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Spheres of Power 5e
by Mark B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/13/2022 20:09:26

I wrote what could be described less as a review and more as a Thesis on this and Spheres of Might. I am going to write this review as bulletpointy and brief as possible so I don't overwhelm possible buyers.

Do I recommend this splat?

YES

not just a regular yes, Yes with a Heading 1 to make it REALLY BIG. that thesis consisted largely of me ranting and raving like a lunatic about my pathfinder nostalgia using SoP/M. this has gotta be one of my favourite splats ever. 5 star for a reason.

Who is this splat for?

  • Anyone who is dissatisfied with the very cut-and-dry system of magic that [DnD5e] offers.
  • Anyone who Wants to use a magic system that offers Horizontal Progression as an option
  • Anyone who is looking for a more malleable magic system for their RPGs, especially those that lean towards actually crafting spells.
  • You pathfinder friends who loved this supplement back in that system.

Who is this splat not for?

  • Anyone who is averse to reading rules, fortunately, if you're buying this book, that means you're likely part of the ~20% of 5e Enjoyers that don't fall into this category because you actually play the game
  • Anyone who already considers 5e's simpleton magic system already too complex; this book has a lot of different concepts and requires a bit of a refocus on how magic works mechanically.
  • Anyone who is already using a large amount of modifications to their current games in relation to magic (same for martial combat with spheres of Might). Trying to integrate this system with a lot of existing magic rules will result in a lot of jank and conflicts. it can be done, but it won't be easy. (definitely worth it from experience)
  • Anyone who is expecting a more fluffy magical system; more on that later

The Good

  • ITS SPHERES OF POWER ITS BACK, ITS UPDATED FOR 5E
  • The rules in this system are precise and consistent. if you have a query about how something works, it will be in SoP.
  • The rules updates for 5e bring it in line for better balance than just handjamming the pathfinder rules themselves.
  • Sphere and Talent selection is broad enough to give players a wide variety of options.
  • the class offerings allow easier quickstarts into the ruleset.
  • theres a LOT of options in this book and its definitely worth its asking price for the volume of stuff
  • combine the above points and you can make a wider array of characters. want to have a blade dancer with six dancing swords that teleport into peoples skulls like in that one final fantasy game? about seven levels with this and SoM and you're set.
  • the System can be used interchangeably with regular casting rules. specifically, one character is a spherecaster, the other is a standard vancian caster. you can apparently also mix and match spherecasting classes with regular classes while multiclassing however I am not a psychopath so I will not be doing that.

The Bad

  • Spheres of Power is impossible to perfectly balance against regular magic, and will always be inherently slightly more powerful due to the progression options. its a concession that, at least previously, the Authors have accepted. its part of what makes it difficult to make compatible with other homebrew. this makes it a good option if only the players are using it, as its easier than a DM trying to craft spells for every individual NPC, and will allow the party casters to feel adequately rewarded for the ffort they ahve put in to designing and crafting their spherecasters.
  • The System is notorious for how fundamentally different it is mechanically to other systems. gone are the days of cantrip spam, you need to learn to manage your MANA (or spell points(tm) ). This system will intimidate newer DMs and players, and i recommend some prior experience before implementing it.
  • my consistent criticism, even from the pathfinder days, is that SoP has a somewhat weird and esoteric list of sphere options. you've got stuff like alteration, life, light, Okay that makes sense. but now youve got Mind, Fate, Enhancement. I can live with this, but where's Fire, earth, air, water? ah well those would be assorted through all the other spheres, namely Destruction. Making a multifaceted cryomancer for example is less about investing very straightforwardly into an ice sphere as the name would suggest, but involves stuff from a wide range of diferent spheres(i want to note that it is, however, very possible to build said cryomancer, just not as simple as I feel it could be), which can ultimately lead to my next point.
  • Following the older gaming style, its easy for players to accidentally noob trap themselves by spreading too wide and thin on different spheres and miscellaneous abilities. this is not an inherent trait of SoP/M, of course, however nothing that the splatbook is fundamentally different and the the requirement to relearn the core systems of magic can likely result in players struggling to find the right build. too many choices can be just as bad as no choice at all sometimes. Its not as bad as a lot of forward-port conversions, thankfully, and no option or choice in the book is a true "noob trap", however players will need to assess when they should preference horizontal vs vertical progression in their spheres rather than just simply selecting the "top three spells for spell level X"

Notes about the PDF itself The PDF is high quality, easily readable, and has a good smattering of fairly charming, simple hand-painted artwork throughout. its enough to get you thinking about builds, and the descriptions are clear, interesting to read and don't waste your time with excessive flowery writing. this is a PDF that offers a lot of content as is, and is ambitious to bring back this glorious old Magic system to 5e. It's not here to waste your time with novels about the creator's OCs and I respect that. My only major criticism about the PDF is that the top and bottom margin formatting could do with a bigger buffer, sometimes text clips with the top and bottom smoke/fire effect. it doesnt make it harder for me to read or anything, I just figured I should probably put something here for the sake of fairness.

Why 5 star with all those negative points I have dealt with SoP/M in pathfinder, a far more crunch intensive RPG than 5e could ever hope to be. while i meantioned that the system is intimidating to new players, that doesn't mean you should avoid it; rather you SHOULD push yourself to try and use it. you will adapt, it will make you more creative in character building, and give you a good reference on how to houserule and house-errata. I learned all of this, and eventually what appears initially as a negative for this system ultimately becomes transient, or even becomes a positive in my eyes. it made me a better player and an infinitely better 5e GM, as did Pathfinder as a whole.

Anything thi book is missing, should add, or have in future expeansions? WHERE ARE THE PRIMAL ELEMENT SPHERES, DDS? /j in all seriousness, I would love for more sphere options. the class selection is more than hearty enough and that is a testament to how fundamentally rock-solid this ruleset is, all I could possibly ask for is more creative and cool paths for me to branch out with. I should note that the book gives players all the resources to create their own spheres and talents, so theres no need to hold your breath if you have a similar concern, get creative.

In summary, best magic book for DnD5e.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spheres of Power 5e
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Spheres of Origin
by Richard P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/02/2022 15:19:35

As someone more accustomed to the sort of character-building systems seen in universal/toolkit-style rpgs, the standard D&D/Pathfinder approach to races has long been a source of annoyance for me. So for me, Spheres of Origin has been an absolute godsend. Using this book instead of the core race rules effectively puts an end to the frustrating concept of certain races being optimal/suboptimal for certain classes. I'm also continually amazed by how useful this book has been for stating up nonstandard races/species/etc for homebrew settings, or for adapting "core" ones to settings where not all of the default Pathfinder lore is being used.

If there was any one thing I could knock a point off my review for, it's that there are a couple of origin categories I would've liked to have seen more talents for. Even so, the book is complete enough that I'm not comfortable deducting a full point for that. So let's just call this review a 4.5/5 and a wholehearted recommendation.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spheres of Origin
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Spheres of Origin
by Craig B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/04/2022 19:36:10

This is the sort of thing I really love seeing being offered. It is an outside of the box approach to something that has just been assumed there is only one way to do something. It may not be your cup of tea but it gives a DM the tools to do something new and interesting. It is a reletively easy set of options to learn and can be used time and time again without feeling stale. Bravo.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spheres of Origin
by MICHAEL L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/01/2022 20:38:58

I'm the kind of player that opts for every optional customization for race or class, and I am still frequently disappointed in how many limits there are for which race is best paired with a class. This supplement will go a long way for satisfying my urge to build a unique and interesting character that isn't shackled by unnecessary restrictions. I am also a permissive DM, and don't think games are made more fun by imposing limits (insert "Defying Gravity" music here for added effect), so take my feedback with a grain of salt I suppose. I think the writers were thoughtful in their creation and put out a solid piece of work. The result is a well-formatted product ready for GM or Player to use. I'm a fan of Drop Dead Studios and their other Spheres works, and would encourage you to check out their other products and related works created by other third-party publishers.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spheres of Origin
by Derreck C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/27/2022 02:09:06

Out of the last several Spheres products released, this is my absolute favorite both as a player and a DM, and I think it changes up character creation in a way that'll help people create exactly what they want without anything getting in the way of flavor.

It effectively replaces race in the Pathfinder sense with the Origin, which can cover race just as much as it can cover background and learned skills without affecting your class level. Some of the examples in the book are the core races that we all know and love, but there are also others like Frontier Survivor, Courtley Noble, War Machine, and Hermetic Mage.

It allows you to make the exact character you want without having to pick a race that doesn't quite fit, because with this book, race doesn't matter anyway.

Beyond this though, I have to mention what drew me to the book to begin with. There are rules in here for Variations, a mechanic that introduces a change to your origin (sometimes a familiar minor penalty, like Light Blindness) in exchange for a minor thematic ability, and with these variations came various disabilities, largely in the form of the Assistive Device, which requires your character to have an assistive device (which may be sundered, but its hit points and hardness scale with level) to function at normal capacity, and without it they operate at a penalty.

As someone with cerebral palsy, I think this is a lovely mechanic for including physical disabilities in a Pathfinder game. It's simple, it's effective, and it does the job without adding too many frills, or penalties so severe that nobody would dare take them. Of course as a drawback system for a game, it could be... well... gamed, with a character having multiple disabilities and getting multiple minor bonuses for them, but I don't think that's a problem for most reasonable folks. The bonuses are niche enough, like having a prosthetic arm with a storage compartment, or a wheelchair that makes it harder for enemies to trip and grapple you. The devices themselves can be defined by the player, and the benefits they give are picked from a given list, so no two have to be exactly the same, and they can also cover more fantastic fare like animated prosthetics and high-tech breathing apparatuses. But put simply, I appreciate this inclusion as a disabled person and as a gamer, I think it is simple and tastefully done.

The rest of the book is good too, and there are a few other options presented, my favorite being an archetype for the Shifter called the Paragon, which changes the class from a shapeshifter into a martially-oriented one meant for representing those characters whose abilities are defined by their race, in essence being a build your own monster class, or a way to bring back the old Paragon classes from the Unearthed Arcana in 3rd edition D&D, gaining abilities through obtaining more Origin talents, and some through the Shifter's Bestial Traits.

Since getting it I've already written up origins for a Half Ogre, a tainted mage like something out of Dungeon Crawl Classics, and a soul bonded to a suit of armor. And once I finish typing this up I'll be working on a little gray alien and a Dunedain Ranger origin just for fun. There are a lot of options presented in this book, and it'll be seeing use even in my non Sphere games.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spheres of Origin
by Kwame M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/27/2022 00:46:58

I think this was an amazing product for redesigning a character's upbringing and physiology. it opens up so many new avenues for designing a character from their race, culture, and more that is easy to work with for GMs. I know the groups I used this for during the playtest absolutely loved this compared to the standard base racial systems and the race builder options in Advanced Race Guide since they could effectively reskin those options to convey other ideas like a mage inspired from Ars Magica, a desert survivor, or some sort of horrible magic gone wrong in an easy to comprehend way that was easier to work with.

Dividing the potency of an effect into three categories really helps to prevent a character from having too much power from their upbringing, and having the talents be divided into three spheres really helps to develop an origin one has in mind. All of them seem to cover the basis that most racial effects, and anything that was deemed to really need a GM's attention was put in its own category of phenomenal talents. Most of the options for talents are balanced, and majority of them aren't so drastic as to break the game or feel like power creeping for characters in my experience of using this.

It feels like the disability segment tried to handle physical disabilities respectfully, but as with all things it can be exploited by some players. For some it might seem like the disabilities are basically a free way into getting super powers, but the alternative would be essentially disabilities being a crippling effect that most players wouldn't want to try to have on their character. I'd say try to keep an eye on this section if you want to avoid a player crippling themselves in order to get more power, but for those who don't mind then this should not be an issue.

This book does feel like it should primarily be used for building humanoid-like creatures as well. Making animal companions and familiars with this book tends to bring out pretty poor results and they aren't as fulfilling as their true counterpart. For some this could be an issue, for others you might be looking to work with it or tweak it a bit. But, making humanoid-like creatures for most of the party members works great.

For GMs interested in worldbuilding their own races, species, background, or other things that impact the backstory of a character, I would recommend giving this system a go. Your players may like it a lot with the freedom it offers and it helps keep the GM involved in the process of how a character fits into the setting and campaign.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spheres of Origin
by Antoine M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/26/2022 17:49:22

Where to start...thankfully, the section about DMs not allowing players to use this supplement as being discriminitory against their origins was removed.

However, despite working with a consulting firm meant to avoid such issues, you can deliberately cripple yourself physically for superpowers. This is in addition to the new base class that attempts to mimic racial paragons of editions past, about becoming more powerful via accumulating physical traits normally associated with race, despite the book treating that word like taboo.

Furthermore, as is common with Matt Daley products, power creep is rampant. As a tool for DMs? It wasn't even initially intended as one and it somehow does a poorer job of the default Paizo race build even with its plentiful number of issues.

I would not reccomend this book for DMs or players looking to make new races or to respectfully handle disabillity in their games and it hurts to say that I've come to expect works like this from Dead Drop Studios when the author of this book and others I've reviewed is at the helm.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
The Catgirl Handbook
by Paul B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/26/2022 19:17:46

In another wonderful showing of "April Fools" content Drop Dead Studios makes another offering of humor mixed with some solid content ripe for 'reflavoring' if one wanted to apply catgirls to a more serious game setting. I was specially fond of the (Purring) type feats and their take on the Wraith archetype with the Matagot. Don't let the cover fool you, there is some good stuff in here.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Catgirl Handbook
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Spheres Bestiary: Aberrations
by Antoine M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/24/2021 12:39:40

Not only does this book feature horrifically overpowered general content, basic no-prerequisites feats that power creep the signature ability of a sphere's specific +5 or more CR template, it also tries to imply the very thoughtful and helpful guidelines for determining Magic Skill Bonus/Defense in order to prevent certain types of monster hitdie from being entirely uninteractble should not be used for no tangible reason.

The drow noble+++ the book offers sets poor precedent instead of just using racial hitdie to demonstrate a superior creautre on the species level.

Lastly, the pre-written monsters and templates are horrifically broken and would be nearly unusable as a DM due to how little a player can do to fight fairly, seemingly only here to give bad DMs plausible deniability for poor encounter design.

Amalgamate creature powercreeps the Mythic Agile template and then some. Antimemtic creature is just a spiteful jab at the only way players are supposed to learn how to use their abilities correctly.

The presented monsters are built so optimally using character levels and, to borrow an analogy from competitive card games, netdecked meta strategies, it would seem the horrically powerful and game-balance-busting options written by the author in books prior are encouraged if not required to beat these creatures. Which is sadly a trend for the Bestiaries penned by Matt Daley and published throgh Dead Drop Studios.

I was hoping for another book with the Quality of Beast Tamer's or Undead and Immortal Forlorn, but it seems I was mistaken.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Spheres Bestiary: Aberrations
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Demons of the Abyss: Rank and File
by Antoine M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/24/2021 12:48:18

Unlike Fiends of the Cosmos, I feel like Demons of the Abyss: Rank and File actually achieves the goals of what a Spheres-using Bestiary should look like. This gives DMs the tools they need to run their favorite monsters from the Abyss in a Spheres game without introducing headache or argument causers like bringing back the Sacred Cow that is Wish.

I eagerly look forward to more bestiaries in this format, and the latter half of this bestiary which I picked up today.

I hope this becomes the quality I can look forward to from DDS bestiaries, as I felt fiends from the cosmos was a harsh decline from Magical Beasts and Climactic Encounters and Undead and the Immortal Forlorn.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Demons of the Abyss: Rank and File
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Mythic Champions of the Spheres
by Victoria C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/12/2021 18:56:38

shit's busted but it's mythic so i guess it's fine



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Champions of the Spheres
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Spheres Apocrypha: The Inheritor and Improved Atavism Heritages
by Victoria C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/12/2021 18:42:29

Look at that chonky feat. Improved Atavism is amazing at helping satisfy specific bloodline flavours. Each different option has some cool stuff that can fit in most builds, which often leads me to not even looking at what the abilities offer mechanically, and just picking stuff that I think fits my character and it typically works out fine. Improved Atavism is some great work.

Inheritor Sorcerer is perfect for helping achieve that level between Bloodrager and Sorcerer, where you do want to do some melee stuff, but still have most of your stuff focused on magic. Finally those sorcerer bloodlines that have to do with having weapons enchanted or natural weapons or the like finally can be used to an actual effectively-ish level, and again, the author was quite careful not to make it creep on anything in particular, making sure to make a note too about not allowing some of its abilities on a couple of the sorcerer bloodlines that might be overtuned in comparison to the others. Now some might say, "But sir, Full Caster and 3/4 BAB? That's far too much, this is overtuned!" And I definitely thought so at first too. But when you look over the Inheritor sorcerer again, as well as what the base Sorcerer tends to offer, it really isn't too much. Sorcerers I feel have always needed a bit of a hand, given their 2+Int skill ranks, lack of class skills, and a fair few bloodlines having rather mediocre abilities (and yes, I know of the few that are busted). Unlike most 3/4 BAB classes too, the sorcerer typically does not have a class skill method to boost their to-hit, such as studied target or magus arcanas. So after I realised that, and attempted to build one, yeah, it's a pretty fine class.

Definitely looking to more content from this author, they clearly seem to have an obvious level of care for the balance and health of the system by introducing neat flavourful options that aren't just bizarre minmax bait.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spheres Apocrypha: The Inheritor and Improved Atavism Heritages
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The Catgirl Handbook
by Victoria S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/12/2021 18:34:23

insert cat emoji here

Always excited to see stuff from the April Fools books, and this is probably my favourite so far. A smatter of horrid puns (perhaps some TOO overused, but you only have so many cats you can work with) belies a bunch of legitimately neat and balanced archetypes and talents. Matagot I particularly enjoy, having an extremely fun theme I'm sure many players have always wanted to have a go at (playing as a familiar), while actually making the Wraith class a bit more reasonable, and the Nyancaller archetype was a cool way of bringing in some base summoner evolution style stuff back into the mix. Lots of fun little things here and there, nothing particularly egregious, though I had slight concerns about the Purring feats making Bards less relevant, but it seemed to work out fine as feat costs. The little back page of 'Here's some non-meme names for these things' is great too when I try to seriously recommend the "Nyancaller" to a friend, hah.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Catgirl Handbook
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Spheres Apocrypha: Beastfolk Race Variants
by Victoria S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/12/2021 18:26:14

A delightful addition to races that either dreadfully needed some additional love (such as Lizardfolks) or just some very fun variants for the more well known races (such as Ratfolk), this little apoc does a great job adding more options and variety to these unique races while not pushing too hard on making them particularly power-creepy, keeping everything basically in line for what you'd expect of other main stream races that have a lot of options and abilities. A fantastic job as always from the author.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spheres Apocrypha: Beastfolk Race Variants
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Spheres Bestiary: Fiends of the Cosmos
by Antoine M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/24/2021 23:14:12

A fun bestiary that expands on introducing spheres to NPCs to make both subsystems mesh together However, I feel this particular dropped the ball on including cookie-cutter meta PC options at every turn, rather than leveraging the unique strengths of evil outsiders of different varieties.

Most notable of all is the very first entry, a creature that can on a low-estimate swing for 12d6+324 twice a turn. I am not exagerating or expecting a critical hit. It simply attacks that hard due to exploiting infamous synergies from some of Paizo's most ill-regarded content.

On the other hand, the elemental chaos orb is an intrigueing and exciting enemy to face.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Spheres Bestiary: Fiends of the Cosmos
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