The powers of shadow magic.

Shadow magic, also called Talfirian magic, was a type of Weave-based arcane magic that channeled power from the Plane of Shadow.[1][2][3][4]

Nature of shadow magicEdit

Shadow magic was but one of many ways of accessing and controlling the natural energies of the Weave, and was strongly tied to it.[5][6] Most users of shadow magic used the Weave to connect to the Plane of Shadow and channeled their magic directly from there, in a manner similar to typical conjuration spells.[4]

Although Shadow Weave magic was heavily redolent of shadow magic,[2] they were in fact unrelated,[5] with some fundamental differences in practice and philosophy. Whereas shadow magic users drew upon the Plane of Shadow via Mystra's Weave, Shadow Weave magic users drew their power directly from Shar's dark weave, which was formed from the gaps and negatives in the Weave itself.[7][4] Despite this, the concept of the Shadow Weave closely aligned with the principle of reflection that underpinned shadow magic.[7] Shadow magic casters could thus truly understand the Shadow Weave, and many were naturally attracted to it and could learn to utilize it.[7][4]

Notably, negative energy was not tied to shadow magic, and spells or effects drawing on negative energy did not harness it.[7]


The ability to use shadow magic had a tendency to run in families, manifesting in childhood. In such cases, it became a family tradition, its secrets passed down from grandparent or parent to child.[8][1][4]

Humans of the Tethyrian ethnic group had a legacy of shadow magic that dated back to the ancient Talfir. This included both a knack for practicing it,[9] and for resisting its effects.[10] A number of Tethyrian rogues became shadowdancers as a result.[9]

Shadowdancers practiced a form of lesser shadow magic. They did not learn the ability through study, but acquired it instinctively through close association with shadow. Experts and more traditional shadow mages were uncertain as to how this occurred, but it was a matter of ongoing study.[3]

The majority of users of shadow magic were bards, those who possessed a rare and mysterious power known to them only as "shadow magic". The most common and basic form of this was the ability to make natural shadows move and dance to their tunes.[8][1] However, such power carried a curse dating back to the evil Shadowking of Talfir. As the bard user gained new shadow powers, and if there was no other Shadowking in existence, the shadow magic slowly corrupted them into a new Shadowking to replace the old. The Shadowking fought the bard for control, causing a split personality, and could control undead shadows. Finally, they were transformed bodily into the monstrous Shadowking.[11][1][12]

The most expert practitioner of shadow magic was the shadowcaster.[13] They usually began as gifted apprentice mages who were discovered and taught by a shadowcaster mentor. Others were sponsored by a church of a deity of darkness, such as Shar, Mask, Set, Lolth, or Shargaas. They trained shadowcaster mystic theurges and noctumancers, in the hopes of cultivating an interest in darkness amongst their followers.[4]

Some unlikely practitioners of shadow magic were gnomish and Lantanese artificers, who used technology to replicate the effects of arcane magical spells. But when a mundane mechanical apparatus wasn't up to the task, they tapped into the power of shadow magic instead to produce genuine supernatural outcomes. They required training in arcane illusion magic to access the shadow magic.[14]


There were a few organizations that routinely practiced shadow magic in Faerûn, including:

The churches of Lolth, Mask, Set, Shar, and Shargaas also had an interest in shadow magic.[4]

Famous usersEdit

Some important users of shadow magic were:


Shadow magic was very rare and its nature and philosophy were poorly understood. Some felt that its dark powers meant it was inherently evil, or at least inextricably linked with evil—the curse of the Shadowking gave quite some credence to this notion. Thus, users of shadow magic faced a host of misconceptions, prejudices and even persecution, especially from the clergy of deities of good and light.[8][1][4]

Shadow magic spellsEdit

The school of shadow encompassed the spells associated with shadow and darkness. It was considered a school of effect, and was opposed to the schools of invocation/evocation and abjuration. Shadow mages gained the benefits of a specialist in this school.[16] The school of illusion had an over-lapping subschool of spells called "shadow".[17]

There was also an individual spell called shadow magic, which later was better known as shadow evocation.[18][19]

Shadow magic itemsEdit

Some shadow magic items were:

Tomes that discussed shadow magic included:




  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Dale Donovan, Paul Culotta (August 1996). Heroes' Lorebook. (TSR, Inc), p. 144. ISBN 0-7869-0412-7.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 104. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Matthew Sernett, David Noonan, Ari Marmell and Robert J. Schwalb (March 2006). Tome of Magic 3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 109–. ISBN 978-0786939091.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 Eytan Bernstein (2007-07-25). Shadowcasters. Class Chronicles. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2016-05-21.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 55. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  6. Eytan Bernstein (2007-08-08). Incarnum. Class Chronicles. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2016-05-21.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Matthew Sernett, David Noonan, Ari Marmell and Robert J. Schwalb (March 2006). Tome of Magic 3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 110. ISBN 978-0786939091.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Ed Greenwood (1993). The Code of the Harpers. (TSR, Inc), p. 53–54. ISBN 1-56076-644-1.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 103. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  10. Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 168. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Dale Donovan, Paul Culotta (August 1996). Heroes' Lorebook. (TSR, Inc), p. 31. ISBN 0-7869-0412-7.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Dale Donovan (July 1998). Villains' Lorebook. (TSR, Inc), p. 98. ISBN 0-7869-1236-7.
  13. Matthew Sernett, David Noonan, Ari Marmell and Robert J. Schwalb (March 2006). Tome of Magic 3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 111–116. ISBN 978-0786939091.
  14. Sean K. Reynolds, Duane Maxwell, Angel McCoy (August 2001). Magic of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 23–26. ISBN 0-7869-1964-7.
  15. Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 153. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Richard Baker (1996). Player's Option: Spells & Magic. (TSR, Inc), pp. 14, 18–20. ISBN 0-7869-0394-5.
  17. Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (July 2003). Player's Handbook 3.5 edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 173. ISBN 0-7869-2886-7.
  18. Jeff Grubb and Ed Greenwood (1990). Forgotten Realms Adventures. (TSR, Inc), pp. 149, 151, 153. ISBN 0-8803-8828-5.
  19. Skip Williams (2000). Conversion Manual. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 16.


Schools of magic
Schools of effect
Schools of thaumaturgy
ArtificeSongWild magic
Zakharan provinces of magic
Netherese Fields of Mythal
ChronomancyHishnaPlumaPaths of power

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