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Tome of Magic - Shadowcaster

Flashback35

First Post
I was considering creating a shadowcaster from the Tome of Magic. What are your thoughts on this class?


If this has been posted before, my apologies.
 

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Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
Hey, welcome!

My impression is that they have a lot of flavor, but they're a little weak. Mind you, I haven't played one yet.
 

Psion

Adventurer
I did start a thread to this effect in the rules forum; people had some things to say there. You might want to take a look.

To sum up my impressions (which were largely confirmed/agreed with in the thread the rules forum), they strike me as weak, especially at low level. There is no way a shadowcaster could stand in for a wizard or sorcerer in a party under 5th level or so, and doesn't offer much to replace its lack of punch and staying power.
 

Psion said:
To sum up my impressions (which were largely confirmed/agreed with in the thread the rules forum), they strike me as weak, especially at low level. There is no way a shadowcaster could stand in for a wizard or sorcerer in a party under 5th level or so, and doesn't offer much to replace its lack of punch and staying power.

Well, as the designer of the class, let me just say...

You may be right. :heh:

I like the shadowcaster, for the most part. And it's important to note that they really aren't meant to stand in for the wizard or sorcerer; the shadowcaster is a "5th class," like the bard or the martial.

That said, it sounds like you've actually played the final version more than I have. If you think it's weak, even as a 5th class, I respect that opinion, even if I'm not 100% certain I agree with it. If you don't mind my asking, what do you feel the class lacks to bring it up to par?
 

Psion

Adventurer
Mouseferatu said:
That said, it sounds like you've actually played the final version more than I have. If you think it's weak, even as a 5th class, I respect that opinion, even if I'm not 100% certain I agree with it. If you don't mind my asking, what do you feel the class lacks to bring it up to par?

Actually, I haven't. Which is why I started a thread asking for actual experiences over on the rules forum.

Er, guess I should dig it up: http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=162849

But, the reason I started the thread was I was looking at the shadowcaster, and it seemed to me that:
- it didn't get many known mysteries
- it didn't get many mysteries per day
- it seemed like the most potent ability it could use a low level to contribute to a combat was a fundamental which really wasn't stacking up to the likes of burning hands, magic missile, color spray, and sleep.

And I was sort of left wondering what was there to fill the gap and wasn't seeing anything.

It seemed like the most expedient thing to do was maybe boost the mysteries per day up at lower level, but I was worried that might make them too potent once those mysteries become spell like or supernatural.

So, I haven't researched a solution greatly, but that was my impression.
 

DM-Rocco

Explorer
Mouseferatu said:
Well, as the designer of the class, let me just say...

You may be right. :heh:

I like the shadowcaster, for the most part. And it's important to note that they really aren't meant to stand in for the wizard or sorcerer; the shadowcaster is a "5th class," like the bard or the martial.

That said, it sounds like you've actually played the final version more than I have. If you think it's weak, even as a 5th class, I respect that opinion, even if I'm not 100% certain I agree with it. If you don't mind my asking, what do you feel the class lacks to bring it up to par?
Hmm, you created it? So are you Matthew Serneet, Ari Marmell, David Noonan or Robert J. Schwalb or another unlisted on the cover? Just wondering cause it is always nice to hear from the creators mouth.

I don't have too much to comment on as I have only paged through it in the store. I do plan on going back to the store and giving it a better look over though. At first glance it is a bit confusing and time consuming to get a grasp of cause you are forced to read everything, not just a page or two on the highlights of the class. Also, it seems that each type of class needs its own meta-magic feats gears towards pact/shadow/truemane abilities rather than say empower spell feats. That can be discouraging to others to try it out as they can't readily pick a favored PrC class.

I did page through all of the different PrC and it does look like you can combine a few different type of regular spell caster with some of the base class, which is nice, but again, you can't really dual up on certain feats so that in and of itself makes it a bit weaker.

As to the base classes, I will have to devote a good amount of time to give you an honest critique of them since there is a lot to absorb. On the surface, it doesn't seem like you really get that much at higher levels, but I have made inquiries on another thread about what classes people liked and Truenamer or Binder keeps coming up, so perhaps I am missing something.

I wasn't really going to write all of the above, what I really wanted to know is what you meant by it being a '5th class?'
 

Hmm... It's true that, at low levels, the shadowcaster doesn't get a lot of mysteries per day. But his fundamentals average a little more potent than, say, cantrips. And as soon as the shadowcaster gains Initiate mysteries, his Apprentice mysteries double in quantity. At everything but low levels, he can keep up with the spells per day of many other classes.

Again, not necessarily arguing your conclusions. I'd love to play a shadowcaster long-term myself, but I haven't had the chance to do so as of yet. But I think it's more effective than you may be giving it credit for.

Still, I'll definitely check out the other thread. Thanks for the link. :)
 


Psion

Adventurer
Mouseferatu said:
Again, not necessarily arguing your conclusions. I'd love to play a shadowcaster long-term myself, but I haven't had the chance to do so as of yet. But I think it's more effective than you may be giving it credit for.

Like I said, when I posted that thread I was hoping for some actual experiences. Looking it back over, I don't think I got any. I know sometimes some things are easy to miss for those who don't play them.
 

DM-Rocco said:
Hmm, you created it? So are you Matthew Serneet, Ari Marmell, David Noonan or Robert J. Schwalb or another unlisted on the cover? Just wondering cause it is always nice to hear from the creators mouth.

Ari. Nice to meet you. :)

I wasn't really going to write all of the above, what I really wanted to know is what you meant by it being a '5th class?'

Well, the "average" party (assuming such an animal exists) often consists of one character to fill each of the primary adventuring niches. That is, you likely have one warrior-type (fighter, barbarian, etc.), one arcanist (wizard, sorcerer), one divine caster (cleric, druid), and one rogue type (rogue). This isn't a requirement or a rule, of course, but it's sort of the default assumption.

Certain other classes can fill those roles, but are actually more effective in parties of more than four. For instance, if you add a bard to the above list, he can either stand in as backup for one of the primary classes, or he can do his own thing and play to his own strengths.

That's where I see the shadowcaster. With the right choice of mysteries, he can serve as a scout or a rogue. With a slightly different choice, he can function as a "blaster." He may not be as good at either as a true rogue or sorcerer, but he can accomplish either function.

That's what I mean by a "5th character." Someone who may not fill any of the primary niches as well as a standard class, but who can instead fill multiple niches at need.
 

JustaPlayer

First Post
DM-Rocco said:
I wasn't really going to write all of the above, what I really wanted to know is what you meant by it being a '5th class?'
I think he meant something like a buff. Someone who makes everyone else better just by being there. It is often said the bard is the best 5th character option in a campaign when the other four have been filled. Tank/Arcane/Divine/Stealth .... Buff.
 

chaotix42

First Post
A PC of mine is getting the chance to play a gestalt shadowcaster//rogue, planning on taking the Dark Terrain and Ebon Whispers paths to their end before 7th level. Right now the game is low level, so all I've had the chance to see in-game is Carpet of Shadow, but that particular mystery ruined the plans of an attacking ghast, giving the PCs the moment they needed to counterattack. More undead are in their future (AoW!), so I feel that his other mystery, Voice of Shadow, will have quite a bit of utility in the adventures to come.

If this weren't a gestalt game I think the character (shadowcaster only) would have been weaker than the rest, but I'm not inclined to change the class at all. I think I would definitely encourage the shadowcaster PC to work Craft Wonderous Item into their character somewhere, so they could create some Orbs of Shadow and a Collar of Umbral Metamorphosis. Craft Wand seems like a no-brainer as well. Items like those could really help offset the shadowcaster's low amount of mystery uses per day.

When you compare it to some of the classes that have been released as of late it may not completely stack up: PHB II has some potent stuff contained within, for example. But so what if it's not up to snuff? There's already so much pimp smack in the game it's nice to just have a flavorful class that can be an effective addition to the party, with a bit of work involved.
 

Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
Mouseferatu said:
I'd love to play a shadowcaster long-term myself, but I haven't had the chance to do so as of yet. But I think it's more effective than you may be giving it credit for.
Ari, I'm going to take a sec to hijack the thread and express a concern. From this side of the fence, it seems that fewer books are getting the extensive playtesting that they really need. Are you in a position to talk at all about how extensively the ToM classes were playtested, and what the basic minimum playesting for a product consists of?

Thanks! Feel free to start another thread if you think that's appropriate, and I understand that you may not be in a position to discuss this.
 

Piratecat said:
Ari, I'm going to take a sec to hijack the thread and express a concern. From this side of the fence, it seems that fewer books are getting the extensive playtesting that they really need. Are you in a position to talk at all about how extensively the ToM classes were playtested, and what the basic minimum playesting for a product consists of?

Thanks! Feel free to start another thread if you think that's appropriate, and I understand that you may not be in a position to discuss this.

Honestly, I don't have a lot of detail to give you. I know playtesting was done, but I can't say how much.

When I say that I'd love the chance to play the class long-term, it's because no matter how good a designer is--and while I'm definitely improving, I wouldn't claim I'm one of the best--there are certain issues that only come up in long-term play. There's also the fact that the class as it appears in the book is not exactly the class I wrote. That's not a complant; it's simply par for the course, as development discovers issues with mysteries or class abilities. But it means that no amount of testing I might have done myself beforehand would line up perfectly with the final result.

If it makes you feel any better about playtesting, I'll share this: After working on the book, I was asked to provide spreadsheets of the iconic shadowcaster at every level, 1st through 20th, for purposes of internal playtesting at WotC. So again, while I can't say how much, it was definitely tested.
 

DM-Rocco

Explorer
Mouseferatu said:
Ari. Nice to meet you. :)



Well, the "average" party (assuming such an animal exists) often consists of one character to fill each of the primary adventuring niches. That is, you likely have one warrior-type (fighter, barbarian, etc.), one arcanist (wizard, sorcerer), one divine caster (cleric, druid), and one rogue type (rogue). This isn't a requirement or a rule, of course, but it's sort of the default assumption.

Certain other classes can fill those roles, but are actually more effective in parties of more than four. For instance, if you add a bard to the above list, he can either stand in as backup for one of the primary classes, or he can do his own thing and play to his own strengths.

That's where I see the shadowcaster. With the right choice of mysteries, he can serve as a scout or a rogue. With a slightly different choice, he can function as a "blaster." He may not be as good at either as a true rogue or sorcerer, but he can accomplish either function.

That's what I mean by a "5th character." Someone who may not fill any of the primary niches as well as a standard class, but who can instead fill multiple niches at need.

DOH!!!

There it is, right in your signature, Ari. ;) Glad to meet ya :cool:

Okay, I see what ya mean about 5th class now and it does explain a lot about my initial viewing into the class.

I don't want to say more yet cause as opinionated as I am I would most likely give you some good ideas for the class, but don't want to speak out of my a$$. If you are interested check back here and I'll tell ya what I think it may be lacking, if anything at all. ;)

I do have over 25 years of DMing experience to offer ;) :) :D
 

Thomas Percy

First Post
I made a 10th level shadowcaster wizard noctumancer shade elf and started to play last week.
He specializes in fighting enemy spellcasters because of noctumancer's special counterspell-like abilities.
I agree, this class is not as powerful in combat with non-spellcasters as eg. wizard. I blasted a troll with my killing shadows spell-like ability and he (a troll) only laugh and ignore me to fight party's fighters who were real danger to him.
But... we will see. I'm waiting for fight with enemy spellcasters.

Anyway, I like this class because of its unknown for others abilities and mysterious background.
 

Andor

First Post
I'd like to chime in that reguardless of the weakness or strength of the Shadowcaster I really like the Shadowblade and Shadowsmith PrC from that section of the book. Both nifty.
 

Graf

First Post
Is the “weakness” a problem with the actual mysteries, a problem with lack of flexibility or a problem with the “peaks and valleys” (i.e. powerful for a level, then weak for two or three)?

Suggestion 1
What about allowing a Shadowcaster to select fundamentals per day instead of “fixing” them? It would grant some more flexibility to the class. Every time a shadowcaster gets access to a new fundamental they would get a new “fundamental slot” or else take it as a mystery.
Right now fundimentals are just "pathless mysteries"... fundimental implies that they're actually something that everyone knows.

Suggestion 2
As discussed before the boards went down (per the Mouse unless I’m mistaken) the only reason mysteries aren’t swappable (when you level or what have you) is the bonus feats vs. Mysteries thing. Especially with the PHBII rules (i.e. it must have been a legal choice when you took it, can’t invalidate anything you have, etc) you can just finesse it so that players can shift out good-at-low-level-but-weaker-at-high-level mysteries/paths.

Obviously we don’t know the details of what the original was like but if it was more powerful then wizards may have “nerf’d” the shadowcaster for reasons besides class balance.

1) It may be that wizards development group just didn’t want to deal with the hassle of having them on the “high” side of the power range and hearing about how the class was broken.

2) Arcanists (i.e. wizards) are often considered one of the “most powerful” classes.
Especially when you add in a creative player with a lot of books a solo arcanist can defuse almost any dangerous situation and stop almost any foe. The new rules about “conjuration damage doesn’t affect DR” and the polymorph nerfs are a good example of the incremental increases in power they benefit from.
I.e. even if you wanted to balance it right up with the wizard its not like a bab-primary fighter-type class where you could focus on crunching average-damage-per-round and “number of rounds this could survive an ogre”.

So downgrading the power level was probably just a safer bet all around… people who love them will use them for the flavor (possibly upgraded), but regular-ol’munchkins will pass it buy and their DMs won’t have screaming fits when their carefully constructed campaign isn’t destroyed by a twinked out uber-character.
 

Actually, while I don't recall specific details--I wrote this a long time ago, as measured on the Freelancer Scale ;)--I think the class as presented is actually more combat-effective than the one I turned in. So if it is too weak, I must admit that the blame lies with me more than it does development.

I'm still not 100% convinced it is, though. ;)
 

Hussar

Legend
Something that I noticed with Shadowcasters that was touched on above is that Shadowcasters rock as battlefield control specialists. Dark Terrain and a few other mysteries seem just so suited for this role. Which means that the SC isn't going to grab a whole lot of glory for himself, but he is going to make the party much more effective simply because the bad guys are going to spend so much time mired in shadows.

Just a thought.
 

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