[Tome of Magic] Retrospective: The Shadowcaster

Published 2000 & 2003.
The Book-House: Find 3.0 Edition products, Find 3.5 Edition products.

Moderator: Blacky the Blackball

Post Reply
User avatar
Ashtagon
Hierarch
Posts: 3686
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 5:45 pm
Gender: female
Location: Hillvale, Isle of Dawn
Contact:

[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?
Emma Rome, otherwise known as Ashtagon
Image
Overall site admin for The Piazza. My moderator colour is pink!

User avatar
Big Mac
Giant Space Hamster
Posts: 24034
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Gender: male
Location: London UK
Contact:

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. :)
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
Please join The Piazza's Facebook group, The Piazza's Facebook page and The Piazza's Google + community and follow The Piazza's Twitter feed so that you can stay in touch.
Spelljammer 3E Conversion Project - Spelljammer Wiki - The Spelljammer Image Group.
Moderator of the Spelljammer forum (and administrator). My moderator voice is green.

User avatar
willpell
Black Dragon
Posts: 3239
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:10 pm
Gender: male

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.

Post Reply

Return to “D&D 3rd Edition”