The 20-level classes presented in books other than the Player's Handbook have become popular choices for players and DMs. Earlier articles in this series discussed how to import the classes from the Player's Handbook 2, the Complete series, the Miniatures Handbook, and Heroes of Horror. This installment focuses on one class from the Tome of Magic -- the Shadowcaster.
Shadowcasters use powers akin to magic spells by forging a direct link with the plane of shadow. Though often solitary, shadowcasters frequently start out as promising apprentice magicians who are guided down a unique path by a shadowcaster mentor. At other times, shadow magic is a familial tradition, passed from one generation to the next. The most likely sponsor of a shadowcaster is one of the churches associated with darkness -- Shar, Mask, Shargaas, Set, and Lolth. These churches nurture shadowcaster mystic theurges and noctumancers, realizing the benefits of an increased interest in darkness among their worshippers.
A small number of shadow magic organizations have developed across the Realms. All need to deal with the many preconceived notions and judgments that come from those who don't understand their magic or ideology. One such shadow magic organization is "The Hand Behind the Mirror," a group of shadowcasters based in Athkatla. They are mercenaries known for their ability to rapidly transport warriors via the plane of shadow. This has been especially helpful in the current conflict involving the Sothillisian Empire and the Stingers of Oaxaptupa.
All shadowcasters face prejudice and persecution in the face of righteous paladins and clerics who believe that anything tied to shadow is inherently evil. Below is one of the larger organizations, a group of shadowcasters of mixed power who devote themselves to understanding shadow in all of its forms.
Shadow Magic and the Shadow Weave
There is a fundamental difference between shadow magic and Shadow Weave magic. Shadow Weave magic users derive their power from a source of magic created by the goddess Shar that occupies the negative space between the Weave. Shadowcasters typically use the Weave to channel their magic directly from the plane of shadows. In this way, shadow magic has more in common with conjuration spells of the Weave than it does with spells cast via the Shadow Weave. Despite the differences in methodology and philosophy, many shadowcasters are naturally drawn to the Shadow Weave.
Shadow magic users can qualify for the three Shadow Weave feats described in the Player's Guide to Faerun. Those who take the Insidious Magic feat also gain an additional benefit. When they are capable of using their mysteries as supernatural abilities (rendering the benefit of the feat obsolete), they instead receive a +1 on the DCs of their mysteries used against Weave users. This bonus stacks with the Spell Focus feat and any other feat or special ability that increases the DCs of mysteries. This does not apply to mysteries from the transmutation or evocation schools.
In the aftermath of Demarch's Fall -- a bloody battle between the beguilers that served the Churches of Mask and Leira in an underground complex below Tantras -- some of the survivors searched for other forms of magic. Tired of creating illusions that couldn't adequately protect them against their brethren, the former members sought a more direct source of power. Ironically, they found this source in the undead-infested tunnels of what was formerly Demarch's Alliance. Many survivors feared retribution and fled to the far corners of the world. Those who came to be known as Demarch's Folly feel that the safest place is their original headquarters, a place that is avoided at all costs by most former followers of Mask and Leira. It is in this place that those survivors found the answer to their problem -- shadow magic.
During the Battle of Demarch's Fall, the extreme amount of magic employed opened a rift to the plane of shadow. Shadows and other monstrosities emerged from the rift, but so did several magic items, having been sucked through the portal after being lost on the plane. One of these was the tome of Suelivain. Suelivain was a shadowcaster from the City of Shade who lost a number of his possessions during a shadowstorm. The tome, along with several other items belonging to him, were scattered across the plane of shadow. When the rift opened in Demarch's Alliance, it sucked the tome into the Realms. From Suelivain's notes, the members of Demarch's Folly began studying the basics of shadow magic. Eventually, they sought out other references and individuals mentioned in the tome. Thus began their road toward shadow mastery.
At present, the members of Demarch's Folly are traveling the world looking for more information about shadow magic. Mercenary in nature, they supply services in return for knowledge and tutelage. They located Suelivain and traded back his book and other possessions in return for guidance. Suelivain has illuminated some of the key differences between Shadow Weave magic and shadow magic, and even joined their group as a mentor and leader. From there, it was only natural to seek out a Shadow Weave user of shadow magic. They found such a person in Zezania Tarth-Kelet, a Tashalar priestess of Shar who studied both shadow magic and divine magic. Zezania joined their band and guided their future endeavors.
They plan to travel further, searching for any artifact, scrap of knowledge, or individual with information about shadow in all of its forms. While many of the members are evil in nature, their quest is one of knowledge, not conquest. They are not above stealing or intimidating, but for the most part, they deal fairly with possessors of knowledge and items that they feel are relevant to their interests.
Demarch's Folly (Minor Arcane): AL NE, LE; 15,000 gp resource limit; Membership 20; Mixed (14 humans, 2 half-elves, 1 moon elf, 1 tiefling, 1 shade, 1 gnome); Dues 10% tithe
Authority Figures: Suelivain (NE male shade shadowcaster 3/wizard 3/noctumancer 7), Zezania Tarth-Kelet (LE female Chultan cleric 3/wizard 2/child of night 3/mystic theurge 3)
Associated Classes: Shadowcaster, Shadow Weave user
Associated Skills: Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (history), Knowledge (religion), Knowledge (the planes)
Requirements: At least 5 or more ranks in 2 of the following skills -- Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (history), Knowledge (religion), Knowledge (the planes); Class abilities related to shadows (shadowcaster, Shadow Weave user, shadowcrafter, shadowdancer, etc.) or member of a race related to shadows (illumian, shade, half-shadow dragon, etc.).
Favored in Guild Benefits: None
About the Author
Eytan Bernstein hails from exotic Long Island and spends his days writing and editing projects for numerous game companies. In addition to his work on Dragons of Faerûn, the Magic Item Compendium, and numerous other projects, Eytan serves as a partner and PR & Marketing Manager for Silven Publishing. Eytan enjoys hunting for gems and minerals in rock quarries, studying religion and theology, composing music, and playing with his many pets. For more information about Eytan, check out www.eytanbernstein.com. Send questions and comments for Eytan here.