Dungeons and Dragons Shadows
Shadows hide and wait to attack you in Dungeons and Dragons.

Consummate ambush predators, shadows are attracted to goodness, to those whose darkest desires are suppressed most deeply, for the brighter the light, the darker the shadow it creates. By killing a virtuous individual, a shadow is able to separate those parts of their character consigned to the darkness, unleashing them upon the world as a new shadow. Only the most depraved are truly safe from a shadow’s interest, though the more a person gives in to their darker side, the weaker a shadow they will create, and so the less likely they are to be attacked.

Fear of shadows has mixed and mingled with the primal fear of the dark felt by nearly every culture. Those wishing to mask their fear with logic might point to shadows as a justification, for any area of darkness might mask a killer waiting to strike. Regardless, they stand as undead proof of that which the fearful already know; that night and shadow are a world in which the living are not welcome.

The theory goes that shadows came into being as the result of a botched experiment. Some well-meaning soul, through ritual, bargain, or alchemy, attempted to portion off those instincts, desires, and hungers which were most abhorrent to them. Rather than disappearing, as they no doubt hoped, this darker remnant of their soul lingered. Without any remnant of good nature limiting it, the shadow’s growth was unconstrained, gaining strength as its originator weakened.

Shadows are simply unleashed darkness, without ambition or purpose beyond their animalistic drives to feed and reproduce, and intelligence not far exceeding that of a simple beast. However, their supernatural powers make them particularly effective and sinister hunters, able to slip through areas of darkness with stealth beyond any ambush predator and sap the strength of their victims, siphoning away the drive of their darker nature, before making their attack.

For a shadow, attacking the living is primarily a means of reproduction, for when a shadow kills, another shadow will arise from the victim’s corpse. Shadows feel no kinship to the ones who spawn them, nor to the corpse from which they emerge. However, should said corpse return to life for whatever reason, it is likely its shadow will seek it out, whether through malice or curiosity it is difficult to say. Whatever the shadow’s inscrutable motivation, should it find its ‘parent’, the result is usually fatal. Infamously, those who were killed by a shadow and return cast no shadow themselves. Rare as they are, such individuals have historically been maligned and ostracized as harbingers of bad luck; after all, someone so obviously marked as a target by a supernatural foe is not someone most want to be around.

Shadows share the same hunger for the living as other undead but, being so well suited for stealth, they are able to exist where others cannot. Were they capable of the emotion, other undead would surely be envious of shadows’ rich choice of hunting grounds. While they are still found in the typical crypts and lichyards, they are commonly drawn to more populous areas, where both prey and hiding places are plentiful. There may be many watchful eyes in the city, but there will always be a dark alley somewhere with some good-natured soul who has found themselves, despite their better judgement, quite alone.

Additionally, shadows have no tell-tale signs which might betray them; no foul odor surrounds them, no footprints betray their passing, no noises, changes of temperature, or any other sign of the undead. Beyond the subtle shifting of darkness within darkness which escapes the notice of all but the keenest of observers, a shadow is utterly hidden.

Shadows have no remnant of personality from their ‘parent’, nor much in the way of individuality, behaving far more like predatory animals than intelligent beings. They are solitary by nature, as it is easier to remain hidden, though they may gather where hiding places are plentiful and swarm prey together. Shadows are intelligent enough to be tamed and trained for specific tasks by any individual evil enough to be of little interest as prey (not to mention, to be willing to employ shadows). Tamed shadows may be sent after a particular target, assassins able to sneak into any area with ease.

Shadows are, of course, far more dangerous in areas of darkness which allow them to ambush their prey unseen, as well as quickly melt away to regain the advantage in the confusion. However, they are not constrained to dark areas, and a clever shadow will know how to slip between areas of darkness, using moving, mundane shadows to mask its own movements, even during bright sunshine, though it will use these skills only to watch and stalk, waiting for darkness to cover all before launching an attack. Shadows show marked preference to attacking those of greatest virtue, those good-hearted souls who will create the strongest shadows upon their deaths.

While supernatural, shadows have the instincts of ambush predators, and are secure in their ability to disappear, should the fight turn against them. Most often, they will retreat just a fraction, and then continue stalking, unseen, hoping to strike at their prey again before it can recover its strength.

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