Trying to build a Shadow Mage

I'm trying t build a Shadow Mage. HD 0, Fighter 1a (Cleric), Arcane 3, Divine 0, Thief 0.  I can trade off armor from Unrestricted to None and gain 4 bonus powers, I will choose weapons from the Narow Weapons category (prob lably swords and daggers plus crossbows, staffs and darts). I'll give the class two-handed and two weapons styles. 2375 XP. No thoughts on names for each character level.

I am building a spell list from other D20 products and from a few spells I'm creating using the rules in the Player's Companion.

What I need is four powers to round out the class. None of the proficiencies seem to fit (maybe hiding in shadows). I'm toying with the idea of summoning shadows, perhaps limited to once per day. I created a spell that lets me summon my level in Hit Dice worth of monsters (2+2** HD, so that's one shadow at level 3). It turns out to be a 3rd level spell. Taking it as a spell-like power can count as one of my four bonus powers that I traded the armor for, though I won't be able to summon shadows until character level 4 . 

I need three more powers appropriate to a Shadow Mage. Any suggestions?

I like the idea of hiding in shadows, but the thief skill alone is a disappointing roll, especially without move silently and leather armor to buttress it.  Maybe reskin Difficult to Spot, change "woods and underbrush" to "outdoors at night, or in the radius of magical darkness" hiding on a 3+, and 14+ while silent and in cover underground or in dungeons.

Blade Dancing may or may not be thematic, but I'm tempted to recommend it regardless.  Fighting 1 with no armor and d4 hit dice could use the AC bump.

As a point of interest, Darkness, being a 1st level spell, can be purchased as a custom power usable once per hour with a one round casting time.  But if this is on their spell list anyway you could go either way on making it a power.

Depending on their spell list, and how you're conceiving of shadow magic, they might have Innate Illusion Mastery, casting such spells at a bonus.  Or more directly you might give them Mastery over shadow and darkness spells, casting and researching them as two levels higher, and imposing a -2 penalty on saves against them.

Come to think of it, how are you conceiving of shadow magic?  What can it do, and what is it related to?  Any overlap with illusions?  What about with negative energy?  If it touches on negative energy, does it extend to power over undead?  Any resistance or vulnerability against undead?  What's the in-world history behind Fighting 1 as against Arcane 4?

Edit:  all the above was coming at it from the mechanical side.  Coming at it from the flavor side, what you really need as a class ability is the Cheirosciamancy [shadow puppets] spell from Pergamino Barocco.

I don't think of shdow magic as being related to undead or neative energy. I like the blade dancing idea; I can call it Mantle of Shadow.

One question I have. It doesn't seem to say in the Players Companion that arcane casters can't wear armor. Am I missing it? If not, then I can give my shadow mage some armor.

Spellcasters in ACKs can wear and cast spells in any armor that they are proficient in.

The Mage class is proficient in no armor, so they can’t cast spells while wearing armor; an elven spellsword can cast spells in plate, because they’re proficient in plate.

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I don't think of shdow magic as being related to undead or neative energy. I like the blade dancing idea; I can call it Mantle of Shadow.

One question I have. It doesn't seem to say in the Players Companion that arcane casters can;t wear armor. Am I missing it? If not, then I can give my shadow mage some armor.


Spellcasters in ACKs can wear and cast spells in any armor that they are proficient in. The Mage class is proficient in no armor, so they can't cast spells while wearing armor; an elven spellsword can cast spells in plate, because they're proficient in plate. [/quote]


Thanks for the quick reply! So I guess I'll make the Shadow Mage proficient in chain (one tradeoff) and give them the Summon Shadow ability.

If I use my custom rules for the Human Racail Category then I can build the Shadow Mage as Arcane 4 plus Human 2 (Fighter 1a, HD1). That would come to 3300XP. If I use cbwjm's idea of +1 level for Human 0, then the class level hlimit for my Human Shadow Mage is 12.


Level 1 0XP

Level 2 3300XP

Level 3 6600XP

Level 4 13200XP

Level 5 26400XP

Level 6 52800XP

Level 7 105000XP

Level 8 210000XP

Level 9 360000XP

Level 10 510000XP

Level 11 660000XP

Level 12 810000XP


Any input on the names for each level are appreciated.

Not sure on the levels for these names, but these are some names off the top of my head.

Living Shadow, Umbral Master, Night Stalker, Keeper of the Night, Master of Shadows.

You've got to name your first character Kolchak!

Dusk Apprentice, Dusk Initiate, Dusk Mystic.  Night Walker, Night Ranger, Night Stalker.  Shadow Sorceror, Shadow Mage, Shadow Master.  More or less in order.

I'd be curious to see the spell list you come up with (just by name, not asking you to type everything out).

Thanks for the input! I’ll have to decide whether to use my custom rules for class creation (Human racial class points). If not, then I’ll make the class Hit Die 1, Arcane 3.

I’ve been reading the first issue of Axiom and it looks like I can build a magic type (Shadow) that gives full casting ability with only three Build Points. And I can add bonus powers for only 75XP. That still leaves one Build Point for Hit Dice. Woot!

Using the article in the first issue of Axiom,I built a new source of magic (Shadow). Spending 3 Build Points gives you full casting ability while spending 4 Build Points gives you 133%. Here are the factors for each of the 11 spell categories:

Blast 1
Death 1
Detection 1.8
Enchantment 2.0
Healing 2.0
Illusion 1
Movement 1.25
Protection 1
Summoning 1
Transmogrification 1.25
Wall 1

Total 14.3

That comes to 750xp +500 = 1250 x 113.5% = 1420 plus 225 for 3 powers.

Build Points XP Caster Level
4 3065 133%
3 1645 Full level
2 1290 3/4 level
1 793 2/5
0 0

So, a Shadow Mage with one Build Point in Hit Die (500XP) and three Build Points in Shadow Magic (1645XP) needs 2145XP to reach second level.

Level Name XP
1 Dusk Apprentice 2145
2 Dusk Initiate 4290
3 Dusk Mystic 8580
4 Night Walker 17160
5 Night Ranger 34320
6 Night Stalker 68640
7 Shadow Sorcerer 135000
8 Shadow Master 270000
9 Shadow Mage 420000
10 Shadow Mage 570000
11 Shadow Mage 720000
12 Shadow Mage 870000
13 Shadow Mage 1200000
14 Shadow Mage 1350000

Saving throws, attack progression and weapon/armor permissions as Mage.

Three bonus powers to be decided.
Class proficiencies to be decided as well (acquired as Mage).

Spell list forthcoming.

I am that asshole who checks your math on the internet!  You still add a flat 500 xp to the calculated base cost, bringing you to 1600 xp for full progression.  Fortunately that's still in range for 3 build points for full casting.  +225 for 3 abilities is 1825.  Hit Die 1 makes it 2325 to 1st level.

this is shaping up to be pretty interesting so far, although the spell list is always the most onerous.

I checked my math and the cost of all the spell categories comes to 600XP. Then I added the 500 to make 1100XP. Then I added 13.5% for the better spell progression to get 1250XP. Then I added 225 for three bonus powers to get 1425XP.

But I appreciate your checking my math!

I get 1600 as well.

Blast - Base 2.25, selected 1. Difference of 1.25 at a base cost of 1300 = 1625.
Death - Base 1.5, selected 1. Difference of 0.5 at a base cost of 500 = 250.
Detection - Base 1.25, selected 1.8. Difference of -0.55 at a base cost of 500 = -275.
Enchantment - Base 1.3, selected 1.5 Difference of -0.2 at a base cost of 500 = -100.
Healing - Base 1, selected 2. Difference of -1.0 at a base cost of 1000 = -1000.
Movement - Base 1.25, selected 1.25; difference of 0 = 0.
Protection - Base 1, selected 1; difference of 0 = 0.
Summoning - Base 1.2, selected 1; difference of 0.2 at a base cost of 500 = 100.
Transmogrification - Base 1.25, selected 1.25, difference of 0 = 0.
Wall - Base 1.5, selected 1; difference of 0.5 at a base cost of 500 = 250.
Total source factors: 13.8.
Sum of all source factor modifiers is 1100, plus 500 gives us 1600.

You’re right. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I guess I can’t add! Thanks to both of you for keeping me honest. I’ll go back and change the XP progression in my previous post.

That said, here are the three bonus powers the class gets.

Mantle of Shadow (counts as two powers): Provides an AC bonus of +1. This increases to +2 at 7th level and +3 at 8th level. I’m addition the Shadow Mage gains a +2 to all Saving Throws.

Summon Shadow: Starting at 3rd level l, the Shadow Mage may summon shadows whose combined Hit Dice equal his level or less. He may do so once every eight hours with a casting time of one round.

Edit: I changed the enchantment factor to 2.0 which brought the XP down. I redid all the math.

I'd sugest running those spells through the Companion Spell creator (if you havent already) so they co inside with ACKs power level better.  In some cases the D&D spells are stronger or weaker than the design for similar kinds of spells within ACKs. 5th ed spells, for example are often more powerful at the start as the system doesnt inately scale their effects with character level, but scale with the level of the spell slot used.

I’m a little uncertain which category some spells should be built in (blast, death, summoning, etc) but I’ll try and recreate the spells using the Player’s Companion.

I tried recreating Infravision and ESP using the all spell creation rules. I can’t figure out which spell category to use. I tried detection but I didn’t see any way to model these two spells.

Edit: Clairaudience and Clairvoyance are giving me trouble as well.

I wouldnt worry too much about spells that ACKs has already done within the system as they can be presumed already to be balanced, and likely a few outliers when trying to punch them into the creation rules.  The larger issue is spells not done in ACKs as yet. (companion has good descriptions to the spell groups from page 112 too).

That said some guesses on my part:
Infravision: Transmogrification; "current form gains Infravision" (15); Target: "1 coropreal creature" (x1); Range: "touch" (x0.6); Duration: "1 day" (x3); Save: "beneficial efect" (x1); Source: "Arcane" (x1)  = 27 (15 x1 x0.6 x3 x1 x1) = Level 3

ESP: Detection; "Detect secret (doors) in range" (20); Target: "All creatures within range" (x1); Range: "60 feet" (x1); Duration: "12 Turns (concentration)" (x2?); Save: "Savings throw avoids spell effect" (x0.5); Source: "Arcane" (x1) = 20 (20 x1 x1 x2 x0.5 x1) = Level 2

Clairvoyance/Clairaudience: Enchantment; "Target (mesmerised) for duration" (30); Target "Creature of any HD" (x1.1), "Only living creatures" (x0.75); Range "60 feet" (x1); Duration "12 Turns (concentration)" (x1.2?) ; Save: "No Savings throw" (x1); Source: "Arcane" (x1) = 29.7 (30 x1.1 x0.75 x1 x 1.2 x1 x1) = Level 3

I've presumed for ESP, Clairvoyance, Clairaudience that despite being 12 turns they essentially count as half that (the 6 turns) for needing concentration as well to actually use the effect.  Likewise I went with similar effects with the braced part. eg ESP essentially looking for mental 'secrets' as opposed to doors while Clairvoyance/Clairaudience essentially taking root in another creatures mind.


Thanks! That helps lot.