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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Equipped for the Job (Spheres in Review)

    While trying to decide on an SoM sphere that would be reasonable to review, I eventually decided on Equipment sphere being the most meaningful, due to the fact that you're looking for talents that do unique things with equipment, rather than something that you pick because it mildly improves your ability to do something in particular.
    So reviewing the talents in this sphere is a half decent use of time, if you consider doing this at all is any kind of decent use of time. At least it's producing more than simply sitting around, playing games does.

    Post review analysis: The sphere has a lot of trash, but there are some really nice diamonds in the rough. (Indeed, the talents are heavily weighted towards the lowest end of the rating scale.)

    Ranking system:
    (S) Superb: You always want this. It's awesome.
    (G) Good: You would certainly not complain about having this, especially in the right builds / situations.
    (B) Bad: While perhaps better than nothing, you are giving up something for it, so probably shouldn't without a good reason.
    (N) No.
    <Angle brackets> around a rating indicates situational usefulness, and how good it is in that favorable situation.

    - Special Ratings:
    (C) Cheese: A talent so broken that it will be instantly banned if you use it as you could.
    (I) Impossible: Can't be rated because it is just not defined enough to give a meaningful rating - it depends too much on DM ruling, or personal use. I'll just place it where I guess the average result would put it.
    (F) Flavor: This indicates that the main draw to the talent is going to be its inherent fluff or flavor, rather than raw power or utility.
    Spoiler: Base Sphere
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    Nothing (S): There is no base sphere to worry about. Freely select your talents as you please. Perfect, as the base sphere is to set the tone of the sphere, and this simply doesn't need that.


    Spoiler: Equipment Talents
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    Throwing Mastery (S): You like to throw things, but hate leaving yourself disarmed at the end of it, or buying millions of gold on items that just litter the battlefield and require hours of tedious picking up to recover? Well, good news!
    Cloth Snake Puppetry (S): Even if you don't use a flexible weapon, this still allows you to increase your effective reach for the purpose CMs by 20ft at level 8. Off-hand a rope while using something like a whip for maximum flavor and effectiveness.

    Throw Bash (S): Even excluding the ridiculous potential RAW of free action attacks, if you ever intend to use Cover Ally, then this is a beyond excellent talent
    Expert Reloading (S): Reduced reload timer! Yay. Pretty big deal when it is.
    Tower Shield Mastery (S): Build-defining and enabling. Oh, and it basically removes the penalty for using a tower shield (other than lacking a hand).

    Versatile Fighter (<G-S>): OK, this is pretty cool. If you were going to pick up any of these feats, although only Power Attack sees much use, you may as well pick this up instead...unless you have another stance you'd prefer to use.
    Cold-Weather Adaptation (<G-S>): Playing in an arctic campaign? Here's your talent, take it.
    Particle Blade Emulation (G-S): Now your light saber can do more things. Yay for martial flexing. They don't get to do that often.
    Unorthodox Firing (<G-S>): Ranged builds get to benefit from modern tactics of having a low profile without...oh, the map's small enough that melee just waddle up to them and whack them across the head. Sad.

    Fast Draw (<G>): If your DM includes "attacks of opportunity" as valid actions to attack with it, then you arguably could threaten with sheathed weapons. Otherwise it's slightly worse than Quick Draw, as you need to actually attack to get the weapon. You can't merely brandish it quickly.
    Craftsman (<F>): If you can flex this talent, like an Armiger, you have a very strong claim to being the best craftsman in the world (for your level). If you can't? Well, craft is a background skill for a reason.
    Bowling Bolas (G): Gets a generic Improved [CM] feat, with a tiny bit of extra damage. Even still serves the area control trip archetype if you can threaten with ranged attacks.

    Armor Training (<G>): Unless you are barred from multiclassing, this is arguably pretty weak. (Of course, in the one level you dipped fighter, you probably could have taken a level of your main class and taken this as the talent you would have given up with the multiclass.) If you are, and want to go with heavy armor from light, with properly reduced Dex from point buy...you can choose a lot of worse things than +5 AC for a feat.
    Polearm Mastery (<G>): For medium folk, just 5ft step. It's not that hard. For bigger people, congrats, you life got marginally less hard, and you don't need a backup weapon. At least not strictly. Probably best to have a real weapon, regardless, for when someone charges through you and you can't trip them.
    Weaponmaster (G):: Flexing damage type isn't the most important thing in the world, but you appreciate it when you need it.

    Thrower’s Reflexes (B-G): Explicitly a worse Deflect Arrows, but has no prereqs, and has a side benefit of catching the arrow rather than putting it in the ground. Generally both are equally effective.
    Gun Kata (B-G): If this were more flexible, you could do samurai-western stuff. But it's not, so sheath your katanas.

    Dual Blade Savant (B-G): Using Dual Blade? Congrats, you'll probably want this. Obviously. The bonus isn't too impactful. Slightly worse than Weapon Focus, though it can "effectively stack."
    Armor Expert (B-G): Dodge, but slightly better. I'd put dodge right around here too. Not the worst feat. Not a great feat. But it does make you generically slightly harder to hit.
    Versatile Shield (B-G): I mean, it saves money, if you're a shield basher.

    Shield Expert (B): Dodge, but more restrictive, and doesn't apply to touch attacks.
    Garrote Grappler (B): The only real advantage to garrotes are that grappled targets can't scream for help, which is surprisingly niche, as it turns out. And once you make such a tactic your target, you suddenly realize you can only grapple on person at a time. Suffocation takes minutes to accomplish. Which is about accurate (and why actual "Choke holds" don't involve suffocation at all).
    Finesse Fighting (B): Has little to no advantage over just taking Weapon Finesse. Taking a second time, adding 1/2 BAB when the main Finessers are mid-BAB characters means very little, and not replacing strength means low strength characters are still taking penalties to damage.

    Spear Dancer (B): It has a unique use. I don't think it's a good use, but it's a unique one, so it gets a bump.
    Staff Mastery (F): Honestly, I am of the opinion that the basic quarter staff should have the main body of this feat. You don't need to master a stick to put your hands at the far end of the stick. And even that wouldn't put it on the radar for most folks. I like the idea of adding it to Spear Dancer.
    Steel Martyr (B): Armor actually has surprisingly few hit points...considering it's armor. And you'll only ever benefit when you've been crit, which might never happen in an entire campaign. I've gone many campaigns without getting crit once.

    Arcane Armor (B): Sphere casters have 0 reason to take this. Spell casters might. Not an incredibly good reason, but still.
    Unarmored Training (F): Meh. Spend a feat-equivalent on light armor? I'd rather not. Especially when it explicitly doesn't stack with other AC bonuses that rely on being unarmored. It does become a better option as you progress to higher levels.
    Mechanical Savant (B): Meh. Adding 1/2 BAB to damage is very inconsequential. But you normally don't add any stat, so go figure.

    Splitshot (B): Ranged cleave at a penalty. Slightly improves with levels though still highly restrictive. I'd rather just be a Destruction sphere user and take an AoE talent.
    Whip Fiend (B): I mean, if you are dead set on using a whip for damage, this is your jam, but most of the good uses of whips are subumed better by Cloth Snake Puppetry.

    Guarded Combatant (N-B): Meh. Even if you were really worried about people doing that, this really offers next to no protection against it. Scales at roughly 1/8 the rate of monster CMB, and doesn't stack with other feats.
    Immovable Object (N-B): See the above? Well... instead of this talent, just let them do it, and 5 ft step back into combat again.
    Dagger Bravo / Dancer (F): Taking the video cliche of crit daggers and giving them representation. But daggers are kinda trash. And crit is rather trash, outside of full crit fishing, which this specifically excludes.

    Critical Genius (N-B): In best case scenario this is a +5% damage bump, or +10% at level 10. Not good. A lot better things you can pick.
    Unstoppable Force (N-B): That's a shockingly narrow effect. Requires you to be facing SoM baddies who focus on inflicting long-duration battered. Most instances last for only 1 round anyway, and are extremely easy to apply.

    Sling Combatant (N-B): Slings are a lot better than D&D makes them out to be. Too bad you're playing a game with D&D stats.
    Net Master (N-B): The net is a very weak method of controlling movement. I would rather spend the talent on Alchemy sphere for Improved Tanglefoot Bag.
    Unfettering Armor (N-B): +10 movement speed is pretty weak as a feat. And this is situationally +10 movement with no other bonus.
    Gauntlet Shield (N-B): You could just wear a buckler. If you make good use of shield bash, you definitely want more than a gauntlet. If you don't, you spent a talent on something you could spend 5 gold for. There are ways to make it work, if you try. Building around a buckler tends to not be the play though.

    Small Arms (I): I see absolutely 0 benefit to this. There might be a benefit. Maybe. But it's little just a joke, by my estimation.
    Palm Throw (N): You don't tend to actually care about the weapon damage of shuriken. In fact, normally you use it purely to get rider enchants at ammunition prices. You're doubling the effective price for just a bit of extra damage. You do at least bypass Deflect Arrows users.
    Armored Defense (N): A bonus, that at most scales at 1/6 the rate of monster CMB. Doesn't even allow you to front load your CMD bonus with heavy armor.

    Shortbow Mastery (N): SoM has a lot of good uses for swift actions. Loosing an arrow for the largest self- penalty in the spheres (excluding ramping penalties) is not one of them.

    Steady Shooting (N-): Losing misfire chance, and marginal range improvement isn't worth hitting normal AC. It's now literally a worse bow, unless you're using modern / advanced firearms which don't even misfire.
    Balanced Defense (N-): Dude. Literally pick up a buckler. Doesn't cost a talent or anything
    Duelist’s Grip (N-): Or you could use a normal attack.
    Steel Body (N--): Wow, DR specifically against slashing damage, and only during a total defense.


    Spoiler: Notable Discipline talents
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    Most discipline talents are just groups of weapon proficiency, which are largely irrelevant. But some of them have side benefits.

    Bounty Hunter Tools allows for no-penalty nonlethal damage with some weapons, and free grapple feature on them.

    Caber Toss grants a terrible attempt at AoE, but gives it to martials, which is a rarity.

    Firearm Proficiency grants level 1 Gunslinger, and reasonably, a gunslinger's gun.

    Knightly Training reduces AC penalties for charging down to 1.

    Mechanical Training reduces penalty for one-handed crossbow firing by half.

    Rock Toss is a better Snatch Arrows, so long as you are reliably getting targeted by rocks.

    Toolkit Training allows for a bunch of additional uses of mundane tools, as described in SoM's practitioner-weapons section

    Unarmed Training allows you to use your unarmed damage with any of the listed weapons, if it's higher...unless used as a full attack, to prevent natural attack spammers from getting good use out of it.


    Spoiler: Noteworthy Legendary Talents
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    Force Redirection Technique: If you're OK with tanking your reflex save, this enables very easily dumping of your dexterity.

    Titan's Shield ...enables much larger tower shields? You can pretend you're Braum.
    Last edited by SangoProduction; 2020-12-03 at 02:00 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by SangoProduction View Post
    Sometimes you get eaten by a giant purple earthworm.
    Journals from my D&D campaign
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Equipped for the Job (Spheres in Review)

    I think you're underselling Unarmored Training a bit. I'm playing in a spheres campaign and only one PC isn't using it, both of the casters took it to keep their ACs up and allowing them to take Somatic components twice for the bonus spell points. It's a +9 armor over 18 levels with not a terrible investment of skill points or just by having full BAB. With skill points being more available in Spheres, 18 ranks in Acrobatics isn't that intensive. Even just letting it level off BAB is still a +8 on a 3/4 BAB class. It's also better for sheer AC than maxing out light armor due to no max Dex modifier and also applies to touch and flat-foot without having to spend money on it. It also works with the Zodiac Tattoos feat which yes, does take a feat and 5 additional skill ranks, but lets you add armor special abilities as well.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Equipped for the Job (Spheres in Review)

    Quote Originally Posted by Nizaris View Post
    I think you're underselling Unarmored Training a bit. I'm playing in a spheres campaign and only one PC isn't using it, both of the casters took it to keep their ACs up and allowing them to take Somatic components twice for the bonus spell points. It's a +9 armor over 18 levels with not a terrible investment of skill points or just by having full BAB. With skill points being more available in Spheres, 18 ranks in Acrobatics isn't that intensive. Even just letting it level off BAB is still a +8 on a 3/4 BAB class. It's also better for sheer AC than maxing out light armor due to no max Dex modifier and also applies to touch and flat-foot without having to spend money on it. It also works with the Zodiac Tattoos feat which yes, does take a feat and 5 additional skill ranks, but lets you add armor special abilities as well.
    Yeah, it has potential. Especially if you're going high level. But you've got to consider that, unless you're a martial practitioner, taking the talent is the same as taking a feat.

    So it's not until level 6 that Unarmored Training is equivalent to light armor and Dodge feat, and level 9, it's just barely superior to unenchanted armor and dodge.
    Spending yet another feat to make your skin enchantable sets your build resources back when you could just...have armor, but resources aren't everything, which was why I added the F - Flavor rating. I definitely think that some talents have a stronger flavor than actual power, which is a draw, regardless.

    Instead of spending a feat to ignore a drawback, you could just take a feat for Extra Spell Points. This is because it'll take until level 7 for the bonus spell points from a single drawback to be equivalent to that feat. And level 10 to be just barely superior.

    For reference, I consider level 10 to be essentially end game, unless the game started at a level already near/past that. Even at one level a session, for 10 sessions, that's over 2 and a half months of no one canceling the session, even if the campaign naturally could go that long.


    So, in conclusion, you didn't present me with anything I didn't already consider, and so I don't think my rating was wrong, but I can add a clarification that at high levels it does become relatively better.
    Last edited by SangoProduction; 2020-12-02 at 11:31 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by SangoProduction View Post
    Sometimes you get eaten by a giant purple earthworm.
    Journals from my D&D campaign
    My Vestige
    Found my Artifact
    Player Expectations
    Spheres of Power / Might Builds
    SoP in Review

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Beholder

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    Default Re: Equipped for the Job (Spheres in Review)

    Gauntlet Shield seems useful to me for one niche though, enhanced unarmed damage types like with Open Hand talents.

    Unarmored training makes a "blade boot, brass knuckles, cestus, dan bong, emei piercer, gauntlet, katar, knuckle axe, punching dagger, rope gauntlet, sap, scizore, spiked gauntlet, and tekko-kagi" do the character's unarmed damage.

    Gauntlet shield allows one to use "a cestus, gauntlet, or spiked gauntlet" as a buckler, and the weapon's enhancement bonus will add to the shield bonus to AC.

    So for two talents a character could pummel someone with a cestus, gauntlet, or spiked gauntlet using their unarmed damage, and any enchantment spent to make it a better weapon will do double duty to protect the character too.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Equipped for the Job (Spheres in Review)

    Quote Originally Posted by StSword View Post
    Gauntlet Shield seems useful to me for one niche though, enhanced unarmed damage types like with Open Hand talents.

    Unarmored training makes a "blade boot, brass knuckles, cestus, dan bong, emei piercer, gauntlet, katar, knuckle axe, punching dagger, rope gauntlet, sap, scizore, spiked gauntlet, and tekko-kagi" do the character's unarmed damage.

    Gauntlet shield allows one to use "a cestus, gauntlet, or spiked gauntlet" as a buckler, and the weapon's enhancement bonus will add to the shield bonus to AC.

    So for two talents a character could pummel someone with a cestus, gauntlet, or spiked gauntlet using their unarmed damage, and any enchantment spent to make it a better weapon will do double duty to protect the character too.
    Fair point. I still don't think it's an incredibly noteworthy advantage, it is at least not as totally useless as I was thinking.
    Quote Originally Posted by SangoProduction View Post
    Sometimes you get eaten by a giant purple earthworm.
    Journals from my D&D campaign
    My Vestige
    Found my Artifact
    Player Expectations
    Spheres of Power / Might Builds
    SoP in Review

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