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Shadowstuff, or shadow substance, was a shadowy form of matter integral to the Plane of Shadow. It was found in items and phenomena there and in the bodies of creatures of darkness, and it was employed in some forms of illusion magic and shadow magic. It could also be crafted as weaponry, building materials, and other items, but such things were hazy, insubstantial, and all too impermanent. Shadowstuff merged with rock was known as shadowstone.[1][2][3][4] [note 1]

LocationsEdit

Shadowstuff was found on the Plane of Shadow.[1][4] It was part of the fabric of the plane itself.[3] The morphic nature of the Shadow Plane caused shadowstuff to manifest in strange ways. For example, in a cave in the Black Rift in the Shadow Swamp, stalactites dripped ephemeral shadowstuff, which was reabsorbed into the plane rather than form a puddle.[5]

Sites in the Shadow Fringe, the intersection between the Shadow Plane and the Prime Material Plane, tendrils of shadowstuff appeared and were seen to ebb and flow like tides. This was the case in the Underdark city of Chaulssin, the City of Wyrmshadows.[6]

Within a hidden mountain valley on the Shadow Plane known as the Adumbral Calyx, below demigod Volumvax's cylindrical tower, was a bottomless pit full of shadowstuff called the Aljibar. When human sacrifices were dumped into the Aljibar, their souls mixed with the shadowstuff to form shadow souls, which Volumvax used for his army.[7]

Curiously, the darkberry bush that grew in forests all around the Inner Sea on Toril in the Material Plane produced small, purple berries that contained shadowstuff. When crushed, they released a globe of darkness one could briefly hide in.[8]

CreaturesEdit

The aberrant creatures known as cloakers, which had the power to manipulate shadow, appeared to have a special affinity with shadowstuff. When multiple cloaker lords governed a community, they would periodically come together in a Conclave of Shadows, grasping claws and arranging themselves in certain orientations to collectively form a ring, or occasionally a sphere. The whole conclave would then transform into a ring or sphere of living shadowstuff, with their minds merged. This was a temporary merger; when a matter was decided, the cloaker lords would separate as individual beings again.[9][1]

The shade archmages of Thultanthar, the City of Shade, tended to be infused with shadowstuff and wielded its power.[10]

A dark creature, one with a very strong connection to the Plane of Shadow, weighed somewhat less than an equivalent creature, suggesting a portion of its very substance had been replaced by shadowstuff. Dark creatures possessed a supernatural ability to hide in darkness and other powers, and had a duller coloration.[11][12]

A shadowslain creature was shrouded in shadowstuff, which formed a semisolid armor that deflected blows and helped it conceal itself.[13]

Uniquely, the black dragon Despayr, who was unable to breathe acid as others of his kind did, learned to breathe shadowstuff instead. This took the form of a barrage of shadow shards.[14]

UsageEdit

The cloaker city of Rringlor Noroth in the Underdark traded heavily in shadowstuff items. The Shadowstalker caste hunted on the Plane of Shadow where they gathered raw shadowstuff and carried it home. The Shadowweaver caste then fashioned the raw shadowstuff into lasting goods, for their own use and a small quantity for trade with other races. Although they typically dissipated within a tenday of sale outside the city, many came to Rringlor Noroth for shadowstuff items and weaponry.[1][2]

Shadowstuff could even be used as a construction material. For example, Rringlor Noroth was carved into an arching bridge of shadowstuff stone called the Shadowspan, which spanned the Rift of Dhalnadar and lay in both the Material Plane and the Demiplane of Shadow. This "shadowstuff stone"[1] or "shadowstone" was the result of rock and shadow substance existing where the two planes existed conterminously—that is, in exactly the same location with exactly the same boundaries.[2] The bridge was only semi-solid, apt to dissolve and become immaterial at random places, if not continually subjected to certain subsonic moans delivered by the Orbmantle caste of cloakers.[1][2]

Meanwhile, buildings in the Shadow District of the Underdark gloaming city of Sphur Upra—that is, those that lay in the Plane of Shadow itself—were built from shadowstuff in an ordinary post-and-lintel design. Despite appearing indistinct and even insubstantial, they were sufficiently sturdy, at least on the Shadow Plane.[15]

The god Mask, Lord of Shadows, dwelt in a small castle built entirely of raw shadowstuff on the Plane of Shadow. Known as the Shadow Keep, it was shrouded in shadows and nigh impossible to even get a glimpse of against the background darkness of the plane, even up close and in magical daylight.[16]

In the Black Rift in the Shadow Swamp, Despayr and the cultists of Shar who served him employed shadow bellows to collect shadowstuff. These magic pumps drew the substance from the fabric of the plane, then channeled it to his ritual chamber to power his efforts to tear a hole in the Weave.[3]

Tapestries of woven shadowstuff were even used as decoration in the House of Hidden Masters in the city of Chaulssin.[6]

PowersEdit

An item made of shadowstuff was usually an impermanent creation, usually dissipating in a few years or even a matter of minutes, typically comparable to the product of a major creation spell. Naturally, this limited their appeal and application.[1] Only cloakers knew the secret of crafting permanent shadowstuff objects, or rather, of maintaining their existence. According to the sage Saibh yi Saelmur, cloakers could create longer-lasting shadowstuff items if they spent more time on the work.[1][2]

An object made of shadowstuff weighed nothing.[2]

A shadowstuff weapon from Rringlor Noroth had the ghost touch and brilliant energy powers, except that it shed darkness rather than light for 20 feet (6.1 meters) around.[2]

MagicEdit

A number of illusion spells, namely those of the shadow subschool, extracted a small portion of shadowstuff from the Plane of Shadow to add substance to their illusory effects, so they could do real damage and bear weight.[4] Such spells included shadow conjuration and shadow evocation. In particular, the shadow walk spell allowed swift travel over a coiling path of shadowstuff along the border between the Prime Material Plane and the Shadow Plane.[17] The spell shadow dragon could temporarily transform a dragon into pure shadowstuff. Some sages of draconic lore suspected that the deep dragon Dheubpurcwenpyl, who dwelled in the Rift of Dhalnadar and was often mistaken for a shadow dragon, actually made use of this spell.[18]

A number of powers of shadow magic summoned and shaped shadowstuff itself to create solid objects and effects.[4] For example, the carpet of shadow mystery transformed a section of terrain into shadowstuff, having superimposed it with the Plane of Shadow;[19] while the feign life mystery infused objects with shadowstuff to animate them.[20] Greater flesh fails infused a creature's body with shadowstuff to weaken it, while languor poured shadowstuff into their shadow to weigh them down or pull them back.[21] A shadowsmith specialized in drawing shadowstuff from the night to craft tools and weaponry.[22]

A high-level shadow adept, a practitioner of Shadow Weave magic, could create a "shadow double", a detailed and animate duplicate or his or herself woven of shadowstuff.[23][24]

ScholarshipEdit

The wizard Saibh yi Saelmur, who had lived in Rringlor Noroth since the late 1360s DR, dedicated himself to the study of shadowstuff, which the cloakers there collected and fashioned into items. From his research, he was gradually learning how to transform himself into a shade.[1][2]

AppendixEdit

NotesEdit

  1. Although shadowstuff has often been mentioned in a variety of sources, no known source has stated what shadowstuff actually is. Perhaps fittingly, shadowstuff remains vague and undefined. It may be to the Plane of Shadow what elemental fire is to the Plane of Fire, an essential, elemental matter that formed the basis of the plane and magic that draws upon it.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Eric L. Boyd (1999). Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to the Underdark. (TSR, Inc), pp. 110–111. ISBN 0-7869-1509-9.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Bruce R. Cordell, Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, Jeff Quick (October 2003). Underdark. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 172–173. ISBN 0-7869-3053-5.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 114. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 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.
  5. Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 115. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Eric L. Boyd (2007-04-25). City of Wyrmshadows (Zipped PDF) p. 4-5. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2009-10-07.
  7. Eric L. Boyd, Erik Mona (May 2002). Faiths and Pantheons. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 173. ISBN 0-7869-2759-3.
  8. Sean K. Reynolds, Duane Maxwell, Angel McCoy (August 2001). Magic of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 181. ISBN 0-7869-1964-7.
  9. Eric L. Boyd (1999). Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to the Underdark. (TSR, Inc), p. 16. ISBN 0-7869-1509-9.
  10. Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 102. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  11. Matthew Sernett, David Noonan, Ari Marmell and Robert J. Schwalb (March 2006). Tome of Magic 3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 158–161. ISBN 978-0786939091.
  12. Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 152. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
  13. 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.
  14. Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 112, 144, 146. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
  15. Bruce R. Cordell, Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, Jeff Quick (October 2003). Underdark. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 177. ISBN 0-7869-3053-5.
  16. Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 163. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
  17. Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (July 2003). Player's Handbook 3.5 edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 276–277. ISBN 0-7869-2886-7.
  18. Eric L. Boyd (1999). Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to the Underdark. (TSR, Inc), p. 114. ISBN 0-7869-1509-9.
  19. Matthew Sernett, David Noonan, Ari Marmell and Robert J. Schwalb (March 2006). Tome of Magic 3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 140, 142–143. ISBN 978-0786939091.
  20. Matthew Sernett, David Noonan, Ari Marmell and Robert J. Schwalb (March 2006). Tome of Magic 3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 145. ISBN 978-0786939091.
  21. Matthew Sernett, David Noonan, Ari Marmell and Robert J. Schwalb (March 2006). Tome of Magic 3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 146. ISBN 978-0786939091.
  22. Matthew Sernett, David Noonan, Ari Marmell and Robert J. Schwalb (March 2006). Tome of Magic 3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 132. ISBN 978-0786939091.
  23. Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 53. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  24. Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 73. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.

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