Is the Shadow Body spell god mode for casters?


General Discussion


Shadow Body wrote:

Source Starfinder #10: The Diaspora Strain pg. 53

Classes Mystic 5, Technomancer 5
School transmutation (polymorph, shadow)
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range personal
Duration 1 minute/level (D)

You transform the matter of your body and any objects you carry or wear into the essence of the Shadow Plane. You are visible as an unattached shadow in bright light or normal light, but you gain total concealment in dim light or darkness (reduced to concealment against creatures that have darkvision). Your body and gear are incorporeal, but you can’t fly or pass through solid objects or creatures, and your gear can’t be removed from you or used by anyone. You can move at your normal speed along any surface, including horizontal and vertical surfaces and liquids, and difficult terrain doesn’t slow you. However, you can’t attack physically or manipulate objects. You can speak, cast spells that require no items to cast, and perform mental actions. If you can use spells that have a range of touch and such a spell requires an attack roll, you target EAC. If you lose consciousness, you and your gear return to your natural form.

Minutes per level, incorporeal defensive advantages (50% damage against magic/energy, immune to nonmagical attacks), ignore difficult terrain, and climb (with no chance of failure) at your full land speed.

Oh, and if you're in dim light or darkness you have total concealment; Mystics can quit wishing for Greater Invisibility and Technomancers may want to trade it out at this level. What if you're in normal light or bright light? Use one of these methods to lower it. As far as I know these stack, which you'll want because lots of things have low-light vision, which unlike darkvision doesn't have a range limitation you can retreat out of.

1. Shadow Orb magic item - Must be held, but you can't use your hands to attack with weapons anyway. Lowers light level by one within 20'.

2. Gloom Mote 1st level spell - lowers light level within 20' by one, but only down to dim light. Round/level duration hurts.

3. Fiendish Gloom tiefling racial ability - grab it via a Polymorph 2+ spell. One minute duration, 20' radius.

4. Shadow Shroud connection ability from the Shadow connection - Dim light in your square for 1 minute, darkvision (but what about low-light vision?) can't penetrate it, so stack to full darkness with a Shadow Orb and no one but devils will see you. Costs Resolve, alas.

So this is pretty doable with any combination of Shadow Orb and either Gloom Mote or Polymorph, just stay 60' away from creatures with Darkvision and you can cast spells at them with total concealment and incorporeal defenses.

Can anyone think of any other light reducing abilities or ways to defeat Darkvision?

Summons supported by a Microbot Assault or Psychokinetic Strangulation maintained from stealth seem like a nice BBEG tactic using this.


Seems like a great way to turtle up and do nothing.

I mean sure, you can spend additional spell slot to do something while you're there, but you only get a small number per day.

And, by the time you get access to it, there are ways to hit incorporeal things, like the ghost killer fusion. Not to mention, energy weapons still do 50% damage. This is exactly like Pathfinder in which your magical weapons still only did half damage.

So it's good, but it's hardly a get out of jail free card.

And you have to weigh this against the number of spells known your character can have.

It's not a bad tactic, but it certainly has drawbacks.


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Agreed with Claxon. Its a good defensive spell, but very beatable (especially at level 13 when you get access to it) and it doesn't help end encounters on its own - just makes enemies target your pals instead.

I'd probably cast mirror image instead - not as much protection, but enough to dissuade most enemies from attacking you and a much lower spell level - leaving the high level slots for more encounter-ending magic. A wall of force or 4th level fear will just have a way bigger impact for the use of the spell slot.

Sovereign Court

Well getting a good defensive buff and a mobility buff in one casting is certainly very nice and fast. The boot-up time that you take at the start of an encounter is a very real consideration.

I would expect that against most level-appropriate challenges it'll come closer to being a 50% damage reduction, 20% concealment thing. Quite a few monsters will be able to get around the concealment with some form of blindsight too.

But against really big stupid nonmagical brute monsters, it's amazing.


Minutes per level plus Eternal Spell (Magic Missile) with Harmful Spells allows for some pretty leisurely unstoppable kills.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Only unstoppable if the opposition has no energy weapons. Which is going to be fairly rare against intelligent foes.


It’s minutes per level Greater Invisibility with half damage IF they can pinpoint your square and roll concealment miss chance. Go for AOEs.

Sovereign Court

If they don't have darkvision. Also rare.

And remember that spellcasting is still obvious, going to give your position away.


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Ascalaphus wrote:

If they don't have darkvision. Also rare.

And remember that spellcasting is still obvious, going to give your position away.

Must've been the wind...


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Ascalaphus wrote:

If they don't have darkvision. Also rare.

And remember that spellcasting is still obvious, going to give your position away.

Darkvision is limited to a range of 60'. Few spells are. And a shadow connection mystic can defeat darkvision.

Spellcasting is obvious in at least the same the way scratching your nose is obvious. But there is no rule saying that if you're in stealth or invisible it's still obvious.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Page 330 of the Core Rulebook disagrees with you:

"A cast spell always has obvious effects that are noticeable by nearby creatures; it is not possible to clandestinely cast a spell."


Damanta wrote:

Page 330 of the Core Rulebook disagrees with you:

"A cast spell always has obvious effects that are noticeable by nearby creatures; it is not possible to clandestinely cast a spell."

No, you're just reading too much into that rule.

That's like saying it's not possible to clandestinely fire a gun. Ok, but see the Stealth skill and sniping rules.

Spells get called out because they have no components and the introduction of psychic magic in Pathfinder infamously required them to state that all spell casting was always visible regardless of direct spell effects or components being sensed.

They still haven't addressed in either system how and whether that interacts with invisibility, total concealment, and stealth rules. Until they do, I think the reasonable assumption, given the history of why this rule exists, is that spell visiblity is subject to the usual stealth/invsibility rules - it's only meant to stop you from casting openly but unnoticeably in social situations. If they want it to go further, they need to say so explicitly.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Xenocrat wrote:
Damanta wrote:

Page 330 of the Core Rulebook disagrees with you:

"A cast spell always has obvious effects that are noticeable by nearby creatures; it is not possible to clandestinely cast a spell."

No, you're just reading too much into that rule.

I'm going to respectfully disagree and suggest that you aren't reading enough into that rule. Stealth explicitly allows you to MOVE silently.

From the CRB page 147:

"You can stay hidden and move silently to avoid detection, allowing you to sneak past foes or strike from an unseen position."

This does not supercede clandestine spell casting. It goes on to elaborate on the two things it does. Hide/remain hidden and move silently. Just because you can move silently doesn't mean you can summon a demon from hell silently and unnoticed. In fact, as soon as you cast a spell from stealth the NPC gets an opposed perception check, even if you are concealed.

Quote:
That's like saying it's not possible to clandestinely fire a gun. Ok, but see the Stealth skill and sniping rules.

I agree it's exactly like that. So, use your standard action to attack an opponent who is flat-footed, then take a -20 to reattempt a stealth check as a part of that action. Concealment does not equal automatic, successful, subsequent stealth.

From the CRB page 148:

"If you have already successfully used Stealth to hide from a creature that is at least 10 feet away, you can briefly pop out of cover or concealment and make a single ranged attack against that creature. As long as you can reenter cover or concealment, you can attempt a Stealth check to hide again as part of that attack with a –20 penalty."

Quote:
Spells get called out because they have no components and the introduction of psychic magic in Pathfinder infamously required them to state that all spell casting was always visible regardless of direct spell effects or components being sensed.

Can you cite your source for this being the Starfinder logic or is this a personal opinion that you can't substantiate?

Quote:
They still haven't addressed in either system how and whether that interacts with invisibility, total concealment, and stealth rules. Until they do, I think the reasonable assumption, given the history of why this rule exists, is that spell visiblity is subject to the usual stealth/invsibility rules - it's only meant to stop you from casting openly but unnoticeably in social situations. If they want it to go further, they need to say so explicitly.

I feel like I've provided ample evidence of it being addressed in this system. Page 330 isn't caveated. It's definitively stated.


Freedom Snake wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Damanta wrote:

Page 330 of the Core Rulebook disagrees with you:

"A cast spell always has obvious effects that are noticeable by nearby creatures; it is not possible to clandestinely cast a spell."

No, you're just reading too much into that rule.

I'm going to respectfully disagree and suggest that you aren't reading enough into that rule. Stealth explicitly allows you to MOVE silently.

This is the point where I stopped reading your post. Anyone unaware of all the stealth boosting options that trigger only when you aren't moving is clearly out of his depth in this discussion.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

So rather than chastising, why not use this community forum to help the community learn and grow? I would invite you to respectfully rebut our errors, explaining why and provide a citation so that we may learn firsthand and fully understand exactly where your position is derived from within the source material.

I would further point out that your comment only makes sense if you disregard the part about hiding and remaining hidden. Your post and the context of this is about casting from concealment supported by the skill stealth.


If you're looking to figure out a Stealth roll (or perhaps Sleight Of Hand, as at least that's a skill on the class list for one of the casters, and is more about taking action without the action being noticed rather than being about not being seen), I'd suggest some sort of penalty along the lines of double or triple spell level, to make more powerful magic harder to hide.

Not sure if caster level should make it easier...


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

With the agile casting feat, you could fool your foes into attacking a square you are no longer in, so you can still get around doing the -God Mode-. A player might ready an attack action to counter this, but it’s powerful all the same.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

The progenitor created a feat specifically to hide spellcasting manifestations. Conceal Spell and it's improved version

As for interactions with invisibility, total concealment and stealth, if going by strict RAW: you cannot hide your spellcasting because there are no rules to support hiding it.

However this is so totally against any kind of fun and gameplay that I hate myself for writing that, and stealth seems like a perfect skill to use for that specific purpose until we get feats like the ones mentioned above.


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I mean, it seems to me that the perception check opposed by the caster’s stealth check is exactly how visible (or ‘noticeable’) spell manifestations work.

This is how I see it working:
Caster uses stealth or is invisible, and casts a spell. This is a thing that is potentially noticeable. A perception roll is made, if it succeeds, then you noticed the spell. If it fails, then you didn’t.


Pantshandshake wrote:

I mean, it seems to me that the perception check opposed by the caster’s stealth check is exactly how visible (or ‘noticeable’) spell manifestations work.

This is how I see it working:
Caster uses stealth or is invisible, and casts a spell. This is a thing that is potentially noticeable. A perception roll is made, if it succeeds, then you noticed the spell. If it fails, then you didn’t.

Exactly. Everything someone does is noticeable by "nearby" creatures, this rule is just telling you that magic, despite not requiring any chanting or waving your arms around, is similarly noticeable. And like anything that someone nearby would normally notice, a successful Stealth check (including the +20 from Invisibility) makes it not actually noticed.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I would personally just use the sniping rules that already exist and apply them to the trying to cast spells while trying to remain unseen.


Damanta wrote:
I would personally just use the sniping rules that already exist and apply them to the trying to cast spells while trying to remain unseen.

Or you could just ignore the sniping rules, which seem to focus on very rare situations where you would need to leave concealment or cover in order to get an attack (like you're hiding behind a single 5' square piece of terrain with no other cover or concealment nearby) but don't want to move. Instead use the regular hide function of the stealth skill - standard action cast, move action stealth in concealment (in this thread from darkness or invisibility), no -20 penalty. Sniping is rarely necessary even for shooting to remain hidden.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

You're trying to not give away your position while doing something that would normally be noticed.

I'd say the sniping rules would be pretty much what I would use to stay hidden while casting spells.

As a GM I would never allow a person to use standard action attack then move action to hide again specifically because that would be considered sniping and there are rules for that.


Damanta wrote:

You're trying to not give away your position while doing something that would normally be noticed.

I'd say the sniping rules would be pretty much what I would use to stay hidden while casting spells.

As a GM I would never allow a person to use standard action attack then move action to hide again specifically because that would be considered sniping and there are rules for that.

As a GM you would be making a wrong ruling because the sniping rules are limited to a very specific situation.

Sniping wrote:
If you have already successfully used Stealth to hide from a creature that is at least 10 feet away, you can briefly pop out of cover or concealment and make a single ranged attack against that creature. As long as you can reenter cover or concealment, you can attempt a Stealth check to hide again as part of that attack with a –20 penalty.

Sniping allows you to use your standard action to both (1) attack and (2) Stealth at a -20 penalty as part of a single action. It leaves you your move action for other purposes, like reloading a single shot sniper rifle. But if you use your move action to hide, you use the normal Stealth rules for that. It's really easy to know the square you fired from (thus the penalty), but if you move and successfully Hide they won't know the square you're currently in unless they rush to the sniping spot and strip you of your concealment because of a sense (Darkvision, Blindsight, etc.) that you're now in range of.

Note that you can do both: shoot/snipe as your standard (potentially hiding the square you fired from) and move action hide (potentially hiding your ending square). It's possible, although unlikely, that you could succeed on the snipe stealth check and then botch your hide stealth check when you move. Oops!

And it's by no means obvious that spellcasting is as noticeable as...firing a weapon. Indeed, the "nearby" on noticing spellcasting indicates it's probably not.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

In my mind, unless you have some kind of special ability like invisibility, you become observed after that first shot.

Once you are observed you can no longer hide unless you break observation again.

Edit: and the sniping ability of the stealth skill is there to make sure you don't get observed.


Damanta wrote:

In my mind, unless you have some kind of special ability like invisibility, you become observed after that first shot.

Once you are observed you can no longer hide unless you break observation again.

By being in dim light, darkness, smoke, fog, forest, etc. that give you concealment or total concealment or behind something that gives you cover you break observation from a given opponent and can attempt a stealth check, forcing them to roll a higher perception to maintain an awareness of your square. I'm not sure what the issue is here, the rules are pretty straightforward.

To recap: You can already stealth in dim light or darkness, because they give you concealment or total concealment, respectively, assuming no vision capability strips that effect from you.

Shadow Body gives you total concealment even in dim light, so if they don't have low light vision or aren't within 60' with Darkvision, the best anyone can do is pinpoint your square (if they win a perception vs. stealth check), but they can't target you with non-AOE spells and you have a 50% miss chance. If they have Darkvision and are within 60' you still have concealment as a benefit of this spell, so you can still attempt stealth at any time as part of movement and still have a 20% miss chance if you fail. If you bring it down to total darkness you take low-light vision off the playing field but don't change anything vs. darkvision capable creatures that are within range of you. So ideally you take it down to full darkness and cast offensive spells from more than 60' away.

Then even if they win perception vs. stealth to pinpoint your square and succeed at the concealment miss chance, you're incorporeal and take no damage against nonmagical attacks (B/P/S weapons without fusions, natural attacks) and half damage from energy and magical (non-force or ghost touch) attacks.

My contention is that a minutes/level duration on this spell and incorporeal defenses, combined with certain darkness increasing items/abilities and the defensive abilities granted by dim light or darkness, are a potent combination. You are hard to find and hard to hurt, short of AOE spam at half damage or readied actions (at half damage and 50% miss chance, so 1/4 normal DPR) to return fire, costing your enemies their full attacks (and a further hit to optimal DPR).

A high level shadow connection mystic, receiving twice his connection bonus to Stealth checks and with the ability to defeat Darkvision, can be effectively unfindable and immune to everything except AOEs or readied attacks taking that 75%+ DPR reduction (readied spells without an attack roll or energy damage, like Mind Thrust, still work great, of course). The only restriction is that his Darkvision-defeating ability lasts 1 minute and costs 1 RP. You can deliver a lot of hurt with relative impunity in that time if you're willing to use the spell slots and not facing someone hyperoptimized or prepared against your specific tactics.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I’m not sure you would need to try to stealth at all in this scenario. You have total concealment in dim light/dark conditions or partial concealment against opponents with dark vision. This is regardless if you shoot, melee or cast a spell. My take on it, is that your casting will let your opponent most likely know which square you are casting from. You can then just walk away into a different square and depending on your opponents vision they will not know where your square is.


Nimor Starseeker wrote:
I’m not sure you would need to try to stealth at all in this scenario. You have total concealment in dim light/dark conditions or partial concealment against opponents with dark vision. This is regardless if you shoot, melee or cast a spell. My take on it, is that your casting will let your opponent most likely know which square you are casting from. You can then just walk away into a different square and depending on your opponents vision they will not know where your square is.

Nah.

Aware of Location, pg 250 core rulebook wrote:
When you are aware of a creature’s location, you know exactly where the creature is located, but you still can’t observe the creature with a precise sense such as vision. Generally, this occurs because you have blindsense, or because the creature is hidden but you have succeeded at a Perception check to pinpoint the creature with an imprecise sense. You must at least be aware of a creature’s location in order to directly attack it, though it is considered to have total concealment from you (see page 253). It is, however, subject to area effects affecting that location.

If you don't attempt stealth they automatically succeed on their perception check to be aware of your location with an imprecise sense, like hearing. So you're usually better off trying to move half speed and try the stealth check to avoid that.

Note that for whatever reason darkness, unlike invisibility, doesn't give a +20 stealth bonus. I guess because "darkness" includes conditions like a cloudy night where it's not absolutely pitch black so you might theoretically be able to see a vague outline to help you out.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Thanks for pointing that out to me :) Under the conditions of the scenario you made:

What I said about simply walking away would still let the opponents know the location of my character. ()

By successfully sneaking away would keep my opponents unaware of my location.

So, yes, this is looking rather potent. Cast the spell and then sneak away in the shadows, forcing the opponents to guess where you are.


Xenocrat wrote:
Spells get called out because they have no components and the introduction of psychic magic in Pathfinder infamously required them to state that all spell casting was always visible regardless of direct spell effects or components being sensed.

Small note, the whole obvious casting thing way predates Psychic Magic. It was originally created to prevent things like Silent Stilled spells (or just Silent spells cast while Invisible) or Spell-Like Abilities (which have no components) being undetectable. And it's been a controversial ruling the entire time.

Sovereign Court

Shinigami02 wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Spells get called out because they have no components and the introduction of psychic magic in Pathfinder infamously required them to state that all spell casting was always visible regardless of direct spell effects or components being sensed.
Small note, the whole obvious casting thing way predates Psychic Magic. It was originally created to prevent things like Silent Stilled spells (or just Silent spells cast while Invisible) or Spell-Like Abilities (which have no components) being undetectable. And it's been a controversial ruling the entire time.

It wasn't at all clear before psychic magic. That you could hide a spell with Silent+Still magic was something a lot of people believed and it required a rather specific reading of Spellcraft to determine otherwise.

But when Occult Adventures came out, suddenly the ability to cast discreetly wasn't something that you needed feats for anymore, it seemed as if these new classes could do it for free. The design team looked for a way to avoid such a situation, because it'd really allow these classes to wreak havoc consequence-free. They went with this Spellcraft interpretation, basically saying "hey all along it's been like this", which surprised many people, rather than coming out and saying "we're changing this rule for balance".

---

That being said, they clearly don't want hidden casting to be easily accessible. And in Starfinder they came clearly out and said that by default you really can't.

Right now, we have NO mechanic or ability for discreetly casting. Just like we don't have so many other "basic" things yet. After all, we only have a couple of main books for this game. We have a mechanic for discreetly firing a gun (sniping) and you could copy that for magic as a house rule.


Ascalaphus wrote:
Shinigami02 wrote:
-Snip-

It wasn't at all clear before psychic magic. That you could hide a spell with Silent+Still magic was something a lot of people believed and it required a rather specific reading of Spellcraft to determine otherwise.

But when Occult Adventures came out, suddenly the ability to cast discreetly wasn't something that you needed feats for anymore, it seemed as if these new classes could do it for free. The design team looked for a way to avoid such a situation, because it'd really allow these classes to wreak havoc consequence-free. They went with this Spellcraft interpretation, basically saying "hey all along it's been like this", which surprised many people, rather than coming out and saying "we're changing this rule for balance".

It wasn't FAQ'd properly, but obvious casting had definitely come up in the forums well before that. It's kinda like the "Hands of Effort" thing in that it's existed forever but if you didn't frequent just the right parts of the forum it's easily missed, and even when it's not missed a lot of groups tend to ignore it anyways because it's one of those divisive rulings.

Sovereign Court

Yeah, the question had come up before. It just wasn't quite so urgent to answer until psychic magic turned it from "people taking two metamagic feats and +2 spell level" into "all the new classes".


I mean it did also apply to pretty much everyone ever using a Spell-Like Ability, as those are almost if not literally always component-less.

Sovereign Court

Shinigami02 wrote:
I mean it did also apply to pretty much everyone ever using a Spell-Like Ability, as those are almost if not literally always component-less.

Yeah and I think there some writer confusions shows. Quite a few trickster fey and seducer fiends have a hard time doing what they're supposed to do when it causes bells and whistles. I don't think the writers for many of those monsters anticipated that a future FAQ would mess up their creation.

The truth of the matter is that the FAQ was a necessary kludge because an important thing (how noticeable is magic) had been left vague long ago. In Starfinder they aimed to avoid this by starting out saying clearly that spellcasting is noticeable. I would not be surprised if SCOM or some later book introduces a feat to do it quietly. But by setting a clear rule now, we can avoid some disappointments and inconsistencies.

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