Shadowcraft Mage Questions: Beyond the Miracle

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I know RAW lets me emulate miracle with silent image and a buncha feats. Practically, however, what are the most efficient and optimal ways to use Shadow Illusion?

Note that I can emulate Conjuration (creation), Conjuration (summoning), and Evocation spells from the Sor/Wiz list.
Shadowcraft mages basically suck at damage and anything else compared to someone that simply cast the correct spell the first time until they get into seventh and eight level spells (due to getting a high percentage and CL boost). So, they suck at direct damage until high levels (compare this with say, sorcerers that use wings of flurry or wizards that use scorching ray and incantatrix). Now, here's what they're really good at:
Casting evocations and conjuration(creations) without the full casting time. Yeah, that's the biggest perk. You get to sidestep the casting time on minor creation. The best stuff for you is really exalted spells in BoED because you sidestep the casting times and sacrifice. Those are really fricking nice.

Also, some evocations are situationally more useful (enemy is vulnerable for instance), so that's a perk.

Yeah, Shadowcraft mages are powerful, but they are major headaches to use optimally. Make sense?
I gots it.

How does true seeing interact with illusion (shadow) spells like shadow conjuration?
I gots it.

How does true seeing interact with illusion (shadow) spells like shadow conjuration?

It doesn't. The spells are real.
I like summoning auto extended Summon Elemental Monoliths. Air and Earth are particularly nasty. Also, if you use a Sonorous Hum or Extraordinary Concentration to concentration on the spell, you free up the ability to cast. If you cast a Heroics on an Earth Elemental Monolith, you can give it Shocktrooper. Directed Bullrush is crazy fun with Awesome Blow, and can easily cause some pretty hideous great cleave chainage. An EEM can pretty much solo a level 15ish party on its own, and you could even have 2 or 3 of them out, using Sonorous Hum for 1, Extraordinary Concentration for another, and then just plain ol' concentrating on the 3rd one. Mega kudos if you get on to Awesome Blow a baddy into the other 2, so they can take AoOs and then punt it back. Its like hot potato, except with a Balor.

PS, check out your build over on the BG forums. I found a bunch of mistakes in it.
Shadowcraft Mages most certainly do not suck at damage, they rock as soon as they have their Shadow Illusion ability (at the 3rd level of the class). They are in fact potentially the strongest blaster types out there. Assuming you took Earth Spell (which is standard, and from the same book, and gives you early entry into the class) you get massive boosts to the caster level of your spells, as well as the increased save DCs. Cutting lose with Wings of Flurry, for example, is nasty as all heck. Consider an Illusionist 5/Shadowcraft Mage 3 casting Wings of Flurry, compared to an 8th level Wizard. Assuming you took the racial sub level and Arcane Thesis, you get +6 to the caster level and +1 to the spell level compared to the normal version of the spell. Sure, it has that added will save for reduced damage, but assuming you can get your save DCs high enough (and you can) you're hitting everyone within 30' for an extra 6d6 damage. The normal Wizard hits for 8d6, you hit for 14d6... a 75% increase in damage. And you're doing that to everyone in the area of effect. Neat. Now, if they pass the will save that damage is then reduced to 50%... which is 7d6, due to the increased damage from your heightened caster level. Still not bad. Of course, once you reach the end of the class you'll always be doing more damage as long as you're using the right spells, even if they make the will save.

Now, damage is of course never a Wizard's best tool. Casting Major Creation to get a pool of Black Lotus Poison all over your targets is of course devastating. It's certainly true that reduced casting times and component costs are a big help... consider casting Blinding Glory in one round (it blinds all evil types within 100 feet per caster level, lasts one hour per caster level, and at that level reality is full so all they get is spell resistance... against your +9 caster level). Major Creation, Blinding Glory, True Creation (if you can get it on your list), Greater Mage Armor, Genesis, Armageddon, Amber Sarcophagus, Exalted Fury, anything that has annoying casting costs or time.

Basically, you're looking for spells with long casting times, high component costs, or effects that benefit greatly from high caster level. And there's a LOT of good ones out there.

Another thing to note is that if you took Earth Spell (you DID, right?) you can enter the class early at 5. This means you can do the above trick by Illusionist 5/Shadowcraft Mage 3.

I'd correct JaronK, but alas, I've quit correcting misinformation. Sorry about that, Endarire.
Here is a list for one I made for a game that died after about a week (it was a PbP). It was for a 10th level cloistered cleric/SCM, so I didn't bother extending the list beyond 5th level spells.

Lesser Orb of X
Wall of Smoke
Mage Armor

Cloud of Bewilderment
Detect Thoughts
Glitterdust (have this 3/day as a SLA)
Ray of Ice (SC)
Scorching Ray
Create Magic Tattoo

Stinking Cloud
Phantom Steed
Blade of Pain and Fear
Manyjaws (SC)
SM 3 (fiendish ape)
Melf's Unicorn Arrow (decent direct damage + bull rush)

Solid Fog
Wall of Ice
Reslient Sphere
Ice Storm
Crushing Grip (PHB2)-nice BC spell
Orb of Fire (decent damage, stunned for 1 round... automatically extended)

Wall of Force
Channeled Sonic Blast
Sending (why is this Evocation?)
Summon Monster 5 (giant crocodile is good grappler)

The best thing SCMs have going for them is that they can cast any of this crap spontaneously. It's like playing a wizard who casts like a sorcerer, and can choose from any spell that exists within those schools. It is pretty crazy, and requires lots of homework to be effective at it. You need to look through all the books allowed and make an indexed list of everything decent that you could cast to get maximum effectiveness.

I was also going with the assumption that you can choose to believe your own spells, which allows you to mimic things like Contingency (with 1 round casting time) and Phantom Steed.

One pain in the ass limitation was the extended casting time for applying metamatic to spontaneously cast spells, though (assuming you go with Signature Spell or something like that for Silent Image), but it's not a huge deal I guess.
I gots it.

How does true seeing interact with illusion (shadow) spells like shadow conjuration?

I assume you would see the same thing as with a successful save: "transparent images superimposed on vague, shadowy forms".

One of my favourite Shadow Conjuration effects is Sleet Storm; just have a signal so that all of your party members can disbelieve it.
I believe it was PhaedrusXY who once made a build that was incredible for its level. Using his Cloistered Cleric/Shadowcraft Mage, DMM heighten, and Earth Spell he was using a contigency that would create a resillent sphere whenever he needed it (and the sphere was almost impossible to dispel due to the boosted caster level of earth spell), in addition he then used the next round to cast a summon elemental monolith.

Cloistered Cleric 3/Shadowcraft Mage 5 (using DMM for early entry)/Cloistered Cleric 1/ followed by contemplative and other classes

1 Heighten Spell
1 (flaw) DMM Heighten
1 (flaw) Earth Sense
3 Spell Focus Illusion
6 Earth Spell

At level 9
5+1+Earth Spell (Contigency)
4+Earth Spell (Resilent Sphere)
5+4+Earth Spell (Elemental Monolith)

So for a total of 5 turn attempts (and two 5th level spells and 1 4th level spell) you are a person surrounded by a forcefield giving directions to a big tall golem/mecha/big smashing thing (whatever you want to flavor it and call it)

And what can a normal 9th level caster/big stupid fighter do in comparison?
Yeah, that was me. It was for an arena fight, and the Contingency was precast. So all you really had to do is cast Summon Elemental Monolith, and then sit back and sip pina colodas inside your Resiliant Sphere while the monolith smashes your enemies to bits. :D

I don't think you can qualify for SCM before level 6, though, due to skill prereqs, but I might be remembering incorrectly. You only need 3rd level for Shadow Illusion, anyway, so it doesn't matter.
The skill requirements are
Bluff 4 ranks, Hide 4 ranks.

Trickery domain makes those skills class skills so you can get them as soon as level 1. Hell you can enter the class as soon as level 2 if you have enough cha to heighten the spell to level 4.
Hmm... maybe I was thinking of Shadowcrafter, which I also had in the original build (CC5/SC2/SCM3, no early entry).
I forgot in the list of great spells to emulate: Create Magical Tatoo. Very useful, as the spell normally costs money and has effects based on your caster level. The Illusionist 5/Shadowcraft Mage 3 given above, for example, casting Create Magical Tatoo (+4 caster level due to Earth Spell and Arcane Thesis, so caster level 12), using a lesser metamagic rod of extend spell can permanently have +2 to all saving throws for the cost of one second level spell slot every other day. Next level, he can make it +1 caster level, +2 Int every day, at a cost of one second level slot per day. Very handy.
I've quit correcting misinformation. Sorry about that, Endarire.

Is that page 404'd for a reason?

Hell you can enter the class as soon as level 2 if you have enough cha to heighten the spell to level 4.

I don't think so. Including flaws, that build would have: Divine Metamagic (Heighten), Earth Sense, and Heighten Spell. It'd be missing Spell Focus (Illusion) which is a prerequisite for the ScM.
You need to be able to cast at least 3 illusions spells, including at least one of 4th level or higher.
According to this database, you'd need either the 'Veil of Shadow' (Clr 2) or Dark Way (Clr 2) spell, at the earliest. You don't get second-level spells until level 3.

I think the earliest one may be able to enter is via some combination of Precocious Apprentice (Wall of Gloom (CAr)) + Dragon's Tear optional spell component (CM) + Divine Metamagic. Maybe Planar Touchstone (Catalogues of Enlightenment [Domain that gives turning]) to gain the 'turns'.
Caveat: I edit my posts, ever and anon after.