Shadar-Kai, Axim Variant (3.5e Race)
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Dark fey cursed with the taint of the Plane of Shadow.
Shadar-kai are often violent and bitter. Some might call them depraved or decadent, and in a certain sense they are. However, the shadar-kai rely on strong sensations (pain, tastes, sounds) in order to tether their ever-fading souls to their mortal bodies. They engage in sins of excess and violence regularly. They tend to overeat, self-flagellate, drug, murder, torture, rape, intimidate, humiliate, and brutalize themselves or others just to feel alive.
When not committing heinous acts, the shadow fey are reserved and quiet, watching everything around them with either interest or contempt. Given the opportunity, a shadar-kai will stand away from others in the shadows, unseen, watching.
Long ago, the shadow mages of the shadar-kai worked a foul ritual with the intent of snatching the Material Plane from the civilized races who would have destroyed the natural world. The cost paid for this ritual was high, however: the souls of every shadar-kai were forever bound to the Plane of Shadow. This became known as the "shadow curse." The Plane of Shadow now forever exerts a pull on the souls of the shadar-kai, dulling their senses while on other planes as their soul is slowly pulled away. Most shadar-kai can temporarily offset this pull by using strong sensations as tethers, but all but the most determined shadow fey will eventually give up and leave for the Plane of Shadow, where they do not suffer these effects.
Shadar-kai stand taller than most humans but are also much slimmer, their build more reminiscent of a tall elf than a human. Their features are similar to humans. Their skin is pale, normally a lighter shade of grey. Their hair is a deep, lusterless black, and their eyes are little more than glossy black or gray orbs. The shadow fey are also incredibly graceful, moving with actions so dexterous as to rival even elves. The shadows cast by their bodies and clothes seem much darker than they should be, and even young or inexperienced shadar-kai can cause these shadows to shift around them.
The shadow fey, as their nature implies, have a special rapport with the primal forces of shadow. Even those with little to no practice in the spellcasting arts can command the shadows to wrap around them, pervade the area with creeping darkness, and even outright nullify natural light with preternaturally-deep shadow. Those who practice magical arts find their affinity with shadow assists them even there, granting increased proficiency in magic that alters or creates darkness and shadow.
Most shadar-kai wear black or grey clothing that shows off their skin. Their bodies are often covered with piercings, tattooed, or scarred with needles of cold iron. Most also wear special cold iron bracers called gal-ralan which, when worn, pierce the wearer's forearm with a long needle, the pain helping keep the wearer's soul, if shadar-kai, attached to its body.
Nobody is quite sure how long shadar-kai live. Most speculate they age similarly to elves, while others believe they could live forever were it not for the shadow curse.
Shadar-kai don't normally get along with civilized races. The shadow fey actually blame civilized races for their condition and often take out their aggression on them. However, while the shadow fey will work together with other civilized races if circumstances force them to, shadar-kai will never work with other fey. They loathe other fey with a passion and will kill them on sight. However, being fey, shadar-kai will ruthlessly protect nature from those who seek to despoil it, though more for personal gain that for its own sake.
Interestingly, the shadow fey do seem to have a special rapport with the dark elves of the Underdark. Their similar cultures give the shadar-kai a relatively safe haven while marauding on the Material Plane. While staying, they are welcomed by the drow (possibly more out of fear and suspicion than camaraderie) and the two races engage in fights, trading (normally weapons and slaves, though exotic spirits and drugs are not uncommon) and debauched sexual encounters. However, shadar-kai are exceptionally careful around drow; more than one shadow fey has lost his soul or his freedom while among the dark elves.
The aforementioned encounters rarely result in offspring. The rare times it does, the child (or in many cases, the mother) is taken prisoner so the child might grow up as a shadow fey. Such children resemble shadar-kai with silvery skin and hair while showing stronger elfin features. "Drakai," as they are called, are normally mercilessly cunning and catapult quickly to the top of their warband.
Shadow fey are typically neutral evil, doing whatever they can get away with. Chaotic neutral is also common.
While the kingdoms of the shadar-kai were once vast, only a rare few of the shadow fey live within settlements after the advent of the shadow curse. Most live in roving warbands, each one led by one or more shadow mages, that infiltrate and raid the settlements of other races. Even worse, the race is further divided by the minority that lives on the Material Plane and the majority who inhabit the Plane of Shadow. Oddly, warband and planar rivalries do not exist. The shadow fey are, in fact, fiercely loyal to each other.
Many warbands can be found roving near to entrances to the Underdark, caverns, dark forests, or natural entrances to the Plane of Shadow. Many take refuge in the twisting tunnels of the Underdark, but only a rare few choose to stay, attacking dwarf, svirfneblin, and drow. Warbands are named according to their leader, who normally uses their own name as the group's name; occasionally they will instead use a name meant to strike fear in those that hear it, such as Chaoseaters, Shadescythes, or Drinkers of Oblivion.
The few shadar-kai cities still remaining are either heavily shrouded in manipulated shadowstuff or, if on the Material Plane, hidden behind layers of illusions and traps. These cities are usually located in far-removed locations where they cannot be easily accessed by outsiders.
Regardless of warbands or cities, shadar-kai society is largely a mageocracy. The magically-gifted advance to head cities and warbands quickly, and a raiding party without a strong spellcaster is a rarity, and normally occurs only if the spellcaster was slain in a previous raid and has yet to be replaced.
Unbeknownst to others, shadar-kai can also be found in the cities of civilized races all across the world. Any city with shadows, no matter how well defended, can easily be infiltrated by a shadar-kai raiding party.
Most shadar-kai do not revere any deities, holding them as responsible for their curse as civilized races. However, those who do follow a religious path tend towards worship of Tenebrous, the vestige that was once the divine incarnation of Orcus. As a fellow outcast and lurker in shadows, Tenebrous strikes a nerve with such shadar-kai. For similar reasons, other religious shadow fey follow the tenets of Vecna, who was betrayed and now remains hidden from all, plotting unknowable schemes and hoarding secrets beyond blasphemous.
Being fey, shadar-kai speak Common and Sylvan. Some learn Elven or Undercommon, while others learn the languages of whatever region they rove.
Shadar-kai appear to follow the same naming conventions as elves. The notable exception, however, is they often use the name of their band as a surname. Those that live in permanent settlements instead take their settlement's name as a surname.
- +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma, -2 Constitution, -2 Wisdom. Shadar-kai possess an unearthly grace, but their bodies are frail and their sanity has been eroded by the shadow curse.
- Fey (Extraplanar): Shadar-kai are fey from the Plane of Shadow and lose the Extraplanar subtype while on that plane.
- Medium: As a Medium creature, a Shadar-kai has no special bonuses or penalties due to its size.
- Shadar-kai Base land speed is 30 feet.
- Superior Low-Light Vision: A shadar-kai can see four times as far as a human in conditions of poor illumination.
- Cold Iron Vulnerability: The touch of cold iron is poisonous to the shadow fey. A shadar-kai takes 1d6 points of extra damage from cold iron weapons, and any damage reduction he possesses is overcome by cold iron (in addition to any other methods to overcome that damage reduction, if any). He also takes 1 point of damage per round when in contact with cold iron.
- Shadow Curse: The Plane of Shadow exerts a tremendous pull on a shadar-kai's soul, which is only tenuously connected to its mortal body. Any time a shadar-kai is stunned, dazed, staggered, or unconscious (except from natural sleep), the shadow fey must make a Will save (DC 10 + the shadar-kai's Hit Dice + the shadar-kai's Charisma modifier, if positive) or lose a portion of their soul to the Plane of Shadow. The shadar-kai must also attempt a save any time he removes a gal-ralan, if he has one.
- A shadar-kai with a damaged soul gains one negative level that cannot be removed until he restores his soul completely. If exposed to another event that requires a save against a shadow curse, a shadar-kai may gain additional negative levels. A shadar-kai on the Plane of Shadow can transfix his soul to his body again with a greater restoration spell. A shadar-kai on the Material Plane (or elsewhere) must use a wish or miracle spell to restore his soul.
- A shadar-kai afflicted with the shadow curse cannot be raised from the dead or resurrected, and cannot gain experience. The touch of the shadow curse calls a shadar-kai, filling his heart with an icy emptiness that eventually drives all but the most determined individuals to capitulate and leave the Material Plane altogether.
- A shadar-kai who goes to the Plane of Shadow and remains there ameliorates the effects of the shadow curse and suffers no ill effects. However, if he leaves without restoring his soul he suffers the shadow curse until he returns or restores his soul.
- Shadow Affinity (Su): Shadar-kai who can cast spells with the shadow or darkness descriptor does so at +1 caster level. Shadow fey also gain a +2 bonus on saves against spells and effects with these descriptors.
- Shadow Blend (Su): In conditions other than natural daylight, a daylight spell, or other similar effect, a shadar-kai can command ambient shadows to wrap around him as an immediate action, granting him total concealment until suppressed or dispelled. This effect is dispelled by natural daylight, and is considered a 0-level darkness spell for the purpose of interacting with spells and effects with the light descriptor.
- Spell-like abilities (Sp): At will: shadowplay. A shadar-kai with a Charisma score of 15 or more gains the following spell-like abilities: at will: no light; 1/day: darkness. Caster level equals Hit Dice.
- Automatic Languages: Common, Sylvan.
- Bonus Languages: Any (other than secret languages such as Druidic). Shadar-kai typically speak the languages common in whatever area they rove.
- Favored Class: Sorcerer. The heritage of the shadow fey, while diminished, still grants incredible power to those willing to harness it. Binders are as common as clerics among the religious, with most regularly binding Tenebrous. Duskblades, rogues, and rangers are also common and make up the bulk of a shadar-kai warband.
- Level Adjustment: +0
- Effective Character Level: 1
|Middle Age1||Old2||Venerable3||Maximum Age|
|175 years||265 years||350 years||+5d% years|
|Gender||Base Height||Height Modifier||Base Weight||Weight Modifier|
|Male||5' 0"||+3d8||100 lb.||× (1d6) lb.|
|Female||4' 8"||+3d8||80 lb.||× (1d6) lb.|
|Effective Character Level||1 +|
|Favored Class||Sorcerer +|
|Identifier||3.5e Race +|
|Level Adjustment||0 +|
|Racial Ability Adjustments||+2 Dexterity +, +2 Charisma +, -2 Constitution + and -2 Wisdom +|
|Summary||Dark fey cursed with the taint of the Plane of Shadow. +|
|Title||Shadar-Kai, Axim Variant +|