative ways of achieving good balance with a character - for example, reducing an enemy's accuracy can be just as helpful for defense as improving your AC.

You may want to look at this guide to Sphere abilities, too.

IMPORTANT: Pay attention to your use of Martial Focus. Some builds will rarely (if ever) spend it, while other builds will want to use it as often as possible. Unless you're fine with using it just once per combat, you should pick up at least one way to regain it by Level 4. Each Sphere has its own way of regaining Martial Focus, many of which can be done as part of a normal offensive sequence. These methods are detailed below.

Here are the major sphere categories:

Item Spheres
Alchemy The Alchemy sphere allows you to create items using formulae or poison your opponent with a variety of toxins. Toxins can inflict effects like shaken or sickened, apply penalties to skill rolls, or even boost physical or mental scores for a time when used on yourself.
Barroom The Barroom sphere focuses on improvised weapons, and allows you to gain a variety of benefits from being drunk.
Equipment The Equipment sphere is somewhat unique because most practitioners will end up with something from this sphere. It has no innate effects - when you first pick it, you also pick a talent from it. Equipment talents are divided between Disciplines (gear proficiency, often with additional effects) and ways of interacting with or making better use of your gear.
Trap The Trap sphere is exactly what it sounds like. In addition to making characters good at creating and disarming traps, this sphere allows you to create Dart traps (which can strike one creature in a line for damage or certain loaded ammunition) and Snares (which target the first creature to enter a square it's placed in).
Offensive Spheres
Berserker The Berserker sphere focuses on delivering heavy blows to foes. In addition, users of this sphere can reduce their AC to gain temporary hit points, making it an excellent choice for characters whose AC is pretty high and want to get that extra cushion.
Dual Wielding The Dual Wielding sphere revolves around the use of two (or more) weapons at once. Successfully striking with both your main and off-hand weapon can inflict a variety of penalties on foes.
Duelist The Duelist sphere helps you disarm and inflict bleeding damage on foes. Successfully doing either of these can provide additional benefits for you (or penalties for your foe).
Fencing The Fencing sphere emphasizes the use of the feint ability to make your foes more vulnerable to being hit. It's often followed up by an attack action to take advantage of the target's weakness.
Lancer The Lancer sphere allows you to impale foes on your weapon, trapping them in place and allowing you to strike them more easily afterwards. Despite the name and common imagery, you don't actually need a lance or other long weapon to use this sphere.
Ranged Offensive Spheres
Barrage The Barrage sphere focuses on making rapid ranged attacks, even from up close to foes.
Sniper The Sniper sphere focuses on making single attacks, usually from long-range.
Defensive Spheres
Guardian The Guardian sphere focuses on challenging foes (with penalties for attacking people besides you) and creating zones that you can patrol to make safer for you and your allies. It also allows you to absorb damage (and other effects), with the possibility of avoiding the effects entirely if you can heal before the damage passes through your delayed pool.
Shield The Shield sphere focuses on using shields. This typically requires an actual shield, but anything used as a specific type of shield (such as that provided by a Ring of Force Shield) will likely play nice here. Your GM may allow other shield-like options to benefit from this sphere.
Unarmed Spheres
Boxing The Boxing sphere focuses on Counter Punches, allowing you to strike foes before they strike you.
Brute The Brute sphere focuses on shoving opponents and battering them down. In addition, it can help with the Bull Rush, Drag, Reposition, and Overrun combat maneuvers, allowing practitioners to apply useful effects to each maneuver.
Open Hand The Open Hand sphere focuses on making opponents fall prone, then taking advantage of them once they're on the ground.
Wrestling The Wrestling sphere focuses on grappling foes and slamming them to inflict a variety of negative effects, up to and including using them as a weapon.
Utility Spheres
Athletics The Athletics sphere covers movement, allowing for things like improved use of normal movement and making an attack action in the middle of movement instead of at one of the ends.
Beastmastery The Beastmastery sphere deals with animals and the handling thereof. A taming ability is provided for classes that don't have animal companions.
Gladiator The Gladiator sphere is more martially-focused than most of the utility spheres, and covers both boasting about your accomplishments (providing a benefit for you and/or your allies) and demoralizing your foes (to inflict penalties on them).
Scoundrel The Scoundrel sphere emphasizes the use of Sleight of Hand, as well as the Steal and Dirty Trick combat maneuvers.
Scout The Scout sphere helps you locate hazards, identify the weaknesses of foes, and use stealth to avoid problems.
Warleader The Warleader sphere focuses on taking control of the battlefield through tactics (which benefit allies) and shouts (which affect creatures in an area).

Note that some spheres have abilities outside their main focus. For example, some offensive powers can provide defensive benefits - if you use the Duelist sphere to disarm a foe, their reduced ability to attack is, in essence, a boost to your defense.

Step Three B: Make Sure Your Build Is Viable

It's tempting to spread out for a build early on, but this is not always a good idea. Talents can be very tight at the earliest levels, so it's usually better to ensure you have at least a basic combo ready, even if that means delaying some things you want to do with it. In Spheres of Might, this means carefully choosing which riders to start adding right away and which ones can wait until later.

Step Four: Select Some Drawbacks (Optional)

Much like Spheres of Power, Spheres of Might allows you to take drawbacks in return for additional talents in a given sphere. Drawbacks are typically real penalties - like the loss of effects you could normally inflict - but can help further customize a character and match a particular theme.

Step Five: Fill Out Your Character Sheet

Once you've done all of the above, it's time to fill out your character sheet. Do this in the following order:

  • Race
  • Ability Scores
  • Combat Talents
  • Feats
  • Skill Points
  • Values (Saving Throws, Attack Modifiers, etc.)

You'll note that combat talents come fairly early in the process. This is because some combat talents provide the effects of feats or grant you skill points, so they should be selected before you pick anything for those categories.

By the time you're done, your character should look similar to one of our sample characters.

Other Notes

Legendary Talents

Unlike Advanced Talents in Spheres of Power (which can have significantly game-altering effects), Legendary Talents aren't so much game-changing as thematically different from base talents. Many legendary talents have more of a supernatural or wuxia style to them, and for this reason, the GM has the final say on whether or not legendary talents are available in your game. Since they are balanced for the levels they are available at, the Wiki recommends deciding availablility based on the intended feel of your game world.

Basic Sphere Effects

Each sphere (except Equipment) gives you one or more effects when you first select it. If you're looking for a quick dip into a new Sphere, these are the benefits you'd get. Spheres that grant Ranks in a skill give 1 point per-Hit Dice to a maximum of 5 points. Taking additional talents in that sphere increases the maximum number of free skill points.

  • Alchemy: Ranks in Craft (Alchemy), and choice of knowledge about formulae or poison.
  • Athletics: Ranks in Climb, Fly, Acrobatics, or Swim, and regain Martial Focus whenever you Withdraw.
  • Barrage: +1 to Attack/Damage with Ranged Weapons in 30 feet, and a Special Attack Action to make multiple ranged attacks.
  • Barroom: No penalties with improvised weapons, quickly drink potions and alcohol, and set the Drunk status on yourself.
  • Beastmastery: Choice of Ranks in Handle Animal or Ride, plus taming creatures or improving your mount's defenses.
  • Berserker: Reduce AC by 2 to gain Temporary HP for a round, and a Special Attack Action to inflict the Battered condition on foes.
  • Boxing: Deal lethal damage with unarmed strikes and set up a counterattack to interrupt foes trying to attack you.
  • Brute: Deal lethal damage with unarmed strikes and gain a melee touch attack to inflict minor damage and the Battered condition.
  • Dual Wielding: Make an attack with an off-hand weapon as part of an attack action.
  • Dueling: Inflict bleed damage on foes when they're struck by an attack action or disarm attempt, and does not provoke AoO's when using a combat maneuver on a bleeding target.
  • Equipment: No special benefits. You do, however, immediately choose a talent from the sphere when you get it.
  • Fencing: Ranks in Bluff, and deal precision damage to foes vulnerable to it.
  • Gladiator: Ranks in Intimidate, improve your accuracy when you land a good blow, and an option to demoralize all foes close to you.
  • Guardian: Gain a pool that can delay some (or all) of the damage you receive until the end of your turn, and choice of challenging foes or creating a large range that you can threaten.
  • Lancer: Impale foes as part of an attack action, preventing them from moving and making them more vulnerable to followups.
  • Open Hand: Deal lethal damage with unarmed strikes and trip foes, without provoking an AoO, as a move action.
  • Scoundrel: Ranks in Sleight of Hand, bonuses to Dirty Trick, Steal, and Sleight of Hand, and a melee touch attack that inflicts Battered and reduces a foe's Perception.
  • Scout: Ranks in Stealth, and ability to use Perception to identify a foe's traits (at a -5 penalty).
  • Shield: When using a shield, spend Attacks of Opportunity to increase defense against attacks.
  • Sniper: Shoot at foes engaged in melee without taking a penalty, and a Special Attack Action allowing you to make a single high-damage ranged attack.
  • Trap: Ranks in Craft (Traps), and the ability to create temporary snare and dart traps.
  • Warleader: Ranks in Diplomacy, and abilities that allow you to help allies flank creatures and allow your party to deal more damage.
  • Wrestling: Deal lethal damage with unarmed strikes and gain a melee touch attack you can perform as a swift action to grapple foes.

Tip for Low Skill Point Classes: Remember that the Extra Combat Talent feat is a (Combat) feat, so it can often be taken as a bonus feat. You have until Level 6 before you need to keep investing in a sphere to get the highest number of skill points.

Damage Progression

Many Practitioners will want to pick up the Vital Strike line of feats in order to do the appropriate amount of damage. Typically, averaging 1/4 to 1/2 of a same-CR foe's HP per-round with regular attacks is appropriate - anything above this is excessive, while anything below is too little for a combat-focused character.

(A same-CR foe fought by a party is generally not a boss creature or a truly serious threat. A reasonably-viable party should be able to take a foe like this down in one round of attacks on average. Most characters can also do more damage than this by expending limited resources.)

Regaining Martial Focus

Martial Focus is a key element of Spheres of Might and required for many class and sphere abilities. Here are the various ways to regain it.

  • 1 minute of rest (everyone; happens automatically)
  • Using the Total Defense action (everyone)
  • Armiger class: Focusing Switch (immediate action to switch weapons when succeeding at a combat maneuver, confirming a critical hit, or reducing a foe to 0 hp; automatic at 3rd level)
  • Blacksmith class: Satisfying Crunch insight (immediate action when breaking or destroying an enemy's gear, provides other buffs; available at 2nd level)
  • Commander class: Group Focus (standard action to affect multiple allies; automatic at 5th level, very limited uses per day)
  • Scholar class: Circle of Salt imposition (succeed on saving throw against certain effects while protected by this feature; available at 3rd level)
  • Scholar class: Flashbangs (immediate action when enemy fails saves against Flashbangs, themselves a standard action; automatic at 2nd level)
  • Sentinel class: Second Wind (swift action to regain HP and Martial Focus; automatic at 3rd level, limited uses per day)
  • Striker class: Swift Focus (swift action, spending 2 tension; automatic at 1st level)
  • Great Focus feat (gain and maintain a second martial focus, separate from the first; requires 6+ BAB, 2+ combat spheres)
  • Mystic Focus feat (swift action to spend a spell point after casting a sphere effect; Champions only)
  • Alchemy: Focusing Formulae (move action to drink, must be prepared ahead of time)
  • Athletics: Coordinated Movement (base ability, Withdraw to regain martial focus)
  • Athletics: Whirlwind Flip (use Acrobatics to move through threatened areas)
  • Barrage: Blitz Focus (immediate action when you hit with at least two attacks in a Barrage)
  • Barrage: Mobile Focus (move at least 10 feet but no more than half your movement)
  • Barroom: Focusing Break (immediate action when you break or destroy a weapon)
  • Barroom: Focusing Buzz (move action to drink alcoholic beverage)
  • Beastmastery: Focusing Connection (move action to touch animal within reach, give bonuses to animal)
  • Berserker: Savage (immediate action when you reduce a sufficiently powerful creature to 0 HP)
  • Boxing: KO Focus (immediate action when you successfully hurt a sufficiently powerful creature with a Counter Punch)
  • Brute: Focused Might (move action to use the Shove ability; must succeed)
  • Dual Wielding: Focusing Defense (move action, gain AC and CMD bonus; does not actually require dual wielding)
  • Duelist: Focusing Advantage (immediate action when you successfully disarm as an attack action)
  • Fencing: Focusing Feint (swift action when you successfully feint)
  • Fencing: Parry and Riposte (expend focus and attempt AoO to parry attack, regain if successful)
  • Gladiator: Self Confidence (standard action, does not require normal triggers for a boast)
  • Guardian: Guardian's Focus (immediate action when creature affected by your challenge drops to 0 HP or you make a successful combat maneuver check during an AoO from a Patrol or an enemy misses an ally benefiting from your use of Defend Other)
  • Lancer: Focusing Finale (move action to remove your weapon from an Impaled creature)
  • Open Hand: Focusing Breath (move action, also ends the battered condition)
  • Scoundrel: Focusing Thievery (immediate action after using Steal or Dirty Trick, then succeeding at Sleight of Hand check; also entangles opponent and allows you to move a short distance)
  • Scout: Hidden Focus (successfully hide with Stealth during a move action)
  • Shield: Shielded Focus (move action when fighting defensively with an attack action or immediate action when an attack misses a creature benefiting from your Active Defense)
  • Sniper: Focusing Reload (reload weapon as a move, standard, or full-round action; readying arrow for a bow counts; does not trigger if loading faster than a move action [i.e. swift, immediate, or free])
  • Trap: Trapper's Recovery (immediate action when creature fails a saving throw caused by your trap or takes damage from your trap; you must be aware of this)
  • Warleader: Focusing Cry (standard action to expend your focus and restore the martial focus of 1 or more other creatures)
  • Warleader: Focusing Tactics (move action by sufficiently powerful ally affected by a Shout or Tactic; remember that you cannot regain martial focus more than once a round)
  • Wrestling: Rest Hold (move action while grappling adjacent creature, also grants partial cover and could result in grappled target being hit; requires you to control grapple)

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