Capstone Talents: Shadowdancer

Now to convert the Shadowdancer prestige class to capstone talent.

Prerequisites

This prestige class can be achieved after seventh level (10 ranks in Hide required) and spans ten levels.  I’m going to plan this to be a three-tier capstone talent starting at the Expert tier.

Skills: Move Silently 8 ranks, Hide 10 ranks, Perform (dance) 5 ranks.

I think I’m going to have to soften my position on prerequisites being met within the capstone’s tier.  This prestige class doesn’t require a lot of ranks in Perform (Dance) but it seems important to the nature of the class.  Depending how it’s done I might need to add “Trained in Perform(Dance)”, or even higher.  I’ll need to think about this.

Otherwise, Expert Move Silently, Expert Hide (both of which tie into other benefits, so that’s cool).  Depending how the talents are constructed they might even be merged into a single one, but I think I can see enough meat to keep them separate.

Feats: Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Mobility

Lightning Reflexes provides the equivalent of Combat Reflexes, Dodge is a prerequisite of Mobility in the RSRD so I will ignore it, Mobility suits this.

Expert Lightning Reflexes, Expert Combat Mobility (which leads later into Whirlwind Attack and the like; I can see ways to make this great).

However, if I apply all of the above I end up with five prerequisites.  That seems awfully high.  I am willing to drop the requirement on Move Silently because the focus is primarily on hiding, not sneaking.  It will be mentioned in the ‘often taken’ section.  Similarly, even though ‘dancer’ is included in the prestige class name, and many class members probably are performers, I can see an argument that it’s more decorative than necessary for the talent.  Removing those two leaves me with: Expert Lightning Reflexes, Expert Hide, Expert Combat Mobility.  This is likely sufficient.

Tier Benefit Prerequisites
Expert
  • Expert Hide
  • Expert Combat Mobility
  • Expert Lighting Reflexes
Heroic
  • Heroic Hide
  • Heroic Lightning Reflexes
Master
  • Master Hide
  • Master Lightning Reflexes

Abilities

The Shadowdancer prestige class has a large number of abilities granted.

Medium Base Attack Bonus

I won’t make this an explicit benefit nor a prerequisite because it can be gained via a common talent that is likely to be taken by characters with this capstone.

Good Reflex Saves

Good saving throw progressions often suggest prerequisites (rather than capstone talent abilities) because they can be gained using a common talent.  Considering the other abilities gained by this class (uncanny dodge, improved uncanny dodge, evasion, and improved evasion) Lightning Reflexes will be a prerequisite for the Heroic and Master tiers.

Hide in Plain Sight: A shadowdancer can use the Hide skill even while being observed. As long as she is within 10 feet of some sort of shadow, a shadowdancer can hide herself from view in the open without anything to actually hide behind. She cannot, however, hide in her own shadow.

Hide in plain sight is a function of the Hide skill, so I’ll require that as a prerequisite as well.

Evasion

Evasion comes with Lightning Reflexes; ignore.

Darkvision

Minor ability, may be treated as a Basic talent if it is taken as a standalone thing.  Expert capstone talents generally should count as “Basic+Expert” normal talents, so I’ll make darkvision part of the Expert tier capstone.

Uncanny Dodge

Uncanny Dodge comes with Lightning Reflexes; ignore.

Defensive Roll

RSRD considers this a tenth-level ability (tenth-level Rogue can gain it).  Normally this would be a Master-tier ability, but it’s part of a capstone so I’ll reduce it and include it in the Heroic tier capstone.

Slippery Mind

RSRD considers this a tenth-level ability (tenth-level Rogue can gain it).  Normally this would be a Master-tier ability and I might reduce it for use in a capstone ability, but I already have a Heroic-tier ability in Defensive Roll, so I’ll include this in the Master tier capstone.

Improved Evasion

Improved Evasion comes with Lightning Reflexes; ignore.

That solves the easy ones.  Now for the trickier ones.

Shadow Illusion: When a shadowdancer reaches 3rd level, she can create visual illusions. This ability’s effect is identical to that of the arcane spell silent image and may be employed once per day.

Once per day a third-level Shadowdancer can use silent image.  I can’t get excited about this, and will probably drop it.

Summon Shadow: At 3rd level, a shadowdancer can summon a shadow, an undead shade. Unlike a normal shadow, this shadow’s alignment matches that of the shadowdancer, and the creature cannot create spawn. The summoned shadow cannot be turned, rebuked, or commanded by any third party. This shadow serves as a companion to the shadowdancer and can communicate intelligibly with the shadowdancer. Every third level gained by the shadowdancer adds +2 HD (and the requisite base attack and base save bonus increases) to her shadow companion.

If a shadow companion is destroyed, or the shadowdancer chooses to dismiss it, the shadowdancer must attempt a DC 15 Fortitude save. If the saving throw fails, the shadowdancer loses 200 experience points per shadowdancer level. A successful saving throw reduces the loss by half, to 100 XP per prestige class level. The shadowdancer’s XP total can never go below 0 as the result of a shadow’s dismissal or destruction. A destroyed or dismissed shadow companion cannot be replaced for 30 days.

This might be more accurately called ‘Shadow Companion’.  I can see a fair bit of appeal to having this ability, but it looks like it can be satisfied by a common talent (Companion).  That suggests it would make a better prerequisite than a talent ability, and I’m not prepared to do that.  I’ll hold off my decision here. actually a little light, with just two prerequisites at the Heroic and Master tiers because I didn’t require Combat Mobility beyond that needed to get the Expert capstone.  Okay then, Companion is a prerequisite for higher tiers.

Shadow Jump: At 4th level, a shadowdancer gains the ability to travel between shadows as if by means of a dimension door spell. The limitation is that the magical transport must begin and end in an area with at least some shadow. A shadowdancer can jump up to a total of 20 feet each day in this way; this may be a single jump of 20 feet or two jumps of 10 feet each. Every two levels higher than 4th, the distance a shadowdancer can jump each day doubles (40 feet at 6th, 80 feet at 8th, and 160 feet at 10th). This amount can be split among many jumps, but each one, no matter how small, counts as a 10-foot increment.

Short-range teleportation, this looks like something that could be pretty good and worth taking the talent for.  This is likely the anchor of the talent benefit.

Tier Benefit Prerequisites
Expert
  • Expert Shadow Jump (20′/day)
  • Darkvision
  • Expert Hide
  • Expert Combat Mobility
  • Expert Lighting Reflexes
Heroic
  • Heroic Shadow Jump (80′/day)
  • Defensive Roll
  • Shifting Shadows
  • Heroic Hide
  • Heroic Lightning Reflexes
  • Heroic Companion (Shadow)
Master
  • Master Shadow Jump (320′/day)
  • Slippery Mind
  • Jumping Shadows
  • Master Hide
  • Master Lightning Reflexes
  • Master Companion (Shadow)

Shadow Jump is a nice trick, but even after I’ve extended its range a little it’s only one trick.  I think I’ll give a couple of tactical options here.

Shifting Shadows gives the Shadowdancer, on a successful Hide check, partial concealment.  Treat as a blur spell that requires a Hide check to cast.

Jumping Shadows gives the Shadowdancer, on a successful Hide check in a fight that is not fully-lit (which is to say pretty much everything that isn’t under good daylight) the ability to use the shadows around the fight to confound his opponents.  Treat as a blink spell that requires a Hide check to cast.

Closing Comments

I think this comes passingly close to the original class.  I’m a little sad about losing the Perform(Dance) prerequisite, but feel that it isn’t truly needed.  The ‘dance’ isn’t necessarily a matter of grace and rhythm, but of using pathways through the shadows effectively.

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