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The level 7 Dark Moon Disciple monk substitution level grants the monk—in exchange for the supernatural ability wholeness of body—the supernatural ability shadow blend that says

In any conditions other than full daylight, a 7th-level Dark Moon Disciple can disappear into the shadows, gaining total concealment. Artificial light does not negate this ability, though a daylight spell does. (Champions of Valor Web enhancement "Benefits of Membership" 6)

(Links mine.) This seems a pretty significant—perhaps even overpowered—buff. A creature with just total concealment can't be detected in the same ways that a creature that's merely invisible can be, for example. Neither the 2nd-level Sor/Wiz spell see invisibility (Player's Handbook 275) nor the 6th-level Sor/Wiz spell true seeing [div] (PH 296) obviate this total concealment, and it seems that a creature that possesses total concealment is immune to attacks of opportunity and targeted spells and that attackers that do manage to locate the square he's in will always suffer a 50% miss chance.

Although it's negated by full daylight and the spell of the same name, once the monk's taken a standard action to activate it, the shadow blend ability has no duration: a monk that stays out of the sun possesses total concealment forevermore. The only downside seems to be that once the ability is activated, it can't be deactivated except by strolling into a sunlit area! (Even this weakness of is likely an oversight.) That seems the sole downside… apart from the fact that to gain the ability shadow blend a creature must take seven levels of monk!

Please, answers, confirm or deny my understanding of this ability: Have I accurately assessed the power level of the supernatural ability shadow blend or am I overreacting? Similarly, is the ability as difficult to overcome as it seems? I know a monk usually needs all the help she can get, but is the ability shadow blend too much?


Note: Gnarg the orc ex-barbarian-turned-monk is approaching his seventh level of monk, and this DM doubts his ability to effectively challenge the PC once the PC gains this ability.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "How can I effectively challenge this character?" might be a better question (or might just bait bad-subjective answers, not sure) \$\endgroup\$ – fectin - free Monica May 7 '18 at 1:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin I figured knowing if I was overestimating the special ability and how to overcome the special ability would allow me to challenge the PC. I don't need suggestions like Hordes of enemies that occupy every square! or Mirror matches! or Romantic entanglements! :-) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 7 '18 at 1:37
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Darkvision should probably counter this ability

It would seem to me that, as an ability based on being able to hide in shadows/darkness, this ability should be ineffective against any creature with darkvision:

Ignoring Concealment: Concealment isn’t always effective. A shadowy area or darkness doesn’t provide any concealment against an opponent with darkvision.

I admit you have to do a little extrapolation to get there, as the rule is written based on the normal rules about concealment/lighting, which only distinguish between bright light, shadowy illumination and darkness. The intent seems clear though - lighting conditions offer you no concealment against something that can see in the dark. It seems sensible to me to extend this caveat to the Dark Moon Disciple's ability, both for the sake of the fiction and game balance. The ability genuinely looks to be overpowered if a ready counter is not available, and it would obviously still be very effective against anything without such special sensory abilities.

Blindsight would also render the monk's concealment ineffective, but darkvision is a much more common creature/character ability. (Blindsense and tremorsense will work to locate the monk, but don't negate the concealment.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ I totally get it, but as darkvision is generally available to creatures of all types except animal, fey, and humanoid—and many specific fey and humanoids have it anyway—, I can imagine a poor dude whose PC waded through 7 levels of monk being awfully ticked at that ruling! Further, even blindsight doesn't seem to allow a creature to target the shadow blended monk with spells. I'm absolutely not dismissing your answer—in fact, I +1ed it—, but darkvision alone might be too easy. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 6 '18 at 13:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ (Then again, I guess a ring of the darkhidden (MIC 122) would only be a 2,000 gp Dark Moon Disciple existence tax.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 6 '18 at 13:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan can you clarify why do you think spells are targetted somehow differently from anything else? I personally may doubt about darkvision but as far as I can tell blindsight should be able to render Shadow Blend irrelevant. \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp May 6 '18 at 17:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @annoyingimp On Target or Targets (hah!) says, "You must be able to see or touch the target, and you must specifically choose that target. " Although blindsight lets a creature know where a foe it can't see is precisely, blindsight still isn't seeing. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 6 '18 at 17:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan That phrase is probably written from a perspective of a mundane human, who can't say exactly where something is unless he can see or touch it. If you can figure out exact location of that something by something else you can then target it with watever you want. If you want a rules citation "This ability makes invisibility and concealment (even magical darkness) irrelevant" is good enough, isn't it? Thing is far from irrelevant if it forbids you to target things with spells. \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp May 6 '18 at 18:08
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Do remember though, you are having to play a monk in to at least level 7. By this point wizards would already have 4th level spells. Aside from another substitution level at like...3 or so, which grants 1 round invisibility on a cool down, there isn't much else that the monk actually gets that's truly impactful.

So, yes, you are technically right to think that this is a relatively powerful ability. It is balanced out, however, by requiring 7 levels of monk to get. This actually means that you basically will never see it in any optimized builds.

With that said, the DM is specifically thinking that he can't challenge the monk. This means that it could be a problem at the table, regardless of absolute balance. (It also means that the DM probably doesn't know of the ways to negate it, such as Faerie Fire/Glitter Dust or Blind-Fight.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ none of those spells negate it. Blind-Fight does help, but very few creatures possess that feat and futhermore they still can't actually see the monk which is often important e.g. if the monk is hiding and using a ranged weapon. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil May 7 '18 at 6:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ (Actually, Gnarg's been looking forward to monk 7 not because of the supernatural ability shadow blend—that's really just a treat—, but because monk 7 means finally meeting the prerequisite of the feat Mantis Leap (Sword and Fist 7). Optimized? Meh. I mean, he's no wizard, but making multiple pouncing charges each turn means he'll hold his own alongside the other wacky characters in the tier 3 campaign I run.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 7 '18 at 8:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ In what way do the spells not negate it? Glitterdust is a massive area, and visibly outlines them. And Faerie Fire literally states that targets don't benefit from concealment. \$\endgroup\$ – Sango Dragon May 7 '18 at 15:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ You asked for a view as to if this ability is "too much". I gave you the answer, and even the caveat that the DM believes that he can't challenge the monk, so it might be for that specific table. So... not sure what response you were fishing for. \$\endgroup\$ – Sango Dragon May 7 '18 at 15:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ (Users don't know you've responded in a comment unless that comment includes @ immediately (no space) followed by the username.) The spell glitterdust doesn't eliminate concealment, although it reveals invisible creatures and makes it harder for creatures to hide. The spell faerie fire probably works—depending on the reading—, but the area's smaller and it's druid only. My comment—made parenthetically because it's not a big deal—was to address the statement This actually means that you basically will never see [shadow blend] in any optimized builds. I apologize if that was unclear. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 7 '18 at 16:53
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Short answer is YES, it is that powerful even though the drawback is getting 7 levels of monk.

The counters to this ability once aquired are Special Senses of other creatures and the Daylight spell since a lot of adventures are inside Dungeons or Constructions like temples, houses, etc.

This is one of the best Alternate Class Features of the game for this reason alone it can improve a class that is already behind by giving it a great boon.

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