How To Build A Spherecaster

Looking for help building your first Spherecaster? You're in the right place. This page will walk you through the process of creating a Spherecaster, with an emphasis on when and where you should select each part of your character. Note that this page assumes you know how to build a character in the normal system. If this is the first character you've ever made, ask your GM to guide you through the process.

Step One: Read the Using Spheres of Power page

This page introduces the mechanics of Spheres of Power and is the very first thing you should read if you want to build a Spherecaster. There, you'll be given the definitions for many of the terms you'll see on this site - as well as information on the ways they differ from the basic character creation system. This includes important things like how you can spend the magic talents (i.e. spells) you get, how to calculate your saving throws, and how to calculate your number of Spell Points (i.e. your daily resource pool).

Be sure to doublecheck your character against this page when you're done. This will help ensure that all of your numbers are correct.

Step Two: Pick a Class and Theme

Before you start building a character, it's important to have a clear idea of what kind of character you actually want to make. Spheres of Power is a flexible system and allows for a wide variety of concepts, so focus on what you want to play instead of what you think a given class expects. If you're not sure where to begin, tell yourself "It would be cool if I could…" and go from there. You can also look at characters from television shows, in books or movies, in video games, or from any other source that inspires you. As part of this, you may want to review the Character Roles page and pick one or two roles you'd like to fulfill.

If you're familiar with Paizo's classes, archetypes exist to convert almost all of them to the Spherecasting rules, and that may be a good place to begin. If you'd like to build your character with a Spherecasting class instead, here's a brief introduction to the new classes, sorted by their strength as casters.

Note that a character's Base Attack Bonus in Spheres of Power is generally inverse to their Caster Level - Low Casters are High BAB classes, Mid Casters are Mid BAB, and High Casters are Low BAB. This means Mid Casters will generally be more accurate with ranged attacks (like from the Destruction sphere) than High Casters, but the effects won't be quite as powerful. Exceptions to this setup do exist, but they're fairly rare.

Each class here also has its Casting Ability Modifier listed. If it says "Any", then you're allowed to choose which of the three mental abilities (Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma) you want to use.

Low Casters Description Casting Ability Modifier
Armorist The Armorist is a Low Casting class that focuses on summoning magical weapons and armor to suit the task at hand. This is the most martial class introduced by Spheres of Power, and ideal for anyone who wants to be a warrior with that uses magic to support themselves. Wisdom
Mageknight The Mageknight is a Low Casting class that is, essentially, a Magic Swordsman. In addition to possessing natural resilience against magical effects, Mageknights can learn various forms of Mystic Combat that let them spend their Spell Points on martial effects. This is a good choice if you want more of a 'classic' magical warrior feel. Any
Mid Casters Description Casting Ability Modifier
Elementalist The Elementalist is a Mid Casting class that focuses on manipulating one or more elements. Note that this can include unusual elements like Negative Energy, Force, or even the three physical elements (Slashing, Bludgeoning, and Piercing) if you're so inclined. They specialize in the use of the Destruction sphere, and are a good choice if you want to play a ranged damage-dealer. Charisma
Eliciter The Eliciter is a Mid Casting class that focuses on the use of the Mind Sphere to dominate enemies and bend them to your will. If you want to focus on making other people do the work for you - or play a "Diplomancer" who excels at bluffing, intimidating, or sweet-talking people into things - this is the class for you. Charisma
Hedgewitch The Hedgewitch is a flexible Mid Caster built around Traditions - thematic ways of using the powers they possess. Each of these Traditions offers a number of powers and benefits, and they can be matched together to create a uniquely talented individual. This makes the Hedgewitch a good option for players who want to dabble in a little bit of everything. Any
Shifter The Shifter is a Mid Casting class that focuses on using the Alteration Sphere. As natural shapeshifters, they're better at taking different forms - and can do more with those forms - than anyone else. This is the class to play if you don't want to be stuck in your own skin all the time. Wisdom
Symbiat The Symbiat is a Mid Casting class possessed by a spirit that gives them control of the Mind and Telekinesis spheres. They aren't quite as good at mental manipulation as Eliciters are, but their ability to affect the physical world makes up for this. Symbiats make excellent leaders for groups thanks to a variety of battlefield control abilities, and ultimately work best when they have the chance to support others. Intelligence
High Casters Description Casting Ability Modifier
Fey Adept The Fey Adept is a High Caster that specializes in the Illusion Sphere. In addition to easier use of such magic, Fey Adepts can use their Shadowstuff ability to imitate other powers. This is a good choice if you like being creative with your abilities. Charisma
Incanter The Incanter is a High Caster that's not so much a class as a toolkit for building your own class. Instead of receiving class abilities, the Incanter simply gets more Magic Talents than anyone else - as well as plenty of bonus feats that can be spent on even more Magic Talents, extra Spell Points, or other casting-based feats. They can also trade some of their feats to specialize in certain Spheres or pick up useful class abilities. This makes it the optimal choice if you want to play a pure "Caster" character, or if you have an idea and nothing else is quite capable of supporting it. Any
Soul Weaver The Soul Weaver is an expert in the use of Life and Death, with a particular emphasis on summoning and bolstering the spirits of the dead. They also have access to the Channel Energy power (like traditional Clerics), and if controlling the undead isn't quite your thing, the Dual Channeler archetype turns them into channeling specialists. Charisma
Thaumaturge The Thaumaturge is an unusual class for Spherecasting - they're dedicated specialists who don't know very many Magic Talents, but make up for this with the ability to enhance what they focus on and break the usual limits. They're also the only High Caster class that receives Medium BAB progression, making them measurably more accurate if they need to target their enemies. Any

As with Paizo's classes, the classes for Spheres of Power have a number of archetypes that can further specialize the characters in certain ways. Be sure to take a look at those options before you pick a class, since they may match your idea better.

Also, remember that Caster Level stacks in Spheres of Power. This means you can multiclass and your Caster Level will continue to grow (rather than being separate, and lower, for each Class).

Step Three: Decide Which Spheres to Use

Every Spherecaster gains two Magic Talents (spells known) the first time they get the Casting class feature. For most classes (including all Spherecasting classes detailed above) this means Level 1, and these Talents are in addition to any bonus Talents that your class gives you and any Talents from levels. Most characters will thus have between two and four Magic Talents at this time, some of which may already be spent. You must spend one Magic Talent to gain access to the base abilities of any Sphere you don't already possess, and one additional Talent for each further ability from that Sphere.

Many of Spheres' new classes specialize in using one or more Spheres, but that doesn't mean you're stuck with those choices. Any Spherecaster can learn any of the Spheres. There are just a few important things to keep in mind when deciding on your options.

  • Some abilities are not meaningfully affected by Caster Level. For example, many of the Life Sphere's choices have effects that are the same no matter what level you are.
  • In general, Low Casters do better with abilities that aren't affected by Caster Level, and that work on themselves and/or their allies instead of enemies. Having a lower Caster Level also means lower Save DC's, so it'll be much harder to land anything that's intended to affect the enemy. Mid Casters are better about this - and several of them get full progression in one particular Sphere.
    • For example, the Elementalist gets full Caster Level progression in Destruction, as if they were a High Caster instead of a Mid Caster. Any other Spheres an Elementalist learns won't receive this benefit, but they aren't necessarily 'weaker' than a High Caster just because they're more accurate. Indeed, the increased chance of landing attacks means they may actually be stronger in that field.
    • There are ways to improve your Caster Level above your 'base' limit, so even Low Casters aren't necessarily as limited as they might look at first. Some ways of doing this include:
      • Using a Staff (see 'What about Equipment?', below), which provides an Enhancement Bonus to Caster Level for 1 or more Spheres
      • Taking the Energy Specialization feat, which provides a +2 insight bonus to Caster Level for one group of Destructive Blast types (i.e. +1d6 damage, or +2d6 when spending a spell point to do more)
      • Taking the Focused Blast Type Group feat, which increases your Caster Level by up to +5 for a themed group of Destructive Blasts (but no higher than your Hit Dice, making it most useful for Low Casters and higher-level Mid Casters)
      • Taking the Empowered Abilities boon (see the next step), which provides a +1 bonus to Caster Level when you're low on spell points, or a +2 bonus when you're entirely out
  • Most Spherecasters don't have enough Magic Talents to dive into too many different Spheres. It's important to think about which kinds of powers your character would actually use on a regular basis. If something seems too situational, it might be better to get the power as a consumable (potion, scroll, etc.) instead of spending a Talent on it. As a good rule of thumb, your first character should probably focus on just three or four Spheres.
  • Remember that Advanced Talents are not normally available. You must have explicit GM permission to select any of these options.

To make things easier, here's a table introducing each of the spheres.

Sphere/Talent Type Overview of the Sphere's Talents Core1
Alteration Alteration focuses on physical transformations, allowing characters to grow new body parts, adjust their size, and generally become what they need. While Alteration's talents aren't separated by category, they do broadly fall into "Transformation" talents (which give new forms and traits) and general talents (which support transforming). Yes
Conjuration Conjuration focuses on summoning one or more companions. Each companion scales in growth based on the user's caster level (with some limits on what can accelerate their growth), but they require form talents to really develop new skills. Yes
Form Talents Form Talents provide benefits to a summoned companion. These cover a wide selection of choices, from additional limbs to alignment-based powers and using equipment. Yes
Creation Creation focuses on conjuring inanimate items, with talents expanding the types of materials that can be created. Unlike most spheres, conjuration is spell point-intensive aside from the Alter talents (below), the basics of which allow you to damage and repair objects. Yes
Alter Talents Alter talents focus on manipulating existing objects, mainly in the forms of healing/damaging them, changing their materials, or changing their shape. Yes
Dark Dark talents focus on the manipulation of shadows and darkness. The basic talent includes the creation of a sphere of darkness, with later talents allowing for things like moving the area of darkness or blocking divination effects. Yes
Blot Talents Blots are two-dimensional pools of darkness. Unlike most darkness-based effects, they don't change lighting levels. Instead, they can deliver negative effects or create passageways. No
Meld Talents Meld talents allow a target to interact with created areas of darkness in specific ways, such as by granting fast healing or immunity to the negative effects of your darkened areas. Yes
Shadow Talents Shadow talents directly manipulate the target's shadow, allowing for effects like blinding a target or hiding items inside your shadow. No
Death Death talents focus on reanimating dead bodies and using negative energy to inflict conditions on foes. Most of the untagged talents of this sphere improve the reanimation power. Yes
Ghost Strike Talents Ghost Strike talents provide alternative effects for the basic Ghost Strike ability, allowing you to choose the power most appropriate for a given situation. Note that Ghost Strike talents do not stack - you can only use one at a time. Yes
Destruction At the name implies, Destruction is all about harming your enemies. The basic talent is a scaling ranged touch attack. Yes
Blast Shape Talents Blast Shape talents allow you to change the area that your Destructive Blast targets. For example, you can make it ricochet between multiple targets, blast a cone-shaped area, or create an explosive orb. Yes
Blast Type Talents Blast Type talents change the type of damage you do with destructive blasts. This can let you turn the basic bludgeoning damage into fire, electricity, negative energy, and so on - often with an additional effect. Yes
Divination Divination is all about uncovering information by magical means. If you're using the Diviner's Handbook, knowing other spheres gives you additional ways of divining for information at no extra investment. Yes
Divine Talents Divine talents allow you to gather information in new ways - the exact method of doing so is specific to each talent. Yes
Sense Talents Sense talents give you a new sense for an extended period of time. This can be used to let you read magic, avoid being flanked, detect scrying, and so on. Yes
Enhancement Enhancement focuses on providing an effect to targets you touch. The basic ability allows you to magically enhance your equipment. Yes
Enhance Talents Enhance talents provide new ways of affecting targets. While most of these are positive (creating animated objects, making weapons sharper, etc.), there are also negative ways of enhancing targets (making poisons deal acid damage, penalizing rolls, and so on). Yes
Fate The Fate sphere focuses on luck and alignment, allowing you to manipulate them and make things more likely to go your way. The basic talents include a minor bonus to all allies and a protective barrier against attacks and effects from an opposing alignment. Yes
Consecration Talents Consecration talents affect a 20-foot radius around you with specific rules that you impose. Yes
Word Talents Word talents allow you to affect a single creature in close range with a positive or negative effect. Yes
Illusion Illusion focuses on creating things that aren't real. These can be as simple as minor tricks, or more complex falsifications designed to hid you and fool your enemies. Yes
Illusion Talents Illusion talents provide new ways for you to use your illusions, such as by affecting new senses or covering a larger area. Yes
Life The Life sphere focuses on healing hit point damage and curing conditions. Additional talents improve the amount of healing done and allow a caster to cure additional effects. (Tip: Get Revitalize) Yes
Vitality Talents Vitality talents provide a minor boon when a target is affected by an ability from the Life sphere. No
Light The Light sphere focuses on illumination and the many things that can be done with it, from directing the areas to be lit to creating stylish, artistic designs. Yes
Lens Talents Lens talents alter the way light interacts with a target, allowing for things like better aim for ranged attacks or immunity to negative effects in bright areas. No
Light Talents Light talents provide additional effects for the basic glow ability of the Light sphere. Yes
Nimbus Talents Nimbus talents affect the area that your light touches, allowing for more precise control of its effects. Yes
Mind The Mind sphere allows you to adjust a creature's mental state, from sweet-talking it into doing what you want to disrupting its ability to cast spells. Yes
Charm Talents Charm talents provide new ways of affecting a target's mind. Yes
Cloud Talents Cloud talents create an area that affects everyone who enters it. These are typically more subtle than Charm talents, and may go entirely unnoticed. No
Nature The Nature sphere focuses on the manipulation of the natural world in specific ways - and often requires the right type of natural material to be present. The Geomancing packages give you basic control of Earth, Fire, Metal, Plantlife, and Water, each of which has their own associated talents. (Metal is not Core.) Yes
Spirit Talents While most talents in the Nature sphere provide additional ways to manipulate an element, Spirit talents allow you to attune yourself with nature and gain benefits like the ability to speak with animals or absorb energy from fire. Yes
Protection The Protection sphere is focused on defense, allowing you to increase AC bonuses, ward off elemental damage, and generally survive what your opponents throw at you. Yes
Aegis Talents Aegis talents provide a long-lasting defensive bonus. They do stack (except with themselves), so one character can benefit from multiple defenses. Yes
Ward Talents Ward talents allow you to create a protective barrier that blocks effects over a wide area. Yes
Telekinesis The Telekinesis sphere focuses on manipulating objects - and people - at range. With the right talents, this is an extremely flexible sphere that allows for everything from deflecting ranged attacks to remotely picking locks (or deliberately setting off traps). Yes
Time The Time sphere focuses on altering and adjusting time, to the benefit or detriment of whoever's being affected by it. The normal talents improve the functioning of the base abilities. Yes
Time Talents Time talents provide new ways of affecting time on a target, including altering the subject's age or temporarily ejecting them from time itself. Yes
War The War sphere is all about affecting the battlefield. While most of these provide positive effects to allies - especially warriors - some of them can penalize foes. Yes
Mandate Talents Mandates link two allies together, providing a bonus to one when the other accomplishes a specific task. No
Momentum Talents Momentum talents create a pool of points that any ally can draw from to activate useful effects. No
Rally Talents Rally talents can be used as an immediate action by a caster to adjust the battlefield, such as by redirecting damage or allowing an ally to reroll an attack. Yes
Totem Talents Totems create an effect over a wide radius. Most are fixed in position (unless you learn to move them), but you can lay down multiple totems to rapidly stack benefits for your allies. Yes
Warp The Warp sphere focuses on teleportation, allowing the caster and their allies to reach areas that might otherwise be out of reach. Yes
Space Talents Space talents affect an area of space rather than warping the target, allowing for things like hiding objects in an extradimensional storage or restricting others from using planar travel. Yes
Weather The Weather sphere allows you to change the wind, temperature, and/or precipitation of a wide area. Unlike most spheres, the Weather sphere is slow to activate and can be difficult to use in the first few levels, but it can be extremely potent at higher levels. Yes

1: This does not mean that all talents of a given type are from the core book. It only means that the core rulebook has talents of this type.

Step Four: Select Some Drawbacks (Optional)

Drawbacks are an important part of the Spheres of Power system - I know, I know, intentionally limiting your character seems a bit weird at first. Trust me, though, this is actually going to make your character better… if your GM allows this system, at least, because this is an optional (albeit encouraged) rule rather than a core component of the system.

Drawbacks come in two major forms. The first form is General Drawbacks, which apply to your character as a whole. For example, if you wanted to recreate the "classic" feel of spellcasting in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, you might decide that your character needs to speak and gesture in order to activate their magic. To impose these limits on your character, you'd select the Verbal Casting and Somatic Casting drawbacks from the list. Now that you've done that, you get to decide on the benefits you get. Normally, selecting General Drawbacks gives your character a certain number of extra Spell Points - but you can also select from a list of useful Boons if you'd rather have those. Each Boon costs 2 General Drawbacks, and you no longer get the bonus Spell Points if you take a Boon instead.

This system allows for a wide variety of possible character designs, and with your GM's permission, you're free to come up with whatever sort of casting tradition you want. You can also pick from the list of traditions that have been provided - or select none at all if that fits your concept better. General Drawbacks are not required, but they do help. Note that these must be selected at character creation.

The other form of Drawback is the Sphere-Specific Drawback. These are real limitations on what you can do with a given Sphere, often limiting who you can affect with them or which other Talents you can select. In return for these limitations, though, each Sphere-Specific Drawback gives you a bonus Magic Talent for that Sphere. These Drawbacks are selected for a Sphere when you first gain access to it, and they are not permanent - you can "buy back" the Drawback at a later point by spending a Magic Talent.

Now, for an example, let's say that you're playing a Shifter (specializing in the Alteration Sphere), and you decide that you want an extra Talent to open up your options. Looking down the list, you spy the Lycanthropic drawback, which limits you to transforming yourself. This isn't a problem for you - you weren't really intending to transform your teammates anyway - so you take that Drawback and grab the extra Talent you wanted. Easy, right?

If you're willing to accept the limits, you can quite literally double the number of Talents you have access to at first level by taking Sphere-Specific Drawbacks. As with General Drawbacks, though, these are entirely optional - you can have as few or as many as you'd like (as long as they're all compatible with each other, of course).

Step Five: Fill Out Your Character Sheet

Now that you've selected your options, it's time to actually fill out your sheet and build your character as you normally would. Do it in this order:

  • Race
  • Ability Scores
  • Feats
  • Skill Points
  • Values (Saving Throws, Attack Modifiers, Number of Spell Points, etc.)

By the time you're done, your sheet should look something like this sample character, and you're ready to play. If you're planning to play online (say, on Paizo's official forum), you can use this profile template to easily format your character sheet.

What about Equipment?

If you're starting your game at 1st Level, then you won't have the cash for many of the new items (magical and mundane) introduced with this system. That said, you'll do well to look over the Weapons, Armor, Special Materials, and Magical Items pages to see what's different, and you may want to plan at least a few purchases ahead of time. This wiki includes a number of already-published items (with links on the main Spheres of Power page), but don't be afraid to come up with new ones that fit your character, party, or game world.

If you're not sure what to get once you have a little cash, go for a Staff - in this system, staves provide an enhancement bonus to Caster Level, and being better in your main Sphere(s) is rarely a bad idea. Staves can also give you access to additional Talents - if you'd like to buy one from a store, talk with your GM about what might be available.

(Note that some Spheres interact with Staves a bit differently. In particular, Destruction requires a bonus of at least +2 to your Caster Level in order to get a consistent benefit from it, while Death and Conjuration have different benefits than raising your Caster Level would normally provide. Be sure to read the rules for crafting staves before you get one!)

Classic Items vs Sphere Items

Depending on the specifics of your game world, you could have no Sphere-based items, all Sphere-based items, or some mix of new and old. There's no right or wrong here - all of these options are perfectly workable (although there aren't very many pre-made Sphere items, so you'll have your work cut out for you if you remove Classic items entirely). That said, be sure to ask your GM about which kinds of items you can expect to find, purchase, or create.

If you are using a mix, remember that creating Sphere-based items should not be seen as a way to get around the costs of Classic items. If an item costs 4,000 GP when made in the Classic way, an identical effect should also cost 4,000 GP if you're making it with Spheres of Power. The correct way to price an item is to look for similar items first, and only use the pricing tables if there's nothing else on which to base the price. The last thing you want is for your GM to tell you that something you were aiming for will be more expensive than you thought, so it's best to clarify things ahead of time.

Other Tips

  • If you have a complicated character - like anyone focused on Alteration - do your group a favor and write up the most common things you'll do. For example, a Shifter may have a couple of 'preferred' forms to change into, and having all of the stat changes and numerical values for each form written down before the game starts will save time and help keep things moving.
  • Destruction is a solid choice for everyone. A scaling, all-day-long ranged touch attack never goes out of style, and it serves as a good option in combat whenever you don't want (or need) to do anything else. Even if foes are in melee combat (which imposes a -4 penalty to accuracy), you should be able to hit with it pretty much all the time once you hit the middle levels of the game.
    • Low Casters may want to invest in the "melee" line of abilities (the Destruction Sphere, the Energy Blade talent, and the Improved Energy BladeSoP, Combat CastingCRB, and Melee BlasterSoP feats). This will let you add your Destructive Blast's damage to your first successful melee attack every round without provoking Attacks of Opportunity (albeit at the cost of your Swift Action). If you add the Focused Blast Type GroupSoP feat, you can also get a nice improvement to your damage (capping at +2d6 normally, which is the equivalent of an extra +2 special ability on your weapon).
    • Alternatively, the Conductive enchantment offers a way to deliver a Destructive Blast (or many other effects) directly through the weapon each round. This can be quite useful indeed, and potentially more affordable than investing feats, although the practicality depends in part on the character's build. Also, your GM may rule that Sphere powers are effectively spells rather than being spell-like (a narrow but important distinction), which would technically disqualify this combo from working.
  • All characters focused on dealing damage should consider reading this guide - or, if you're more familiar with the subject, check out the quick-reference table instead. This is a good way of measuring how appropriate your character's ability to cause damage is for your level. Characters are generally at the ideal strength if they're in the 'green' range - orange is too low, while blue may be too high.
  • Remember that stronger effects tend to require you to spend a spell point, either to maintain them for a long period of time or to use them in the first place. Aim for a good balance between costly powers and those you can use all day. Once you have a few levels under you, it's appropriate to spend approximately 1/5th of your Spell Points per-encounter. This, of course, is assuming a standard four encounters per-day. If you're facing more encounters than that, adjust your use of Spell Points accordingly - and remember that Spheres of Power has many perfectly useful powers that can be used all day long, so you don't have to expend resources for easier encounters.
    • The reason for this division (into fifths instead of fourths) is to give you a couple of points to spend for non-combat challenges. Not every challenge involves fighting, so it helps to have a bit of extra power in reserve for those types of situations.

Spheres of Power by Drop Dead Studios
Classes
Armorist Elementalist Eliciter Fey Adept
Hedgewitch Incanter Mageknight Shifter
Soul Weaver Symbiat Thaumaturge Bokor (PC)
Spheres
Alteration Conjuration Creation Dark
Death Destruction Divination Enhancement
Fate Illusion Life Light
Mind Nature Protection Telekinesis
Time War Warp Weather
Rules
About Advanced Magic Advanced Talents Incantations Rituals
Spellcrafting Alternate Racial Traits Casting Traditions Traits
Feats
Admixture Anathema Combat Counterspell
Drawback Dual Sphere Extra General
Item Creation Metamagic Protokinesis Proxy
Racial Sphere-Focused Squadron Teamwork
Get the Core Rulebook Get the Expanded Options
Alteration Handbook Conjuration Handbook Creation Handbook Dark Handbook
Death Handbook Destruction Handbook Divination Handbook Enhancement Handbook
Fate Handbook Illusion Handbook Life Handbook Light Handbook
Mind Handbook Nature Handbook Protection Handbook Telekinesis Handbook
Time Handbook War Handbook Warp Handbook Weather Handbook
See the Legal & OGL page. Any material NOT covered by the Open Game License Version 1.0a is covered by the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.