“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, 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 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 D’Ishtiare lia Cheryh 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 stretches 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. Their cities are considered dens of the most vile vices in the Mortal Realms, and their slavers are feared.
Statistic Bonuses: +2 Charisma, +1 Intelligence,
Languages: Kens, Fingerspeech, One Human Language
Size, Speed, and Appearance: Sh’dai stand 4′ 9″ tall (+2d8), and weigh 110 lbs (x2d4) lbs. Their Size is Medium and their Speed is 30 feet per round. 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, fingernails that can double as weapons (+1 Damage), as well as delicate-to-impressive horns in some of the bloodlines though this is less common in the Mortal Realms than the Shadowlands. Sh’dai hair is most commonly ebony in hue, with very occasional reds and platinum blonds to snow-white. Sh’dai tend to wear their hair long, often with simple braiding to keep 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 their feral nature.
Common Dress: While they will often (though not always) make allowances while in the Mortal Realm for human mores and custom, Sh’dai in their own realms tend toward clothing that is… sparse. Both men and women tend towards loincloths or sarongs and harnesses, wearing cloaks or robes for warmth when needed – most commonly in blacks and charcoals, occasionally with crimson and rarely in alabasters and ivories. Fabrics are transparent as often as they are opaque, usually being of either raw and finished silk, and for those who can afford it of the various magical fabrics. Jewelry is common, though often in the forms of body piercings for both men and women, while both sexes also tattoo themselves heavily in stark patterns of solid color.
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 Culture: In the Shadowlands Sh’dai society is a strictly hierarchical one, though one that is also based on achievement and merit as much as birth, where everything is focused on fighting the depredations of the Lords of Dearth. It also a slave-keeping society, though less out of economic necessity and more out of a philosophical attraction to the aphorism “Rule or Be Ruled” – which often translates to ownership. In fact, “ownership” is a somewhat transitive concept in Sh’dai (and Shadowlands) culture, there being different levels of ownership for, essentially, everything with the every successive layers of downward ownership from the High Lord. The Sh’dai also have a society that revolves around the indulgence of their physical passions of all sorts to stave off the soul-deadening effects of the nearby Great Realm of the Dead in what might be called ascetic decadence – and luxuries that would turn the stomach of ordinary humans. Lastly, murder is not a crime in the Shadowlands, and etiquette and protocol has carefully evolved to prevent needless deaths from occurring – but that I merely weeds out the weak and the foolish.
Common Backgrounds: The Acolyte, Criminal, Harlot, Noble, Ordinary Person, Outcast, Sage, and Soldier Backgrounds are most appropriate for Sh’dai.
Naming Conventions: In the Shadowlands, the Sh’dai use both a given name, a surname for their immediate family, acknowledge their birth mother and then note the noble house with which they are associated using the following lineal process:
<Given Name> s’/d'(son/daughter of the family) <Surname> lia (born of/lineage of) <Female Parent>
n’hai (in the House of) <Noble House>
In Kens, similar to the Faerie, there are a variety of prefixes, suffixes, accents, and cases that denote position and relationships – but compared to Elven culture the Sh’dai tend to keep things relatively simple noting only those the relationship to immediate family and noble house. The one exception is a connection to the House of the High Lord (n’Hai Diablen) which, if it exists, is always noted at the end. It is also not uncommon for Sh’dai to shorten their names for common use, or to simply use surnames or House names rather then their given names. Spellcasters will also often obscure their same entirely and use a common, though mystical or occult item or phenomena as a given name to ward off attempts at bindings or scryings. Lastly, the use of “Sha’Achtar” in place of a surname or a House name is a common practice, but not nearly as insulting as the similar Dwarven custom.
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 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 liminal and ever-watchful eye for the Dearth and the Five Demon Emperors, and their whispers and murmurs fill the minds of the Witches and their dreadful champions, the Sh’Elin.
Common Classes: The Sh’dai have a penchant for mysticism and the occult. They value skill and precision over brute force, but have a fine appreciation for the uses of raw magical and psychic power. Preferred — Fighter, Wizard (Diabolist or Necromancer), Rogue; Common — Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock (Unborn or Fiend); Uncommon — Cleric (Death, Knowledge, or War), Paladin (Sh’elin), Monk; Rare — Barbarian (Berserker), Ranger (Hunter); Very Rare — Druid (Moon)
Common Professions: Two factors influence 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 Shadowlands 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 firmly established with the lower classes where they find their nature suited towards any number of professions generally considered unsavory.
Darkvision: Due to their heritage from the Shadowlands the Sh’dai have superior Darkvision. They can see in dim light up as if it were normal, bright light. They can see in darkness as if it were dim light, not seeing colors, only varying shades of grey.
Fell Reputation: Sh’dai also have fell reputations within the Mortal Realms and can be the target of prejudice with some regularity though outright attacks are rare because they are often assumed to be mages or clerics of darkness. They all have the Intimidation skill.
Psychic Resistance: Sh’dai have Resistance to Psychic and Necrotic damage.
Life of Intrigue: Sh’dai all have the Perception Skill and Resistance to poison.
Legacy of the Unborn: All Sh’dai have the Thaumaturgy and Prestidigitation Cantrips. Upon reaching 3rd level they may cast Hellish Rebuke once per day and upon reaching 5th level they may cast Blur once per day as well. For spellcasters these spells are also always considered memorized and may also be cast using regular spell slots – and are always cast as if at the highest level of effect that the spellcaster can produce.
Unborn Blessing: Sh’dai may also wear Ultra Light, Light, and Medium non-metallic armors and cast Arcane spells, or enchanted metallic armors.
Sh’dai Weapons Training: Sh’dai are trained in the use of Assassin’s Blades, Razornails, Warfans, and Fighting Chains.
Special Vulnerabilities: Used to the Shadowlands, Sh’dai have Disadvantage on attack rolls and visual Perception checks when they or the target they are trying to attack or perceive are in bright light or direct sunlight. They are also Vulnerable to Radiant damage.
Death: Upon death, the spirit of a Sh’dai travels to the Realm of the Dead where they continue the War Without End. If Reincarnated they may only come back as an Sh’dai.