Disciple of Shadow (3.5e Prestige Class)

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Disciple of Shadow[edit]

Light is but a prelude to shadow. It cannot exist without it.
—Unknown, Gnome Disciple of Shadow

A Disciple of the Shadow is a martial adept with an unnatural flair for deception and calculated attacks. He knows the best strike is one that is not only a surprise to the victim, but unnoticed by those around him. A disciple learns to slip through impregnable defenses and vanish as if into thin air. He values the convenience of a hidden dagger and the lethality of poisons.

Becoming a Disciple of Shadow[edit]

Rogues and swordsages are especially drawn to this class to supplement their skills at hiding and sneaking. Other classes can become a Disciple of Shadow provided they can meet the cut for this secret collective.

Disciples of Shadow mentors are the only ones that teach what they have learned and such mentors rarely remain in the same area for only a short time. Mentors may be found almost anywhere with a little luck, but their homes are generally well hidden and almost impossible to spot. A prospective student must often locate a mentor in the area before learning any level of this class and some may even be required to provide the mentor with payment for their services. In larger cities where secretive communities can thrive without interference, some mentors actively seek students and remain in their current residences for up to three years. These city-dwelling mentors are more well known than their traveling counterparts and usually maintain a constant tutelage with only a few open seats for new students.

Entry Requirements
Abilities: Dexterity 15 or higher.
Skills: Hide 9, Move Silently 9, Tumble 9.
Feats: Weapon Finesse or Shadow Blade.
Martial Maneuvers: Must know at least 1 Shadow Hand maneuvers and 1 Shadow Hand stance.
Proficiencies: Must be proficient with at least 2 Shadow Hand Discipline weapons not including unarmed strike.
Flavor: Find a mentor to learn each level of this class.

Table: The Disciple of Shadow

Hit Die: d8

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Maneuvers Known Maneuvers Readied Stances Special Abilities
Fort Ref Will
1st 0 0 2 1 Agile Athletics, Gathering Dusk, Empowered Shadow
2nd 1 0 3 2 +1 Evasion, Sneak Attack +1d6
3rd 2 1 3 2 1 1 Shadow Strike Focus, Quick to Act +1
4th 3 1 4 3 +1 Poison Use, Blacken Discipline
5th 3 1 4 3 Swift Recovery, Sneak Attack +2d6
6th 4 2 5 4 +1 +1 +1 Evening's Grace, Quick to Act +2
7th 5 2 5 4 Perfect Shadow, Hide in Plain Sight
8th 6 2 6 5 +1 Sneak Attack +3d6
9th 6 3 6 5 +1 +1 Shadow Stance Focus
10th 7 3 7 6 +1 Lethal Dexterity, Quick to Act +3

Class Skills (8 + Int modifier per level)
A disciple of shadow's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Balance (DEX), Climb (STR), Concentration (CON), Craft (INT), Disguise (CHA), Escape Artist (DEX), Hide (DEX), Jump (STR), Knowledge (dungeoneering) (INT), Listen (WIS), Martial Lore (INT), Move Silently (DEX), Read Lips (WIS), Search (INT), Sense Motive (WIS), Sleight of Hand (DEX), Spot (WIS), Swim (STR), Tumble (DEX), and Use Rope (DEX).

Class Features[edit]

A Disciple of Shadow is a stealthy martial adept who focuses on the Shadow Hand maneuvers and stances. Most of his abilities enhance his stealth and deadly precision. All of the following are class features of the Disciple of Shadow.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: As a Disciple of Shadow, you are trained in the use of the sai, siangham, shuriken and chakram.

Maneuvers: At every even disciple of shadow level, you learn one additional maneuver from any discipline you have access to in addition to the following: Desert Wind, Shadow Hand, Iron Heart, Stone Dragon and Tiger Claw. You must meet the maneuver's prerequisite to learn it. You add your full Disciple of Shadow levels to your initiator level to determine your total initiator level and his highest-level maneuvers known.

At third, sixth and ninth level, you gain an additional maneuver readied per day.

Stances: At third, sixth and ninth level, you learn a new martial stance. You must meet the stance's prerequisite to learn it.

Agile Athletics (Ex): A disciple gains the Agile Athlete Feat as a bonus feat. You gain this feat even if you do not fulfill the prerequisites.

Agile Athlete Feat: When making a Climb or Jump check, you use your Dexterity modifier for the check.

Empowered Shadow (Su): At first level, a disciple can pull the shadows that gather around them into their attacks, granting a short burst of power. As a swift action, you may add up to half your Disciple of Shadow levels to damage rolls for a maximum of 2 rounds or 4 attack, whichever comes first. This ability lowers or negates the Gathering Dusk ability as mentioned below.

Gathering Dusk (Ex): You can mold into the shadows surrounding you. You gain a dodge bonus equal to half your Disciple of Shadow levels to a maximum of 5 (PrC level 10). This dodge bonus stacks with other dodge bonuses. As a swift action, you may choose to shift some or all of the shadow around you to enhance your attacks (minumum 1 point) and gain Empowered Shadow for 2 rounds or 4 attacks, whichever comes first. Shifting shadows away from Gathering Dusk reduces the dodge bonus granted by the same amount to a minimum of 0. The disciple may recover Gathering Dusk by spending one full round to meditate. This meditation provokes attacks of opportunity. Gathering Dusk is replenished immediately after each encounter.

Evasion (Ex): At second level and higher, you can avoid even magical and unusual attacks with great agility. If you make a successful Reflex save throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, you will, instead, take no damage. Evasion can be used only if you are wearing light armor or no armor. A helpless or immobilized disciple does not gain the benefit of evasion. If you already have Evasion, you gain Improved Evasion (listed below).

Improved Evasion (Ex): Take no damage on a successful Reflex saving throw against attacks such as dragon's breath weapon or a fireball, but henceforth take only half damage on failed saves. A helpless character with this ability does not gain the benefit of improved evasion.

Sneak Attack: If you do not previously know a sneak attack or similar ability, you do not gain sneak attack from Disciple of Shadow levels. If you later train a class that grants sneak attack, you do not gain the sneak attack bonus from any previous levels of Disciple of Shadow but you may gain sneak attack bonus dice from any levels remaining. A disciple gains 1d6 sneak attack at second, fifth and eighth level. This bonus affects all other forms of sneak attacks.

Quick to Act (Ex): Starting at third level, you gain an additional +1 bonus to initiative checks. This bonus may stack with the swordsage class feature up to a cumulative total of 5. This bonus increases by 1 at sixth and tenth level.

Shadow Strike Focus (Ex): At third level, you gain one of the following abilities dependant upon which feat you have.

Weapon Finesse: If you have the Weapon Finesse Feat, you gain half your Dexterity modifier as a bonus (max 1/2 HD) to damage rolls whenever you execute a strike from the Shadow Hand discipline.

Shadow Blade: If you have the Shadow Blade Feat, you gain half your Dexterity modifier as a bonus (max 1/2 HD) to attack rolls whenever you execute a strike from the Shadow Hand discipline.

Shadow Blade & Weapon Finesse: If you have both feats mentioned above, you gain half your Dexterity modifier as a bonus (max 1/2 HD) to damage and attack rolls whenever you execute a strike from the Shadow Hand discipline.

Blacken Discipline (Su): At fourth level, you learn how to use Shadow Hand maneuvers to hasten your actions in combat. You may expend one readied, available Shadow Hand maneuver to gain one additional swift action this round. The expended maneuver is treated as a normally expended maneuver and may be recovered as normal. You may use this ability no more than 1 plus 1 per 6 initiator levels per day.

Poison Use (Ex): Starting at fourth level, you are trained in the use of poison and will never risk accidental poisoning when applying poisons to any weapon.

Swift Recovery: Beginning at fifth level, a disciple of shadow is completely enveloped by the shadow. In times of need, you may embrace the shadow to quicken attacks by recovering one expended maneuver with a single swift action. This ability functions once per encounter.

Evening's Grace (Ex): When you roll a natural 1 on an attack roll or saving throw, you can immediately reroll it. You must keep the result of the second roll, even if it's another 1. This effect functions twice per day plus 1 for every 3 levels of Disciple of Shadow.

Hide in Plain Sight (Su): At seventh level, you can use the Hide skill even while being observed. As long as you are within 10 feet of some sort of shadow other than your own shadow, you can hide yourself from view in the open without having anything to actually hide behind. In addition, if you are in a Shadow Hand stance, the distance is increased to a maximum of 20 feet from a shadow instead of the initial 10 feet.

Perfect Shadow (Ex): Beginning ag level seven, you initiate any Shadow Hand maneuver with greater precision. The save DC (if any) of any Shadow Hand maneuver you initiate increases by 1. Shadow stances grant +3 per total initiator level to all melee attacks and +1 per total initiator level to all ranged physical attacks. Thrown weapons are considered melee attacks for the purpose of this ability.

Shadow Stance Focus (Ex): At ninth level, you gain a +2 bonus to all saving throws whenever you adopt a stance from the Shadow Hand discipline.

Lethal Dexterity (Ex): If you have the feats Weapon Finesse and Shadow Blade and have acquired the tenth level of the Disciple of Shadow Prestige class, you gain Lethal Dexterity. Whenever executing any maneuver from the Shadow Hand discipline, you gain a bonus of 1 plus 1 per 2 initiator levels (max 11) to every non-fixed numerical value for that maneuver. In addition, if you are in a Shadow Hand stance, you gain +2 to Hide and Move Silently.

Campaign Information[edit]

Playing a Disciple of Shadow[edit]

Combat: A disciple is a melee fighter that focuses primarily on stealth and surprise. With a poor base attack bonus, disciples depend on their repertoire of maneuvers and stances to avoid retaliation from their target while dealing enough damage to overcome their enemies. They excel best when avoiding long fights.

Advancement: Disciples of Shadow are usually rogues and swordsages before entering this class and most will remain a disciple or return to their previous class choice. A few select Disciples of Shadow may add arcane or illusion-based magic to their repertoire.

Resources: Disciples are generally taught in small groups of no more than 5 by one mentor. Mentors maintain a secretive inner circle of elderly Disciples of Shadow. Each mentor may select one or two students in his or her lifetime to become a mentor. Newly appointed mentors are generally granted smaller groups of students until they have mastered the ability to tutor their students properly.

Mentors rarely remain in one location for more than a few days and most avoid becoming familiar or well known wherever they travel with the exception of mentors in metropolitan areas. As such, students are sometimes tasked with locating their mentor after he or she has continued on their travels. Students that cannot complete this task may attempt to find a new mentor without penalty, but the chances are rare and the lack of a mentor prevents such students from obtaining the additional knowledge needed to continue along the path of a disciples of shadow.

City-dwelling mentors remain in their current residence for up to three years at a time and actively seek out students if they are accepting any. As such, these mentors rarely have room for additional students. Some even frown on accepting students from other mentors.

Disciples of Shadow in the World[edit]

I forget sometimes that people don't understand shadows as I do. They don't know how to use them right.

Disciples of Shadow generally fall in wherever there are rogues, or swordsages. A newly inducted or trained disciple is normally found trailing a mentor. Their most noticeable trait is the faint shadow formed by Gathering Dusk although this is fairly easily missed by most observers (Spot 20).

Most other classes consider disciples to be peculiar rogues or assassins and treat them as such. Swordsages and stealth-based classes such as rogue and ninja recognize the difference between themselves and the disciple of shadow, and generally treat each other cordially, although not all together friendly.

Organization: Mentors keep roughly five students at any given time, but mentors located in smaller towns or outside of towns tend to juggle twenty or more.

In larger cities and towns, more than one mentor may take up residence and foster rivalries. In such cases, mentors sometimes task students with missions against the other mentor(s). Students with at least three levels in Disciple of Shadow are generally chosen and, when successful, are rewarded by their mentor.

Rivalries: Mentors in larger cities generally foster rivalries with each other and most tend towards destructive resolutions. In such cases, students are more focused on striking the opposed mentor and his or her students than on the teachings of a disciple. Open combat generally results in heavy casualties and run-ins with law enforcement in the area. Students that are caught or injured from these spectacles are generally banned from returning to their mentor or killed on site by either rival's students.

Alternately, some mentors form strong bonds with like-minded mentors in larger cities. Once allied, mentors maintain loose correspondence and actively aid one another if the need arises. If one allied mentor is attacked, his or her allies rally swiftly to retaliate. These conglomerates of mentors remain together as little as possible and only form under the most dire circumstances.

NPC Reactions: Most NPCs do not see a difference between Disciples of Shadow and the more common stealth-based class of the area and will regard them as the other class.

Disciple of Shadow Lore[edit]

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (nobility/royalty) or Knowledge (history) (or Knowledge (local) in areas where there are a great number of Disciples) can research Disciples of Shadow to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.

Knowledge (nobility/royalty) or (history) or (local)
DC Result
11 Disciples of Shadow study their weapons just like swordsages and are very particular of the weapons they use.
16 Disciples of Shadow can manipulate the shadows that surround them. They can kill before their target is even aware they are dead. They enjoy using poisons.
21 Disciples of Shadow can disappear even when their is no cover to hide them.
26 Disciple of Shadow Mentors can be of any race, age or gender. The majority of mentors will meet once an aeon for 25 hours. The three most junior mentors do not join this gathering. It is rumored that this meeting is to discuss world events or even treasonous acts planned by certain mentors, but that is rumor at best.

Disciples of Shadow in the Game[edit]

Adaptation: Disciples of shadow fit into any campaign where martial adepts are allowed. Campaigns that negate the use of shadows or stealth generally do not support the use of this class.

Sample Encounter: Tath Shrenan has been given a task by his mentor to remove the seven guards watching the main gate to the BeurHall Inner City. The PCs are either entering or leaving the gates as Tath initiates his attack.

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