College of Shadows

Subclass of: Bard

Known as shadow puppeteers, these bards master the art of turning insubstantial shadows into potent tools and weapons, binding the fates of their foes to shadow dolls and stepping through the darkness to emerge where least expected. Their magic stems from the shamanistic traditions of manipulating the unseen, allowing them to control the battlefield with an eerie grace, making them feared for their ability to command the very essence of shadow to confuse, control, and harm. As they grow in power, their mastery over shadow magic allows them to split their shadows into attacking extensions or link multiple enemies to their shadow dolls, showcasing their terrifying ability to blend illusion with reality. This college offers a path for those bards who seek to embrace the darkness, not just as a cover, but as a source of their strength, weaving fear and manipulation into their performances, and proving that sometimes the most powerful forces are those that lurk just out of sight, in the darkness. 

Bards who join the College of Shadow are those who have an affinity for meddling with forgotten magic or various spirits in their pursuit of power. A shadow puppeteer (as they’re sometimes called) knows that the ultimate way to demoralize a foe and strike fear into their hearts is by taking control of, and removing their ability to fight back. These bards find harmony in the shamanistic mutterings of shadow, and are known far and wide for the power they wield.

Master of Shadows

3rd-level College of Shadow feature

When you join the College of Shadow, the rituals that you partake in as part of your inauguration grant you a tenuous connection with the shadows of the spirit world. Your shadow is able to stretch out from your body and move independently of you, with its range limited to your speed. Your shadow shares your initiative but takes its turns immediately after yours and follows all of your mental commands, you can issue commands to the shadow as a bonus action.

Your shadow is able to interact with tangible objects; it can manipulate an object, open an unlocked door or container, stow or retrieve an item from an open container, pour the contents out of a vial, and move objects weighing 10 lbs. or less. Actions that your shadow takes are linked with your physical body (i.e. if the shadow sticks something in its “pocket”, the object appears in your own pocket). A shadow can only exist when light exists to cast the shadow itself; in areas that are absent of light, your shadow ceases to exist.

Your shadow may be at most 15 feet from you at any time. Starting at 6th level, the shadow may be 30 feet from you. Starting at 17th level, the shadow may be up to 60 feet from you.

The shadow has a set stealth score of 17 meaning it requires a passive perception or perception check of 18 or above to notice it. 

Create: Shadow Doll

3rd-level College of Shadow feature

Through your study of shadows, you have learned the art of creating shadow dolls. As a bonus action, you are able to take a blank doll (created out of scraps of cloth and fabric, cornhusks, or similar material worth at least 10 gp which is consumed in your attempt to control the creature) and connect its fate to that of a creature you can see through the addition of a personal belonging of the target (i.e. a lock of hair, a sample of its blood, a clipping of its nails, a scrap of its clothing a small trinket belonging to it, etc) creating a bond between the doll and the target.

When you create the doll, the target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or become bound to the doll. The DC for the saving throw equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier. This binding lasts for 1 hour, or until the creature the doll is linked to is more than 500 feet away from the doll, the doll is destroyed, or you sever the bond as a bonus action.

The shadow doll has hit points equal to 10 + your bard level + your proficiency bonus, and an AC of 11. A shadow doll’s magical link is immediately severed when it is reduced to 0 hit points.

You or a creature within range can attack a shadow doll you have created and have the damage dealt to it also dealt to the linked target. The doll automatically fails saving throws and your attacks against it automatically hit. Whenever a linked target is dealt damage from its shadow doll, it can make a new Wisdom saving throw removing the connection on a success. The doll also takes environmental, or area of effect damage. If a target and the shadow doll are subject to the same area of effect damage, the target takes damage from the linked doll as well as its own damage.

Beginning at 6th level, the target’s saving throws are made with disadvantage, as your understanding of this art progresses.

You are able to maintain the focus required and have a single shadow doll linked to a target at once. At 14th level, your control of shadows has allowed you to maintain two shadow dolls at once.

Shadow Step

6th-level College of Shadow feature

Your control over your shadow has advanced to the point where you are able to move through it. As a bonus action, you fade into your shadow and emerge at a different point where your shadow touches.

You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum 1), regaining all expended uses after you finish a long rest.

Spiraling Shadow

10th-level College of Shadow feature

You have mastered the control of your shadow, in both its reach and its power. As an action, you are able to have your shadow split into several pieces and extend outward in a 30-foot radius from you, attacking each creature of your choice in that area. The attack bonus equals your spell attack bonus. On a hit, a creature takes 8d8 necrotic damage, and must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or have its shadow grabbed by yours and its speed halved for 1 minute (minimum speed 1 foot). An affected creature can make a new saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. The DC for the saving throw equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier.

Once you have used this feature, you cannot do so again until after you finish a long rest.

Manipulate: Shadow Doll

14th-level College of Shadow feature

Your advancement in the ways of shadow has strengthened your control over targets linked to a shadow doll. Once per round, you are able to use your action to manipulate a target linked to a created shadow doll into performing the same action as you as a reaction. For example, activating this feature and then moving 30 feet north would cause the linked target to move 30 feet in the same direction; activating this feature while holding the doll and then swinging your weapon at an adjacent space would cause the target to perform the same attack action (as long as the target is able to perform the action). For example; activating this feature while holding the doll and then throwing your weapon to the ground would cause the target to throw their weapon down as well. However, casting a spell the target does not have access to would not cause it to cast the spell. Any action the target takes exactly mirrors yours, meaning if you fire an arrow 50 feet north, the target performs the same action, firing an arrow 50 feet north if it is able.

You must be able to see the linked target to use this feature.

Each time you force the target to take an action against its will, the creature can make a new Wisdom saving throw to break the link between it and the shadow doll.

You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier, regaining all expended uses after you finish a long rest.