As a Shard Realm, it coexists with and sometimes overlaps the Prime Material plane. It is similar to the Material Plane, with similar terrain and landmarks, but lacks color and light. Despite this, plants, animals and humanoids live there. The plane changes constantly, meaning that no maps exist. Those that are drawn are outdated almost immediately.
It is the toxic plane of darkness and power. It is the hidden place that hates the light. It is the frontier of worlds unknown.
The Plane of Shadow is a darkly lighted dimension that is both coterminous to and coexistent with the Material Plane. It overlaps the Material Plane much as the Ethereal Plane does, so a planar traveler can use the Plane of Shadow to cover great distances quickly. The Plane of Shadow is also coterminous to other planes. With the right spell, you can use the Plane of Shadow to visit other realities.
The Plane of Shadow is a world of black and white; color itself has been bleached from the environment. It is otherwise appears similar (but not exactly identical) to the Material Plane.
The sky above, for example, is always a black vault with neither sun nor stars. Landmarks from the Material Plane are recognizable on the Plane of Shadow, but they are twisted, warped things—diminished reflections of what can be found on the Material Plane. Despite the lack of light sources, various plants, animals, and humanoids call the Plane of Shadow home.
The Plane of Shadow is highly morphic, and parts continually flow onto other planes. As a result, precise maps are next to useless, despite the presence of landmarks. If a traveler visits a mountain range during one use of a shadow walk spell, the mountain range may still be there the next time, but the individual mountains may have moved about. Precision is a lost cause in the Plane of Shadow.
The terrain of the Plane of Shadow is usually similar to the area where the traveler enters from the Material Plane. If a wizard travels onto the Plane of Shadow from a forest, she first sees an equivalent shadow forest. If she starts underwater, she appears within a shadowy sea that behaves like a Material Plane ocean, so her water breathing spell still works. However, as she moves away from her entry point, the terrain of the Plane of Shadow changes dramatically, although it usually bears some resemblance to the corresponding terrain on the Material Plane. Spells often draw forth parts of the Plane of Shadow, in particular for illusions that have the shadow descriptor. The Plane of Shadow is a monochromatic world, but shadow material pulled from it can be of any color. The spellcaster usually colors, shapes, and shades the shadowstuff to make it more convincing. A shadow evocation that produces a fireball, for example, appears like any other fireball to those fooled by the illusion.
The Plane of Shadow is in many ways the dark duplicate of the Material Plane. Much is similar, but there are significant differences. The Plane of Shadow has the following traits.
Gravity and time are normal on the Plane of Shadow, and it is of infinite size. Magic functions normally, except for spells that emit light or fire, which are less predictable and prone to failure, and shadow spells, which are enhanced. Air is normal on the Plane of Shadow, but water is thicker and ichorous. Non-native residents can remain for an extended period without ill effects, but during the course of years, changes might occur. Emotions within individuals still exist on the Plane of Shadow, but they are less potent. The terrain is similar but not identical to that of the Material Plane, so if one were to transition between the Material Plane and the Plane of Shadow in a mountain range, one would arrive at the other side in a mountain range, although not necessarily the same mountains.
The Shadow Plane is not totally dark and it has a permanent level of brightness similar to a fullmoon night. Any sources of light, even magical ones, appear dimmer on the Shadow Plane than they would on the Material Plane. Fires also burn cooler than they would normally on the Material Plane, and the Shadow Plane is cooler.
A dark mirage is a mirror image on the Shadow Plane of a feature on the Material Plane and is caused by the close proximity of the planes causing a "bleeding" effect. If one transitions from the Material Plane to the Shadow Plane and begins at a well-known location like a town, it is quite likely that the town exists on the Shadow Plane, but in ruins, or altered somehow. It is also possible that shadowy versions of its inhabitants exist on the Shadow Plane. This can be quite a distressing and alarming experience for anyone not accustomed to it.
It is possible to access the Plane of Shadow through portals or via the shadow walk spell. Intermittent portals called vortices exist between the Plane of Shadow and the Material plane, and the entry and exit points are unpredictable, as is their duration. They open onto dark areas of the Material Plane, but by contrast, these appear bright on the Plane of Shadow, and the Material Plane seen through one of these vortices appears to have colours inverted (black is white and white is black). The Plane of Shadow connects with more than one Material Plane, making it possible for inhabitants of one Material Plane to use it to transition to another.
While the Plane of Shadow is not evil in and of itself, it is home to a wide variety of foul creatures that hate the light and the living. The best known denizen of the plane is the shadow, an undead creature that sucks the strength from adventurers on either the Material Plane or the Plane of Shadow.
The Plane of Shadow has native versions of many of the plants and animals found on the Material Plane, but the shadow versions are twisted, dark variants. More dangerous monsters such as the shadow mastiff and the nightshade call the Plane of Shadow home as well. Chapter 9 details two new denizens of the plane, the ecalypse and the umbral banyan, and a third creature, the dusk beast, often found near vortices to the Plane of Shadow.
There are numerous stories of castles and entire cities that have been sucked up by the Plane of Shadow over the years. Some still survive, but they have been warped by the insidious, toxic nature of the Plane of Shadow. This toxicity, described in the Features of the Plane of Shadow section below, only manifests after decades on the Plane of Shadow. It grants strange abilities and inhuman attributes to those infected by shadow’s touch.
FEATURES OF THE PLANE OF SHADOW
The Plane of Shadow is no more or less dangerous than the Material Plane. Certain regions are perilous, and the natives are hostile, but the plane is not inherently damaging to most who travel it. Unlike on the Astral Plane and the Ethereal Plane, there is sufficient food (though it’s often dark in color and dripping black blood) and water (though it’s ichorous and thick). The air on the plane is normal, and a native of the Material Plane can survive years here without ill effect—once he gets used to the darkness and the ever-present slight chill.
But over decades, the Plane of Shadow is toxic to nonnatives. Creatures from elsewhere who spend most of their lives on the Plane of Shadow develop new abilities and vulnerabilities to match their adopted home. Which abilities change seems to be unpredictable from creature to creature and location to location on the Plane of Shadow. Vision on the Plane of Shadow is like vision on a moonless night on the Material Plane. Most of the terrain is dark, interrupted only by the occasional pale beacon of a portal or a traveler’s campfire. Darkvision is unaffected by the plane, but every torch, lantern, and light-emitting spell (such as continual flame and daylight) has its radius of illumination halved. A daylight spell provides normal light in a 30-foot radius, for example, while a bullseye lantern shines in a cone 30 feet long and 10 feet wide at the end.
Bright lights tend to attract other travelers and natives from the Plane of Shadow, so the likelihood of encounters is doubled for a group of travelers bearing a light source.
Travelers from the Material Plane find the Plane of Shadow to be cool, but not cold. The Plane of Shadow mutes the heat from normal fires slightly. Fire deals normal damage on the plane, but an ordinary campfire somehow seems to provide less warmth than on the Material Plane.
On the Plane of Shadow, patches of darkness exist that are even darker than the shadows themselves. Negative energy infuses these places. Whether the negative energy is bleeding over from the Negative Energy Plane or it’s simply a byproduct of the high concentration of undead shadows and other life-draining undead is unknown. Darklands regions have the minor negative-dominant trait. Living creatures that enter the darklands take 1d6 points of damage per round from negative energy and crumble into ash if they reach 0 hit points or less. Spells and magic items that protect against negative energy function normally within the darklands.
Travelers to the Plane of Shadow can identify darklands easily. They are more desolate and bleak than the surrounding areas (which are themselves pretty bleak on this plane). Plants are dead and desiccated from the longterm effects of the negative energy.
Natural vortices from other planes do not open into darklands regions, and spells or spell-like abilities opening a portal from the Material Plane warn the traveler (usually with a cold shiver down the spine) that a darklands region lies ahead. Darklands often correspond to haunted battlefields, unconsecrated graveyards, and lairs of powerful necromancers on the Material Plane, as well as any location dominated by undead.
A large expanse adjoining the Darklands, the shard fields appear to be covered with thousands of razor-sharp, obsidian spikes. It is the home of the god, Maltharius, and his tower of Shadows - Malentor.
Sea of Shadows
A region of the plane of shadow that mimics a large sea. Though their is no actual water within the sea, it is none-the less filled with liquid shadows that move with the ebb and flow of water. The coastline of the sea is marked by jagged rocks and perilous shores.