The material below is designated as open game content. (See previous page for license)
Some characters go beyond merely adapting to the darkness, instead refocusing their entire career on learning to use the shadows as tools and sources of power.
There are many schools of martial arts in the world, each teaching a different technique and emphasizing to different degrees the parallel disciplines of physical and mental prowess.
One of the most secretive and notorious of the martial arts is the path of the dark hand, a curriculum of training which focuses on developing the abilities of those who are marked with shadowtaint. Students of the dark hand are taught techniques of meditation and discipline that reinforce and strengthen their connection with the otherworldly energies which suffuse their bodies, until they are able to channel deadly energy through their fists, or transform their very flesh into insubstantial shadow.
It is said that the path of the dark hand was first discovered by a novice monk whose behavior became erratic after he was badly injured by a wight. The elders of his order eventually cast him out when he was discovered stealing from the monastery stores, but the young novice continued his studies on his own, unlocking a new series of abilities quite unlike those of his original order.
Abilities: Mental strength and discipline is vital to the meditative techniques needed to master the path of the dark hand. Wisdom is therefore an important ability for dark hands, and affects the strength of several of their class abilities. A high Strength, Dexterity and Constitution are also of use, as they help make the dark hand more effective in melee combat.
Most dark hands are monks or psychic warriors, and the combination of martial and mental discipline taught by these professions is an excellent basis on which to develop the necessary meditative techniques to master the path of the dark hand. The spellcasting classes also teach the necessary techniques of concentration, but a pure spellcaster often lacks the physical resilience needed to excel in melee combat.
The path of the dark hand is especially popular with those who are willing to apply discipline in order to gain power, but who are prone to taking short cuts and self-indulgence in other aspects of their lives.
Training and Culture: The path of the dark hand no longer maintains academies for potential students to seek out. Attempts in the past to maintain such institutions have failed due to suspicion and hostility from the wider populace, which fears the 'unnatural powers' the path employs.
Instead of maintaining large scale schools, masters of the technique take on individual apprentices. They choose only those who have already developed the mental discipline to channel their shadowtaint to some degree. This allows the dark hands to keep a low profile and work in the shadows - their preferred position - but it limits their ability to co-ordinate as a wider organization. Individual adepts of the path act on their own recognizance, joining forces only when it suits them to do so. They are as likely to work with, for or through characters of other classes as they are their own.
Hit Die: d8
To qualify to become a dark hand, a character must fulfill all the following criteria:
Base Attack Bonus: +4
Concentration: 8 ranks
Feats: Improved Unarmed Strike, Shadowtaint, Shadowtouch
The dark hand's class skills (and the key ability modifier for each) are Autohypnosis* (Wis), Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Escape Artist (Dex), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Knowledge (psicraft)* (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), and Tumble (Dex).
- ignore this skill if you do not use psionics in your campaign
Skill points per level: 4 + Int bonus
Dark Hand (DkH) Level Progression
|Level||BAB||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Special|
|1st||+1||+0||+2||+2||Shadowed Soul, Unclosing Eye I|
|2nd||+2||+0||+3||+3||Improved Shadowtouch +1|
|3rd||+3||+1||+3||+3||Blind the Flesh, Not of Mortal Flesh I|
|4th||+4||+1||+4||+4||Improved Shadowtouch +2|
|5th||+5||+1||+4||+4||Shadowform, Unclosing Eye II|
|6th||+6||+2||+5||+5||Improved Shadowtouch +3, Not of Mortal Flesh II|
|7th||+7||+2||+5||+5||Blind the Mind|
|8th||+8||+2||+6||+6||Improved Shadowtouch +4|
|9th||+9||+3||+6||+6||Not of Mortal Flesh III|
|10th||+10||+3||+7||+7||Improved Shadowtouch +5, Shadow Made Flesh|
All of the following are Class Features of the dark hand prestige class.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: The dark hand gains no new weapon, armor or shield proficiencies.
Shadowed Soul (Ex): Adepts of the dark hand learn to draw a shadow over their own hearts and minds. They are difficult to detect by divination spells such as clairaudience/ clairvoyance, locate object, and detect spells. This ability also prevents location by such magic items as crystal balls. If a divination is attempted against the dark hand, the caster of the divination must succeed on a caster level check (1d20 + caster level) against a DC of 10 + the dark hand's class level + the dark hand's Wisdom modifier in order for the spell to work.
Unclosing Eye (Su): The dark hand is filled with an otherworldly energy that makes him almost tireless. At 1st level, he is immune to all magical sleep effects. At 5th level the dark hand learns meditative techniques to strengthen this ability. Provided he spends at least four hours a day in a meditative trance, he is not subject to the fatigue or exhaustion conditions.
A dark hand who is also an arcane spellcaster or psionic character must still rest for eight hours in order to ready or prepare his spells or replenish his power points for the day.
Improved Shadowtouch (Su): The dark hand learns to focus and reinforce the negative energies of his shadowtouch. Commencing from 2nd level, he gains a +1 bonus to the negative energy damage he inflicts with every successful unarmed attack he makes. This bonus increases by +1 for every two additional class levels of the dark hand (+2 at 4th, +3 at 6th, and so on).
If the dark hand has the improved shadowtouch ability, the extra damage from this ability also applies for attacks made with weapons.
Blind the Flesh (Su): Starting at 3rd level, a dark hand can channel shadow energies into the body of another creature he strikes. He can use this attack once a day, and he must announce his intent before making his attack roll. If the dark hand strikes successfully and the target takes damage from the blow, the target must make a Fortitude saving throw (DC 10 + the dark hand's class level + the dark hand's Wisdom modifier) or be blinded. Creatures which do not see by normal means cannot be affected by this ability.
The effects of Blind the Flesh are permanent unless the dark hand chooses to end them (which requires him to touch the target once more) or they are alleviated by magical means such as remove blindness/deafness.
Not of Mortal Flesh (Su): The energies that fuel the dark hand's body render him immune to many mortal limitations and afflictions. At 3rd level, a dark hand is immune to paralysis and stunning. At 6th level he is immune to poison and disease, and at 9th level he comes immune to death effects, and to any effect that requires a Fortitude save (unless the effect also works on objects or is harmless).
Shadowform (Su): At 5th level, a dark hand gains the ability to transform their entire body into an incorporeal shadowform for 2 rounds per class level per day. The dark hand may use this ability on a number of different occasions during any single day, as long as the total number of rounds spent in shadowform does not exceed twice his dark hand class level.
While in shadowform, the dark hand and all his equipment become incorporeal. While in this state, the dark hand can only affect corporeal creatures with his shadowtouch ability. He affects incorporeal creatures normally.
Example: Chen is a Monk 5 / Dark Hand 5. While in shadowform, he can make touch attacks against corporeal opponents that inflict 3 points of negative energy damage each (1 for the shadowtouch feat, +2 for the improved shadowtouch class ability), but no other damage.
Blind the Mind (Ex): Commencing from 7th level, the dark hand gains the ability to channel his shadow powers into another creature's mind. By use of this ability, the dark hand is able to completely eliminate all memory of an event the subject actually experienced. The target must either be willing or helpless in order for this ability to function.
The dark hand places his hands on the target and concentrates for 5 minutes. At the end of this time, he makes a Concentration check, which the target opposes with a Will save or Concentration check (target's choice). A willing target may forego the save/check.
The dark hand may use this ability as often as he likes, conceivably committing wholesale erasure of the victim's memories, but the target gains a +2 bonus to their checks to resist Blind the Mind for each previous use of the ability (successful or otherwise) the dark hand has made against them in the previous 8 hours.
The target's memory can be restored at any time by the dark hand who removed it, simply by touching the target and concentrating for one round. Alternatively, during the process of erasing the memory the dark hand can specify a particular time or circumstance at which the memory will be restored. The erased memory can also be restored through use of a heal spell.
Blind the Mind cannot negate the effects of charm, geas/quest, suggestion, or similar spells.
Shadow Made Flesh: At 10th level, a dark hand completes his bond with the otherwordly energies he channels. He is forevermore treated as an outsider rather than as a humanoid (or whatever his creature type was) for the purpose of spells and magical effects. Additionally, he gains damage reduction 10/magic, which allows him to ignore the first 10 points of damage from any attack made by a nonmagical weapon or by any natural attack made by a creature that doesn’t have similar damage reduction. Unlike other outsiders, the dark hand can still be brought back from the dead as if he were a member of his previous creature type.
Ex-Dark Hands: A dark hand who becomes of good alignment cannot advance any further as a dark hand, but retains all existing class abilities.
Students of the ethereal and astral plane are common in arcane circles. The ebon magus eschews such well-worn territory, focussing her attention instead on the Plane of Shadow. Despite the long application of shadow energies in such spells as shadow conjuration, and the potentially limitless applications of such spells, coordinated study of the plane and its possible magical uses is relatively recent. The paucity of previous analysis is ascribed by most ebon magi to a lack of imagination on the part of those spellcasters who pursued other avenues of study.
An ebon magus focuses her magical studies on the use of shadow energies, sacrificing power in other aspects of spellcasting in order to develop unique skills and abilities, and to master shadow spells to the maximum extent possible. She gains the ability to control her own shadow, and takes on many of the traits of a shadow herself.
Abilities: Wizards and sorcerers make up the majority of ebon magi, but members of this class can come from any of the spellcasting classes, provided they have access to the necessary shadow-based spells.
Naturally, their spellcasting ability, whether it be Intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma, is extremely important to the ebon magus. Of the other ability scores, Constitution is probably the most important, as it helps increase the ebon magi's limited hit points.
Most ebon magi are human, half-elves or gnomes. Humans and half-elves have the natural versatility and drive to succeed that this esoteric path of study requires, while gnomes have an affinity for illusion magic that leads them naturally into this class.
Training and Culture: In many cases the greatest challenge to becoming an ebon magus is to find an existing master of the technique. Like the more common illusionist, the ebon magus generally conceals their specialty, in order to maximize the likelihood that their adversaries will believe the ebon magi's shadow spells to be the real thing.
Once accepted as an apprentice however, the neophyte ebon magus will discover that there is a greater sense of camaraderie and allegiance between ebon magi than among other schools of magical study. Ebon magi see themselves as pioneers in a new form of magic and, with a few notable exceptions, are more likely to cooperate than to compete with other students of the plane of shadow.
Hit Die: d4
To qualify to become an ebon magus, a character must fulfil all the following criteria:
Bluff: 4 ranks
Knowledge (the planes): 10 ranks
Feats: Ebon Adept
Spells: able to cast Shadow Conjuration
The ebon magi's class skills (and the key ability modifier for each) are Bluff (Cha), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Hide (Dex), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually) (Int), Profession (Wis), and Spellcraft (Int).
Skill points per level: 2 + Int bonus
Ebon Magus (EbM) Level Progression
|Level||BAB||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Special||Spells per day|
|1st||+0||+0||+0||+2||Darksight, Shape Shadow, Shadow Familiar|
|2nd||+1||+0||+0||+3||Shadow Magic (Conjuration)||+1 level of existing class|
|3rd||+1||+1||+1||+3||Eyes of Ebon||+1 level of existing class|
|4th||+2||+1||+1||+4||Shadow Reach +5 ft.||+1 level of existing class|
|5th||+2||+1||+1||+4||Darksight, Shadow Magic (Evocation)||+1 level of existing class|
|6th||+3||+2||+2||+5||Shadow Jaunt 1/day, Shadow Movement|
|7th||+3||+2||+2||+5||Shadow's Shield||+1 level of existing class|
|8th||+4||+2||+2||+6||Shadow Reach +10 ft.||+1 level of existing class|
|9th||+4||+3||+3||+6||Darksight||+1 level of existing class|
|10th||+5||+3||+3||+7||Shadow Magic (Shadow), Shadow Jaunt 2/day||+1 level of existing class|
All of the following are Class Features of the ebon magus prestige class.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: The ebon magus gains no new weapon, armor or shield proficiencies.
Spells per Day: For the purposes of determining spells per day, caster level, and (for spontaneous spellcasters) spells known, whenever a level as an ebon magus grants the ability "+1 level of existing class", the character adds one effective level to one of their previous spellcasting classes. If the character had more than one spellcasting class before becoming an ebon magus, she must choose one class to which they will add the new level. Note that the character does not gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained (such as metamagic feats, and so on).
Darksight: The eyes of the ebon magus no longer need light to see. She gains darksight as a bonus feat at 1st, 5th and 9th levels.
Shape Shadow (Su): An ebon magus imbues her own shadow with energy from the Plane of Shadow. She has conscious control of these energies, and is capable of altering the shape and position of her shadow at will as a free action. She gains a +2 bonus to Hide checks due to this ability. This bonus increases by +1 for every three additional class levels (4th, 7th and 10th).
Shadow Familiar: An ebon magus can summon a familiar in the same manner as a sorcerer or wizard. This magical beast takes on the appearance of a normal animal, but is imbued with the otherworldly power of the plane of shadow.
The shadow familiar gains the normal powers and abilities of a familiar, based on the ebon magi's class level. If the ebon magus has levels in another class which has access to a familiar, such as sorcerer or wizard, these levels stack.
In addition to the standard abilities outlined above, the shadow familiar gains the following powers, based on the ebon magi's class level (levels from other classes do not apply):
At 5th level, the shadow familiar can become incorporeal for a number of rounds equal to the ebon magi's class level each day. The familiar may use this ability on a number of different occasions during any single day, as long as the total number of rounds spent in incorporeal form does not exceed the ebon magi's class level. Switching between forms is a free action that the familiar may only take on the ebon magi's turn.
At 10th level, the familiar can switch between corporeal and incorporeal form at will as a free action, and can remain in either form as long as it likes.
Shadow Magic (Conjuration): From 2nd level, the ebon magus is able to imbue certain of her spells with additional energies from the plane of shadow. Whenever she casts shadow conjuration the effects are 30% as powerful as the conjuration it mimics (as opposed to 20%). Greater shadow conjuration is 70% as powerful (not 60%), and a shades spell conjures at 90% of the power of the original (not 80%).
This increased power does not stack with the increase granted for being present on the Plane of Shadow itself (see sidebar). The effects overlap.
Eyes of Ebon: Not even magical darkness can thwart the ebon magi's arcane sight. She gains eyes of ebon as a bonus feat at 3rd level.
Shadow Magic (Evocation): From 5th level, the ebon magus is able to imbue certain of her spells with additional energies from the plane of shadow. Whenever she casts shadow evocation the effects are 30% as powerful as the evocation it mimics (as opposed to 20%), and greater shadow evocation is 70% as powerful (not 60%).
This increased power does not stack with the increase granted for being present on the Plane of Shadow itself (see sidebar). The effects overlap.
Shadow Reach: Commencing from 4th level, an ebon magus gains the ability to channel magic through her shadow, allowing her to use her shadow to deliver touch attacks. The ebon magi's shadow has a reach equal to her own natural reach, plus 5 feet. At 8th level, the shadow's reach increases by a further 5 feet.
As usual, if the ebon magus casts another spell before the touch spell is delivered, the touch spell dissipates.
Shadow Movement (Su): From 6th level, the ebon magus gains the ability to move across surfaces, whether solid or liquid, with the same ease as her own shadow. She gains a climb speed equal to her normal speed and is able to move across liquids as if under the effects of water walking.
Shadow Jaunt (Sp): At 7th level, the ebon magus gains the ability to shadow jaunt once per day. This ability functions exactly like ethereal jaunt, cast at a caster level equal to the ebon magi's class level, except that the ebon magus travels via the plane of shadow rather than the ethereal plane. See the sidebar for more information on the plane of shadow.
At 10th level, the ebon magus can use this ability twice per day.
Shadow's Shield (Su): By 7th level, the ebon magi's connection to the plane of shadow grows so strong that she becomes resistant to certain types of magic. The ebon magus gains spell resistance equal to 15 + her class level, but only against spells with the light or fire descriptor.
Shadow Magic (Shadow Spells): At 10th level, the ebon magus is able to imbue any Shadow spell she casts with additional energies from the plane of shadow. Whenever she casts any spell with the shadow descriptor, the spell is cast as though it was prepared with the Maximize Spell feat, though it doesn’t require the higher spell slot normally required of a metamagic spell, nor the additional casting time for a spontaneous caster.
The Plane of Shadow
The Plane of Shadow is a dimly lit dimension that is both coterminous to and coexistent with the Material Plane. It overlaps the Material Plane much as the Ethereal Plane does, so a planar traveler can use the Plane of Shadow to cover great distances quickly.
The Plane of Shadow is also coterminous to other planes. With the right spell, a character can use the Plane of Shadow to visit other realities.
The Plane of Shadow is a world of black and white; color itself has been bleached from the environment. It is otherwise appears similar to the Material Plane.
Despite the lack of light sources, various plants, animals, and humanoids call the Plane of Shadow home.
The Plane of Shadow is magically morphic, and parts continually flow onto other planes. As a result, creating a precise map of the plane is next to impossible, despite the presence of landmarks.
The Plane of Shadow has the following traits.
• Magically morphic. Certain spells modify the base material of the Plane of Shadow. The utility and power of these spells within the Plane of Shadow make them particularly useful for explorers and natives alike.
• Mildly neutral-aligned.
• Enhanced magic. Spells with the shadow descriptor are enhanced on the Plane of Shadow. Such spells are cast as though they were prepared with the Maximize Spell feat, though they don’t require the higher spell slots.
• Furthermore, specific spells become more powerful on the Plane of Shadow. Shadow conjuration and shadow evocation spells are 30% as powerful as the conjurations and evocations they mimic (as opposed to 20%). Greater shadow conjuration and greater shadow evocation are 70% as powerful (not 60%), and a shades spell conjures at 90% of the power of the original (not 80%).
• Impeded magic. Spells that use or generate light or fire may fizzle when cast on the Plane of Shadow. A spellcaster attempting a spell with the light or fire descriptor must succeed on a Spellcraft check (DC 20 + the level of the spell). Spells that produce light are less effective in general, because all light sources have their ranges halved on the Plane of Shadow.
• Despite the dark nature of the Plane of Shadow, spells that produce, use, or manipulate darkness are unaffected by the plane.
To most honest folk dark back streets and alleyways are places to fear and avoid. To the shadow knight, they are home. These brave and dedicated men and women devote their lives to defending the week and helpless from criminals, using the shadows themselves to turn the hunters into the hunted.
Combining rigorous combat training with exceptional athleticism and awareness the shadow knight takes control of the streets, keeping them clear of crime. Unfortunately, not all authorities approve of such vigilantes, and some shadow knights find themselves as much at odds with the law as the criminals against whom they struggle. Many such shadow knights set out on the road, seeking communities which will welcome their aid.
Abilities: Dexterity is an important ability for a shadow knight, as it allows him to dodge his opponent’s attacks and move with increased grace and stealth. Wisdom and Charisma are also important, as they contribute toward several of his class abilities. However, almost every ability score can be of use to the shadow knight: Strength and Constitution give him increased effectiveness in combat, while Intelligence allows him to develop a wider variety of skills.
Humans are the most likely race to become shadow knights, as their cities are the most likely to have the crime-infested slums and dangerous alleys that provoke someone to pursue this class. Shadow knights of other races are more rare, but there have been several notorious Halfling shadow knights.
Training and Culture: Few shadow knights are trained specifically for their profession. Instead they seek out many masters, learning different skills and techniques from each of them, and synthesizing them all into a whole that is even greater than the parts.
Most shadow knights are loners, relying only on themselves and their own skills. Despite this self-reliance, all shadow knights are loyal to those who share their struggle. Some take on apprentices or cohorts; others join groups of adventurers who share their beliefs.
Hit Die: d8
To qualify to become a shadow knight, a character must fulfil all the following criteria:
Alignment: Any Good
Base Attack Bonus: +5
Intimidate: 4 ranks
Sense Motive: 8 ranks
Spot: 4 ranks
Feats: Blind Fight
The shadow knight's class skills (and the key ability modifier for each) are Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Gather Information (Cha), Heal (Wis), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (local) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str) and Tumble (Dex).
Skill points per level: 4 + Int bonus
Shadow Knight (SwK) Level Progression
|Level||BAB||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Special|
|2nd||+2||+3||+3||+0||One Against Many|
|3rd||+3||+3||+3||+1||Sneak Attack +1d6, Instant Insight|
|4th||+4||+4||+4||+1||Shadow Sight 1/day|
|5th||+5||+4||+4||+1||Blindsense 30 ft., Shadow Cloak|
|6th||+6||+5||+5||+2||Sneak Attack +2d6|
|8th||+8||+6||+6||+2||Blindsight 5 ft.|
|9th||+9||+6||+6||+3||Sneak Attack +3d6|
|10th||+10||+7||+7||+3||Blindsight 15 ft., Shadow Sight 2/day|
All of the following are Class Features of the shadow knight prestige class.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: The shadow knight gains proficiency with bolas, shuriken and the hand crossbow.
Owlsight: Darkness holds no terror for the shadow knight. They gain the Owlsight feat as a bonus feat at 1st level.
Alertness: Shadow knights hone their senses to remain aware of their surroundings. They gain the Alertness feat as a bonus feat at 1st level.
One Against Many (Ex): A shadow knight often faces entire gangs of opponents by himself. To compensate, he becomes adept at throwing his opponents off balance. From 2nd level onwards, a shadow knight can use Intimidate to demoralize a number of opponents equal to his class level as a move action. All the targets must be within 30 feet of the shadow knight.
Sneak Attack: This is exactly like the rogue ability of the same name. The extra damage dealt increases by +1d6 every third level (3rd, 6th, and 9th). If a shadow knight gets a sneak attack bonus from another source the bonuses on damage stack.
Instant Insight (Ex): Shadow knights are trained to recognize the subtle and unconscious signs and body language that convey a person's true intentions, and can interpret these signs with near superhuman speed. A shadow knight of 3rd level or higher can use his sense motive skill to gain a hunch or sense enchantment after only 1 round, instead of the usual time of 1 minute. Additionally, a shadow knight can assess another character's trustworthiness after only one minute of observation.
Shadow Sight (Sp): A shadow knight is trained to penetrate the fabric of illusion and see the reality behind it. From 4th level, the shadow knight gains the ability to use shadowsight as a spell-like ability once per day, as a caster of his shadow knight class level. From 8th level, he can use this ability twice per day.
Blindsense (Ex): By 5th level, a shadow knight's senses have grown so sharp, and his understanding of his opponents' actions so acute, that he gains the benefit of blindsense within a range of 30 feet.
Shadow Cloak (Sp): Once per day, a shadow knight of 5th level or higher can use shadow cloak as a spell-like ability once per day, as a caster of his shadow knight class level. The save DC against this ability is 10 + shadow knight class level + charisma ability modifier.
Combat Insight (Ex): A shadow knight of 7th level or higher has become so skilled at analyzing the body language of others that he can predict their actions in combat.
As a standard action, the shadow knight may choose one character within 30 feet and attempt to predict their tactics. The shadow knight must be able to see the target clearly, and the target may not have concealment.
The shadow knight makes a sense motive check, which the target can oppose with either a bluff check, or a special attack check (1d20+ base attack bonus + Wisdom ability modifier). The target may choose which check to use.
If the shadow knight's check exceeds that of the target, the target is denied their Dexterity bonus to armor class against the shadow knight for a number of rounds equal to half the shadow knight's class level, rounded down.
If the shadow knight ever ends their action in a position where they cannot see the target, they lose the benefit of combat insight immediately, even if the normal duration has not expired. The shadow knight can end the benefits of this ability as a free action at any time during their turn.
The shadow knight may use combat insight as often as they wish. However, they can only gain the benefits of this ability against one target at any one time. Additionally, if the target's check equals or exceeds that of the shadow knight, the shadow knight gains no benefit against them, and cannot attempt to use combat insight against that target for the rest of the encounter.
Blindsight (Ex): The senses of a shadow knight of 8th level or higher have become so acute that he gains the benefits of blindsight within a range of 5 feet. At 10th level, this range increases to 15 feet.