Hello adventurers! Welcome to my spellbook and thank you so much for checking out the seventh episode of the elf subrace series man do we have a real pain the neck in store for you today. We’re gonna be looking at mark of shadow elf which was released in eberron rising from the last war. If you’re not familiar with the marked races i envy you, i remember when they were first released a ton of my DM buddies were freaking out over them.
And you know what with good reason there aren’t a ton of dms i’m aware of that have gone through someone trying to cheese one of the marked sub-races and still use it right! So usually dms allow them until someone really tries to push them to their limits and then they’ll just outright ban them. I allow them in my game from time to time, although it does kind of depend with the group i’m in and if i find they’re cheesing them then i’ll just make a side note saying “listen if you have to make a new character in the future the eberron races are off limits” and most people are usually okay with that.
However if everyone’s using them i think they’re great, i think they’re really fun and i think they provide just a ton of utility to any character. Now let’s take a look at their description and traits.
The Mark of Shadow lets an elf weave illusions, crafting magic to distract or delight. It even allows its bearer to sculpt shadows, making it easy to avoid detection too.
Out of the gate you’ll get a plus one to your charisma score which is a pretty dang handy and you’ll gain access to cunning intuition: When you make a performance or stealth check you can roll a d4 and add the number rolled to the ability check.
Something i want to point out here and be really clear about, there’s no limit on how many times you can use this. It also doesn’t consume anything in terms of action, bonus action, reaction. This is essentially just a free d4 to any stealth or performance check you need to make.
That’s pause for concern in my opinion and once again very cheesable however you know at higher levels it becomes less and less relevant. Although those early levels it puts you at to this absurd advantage. Now let’s move on to their other traits.
You will also gain access to shape shadows: You know the minor illusion cantrip. Starting at 3rd level, you can cast the invisibility spell once with this trait, and you regain your ability to cast it when you finish a long rest. Charisma is your spellcasting ability modifier for these spells.
Minor illusion is one of those spells that is arguably one of the more useful cantrips from utility angle. While it might not be able to start fires or do anything in the real world it could legitimately save your neck pretty hardcore. And i want to say it’s one of the most commonly chosen cantrips in the game.
Outside of that though invisibility is absolutely fantastic at any level of play, these are really unique spells in the way that there’s no particular level where they’re not viable and there’s no particular situation where they’re not viable either. Whether you’re in combat in a social setting or exploring, you’ll find benefit with both of these spells and that’s pretty incredible.
The fact that charisma is your spell casting ability modifier it is kind of meh. It’s nice because you do get access to that plus one charisma in the beginning but outside of that it is fine. And if you thought that was all you’d be wrong you also gain access to spells of the mark. All this is is just an expansion on the spell list very similar to how the ravnican backgrounds work.
So you can’t just cast these all willy-nilly you do need to sacrifice spell slots to get them. But if you’re a caster that wouldn’t normally have access to any of these, you now have access to all of them. This is especially cheeseable by the warlock or the sorcerer which have alternative ways of either getting their spell slots back or get all of them back on the short rest. So they have a far more flexibility.
So in terms of first level spells you’ll gain access to disguise self and silent image, at second level you’ll gain access to darkness and pass without trace, at third level you’ll gain access to clairvoyance and major image, at fourth level greater invisibility and hallucinatory terrain and at fifth level mislead.
All of these are great spells just plain and simple. Some of them may be less useful based on what class you’re playing and what class features you get. However in general they’re all pretty fantastic. Notable ones include pass without trace is pretty cool essentially if you combine this with your presumably already decent stealth score and that id4 you can roll at the very beginning through cunning intuition.
The odds of you getting caught or seen or noticed or even remotely discovered are very very thin. Really incredible and in addition to that major image is fantastic as well. Clairvoyance is great if you’re playing a spy character. Greater invisibility is one of those spells where i like it although i find relative to a couple of the other fifth level spells. It kind of falls short and i’ve never actually seen anyone use hallucinatory terrain ever actually.
I’ve read through the spell a couple times, thought it was interesting but for whatever reason realtive to a lot of those other fourth level spells it kind of falls flat. Mislead however is messed up if you’ve never gone through it what it does is it makes you invisible which doesn’t sound super cool.
But what it also does is it creates a identical copy of you where you would be standing otherwise. It’s not real but you can perceive through its senses and you can use your action to animate it. It’s really cool, it’s like discount similacrum if you want to look at it that way it’s interesting. Makes for a lot of cool opportunities kind of a cross between invisibility and major image if you want to look at it that way. Really cool stuff! Needless to say there’s some really good choices here. Now let’s get on to my personal thoughts.
It’s really difficult for me to talk about the marked races in general. Mark of the shadow elf is of course no exception and the reason for that is they’ve been such a highly contested point of 5E amongst the dungeons and dragons DM community. That i’m kind of i feel bad praising them a little bit, but if i’m looking at it objectively they’re all fantastic. Thet all lend themselves to a very specific playstyle. In the mark of shadow elf’s case it’s being a stealthy character and literally everything they have is meant to help you infiltrate destroy and make it seem like somebody else did it, you know!
The plus one to charisma is really nice. Is it the best thing about this heck no but it still is nice. Charsima is one of those ability scores that you always want to have. Especially if you’re planning on having any form of social engagement, low charisma characters they can be fun to play but if you’re playing in a long-term campaign you don’t want to feel like you’re dragging everyone else down.
Cutting intuition on the other hand is bloody fantastic. The ability to just roll an extra d4 at your leisure without any resource cost or expending anytime is incredible. While i understand that a d4 isn’t a huge number at those early couple levels where your proficiency bonus isn’t super high and maybe your ability scores are relatively low that could save your neck.
This is also useful if you’re playing a character in heavy armor and you have disadvantage on your stealth checks. There’s just a lot you can do with this stealth is by far one of the most useful ability checks in the game and performance is probably right up there as well.
Shape shadows is fantastic. Gaining a minor illusion out of the gate just because it’s gonna help you out a lot no matter what class you’re playing as. Invisibility as well, it’s just a good spell just a really solid spell from the ground up and you can cast it without using any spell slots the only caveat is it takes a long rest to reset it once you do. But if you time it correctly you’ll only need to use it once to escape from combat unseen or pickpocket or what have you. It’s meant to be used when you feel like it’s needed most and you should only really be one succession and usually take a long rest at the end of each session so.
Their spell list extension is overall quite good. It’s a little disappointing that it doesn’t have any damage dealing spells in there but once again all of the marked sub-races they’re aimed at a very specific play styleand this is more of a stealthy approach and more espionage things of that nature. So it makes sense that there’s no damage here.
In short if you’re playing a stealthy character and if you want to test out this less direct play style, mark of the shadow elf is perfect for you. That being said, there might be some other options that might suit your tastes a little bit better.
Let me know what you guys think down beneath in the comment section. Mention any thoughts, comments, questions or concerns you have regarding mark of the shadow elf. Do you think i over hyped it, i don’t think that i did but who knows, if you have any experience with the marked races let me know down beneath in general. That being said, have a great day everyone and as always happy adventuring.