Monday, October 1, 2012

Weird Arcana - Shadowman’s Unfeasible Snatch (New Spell)


Shadowman’s Unfeasible Snatch
Illusion (shadow) [shadow]
Level: Assassin 1, Bard 1, Sorcerer/Wizard 1, Witch 1
Components: V, S, F (dead thief’s glove)
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Personal
Target: One object
Duration: 1 min.
Saving Throw: Will save (see text)
Spell Resistance: Yes

This spells allows the caster to grab the shadow of the chosen item and wield it with the same proprieties of the original object.

The item’s shadow must be within reach when Shadowman’s unfeasible snatch is cast and the caster must wield it with his left hand. The item must be something that can be used with just one hand by the caster. To onlookers, the caster seems to touch the item’s shadow and pluck it out of its surface, turning it into a dark and solid copy of the original.

The shadow copy has all the proprieties and bonus of the original. However, they’re considerable fragile (all have just 1 hit point) and Strength checks to break shadow items have a +5 bonus. If damaged, the copy dissipates and the item’s original shadow reforms after a few minutes.

If the shadow copy is a weapon, any victim damaged by it suffers nonlethal damage. A successful Will save negates the effect entirely and leaves the victim immune to further damage.

If the shadow copy is a ranged weapon, like a bow or crossbow, it has only one missile (and then only if the original was loaded at the moment Shadowman’s unfeasible snatch was cast).

Magic items can have their shadows snatched, however this is dangerous. There’s a chance (5% per caster level of original item) that the shadow copy will animate and attack the caster (treat it as a shadow, keep all its immunities, make it deals Wisdom damage and change its creature type to Fey). Even if this doesn’t happen, there’s a 50% chance that the shadow copy behaves like a mundane version of the original. If the original was a charged magic item (like a wand), each time a charge is spent, roll again to see if the item animates. Artifacts can’t have their shadow stolen (and the Gamemaster is encouraged to think of devilish consequences for this act).

Poison or substances applied over the original aren’t passed to the shadow copy. Scrolls (or text written on paper etc) copied can’t be read and are thus generally useless (though runes are fine).

Creatures with Spell Resistance can use it to become immune to a shadow copy’s effect.

Shadowman’s unfeasible snatch is instantly dispelled if shadows are banned from the area (for example, through a deeper darkness spell or by blowing out all torches). If the original item is destroyed, the shadow copy is also instantly dispelled. If removed from a caster’s left hand, the item disappears and the spell ends.

Arcane focus: The caster must wear a dead thief’s glove on his left hand when casting this spell.


Commentaries: This is an example of the kind of spell that I enjoy from AD&D 2nd – versatile and weird. OK, probably a little abusive too, but you can’t punish players for being creative with their magic. It’s part of the fun. ‘Shadowman’s unfeasible snatch’ has multiple applications and I really like spells that encourage you to think of new ways of employing them. It is indeed a little complicated, but I attempted to cover most (basic) problems that can come of its use. I haven’t playtest it yet so, please, feel free to send me any feedback.

I know that, mechanically, maybe this spell should belong to the Transmutation school, but I prefer the “thematic” approach and the Will save bit help to emphasize it’s illusory nature.

In case anyone is curious, Shadowman is a NPC of my late Chronicle of the 7th Moon campaign. He was an archsorcerer and also a coward asshole, that preferred to employ lots of ‘darkness’ spells and shadow mastiffs, instead of facing his enemies. He served (under a geas) the current manifestation of Hastur on the Seventh Moon (who ruled the walled nation of Sarnath). He was inspired, equal parts, on Erikson’s Shadowthrone (from The Malazan Book of the Fallen) and Cook’s Taken (from The Black Company).