April 24, 2017

The Shadow

Otherworldly Patron
Comments from the Knuckle: It struck me as odd that the ultimate edgelord class didn't have a patron that hailed from the place of All Things Dark and Edgy. Borrowing some inspiration from both the Dishonored and Persona video game series, I set out to fix this. I had lots of fun making and playtesting this Otherworldly Patron, and I hope that you have just as much fun using it in your own games! :)
     Also, a quick shout out to Steampunkette of Giant in the Playground for helping me balance this Otherworldly Patron! It was a lot of fun collaborating with her, she's a really great and talented homebrewer, and she's got a lot of fun ideas for the warlock class! ^_^

The Shadow

Your patron lurks in the darkness of the multiverse, snuffing out the light in mortals' hearts. It is a Shadow that consumes all, a force hailing from the Shadowfell. Some Shadows will forge a pact with an individual because they see their own mysterious nature reflected within a mortal's soul. Beings of this sort include Alseroth, the Vexing; Crenzj, the Absent; Faryendun, the Murderous Mist; Rydensi, the Twilit Flame; Sevaera, the Convict; and Yzerin, the Incomprehinsible; there are many other cryptic and shadowy beings that hail from the Shadowfell and beyond which can forge a pact with mortals.

Expanded Spell List
The Shadow lets you choose from an expanded list of spells when you learn a warlock spell. The following spells are added to the warlock spell list for you.

Shadow Bonus Spells
Spell Level     Spells
1st                  inflict wounds, sleep
2nd                 pass without trace, spiritual weapon
3rd                 blink, nondetection
4th                 black tentacles, greater invisibility
5th                 dominate person, seeming

Heart of Darkness
Starting at 1st level, you can unlock the darkness within your heart. Your body transmutes into living shadow for 1 minute. You can perform this transformation as a bonus action on your turn, and you gain the following benefits:
  • You gain resistance to nonmagical bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from weapons that aren't silvered.
  • Your melee attacks deal additional necrotic damage equal to your proficiency bonus.
  • You can move through other creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain. You take 1d10 force damage if you end your turn inside a creature or object, and you are shunted to the nearest unoccupied space. Your movement is stopped by 5 feet of wood, 1 foot or more of stone, 2 inches or more of most metals, and a thin sheet of lead.
     You revert to your normal form early if your drop to 0 hit points or become incapacitated. You can end this transformation early (no action required by you).
     Once you use this ability, you can't use it again until you complete a short or long rest. 

Shadow Cat
Starting at 6th level, when you drop to 0 hit points, you can use your reaction to shift into a spectral cat made of shadow. Your gear merges into your body and your statistics are replaced by the statistics of the cat, but you retain your alignment, personality, and mental ability scores. Your shadow cat form gains a bonus to hit points equal to your Charisma modifier. While you are in cat form you are under the effects of your Heart of Darkness ability.
     If your shadow cat form is reduced to 0 hit points, you revert to your natural form and begin making death saving throws. If you regain hit points from healing magic, you revert to your normal form with that many hit points.
     Once you have used this feature, you can't use it again until you complete a long rest.

Agent of Twilight
Starting at 10th level, your ability to channel the Shadowfell has imbued you with innate defenses against the powers of its darkness. Your hit point maximum can't be reduced by necrotic energies. You also have resistance to necrotic damage, and whenever a creature deals necrotic damage to you, that creature takes the same amount of damage that you do.

Dark Persona
Starting at 14th level, the darkness inside you has grown considerably, allowing you to harness the power of your patron with greater mastery than before. You can now use your Heart of Darkness feature an unlimited number of times.

New Invocations
These invocations are available to warlocks of The Shadow.

Shadow Walk
Prerequisite: 9th level
You can step from one shadow into another. When you are in dim light or darkness, you can use your bonus action to teleport up to 60 feet to an unoccupied space you can see that is also in dim light or darkness.

Shard of Darkness
Prerequisite: Pact of the Blade feature
When you create your pact weapon as a shortsword, it manifests as a blade crafted from the shadows of the Darkforge at the heart of the Shadowfell. When you hit a creature with it, you can expend a warlock spell slot to deal an additional 2d8 necrotic damage to the target per spell level, and that creature cannot make opportunity attacks against you until the end of your next turn.

Servant of Darkness
Prerequisite: 12th level, Pact of the Chain or Pact of the Tome feature
You gain the ability to expend a warlock spell slot as an action to summon undead from the Shadowfell to your aid. Undead you summon appear in an unoccupied space within 60 feet of you. You choose one of the following options for what appears:
  • One undead of challenge rating 2 or lower
  • Two undead of challenge rating 1 or lower
  • Four undead of challenge rating 1/2 or lower
  • Eight undead of challenge rating 1/4 or lower
An undead summoned by this invocation disappears when it drops to 0 hit points, or when you lose concentration (as if you were concentrating on a spell).
     The summoned creatures are friendly to you and your companions. Roll initiative for the summoned creatures as a group, which has its own turns. They obey verbal commands that you issue to them (no action required by you). If you don't issue any commands to them, they defend themselves from hostile creatures, but otherwise take no action.
     The DM has the creatures' statistics.

4/24/17: Shadow Walk: bumped to 9th level
Shard of Darkness: No 1/turn limitation
4/27/17: Heart of Darkness: New restrictions on moving through creatures and objects.
Shadow Cat: You are under the effects of your Heart of Darkness ability
Servant of Darkness: Now for Pact of the Chain or Pact of the Tome
4/28/17: Shadow Cat: Clarified how death and dying works in cat form


  1. The only thing I don't like about this is the Shard of Darkness Invocation, but that's a problem I have with Wizards, not y'all. Besides that, this may very well be my next character. Maybe convince my DM to let me switch the cat form with a commoner, as a reference to what the character would be without the pact. Kinda like a Shadow of my Former Self, as it were. Kudos on this one!

    1. I'm glad you like it! I had lots of fun designing it and playtesting it!

      As with all the warlocks I've written, I'll be adjusting the "profane smites" when WotC releases official pact of the blade support in a book. The numbers haven't been a problem in my own games, but regardless, when I see something official, I will change it to match :D

      I'll be interested to hear how it plays for you/if you enjoy playing it! You can reach me here or on Twitter: @knuckleofvecna! I'm fairly active there :D

    2. Good to know! Following now!

  2. Is the rebuked safe from necrotic itself necrotic?

    1. He's asking if with agent of twilight, if the attacker is necrotic immune/resistant, then does the reflected damage apply past the resistance or gets reduced by it?

    2. They take the same amount of damage you do. So your resistance basically takes the necrotic damage and splits it 50/50. If I were DMing (and this is how I ran it in playtest) it does bypass resistance and immunity, since it's specific in its amount. When DMing I run the GOOlock's Thought Shield the same way.

    3. So, it's not so much 'they take X necrotic damage', it's more like 'they lose X hit points'.

  3. I like it alot but I think that it needs to also have some synergy with non melee warlocks as you might not be playing melee and the first level feature is not nearly as useful then.

    1. Personally (and maybe this is just me) I feel like there's already a lot of support for ranged Warlocks. Through Invocation choices alone, ranged Warlocks are set once they grab Agonizing Blast. You can play one with any patron.

      Melee Warlocks are trickier to pull off, and while the prof. bonus to damage is for melee attacks only, DR is useful for pretty much anyone.

      So while I can certainly see your point, I think that ranged 'locks are still great with this patron, and don't need a whole lot of support to do well.

  4. Would it be too OP if the player would have some bonus to stealth checks while in shadow form? Since he is a shadow...not many people can see him in the shadow or at night.

    1. It would be OP, considering they have _pass without trace_ on their list starting at 3rd level. +10 to Stealth checks for your party is nothing to sneeze at.

  5. What a great patron for bladelocks :D
    I love how Heart of Darkness is like a custom barbarian rage.

    1. Bladelocks were definitely on the brain! (Given that's my personal favorite Pact Boon, and Corvo wields a shortsword)

      I'm slightly (completely) biased, but I like the flavor of Heart of Darkness more than that of Rage ;P it's a decent enough buff to a class with a d8 hit die, while being fairly easy for DMs to bypass.

    2. Oh yes, I absolutely love the flavor it offers. I'm actually using a similar mechanic for a homebrewed Eldritch Knight :D

    3. (Also the Wraith stat block may or may not have been a huge part of where I was drawing inspiration for Heart of Darkness)

      Oooooh? Maybe it's just me, but while I love the official EK, I absolutely adore Variant subclasses 😍

    4. I've actually separated it into a separate class currently, almost like an arcane paladin :)

  6. Thanks awesome. My only concern is that it might overshadow the Spirit patron, what with giving a lot of the same abilities

  7. Cool. I like how heart of darkness works similar to rage while having an entirely different source.

    Shard of darkness currently means a 7th level warlock could deal:
    2x (1d8 weapon + 8d8 using slots +3 dex +3 prof)= 93 damage in a single turn. Absurdly and bluntly overpowered.
    It should probably be 1d8 per level, or 2d8 +1d8 for each level above 1st.

    1. I understand your concerns about Shard of Darkness, however it's currently on the same power level of the WotC Unearthed Arcana Pact of the Blade Invocation Smites. At such a time as they release an official version of their invocations, I will change this to match. :)

    2. And it would be 2x (1d*6* weapon + 8d8 using slots +4 Dex (ASI) +4 prof. bonus), just for reference. You only gain access to the smite when you create your pact weapon as a shortsword, which deals 1d6 damage.

    3. I highly doubt they'll ever release an official version of these invocations. Also, a lot of the UA material is highly unbalanced, and I wouldn't use it for balancing comparisons.
      I guess it doesn't really matter, since any DM allowing this could easily change or revoke it as needed, but personally, I wouldn't allow my players to take it as-is.

    4. On one hand, I'm inclined to agree with you -- my gut tells me that something like this /feels/ too powerful to too many players for it to get officially published, even if it's actually on whatever official version of the damage curve they have at WoTC. But I also get the feeling these current playests are more about bug-fixing than they are about balance tweaks, if that makes sense.

      It's pretty hard to tell either way.

    5. And now we all know WoTC did finally change it to be 1d8 per spell level plus 1. so a lot less crazy

  8. One comment. How Shadow Cat is worded now, you would still be incapacitated as a cat, since you are at 0 hit points. Unless the intent of the ability is to have you assume the cat's hp, in which case any healing would heal the cat form and return you to 0 hp in your normal form.

    1. The intent is indeed that you assume the cat's HP. It's supposed to be a GTFO ability for when you /really/ need it.

      It looks like some parts of the ability got cut out accidentally, because the Shadow cat form is supposed to be able to move through the spaces of creatures and objects, and opportunity attacks are made with disadvantage. Again, it's supposed to help you GTFO.

  9. Just had the thought: Does the ground count as an object? What about the deck of a ship? Or walls? Wondering about using Heart of Darkness to kite enemies without provoking AoO's.

    1. I don't know about the others, but based on the line "You can move through other creatures and objects" I'd allow movement through walls and floors.

      By 'kite', do you mean:
      * I'm in melee with an enemy, who is standing next to a wall.
      * I move into the wall and out of melee reach.
      * The enemy can't make an OA because the wall is in the way?
      I would still allow the OA to trigger in this case based on the principle of "the attack interrupts the provoking creature's movement, occurring right before the creature leaves your reach." (PHB 195)

    2. It's intended to allow you to move through walls. I'd never considered floors, but I guess if you're on the second floor, or if there's a level below you, you could go through the floor.

      Crap. That's gonna be annoying for dungeon design. I'ma edit it to put limitations on it "can't move through more than of " like some of the vision/mind reading spells do.

    3. Yeah, the idea was to move through a wall while remaining within reach. Even if you had to take the shunt damage for stopping your movement within the wall there are a lot of enemies I'd rather take the force damage than an AoO. (I have successfully started playing this character. My AC is 13. It's bad.)

  10. OK, first off, I love this. The theme, the balance, and the invocations are just... awesome.

    My only small nitpick is with the Servant of Darkness invocation, which includes the phrase "An undead summoned by this spell" - when the ability isn't a spell; confirmed by "as if you were concentrating on a spell". This has a bigger issue in that there's no range limitation on the ability (unlike the 60 - 90 foot range of the spell variants) - you could have a group of shadows attack someone on another plane of existence for all it matters. This also means no components. Finally, I'm not sure about the Pact of the Chain limitation; I can see a Tomelock using dark rituals to summon undead - a character concept I'm now rather keen on.

    1. Also, I just realised that PotT gives you a Book of Shadows. If I can't summon shadows with my Book of Shadows, something is seriously up :P.

    2. Hmmmmm, perhaps your right on which pact it should be for. Also, good catch on the range and wording! My bad, I will get that fixed.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Heads up to venca the PDF hasn't updated yet to match the changelog as of yet.

  12. I usually associate necrotic with undead, and cold energy with shadow since a shadow is the result of blocking heat/light energy. What's the reasoning for using necrotic for this Patron? I realize that a Shadow creature utilizes necrotic more but that is classified as undead. If you look at the 3.5 Shadow template it uses cold as well.