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I was looking at possible prestige classes for my Warlock, and I thought I may have come across a really fun combo:

Shadowcraft Mage + Flee the Scene

If I am reading this right, I would eventually have a copy of myself that lasted 2 full rounds that could act like me and blast the everloving crap out of everything. Is that how this would work?

From page 122 of Races of Stone:

A shadowcraft mage can apply shadow illusion to any of the following figment spells: silent image, minor image, major image, persistent image, and programmed image.

From page 134 of Complete Arcane's description of Flee the Scene:

When you use this ability, you leave behind a major image of yourself in your place that lasts for 1 round. The image reacts appropriately to attacks as if you were concentrating on it.

Since Flee the Scene is level 4, then I could mimic any level 3 or less ability and have it function appropriately, right? Including brimstone blasts, summon swarm, wall of gloom (yay!), etc.

Sorry if that's not how things work, but it seems really cool to me if it does.

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Yes We Can...

On page 72 of Complete Arcane, the 'Specific Spell Requirements' section states:

A requirement based on a specific spell measures whether the character or creature in question is capable of producing the necessary effect, and as such, invocations and spell-like abilities that generate the relevant effect meet the requirements for specific spell knowledge.

Thus, with the lesser invocations Flee the Scene (Complete Arcane, p134)(replicating both dimension door and major image), Wall of Gloom (Complete Arcane, p129, 136), a gnome warlock would qualify partly via its own racial Spell-like abilities (dancing lights, ghost sound). This satisfies the racial and illusion spell requirements of Shadowcraft Mage (Races of Stone, p120-122).

To satisfy the 4th level Shadow subschool spell requirement, the warlock could take the Heighten Spell-like Ability (Complete Arcane, p80) feat, with Wall of Gloom as the targeted spell-like ability. It's eligible by 9th level, as it's 2 levels lower than half the warlock's caster level by then.

The warlock could become a Shadowcraft Mage at 10th level, and gets the Shadow Illusion ability by 12th level.

...Maybe

As to what would happen, if the DM agreed with the interpretation that the PC is casting the major image from Flee the Scene, then the PC would get all 3rd level Sorcerer/Wizard Evocations and Conjuration (Creation/Summoning) spells as at-will Spell-like abilities, at 40% efficacy at 12th level. This would increase to 60% reality by 14th level, at Shadowcraft Mage 5th, with the Powerful Shadow Magic ability.

Taking Heighten Spell-like Ability again at 12th for Flee the Scene would the warlock could mimic a 5th level Sorcerer/Wizard Evocation or Conjuration (Summoning/Creation) spell at 60% (eventually 80% at Shadowcraft Mage 5, level 14) reality 3/day.

As the Flee the Scene invocation would be a [Shadow] spell of 4th level, at that point, Wall of Gloom could be traded out for another invocation that mimics an illusion spell, such as Walk Unseen (Complete Arcane, p136). This should only be done if feat retraining (Player's Handbook II, p193) were allowed, in which case the Heighten Spell-like Ability feat should be retrained to focus on Flee the Scene at that time as well, saving a feat.

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Spells aren't the same as spell-like abilities

While the first sentence of the supernatural ability shadow spells of the prestige class shadowcraft mage (Races of Stone 120-2) refers broadly to the mage's "figments," the remainder of the ability refers to the mage altering his spells:

The subschool of these spells [that are altered by the ability shadow spells] changes from figment to shadow. A shadowcraft mage can use the altered spell to mimic any sorcerer or wizard conjuration (summoning), conjuration (creation), or evocation spell at least one level lower than the illusion spell. The altered spell functions identically to the shadow conjuration or shadow evocation spell, except that the spell's strength equals 10% per level of the figment spell used. (122)

(Emphasis mine.) Although a case can be made for that starting sentence opening the door to the ability shadow spells working with things other than spells, it's a really hard case to make: otherwise the ability specifies spellsnot spell-like abilities, soulmelds, utterances, or other potential figment-production methods—all the way down. With that in mind, it's likely the DM will rule that it's impossible to alter something other than a spell with the ability shadow spells, it just not working on, for instance, a spell-like ability, even even if that spell-like ability is (partially) based on the spell major image.

If the DM can be talked into allowing the effect of lesser invocation flee the scene (Complete Arcane 134) to be the equivalent of major image—the invocation really does say, in part, that "you leave behind a major image of yourself in your place that lasts for 1 round"—, then, of course, the trick does work, but then how exactly it works is up to the DM.

This player wouldn't count on the DM agreeing to such a change, and this DM would be reluctant to agree were a player to make such a case… in the abstract, anyway. (But see below.)

Such a PC would struggle to deal with level-appropriate challenges

The typical route to this trick is difficult and sad. A lesser invocation like flee the scene (Complete Arcane 143) typically requires a creature to have 6 levels of the base class warlock (5-10). A typical wizard must be at least level 7 to be able to cast one 4th-level shadow spell (like the spell shadow conjuration (PH 276)) so as to meet the requirements of the prestige class shadowcraft mage. Shortcutting this with the prestige class eldritch theurge (Complete Mage 57-60) is the way to go, though, allowing a warlock 3/wizard 3/eldritch theurge 4 to enter the prestige class shadowcraft mage. The creature then must advance to level 3 in the prestige class to use the supernatural ability shadow illusion. (Also see Warlocks and Prestige Classes (Complete Arcane 18-19).)

In other words, even if the DM were to allow such a trick to work, level 13 (or even level 16 if the prestige class eldritch theurge is unavailable) is usually a long ways off, and until then (and, perhaps, afterward, too), the character may be a bit of a burden. (In a campaign wherein the PC isn't a burden and with an agreeable DM it still might be better to take shadowcraft mage after finishing eldritch theurge, theurge builds being notoriously difficult to fill out and theurge builds benefiting more from advancing both classes typically necessary for entry, even if a cool DM-approved trick available.)

However, were a player to come to this DM and demand to play such a character (and couldn't be talked out of it), this DM would probably end up allowing it—it's the player's game, too, after all.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I've actually been looking a little more at this. Now I believe the warlock is capable of getting this PrC without using any additional classes, per the rules on specific spell requirements in Complete Arcane, p.72. Taking Flee the Scene, Mask of Flesh, Walk Unseen, and Nightmares Made Real would fulfill all requirements for casting 4 illusion and one shadow spell. \$\endgroup\$ – Wannabe Warlock Apr 6 '17 at 6:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WannabeWarlock If that entry method meets with DM approval, a single-class warlock enters the prestige class at level 11, which is later than the answer proposes. If that's worth mentioning, I can. Further, if the DM allows the invocations to meet the prestige class's requirements, the DM must also rule that the prestige class's special abilities now function in conjunction with the warlock's invocations and the DM must create house rules as to how the prestige class's special abilities and invocations interact! The special ability shadow spells still demands casting spells, after all. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 6 '17 at 12:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ C.Arc p72, 'Specific Spell Requirements' says SLA's meet them. Figment or Glamer Spells is a specific spell requirement, no? \$\endgroup\$ – Chemus Apr 6 '17 at 16:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Chemus CAr says, "A requirement based on a specific spell measures whether the character or creature in question is capable of producing the necessary effect" (72). The only example provided, however, is of the invocation darkness counting as the specific spell darkness (yes, the two share even the name). It provides no further guidance. So one DM may rule figments and glamers as specific enough, but another DM may rule the spell and spell-like abilities must be specific and identical in everything including name. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 6 '17 at 16:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I misremembered RoS's req anyway: it's silent image, et. al. (at the bottom of the ability). That's a set of specific spells, including major image. \$\endgroup\$ – Chemus Apr 6 '17 at 16:24

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