Author Topic: [3.5]The Persistent Shadowsummoner and His Illusory Army  (Read 2594 times)

Offline Tohron

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[3.5]The Persistent Shadowsummoner and His Illusory Army
« on: May 17, 2022, 01:46:45 PM »
So, I’ve been thinking about ways for a Shadowcraft Mage to add Persistent Spell to his Shadow Illusions to create a long lasting shadow army, and this build is what I’ve put together so far.  Feel free to suggest additions or point out if anything isn’t rules-legal.  Note that this build is borderline T.O., so it assumes a rather generous DM (early SCM entry, Iron Will from an otyugh hole, Easy Metamagic from Dragon Mag, and a rather favorable interpretation of the Metamagic Effect & Echoing Spell interaction).
Note that if the party contains another Incantatrix with Persistent Spell, then they can amplify this build quite a lot with Cooperative Metamagic.  If that second Incantatrix has a copy of this build, then they can make things really crazy.  Oh, and also note that the actual play scenario for this build assumes some form of mass combat houserules.  Obviously, moving 1000+ summons 1-at-a-time isn't actually playable.  But for now, on to the build!

Whisper Gnome Wizard (Focused Illusionist) 5, Shadowcraft Mage 5, Incantatrix 10
Schools Banned: Evocation, Enchantment, Necromancy, Conjuration
Order: Wiz 5, SCM 3, Incan. 10, SCM 2
Stats(32 point buy): STR 5, DEX 10, CON 14, INT 24, WIS 13, CHA 9
Feats:
1(level): Heighten Spell
1(wiz.): Sanctum Spell
1(flaw): Earth Sense
1(flaw): Earth Spell
3(level): Spell Focus(Illusion)
5(wiz.): Extend Spell
6(level): Arcane Thesis(Silent Image)
8(otyugh hole): Iron Will
9(Incant.): Persistent Spell
9(level): Echoing Spell
12(Incant.): Easy Metamagic(Echoing)
12(level): Repeat Spell
15(Incant.): Easy Metamagic(Repeat)
15(level): Twin Spell
18(Incant.): Easy Metamagic(Twin)
18(level): Arcane Disciple(Luck)

Relevant Items:
+5 Int Tome(137.5K gp)
+11 Int Headband(121K gp, bought in Sigil by Gate)
+30 Spellcraft cloak (90K gp, bought in Sigil by Gate)
Ring of Arcane Might (+1 CL)
Robe of Arcane Might (+1 CL)
Ioun Stone(Orange Prism) (+1 CL)
Note that with Sanctum Spell and Earth Spell, the Conjuration(Creation) version of Gate can be imitated from an 8th level slot, so you can shop in Sigil starting at level 15

The Mobile Sanctum
Since Gnomes are Small, their sanctum can just be a small structure that barely fits 1 person, with a stone floor (for Earth Spell), and wheels, which can be towed by Persistent summons.

Summoning the Army
As with most things involving a Shadowcraft Mage, things begin with a Heightened Silent Image.  From inside their Sanctum, the Mage casts a prepared Silent Image Heightened to 8th level, with Extend Spell (+0 net), Repeat Spell(+0 net), Echoing Spell (+0 net), and Twin Spell (+1 net) from a 9th level slot.  Earth & Sanctum Spell boost the effective level to 10, so it can imitate a 9th level spell.  For this example, we’ll imitate Summon Monster IX (yes, I know it’s not the best) to summon an Elder Earth Elemental.
Twin and Repeat both take effect, so 1 round later, we now have 4 elementals.  Now we apply Metamagic Effect.  Thanks to the OP +Spellcraft and +INT items, making the DC 54 check to apply Persistent Spell is quite simple, especially if you take 10 (since you’re out of combat).  Now (by one interpretation) one of the four summons has a 72 hour duration (24 hours from Persistent Spell, another 24 from Extend, and another 24 from the SCM class feature, which stacks with Extend).
Now we come to Echoing Spell.  Per the description, after an hour passes, the spell “returns” to you and you can cast it again with the CL reduced by 4.  Metamagic Effect is described as applying a metamagic feat to a spell effect already in place, so I’m interpreting that as meaning the spell returns with the Persistent Spell applied to it – meaning that subsequent recastings have Persistent Spell in effect on everything summoned.  As noted earlier, having another Incantrix with Persistent Spell boosts this further, since they can use Cooperative Metamagic to apply it while you’re casting (also avoiding any murky rules interpretations).
Since Echoing Spell keeps repeating as long as the CL is above 0 you get 5 total repetitions.  Thus, you have 1 72-hour summon from the first casting and 5*4 = 20 summons from the echoes.  With bonuses applied, you have an INT of 40, which gives 18 uses of Metamagic Effect.  This amounts to 378 summons/day with a 72-hour duration.  By staggering casting times, you can have 4 days worth of long-term summons active for a single battle.  Now that’s an actual army!

(Optional) Equipping the Army
Spell Resistance and high Will Saves can pose issues for an army of shadow summons, but there is a solution, if you’re willing to foot the bill.  Many summons carry weaponry, so if you replace it with actual, low-grade magical weaponry, then their attacks are no longer affected by either SR or disbelief.  Bows are great for this, since you only need to supply the arrows.  Other alternatives such as flying monsters dropping large rocks also exist.

Echoes of Quad-Elemental Monoliths
You might have seen this coming.  Although you cannot cast another spell while concentrating on an existing one, Repeat and Twin Spell apply automatically.  And so, you can now get four Elemental Monoliths (with 69 rounds duration from CL 23) for the price of one 9th level slot!  Metamagic effect isn’t an option here, but with the Concentration limitation, Persistent Spell might not be desired anyway.
And while Persistent Spell is out, Echoing Spell is still in!  An hour after casting, the spell returns (with duration reduced by 12 rounds from the lowered CL), and, as long as you’re no longer concentrating on any of the original monoliths, you can cast it again to get 4 more!  And do it again in another hour!  Ultimately, you get 24 Elemental Monoliths staggered in 6 separate waves, with the last wave lasting 9 rounds.  If you use multiple 9th level slots, you can potentially intersperse the waves from multiple castings.  The only real question is whether you can find 6 different challenges in a day requiring 4 Elemental Monoliths that are spaced at least an hour apart.

Echoing Shadow Miracle Mass-Buffs
The same trick used for summoning the army can be used for applying mass buffs via Shadow Miracle.  You can get echoing, repeating persistent buffs from 8th level slot, using Metamagic Effect to boost the quality of your army rather than its size.  You need a way to move your army quickly so that your buffs affect different creatures when Repeat Spell triggers the round after each casting.
I’m not that familiar with buff spells, so feel free to make suggestions in the comments.  Note that Miracle can imitate any 8th level Cleric spell, or any 7th level-or-lower spells.

(For Fun) Unleashing the Swarm
For an optional though experiment, I considered just how many persistent summons could be accumulated if quantity was the only goal (summoning 1d4+1 monsters from lower-leveled summoning spells for each casting).  Here’s what I came up with:
(Note that lvl is post-Earth & Sanctum Spell, post-Shadow Illusion reduction, so the slot used is 1 lower than the number shown
9th: lvl5+persist+twin, auto echo,repeat,extend -> 3.5 summons*24 repetitions*4days*8 castings
8th: lvl4+persist+twin, auto echo,repeat,extend -> 3.5 summons *24 repetitions *4days*8 castings
7th: lvl3+persist+twin, auto echo,repeat,extend -> 3.5 summons *24 repetitions *4days*9 castings
6th: lvl3+ persist, auto echo,repeat,extend -> 3.5 summons *12*4days repetitions *9 castings
5th: lvl5+twin+meta-persist, auto echo,repeat,extend -> 3.5 summons *21 repetitions *4days*9 castings
4th: lvl4+twin+meta-persist, auto echo,repeat,extend -> 3.5 summons *21 repetitions *4days*9 castings
3rd: lvl3+twin+instant-persist, auto echo,repeat,extend -> 3.5 summons *24 repetitions *4days*2 castings
3.5*4*(24*27+21*18+12*9)=15,876 Fiendish Hawks

If you boost things further with 12 lesser Empower rods (108K gp), that adds:
1.75 summons*4 days*9 castings*90 repetitions -> +5,670
bringing the total up to 21,546 Fiendish Hawks for your impromptu recreation of The Birds.

So, what does everyone think?  Did I miss anything?
« Last Edit: May 17, 2022, 03:31:16 PM by Tohron »
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Offline Power

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Re: [3.5]The Persistent Shadowsummoner and His Illusory Army
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2022, 02:23:20 PM »
I don't really keep up with 3.5 builds too much, but I can link you a Shadowcraft Mage Handbook and Shadowcraft Mage Spellbook, for what it's worth. I assume you've already taken a look at them?

Offline Tohron

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Re: [3.5]The Persistent Shadowsummoner and His Illusory Army
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2022, 02:47:29 PM »
Yep.  I've also looked a bit at summoning resources, to confirm there was a somewhat decent selection of summoned monsters that could equip weapons, though I couldn't find anything above SM VII.  I could probably use a reference for AoE buff spells to determine what the best options are for imitation by Echoing Repeat Extended Shadow Miracles.
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Offline Garryl

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Re: [3.5]The Persistent Shadowsummoner and His Illusory Army
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2022, 05:01:14 PM »
How are you resolving the need for a fixed or personal range in order to apply Persistent Spell to your shadow summons?

Offline Tohron

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Re: [3.5]The Persistent Shadowsummoner and His Illusory Army
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2022, 05:54:41 PM »
How are you resolving the need for a fixed or personal range in order to apply Persistent Spell to your shadow summons?

Oops.  I'm... not.  Arg, of all the things to miss...  At least the quad-elemental monoliths still work, I think...
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Offline Garryl

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Re: [3.5]The Persistent Shadowsummoner and His Illusory Army
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2022, 07:47:40 PM »
How are you resolving the need for a fixed or personal range in order to apply Persistent Spell to your shadow summons?

Oops.  I'm... not.  Arg, of all the things to miss...  At least the quad-elemental monoliths still work, I think...

Twin Spell should work. It makes the spell apply its effects twice, but it's just one spell, so you can concentrate on it just fine. Repeat Spell causes the spell to be cast a second time, so you'd have to spend 2 standard actions per round to concentrate on them both if you don't have some way of offloading concentration onto another creature or otherwise mitigating it.

Offline Tohron

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Re: [3.5]The Persistent Shadowsummoner and His Illusory Army
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2022, 10:34:57 PM »
How are you resolving the need for a fixed or personal range in order to apply Persistent Spell to your shadow summons?

Oops.  I'm... not.  Arg, of all the things to miss...  At least the quad-elemental monoliths still work, I think...

Twin Spell should work. It makes the spell apply its effects twice, but it's just one spell, so you can concentrate on it just fine. Repeat Spell causes the spell to be cast a second time, so you'd have to spend 2 standard actions per round to concentrate on them both if you don't have some way of offloading concentration onto another creature or otherwise mitigating it.

I suppose I could substitute Extraordinary Concentration for Persistent Spell, would that work?
« Last Edit: May 17, 2022, 10:40:37 PM by Tohron »
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Offline Tohron

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Re: [3.5]The Persistent Shadowsummoner and His Illusory Army
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2022, 12:41:20 PM »
I suppose one way to substitute for lacking Persist would be to use Shadow Genesis to create a plane with Slow Time, then use Shadow Gate to dump your summons into it right after summoning them, then retrieve them all with an echoed Gate when you want to fight.  With your summons having around a 6 minute duration (less for later echoes, or at earlier levels), you'd need at least a 1:10 factor, to benefit, but would want a 1:50 or 1:100 factor to get proper use out of it.  So, is there any precedent for this kind of slow time plane (since creating planes with arbitrary time traits is T.O.)?  Alternately, is there any other way to suspend summons in time that doesn't require a whole bunch of resources?
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Offline phaedrusxy

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Re: [3.5]The Persistent Shadowsummoner and His Illusory Army
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2022, 02:00:15 PM »
Quintessence (the material created by the psionic power of the same name) can suspend things outside of time. You could have an Enveloping Pit with it in the bottom. When you don't want time suspended, hit it with a Shrink Item spell.
I don't pee messages into the snow often , but when I do , it's in Cyrillic with Fake Viagra.  Stay frosty my friends.

Offline Tohron

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Re: [3.5]The Persistent Shadowsummoner and His Illusory Army
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2022, 02:36:59 PM »
Huh, I did look that up, but the need for a Psion to do a whole bunch of castings for every single time you want to use it seemed to put a major damper on regular use, and the need to manually remove it hampered rapid deployment.  I also looked up Temporal Stasis, but the 5K gp component costs shut that route down pretty hard (and one 8th level spell per preserved summon would be rather effort intensive for the given result anyway).

What effect would Shrink Item have exactly in your example?  And isn't Shrink Item limited to nonmagical items?

Another possibility would be covering a building in the demiplane with Quintessence, then using a Shadow Gate to get things into and out of the building?  Not sure how a DM would handle that (possibly the rules for being partially sealed by Quintessence?).
« Last Edit: May 20, 2022, 04:36:48 PM by Tohron »
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Offline Power

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Re: [3.5]The Persistent Shadowsummoner and His Illusory Army
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2022, 03:40:17 PM »
Yep.  I've also looked a bit at summoning resources, to confirm there was a somewhat decent selection of summoned monsters that could equip weapons, though I couldn't find anything above SM VII.  I could probably use a reference for AoE buff spells to determine what the best options are for imitation by Echoing Repeat Extended Shadow Miracles.
Don't quite have that, but do have a list of SLAs available through summoned creatures.

Offline phaedrusxy

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Re: [3.5]The Persistent Shadowsummoner and His Illusory Army
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2022, 07:41:16 PM »
Oh... I see... I'd also forgotten about the 75% chance of it evaporating when you "scrape it off" something... It's been a long time since I've thought about such shenanigans, and I mostly play 5e now.  :P
« Last Edit: May 20, 2022, 07:44:43 PM by phaedrusxy »
I don't pee messages into the snow often , but when I do , it's in Cyrillic with Fake Viagra.  Stay frosty my friends.

Offline Tohron

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Re: [3.5]The Persistent Shadowsummoner and His Illusory Army
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2022, 10:26:29 PM »
Well, guess that limits me to the "Gating into a building covered in Quintessence" option, though, as I mentioned, the rules for what happens there are rather murky.  Furthermore, given that it costs nearly 4 million gp to coat a 20ft radius sphere in Quintessence if you pay for each power individually(assuming thickness of 0.01in), that leaves looking into the cost of hiring mid-level Psions long-term (which the rules don't seem to cover), or using extradimensional storage spaces inside.
And if I try the extradimensional storage spaces, the way the rules talk about them being dimensionally isolated seems to imply that being trapped in Quintessence wouldn't freeze the contents in time.  Bags of Holding seem like the best bet, but even they describe how the air supply is cut off.

Oh, and on a different note, Power, do you know if the Kaorti listed in that SLA list under SM II are available for regular summoning or require Malconvoker?  Their Reduce Person ability would be fairly useful for packing summons together.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2022, 10:31:42 PM by Tohron »
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Offline Power

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Re: [3.5]The Persistent Shadowsummoner and His Illusory Army
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2022, 04:33:39 AM »
Here's the Kaorti stat block. The addition of Kaortis as summonable monsters comes from Fiend Folio. As far as I can tell a Summon Monster spell would have the evil type when summoning Kaortis, but I'm not sure that matters anyway since you're summoning using Shadowcraft Mage, and I don't believe the Shadow Conjuration spell obtains the alignment of any spells it mimics. It's not like you're summoning actual Kaortis at any rate. You're just molding shadow-stuff into quasi-real illusions of them for the duration of the spell.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2022, 04:54:25 AM by Power »

Offline Tohron

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Re: [3.5]The Persistent Shadowsummoner and His Illusory Army
« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2022, 04:56:20 PM »
On looking further, the at-will polymorph on several SM IX monsters is probably just a better option in general.  They can just polymorph all the monsters in their group into Fine-sized forms before entering a Quintessence storage building via Shadow Gate, then dismiss it while exiting via another Shadow Gate during combat.  The ability to resize monsters to Fine makes a Quintessence storage building an affordable option even if it doesn't affect the contents of Bags of Holding inside it (though if it does, that would make things cheaper, letting you stockpile more monsters).
So, what exactly are people's opinions on whether opening a Gate into a building covered in Quintessence causes the contents to start behaving as if they were partially covered by Quintessence (or not covered at all, that would work too).  The viability of this approach hinges on how a "reasonably lenient" DM would interpret things.

EDIT: There is another option if the above isn't viable.  You could cover all of the building except a small portion with Quintessence, then make a Quintessence-covered plug that can be mechanically added and removed.  Since it's never getting scraped off, the dissipation wouldn't trigger.  If necessary, you can add Sovereign Glue to the plug surface and to the ring on the building around the plug, so that the Quintessence stays stuck to each.  You can then set up a Permanancied Detect Magic, and have some sort of permanent minion like a construct with a readied action to remove the plug when a Gate is registered in the building.  It can then reapply the plug when the Gate is no longer registered.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2022, 06:55:49 PM by Tohron »
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Offline Tohron

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Re: [3.5]The Persistent Shadowsummoner and His Illusory Army
« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2022, 03:53:09 PM »
Well, I've been reconfiguring the build to take advantage of Quintessence storage, and in the process, discovered that there actually IS a way to get Persistent Spell on summons: apply Ocular Spell first to make it fixed-range.  So now I've got a new build that takes advantage of both, but the numbers involved push it thoroughly into theoretical optimization territory.  You can take a look here: http://minmaxforum.com/index.php?topic=19953.msg354529#msg354529
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