Which shadow's hand? C'mon. The shadow's hand. There's only one. Like you didn't know that already.
Originally Posted by The Shadow's HandThe Shadow's Hand
You heard about that nut they're calling the The Hand? They say he's been beating guys up all over the harbor. The say the shadows listen to him. And he's got some big cat with him, a tiger or something.
Ebric snapped his club between the two brutes muttering to each other, jolting them from their conversation What I hear is two loudmouth oafs who believe whatever rumors the guards are spreading to stifle our business. Now get back to your watch if you want to get paid The two muscled thugs headed off to opposite sides of the dock, muttering to themselves as they did. Ebric let out a pained sigh. The mercenaries the Guild had hired may have been good in a fight. But the lot of them didn't a whole brain between them. Of course, Ebric himself had heard the rumors of The Shadow's Hand. And he had little doubt about the men who had been beaten; he'd seen them himself, after all. But a simple crook couldn't see past an illusion to save his life. The guard must have hired some 9-copper wizard to cover them during raids and strike some terror into the simple minded.
Ebric wasn't fooled. He'd brought along a wizard of his own to dispel any such enchantments tonight. As he walked along the dock, he nodded to the wizened man who sat on one of the crates being unloaded. With a nod back, the wizard begain to survey the docks. Suddenly, he gave a smile He just Darkened the far end. I think a couple of our boys are in for a surprise.. Ebric listened. Sure enough, he could hear the confusion of the slower mercenaries left back as easy prey. There was a deep snarling sound as well, bestial in nature. So, the guards had a new pet. The rest of the mercenaries and the Guild men took notice, exchanging nervous glances.
Take their cover away the next spell that's cast. Men, ready your bows Ebric commanded. The wizard nodded and Ebric slowly turned as his thugs drew back their arrows. Another patch of darkness appeared, closer this time. The old man cackled, spoke some ancient tongue, and the shadows disappeared.
In the dim torchlight stood a man dressed in grey and black, a long cloak, and his face hidden by a mask. A large cat stood by him and the criminals, even Ebric, let out a brief gasp. Its face had peeled back, revealing muscle and bone. Krenshar. Ebric knew it immediately. And he knew it was keeping his men from firing, even has he recovered. Before he could rouse them from their shock, the figure in black turned his hand toward Ebric's wizard, the shadows danced, and a bolt of darkness struck the man between the eyes. He tumbled to the ground from the crate, unconscious. Hell broke loose. Ebric's men regained their composure and fired, but shadow itself and the man in grey's own chaotic movements kept him from being struck. Those same shadows seized some of his men, ripped like tendrils from the grounds, and set the dock alight in some mad freezing flames. The krenshar and its master advanced and the last thing Ebric saw that night was the man's fists in a blur.
By morning, the Guild's shipments had been destroyed and the mercenaries, thieves, and smugglers tied together to be found by guard.
CG Human, Shadowcaster 5/Battle Dancer 1
Level Class Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills Feats Class Features 1st Shadowcaster +0 +2 +0 +2 Concentration 2, Hide 4, Listen 1, Move Silently 4, Spot 4 Skill Focus (Concentration),
Human Bonus: Darkstalker
Fundamentals:Arrow of Dusk, Caul of Shadow, Sight Obscured
Mystery: Voice of Shadow
2nd Shadowcaster +1 +3 +0 +3 Concentration 4, Hide 5, Listen 1, Move Silently 5, Spot 4 Mysteries Known Bonus: Favored Mystery (Carpet of Shadow) Mystery: Carpet of Shadow 3rd Battle Dancer +2 +3 +2 +3 Concentration 4, Hide 6, Listen 3, Move Silently 6, Spot 4, Tumble 4 Martial Study (Shadow Blade Technique), Battle Dancer: Improved Unarmed Strike Unarmed Strike (1d6), AC Bonus 4th Shadowcaster +2 +3 +3 +3 Concentration 4, Hide 6, Listen 4, Move Silently 6, Spot 4, Tumble 5 Mystery: Black Fire, Umbral Sight (Darkvision 30 ft) 5th Shadowcaster +3 +4 +3 +4 Concentration 6, Hide 6, Listen 4, Move Silently 6, Spot 4, Tumble 6 Mystery: Bend Perspective,
Bonus Fundamental: Black Candle
6th Shadowcaster +3 +4 +3 +4 Concentration 6, Hide 7, Listen 4, Move Silently 7, Spot 4, Tumble 7 Martial Stance (Assassin's Stance) Mystery: Clinging Darkness, Sustaining Shadow (eat 1 meal per week)
Epic Bonus Feats:
Improved Familiar (Krenshar)
Favored Mystery (Bend Perspective)
Favored Mystery (Clinging Darkness)
Martial Study (Cloak of Deception)
Path Focus (Dark Terrain)
Greater Path Focus (Dark Terrain)
Favored Mystery (Black Fire)
Charisma 15 (16)
At level 4, bump Charisma to 16.
As a somewhat gish-y build relying on Battle Dancer of all things, Shadow's Hand requires decent physical stats and a higher Charisma, both for DCs and AC. Int is exactly as high as I felt it needed to be for skill points and no higher, since Int provides no additional benefits past 13 to a Shadowcaster in an E6 game. Wisdom, thus, was the obvious dump stat. Fortunately, Will saves are good for a Shadowcaster and one benefit of this multiclass is good base saving throws.
Levels 1-2: Shadow's Hand can make life hard on foes with difficult terrain thanks to Carpet of Shadow. Arrow of Dusk can really come in hand in these early levels, working with Voice of Shadow to subdue rather than kill. Caul of Shadow provides a small AC boost if Shadow's Hand ends up in melee before he's ready. This should and can be avoided fairly well, though, thanks to Sight Obscured and the Hide skill. In fact, for these first two levels stealth is Hand's main dish, both for himself and allies. Darkstalker makes him hard to find even for those with special senses; useful at all levels, but especially as he faces greater threats. Sight Obscured allows him to boost the Hide checks of himself and others when necessary. Voice of Shadow can see use here as well: Halt an enemy to prevent them from revealing your location and help your allies beat them unconscious.
Level 3: Shadow's Hand can now deal real damage via fists and avoid blows better. Working with Caul of Shadow, his unarmored AC is a 15. Additionally, Shadow Blade Technique helps him hit more often and sometimes harder. Tumble lets him move in and out of combat more reliably. Thanks to his new martial arts techniques, he can really focus on capturing and subduing over killing.
Level 4: AC of 15 all the time, 16 when using Caul of Shadow, better DCs for his mysteries, and another BFC mystery, Black Fire. This one provides damage and with Carpet of Shadow helps him choose how to divide up the battle field and lets him do that a little more often. Now with 30ft of Darkvision for those poorly lit warehouses and secret lairs.
Level 5: Being able to see around corners is handy. Being able to see over walls is also handy. Bend Perspective lets The Shadow's Hand gain valuable intelligence in a limited area before proceeding. You only have so many Mysteries in a day, having some idea of if you'll need them and where to put them is great. Having smoke bomb... I mean, the Black Candle fundamental is also great. The Shadow's Hand can now throw down Darkness when and where he would like to sneak past enemies or as more BFC, to leave some enemies in the dark while he takes out their friends.
Level 6: The Hand has now adopted the darkness and apparently it's clingy. This is great, though! Immobilize enemies with Clinging Darkness. Throw down Carpet of Shadow to really make them struggle getting out of it. Assassin's Stance comes this level, too: punching people unconscious/to death has never been easier! Still, it would be easier to do it if someone could flank them. Some kind of sidekick...
Shadow Familiar provides a companion like a wizard or sorcerer's companion, but with the Dark template, making a far better sneak. When this feat first comes up, Shadow's Hand has a Dark Bat familiar that proves useful for a night scout. But something larger is necessary to help take full advantage of Assassin's Stance and to help The Shadow's Hand stay alive.
Improved Familiar gives us Grace, the Dark Krenshar. Flanking, intimidation factor, tracker. For The Hand's sake, Grace is mostly there to help with Assassin's Stance and to keep enemies busy during rounds where he needs to use mysteries and fundamentals. Obviously care needs to be taken to keep Grace alive, but keeping enemies separated from the conflict via mysteries and Black Candle should help see to that.
Shadow Reflection makes all AoO have a 50% miss chance. Couple with his ranks in Tumble, the Hand can weave in and out of combat as needed with significantly less worry that his foes will even get to roll to-hit.
Favored Mystery is necessary to provide more uses of mysteries, taking the untouched BFC mysteries and only utility mystery with this feat just makes sense. Immobilize more often, good. Get a heads up on rooms more often, good. And a little extra cold damage every now and then? Not bad.
Cloak of Deception seemed like an obvious choice after touching on Shadow Hand maneuvers twice; with a build that has several resources poured into not being seen, even a short duration of invisibility can be incredibly useful, both in and out of combat. Turn invisible when caught in the middle of a hallway and let a guard pass or disappear from view in a fight and either run or pop-up somewhere unexpected.
Path Focus and Greater Path Focus help The Hand's most used Mysteries stick and do their full effect.
Finally Shadow Cast can help eliminate AoO when you have nowhere to run off too; it doesn't invalidate Shadow Reflection, but if you don't even have to take the chance sometimes, it's really useful.
If often feel in this competition that Epic feats need to be looked at as a whole: you gain no new class abilities and too many feats are incremental. Shadow's Hand's epic feats increase his versatility while supporting his first six levels, making him a better fighter and caster over all. The only significant change is his familiar, but I feel it's justified in the build as a battle companion.
Human, Skills, Skill Focus
Shadowcaster, Fundamentals, Mysteries, Favored Mystery, Path Focus, Shadow Reflection, Shadow Cast, Path Focus, Greater Path Focus, Shadow Familiar
Martial Study, Martial Stance, Maneuvers and Stances