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This is a followup question to this. Familiarity with the previous question is not required.
The feedback I received from my last question was considered as I refined the writeup of a new major version. All features are changed to some extent, but much of it is the same.

The major differences from last question are:

  • Hide in Plain Sight is moved into The Threshold, renamed to avoid confusion with vanilla.
  • Artful Dancer now also lets you tumble at full speed without penalty
  • Dancing Shadows has been completely rewritten, it is now vastly simpler as a triggered ability to cast Darkness when you reposition a foe.
  • Summon Shadow got a rewrite, it is now vastly simpler as it references the Shadow Projection spell. It also has a much more limited action economy than before and is moved back to 3rd.

The reasons I think the vanilla shadowdancer needs a fix:

  • What is the class meant to do? Casting? Sneak Attacking? Something else? It doesn't do enough to create a niche for itself.
  • For damage it’s wholly reliant on your previous class.
  • For spells it gains SLAs, but they arrive late and with very low CL and DCs
  • Shadow Jump doesn’t enhance mobility (Since it takes your Standard and always ends your turn)
  • Prerequisites are kinda high
  • Besides Stealth, none of the prerequisites matter to the class
  • Thematically very Shadow-, not so -Dancer
  • The capstone level is underwhelming
  • The real capstone is gained at level 1 & 3, making a much too tempting dip
  • Summon Shadow is either out of control early or a detriment late
  • Its features don’t interact with each other and are therefore less interesting than they could be.
  • Levels 4-9 in particular are incredibly weak.
  • It gives rogue talents, but it does not stack with Rogue, especially delaying access to advanced talents
  • Although its theme appeals mainly to Rogues, it overlaps with some Rogue features
  • It is so dependent on HiPS that it has very little going for it when the lighting is wrong.

Assumptions for this homebrew:

  • While it is intended for Rogues, it is not meant to be off-limits for non-rogues.
  • The campaign it is intended for has Unchained classes available and uses Feat Taxes (Combat Expertise and Mobility are given for free if you have their prerequisites).
  • Artful is a keyword, the class is not about fighting dirty, no tripping, poisons or intimidation.
  • The new focus on Reposition is not intended to synergize with flanking/stealth for Sneak Attacks, but rather to be another option for things to do when flanking or stealth isn't possible.

A super TLDR compared to vanilla:

  • HiPS is renamed, split up and rolled into a new feature: The Threshold, which alters how lighting conditions and stealth requirements work for you.
  • Shadow Jump is now available from Lv1 and gains improved action economy, making it useful in combat by Lv4.
  • Added 3 levels of Sneak Attack.
  • Swapped prerequisites to make a new Reposition focus.
  • New major feature: Dancing shadows, procs off successful Reposition and later also procs on moving through enemy spaces. Creates dim light to enable your other abilities.
  • Summon Shadow got a rewrite, it is less of a bomb as it does not have its own actions in a turn, it must stay close and is now a risk to you, but it also mimics you more closely and can be brought back easily if destroyed.
  • Most SLAs now share uses / day, also added Greater Shadow Evocation to the mix.
  • Levels stack with rogue for the purpose of qualifying for- and the effect of talents.
  • Unassigned Rogue Talents are replaced with fixed thematic options.
  • Features now tie into each other more. Artful dancer helps you or your pet shadow avoid AoOs, when you or your pet shadow moves through an enemy space they get to try and reposition that foe, when they reposition they cast darkness, darkness creates dim light to enable The Threshold and Shadow Jump.

The full version:


Unchained Shadowdancer

Requirements To qualify to become a shadowdancer, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.
Feats: Improved Reposition, Dodge, Mobility.
Skills: Stealth 5 ranks, Perform (dance) 5 ranks.

Special: At least one of the following must be true

  • Have visited the Shadow plane
  • Danced with a shadowdancer
  • Been subject to the cold damage of a Shae
  • Be a Fetchling or Wayang
  • Have the Shadow bloodline (Sorcerer or Bloodrager)

Class Skills
Skill Ranks at Each Level: 6 + Int modifier.

The shadowdancer’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Acrobatics (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Sleight of Hand (Dex), and Stealth (Dex).

Lvl BAB Fort Ref Will Features
1 +0 +0 +1 +0 The Threshold I (10ft dim), Darkvision, Rogue Talent (Uncanny Dodge), Shadow Jump I (Dimension Door, 20ft), Artful dancer, Dancing Shadows I (Darkness)
2 +1 +1 +1 +1 The Threshold II (Maintain), Rogue Talent (Evasion), Shadow Jump II (Move, 40ft), Shadowcraft I (Silent Image)
3 +2 +1 +2 +1 The Threshold III (Mirrors), Rogue Talent (Dance of Disorienting Shadows), Summon Shadow I (Full-round, Shared actions), Sneak Attack (1d6)
4 +3 +1 +2 +1 Rogue Talent (See in Darkness), Shadow Jump III (Dimensional Agility, 80ft), Shadowcraft II (Shadow Conjuration 1/day)
5 +3 +2 +3 +2 The Threshold I IV (Initiate), Rogue Talent (Improved Uncanny Dodge)
6 +4 +2 +3 +2 Rogue Talent (Fascinate), Shadow Jump IV (Dimension Assault, 160ft), Shadowcraft III (Shadow Evocation 2/day), Sneak Attack (2d6)
7 +5 +2 +4 +2 Rogue Talent (Slippery Mind), Dancing Shadows II (Free Reposition), Summon Shadow II (Swift, Copy actions)
8 +6 +3 +4 +3 The Threshold V (Concealment), Rogue Talent (Ledge Walker), Shadow Jump V (Swift action, 320ft), Shadowcraft IV (Greater Shadow Conjuration 3/day)
9 +6 +3 +5 +3 Rogue Talent (Improved Evasion), Dancing Shadows III (Shunt foe) Sneak Attack (3d6)
10 +7 +3 +5 +3 Rogue Talent (Defensive Roll), Shadow Jump VI (Dimensional Dervish, 640ft), Shadowcraft V (Greater Shadow Evocation 4/day), Shadow Master

Class Features
All of the following are features of the shadowdancer prestige class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiencies
Club, chakram, crossbow (hand, light, or heavy), dagger (any), dart, mace, morningstar, quarterstaff, rapier, sap, shortbow (normal and composite), and short sword. Light armor but not shields.

The Threshold I-V (Su)
Most can’t see the boundary. A perfect hiding spot!

1st: You may treat any space as being in dim-light if it’s within 10 ft of an area of dim light or darkness, unless the space is in bright light.
2nd: You can maintain stealth without need for cover or concealment if you are in dim-light.
3rd: You may consider any space with a small size mirror or larger to be a natural area of dim-light.
5th: You can enter Stealth when in dim-light even when observed. This does not work against creatures with See in Darkness.
8th: Your concealment in dim-light or darkness is not negated by Darkvision or Low-light vision.

Darkvision (Ex)
You gain darkvision 60ft, or add 30 feet if you already have darkvision.

Rogue Talents
Shadowdancer levels stack with Rogue to determine when you gain access to advanced talents, for prerequisites and effects of talents and features. You learn the following rogue talents or features.

1st: Uncanny Dodge (Ex) (If you already have it then you gain improved uncanny dodge instead.)
2nd: Evasion (Ex)
3rd: Dance of Disorienting Shadows (Ex)
4th: See in Darkness (Su)
5th: Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex)
6th: Fascinate (Su) (This is a third party talent)
7th: Slippery Mind
8th: Ledge Walker (Ex)
9th: Improved Evasion
10th: Defensive Roll (Ex)

Shadow Jump I-VI (Su)
All shadows lead into the boundary, they are all connected, shortcuts to one such as you.

At 1st level you are able to travel between shadows as if by a dimension door spell, however, the jump must begin and end in an area of dim-light. Your jumps are limited by a total distance per day, you can divide this distance as you please but each jump uses at least 10 ft. The distance per day starts at 20 ft / day but doubles every even shadowdancer level.
2nd: You gain the Flexible Shadow Jump feat and you can now Jump as a move action.
4th: You gain the Dimensional Agility feat.
6th: You gain the Dimensional Assault feat.
8th: You can jump as a Swift action.
10th: You gain the Dimensional Dervish feat.

Artful dancer (Ex) At 1st level, you add 1/2 your shadowdancer level (minimum 1) to Perform (Dance) and Stealth checks and you can use Perform (Dance) in place of Acrobatics to move through threatened squares, at full speed without penalty.

Dancing Shadows I-III (Su) At 1st level, when you successfully use Reposition, you may cast Darkness as a swift action, the area must cover you and your target and the effect lasts for 1 round, the CL equals your HD.

At 7th level, when you successfully move through an enemy’s space using Perform (Dance) you may attempt to Reposition that enemy as a free action.

At 9th level, when you successfully Reposition a foe you may immediately use your Shadow Jump as a swift action, instead of moving the target normally you instead bring your foe with you in the jump, the target arrives in an adjacent square to yours. This is subject to all restrictions of both Reposition and Shadow jump.

Shadowcraft I-V (Sp) You learn the following magical tricks. CL equals your HD, DCs are Charisma-based.

2nd: Silent Image at will, but the illusions must involve shadows or reflections cast on surfaces. At 4th this becomes Minor Image instead and is no longer limited to surfaces.
4th: Shadow Conjuration, 1/day for every 2 levels beyond 2nd, all subsequent SLAs share uses/day.
6th: Shadow Evocation.
8th: Greater Shadow Conjuration.
10th: Greater Shadow Evocation.

Summon Shadow I-II (Su) You twist your reflection out of the mirror, it joins you on this side of the glass!

At 3rd level as a full-round action you can make your shadow become a duplicate of yourself (henceforth “Ka”). This works like the Shadow Projection spell, except you are not comatose, the two of you share the same pool of hp and you divide actions between you in a turn. It never benefits from any bonuses to damage. You can dismiss it as a swift action. You take 1d6 force damage each round it is outside Line of Effect from you.

At 7th level summoning is a swift action, and whenever you take an action it may take that same action and resolve it immediately after you.

Sneak Attack I-III (Ex) At 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter you gain 1d6 of Sneak Attack as the Unchained Rogue feature. This stacks with other sources.

Shadow Master (Su) At 10th level, when you are in dim light, you gain DR 10/— and +2 luck bonus on all saves. Also, when you make a successful critical hit against a foe in dim light, that foe is blinded for 1d6 rounds.


Acknowledging problems that remain in the homebrew:

  • SLAs are not as late as they were, but DCs are still poor. They were left in mostly for utility and flavor.
  • Prerequisites are higher than before. I just hope I made the class earn its prereqs now.
  • Although its theme appeals mainly to Rogues, it overlaps with some Rogue features. Left those in, makes it good for non-rogues.
  • It may be even more powerful for fighter now than vanilla was. I have no good solution for this.

Getting to the point

I intend to submit this this to my GM, but I would like feedback before I do, to maximize the chances of it being approved.

The class is written to be general, but the home game it is intended for is running the Iron Gods AP, in which I play a Fetchling (Unchained Rogue 4) PC hoping to go into Shadowdancer. The game employs Elephant in the Room Feat Taxes but otherwise tries to keep 3rd party and homebrew content to a minimum.

My biggest concern is balance. It is supposed to be better than vanilla but still on par for a PrC, did I achieve it? Did I take it too far? As the author, I may be too biased to tell. I do feel that it would be ok if a player in my own games wanted to take this class, but I'm also itching to play it myself. So I need a homebrew-review.

Is this replacement for the Shadowdancer PrC sound?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm a bit late to the party, but what stops a character from carrying a great big mirror? Are there rules that you can't carry a small-size item around and hide with it? If not, doesn't Threshold III just mean you can hide anywhere? Huh, a character cloaked in mirrors at different angles would look pretty fun. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Nov 17 '21 at 18:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Phoenices Good thinking. The idea -of-course- was for the mirror to be static. I imagine a Small (Halfling-sized) mirror is too large to even put into a backpack. And if you have it strapped to your back, carried under your arm, or strapped to an animal, then I suppose-, but a mirror is a plane of brittle glass, the GM could easily have it smashed if it disrupts the game. Perhaps I'll just add the word "unbroken" in there to be sure. Threshold III is mostly for flavor, I don't expect it to be useful, perhaps when the PC prepares an ambush, but not for most encounters. \$\endgroup\$
    – Synapse
    Nov 17 '21 at 21:20
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The Threshold

The level 8 boost might have unintended side-effects. Instead of preserving concealment, preserve "Miss chances from concealment" - the same in most cases, but a lot less of a headache for a DM to keep track off and realize all exotic interactions concealment might have.

Rogue Talents

1/level is twice as many as actual Rogues get, though admittedly not being able to choose is a significant drawback.

In addition, the chosen talents don't emphasize raw power, so there's a good chance you're fine.

For other commentary, I will assume you don't intend to change anything.

To be player friendly, you could include the general clause that if they already have the talent, they get to choose one freely (excepting that Evasion and Uncanny Dodge have to promote their lesser version if you don't have improved)

Rogue Talent: Evasion

You get it at 2 and improved at 9. Most classes that grant evasion have the same clause about getting Improved if you already have Evasion, but that clause seems to be missing here.

Additionally, with the Rogue class as initial class, you'll already have normal Evasion, which means that either at level 2 or 9, in most cases you don't get anything.

I'd propose allowing Evasion to promote, and to get a Rogue Talent of choice if the level 9 would otherwise give nothing.

Uncanny Dodge doesn't have quite the same problem, because assuming Shadow Dancer levels stack with Rogue levels for flank avoidance or the related bypass, at least you're getting something.

Fascinate

To keep in touch with the theme, I'd restrict this to Perform(dance) checks for the specific version granted to the class.

Artful Dancer

I'd just start this at level 2, in order to de-crowd level 1 and keep the progression linear.

Shadow Jump

I love this ability.

However, as written, you can't use it in total darkness, only dim light. That doesn't sound intended.

To encourage people to get into this earlier, you could add the same feat-refund-if-you-already-have-it rule.

Dancing Shadows

The level 1 ability appears to want to give you the ability to cast darkness, but I know people that might interpret current wording to only mean if you can otherwise use it. I would add "As a spell-like ability", and add a limit of uses per day.

As a random idea, you could upgrade it to Deeper Darkness at level 4 or something.

As an aside, you may also want to decrease the radius somewhat. Dousing the entire combat area in darkness all the time might not make the rest of the party happy.

How exactly do the level 7 and 9 abilities interact? Can you move through someone, Reposition, and then jump with them, interrupting your move action?

It sounds like that's the intention, but it could be a bit more explicit.

Shadowcraft

The Shadow Conjuration/Evocation spells are very powerful. When used for non-offensive purposes, you and your allies can by RAW decide not to roll saving throws and auto-fail.

Aside from power-level, you get Greater Conjuration and Greater Evocation at the same character level as a dedicated caster like a wizard would. Sorcerers already have to wait longer than your Shadowdancer Rogue does. The Shadow Bloodline only grants Shadow Evocation at level 17 - 2 levels later than you, and shadows are just as thematic to that bloodline as to your class. But it's still a full caster while you're not.

Aside from that, I feel it also isn't very close to the rest of the class mechanically.

On the other hand, I miss ability to actually Spell-Like Darkness or Deeper Darkness.

On a more mechanical note, there's nothing noted about Caster level or save DC's. Most rules fallback on taking the minimum assuming some class casting it - for example, to cast Shadow Conjuration, you need spell level 4 - which is Caster Level 9 (for wizards) and spell DC 16 (10 + 4 from Spell level + 2 from ability modifier of lowest casting ability that still allows you to cast this spell).

Summon Shadow

This feels like you want to use it in combat. If so, it might be worth explicitly noting the range on the Shadow's initial position. The spell doesn't say (My theory is that that is because it's intended for infiltration or remote combat, not direct combat, given that you turn yourself helpless and the casting time is a minute).

There's a rather large difference between adjacent to you or right next to that pesky wizard in the enemy backline.

Furthermore, this looks like a great way to flank a target to get sneak attack damage, and that damage could be rather high if you and it attack the same target.

And with Shadow Jump, there really is no excuse to not flank a high-priority target. You could conceivably also start abusing teamwork feats, like Outflank to double flanking bonus to +4 and get AoO on crit. And while that's awesome flavor, it's also really strong.

A number of possible solutions:

  • Halved damage output when duplicating you (just divide all damage rolls by 2)
  • Reduced attack roll when duplicating you
  • No duplication of class abilities from non-shadowdancer classes.
  • Max rounds/day on usage
  • Can only move through Shadow Jump
  • Player and Shadow cannot both make AoO on the same provoking circumstance

To make it slightly less risky, you might want, as a higher level ability, allow to dismiss it as an Immediate action. Since that would prevent your next turn from allowing a Swift, it means you can't just resummon easily.

Shadow Master

DR 10/-- is very powerful. It's also the only defensive ability featured in the class, and feels a bit off-theme.

If I'd had to suggest a replacement, I'd change this to stripping the "No reposition into dangerous zones" out of that combat maneuver. At level 15, that's a nice bonus, and it evokes an image of a shadowdancer tripping and pushing someone into a spikey pit, which sounds great to me. This would also synergize nicely with the level 9 Dancing Shadows ability - move through, shadow step next to dangerous terrain, and drop them into it.

Closing Remarks

The class looks and feels great, and I'd love to play with it. That said, it definitely feels a bit powerful to me, mostly because of the Shadow Duplication spells, and the easy flanking with the higher level Summon Shadow.

While the class has a large focus on Reposition, it doesn't really boost it aside from Artful Dancer. Potentially interesting boosts might be:

  • Somehow getting Greater Reposition feat (very powerful if you have your shadow out, because dual AoO)
  • Bonus to Perform(dance) while in shadows ("Only in shadows" could be applied to Artful Dancer to preserve theme)
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is your commentary on Shadow Master intended to focus wholly on level 10 or that feature specifically? I ask because doesn't appear as though there's any change from the original PrC with regards to that specific feature. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 12 '21 at 22:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think a homebrew class like this needs to stand on it's own merits, so I don't think a reference to the original would be of much use. But FWIW, I also think it feels a bit off there as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gloweye
    Nov 12 '21 at 22:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good feedback! The omissions you pointed out will be fixed for the next version. Some errors among your points though. A) You mixed up the upgrade clause between Evasion and Uncanny dodge, and as the clause is part of the ability itself, it still applies here. B) Shadow jump works in Darkness, see The Threshold, which streamlines abilities that care about being dim-light (or nearby, or in darkness, or mirrors). C) Shadowcraft does specify CL and DCs D) Shadow Conjuration is Wiz 7, not 9. \$\endgroup\$
    – Synapse
    Nov 13 '21 at 0:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Aside: Shadow bloodline is a poor comparison IMO. The spell at 17th is late, would expect 15th (equal to Wiz) for an on-theme spell like that. But point taken that maybe this secondary casting theme should not give spells at the same level as Wizard. \$\endgroup\$
    – Synapse
    Nov 13 '21 at 0:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's perfectly okay if you don't agree with everything I said. For homebrew, which will always be more opinion-based since I didn't play with it, it's a balance. It's more the usefullness of some additional eyes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gloweye
    Nov 13 '21 at 8:28

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