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In the writeup for the magic item "Shadow Veil," Magic Item Compendium p. 133, it states "...In addition, while in shadowy areas, you are treated as if you had concealment against creatures lacking darkvision, blindsight, or some other sensory ability that does not rely on light."

Correct me if I'm wrong: doesn't everybody get "concealment" under those circumstances without a Shadow Veil?

My knee-jerk impulse is that they actually meant to write "total concealment," but I'm wondering if I may be missing an angle here.

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Yes, the concealment-granting aspect of the item is useless for the reasons you stated, and famously so.

All it is good for is getting a +1 deflection bonus to AC, and at 16000 GP, that is horribly overpriced.

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Given the low cost of a Ring of Invisibility (20,000gp, and core at that (magic items in later books are generally cheaper and more powerful)), a completely fair houserule would be to change that magic item to read 'total concealment', effectively invisibility, when in shadowy illumination.

Total darkness already provides concealment, and this wouldn't work in bright light, making it objectively worse than the Ring of Invisibility in two sense - it doesn't work against darkvision, which the Ring does - and it doesn't work in bright light (such as daylight) which the Ring does.

Still a weak item, but not quite as weak and useless as the 'concealment' version.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I’m not sure I agree that magic items became cheaper and more powerful as time went on. Some effects were re-evaluated, having been overpriced in Core (flight comes to mind), but for the most part items were priced around Core prices to keep things consistent, so far as I am aware. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Dec 14, 2013 at 16:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ A ring of invisibility is garden-variety invisibility, not greater invisibility, so it ends and has to be reactivated after every attack. If a Shadow Veil was meant to be total concealment it wouldn't end on an attack. \$\endgroup\$
    – Epiphanis
    Commented Dec 15, 2013 at 1:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Greater Invisibility/Invisibility thing is a good point - other than adding the Invisibility proviso (breaks if attack/attacked), I can't see a way to fix that problem. There's numerous ways to change the magic item to a different one while preserving the fluff, such as giving it a similar effect to the Child of Shadow stance from ToB, or perhaps increasing the concealment miss chance due to darkness from 20% to 50%, or having it function against creatures with darkvision, but most of those are large changes to the mechanics. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Commented Dec 16, 2013 at 10:56
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As with the solution granted by Jack Lesnie, I would suggest that the Shadow Veil either A) grants the Child of Shadow Stance from Tome of Battle, or else simply decreases the illumination of the wearer of the veil by 1 step for purposes of concealment only. Thus Bright Light -> Light, Light -> Shadowy, Shadowy -> Darkness.

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