Using Spheres Of Might

Spheres of Might is a new way of doing martial combat for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Rather than standing still and trading blows, Spheres of Might is a system of dynamics, allowing each round to become a contest of strategy as each combatant delves into their repertoire of tricks to out-maneuver and ultimately defeat their opponent.

The Spheres of Might system makes use of a fairly minimal number of new mechanics, instead opting to use the core mechanics in new and interesting ways, so as to better allow a Spheres of Might user to share the table with others who aren’t using the system. The entire Spheres of Might system can be used with the custom classes and archetypes presented in this section of the site, or by any martial character through the investment of a few feats. With this much of a variable amount of investment, players can dip lightly or delve deeply into the system, depending on their concept and how familiar they are with the new options presented herein.

The mission statement of Spheres of Might is to greatly expand the scope of what non-magical characters can accomplish in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. This includes expanding their knowledge of skills, increasing their array of tactics and abilities, and allowing the realization of a great many character concepts that otherwise would have been impossible, or would have had such steep level requirements that it is likely the average campaign would never see its completion.

There are two major divisions of these new combat talents; basic talents and legendary talents. Basic talents have no prerequisites, and cover a wide variety of character concepts. While many of the abilities granted by basic talents are powerful and worthy of being called extraordinary, they nonetheless would fit easily into any gritty, low-magic game. The other division is called ‘legendary talents’, and include abilities that are more wuxia and supernatural in nature; while legendary talents are not ‘more powerful’ in the sense of dealing more damage or breaking combats, they do allow martial fighters to accomplish requisite talents.

In the end, the Spheres of Might system is about one thing: increasing the fun of playing martial characters. By allowing for a greater number of character concepts to be realized and increasing the options available to a given character, SoM allows players and GMs to realize new game types and perform cinematic combats that greatly increase the dynamics of the game.

If you'd like some help making a character, visit the How To Build A Practitioner page.

Combat Spheres

In the Spheres of Might system, each character gains a series of talents, called combat talents. The number of combat talents a character gains are determined by their class, although a character may always spend a feat to gain a combat talent via the Extra Combat Talent feat.

Whenever a character gains a combat talent, they may spend it on a combat sphere. The first time a character spends a combat talent on a sphere, they gain that sphere’s base abilities. After a character possesses a base sphere, they may spend additional combat talents to gain talents specifically associated with that sphere. If a character is granted a bonus sphere that they already possess (such as through a class feature), they instead may gain one talent of their choice from that sphere.

Once a talent is spent, it cannot be changed except through retraining, which follows the same rules as retraining a feat. Unless noted otherwise, all abilities granted by combat spheres and their talents are extraordinary effects.

Sphere DCs

If a combat sphere ability requires a saving throw or skill check to resist, the formula for determining the DC is 10 + 1/2 the attacker’s base attack bonus + their practitioner modifier, unless otherwise indicated. If a character does not possess levels in a class that grants a practitioner modifier, they use their Wisdom modifier as their practitioner modifier. Characters who multiclass into a second practitioner class may use the higher of their practitioner modifiers for determining all relevant effects of their combat sphere abilities.

Combat Training and Combat Talents

Some practitioner classes gain the Combat Training class feature, granting them bonus talents based on their role in combat. The acquisition of these talents will typically, but not always, mirror the practitioner’s base attack bonus progression. The three advancements for talent acquisition are listed in Table: Combat Talents.

Table: Combat Talents

Level Expert Adept Proficient
1st 1 0 0
2nd 2 1 1
3rd 3 2 1
4th 4 3 2
5th 5 3 2
6th 6 4 3
7th 7 5 3
8th 8 6 4
9th 9 6 4
10th 10 7 5
11th 11 8 5
12th 12 9 6
13th 13 9 6
14th 14 10 7
15th 15 11 7
16th 16 12 8
17th 17 12 8
18th 18 13 9
19th 19 14 9
20th 20 15 10

Combat Training for Non-Spheres of Might Classes

While any class can buy some facility with the combat spheres by taking the Extra Combat Talent feat, some characters may want to delve deeper into the system. A character can gain a combat talent progression by trading out some or all of their standard feat progression as described in Table: Feat to Talent Progression Conversion. Characters who already have the combat training class feature cannot exchange their feats for an additional progression.

Feat to Talent Progression Conversion

Feats Exchanged Granted Progression
1, 5, 9, 13, 17 Proficient
1, 5, 9, 13, 15, 17, 19 Adept
1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19 Expert

Some classes who naturally combine martial prowess with spellcasting, such as the inquisitor, paladin, and ranger, can choose to opt to replace their spellcasting progression with a combat training progression. Classes whose maximum spell level would be 4 (or Low Casters if using Spheres of Power) may exchange their spellcasting for the Proficient combat training progression, and classes whose maximum spell level would be 6 (or Mid-Casters if using Spheres of Power) may exchange their spellcasting for the Adept combat training progression.

Terminology

Attack action

An attack action is a type of standard action. Some combat options can modify only this specific sort of action. When taking an attack action, you can apply all appropriate options that modify an attack action. Thus, you can apply both the Boxing sphere’s counter punch and Vital Strike to the same attack, as both modify an attack action. You can apply these to any combat option that takes the place of an attack made using an attack action (such as the trip combat maneuver), though options that increase damage don’t cause attacks to deal damage if they wouldn’t otherwise do so (such as Vital Strike and trip).

You can’t combine options that modify attack actions with standard actions that aren’t attack actions, such as Cleave.

Associated Feat

Some spheres and talents overlap the function of existing feats. Such a feat is listed in the talent as an associated feat. Possessing the sphere or talent counts as possessing the feat for the purposes of meeting prerequisites and for abilities that modify the feat’s function (such as a mythic version of the feat). Unless noted, talents do not stack with their associated feats. Any time you would gain an associated feat, you may instead choose to gain the sphere or talent it is associated with. You must still meet the prerequisites for a talent gained this way, such as possessing the base sphere.

Battered (condition)

Heavy blows have left a creature with this condition vulnerable to further attacks, imposing a -2 penalty to the creature’s CMD and preventing them from taking attacks of opportunity provoked by a creature performing a combat maneuver. Some talents have different effects or activation times against battered creatures. The battered condition can be removed by taking the total defense action, or through the restore ability of the Life sphere (see Spheres of Power), the lesser restoration spell, or similar effects. When inflicting the battered condition on a target that is already battered, the rounds stack when determining duration.

Expend

Some abilities require a character to expend their martial focus to use them; unless otherwise noted, expending martial focus happens as part of the specified action and does not require an action itself. A character will continue to receive any benefits accorded them for having martial focus until the action they choose to expend it on is complete.

Main Hand / Off-hand

The main hand and off-hand designations apply specifically when using two weapons or a double weapon to gain more attacks than that action would normally grant. You must designate one weapon as your main hand weapon when making an attack; all other manufactured weapons are treated as off-hand weapons and only add half your Strength modifier to damage on attacks.

Martial Focus

A character who has the combat training class feature, the Extra Combat Talent feat, or who has gained a combat talent progression by some other means can achieve martial focus.

Characters gain their martial focus after a minute of rest, or by taking the total defense action. You may not by any means regain focus more than once per round.

When you have martial focus, you can expend your focus as part of any single Fortitude or Reflex saving throw you make thereafter. When you expend your focus in this manner, your saving throw is treated as if you rolled a 13, similarly to taking 10 on a skill check, except that the number you add to your saving throw is 13. You can also expend your martial focus to gain the benefit of certain combat talents and class features, as described in their entry, while other talents and abilities may require you to currently have martial focus.

Once you have gained martial focus, you remain focused until you expend your focus, become unconscious, or go to sleep (or enter a meditative trance).

Martial Tradition

Martial traditions are a combination of talents a character gains at 1st level.

Practitioner

Practitioners are characters who train in combat spheres. Whenever a sphere or ability refers to the practitioner, it is referring to the individual creature using that sphere or talent.

Practitioner Modifier

A practitioner modifier is an ability modifier that the practitioner uses to determine the saving throws for their talents. If a creature has more than one practitioner modifier, they may use the highest practitioner modifier to determine the saving throws for their talents. If a character does not possess levels in a class that grants a practitioner modifier, they use their Wisdom modifier as their practitioner modifier.

Special Attack Action

A special attack action represents a unique method of making an attack. These special attack actions are granted by certain spheres and talents, and whenever a creature makes an attack action, they may choose to perform a special attack action they know, assuming they meet that special attack action’s requirements. A special attack action can be augmented by feats and talents just as if it were any other attack action, but a creature cannot perform more than one special attack action at a time. (Thus, if a character trained in both the Barrage sphere and the Sniper sphere makes an attack action, they may choose to perform a barrage or a deadly shot, but not both.)


Rules Clarifications, Additions, and Interactions

Double-Barreled Weapons

When using an attack action to attack with both barrels of a double-barreled weapon, bonus damage and effects from talents apply only to a single bullet or cartridge.

Improvised Weapons

An improvised weapon includes both making an attack with an item not originally intended for use as a weapon, as well as using a weapon in a way it was not meant for (for instance, using a bow or arrow to make a melee attack, or throwing a longsword at an enemy). A character not proficient with improvised weapons suffers a -4 penalty when making an attack in this fashion.

Improvised weapons have a range increment of 10 ft. when thrown, and when throwing any melee weapon, the weapon deals its normal damage on a successful hit. When using ranged weapons as melee weapons, darts, pistols, and shuriken deal 1d4 damage (1d3 Small), while bows, larger firearms, and light crossbows deal 1d6 damage (1d4 Small), and heavy crossbows deal 1d8 (1d6 Small).

A creature may use an improvised weapon two sizes smaller than they are as a light weapon, one size smaller as a one-handed weapon, and the same size as they are as a two-handed weapon. Generally, items larger or three sizes smaller than the creature are impractical to use as a improvised weapon. A GM may always rule that particularly dense objects (such as a stone statue) count as being one size larger than they normally would due to their weight.

Improvised Weapon Size Damage Die Sample Item
Diminutive 1d3 toothpick
Tiny 1d4 fork
Small 1d6 fire poker
Medium 1d8 chair
Large 2d6 table
Huge 3d6 wagon

Retraining

If using the retraining rules from Ultimate Campaign, you may retrain combat talents for the same time and cost as feats. If you retrain the class you took at 1st level into a class that qualifies for a martial tradition, you may choose to gain a martial tradition at that time, though you lose all other class-based proficiencies you may possess.

Talents gained as part of a martial tradition can only be retrained if you retrain the entire martial tradition and replace it with a new martial tradition, which requires 15 days of retraining.

If your martial tradition included a base sphere that is required for other talents you possess and your new tradition does not include that base sphere, you must retrain an additional talent you possess from that sphere into the base sphere, though this can be done at no additional cost in time or money.

If you gained the base sphere from multiple sources, you do not need to retrain an additional talent as long as you still possess the base sphere after retraining.

Scatter Weapons and Area Attacks

When using an attack action to attack with a scatter weapon or another weapon that attacks an area, any relevant talents you may possess affect only the nearest creature targeted by the attack. In the event that multiple creatures are equally close, the player may choose which one they want to treat as the primary target for talents and effects.

Unarmed Combatants

Practitioners who train in certain spheres focused on unarmed combat, such as Boxing, deal additional damage with their unarmed strikes based on the total number of unarmed spheres and talents they possess, as shown in the following table. Practitioners from a class that already grants an unarmed damage progression, such as the brawler or monk, may treat their unarmed strike as one size category larger if they have 3 or more talents in an unarmed combat sphere, but receive no further benefits.

In addition, any sphere that has Improved Unarmed Strike as an associated feat provides all of that feat's benefits, including being treated as armed at all times.1

1: Per developer commentary.

Table: Practitioner Unarmed Damage

Level Damage (Small Practitioner) Damage (Medium Practitioner) Damage (Large Practitioner)
1-3 talents 1d3 1d4 1d6
4-7 talents 1d4 1d6 1d8
8-11 talents 1d6 1d8 2d6
12-15 talents 1d8 2d6 3d6
16-19 talents 2d6 2d8 3d8
20+ talents 2d8 2d10 4d8

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