Shadow Walker

What is it that makes the shadow walkers most different from the rest of the world’s rogues? On the surface, one might say that it is their use of magic, but in truth there is much more. The shadow walkers are an unusual people who have sworn to use the talents of the thief and the magic of darkness to avenge the wronged and to battle evil. Under cover of darkness, they act as a vigilante force and strike at criminals and wrongdoers who, for one reason or another, have escaped traditional justice.

Base Class Statistics:

  • Ability Requirements: Dex 15, Int 15
  • Alignments: Good (LG, NG, CG)
  • Experience Chart: Rogue
  • Hit Dice: d6
    • Maximum Hit Dice: 10d6
    • Additional Hit Points: +2 per level beyond 10th
  • Attack: Wizard
  • Saves:
    • Paralyzation/Poison/Death: as Rogue
    • Rods/Staves/Wands: as Wizard
    • Petrification/Polymorph: as Rogue
    • Breath Weapon: as Rogue
    • Spell: as Wizard
  • Proficiencies:
    • Weapons, Initial: 1
    • Weapons, Advancement: +1 per 4 levels
    • Non-Weapon, Initial: 4
    • Weapons, Advancement: +1 per 4 levels
    • Bonus Proficiencies: Modern Language (Thieves’ Cant)
  • Allowed Weapons: Small, one-handed Melee weapons, Slings
  • Allowed Armor: Studded Leather or lighter

Class Features:

Shadow walkers devote a great deal of time to the mastery of magical devices. They can use any item intended for rogues. They can also use magical items intended for any other class as well, but must always take care when doing so. Because of this, they suffer a -4 penalty to their initiative roll when using magical items that would normally be restricted to another class in combat.

Like other rogues, Shadow Walkers can learn thieving skills. They are not as proficient in most of these skills as thieves are, but a Shadow Walker who becomes very experienced and specializes in two or three thieving skills can achieve great proficiency. The Table below shows the base scores for starting spies.

Skill Base Score
Open Locks 5%
Find/Remove Traps 5%
Move Silently 5%
Hide in Shadows 5%
Detect Noise 15%

Shadow Walkers recieve extra training in their thieving skills as their careers progress. Each Shadow Walker at 1st level receives 40 discretionary percentage points to add to the base scores. (The Shadow Walker may put no more than 30 points into any one skill.) At each additional experience level, he receives another 25 points to distribute (and may put no more than 10 points into a skill). As with the thief, the Shadow Walker cannot raise any skill above 95%, including all adjustments for Dexterity, race, and armor.

Open Locks: A thief can try to pick padlocks, finesse combination locks (if they exist), and solve puzzle locks (locks with sliding panels, hidden releases, and concealed keyholes). Picking a padlock requires tools. Using typical thief’s tools grants normal chances for success. Using improvised tools (a bit of wire, a thin dirk, a stick, etc.) imposes a penalty on the character’s chance for success. The DM sets the penalty based on the situation; penalties can range from -5 for an improvised but suitable tool, to -60 for an awkward and unsuitable item (like a stick). The amount of time required to pick a lock is 1d10 rounds. A thief can try to pick a particular lock only once per experience level. If the attempt fails, the lock is simply too difficult for the character until he learns more about picking locks (goes up a level).

Find/Remove Traps: The thief is trained to find small traps and alarms. These include poisoned needles, spring blades, deadly gases, and warning bells. This skill is not effective for finding deadfall ceilings, crushing walls, or other large, mechanical traps.
To find the trap, the thief must be able to touch and inspect the trapped object. Normally, the DM rolls the dice to determine whether the thief finds a trap. If the DM says, “You didn’t find any traps,” it’s up to the player to decide whether that means there are no traps or there are traps but the thief didn’t see them. If the thief finds a trap, he knows its general principle but not its exact nature. A thief can check an item for traps once per experience level. Searching for a trap takes 1d10 rounds.

Once a trap is found, the thief can try to remove it or disarm it. This also requires 1d10 rounds. If the dice roll indicates success, the trap is disarmed. If the dice roll indicates failure, the trap is beyond the thief’s current skill. He can try disarming the trap again when he advances to the next experience level. If the dice roll is 96-100, the thief accidentally triggers the trap and suffers the consequences. Sometimes (usually because his percentages are low) a thief will deliberately spring a trap rather than have unpleasant side effects if the trap doesn’t work quite the way the thief thought, and he triggers it while standing in the wrong place.

This skill is far less useful when dealing with magical or invisible traps. Thieves can attempt to remove these traps, but their chances of success are half their normal percentages.

Move Silently: A thief can try to move silently at any time simply by announcing that he intends to do so. While moving silently, the thief’s movement rate is reduced to 1/3 normal. The DM rolls percentile dice to determine whether the thief is moving silently; the thief always thinks he is being quiet. Successful silent movement improves the thief’s chance to surprise a victim, avoid discovery, or move into position to stab an enemy in the back. Obviously, a thief moving silently but in plain view of his enemies is wasting his time.

Hide in Shadows: A thief can try to disappear into shadows or any other type of concealment-bushes, curtains, crannies, etc. A thief can hide this way only when no one is looking at him; he remains hidden only as long as he remains virtually motionless. (The thief can make small, slow, careful movements: draw a weapon, uncork a potion, etc.) A thief can never become hidden while a guard is watching him, no matter what his dice roll is-his position is obvious to the guard. However, trying to hide from a creature that is locked in battle with another is possible, as the enemy’s attention is fixed elsewhere. The DM rolls the dice and keeps the result secret, but the thief always thinks he is hidden.

Hiding in shadows cannot be done in total darkness, since the talent lies in fooling the eye as much as in finding real concealment (camouflage, as it were). However, hidden characters are equally concealed to those with or without infravision. Spells, magical items, and special abilities that reveal invisible objects can reveal the location of a hidden thief.

Detect Noise: A good thief pays attention to every detail, no matter how small, including faint sounds that most others miss. His ability to hear tiny sounds (behind heavy doors, down long hallways, etc.) is much better than the ordinary person’s. Listening is not automatic; the thief must stand still and concentrate on what he’s hearing for one round. He must have silence in his immediate surroundings and must remove his helmet or hat. Sounds filtering through doors or other barriers are unclear at best.

The Shadow Walker has the same ability to backstab and understand the thieves’ cant as a thief of equal level.
Backstab: Thieves are weak in toe-to-toe hacking matches, but they are masters of the knife in the back. When attacking someone by surprise and from behind, a thief can improve his chance to successfully hit (+4 modifier for rear attack and negate the target’s shield and Dexterity bonuses) and greatly increase the amount of damage his blow causes.

To use this ability, the thief must be behind his victim and the victim must be unaware that the thief intends to attack him. If an enemy sees the thief, hears him approach from a blind side, or is warned by another, he is not caught unaware, and the backstab is handled like a normal attack (although bonuses for a rear attack still apply). Opponents in battle will often notice a thief trying to maneuver behind them—the first rule of fighting is to never turn your back on an enemy! However, someone who isn’t expecting to be attacked (a friend or ally, perhaps) can be caught unaware even if he knows the thief is behind him.

The multiplier given in the Table applies only to the base damage of the weapon before modifiers for Strength or magical bonuses are added. The weapon’s standard damage is multiplied. Then Strength and magical weapon bonuses are added.

Level Backstab Damage
1-4 x2
5-8 x3
9-12 x4
13+ x5

Backstabbing does have limitations. First, the damage multiplier applies only to the first attack made by the thief, even if multiple attacks are possible. Once a blow is struck, the initial surprise effect is lost. Second, the thief cannot use it on every creature. The victim must be generally humanoid. Part of the skill comes from knowing just where to strike. A thief could backstab an ogre, but he wouldn’t be able to do the same to a beholder. The victim must also have a definable back (which leaves out most slimes, jellies, oozes, and the like). Finally, the thief has to be able to reach a significant target area. To backstab a giant, the thief would have to be standing on a ledge or window balcony. Backstabbing him in the ankle just isn’t going to be as effective.

Thieves’ Cant: Thieves’ cant is a special form of communication known by all thieves and their associates. It is not a distinct language; it consists of slang words and implied meanings that can be worked into any language. The vocabulary of thieves’ cant limits its use to discussing things that interest thieves: stolen loot, easy marks, breaking and entering, mugging, confidence games, and the like. It is not a language, however. Two thieves cannot communicate via thieves’ cant unless they know a common language. The cant is useful, however, for identifying fellow cads and bounders by slipping a few tidbits of lingo into a normal conversation.

The concept of thieves’ cant is historical (the cant probably is still used today in one form or another), although in the AD&D game it has an ahistorically broad base. A few hours of research at a large library should turn up actual examples of old thieves’ cant for those who want to learn more about the subject.

Much of the shadow walker’s early training is in the magical arts. Where other thieves might be learning how to make the best use of minute cracks and protrusions to scale a seemingly impassible wall, novice shadow walkers are mastering the spider climb and jump spells that allow them to do the same.

The ability of a shadow walker to cast spells is greatly restricted compared to a true wizard (or even a Bard). They never gain the ability to learn spells of higher than 5th level. In addition, they are restricted to memorizing no more than four spells from each level. Shadow walkers are only able to learn spells from the Abjuration, Alteration, Illusion/Phantasm, and Lesser/Greater Divination schools.

Shadow walkers do not have the ability to research new magical spells or create magical items. While they are able to master the art of magic when another teaches them its finer points, the subtle refinements required to experiment with the supernatural remain forever beyond their reach.

Class Spells
Level 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
1 1
2 2
3 3
4 4
5 4 1
6 4 2
7 4 3
8 4 4
9 4 4 1
10 4 4 2
11 4 4 3
12 4 4 4
13 4 4 4 1
14 4 4 4 2
15 4 4 4 3
16 4 4 4 4
17 4 4 4 4 1
18 4 4 4 4 2
19 4 4 4 4 3
20 4 4 4 4 4

Night Vision: A shadow walker’s eyes are naturally attuned to darkness and are able to register more subtle illumination sources than normal humans can. They can see normally in all but absolute darkness. The range of their night vision is equal to 10 feet per experience level.

Shadow Aura: Upon reaching the 3rd level of experience, a shadow walker is able to raise a semi-magical aura of darkness about his body. This increases his ability to hide in shadows by 25% if the character has at least one round to prepare himself. Once the shadow aura is erected, he can maintain it for a number of rounds equal to his level. This power can be used three times each day.

Shadow Cloak: When a shadow walker attains the 8th level of experience, he can assume a shadowy form. This makes him invisible (as the spell) in dimly lighted areas and increases his chance to hide in shadows by 50% in other places. As with the shadow aura, this requires one round to manifest and can be maintained for a number of rounds equal to the level of the character. This ability may be employed three times in any 24-hour period.

When wrapped in his cloak of shadows, the character is uncommonly vulnerable to light-based attacks. Any weapon or spell that causes damage via light has a +2 bonus to its effects and causes normal plus half damage. Saving throws the character makes as a result of light-based special attacks have a -2 penalty.

Shadow Form: After he reaches 12th level, a shadow walker becomes truly attuned to shadows and darkness. If he has one round to mentally prepare himself, the character may totally transform himself into an animate shadow. The effects of this power are similar to those of the wraithform spell, except the character is also invisible in all but the brightest light. As with the lesser abilities of this class, the character can maintain this power for a number of rounds equal to his level and can employ this power three times in any 24-hour period.

When in this form, however, the character is very vulnerable to light-based attacks. Any saving throw the character makes against such an attack suffers a -4 penalty. Any attack against the character that causes damage with light inflicts double damage and has a +4 bonus on any applicable attack roll.

Shadow Walker

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