View Full Version : Sword in the Dark

2005-12-14, 02:31 PM
Yes, I have yet another new prestige class for your review. This one is for tieflings, drow, half-fiends, and other creatures with Darkness as a spell-like ability or special attack. It develops the character's ability to fight in the dark and inhances the character's ability to use his/her Darkness ability. Please let me know what you think, particularly balance concerns and improvement suggestions.


Hit Dice: d8
Base Attack Bonus: +8
Feats: Weapon Focus (any), Stealthy, Combat Expertise
Special: Ability to use Darkness as spell-like ability or special attack
Special: Darkvision as either a racial ability or class feature
Class Skills:
The Sword in the Dark’s class skills are Climb, Craft, Hide, Intimidate, Jump, Listen, Move Silently, Ride, Spot, and Swim
Skill Points at Each Level: 2 + Int modifier

BAB: as rogue
Fort: good
Ref, Will: poor

1- Improved Darkvision (+15 ft)
2- Bonus Feat
3- Darkness +1/day
4- Improved Darkvision (magical darkness, 30 ft)
5- Blind-Sense 30 ft, Bonus Feat
6- Darkness +1/day
7- Improved Darkvision (+15 ft)
8- Bonus Feat
9- Darkness +1/day
10- Improved Darkvision (magical darkness, 60 ft), Blind-Sight 30ft

Class Features

Improved Darkvision – Beginning at 1st level and continuing at level 7, the range of a Sword in the Dark’s darkvision improves as shown in the table above. Additional, at 4th and 10th level, a Sword in the Darkness gains the ability to see even in magical darkness with a range as listed above.
Bonus Feat – At 2nd and 8th level, a Sword in the Dark gains a bonus feat. This bonus feat must be drawn from the list of feats noted as fighter bonus feats. The Sword in the Dark must still meet all prerequisites for a bonus feat, including base attack bonus and ability score minimums.
Darkness – Beginning at 3rd level, a Sword in the Dark gains the ability to use his/her Darkness ability more times per day, as shown in the above table
Blind-Sense – Beginning at 5th level, a Sword in the Dark gains the blind-sense ability with a range of 30 ft.
Blind-Sight – Beginning at 10th level, a Sword in the Dark gains the blind-sight ability with a range of 30 ft.

Let me know what you think


2005-12-14, 02:35 PM
The +'s to darkness would be cool, but other then that it seems like a fighter only with Darkvision and blindsense instead of more feats. And a weaker HD. Hmm. Seems balanced, but a tad weak for my tastes. Alot of Drow might take it.

2005-12-14, 03:12 PM
I agree that it seems a tad weak. Perhaps some sort of Blind Damage bonus? Like a Rogue's, but it is only effective against opponents under Darkness?

2005-12-14, 03:46 PM
I don't think its very underpowered. I'd take it in an underdark campaign. A suggestion though is make bonuses for fighting while opponents are hindered. Also, maybe add cast darkness as a spell to the special. I could see a duergar mage/thief trying getting into this class.

2005-12-14, 04:31 PM
Under powered? I'd say the opposite.

Its basically like a fighter class. But it gets weaker hp by 1 per level on average. It also gets a much better skill list. Then, it gets abilities every level. Most of which are either feats just like a fighter gets, or themed abilities that are as good or better than a feat.

So basically it seems better than a fighter in every way, except that it will have a few less HP's.

2005-12-14, 06:50 PM
Thanks everyone for the responses. I really appreciate it. Lets see what we've got. It looks like there are a couple of comments...

1. This is basically a fighter with Darkness abilities

Right in one. This class was designed to appeal to any martial character who has a Darkness ability and would like to exploit it to the fullest. It's based around a character who will be appearing in the campaign I will be running in the spring. Hopefully he'll like it...

On the other hand, the high BAB requirement means that pretty much any character who wants to can get into this class. With only three feat requirements, any character can be in by the time he/she gets a +8 BAB. Rogues especially would love this class, and it would be useful to Rangers, Ninjas, and Barbarians as well.

Finally, I may make a whole organization based around this type of class, and write up versions that cater to spell-casters at a later date.

2. It seems weak...

Perhaps at first glance. It's bonuses are indeed very circumstantial. However, if utilized properly, darkness can be a great equalizer and could make for some pretty hefty advantages for characters who can negotiate it with ease. I don't think that it's weak.

3. Perhaps add a bonus to attack/damage while opponents are in Darkness...

I think that the darkness itself is a large enough advantage, especially when you gain the ability to see in it (at least to a certain extent). Again, it may take creativity to work really well, but it can be done.

4. It's overpowered...you don't lose anything when going into it besides a few hitpoints

Good point. I've made some changes (see above) that I hope take care of this problem. Let me know what you think.

Also, I don't think that all of the features are better than feats. Consider the darkvision improvements, or blind-sight (not nearly as useful as the feat blind-fight). Also, until you get some vision in magical darkness or blind-sight, you're as much handicapped by the darkness as anyone else.

As to the skill list, I have a house rule that spot and listen are class skills for every class, so the only changes to the skill list are the addition of hide and move silently and the removal of handle animal. But remember, the class still only gives two points/level, so characters are going to have to make some difficult choices...

Thanks again for the comments. I hope that I've addressed your issues. Anything else, feel encouraged to post up. Seriously


2005-12-14, 07:10 PM
The fighting style I think leads itself more to Rogues. I think if class geared towards rogue mentality instead of fighter on it would be better. A good skill list does nothing if you don't have the skill points to use them.

2005-12-14, 07:56 PM
I would give this class a silencer ability too. Ultra-stealth in the darkness. Maybe borrow a little from the shadowdancer class. One drawback that you could add in is to make these characters get gradually more light-sensitive as they go up in levels to compensate for their powers.

2005-12-14, 09:01 PM
So basically it seems better than a fighter in every way, except that it will have a few less HP's.

I'd still say its heartily underpowered. Remember Darkness has only a 20ft radius, so most of your extended range is useless if you intend on using that as your fight advantage. Keep in mind too that all it provides is very basic concealment (20%). Also keep in mind that any caster you encounter at the levels you will be taking this will easily shred your advantage by literally lighting you up, or simply dispelling your darkness.

Maybe I'm missing something - Mephib is there a tactic or strategy that you intend this class to use beyond what I have outlined above? Some combo that I'm missing here?

2005-12-14, 10:25 PM
Another prestige class - do you even work anymore?

Seriously though, looks like a pretty balanced class to me though I'm not sure who'd use it - it's pretty prestige-prestige, limited to a very select group of characters. I don't suppose you're saving this for some evildoing cult?

Also, I have to agree with the idea this seems like more of a rogue class than a fighter class - it's got the additional sneaking benefits - so maybe a little more sneak attack damage when both are in the darkness would be a good idea, since they know how to work in the dark.

2005-12-15, 01:21 AM
Ok, seems that the general concensus is that the other version is underpowered and doesn't make sense. I can see where everyone is coming from, especially since the Darkness ability doesn't to exactly what I want for both the mechanics and the flavor of the class. So, here's a more rogue-ish version. Hope you guys like this one better.


Hit Dice: d6
Base Attack Bonus: +5
Skills: Hide 8 ranks, Move Silently 8 ranks
Special: Ability to use Darkness as a spell-like ability or special attack
Special: Sneak Attack +1d6
Class Skills:
The Knife in the Dark’s class skills are Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Int), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Gather Information (Cha), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (local) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Open Lock (Dex), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), Use Magic Device (Cha), and Use Rope (Dex).
Skill Points at Each Level: 6 + Int modifier

BAB: as rogue
Fort, Will: poor
Ref: good

1- Familiarity
2- Extra Darkness, Trick of the Dark
3- Sneak Attack +1d6
5- Trick of the Dark
7- Trick of the Dark
8- Sneak Attack +1d6
10- Trick of the Dark

Class Features:

Familiarity – Beginning at 1st level, a Knife in the Dark is unaffected by his/her own Darkness ability and can attack and maneuver within its radius at no penalty.
Extra Darkness – Beginning at 2nd level, a Knife in the Dark gains the ability to use his/her Darkness ability additional times per day equal to half his/her class level (min +1/day).
Trick of the Dark – Beginning at 2nd level, a Knife in the Dark gains his/her signature ability to alter his/her Darkness ability. At 2nd, 5th, 7th, and 10th level, a Knife in the Dark may select one of the following tricks:
1. Widen Darkness – A Knife in the Dark may use this trick to double the radius of his/her Darkness ability. This trick is usable thrice per day.
2. Extend Darkness – A Knife in the Dark may use this trick to double the duration of his/her Darkness ability. This trick is usable thrice per day.
3. Deepen Darkness – A Knife in the Dark may use this trick to make his/her Darkness ability generate an area of total darkness instead of shadowy illumination. This effect has a radius of 10 ft instead of 20 ft. If this Darkness interacts with a Daylight spell, the result is an area of shadowy illumination in the radius of the Darkness effect. This ability is usable thrice per day. Prerequisite - Ability to use at least one other Trick of the Dark.
4. Darker Vision – A Knife in the Dark may use this trick to gain the ability to see in magical darkness. He/she may expend a use of his/her Darkness ability to gain the ability to see in magical darkness at a range of 15 ft for 1 min/level.
5. Cloak of Darkness – A Knife in the Dark may use this trick to wrap him/herself in a cloak of darkness. This ability expends a use of his/her Darkness ability, and grants the Knife in the Dark concealment (20% miss chance) for 1 min/level. The Knife in the Dark’s vision is unaffected by this effect.
6. Target Darkness – A Knife in the Dark may use this trick to cloud the vision of a single creature as a ranged touch attack. The target is allowed a Will save (DC 10 + the Knife in the Dark’s class level) to resist the effect. If the target fails the save, he/she behaves as if in an area of shadowy illumination
7. Afraid of the Dark – A Knife in the Dark may use this trick to imbue an area of Darkness he/she creates with the ability to scare those who enter it. He/she must spend an additional use of his/her Darkness ability (1 use to create the darkness, another to cause fear) to cause fearsome illusions to permeate the area, causing any creature within the radius who fails a Will save (DC 10 + the Knife in the Dark’s class level) to behave as if affected by a Fear spell until they leave the radius of the effect. Prerequisite - Ability to use at least one other Trick of the Dark
8. Extra Darkness – A Knife in the Dark who selects this trick gains an additional daily use of his/her Darkness ability or spell.
9. Silencing Darkness – A Knife in the Dark can use this trick to duplicate the effects of a Silence spell within the radius of his/her Darkness. The save DC for this effect is 10 + spell level of Darkness + casting modifier. If the Knife in the Dark casts Darkness as a spell-like ability, the casting modifier is always Charisma. This ability is usable thrice per day.
10. Persistent Darkness – A Knife in the Dark may use this trick to prevent his/her Darkness from being dispelled by Dispel Magic and similar spells. A Knife in the Dark adds his/her class levels when determining the DC of dispel checks made to dispel his/her Darkness (thus, the dispel DC for Darkness cast by a Tiefling Rogue 7/ Knife in the Dark 5 is 16). If the Knife in the Dark casts Darkness as a spell, his/her class levels stack with levels of his/her casting class for determining dispel DC’s (thus, the dispel DC for Darkness cast by a Human level 3 Cleric/level 5 Rogue/level 5 Knife in the Dark is 11 + Cleric levels + Sword in the Dark levels, or 19 [11+3+5]). Unlike other Tricks of the Dark, a Knife in the Dark can use an additional use of his/her Darkness ability to create an area of darkness that is affected by Persistent Darkness as well as another Trick. This ability is usable thrice per day.
Sneak Attack – This is exactly like the rogue ability of the same name. At 3rd and 8th level, a Knife in the Dark’s sneak attack damage increases by +1d6. If a Knife in the Dark gets a sneak attack bonus from another source, the bonuses to damage stack.

So, there you go. I like the flavor of this version much better, and I really like the Trick of the Dark class feature. However, I'm worried that some of these will be abusable, and that players will only want to do a 2-level dip, pick of Familiarity and Deepen Darkness, and never take the rest of the class. So, my new request is for any balance/improvement suggestions, new ideas for tricks, and suggestions for how to prevent the 2-level dip.

Thanks a lot for your input so far.


2005-12-15, 01:31 PM
suggestions for how to prevent the 2-level dip.
Dips are usually done because the rest of the class has little to offer a certain build. One thing you could do is lower the radius if some of the tricks are used. Things like Deepen Darkness can only targetted at one creature would make it far less abuseable, or make it a 10' radius instead of 20.

As far as rogues using this class... Familiarity means they dont suffer the 20% concealment against all foes in the darkness? That would be nice, since it would allow sneak attacks.

2005-12-15, 01:35 PM
Now this is a lot hotter of a class - I can just picture drow assassins getting really good with this, able to enter, kill and leave with barely a trace of their actions, or a tiefling killer who makes a name for himself on both planes.

Couple points though: what's it mean Fort, Will: poor and Ref: good? I'd just pick some numbers and roll with it. (haha) And when you say class level for the Afraid of the Dark, is that total levels or just Knife levels?

Also, if you want to avoid abuse, make those abilities only obtainable at higher levels - deeper darkness seems like a freaking awesome ability, and it seems like it'd be feasible for a 7th level character to have it under your rules. I assume you're planning this as a very specialist class due to the prerequisite of darkness, but for character use I'd push that back to a couple levels - maybe you should tier the abilities so some are only accesible after one or two other skills are obtained.

And for evil variants of this class, you may want to add another ability to the list - damning darkness from page 89 of BoVD. Basically, that means anyone of good alignment takes 2d6 points of damage per round, and anyone of neutral alignment takes 1d6 points of damage per round. Seems perfect for a sadistic assassin who likes luring guards into a trap.

Hmm - that's given me an idea of my own, so I'd keep your eyes open next session or so - not that it'll help. Mwahaha.

Otherwise, I like this variant a lot better - if I wasn't a fighter I'd give it a whirl in the Ret Ka Ji campaign.

2005-12-15, 04:40 PM
Yet again, some good suggestions. Thanks a lot, guys. Let’s see…

1. Reduce the radius of some of the tricks

Good call. I’ve reduced the radius for Deepen Darkness to 10 ft. I think that’s the only one that would really be affected by this change.

2. Does the Familiarity ability mean that Rogues could make sneak attacks in darkness?

Not technically. It only allow them to make sneak attacks in darkness they generate themselves. Non-magical darkness or Darkness generated by anyone else would still foil sneak attacks. I figured, what’s the point of a Rogue taking levels in this class it the abilities that make the class interesting also foil sneak attack?

3. What’s up with this save business?

Saves come in two progressions; good and poor. A good save progression begins at +2 and increase at 2nd level and every other level thereafter (+2, +3 ,+3, +4, +4, +5, +5, etc). A poor progression begins at +0 and increases at 3rd level and every third level thereafter (+0, +0, +1, +1, +1, +2, +2, +2, +3, +3, +3, etc). I’m just too lazy to write all that out, and I haven’t figured out the table feature yet.

4. What does “class level” mean?

Again, standard terminology. Class level is defined as the level of a specific class (in this case, Knife in the Dark. Character level is defined as the total number of levels a character possesses, of any class.

5. How ‘bout making some abilities only available at higher levels?

I was thinking about that, but couldn’t figure out a really good way to do it without straight-jacketing the players too much. I think that Deepen Darkness is the only ability I’m really worried about, but the reduced radius makes it less potent, and I’m more comfortable with a 7th level character taking it. Also, entering this PrC at 7th level entails some pretty serious tradeoffs, so I guess I’m not too worried.

Another thing I’m considering is bumping the skill points up to 6/level. What do you guys think?

Thanks again for the comments. Keep them coming.


2005-12-15, 05:06 PM
Sword in the Dark...

this plus shadowdancer = ouch in an underdark setting.

Knife in the Dark...

Deeper Darkness and Darker Vision is scary. Since you can see through your own magical darkness, all you need is 30 ft. range with deeper darkness. Once they're in complete darkness, they're effectively blind, which means flat-footed... sneak attacks. Darker Vision... someone else drops a darkness effect... you get sneak attacks. Fortunately, you've hamstrung their sneak attack dice, so it's not going to be as obnoxious as it could have been, but it's still fairly nasty.

Cloak of Darkness... why? I just create darkness centered on myself, granting myself at least that much concealment, either way I get to hide (unless I have hide in plain sight).

Make the Trick of the Dark uses mutually exclusive... that way you can't have someone target and deeper darkness to make one person blind and getting sneak attacks without hampering anyone else.

2005-12-15, 05:31 PM
Now this is more like ! *:D

I like this alot better. *I see some concerns about dipping - one way to get around that and scale the abilitie somewhat if you want (I'm not really sure its necessary) is to plug in a selection scale like Loremaster has, and place the Trick of the Dark abilities causing you worry to a higher point on the scale.

Otherwise great class. *I think I would bump up to 6 skill points per level - rogues will be the most interested in this, and losing half their skill points per level would be a major deterrent - 6 means they lose a little, but not too steep to render a skill monkey rogue ineffective should they decide to try this out.

ETA: I might also add an ability that allows your use of Darkness to resist attempts at Dispel - otherwise, again, its easy to dispel the effect that this class relies upon for its efficacy.

2005-12-15, 06:20 PM
Wow, thanks for the prompt and useful responses, guys! Let's see...


1. I've pretty much abandoned Sword in the Dark, but out of curiosity, what do you mean by "ouch?" Ouch broken, or ouch interesting and potentially fun/effective to play?

2. I share your concern about the potency of Deepen Darkness, but with the smaller radius and the fact that it takes a standard action to use (meaning the character won't be able to throw up 3 of them in quick succession without using three turns) makes me less worried. If anything, it's less potent than greater invisibility (which a wizard can use at around this level)
3. I see Cloak of Darkness as a somewhat limited use ability that is more useful in roleplaying/infiltrating situations than in actual combat. Suppose you wanted to infiltrate a building, but couldn't find enough hiding places. Cloak of Darkness would let you hide while not alerting guards to your presence (cuz a 40ft diameter sphere of magical darkness is pretty conspicuous in an otherwise well-lighted room). Also, if you wanted a bonus to your defensive abilities but didn't want to interfere with your allies' fighting and casting, this ability would be perfect. Plus, the name sounded cool and I was kinda fishing for ideas. I can think of some interesting uses for it though.
4. Point taken about stacking Tricks of the Dark. I had already decided to only allow one per use of Darkness, but I hadn't changed it on the post.


1. I've added some prerequisites to Afraid of the Dark and Deepen Darkness. I think that erases any residual worries I had about dipping. What do you think?
2. I think the class is potent enough without a resistance to dispel magic. The number of Darkness uses per day would still allow the class to be useful, and (if nothing else) the player could always fall back on the old Rogue standby: Flank with a meatshield and poke the bad guy full of holes.

Thanks again for the comments. Keep 'em coming.


2005-12-16, 11:29 AM
That's true, this guy can always recast, which would tie down a stubborn caster :)

I think the prequisites work well to avoid dipping, and I like the flavor of the class. I'd say its time to green light this one. 8)