I have made a Shadow monster character using the stats found in the Savage Species book. I am trying to find a way to defeat characters or monsters with more than 5 strength before being destroyed.

Can a monster’s ability damage, which starts at 1 strength damage, be improved to do more damage?

If that includes feats, hard-to-find rules, or a possibility of doubling it during a critical hit, I’m okay with that. I just want to know if anyone has found a way to do so.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Jamie, welcome to rpg.se! Take the tour and visit the help center for more information. This is a good first question though you are asking two related things. "Can the shadow's strength damage be a critical?" and "What feat/abilities improve the shadow's strength damage?" In this case they are probably related enough to be in a single question, but for future reference we have a one question per post policy. Thanks for participating, good luck and happy gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Sep 15 '19 at 0:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ There are no rules for a Shadow PC, and no rules for Shadow with damage other than 1d6 or 1d8. Or at least they are not easy to find. Under what ruleset have you created this character in the first place? \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Sep 15 '19 at 10:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Don't worry about the question being closed/put on hold. Once you clear up the questions asked in comments it can be reopened. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 15 '19 at 12:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ This also contains two questions (1: can it get criticals, 2: can its Str be improved), which should be posted separately (once the details have been clarified). \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 15 '19 at 17:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I made the Shadow monster character using the stats found in the Savage Species book. This question did not start and broader than others on this site. I am simply trying to find a way to defeat characters or monsters with more than 5 Strength before being destroyed. \$\endgroup\$ – Amaranthine Sep 16 '19 at 4:05

A creature can score a critical hit with an attack that deals ability damage. The Monster Manual on Ability Score Loss, in part, says

If an attack that causes ability damage scores a critical hit, it deals twice the indicated amount of damage (if the damage is expressed as a die range, roll two dice). (305)

Further, if the DM rules that the feat Improved Natural Attack (MM 304) can be applied to a creature's incorporeal touch attack, the feat may increase the shadow's 1 point of Strength damage to 1d2 points of Strength damage (Dungeon Master's Guide 28). If it does, that means the shadow qualifies for the feat Empowered Ability Damage (Libris Mortis 26) so as to increase that damage to a whopping 1d2+1.

Presumably, changing size also increases that ability damage, but the typical way for a low-level creature to do that—the 1st-level Sor/Wiz spell enlarge person [trans] (Player's Handbook 226–7)—is closed to a shadow because of its undead type. Instead, rely on the 1st-level psion/wilder power expansion [psychometabiloism] (Expanded Psionics Handbook 105–6) that works no matter a creature's type.

However, a shadow PC will survive events that will kill the rest of a normal adventuring party. At low levels, a shadow's big worry shouldn't be surviving battles against pedestrian foes—normal foes of low-level PCs like goblins and kobolds will have no way to affect an incorporeal creature—, and a shadow shouldn't worry about contributing—if the 1 point of Strength damage leaves the creature unphased, the feat Ghostly Grasp (LM 27) lets a shadow use a normal morningstar, proficiency with it and all simple weapons granted by the type undead (MM 317).

Instead, a low-level shadow PC should worry about clerics and their ability to turn and rebuke undead. The former can destroy a shadow, and the latter enslave it—and both pretty much end that shadow's (second) story. Thus, instead of feats that increase a low-level shadow's Strength damage, I recommend feats that grant it turn resistance like Improved Turn Resistance (LM 27—8) and Lifebond (28). (While a PC shadow gets +2 turn resistance at level 7, that's way too late.)

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