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    Orc in the Playground

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    Exclamation Re: 3.X Ancillary Contest I - The Darkness Beckons

    Vantax, the Grudging Shadow
    Vestige Level: 5th.
    Binding DC: 25
    Special Requirement: Yes

    Vantax was once a powerful elemental that struggled to make shadow the fifth main element in the universe. Beaten and vanquished before reaching his goal, he now grants control over shadows to those who bind him.

    Legend: Forgotten legends tell that in the beginning of time, when the world was newly created and the first mortals where savage and uncivilized, all the elemental plane were cohexistent with the Material Plane just like the Astral Plane. Pale reflection of that reality, the elemental planes were inhabited by creature that struggled to find an autonomous place in the universe and free their home from what they defined “the slavery of the Prime”. Little by little, helping the mortals and proving their strenght as part of nature, the elemental forces gained their indipendence: first came the Elemental plane of Water (since water, prerequisite for mortal life, is indeed the most powerful element) and the other followed. The creator gods dragged the elemental planes away from the Prime making them the Inner Planes.
    Among them only one plane was left behind: the Elemental plane of Shadow (today know only as Plane of Shadows). Its inhabitants, that at the time weren't evil, failed to prove their usefulness to the mortals and the universe and they were still struck in their unwanted position. While most of them were already giving up, sadly accepting their fate as mere reflections of the events of the Material Plane, one of them stood tall, continuing the battle to free the elemental shadow. He was Vantax, a shadow monolith old as the time itself.
    At first his attempts were peaceful and honest, but failure after failure he became more deceiving. At first he tried to emulate the power of the other elementals: “if it worked with the others it will work for me”, he thought. But he was wrong: the shadowstuff that composed his black fire, the shadow water, the dark earth was unreliable and produced mostly uneffective illusions that could only enrage both mortals and Gods.
    Willing to prove the power of shadow, Vantax then sent some envoys to interfere with the reproduction of a mortal race (the drows, that seemed more suitable for the purpose) and give them an inherited power over darkness. The obscure elvenkind was happy to see this new power rise but Lolth, their goddess and mother, did not appreciated the intereference in their affairs. Enraged, she hunted Vantax where he was hidden, made him prisoner and tortured him for years before destroying him in an moment of boredom.
    The torture made Vantax mad: his mind collapsed on itself and all he could think about was his failed crusade to free the plane of Shadows and make it become the fifth Inner Plane. The grudge toward the other elemental and their success was his companion until destruction when his tortured spirit, unable to rest, became a vestige.
    Nevertheless, the gift of Vantax remained and in centuries it has also spread among other races.

    Special Requirement: The seal must be drawn at night or in area of darkness..
    Manifestation: As you invoke Vantax, the shadow around you deepens, casting you in the total darkness. After a few moments of total silence, two yellow spheres of dim light (his eyes) appear floating several feets above the ground while a line of a similar glare highlights a 50ft tall vaguely humanoid shape made of pure darkness. Vantax stays there quietly, staring deep in your eyes while he grumbles curses towards unknown enemies..
    Sign: A small portion of the binder’s body (tipically and hand or a foot) fades into darkness, almost vanishing from existence. That portion looks like an incorporeal, umbral version of the original, though remaining completely corporeal..
    Influence: The binder that falls under the influence of Vantax shares the grudge that he feels toward the four elements. The Grudiging Shadow asks you to never associate with elemental creature and to stay as far as possible from the manifestation of their elements: this may include continuously cleaning the dirt off your boots, refusing to hold a lit torch or to stand too close to a bonfire, drinking anything but pure water.

    Granted Abilities: Vantax empowers you when you’re surrounded by darkness, he gives you the ability to create false duplicates of the four elements and to command a small squad of shadow elementals..
    Shadow Mastery (Ex): The binder gains a +1 bonus on attack rolls and damage if both him and his foe are in an area of darkness or shadowy illumination. While in area of bright light (such as sunlight or that caused by a daylight spell), the binder takes a -2 penalty on attack rolls and damage rolls.

    Shadow Envoys: You can call a small group of shadow elemental to act at your commands. This ability works like a summon nature ally spell, except that allows you to summon 1d3 Medium Shadow Elementals. At 13th level and every three level thereafter you can summon an extra Medium Shadow Elemental, up to 1d3+3 at 19th level. You can use this ability once every 5 round but you cannot use it again if the elementals conjured by the first use are still present.

    Feign Elements: Once every 5 rounds you can replicate elemental effects that are partly real and partly made of pure shadow. This ability works like the spell shadow evocation except for what follows. With this ability you can mimic any spell of 4th level or lower (regardless of its school and of the list it comes from) as long as that spell has at least one of these descriptors: fire, water, earth and air. If you want to mimic a spell that belongs to more than a list you must look at its higher spell level to determinate if you can cast it or not. Stone shape is a trasmutation [earth] spell that appears in the 3rd level cleric’s and druid’s list while being a 4th level spell for wizard and sorcerers. In this case the binder could mimic it, but since the spell also appears as a 5th level spell in the Wu jen’s list it is considered a 5th level spell and therefore it’s not imitable.

    Eyes of the Darkness: Just like a Shadow Elemental you can extend your perception all around you and use darkness (even your own shadow) as and extra eye. You gain blindsight out to 30 ft.


    Vantaxian Heritage. [Heritage]
    You descend from the mortals that were blessed by Vantax with the power of shadow. Darkness is your home and shades embrace you like a brother.
    Prerequisites: Any neutral.
    Benefit: You gain a +2 on Hide checks. In addition, if you don’t have any mean to see in darkness you gain low-light vision, if you already have low-light vision you also gain darkvision out to 60ft.. If you already have darkvision its range improves by 10 ft.
    Special: Since this gift was primarly designed for drows they gain more from the feat. A drow that selects this feat gains a +3 bonus to Hide checks and his darkvision improves by 15ft.

    Vantaxian Shroud. [Heritage]
    Tapping into your heritage you learn how to manipulate darkness at your advantage.
    Prerequisites: Any neutral, Vantaxian Heritage, character level 6th.
    Benefit: You gain the following mysteries, usable once per day as spell-like abilities: Sight Obscured, Sight Eclipsed and Dancing Shadows. You caster level equals your character level.
    Special: Since this gift was primarly designed for drows they gain more from the feat. A drow that selects this feat has its caster level for the spell-like abilities gained from this feat equals its character level +1.

    Vantaxian Legacy. [Heritage]
    You reach the peak of the power over shadows, sinking even more in their mysteries.
    Prerequisites: Any neutral, Vantaxian Heritage, character level 9th.
    Benefit: You gain the following mysteries, usable once per day as spell-like abilities: Aura of Shade, Curtain of Shadows and Shadow Evocation. You caster level equals your character level.
    Special: Since this gift was primarly designed for drows they gain more from the feat. A drow that selects this feathas its caster level for the spell-like abilities gained from this feat equals its character level +1.

    Vantaxian Body. [Heritage]
    Shadowstuff now compose part of your body, making you able to achieve an umbral state for a brief period.
    Prerequisites: Any neutral, Vantaxian Heritage.
    Benefit: Once per day, as a spell-like ability that requires a swift action to activate, you can call forth your inner shadow to become more similar to a shadow elemental. When you do this you become incorporeal for 1 round +1 round for every other “Vantaxian” heritage feat you possess (up to 5 rounds if you have all of them).
    Special: Since this gift was primarly designed for drows they gain more from the feat. A drow that selects this feat can remain incorporeal for a number of rounds equal to 1+1 and ½ the number of other “Vantaxian” heritage feats he possesses (up to 7 rounds if he has all of them).

    Improved Vantaxian Body. [Heritage]
    You master the art to substitute your flesh with the ephemeral material from the Plane of Shadows.
    Prerequisites: Any neutral, Vantaxian Heritage, Vantaxian Body
    Benefit: You can divide the time of incorporeality given by Vantaxian body between different uses. You can divide your total allotment in as many uses as you want, provided that each one must last at least 1 round. You must spend a swift action to activate every use but not to continue an use activated in a previous round. For example, a creature with this feat and other 3 Vantaxian feats will have 4 round of incorporeality. He could become incorporeal once for 4 rounds, twice for 2 rounds each time (or 1 round the first time and 3 rounds the second) or even four times lasting each one only one round.
    Special: Since this gift was primarly designed for drows they gain more from the feat. A drow that selects this feat adds its Charisma modifier to the number of rounds it can remain incorporeal.

    Vantaxian Resistance. [Heritage]
    Your bloodline insures your from cold damage.
    Prerequisites: Any neutral, Vantaxian Heritage.
    Benefit: You gain resistance to cold damage equal to three times the number of “Vantaxian” heritage feats you possess (counting this feat, up to cold resistance 15 if you have all of them).
    Special: Since this gift was primarly designed for drows they gain more from the feat. A drow that selects this feat gains cold resistance equal to four times the number of “Vantaxian” heritage feats he possesses (counting this feat, up to cold resistance 20 if he has all of them).


    Faer’Eenaliir (Drow shadowcaster substitution levels).
    Though Vantax’s true heritors died long ago, some drows called Faer’Eenaliir (“Champions of the Ancient Darkness”) can today obtain the same, unique power that was granted to thier race by the Lord of Shades millenia ago.
    Hit die: d6.

    To take a Drow shadowcaster substitution level, a character must be a drow about to take its 1st, 2nd or 4th level of shadowcaster.

    Class skills.
    Drow shadowcaster substitution levels grant the same class skill as standard shadowcaster.
    Skill points at each level: 2+Int modifier (or four that times at first level).

    Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special
    Enhanced Shadowcasting, Apprentice Mysteries
    Blood of the Master
    Soothing Darkness

    Class features.
    All the following are features of the Drow shadowcaster substitution levels.

    Enhanced Shadowcasting: The ancient power that flows into your veins gives you a better understanding of shadows and thus access to long forgotten mysteries. At first level, you only learn two Fundamentals of shadows. In addition to those fundamentals, you also learn Dusk and Dawn 1st level mystery as a Fundamental and add it at your Fundamental’s list.
    In addition, you gain access to the following paths: Vantaxian Gifts, Regalia of Darkness and Primal shadow.
    This features substitutes “Fundamentals of shadow” class feature.

    Blood of the Master: This ability works like the standard Bonus feat shadowcaster’s class feature, with the following exception: when you first gain a bonus feat from this ability you must choose Vantaxian Heritage as your bonus feat. In addition you add Vantaxian heritage feats to the list of feats you can choose every time you gain a bonus feat from this ability.
    This ability substitutes “Bonus feat” class feature.

    Soothing Darkness (Ex): Shadows help your body to overcome fatigue and injuries. As long as your entire full night rest is made in total darkness (shadowy illumination is not enough) you recover 2 hit points per charachter level. If you undergo a complete bed rest for an entire day and night surrounded by darkness you recover 4 hit points per charachter level. This ability replaces the Bonus Fundamental gained at 4th level.

    Spoiler: New Paths and Mysteries

    Spoiler: 1. Hands of the Elemental

    Apprentice, Vantaxian Gifts 1.

    Level/School: 1st / Transmutation
    Range: Personal.
    Target: You.
    Duration: 1 round / level (D).
    Saving throw: Fortitute Halves, see text.
    Spell Resistance: Yes, see text.

    Starting from the tip of your fingers, both your hands turn pitch black up to your elbow. As you feel the power of darkness flow through them, streams of cold air start to form all around.

    Casting this spell you attain a peculiar touch attack similar to the one possessed by Shadow Elementals. As a standard action you can make a melee touch attack with one of your hands, or with both taking a -2 penalty on both attack rolls.
    If you succede you deal 1d4 bludgeoing damage and 1d4 cold damage. The target of the attacks is allowed a Fortitude save to resist the damage of each touch. If it succede the damage is halved. at 3rd level and every 3 caster level thereafter both bludgeoing and cold damage are raised by 1d4 (up to 5d4 at 12th level).
    Spell resistance applies against this mystery: when you make your first attack against a creature with SR and fail to overcome it, the creature is from then on immune to that particular casting of Hands of the Elemental.

    Spoiler: 2. Vantablack Skin.

    Apprentice, Vantaxian Gifts 2.

    Level/School: 2nd / Transmutation
    Range: Personal.
    Target: You.
    Duration: 1 minute / level (D).
    Saving throw: None
    Spell Resistance: No.

    Coated in darkness, your skin turns so black in color that every detail of your body vanishes. Your physical features lose definition and because also your equipment is covered in blackness you end up appairing like a vague and bidimensional dark figure.

    Your body and gear are coated in a black so deep that it absorbs almost all the light touching it. Since all your physical details are now obscured, you gain immunity to critical hits and all forms of precision damage (such as sneak attacks). You gain as well a bonus to Hide checks equal to your caster level (max +5)

    Spoiler: 3. Winged Shade

    Apprentice, Vantaxian Gifts 3

    Level/School: 3rd / Transmutation
    Range: Touch.
    Target: Touched creature.
    Duration: 1 minute / level (D).
    Saving throw: Will negates (harmless).
    Spell Resistance: Yes (harmless).

    You touch your target and nothing seems to change. At a closer look, an observer would note that your target’s shadow has grown a pair of big wings of shade that grow bigger as the light surround him diminishes.

    The touched creature gains fly speed 40 ft (clumsy) in bright light condition. If illumination is shadowy or darker its flying speed raises to 80 ft (perfect).
    Should the spell duration expire while the subject is still aloft, the magic fails slowly. The subject floats downward 60 feet per round for 1d6 rounds. If it reaches the ground in that amount of time, it lands safely. If not, it falls the rest of the distance, taking 1d6 points of damage per 10 feet of fall. Since dispelling a spell effectively ends it, the subject also descends in this way if the fly spell is dispelled, but not if it is negated by an antimagic field.

    Spoiler: 4. Globe of Darkness.

    Initiate, Regalia of Darkness 4

    Level/School: 4th / Conjuration (Creation) [Darkness, cold]
    Range: Personal.
    Effect: A globe of pure darkness.
    Duration: 1 round / level
    Saving throw: Reflex halves, see text.
    Spell Resistance: Yes, see text.

    As you declare your birthright to rule over the Plane of Darkness, shadows themselves put in your hand the lowest of the symbols of your kingdom: a globe of obsidian-like material made of pure condensed shade.

    When you cast this mystery, a globe of perfect darkness is created in one of your hand. As long as you hold it, the caster level and the DC of every other mystery you cast (as well as those of any spell with the [darkness] descriptor or the [shadow] subschool) are raised by one.
    Once during the duration of this mystery you can choose to unleash all at once the tremeondous power of this globe. As a standard action select a point in the space within Close range: the globe is hurled to that point and explodes. Every creature within 20 ft suffer 1d6 damage per level (max 10d6, Reflex halves, SR applies). Half the damage dealt is cold damage (rounded up) while the remaining damage derives from the pure force of shadows. After the explosion this mystery ends.
    Should eved the globe leave your hand (you leave it, you are disarmed) the mystery ends immediately.

    Spoiler: 5. Sceptre of Darkness.

    Initiate, Regalia of Darkness 5

    Level/School: 5th / Conjuration (Creation) [Darkness]
    Range: Personal.
    Effect: A regal sceptre made of condensed shadows.
    Duration: 1 round / level
    Saving throw: Will negates, see text.
    Spell Resistance: Yes, see text.

    Acknowledging your power upon them, shadows gathers in your hand forming a scepter black as the void between the stars. While you hold it you can fully express your dominion upon shades and other creatures of darkness.

    When you cast this mystery, an ink-black sceptre is created in one of your hand. As long as you hold it you can dominate creatures that draw their power from shadows. Once per round, as a standard action, you can make a special turning attempt (as per the cleric’s ability). You receive a competence bonus on the turning check equal to ¼ your caster level (max +5), and a synergy bonus on the same check if you have 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (the planes) skill.
    Creatures that are subject to this turning ability include any creature able of casting mysteries, any creature that has “Plane of Shadow” as its own environment and other creature with a particular link to darkness (like undead shadows).
    This mystery does not gives you turning attempt that you can spend on feats or other abilities.
    Once during the duration of this mystery you can choose to unleash all at once the tremeondous power of this sceptre.
    As a standard action, select a creature within Close range that can be affected by one of your turning attempt: that creature must make a Will save or being dominated for one hour. This is a mind-affecting ability that overcomes every immunity given by type, subtype and race but that is blocked by immunity to mind-affecting abilities coming from other sources (such as spells, magic objects, class features). Using this effect ends the spell.
    Should eved the sceptre leave your hand (you leave it, you are disarmed) the mystery ends immediately.

    Spoiler: 6. Crown of Darkness.

    Initiate, Regalia of Darkness 6

    Level/School: 6th / Conjuration (Creation) [Darkness]
    Range: Personal.
    Effect: A pointed crown made of living darkness.
    Duration: 1 minute / level
    Saving throw: None.
    Spell Resistance: No.

    Shadows cheer as you declare your will to sit of Vantax’ throne as Lord of Darkness. Your shade animates, stands up and puts a black, pointy crown on your head: from now on, no shade will dare hurting you.

    When you cast this mystery a crown made of trembling shadows forms on your head. As long as the mystery lasts you are immune to mysteries and spells and spell-like abilities with the [darkness] descriptor or the [shadow] subschool of 4th level or lower. Immunity does not apply to your own mysteries/effects.
    Once during the duration of this mystery as an immediate action you can choose to unleash all at once the tremeondous power of this crown. For one round not only you retain the immunity but you also absorb the energy of every mystery or spell negated by the crown. Every time a mystery or spell is negated by the crown you heal an amount of HPs equal to twice the level of the spell/mystery negated.
    After one round from the activation of this special effect the spell ends.

    Spoiler: 7. Eclipse.

    Master, Primal Shadow 7.

    Level/School: 7th/ Evocation [Darkness]
    Range: Long (400 ft + 40 ft /level).
    Effect: An emanation of unnatural darkness with a radius of 10 miles.
    Duration: 1 hour / level
    Saving throw: None.
    Spell Resistance: No.

    Calling for the power of the Plane of Shadow you obscure the sun and cast a small region in the deepest darkness that not even enhanced senses and the magic of light can overcome.

    As you cast this mystery, shades surround you and expand, obscuring a vast piece of land. The first 5 mile radius (the closest to the centre of the emanation) is enveloped in total darkness, while shadowy illumination is present in the outer 5 miles radius. Darkness created by this mystery blocks darkvision and low-light vision as well as any other kind of ability that allows to see in darkness. Abilities that allow to see in magical darkness still work.
    In addition, every spell or spell-like ability of 5th level or lower with the [light] descriptor that is cast in the area affected by this mystery is automatically dispelled.

    Spoiler: 8. Nocturnal Desire.

    Master, Primal Shadow 8.

    Level/School: 8th/ Universal
    Range: see text.
    Target: see text.
    Duration: see text
    Saving throw: see text.
    Spell Resistance: Yes.

    You lose yourself looking at the deep darkness that reing supreme in the space beween the stars. To that sovereign blackness you confess you secret desires to have them granted... even for a night.

    This mystery works exactly like wish spell, with the folloing exception: the mystery can duplicate any mystery of 7th level or lower, or any spell from any list of 6th level or lower.
    It can create a nonmagical item, or a group of them which total value is not higher than 25.000 gp.
    Deads restored to life by this mystery do not lose a level upon being resurrected.
    This mystery can be cast without impediment only after dusk or in a place where lights never comes (like the Plane of Shadows or the Underdark): if a shadowcaster wants to use this mystery in other conditions it must make a DC 28 Concentration check of losing the mystery.
    Despite their huge power, the effects of this mystery are not (and cannot be made,) permanent. The effects of the mystery last only until the next dawn occurs in the plane where it was cast (or 24 hours if cast in a plane with no dawn), unless they have a shorter duration that makes them end earlier.
    At dawn, created objects and summoned creature fade into nothingness as well as any other still ongoing effect with a duration different from “instantaneous”. Instantaeous effects (such as death, damage or healing) are unchanged but effects that gave life to something or someone fade too: for example creatures resurrected or animated as undeads are sent back to the underworld.

    Spoiler: 9. Call the Umbral Lord.

    Master, Primal Shadow 9.

    Level/School: 9th/Conjuration (Summoning) [Darkness]
    Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level).
    Duration: Concentration, up to 1 round / level (D).
    Saving throw: None.
    Spell Resistance: No

    You yell at the world the true name of the once alive Lord of Shadow who gave you its supreme power. Shadows answer your call by weeping and crying as they vomit a huge umbral figure, one of Vantax’s few remaining brothers.

    This spell allows you to call at your service one of the most powerful creatures of shadows: a shadow monolith.
    The monolith appears in the spot you designate and acts immediately on your turn, attacking your enemies at the best of its abilities.
    If you speak the monolith language you can communicate with it and direct its actions.
    The umbral monolith has the following stats:

    Size and Type (Subtype):Gargantuan Elemental (Incorporeal, Extraplanar) Hit Dice: 36d8+216 (378 hp) Initiative: +15 Speed: Fly 60 ft. (perfect) (20 squares) Armor Class: 31 (–4 size, +11 Dex, +14 deflection), touch 31, flat-footed 20 Base Attack/Grapple: +27/+50 Attack: Incorporeal touch +35 melee (4d6 / 19–20 +4d6 cold damage) Full Attack: 2 incorporeal touches +35 melee (4d6 /19–20 +4d6 cold damage) Space/Reach: 20 ft./20 ft. Special Attacks: Shadow mastery Special Qualities: Dusk and dawn3/day (CL 18), Damage reduction 12/—, Blindsight 60 ft., elemental traits, incorporeal traits Saves: Fort +18, Ref +33, Will +16 Abilities: Str-, Dex 33, Con 22, Int 12, Wis 15, Cha 17 Skills: Balance +13, Diplomacy +5, Intimidate +16, Jump +41, Listen +43, Sense Motive +15, Spot +43, Tumble +24 Feats: Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Flyby Attack, Improved Critical (incorporeal touch), Improved Initiative, Improved Natural Attack, Iron Will, Mobility, Lightning Reflexes, Weapon focus (incorporeal touch), Improved Flyby Attack*, Great Flyby Attack*, Thick Skinned*. Environment: Plane of Shadows Challenge Rating: 17 Alignment: Usually Neutral Evil

    *These feats come from “Savage Species” handbook.