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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    "Pulvis et umbra sumus." (We are but dust and shadow)
    -Horace, The Odes of Horace



    The Shadowcaster - Handbook and Build Guide

    Contents

    I. Introduction
    II. Class Overview
    -Mysteries and Paths - Whatís It All Mean?
    III. Ability Scores & Races
    IV. Skills & Feats
    V. Mysteries
    VI. Items
    VII. Multiclassing & Builds


    Required Reading
    Compiled Shadowcaster Handbook V3, by gorfnab
    Cityscape's Urban Magic Enhancement (including three bonus paths for shadowcasters)
    Class Chronicles: Shadowcasters (including information about Shadowcasters and the Weave)

    RATING SYSTEM

    I'll be using the following rating system for this guide:

    GOLD - Excellent option. These should be one of the first things you look at.
    BLUE - Great choice overall. Will fit well into most builds.
    BLACK - Average choice. Generally this will either be something potentially useful but perhaps a bit limited in scope, or something that's not bad but not gamechanging, either.
    PURPLE - Not very good, or too situational to fit in with most builds.
    RED - Terrible choice. Almost always worth skipping.

    I. Introduction

    Yesterday, upon the stair,
    I met a man who wasn't there
    He wasn't there again today
    I wish, I wish he'd go away...


    Antigonish, by Hughes Mearns

    Tome of Magic presented three alternate magic systems to play with: pact, truenaming and shadow magic. Shadowcasters deal with the latter, wielding magic that is neither arcane nor divine but rather based on the Plane of Shadow. Functionally, the shadowcaster is a very specialized caster with a special emphasis on stealth, darkness and illusory effects.

    What is Shadow Magic?

    At its heart, shadow magic is a magical alternative that draws on the power of shadows to control their environment. A shadowcasterís power comes from the Plane of Shadow, which overlaps with the Material Plane.

    Over the course of their career, a shadowcaster will learn to manipulate shadows to conceal, confuse and control. Instead of spells, shadowcasters cast mysteries. While mysteries have a wide variety of effects, most mysteries have a darkness or reflection theme behind them. Many mysteries simply duplicate existing spells and abilities, but there are several truly unique powers buried within the Tome of Magic.

    The Shadowcasterís Sorrows

    Tome of Magic was notorious for not being properly playtested and reviewed, and the rules behind shadow magic are no exception. Like the truenamer, the shadowcaster has many hurdles to cross in order to be an effective character.

    At the heart of the shadowcasterís flawed design is the low number of mysteries per day. While this problem does begin to alleviate itself in the higher levels, low to mid level shadowcasters can run out of resources excessively quickly.

    To give you an example, a level one shadowcaster begins play with three Fundamentals (essentially cantrips, although they do tend to scale slightly better), usable three times per day, and a single 1st-level mystery. This mystery is about at the same power level of a 1st-level spell, although unlike a wizard, you have no encounter-ending options here like sleep or color spray. Once that mystery is used for the day, youíre pretty much forced to fall back on cantrips.

    As you level, things donít get much better. You progress at the frustratingly slow rate of learning one new mystery per level, and until level 7, these will again all be used only once a day. There is no mechanic for bonus mysteries from a high ability score, no ďspecialistĒ variant that will let you learn more, nothing.

    To make matters worse, mysteries are set up in ďpaths.Ē In order to take a higher level mystery, you need to know all of the earlier mysteries in the path. Some of the best mysteries, such as flicker, are buried at the end of paths that have underwhelming or outright useless mysteries earlier. This means that, if you want some of the more powerful mysteries, you are going to have to fill your precious mystery slots with flak that is situational at best.

    Possible Solutions

    There have been many suggested fixes for the shadowcaster. The creator of the class, Ari Marmell, has freely admitted that the class was not properly playtested, and suggested the following fixes:

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by ĒAri MarmellĒ
    1) Charisma determines the DC to save against your mysteries. Intelligence determines the highest level mystery you can cast.

    2) Grant bonus mysteries per day based on Charisma. These would work just like bonus spells. For instance, if your Cha is 14, you can cast one extra mystery of 1st-level equivalent and one of 2nd-level equivalent per day. (Note that each mystery does give an equivalent level, even though you don't learn them by level.)

    3) Eliminate the rule that says you have to take mysteries in a given Path in order. If you want to jump around, so as to broaden your versatility, you can.

    4) Within a categoryóApprentice, Initiate, Masteróyou must have at least two mysteries of any given level before you can take any mysteries of the next higher level. For instance, you must have two 1st-level mysteries before you can take any 2nds, and at least two 2nds before you can take any 3rds.

    5) Eliminate the rule that says you get a bonus feat equal to half the number of paths you have access to. Instead, you get a bonus feat equal to the total number of Paths you complete. Thus, while you are no longer required to take the entirety of a given Path, there's still encouragement to do so.

    6) You may ďswap outĒ mysteries, just as a sorcerer does spells known. If you ďun-completeĒ a Path in this way, however, you lose access to the bonus feat you gained from completing that Path. (You can regain access by re-completing the Path, completing a different Path and choosing that feat as your new bonus, or selecting that feat as a normal feat at your next opportunity.)

    7) Once your Apprentice Mysteries become supernatural abilities, change the save DC from 10 + equivalent spell level + Cha to 10 + 1/2 caster level + Cha. This makes them useful even against high-HD opponents, and follows the pattern for other supernatural abilities.


    For more information, please see the thread on the matter here.

    Having played a shadowcaster, I can attest that the above suggested fixes would have made a world of a difference, and highly recommend that you suggest them to your DM. This guide will address how to play the shadowcaster as written, but the advice should still apply if you are using the above.
    Last edited by Piggy Knowles; 2013-01-22 at 06:59 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
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    Default Class Overview

    II. Class Overview

    ďI thought the most beautiful thing in the world must be shadow.Ē -Sylvia Plath, the Bell Jar


    HD: Youíve got a d6 for hit die. That puts you slightly higher than the wizard, but youíre still squishy.

    BAB: Your BAB is poor, just like the wizard. Unless you work very hard at it, shadowcasters just donít do great in combat.

    Saves: Fort and Will - not bad. These are by far the two most important saving throws.

    Weapon and armor proficiencies: Youíve got all simple weapons, which means you should probably at least be carrying a crossbow. No armor, unfortunately, even though a shadowcaster is one feat away from being able to cast all mysteries without somatic components.

    Fundamentals of Shadow: These will make up the bulk of your actions during the low levels, and eventually become usable at will. Theyíre not bad - think cantrips, but often slightly better. By level 20 youíll know more or less all of them.

    Mysteries: The bread and butter of your class. Mysteries are to you what spells are to the mighty wizard. Youíll never have enough of these, so treasure the ones you get.

    Bonus feats: You get bonus feats based on the mysteries you take - one for every two paths you have access to. Itís a half-decent list youíve got access to, and extra feats never hurt.

    Umbral Sight: Gain darkvision, which improves with levels and can eventually pierce magical darkness. Darkvision never hurts, and this explicitly extends the range of any darkvision you pick up from other sources, which is nice.

    Sustaining Shadow: Mostly flavorful, although some of the effects can be useful. You gradually lose your need to eat, sleep and breathe (although you still must rest to regain mysteries - sorry!). You also gain immunity to nonmagical diseases and poisons, which sounds nice but comes so late that itís almost useless.

    Mysteries and Paths - Whatís It All Mean?

    As a shadowcaster levels up, it learns mysteries. Overall, mysteries follow the same rules as spells, including schools of magic, line of effect, targets, and so on.

    Mysteries have levels, just like spells, and they are split into four stages: fundamentals (cantrips), apprentice (levels 1-3), initiate (levels 4-6) and master (levels 7-9). Every time you gain access to a new stage of mysteries, the earlier stages become easier to cast.

    Mechanically, the shadowcaster class accomplishes this by breaking down mysteries into three categories: spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities:

    Spells: Like the spells of a wizard or sorcerer, your spells have somatic components that armor interferes with. They also follow all the same rules for spells - they can be dispelled or negated by an antimagic field, negated by spell resistance, counterspelled, and so on. You can use mysteries that are cast as spells 1/day.

    Spell-Like Abilities: Your spell-like abilities are true spell-like abilities, unlike the poor warlock who somehow still maintains somatic components. As spell-like abilities, there are no verbal, somatic or material components required. However, just like any SLA, they are still subject to spell resistance, negated by antimagic, etc, and they still provoke attacks of opportunity. Unlike spells, though, they cannot be counterspelled. You can use mysteries that are cast as SLAs 2/day.

    Supernatural Abilities: Ah, the cream of the crop. Supernatural abilities cannot be dispelled, are not subject to spell resistance, require no components and do not provoke AoOs. Just about the only thing that stops them is an antimagic field. You can use mysteries that are cast as supernatural abilities 3/day.

    When you begin, your apprentice mysteries are all cast as spells and usable 1/day. Once you gain access to initiate mysteries at level 7, your initiate mysteries count as spells, but you now cast your apprentice mysteries as SLAs. And at level 13, when you learn your first master mystery, your initiate mysteries become SLAs and your apprentice mysteries become supernatural abilities.

    Every time you gain a level, you learn a single mystery. When selecting a mystery, there are two things you must keep in mind:

    1. Within each category (apprentice, initiate or master), you may only choose a higher level mystery if you know at least two mysteries of the previous level.

    Example: As a level one shadowcaster, I know a single 1st-level mystery. When I gain a level, I cannot choose any 2nd-level mysteries yet, because I do not know at least two 1st-level mysteries. So, I select another 1st-level mystery. Now, when I gain yet another level, I can finally select a 2nd-level mystery.

    2. You may only take a higher mystery from a particular path if you know each previous mystery in that path.

    Example: Iíve just gained my third level in shadowcaster. The mysteries I currently know are Carpet of Shadow and Quicker than the Eye. Because I know two 1st-level mysteries, I can choose to learn a 2nd-level mystery. However, I must choose either Black Fire or Trail of Haze, because I cannot jump ahead in anyone elseís path. Alternatively, I could gain another 1st-level mystery from any path.
    Last edited by Piggy Knowles; 2013-01-22 at 06:59 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
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    Default Ability Scores & Races

    III. Ability Scores & Races

    ďThe brightest flame casts the darkest shadow.Ē -George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings


    Abilities

    Strength: Unless youíre playing some sort of strange non-Dex based gish, this will be a dump stat for you.
    Dexterity: If you plan to focus on stealth, keeping Dexterity decent is a good idea.
    Constitution: Youíre not quite as squishy as the wizard, but youíre still packing a measly d6 for your hit die. Keep this up.
    Intelligence: Intelligence dictates what level mysteries you gain access to, as well as your skill points. Skill-focused builds will probably want this as high as possible, but otherwise, if magic items are readily available, you can get away with as low as a 13 here.
    Wisdom: Youíve got good Will saves, and no class features that need this stat. Usually a safe choice to dump.
    Charisma: This is a pretty binary option - either you dump this faster than Kim K dumped Kris Humphries, or you make this your highest stat. The deciding factor will be whether you plan on using mysteries that require DCs. This also drives your Intimidate skill, which is a decent way to stay relevant when you run out of mysteries.

    In general, youíve got two main ways to go when building a shadowcaster.

    A skill or stealth-focused shadowcaster will probably prioritize stats as such: Int -> Dex/Con -> Wis -> Cha/Str. The high Intelligence focus helps make up for the low skill points and lets you take advantage of the excellent skill list, while Dexterity and Con boost stealth and defenses. Charisma can be dumped completely if not focusing on mysteries that require saving throws, whereas Wisdom powers Listen/Spot, which are class skills for the shadowcaster.

    A DC or Intimidate focused shadowcaster can get away with as low as a 13 in Int, depending on item availability, as a 13 alongside a +6 Headband of Intellect will allow access to 9th-level mysteries. Instead, their primary stat is going to be Charisma, probably followed by Constitution.

    ---

    Races

    Human: As always, humans make an excellent choice here. The bonus feat is the real draw, but the skill boost is also quite nice, as shadowcasters are always starved for skill points. If youíre playing in a campaign where multiclassing penalties are enforced, favored class (any) comes in handy if you want to do things like dip swordsage.

    Strongheart Halfling: If allowed, this race changes the bonus skill point of the human for small size and better stats. The small size means a lower speed, but shadowcasters get a lot of good teleportation mysteries to get around this, and the strongheart halfling has an effective +2 to AC and +5 to Hide. This is tied with whisper gnome for the best stealthy choice - use this if you are feat starved or plan on utilizing Charisma at all, and use the whisper gnome otherwise.

    Whisper Gnome: OK, letís start with the bad. A Charisma penalty means that whisper gnomes are not well suited for builds that focus on save DCs. On the good side, you get small size (but still somehow retain 30í movement??), a bonus to two of your secondary stats, a HUGE boost to your stealth skills (effective +9 to Hide and +5 to MS), a somewhat smaller but still significant boost to your perception skills, and a useful SLA. If youíre playing a stealthy, skill focused shadowcaster, this is a top tier choice.

    Desert Kobold: You take a pretty significant hit to your strength, but the kobold can be useful, especially with the web enhancement that gives them Slight Build and natural attacks. The desert variant from UA trades the constitution penalty for a hit to wisdom, making this much easier to swallow. Overall less handy than the whisper gnome or strongheart halfling, but still a reasonable choice. Note that this gets much better if your DM allows Dragonwrought shenanigans and free boosts to mental ability scores.

    Illumian: The spell-boosting sigils are useful for a theurge-style build, but beyond that, there are no real advantages over straight human for a shadowcaster.

    Mongrelfolk: Interesting. On the one hand, they get a penalty to both of your casting stats. On the other, they are surprisingly sturdy with their massive bonus to Con, and get a sizable boost to Hide and Sleight of Hand. With a generous point buy, this could work surprisingly well with a Night's Long Fingers build.

    Half-Elf: None of the half-elfís abilities synergize particularly well with the shadowcaster. Pass.

    Half-Orc: A penalty to both casting stats, with nothing particularly good in return. At least the half-elf has favored class (any). An intimidate-focused build could go with the desert variant from UA and pick up Menacing Demeanor, but thatís about the best youíll get from this.

    Dwarf: Dwarves are usually solid choices at most things, thanks to a decent constitution and solid racial abilities. But you wonít really get much out of them, and with a penalty to either charisma or dex, Iíd give dwarves a pass.

    Elf: Both the standard elf and its weaker, brainer cousin the gray elf can make passable shadowcasters. The con loss hurts, so your main draw is a boost to dex/intelligence and longbow proficiency.

    Gnome: The non-whisper variety of the gnome is still useful, even if outshined by the goth-gnome. The Illusion DC boost can come in handy, since some of the better mystery choices are Illusion-based, and the small size and stat boosts are all solid.

    Halfling: The standard halfling is certainly workable, but outclassed by the strongheart variety and the goth-gnome.

    Changeling: Changelings always make excellent infiltrators, although thereís nothing that particularly draws the changeling to the shadowcaster path. They are nice for the ability to dip a level of rogue, though, opening up that excellent rogue sub level, and they have access to the Able Learner feat as well.

    Warforged: If youíre not worried about save DCs, warforged sport a bevy of immunities that are worth getting excited about. They also have some decent built-in armor to help make up for the lack of armor proficiencies in the early game.

    Warforged Scout: As above, but trade the con boost for a small size. Usually subpar, but this actually isnít the worst trade for a shadowcaster.
    Last edited by Piggy Knowles; 2013-01-22 at 07:02 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
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    Default Skills & Feats

    IV. Skills & Feats

    ďSome people seemed to get all sunshine, and some all shadowÖĒ ― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women


    Skills

    CLASS SKILLS
    Concentration: You donít have any abilities with a Concentration duration, but youíll still want this, so that you can cast without provoking.

    Craft: Eh, not too much you can do here of interest. You do count as a spellcaster, though, so alchemy could give you something to work with at low levels.

    Hide: Chances are, this is a skill you will want to max out. Youíve got a lot of abilities that can tweak your hide check or give you more chances to hide. Take advantage of this.

    Intimidate: If you havenít dumped Charisma, this is a nice skill to keep maxed.

    Knowledge (arcana): Required for various prestige classes, always an interesting choice.

    Knowledge (the planes): Required for various prestige classes. You can travel to and from the Shadow Plane with some of your abilities, so it might be nice to know a little about it.

    Move Silently: The other half of your stealth engine. Move silently doesnít get as much support as hide does, but itís still worth keeping up.

    Profession: Well, you get it, as does everyone. I guess you can make some money during down time?

    Spellcraft: Always handy for determining spell effects.

    Spot: Spot, but not listen. Spot is always handy, but you probably wonít have a great Wisdom unless youíre multiclassing with something that requires it.

    CROSS-CLASS SKILLS
    Sleight of Hand: The Night's Long Fingers can make you a long-distance sleight of hand expert. This is worth sinking at least a rank into, so you can make checks untrained, and might be worth maxing if you can afford it.

    Listen: If you're going to try to play the role of the scout, this is a useful one to pick up somehow. As with Spot, though, your Wisdom may be a problem here.

    Bluff: Synergizes with Intimidate, and you can use it to create diversions to hide if you don't have HiPS. Not a must have, but nice to pick up.


    Feats

    A Note on Metashadow Feats

    Iím not going to review every single metashadow feat here, just the ones that I think bear mentioning. They do pretty much what they say on the box - act as a metamagic feat for a mystery. However, they can only be used once per day, and most of them also increase the casting time of your mystery to a full-round action.

    In general, Iím not a huge fan of metashadow feats. I donít like spending a feat for an ability I can only use once a day unless thatís a really strong ability - and for the most part, these arenít. Even the ones whose effect could be considered strong enough to make it worth spending a feat, such as Quicken Mystery, require so many other metashadow feats as a pre-req that it ends up being a loss.

    CASTING FEATS

    Still Mystery: This is almost always one of my first choices as a shadowcaster. Unlike other metashadow feats, this does not increase your casting time, and has no once per day restriction. That means that you can essentially ignore somatic components for all of your mysteries. Slap on some nice armor with impunity, cast from a grapple, and keep your shadow from giving you away when youíre casting, all in one feat! Worth grabbing early, stays solid throughout the game.

    Extend Mystery: Could have some use - at the low levels, you can extend one of your round/level BFC effects to last the whole encounter, and at higher levels you can use it to extend long term effects like Soul Puppet and Reflection of Things to Come.

    Favored Mystery: Youíll want this feat, probably a couple of times. This bumps a mystery up a level, essentially allowing you to treat a master mystery as an initiate or an initiate mystery as an apprentice. That means a better casting mechanic and an additional use per day. (If you use it on an apprentice mystery or a fundamental that is already functioning as a [Su] ability, this instead just gives you an additional use.)

    Path Focus/Greater Path Focus: Each of these increases both the save DC and your caster level for a specific path by one. If it was one or the other, this would be a mediocre feat. But for both, thatís probably worthwhile.

    Line of Shadow: This is a really cool idea, kind of like the mystery version of burrowing power. Of course, being a metashadow feat, you can only use it once per day, and it requires two other metashadow feats as a pre-req. Iíve toyed around with builds that use this, but in general the cost is probably too high for most builds.

    Nocturnal Caster: Like spell focus, except it only applies at night. You still can only affect one path or one school of magic with it, which makes me wonder - why bother? A flavorful feat, but Iíd much rather go with Path Focus.

    Reach Mystery: This is one of the few metashadow feats that I might consider, almost solely for the ability to use Soul Puppet at range. It only requires one metashadow feat as a pre-req, meaning you can qualify with Still Mystery.

    Shadow Cast: You can designate any square adjacent to you as the square you are casting from, for purposes of provoking AoOs. Note that it doesnít say the adjacent square must be unoccupied. This means that you can avoid AoOs when casting 90% of the time. Not a bad pick.

    Empower/Quicken/Maximize Spell-Like Ability: Many of your best abilities will be SLAs, including most of your initiate mysteries and your best master mysteries (the ones you took Favored Mystery for). These feats are strictly better than their metashadow alternatives.

    Empower/Extend/Widen Supernatural Ability: These are handy ways to increase the effects of your apprentice mysteries, and some of your initiate mysteries as well. Sadly thereís no Quicken, but Empower and Widen can be particularly strong in the right build.

    Shadow Weave Magic: According to the class chronicles article on shadowcasters, shadowcasters can learn and benefit from this feat. This is a fairly broad DC boost, and it opens up Insidious and Pernicious Magic.

    Insidious Magic: Hide the effects of your spells/SLAs. The class chronicles article linked above also says that, since this would have no effect on your (Su) mysteries, instead it boosts the DC by +1 (which stacks with Path Focus, Shadow Weave Magic, etc).

    Pernicious Magic: Eh, counterspells arenít really common enough to worry about even for a regular mage, and itís probably a non-existent concern for you. It doesnít even work if someone is using dispel magic to counter, despite that being the most common way enemies counter spells at all! Unless youíre trying to qualify for Shadow Adept, this is a wasted feat.

    STEALTH FEATS

    Gloom Razor: A tactical feat for multiclass swordsage/shadowcasters. You can set things up so that you have concealment most of the time, and this allows you to make a Hide check every time an enemy misses you due to concealment to turn invisible for a round. The other options arenít quite as useful for you, but thatís pretty nice.

    Improved Diversion: Ordinarily making a diversion to hide is a loserís game, since it takes a standard action. This drops it down to a move action. Donít forget that Sight Obscured should give you a bonus to your bluff check here. This can actually serve as a mini-version of HiPS - if you've got concealment (which you should, as you're a shadowcaster), then you can cast a mystery as a standard action, make a diversion to hide, and then take a 5' step into hiding. The only thing stopping this from being blue is that shadowcasters don't get bluff as a class skill.

    Shadow Striker: Probably a little too specialized for most shadowcasters, but thereís some potential fun to be had with the Fade Away and Evade Notice maneuvers.

    Darkstalker: If youíre playing a build that relies on stealth, you NEED this feat. How badly do you need it? Well, from perusing the SRD, just looking at monsters with CRs 1-5, there are 26 monsters with blindsense, 7 with blindsight, 71 with scent, and 10 with tremorsense. In fact, just at these levels, about 50% of the monsters youíll face have an alternate sense that will otherwise stop your hiding cold. And it gets worse at higher levels! This feat foils them all.

    GENERAL FEATS

    Able Learner: If youíre a human and you started out with a level of rogue, consider picking this up. Itís a nice way to add on several excellent skills for the shadowcaster, including Sleight of Hand, UMD and Bluff.

    Shadow Familiar: This is basically Obtain Familiar for shadowcasters, except your familiar also gains the Dark template. This is a GREAT pick - the Dark template provides a number of excellent stealth bonuses, including +10 to Hide and the Hide in Plain Sight ability. Familiars are typically good at hiding anyhow thanks to their tiny size. But for shadowcasters, who will typically have Hide maxed out? Take this feat, and suddenly theyíre invisible. Makes for great scouts, and is a nice alternative to Reach Mystery for delivering touch mysteries. Also combos well with Improved Familiar.

    Shadow Reflection: Gain a 50% miss chance against AoOs. I could see this being interesting for several builds, but in general, if youíre worried about AoOs then Shadow Cast is probably a better choice.

    Shadow Vision: Spend a move action to sense the number of creatures within 20í. It only works in shadowy illumination or darkness, it doesnít let you pinpoint the creatures, and it requires a 15 in a dump stat. Pass.

    Improved Initiative: Youíll probably have a decent dex, and youíll almost certainly want to go before your enemies so you can fade into the darkness, drop a controlling shadow on them, or whatever.

    Vow of Nonviolence: Some RP restrictions, but itís pretty easy to build a shadowcaster that doesnít break this vow, and this gives you a +4 boost to your DCs across the board. Worth considering, if youíre of Good alignment. Itís worth noting that ability damage DOES break your vow, so watch out for mysteries like Flesh Fails.

    Vow of Peace: Even better than Vow of Nonviolence as far as what it gives you, except now you turn into the party nanny. I personally would never take this feat unless I was in a party that planned around me having it from the get-go, but itís worth consideration. (And hey, at least Sustaining Shadow means you wonít have to worry about breaking your vow by accidentally swallowing an insect too frequently). This does also open up Apostle of Peace as a PrC option (see Builds section).

    Martial Study: Pick up some nice extra abilities this way. The Diamond Mind save boosts are always nice, and Iím a particularly big fan of Cloak of Deception - for all your shadowy concealment, you donít have much actual invisibility, and having that available as a swift action once per encounter can be a real lifesaver.

    Martial Stance: There are a few stances that are handy to have, although youíll probably want Assassinís Stance so you can qualify for prestige classes like Telflammar Shadowlord (or add some nice rider effects to your touch-based mysteries).

    Imperious Command: Youíre a Charisma-based caster with Intimidate as a class skill. Unless youíre playing a build that dumps Charisma, this is an excellent way to add some utility to a class that frequently runs out of things to do...

    Shadow Blade: If you want to mix things up in melee, and youíve either taken Martial Study or dipped into Swordsage, this is a pretty solid damage boost. It also opens up Gloom Razor, which gives some additional stealth boosts.

    Dreadful Wrath: If youíre playing in Faerun, this is a pretty good pick for a Charisma-focused shadowcaster.

    Improved Familiar: If youíve got a Shadow Familiar and a spare feat, consider upgrading your familiar. I particularly recommend the beguiler from Shining South (permanent true sight!), the deathfang snake from Races of Faerun (creepy undead snake-thing that deals negative levels!), the imp/quasit (commune as an SLA!), the coure eladrin from BoED (incorporeal Tinkerbell!), and the musteval guardinal from BoED (tiny little ferret man that can turn you invisible!). Donít forget that your improved familiar should still gain the Dark template.

    Dragon Familiar: Adding the Dark template onto a little dragon buddy is almost mean. I actually prefer the regular Improved Familiar options overall, but thereís some good choices here. The black dragon is thematic, but youíll probably get more mileage out of a blue or copper dragon if youíre trying to get the most bang out of your Dark template buck. And of course, there are always the powerhouse choices of gold and silver, even if they donít necessarily mesh particularly well thematically.

    Weapon Finesse: If youíre a melee shadowcaster, consider this feat.

    Mortalbane: +2d6 damage across the board for all of your damaging SLAs, against living non-outsiders only. This is a solid damage boost, and is especially nice for your damaging BFC mysteries.

    Sun School: If you've dipped monk for flurry of blows, this can act as a mini-shadowpounce alongside flicker.
    Last edited by Piggy Knowles; 2013-01-26 at 12:45 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Mysteries

    V. Fundamentals & Mysteries

    ďWhat would your good do if evil didn't exist, and what would the earth look like if all the shadows disappeared?Ē ― Mikhail Bulgakov


    Fundamentals

    Fundamentals seem inconsequential, but these represent a good portion of your actions for the beginning of your career. Eventually you will get almost all of these. Don't forget that some fundamentals become significantly more useful at high levels, when you can use them at will.

    Spoiler
    Show

    Arrow of Dusk: A ray attack that deals 2d4 nonlethal damage. Not bad at the lower levels, but it gets pretty sad fast. Still, there have been many times when Iíve run out of useful mysteries and was happy to fall back on my puny little Arrow of Dusk, so I guess I shouldnít knock it. Consider combining with sneak attack and craven for a little damage boost.

    Black Candle: Cast either darkness or light. Those are both good abilities to have on hand, and darkness in particular is useful for you. If nothing else, this can allow you to keep concealment up more or less indefinitely once you get this at will. Decent choice.

    Caul of Shadow: Gain a scaling deflection bonus to AC, topping out at +4. The duration is too short to be that useful until you can cast your fundamentals at will, but once thatís the case, itís worth having. Yes, thatís right, this is pretty much the only fundamental that sucks in the early game, but is actually pretty decent in the higher levels.

    Liquid Night: Create... ink? Out of night? Thatís cool, I guess. You know that you can buy ink, right?

    Mystic Reflections: Detect magic, except with a shorter maximum duration but no need to maintain concentration. In many ways, I actually prefer this, since I can do other things while I have it up. Not a bad pick.

    Shadow Hood: Save or take a very minor penalty to attack rolls. Itís every bit as useful as flare! Well, OK, maybe itís not quite THAT good...

    Sight Obscured: Gain a +5 bonus on Hide, Sleight of Hand, and any check that helps conceal your actions or gestures. You can use it on your teammates, too, meaning that you can dramatically increase the sneakiness of your party once you get this at will. A top pick if youíre focusing heavily on stealth, and decent either way.

    Umbral Hand: Mage hand, but improved, with much higher weight limits. Mage hand is good, and this is better. Worth taking for anyone, and absolutely essential if you plan to take the Nightís Long Fingers path.

    Widened Eyes: Gain low-light vision for a decent duration. Not bad, although you already have darkvision from your class features. If it werenít self-only Iíd consider it as a way to help out the party, but as it is, I canít really see a great reason to take this one.


    Apprentice Mysteries

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    Cloak of Shadows
    1. Steel Shadows
    Create ghostly armor and shield, for a total of +6 to AC. Thatís actually not too bad for the lower levels, but the duration kills it. At the lowest levels, when it would really come in handy, the duration is too low to keep it up. At the higher levels, when youíll have multiple castings of it and a long enough duration to keep it maintained, the AC bonus is eclipsed by magical armor and shields.

    2. Sight Eclipsed
    For one round per level, you can make hide checks while being observed. Not bad, although if you can pick up a Collar of Umbral Metamorphosis (even the lesser version), thatís a much better option.

    3. Sharp Shadows
    This is basically fire shield, but without the elemental typing or the extra resistance. Itís really only useful for a gish - and if you're a gish, chances are you're going for Umbral Fist, Umbral Touch or Flicker, meaning you won't have room for this.

    Overall thoughts: If you absolutely need hide in plain sight at a low level, this will give it to you by level 3. Thatís not bad, but the other mysteries are just not very useful. If you were trying to build a shadowcaster gish this could work, but there are still better options.


    Dark Terrain
    1. Carpet of Shadow
    You create difficult terrain in a decently sized area. Thatís actually not too bad, and it explicitly stacks with other terrain features (so casting it into, say, an area of light undergrowth now makes each 5í square cost 20í). Itís not earth-shattering, but itís OK support.

    2. Black Fire
    A wall of fire cold - no, wait, itís only a few feet tall and can explicitly be jumped over, so itís more like a shrubbery of fire cold. Still, the damage is uncapped and it is shapeable, making this an alright choice for a second level mystery.

    3. Clinging Darkness
    Now weíre talking! Create a large area of immobilizing darkness. Enemies that fail their reflex save are immobilized while within the cloud. They can attempt a new save - if they spend a full round action, that is. And anyone that remains in the area or re-enters it has to save again. This is actually a very nice piece of battlefield control.

    Overall thoughts: If your goal is battlefield control, this is your path. Clinging Darkness is especially choice, but all of the mysteries here will be useful. Sure, wizards and druids still reign supreme when it comes to BFC, but with this path you can dabble in it and do a halfway decent job.


    Ebon Whispers
    1. Voice of Shadow
    Use command, as the spell. If the enemy is a construct or undead, they are instead dazed. Itís nice that this actually has an effect on undead/constructs, but this is going to be basically useless after the first couple of levels. Itís single-target, mind-affecting (ie Mind Blank or Protection from XXX blocks it), Will negates, and low level - and even if they fail their save, itís really only a minor debuff. Pass.

    2. Congress of Shadows
    Send a single short message to one target, and get a single short reply. Iíve heard this compared to sending, but itís not even close. The utility of sending lies in the fact that you can target anyone, anywhere. This has a maximum range of 1 mile/level, and you need to know where the target is (within 100í) in order to use it. Itís that last bit that makes it especially a killer to me. If someone is several miles away, how am I supposed to know exactly where they are? Situational at best.

    3. Flicker
    So after two of the worst mysteries available, we have... one of the coolest defensive buffs around. For one round per level, you can perform a short range teleport as an immediate action. If you do this to avoid an attack, the attack still has a 50% chance of hitting you. Still, this completely shuts down full attacks and gives you a pretty decent miss chance on top of it (which stacks with things like blur and displacement). This also gets insane when you take shadowpouncing into consideration.

    Overall thoughts: Two completely terrible mysteries, followed by one that is quite good. Basically, if youíre a shadowpouncer, then this is the only path you really care about. If not, Iíd consider giving this one a pass.


    Eye of Darkness
    1. Bend Perspective
    This is one of my favorite mysteries! This is basically clairvoyance, at level 1. Sure, itís a much smaller range, but you can also move the magical sensor if youíd like. I love ďsee from afarĒ style effects and always find them useful, and for its level, this is one of the best.

    2. Piercing Sight
    See invisibility and darkvision rolled into one. Of course, you already have darkvision from your umbral sight class feature, but luckily the two stack. Not a bad thing to have.

    3. Killing Shadows
    Itís a blasting spell, basically. If youíre playing a shadowcaster then youíre not really a blaster, but I suppose having options is never a bad thing. If youíre interested in blasting itís actually pretty good, dealing more damage than a fireball (and untyped to boot).

    Overall thoughts: A lot of people seem to go crazy over killing shadows, but to me, the real gem here is bend perspective. Still, just about everything in this path is useful, and you could do worse than follow this one all the way through. Or, you can jump in for bend perspective and not bother following up on the other two mysteries.


    Nightís Long Fingers
    1. Quicker than the Eye
    You get a scaling bonus to Sleight of Hand (which stacks with the bonus from sight obscured), and you can perform Sleight of Hand checks through your umbral hand. The bonus is sizeable, maxing out at +15 at 12th level, and being able to steal things from afar is really useful. My single favorite mystery.

    2. Trail of Haze
    The target leaves a trail of shadows that you can follow anywhere (short of teleportation), and will always let you identify him. This is a really cool idea, except for two problems: touch range, and Will negates. Those two factors make this mystery somewhat subpar. If you use it, I highly recommend the Shadow Familiar feat, so you can have your sneaky familiar deliver this.

    3. Umbral Fist
    For one round per level, bull rush, disarm and trip from afar. You use your caster level in place of BAB, and either Intelligence or Charisma in place of strength. Thatís quite handy for a level 3 mystery, and scales surprisingly well.

    Overall thoughts: This path, which was released in the web enhancement for Cityscape, is actually one of the best apprentice paths available. The second level mystery is a bit ho-hum, but the other two are fantastic. Definitely worth a look.


    Shutters and Clouds
    1. Dusk and Dawn
    Create an area of ďshadowy illuminationĒ that creatures with darkvision can see through. Of course, you can create light or darkness with the black candle fundamental, making me wonder why this is even an option.

    2. Shadow Skin
    As an immediate action, gain DR for one round. The type and amount of DR scales as you level. While this is no flicker, this can save your life if youíre taking a lot of attacks, and shadowcasters donít have a ton of uses for immediate actions.

    3. Dancing Shadows
    Give concealment to one creature per five levels. If it was one creature per two levels, Iíd say this would be decent, since you could get several party members with it at the low levels when concealment is a pretty solid defense. But by the time youíll be able to affect multiple targets, it will have already lost most of its luster. Combine that with the short duration, and youíve got a pretty skippable mystery.

    Overall thoughts: One of the worst paths, all things considered. At least Ebon Whispers has flicker to redeem it. These powers arenít quite as bad overall as congress of shadows, but none of them are particularly great.


    Touch of Twilight
    1. Life Fades
    Moderate nonlethal damage, and you fatigue the target on a failed save. Not bad for a first level mystery, although the touch range worries me.

    2. Flesh Fails
    Deal Strength, Dexterity or Constitution damage to an enemy with a touch, no save. Iím still not a fan of the touch range, but the flexibility of this makes it a pretty decent debuff.

    3. Umbral Touch
    Now this is nice! Like the others in this path, itís also a touch attack, but this time itís a multi-use touch attack like produce flame. It deals decent damage (untyped and no save), and targets have to save or be slowed. Slow is an excellent status to inflict on enemies, and when you combine that with the solid damage and the multiple uses, you have a pretty strong mystery.

    Overall thoughts: Iím not a huge fan of touch attacks, but if youíre willing to focus on them, all three mysteries here are useful. This path wonít be for everyone, but you can make something decent with this, especially if you have the ability to add on bonus damage (such as sneak attack).


    Umbral Mind
    1. Mesmerizing Shade
    An enemy within close range has to save or be dazed for one round. If they make their save, they instead take a -1 penalty to most things for that round. Itís a little better than voice of shadow, especially since daze is a nicer effect than what command gives you, but itís still a low level, single target, mind-affecting Will negates mystery. Potentially useful very early on in the game, not so handy as things progress.

    2. Thoughts of Shadow
    Grant a +4 bonus to any mental ability score. Not bad, although it is an enhancement bonus, meaning that this wonít be so useful in the mid to late game.

    3. Afraid of the Dark
    One target within medium range takes moderate Wisdom damage, with a save for half. Wisdom is one of the least useful abilities to target, and this is still mind-affecting, although at higher levels when you get multiple uses, you can spam this to paralyze enemies.

    Overall thoughts: Another ho-hum path. The first two mysteries will fade out of usefulness fairly quickly. Afraid of the Dark can theoretically be pretty handy - if you quicken it to fire off two at once, you can paralyze many enemies in a single round - but you really have to build around it to make it work.


    Initiate Mysteries

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    Black Magic
    4. Warp Spell
    An immediate action casting that lets you trade caster level checks to counter a spell. If you succeed, you also get a bonus use of an apprentice mystery. It seems great - except that youíll have a -4 penalty to your check if you use it on a spell, and you have less ways to boost your CL to the stratosphere than a caster does anyhow. If your DM rules that you donít have to take the -4 penalty for using this against magic, then this becomes blue.

    5. Echo Spell
    Echo a spell or mystery of 4th level or below. The level restriction and the fact that you canít echo your own mysteries keeps this from being crazy-bananas, but it has some decent usage if you coordinate with a party mage.

    6. Flood of Shadow
    Create a shadowy zone that strengthens mysteries and shadow-based spells, but requires a spellcraft check to cast any other kind of spell. This wonít be that useful against wizards (a typical ECL 11 wizard will be able to auto-succeed on the spellcraft check to cast their highest level spells), but other casters might find it frustating. The free empower effect, however, is quite nice.

    Overall thoughts: On first glance, this path looks great. Each mystery seems to be amazing - an actually decent counterspell that doesnít cost action advantage? A way to echo magic? A way to dampen enemy mages while boosting my own strength? Heck yes! On closer inspection, the mysteries arenít quite as strong as they initially seem, but itís still a solid path.


    Body and Soul
    4. Bolster
    You give the subject 5 temporary HP for every hit die it has. Even better, it actually has a halfway decent duration, meaning you donít have to waste time in combat casting this. An excellent choice, as a self buff or to help out the party tank.

    5. Languor
    Another dual purpose mystery, you can choose this one to be either slow or hold monster. Oddly enough, this does NOT have the [Mind-affecting] tag, which is actually a really big deal. Seems like kind of an odd choice for this path, but if you like save or sucks, this one isnít bad.

    6. Shadow Investiture
    Give a creature darkvision, cold resistance and evasion. If the duration was long enough to last a couple of encounters it might be passable, but still not great for such a high level. But with the duration as laughably short as it is...

    Overall thoughts: Bolster in particular is the gem here, and if for any reason you donít care about finishing an initiate path, it should be one of your top choices to nab. Iíd definitely grab it, and if I was playing a high Charisma build I might grab Languor as well, but I definitely would not stick around for Shadow Investiture.


    Dark Reflections
    4. Shadow Evocation
    Usually the way the Shadow spells work is that you mimic a spell of up to one level lower than the ďshadowĒ version. Itís still generally a good deal - a ton of versatility in exchange for less power. In this case, you mimic a spell of equal level, making this one of the strongest choices possible..

    5. Feign Life
    Animate objects is a really good (and consistently under-rated) spell. This is an improved version of animate objects, at a lower level.

    6. Shadow Evocation, Greater
    See everything I said about Shadow Evocation, only itís even more true about the greater version. At this level, weíre talking contingency and howling chain...

    Overall thoughts: One of the best paths, period. It opens up a ton of versatility for a class that really needs it.


    Darkened Allies
    4. Fearful Gloom
    You create a large emanation of darkness, and any creatures inside are frightened (or panicked if they are below 5 HD). There is a save to negate the fear, but they are still shaken on a successful save. This is easily comparable to or better than the fear spell - it frightens instead of automatically panicking, but it affects a much bigger area, continues to frighten anything that enters that area for some time, and has a nice automatic darkness built in as well. Also combos well with Intimidate and Never Outnumbered - use a demoralize attempt to upgrade their frightened state to panicked, or their shaken state to frightened.

    5. Sickening Shadow
    As above, except instead of fear, enemies must save versus being nauseated, and are sickened on a successful save. Nausea is a very nice debuff, although this doesnít have the same Intimidate synergy as Fearful Gloom. Still a solid effect, even if it is a little repetitive.

    6. Deadly Shade
    Now this is interesting. The base effect starts out the same as the other two mysteries in this path - a 30í radius emanation of darkness. Then, you can choose to either use this as a protection spell, giving minor DR and energy resistance to anyone inside it, or you can use it offensively. If you choose the latter option, every time someone takes damage inside the effect, they have to save or gain a negative level. If you combine this with a persistent damage effect, or toss them in with something that can make a lot of attacks at once, this can be devastating. Just be careful - it affects your allies and your enemies without discrimination!

    Overall thoughts: For BFC and debuffing, you really canít go wrong with this path. Fearful Gloom in particular is nice for you, especially if you combine it with Dread Witch levels (see ďBuildsĒ section). Deadly Shade also has potential to deal a staggering number of negative levels, but beware - make sure your allies have some protection from negative levels themselves before they wade in!


    Ebon Roads
    4. Step into Shadow
    You use dimension door, as the spell. Because itís based off the spell, it still suffers the same limitations (the big one being that your turn ends after you use it). However, the tactical movement it affords is still excellent. This also opens up access to the Telflammar Shadowlord prestige class.

    5. Pass into Shadow
    Plane shift, except you must be either going to or leaving from the Plane of Shadow. At first thought this seems pretty limited - how often are you going to need to go there? But you can use it as a full plane shift with two castings to go anywhere. It can also be an effective save-or-lose (albeit at touch range). Also, all mysteries and spells with the shadow subschool are automatically maximized on the Plane of Shadow, making this a potential way to boost your own magic. Any one of these would be of limited use, but having access to all three makes this fairly handy.

    6. Voyage into Shadow
    This is an improved version of shadow walk. Itís not quite teleport, but itís easily the next best thing, and can also be used for exceedingly fast movement on the Plane of Shadow.

    Overall thoughts: A decent utility path - all three travel-based mysteries will probably come in handy. Not much offense (although again, Pass into Shadow can be a quick save-or-lose in a pinch), but just about every shadowcaster will probably find something useful here. Shadowpouncers will probably want to pick up Step into Shadow at level 7 for qualification into Telflammar Shadowlord.


    Elemental Shadows
    4. Aura of Shade
    Combination protection from cold and a slight damage boost. Like so many similar buffs, it might be nice if it either had a longer duration or affected multiple party members. As it is, itís just not very good for the level.

    5. Dark Air or Water
    Now weíre talking! This can function as either control wind or control water, both of which can have totally devastating effects. The wind version in particular is nasty, with hurricanes and tornados able to destroy entire cities.

    6. Shadow Storm
    This is basically a shadow-themed chain lightning, so if you like that spell, youíll like this mystery. The dual energy type can be a blessing or a curse - having resistance to both cold and electricity isnít unheard of, and in that case most of the spellís damage will be eaten up by resistances.

    Overall thoughts: If youíre focusing on AoE and blasting, this path isnít bad, although that first mystery is a bit of a dud. Iíd still prefer Dark Reflections for a blasting school, but there are worse choices.


    Unbinding Shade
    4. Shadows Fade
    Dispel magic, as the spell. The utility of a dispel is pretty great, although the way that mysteries and regular magic interact can make this a little less useful than it initially appears. That -4 hit to your caster level check can mean this is only dispelling fairly low level buffs. Still useful, especially for a scout who will primarily use it to dispel things with fixed CLs like traps, but buyer beware.

    5. Unravel Dweomer
    Break enchantment, as the spell. This runs into the same problem of shadow/magic interactions as the rest of this path does, but this spell can be a literal lifesaver, with a whole host of effects that it can negate.

    6. Shadows Fade, Greater
    See the notes on Shadows Fade. The higher CL cap on this makes the penalty a little less painful, though.

    Overall thoughts: If they didnít have those wonky rules about how shadow magic and regular magic interact, this path would be fantastic. Dispelling effects are, in many ways, the most effective debuffs in the game. This is still a solid path, but not quite as good as it could be.


    Veil of Shadows
    4. Shadow Vision
    You send shadows to plague someoneís vision, giving yourself total concealment against them and also giving them -4 to almost every check they can make. Itís single target Will negates, but itís not mind-affecting, so thatís a plus. Iím not a huge fan of single target spells like this, but the effect really isnít bad for the level.

    5. Curtain of Shadows
    Create a cold wall that blocks line of sight and deals damage to those who pass through. Itís not quite as shapeable as some other effects, but the damage is actually pretty decent and the duration is good, and blocking line of sight makes this just a little better. Decent choice.

    6. Unveil
    Wow, thatís a whole lot of effects that this cancels. It removes curses, dispels certain mysteries, and removes just about any negative condition you can think of - even some weird ones like immobilization, insanity, stunning and disease. Excellent choice.

    Overall thoughts: The effects here are a little all over the place, but itís still a decent path. Youíve got a solid save-or-suck, a decent BFC/damage spell, and Unveil, which is just plain excellent.


    Master Mysteries

    Spoiler
    Show

    Breath of Twilight
    7. Life Fades, Greater
    This is your upgrade from Life Fades. Now it deals up to 20d6 nonlethal damage, it affects one creature per level, and it exhausts instead of fatiguing (half damage and fatigue on a successful save). Thatís actually a pretty solid upgrade, although fatigue isnít that great of a debuff on its own.

    8. Flesh Fails, Greater
    Similar to Life Fades, Flesh Fails also got an upgrade. Now it deals slightly more ability damage, and also affects one creature per level. As an 8th-level equivalent, though, this is starting to look a lot less impressive. Wizards were tossing around cloudkills with level 5 spells, after all...

    9. Ephemeral Storm
    This is basically wail of the banshee, affecting half as many targets but dealing damage on a successful save. Making around 10 enemies die or take OK damage is just about right for a 9th-level mystery.

    Overall thoughts: If debuffs and big mass save-or-die effects are your thing, this isnít a bad path to look at.


    Dark Metamorphosis
    7. Ephemeral Image
    A longer duration project image that also gains concealment. Project image is a very good spell, and this is an even better mystery. Now you can hang out hundreds of feet away from the actual action, and still sling mysteries around like itís nobodyís business.

    8. Umbral Body
    Turn incorporeal for a short time. Being incorporeal is neat, but this is a really short duration, which lessens its utility. Underwhelming for its level.

    9. Shadow Time
    Improved time stop - how can you go wrong? Well, truth be told, this isnít quite as abusive for you as time stop is for wizards, since youíve got less that you can do with stopped time. This is still an exceedingly powerful effect, though (and even better if youíre a Noctumancer).

    Overall thoughts: This path has a lot of utility going for it - really, any shadowcaster would benefit from picking it up. If youíre not sure what to pursue for your master paths, this is pretty much always a good option no matter what your build is.


    Ebon Walls
    7. Prison of Night
    Automatically trap someone in a cold prison made out of the night. Each round they can spend their standard action to break out, but if they fail, they take Constitution damage (which makes their next attempt even harder). Iím not always a huge fan of single-target spells and mysteries, but this oneís pretty fun, and guarantees that youíll at least take someone out of commission for one round.

    8. Tomb of Night
    An upgrade of the Prison of Night mystery. Now, the cold damage each round is a little higher, and if they fail their save they gain a negative level, instead of Con damage. The upgrade is nice - but did we really need two mysteries in a path that do more or less the exact same thing?

    9. Consume Essence
    This is a Will-targetting save or die, and if they lose, they also come back as your puppet for a short time. Itís a cool concept, but a single target save or die as a 9th-level mystery, with no action on a successful save? Soul Puppet is 8th-level and gives you a thrall for a day/level, and you can always find a way to turn that into a save or die while youíre at it. Not a huge fan.

    Overall thoughts: Not terrible, and the Prison/Tomb of Night mysteries are interesting, but this is outclassed by the Heart and Soul path for what it does.


    Eyes of the Night Sky
    7. Truth Revealed
    True seeing, with some fun little add ons. By concentrating, you can pick up alignments, magic auras, recent actions, greatest loves and fears, and more. The bonus effects are more fun than anything else, but itís a neat twist to an otherwise decent spell, and worth the slight level bump.

    8. Far Sight
    This is greater scrying, with a shorter duration but an automatic Truth Revealed thrown in for fun. Scrying is always handy, and scrying with free true seeing even more so.

    9. Reflections of Things to Come
    This is the shadowcasterís version of foresight, and itís even better than the original. You get a huge insight bonus to initiative, uncanny dodge and a moderate boost to AC, and you always get to act in the surprise round. Even better, you can discharge the spell early to reroll a failed save or force an attack that hit you to miss. Sure, you canít turn into a dire tortoise like wizards or druids, but this is the next best thing.

    Overall thoughts: Like Dark Metamorphosis, this is a path full of utility that any shadowcaster should consider.


    Heart and Soul
    7. Dark Soul
    For one round per level, you can spend a standard action to force a creature to save or attack the nearest target within reach. It gives you something to do when youíre short on mysteries, I suppose, but this ties up your actions, and what you get in return isnít all that great.

    8. Soul Puppet
    Dominate monster is a 9th-level spell. This is dominate monster but as a touch attack. Iíll happily downgrade to a touch attack instead of close range to get this a level earlier than most mages.

    9. Shadow Surge
    Mass dominate monster, but only for one round. You can probably do a lot of damage in that one round, though, and this effects one creature per level. It could see some use, but Iíd like to see at least one round per level if weíre talking a 9th-level mystery.

    Overall thoughts: Soul Puppet is quite nice - you can start collecting thralls around 15th level. The other two mysteries here are not quite as impressive, and all three sport the [Mind-affecting] tag, but if youíve got a high Charisma and like playing the enchanter, this lets you do it.


    Shadow Calling
    7. Summon Umbral Servant
    Summon one Huge shadow elemental or several smaller ones. I like summoning spells as mysteries because they donít suffer the one-round casting time that normal summons do. Anyhow, this isnít exactly a bruiser, but incorporeal creatures are neat to have at your beck and call.

    8. Shadow Plague
    I have never been a fan of incendiary cloud despite overall loving the cloud-type spells, always thinking that it was way too high a level for what it did. After all, I consistently find cloudkill more useful and thatís three levels lower! This is incendiary cloud but with cold damage. It would be cool as an initiate mystery maybe, but not here.

    9. Army of Shadow
    As Summon Umbral Servant, except with a better duration and the ability to summon elder shadow elementals.

    Overall thoughts: The summoning spells are neat, especially since thatís something that shadowcasters really havenít been able to do. Consider dropping a Deadly Shade from the Darkened Allies path first, so their incorporeal touches deal negative levels in addition to their regular attacks.


    Shadowscape
    7. Grasping Shadows
    As black tentacles, except that enemies that are grappled must save or go blind. Black tentacles is a great spell at 4th-level, but at this level itís only mediocre. The blinding is a nice addition, I suppose, but youíre getting very close to the point at which grappling becomes a loserís game.

    8. Menagerie of Darkness
    Any animals or vermin within thirty feet of you must save or be dominated, and gain the dark template. Itís a cool concept, with a very pied piper feel to it, but it's extremely situational. Still, itís got a good duration and you can dominate quite a lot of animals this way, so I guess if you feel up to casting this and wandering through a forest or sewer, you can end up with a lot of creepy animal friends following you around.

    9. Black Labyrinth
    Huh. This is a HUGE effect - weíre talking a mile radius, and it lasts for days. Shadows distort everything within its range. This has three rather decent automatic effects (50% miss chance on all attacks, big penalty to Spot and Listen, and a 20% chance area effects will go off in a different area than intended), and a couple of really crazy effects that require a save (all movement is in a random direction, and teleports donít work properly). Youíre immune to the last two effects but not the others, nor are your allies (although you can ďguideĒ them through the labyrinth to give them a save bonus). It seems better suited for a BBEG than for a player to cast, but I could have a lot of fun with this mystery.

    Overall thoughts: Three very powerful effects in all, although Iím still not convinced this will be a useful path for everyone. The first effect is certainly handy but a little underwhelming for the level. The other two are potentially huge - but also either very situational, or possibly too screwy to want to use all the time. I will say that Black Labyrinth would be a thiefís dream, though - a big miss chance and a major debuff to Spot and Listen over a huge area means I could rob a town blind.
    Last edited by Piggy Knowles; 2013-01-22 at 07:39 PM.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Bellona
    Gender
    Male

    Default Items

    VI. Items

    (One day, maybe...)
    Last edited by Piggy Knowles; 2014-03-18 at 09:35 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Bellona
    Gender
    Male

    Default Multiclassing & Builds

    VI. Multiclassing & Builds

    ďThere is strong shadow where there is much light.Ē ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, GŲtz von Berlichingen


    Multiclassing

    Shadowcasters theoretically stick to the general rule, "Thou shalt not lose caster levels." In practice, however, it is not always that simple.

    The first problem is that shadowcasters can border on unplayable in the low levels. Starting off with a level from another class, such as rogue or swordsage, can go a long way toward making your life easier if starting from level one.

    The second problem is that the master level mysteries tend to be organized poorly. There are a few 9th-level gems, but many of the best master mysteries are on paths with mediocre 9th-level mysteries. For that reason, it's not as painful to lose a level or two off the top of a dedicated shadowcaster build.

    Base Classes

    Rogue: A level one rogue dip to start things off is one of the best ways you to survive the lower levels. This gives you access to several new skills, and also provides you with sneak attack (easily boosted with Craven).

    Swordsage: High number of skills per day and access to various maneuvers and stances. I would consider a two-level dip - one level to start with, and then another when your IL is high enough to qualify for Assassinís Stance. This is also one of the best entries into Telflammar Shadowlord.

    Warblade: Swordsage in general has maneuvers and skills that are more useful to you (thanks mostly to Shadow Hand), but you can get a better BAB, weapons and armor out of the warblade, as well as some Int synergy.

    Monk: In general, the monk doesn't have a ton of abilities that synergize well with the shadowcaster. However, a one-level dip gives you unarmed strike, a bonus feat and flurry of blows, which qualifies you for the Sun School feat. Alongside flicker, this can act as a mini-shadowpounce. A second level can give you some limited invisibility as well, although you begin running into diminishing returns the longer you stick around. Consider the Sleeping Tiger style, which also grants you Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat (as well as Improved Initiative, if you stick around for two levels).

    Wizard: This can be used as the basis for a Noctumancer build, or it can be a way to survive the early levels, and you can later trade this away for more shadowcaster levels via Creeping Darkness.

    Factotum: Every skill you could want. Combines well with Able Learner, but in general I prefer a rogue dip.

    Prestige Classes

    Child of Night: 9/10 mystery advancement, and accelerated Sustaining Shadows. You also gain a various blur and displacement effects, some cold resistance, and eventually, the ability to turn incorporeal for a limited time. Not a terrible trade.

    Master of Shadow: Another 9/10 mystery advancement class. Your Shadow Familiar instead turns into a shadow elemental. This elemental advances with level, eventually gaining 9 bonus HD, and you also can grant it additional abilities for a time, such as fast healing, extra reach, and more attacks. Having an incorporeal buddy to bring around with you is actually pretty handy, and the bonus HD means that you can select feats for your shadow servant as well. (I highly recommend Darkstalker.)

    Noctumancer: Basically Mystic Theurge, but solely for mysteries/arcane, and it also gets some neat class features. Not bad, especially because you can later take Mystic Theurge to finish things off.

    Earth Dreamer: Easy entry. Gain some divination abilities, as well as the ability to see and glide through solid stone. Very nice (and oft overlooked) choice.

    Shadowcraft Mage: Shadowcasters can qualify for Shadowcraft Mage fairly easily. You wonít be a killer gnome, but it does progress mysteries at every level, give you a nice concealment effect, and boosts the strength of your Dark Reflections path. Also, Extend Illusions explicitly works with SLAs as well, so thatís another nice bonus. And just to top things off, it has better skills than the shadowcaster. If youíre a gnome, then this is a nice choice.

    Apostle of Peace: A two-level dip can give you turning and a powerful calming effect, while also qualifying you for Mystic Theurge. Donít spring this on your party without a lot of discussion, first...

    Mystic Theurge: Shadowcaster qualifies for either the arcane or divine side of MT, making this a nice way to finish off builds that splash another type of casting.

    Shadowdancer: Overall an inferior choice, but the shadowdancerís HiPS ability at first level is quite good. If you qualify anyhow (ie, if youíre going for a Telflammar Shadowlord), a one level dip isnít a bad choice.

    Ur-Priest: Like Apostle of Peace, this can be a nice segway into Mystic Theurge, and will expand your abilities considerably.

    Dread Witch: Takes some finagling to enter, but if you can pull it off (see Builds section), the abilities here are fantastic for a fear-based shadowcaster.

    Sentinel of Bharrai: This is interesting. Full mystery advancement alongside a decent skill list, several ranger/paladin style features, and the ability to take bear form. Requires knowledge (nature) to enter.

    Ruathar: Easy requirements and medium BAB. The main reason to take this class is for bow proficiencies and all knowledges as class skills.

    Telflammar Shadowlord: If you can pick up sneak attack, via a rogue/assassin dip or from Assassinís Stance, you can qualify for Telflammar Shadowlord with Step into Shadow. This gives you a decent Int-based spell list, a couple of other neat abilities, and most importantly, shadowpounce. Donít worry about combining this with Step into Shadow - instead, combine it with Flicker. Now, you can spend your round as youíd like, and as an immediate action, teleport short range and make a full attack. Thatís insanely good! You can jump out after nabbing shadowpounce at level 4, or stick around until level 5 for third level arcane spells, which helps you qualify for Arcane Trickster.

    Crinti Shadow Marauder: You can qualify for Crinti Shadow Marauder a little easier than Telflammar Shadowlord, and it also grants shadowpounce. However, its other class abilities arenít as useful.

    Arcane Trickster: If youíve picked up arcane casting from elsewhere to qualify (such as Telflammar Shadowlord), you can actually use the Arcane Trickster to progress your mysteries. This is a nice way to boost your mysteries and also pick up some extra sneak attack.

    Renegade Mastermaker: 8/10 casting, and it gives you a neat little battlefist. I always wish this class had full BAB. It's not a terrible choice, but there are better options.

    Impure Prince: 4/6 casting and full BAB. You also get tentacle whips, which are fun. However, favored enemy is a requirement to take this class, which means three levels lost total. That's a bit much just to see a boost in BAB.

    Shadow Adept: This falls under ďask your DMĒ territory. The class chronicles article for shadowcasters mentions shadowcasters using the Shadow Weave feats and serving the weave. Shadow Adept unfortunately uses the terminology ďcast 3rd-level arcane or divine spellsĒ instead of just saying ď3rd-level spells,Ē which means technically shadowcasters do not qualify, but it wouldnít be a stretch to allow it. If he does, this is an excellent (and flavorful) choice, fully advancing mysteries will also providing several bonus feats and other abilities.

    Divine Oracle: You need knowledge (religion) to enter, which you can nab via Knowledge Devotion or a Ruathar dip. Some divination-based bonuses, plus evasion, immunity to surprise, and other goodies. Solid choice all around.

    Sample Builds

    "The Thing That Goes Bump in the Night"
    Human or Strongheart Halfling, Shadowcaster 15/Dread Witch 5

    Feats
    Aberrant Dragonmark (cause fear), Still Mystery, Extend Mystery, Shadow Familiar, Lesser Aberrant Dragonmark (scare), Imperious Command, Path Focus (Darkened Allies), Greater Path Focus (Darkened Allies), Greater Aberrant Dragonmark (Enervation), Favored Mystery (Fearful Gloom), Widen Supernatural Ability

    Mysteries
    Supernatural: Quicker than the Eye, Carpet of Shadow, Trail of Haze, Black Fire, Umbral Fist, Clinging Darkness, Fearful Gloom x2

    SLA: Bolster x2, Shadow Vision, Curtain of Shadow

    Spell: Ephemeral Image, Dark Soul, Soul Puppet x2, Umbral Body, Shadow Time x2

    Build Summary
    The quintessential fear-based shadowcaster.

    This build uses aberrant dragonmarks to qualify for Dread Witch, an excellent class that not only progresses your mysteries, but also removes many of the drawbacks of fear effects.

    Fearful Gloom drives this build, which is why youíve taken it twice and picked it as a favored mystery. This lets you use it as a (Su) ability, which in turn opens up Widen Supernatural Ability for double the effect. A 60í radius cloud of darkness that forces people to save versus fear? Sounds about perfect! Not only does this shaken even on a successful save (which you can easily upgrade to frightened with a demoralize attempt), but creatures that stay inside the radius have to continue to save against this every round.

    So, once a Fearful Gloom is dropped on an area, your next goal is to push new enemies into its effect, and trap others there. For this, youíve got a lot of nice effects, including Carpet of Shadow, Black Fire, Clinging Darkness, Umbral Fist and Curtain of Shadow. Note that this is dual purpose - not only does this force enemies to continuously save versus fear, by preventing escape you can turn a panicked creature into a cowering one.

    Another potentially neat trick is to include yourself in the radius of Fearful Gloom and use Absorb Fear to get bonus uses of mysteries.

    "Jack B. Nimble"
    Whisper Gnome, Swordsage 2/Shadowcaster 7/Telflammar Shadowlord 5/Arcane Trickster 6

    Feats
    Expeditious Dodge, Mobility, Still Mystery, Spring Attack, Blind-Fight, Favored Mystery (Flicker), Craven, Staggering Strike

    Mysteries
    Supernatural: Life Fades, Voice of Shadows, Flesh Fails, Congress of Shadows, Umbral Touch, Flicker x2

    SLA: Step Into Shadow, Bolster x2, Pass Into Shadow, Voyage Into Shadow

    Spell: Ephemeral Image

    Build Summary
    Jack B. Nimble is an attempt to build the perfect shadowpouncer using Flicker.

    In general, he is pretty simple - Umbral Touch to make full attacks as touch attacks, then Flicker to shadowpounce. Each attack deals 10d6+20, staggers and slows.

    Arcane Trickster is qualified through level 3 Telflammar Shadowlord spells, plus mage hand from the whisper gnome.

    "Whispermage", by A_S
    Whisper Gnome, Beguiler 1 / Shadowcaster 3 / Noctumancer 4 / Mindbender 1 / Noctumancer +6 / Mystic Theurge 5

    A beguiler-based noctumancer. See A_S' post for more details.

    "Afraid of the Dark"
    Shadowcaster 20

    Build to come - this is a build that spams empowered Afraid of the Dark mysteries to deal a lot of Wisdom damage in a little bit of time.


    "The Shadow Bear"
    Shadowcaster 7/Ruathar 3/Sentinel of Bharrai 10

    Build to come - a shadowcaster that turns into a bear and eats people.


    "The Brightest Light Casts the Darkest Shadow"
    Shadowcaster 10/Apostle of Peace 2/Mystic Theurge 8

    Build to come - exalted shadowcaster with various vows.
    Last edited by Piggy Knowles; 2013-01-26 at 12:51 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvus Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    And one for good luck! That should do it!

    TO-DO LIST:

    • Add in color coding, complete formatting.
    • Finish builds section.
    • Finish items section.
    Last edited by Piggy Knowles; 2013-01-21 at 02:34 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    I'm not sure if Geomancer Spell Versatility class feature would work with shadowcaster. What do you think?

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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    You should mention magic items:
    The Shadowcaster pearls of power mentioned in the book are very useful since they have low spells/day.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by 123456789blaaa View Post
    I'm not sure if Geomancer Spell Versatility class feature would work with shadowcaster. What do you think?
    I'm torn on this. I was all set to answer that it absolutely should, for when mysteries are cast as spells, but that it wouldn't allow you to cast spells from another class as SLAs or Su abilities. I'd like to still stand by this, but I want to give a better answer when I can get home and compare ToM to Complete Divine to be sure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Starbuck_II View Post
    You should mention magic items:
    The Shadowcaster pearls of power mentioned in the book are very useful since they have low spells/day.
    Absolutely! I've got the beginnings of a magic items section written up, but it'll probably be a day or two before I get it up. But I agree, they make a big difference.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    Much kudos on making this guide, really good stuff since I've been on a bit of a shadowcaster kick lately.

    Some ideas not mentioned above:
    - Can qualify for divine oracle (CD). 10/10 casting, armoured evasion, boost to divination CL & scrying DCs, and finally immunity to surprise. Might be decent, but need to sneak Knowledge (religion) in somehow.
    - When multi-casting (either noctumancer or mystic theurge), could use divine meta-magic (CD) or meta-magic bardsong (RoS) to pay for slot adjustment of enhancing mysteries with regular metamagic feats.
    - As always for gishes, 3 levels of duskblade allows you to cast a touch spell into a weapon and hit a foe with it as a single standard action, no AoO. Not great, but could be noctumancer'd with spell versatility (RotD) as early-entry cheese.

    Worth noting that the above may be quite suboptimal as I haven't tried running them yet, they're just ideas. Love to hear Piggy Knowles' opinions or alternatives, though.

    The more I read about the shadowcaster though, the clearer it becomes to me that using the author's posted fix would make it far less frustrating to build and play. Do we know if it has been ruled in as errata/official fix by WotC?
    My Fighter: "A single, solitary attack of opportunity... If it were my turn I'd bull rush him into the wall and see how his mirror images stop him getting crushed, but without Great Cleave I don't think I can interrupt him..."
    The Bard: "What feats do you have, again? Improved Sunder and... wait, that's it -"
    My Fighter: "- Yes! I sunder the floor at his feet! You shall not pass!!"
    The DM: "... you're using an Adamantine Sword, aren't you?"

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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    First off, nice job on this.

    If you're looking for feats, it seems like Shadowcasters can take Practiced Spellcaster (Shadowcaster) to overcome that crippling -4 on CL checks. It's not advancing past your HD, after all.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Kuulvheysoon View Post
    First off, nice job on this.

    If you're looking for feats, it seems like Shadowcasters can take Practiced Spellcaster (Shadowcaster) to overcome that crippling -4 on CL checks. It's not advancing past your HD, after all.
    Ooh, good call. Combine practised caster with some path focus feats, aiming for the unravel path + black magic, and you could prove to be a competent counterspell mage without even going into noctumancer. I like.

    There are ways to get arcane casters up to stronger numbers by far, of course - abjurer/master specialist/archmage masters counterspelling like no-one's business. But then, as a shadowcaster, some of your magic can't be counterspelled, so that levels the field a little.
    My Fighter: "A single, solitary attack of opportunity... If it were my turn I'd bull rush him into the wall and see how his mirror images stop him getting crushed, but without Great Cleave I don't think I can interrupt him..."
    The Bard: "What feats do you have, again? Improved Sunder and... wait, that's it -"
    My Fighter: "- Yes! I sunder the floor at his feet! You shall not pass!!"
    The DM: "... you're using an Adamantine Sword, aren't you?"

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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    Since BG/Minmax boards are down here is the link to my Compiled Shadowcaster Handbook V3 currently on the BG/Minmax temporary location kindly hosted by Rule of Cool.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Onerai View Post
    Much kudos on making this guide, really good stuff since I've been on a bit of a shadowcaster kick lately.

    Some ideas not mentioned above:
    - Can qualify for divine oracle (CD). 10/10 casting, armoured evasion, boost to divination CL & scrying DCs, and finally immunity to surprise. Might be decent, but need to sneak Knowledge (religion) in somehow.
    - When multi-casting (either noctumancer or mystic theurge), could use divine meta-magic (CD) or meta-magic bardsong (RoS) to pay for slot adjustment of enhancing mysteries with regular metamagic feats.
    - As always for gishes, 3 levels of duskblade allows you to cast a touch spell into a weapon and hit a foe with it as a single standard action, no AoO. Not great, but could be noctumancer'd with spell versatility (RotD) as early-entry cheese.

    Worth noting that the above may be quite suboptimal as I haven't tried running them yet, they're just ideas. Love to hear Piggy Knowles' opinions or alternatives, though.

    The more I read about the shadowcaster though, the clearer it becomes to me that using the author's posted fix would make it far less frustrating to build and play. Do we know if it has been ruled in as errata/official fix by WotC?
    Thanks! Glad you like it.

    Sadly, Ari's suggested fixes are not official errata. They're just his thoughts, after going back to the class later. He's even said that he's never playtested the fixes themselves, but rather that they're how he'd redo the class if he were to do it again. Still, they would make a big difference. If I ever play a shadowcaster in another campaign, I'm definitely going to push for the fixed version.

    Regarding your suggestions...

    Divine Oracle is definitely worth including. You won't get much benefit from the free Oracle domain, but the rest of the benefits are certainly handy. Knowledge (religion) is pretty easy to pick up, either from Knowledge Devotion or a dip into Ruathar. I'll add it to the list of PrCs.

    Divine Metamagic explicitly only works with divine spells, unfortunately, so it's not going to work with mysteries. Metamagic Song is even more specific, only working for spontaneously cast arcane spells.

    Three levels of duskblade is interesting, but in the end I'm not sure if it's worth it. It'd be nice for the early levels, but while I don't think missing a level or two of advancement will hurt much, three levels is tough. That cuts you down to a single 9th-level mystery.

    Combining it with noctumancer is interesting, but that's also a pretty big investment. Versatile Spellcaster alone won't qualify you for having 2nd-level arcane spells; you'll need some way of actually getting second level slots, such as Heighten Spell or Mother Cyst, to get that to work. So that's three levels plus at least two feats. It's doable but I'm not sure it's worth it. I'd have to see a specific build to change my mind on it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kuulvheysoon View Post
    First off, nice job on this.

    If you're looking for feats, it seems like Shadowcasters can take Practiced Spellcaster (Shadowcaster) to overcome that crippling -4 on CL checks. It's not advancing past your HD, after all.
    Hmm... that's a nice little workaround. I think that's a fair use of the feat, especially since I think the -4 to deal with magic is pretty silly overall, although I do worry that some DMs might have issue with it, just like Wild Mage + Practiced Spellcaster gets people's hackles up. I'll add a note in the guide.

    Quote Originally Posted by gorfnab View Post
    Since BG/Minmax boards are down here is the link to my Compiled Shadowcaster Handbook V3 currently on the BG/Minmax temporary location kindly hosted by Rule of Cool.
    Excellent! Glad that was saved. I'll add a link to the first post.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    I've added in color coding, as well as some builds. If anyone has any other build suggestions, I'd be happy to include them as well.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    I had a stealth-based build around here somewhere - I'll let you know when (if) I find it.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    I demand* that you include AM-1468 in your Build section, it is far too awesome to not be included.


    *And by demand I mean I respectfully request.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Piggy Knowles View Post
    I've added in color coding, as well as some builds. If anyone has any other build suggestions, I'd be happy to include them as well.
    There's WinWin's build in the current Iron Chef thread (that reminds me, have you come to a conclusion on Geomancer and shadowcaster yet?).

    Also, why not consolidate this guide and the one (currently) on Rule of Cool?

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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by 123456789blaaa View Post
    (that reminds me, have you come to a conclusion on Geomancer and shadowcaster yet?).
    I've been thinking about it and re-reading the sections from Tome of Magic. In the end I think that it's not a clear decision either way, but here is how I interpret things:

    1. I think that it's pretty clear the shadowcaster is a spellcasting class in function, despite the verbiage about how you "do not cast spells" on page 112. Ultimately, this is the crux of the issue. The artificer runs into the same problem - it's a caster class that is called out as not being a spellcaster, despite casting spell analogues and having a caster level and all. I think that ruling against it being able to work with geomancer based on p112 is on the pedantic side, and so I'd be inclined to agree that it works.

    2. That being said, even if you can add the parameters of your shadowcasting class to your arcane/divine/whatever spells, I don't think that means you can convert your other class' spells into SLAs/Su abilities. The reason I say this is because the parameters of the shadowcaster don't allow you to convert just any spell to SLA/Su. Instead, a specific subset of shadowcaster mysteries (apprentice or initiate, depending on your shadowcaster level) are converted.

    3. Of course, that leaves the basic parameters of the shadowcaster's mysteries as spells - which is that they don't require material components, foci or verbal components. That's quite nice with the right build, although it doesn't say anything about XP components being ignored, so some of the worst abuses are at least mitigated.

    Those are my thoughts, but I could easily see someone ruling that the passage about not casting spells as other classes do meaning that you are not a spellcasting class and therefore don't qualify for the geomancer's spell versatility at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by 123456789blaaa View Post
    Also, why not consolidate this guide and the one (currently) on Rule of Cool?
    That's a thought. I have a BG/MinMax account, but I haven't set one up yet on Rule of Cool, or even checked out the boards since MinMax's host imploded. If gorfnab was into the idea of working together, I'd be down. I've been wanting to submit my take on a shadowcaster for a while now, especially after playing one a while back and taking a lot of notes on what did and didn't work.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    Handbooking is hard work, so I always have a lot of respect for those who take up the task. Kudos, my friend.

    One thing I would love to see is a breakdown of where the sample builds really come into their own. You know, the level breakpoints where the really cool stuff starts happening. Do you think you might be able to add something like that?
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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Piggy Knowles View Post
    Thanks! Glad you like it.

    Sadly, Ari's suggested fixes are not official errata. They're just his thoughts, after going back to the class later... *snip*

    Regarding your suggestions...

    Divine Oracle is definitely worth including. You won't get much benefit from the free Oracle domain, but the rest of the benefits are certainly handy. Knowledge (religion) is pretty easy to pick up, either from Knowledge Devotion or a dip into Ruathar. I'll add it to the list of PrCs.

    Divine Metamagic explicitly only works with divine spells, unfortunately, so it's not going to work with mysteries. Metamagic Song is even more specific, only working for spontaneously cast arcane spells.

    Three levels of duskblade is interesting, but in the end I'm not sure if it's worth it. It'd be nice for the early levels, but while I don't think missing a level or two of advancement will hurt much, three levels is tough. That cuts you down to a single 9th-level mystery.

    Combining it with noctumancer is interesting, but that's also a pretty big investment. Versatile Spellcaster alone won't qualify you for having 2nd-level arcane spells; you'll need some way of actually getting second level slots, such as Heighten Spell or Mother Cyst, to get that to work. So that's three levels plus at least two feats. It's doable but I'm not sure it's worth it. I'd have to see a specific build to change my mind on it.

    *snip*
    RE Divine Oracle: Thought that was a good choice, glad I could help there

    As for the meta-magic cheese, you're quite right in that they don't quite work that way, I hadn't quite read them fully. I also went back to the section in the ToM on mysteries, that same section which states that mysteries and spells take a -4 when used to dispel each other? Turns out mysteries "cannot benefit from metamagic feats, ability focus, or empower SLA" - double rule against that trick.

    (Incidentally, I find this bizarre since the ToM explicitly allows you to pick up metamagic and metashadow feats as bonus shadowcaster feats... I guess that was a mistype and they meant item creation? That would make more sense, as a shadowcaster can create scrolls, potions, wands and staffs of mysteries, plus metashadow rods.)

    Finally, I've run some numbers and have to agree that duskblade probably isn't that synergistic. Versatile spellcaster is one of those dodgy wordings, in that by selecting that feat you give the duskblade the ability to cast 2nd level spells by spending two 1st level slots. Duskblade has no spells known table, just that each time you level up you can select a new spell known "of any level you can cast", which by pure technicality would be up to 2nd level thanks to that feat. Like I said, cheese of the most strongly flavoured kind
    My Fighter: "A single, solitary attack of opportunity... If it were my turn I'd bull rush him into the wall and see how his mirror images stop him getting crushed, but without Great Cleave I don't think I can interrupt him..."
    The Bard: "What feats do you have, again? Improved Sunder and... wait, that's it -"
    My Fighter: "- Yes! I sunder the floor at his feet! You shall not pass!!"
    The DM: "... you're using an Adamantine Sword, aren't you?"

  24. - Top - End - #24
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    Devil

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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    For a race, there's Underfolk. 60ft Darkvision, Human skill points, +2 Bonus on Listen, Free Profiency with a Pick, +4 Bonus to hide, increasing to +10 in rocky terrain, and favoured class any.

    You are dazzled in bright sunlight, so Sun Dark Goggles are essential. Sure, you don't get the feat. But ((2+Int)x4)+4 Skill Points with +10 to Hide in Dungeons and +2 to listen.

    It does enable you to join the Nightshade Covenant though; it gives you discounted Magic Items that don't deal with Light, plus a mediocre bonus to Gather Info and Planes Knowledge when it regards to the Plane of Shadow.

    It also allows you to use Human Feats and Prestige Classes; Human Paragon, Able Learner, and Chameleon spring to mind.

    In regards to the Geomancer argument, page 117 specifically states;

    Shadowcasters are a breed apart and do not always qualify for prestige classes that are available to more common magic users.
    Levels in shadowcaster qualify a character for prestige classes with the following entry requirements.
    ē A caster level requirement, if no type (arcane or divine) is specified.
    ē Ability to cast spells of X level, if no type (arcane or divine) is specified.
    ē Ability to cast mysteries of X level, or a specific mystery.

    Levels in shadowcaster do not qualify a character for prestige classes with the following entry requirements:
    ē A caster level requirement where the type (arcane or divine) is specifi ed. Exception: Shadowcasters can qualify for the mystic theurge prestige class (DMG 192). In order to do so, they are allowed to substitute the ability to cast 2nd-level mysteries for the ability to cast 2nd-level spells. They must meet all other requirements for the prestige class normally. In addition, if a shadowcaster takes cleric levels to meet the divine spellcasting requirement, he must be devoted to a god that grants access to one of the following domains: Knowledge, Magic, Darkness*, or Illusion*.
    *Domain described in Spell Compendium.
    ē Ability to cast spells of X level where the type (arcane or divine) is specified.
    ē Ability to cast a specific spell, even if a mystery exists with a similar effect.
    The only listed exception is Mystic Theurge. I could see a DM being a bit more lenient and saying that a Geomancer can qualify as well for it, but that is DM Fiat, rather than Rules as written.

    Hellbred also work for a class with a scouting flavour - humanoids with see in darkness (not darkvision, SEE in darkness), and 100ft Telepathy, or take Constitution Benefits in place of an Intelligence hit, and instead gain 2 Bonus Devil-Touched Feats and Darkvision +60ft and also Blindsight 30ft for 5 round /DT feat (so, 15 rounds a day by 14), without taking any others. There are others, including handy 10ft Fear Aura.
    Last edited by Vaz; 2013-01-24 at 11:07 AM.

  25. - Top - End - #25
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    Vaz, my thoughts regarding Geomancer and Shadowcaster are predicated on finding a legal way to qualify for Geomancer in the first place. I agree that a Shadowcaster couldn't qualify for Geomancer, but if the build qualified in some other way (such as Sha'ir levels, as in WinWin's build), I think that the Spell Versatility class feature should work with mysteries.

  26. - Top - End - #26
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    Devil

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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    Woops. Completely the wrong end of the stick. I'll have a read through and see if I can make sense of the dribble in ToM.
    Last edited by Vaz; 2013-01-24 at 11:32 AM.

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    Wouldn't the abilities of the Dread Witch not function for the spell-like and supernatural mysteries of the "The Thing That Goes Bump in the Night" build?

    Also, where does it say you can use spell-like abilities to qualify for Prc's that require you to be able to case a specific spell? I do recall something like that but I'd like to check.

  28. - Top - End - #28
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    Answerer's Avatar

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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by 123456789blaaa View Post
    Also, where does it say you can use spell-like abilities to qualify for Prc's that require you to be able to case a specific spell? I do recall something like that but I'd like to check.
    Complete Arcane, page 71.

  29. - Top - End - #29
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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    The worst thing about familiars for Shadow Familiar is that SLA and SU abilities are not eligible for Share Spells or Deliver Touch Spells.
    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    Imagine if the combat system was as well thought out and explained as the skill system. You could cut it down to a page and a half, monsters would be about three sentences long. Best of all you don't have to remember any tables for conditions or detail the special abilities because you've got rulings instead of rules.
    Quote Originally Posted by Artanis View Post
    I'm going to be honest, "the Welsh became a Great Power and conquered Germany" is almost exactly the opposite of the explanation I was expecting

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: [3.5] Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: The Shadowcaster Handbook

    Hey chaps. I'm putting together an Ebon Whispers/Eyes of Darkness level 4 shadowcaster for a game (dark hellbred [spirit], focus on stealth) and I'm wondering... what can I actually DO in combat? Only one of my mysteries is an attack spell, and I can only use it once per day. What do I do the rest of the time? I'm scratching my head a bit, here.

    EDIT: ECL 5 with the +1 LA for the Dark template added in, of course
    Last edited by Mr Adventurer; 2013-01-25 at 03:48 AM.

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