I'm doing some theory crafting involving a Shadow Craft Mage - and I'm struggling to wrap my head around just how far I can push the shadow evocation / shadow conjuration spells to maximum effect. I could also use a double check to see if I understand what the saving throws will be for the final effect.

Shadow Evocation

You tap energy from the Plane of Shadow to cast a quasi-real, illusory version of a sorcerer or wizard evocation spell of 4th level or lower. (For a spell with more than one level, use the best one applicable to you.)

Spells that deal damage have normal effects unless an affected creature succeeds on a Will save. Each disbelieving creature takes only one-fifth damage from the attack. If the disbelieved attack has a special effect other than damage, that effect is one-fifth as strong (if applicable) or only 20% likely to occur. If recognized as a shadow evocation, a damaging spell deals only one-fifth (20%) damage. Regardless of the result of the save to disbelieve, an affected creature is also allowed any save (or spell resistance) that the spell being simulated allows, but the save DC is set according to shadow evocation’s level (5th) rather than the spell’s normal level.

Nondamaging effects have normal effects except against those who disbelieve them. Against disbelievers, they have no effect.

Objects automatically succeed on their Will saves against this spell.


  • Can I use Shadow Evocation to cast a Meta Magicked version of Flaming Sphere (2nd level) that has been empowered (Requiring a 4th level spell slot but still counts as a 2nd level spell)?

  • Do I have to already know or possess the relevant meta magic feat to mimic this spell combination?

  • If I can cast the spell in this way - what are the target saving throws? Is the saving throw for a 5th level spell for disbelief then a saving throw against a 2nd level spell for the flaming sphere affect?

    I'm not sure if doing virtual metamagic would "overide" the shadow evocations set save DC's.

  • If all of that is possible (The broken part): Could one use the Meta Magic: Sanctum Spell on the mimicked evocation to lower a 5th level spell to 4th level to be a valid target for Shadow Evocation? Assuming of course we are not inside our sanctum.

Sanctum Spell [Metamagic]

A sanctum spell has an effective spell level 1 higher than its normal level if cast in your sanctum (see below), but if not cast in the sanctum, the spell has an effective spell level 1 lower than normal. All effects dependent on spell level (including save DCs) are calculated according to the adjusted level. A sanctum spell uses a spell slot of the spell's normal level.


1 Answer 1


To Paraphrase: Can I cast the 5th-level Sor/Wiz spell shadow evocation [illus] (Player's Handbook 277) so as to mimic the 2nd-level Sor/Wiz spell flaming sphere [evoc] (PH 232) that's been modified by the metamagic feat Empower Spell (PH 93)?

No. The shadow evocation spell, in part, says that it allows you "to cast a quasi-real, illusory version of a sorcerer or wizard evocation spell of 4th level or lower." Other similar spells of the shadow subschool like this one have language like the shadow evocation spell. None offer the option to mimic anything more than a spell. Such spells don't offer the option to mimic also having a feat, class feature, special ability, or other game element and then the option to apply that mimicked game element to the mimicked spell. That's beyond the scope of such spells. They mimic only a spell.

Such spells also don't offer the opportunity for the caster to apply the caster's own metamagic feats to the mimicked spell. For example, a wizard literally can't have prepared the mimicked spell—he prepared the spell that mimics the spell—, so he's generally unable to apply the benefit of metamagic feats to the mimicked spell. Likewise, a sorcerer isn't casting the mimicked spell but the spell mimicking the spell, so any benefits of metamagic feats must be applied to the mimicking spell not the mimicked spell.

You could apply the Empower Spell feat to the shadow evocation spell then mimic the spell flaming sphere with the shadow evocation spell so you seem to have cast a flaming sphere spell modified by the Empower Spell feat, but—as I'm sure you're well aware—that ain't the same thing.

Keep in mind that a DM may allow a caster to mimic spells so that they have an effect as if they were modified by one or more metamagic feats. The idea is that somewhere in the cosmos a wizard researched an original spell that had an effect exactly like, for example, the flaming sphere spell modified by the Empower Spell feat, and that spell is a Sor/Wiz spell of the appropriate level. (So far as I can tell, original spell research adds the original spell to every appropriate caster's spell list or else wizards wouldn't be able to cast other wizard's original spells that they happen upon.) The DM should make it clear, though, that such a previously unknown spell is not, for example, actually and truly the flaming sphere spell modified by the Empower Spell feat but an original spell named improved flaming sphere or something.

The risk, of course, is that this ruling can be extrapolated to encompass all sorts previously unknown spells that just so happen to solve whatever problem's currently present and that shadow subschool specialists—already among the game's most powerful casters—should have access to them all.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @Hey_I_Can_Chan If you want to edit my question for clarity please feel free - I know I can be a bit rambly / tangenial in my thought process \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 21:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PlayPatrice Your question's fine. I only restated the original premise because answering that premise with a negative meant that I didn't have to address the complicated subquestions. Another answer may disagree with this one, in which case it should address those subquestions. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 22:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I gotcha and Thank you for the detailed answer. Would be interested in seeing Ryan take a stab at this one. @KRyan \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 22:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PlayPatrice I come to the same conclusion. I am less confident that, say, empowered flaming sphere isn’t, already, a new spell—I consider the matter ambiguous—but no matter what it isn't a spell on the sor/wiz spell list, so shadow evocation can’t mimic it. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 23:45

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