View Full Version : How would you fix the Shadowcaster?

Lord Tataraus
2007-04-07, 11:27 PM
I'm making a Shadowcaster in an upcoming campaign, but the DM and myself both realize that the class is underpowered compared to the rest of the party and the enemies we will face. So how to fix it? I am considering two options, the first being to give it fighter attack bonus. My reasoning for this is that, after looking over the class more in-depth, a Shadowcaster is meant to be a ranged sneaky type. Such mysteries as Shadow Carpet, Black Fire, Mesmerizing Shade, Warp Spell, Prison of Night, etc. impede movement or otherwise slow an opponent from reaching you. You can cast black fire and shadow carpet in a hallway to slow do melee types. The nonlethal mysteries such as Arrow of Dusk and Life Fades allows you to quickly knock out weak foes to concentrate fire on the stronger ones. Therefore, the Shadowcaster seems to be (or at least could be built to be) a ranged fighter, augmented with weak, yet effective magical abilities.

The second option is one I found located in the Tome of Battle and Tome of Magic Power Levels (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=40081) thread, posted by Fizban. That is to change the mysteries per day to per encounter. However, that still does not effect the weakness of their mysteries, just their endurance.

So, what ideas do you have?

2007-04-07, 11:29 PM
I agree with making the mysteries /encounter, or /minute when out of combat.

Fax Celestis
2007-04-07, 11:33 PM
My method is to make them refreshable a la ToB maneuvers. A Shadowcaster does not have a "uses per mystery per day" table, and instead refreshes mysteries by spending a full round in concentration. Doing so allows them to recover one mystery of the highest tier (master, apprentice, or initiate) of mysteries they know, or two of their second highest tier, or three of their third highest tier.

2007-04-07, 11:47 PM
Just wanna chime in that I didn't come up with it first, someone else did.

It's just the logical thing to do when you compare the ToB classes with the shadowcaster. The swordsage adaptation suggests lowering hit die size, armor, BAB, and other stuff and giving it spells instead of maneuvers, and the shadowcaster already has his spells organized into groups with a set number of uses. It just has to be changed to per encounter and it looks like a martial adept.

It's becoming more obvious that DnD is balanced per encounter. The game is balanced specifically for 4-5 encounters per day, which allows a wizard or cleric to cast one of his top tier spells per encounter, and a sorcerer to do that with a little extra. Tome of Battle lets you use your strongest abilities in every fight, but normally only once per fight each. If you allow the shadowcaster to use his abilities per encounter/per minute instead of per day, it matches perfectly.

Taking this farther, we can see how the shadowcaster was balanced against melee classes, under the assumption that Tome of Magic was meant to have weak casters to be on par with the standard non-casters. They have few choices of different "spell trees", and can't deviate from them without sacrificing power. Most of the utility and battlefield control spells aren't available either. To compensate, their lower level abilities are harder to stop (SLAs and supernatural abilites) and they get some flavor abilities like not eating.

Compare to the standard melee type guy, who has the options of attack, full attack, trip, disarm, bull rush, overrun, and maybe a few others. His hit points are used up by his main ability, being in melee combat, and his top tier ability of power attack for lots is easier to resist with AC than a normal swing. If he gets shock trooper, he has a high powered move (power attack with no to hit penalty), but it burns resources even faster (low AC means losing more hp).

So, up shadowcaster to per encounter/minute, change truenamer dc's to x1 instead of x2 and remove magic bonuses, and the binder has been suggested as equivalent to the rogue, which no one complains about. Excellent. I should go make a thread out of this, but there's already enough up that it would just be a rehash.

EDIT: and of course, Fax has simplified this even further. Speaking of Fax, did you ever get any more ideas for the planar adept, or have you abandoned it?

2007-04-08, 12:05 AM
Just wanna chime in that I didn't come up with it first, someone else did.

I don't remember seeing anyone having suggested it before me, and I think it was Fax who suggested the /minute when out of combat.

Aramil Liadon
2007-04-08, 12:49 AM
I think that the best way to balance them is just a little more DM focus on stealth. My shadowcaster can beat the rogue any day when it comes to sneaking and assassination, but things get tough in a lasting battle.
I guess I'm trying to say that it seems fine to me, from the veiwpiont of my campaign..

Lord Tataraus
2007-04-08, 12:58 AM
Just wanna chime in that I didn't come up with it first, someone else did.

Well you were the first I've seen mention it and I didn't want to just throw it out there with out giving anyone credit so just pass the credit on.

Anyway, I do realize that the shadowcaster is amazing at stealth, I'm taking the Child of the Night PrC as well, but with it I lose a level of the already meager casting and I don't want to feel too hopeless in battle. I wish there were more damage dealing and buffing mysteries, does anyone have good homebrew paths? I'm going to try and come up with a few myself.

Of course my group is very cutthroat when it comes to combat and so are the enemies. The only casters that ever survived was a wizard with a warblade bodyguard cohort (who was caught cheating by casting spells of a higher level then he could) and a cleric focused on AC and healing. So, I'm kinda worried about survivability, fortunately he has a d6 hit die, but if he doesn't contribute in battle enough, he'll be gunned down easily.

Of course another problem with the casting is the need for int and cha, though I can live with the int (it gives me good skills) it still seems a waste to have both and dex maxed. What do you think of the higher attack bonus idea? does it make it too powerful? would the change be better as rogue attack bonus? Comparing the class to duskblade, it's pretty close except for the attack bonus, so I don't think it would be to unbalancing.

Fax Celestis
2007-04-08, 02:26 AM
EDIT: and of course, Fax has simplified this even further. Speaking of Fax, did you ever get any more ideas for the planar adept, or have you abandoned it?

I did not. I sorta ran out of steam. Aid would be nice.

Aramil Liadon
2007-04-08, 11:08 AM
Well, in that case, as a non-homebrewy person, I'd change my playstyle to include more ambush, sneaking, and stealth even in the middle of battle. Still, I will try to come up with some new paths for you after another session with my own shadowcaster. It's just that blaster spells are not really the way I'd evision the shadowcaster. What sort of level are you looking at?
I think that upping the BAB should be fine, seeing as some of her best spells are touch. Anyone else?

2007-04-08, 03:17 PM
The buff I'd give it somewhat heightens its MAD by making its Intelligence more useful, but, since it doesn't detract from anything else, it makes the SC much more powerful:

The Shadowcaster gains bonus Mysteries for a high Intelligence. These function exactly like bonus spells, except that they are additional known Mysteries, not uses per day. They are only gained when the Shadowcaster learns a Mystery of the matching level (A Shadowcaster with 18 int gains a bonus 4th level Mystery when she learns her first 4th level mystery, so at a minimum of 7th level).

Which Mysteries come from class levels and which from Intelligence must be noted. If the Shadowcaster suffers intelligence loss (damage, drain, or penalties), access to the bonus Mysteries is lost. If the Shadowcaster gains a temporary Intelligence bonus lasting at least through a rest cycle, bonus Mysteries are gained based on the higher Intelligence score (as per a Wizard). However, once selected, these Mysteries cannot be changed unless the Shadowcaster learns them from their class; a Shadowcaster with Int 18 who dons a Headband of Intellect +4 and gains a bonus 1st and 2nd level Mystery will always gain the same bonus 1st and 2nd level Mysteries for an Intelligence of 20 and 22. If that same Shadowcaster, on gaining a level, decided to learn the 1st-level Mystery of those two, she then may gain a different 1st-level Mystery when her Intelligence rises to 20.

Only bonus Mysteries from temporary Intelligence bonuses may be re-assigned in this way.

2007-04-08, 06:19 PM
I'm semi-tempted to give them a recharge mechanic, like 1d6+1 rounds before you can cast another mystery that is cast as a spell, 1d4 inbetween mysteries cast as spell-like abilities, and any mystery that is a supernatural ability is usable at will.

The other thing I'd do is once a mystery is cast as a supernatural ability, it's saving throw changes to 10+ 1/2 Character level + CHA, which brings it more in line other Su abilities.

2007-04-08, 06:40 PM
take him to a doctor :smallbiggrin:

2007-04-08, 07:30 PM
Note the creator of the shadowcaster has done an "unofficial errata"

New Errata http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=184955

Old Errata http://www.enworld.org/showpost.php?p=2957649&postcount=76
Old Big Thread http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=167796
(The old threads were discussing how to better balance the shadowcaster)
A Sorc 1/Shadowcaster 3/Noctumancer 10/Mystic Theurge 6
A Wiz 1/Shadowcaster 3/Noctumancer 10/Mystic Theurge 6
will give you 19 Shadowcaster casting, and 17th lvl arcane casting. Note though you don't get the bonus feats for mysteries when you take a prc according to Tome of Magic.

2007-04-08, 07:37 PM
Forgot to mention you use Precocious Apprentice to enter Noctumancer 2 lvls early. It works unlike the typical arcane/divine mystic theurge. Shadowcasters cast mysteries not spells as the creator of the shadowcaster class says.

Afraid not, at least by the rules as written. Mysteries function like spells, at least at first, but they aren't spells.

The quote is here
Thus you get the ability to cast 2nd lvl spells a 2nd lvl slot, and you can start advancing arcane again via noctumancer starting lvl 5.

While this won't make the class "less gimpy" it is a thread/guide with an attempt to optmize the shadowmagic


Lord Tataraus
2007-04-09, 06:05 AM
My build is a Shadowcaster 5/Child of the Night 1 Grey Elf with 16 int and 18 cha. I'm going for sneaky archer augmented with the mysteries. I was looking at the mysteries again and it hit me that it has no invisibility or deeper darkness type spells! So I came up with a couple new paths, what do you think?
Apprentice mysteries:
Shadow Shape Path
Shadow Arrow – <Conj[creation], StdAct, Personal> Create 2d4 arrow, bolt, or sling bullet that is infused with shadow, it deals an extra 1d4 cold damage, lasts for 1 min/level or until used.

Shadow Blade – <Conj[creation], StdAct, Personal>Create one melee weapon that is infused with shadow, it deals an extra 1d4 cold damage, lasts for 1 min/level for a light weapon, 5 rounds/level for a one-handed weapon, or 2 rounds/level for a two-handed weapon.

Shadow Shield – <Abjur, StdAct, Personal, 1min/level>Create a shield of shadow around you. You gain a +1 deflection bonus to AC +1 for every four levels. An opponent that attacks you with a melee weapon or touch attack takes 1d6 cold damage, this does not effect reach weapons.

Dark Curtain Path
Shadow Walk – <Ill[glamer], StdAct, Touch, 1rnd/level>As the spell invisibility except it lasts 1 round/level or until you attack.

Umbral Darkness – <Evoc[darkness], StdAct, Close, 10min/level>As the spell darkness except you may target any point in space within range and it effects an area 40ft in radius.

Shade Sphere – <Ill[glamer], StdAct, Touch, 1min/level>As the spell invisibility sphere.

Initiate Mysteries:
Sting of Shadows Path
Dark Flame – <Evoc[cold], StdAct, Close(ray), SR>You fire a ray of black fire at a target dealing 1d6/level cold damage. Range of close.

Shadow Leech – <Evoc[cold], StdAct, Personal, Fort partial, SR>You cause your shadow to reach out and draw the warmth from your enemies. You deal 1d6 cold damage/2 levels in a 30ft burst, fortitude save for half damage.

Umbral Backstab – <Conj[summoning], StdAct, Medium, Target-1 creature small or larger, Will negates>You infuse an opponent’s natural shadow with energy from the plane of shadows causing it to attack your enemy. The shadow becomes a shadow elemental of one size smaller than the target (or small elemental for small targets) for 1 round/2 levels. It will only attack the target and dismisses when the target becomes unable to act (i.e. unconscious, dead, asleep, etc.).

Master Mysteries:
Shadow Leak Path
Shadow Blast – <Evoc[cold], StdAct, Medium, Fort partial, SR>You launch a ball of pure shadow energy causing a slight rift between the plane of shadows and the material plane. You may target any point in space within range to center the blast. Any creature in a 40ft radius takes 1d6 cold damage/level; fortitude save for half damage.

Shadow Sphere – <Evoc[cold], StdAct, Medium, Fort partial, SR>You creature a rift between the plane of shadows and the material plane. You may target any point within range to center the sphere. Any creature in a 40ft radius takes 1d6 cold damage/level; fortitude save for half damage. In addition, the area in a 60ft radius is under the effect of the spell deeper darkness.

Suppressing Shadow – <Conj[creation], StdAct, Long, Fort partial>You create a large rift between the plane of shadow and the material plane, even creating a small portal between the two. You may target any point within the range to center this effect. The targeted point becomes a 5ft diameter spherical portal to the plane of shadows. The area in a 240ft radius is under the effect of the spell deeper darkness. Any living creature that touches the central sphere becomes instantly transported into the plane of shadows, a will save instead deals 4d6 cold damage. If you target a creature with this mystery, that creature is allowed a will save to not be transported, instead it takes 4d6 cold damage. The portal is a one-way portal so nothing can come out of it. If a creature is of size large or higher, it takes 8d6 cold damage upon contact with the portal instead of being transported, fortitude save for half damage.
I'm pretty sure the Shadow Shape and Dark curtain are balanced, the others are a maybe.

Edit: I don't like wizards or sorcerers so no Noctumancer.
Edit: Made the spells a little more readable and add a slight change to Umbral Backstab I left out before.

Aramil Liadon
2007-04-09, 01:13 PM
Hmm, I like umbral touch and that feat that lets you transform a touch into a ray if I'm going to range people.
I don't have the ToM right now, so I can't check balance ATM. Stupid friends. The spells still look good, though.