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King Libertine Posted - 31 Jul 2022 : 16:54:07
Can anyone help me brainstorm the various ways for demi-humans to become a Shade?

Most Shades are Shadovar humans and usually only the elite become Shades.

Any suggestions are welcome.
24   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Diffan Posted - 03 Aug 2022 : 15:27:08
quote:
Originally posted by King Libertine

The PC's will eventually meet her unexpectedly in the Plane of Shadow by level 13, so I kinda need her to be Beguiler 5/ Shadowcaster 15 in the service of Sheverash. But it will turn into a epic level adventure and she is the guide, so I want her to be a Shade somehow without the standard evil deity/ ritual scenario.



It might behoove you to read up on the character Galaeron Nihmedu, an elf who tapped into the Shadow Weave and came into confrontation with his 'shadow self'. While he didn't become a Shade, I believe if he had pursued that path it wouldve been an option for him and he didn't venerate Shar, Mask, or perform any ritual.

I think it's easily possible to tap or draw power from the Shadow-weave (pre-Spellplague) or Shadowfell (post-Spellplague) to "lose" yourself - as it were - to become a Shade.
King Libertine Posted - 03 Aug 2022 : 15:16:38
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

Getting taken away to Shadow is easy enough to manage, but I wonder if becoming a shade is really essential for the character. Sometimes it's better to drop an idea rather than force it.

Well, the NPC of Sheverash is CR13, but by the time they get there, they will only be aboutb 10th level, or CR 10 apiece. So To survive I thought NPC Shade of a CN deity.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 03 Aug 2022 : 05:02:07
Getting taken away to Shadow is easy enough to manage, but I wonder if becoming a shade is really essential for the character. Sometimes it's better to drop an idea rather than force it.
King Libertine Posted - 03 Aug 2022 : 04:33:40
I only ask about demi humans because I need a backstory for a star elf NPC that started off as a CN Beguiler in Sildiyuri who found the mysteries to become a Shadowcaster, and when his first Mystery was cast, he was whisked away to the plane of shadow against his will. No Shar, no Shadow weave, just direct connection to the plane of shadow due to finding the first few books on the lore of Shadow Mysteries.

Fully functional and canon in D20 forgotten realms. Just stuck on how to transform her into a Shade without Shar or Mask or any dark deity. She follows the dogma of Sheverash, if that helps. The PC's will eventually meet her unexpectedly in the Plane of Shadow by level 13, so I kinda need her to be Beguiler 5/ Shadowcaster 15 in the service of Sheverash. But it will turn into a epic level adventure and she is the guide, so I want her to be a Shade somehow without the standard evil deity/ ritual scenario.
Diffan Posted - 01 Aug 2022 : 19:16:59
quote:
Originally posted by Ashe Ravenheart

quote:


Ahh... that explains why I couldn't find anything at first, it was in 4E!



That's why I stick around
TomCosta Posted - 01 Aug 2022 : 19:13:36
Arguably, and similar to the accidental way Erevis becomes one, Artemis Entreri became a shade when his dagger leached shade essence into him. His skin turns gray and he develops darkvision.

Conversely, it's been suggested that some of the Telflammar shadowlords also became shades via rituals with Mask.

So you can get it via ritual, perhaps by being born into it (but it doesn't necessarily mean that all shade parents have shade children absent the ritual), or it can happen via accidental magic.

It also gets confusing because there were those who served shade, particularly several humans and non-humans in the Salvatore novels, that are clearly not shades, but sometimes referred to as such.
Azar Posted - 01 Aug 2022 : 18:32:41
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

I've not given much thought to shades, really, because I really can't stand them. I think the Realms would have been better off if Shade and its people had stayed forever lost to the Realms.



Throwing shade at the Shade .
Ashe Ravenheart Posted - 01 Aug 2022 : 17:44:50
quote:
Originally posted by Diffan

From the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide: "Becoming a Shade is a great reward for service to the empire. The most powerful Netherese are usually shades.

A shade retains its original appearance, but with a gaunt, drawn look. Its skin takes on a dull hue, and its eyes become slightly luminous. It no longer needs to eat or sleep, and its aging slows to a crawl. As a shade grows older, its appearance becomes darker and more monstrous, with strange features such as sharp teeth.

“Shade” is a template that can be added to any humanoid creature; most shades were once human. A shade can fill any role or be a member of any class.
"

So that's one explanation on becoming one. Another is...

Heroes of Shadow: " the Shadowfell taints their souls with dark thoughts and a darker disposition. A human who chooses to become a shade is reborn into shadow through a transformative ritual that draws on the ambient magic present at shadow crossings—places where the veil between the world and its dark echo is thinnest. Known in scholarly circles as the Trail of Five Darknesses, this arduous ritual is as likely to slay its practitioner outright—obliterating body and soul—as it is to grant the ability to wield shadow magic."

So one is to work diligently with Netheril to gain their favor and be transformed into one. Another is to travel to the Shadowfell/Plane of Shadow and perform the Trail of Five Darknesses ritual.

Ahh... that explains why I couldn't find anything at first, it was in 4E!

Diffan Posted - 01 Aug 2022 : 17:19:15
From the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide: "Becoming a Shade is a great reward for service to the empire. The most powerful Netherese are usually shades.

A shade retains its original appearance, but with a gaunt, drawn look. Its skin takes on a dull hue, and its eyes become slightly luminous. It no longer needs to eat or sleep, and its aging slows to a crawl. As a shade grows older, its appearance becomes darker and more monstrous, with strange features such as sharp teeth.

“Shade” is a template that can be added to any humanoid creature; most shades were once human. A shade can fill any role or be a member of any class.
"

So that's one explanation on becoming one. Another is...

Heroes of Shadow: " the Shadowfell taints their souls with dark thoughts and a darker disposition. A human who chooses to become a shade is reborn into shadow through a transformative ritual that draws on the ambient magic present at shadow crossings—places where the veil between the world and its dark echo is thinnest. Known in scholarly circles as the Trail of Five Darknesses, this arduous ritual is as likely to slay its practitioner outright—obliterating body and soul—as it is to grant the ability to wield shadow magic."

So one is to work diligently with Netheril to gain their favor and be transformed into one. Another is to travel to the Shadowfell/Plane of Shadow and perform the Trail of Five Darknesses ritual.
Ashe Ravenheart Posted - 01 Aug 2022 : 12:50:06
quote:
Originally posted by King Libertine

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

I would agree that it makes sense for an elven shade to lose something of their "elfness" on becoming a shade. If I was inclined to make an elven shade NPC, I think they'd simply be a shade with pointed ears. They could keep their original ability score bonuses, but all of the stuff that makes elves different from humans would be replaced by shadowstuff.

I've never really liked star elves, either. As an elven subrace, they've only been around for a couple millennia -- barely a handful of generations, in elven time, and certainly not long enough to become something distinct from their forebears. Even their culture wouldn't have had a lot of time to really become different. Without some sort of magic altering them -- like a sideways Descent -- they should remain fairly similar to their pre-star elf ancestors.


I agree 100%. They must lose something. But my question is what other various ways can a demi-human become a Shade?

I guess if you want to be more generic, you could travel to the Shadowfell, perform an evil ritual/sacrifice that cuts away part of your soul, stuff some shadowstuff from the plane into where you cut out your soul. Might have to deal with Shar, or Mask, or any of the other inhabitants of the Shadowfell being pulled to a location of such evil. Then you just need to get back to the Prime Material plan. Remember, the only characters that weren't evil for becoming Shades were the ones that had it forced upon them to try and bind them to someone or something.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 01 Aug 2022 : 05:46:37
quote:
Originally posted by King Libertine

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

I would agree that it makes sense for an elven shade to lose something of their "elfness" on becoming a shade. If I was inclined to make an elven shade NPC, I think they'd simply be a shade with pointed ears. They could keep their original ability score bonuses, but all of the stuff that makes elves different from humans would be replaced by shadowstuff.

I've never really liked star elves, either. As an elven subrace, they've only been around for a couple millennia -- barely a handful of generations, in elven time, and certainly not long enough to become something distinct from their forebears. Even their culture wouldn't have had a lot of time to really become different. Without some sort of magic altering them -- like a sideways Descent -- they should remain fairly similar to their pre-star elf ancestors.


I agree 100%. They must lose something. But my question is what other various ways can a demi-human become a Shade?



Some process akin to becoming a lich, I'd say.

But I really don't see the point of worrying about how a demihuman would do it, since the end result is just a different looking shade.

I've not given much thought to shades, really, because I really can't stand them. I think the Realms would have been better off if Shade and its people had stayed forever lost to the Realms.
Ayrik Posted - 01 Aug 2022 : 05:43:14
quote:
Originally posted by King Libertine

So you know how Erevis Cale felt as a newly born Shade? The books have already done that. But you know?

Kinda funny.

If you read the books then you know, too. Assuming your focus is on the character and the narrative, not on the stat block.
King Libertine Posted - 01 Aug 2022 : 04:50:22
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

I would agree that it makes sense for an elven shade to lose something of their "elfness" on becoming a shade. If I was inclined to make an elven shade NPC, I think they'd simply be a shade with pointed ears. They could keep their original ability score bonuses, but all of the stuff that makes elves different from humans would be replaced by shadowstuff.

I've never really liked star elves, either. As an elven subrace, they've only been around for a couple millennia -- barely a handful of generations, in elven time, and certainly not long enough to become something distinct from their forebears. Even their culture wouldn't have had a lot of time to really become different. Without some sort of magic altering them -- like a sideways Descent -- they should remain fairly similar to their pre-star elf ancestors.


I agree 100%. They must lose something. But my question is what other various ways can a demi-human become a Shade?
King Libertine Posted - 01 Aug 2022 : 04:48:04
quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

I think that those who "simply happen upon" the shadows are the ones least likely to survive the process intact and the ones most likely to forever regret what they have lost, what they have become.

Erevis Cale is one such tragic character. He still feels a terrible, fundamental, irreplaceable loss of self - he is reminded of it constantly, especially when he attempts to return to his old life, build a new life, interact with others - even if he doesn't consciously understand exactly what is missing - but something is missing, something is wrong, something important. He understands, dimly, that he wouldn't feel this pain (or rather, this apparent lack of pain, this emptiness, this missing something which was once essential to his existence) if he fully embraced the shadow, if he was fully engulfed by it - it is almost like a separate thing inside him, a dark side, a monster, with tendrils eating his mind and heart and soul, an unseeable murky thing he knows should provoke fear, disgust, guilt, remorse, or anything he just can't properly feel anymore - yet he clings to this pain because he instinctively (subconsciously) understands that relinquishing it will cost him everything he ever was. He is a half-faded version of himself, struggling to not fade away any further, unaware of his own struggles yet fully aware that there is no return from shadow.
(Curiously, he also loses some of his humanity when he refuses to accept this fate as a mistake he made himself. He denies and externalizes this blame, he shifts it onto his god Mask, he rationalizes it as some kind of unjust punishment - which further dehumanizes him into darkness and shadow. He becomes more cold, detached, callous, uncaring, unable to feel, unsatisfied that he can't even seek solace in anger and hatred, yet also filled with a vague and nameless inhuman emotion of sorts, a sort of brutal malice and deception. And curiously, Mask has need of Cale's humanity so he helps restore it in some measure by shifting this blame right back again, by offering himself as a focus for Cale's anger and hate. But that's all kinda irrelevant here.)

Those who seek to become shades deliberately are likely to do better. Because they can prepare in advance. Because they understand (or think they understand) what they're doing. Because they have already forsaken their humanity (or because they desperately wish to do so). Because they have the ambition, desire, and focus claim and attain it in first place.

And because - most importantly (in my opinion) - they typically don't seek becoming a shade as an ultimate objective in itself. It may or may not be something unavoidable. But they are usually driven to obtain the power and the immortality as a stepping stone to help them achieve some other, greater objective. Just like liches, ghosts, even some vampires.
This is what makes them interesting characters with interesting narratives. In introduces a flaw, a weakness, a terrible cost or loss or sacrifice that they're willing to endure (and think they're ready to endure) because it's necessary to get something else more important to them.
Characters who simply add the "I am a shade" power set to their character sheet for no reason and with no consequence are just implausible and uninteresting (and unlikeable) Mary Sues. The players and DM and readers and authors quickly get bored of these characters.

And still ... most will fail, die, somehow be lost forever. Even if they do everything right. That's likely why the Shadovar use a ritual which appeases and involves Shar, to ensure fewer of their number will perish or be wasted. They likely know other ways to shade themselves - Telamont certainly does - yet as much as Telamont and all (but one) of his Princes despise any reliance on any divine power they still don't use these other shading options, I wonder why?

I think all shades are (were) strictly human. No elves. No half-elves. Although Shadar-kai (?) are a thing for elf-lovers.

Consider the tale of a sun elf vampire ... accursed to become something undead, unliving, unnatural ... a parasite which fed on life and death, an abomination against nature itself.
This elf attempted suicide and oblivion, many times, many ways. But was accursed again ... forced to survive (and to be constantly reminded of his condition) indefinitely by the cruel and malign "Powers" of Ravenloft's demiplane. He couldn't even touch a flower without "draining" it into a wilted withered husk, for an elf this sort of disconnect from living nature is the most profoundly monstrous torment imaginable, even more so when it's not just a disconnect (a loss of what he loved) but an antithesis (becoming the enemy, killer, and destroyer of what he loved).

How would such an elf respond to become shade? Losing his connection to the natural, living world. Unable to walk among the sunlit trees?


So you know how Erevis Cale felt as a newly born Shade? The books have already done that. But you know?

Kinda funny.
Azar Posted - 01 Aug 2022 : 04:06:15
Tip: have it made.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 01 Aug 2022 : 02:19:33
I would agree that it makes sense for an elven shade to lose something of their "elfness" on becoming a shade. If I was inclined to make an elven shade NPC, I think they'd simply be a shade with pointed ears. They could keep their original ability score bonuses, but all of the stuff that makes elves different from humans would be replaced by shadowstuff.

I've never really liked star elves, either. As an elven subrace, they've only been around for a couple millennia -- barely a handful of generations, in elven time, and certainly not long enough to become something distinct from their forebears. Even their culture wouldn't have had a lot of time to really become different. Without some sort of magic altering them -- like a sideways Descent -- they should remain fairly similar to their pre-star elf ancestors.
Ayrik Posted - 01 Aug 2022 : 01:06:38
I think that those who "simply happen upon" the shadows are the ones least likely to survive the process intact and the ones most likely to forever regret what they have lost, what they have become.

Erevis Cale is one such tragic character. He still feels a terrible, fundamental, irreplaceable loss of self - he is reminded of it constantly, especially when he attempts to return to his old life, build a new life, interact with others - even if he doesn't consciously understand exactly what is missing - but something is missing, something is wrong, something important. He understands, dimly, that he wouldn't feel this pain (or rather, this apparent lack of pain, this emptiness, this missing something which was once essential to his existence) if he fully embraced the shadow, if he was fully engulfed by it - it is almost like a separate thing inside him, a dark side, a monster, with tendrils eating his mind and heart and soul, an unseeable murky thing he knows should provoke fear, disgust, guilt, remorse, or anything he just can't properly feel anymore - yet he clings to this pain because he instinctively (subconsciously) understands that relinquishing it will cost him everything he ever was. He is a half-faded version of himself, struggling to not fade away any further, unaware of his own struggles yet fully aware that there is no return from shadow.
(Curiously, he also loses some of his humanity when he refuses to accept this fate as a mistake he made himself. He denies and externalizes this blame, he shifts it onto his god Mask, he rationalizes it as some kind of unjust punishment - which further dehumanizes him into darkness and shadow. He becomes more cold, detached, callous, uncaring, unable to feel, unsatisfied that he can't even seek solace in anger and hatred, yet also filled with a vague and nameless inhuman emotion of sorts, a sort of brutal malice and deception. And curiously, Mask has need of Cale's humanity so he helps restore it in some measure by shifting this blame right back again, by offering himself as a focus for Cale's anger and hate. But that's all kinda irrelevant here.)

Those who seek to become shades deliberately are likely to do better. Because they can prepare in advance. Because they understand (or think they understand) what they're doing. Because they have already forsaken their humanity (or because they desperately wish to do so). Because they have the ambition, desire, and focus claim and attain it in first place.

And because - most importantly (in my opinion) - they typically don't seek becoming a shade as an ultimate objective in itself. It may or may not be something unavoidable. But they are usually driven to obtain the power and the immortality as a stepping stone to help them achieve some other, greater objective. Just like liches, ghosts, even some vampires.
This is what makes them interesting characters with interesting narratives. In introduces a flaw, a weakness, a terrible cost or loss or sacrifice that they're willing to endure (and think they're ready to endure) because it's necessary to get something else more important to them.
Characters who simply add the "I am a shade" power set to their character sheet for no reason and with no consequence are just implausible and uninteresting (and unlikeable) Mary Sues. The players and DM and readers and authors quickly get bored of these characters.

And still ... most will fail, die, somehow be lost forever. Even if they do everything right. That's likely why the Shadovar use a ritual which appeases and involves Shar, to ensure fewer of their number will perish or be wasted. They likely know other ways to shade themselves - Telamont certainly does - yet as much as Telamont and all (but one) of his Princes despise any reliance on any divine power they still don't use these other shading options, I wonder why?

I think all shades are (were) strictly human. No elves. No half-elves. Although Shadar-kai (?) are a thing for elf-lovers.

Consider the tale of a sun elf vampire ... accursed to become something undead, unliving, unnatural ... a parasite which fed on life and death, an abomination against nature itself.
This elf attempted suicide and oblivion, many times, many ways. But was accursed again ... forced to survive (and to be constantly reminded of his condition) indefinitely by the cruel and malign "Powers" of Ravenloft's demiplane. He couldn't even touch a flower without "draining" it into a wilted withered husk, for an elf this sort of disconnect from living nature is the most profoundly monstrous torment imaginable, even more so when it's not just a disconnect (a loss of what he loved) but an antithesis (becoming the enemy, killer, and destroyer of what he loved).

How would such an elf respond to become shade? Losing his connection to the natural, living world. Unable to walk among the sunlit trees?
King Libertine Posted - 01 Aug 2022 : 00:37:45
So a Star elf can just simply happen upon a mement and become a Shade?
Ayrik Posted - 31 Jul 2022 : 22:45:26
quote:
The ritual to exchange your soul for essence of Shadow is known only to the High Princes of Shade.

This may be true of the ritual, but there are other ways to become a shade.

Shades have been around since 1E (Monster Manual 2). Their MM2 entry describes the process of becoming a shade in generic terms. They might've even been first described (and perhaps in more detail) within one of the ancient single-digit Dragon magazines before Gygax adopted them into his published works.

They've also, incidentally, been around in "retro-1E". That is, the special 2E magic rules for Ancient Netheril (translated back to 1E because Mystryl is not Mystra, lol). Shades were listed in random encounter tables within various adventures. Long before the Shadow's (Telamont's) birth, his discovery of the Demiplane of Shadow (Shadowfell), the formation of Shade Enclave, the Fall of Netheril, etc. Shades have evidently been around pretty much forever. Even in lands across the Realms, even in other spheres, worlds, and planes never visited by the goddess Shar.

It's worth noting that Shar was part of the Netherese pantheon. Mask (her "son", originally an aspect of her divinity) was not.

Though Shades themselves seem to be more akin to undead than to worshippers of Shar. They have somehow fallen into shadow or exchanged part of their living humanity for unliving shadow - with or without Shar and her special rituals. Not unlike the ways of becoming a lich. They mostly tend to be magic-users - most often arcanists, sometimes psionicists, rarely priests.

And it's worth noting that only one of the Princes Shade is in fact a priest of Shar. All the rest of them - including Thultanthar himself, the first Shade of the Shadovar - are arcanists, wizards, sorcerors. This suggests that their special ritual is essentially not a religious ceremony (even if they have decorated it with invocations to Shar) and that any other powerful archmage sort of character might be able to discover or duplicate the Shading process without requiring Shar's (or the Shadovar's) interventions.

Note that the process of becoming a lich is fraught with peril. Many do not survive. Many of those who do are somehow changed or damaged, no longer intact. Even those who succeed are forever changed to something no longer really human, those who survive long enough continue to change in ways which are increasingly inhuman.
The best chance of ensuring success is with the guidance of an existing lich (or perhaps a deity/power who knows the secrets, who can influence the odds) - but these will almost certainly shape the process to fit their own purposes or exact some other kind of irrevocable price for their assistance.

I think it is the same for shades. A rare few people might've transformed entirely successfully, entirely through accident while stumbling through the darkest murks of the Shadowfell. But most would've sought the transformation deliberately. Not all would remain intact. And for each one who succeeded there would be countless others who failed - who became lesser creatures (like Shadows and Wights) - who were consumed by shadows and darkness, or by the predatory beings lurking within - or who were simply killed by any of the usual dangers which constantly threaten all travellers in the Shadowfell.

I would think the "deepest shadow", the "shards of shadow", the fundamental essence of shadow would be found only in the deepest parts of the Shadowfell. Jealously guarded by beings (like Mask and Shar and their proxies and the Shadovar and their agents) who draw power and sustenance from them. Good luck.
King Libertine Posted - 31 Jul 2022 : 22:02:03
quote:
Originally posted by Ashe Ravenheart

Apologies, I almost forgot:

Erevis Cale is the only non-Shadovar to become a Shade, which was brought about by being the Chosen of Mask.

I was just about to call you out on that. There must be a way a demi-human can achieve this without Shar or supplication to the Shadovar.

Cale did it by mischance and divine intervention. But how else can it be done?
Ashe Ravenheart Posted - 31 Jul 2022 : 20:47:56
Apologies, I almost forgot:

Erevis Cale is the only non-Shadovar to become a Shade, which was brought about by being the Chosen of Mask.
Ashe Ravenheart Posted - 31 Jul 2022 : 20:42:00
quote:
Races of Faerûn, pg 147
The Princes of Shade decide who is to be given such a blessing, and they are stingy with their favors, careful to only empower those who are sure to be loyal to them and their causes. Prospective candidates are stringently tested for ability, loyalty, and resourcefulness.

Shades look just like normal humanoids, although their skin is gray to inky black, as are their eyes. They are thinner than most humans, and they prefer to dress in dark-hued clothes or armor. Human Shadovars are never made into shades until after they have reached the age of majority. There are no such things as young shades, and shades who marry produce normal offspring.

Shades have extraordinarily long lifespans. By trading some portion of their souls for the stuff of shadow, they extend their lifespans tenfold.


The ritual to exchange your soul for essence of Shadow is known only to the High Princes of Shade. To go around this, you'll need a mage powerful enough to research the ritual themselves, or a caster that has Shar as their patron, to which she would give her blessing.
King Libertine Posted - 31 Jul 2022 : 18:47:39
quote:
Originally posted by Ashe Ravenheart

Make a pact with Shar.


I should have stated that this scenario is too mundane. I am sorry.

Besides putting Shar in the picture, what are the various ways a demi-human can become a Shade?
Ashe Ravenheart Posted - 31 Jul 2022 : 17:06:06
Make a pact with Shar.

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