The darkness and the wight: A look at the lives of shadowights

September 23, 2020 at 6:26 pm

“The eye is always caught by light, but shadows have more to say.”

– Gregory Maguire

 

With skin tones ranging from ashen grey to coal-black, and thin, cadaverous builds, it is small wonder that the shadowights are often mistaken for creatures of unlife. But this is in no way true and is a source of much anger among their kind.

In fact, they are as alive as any of the sapient races and live their lives in much the same way. But they are infused with the stuff of shadow and shun the surface world in favor of deep caves and great underground earthworks. They rebuke the idea that they were somehow created by magic — by either Mnorens or some other wizard — and believe they were created at the same time as the sun-scorched peoples.

Shadowight PCs can be playable (ITL, p. 82), but they run greater risks than standard races. It might be better to start them at IQ10 rather than 8, and give them the full 8 points to distribute. They might have access to some of the specialized tools and weapons of their people, but they would still have to pay with silver or XP to gain them. They make poor combatants, but might excel at stealth or wizardry.

Shadowight enclaves can be found in all the deep places like caverns, mines, and shadowy mountain valleys. They are not as numerous as other races, and their communities are smaller due to a lack of resources below the ground. These hardships have made the shadowights slighter and thinner, but more resilient. When faced with a lack of food, water, or rest, shadowights gain +3IQ bonus to avoid fatigue.

As a rule, they are not jealous of surface peoples. They view their weakness in the sunlight (taking one hit per round in bright light) as an equal offset to their powers in the dark. They often find surface-dwellers arrogant and foolish, and quietly enjoy their foundering in the dark. They have been known to breed with members of other races, but the offspring are always shadowights. There are usually various race-aspected shadowights in any community.

Their society is close-knit and equitable, with most community decisions made by a vote of all adult members. Food, tools, and weapons are held in common and distributed by the community at need. They are generous among their own kind, and a traveling shadowight will usually offer gifts when encountering others and will be gifted in return.

Surface-dwellers are not afforded the same kindness in the shadows, and will usually not even be aware of nearby shadowights. Groups will usually fade into side passages and galleries, tracking the interlopers and salvaging gear and treasure from failed expeditions. Shadowights gain +3DX on Stealth tests made in their natural environment. Particularly destructive interlopers might face deadly ‘accidents’ and natural hazards to hasten their demise.

Shadowights see well enough in their underground homes, but have heightened their other senses to offset the darkness. They are gifted sculptors, building on the natural stone to create beautiful chambers, soaring galleries, and massive abstract pieces. They also create a haunting, echoey music that can be heard for great distances deep in the earth. Their written language is a series of raised bumps and lines carved in stone or incised in clay. This language can also be translated to knocks and pauses on stone surfaces, allowing the shadowights to communicate out of range of sight.

They are naturally attuned to the shadow, and have discovered and mastered materials similarly touched by shadow. They forge weapons and armor from penumbran ores of great power. A shadow blade crafted by a master gives +1DX to hit and ignores one point of armor defense. They are also capable of striking immaterial and insubstantial foes. Shadowights can use these weapons as if they had ST of two higher, so that a ST10 shadowight would be capable of wielding a shadow broadsword. Shadow armor and shields have one less DX penalty for shadowights as well. Note that these items suffer in the sun like their makers, and quickly crumble outside on the surface. Shadow weapons and armor cost 10 times as much as mundane versions, and can only be crafted by a master.

While the shadowights are far from the only creatures who call this subterranean world home, one of their most common companions are the shadowcats. Most communities have several cats around them, as domesticated as the average surface cat. They are slightly larger than house cats and are deep, lustrous black with pale luminous eyes. They move silently and are naturally stealthy. Keeping shadowcats is a sign of status and many shadowight wizards seek them as familiars

New creature: Shadowcat

ST5-7 / DX14 / IQ5 / MA14 AD0 /D1d-2
Talents: Silent movement, stealth

These lithe predators are somewhat larger than typical cats, and have rich black fur and pale luminous eyes. They move quietly around their underground world and hunt at the side of the shadowights. These creatures are nearly invisible in the shadows. Shadowcats suffer the same ill effects as shadowights in sunlight.

While most shadowights are comfortable in the shadows, there are a few who seek to strengthen their connection to the shadow plane and plumb its depths. These are the wizards of the Order of the Veil. The Order seeks to deepen a shadowight’s connection to shadow, and channels its energies. They are notable by the black face-shrouding veils they wear and their heavy bloodtree-root staves.

They excel at spells like Darkness and Shadow, as well as magic that extends their senses like Mage Sight, Great Voice, and Telepathy. They have mastered the art of shadow summoning, and can create allies formed of shadow to fight for them. Shadow summoning spells (from wolves to dragons) are one IQ higher than their equivalent, so that Summon Shadow Myrmidon is IQ11, and take one additional ST point to maintain per round. Shadow allies have +1AD and are missed completely on a 6 on 1d.

New IQ14 Spell: Shadow-step

This spell allows the caster to step between areas of deep shadow instantly, like a teleport. The wizard must be able to see or visualize the the shadows where they reappear. Complete darkness is beast, but a wizard can step into lesser shadows like those from a fire or lantern light at -2IQ. It costs 1ST for each megahex traveled this way.