And so the series continues.
Smite is an ability similar to the regular ability and behaves in a similar way. Normally, it gives you your Cha Mod to an attack roll and Intensity sacred ro profane damage, which are nice damage types. I’m gonna ignore the Magnitude thing, because while it is very nice to be able to hold it, it’s a free action… Which means you can just do it directly before you attack at no real penality. What’s interesting is that unlike smite, this doesn’t require you to choose a specific group. My suggestion is: Specialize it against good/evil outsiders. This doubles it’s power, and since the damage type deals double damage against the target (but is not really a multiplier to your attack, as it’s on the defenders side) you can deal quadruple of your Intensity in damage IN ADDITION to the normal attack damage… And when I mean Intensity, I mean the Intensity you gain after you’ve dumped as much of your Magnitude into it as you can.
You add your Magnitude to your touch attack. There are two things to notice here. For one, Intensity simply doesn’t matter, so dump it into Magnitude if you can. Secondly, we are talking Magnitude, not Magnitude dice. That means multiple d6+cha mod+level+intensity in most cases, and that is in addition to your regular touch attack. You can even specialize it in the same way as smite and use your touch attack (whatever it may be) with both (and even the regular smite if you want) for massive damage a few times per day.
Well… This ability can be fun, even if I don’t have too much mechanical evidence for it. I can guarantee that you’ll be fun at parties with the negative energy varant though. Possessing entities can be a lot of fun, but once more, it appears you lack the means to control them. The most interesting thing for Corruption seems to be that you can inflict Insanity or Confusion effects at a rather high DC… Not to mention that it’s nonmagical. The most interesting thing for Cleansing is the ability to cast out possessing spirits. Please note that if you have no intention of purchasing Intensity or Magnitude, you can still use the negative energy variant effectively, as it relies on neither of them.
This is a big one: You can kill things permanently and delay their return with the returning ability. It doesn’t have to be a killing strike, you don’t even have to encounter the creature, you just need to dispose of the body. This is an excellent ability for assassins. Also, there is no mention of how long the Final Death delays a returning… It can take millenia for the creature to surface again.
This ability is just more of Wrath and Smite, just with the difference that it let’s you choose between Magnitude to damage or Intensity to attack roll. In general, this subpath seems to be ideal for the Deathblow.
This works like Final Death, save for a few exceptions. First, you need to be the one to deal the finishing blow AND requires you to have an Intensity of the opponents effective level or it won’t work. Secondly, it changes you actual attack, giving you Magnitude x5 to your damage to a maximium of 200 (which means that you can probably give stuff to your Intensity). Finally, it works perfectly against extraordinary returning, but DOESN’T delay Unique returning. It may also be argued that it lists Divine Intervention specifically and Final Death thus doesn’t allow for it… But that’s a stretch. My suggestion, as it has been for this entire chain, is to specialize it for specific targets and then give them hell with +400 damage to your attacks.
Tides of Light and Darkness:
The Reaching Hand:
It’s a range upgrade. This is nice, but doesn’t do anything on it’s own. Truth be told, I rather like it.
This ability is amazing. The low Magnitude requirement allows you to pump up Intensity and affect heavier targets. What’s more interesting: This Bullrush-like ability offers no way of resistance. What’s even better, however, is the defensive side of things: This thing right here can negate the effects of a “massive attack” in a 15-foot. It’s basically a specialized Penultimate Shield. If you face something, anything, with AoEs, this ability will be well worth it.
This allows you to create walls of force and customize their shape to your liking. The design must be simple, is limited by Intensity and lasts Magnitude rounds, but it’s still total cover, which makes this a pretty good ability.
Armor of Light and Darkness:
This creates Intensity equipment or weapons for Magnitude rounds. These gain a bonus equal to your Cha Mod. This is a worse version of the Empower ability, but might still be worth it. Why? Because it stacks with said ability. You cannot redirect the boni, but it creates reliable equipment. This is a bit further back in this ability chain than I’d like, but you can make use of this ability if you don’t want to invest in any sort of weapon. Still… Empower is the better choice unless you want to outfit the entire party.
Warding is an amazing ability. You can counter or even control an enemy spellcasters spell, similar to The Spiral Dance, without needing to succeed on a dispel check. This is a must have, right? Well… yes and no. As much as it pains me to say this, if you do not specialize this ability, you cannot use it as much as you’d like to. The Intensity and Magnitude requirements for this one are just too high in most cases to pull it off. Otherwise, this ability is amazing, but… you’ll have to pull all stops if you want to use it to it’s full extend against primary casters. On a more positive note, this is no dispel or absorption and thus there appears to be no metamagic capable of countering it, unlike it is the case with The Living Matrix.
Sendings gives you the ability to create an Astral Construct. It has a reasonable level of Intensity/3, so you’ll want to use your Magnitude-Dice to augment the Intensity. I would advise the positive variant and aid of Glowstone, if it’s available. The constructs also gain a nice bonus, as their attacks count as holy or unholy depending on your energy type. All in all, it’s a worthy summon you an pick up without feeling bad about it.
The Boundless Realms:
Circle of Power:
I’m not sure what CM is. What I’m sure of, however, is that this provides a good synergy with non-single target effects if you don’t have The Reaching Hand. The reason for that is that you can probably specialize or corrupt your abilities to lack the ability to affect multiple targets and regain it with this ability. Keep in mind that this doesn’t affect personal only techniques.
Sea of Light/Darkness:
This, similar to The Reaching Hand, doesn’t do anything on it’s own. Only your loadout of other abilities can determine if this one is worth taking. It does give a very nice boost though, so if you are going into the AoE-business, take it. It’s a good combination with Shadowmastery.
Lord of Light/Darkness:
Perhaps fortunately, this ability is only for the basic ability of channeling (turn etc.). If you make use of that, especially as a negative energy user, then take this and ever look back. The amount of HD you can control will be through the roof. It also allows you to pump all your Magnitude-dice into Intensity without having to worry about having too few.
These two are a bolstering under a different name. The changes are the people affected (Magnitude of your choosing vs. everyone with lower HD than Magnitude), the amount of turns they are affected (Cha Mod vs. 10) and the amount of positive levels provided (+2 vs. +(Intensity-Level)/2). So to say it differently, this is the better option as opposed to normal bolstering if your cha mod is higher than 10 (which is probably a given), the targets have high HD and your Intensity is less than their level+4. Let’s say it like this: If you just want to get in on a bit of positive levels, then choose this. If you want to specialize into bolstering, however, just specialize and corrupt your Intensity and Magnitude-Dice for the sole purpose of it. I might actually make a little template to demonstrate this. To be fair, it is sorta a better version of Flow of Life, but the fact that we have to go through Lord of Light/Darkness to get here, which makes bolstering so much easier, makes this a bit weird. Still… It is a very solid ability, as it allows you to bolster yourself even if you normally didn’t put your all into it. This becomes so much better if specialized and corrupted though: +6 Positive Levels are something you’ll love.
The Focal Point:
It’s what it says in the book: It’s amazing at boosting your Magnitude, but doesn’t help your Intensity as much as you’d like it to. On a positive note, it means that if you’ve got help, you won’t need to worry about Magnitude, as every assistant channeler will immediately drop their Intensity to increase their Magnitude just as you will do the opposite. For negative energy users, this means a whole lot of undead. If a country wants to defend itself against necromancers, or a necromantic country wants to control an army, I’m pretty sure this is the ability they’ll fall back on. If you have allies that have minor chanelig abilities, you should take this.
Worldspinner/The Great Unbinding:
The positive energy version gives you a place to rest. It’s nice, but nothing too special, even if it’s a great effect. The negative energy version, however, has the potential to be amazing: It allows you to negate planar traits. Ok, this doesn’t sound too impressive right now, but depending on the setting, this can change. If there are tainted planes, planes of madness or major negative energy planes, this is the way to go. It also works against Dead Magic, so if you ever find yourself in a plane which doesn’t allow for magic, smile and use this. Your allies will thank you for it. If you want to look at the full amount of power this can grant in a setting which experiments with different realities, take a look at Thoths Federation Campaign (and even if you don’t, it’s a good read either way).
And with that, we’ve looked through all the abilities. I’ve given a few comments on what I think about them. What about you? Do you have a favorite use or some creative way to use this path?