I recently re-read my "Doing Too Much" entry a few posts down, and almost laughed. In it, I talked about how I have a tendency to spread myself too thin by doing too many projects. Looking back, my focus on Spheres of Power has left me with the opposite problem; I keep finding myself neglecting everything else in my single-minded pursuit of this project. I've started fighting this tendency by making to-do lists for my day and week, scheduling time to read something for fun, exercise, and etc. Creative development is not helped by mental burn out, and I find I need to schedule these other activities into my day in order for the time I do dedicate to the project to be more productive. And one of those things I've scheduled for myself is to start a development blog.
And so I'm back, using this space to discuss those things that don't quite belong in a kickstarter update; thoughts on mechanics, discussion of design philosophy, and other general musings on my part.
And I think I'll start with the Emophet.
One of the fun things about doing Spheres of Power through Kickstarter is the ability for backers to make suggestions and take part in the development process, which is where the emophet comes from.
The emophet has been one of the most interesting design conundrums I've ever had. It's the result of a Theurge-level backer (who gets us to make a class for him) requesting something akin to the Confessor from the Sword of Truth series.
For those who don't know, a Confessor is a person with the power to permanently strip the will from those she touches, making them do her bidding. It's a concept ripe with story-ideas, but as an SoP class it faces 2 problems: 1, a one-trick class isn't that fun to play, and 2, we'd already decided that Dominate Person was a game changer; one of a set of spells and abilities (long-range teleportation, communing with gods, etc.) that can drastically changed the way the game is played and the way the world works. These abilities would be removed from the core system and included as optional Advanced Talents, so GMs could choose to include them if he wanted them, rather than forcing him to edit them out if he didn't.
This also tied in strangely well with the super-enchanter I mentioned in my Story vs Mechanic-based play post. The more I thought of that super-enchanter, the more I wasn't happy with the idea of making him a Pathfinder sorcerer; I kept finding myself imagining him fighting with daggers, making assassination strikes, and possessing lots of skill points, and the less I saw him relying on anything other than enchanting and illusions. But of course, if I made him a straight sorcerer I couldn't really use daggers, and if I made him an arcane trickster I wouldn't gain access to the highest-level enchantment spells. Then answer, of course, was to make him an emophet, and change the question to 'How could the emophet help me make a character that isn't possible with Pathfinder Core?"
The answer, as we're currently working on it, is to give the emophet a caster level equal to her level for the mind sphere only, as well as a small scaling bonus to the DCs associated with it (similar to the Fey or Arcane sorcerer bloodlines getting their free DC bonuses.) For all other purposes, however, she's a mid-BAB, mid-Caster Level jack of all trades, similar to a bard. If a GM decides to open the way for the long-term domination Advanced Talent, the confessor is born, but if not, their power is not completely stunted, as the rest of the emophet's abilities come from a related, but mechanically different, source: emotions.
In the Sword of Truth series, a confessor's power comes from love (their magic works by making the touched person love them so much they lose all will, which interestingly means it doesn't work on those who already deeply love the confessor) and confessors had been known to manifest Blood-Rage powers if one they personally love is threatened. The emophet takes this idea and expands it, allowing players to pick powers based not only on love (domination,) but rage (combat bonuses), joy (healing), apathy (stopping actions), and despair (fear and debuffs.) Thus, even without the advanced talents, an emophet can become a powerful enchanter (love), but can just as equally dip its way into other party roles and character concepts, all as the player sees fit.
It's not finished (I still need to finish writing everything up and send it to the backer to review,) but so far the Emophet is taking its place next to the Armorist (which also comes from a Theurge backer suggestion) as my favorite new class of the book.