Ok, so Path of the Dragon doesn’t have much base material to talk about. Path of the Dragon is the most immediately powerful path, second only to Channeling, and even then only in terms of CP-Power-efficiency.
It’s the most… let’s say “direct”-style of abilities: You want something, here you go. No big fuss, no real complications, just pay and go on. There is no big theme you have to follow, no different versions you need to wrap your head around, only a few truly bizzare interactions and, aside from the high CP-cost of some abilities, no further drawbacks. That might be the reason why I never really used it, despite it’s power. It’s kinda… flashy, but dull?
Anyway, here we go:
Pretty much Prestidigitation at will. Prestidigitation is a great spell… But that’s part of the spell, not of this ability. It also forbids effects to stick and is supernatural instead of an SLA… But yeah, that’s pretty much it.
So… that’s all basic abilities. That would be a rather short post… So I’m just gonna start reviewing the subpaths now:
The Way of the Artificer:
This represents the ability to create specific-effect use-activated Prestidigitation items for 12.5 gp and 1 xp. Sounds good so far, has a lot of interesting uses and sells for twice to four times the price. If you are creative, this can create some less-powerful, but interesting items. You will mostly be restricted to joke items or minor conveniences though.
This is powerful. It allows you to make up to 4000 gp items for free. Normally, this ability is used to make potions or, if you have the Unity-ability, powerstones. It still costs XP though. I’d say the most interesting feature of this is the fact that you can corrupt and specialize it so you can only make use-activated items of spells and powers of level 2 or lower and add something like a suspicious alien/evil magic modifier to your items to be able to utilize 12000 gp. Other than that… yeah, this is obviously for potionmakers.
Dragonsmith and The Philosophers Stone:
Both of these abilities represent things from the Create Magic Item-ability. This is only here so you can specialize a relic for Path of the Dragon, specialize a crafting ability to oly apply to Path of the Dragon or use “Wings of Magic” to gain crafting access or somesuch… I think. I don’t actually KNOW why these abilities exist, but well… Here they are.
The Way of Inner Fire:
This allows you to shield someone, make an AoE and a single-target attack. You have to sacrifice spell levels for that. I can’t say much more about that than the ability itself does.
Breath of the Dragon:
Ok, so I had to read this ability several times and I think I still don’t fully get it, but here’s the thing I consider the most important: It allows you to change it into different energy types, not different damage types, which greatly reduces the list of options. Unless you are a deity, “Divine” energy is off-limits (I suppose that’s Divine Damage) and so is… “Infernal” energy? What the heck is infernal energy? The only time I can remember hearing of infernal energy, it was in a spell description describing the power that allows devils to see in the dark. I think that simply means untyped damage, but I’m not sure, especially since there are two listed damage types for it in the ability, which would be weird if they were mechanically 100% identical. The final thing is that you need to fit the alignment. Well, given that there are evil deities, but no… Good evil deities (?) I suppose Divine fits every alignment, while “Infernal” fits every evil alignment. There are also Holy, Unholy, Lawful and Chaotic energy types… Which I suppose refers to Sacred, Profane, Force and Sonic, because while D&D 3.5 HAS “chaotic” as a damage type, said damage is not an energy type and can thus not be dealt with this ability.
This is two good spells, the good old “no Toxins, Diseases and Parasites” and shaping for your dragonfire. Pretty solid, even if I’m kinda sad that you are restricted to fire-elementals even if you substituted out your Dragonfire via Breath of the Dragon… Though I suppose it’s understandable, given that there are not always elementals for every type. It’s a solid ability, especially since it doesn’t set a limit on your Astral Construct level that the spell itself doesn’t have.
Body of Fire:
It’s not quite The Living Darkness (doesn’t give you bonus Mana or CL or makes saves for you, stays with you all the way through no matter how much damage you have taken and has you take on all attributes, not just strenght), but.. if you take Living Fire, you’ll want this. It allows you to become one with the Astral Construct OR the Fire Elemental. So basically, you have two options:
Astral Construct gives you nice special abilities and strenght beyond what you would normally have… But dumps your Dexterity and makes you non-living for the abilities duration.
The Fire Elemental yields good dex and more hp than it’s relevant counterparts from Large up and gives you all-around decent base-attributes from Huge up… But their special ability, burn, is pretty useless.
Both of these are options that can be handy… But it’s the prospect of Natural Invisibility, Flight and small-distance teleport that get’s me. Also, it increases the duration… And as a matter of fact, it might even STACK with The Living Darkness, which can make this ability rather frightening.
Eye of the Dragon:
If someone wants to take this path, this is normally one of the reasons. You remember that Power Word Kill your opponent threw at you with his last breath? Yeah, that didn’t affect you. Neither did his Wish. Sucks to be him, expending XP for that, right?
Yeah, this ability allows you to absorb spells, even AoE’s, store the spell-levels and let’s you power spells with it. No Save or SR or nothing, just your absorption-limit and the off-chance that your opponent wasted 4 levels on Brackish as opposed to anything else.
Now this sounds broken, and if Glory weren’t a thing, it would be. Luckily, this ability is MAD. No, not mad, MAD. Multiple Attribute Dependant. You need Constitution (at least a little bit of it) to store spells, Intelligence to absorb them and Wisdom to expand the limit. Of course if you have more Wisdom and CP, you might as well just buy more. For more CP, you can also power your spells instead of expending them and drain items if you pay more CP… Let’s just say this is good, but pricey.
Venom of the Dragon:
This allows you to use Eye of the Dragon to store spells. If someone throws a spell at you and allows you to allow it, you can use it at any point in time, provided you stored it (and didn’t expend it) first. These are limited to Intelligence spells and STACK with Eye of the Dragon, so if you have both, you can absorb a total of 2x Intelligence spell levels. It also has the sentence “the absorption limit of the Eye of the Dragon”, but I suppose that means that it HAS that limit, even if it seems to be unclear first.
Bones of Jade:
Allows Venom of the Dragon to absorb ALL spells that way. As simple as that, and as powerful as you think it is too. Now your opponent didn’t just waste a Wish; he gave you a free one to throw back.
Ride of the Dragon:
You get 10 spell levels you can spent to learn spells you can use via spell-levels given to Dragonfire, of up to level 4. This counts as spontaneous casting and takes a Standard action in any case. This has, again, a Wisdom-based limit on the amount you can take these abilities.
Wings of the Dragon:
This gives you a Level 5 or 6 spell to add to the list. This is expensive, with 6 CP per spell, but has no maximum limit on the number of times you can take it.
Hmm… Level 5 to 6. Does that maximum limit sound familiar? Yeah, this is the Path of the Dragon-Equivalent to Channeling’s Conversion. Except it can be taken as often as you want and doesn’t need a theme. However, you don’t have all the possible options, as there is no “up to level 6”, but it is specifically 5 OR 6, so specializing and corrupting this ability and Ride of the Dragon can never yield you spells of the levels 13, 14, 16 or 17 (or, well, beyond 18, obviously). Maybe you can bargain for a heightened version… but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Still, let’s say you want 1/day Excellent Lore, which is a good spell and thus a reasonable assumption, then (assuming specialization and corruption) you need to pay 18 CP to get it via Channeling (1 Channeling attempt for 3 CP, 12 CP for Level 6 Spells, 3 CP for a group related to a theme) and getting it via Path of the Dragon takes 30 CP (Shaping, Dragonfire, Eye of the Dragon, Ride of the Dragon and Wings of the Dragon, 6 CP each).
This is it for this time. I will review the rest of the Path of the Dragon sometime soon. See you then!