Excerpts Archive | 3/11/2011
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Shadow Classes
Heroes of Shadow Excerpts

Characters in a Dungeons & Dragons game share common traits, including a thirst for excitement, a need to explore the mysterious places of the world, and a willingness to take on challenges that the common folk cannot stand against. Heroes of shadow are no different, although such characters might have darker motivations and techniques for facing the dangers arrayed against them.

Heroes of Shadow , provides all the information you need to create and play assassins, paladins, and warlocks who invest in shadow power. Also appearing in this book is the vampire class, which enables you to play a creature of the night in all its dark glory.

In today’s preview, we examine these heroes of shadow and the classes they might undertake.


Assassins are cunning hunters and stalkers. They use a combination of lethal poisons, exotic weapons, and shadow magic to ambush, confuse, and slay their enemies. Although many assassins are villains willing to kill anyone for the right price, some view themselves as society’s caretakers. By culling society of tyrants, murderers, and fiends, they ensure peace and stability for all. Executioners are assassins who use shadow magic as part of their arsenal. Their magic allows them to close with a foe and finish it off with their finely honed combat abilities.


Most paladins embody virtue, and they channel the holy virtues to defend their allies. But not all cleave to such high-minded ideals. Shadow power can be channeled through anger, fear, and a consuming desire for control. A blackguard is a striker who taps into menacing facets of the divine through the dreaded vices: dark emotion and ambition rather than high ideals. Heroic blackguards are dark warriors who combine heavy weapons and armor with fearsome deific might.


Fear of death, obsession with power, or poor luck can lead a character down the path of the bloodthirsty undead. One vampire is usually the spawn of another, but more than one vampire has awakened with no clue as to his or her origin. As undead creatures, vampires naturally tap into the Shadowfell and its power. A vampire who wishes to be more than a monster fights against the heartless grip of his or her shadowy nature to retain a semblance of mortal values. Such an adventurer uses the sinister traits of his or her new form to fight against the hungry darkness that threatens the world.

Shadow Striker: Infused with the power of darkness and having already experienced death, you are a lethal creature of the night. As your power increases, your supernatural nature comes to the fore—but will your humanity pay the price?

Key Abilities: Dexterity, Charisma

You are a monster, fated and infected by a vile curse that transformed you into a creature of nightmare. Normal emotions have become alien to you. Only cold, gnawing hunger remains.

Most of those who become vampires are victims of monstrous attacks, created by a callous hunter who drained them dry of blood and life force, then cast them aside. Others seek out this path from their own fear of infirmity and death, discovering the arcane rites and alchemical formulas that promise dark power. In some cases, a character finds his or her vampirism invoked by an ancient family curse, or that he or she is a member of an extended clan of vampires who pass their blood down to those they deem worthy—whether by choice or not.

Whatever their origins, vampire characters are not slaves to their creators. Even those beholden to an older vampire retain free will, and have a chance to avoid sinking into the bestial depravity so common among their kind. Vampire characters are the most exceptional examples of those who carry this dark curse, using their powers not solely for murder and personal gain. Some become the greatest of heroes, but even those vampires are aware that few among the common folk have the ability to see past the frightening reality of their dark nature. Avoiding the scrutiny of superstitious folk and disguising his or her needs and abilities serves a vampire best. Trusted companions, enemies to slay and feast upon, and reasons to avoid civilized areas for extended times make an adventuring life the perfect choice for such characters.

Heroic Vampire

Having crossed over the threshold of death—and perhaps only just broken free of the authority of the vampire who created you—you are a force of shadow and nature combined. The heroic tier is where you learn to master your innate powers, establishing who you are and how you balance your existence between the world of the living and the undead.

Total XP Level Feats Known Class Features and Powers
0 1 1 Child of the Night
Blood Is Life
Enduring Soul
Hidden Might
Vampiric Reflexes
At-will attack powers
Blood drinker
Swarm of shadows
1,000 2 +1 Utility Power
2,250 3 -- Feral assault
3,750 4 +1 Ability score increase
Strength of Blood
5,500 5 -- Unfettered hunger
7,500 6 +1 Form of the bat
10,000 7 -- Improved Blood Drinker
13,000 8 +1 Ability score increase
Night Crawler
16,500 9 -- Domineering gaze
20,500 10 +1 Gaseous form

Level 1: Child of the Night

You have been reborn into darkness, claiming the ancient power that will mark you for all time. You gain strength in the night even as you curse the sun, for its unwavering radiance is a bitter fire that drains your strength and power.

Benefit: You gain the following benefits and weaknesses.

  • You are an undead creature. You are unaffected by anything that affects only living creatures. You don’t need to breathe, which means you are immune to suffocation. You also don’t age. Unlike most undead, you do need to sleep.
  • You have darkvision.
  • You have resist 5 necrotic.
  • You have vulnerable 5 radiant.
  • If you end your turn in direct sunlight and lack a protective covering such as a cloak or other heavy clothing, you take 5 radiant damage (plus additional damage from your radiant vulnerability) from the sunlight, and you are weakened (save ends). If you drop below 1 hit point from this damage, you are instantly destroyed.

Level 1: Blood Is Life

As an undead creature, you gain power and strength when you drain the life essence of other creatures. A gnawing hunger thus burns within your body and spirit, tempting you to descend into feral madness. Some vampires embrace this impulse, becoming savage beasts with a thirst for blood. Others strive to control it, turning their hunger into a weapon they can unleash against their enemies.

Your undead nature and your dependence on blood force you to use healing surges in a different way than other characters. The few healing surges you have can be augmented by the life force you drain from your foes with many of your powers. In addition, you can draw on the life energy of a willing ally to fuel your own vitality.

Benefit: Once during a short rest, an ally adjacent to you can willingly lose one healing surge to allow you to regain hit points equal to your bloodied value. You regain hit points equal to your bloodied value.

If you end a short rest with more healing surges than your usual number of healing surges for the day, you lose any healing surges beyond that number but regain all your hit points.

Level 1: Enduring Soul

Your body is undead, but the lingering presence of your soul is infused into the shadow magic that grants you power. When you have taken grievous injuries, that soul energy heals and sustains you.

Benefit: While you are bloodied, you gain regeneration equal to your Charisma modifier. If you take radiant damage, your regeneration does not function until the end of your next turn.

Level 1: Hidden Might

Though you might show no outward sign of it, the curse that transformed you into an undead creature grants you physical power from the force of your personality alone.

Benefit: You gain a bonus to the damage rolls of your vampire powers and vampire paragon path powers. The bonus equals your Charisma modifier. The bonus increases to 2 + your Charisma modifier at 5th level, 4 + your Charisma modifier at 15th level, and 6 + your Charisma modifier at 25th level.

Level 1: Vampiric Reflexes

You move with an uncanny grace that makes it difficult for foes to strike you.

Benefit: You gain a +2 shield bonus to AC while you are wearing cloth armor or no armor and aren’t using a shield.

Level 1: Blood Drinker

Your curse demands that the life force of other creatures be sacrificed to maintain your undead form. Whether it consists of blood, ichor, or the unseen energy of life itself, only the essence of your foes can satisfy you.

Benefit: You gain the blood drinker power.

Blood Drinker
Vampire Attack
When your attack strikes true, you sweep past your foe’s defenses to consume the essence of its life.
No Action Personal
Trigger: You hit an enemy with a vampire melee at-will attack power.
Target: The triggering enemy
Effect: The target takes 1d10 extra damage from the triggering attack, and you gain a healing surge.
Level 17: 2d10 extra damage.
Level 27: 3d10 extra damage.

Level 1: Swarm of Shadows

Your mortal body is merely a vessel for the magic that sustains you in your state of undeath. You can manipulate your physical form with growing ease, transforming into a cluster of shadows that bite and slash at your foes, then let you secretly re-form in their midst to press the attack.

Benefit: You gain the swarm of shadows power.

Swarm of Shadows
Vampire Attack 1
Your body becomes a swarm of batlike shadows that let you harry your enemies, then fade from sight.
DailyImplement, Shadow, Teleportation
Standard Action Close blast 3
Target: Each enemy in the blast
Attack: Dexterity vs. Fortitude
Hit: 3d6 + Dexterity modifier damage, and ongoing 5 damage (save ends).
Miss: Half damage.
Effect: You teleport to a square in the blast and are invisible until the end of your next turn.


The Shadowfell offers power at a price, and a few ambitious souls are willing to pay the cost for a fast track to magical capabilities. You can create a binder warlock, a controller who combines shadow power with arcane magic. The gloom pact directly harnesses the powers of the Shadowfell to hinder enemies, while the star pact exploits the unfathomable darkness between the stars. Turning the dark power of shadow to laudable ends is the unenviable task of the heroic warlock.

Class Options

The power of shadow presents a temptation to all who wield magic. This book offers new choices for the cleric, the warlock, and the wizard, focusing on how these classes adapt shadow magic to enhance their capabilities.

The gods who invest clerics with power have numerous aspects and control of distinct parts of creation. Clerics have equally numerous paths to power, and some prefer to embody the frightening deific spheres of influence. This section presents shadow powers that any cleric can take, as well as the powers associated with the death domain.

Warlocks are accustomed to calling on dark forces, and some choose to emphasize that darkness with power drawn more directly from shadow. This section presents shadow powers that any warlock can take, as well as the gloom pact for the hexblade warlock.

Wizards seek arcane secrets wherever they can be found, and the Shadowfell has many mysteries to reveal to the bold and curious. It is said that wizards were among the first to tap into the power of shadow. Whether or not this is true, spells of death, dissolution, and darkness offer advantages to any skilled wizard. This book offers wizards access to two new schools of magic—necromancy, the manipulation of death energy, and nethermancy, the shaping of raw shadow.

Excerpt Schedule


March 7


March 11

A Look at Classes

March 14

A Look at Races

March 18

Paragon Paths

March 21

Epic Destinies

March 25