Dealing with the Shadowdancer's Shadow


GM Discussion

Dark Archive 4/5

I have a player in a regular Pathfinder Society game who is about to gain a Shadow Companion.

How do I deal with an incorporeal toucher with half-decent hit points and a good attack bonus (due to using the character's BAB) who constantly hides in the floor, slowly draining enemies' strength, all the while being only vulnerable to readied attacks, and which can be sent out against monsters at the start of a given "dungeon", returning when all are dead (or when they get hurt), while being invulnerable to virtually all monsters that use natural weapons?

It hasn't happened yet, but it will probably happen soon, and I'm looking for advice on how to stop encounters in many scenarios from becoming irrelevant due to the incorporeal menace.

The Exchange 3/5

Sounds like you already know how to deal with it. Most players at a table won't sit there waiting for the shadow to win every combat. They will come join in themselves. If they don't then there is no reason to stop this if that is how they enjoy the game.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

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Be sure that both you and the player understand how the shadow works. We've had a couple shadow dancers locally, and they're not game breaking. At higher tier games many encounters have ways of dealing with incorporeal tactics.

• If the shadow is striking at foes from within the walls or floor it has a 50% miss chance.
• Incorporeal creatures can't fly through walls, floors or ceilings and arrive at the other side.
• Undead and Constructs (some of the most common dungeon encounters) are immune to Strength damage.
• Enemy spellcasters are still dangerous. A Wizard readying magic missile or a Cleric with positive energy can end a shadow quickly.
• Shadows still provoke for leaving threatened spaces (except when withdrawing, Spring Attacking, leaving cover and whatnot, obviously), so unless they're staying in the floor the whole time (which is an incredibly long and tedious miss chance battle) they're going to get hit eventually.
• Enemies can still retreat, taking their loot with them.
• If the party doesn't complete three encounters, they don't get any XP.
• Few scenarios are 100% combat. The shadow isn't going to help with the other challenges that adventurers face.
• Unless you're entirely stuck in a dungeon crawl, a scouting shadow won't always come across enemies first. Or worse, it could come across beneficial NPCs.

Plus, on top of all that (and likely some points I've missed), you're still the GM. If you believe that sending the shadow forth will negatively impact the other players' enjoyment of the scenario, talk to the player of the Shadowdancer. Tell them you'd feel more comfortable having the shadow stay by their side and engage in combat encounters together, in the interest of balance.


Also, doesn't a shadow have an Int of 6? Seems like that might provide some limitation on how useful it would be in terms of giving it complex instructions or expecting it to adjust on the fly (no pun intended) to new situations. That can be mitigated if the shadowdancer is there to direct it, but just sending it off with the instructions to "drain everyone you come across" is probably a terrible idea... and even "explore this dungeon and report back with a map" might not work too well, with such a low intelligence.

Scarab Sages 5/5

Only correction to Nefreet's list.

You can go through a wall, floor or ceiling, as long as it is not wider than the space the incorporeal creature occupies.

They could get to the other side if the wall was 5 feet thick or less and they were small or larger.

A shadow running around a dungeon and indiscriminately killing the inhabitants is an evil act that the shadowdancer will incur. Depending on the circumstances, it may be enough for an alignment shift.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

If you find a wall, floor or ceiling less than 5 feet square, I would hesitate to call it a wall, floor or ceiling (unless of course it's a 5 foot cell).

Silver Crusade

Nefreet wrote:
If you find a wall, floor or ceiling less than 5 feet square, I would hesitate to call it a wall, floor or ceiling (unless of course it's a 5 foot cell).

Uh, I actually don't know of many 5 foot thick walls outside of probably super large buildings.

The Exchange 3/5

Yeah most walls are 6inches to maybe a couple feet for concrete.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

Quote:
An incorporeal creature can enter or pass through solid objects, but must remain adjacent to the object's exterior, and so cannot pass entirely through an object whose space is larger than its own.

It doesn't matter how thick the wall is. The shadow must remain on one side.

Once it finds a break, or a crack, it's good.

But it can't pass through solid walls.

Silver Crusade

Ah!

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

Regardless, let's limit this thread to advice for the OP, and not derail it.

If people believe that the incorporeal rules are unclear, it should be discussed in the Rules Questions Forum.

The Exchange 3/5

It says the space has to be larger than its own. If the wall doesnt take up over a square it remained adjacent.

I think the shadow wont be much an issue at the table. Dont worry about it.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

Nefreet wrote:
• If the party doesn't complete three encounters, they don't get any XP.

I don't understand this point. Technically the shadow is an extention of the character. So, if circumstances allowed it to roam through an entire dungeon crawl defeating all the encounters, it would (should?) count as the party completing them since they are using their own resources (ie companion) to do so. Or maybe you meant something else?

Nefreet wrote:
• If the shadow is striking at foes from within the walls or floor it has a 50% miss chance.

I think this one is the most variation in terms of implementation. The incorporeal trait says the creature must emerge from the wall (or whatever) in order to attack, but that does not mean it has to move out of the wall and remain there. Sure their target could ready to attack them when they "emerge" to strike, and that may defeat the issue of the

"unhittable" incorporeal creature, but if the party is there with it, can still create a challenge for the GM. It may not be the best strategy to ready a single attack vs. a shadow when the rest of the PCs are pounding on you. Moreso if you are a caster-type.

Fortunately, I have encountered very few shadow dancers in my time, but I find with the RAW restrictions in PFS, they can be incredibly problematic even at high tier. The hide-in-plain-sight ability is oft misunderstood as well, leading to a general dislike for shadow dancers at the table.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

Spoilered for off-topic:
Bob Jonquet wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
• If the shadow is striking at foes from within the walls or floor it has a 50% miss chance.
I think this one is the most variation in terms of implementation.
Incorporeal wrote:
It can sense the presence of creatures or objects within a square adjacent to its current location, but enemies have total concealment (50% miss chance) from an incorporeal creature that is inside an object.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 5/55/5 *** Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East

I GM for someone who occasionally brings a shadowdancer. He knows it can easily derail things and as such keeps it on a short leash, trying not to abuse its power. But yes, it could scout through and destroy many scenarios on its own.

It did save the party from a TPK in the first encounter of Sealed Gate at least.

And yes, they can go through walls. They're adjacent -> they go inside something less thick than them -> they're now adjacent to the far wall -> they go out the far wall.

Scarab Sages 5/5

Nefreet wrote:
Quote:
An incorporeal creature can enter or pass through solid objects, but must remain adjacent to the object's exterior, and so cannot pass entirely through an object whose space is larger than its own.

It doesn't matter how thick the wall is. The shadow must remain on one side.

Once it finds a break, or a crack, it's good.

But it can't pass through solid walls.

Your interpretation is the complete opposite of the rule you quoted. I'm confused.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

Spoilered for off-topic:
"must remain adjacent to the object's exterior"

Let's say you have a ghost ("G") outside of a 4ft thick wall ("W"):

[G][W][_]

The ghost is adjacent to the exterior of the wall.

If it enters the wall, occupying the "W" spot, it's still adjacent to the exterior.

The ghost cannot pass through this wall, according to the incorporeal description.

That empty space is not adjacent to the exterior. It's the interior.

Likewise, if there was a perfectly sealed ceramic pot, a ghost on the outside could not reach anything on the inside.

It "must remain adjacent to the object's exterior".

3/5 ** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston Metro

Nefreet wrote:


• Enemy spellcasters are still dangerous. A Wizard readying magic missile or a Cleric with positive energy can end a shadow quickly.

With the way scenarios are written wouldn't channeling negative energy be more common making the Oracle Shadow more susceptible? As a forewarning there are two versions of the shadow with the Oracle being far more powerful.

Scarab Sages 5/5

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Nefreet wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Because a medium sized creature takes up a 5 foot square, they would be adjacent to both exteriors. The description of the rule you posted even says they can go through walls.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

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Tallow wrote:
A shadow running around a dungeon and indiscriminately killing the inhabitants is an evil act that the shadowdancer will incur. Depending on the circumstances, it may be enough for an alignment shift;

What?

How is that any different than a PC running around a dungeon and indiscriminately killing the inhabitants? Something that happens all the time in PFS.

Scarab Sages 1/5 *

Nefreet wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

A pot isn't a solid object, it's a hollow one. So it could reach in and touch the mouse hiding inside it. The same goes for a wall. Yes the outside of the wall is the exterior of the building, but the object is the wall itself, the interior of it is all the mass inside it, the exterior of the wall is any of the surfaces on any side.

A 5 foot cube of stone is a solid object, but because of the way spacing works the shadow takes up a 5 foot cube as well. Meaning once it is inside the cube it is adjacent to all the exteriors of the -solid- object, and can exit from any of them.

I think your confusing what they mean by interior and exterior as you're misinterpreting what a solid object is in this instance.

The interior of a solid object is all the solid mass of whatever it is. The wood inside a freshly cut log is the interior of it.

Scarab Sages 5/5

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Disk Elemental wrote:
Tallow wrote:
A shadow running around a dungeon and indiscriminately killing the inhabitants is an evil act that the shadowdancer will incur. Depending on the circumstances, it may be enough for an alignment shift;

What?

How is that any different than a PC running around a dungeon and indiscriminately killing the inhabitants? Something that happens all the time in PFS.

Not all dungeons are full with evil irredeemable creatures. And if characters ran around killing everything inside some scenarios, it would be an evil act. Sending a shadow in to kill everything without know8ng what's inside is certainly evil.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

So much for trying to stay on topic.

Look, I'm not going to argue with anyone here. Interpret it how you want. I will do the same.

If you think the rules are unclear, we have a forum for that.

3/5

I think the largest problem with the shadow is the inability of many creatures that can harm it. Since you need a magical weapon to hurt it. Many encounters do not have one so just send the shadow ina nd everyone else sit back.

3/5 ** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston Metro

Finlanderboy wrote:
I think the largest problem with the shadow is the inability of many creatures that can harm it. Since you need a magical weapon to hurt it. Many encounters do not have one so just send the shadow ina nd everyone else sit back.

At the levels you gain it the scenarios would be awfully weird for the monster not to have any counter.

3/5

MadScientistWorking wrote:
Finlanderboy wrote:
I think the largest problem with the shadow is the inability of many creatures that can harm it. Since you need a magical weapon to hurt it. Many encounters do not have one so just send the shadow ina nd everyone else sit back.
At the levels you gain it the scenarios would be awfully weird for the monster not to have any counter.

You need creatures with gear. So lots of natural weapon monsters can not do a thing.


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Finlanderboy wrote:
MadScientistWorking wrote:
Finlanderboy wrote:
I think the largest problem with the shadow is the inability of many creatures that can harm it. Since you need a magical weapon to hurt it. Many encounters do not have one so just send the shadow ina nd everyone else sit back.
At the levels you gain it the scenarios would be awfully weird for the monster not to have any counter.
You need creatures with gear. So lots of natural weapon monsters can not do a thing.

From the Damage Reduction portion of the PRD:

"Some monsters are vulnerable to magic weapons. Any weapon with at least a +1 magical enhancement bonus on attack and damage rolls overcomes the damage reduction of these monsters. Such creatures' natural weapons (but not their attacks with weapons) are treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction."

5/5 *****

Incorporeality is not DR.


andreww wrote:
Incorporeality is not DR.

No one said it was. If a corporeal creature has DR/magic, its natural weapons will count as magical and therefore be able to damage an incorporeal creature like a shadow.

5/5 *****

Such creatures' natural weapons (but not their attacks with weapons) are treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction."


2 people marked this as a favorite.
andreww wrote:
Such creatures' natural weapons (but not their attacks with weapons) are treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction."

"An incorporeal creature has no physical body. It can be harmed only by other incorporeal creatures, magic weapons or creatures that strike as magic weapons..."

I suppose I've been interpreting that to include the "treated as magic weapons..." part above. Like the FAQ says.

5/5 5/55/55/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.
quibblemuch wrote:
andreww wrote:
Such creatures' natural weapons (but not their attacks with weapons) are treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction."

"An incorporeal creature has no physical body. It can be harmed only by other incorporeal creatures, magic weapons or creatures that strike as magic weapons..."

I suppose I've been interpreting that to include the "treated as magic weapons..." part above. Like the FAQ says.

I think there is no other interpretation. Magical critters hit ghosts.

Scarab Sages 2/5

Nefreet wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Nefreet, you keep ignoring the caveate to the exterior adjacency issue.

Incorporeal wrote:
An incorporeal creature can enter or pass through solid objects, but must remain adjacent to the object’s exterior, and so cannot pass entirely through an object whose space is larger than its own."

Things this rule says:

  • An incorporeal creature can enter and pass through solid objects. This is counter to your notion that they can not ever pass through objects, only enter.
  • They must remain adjacent to the objects exterior... and so can not pass entirely through objects which are larger than their own space.
  • If they can pass through objects but are only limited by not being able to pass through objects which are larger than their own space... then that means they may pass entirely through objects which take up space of their size or smaller.

Scarab Sages 5/5

Nefreet wrote:

So much for trying to stay on topic.

Look, I'm not going to argue with anyone here. Interpret it how you want. I will do the same.

If you think the rules are unclear, we have a forum for that.

You can't say something incorrect and then refuse to be called out on it.

The rules aren't unclear. Your understanding of them are.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Yeah, sometimes the shadow destroys an encounter on their own, other times they get blasted to the next week via a magic missile. Pretty regularly though it's mostly a minor str debuff at best. I wouldn't worry much about it.

Dark Archive 4/5

Ever seen a hasted, blinking, shadow delivering touch spells?
No? Come play with me than!

5/5 *****

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Sin of Asmodeus wrote:

Ever seen a hasted, blinking, shadow delivering touch spells?

No? Come play with me than!

Whenever I see comments like this I wonder if people remember this line from the incorporeal special quality which does not distinguish between beneficial and harmful effects:

Quote:
Corporeal spells and effects that do not cause damage only have a 50% chance of affecting an incorporeal creature

Scarab Sages 2/5

andreww wrote:
Sin of Asmodeus wrote:

Ever seen a hasted, blinking, shadow delivering touch spells?

No? Come play with me than!

Whenever I see comments like this I wonder if people remember this line from the incorporeal special quality which does not distinguish between beneficial and harmful effects:

Quote:
Corporeal spells and effects that do not cause damage only have a 50% chance of affecting an incorporeal creature

That's why you need a rod of, or take as a feat with a trait that drops MM adjustments, Ectoplasmic Spell.

Grand Lodge 2/5

andreww wrote:
Sin of Asmodeus wrote:

Ever seen a hasted, blinking, shadow delivering touch spells?

No? Come play with me than!

Whenever I see comments like this I wonder if people remember this line from the incorporeal special quality which does not distinguish between beneficial and harmful effects:

Quote:
Corporeal spells and effects that do not cause damage only have a 50% chance of affecting an incorporeal creature

Indeed. Luckily force effects work normally, so my geist channeler can give shield to her phantom within range of 50 ft. You can guess how that works.

4/5

Just have to throw this out there.


I just wanna know what happens if you stick a Ghost Touch Amulet of Mighty Fists on a Shadow. :)

-j

Sovereign Court

Jason Wu wrote:

I just wanna know what happens if you stick a Ghost Touch Amulet of Mighty Fists on a Shadow. :)

-j

I am imagining a necklace sliding along the wall/floor, pinpointing the shadows position.

Dark Archive

Its not always an option in PFS but bladebarrier can ruin a shadowdancer's day.

1/5 5/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So can a fireball, friendly or not....

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