Sh’dai – The Shadowed (1e)

“Is it my hair? Is it my eyes? Is it my skin? My smile? The magic that dances at my fingertips and flows through my veins like an intoxicating black wine? You look at us and see something that is almost like you, you imagine us like some sort of darkly fey version of the half-elven of your realm. You call us ‘shadowmen’ and ‘shevach’ thinking that we care – nor do we care, save that we know that your kind consider these insults. You both envy us and fear us because our feral beauty, seeing it not as a blessing of our forebears but as the taint of daemons and worse. We live on the borders of the Realm of the Dead and we have seen seen more of “worse” by the time we’re of age than your kind have seen in a generation.

Please…

We are the children of the Sh’achtar, cousins to the Daemon, and we do the will of the Unborn this world and the next. We welcome your worst.” 

– Naamah lia Shere Da’Ishtiare n’hai Eshu n’Hai Diablen, Witch of the Ebon Circle.

The Sh’dai, also known simply as “the Shadowed”, are the primary race of the Shadowlands, though a number of families also make their home in the Mortal Realms as well. Privy to some of the darkest Mysteries, the Sh’dai are a race that treasures secrets and subtlety and appreciate magic as much as the Fae do. Amoral if not evil by human standards, the Sh’dai are a culture that stands as the first line of defense against the depredations of the Dearth, a fact that they are well aware and justifiably proud of. Quick to take offense, Sh’dai are passionate people with carefully maintained codes of honor that keep those same passions in check. Legends of their vices streaches across the Mortal Realms, and their appetites are fueled by drugs, slaves, and a variety of entertainments that are generally considered at least somewhat unwholesome. Thier cities are considered dens of the most vile vices in the Mortal Realms, and their slavers are feared.

Appearance: Male Sh’dai stand 70″ tall (+1d6 or -1d6), and weigh 145 lbs (+1-20 or -1-20) while female Sh’dai stand 68″ tall (+1d6 or -1d6), and weigh 135 lbs (+1-20 or -1-20). Both sexes tend to have slender builds that belies their strength and pale skin that can actually range into the purest ivory – often adorned with piercings and tattoos. Both tend towards features and lithe muscular form that are considered amazingly attractive in human terms – despite the fangs, cat’s-eye pupils, pointed ear-tips, and fingernails that can double as weapons (+1 Damage). Sh’dai hair is most commonly ebony in hue, with very occasional reds and platinum blonds to snow-white. Sh’dai tend to wear thier hair long, often with simple braiding to keep it it of the way in forge or fight, and they often have exotic cuts and styling. Sh’dai eyes are dark, blacks, greys, with occasional exotic colors like crimson or deep purple, all with slit pupils that betray thier feral nature.

Lifespan: Sh’dai are young adults at age 50, considered mature adults at around age 100, and can live up to 1000 years of age. They generally begin play at 45 + 5d4 years of age.

Common Alignments: The Shadowlands are a dark and hard place, and while Sh’dai culture promotes Lawful ethics it’s morals are most commonly Evil in bent – Sh’dai from the Mortal Realms tend to be more Neutral in morals. The Sh’dai are a product of their environment and the close proximity to the Realm of the Dead demands strong passions to stave off its soul-numbing effects. Unfortunately that level of passion often leads to excesses that would kill many mortals. It is not that it is impossible to find Good within the Shadowlands, but the selfish road of Evil or Neutrality is much easier. Chaotic individuals are seen as dangerous liabilities who are weak links in the chains that bind the Dearth and rarely trusted with any responsibility.

Common Classes: The Sh’dai generally multi-class and have a penchant for mysticism. They value skill and precision over brute force, but have a fine appreciation for the uses of raw magical and psychic power. They do not have many clerics, instead tending towards the having Witches, Templars, and various forms of Psychics meeting those classes roles. Similarly, Illusionists, Elementalists, Tantrics, and Diabolists (most especially) are more common than generalist Mages. Assassins and Scouts are also more common than Thieves, and the Bloodmoon Adepts are quite feared by those who know of them.

Common Professions: Two factors influnce Shadowlands society greatly (that being the largest concentration of Sh’dai). The first is that slave-holding is both common and accepted in the Shadowlands and the second is that the Realms of the Dead border the Shadowlands and the constant threat of the Dearth cannot be ignored. As such, while there is no leisure class, and Sh’dai certainly span the entire range of social classes, those Sh’dai found in the Mortal Realms tend to either be cadet branches of various noble and merchant families, or are nobles and merchants from the Shadolands themselves because others simply do not have the ability to travel easily. Those Sh’dai in the Mortal Realms not fortunate to be born into the middle and upper classes are often fimly established with the lower classes where they find their nature suited towards any number of professions generally considered unsavory.

Common Religions: While the Sh’dai are quite willing to give the En Khoda Theos Kirk their due, and hold the Bel En Khoda in high regard as well, they reserve their deepest veneration for the Unborn and their servants the Witches of the Shadowlands. It is hard to say if the Unborn are singular or plural, but they dwell in the great spaces Between. They are a limnal and everwatchful eye for the Dearth and the Five Demon Emperors, and their whispers and murmers fill the minds of the Witches and their dreadful champions, the Sh’Elin.

Statistic Bonuses: +1 to Dexterity, +1 to Talent, +1 to Power, +2 to Comeliness, -2 to Charisma

Languages: Kens,  Fingerspeech, One Additional Human Language (Int10 +1, Int12 +2, Int14 +3, Int 16 +4, Int17 +5, Int18 +6).

Special Abilities:  +2 to Surprise; 120′ Ultravision; Sh’dai may use Cantrips as a Mage, but gain no level bonus unless they are a Mage or other spellcaster.

Special Vulnerabilities: Used to the Shadowlands, Sh’dai have thier vision reduced to 30′ and they are -1 to Hit in bright light. Sh’dai reputation means that they generally suffer a penalty of -20% to Reaction Rolls with creatures from the Mortal Realms and -40% for creatures from Faerie. Sh’dai also suffer the standard nonhuman penalty of -10% to experience for each character class.

Character Class Limits: Entertainer – 6th, Mage – 7th, Priest – 7th, Psychic – 7th, Rogue – 11th, Warrior – 5th, Warrior-Monk – 7th. As always, this is for Prime Attributes of 15 or less, 16 is +1 level, 17 is +2 levels, 18 is +3 levels, and 19 is +4 levels before the XP penalty is doubled from -10% to -20%.

Psionics: Sh’dai are all Minor Psychics and start with a Natural Thought Shield and the Disciplines of Lights and Rapport.

Additional Proficiencies or Skills: All Sh’dai gain one free weapon proficiency to be applied to any of their normal weapon choices by class. Sh’dai Warriors also have one additional weapon proficiency.

Rogue Bonuses: Slight of Hand: +5%, Open Locks: No Bonus, Find/Remove Traps: +5%, Stealth: +10%, Climb Walls:  No Bonus, Acrobatics: +5%, Tumbling: +5%

Perception / Hear Noise: Base 20%

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