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.

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.
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