Shadow Magister (3.5e Class)
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A shadowcaster-type thing that doesn't suck and cause weird incompatibility issues. ToP-compliant. 20 1 Poor Good Poor Good Arcane Spellcasting Prepared Spellcasting Full
Lawful Good Lawful Neutral Lawful Evil Neutral Good Neutral Neutral Evil Chaotic Good Chaotic Neutral Chaotic Evil
Since the beginning of time, humanoids feared the shadows. As they huddled in their primitive caves or grass huts, they dreaded what lay outside in the cold, dark night, and told stories to ease their fears of the unknown and the strange. Some of these stories were kind, beautiful and joy-giving, but many were quite the opposite - and those kinds of stories were the ones told most often, to frighten young children into obedience or to impress upon others of your kind the need to be careful, vigilant and obey the rules.
As time went on, these stories began to lose their significance, as humanoids discovered fire, then the magic of light, and eventually, when they built cities and harnesses the primal energies, they no longer needed the old stories of the monsters between the lights. Many abandoned them altogether, or relegated them to the scrapheap of history, seeing them as being about as useful as clubs in warfare. They went on with their lives, unaware that they had briefly touched truth - and abandoned it just as quickly.
However, not all were this foolish. Knowing that ancient mysteries could still hold power, they asked new questions of these stories, applied the principles of magical analysis to their words and places, and sought out ever older and more unusual tales of the shadows. With each story they uncovered and secret they learned, they began to see that there were parallels among these stories, similarities that could not be explained as mere coincidence. Even at the mystical level, they understood that all of these stories eventually led back to a singular source of truth and information, and that finding that source would allow others power over the shadows, similar to that commanded by some mages, but at a fraction of the time and training that would be required. Finding this source of truth became an obsession for many, who began to work together and compare notes before long.
Nobody knows exactly who it was that discovered this source of truth, but its discovery fundamentally changed those that found it. They began to wield powers over shadows that were comparable, if not greater, than those of wizards and sorcerers of similar training, but that required none of the arcane formulas or bloodlines of their spellcasting cousins. Before long, many other individuals and groups began to discover this source of power, and before long, they had a name - the Darkest Shadows. There were six of them, and they each represented an aspect of the shadows that the stories they spent so long collecting spoke of, through many distortions, re-tellings and re-interpretations. What exactly the Darkest Shadows were was never firmly established, and much of the power they bestowed was highly individualized, and rarely did two practicioners of this art do the same things the same way. About the only certainty was that there were six of them, and that each had a distinct personality and approach to things. Beyond this, no two practicioners could ever seem to agree on anything.
Because of the inherently un-systematic nature of their powers and the fact that their source defied ready analysis and understanding, mainstream arcanists didn't see their discipline as worthy of inclusion into their standard practices (not that it stopped them trying). Additionally, the formalistic training of arcane magic didn't suit itself well to the mystery-driven and interpretive practices of these new individuals. As a result, they began to distance themselves from other practicioners of arcane magic, and called themselves shadow magisters. To this day, they consider themselves a species apart (and for some, a species superior), and differ markedly in terms of their training and philosophy, even though (not that either side would claim this too loudly) their abilities end up roughly similar anyway. Focused on discovering new mysteries of their craft and harnessing them to their will, shadow magisters are explorers and experimenters, always seeking new stories and new powers over the horizon and in their next meeting.
Making a Shadow Magister
|Tome of Prowess|
|This class is designed to be compatible with the Tome of Prowess rules. Any class abilities that have different rules under Tome of Prowess will be marked by a ToP: label.|
Abilities: Intelligence is the most important ability score for a shadow magisters, as it powers their abilities. High Dexterity and Constitution aren't amiss either.
Races: All races can become shadow magisters, but those who typically see in the dark (like dwarves) or who have very good vision (like elves) tend not to find the shadow magister's craft as appealing or scary, and thus, don't join as often. Many (some would say most) practitioners are humans, but this is far from a given.
Alignment: The path of the shadow magister is primarily an individual one, which makes neutrality in some form very common among shadow magisters. Once again though, this isn't a given - shadow magisters from every kind of philosophy can and do exist.
Starting Gold: 3d4×10 gp (70 gp).
|1st||+0||+2||+0||+2||Fundamentals, mysteries, shadow companion||6||—|
|2nd||+1||+3||+0||+3||Shadow amplification, sight without sight||7||—|
|10th||+5||+7||+3||+7||No hold on me||15||4|
|14th||+7||+9||+4||+9||Fortress of shadows||19||6|
|19th||+9||+11||+6||+11||One with shadow||24||8|
Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
All of the following are class features of the shadow magister.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Shadow magisters are proficient with all simple weapons, and one martial weapon of their choice. They are proficient with light armour, but not shields.
|Advancement by Prestige Class|
|A shadow magister is considered an arcane spellcaster for all purposes. If a shadow magister wants to take a prestige class, they can do so as if they could cast arcane spells of whatever level their highest level mystery is. If they need a specific spell, a mystery that has the same name as the spell it mimics is considered to be that spell. Just how sensible people would think.
For classes that advance spellcasting (arcane or any, obviously), each 'level' of advancement gives the shadow magister new mysteries known and revealed as indicated in the above table.
Mysteries: Shadow magisters cast arcane spells, which they term 'mysteries'. Mysteries come in two varieties: a recital is very simple at its core and can be recalled and re-used quickly, and a ritual is long and complex, and cannot be so readily re-used. A shadow magister's caster level for these is equal to their character level, and any DCs for their spells are equal to 10 + 1/2 the shadow magister's character level + the shadow magister's Intelligence modifier. Unlike other arcane spellcasters, shadow magisters don't need to provide any components for their mysteries apart from verbal and somatic ones.
One of the first discoveries about their mysteries that new shadow magisters make is the infamous Rule of Six. This essentially means that each mystery that they use must be associated in their minds with one of the Darkest Shadows. Doing this requires an hour of reciting stories of each of them, while holding the idea of the mystery firmly in the mind. As a consequence, no more than six mysteries can be held in anyone's mind at any one time, but more than one 'copy' of the same mystery can be associated to more than one Darkest Shadow, allowing 'preparation' of multiple copies of the same mystery if desired.
All mysteries have verbal and simple somatic components. By simply speaking a key set of words from the story they told about the associated Darkest Shadow and creating simple shadow figures, the mystery's power is released as the spell. A magister ignores the arcane spell failure chance for light armour when using them. If they wear heavier armour than this, or try to wield a shield, they suffer the normal spell failure.
Once a mystery is used, the association is lost in the user's mind, as the Darkest Shadows devour it from their mind. This makes the mystery unavailable for further use until it is restored. If the shadow magister spends a full-round action refocusing their mind, they can make all prepared but unavailable and used recitals available again. Rituals only become available again if the magister spends an hour to build associations between mysteries and the Darkest Shadows (as described above); doing so also makes all recitals available again as well.
Mysteries Known: A shadow magister starts 1st level knowing six mysteries from their mystery list. At each subsequent level, they can learn an additional mystery of their choice from the list. They cannot learn a mystery whose level is greater than half of their character level, rounding up.
At 4th level, and every even-numbered level thereafter, a shadow magister can un-learn a mystery in exchange for a different one. The mystery to be learned can be of a higher level than the mystery that was un-learned, subject to the usual rules for learning new mysteries (see above).
Fundamentals (Sp): All shadow magisters learn a certain set of simple shadow transformations, which are considered so basic as to be fundamental to their discipline (hence their name). These follow all the rules for mysteries, except that they can be used at-will and require no action to restore once used. They count as 0-level spells.
Shadow Companion: The final task that separates a trainee shadow magister from a fully-trained one is the summoning of a shadow companion, which is usually formed from the shadow magister's own shadow. Doing so requires an 8-hour ritual, and at the end of this, a form made of pure shadow separates itself from the shadow magister, taking whatever appearance the shadow magister chooses (provided it's not bigger than themselves).
This functions similarly to the servant from an unseen servant spell, except that the distance between the shadow companion and the shadow magister can be of any size (provided both remain on the same plane). The damage needed to dissipate a shadow companion is equal to one-half of the shadow magister's hit points or 6, whichever gives the better result. Its speed always equals the shadow magister's base land speed, and if the shadow magister gains any other speeds, the shadow companion also gains them.
Additionally, the shadow companion gains the following capabilities that are typically granted by familiars when the shadow magister reaches the indicated character level:
- Empathic link (1st)
- Speak with master (3rd)
- Scry on familiar (13th)
Lastly, the shadow companion gains a bonus to its effective Strength score equal to one-half of the shadow magister's character level (rounding down, minimum 0), which also affects how much it can lift and drag, as well as how much force it can exert. It can also perform any tasks that its master could perform, provided it has the capacity to do them (i.e. it could try to disarm a trap, but not bluff someone).
If the shadow companion is dissipated, or if the shadow magister goes to a different plane (except the Plane of Shadow or its equivalent in your setting), the shadow magister can spend 1 hour to reform it adjacent to themselves.
Sight Without Sight (Ex): From 2nd level, shadow magisters become naturally able to see in the dark. They gain darkvision out to 60ft.
If the shadow magister already has darkvision, or later gains it, its range becomes unlimited (i.e. it can see just as well in the dark as it could if the area were lit).
Shadow Amplification (Ex): A 2nd level shadow magister is nearly always surrounded by darkness and shadows, except under the watchful gaze of the True Sun. As long as the shadow magister is not in full daylight (or anything that simulates full daylight), they are considered to have enough cover to hide, even if there's nothing to hide behind or they are being observed.
- ToP: When not in full daylight (or anything that simulates full daylight), a shadow magister is covered in shadow and looks smaller. For the purposes of being noticed, any exposed parts of the magister are considered one size category smaller.
Mysteries Revealed: At 4th level, and every even-numbered level thereafter, a shadow magister makes a new discovery related to their powers. This can have one of two effects - recitation or fundamentalization. You cannot choose a mystery to undergo either of these effects whose level is higher than one-half of the shadow magister's character level-1 (so thus, a 4th level shadow magister can only choose 1st level mysteries, but a fighter 2/shadow magister 8 could choose mysteries of up to 4th level).
- Recitation: Choose a ritual that the shadow magister knows. That ritual is henceforth treated as a recital for you, and is restored for use after a full-round action.
- Fundamentalization: Choose a recital mystery that the shadow magister knows. That mystery becomes a fundamental, and can be used at-will as other fundamentals can without preparation or association.
No Hold On Me (Su): From 10th level, a shadow magister is no longer bound by gravity. They gain a fly speed equal to their base land speed, with perfect maneuverability. They are also immune to any ability that relies on gravity, as well as any effects from gravities higher or lower than their normal tolerance level (and G-forces, while we're at it).
Fortress of Shadows: At 14th level, the shadow magister learns of an amazing mystery that lets them shape the fabric of the Plane of Shadow (or an equivalent plane in a different cosmology) to act as their new home. By spending 8 hours, they gain a fortress on that plane, staffed by 66 unseen servants (like the ones from the spell). These servants don't dissipate at a distance from the shadow magister, but they cannot leave the fortress. The fortress has furnishings, decorations and similar befitting a decent castle, but if anything is removed from it, it disappears into a shadowy puff. This doesn't apply to things brought into it from outside. If the fortress is destroyed in some way, the shadow magister can perform the ritual again, but while the fortress stands, it can be the only one of its kind for the shadow magister.
The shadow magister can also spend a standard action to tear open a portal to their fortress. This will always take them to their throne room, where there will be an unseen servant, ready for orders. Others can step through the portal, but only if the shadow magister verbally permits them. This is a supernatural ability, and the portal stays open only 1 round.
While inside their fortress, the shadow magister can attempt to tear open a portal to their home plane (or, if their home plane is the same one as the fortress is on, a different plane, chosen when the fortress is formed) as a standard action. This is much less accurate, though - it suffers from the same inaccuracies that the plane shift spell does. Otherwise, it's the same as the portal that takes the shadow magister and his friends to the fortress.
One With Shadow (Ex): At 19th level, the shadow magister unlocks a mystery that permits them to become one with the shadows themselves, becoming one of the Lighter Shadows. Aside from awesome amounts of reverence from other shadow magisters, this also makes them incorporeal constantly. They can turn corporeal or incorporeal as a swift action.
Playing a Shadow Magister
Religion: Above all, shadow magisters believe in the Darkest Shadows, and then their own capabilities and understanding. Since the Darkest Shadows answer no prayers, and self-worship is an odd notion, shadow magisters aren't usually a religious lot. Some follow deities of darkness and shadows, but this isn't common.
Other Classes: Shadow magisters have an ongoing disagreement of theological proportions with other arcane spellcasters. This typically manifests as a professional rivalry, but can occasionally turn very ugly. Otherwise, shadow magisters view those of other classes depending on what they can do for each other.
Combat: Shadow magisters fill similar roles to other arcane spellcasters in combat - disabling the enemy, occasionally dealing some damage, and occasionally helping their friends out.
Advancement: Some feats that are useful to shadow magisters:
Some prestige class options (and some requirements worth considering) for shadow magisters:
|Allowed Alignments||Lawful Good +, Lawful Neutral +, Lawful Evil +, Neutral Good +, Neutral +, Neutral Evil +, Chaotic Good +, Chaotic Neutral + and Chaotic Evil +|
|Article Balance||Very High +|
|Base Attack Bonus Progression||Poor +|
|Class Ability||Arcane Spellcasting + and Prepared Spellcasting +|
|Class Ability Progression||Full +|
|Fortitude Save Progression||Good +|
|Identifier||3.5e Class +|
|Minimum Level||1 +|
|Rated By||ThunderGod Cid +, Salazar666 +, DanielDraco +, Tarkisflux + and Leziad +|
|Rating||Rated 3.6 / 4 +|
|Reflex Save Progression||Poor +|
|Skill||Appraise +, Concentration +, Craft +, Decipher Script +, Diplomacy +, Disguise +, Forgery +, Gather Information +, Hide +, Intimidate +, Jump +, Knowledge +, Listen +, Move Silently +, Perform +, Profession +, Sense Motive +, Spellcraft + and Spot +|
|Skill Points||4 +|
|Summary||A shadowcaster-type thing that doesn't suck and cause weird incompatibility issues. ToP-compliant. +|
|Title||Shadow Magister +|
|ToP Skill||Arcana +, Ciphers +, Intimidation +, Perception +, Psychology + and Stealth +|
|Will Save Progression||Good +|