Skip to main content

Mondenberg Notes: Shadow Magic

 What follows is a set of shadow magic spells, some of which are clear callbacks to AD&D1e, old Magic: the Gathering cards, or ideas inspired by old fantasy or sci-fi novels.  I want to believe that others are completely original, but I suspect that's wishful thinking on the part of my conscious self.

This post was prompted by this month's Blog Carnival topic: Illusions & Delusions, which prompted me to wrap up most of these spells that were written for my Mondenberg setting.


Shadow Magic Spells

Shadow magic focuses strongly on the plane of shadows, confounding perception, and taking actions without being detected.

Shadow magic is powerful in certain aspects, but is notably weak in some ways:  Creatures in sunlight receive a +4 on their saves, creatures under the light of a full moon receive a +2 bonus on their saves, and creatures under a half-moon or better get a +1 bonus on their saves.  Conversely, creatures in shadow–that is in a dark patch created by light nearby–are -2 to save against shadow spells.

Many of these spells do apparent damage to a target, but only a fraction of it is lethal damage, the rest is subdual damage–damage that heals more quickly and is not fatal.  Subdual damage recovers at a rate of 1 point per level of the injured character per turn, double that for fighters, dwarves, and elves.  Characters go unconscious when their real damage + their subdual damage is greater than their maximum hit points.

Some shadow spells create illusions: false sensory impressions visible to others around you.  Others create phantasms: misperceptions affecting only the targets of the spell, but not sensed by others.

A note about modifiers: shadow magic uses a modifier, “In shadow”, which just means you are casting it in a shadow, with something between you and a light source.

Level 1

Hide in Shadows

Magic User 1 (abjuration, shadow)

Duration: 1 turn/caster level

Range: Self.

Hide in shadows as a thief of the same level. Can move and hide again for the duration of the spell.

Shadow Decoys

Magic User 1 (illusion, shadow)

Duration: 1 turn/caster level

Range: Self.

While in shadows, you are surrounded by 1d6+level/3 illusory shadows of you.  They move around much like you, but in different places.  Each time an attack occurs against you, it has a 1 in 6 chance of hitting you.  If it does not, it hits one of your illusory shadowy duplicates, dispelling that duplicate.

The spell ends if all of your illusory duplicates are destroyed.

Under new moon: While this spell is active, when you are successfully hit, another illusory double of you is spawned.

Shadow Bolt

Magic User 1 (phantasm, shadow, Mondenberg)

Duration: Instant

Range: Within 40 ft. of caster.

Shoots a shadowy bolt, which on a successful ranged to hit roll does 1d6+<caster level> damage to targets in well lit areas, or 2d6+<caster level> damage to targets in shadows or darkness.  Targets in shadowed areas must save, or mistakenly perceive creatures in all shadowy areas, and will refuse to move through them.

Level 2 spell slot: Can strike three targets, each for 3d8+<caster level> damage in well lit areas, or 6d10+<caster level> damage in dark or shadowy areas, and otherwise works as above.

Rare: Mondenberg variant: targets struck in well lit areas must save or be blinded for one round.

Shadowy Passage

Magic User 1 (conjuration, shadow, Mondenberg)

Duration: 3 turns + 1 turn/caster level

Range: Self

Create an illusory pit or passage over a real passage or pit, or over a solid surface.  It has the appearance of being incredibly dark, impenetrable to any light.

Creatures attempting to pass through the illusion must save or fall unconscious, concealed by the illusion of the pit.

This spell may be dispelled by any bright light spell cast upon the illusion.

Shadow Weapon

Magic User 1 (conjuration, shadow, Mondenberg)

Duration: 3 turns + 1 turn/caster level

Range: Self

The caster can create a mundane melee weapon out of shadows.  It does 1d4 damage, or 1d6 damage in shadows, and can only strike targets within 5 ft., regardless of its form.  It has a -2 penalty to strike well lit or glowing targets.

The caster can make the weapon disappear at will, and re-appear with an action while the spell is active.  The hand the weapon is summoned to has a notable black aura on it when the weapon is not present.

Level 2 spell slot: The weapon summoned does 1d6 damage, or 1d10 damage in while in shadows, and counts as a magical +1 weapon.

+1 spell level: The weapon is a reach weapon, able to strike targets up to 10 ft. away.

Under moonlight: The weapon counts as silver.


Magic User 1 (evocation, shadow)

Duration: 3 rounds, +1 round/caster level

Range: Object within 30 ft.

The object selected begins to quickly alternate between blindingly bright and completely dark.  Anyone looking at the object must save or go blind for one round.

Summon Shadow Animal

Magic User 1 (conjuration, shadow, Mondenberg)

Duration: 1 turn

Range: 30 ft.

Summon a shadow serpent or giant shadowbat to fight for you.  It must stay within 30 ft of you at all times.

In shadow: Your shadow animal gets +4 AC and does +1d4 dmg. _todo

Level 2

Deep Darkness

Magic User 2 (conjuration, shadow)

Area: 20 ft. radius, + 5 ft./3 levels

Duration: Instant

Range: 60 ft. + 5 ft./level

You envelope an area in thick, whispy, darkness fixed on a particular point.  Darkvision does not work in this volume.  Any light from a source within this volume is suppressed until the spell ends or that light source is removed.

Envelope in Darkness

Magic User 2 (conjuration, shadow)

Area: 10 ft. radius

Duration: Instant

Range: 30 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels

You envelope a target in thick, whispy, darkness.  If the target moves, the darkness moves with it.  Darkvision does not work in this volume.  Any light from a source within this volume is suppressed until the spell ends or that light source is removed.

Paranoid Regard

Magic User 2 (mind affecting, shadow, Mondenberg)

Duration: 3 turns + 1 turn/2 levels

Range: 30 ft.+ 5 ft./2 levels

The target falsely perceives clues indicating up to one person per/caster level around them is in fact an imposter seeking to harm them.

For the duration of the spell, they will misperceive those individuals as enemies.  This spell in no other way modifies their perceptions.

Rustling in the Dark

Magic User 2 (illusion, shadow, Mondenberg)

Area: 30 ft. radius of shadows or darkness

Duration: 3 turns + 1 turn/2 levels

Range: 60 ft.+ 5 ft./level

Shadows and dark spots in the area of effect make sounds suitable to the environment indicating that someone or something might be moving there:   footsteps, rustling leaves or snapping twigs in a forest, the rasping of sand on stone in an old ruin, and so on.

The spell ends if all darkness and shadow is at least dimly illuminated at the same time for at least 12 seconds.

Shadow Step

Magic User 2 (conjuration, shadow, Mondenberg)

Duration: Instant

Range: 180 ft.+ 10 ft./level

You may step into one shadow, to step out of another within range.

Rare: Mondenberg Variant: You may step out of a random outdoor shadow in the Mondenberg quarter of your choice.

Wall of Shadows

Magic User 2 (conjuration, shadow)

Duration: 3 turns + 1 turn/caster level

Range: Self

Creates a dark wall with maximum dimensions of 5 ft. wide, 10 ft. tall, and up to 20 ft. + 5 ft. per caster level long.  The five feet on either side of the wall are automatically shadowed. 

Any creature attempting to go through the wall must first save vs. fear, or become frightened.  Creatures in a frightened state refuse to pass through.

Creatures which pass through the wall must save or cower in the wall, immobilized by fear.

Creatures which have passed through a particular wall once may pass through without further saves, provided they are not frightened.

Level 3


Magic User 3 (mind-affecting shadow)

Duration: Three turns +1 turn/2 levels

Range: Self

This spell projects into the minds of any creature within 100 ft. looking at the caster, so that they perceive the caster as being normal in every way, and not worthy of attention.  This allows the caster to travel without being interfered with or stopped.  Guards and those who are suspicious or paranoid get a save against this effect at -8, unless they are carrying weapons, or in some other way indicating they are a clear threat, in which case the save is at -4.

This effect does not work on constructs, undead, or anything else which is mindless, or on sufficiently alien minds, such as aberrations or outsiders.  It does work on creatures such as dragons, but they are always considered suspicious, and anyone in their lair is always considered a clear threat.

+1 Spell Level: Affect another creature touched who remains within 30 ft. of the caster.  This modifier can be repeated.

+1 Spell Level: Masks from those using divination magic as well.

Shadow Double

Magic User 3 (conjuration, shadow)

Casting Time: Reflexive

Duration: One turn

Range: Self

Is reflexively cast in response to being targeted by another spell as an instant action.  

Creates a phantasm of you, while making you invisible while in shadows.  You automatically evade the effect of the spell.

The phantasm acts as you chose to have it react, either dying horribly in response to a damage dealing spell, or going around casting spells against allies after you were targeted by a charm or other similar spell. 

Your invisibility lasts while you remain in shadows until dawn or until you attack. 

Under a new moon: Make a save against the spell you are evading.  If you succeed, and have an empty spell slot of the level of the spell or higher, you capture the energy of the spell in an available spell slot of appropriate level or higher.  An illusory version of the intended effect goes off, doing ¼ of the real damage, and ¾ of the real damage as illusory damage.

Level 6: The range is extended to touch, and the caster may also extend the effects of this spell to one or two creatures touched at the time of casting.

Shadow Summoning

Magic User 3 (conjuration, shadow, Mondenberg)

Duration: 3 hours + 1 turn/caster level

Range: Self

Summons a shadow spirit as a spirit guardian.  Less powerful than lunar spirit guardians, but more varied, and so likely to be more powerful against particular foes.

The shadow guardian spirit manifests only if you are attacked while the spell is active. 

Summon Shadow Puppet

Magic User 3 (concentration, phantasm, shadow, Mondenberg)

Duration: 3 rounds + 1 round/caster level

Range: 30 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels

The caster chooses a target sentient creature, and starts making shadow puppets.  If it makes its save, it feels uneasy, and takes a -2 to all attacks and saves while the caster maintains concentration on this spell.  

If it fails its save, the creature perceives itself to be attacked by some shadow-shrouded monstrous creature, which hits with a bonus equal to <caster level>, and does 1d6+<caster level> damage per round, ¾ of which is subdual damage.  As a phantasm, this creature is not visible to anyone else.  If the target tries to believe the creature is not real, it may try to disbelieve by making another saving throw.  Success ends the spell, failure increases the damage die size by one step.

Summon Shadow Tentacles

Magic User 3 (conjuration, shadow)

Duration: 3 rounds + 1 round/caster level

Range: Appears within 30 ft. at point chosen by caster.

Forms 2 shadowy tentacles reaching 15 ft. out of a single 5 ft. diameter pool of shadow.  They are +2 to hit. Their base is immobile, out of an opening of a “maw” or “pit”.  Creatures hit by a margin of at least 5 over their AC are grappled, and dragged 5 ft. towards that pit.

When the spell ends, ¾ of the spells damage is subdual damage.  Anyone who was brought to 0 hit points is unconscious. 

Level 4: The pit becomes 10 ft. in diameter, and creates 5 long tentacles which can reach 20 ft. beyond the pit.  They have +6 to hit.  Only half the damage is subdual damage.  Creatures that fall into that pit and fail their save have a chance of being transported at random to a place on the plane of shadow.

Level 4

Shadow Portal

Magic User 4 (conjuration, shadow, Mondenberg)

Duration: Between 120 minutes/caster level three turns + 1turn/2 caster levels, chosen at time of casting

Range: Appears in a shadow within 30 ft. of the caster.

Size: Up to 5 ft./3 caster levels.

The caster creates a portal specifically between the mundane world and the plane of shadows.  The caster must be in a place they have created a portal to already, or a place they have spent 96 hours/<caster level> in.

Success is determined via an intelligence check with the following modifiers:

Familiarity of Departure Location: 

  • +0: Created a gate to this area, or have spent at least 96 hours/<caster level> in.

  • -4 have spent at least 48 hours/<caster level> in this area.

  • -8 Otherwise

Familiarity of Destination

  • +2: Have created a gate to the destination or spent a day there.

  • +0: Have spent at least an hour at the destination.

  • -2: Have briefly seen the destination.

  • -4: Have a very detailed description of the location.

  • -8: Have a rough description of the location.

  • -16: Have only the vaguest notion of where you are intending to go, possibly a sentence of decription.

  • +4: The location is a well known landmark visited by at least 100 people a day.

  • +4: The location has a twin in the other world which is almost identical.

Effects of Failure:

  • Fail by 4 or less: Arrive disoriented, automatically surprised if combat starts on arrival.

  • Fail by 5-9: Arrive at a different location, superficially similar, but not the intended place. This place is likely within one turn’s travel of the target location (5-in-6 chance).

  • Fail by 10-14: Arrive at a random place on the intended mundane world or domain within the plane of shadow.

  • Fail by 15+: Arrive at a random world or domain in the target plane.

Close Portal: The caster can instead use a preparation of this spell to close an existing shadow portal.  If it is a portal they created, it automatically closes.  If it is a portal cast by some other caster, success is resolved as though this were a dispel magic spell.

Summon Shadow Aberration

Magic User 4 (conjuration, shadow, Mondenberg)

Duration: One turn + 1 minute/caster level

Range: Appears within 30 ft. at point chosen by caster.

Summons an aberrant-touched creature from somewhere in the Plane of Shadows through a shadow portal.  It fights for the caster of its own free will, but half its damage is subdual damage.  If it rolls a natural 1 to attack or save, it rampages.

Rare: Mondenberg Variant: While on the plane of shadows, you may summon a shadow copy of a werewolf or vampire instead of an aberrant-touched creature.



Popular posts from this blog

Spell Research: A Hexflower

 As part of an RPG Discord group's writing prompt, I wrote a hexflower for spell research.  It's a draft, but if there's any interest, I'll turn it into something a little more formal and post it on or DrivethruRPG. Here's the link to the Google Doc, for now: Here's the raw images, as a teaser: Spell Research Hexflower OSR Spell Research Navigation Hex d20 Spell Research Navigation Hex

d100 Ways to End a Curse

Goal : Make curses more interesting, especially if one of these death curses applies. Rational : Casters of curses now have to decide between making the curse harder to remove with remove curse and making it harder to remove by allowing fewer end conditions for the curse, which I feel gives an interesting choice. The caster casting remove curse has an interesting choice in determining whether to try to force the removal of the curse, or try to fulfill one of the curse removal conditions. Why use this list? Because remove curse on it's own is boring. My untested take on this: Someone casting a curse has an ending condition applied at random. They can choose to have more than one ending condition. When any ending condition of a curse is satisfied, the curse is lifted. More conditions makes it harder to remove the curse with a remove curse spell. Curses that have at least one of these end conditions should not be automatically cured by simply casting remove curse . Instead, h

Empedocles' Feast Framework

Link to Google Doc version to this draft: This was prompted as part of the March 2024 Blog Carnival, with a topic of " Feasts, Foods, & Fancy Drink, oh my! " Edit: Here's the month end round up of this prompt . Tables to generate feasts in my Tressagros setting, which is vaguely reminiscent of the Mediterranean coast in the late Roman Empire.  Gods honored are noted in parentheses. The tables are broken into four sections:  who and what the feast is for, what happens, intentionally or not, what’s served (meager hosts might not have all courses, wealthier hosts provide more options), and what does one’s behavior earn them. The Event Who Throws the Feast?  1d6L (1d6L: roll two dice, usee the lower) A freehold farmer who has benefited from the PC’s actions. A merchant the PCs frequently supply or purchase from. A local priest or lay religious officer A local mayor or council