Techniques

Techniques are an expanded form of the Spellcrafting system, allowing characters to create complex actions using a combination of both combat and magic spheres. Similar to Spellcrafting, the technique system is designed to allow for the creation of custom abilities by PCs and GMs. Any effect that would apply to spellcrafting or crafted spells applies to techniques in the same manner.

In its simplest form, a technique is a sphere effect that has been augmented and added to with combat or magic talents. Like unaugmented sphere effects, a technique has a base sphere from which its DC is derived. A technique may also have a caster level if it uses magic talents. For the purpose of resolving interactions, a technique is considered to be a talent of every sphere which is used in its construction or the most beneficial to the initiator in the case that two component spheres would contradict each other in an interaction.

While the rules presented below are designed to aid in creating techniques, in the end, these rules are purposely left vague to encourage creativity, mystery, and wonder.

Creating a Technique

Technique creation is as much art as science and is a similar process as inventing spells with the core Pathfinder magic system, in that good sense and judgment are just as important to creating a balanced spell as the math itself. GMs are encouraged to adjust the performance time, spell point cost, and content of a technique if it is exploitative or disrupting of gameplay.

To create a technique, first choose a base sphere ability (destructive blast, glow, shapeshift, etc. for magic spheres, barrage, shout, tame, etc. for combat spheres) augmented by talents as normal. This base ability determines the technique’s base sphere and all associated numbers such as saving throws, spell point cost, and caster level if, as is the case with the elementalist, eliciter, or shifter, their caster level is different with different spheres. This also determines the spell’s number of targets, duration, etc. (Note: If a technique employs both magic and combat spheres, it is treated as having both a base magic sphere and a base combat sphere, though only uses the highest when determining DCs. This means that abilities which would specifically affect either sphere affect the technique.)

Next, choose additional sphere abilities, talents, feats, and other augmentations to add to the base sphere ability. You must possess every sphere, talent, or feat to be used in the created technique, and any spell points cost associated with these additional abilities is added to the spell point cost of the technique. Sphere abilities or talents may not be applied twice to the same technique unless it is granting different effects. Additionally, with every alteration made, the technique gains or loses complexity. The more complex a technique is, the greater its initiation time and/or the more spell points it costs to use.

A technique’s cost in actions and spell points is determined by its complexity, which is determined by the number of spheres comprising the technique.

Every base sphere ability that is added to the technique beyond the second increases the technique’s complexity by 1. This includes barrage, blooded strike, destructive blasts, darkness, geomancing, glow, shove, and other effects. Techniques that utilize at least one combat sphere do not provoke attacks of opportunity in the same way spells do (but may still provoke if they involve ranged attacks or movement).

Sometimes, you may wish to add the effects of a feat or a talent independent of adding a base sphere ability. This could include adding multiple (blast type) talents to a destructive blast, applying an Enhancement talent to a (stance) talent, or applying a (blitz) talent to a destructive blast. In each of these cases, the technique gains 1 complexity for each talent applied. You must have the base talent of sphere as part of a technique before you can apply other talents of that sphere to it.

A technique that includes at least one advanced talent must also include all talents used to meet the prerequisites for that talent. For example, a technique that includes the Reverse Gravity advanced talent must also include the Lighten talent. With GM permission, other changes to a technique may increase or decrease the complexity. This could include targeting a creature other than yourself with a (spirit) Nature ability (+1 complexity), shortening a duration from 1 hour per caster level to 10 minutes per caster level (-1 complexity), etc. The minimum complexity of a technique is 0. No technique effect should be created that grants more than 1 damage die per hit die of the creatures using it (discounting weapon damage dice) without severe inspection.

Complex techniques require expenditures of effort, time, or magical energy. A technique has a complexity cost equal to its complexity. Complexity costs can be paid in one of three ways: Martial focus, extended initiation times, and spell points.

Expending martial focus as part of performing a technique (but not as part of other actions such as brutal strike) counts as paying 1 point to the complexity cost, as does each spell point spent as part of the technique. The actions used to perform the technique also contribute towards the payment of the complexity cost as per Table: Initiation Time Increases (remember that if the initiation time is 1 round or more, that the technique resolves when the last round has finished and it is the start of the initiator’s next turn). The complexity cost of a technique is set when the technique is created, but each creature may decide how to pay the cost of the technique when they perform it. (For example, a character could use a complexity 7 technique by spending martial focus and 4 spell points while extending the initiation time to 1 round. Another could initiate the same technique as a standard action by expending 7 spell points.)

A technique can only be paid for with martial focus if it was created with at least one combat sphere. All techniques that utilize one or more magic spheres require at least one spell point to initiate.

Table: Complexity
Technique Component Complexity
Starting base sphere 1
Second base sphere +1
Base sphere beyond second +2
Talent besides base sphere +1
Table: Initiation Time Increases
Action Complexity Cost Payment
Standard action none
1 full-round action 1
1 round 2
2 rounds 3
3 rounds 4
+1 round per increase +1 per increase

Technique Crafting

Once a character has set their technique’s function and complexity, they must spend resources to craft it. A character must possess the Technique Crafting feat and must have access to all of the feats and talents used in the creation of a technique (be this in the form of knowledge, of allies who possess this knowledge, or magic items that replicate the talents) in order to craft it. Once a particular technique has been created, it may be added to through further research, with characters adding new talents that they know to the technique at a rate of 1 feat or talent per day of research. A technique’s existing talents cannot be changed except through the creation of a new technique. Creating a technique is a process similar to creating a magic item, and takes 1 day of research + 1 day per point of complexity, at the end of which a caster must succeed at a skill check with a DC equal to 5 + 5 x the technique’s complexity, or have their efforts wasted. The skill check made to create a technique can be made with any of the following skills: Craft (any), Knowledge (any), Perform (any), Profession (any), Spellcraft, any skill that the creator uses with the Skilled Casting drawback, or any skill which a sphere used in the technique’s creation would grant ranks in (such as Diplomacy for Warleader or Intimidate for Gladiator).

If a character possesses talents that would modify all uses of a specific sphere ability (such as Extended Range from the Destruction sphere or Greater Shove from the Brute sphere), they may apply these talents’ effects to a technique as normal without having to modify the technique.

Learning Techniques

A character who creates a technique automatically knows the technique, and can teach it to others either directly or through scribing it in a technique script. The character learning the technique directly must spend at least one hour studying with someone who knows the technique for every point of the technique’s complexity, and must attempt a skill check with a DC of 10 + 2 x the complexity of the technique. The skill check made must use one of the skills used to create the technique. A character need not know all of the talents used in the creation of a technique to learn the technique, but must have access to all of them in various forms (be it from knowledge, magic items that replicate the talent, or allies in the case of multi-character techniques) in order to perform the technique.

A character may only know a number of techniques at a time equal to their casting ability modifier or practitioner modifier, whichever is higher (minimum 1). If the character is only a caster or only a practitioner, they use the corresponding modifier.

If a character is neither a practitioner or a caster, they can know a maximum of one technique. If a character researches a technique after they have reached this limit, they must decide which of their previous techniques will be lost from his memory to make room for the new technique. A character may augment a technique by adding more feats or talents to it, through an additional day of research per feat or talent, and a new skill check at the end of the process. A character cannot use a technique that requires an advanced talent unless a participant possesses that talent and meets the prerequisites for that talent.

Multi-Character Techniques

Multiple characters may work together to perform a technique, in which case all participants must pay the complexity cost. However, the complexity cost of the technique is reduced by 2 for every participant beyond the first (for example, three characters performing a technique with complexity 4 could do so by spending a standard action and no other resources, or two could perform the technique as a standard action by spending martial focus and 1 spell point). If the technique uses magic talents, at least one spell point must be spent by at least one participant in the technique. The participants all contribute their actions and spell points to a single individual performing the technique (meaning that if Fire Tackle is performed with two participants, both must contribute to the complexity cost but only one actually charges). If multiple characters work together to perform a technique, no one participant is required to know all of the talents needed to perform the technique (in the previous example, one participant could possess the Destruction sphere, Energy Strike, and Fire Blast talents, while the other could possess the Brute sphere, Hammer, and Unstoppable talents). Use the highest of each participant’s caster level and base attack bonus for the purpose of calculating the effects of the technique. The technique is performed on the lowest of the participants’ initiative counts, and all participants must delay their actions until all members are able to act. All participants in a technique must be within close range (25 feet + 5 feet/2 levels) of each other, using the lowest-level participant to determine the maximum range.

Technique Scripts

A character who possesses the Technique Crafting feat is capable of recording any techniques they know as well as any techniques they research into technique scripts. Writing a technique down in a script takes 1 hour per sphere or talent or feat involved in the technique and requires 1 page per sphere or talent or feat involved in the technique. Talents providing several effects count once per effect.

If a character finds a technique tome they have not created themselves, they must decipher its writing through either a successful skill check using either Linguistics or one of the skills used to create the technique (DC 20 + the technique’s complexity), a read magic spell, or the basic sense ability from the Divination sphere in order to understand it. Once a technique has been deciphered, it does not need to be deciphered again by the same character.

If a character possesses all of a technique’s prerequisite spheres and talents and has deciphered the writing, they may read from the script and use that technique as if it were in their repertoire without issue. This takes 2 rounds of uninterrupted reading in addition to the technique’s usual casting time. Alternately, the character may spend an hour per page reading and practicing a deciphered technique to add that technique to his repertoire as if he had just researched it. A character may attempt to initiate a technique from a script without meeting the prerequisites, but the technique’s effective complexity increases for every sphere or talent not possessed (talents gained through implements, with the Circle Casting feat, or with similar items or feats count when meeting a spell’s prerequisites), and suffers a cumulative 10% chance per missing prerequisite that the technique will not function. Unlike a ritual book, a technique script is simply a notebook detailing the theory involved in a technique’s creation, and as such, has no cost in magical components to create. Technique scripts have no market value of their own, and while they may be found, they are rarely bought and even more rarely sold.


Sample Techniques

Destructive Barrage

Combat Sphere Barrage
Magic Sphere Destruction
Complexity 4 (2 base talents, 4 talents total) (crafting time 5 days)
Range see text
Target see text
Duration see text
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance yes
Prerequisites Barrage sphere (any one (blitz) talent), Destruction sphere (any one (blast type) talent)
Description
You unleash a flurry of powerful magical shots. When you use this technique, you perform a barrage action using your destructive blast in place of a ranged weapon on each attack. You may apply (blitz) talents to the barrage as normal and (blast type) talents to the destructive blasts, and may spend a spell point to increase the damage of any of your destructive blasts as normal.

Distant Thrust

Combat Sphere Fencing
Magic Sphere Destruction
Complexity 2 (2 base talents, 2 talents total) (crafting time 3 days)
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft. per 2 caster levels)
Target 1 creature or object
Duration instantaneous
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance yes
Prerequisites Fencing sphere, Destruction sphere
Description
You strike out against a distant target using a melee weapon. You may make an attack action with a melee weapon against one target within close range as if it were within your reach. This does not grant the additional damage of a destructive blast. If you possess the Extended Range talent, you may use it to increase the range of this technique as if it were your destructive blast.

Fire Tackle

Combat Sphere Brute
Magic Sphere Destruction
Complexity 5 (2 base talents, 5 talents total) (crafting time 6 days)
Range see text
Target see text
Duration instantaneous
Saving Throw Reflex partial (see text); Spell Resistance yes (see text)
Prerequisites Brute sphere (Unstoppable), Destruction sphere (Energy Strike, Fire Blast)
Description
You surround yourself in a corona of fire before charging at the target, leaving a path of flame in your wake. Make a charge attack or charging shove against a creature you are capable of charging. You may charge over difficult terrain. This movement still costs twice as much as normal. When making this charge, you may attempt to overrun a creature in the path of the charge or to attempt a Strength check to break an unattended object such as a door or wall that is in your way, as a free action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity. If the check is successful, you may complete the charge. If the check is unsuccessful, the charge ends in the space directly in front of that creature or object. Any object you break or creature you overrun catches on fire, taking 1d6 points of fire damage per round. Each round the target may attempt a Reflex save to attempt to extinguish the flames. Rolling on the ground or using a blanket to smother the flames (a full-round action) grants the target a +4 bonus to that round’s saving throw.

For every 5 base attack bonus or caster levels you possess (whichever is higher) you may attempt to break or overrun an additional target, but suffer a cumulative -2 penalty on each additional check made. This can allow you to initiate a charge through squares that you do not have line of sight to. You may resolve your charge attack against any valid target within reach of the charge’s path after passing through the barriers (creature or object) blocking your line of sight.

If the charge or shove strikes its target, the target takes additional fire damage equal to your destructive blast damage and must succeed at a Reflex save or catch fire. Spell resistance applies against the fire damage and the risk of catching fire, but not the damage from the charge itself.

Forceful Riposte

Combat Spheres Boxing, Brute
Complexity 3 (2 base talents, 3 talents total) (crafting time 4 days)
Range see text
Target see text
Duration 1 round
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance no
Prerequisites Boxing sphere, Brute sphere (Quick Force)
Description
You prepare an attack that will blow your target away. You ready an action to perform a counterpunch, and may perform a shove in place of the counterpunch when the counterpunch is triggered. This shove deals additional damage as your counterpunch would. If the shove is successful, you may perform a bull rush, drag, or reposition combat maneuver as part of the shove.

Sniper’s Burst

Combat Spheres Barrage, Sniper
Complexity 3 (2 base talents, 3 talents total) (crafting time 4 days)
Range see text
Target 1 creature
Duration instantaneous
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance no
Prerequisites Barrage sphere, Sniper sphere (any (snipe) talent)
Description
You slip in an immensely deadly shot amidst a flurry of projectiles. You make a barrage attack, adding your damage from deadly shot to a single attack made as part of the barrage. You may also apply a single (snipe) talent to this attack.

Warping Fury

Combat Sphere Berserking
Magic Sphere Warp
Complexity 5 (2 base talents, 5 talents total) (crafting time 6 days)
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft. per 2 caster levels)
Target one creature, see text
Duration instantaneous
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance no
Prerequisites Berserking sphere (Advancing Carnage), Warp sphere (Pouncing Teleport, Quick Teleport)
Description
You teleport around the battlefield rapidly, delivering strikes to multiple creatures. You teleport into melee attacking range of a creature within close range and make a single melee attack against it, taking a -2 penalty to the attack roll. If you are successful, you may teleport to another creature which is within close range of your new position and make a melee attack against it at the same -2 penalty. You may teleport and attack again every time you hit a target, to a maximum number of attacks beyond the first equal to 1/2 your caster level or 1/2 your base attack bonus (whichever is higher). You cannot attack the same creature multiple times with this ability.


Technique Feats

Adept Initiator (Champion, Combat)

You simplify and streamline your intricate performances.

Prerequisite: Knowledge of at least one technique.

Benefit: Reduce the complexity of all techniques you know by 1 for the purpose of your initiation of them.

Burning Technique (Champion, Combat)

You suffer to perform immensely powerful techniques.

Prerequisite: Knowledge of at least one technique.

Benefit: In addition to the normal methods of paying for a technique’s complexity cost, you may choose to pay for complexity by taking ability burn to an ability score of your choice. Every 2 points of ability burn that you take pays for 1 point of complexity. Ability burn functions as ability damage, save that it can only be healed by resting for 8 hours.

Companion Techniques (Champion, Combat)

You share the intricacies of your combat lore with your closest allies.

Prerequisites: Knowledge of at least one technique, must have the Conjuration sphere, an animal companion, or some similar ability that grants a companion.

Benefit: Choose an animal companion, Conjuration sphere companion, or other companion you have as a result of some ability. It learns any techniques you do. In addition, when learning or crafting techniques, you have access to any talents your companion has, even if it is not currently summoned.

Special: You may take this feat multiple times. Each time, you select a different companion.

Coordinated Initiation (Champion, Teamwork)

You and your allies can amplify your abilities when coordinating.

Prerequisite: Knowledge of at least one technique.

Benefit: When multiple characters work together to perform a multi-character technique and all of them possess this feat, the technique’s complexity is reduced by 3 for each participant beyond the first rather than 2.

Extensive Technique Study (Champion, Combat)

You possess extensive experience with the lore of techniques.

Benefit: Increase the maximum number of techniques you are capable of knowing at one time by 4.

Special: You may select this feat multiple times.

Group Initiation (Champion, Combat, Teamwork)

When you aid in a technique, you may also perform it yourself.

Prerequisite: Knowledge of at least one technique.

Benefit: When multiple characters work together to perform a multi-character technique and all of them possess this feat, they may choose to increase the technique’s complexity by 3. If they do, every character who worked together to initiate the technique may perform the technique’s action (for example, each member would charge when using Fire Tackle).

Improved Assistance (Champion, Combat)

You add a bit of extra aid when coordinating a technique.

Prerequisite: Knowledge of at least one technique.

Benefit: When you initiate a multi-character technique where you do not perform the action, you may attempt the aid another action on the character performing the action as part of the action to initiate the technique. So long as you are in range to initiate the technique, you do not need to be in the normal range to aid another.

If you possess the Circle Casting feat, you may maintain that feat’s effects on the target so long as you are within range of the technique (rather than 30 feet).

Ready Initiation (Champion, Combat, Teamwork)

When one of your allies primes a technique, you respond immediately.

Prerequisite: Knowledge of at least one technique.

Benefit: When multiple characters with this feat work together to initiate a multi-character technique, the technique is performed on the highest of the participants’ initiative counts rather than the lowest. All participants have their actions for the turn moved up to the initiative count where the technique is performed.

Technique Crafting (Combat)

You have learned how to create elaborate and unique actions.

Benefit: You gain the ability to create techniques, as per the technique rules.

Technique Prowess (Combat)

Your martial skills enable incredible technique usage.

Prerequisites: Base attack bonus +5, knowledge of at least one technique.

Benefit: When you expend martial focus to pay for the complexity cost of a technique that uses no magical spheres, the amount of the complexity cost paid by expending martial focus increases by 1 for every five points of base attack bonus you possess.

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