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    Default Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    It's a scene from many a fantasy story. The enemy magician waves their hand and a vast army of weak but unbeatable soldiers appear. The heroes can hold them off indefinitely, but can't prevail.

    Also useful for a PC. While weak individually the army still counts as a force of at least 85 immortal warriors, so you could use them to assist you in a search, to pillage a town, as scouts, or even for non-violent purposes.

    Shadow Army
    Illusion (Shadow)
    Level: Sor/Wiz 9
    Components: V, S
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Close
    Effect: Create 5 shadow warriors/level
    Duration: 1 minute/level
    Saving Throw: No
    Spell Resistance: No

    You create a semi-real army out of shadow material, centered around the spot you target. Each warrior functions as a human level 1 warrior npc with 10 in all stats, bearing various mundane arms and armor, except they and their equipment appear smoky and translucent. When the caster creates the army they can select their feat and skill allocation; apply this choice to the entire army.

    The army is fully tangible and deals normal damage to anything they strike. Once created each warrior can operate independently, counting as a separate ongoing magical effect, without a range limiting their movement. They are utterly loyal to the caster and obey their every command.

    These warriors cannot be killed by normal means. If a warrior dies they vanish and reform in 1d4 rounds, fully healed with all statuses and spells on them removed. Though they can be harmed (but not permanently killed) by spells, supernatural abilities, or extraordinary abilities that steal life or power such as Vampiric Touch, it is impossible for creatures to gain hitpoints or any other benefit taken from shadows. Shadow Warriors wink out if they enter an anti-magic field, but are smart enough to try to find ways of attacking from outside the field's boundary. Dispel Magic has a chance of destroying them, but only affects the warriors caught in its area or those it targets and treats each warrior as a separate spell. Mage's Disjunction automatically destroys any shadow warriors caught in its burst, but only those are affected.
    Last edited by Lysander; 2010-01-21 at 05:38 PM.

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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    If they are destroyed by a save or lose effect, do they not reform? You only specified -10 HP.

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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    Quote Originally Posted by Milskidasith View Post
    If they are destroyed by a save or lose effect, do they not reform? You only specified -10 HP.
    Good point. I changed it so that they reform if they die by any means. You could still use SoL effects to take them out of the fight though. For example Mass Hold Person could paralyze an entire group of them. Sleep would also be ideal. Of course they're smart enough to coup de grace those caught by a spell so they can reform. Plane Shift is a mighty big spell to waste on a single level 1 warrior, but that kind of thing would remove them from the fight permanently. They could reform all they like on the Plane of Fire, but they'd have no way to return.

    Non-casters could knock them out with non-lethal damage, and leave them alive to prevent them from reforming. But they'd have to watch out for them killing each other or suiciding to respawn.

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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    Quote Originally Posted by Lysander View Post
    Good point. I changed it so that they reform if they die by any means. You could still use SoL effects to take them out of the fight though. For example Mass Hold Person could paralyze an entire group of them. Sleep would also be ideal. Of course they're smart enough to coup de grace those caught by a spell so they can reform. Plane Shift is a mighty big spell to waste on a single level 1 warrior, but that kind of thing would remove them from the fight permanently. They could reform all they like on the Plane of Fire, but they'd have no way to return.

    Non-casters could knock them out with non-lethal damage, and leave them alive to prevent them from reforming. But they'd have to watch out for them killing each other or suiciding to respawn.
    I don't think having them suiciding to respawn makes sense from a fluff perspective. Sure, they're magic, and they understand that they reform, but I still find it kind of odd, and it never happens in any other "endless army" scenario in media.

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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    Quote Originally Posted by Milskidasith View Post
    I don't think having them suiciding to respawn makes sense from a fluff perspective. Sure, they're magic, and they understand that they reform, but I still find it kind of odd, and it never happens in any other "endless army" scenario in media.
    I don't know. I've seen things where invulnerable soldiers will leap off cliffs to reach the bottom, die, then resurrect in a few seconds. Or look at the Ghost twins in the second Matrix film. Not quite the same as committing suicide, but they phased out in order to heal themselves.

    Suicide/mutual killing isn't part of the spell though, that's just my opinion on good tactics. A DM or player could choose to make them act however they like.
    Last edited by Lysander; 2010-01-21 at 04:54 PM.

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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    Other than the fact that most summon spells have a casting time of one round, and this spell making those who use the Greater consumptive field spell to start laughing maniacally with joy (remember a level 1 warrior with 10 con has 8 hit points), I find that spell ok, maybe deserving a lower level slot (after all those soldiers with their piddly stats are usable only as a mobile living shield so it would be more appropriate as a level 7 or 8 spell ).
    Last edited by peacenlove; 2010-01-21 at 05:12 PM. Reason: Darn you grammar!

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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    Quote Originally Posted by peacenlove View Post
    Other than the fact that most summon spells have a casting time of one round, and this spell making those who use the Greater consumptive field spell to start laughing maniacally with joy (remember a level 1 warrior with 10 con has 8 hit points), I find that spell ok, maybe deserving a lower level slot (after all those soldiers with their piddly stats are usable only as a mobile living shield so it would be more appropriate as a level 7 or 8 spell ).
    They are weak but I made it level 9 partially for three reasons. One is that you get 100 of them, the second is the immortality, and the last is their intelligence. Most NPCs are low leveled. An immortal level 1 army could probably kill off an entire real army in very little time, or swarm a powerful opponent and wear them down. And they're smart enough to use complex tactics and make up their own plans on the fly.

    Good point about this opening up abuse with spells that steal power from other people though. I'll fix that.

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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    Except now, by a strict interpretation you can't cleave off them...

    Which isn't a big hairy deal. In general, I like this spell... it seems fun.
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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    I agree with DracoDei. And I'll be modifying this into a ritual and using it in a campaign...

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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    Nice spell, although their tactics should probably not involve killing each other when they are asleep.
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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    Yeah, it wastes too much time when a standard action to wake them is much more effective that a full-round to coup-de-grace... now if they are WEBBED... that might be a bit different.
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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    Quote Originally Posted by DracoDei View Post
    Except now, by a strict interpretation you can't cleave off them...
    Why can't you cleave them? They still drop below 0 and die, albeit temporarily.

    Quote Originally Posted by DracoDei View Post
    Yeah, it wastes too much time when a standard action to wake them is much more effective that a full-round to coup-de-grace... now if they are WEBBED... that might be a bit different.
    Yeah, plus killing them does take them out of the fight for 1d4 rounds. Better to just punch them to wake them up.
    Last edited by Lysander; 2010-01-21 at 08:14 PM.

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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    Sorry to say this, but I feel this belongs more in artifact-level or plot-driven magic. The two examples I can think of where armies like this existed are in Lord of the Rings and The Mummy. Both times, the armies were under contractual plot-driven obligations to help/fight the heroes. And for plot reasons, the powerful armies could no longer be used after their plot-purpose had expired. And yes, they were powerful armies. I'm not sure where you've seen an army of useless minions magically called forth to do battle. If you gave me a source it would be easier to see where you're coming from.

    Not to mention, the idea doesn't translate well into high-level 3.5 magic. For a wizard capable of casting 9th level spells, this basically grants 100 unseen servants. Not useful in combat at all. It's hard to make lots of little things equal one big thing in 3.5. This is another reason why the individual warriors should be buffed in power, and the spell made into artifact/plot/epic magic.

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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    They're quite a bit more potent than unseen servants. Unseen servants can't attack at all, have a strength of 2, 6hp, and can only stray a few hundred feet at most, and just perform mindless repetitive tasks. A Shadow Army isn't really effective against high level characters, but it's good for doing a lot of damage over a wide area to a lot of weaker characters. It's sort of like unleashing massive devastation with control weather. It's not going to kill or probably even inconvenience anyone powerful, but it'll definitely lay waste to most people and things.

    The nice thing about them is that they have human intelligence. You're kind of wasting them in direct combat - you have other spells better at killing things. But you could tell them "arrest those fifty people and tie them up" or "search the forest for the escapees" or "explore that trap-laden dungeon, then return and report what you find." You can send individual ones off on different missions, or use them for non-violent purposes like chopping up a lot of onions for a feast or creating the world's largest conga line. They're good for a lot of things most spells can't pull off, at least not a large scale.

    Do you think its overpowered enough that it should be granted by an artifact instead of a spell?
    Last edited by Lysander; 2010-01-21 at 08:39 PM.

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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    Quote Originally Posted by Lysander View Post
    Do you think its overpowered enough that it should be granted by an artifact instead of a spell?
    No.

    For example, let's look at comparable 9th level effects:
    -Shapechange: You can devastate the countryside in any one of like 1000 ways.
    -Time Stop: GG. Fullstop.
    -Apocalypse From the Sky: Devastates a gigantic area faster than these guys, and frankly, probably still doesn't do squat to the PCs.
    -Foresight: Amazing buff.
    -Hindsight: See the past. That's awesomely useful for gathering intel on something.

    Compared to this somewhat random sampling, I really don't think Shadow Army is OP in anyway. It's probably on par with something like Wail of the Banshee or Energy Drain: situationally nice to have, but generally, not that amazing.

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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    Quote Originally Posted by Lysander View Post
    Do you think its overpowered enough that it should be granted by an artifact instead of a spell?
    I don't think it's overpowered. I think it's underpowered. I said in my post that the army should be buffed, and then made into higher level magic. A good 50% of this reason was because of what I've seen in movies. I'm still not sure what your influence is that you mentioned in the first post.

    I feel it's underpowered because there are better ways to do all of the things you mentioned. Sure, your spell gives you the versatility to do any of those low-level effects, but so does limited wish. And mass unseen servant only grants you 20 feeble servants, but it does nearly what your 9th level spell is doing, for 60 times longer, as a 4th level spell.

    Arrest fifty people: Mass hold person, dominate person
    Explore things: Scrying, arcane eye
    Chop onions: Mass unseen servant
    Conga line: Mass charm monster

    Furthermore, if you don't expect them to be used in combat, why make them warriors?

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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    I think 3 or 4 warriors per level and make it a 6th level spell, and then have a greater version at 9th level. But take that with a grain of salt as I think that the Summon Monster spells need a bump in usability.
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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    What happens to a shadow warrior who dies and reforms if the square he died in is now occupied by another creature, or by a large solid object?

    I assume the caster specifies the gear that the shadow creatures carry. Is there a gp limit on the value of this shadow gear? Can they be created with ranged weapons? Throwing weapons? Alchemical items?

    Depending on the gear restrictions, I might be inclined to suggest creating 2nd level or even 3rd level warriors. A 1st-level warriors with limited gear can be menaced by a commoner with a club.

    It might also be interesting to give the spell some sort of obscure Achilles heel. Perhaps the shadow warriors can be slain permanently by cold iron weapons, or lose their ability to reform as long as the place where they died is illuminated by light reflected in a mirror.
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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    How about 50% of the shadows are level 3, 30% are level 4, 15% are level 5, and 5% are level 10? It wouldn't be too hard to keep track of because these shadows can move massive distances in one round.
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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    Well, I for one really like it. Sure, most anything the shadow warriors do could be done by another spell, but these guys are versatile and just plain interesting. I'd take it.
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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    Quote Originally Posted by jiriku View Post
    What happens to a shadow warrior who dies and reforms if the square he died in is now occupied by another creature, or by a large solid object?
    Hmm. Perhaps they should be able to reform in adjacent squares but otherwise they might be prevented from reforming until the object moves.

    Quote Originally Posted by jiriku View Post
    I assume the caster specifies the gear that the shadow creatures carry. Is there a gp limit on the value of this shadow gear? Can they be created with ranged weapons? Throwing weapons? Alchemical items?
    Actually I was thinking it'd be up to DM discretion, selecting an appropriate variety of weapons for soldiers.Some would have swords, others bows (and backup daggers), maybe some pikers, etc. But maybe I should just give a gp limit and let the caster choose? Ranged weapons are fine but shadow ammunition would not replenish once fired. Alchemical items would be out, they're not something a level 1 warrior would usually carry. What do you think is a good gp amount?

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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    I might be inclined to have an.. Army Types list.

    Possibly a phalanx with shortspears and shields

    a square of barbaric looking warriors with greatswords

    maybe a frontline with polearms with a line of archers with longbows behind.

    Pick an army when you cast the spell

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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    This doesn't really seem at all useful (at level 17).

    This spell will A: not kill any level 17 monster (and can be negated with stoneskin) and B: is a great mook killer, but is way to easy to exploit to see were all of the traps in a dungeon are. congrats, you just found and de-activated every trap in the dungeon! Instead of macking then immortal, just make them insubstantial (thats what Lord of the Rings warriors were) and raise their levels a bit, or give them a more useful class. These guys will still tie up high level enemies, but won't clear the whole dungeon for you.

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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    I think the range needs to be extended to long. At close range, there's barely enough room for each of them to occupy its own 5-foot square.
    Last edited by Ashtagon; 2010-01-23 at 12:08 PM.

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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    What happens if you successfully disbelieve the illusion?

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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    Quote Originally Posted by Debihuman View Post
    What happens if you successfully disbelieve the illusion?

    Debby
    There's no chance to disbelieve to avoid damage. They're like simulacrums or ice assassins in that respect. Although that raises a question about their appearance: should they look real unless you make a will save or have true seeing, which reveals them as smoky shapes?

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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    Quote Originally Posted by Lysander View Post
    There's no chance to disbelieve to avoid damage. They're like simulacrums or ice assassins in that respect. Although that raises a question about their appearance: should they look real unless you make a will save or have true seeing, which reveals them as smoky shapes?
    Since the spell has the shadow subtype they are real. No need to specify a form for true seeing.
    Last edited by peacenlove; 2010-01-23 at 02:27 PM.

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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    I was totally expecting a God of War-type ability.

    Yeah...a bunch of level 1 warriors can't do much against encounters you're meeting at level 17. I'd make it a 7th level spell--maybe 8th.
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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    Here's a few ideas to make it worth more for the spell level. Which (all?) of these should I add, if any?

    -Increase duration to 10 minutes/level.

    -Allow the caster to select the equipment each warrior gets, applying each choice to groups of 10 or more (to avoid driving DMs insane). They can choose any armor worth up to 250gp, any shield worth up to 15gp, a melee weapon worth up to 30gp or a ranged weapon worth up to 75gp and up to 5gp of ammunition for it, and each warrior also gets either a dagger or a club as a backup weapon. When a warrior dies their equipment vanishes as well and reforms with them, but fired ammunition is not replaced.

    -Make every tenth warrior a commander warrior. These are level three instead, can appear riding shadow light warhorses if the caster chooses, and each one has a telepathic bond with the caster. Shadow horses are immortal in the same manner as the warriors.

    -Make one warrior a general warrior. The general is level five, can appear riding a shadow light or heavy warhorse if the caster chooses, and has a telepathic bond with the caster and with all the commander warriors.

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    Default Re: Shadow Army (3.5 Spell)

    All of those changes.
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