This is a follow up to my previous question: Is this homebrew roguish archetype Shadowdancer balanced compared to the other archetypes?

In short, I want to convert the 3.5e prestige class Shadowdancer into a 5e roguish archetype. I made an attempt in that previous question linked above, but there were some balance issues as pointed out by the accepted answer. I have made some revisions and wish to get another evaluation from the community.

As before, the parts in nested quotation format in italics are my design commentary.

Roguish Archetype: Shadowdancer

Operating in the border between light and darkness, shadowdancers are nimble artists of deception. They are mysterious and unknown, never completely trusted but always inducing wonder when met. Despite their link with shadows and trickery, shadowdancers are as often good as evil.

Flavour text taken from here (since NWN2 is where my knowledge of 3.5e primarily comes from anyway, so I might as well borrow their flavour text).

Summon Shadow. At 3rd level, you can summon a shadow, an undead shade. As an action, you summon a shadow, which uses the statistics from the Monster Manual, but its alignment matches yours and it cannot raise new shadows via Strength Drain. The shadow lasts until it is dropped to 0 hit points, at which point it disappears. If you summon another shadow whilst you already have a shadow summoned, the first one disappears. You can use this feature again once you finish a long rest.

I have decided to move Summon Shadow to 3rd level. It now uses the stats of a CR 1/2 shadow rather than a CR 5 wraith, but cannot raise new shadows, just like how I removed Raise Spectre from my wraith in version 1. My concern here is that Strength Drain might still be rather strong, given that it reduces the target's Strength rather than just dealing damage; would removing the Strength reduction help to balance this? Another concern is that the shadow, as written currently, remains indefinitely, although I did at least ensure you can't have more than one. Should it have a time limit?

Shadow Sight. At 3rd level, you gain darkvision out to a range of 60 feet. If you already have darkvision from your race, its range increases by 30 feet.

I still think this makes sense at 3rd level, similar to a Gloom Stalker Ranger gaining (or improving) darkvision at 3rd level. This has not been changed since version 1.

Shadow Illusion. At 3rd level, you can create visual illusions from shadows. You can cast silent image once per long rest.

I have chosen to move Shadow Illusion to 3rd level, because it did seem odd before that my archetype gained two things at 13th level. Also, my hope is that gaining it at 3rd level will counterbalance the weakness of the trait, especially since this archetype is now getting three things at 3rd level. I did consider increasing the number of uses, say 3 times per long rest or something, but I didn't want to front load this archetype more than it already is now.

Shadow Jump. At 9th level, you gain the ability to step from one shadow into another. When you are in dim light or darkness, as a bonus action you can teleport up to 60 feet to an unoccupied space you can see that is also in dim light or darkness. You then have advantage on the first melee attack you make before the end of the turn.

This is unchanged since version 1, I'm still happy with this. It's the same as a Way of Shadows monk, except the Shadowdancer has to wait for three more levels before they get it.

Shadowy Dodge. Starting at 13th level, you can dodge in unforeseen ways, with wisps of supernatural shadow around you. Whenever a creature makes an attack roll against you and doesn't have advantage on the roll, you can use your reaction to impose disadvantage on it. You must use this feature before you know the outcome of the attack roll.

Taken directly from the Gloom Stalker ranger. I'm still happy with this from version 1, although now it's all you get at 13th level rather than getting it alongside Shadow Illusion. Since it competes with Uncanny Dodge for the rogue's reaction, I don't see it as being too strong, especially since that's all you get at this level now.

Hide in Plain Sight. Starting at 17th level, you can hide from your enemies even while being observed. You can take the Hide action even when you are in plain sight of the creatures you are trying to hide from so long as you are within dim light. However, you cannot try to hide using your own shadow.

This has now been moved to 17th level, since it did seem too strong as a 3rd level rogue feature. I'm comparing it to the warlock invocation Shroud of Shadow, which is basically at-will casting of the invisibility spell (which warlocks can only take upon reaching 15th level); this isn't quite that, since you're not actually invisible, but on the other hand, given how high the rogue's Stealth modifier is likely to be at this level, it's almost the same thing.

My main concerns are:

  • whether or not Hide in Plain Sight is balanced, meaning not too powerful, but on the other hand, not too weak (it is supposed to be a 17 level ability, the Shadowdancer's capstone);
  • front loading the archetype with three abilities (although I've seen official archetypes do this, so it's more about whether these three abilities are balanced at 3rd level);
  • whether the Summon Shadow feature is balanced (in particular regarding it's Strength Drain and the fact that it lasts indefinitely).

I think I'm happy with everything else.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Since you seem worried about front loading the subclass, do you want answers to take into account multiclassing? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 11, 2020 at 14:34
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 Not as it's primary focus, but yes; the impact that me front loading the class somewhat might have on multiclassed characters was a concern of mine... \$\endgroup\$
    – NathanS
    Commented May 11, 2020 at 14:38

1 Answer 1


Personally, I would vote for changing Shadowy Jump to "..first weapon attack," rather than "first melee attack," helping to differentiate it from the monk feature. Also, you can flavorfully add it in as an additional way to use your Cunning action, rather than as a standalone bonus action, although it functions the same in either case in that regard.

Hide In Plain Sight actually seems a bit weak as a capstone ability to me, at least in this edition. The problem is that it's only giving you advantage on one attack, after which your position is revealed, effectively doing the same thing that Shadowy Jump does, and you got that 8 levels earlier. If you're keeping it as it is, I would definitely include "dim light or darkness," since by RAW, it would only work in dim light.

Spitballing here, but I think something like this would be a thematically good feature for this subclass..

Slip Into Shadows. When you reach 17th level, you can fade into the darkness. While you are in dim light or darkness, you can use a bonus action to become invisible until the start of your next turn. You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Dexterity modifier (minimum of once). You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.

As for the "frontloading," I don't think it seems very excessive to me. Two utility features, and one combat feature. I will say that I think the shadow seems quite weak as it stands, though, with the exception of the reduction to strength; this can pretty easily be remedied by including that its health is equal to 5 times your level in this class, not unlike pets from other subclasses, and removing the strength reduction. I would also consider making it scale with your proficiency bonus.

Summon Shadow. At 3rd level, you can summon a shadow, an undead shade. As an action, you summon a shadow, which uses the statistics from the Monster Manual except where noted here. The shadow's alignment matches yours and it cannot reduce a target's strength or raise new shadows via Strength Drain. It has a number of hit points equal to your 5 times your level in this class, and the following numbers increase by 1 when your proficiency bonus increases by 1: the shadow's skill and saving throw bonuses, and the bonuses to hit and damage rolls of its strength drain attack.

The shadow lasts until it is dropped to 0 hit points, at which point it disappears. If you summon another shadow whilst you already have a shadow summoned, the first one disappears. You can use this feature again once you finish a long rest.

Beyond what I've mentioned, everything seems quite fair to me. Even as it stands, it's a pretty fine subclass. Cheers.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your suggestions; also, I definitely meant "dim light and darkness", but totally forgot to mention darkness, so thanks for catching that! \$\endgroup\$
    – NathanS
    Commented May 11, 2020 at 16:29

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .