I am looking into making a character that will go into the Shadowsmith prestige class from Tome of Magic page 132.

I want to get into it as soon as I can so I am looking mainly for a class that has all the craft skills (3 craft skills at the start) and the 2 knowledge skills learned.

Is there a class that has all of that?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Shadowsmith requires 1 of 3 Craft skills, not all 3: it’s really easy to miss, but there is an or in there. And no class in the game gets some Craft skills but not others in-class. But as my answer tried to explain, literally every class in the game can qualify for this prestige class pretty easily, and even qualifying as soon as possible can be done with nearly any full-BAB class. To be re-opened, you would have to really specify a lot of details about the kind of character you want. That said, as I also discussed in my answer, it may not be worth doing so here. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jul 17, 2019 at 12:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Did not see the or in there so that definitely helps, and I did read your answer and relooked at the class and decided it wasn't worth going into for just being able to pull weapons out of the shadows. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 17, 2019 at 15:22

1 Answer 1


Qualifying for shadowsmith

The prerequisites for shadowsmith are among the easiest in the entire game. Literally any class in the game with enough skill points can qualify by 10th level at the latest (when a class with poor BAB gets the +5 the class requires), since even cross-class the skill requirements are reachable by then. If you did have to take all of those skill ranks cross-class, it would require 22 skill points—not unreasonable at 10th level where that actually means less than 2 skill points per level, so even a 2+Int class gets there with Int 10.

Realistically, you want to qualify by 5th level by taking a full-BAB class. You cannot get 5 ranks in a skill at 5th level unless it is in-class, but luckily enough, almost every class in the game gets Craft in-class. The only full-BAB exceptions I can find is the Player’s Handbook II knight and the Dragon Compendium battle dancer.1 With Craft out of the way, the 3 ranks in each of Knowledge (arcana) and Knowledge (the planes) can trivially be achieved even cross-class: 3 ranks is within the cross-class limit at 5th level, and 17 total skill points to qualify is just 1 skill point over 2 skill points per level. Since shadowsmith uses Intelligence, so you probably are going to want more than Int 10 anyway.

So ultimately the answer to this question is

“Take any full-BAB class in the game aside from the battle dancer or knight,1 and have at least 3 skill points per level.”

If 6 wasted skill points on the Knowledge skills bothers you, the Player’s Handbook II duskblade and the Magic of Incarnum soulborn get both in-class alongside full-BAB and Craft. The duskblade has a kind of thematic name here, and also leverages Intelligence, but giving up on your duskblade spellcasting for the sake of shadowsmith is a poor idea. Soulborn involves giving up less, since it’s a terrible class, but it’s also a terrible class, so you don’t get much out of it, either.

In addition, the Education feat from Eberron Campaign Setting or the Well Read feat from Dragon vol. 315 can get you all Knowledge skills in-class, regardless of class. Keeper of Forbidden Lore from Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss can get you Knowledge (the planes), but not Knowledge (arcana).2 Ultimately, spending a feat to save six skill points is a terrible trade, but if you really wanted to the options exist.

Leveraging shadowsmith

In addition to being a really easy class to enter, shadowsmith is also, unfortunately, a very weak class. It gets a grand total of 3 mysteries, each usable once per day, which is atrocious even by the standards of full-BAB half-spellcasters like paladins and rangers. Shadow crafting nets you mediocre weapons and armor; they’re free but you’re going to want to buy something better anyway, or if you don’t, you are a lot worse off than you should be. Touch of shadow, shroud of shadow, and armor of shadow are OK, but they’re pretty small bonuses overall. Armor of shadow in particular is something you are going to want to use for a fight but which has kind of tight limits on usage which means it may not be in place when a fight breaks out, and prior to 8th level when you can get it as a swift action, you shouldn’t be activating it in combat (as it is not at all worth a standard action in combat).

I seriously suspect that the strongest class feature the shadowsmith gets is its 6+Int skill points, but since its class skill list is so lacking, even that is gimped.

Generally speaking, a fighter’s bonus feats would be worth more than this, and fighter levels after 2nd are heavily recommended against in general. Many, many classes have much better things on offer. The most obvious recommendation for entering shadowsmith—duskblade—is so much better off just continuing to be a duskblade.

Discussions around the internet have also struggled to offer much in the way of suggestions—this thread suggests dubious interactions with shadowdancer or master of the unseen hand, homebrewing replacements for the shadowsmith, or straight-up combining shadowblade and shadowsmith so you get the features of both at the same time. There is a pretty neat suggestion of using the Book of Exalted Deeds rules for the Ancestral Relic feat as a better way to handle shadow craft, so that’s something—but your DM would have to agree and flesh that idea out. This post has the results of a competition trying to optimize shadowsmith, so that might have some useful ideas in it. But even then... the top entry combines shadowsmith with the Vow of Poverty from Book of Exalted Deeds, and even though shadowsmith does indeed allow you to actually have magic weapons and armor while maintaining the Vow, all the other crucial magic items you give up are still nowhere near worth it.

Ultimately, I think the best use of shadowsmith is probably the warblade from Tome of Battle—but basically just because the warblade is a really good class in general, and doesn’t get hurt quite as much by multiclassing. And weapon aptitude is potentially useful with shadow crafting weapons, though again, you probably want to just buy a weapon—save shadow craft for special situations where you need some particular item no one has. Probably the best way to play it is:

Level Class Special Maneuver
1st Warblade Battle clarity, weapon aptitude 3× 1st
2nd Uncanny dodge 1st
3rd 2nd
4th 2nd 1st
5th Bonus feat 3rd
6th Shadowsmith Mystery, touch of shadow
7th Shroud of shadow
8th Warblade Improved uncanny dodge 4th 1st
9th Shadowsmith Shadow craft (basic)
10th Armor of shadow +2
11th Warblade Battle cunning 5th
12th Shadowsmith Widen shroud
13th Shadow craft (enchanted)
14th Warblade 6th 1st
15th Shadowsmith Armor of shadow +4
16th Shadow craft (armor)
17th Warblade Bonus feat 7th
18th Shadowsmith Shadow craft (quickened)
19th Shadow craft (shadow striking),
armor of shadow (quickened)
20th Warblade 8th 1st

(Feel free to keep a 1st-level maneuver and lose a 2nd-level or whatever if you like.)

  1. The warrior NPC class from the Dungeon Master’s Guide also lacks Craft, but that doesn’t count.

  2. As far as I can tell, there are no full-BAB classes that get Knowledge (arcana) in-class, but not Knowledge (the planes), so Keeper of Forbidden Lore is probably not a great choice.

  • \$\begingroup\$ (I've always viewed the supernatural ability shadow craft as one of the game's most overpowered classes if read literally. I mean, seriously, it says, "You can create one item weighing a number of pounds up to twice your class level, or two items whose combined weight does not exceed that limit," and doesn't exclude nonweapon, nonarmor magic items. A pair of rings of 3 wishes comes in at under that weight limit, for instance. Of course, no DM would permit the ability to be used that way, but if the DM is a goldfish, you're all set. :-)) \$\endgroup\$ Jul 16, 2019 at 23:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Yeah, some of the threads discussing this have talked about stuff like that, or someone tried claiming that liquid isn’t the same as flexible so they could create alchemical items, or to just create shapesand from Sandstorm and then use that to produce flexible items. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jul 16, 2019 at 23:15

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