Character Classes


All things fall into shadow, even light. Shadows do not represent the absence of light; they show the presence of darkness. Thus, shadow and darkness are not death or diminishment; they are the fundamental state of the universe, the constant that existed before, that exists now, and that will exist when all other things are snuffed out. So it is with the Plane of Shadow, that dark mirror to the Material Plane and many other realities. Shadowcasters tap into this most fundamental of forces and planes to work their dark wills. By tying themselves to the Plane of Shadow, they maintain a tenuous link to the ultimate force of existence.

The shadowcaster understands the true, primal power of darkness, attunes herself to the Plane of Shadow, and learns great shadow mysteries the equal of any mundane spell. These dark casters are workers of alien magic, possessing an occult understanding of the world and magic that even other spellcasters find disturbing. They are masters of a dark power - and perhaps, as some worry, its servants as well.


The shadowcaster is a potent magic user. Her abilities are tightly focused, making her somewhat less versatile than other spellcasters, but what she lacks in range she makes up in sheer capability. Shadow magic is unfamiliar to most enemies and, especially at higher levels, far more difficult to counter, disrupt, or dispel. Depending on the shadowcaster's focus and choice of paths, she might be an exceptional scout, a master of scrying, a commander of shadowy minions, a thief of life, or any combination thereof. Like most spell users, her role depends largely on the magic she chooses.

Those who walk the dark road of shadow magic must fortify themselves against the pull of the Plane of Shadow. As the power the plane grants grows, so too does its grip on a shadowcaster's soul. This constant contest between shadow and soul strengthens a shadowcaster's will and fortitude.

Few shadowcasters are leaders of adventuring groups, being more concerned with expanding their knowledge and understanding of the mystical in general, and of shadow in particular.

Shadowcasters must be both clever and confident, studious and determined; Intelligence and Charisma both impact their mysteries. Wisdom is useful for perception, particularly if they opt for any of the scrying-oriented paths. Because shadowcasters rarely wear armor, a high Dexterity proves helpful.

The majority of shadowcasters are humans or half-elves, individuals whose quest for power, understanding, or knowledge is at the forefront of their personas. Dwarves tend to see shadowcasters as agents of evil, even if they are unwitting ones. Elves do not necessarily consider them evil, but they do see shadow magic as unnatural, and therefore harmful even when their masters intend no malice. Gnomes are more accepting of shadowcasters. They view them with suspicion, but simultaneously respect their drive and wonder at the great arcane secrets they possess. Halflings fear shadowcasters for their powers but envy their ability to enter and explore the dark, hidden places. Half-orcs tend to distrust shadowcasters, although some lust after their abilities; however, few half-orcs have the mental capacity to be effective shadowcasters.

Shadowcasters deal with dark powers, magic often associated with evil, and live with a skewed perception of the world itself. Mastering the paths and mysteries, and learning to comprehend the world through the alien filter of the Plane of Shadow, requires an exceedingly disciplined, organized mind. Thus, while shadowcasters can be of any alignment, those with good or chaotic alignments are exceedingly rare.


You are a master of arcane secrets far greater than any other - or at least you will be. You understand what others do not: All power stems from darkness. All reality is a façade, and everything is symbolism; by changing a thing's reflection - its shadow - you change the thing itself. Other forms of magic, and other religions, aren't necessarily inferior or worthy of scorn; it's simply that they see only a part of the whole, the first layer of a deeper truth. You rarely take anything at face value or make snap decisions. You might be inclined to see conspiracies where none exist, so accustomed are you to looking for the shadows behind the obvious.

Mostly, you adventure to perfect your understanding and mastery of shadow. You likely prefer endeavors that allow you frequent use of your mysteries and other abilities, or those that promise access to ancient lore. You might have personal goals as well, and it's not uncommon for shadowcasters to adventure for the sake of riches, to avenge a past wrong, or for any other "standard" adventure motive.

If you are the scholarly type, you might eschew religion, preferring to focus entirely on your own abilities and those offered by shadow magic. Those of you who do subscribe to religion most frequently follow deities of darkness, mystic knowledge, and secrets, such as Boccob, Vecna, and Wee Jas.

You tend to view other spellcasters, arcane and divine, as both talented and misguided. You respect the abilities of these other classes, and acknowledge that they can perform feats that you cannot. Nevertheless, you usually maintain that darkness is the ultimate power of the multiverse, and those who devote themselves to other magic, and other powers, are deluded. You appreciate fighters and barbarians, who can handle physical threats while you deal with more esoteric matters. You enjoy the company of rogues, as you understand the rogue's need to hide from the eyes of others. You tend not to get along well with paladins, who are usually mistrustful; with druids, who view mysteries as outside nature; or with bards, who seem flighty and unfocused.

You possess fewer overtly damaging powers than spellcasters. Against a single foe, you are quite capable of dealing damage on par with any wizard, assuming you have selected the proper mysteries. Against a larger number of enemies, however, your area-affecting abilities are better suited toward weakening or impeding your foes so that your companions can finish them off - at least until you reach higher levels.

If you have selected any of the perception-related mysteries, you are particularly adept in arranging ambushes, flanks, and other tactical maneuvers involving surprise. Your abilities to see the battlefield from all angles, or in the dark, allow you to position your companions for maximum effectiveness.

At high levels, you can often call forth weapons and minions of darkness, enabling you to turn many battles through sheer weight of numbers, without putting yourself directly in harm's way. Consider gaining proficiency in armor and wearing it at this point. Only your master-path mysteries risk spell failure from wearing armor, and magic armor with a low arcane spell failure chance minimizes that. A magic shield is a particularly good option because it can be set aside when casting master-path mysteries but held in all other situations.

Continuing your development as a shadowcaster requires a substantial amount of time and effort. You must study arcane and esoteric texts, not merely to learn new mysteries but to comprehend the very nature of what you do. You must investigate the interaction of planes and forces. You might also elect to study shadow magic in a religious context, determining how the Plane of Shadow fits into your belief system - or at the very least how it impacts the beliefs of other shadowcasters, so you can better understand them.

When you are not studying, you are practicing, training your mind to comprehend the alien formulae of mysteries, and your body to channel ever greater amounts of shadowstuff. As you reach high levels, you might start to feel a bit distant from your companions. You could find it difficult to maintain friendships; the changes in your thought patterns and physiology leave you feeling much less human (or whatever race you are).

Mechanically, you should increase your Intelligence and Charisma as you attain levels. Beyond this, focus on feats and skills that enhance the mysteries you have chosen.


A shadowcaster is perhaps the most frightening magic user the PCs might run across. Her abilities are strange and dark, she can do things no other class can, and she practices magic in ways unfamiliar to even the most learned wizard. As villains, shadowcasters should terrify even confident parties. As PCs, they allow players to approach the use of magic in new and exciting ways. Perhaps most important for DMs, the shadowcaster is a walking plot hook; from the fearful and hateful reactions of those who do not understand her, to her innate connection to the mysterious Plane of Shadow, a single shadowcaster provides fodder for an entire series of adventures.

When not adventuring, shadowcasters spend the majority of their time in study, meditation, and contemplation. No less so than wizards, shadowcasters must constantly research new discoveries regarding their powers and the sources thereof and must review formulae and esoteric concepts so thoroughly that they burn them into their minds. This is not to say that shadowcasters have no life outside their mystical pursuits, simply that they have little time to devote to other endeavors.

Few shadowcasters are particularly famous; shadow magic does not lend itself to flashy displays. Many practitioners remain hidden from the eyes of those who would destroy them. Still, several shadowcasters have gained fame or notoriety, in the eyes of their comrades if not the outside world. These include Eddas Coradran, one of the most vocal leaders of the Parliament of Shadows, who believes the organization holds authority over all shadowcasters whether they acknowledge it or not; his daughter Irrin, the so-called "left hand" of the Parliament; Zathra Kuhn, called the Daughter of Night, one of the infamous enforcers of the Brotherhood of the Blinded Sun; and Hallair Shadowmane, an elf priest and shadowcaster who departed to dwell in a hermitage - some say in the Plane of Shadow itself.

Few people understand shadowcasters, and even fewer trust them. The common association of darkness with evil is simply too hard to shake, particularly since a goodly number of shadowcasters are evil, or at least uncaring of others. Most common folk react to shadowcasters as they would any other arcane spellcaster, unaware that they are dealing with something different. Should a shadowcaster reveal her unusual nature - perhaps by casting a blatantly shadow-oriented effect, or by allowing others to spot her shadow's unnatural movements - most people become unfriendly or even hostile. Spellcasters are also unfriendly, for they neither trust nor comprehend the shadowcaster's abilities. Clerics of gods of darkness and shadow, however, are often quite friendly toward shadowcasters, at least initially. Good-hearted shadowcasters can usually overcome these reactions, given time and opportunity, but it requires substantial effort.

Clerics of gods of light are particularly hostile to shadowcasters, and many remain rivals even if a shadowcaster has proven to be an ally. Similarly, evil creatures of darkness consider shadowcasters dangerous, fearing that the mystery users might too easily discover their own vulnerabilities and exploit their powers. For their own part, shadowcasters usually return such hostility in kind, considering each a potential threat.


Characters with ranks in Knowledge (arcana) or Knowledge (the planes) can research shadowcasters to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including the information from lower DCs.

DC 10: Shadowcasters are magic users who focus on the powers of darkness and shadow.

DC 15: Shadowcasters draw their power from the Plane of Shadow, shaping it into magic both familiar and alien to other practitioners. They believe that shadow, as both the reflection of the material world and the substance between worlds, is the only eternal force in existence.

DC 20: Shadowcasters grow inextricably linked to the Plane of Shadow as they continue their studies. They no longer have even the most basic biological needs, and their powers become so great that they can cast many of their spells as innate abilities.

A DC 20 Gather Information or Knowledge (religion) check in a very high-magic community, or one in which a god of darkness or night is worshiped, will reveal the existence of shadowcasters.

A bardic knowledge check can reveal the same information as these skill checks, but in each case the DC is 5 higher than the given value.


In an ongoing game, shadowcasters might be restricted to specific organizations, particularly those with which the PCs have not dealt. Maybe only a particular college or church possesses these secrets. Given the planar source of their power, perhaps they did not even exist in the world until recently, traveling there from elsewhere by means of the Plane of Shadow.

If you have a player with a shadowcaster PC, allow the PC to excel on occasion. The magic of the shadowcaster is more subtle and more alien than those of other classes. If the campaign consists primarily of large-scale battles, a shadowcaster might (at least at low levels) feel inferior to a sorcerer or wizard. Although she is not ineffective in such circumstances, she truly shines in battle against single, more potent foes. She is also very comfortable in circumstances requiring espionage or deceit, or when normal strategies have failed and creative solutions and abilities are called for.

While the shadowcaster's magic comes from, and focuses on, the Plane of Shadow, other options exist. In a cosmology where no such plane exists, shadowcasters might draw their powers from a deity of night, functioning as divine rather than arcane casters. Alternatively, they might draw their power from night itself, becoming more potent after sunset but less so during the day. Perhaps the "shadowcaster" does not manipulate shadow at all, instead using smoke or mist to accomplish similar effects.

Encounters with shadowcasters should play up the alien and mysterious nature of their abilities. This is not limited to their mysteries - although those are certainly the most obvious features on which to focus - but also the means by which they cast those mysteries, the odd knowledge and philosophies that make up their arts, and the odd interactions between mysteries and normal spells.

EL 13: Irrin Coradran(LN female human shadowcaster 13) is the daughter of Eddas Coradran, a Lord of the First House of the Parliament of Shadows. While her father generally engages in political, administrative, and research activities, Irrin is one of the most potent field agents of the Tenebrous Cabal, and holds rank as a Lady of the Second House. She might be investigating new members, researching threats to the Cabal, or seeking out other casters to trade, purchase, or (if all else fails) take whatever lore they might have.

Alignment: Any.

Hit Die: d6.

Class Skills

The shadowcaster's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge(arcana) (Int), Knowledge(the planes) (Int), Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), Spot (Wis).

Skill Points at 1st Level: (2 + Int modifier) x 4.

Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Table: The Shadowcaster

Level Base
Attack Bonus
1st +0 +2 +0 +2 Fundamentals of shadow, apprentice mysteries
2nd +1 +3 +0 +3 Bonus feat
3rd +1 +3 +1 +3 Umbral sight (darkvision 30 ft.)
4th +2 +4 +1 +4 Bonus fundamental
5th +2 +4 +1 +4 Sustaining shadow (eat 1 meal/week)
6th +3 +5 +2 +5
7th +3 +5 +2 +5 Apprentice mysteries (spell-like), initiate mysteries
8th +4 +6 +2 +6 Bonus fundamental
9th +4 +6 +3 +6
10th +5 +7 +3 +7 Sustaining shadow (sleep 1 hour/day)
11th +5 +7 +3 +7 Umbral sight (see in darkness 60 ft.)
12th +6/+1 +8 +4 +8 Bonus fundamental
13th +6/+1 +8 +4 +8 Apprentice mysteries (supernatural), initiate mysteries (spell-like), master mysteries
14th +7/+2 +9 +4 +9 Unlimited uses of fundamentals
15th +7/+2 +9 +5 +9 Sustaining shadow (immune to poison/disease)
16th +8/+3 +10 +5 +10 Bonus fundamental
17th +8/+3 +10 +5 +10
18th +9/+4 +11 +6 +11
19th +9/+4 +11 +6 +11
20th +10/+5 +12 +6 +12 Bonus fundamental, sustaining shadow (no need to breathe, eat, or sleep)

Table: Uses per Mystery per Day

  Mystery Level
Level 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st 1
2nd 1
3rd 1 1
4th 1 1
5th 1 1 1
6th 1 1 1
7th 2 2 2 1
8th 2 2 2 1
9th 2 2 2 1 1
10th 2 2 2 1 1
11th 2 2 2 1 1 1
12th 2 2 2 1 1 1
13th 3 3 3 2 2 2 1
14th 3 3 3 2 2 2 1
15th 3 3 3 2 2 2 1 1
16th 3 3 3 2 2 2 1 1
17th 3 3 3 2 2 2 1 1 1
18th 3 3 3 2 2 2 1 1 1
19th 3 3 3 2 2 2 1 1 1
20th 3 3 3 2 2 2 1 1 1
Class Features

All of the following are class features of the shadowcaster.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: You are proficient with all simple weapons. You are not proficient with any type of armor or shield. Armor of any type interferes with your gestures, which can cause your mysteries to fail when they function as spells.

Fundamentals of Shadow (Su): As a shadowcaster, you must master certain basic powers before proceeding to deeper secrets of shadow. These powers, known as fundamentals, function as supernatural abilities usable three times per day. You begin play with three fundamentals and gain an additional fundamental at 4th level and every four additional levels beyond 4th. At 14th level, you can use your fundamentals an unlimited number of times per day. You can, when gaining a new level, choose a new fundamental in place of another mystery. When choosing a fundamental, you can "relearn" an already known fundamental, thus gaining another set of uses of that fundamental per day. The save DC of any fundamental is equal to 10 + your Cha modifier.

Mysteries and Paths: You do not cast spells as other classes do, but instead invoke mystical secrets called mysteries. You know one mystery at 1st level and gain one additional mystery every class level. Up to 6th level, you can learn only apprentice mysteries. At 7th level, you gain access to initiate mysteries, and at 13th level you become able to use master mysteries. You can choose your new mystery from any category you have access to (including fundamentals). For instance, at 8th level, you could select either a fundamental, an apprentice mystery, or an initiate mystery.

Shadow magic progresses in very specific stages. You may not "jump ahead" in a path, although you need not complete a path if you do not wish to. Within a category (apprentice, initiate, master), you can only learn mysteries of a new level if you have learned at least two mysteries of a previous level, and you must know all previous mysteries within a path to select a mystery from that path. For example, you cannot learn congress of shadows (the second mystery of the Ebon Whispers path) until you know at least two 1st-level mysteries, one of which must be voice of shadow (the first mystery of that path). However, you can always select the first mystery in a path of a category you have access to, even if you didn't complete the lower category paths. For example, you could learn the shadow vision mystery, the first one (4th level) in the Initiate Veil of Shadows path, even if you know no 3rd level mysteries (all of which are in the Apprentice category).

Mysteries represent thought patterns and formulae so alien that other spells seem simple in comparison. As you progress, however, your connection to the Plane of Shadow grows stronger, and your mysteries become more ingrained in your essence. When you are capable of casting only apprentice mysteries, you cast them as though they were arcane spells. They all have somatic components, armor-based spell failure chance, and are subject to interruption (but they do not require material components, foci, or verbal components). Whenever you cast a mystery as an arcane spell, observers can make a DC 15 Spot check to note that your shadow is making different gestures from the ones you make when you cast the mystery (see Detecting Mysteries).

At 7th level, when you become capable of casting initiate mysteries (whether or not you choose to learn any), your apprentice mysteries become so much a part of you that they now function as spell-like abilities, and they no longer require somatic components. Your new initiate mysteries (when you learn them) function as arcane spells and follow the rules described above.

When you reach 13th level and become capable of casting master mysteries, another change occurs. Your master mysteries now function as arcane spells, and your initiate mysteries function as spell-like abilities. Your apprentice mysteries become supernatural abilities.

You can learn a mystery more than once. Each time you relearn a mystery, you gain another set of uses of that mystery per day.

You can use each mystery you know a certain number of times per day depending on whether it is cast as a spell (once), a spell-like ability (two times), or a supernatural ability (three times). The allotments per level are given on Table: Uses per Mystery per Day, but only apply if you are able to cast mysteries of the level indicated. For example, if you choose breadth over depth and know no 4th-level mysteries as a 7th-level shadowcaster, you cannot take advantage of the one use per mystery per day detailed in the table. Unlike spellcasters, you don't get bonus mysteries for a high ability score. Although you do not prepare spells, you must rest for 8 hours and meditate for 15 minutes each day to regain your use of mysteries just as a sorcerer or bard must rest and meditate to regain use of spell slots.

In order to cast a mystery, you must have an Intelligence score of at least 10 + the mystery's level. The save DC for your mysteries equals 10 + mystery level + your Cha modifier. Even though as a shadowcaster you do not "cast spells" in the traditional sense, your levels in this class count for the purpose of determining your overall caster level.

Bonus Feats: Beginning at 2nd level, you gain bonus feats equal to half the total number of paths you have access to, rounded down. For instance, most shadowcasters know the first mystery of two different paths at 2nd level, so they gain one bonus feat. If you learn the first mystery of a third path at 3rd level, you still have only one bonus feat, but if you learn the first mystery of yet another path at 4th level, you know four paths, and therefore gain a second bonus feat. Thus, you have a choice: fully master fewer paths and gain access to more high-level mysteries, or branch out into more paths and gain more feats but fewer high-level mysteries. You do not gain a new bonus feat for repeating a path you already know, and fundamentals do not apply for the purpose of bonus feats.

You must meet the prerequisite (if any) in order to select a feat as a bonus feat. The list of feats you can select includes any metamagic feat, Favored Mystery, Greater Path Focus, Nocturnal Caster, Path Focus, Shadow Vision, and any metashadow feat.

Umbral Sight (Su): When you reach 3rd level, your vision extends slightly into the Plane of Shadow. You gain darkvision out to 30 feet. If you already have darkvision, or gain it from some other source, the effective distance of that vision is increased by 30 feet. At 11th level, you become able to see perfectly in complete darkness, even magical darkness, out to 60 feet.

Sustaining Shadow (Ex): When you reach 5th level, your bond to the Plane of Shadow allows you to absorb dark energies, mitigating certain biological needs. You need eat only a single meal per week to maintain health. At 10th level, you only need 1 hour of sleep per night (but you must still rest for 8 hours to regain your mysteries for the next day). At 15th level, you gain immunity to nonmagical diseases and poisons. Finally, at 20th level, you no longer need to breathe, and need never eat or sleep.


Darkness spreads, and night overcomes the day. Experienced spellcasters who turn their efforts toward shadow might find their connection to primal darkness growing swiftly, at the expense of their previous abilities.

When a multiclass sorcerer or wizard gains a new shadowcaster level, she can choose to sacrifice a preexisting level of sorcerer or wizard, in exchange for an additional shadowcaster level. For instance, a 3rd-level wizard/4th-level shadowcaster who attains a new shadowcaster level becomes either a 3rd-level wizard/5th-level shadowcaster, or a 2nd-level wizard/6th-level shadowcaster. A character can exchange only one such level at a time. When "swapping" levels, make the following changes:

* Add 1 hit point, to represent the average difference between the sorcerer/wizard's d4 Hit Die and the shadowcaster's d6.

* When exchanging sorcerer levels, you must also remove an appropriate number of spells from the sorcerer's list of spells known. A wizard who exchanges a level does not lose spells from his spellbook, though some spells might no longer be available.

* Leave skills gained at that level as they are; these classes have the same number of skill points, and many skills in common.

* When replacing any wizard level at which you gained a bonus feat, you lose that feat.

* When replacing any level at which you gained one of the following feats as a normal feat (not a class-related bonus feat), swap it out as follows: Trade metamagic feats for similar metashadow feats, Spell Focus for Path Focus, and Greater Spell Focus for Greater Path Focus.

* You can't lose a feat or class ability that would make you ineligible for any other feat or prestige class you already have, even if this means you can no longer take advantage of the creeping darkness feature.

This notion of creeping darkness does more than add an alien element to shadow magic. DMs who introduce shadow magic into an ongoing campaign can use this as a way of allowing players to embrace the new material without having to abandon their existing characters.