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Different Paths: Shadow Dancer Rogue

doctorbadwolf

Adventurer
I’m still gonna come back to this and pass a round two by y’all, but I’ve been busy with work and with building a 1-hour dnd demo experience for a local public library mini-con. (Fun adventure, Wild good chase, silver dragon librarian, evil colonel trying to get a powerful artifact, race to get it first.)

After Saturday I should be able to come back to this and do a solid review of what we have so far.
 

doctorbadwolf

Adventurer
Okay, so, I think a good place to balance everything is:

lvl 3: +5 speed and str score for jumping in dim light or darkness, proficiency performance, 2/SR Shadow Dance
Shadow Dance: Advantage on Acrobatics and Athletics, and while in Dim Light or Darkness you can Dodge as a bonus action, hide while only lightly obscured, and use SA on a target if both you and the target are in dim light or darkness when you make the attack, even if you don't have advantage or an ally within 5 ft of the target.

lvl 9: You can teleport your speed as a bonus action while in Shadow Dance. Your speed increase while in dim light or darkness increases to 10ft. Alternatively: Your Speed increase while in dim light or darkness increases to 10ft, and you can use a bonus action to leap from or to a place of shadow with incredible ease, gaining a 10 foot bonus to high or long jump distance.
*the alternate ability could even be a little stronger, perhaps, but the idea is to give an ability that is different from the monk's teleporting. Instead of teleportation, you gain an incredible speed and leaping ability while in dim light or darkness, or while your landing area is in dim light or darkness. A third option might be a reaction teleport, but that again would compete with Uncanny Dodge.

lvl 13: You can summon weapons and tools of shadow. You can manifest any weapon or tool with which you are proficient out of pure shadowstuff as a bonus action. You can have as many shadow objects summoned as your Dex mod (maybe int mod, but only if we make int matter earlier in the subclass as well) at a time. Weapons summoned this way gain the light, finesse, and thrown properties, unless they are ranged missile weapons like bows or crossbows, and are magical. Shadow Objects disappear if they are not on your person for longer than 1 minute. Otherwise, they have all the same properties and characteristics of a normal object of that type.
*like most rogue subclasses, either 9 or 13 isn't a super powerful level. Instead, it's got a fun benefit that gives the rogue some unique tools.

lvl 17: I still like the shadow double, and I think that a full double that can attack once, gets no reactions, but does deal your SA, and has half your HP, would be really fun. Maybe it can use a reaction to take damage instead of you? Probably stronger than the Thief's 1 extra turn in the first round of combat, though. So, ditch it getting your SA damage.
If that is still too strong, I like going insubstantial while in Shadow Dance, getting extra damage with shadow weapons, or even greater movement benefits. Ignore all difficult terrain and Hide even while in plain view while in Shadow Dance?

Or get weird. While in Shadow Dance, whenever you reduce damage by half from either your Uncanny Dodge or Evasion feature, you gain extra damage with your Sneak Attack feature until the end of your next turn. When you deal damage with Sneak Attack, you roll d8s instead of d6s, and add your proficiency mod to damage.

What do we think about those options? It misses the idea of making an enemy attack target someone else, but since 17 is hard to pin down, we could put that in there? Perhaps when an attack misses, you simply make them reroll the attack against another target with reach?

I think I like the Sneak Attack boost at level 17, though, if we can't pin down a shadow double. It encourages you to put yourself in harm's way, but lets you punish enemies for attacking you. With a feat to get booming blade, you can also punish them for even moving, creating all manner of opportunity for lose/lose traps for your enemies.
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
Hmm. One way to use the shadow double idea would be to have it use the rogue's reaction slot to do stuff. Make a list of things it can do: maybe an attack option, a defense option, and something else? If we call it Shadow Doubles and call it a facet of the dance, we can stack on a couple of other buffs to the dance if we feel like it.

I don't know about adding thrown to shadow items. Once the rogue starts hucking two handed swords with sharpshooter its all over but the crying. I think it would be enough to have them be light, or finesse and light. Even that opens up the whole great weapon feat tree to rogues at no cost, which is a pretty huge deal. It would still be a cool ability even if the weapons kept their normal tags. If you drop the added weapon tags it could even be a free action, which might be super cool for dagger throwing builds.

I do like the idea of connecting reduced incoming damage to increased outgoing damage. It's neat. I don't really grok it's connection to the shadow concept, but it's worth batting around.
 

doctorbadwolf

Adventurer
Technically, thrown weapons aren’t ranger weapons, and thus cannot benefit from Sharpshooter, but I imagine most DMs either ignore or don’t know that. So, fair enough on that.

On shadow double: I’d rather not make it compete with the rogue’s reaction, since Uncanny Dodge is a central feature, and OAs are a good source of extra damage. But commanding it as a bonus action might be fun.

Wild thought: what if the crux of the subclass were actually the shadow double, rather than a shadow form? Or maybe both, with the double only lasting while the form is active?

Then at a higher level, it can get things like the ability to swap places with you as a bonus action, within 60 ft, stuff like that.

The double could be loosely based on the mechanics of the Artificer pets, requiring bonus action to attack, being re-summonable, etc.
 

Pauln6

Explorer
So the logic behind the shadow double is having a shadow like Peter Pan's that can act independently like a familiar. Would something using a hybrid of the familiar, spiritual weapon, and Arcane trickster mage hand work?
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
Thrown weapons are indeed ranged weapons. Says so on the tin.

PHB p 147 Range. A weapons that can be used to make a ranged attack has a range shown in parenthesis after the ammunition or thrown property.

The sharpshooter feat references ranged, not ammunition, and applies equally to thrown. RAW anyway. It doesn't apply just to bows.

Back to the actual topic at hand though. The rogue does have a lot of competition for the BA slot, and UD had with slipped my mind as competing for the R slot. My preference in games design is to not build in too many features that compete with other features. Maybe we could look at how to get this does and have it be cool without leaning to much on slots in the actions economy. Making the SD work off BA means direct competition with Cunning Action, which I don't love.

I guess that means looking more at passive effects, although there's no reason that there couldn't be some action based stuff. A limited teleport as a part of movement would work (swapping spots with shadow doubles), as would some sort of Mirror Image type defensive ability. Maybe with concentration the(a?) double could function like mage hand or whatever. I like the focus being the shadow dance, but it certainly could be the shadow double instead.
 

doctorbadwolf

Adventurer
So the logic behind the shadow double is having a shadow like Peter Pan's that can act independently like a familiar. Would something using a hybrid of the familiar, spiritual weapon, and Arcane trickster mage hand work?
It could, for sure!

Thrown weapons are indeed ranged weapons. Says so on the tin.

PHB p 147 Range. A weapons that can be used to make a ranged attack has a range shown in parenthesis after the ammunition or thrown property.

The sharpshooter feat references ranged, not ammunition, and applies equally to thrown. RAW anyway. It doesn't apply just to bows.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case (at least in reference to the -5/+10 mechanic) As JC said in Sage Advice, SS references Ranged weapons, not ranged attacks. A melee weapon like a dagger or hand axe is still a melee weapon when you make a ranged attack with it.

Back to the actual topic at hand though. The rogue does have a lot of competition for the BA slot, and UD had with slipped my mind as competing for the R slot. My preference in games design is to not build in too many features that compete with other features. Maybe we could look at how to get this does and have it be cool without leaning to much on slots in the actions economy. Making the SD work off BA means direct competition with Cunning Action, which I don't love.

I guess that means looking more at passive effects, although there's no reason that there couldn't be some action based stuff. A limited teleport as a part of movement would work (swapping spots with shadow doubles), as would some sort of Mirror Image type defensive ability. Maybe with concentration the(a?) double could function like mage hand or whatever. I like the focus being the shadow dance, but it certainly could be the shadow double instead.
It’s possible that a second subclass, maybe called a Shadow Hand, could do the shadow double stuff.
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
That definition of ranged weapon is nonsense. It completely contravenes the RAW and for no reason I can think of. Sage advice isn't, often. Nothing personal of course, but it's nonsense. There aren't enough perfectly clear and cogent rules in the PHB for them to be willing to make nonsense rulings about the ones that are. Anyway...
 

doctorbadwolf

Adventurer
That definition of ranged weapon is nonsense. It completely contravenes the RAW and for no reason I can think of. Sage advice isn't, often. Nothing personal of course, but it's nonsense. There aren't enough perfectly clear and cogent rules in the PHB for them to be willing to make nonsense rulings about the ones that are. Anyway...
While I think it’s a bad rule in terms of gameplay and balance, it is perfectly consistent. RAW, a dagger isn’t a ranged weapon. It lacks the Ranged property. The -5/+10 part of the feat references a weapon type, not an attack type.

It’s a bad decision, but it is what the RAW says. The rest of the feat does work for thrown weapons, since it references ranged weapon attacks. It also works for improvised weapons that you throw, since they are also ranged weapon attacks.

It’s a weird rule.
 

doctorbadwolf

Adventurer
Okay waiting for surgery and wanted to say, I think splitting Shadow Hand and Shadow Dancer makes sense.

So, what do you think of turning into a shadow while shadow dancing at high level? Resist most damage, fire deals normal, radiant is vulnerable, advantage on stealth?
 

doctorbadwolf

Adventurer
Okay waiting for surgery and wanted to say, I think splitting Shadow Hand and Shadow Dancer makes sense.

So, what do you think of turning into a shadow while shadow dancing at high level? Resist most damage, fire deals normal, radiant is vulnerable, advantage on stealth?
This idea works with, rather than competing against, all the rogue’s cool toys, and immediately feels like you’ve mastered Shadow Dancing, right?
 

Pauln6

Explorer
The original Shadowdancer could summon a Shadow (creature). This would help getting sneak attacks.
This goes back to what I was saying. You are converting your own shadow into a semi independent familiar. You could give it a range, a free attack like spiritual weapon but bonus action to move it. It can perform skills like an arcane tricksters mage hand and counts as an ally for sneak attacks. You could even allow it to sneak attack since it will attack on your turn so no stacking issues.
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
I like the idea of turning into a shadow as the capstone for the shadow dance. Stack on some resistances and extra rules as discussed above and it seems very cool. Are we still talking about framing the dance like the Bladesong. so it lasts for a minute and can be used X number of times per day? I like that idea a lot.

On the ranged weapon thing, I still disagree completely. The PHB defines ranged as applying to a weapon has has a range listed in parentheses and either the thrown or ammunition property. Ranged doesn't define the weapon, just the capability of making a type of attack: the definition of ranged weapon is "used to attack a target at a distance". There is no section of the rules that treats weapons with the ammunition property as different from one with the thrown property as regards attacking at range, and indeed both types can also be used to attack in melee. The only place in the book that even partially supports your reading of the RAW is the organization of the weapon list. The list doesn't supersede or replace the definitions or descriptors though. The list does not define the weapon, the properties define the weapon, and the properties of thrown weapons define them as ranged weapons in exactly the same way they define weapons with the ammunition property. There's nothing wrong with my reading of the RAW.

Try to define ranged weapon using the rules, but without reference to the weapon list and you'll see what I mean.
 

doctorbadwolf

Adventurer
I like the idea of turning into a shadow as the capstone for the shadow dance. Stack on some resistances and extra rules as discussed above and it seems very cool. Are we still talking about framing the dance like the Bladesong. so it lasts for a minute and can be used X number of times per day? I like that idea a lot.

On the ranged weapon thing, I still disagree completely. The PHB defines ranged as applying to a weapon has has a range listed in parentheses and either the thrown or ammunition property. Ranged doesn't define the weapon, just the capability of making a type of attack: the definition of ranged weapon is "used to attack a target at a distance". There is no section of the rules that treats weapons with the ammunition property as different from one with the thrown property as regards attacking at range, and indeed both types can also be used to attack in melee. The only place in the book that even partially supports your reading of the RAW is the organization of the weapon list. The list doesn't supersede or replace the definitions or descriptors though. The list does not define the weapon, the properties define the weapon, and the properties of thrown weapons define them as ranged weapons in exactly the same way they define weapons with the ammunition property. There's nothing wrong with my reading of the RAW.

Try to define ranged weapon using the rules, but without reference to the weapon list and you'll see what I mean.
I do still like the Bladesong as a basis for the Shadow Dance. I think we've got enough to put together a full writeup. I'm still recovering from surgery, but I'll see what I can do today or tomorrow. And then I'll consider a Shadow Hand subclass. I like the idea, but I think it merits level 3 foundation of a subclass status, and I don't think there is room for it and shadow dance in the same subclass at level 3, unless we nerf shadow dance.

About weapons.
The weapons don't exist without the weapons list. The weapons list tells you what each weapon is. You can't define any weapon without putting in the list. The ammunition property doesn't come into this anywhere, for any reason. The feat directly and explicitly references "ranged weapons" for the -5/+10 benefit. A weapon is only a ranged weapon if it is a weapon listed as a Ranged Weapon.

The Weapons table shows which weapons are melee weapons, and which are ranged weapons. That is what the rule is. Ranged weapons have XYZ rules, and here's a table showing which weapons are ranged weapons. The table is part of the rules. It's not just a visualization. The descriptive text above it even says, "The Weapons table shows the most common weapons used in the worlds of D&D, their price and weight, the damage deal when they hit, and any special properties they possess. Every weapon is classified as either melee or ranged." That means two things. First, that each weapon has a classification of either melee or ranged. An object doesn't go from melee weapon to ranged weapon depending on how it's used. Second, it sets up the table as showing what those classifications are.

This means that a dagger is a melee weapon, while a dart is a ranged weapon. You can throw darts at -5/+10 all day, because they are ranged weapons.
 

doctorbadwolf

Adventurer
The original Shadowdancer could summon a Shadow (creature). This would help getting sneak attacks.
I definately think that's worth doing, and I also think it's worthy of being the main focus of a rogue subclass.
This goes back to what I was saying. You are converting your own shadow into a semi independent familiar. You could give it a range, a free attack like spiritual weapon but bonus action to move it. It can perform skills like an arcane tricksters mage hand and counts as an ally for sneak attacks. You could even allow it to sneak attack since it will attack on your turn so no stacking issues.
I like that. let it also use your Reaction for Opportunity Attacks, increasing the chances of a reaction SA attack.

Such a thing could work with Shadow Dance as we have it now, but it would definately require losing something that is in there now. I really like the idea of just being free to fully have fun with the shadow double as a primary feature, instead.

Question for the thread: Should the guy who cloaks himself in shadow be the Shadow Dancer, or the person who animates their own [or an enemy's] shadow? The other subclass would be called a Shadow Hand.
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
You and I are going to disagree about the RAW all day I suspect. Here's my last word on it and we can back to talking about shadow dancing. The list headings do not define the weapons, the descriptors for each weapon do. The list is designed to save page space and so lists each weapon once, call it most common use if you will. If you read the actual rules for the weapons, which are determined by the descriptors, you'll find that your definition of ranged weapon is incorrect. The rules are actually quite clear, and daggers are ranged weapons.

Anyway, this isn't a thread about ranged weapon definitions, so I'm going to let this go and we can keep spitballing about cool stuff now. Partial apologies for the derailment.

On who should be the shadow dancer, my vote goes for the original ideas from this thread. My picture of ehat we were going for is pretty influenced by Erickson's Malazan books, and I'm quite fond of the dance mechanics we've ginned up so far. The shadow double is cool too, but he can be a different sublcass. IMO anyway.
 

doctorbadwolf

Adventurer
Yeah, I think that the double is best as a separate subclass where it can be the main focus, and that can be the Shadow Hand.

I’ll try to find time this week to write up the Shadow Dancer we have. Since it’s all about cloaking itself in shadow, the capstone I think will be becoming insubstantial, and increasing the bonus speed.
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
Part of that could be the ability to move through an opponent's square. It fits with the theme and is an established 5e ability for other classes. Did we ever decide out the massive mess of ideas we had what was actually going to into the capstone list of stuff? I know we had a ton of ideas...
 

doctorbadwolf

Adventurer
Part of that could be the ability to move through an opponent's square. It fits with the theme and is an established 5e ability for other classes. Did we ever decide out the massive mess of ideas we had what was actually going to into the capstone list of stuff? I know we had a ton of ideas...
I think to keep it simple, in a subclass that is already full of things, we should keep the capstone as passive upgrades to the Shadow Dance.

When you reach level 17, you become a master of the Shadow Dance. You can use Shadow Dance an additional time, and your speed bonus while in dim light or darkness increases to 15ft. When you enter the Shadow Dance, you become a shadow creature. You gain Resistence to all damage except Radiant and Fire, and you gain Vulnerability to Radiant Damage. You can move through the space of any creature, and you when you Dash, your jump distance and height are doubled.

I had an idea for effective invisibility while in dim light or darkness, but I don't want to steal from the Gloomstalker, and I couldn't think of any other way to make it simple and not ridiculous.
 

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