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Nightblade

For some, darkness is not a hindrance, but a powerful ally. Quietly stepping between shadows, nightblades are experts of stealth and subtlety, blending agile combat with potent magic to outwit and overwhelm their foes. Nightblades excel at using shadow magic in innumerable ways, making them adaptable and unpredictable. The powers of darkness are not easily learned, however; the near limitless possibilities of shadow magic are instead divided into several teachings, each one as wildly different as the last. From overwhelming fear to convincing illusions, or from limitless creation to untold entropic destruction, each nightblade’s powers grant them the means to take on any challenge.

Role: Nightblades, if nothing else, are flexible, capable of adapting to situations as needed. Their skill with stealth, deception, and infiltration make all nightblades excellent scouts, spies, or assassins. Their chosen path allows a nightblade to excel in a certain area, ranging from close combat to powerful evocations, making no two nightblades identical.

Alignment: Any

Hit Die: d8

Starting Age: Self-Taught

Starting Wealth: 4d6 × 10 gp (average 140 gp.) In addition, each character begins play with an outfit worth 10 gp or less.

Class Skills

The nightblade’s class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Dex), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (local) (Int), Knowledge (planes) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Perception (Wis), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Spellcraft (Int), Stealth (Dex), and Use Magic Device (Cha).

Skill Ranks Per Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Table: Nightblade
Level BAB Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special Spells Per Day
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
1st +0 +0 +2 +2 Cantrips, path power 1/day, path technique 1
2nd +1 +0 +3 +3 Evasion, shadow surge 2
3rd +2 +1 +3 +3 Nightblade art, nighteye 3
4th +3 +1 +4 +4 Path power 2/day 3 1
5th +3 +1 +4 +4 Path technique 4 2
6th +4 +2 +5 +5 Nightblade art 4 3
7th +5 +2 +5 +5 Path power 3/day 4 3 1
8th +6/+1 +2 +6 +6 Hide in plain sight, twin surge 4 4 2
9th +6/+1 +3 +6 +6 Nightblade art, shadow shift 5 4 3
10th +7/+2 +3 +7 +7 Path power 4/day, path technique 5 4 3 1
11th +8/+3 +3 +7 +7 Improved evasion 5 4 4 2
12th +9/+4 +4 +8 +8 Nightblade art 5 5 4 3
13th +9/+4 +4 +8 +8 Path power 5/day 5 5 4 3 1
14th +10/+5 +4 +9 +9 See in darkness 5 5 4 4 2
15th +11/+6/+1 +5 +9 +9 Nightblade art, path technique 5 5 5 4 3
16th +12/+7/+2 +5 +10 +10 Path power 6/day 5 5 5 4 3 1
17th +12/+7/+2 +5 +10 +10 Shadowy realism, triple surge 5 5 5 4 4 2
18th +13/+8/+3 +6 +11 +11 Nightblade art 5 5 5 5 4 3
19th +14/+9/+4 +6 +11 +11 Path power 7/day 5 5 5 5 5 4
20th +15/+10/+5 +6 +12 +12 Path technique 5 5 5 5 5 5
Table: Nightblade Spells Known
Level 0th 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
1st 4 2
2nd 5 3
3rd 6 4
4th 6 4 2
5th 6 4 3
6th 6 4 4
7th 6 5 4 2
8th 6 5 4 3
9th 6 5 4 4
10th 6 5 5 4 2
11th 6 6 5 4 3
12th 6 6 5 4 4
13th 6 6 5 5 4 2
14th 6 6 6 5 4 3
15th 6 6 6 5 4 4
16th 6 6 6 5 5 4 2
17th 6 6 6 6 5 4 3
18th 6 6 6 6 5 4 4
19th 6 6 6 6 5 5 4
20th 6 6 6 6 6 5 5

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the nightblade.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency

A nightblade is proficient with all simple weapons, plus the longsword, rapier, scythe, short sword, shortbow, and spiked chain. They are proficient with light armor, but not with shields. A nightblade can cast nightblade spells while wearing light armor without incurring the normal arcane spell failure chance. Like other arcane spellcasters, a nightblade wearing medium or heavy armor or wielding a shield incurs a chance of arcane spell failure if the spell in question has somatic components. A multiclass nightblade still incurs the normal arcane spell failure chance for arcane spells received from other classes.

Spellcasting

A nightblade casts arcane spells drawn from the nightblade spell list. She can cast any spell she knows without preparing it ahead of time. To learn or cast a spell, a nightblade must have a Charisma score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a nightblade’s spell is 10 + the spell level + the nightblade’s Charisma modifier.

A nightblade can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level each day. Her base daily spell allotment is given on Table: Nightblade. In addition, she receives bonus spells per day if she has a high Charisma score (see the Ability Scores section in Chapter 1 of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook).

A nightblade’s selection of spells is extremely limited. A nightblade begins play knowing four 0-level spells and two 1st-level spells of the nightblade’s choice. At each new nightblade level, she gains one or more new spells as indicated on Table: Nightblade Spells Known (Unlike spells per day, the number of spells a nightblade knows is not affected by his Charisma score. The numbers on Table: Nightblade Spells Known are fixed.). These new spells can be common spells chosen from the nightblade spell list, or they can be unusual spells that the nightblade has gained some understanding of through study.

Upon reaching 5th level, and at every third nightblade level thereafter (8th, 11th, and so on), a nightblade can choose to learn a new spell in place of one she already knows. In effect, the nightblade “loses” the old spell in exchange for the new one. The new spell’s level must be the same as that of the spell being exchanged, and it must be at least one level lower than the highest-level nightblade spell she can cast. A nightblade may swap out only a single spell at any given level and must choose whether or not to swap the spell at the same time that she gains new spells known for the level.

A nightblade need not prepare her spells in advance. She can cast any spell she knows at any time, assuming she has not used up her allotment of spells per day for the spell’s level.

Cantrips (Sp)

Nightblades learn a number of cantrips, or 0-level spells, as noted on Table: Nightblade Spells Known under “Spells Known.” These spells are cast like any other spell, but they do not consume any slots and may be used again.

Path

The teachings of shadow magic are complex and diverse, but mastering all of its powers is nearly impossible. Instead, nightblades focus on a particular aspect of shadow magic, greatly enhancing their capabilities in that area. Each nightblade must choose a path at 1st level, representing the specialization of her shadow magic. Once chosen, it cannot be changed.

A nightblade gains a technique for her path at 1st level, 5th level, and every five levels thereafter. The techniques a nightblade gains are described in her chosen path. Each path also has an associated path power, which the nightblade can use once per day. The nightblade can use this power an additional time per day at 4th level and every three levels thereafter, to a maximum of seven times per day at 19th level.

The nightblade’s path also grants her additional class features, including an ability that utilizes shadow surges (see below) and more choices when selecting nightblade arts. These features are described in the path’s entry.

The five paths listed are those most commonly found among nightblades, though some other paths may exist. Unless otherwise stated, most nightblades are assumed to take the Path of the Darkened Fortress. The DC to save against any path powers, techniques, and so on is equal to 10 + 1/2 the nightblade’s level + her Charisma modifier, unless otherwise noted.

Evasion (Ex)

A nightblade of 2nd level can avoid even magical and unusual attacks with great agility. If she makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, she instead takes no damage. Evasion can be used only if the nightblade is wearing light armor or no armor. A helpless nightblade does not gain the benefit of evasion.

Shadow Surge (Su)

Class Specific Feats

The following class specific feats are available to a character who meets the prerequisites.

At 2nd level, the nightblade gains the ability to create a condensed reserve of energy from the Plane of Shadow which she can expend to great effect, but creating the reserve takes effort. The nightblade can spend a standard action that provokes attacks of opportunity to gain a single shadow surge. When she does this, her shadow becomes darker and more distinct as it is infused with the planar energy.

The shadow surge is an expendable resource that the nightblade can use to fuel her various abilities. She cannot have more than one surge at a time, but there is otherwise no limitation on how many times a day the nightblade can create or use shadow surges. The nightblade has these surges indefinitely until she expends them, though she loses her surges if she is ever unconscious, asleep, or killed.

The nightblade can expend a shadow surge as a free action when making a Stealth check to enshroud herself in darkness, letting her roll twice and take the better result. In addition, the nightblade gains a method of expending her shadow surge based on her chosen nightblade path. This surge ability is described in the path’s entry. The nightblade can gain new ways to use shadow surges as she grows in skill, typically through gaining a nightblade art (see below).

Nightblade Art

As a nightblade gains experience, she learns a number of techniques and powers that enhance her combat skill and shadow magic. Starting at 3rd level, a nightblade gains one nightblade art. She gains an additional nightblade art for every three levels of nightblade attained after 3rd level. A nightblade cannot select a particular art more than once. If a nightblade art calls for a saving throw, the DC is equal to 10 + 1/2 the nightblade’s level + her Charisma modifier. A nightblade can choose from any of the following nightblade arts or from any of the arts listed for her chosen path.

  • A complete listing of nightblade arts can be found here: Nightblade Arts.

Nighteye (Ex)

At 3rd level, the nightblade gains darkvision out to 30 feet. At 9th level, this distance increases to 60 feet. If the nightblade already has darkvision, its range is increased by these amounts. She also gains Blind-Fight as a bonus feat. If she already has this feat, she can choose any other feat she qualifies for.

Hide in Plain Sight (Su)

Starting at 8th level, a nightblade can use the Stealth skill even while being observed. As long as she is within 10 feet of an area of dim light, a nightblade can hide herself from view in the open without anything to actually hide behind. She cannot, however, hide in her own shadow.

Twin Surge (Su)

A nightblade of 8th level or higher can store up to two shadow surges at once. She can gain both surges with a single full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity or gain one surge as a standard action as normal.

Shadow Shift (Su)

At 9th level, the nightblade gains the ability to travel between shadows as if by means of a dimension door spell. The limitation is that the magical transport must begin and end in an area with at least some dim light. The nightblade can shift 30 feet per level each day in this manner. This amount can be split among many shifts, but each one, no matter how small, counts as a 10-foot increment. This ability functions as if casting a dimension door spell for the purpose of qualifying for and using feats such as Dimensional Agility. She cannot bring other creatures along, except for her familiar (if she has one), and only if it is within arm’s reach. Bringing a familiar does not require additional uses of shadow shift.

Improved Evasion (Ex)

At 11th level, a nightblade’s evasion improves. This ability works like evasion, except that while the nightblade still takes no damage on a successful Reflex saving throw against attacks, she henceforth takes only half damage on a failed save. A helpless nightblade does not gain the benefit of improved evasion.

See in Darkness (Su)

At 14th level, a nightblade can see perfectly in natural or magical darkness out to any distance.

Shadowy Realism (Su)

At 17th level, the nightblade’s shadow spells become more realistic. Any shadow spell the nightblade casts whose realness is represented as a percentage, such as shadow conjuration or shadow evocation, is 20% more real. This only applies to shadow spells she casts, not to spell-like abilities that mimic shadow spells (such as the shadow energy technique from the Path of the Ravaging Void). This does not stack with other abilities that increase the realism of shadow spells, such as the 20th-level bloodline power of the shadow sorcerer bloodline.

Triple Surge (Su)

A nightblade of 17th level or higher can store up to three shadow surges at once. She can gain all three surges with a single full-round action or can gain a single surge as a standard action.

Favored Class Bonuses

Instead of receiving an additional skill rank or hit point whenever a character gains a level, a character with nightblade as her favored class can instead choose a different benefit based on her race.

Table: Alternate Favored Class Bonuses
Race Bonus Source
Paizo
Core Races
Dwarves Reduce arcane spell failure chance for casting nightblade spells when wearing medium armor by +1%. Once the total reaches 10%, the nightblade also receives Medium Armor Proficiency, if she does not already possess it. PS
Elves The nightblade gains 1/6 of a new nightblade art. PS
Gnomes When casting nightblade illusion spells, add +1/3 to the effective caster level of the spell, but only to determine the spell’s duration. PS
Half-Elves Increase the total distance the nightblade can use her shadow shift each day by 5 feet. This has no effect unless the nightblade has selected it at least twice (or another increment of 2). PS
Half-orcs Add a +1 bonus on concentration checks made due to taking damage while casting nightblade spells. PS
Halflings Choose a weapon from the following list: sling, dagger, or any weapon with “halfling” in its name. Add a +1/2 bonus on critical hit confirmation rolls with that weapon (maximum bonus +4). This bonus does not stack with Critical Focus. PS
Humans Add one spell known from the nightblade spell list. This spell must be at least one level below the highest spell level the nightblade can cast. PS
Other Races
Aasimar Add +1/2 to the nightblade’s level for the purpose of determining the effects of one nightblade art. PS
Dhampir Add +1/4 to the nightblade’s caster level when casting spells of the necromancy subschool. PS
Drow Add a +1/2 bonus on Stealth and Sleight of Hand checks made while in dim light or darkness. PS
Fetchling Add one spell known from the nightblade spell list. This spell must be at least one level below the highest spell level the nightblade can cast. PS
Tiefling Add a +1/2 bonus on Intimidate checks to demoralize humanoids. PS
Wayangs Add 1/2 point of damage to any illusion spells of the shadow subschool cast by the nightblade. PS

Archetypes & Alternate Class Features

When a character selects a class, he must choose to use the standard class features found or those listed in one of the archetypes presented here. Each alternate class feature replaces a specific class feature from its parent class. For example, the elemental fist class feature of the monk of the four winds replaces the stunning fist class feature of the monk. When an archetype includes multiple class features, a character must take all of them—often blocking the character from ever gaining certain familiar class features, but replacing them with equally powerful options. All of the other class features found in the core class and not mentioned among the alternate class features remain unchanged and are acquired normally when the character reaches the appropriate level (unless noted otherwise). A character who takes an alternate class feature does not count as having the class feature that was replaced when meeting any requirements or prerequisites.

A character can take more than one archetype and garner additional alternate class features, but none of the alternate class features can replace or alter the same class feature from the core class as another alternate class feature. For example, a paladin could not be both a hospitaler and an undead scourge since they both modify the smite evil class feature and both replace the aura of justice class feature. A paladin could, however, be both an undead scourge and a warrior of the holy light, since none of their new class features replace the same core class feature.

Archetypes are a quick and easy way to specialize characters of a given class, adding fun and flavorful new abilities to already established adventurers. Characters may take more than one archetype if they meet the requirements.

Even with the multiple paths of shadow magic available to them, nightblades often find they must approach their abilities in a non-traditional manner. Some nightblades choose to emulate the powers of other arcane casters, while others still prefer a more mundane approach, using a well-placed blade or a convincing disguise to achieve their goals.

Table: Archetypes / Alternate Class Features
Archetype / Alternate Class Feature Class Features Changed or Replaced
Class Skills Weapon & Armor Spells Cantrips Path Evasion Shadow Surge Nightblade Art Nighteye Hide in Plain Sight Twin Surge Shadow Shift Improved Evasion See in Darkness Shadowy Realism Triple Surge
Path Power Surge Ability Techniques
1 4 7 10 13 16 19 1 5 10 15 20 3 6 9 12 15 18
Ascension Games, LLC
Dark Conjuror X X X X X X X X X X
Shadowstriker C C X X X X X X X
Shadow Agent X X X X X X X X X X
Traveler of Two Paths C C (X) (X) (X) (X) (X) (X) (X) (X) (X) (X) (X) (X) (X) X
Veiled Infiltrator X X X X X X X X X X X

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Path of Shadows, © 2015, Ascension Games, LLC; Author Christopher Moore