"Of course you're not alone in the dark - I'm here to watch your back."
Umbral Celebrants are mages and priests that call upon the power of darkness in order to aid and succor others. Devoted to darkness as a mothering, protective concept, Umbral Celebrants defend the weak and the innocent and can often be found using their talents for illusion and surprise to aid adventuring parties seeking to stem damage from the ravages of evil. Though their miens can be somewhat disturbing to those unused to them, Umbral Celebrants usually manage to make friends no matter where they go - even if all they have is a dusky smile.
Becoming an Umbral Celebrant
Umbral Celebrants were all, at some point, spellcasters - the path is simply not open to those that cannot cast their own spells and gaze upon aspects of reality undreamt of by the untutored. That being said, most Celebrants had an affinity for darkness for most of their lives; a preference for night-time, an underground lifestyle, a thirst for knowledge, a pained soul - the exact affinity doesn't matter as much as the connection to shade and night. The difference between these characters and the ones that go down more vile paths is simple, but profound: a conscience. Many might be scared by their affinity for shadows; others romanticize it, seeing a kindly face or a motherly gaze behind the folds of night. In probing the secrets of darkness, they do so with care, seeking to aid others - and, eventually, they stumble upon the power inherent in the Umbral mantle.
Most Celebrants are or were Sorcerers or Favored Souls, though a scattering of other classes do manage to walk the path of Umbral Celebration. As such, most Umbral Celebrants are forceful personalities that back up their convictions with the power of darkness and potent spellcasting. Those few Umbral Celebrants that enter from classes such as Wizard or Cleric tend to be more thoughtful and inclined towards philosophy, and tend to be the Celebrants that publish books on their art.
In order to qualify as an Umbral Celebrant, a character must meet the following requirements:
Knowledge (Arcana) 8 ranks, Hide 4 ranks
Skill Focus (Hide)
Must be able to cast at least one spell with the darkness descriptor
The character must put out her own eyes in a magical ritual that permanently alters her sight.
Sidebar: Ex-Umbral Celebrants
The Umbral Celebrant's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are: Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Disguise (Cha), Hide (Dex), Knowledge (Any, taken individually) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Wis), Search (Int), Speak Language (N/A), Spellcraft (Int), Spot (Wis)
Skills Points at Each Level:
2 + Intelligence modifier
|Level||Base Attack Bonus||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Special||Spells per Day|
|Child of Darkness, Cloak of Night||-|
|Darkness Domain||+1 existing spellcasting class level|
|Midnight Succor||+1 existing spellcasting class level|
|Midnight Glory, Umbral Fortitude||+1 existing spellcasting class level|
|Tenebrous Shield||+1 existing spellcasting class level|
|Ebon Crusader||+1 existing spellcasting class level|
|Umbral Stride||+1 existing spellcasting class level|
|Hide in Plain Sight||+1 existing spellcasting class level|
|Shadowed Chosen||+1 existing spellcasting class level|
: An Umbral Celebrant doesn't gain any new weapon or armor proficiencies.
Spells per Day/Spells Known:
At every level except first and tenth, the Umbral Celebrant gains new spells per day (and spells known, if applicable) as if he had also gained a level in whatever spellcasting class he belonged to before he added the prestige class. He does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained (such as bonus feats or increased familiar capability). If a character had more than one spellcasting class before he became an Umbral Celebrant, he must decide to which class he adds each level of Umbral Celebrant for the purpose of determining spells per day/spells known.
Child of Darkness (Su):
The magical ritual that the Umbral Celebrant enacts to enter this class alters herself and her magic permanently. The Umbral Celebrant may still see despite having no eyes; however, she treats all darkness (including magical darkness) as bright illumination and bright illumination as darkness (with magical illumination forcing the same penalties upon her that magical darkness would force upon other characters). She may still benefit from her darkvision and/or low-light vision, if any, in order to see into areas of bright illumination. Because the Umbral Celebrant lacks eyes, she is immune to spells and abilities that would explicitly target her physical eyes, such as a Gadacro's eyethief
ability. No spell or ability short of divine intervention may regenerate the Umbral Celebrant's eyes; however, even if she regains her eyes, her vision remains altered.
Furthermore, the Umbral Celebrant loses all ability to cast spells that either rely on light or have the light descriptor (examples include daylight
and hypnotic pattern
). However, she casts illusions and spells with the darkness descriptor with a +2 bonus to her caster level. Lastly, while within areas of darkness or shadowy illumination, the Umbral Celebrant gains a +4 deflection bonus to her armor class as the darkness enshrouds and protects her.
Cloak of Night (Su):
The most basic power of darkness is to shroud oneself and one's allies in a cloak of night; as a swift action, the Umbral Celebrant may cause the light within a thirty-foot radius sphere around her to dim into shadowy illumination (this sphere is centered on the Umbral Celebrant and moves with her). The Umbral Celebrant and her allies (as well as any being she designates) may see just fine within the Cloak of Night and suffer no penalties whatsoever from it. An Umbral Celebrant may use her Cloak of Night for a total number of rounds per day equal to her caster level plus her charisma modifier (the bonus from her Umbral Spells class feature applies). These rounds need not be taken consecutively, and may be broken down into increments as small as one round if the Umbral Celebrant so desires.
Natural and magical sources of light cannot dispel the Umbral Celebrant's Cloak of Night.
Darkness Domain (Su):
At second level, the Umbral Celebrant's studies grant her access to the Darkness clerical domain; she gains its granted power and adds its spells to her list of spells known. Umbral Celebrants that cast spells as a cleric does gain the option of preparing Darkness spells in their domain slot when preparing spells; Umbral Celebrants that do not otherwise use domains gain no further benefit.
Midnight Succor (Su):
Starting at third level, the Umbral Celebrant exerts an odd pull on the darkness and shadows near her, calling to the soothing nature of night and shade. She and her allies may gain "drink" from any area of darkness or shadowy illumination that the Umbral Celebrant stands in, just as if it were water (though they are never in danger of drowning). Furthermore, any of them may spend a full-round action to drink deep of the shadows, benefiting from the effects of a lesser restoration
spell as cast by a cleric of the Umbral Celebrant's caster level.
Midnight Glory (Su):
An Umbral Celebrant of fourth level or higher is marked by the touch of darkness, striding through the world as one of its favored children. The Umbral Celebrant carries a halo of soothing darkness with her - this may manifest as a literal halo of shadows around her head, a tenebrous nimbus, or anything the Celebrant might imagine (once designed, this halo does not change). The Celebrant may choose to activate or deactivate this halo as a free action, and while it is active she gains the following benefits:
- Good and/or neutral aligned beings that can see the halo are aware of the Umbral Celebrant's good alignment, and the Celebrant gains a +2 sacred bonus to her Diplomacy checks against such beings. However, an active halo provides the Celebrant with a +2 sacred bonus on Bluff checks against evil-aligned beings as its shadows cloud their perceptions.
- The halo, while active, provides a +2 sacred bonus to Hide and Move Silently checks made by the Umbral Celebrant.
Umbral Fortitude (Su):
As the Umbral Celebrant increases in power, she takes more of the darkness into herself; a Celebrant of fourth level and higher is immune to fatigue and exhaustion, as well as granting her a +2 sacred bonus to constitution.
Tenebrous Shield (Su):
Starting at fifth level, the shadows that the Umbral Celebrant calls home move to actively shield her and her allies, protecting them from the harshness of the elements and deflecting blows away from them. The Umbral Celebrant and any allied being within the area of her Cloak of Night ability (or within the area of any spell with the darkness descriptor that the Umbral Celebrant has cast) gains resistance 15 to cold and fire damage; furthermore, the Umbral Celebrant's allies (but not the Celebrant herself) gain a +4 sacred bonus to their armor class.
Ebon Crusader (Su):
Starting at sixth level, evil-aligned beings suffer a -4 penalty to all saving throws made against the Umbral Celebrant's illusion and/or darkness descriptor spells. Additionally, any damage the Umbral Celebrant deals to an evil-aligned being with an illusion spell increases by one die step.
Umbral Stride (Su):
An Umbral Celebrant of seventh level or higher truly calls the darkness her home and can move through it unchallenged and unopposed; the Umbral Celebrant and any of her allies within the area of her Cloak of Night (or within the area of any spell with the darkness descriptor that the Umbral Celebrant has cast) ignore difficult terrain, including terrain that would cause them damage.
Hide in Plain Sight (Ex):
An Umbral Celebrant of eighth level or higher may hide even while being observed (and without anything to actually hide behind) as long as she is within an area of shadowy illumination or darkness (including her Cloak of Night, but not her own shadow).
Shadowed Chosen (Su):
An Umbral Celebrant of ninth level or higher becomes nearly one with the shadows she loves, able to extend their protective reach to her allies and innocents; she gains immunity to negative energy, energy drain and death effects. As a swift action, she may extend this immunity to a number of additional beings equal to her charisma modifier so long as they are all within one hundred feet of the Celebrant for a number of rounds equal to her charisma modifier (note that there is no limit to the number of beings she may grant immunity in this fashion).
Upon gaining this ability, the Umbral Celebrant exudes her Cloak of Night on a constant basis, though she may deactivate or reactivate it as a free action, should she so choose.
Midnight's Caress (Su):
An Umbral Celebrant of tenth level has learned to convey her will and her spells through the power of darkness alone. When the Umbral Celebrant casts a spell that requires a touch attack, she may use her Cloak of Night to touch any target within it, even outside of her normal reach. Moreover, when casting a spell through her Cloak of Night, she may also simultaneously touch a number of targets equal to their dexterity modifier at once, affecting all of them with the same spell. If the spell allows any decisions to be made when cast, the decisions must be the same for each target.
Playing an Umbral Celebrant
Umbral Celebrants rarely fight fair; their greatest talents revolve around deceit, illusion, misdirection and stealth, and rare indeed is the Umbral Celebrant that chooses to confront her enemies head on. Most Celebrants try to pick their battles beforehand, observing their enemies by stealth or with divinations, then setting up elaborate traps using illusions. Many fight with spells such as shadow conjuration
and shadow evocation
, and most don't hesitate to use Cloak of Night and darkness
spells to shift the battlefield in their favor. As the Celebrant grows more powerful, she continues to warp the battlefield, combining spells that create difficult or dangerous terrain with her Umbral Stride ability to hinder her foes or prevent pursuit. Many Umbral Celebrants are defensive combatants, and they certainly take to the role well.
Umbral Celebrants almost always advance as spellcasters; those few that do not typically advance as rogues.
Because Umbral Celebrants tend to be solitary, they have no especial reserves of resources upon which to draw.
Umbral Celebrants in the World
"She takes some getting used to, but I think you'll like her once you get to know her."
Lady Brianna Lumiere, Paladin of Heironious, upon introducing an Umbral Celebrant to her church.
Umbral Celebrants typically make bad first impressions. They can't really help it; seemingly blind mages aren't precisely the friendliest image to project, and most folks associate darkness with evil so thoroughly that many Celebrants take to walking about with their Midnight Glory active simply to convince people that their intentions are pure. That being said, most Umbral Celebrants are genuinely kind and caring, and can get over those initial impressions simply by doing what comes naturally to them - healing, comforting, and shielding the weak.
Umbral Celebrants can be, at times, very individualistic, if only because there are so many ways to interpret "darkness". For every one that stalks the city streets at night using her powers of illusions to defend the weak, there's one delving after ancient lore in tombs, destroying forbidden artifacts in the hearts of evil temples, or meditating on the concept of darkness in a private chamber. Most attempt to increase their spellcasting prowess, of course, but an Umbral Celebrant's daily life is often active and usually quite devoid of routine (though, again, there are exceptions).
Myarra Ashenharp is an elven sorceress that's been around the block a few times. In fact, she devoted much of her early career to aiding others, and inevitably managed to find some of the most depressed, poverty-stricken and war-torn regions of the world. She turned to her faith, and then when that crumbled, to drink. She might have gone down into total self-destruction if she hadn't been found by a Celebrant that had come to aid her efforts. She took to the Umbral mantle quickly and eventually beat her addiction to alcohol, and has been helping others since. These days you can mostly find her in the big city, trying to use her powers to bust up crime rings, but her fame has been working against her; powerful wizards and sorcerers have learned to recognize her by her refusal to drink spirits.
Umbral Celebrants tend to take a very personal approach to magic and often choose to be independent of organizations. If they do join them, temples and wizard's guilds are equally common, as are archeological societies and vigilante groups. Umbral Celebrants still tend to standoffish, even when participating in a social setting, and mostly keep to themselves.
As has been stated previously, most Umbral Celebrants fail at the art of making good first impressions, and most attempt to garner some amount of fame in order to avoid getting lynched as shadow mages (which, technically, they are, but trying to explain that kind of thing just confuses your average NPC, and is best avoided altogether). Once they do gain a reputation, most Umbral Celebrants can expect to be greeted with a friendly handshake and maybe an offer to buy her a drink (depending, of course, on the success rate of her heroism).
Umbral Celebrants in the Game
Outside of combat, Umbral Celebrants play mostly like illusionists, though they do make out-of-combat healing go much faster. They should not affect gameplay in ways that a single-classed wizard or sorcerer won't.
Umbral Celebrants worship an abstracted concept of darkness, but that doesn't need to be true in your setting. A slight tweak could make them a more traditional evil-aligned prestige class, or you could instead tie them in as a heretical cult of good-aligned worshipers of a god of darkness - maybe even as a reform movement in the church.
Sidebar: Umbral Celebrants in the Kamala
Umbral Celebrants can make great allies or informants for good-aligned player characters, and tricky, slippery foes for evil ones. Encounters with them might be tense and mistrustful, since the Umbral Celebrant uses tactics like deception and illusion that often are seen as hallmarks of evil, but the Celebrant should be able to win a player's trust in the end. Ultimately, most encounters by good or neutral player characters with Umbral Celebrants should be non-hostile.