Friday, October 18, 2019

Affairs of Shade & Shadow - Bringing The Shade Back Into Old School & OSR Campaigns

Once again I turn my attention to Advanced Dungeons & Dragon's planes & other worlds for a bit of fun. Maybe its time to cast a bit of 'Shade' into your game campaign with a bit of a NPC villain role. Sure the plane of Shadows has become 'Shadowfell'. But these bargainers of the direst of pacts have all been almost forgotten.

There are times when bits & pieces of the Jeff Grubbs Advanced Dungeons & Dragons book The Manual of the Planes starts to ooze into my brain like last night. Especially the section on the Negative plane & vile reflection the plane of Shadow. But when we really got a taste of the darkness of the plane of Shadow was in, "Ed Bonny (January 1995). “The Demiplane of Shadow” &  In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #213 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 22–29."

We got plunged into darkness long  before this in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition Monster Manual II by Gary Gygax. We got a taste of the plane of Shadows in the form of one of its darkest inhabitants, the Shades. These bastards of the occult have given their souls & bodies to the plane of Shadow in return for power well beyond the kin of normal men.  These are things that should not be & during the Halloween season its perfect time to reintroduce these monsterous NPC's of the plane of Shadow.

FREQUENCY: Very rare (rare)
NO. APPEARING: Typically 1-2
ARMOR CLASS: MOVE: As original creature
HIT DICE: As original class
% IN LAIR: Variable
 NO. OF ATACKS: As original class and level
DAMAGE/ATTACKS: By weapon type
 INTELLIGENCE: Low to genius
ALIGNMENT: Any(except good)
SIZE: As original creature
PSIONICS: As original creature
Attack/Defense Modes: As original creature
 LEVEL/X.P. VALUE: Variable
 All knowledgeable authorities agree that shades are, or were, normal humans who through arcane magic or dark sciences have traded their souls or spirits for the essence of shadowstuff. While still retaining the shape and abilities of their original species, they havegrown in power by joining with thisshadowstuff. The true native shade is unknown, and no one knows if shades are connected with the shadow (q.v.) or some power or substance from the Plane of Shadow. The method of transmutation from living being to unliving shade life has been lost. Any humanor demihuman, if the formula is rediscovered, can becomea shade. Dwarves, elves, gnomes, half-elves, halflings, humans, and an occasional half-orc, are known to have forsaken goodness for the dark lure of shadowstuff. Becoming a shade does not alter species limitations of ability, class, or level (except as noted hereafter). The stuff of shadow most certainly prolongs the life of shades, for unless they meet with an accident or are killed, they are undying. Disease has no effect on them once they enter shadow, and they may regrow body parts lost in combat (savethe head) in 1-4 weeks. This unnaturalvitalityalso manifests itself in the regeneration of hit points, allowing them to regain them at 1 hit point per turn. Because of changing light on the Prime Material Plane, shades live in the Plane of Shadow whenever possible (where they are rare). They do not leave that plane unless sufficiently motivated, such as by treasure, enforced servitude, revenge, etc. Shades wield great power in shadows, but as shadows diminish, whether from increase in light or darkness, so too wanes the power of these shadow-beings. The exact power of a shade in varying light conditions is detailed below. As original creature and level See below (see below) Light Conditions Bright light; sunlight Average light Twilight Shadowy light Night/dark Complete darkness Ability Scores -2 -1 Normal +2 +I Normal Magic Resistance Standard; saves at -4 5%/level 5%/level 5%/level 5%/level Standard Hit Points -2/die -1 /die Normal +1 /die Normal Normal Special Abilities None None Shadow-walk Shadow-walk; shadow images Shadow-walk None Type Bright light Average Light Twilight Shadowy light Underground torchlight Night/dark Total darkness Occurences Bright sunlight on a clear day Center of continual light spell Light without shadows (as from several sources around the shade) Normal daylight with shade or clouds Center of a light spell Outline of a faerie fire spell Sunset Average indoor light Edges of light and continual light spells Dimly-lit room or forest Normal illumination on Plane of Shadow A room with windows at night A moonless or cloudy night sky Pitch black, overcast night sky Unlit, interior room or cavern A darkness spell Ability Scores: Light affects the ability statistics of the shade. Bonuses will exceed normal species maximums with the exception of strength. Each +I adds 10% to 18 strength, and strength scores over 18/00 are treated as a 19 strength. Penalties lower strength by a full point (an 18/00 strength drops to 17 at -1 and 16 at -2). MagicResistance:Checkthe basicabilityofthe shadeto resist spellsvs. the light conditions. Magic resistance for a shadewill never exceed 60% (a 13th-levelshadefighter intwilightwill havea 60%magicresistance, not 65%). Note that a shade in bright light hasstandard magic resistance and all savesare made at -4 on the die because of the shade'sweakness. Hit Points: Penalties and bonuses are per hit die. No hit die may be less than 1 point. Special Abilities: All shades have the following special spell-like abilties, depending on local light conditions. Shadow-walk-This is the abilityto gather shadows around itself and use them to transport itself to the Plane of Shadow. The transport requires 1 full round. Shadow images - This is the ability to form exact duplicates of itself out of shadow and cause the duplicates to act as if they were living entities. A shade can create 2-5 shadow images and can control their actions as long as they remain within 30 feet of their creator. They may only be dispelled by altering the lighting conditions around the shade. Note that shadow images have no material substance (so they do no damage in their attacks), and that the shade must draw from surrounding shadow to create them. OtherAbilities: All shades may hide in shadows in conditions of twilight, shadowy light, and night/dark. They hide as a thief of the same level. Shades with thieving ability gain 2% per level in shadowy conditions, and 5% per level in night/dark conditions. As mentioned before, becoming a shade does not change the basic characteristics of the individual. Those having psionic abilities may have those powers enhanced, but psionic abilitymay not be gained by becoming a shade. Shades with psionic ability will lose all mastery in the disciplines of invisibility and etherealness but will gain 2 levels in dimension walking when in shadows. Shades with psionic abilities usually gain the ability of shape alteration (10% chance per year as a shade), if they do not already have this power. The psionic strength of gifted shadeswill alter upon attaining shadehood because ability scores will be changed. New power and discipline gained by such a shade will operate only on the Plane of Shadow. Finally, it is nearly impossibletodetect a shade, for its appearance does not differ areatlv from its mortal form. A shade's eves show no white, Light Conditions: A shade's power varies according to the amount of shadow available: They are most vulnerable in cases of total light and total darkness. however, rust a'dark grey or purple iris and pupii. and its skin tone becomes dusky and grey. They prefer garb of grey or black andwill rarely wear brightly-colored clothes. The transformation to shade has some evil in it, for the shade becomes gloomy and brooding. They are generally solitary due to this fact, as they cannot trust other shades, nor can they deal with normal creatures without dominating or exploiting them. "

These are not 'good' creatures in any sense of the word, & should never be available as PC's.  Instead these are mere spilt inky reflections of their former selves. No place is this more evident then in "The Ecology of the Shade."  by Dan Salas from the famous issue of Dragon #126 (TSR
, 1987). We get the process, the background, & the ecology of these self serving sorcerous horrors of darkness. 

What we learn is that the 'Shade' is a monster akin to the alien life form of the Shadow of B/X & OD&D. A monster hungry for the lifeforce & soul of humanity with a void that can't be filled by mere food stuffs anymore. Those willing to take the occult steps necessary to become a 'shade' have left their humanity far behind!
"A childhood tale drifted up from memory.
 A shade? Yes. Once a man, but now a creature of darkness. A shade is a person who has traded his soul to gain a permanent connection to the Plane of Shadow. There, the Positive and Negative Material Planes meet in the shadow of the Prime Material Plane. Do you understand what I mean? Carissa nodded, fascinated. She was a scholar as well as a noble, and her interest in the metasciences was drawn out by the mysterious intruder. A shade receives effects from the Positive and Negative Planes:’ he continued. From the Positive, he receives immunity from aging and disease, as well as powers of healing. To the Negative Plane, he loses his soul. His appearance becomes dark as night, and his personality becomes even darker."

From Dragon Magazine "The Ecology of the Shade."  by Dan Salas from the famous issue of Dragon #126 (TSR, 1987).

Shades make the perfect antagonists for player's PC's who have gotten far too used to the various undead of old school & OSR Dragons & Dragons. They 'live' to be the most patient of advesaries for a party & can become some of the most henious of foes dogging parties of adventurers who have seen one too many orc lords,witches, Ravenloft foes  or other vampiric varients. Never ever count the 'Shade' as being gone or destroryed! 

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