A Watery Shield Of My Own

Posted on 23 Apr 2021

In February 2021, Paizo released the Lost Omens Ancestry Guide, a book that added and expanded the Ancestries and Heritages available for character creation. One Ancestry introduced alongside this new guide was the Azarketi, previously known as “Low Azlanti” or “Gill Men.” These people represent the survivors of Azlant (Golarion’s Atlantis, for those unaware) that were captured and mutated by their ancestral enemies, the Veiled Masters, to survive underwater.

In one of my Pathfinder games, a player was inspired by the Azarketi and wanted to make an Azarketi character. To be fair, the player was really interested in doing something “like Aquaman,” so we did the best we could with what we had. In selecting his Ancestry feat, the player was really interested in Hydraulic Deflection (AG 14). The feat is relatively straightforward:

Hydraulic Deflection 1

Feat 1


  • abjuration
  • azarketi
  • concentrate
  • primal
  • water

Drawing moisture from the atmosphere, you create a disc of hovering water that deflects attacks. You gain a +1 circumstance bonus to AC until the start of your next turn.

The ability is thematically really cool. The Azarketi uses innate power over water to make a disc of water that deflects attacks. As it ends up, it sounds a lot like an existing ability: the Shield cantrip. Except… the Shield cantrip allows the user to Shield Block in addition to providing a bonus to AC.

That got me thinking: why not tweak this feat to do the same? In short, why not make Hydraulic Deflection let the character do the same thing as the Shield cantrip?

Looking at Comparable Feats

I knew that there were other level 1 Ancestry Feats that granted a character the ability to cast a cantrip. A quick look through the Archives of Nethys netted me a few standout examples: Arcane Tattoos (CG 11), First World Magic (CRB 44), Mariner’s Fire (AG 57), Storm’s Lash (APG 26), and Shrouded Magic (AG 860), to name a few. At least one of them, Arcane Tattoos explicitly granted access to the Shield cantrip. Some allowed access to an entire spell list that included Shield. Overall, this tells me that it’s not completely off base for Hydraulic Deflection to work more like the Shield cantrip.

At this point, it would have been easy enough to say “You can cast the Shield cantrip as a primal innate spell at will, heightened to a spell level equal to half your level rounded up.” I could have done that, and for most people, that would be good enough. But, I already had some stuff floating around in my head (and in play) that made me want to distinguish this. I looked at the Aasimar Feat, Halo (APG 35) as inspiration for a Feat that emulated a cantrip, but wasn’t quite the cantrip. Halo also shows an example of a spell-like effect that can change with other feats, as is the case of Healer’s halo. That’s something I wanted to keep available going forward.

Alternate Azarketi Ancestry Feat

Hydraulic Deflection 1

Feat 1


  • abjuration
  • azarketi
  • concentrate
  • primal
  • water

Drawing moisture from the atmosphere, you create a disc of hovering water that deflects attacks. This has the effects of a primal Shield cantrip, except it loses the force trait and gains the water trait. This cantrip is heightened to a spell level equal to half your level rounded up.

More to Come

As I mentioned, my intent is to do more with this “updated” version of the Hydraulic Deflection feat. With Ancestry Feats every four levels, it only makes sense to me that there should be some upgrades available to modify the way this ability works.

That means expect to see more Azarketi nonsense soon.