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Shadowcaster fixes by Mouseferatu

chaotix42

Villager
I remember Ari posted some fixes for the shadowcaster here, like bonus mysteries based on Int. I can't remember all of them however... did anyone save those somewhere, perhaps? I have a MIGHTY NEED of them!
 

Mouseferatu

Villager
I'll do you one better. I'll post the latest version, which has a few further tweaks from the one I posted a while back. It still needs playtesting, so I can't swear it's all going to work as written, but this where it stands now.

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 category—Apprentice, Initiate, Master—you 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 “swap out” mysteries, just as a sorcerer does spells known. If you “un-complete” 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.
 
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chaotix42

Villager
How fortunate! Many thanks Ari! *bows*

A player of mine is un-retiring a character of his for the game this weekend. I'll let you know how these changes work out. At first glance they look excellent. :D
 

Aus_Snow

Villager
Well, this is timely. :)

I was going to used the previous version of your update, which I'd saved, only today. My first Shadowcaster in any campaign, though an NPC in this case. Probably a Noctumancer, actually.

Any particular advice concerning that PrC? If not, I'm sure it'll be fine.
 

Nifft

Penguin Herder
Charisma, hmmm. Not sure I like that change. Intelligence is IMHO the strongest casting stat, and thus made up (a bit) for the weakness of the Shadowcaster's actual magic.

Charisma is the weakest single stat, and split-stat casting is weakest of all. (Sure, it could be worse -- it could be a split between Charisma and Wisdom -- but still, yurk!)

Hmm, -- N
 

Mouseferatu

Villager
Nifft said:
Charisma, hmmm. Not sure I like that change. Intelligence is IMHO the strongest casting stat, and thus made up (a bit) for the weakness of the Shadowcaster's actual magic.

Charisma is the weakest single stat, and split-stat casting is weakest of all. (Sure, it could be worse -- it could be a split between Charisma and Wisdom -- but still, yurk!)
Well, the shadowcaster's casting has always been both Int- and Cha-based, and the MAD used to be a lot more problematic before this latest round of changes. By basing both bonus mysteries and DC on one stat, it makes it easier for a shadowcaster to be effective at higher levels. I kept the INT requirement for highest level of mysteries known because I wanted to keep INT involved to at least some extent.

I felt that making Int the primary casting stat might actually be too much, but if people want to swap the two--make Int responsible for DC and bonus mysteries, and Cha responsible for max level of mysteries known--I'd certainly be interested in hearing how it went.
 

wykthor

Villager
Mouseferatu, It´s possible that I will playstest the shadowcaster 20 for that one shot adventure this weekend. If that happens, I'll post the impressions here :)
 

Graf

Villager
This post probably identifies me as a twink, but I actually decided not to play a Shadowcaster because the last version still had the bonus spells from Int/DC from Cha split.

You basically had to pick between having a decent DC or having some sort of flexibility in terms of bonus mysteries. I.e. between not getting bonus mysteries (no veristility) or having mysteries where the DC meant that they weren’t likely to work.

I still think the class needs some sort of 3.5 psion like overhaul (more mysteries, etc) but I’m glad to see that the Mouse is still on the case.
 

wykthor

Villager
Here are my impressions about a human shadowcaster 20 on a one-shot session:

Yesterday, I played a short story which was essentially the first attempt of the DM on a high-level adventure, just to know how the game would flow. I’m the first to admit the session was too easy and without constituting real danger, partly because the characters were way optimized, partly due to some inexperience from my friend and partly for the encounters, whose EL could be a little higher. The party was composed by:

- A Human Fighter 20, specialized in jovar (that fancy celestial greatsword from Planar Handbook).
- A Human Favored Soul 20, more into healing and buffing than front combat.
- A Human Shadowcaster 20, whose statistics follow below.
- A Gnome Rogue 7/Wizard 1/Arcane Trickster 2/Master of Masks 10

Basically, the story revolved around the classic BBEG wanting revenge after being defeated in the past (in that case, a banished marilith). But in the end it showed that the demon was not the perpetrator of the actions that drawn the party to the (obvious) ambush. The marilith was an ally of the true mastermind, a gargantuan great wyrm black dragon, who coveted the party’s resources and feared they could potentially ruin his schemes and decided to be proactive to stamp their menace. Unfortunately, the story didn’t cover much on the act of investigation and sneaking :-(. The session went through three encounters:

1) A fight against an eldritch giant (MM III, CR 15), and three halfspawn from MM IV. I don’t have this book, so I am not sure of the CR’s (and so the EL), but one of them was a “bluespawn godslayer” (I think) and the others had minis that looked like a wingless blue half-dragon rhinoceros. On the first round, the giant and one of the rhinoceros fell before they act, thanks to an area effect (no save) of 18 points of Dexterity damage, due to a quickened Flesh Fails Greater + a Twin Flesh Fails Greater (as I mentioned before, I wanted to check the potential abuse of this mystery in conjunction with metashadow feats). The favored soul employed an empowered Blood to Water spell (Spell Compendium) on the “godslayer”, whom failed the save and suffered 12 CON damage. On the second round, this monster suffered 22 STR damage from the Favored Soul, who cast a quickened empowered moonbolt (Spell Compendium) and a maximized moonbolt. The fighter made short work of it, and of the other rhinoceros too. The encounter ended without any real wounds (less than 40 hp to one PC, 20 to another).

Conclusion: The Shadowcaster used some other mysteries, like Flood of Shadow (no time to use) and Piercing Sight prior to the encounter (no need to use) and concentrated her offensive actions through the use of a 7th-level mystery (Flesh Fails, Greater) plus one extra use thanks to her high CHA. I still think the possible effect of 18 STR/18 DEX too high, but the other spellcasters can pull similar tricks with metamagic feats. For now, I still like the idea of allowing a Fortitude Save: partial to Flesh Fails Greater, meaning the target may avoid total ability loss and instead be reduced to STR/DEX/CON 1 on a successful save.

2) The party met two demons: the marilith (who was supposedly the big enemy) and a balor (EL21 approx.). The second encounter was trickier because there was some kind of weird antimagic field ( it’s from a miniatures’ map) that had to be disabled in order to combat the creatures effectively. The Shadowcaster used a Shadow Time mystery, followed by two Army of Shadows mysteries (one for the spell, one for the high CHA), which could do almost nothing while the antimagic field was generated. The Favored Soul and the Master of Masks acted as support meanwhile. After the magic returned, the Shadowcaster burned her highest remaining mysteries: Shadow Surge (Will DC 29) and Ephemeral Storm (Fort DC 31). The marilith was destroyed and the fighter finished the balor. Fortunately, before the combat began, the Fighter and the Shadowcaster had benefited from the Bolster mystery, so the death throes from the demon didn´t hurt too much.

Conclusion: The Shadowcaster used her big guns this time. The high DC is one of her main strengths, as of any full spellcaster who could achieve the same DC with spells (wizards: wail of the banshee, dominate monster; cleric: implosion). The shadow elementals created could be employed in the following encounter, so they proved could prove their usefulness, though it could be more interesting and challenging if the last encounter occurred later, without their help.

3) The showdown of the session happened when the Great Wyrm Gargantuan Black Dragon showed itself (personally, as a follower of B.A.D.D, I’d never use a fair, no-surprise, no spell preparation encounter when using a great wyrm). The combat was unfortunately short (two or three rounds, don’t remember). The Shadowcaster used a combination of Flood of Shadow plus Killing Shadows to avoid the beast’s SR while directed the Elder Shadow Elementals (1 was destroyed in this combat) who dealt only moderate cold damage. The Master of Masks shined with his sneak attack and the Fighter also made liberal use of his Momentum Swing (combat brute feat) to bring down the Dragon.

Conclusion: While the game session had only three encounters that could be tougher (EL: ?, 21 and 22 to a party of level 20), before the final battle the Shadowcaster had expended her “instant drop and kill” arsenal , which could mean a more prolonged battle with less damaging mysteries. That’s because the Quicken Mystery and Twin Mystery metashadow feats were already spent, which reduced her damage potential to 1.5x20d6/120 dmg (Shadow Storm, Life Fades Greater, Curtain of shadows and Killing Shadows mysteries), which is a good amount of damage, but nowhere could threaten a wizard’s or sorcerer’s might. But one thing is certain: the extra uses of mysteries granted by a high attribute has proven their importance.

All in all, although I can’t fully consider the session as reliable to test the potential of the shadowcaster (especially regarding sneaking and terrain controlling), it showed some interesting points. Regarding the Shadowcaster’s character sheet:


Alania – CN Human Shadowcaster 20

AC: 30 (+3 dex +4 natural + 8 armor + 5 deflection)

HD: 6 +19d6 +120 (192 hp)

Initiative: +3 BAB/Grapple: +10/+9
Saves: Fort +17 Ref +14 Will +17

Abilities (25 pt buy: 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8; all 5 ability points bonus applied to CHA):
Str 8, Dex 16, Con 22, Int 19, Wis 10, Cha 30

Shadowcaster class abilities: Fundamentals, Mysteries, Sustaining Shadow, Umbral Sight

Skills (not counting synergy bonuses):
Concentration +22, Hide +23, Move Silently +31, Knowledge (arcana) +23, Knowledge (the planes) +20, Spellcraft +27, Spot +15, Use Magic Device +19
Languages: Common, elf, draconic, undercommon, abyssal

Feats:
1- Enlarge Mystery
1- (bonus: racial) Empower Mystery
3- Maximize Mystery
6- Quicken Mystery
6- Twin Mystery (bonus: Eyes of Darkness path completed )
6- Maximize Mystery (bonus: Ebon Whispers path completed)
9- Empower Mystery
12- Quicken Mystery
15- Path Focus - Breath of Twilight
18- Mystery Penetration (as Spell Penetration)
19- Path Focus, Greater - Breath of Twilight (bonus: Breath of Twilight path completed)

Fundamentals (Save DC 20, when applicable):
Arrow of Dusk (6/day)
Black Candle (3/day)
Caul of Shadows (3/day)
Liquid Night (3/day)
Mystic Reflections (3/day)
Sight Obscured (3/day)
Umbral Hand (3/day)

The starting fundamentals at 1st level were: Arrow of Dusk x2 and Black Candle. At 4th level Alania picked Mystic Reflections, at 8th chose Caul of shadows, at 12th Umbral Hand was chosen, at 16th Sight Obscured was selected and at 20th Liquid Night was taken.

Mysteries (and bonus uses/day for high CHA):

1st (Su) – Bonus uses/day: 3
Voice of shadow 3/day (Will DC 21)
Bend Perspective 3/day

2nd (Su) – Bonus uses/day: 3
Congress of Shadows 3/day
Piercing Sight 3/day

3rd (Su) – Bonus uses/day: 2
Killing Shadows 3/day (Will DC 23)
Flicker 3/day

4th (Sp) – Bonus uses/day: 2
Bolster 2/day
Warp Spell 2/day

5th (Sp) – Bonus uses/day: 2
Curtain of Shadows 2/day
Pass into Shadow 2/day

6th (Sp) – Bonus uses/day: 2
Flood of Shadow 2/day
Shadow Storm 2/day (Ref DC 26)

7th (Spell) – Bonus uses/day: 1
Life Fades, Greater 1/day (Will DC 29)
Truth Revealed 1/day (Will DC 27)

8th (Spell) – Bonus uses/day: 1
Tomb of Night 1/day (Fort DC 28)
Flesh Fails, Greater 1/day

9th (Spell) – Bonus uses/day: 1
Army of Shadow 1/day
Shadow Time 1/day
Ephemeral Storm 1/day (Fort DC 31)
Shadow Surge 1/day (Will DC 29)

Metashadow feats usable per day:
Quicken 2/day
Empower 2/day (not counting the use of Flood of Shadows)
Maximize Spell 2/day + 3/day on mysteries 1st -6th (metashadow rod)
Twin Spell 1/day

Magical equipment:
Heward’s Fortifying Bedroll (C.Mage)
Circlet of Charisma +6
Belt of Health +6
Gloves of Dexterity +4
Amulet of Natural Armor +4
Vest of Resistance +5 (C.Arcane)
Ring of Invisibility
Ring of Protection +5
Bracers of Armor +8
Wings of Flying
Metashadow Rod - Maximize (1st-6th mysteries)
Wand of Lesser Restoration
Wand of Avoid Planar effects
Bag of Holding I
Keoghtom’s Ointment
Boots of Elvenkind
Potion of Tongues
Potion of Remove Blindness
Potion of Protection from Fire
Potion of Endure elements
Tome of Leadership & Influence +4
Tome of Clear Thought +4
Manual of Bodily health +3

Cash: 11.000 gp

Swapping mysteries: As the sorcerer, the shadowcaster may exchange one mystery for another one of the same level when she reaches the shadowcaster level 4 and may exchange once again at each even-numbered level onward. While the mystery list above is the final one, this shadowcaster have swapped a few mysteries along her career:

Shadowcaster level:

2 – Life Fades (max dmg 5d6 at 5th level)
6 – Life Fades swapped for Bend Perspective - completes the Eyes of Darkness Path at this level, as Killing Shadows was chosen at 5th and Piercing Sight at 4th. In the same level, the mystery chosen is Flicker, so the Shadowcaster also completes the Ebon Whispers path (because Voice of shadow was chosen at 1st level and Congress of shadows at 3rd level).

So, Alania as Shadowcaster 6 obtains thus a total of 3 feats, obtaining maximize, twin and quicken mystery. Yes, this can be a serious problem until higher levels, which I imagine the other spellcasters may use more easily their metamagic feats. But until then, at 6th level of experience, a quickened Killing Shadows followed at the same round by a twin killing Shadows, dealing up to 18d8 dmg IS scary. Besides this and the massive ability damage cited earlier from Flesh Fails Greater Mystery, I haven’t found any other problems :)
 

wykthor

Villager
Corsair, normally they can´t quicken, but that Favored Soul had Rapid Metamagic Feat from Complete Mage that enabled them to use metamagic without hindrance ;-)

Erekose, I'd appreciate if you input later your impressions about the shadowcaster in play at lower levels (especially from lvls 3-8)
 

Erekose13

Villager
wykthor said:
Corsair, normally they can´t quicken, but that Favored Soul had Rapid Metamagic Feat from Complete Mage that enabled them to use metamagic without hindrance ;-)

Erekose, I'd appreciate if you input later your impressions about the shadowcaster in play at lower levels (especially from lvls 3-8)
Will do. With play by post that might take a while to get even there though.
 

WarlockLord

Villager
Sorry about the obnoxious thread necromancy, but I'm wondering... Why is it that Shadowsmiths, who are supposed to be dabblers, can cast by int alone, whereas shadowcastewrs have to split between int and cha?
 

wykthor

Villager
Well, IMHO, perhaps because the shadowsmith are just that: dabblers. They can create specific shadow effects with a theorical basis (and thus the INT requirement) but lack the drive & control for the mysteries of a shadowcaster (i.e Cha).

Some further thoughts about the revised shadowcaster:

The feats gained by the completion of a mystery path MAY offer some trouble for the DM. Especifically, Quicken Mystery Feat. After comparing with the Sudden Quicken of Complete Arcane (which has a goodly sum of feats) and considering a human shadowcaster with two apprentice mysteries completed has a total of 6 feats at 6th level (1,1,3,5 - bonus, 6, 6 -bonus), IMHO I believe the prerequisite of three metamagic feats for Quicken Mystery became too light. At 6th level, this shadowcaster could conjure 1/day a combination of: maximized killing shadows + quickened killing shadows (12d8 area of unespecified damage, will 1/2). Yes, this can be used just once/day with two 3rd lvl slots, but its a blaster damage that a wizard/sorcerer can't compete at this level.

Suggestion: To avoid this scaling, I suggest Quicken Mystery has an initial prerequisite of 6 metashadow feats. So, even at the best of conditions (human shadowcaster with two apprentice mystery paths completed), the character could only gain this Quicken Mystery at 9th level (11th for non human). A human wizard who spent all her feats (bonus included) to fulfill the Sudden Quicken prerequisites can obtain this feat at level 10 at the earliest. A non-human wizard can pick Sudden Quicken at level 12. In order to buy Quicken Mystery a second time, she would need 9 metashadow feats. Finally, if she wants to pick Quicken Mystery for a third (and last) time, she would need 12 metashadow feats. OR, as an alternative, you could mantain the feat prerequisites as they are, just adding a minimum Caster level (7th)
 

DM Callous

Villager
I was play testing a Shadowcaster recently when I stumbled upon something the DM and I both questioned. Its not particularly about the Shadowcaster itself, but one of the mysteries. We know it says in its descriptor that it "completely blocks line of sight", but what about those creatures with the ability to see through magical darkness. Would they be able to see through the wall and retain line of sight or would it also block their view?

Curtain of Shadows
Initiate, Veil of Shadows
Level/School: 5th/Transmutation
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Effect: Shadowy wall whose area is up to one 10-ft. square/level (S)
Duration: 1 minute/level (D)
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No


You create a wall of frigid shadow that blocks vision and wracks
all who pass through it with cold.


You create a wall of shadow that completely blocks line of
sight. Any creatures passing through the wall takes 1d6 points
of cold damageper caster level (maximum 15d6).
 

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