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TGWG
2008-06-15, 08:34 PM
title

and is there anything better at what it does

marjan
2008-06-15, 10:36 PM
I'll have to disappoint you by saying that it is pretty weak PrC. And here's why:


1. Prerequisites:
- due to skill ranks you won't be getting into it before level 8
- perform(dance) ranks are most of the time useless
- Dodge, Mobility - two pretty weak feats (though they will let you qualify for Elusive Target which is a pretty good feat)

2. Class features:
- Hide In Plain Sight - not bad, but not as useful as you might think since it will disallow you to make full-attacks and making target flat-footed is only useful if you are going to make sneak attacks against it in which case you are going to want full-attack
- (Improved) Evasion - not bad defensive feature, but can be found in many other classes making it not worth the cost
- Darkvision - available through item, race or template, meaning that it costs too much
- Shadow Illusion - 1st level spell at level 10 once a day - crappy
- Summon Shadow - they are meant to be used in combat, but you'll notice that if it dies you lose XP. Not very good idea to summon them
- Shadow Jump - interesting ability but not very useful due to its restrictions and very limited range
- (Improved) Uncanny Dodge - meh. Can be obtained through less expensive means
- Defensive Roll - not bad, but if you get in situation where you need to roll reflex vs. damage don't hope you'll make it, so kinda useless
- Slippery Mind - good, until you realize that your will save is probably going to suck so additional try won't save your butt
- Lack of Sneak Attack - this makes the PrC suck. You have option of making one attack at the expense of the full-attack but since it's no better than rest of the attacks what's the point.

Now what to use in place of it. That depends what you like about this class.

If it's the shadow thing then you could go Necromancer (gets you Shadow through Summon Undead X, plus you can use your teleportation spells to emulate Shadow Jump and you'll get many first level spell slots to use on Silent Image), Dread Necro and Cleric (both will get you Summon Undead X).

If you like the sneaky part of the class there are several options:
- Ninja - not particularly powerful class but it does get you Sudden Strike (Sneak Attack that works only on flat-footed opponents), Evasion, Ki Step (kind of Hide In Plain Sight and later Shadow Step), few other abilities and a feel of silent assasin.
- Psionic Rogue - This will give you Sneak Attack, Psionic Powers with which you can emulate Shadow Step (even much better), plus few other things
- Unseen Seer - This is hybrid PrC for wizard rogue which only grants Sneak Attack, but the good thing is that it advances your spellcasting so eventually it will give you ability to emulate Shadow Jump, Hide In Plain Sight, Summon Shadow and Silent Image through spells
- Any class + Dark Creature Template - Dark Creature is pretty solid +1 LA template which will give you Hide In Plain Sight, Darkvision, extra speed, bonus to Hide and Move Silently plus some resistances. The only problem here is that it isn't playable from level 1.

Armads
2008-06-16, 12:47 AM
it's prereqs are way too high, and it's only use is HiPS as a level 1 class feature. That said, the Collar of Umbral Metamorphosis does more and costs 22k only (it costs even less if you want it's benefits for 10 minutes/day only)

Curmudgeon
2008-06-16, 05:53 AM
I'll have to disappoint you by saying that it is pretty weak PrC. I generally agree with this conclusion. However, there are build options that can make it a viable PrC, at least for a dip.

1. Prerequisites:
- Dodge, Mobility - two pretty weak feats (though they will let you qualify for Elusive Target which is a pretty good feat)
Options help here. There are several feats that can substitute for Dodge. If you've got a movement of at least 40' I recommend Evasive Dodge as a superior option: +2 dodge bonus against everyone instead of just a +1 dodge bonus against a single target. (Greater movement also improves your options with Spring Attack, which I'll discuss later.) And for Mobility, just substitute gp because you can buy it as an armor enhancement, including for your Bracers of Armor (using rules in Arms and Equipment Guide and Magic Item Compendium).

2. Class features:
- Hide In Plain Sight - not bad, but not as useful as you might think since it will disallow you to make full-attacks and making target flat-footed is only useful if you are going to make sneak attacks against it in which case you are going to want full-attack
I've got to disagree vehemently on this point. The Supernatural HiPS will let you Hide any time you're within 10' of a shadow, and you can Hide with each swing of your attack:
Itís practically impossible (-20 penalty) to hide while attacking, running or charging.

- Any class + Dark Creature Template - Dark Creature is pretty solid +1 LA template which will give you Hide In Plain Sight, Darkvision, extra speed, bonus to Hide and Move Silently plus some resistances. The only problem here is that it isn't playable from level 1. Big problem here -- the Dark Creature Template only gives you the inferior Extraordinary version of HiPS, which doesn't remove the need for cover/concealment; it only satisfies the other Hide requirement (not being observed).

If you're entering Shadowdancer you've already met all the prerequisites for Spring Attack. The cost is high for both the prestige class and the feat, but if you go for both your investment gives better rewards. If you're entering from Rogue (the best option) I only recommend either Shadowdancer or Spring Attack if you go for both of these; the combination greatly increases your sneak attack options.

I agree with marjan that most of the later benefits of the Shadowdancer class aren't very impressive. But Supernatural Hide in Plain Sight can give enough rewards to make a 1-level dip worthwhile.

Project_Mayhem
2008-06-16, 06:43 AM
However, a 1 level dip as a rogue on NWN is immense and makes the game a million times easier.

Curmudgeon
2008-06-16, 09:58 AM
However, a 1 level dip as a rogue on NWN is immense and makes the game a million times easier.
How does this have anything to do with the topic?

Tengu
2008-06-16, 01:17 PM
Because NWN is based on DND? And what he meant that in NWN every rogue should take one level of Shadowdancer, because the ability to HiPS is incredibly useful for fighting monsters solo.

marjan
2008-06-16, 02:22 PM
I've got to disagree vehemently on this point. The Supernatural HiPS will let you Hide any time you're within 10' of a shadow, and you can Hide with each swing of your attack:
Big problem here -- the Dark Creature Template only gives you the inferior Extraordinary version of HiPS, which doesn't remove the need for cover/concealment; it only satisfies the other Hide requirement (not being observed).


I agree on part that you don't need concealment to use it. But being able to hide after each attack is highly debatable, because of the following:


Action

Usually none. Normally, you make a Hide check as part of movement, so it doesnít take a separate action. However, hiding immediately after a ranged attack (see Sniping, above) is a move action.

The only situation it specifies what action you use is when you are moving and when you are sniping, none of which covers situation when you use melee attacks. So it is mostly left for DM to decide, since HiPS doesn't specify what action it takes to use it, though you can always go with this:


Supernatural Abilities (Su)

Supernatural abilities are magical and go away in an antimagic field but are not subject to spell resistance, counterspells, or to being dispelled by dispel magic. Using a supernatural ability is a standard action unless noted otherwise.

Making it even less useful then normally.

Vortling
2008-06-16, 02:46 PM
title

and is there anything better at what it does

This is a little indistinct, could you elaborate on the "what it does" portion? If you want a sneaky ninja with a smattering of shadow based powers the swordsage from Tome of Battle does better at that.

Chronos
2008-06-16, 03:00 PM
To my mind, there's one thing that the Shadowdancer is good for. If you're playing in a core-only game, then a single level of Shadowdancer is great for rogues. The high feat cost isn't so onerous in core, which has a shortage of good rogue feats, and there's no other practical way to get Hide in Plain Sight. And with the rogue's dead level at 20, you might as well take a one-level dip in something, and there are no other core PrCs for good rogues.

However, once you start adding splatbooks, you find first of all that there are better things to spend your feats on, and second of all, that there are other practical ways to get Hide in Plain Sight (wilderness variant rogue, the Dark template (natural or collar), Umbral Disciple, etc.). So Shadowdancer starts looking a lot less attractive.

marjan
2008-06-16, 04:20 PM
To my mind, there's one thing that the Shadowdancer is good for. If you're playing in a core-only game, then a single level of Shadowdancer is great for rogues. The high feat cost isn't so onerous in core, which has a shortage of good rogue feats, and there's no other practical way to get Hide in Plain Sight. And with the rogue's dead level at 20, you might as well take a one-level dip in something, and there are no other core PrCs for good rogues.


While I agree that Shadowdancer looks much better in Core-only games it's still very weak. While dipping into it is nice it's still very costly. You'll want to get that dip as soon as possible, which means level 8. By level 8 you only get 3 regular feats (4 if you are human) and you need to spend 2 of them in order to qualify leaving you with one or two feats left. While there are not many feats in Core that are much better than Dodge and Mobility there are more than two usually. In case of Rogue you'll want TWF and Weapon Finesse at least, so unless you are human you'll have hard time deciding what to get.

Chronos
2008-06-16, 04:58 PM
Actually, I wouldn't take it until level 11. HiPS is good to get ASAP, but so is Skill Mastery. And saying "you want to get it as soon as possible" isn't all that consistent with "it's still very weak": If nothing else, taking it at 20th level is still better than taking the 20th level of rogue.

Curmudgeon
2008-06-17, 08:05 AM
The only situation it specifies what action you use is when you are moving and when you are sniping, none of which covers situation when you use melee attacks.
There's no doubt that the Hide skill description is poorly organized and thus misleading. The only situations specified in the Action: section are what the game authors thought of as the "normal" case, and that list is incomplete. But when you read through the full skill description you'll see multiple uses of the skill that aren't included in the Action: section. The full list of actions that allow a Hide check is this:

no action (if you already meet the Hide requirements) (no penalty)
movement (move action, double move action, or 5' adjustment; no penalty)
as part of (if you meet the cover/concealment requirement) a Bluff diversion (standard action; -10 penalty)
attacking (standard action attack, part of a full attack action, bonus attack, or attack of opportunity; -20 penalty)
running (full-round action; -20 penalty)
charging (special full-round action; -20 penalty)
Sniping (move action that doesn't involve movement; -20 penalty)


So it is mostly left for DM to decide,
The information is all in the skill descriptions (Hide and Bluff), for everyone to see, not just DMs. It does require multiple readings to catch all the cases due to poor organization.

since HiPS doesn't specify what action it takes to use it, though you can always go with this:
Using a supernatural ability is a standard action unless noted otherwise.
Hide in Plain Sight (Su)

A shadowdancer can use the Hide skill even while being observed.The rules do "note otherwise" by referring to the Hide skill. Those descriptions specify all the actions required to use the skill, which I've summarized above.

mabriss lethe
2008-06-17, 04:50 PM
hmm. I had been working on a homebrew variant that brought shadowdancer into line with later PrC power levels. I didn't ever finish it, but the gist of it was that the shadow illusion, summon shadow, and shadow jump abilities were retooled to be more useful and usable more often. (Mostly by making the class much more like an invoker)

-shadow illusion-
Invocation: silent image, caster level = to shadowdancer level

-Shadow Jump-
replace with "flee the scene" invocation...w/ or w/o the major image component. If you don't like it, replace it with the Horizon walker ability that gives you the full version D. Door once every 1d4 rounds.

-Summon Shadow-
replace the familiar-esque mechanic with a summon monster/undead SLA usable a number of times/day equal to Cha mod (min 1/day)

Gorbash
2008-06-17, 05:22 PM
What I don't like about this prestige class is that it doesn't have the FEEL of a prestige class. It's more like a core class. You get several ablities at first 2-3 levels and they just advance until the end, never getting some sort of a ultimate ability (which most prestige classes do get). At level 10 of shadowdancer you get improved evasion? Wth? Not to mention you get evasion too, which you will most certainly already have, since you'll be a rogue... Most of it has been said - high feat prerequisites and not getting much in return...