Shadar-kai were human-like in appearance, but because of the influence of the Shadowfell, they were slightly shorter and much thinner than humans. They had colorless complexions that varied from alabaster to dark gray, and drab or raven black hair, with few shadar-kai having pale hair, that ranged within the range of human hair colors. Their eyes were lustrous and black, lacking any sclera or clear pupil. Shadows near a shadar-kai reached out or deepened, especially when they were angry.
Shadar-kai bred true. Their pairings produced shadar-kai offspring, as well as the pairing between a human and a shadar-kai.
All shadar-kai were subject to the "shadow curse", doomed to lose their souls to the "dark powers" of the Shadowfell. The "shadow curse" sapped their will to live and filled their hearts with ennui, melancholy, and utter sadness. Those shadar-kai who were overtaken by the curse, or who voluntarily surrendered to it, were transformed into shadow-like undead horrors.
In order to avoid being affected by the curse, shadar-kai lived extreme lifestyles, embracing strong emotions and peak experiences. Most of them used pain to keep their focus, decorating their bodies with tattoos, scarification, and body piercings, in extremely sensitive parts of their bodies. Likewise, some of them engaged in self-flagellation, to the point of injuring themselves if they felt that they were being overtaken by the curse.
Shadar-kai embraced living to the limits of pleasure, while striving for personal greatness, so that when they fell, stories of their great deeds would grant them a sort of immortality. In their search for personal glory, most shadar-kai ignored comfort, morality, and safety, traits they considered banalities.
Because of their belief systems, shadar-kai generally had no fear of death. Most shadar-kai believed that their death was foretold and impossible to change. Shadar-kai were often seen as cold and pitiless to outsiders.
Shadar-kai who lived in settlements in the Shadowfell were divided into two distinct societies: the shadar-kai who were part of Netheril, and those unrelated to them. The latter had developed their own society unlike that of the Netherese that was meritocratic and based on power and prestige of deeds.
After the Spellplague of 1385 DR, some shadovar humans and the children they gave birth to, as well as other humans across Toril that were somehow tied to the Shadowfell, were affected by the Spellplague and transformed into shade-like creatures. Some people associated the birth of this new race with the decline of the krinth, as the numbers of the latter dwindled while those of the "newborn" race thrived. Some scholars among the Netherese speculated that those events were related, and that somehow the shadar-kai were evolved forms of the failed krinth.
To avoid chaos among the shadovar, Prince Rivalen Tanthul said that they had been blessed by Shar, and called them "shadar-kai" (meaning "Those of Shadow's Gift", in the ancient Netherese language). Prince Rivalen even devised a ritual to change a human into a shadar-kai.
Shadar-kai became a race unto themselves in the generations that followed the Spellplague. Some shadar-kai remained in Netheril, while others, mostly those that weren't originally shadovar, went to the Shadowfell, the Underdark, or to live across the lands of Toril.
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- Jesse Decker (November 2005). “The Ecology of the Shadar-Kai”. In Erik Mona ed. Dragon #337 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), pp. 72–77.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, James Wyatt (June 2008). Monster Manual 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 230–231. ISBN 978-0-7869-4852-9.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Robert J. Schwalb (September 2010). “A Legacy in Shadow: Shadar-Kai in the Realms”. Dragon #391 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 14.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, James Wyatt (June 2008). Monster Manual 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 279. ISBN 978-0-7869-4852-9.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Chris Sims (February, 2009). “Playing Shadar-kai”. Dragon #372 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 6.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Robert J. Schwalb (September 2010). “A Legacy in Shadow: Shadar-Kai in the Realms”. Dragon #391 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 15.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Chris Sims (February, 2009). “Playing Shadar-kai”. Dragon #372 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 13.
- ↑ Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 261–262. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- ↑ Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 223. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- ↑ Richard Baker, John Rogers, Robert J. Schwalb, James Wyatt (December 2008). Manual of the Planes 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 58. ISBN 978-0-7869-5002-7.