[Tome of Magic] Retrospective: The Shadowcaster

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[Tome of Magic] Retrospective: The Shadowcaster

Post by Ashtagon » Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:11 am

When I saw Tome of Magic, I saw it as play-test revisions for a potential 4e wizard class (they eventually went in a different direction entirely), as it was well-established at that point that the default 3.x wizard blows the warrior classes out of the water.

With that in mind, what if...

1) The shadowcaster was conceived not as a specialist dedicated shadow mage per se, but as a prototype for how wizards generally should function.
2) The shadowcaster mechanic replaces wizards (and their ilk) entirely, in effect becoming the primary arcane casting class as a rules framework.
3) In addition to shadowcasters, there would be "firecasters", "watercasters", etc., and possibly also casters based on the D&D schools of magic, and possibly even other $concept-casters.

Since the main complaint about shadowcasters is that they suck compared to default wizards, removing wizards would effectively remove that complaint (although that would have to be done by making shadowcasting the default mechanic for a new edition wizard, rather than simply "removing" the wizard class), in order to avoid complaints of GM-fiat banning).

Possibly also relevant: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread ... ouseferatu

So aside from the power level, was there anything fundamentally wrong with the class's mechanics, once you throw in Ari's fixes in the link above?
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Re: [Tome of Magic] Retrospective: The Shadowcaster

Post by Big Mac » Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:46 pm

Ashtagon wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:11 am
When I saw Tome of Magic, I saw it as play-test revisions for a potential 4e wizard class (they eventually went in a different direction entirely), as it was well-established at that point that the default 3.x wizard blows the warrior classes out of the water.

With that in mind, what if...

1) The shadowcaster was conceived not as a specialist dedicated shadow mage per se, but as a prototype for how wizards generally should function.
2) The shadowcaster mechanic replaces wizards (and their ilk) entirely, in effect becoming the primary arcane casting class as a rules framework.
3) In addition to shadowcasters, there would be "firecasters", "watercasters", etc., and possibly also casters based on the D&D schools of magic, and possibly even other $concept-casters.
That sounds logical.

I've never really looked at Tome of Magic: Pact, Shadow, and True Name Magic before.

I think that, if I was going to use this book, I would probably want to make one or more of them into central themes for a homebrew Spelljammer crystal sphere.

Having a bunch of casters for other planes, alongside the Shadowcaster, would work really well, as an expansion of that one theme into an entire setting. The original (2nd Edition) Tome of Magic had rules for arcane spellcasting tied to the four elemental planes, and I think it might be worth combining the two things. That way, you would only need to extrapolate new rules for "Etherealcasters" and "Astralcasters" and you would have an entire system.

Spelljammer already has the "Planar Churches" dedicated to all the powers within an individual plane, so if you added that (as the divine side) you could quickly have an entirely different system of philosophy and theology.
Ashtagon wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:11 am
Since the main complaint about shadowcasters is that they suck compared to default wizards, removing wizards would effectively remove that complaint (although that would have to be done by making shadowcasting the default mechanic for a new edition wizard, rather than simply "removing" the wizard class), in order to avoid complaints of GM-fiat banning).

Possibly also relevant: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread ... ouseferatu

So aside from the power level, was there anything fundamentally wrong with the class's mechanics, once you throw in Ari's fixes in the link above?
I've never used this, so it's hard to tell. But Class Chronicles: Shadowcasters might also help you. :)
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Re: [Tome of Magic] Retrospective: The Shadowcaster

Post by willpell » Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:09 pm

I'm super-interested in the Shadowcaster, mostly because I already consider TOM a mandatory book just for its first third, and the last third is probably unsalvageable garbage, so figuring out how to make Shadow Magic work right is key to making the book worth its price. I haven't spent enough time evaluating the class to even be sure that it needs fixing, although I do think the "more paths vs. more bonus feats" tension seems like an unsatisfying false dichotomy based on my first glance, just because not enough useful feats exist for it. Being very narrow and specific from a flavor perspective, I have a harder time getting into Shadow Magic, and it bothers me that your low-level spells eventually turn into innate abilities, but your high-level ones never do; something about this seems like a very forced and artificial progression with no possible fourth stage, rather than something that naturally occurs in a hierarchical fashion.

I am curious whether any Forgotten Realms players have looked at the idea of using Shadowcasters as adherents of Shar who tap the Shadow Weave for their power. It likely doesn't mechanically hold up as well as the canon explanation of how to do Shadow Weave magic, which is basically just to ban Evocation and specialize in Illusion and Necromancy, as best I recall the general effect of the feat. The result is still a broken wizard, which is fitting since they need to compete with other broken wizards across the Realms.

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Re: [Tome of Magic] Retrospective: The Shadowcaster

Post by genghisdon » Thu May 02, 2019 12:36 am

I like the class actually, especially with mouseferato's tweaks.

Sure, it could model other types like fire, cold, etc.

I'd say the wizard was more a problem in 3e, becoming too powerful over time. The game ran better tossing cleric, druid, wizard & using classes like shadowcaster et all instead.

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Re: [Tome of Magic] Retrospective: The Shadowcaster

Post by willpell » Thu May 02, 2019 10:26 pm

It's true that power creep over time was a concern for the wizard and cleric, but really, even just the corebook versions of them are pretty OP. Most of the most important spells in their arsenal were already there, complete with excessively broad definitions and a permissive structure of the rest of the game (eg the Eschew Materials feat and the Spell Component Pouch both meaning that a Wizard is never without the stuff he needs, save for a handful of specific spells). The only way to fix this is to ban some of the corebook content, or to publish a whole new edition that was redesigned for balance from the ground up (which is pretty much what they did).

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Re: [Tome of Magic] Retrospective: The Shadowcaster

Post by Angel Tarragon » Fri May 03, 2019 9:17 am

genghisdon wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 12:36 am
I like the class actually, especially with mouseferato's tweaks.
I don't think I ever saw those. Can you please link me to them?
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Re: [Tome of Magic] Retrospective: The Shadowcaster

Post by Ashtagon » Fri May 03, 2019 10:19 am

I linked to those tweaks in the OP: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread ... ouseferatu

Mouseferatu is the author of the book, so his tweaks are about as close to official as you are ever likely to get.
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Re: [Tome of Magic] Retrospective: The Shadowcaster

Post by Angel Tarragon » Fri May 03, 2019 10:30 am

Ashtagon wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 10:19 am
I linked to those tweaks in the OP: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread ... ouseferatu

Mouseferatu is the author of the book, so his tweaks are about as close to official as you are ever likely to get.
Oh, cool. Guess I missed those. Thanks Ashtagon!
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Re: [Tome of Magic] Retrospective: The Shadowcaster

Post by genghisdon » Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:25 am

Angel Tarragon wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 9:17 am
genghisdon wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 12:36 am
I like the class actually, especially with mouseferato's tweaks.
I don't think I ever saw those. Can you please link me to them?
might as well post them here, so they aren't lost at some point (that's been happening a lot lately, so redundancy is a good idea!)

"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.

Read more: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread ... z4bPTD9KFo
"mouseferatu

and why not cityscape expansion web stuff:

"Ari Marmell:
Shadows of the City

Binders are not the only practitioners of strange magics operating in the bustling city. The night-touched shadowcaster draws her power from the Plane of Shadow, and the dark and twisted reflection of the material world cast therein. And nothing, an urban shadowcaster would tell you, casts a longer or darker shadow than tall buildings and endless winding streets.

Apprentice Path Mysteries

Night's Long Fingers
1 Quicker than the Eye: Gain bonus on Sleight of Hand checks; use Sleight of Hand at a distance.
2 Trail of Haze: Touched target emits a trail of shadowy mist only you can see.
3 Umbral Fist: Make special attacks at a distance.

Darkened Alleys
4 Fearful Gloom: Area of shadow causes fear in all who enter.
5 Sickening Shadow: Area of shadow causes illness in all who enter.
6 Deadly Shade: Area of shadow enhances or dampens damage dealt within.

Master Path Mysteries

Shadowscape
7 Grasping Shadows: Tendrils grapple foes and cause blindness.
8 Menagerie of Darkness: Transform nearby animals and vermin into shadow creatures and gain control over them.
9 Black Labyrinth: Shift portions of the real world into Shadow and vice-versa, creating a bewildering array of effects.

New Mysteries

Black Labyrinth
Master, Shadowscape
Level/School: 9th/Conjuration (Creation)
Range: Long (400 ft. + 40 ft./level)
Area: One-mile-radius spread, centered on a point in space
Duration: 24 hours/2 levels (D)
Saving Throw: Will partial; see text
Spell Resistance: No

The air blackens, the shadows of the alleys lengthen, and the wind shrieks as the Shadow and Material Planes collide.

Black labyrinth causes substantial disorientation within the area it affects. Direction and distance become impossible to determine, as the world itself bends and twists.

All attacks have a 50% miss chance.

Area effects with a source or target within the black labyrinth have a 20% chance of improper placement. If this occurs, the spell is centered 1d4 x 5 feet in a random direction from where the caster intended. To determine direction, use the rules for a missed splash weapon (PH 158).

All Search and Spot checks take a -10 penalty.

Any movement, from a 5-foot step to a full run and everything between, occurs in a random direction. (Again, use the rules for a missed splash weapon to determine direction.) Reroll any result that places the creature in an "illegal" space (in another creature's area, within a wall, and so on). A random roll that results in a fall off a ledge (or a similar mishap) is allowable. A successful Will save negates this particular effect, but that save must be repeated for each round of movement.

Any teleportation effects with a destination inside the black labyrinth deposit their passengers 1d% x 5 feet from the intended destination. If this would put them inside a solid object, treat as a mishap as described in the teleport spell. If this would send them outside the mystery's area, roll again. A teleport effect cast within the black labyrinth and intended to transport the subject to a point outside the affected area requires a successful Will save; failure indicates that the subject instead teleports to a random point within the blacklabyrinth.

When within your own black labyrinth, you are immune to the last two effects (movement and teleportation), but not the others. You may attempt to guide your companions through the labyrinth; this does not allow them to find their way automatically, but it does grant them a +4 bonus on Will saves to resist those two effects.

Deadly Shade
Initiate, Darkened Alleys
Level/School: 6th/Necromancy [darkness]
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Area: 30-ft.-radius emanation
Duration: 1 round/level (D)
Saving Throw: Fortitude negates; see text
Spell Resistance: Yes

Tendrils of darkness flow from the ground like smoke, filling the area with writhing, shifting darkness. A cold draft washes over your soul even as the tendrils rise.

The area of deadly shade is filled with shadowy illumination, as per darkness (PH 216). In addition, each time you invoke this mystery, decide if you wish the spell to deal or absorb damage.

If you choose to deal damage, anyone within the area who suffers hit point damage from any source must make a Fortitude save. Failure indicates that the subject gains a negative level. Success prevents the negative level, but if the individual is damaged again within the area, he must attempt a new save. These negative levels fade in 1 hour per caster level, and they never cause permanent level loss.

If you choose instead to have the deadly shade absorb damage, all creatures within the area gain DR 4/-- and energy resistance 4 against all energy types. (This stacks with other forms of resistance or other sources that grant DR X/--.)

Fearful Gloom
Initiate, Darkened Alleys
Level/School: 4th/Necromancy [Darkness, Fear, Mind-Affecting]
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Area: 30-ft.-radius emanation
Duration: 1 round/level (D)
Saving Throw: Will partial; see text
Spell Resistance: Yes

Plumes of blackness swiftly fill the air like a viscous fog. The shifting of shadow and mists just barely suggests the presence of screaming faces and indescribable horrors lurking in the dark.

The area of fearful gloom is filled with shadowy illumination, as per darkness (PH 216). All creatures within the area, or who enter it, must attempt a Will save or become frightened; on a successful save, they are shaken instead. If the creature has fewer than 5 HD, it is panicked on a failed save and frightened on a success. Creatures within the area must repeat the save each round until they either fail or leave the area. Once a creature has left the fearful gloom, the effects last an additional 2d6 rounds.

Grasping Shadows
Master, Shadowscape
Level/School: 7th/Conjuration (Creation)
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Area/Target: 20-ft.-radius spread
Duration: 1 round/level
Saving Throw: Will partial
Spell Resistance: See text

Stalks of shadows burst from the ground, as though desperate to escape the bonds of the earth, and immediately flail at everyone nearby.

This mystery creates an area of grasping tendrils that function as the spell Evard's black tentacles (PH 228), with one additional hazard: Anyone successfully grappled by a tentacle must attempt a Will save or go blind. A successful save means the individual is safe from blinding during that particular grapple, but if she escapes and is then regrappled, she must make another saving throw. The blindness is permanent until magically cured.

Menagerie of Darkness
Master, Shadowscape
Level/School: 8th/Transmutation
Range: 30 ft.
Area: 30-ft.-radius emanation centered on you
Duration: 10 minutes/level (D)
Saving Throw: Will negates
Spell Resistance: Yes

Nearby animals and vermin abruptly shudder. Their mouths and eyes gape wide as a torrent of blackness flows into them from the surrounding gloom.

Any animals or vermin within the emanation, or who enter it, must make a Will save or immediately take on the aspects of their shadow selves, temporarily gaining the dark creature template (Tome of Magic 158). You gain control over these animals, as per the spell dominate animal (PH 224). You can command any number of them as a single move action if you are giving them all the same orders. If you wish to give different commands to different animals or vermin, however, you must spend a move action on each order.

At any given time, you may have a total number of Hit Dice of animals and vermin under your control equal to 4 x your caster level.

Menagerie of darkness does not affect animals or vermin with Hit Dice higher than your caster level.

Quicker than the Eye
Apprentice, Night's Long Fingers
Level/School: 1st/Transmutation
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: 1 minute/level (D)

A faint layer of shadow flows like ink over your hands, staining them pitch black -- and then, in an instant, they appear normal once more.

You gain a +5 enhancement bonus on Sleight of Hand checks (which you can now attempt even if you have no ranks in that skill). This bonus increases to +10 at 5th level, and +15 at 10th level. In addition, if you invoke umbral hand (Tome of Magic 152), you may attempt Sleight of Hand checks through it.

Sickening Shadow
Initiate, Darkened Alleys
Level/School: 5th/Necromancy [Darkness]
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Area: 30-ft.-radius emanation
Duration: 1 round/level (D)
Saving Throw: Fortitude partial; see text
Spell Resistance: Yes

An oily black smoke rolls out of nowhere, obscuring sight and sound. It leaves a distasteful residue on everything within, and the scent is one of open sewers and putrefied flesh.

The area of sickening shadow is filled with shadowy illumination, as per darkness (PH 216). All creatures within the area, or those who enter it, must attempt a Fortitude save or be nauseated. Those who succeed are merely sickened. Creatures within the area must repeat the save each round until they either fail or leave the area. Once a creature has left the sickening shadow, the sickened effect lasts for 2d6 rounds. Nausea lasts for 1d4 rounds and is then followed by an additional 2d6 rounds of being sickened.

Trail of Haze
Apprentice, Night's Long Fingers
Level/School: 2nd/Illusion (Phantasm)
Range: Touch
Target: One creature
Duration: 10 minutes/level (D)
Saving Throw: Will negates
Spell Resistance: No

At your touch, the target seems almost to leak. A tiny plume of jet-black mist emerges from his flesh, first in a trickle, then an ever-increasing stream.

The mist emerging from the subject is an illusion that only you can see. It constantly drifts from the subject to your location, providing a nearly foolproof way of finding and identifying the subject. The trail stretches for a number of miles equal to half your shadowcaster level, so it is possible for the target to escape your detection if he moves fast enough (or teleports). If the subject leaves the plane, the trail ends, though it resumes if he returns before the duration expires. The haze allows you to track the target, identify him if he disguises himself, or even locate the square he is in should he become invisible.

Umbral Fist
Apprentice, Night's Long Fingers
Level/School: 3rd/Transmutation
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: 1 round/level (D)

Your hand turns jet black and seems to flicker as tiny wisps of shadow constantly leak from between your fingers and disappear.

For the duration of this mystery, you can, as a standard action, make a special attack against any foe within medium range (100 ft. + 10 ft./level). You must have line of sight to the target.

You can make any one of the following special attacks: bull rush, disarm, or trip. For purposes of adjudicating these attacks, make your touch attack as normal, if one is necessary. When actually resolving the opposed roll, however, substitute your caster level for your base attack bonus and either your Intelligence or Charisma modifier (your choice) for your Strength. Because the attack is made at a distance, it does not draw an attack of opportunity that such an attack would draw under normal circumstances, nor can your foe attempt to perform the same maneuver on you in turn, even if such is normally allowed."

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Re: [Tome of Magic] Retrospective: The Shadowcaster

Post by Angel Tarragon » Tue Jul 02, 2019 6:59 pm

Thank you!! ♥
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