Shadows

Introduction to Shadows

This page deals with Shadows, briefly explaining what they are and what to expect from them in combat.

In the most basic of terms, Shadows are living incarnations of repressed personality traits. The Sea of Chaos- as the dreaming collective pool of humanity's subconscious- reacts strongly to powerful emotions and subconscious psychological stresses, and repression is about as high-pressure as you can get. The imprint of that repression leaves a hole that is filled with miasma, spontaneously animating into a living entity.

Your average Shadows are fragmented creations. What does this mean? It means that they're usually coalesced lumps of repressed emotion drawn from a general pool of it, instead of being drawn from one specific person. The typical Shadow you meet in the Sea rarely represents a specific individual's repressed emotion. Imagine if every repressed emotion sinks into the Sea of Chaos, and seeks out similar emotions to it, then they fuse together into a big mass that pumps out Shadows. The Shadows are still representative of those traits in a general sense, but are 'fragmented': unfocused and hazy. Focus equals power in the Sea of Chaos, and this lack of attention and sense of oneness makes a Shadow weak.

That said, not every Shadow is this dissipate. The more focused a Shadow is, the more direct attention fed to them, the more powerful they become. The most powerful Shadows are 'pure', being formed wholly from the repressed personalities of a single human being. These 'Archetype Shadows' are immensely powerful, as they are in a major sense, a part of a whole person empowered by the Sea. That focus, that living-ness, that personality- that becomes power to a Shadow.

Attention and focus is important to a Shadow, as noted. It gives them power. Now, there's a kind of contradiction at play here: Shadows are rejected, repressed elements from the human mind. That repression gives them a reason to be, and a form, and power. They still crave attention, focus, the raw psychic flow from the conscious mind concentrated on them… Yet, if the repressor were to fully embrace their Shadow, acknowledge it as a part of themselves, then the foundation of their existence would cease, and they would be subsumed into their creator's mind. (A Shadow of sufficient power that undergoes this process can become a Persona.)

As a result, the 'sweet spot' for Shadow power is to become powerful and noteworthy enough to draw attention, but to be monstrous or ugly enough to avoid being accepted by their creator. A creator who is fully aware of their own Shadow, yet trying ever harder to repress or reject it, is the 'best' kind of creator, feeding immense power into their Shadow.

Of course, that comes to the question of what Shadows want. In their most intrinsic being, Shadows are repressed personalities that crave, beg and demand recognition and acceptance. They want nothing more than to be 'more' than a Shadow, and to become something accepted. They want that embrace. In that way, they're pretty similar to humans. Shadows will thus seek out that nirvana, demanding acceptance whilst never hiding their own nature- repression is not in a Shadow's nature. If a Shadow cannot achieve acceptance, then it will settle for control instead. This depends on the Shadow itself: fragmented Shadows are content to gorge on attention and other Shadows, gaining raw power enough to control its form and carve out a domain for itself in the Sea of Chaos. More focused Shadows will seek to subvert their creator. In Katashiba, a fully realised Archetype can reach into the dreaming mind of their creator and attack it. Given time, the Archetype will drag the creator into their Dream Theatre, where the Archetype will go to work subsuming the creator into the repressed reality that they tried so hard to evade. If the Archetype isn't stopped, they will completely rewrite the creator's personality, hollowing them out and filling the person up with themselves.

Every human being has their secret thoughts, unreadable to none but themselves, embedded in a book in the Library of Alexandria. When an Archetype Shadow overthrows their creator's personality, this book is violently rewritten and turns into a gateway for the Sea of Chaos to seep into the Library of Alexandria. It also allows the Shadow to enter the Waking World, wearing the skin of the creator. This often proves destructive, for the Shadow will retain its power and might, and often draw miasma into the Waking World in order to tap that power. Furthermore, the miasma seeping into the Library eventually begins soaking into the books of other people, influencing, corrupting and shaping their thoughts, which has a cascade effect. Given enough time and breaches, the Shadows will corrupt ever more books, destroying the Library and plunging human consciousness into the depths of the Sea, where it cannot be separated from the subconscious. If this were to happen, human identity would collapse and the world would turn into a formless, chaotic warp-space where reality is the plaything of the powerful, of the most hidden, secret and frequently destructive parts of human nature. It would be a cataclysm.

Human culture shapes perception, and for many thousands of years, has been adept at externalising the internal elements of the mind. Distasteful thoughts become strange demons, mysteries are manifestations of the fae, and the deepest questions of meaning are asked of gods. This context shapes the appearance and nature of Shadows, giving them the identities and forms of entities from myth, legend, story and lore.

Despite often appearing monstrous or terrifying, and despite their primordial nature, most Shadows are intelligent and capable of communication and thought. Many Shadows aren't outwardly hostile, and some are even friendly or willing to help. After all, just because an emotion is repressed doesn't mean the emotion is a 'bad' one. Kindness, love, understanding and generosity can all be repressed in certain circumstances. Shadows who have long exposure to humans start changing and evolving almost immediately, as the attention and introduction of new ideas starts shaping the Shadow's personality. In essence, attention, understanding and communication see Shadows grow as 'people'.

In summary:

  • Shadows are living manifestations of repressed personality traits.
  • Shadows are usually fragmented, being drawn from a pool of emotion made by lots of people sharing that emotion.
  • The purer the source of the emotion, the mightier the Shadow, where 'purest' means 'focused, coming from one person'.
  • Shadows grow stronger through attention and emotion. A creator who is aware of their Shadow yet represses it ever more empowers it.
  • Shadows crave acceptance but, if they cannot achieve it, will settle for control, attempting to overthrow their creator and taking over their body. This turns their book in the Library into a gateway for the Sea, allowing miasma to flow into the realm of human consciousness.
  • That's bad, because if it happens enough times, it'll end the world.
  • Shadows have forms drawn from myth and legend.
  • Shadows are sentient, and need not always be dealt with violently. Some will be helpful or even allies.
  • Shadows who are exposed to constant attention from an enlightened human begins evolving and growing because of that attention. This broadens the Shadow's understanding of the world and of themselves as new ideas are introduced into their limited schema.

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Types of Shadow

Despite their chaotic origins, Shadows can be categorised in various ways. Every Shadow identifies with at least one Arcana, and every Shadow falls into one of four 'weight classes': Troupers, Conductors, Archetypes, and Incarnates.

Trouper Shadows

Troupers are the most common and most basic Shadow. They are almost never unique in form, and it's common to see multiple Troupers all wearing the same form. These forms are typically identical in ability.

Troupers are the 'unfocused', 'generic' Shadows drawn from broad pools of repressed thought. As a result, a Trouper can never be properly 'accepted' by any one person. On the other hand, Troupers can be permanently destroyed by being harmed. They are easily controlled by more powerful Shadows, and so will often end up being dominated by an Archetype should they enter that Archetype's Dream Theatre.

Troupers have a single Arcana. They have a maximum of four Abilities, two Traits (not including the Shadow trait) and one Knack.
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Conductor Shadows

Conductor Shadows are about as powerful as Shadows get without having the intrinsic focus of an Archetype's nature. Conductors are rarer and stronger than Troupers, but it's still uncommon to find uniquely formed Conductors.

A Conductor is created in various ways. Sometimes they are a particularly lucky Trouper who got to eat a lot of other Shadows, or managed to gain a lot of sustained attention for some reason. Sometimes, though, they're powerful external manifestations of an Archetype, twisted into being through an Archetype's mastery of miasma.

Like Troupers, Conductors can never be properly 'accepted' by one person, but they can be destroyed through harm.

Conductors can have up to two Arcanas. They have a maximum of six Abilities, four Traits (not including the Shadow trait) and one Knack.
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Archetype Shadows

Archetype Shadows are (barring a few examples) the most powerful and dangerous of Shadows. They are 'pure', being drawn entirely from a single person's repressed personalities. Their ties to that person are incredibly important, and Archetypes know this, seeking to twist those ties to achieve what they want.

Archetypes receive empowerment from 'Heeds', which gives them the power to create Dream Theatres. These Theatres then draw lesser Shadows into the Archetype's orbit, who the Archetype dominates.

Archetypes can never be permanently destroyed so long as their Heed is extant, although killing the creator might do the trick regardless. That said, it's possible for an Archetype of sufficient power to survive the death of their creator. Archetypes can also be properly 'accepted' by their creator, which, if done genuinely, sees the creator awaken and embrace the refused parts of their personality- which manifests as a Persona.

If someone seizes the Heed of an Archetype, they have the power to reform the Shadow, which in so doing can change the personality of the creator in major ways. This inevitably dissolves the Archetype almost immediately, especially if the Archetype finds a sense of acceptance in that reformation. On the other hand, the Heed can also be used to violently destroy the Shadow, which can kill the creator.

Archetypes can have up to three Arcanas, and gain Exemplary bonuses from one of them. Furthermore, those Arcanas are intrinsic to their Dream Theatre, meaning that the Troupers and Conductors in a Dream Theatre only have the options of their Archetype's Arcanas for their own. Archetypes have a maximum of ten Abilities, six Traits (not including the Archetype Shadow and Shadow traits) and two knacks. Archetypes have a tenth characteristic, called Denial, which makes them more powerful and grants them a pool of 'Denial Points' equal to their Denial Bonus. Denial Points can be spent to grant the Archetype special bonuses, which are listed in the Action list on the Combat Rules page.

Defeated Archetypes drop 'Possibility Eggs', which are compressed, hardened, rock-like forms of miasma. They can be fed to the Tree of Sophia to empower her, but can also be used- if one knows how- to release the miasma in a massive burst. This can be devastating, but it can also be used to enact miraculous changes on the world.
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Incarnate Shadows

Incarnate Shadows are the ultimate form of Shadowkind. They are Archetypes that have conquered their creator, absorbing the creator's personality and replacing it with the extreme, exaggerated personality of the Archetype. Incarnates are stronger than Archetypes, and can even enter the Waking World, wearing their creator's (really, their own) body as a 'skin'. They retain much of their power in the Waking World, miasma levels permitting.

Such is the power of Incarnates that they constantly draw in and produce miasma, meaning they have an inherently corrupting effect on reality. Their conquest means that they also dominate their creator's book in the Library of Alexandria.

Incarnates cannot be reformed, nor can the original person be saved. Incarnates must be destroyed. The problem is that Incarnates are so powerful that even experienced Evokers have to be careful around them.

Incarnates always have three Arcanas. They gain Exemplary bonuses from all of their Arcanas. They can create Dream Theatres without Heeds. They have no limits on their Abilities, Traits or Knacks. They always possess the Archetype Shadow, Superior Action and Celerity traits.

Like Archetypes, Incarnates drop Possibility Eggs. They also use the Denial score.
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Shadow Arcanas

Depending on their weight class, Shadows can have one, two or three Arcanas. Much like PCs, these Arcanas determine the Shadow's fundamental abilities. They take one of the Magical Characteristics of one of the Arcanas, their choice.

Every Arcana grants its Shadow bonuses to Characteristics and wounds, as well as skills and talents. It also influences their Abilities, but not in a specific mechanical way.

  • All Troupers start with 25 in all scores and 10 wounds.
  • All Conductors start with 30 in all scores, 20 wounds and receive double the listed bonuses.
  • Archetypes typically start with 40 in all scores, and the wounds on their body parts vary. They receive triple the listed bonuses. Archetypes are also prone to breaking or ignoring the below charts whenever appropriate.
Arcana Score Bonus Wounds Talents Skills Ability Bias
Magician +5 Agility, Intelligence 0 3; Agility or Intelligence Aps 1 rank in every Agility or Intelligence skill Magic (Offensive), Action Arts
Priestess +5 Fellowship, Intelligence 0 3; Fellowship or Intelligence Aps 1 rank in every Fellowship or Intelligence skill Magic (Support/Restore)
Empress +5 Fellowship, +5 Willpower +1 3; Fellowship or Willpower Aps 1 rank in every Fellowship or Willpower skill Magic (Support/Offensive), Attack Arts (Light)
Emperor +5 WS, +5 Willpower +1 3; WS or Willpower Aps 1 rank in every WS or Willpower skill Magic (Offensive), Attack Arts (Power)
Hierophant +10 Intelligence 0 5; Intelligence Aps 2 Ranks in every Intelligence skill Magic (All)
Lovers +10 Fellowship 0 5; Fellowship Aps 2 Ranks in every Fellowship skill Magic (Support/Restore/Ailment)
Chariot +10 Strength +3 5; Strength or WS Aps 2 Ranks in every Strength skill Attack Arts (Power), Action Arts
Justice +10 Perception 0 5; Perception or BS Aps 2 Ranks in every Perception skill Magic (Support/Offensive), Attack Arts (Rifle)
Hermit +5 Intelligence, +5 Willpower +1 3; Intelligence or Willpower Aps 1 Rank in every Intelligence or Willpower skill Magic (Support/Hex/Ailment)
Fortune +10 Agility 0 5; Agility Aps 2 Ranks in every Agility skill Magic (Support/Offensive), Action Arts, Attack Arts (Rifles, Assault Rifles, Shotguns)
Strength +5 Toughness, +5 Willpower +3 3; Toughness or Willpower Aps 1 Rank in every Toughness and Willpower skill Magic (Support), Action Arts, Attack Arts (Shields, Crushing)
Hanged Man +10 Toughness +3 5; Toughness Aps 2 Ranks in every Toughness skill Magic (Support/Hex), Action Arts, Attack Arts (Crushing)
Death +10 Willpower +2 5; Willpower Aps 2 Ranks in every Willpower skill Magic (Hex/Offensive/Ailment), Attack Arts (Pistol/Rifle)
Temperance +5 Intelligence, +5 Willpower +1 3; Intelligence or Willpower Aps 1 Rank in every Intelligence or Willpower skill Magic (Offensive), Action Arts, Attack Arts (Light/Pistol)
Devil +5 Fellowship, +5 Perception 0 3; Fellowship or Perception Aps 1 Rank in every Fellowship or Perception skill Magic (Offensive/Hex/Ailment), Attack Arts (Assault Rifle/Crushing)
Tower +10 BS 0 5; BS Aps 1 Rank in every Perception skill Attack Arts (Ranged), Action Arts
Star +5 Strength, +5 Fellowship +1 3; Strength or Fellowship Aps 1 Rank in every Strength or Fellowship skill Magic (Offensive/Restore), Action Arts, Attack Arts (Power/Shield)
Moon +5 Perception, +5 Fellowship 0 3; Perception or Fellowship Aps 1 Rank in every Perception or Fellowship skill Magic (Offensive/Hex/Ailment), Action Arts
Sun +5 WS, +5 Fellowship +1 3; WS or Fellowship Aps 1 Rank in every WS or Fellowship skill Magic (Offensive/Support), Attack Arts (Power)

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Shadow Personalities

Shadows have Personalities, which dictates their initial disposition towards others as well as their behaviour in combat. Some of these are non-hostile. Furthermore, Archetypes and Incarnates don't bother with these.
Name Effect Combat Behaviour
Angry Angry Shadows take a +10 to Fear and Pinning tests, but a -10 to resist Frenzy or provocation. They will attack the party on sight. They will automatically Frenzy on taking Critical Damage. Angries prioritise whichever target is closest, unless the target is unbeatable; they're not stupid.
Coward Cowardly Shadows take a -10 to Fear and Pinning tests. If confronted alone, they will flee. Cowards prioritise targets who are the least threatening, with a special focus on targets who are already being attacked by others.
Cruel Cruel Shadows will engage the party on sight. Cruels will prioritise weak targets who are suffering from status effects or injuries, the weaker the better. If they One More, they will savagely focus on attacking the target. Unlike other Shadows, they will prioritise targets with no active Persona.
Friendly Friendly Shadows are non-hostile if encountered alone. They will curiously observe the party and may be capable of limited interaction, with the chance of providing boons. Friendlies prioritise support and ailments, and will prioritise targets who are most of a threat to their allies. They are satisfied with driving threats off and will rarely attempt to cripple, maim or kill.
Gentle Gentle Shadows are non-hostile if encountered alone. They will keep their distance from the party. Gentles will provide support to allied Shadows through healing or buffs. They will not attack unless cornered. If there are no allied Shadows willing or able to fight left, the Gentle will flee.
Happy Happy Shadows are non-hostile, even if encountered with other Shadows. They will putter around, but if they see something distressing- such as a fight, or a visible ailment- they will instantly become hostile toward whoever started it. Happies prioritise supporting those who are not upsetting them, especially if those people are fighting those who are/ upsetting them.
Honourable Honourable Shadows take a +20 bonus to Fear and Pinning tests, but a -10 penalty to resist Frenzy or provocations. They will openly engage the group. Honourable Shadows that fail a Fear test do not roll on the chart or flee, but instead gain a rank of Fatigue. Honourables prioritise targets who they consider the most worthy, mostly those with the most damage potential. They do not like attacking targets who are being flanked, and always prefer fighting one on one. If they Expose a target and gain a One More, they will not use that One More to attack the same target. They fight to the death.
Marauder Marauder Shadows will not attack on sight, but prefer to stalk the party until they are in trouble or engaged. Marauders prioritise hit and run attacks against whichever target they can do the most damage to; they also prioritise using ailment spells.
Mercurial Mercurial Shadows have three other Personalities, which they switch between at random (roll a 1d3 per round). -
Observer Observer Shadows are ill-intentioned, but non-hostile. They will observe the group peacefully and not intervene into battles; after observing a battle, they will run to other Shadows and begin spreading information about the group's weaknesses. Observers hate fighting themselves and will always try to flee. If they cannot flee, then they will attack whoever is most likely to block their retreat.
Pack Hunter Pack Hunter Shadows take a -10 penalty to all tests if alone. Conversely they take a flat +10 bonus to all tests if with another Pack Hunter. They will flee if encountered alone, but will attack if in a group. Pack Hunters prioritise targeting foes who are already under attack, wearing them down with sheer weight of numbers.
Paranoid Paranoid Shadows take a +20 bonus to Awareness. They will attack the party on sight. If a Paranoid Shadow is attacked by an ally, such as through accidental AoE or through Charmed, they will treat that ally as an enemy permanently. Paranoids prioritise targets who they consider to be the greatest risk, starting with those who can target the Shadow's weaknesses. They have no compunctions about abandoning their allies.
Predator Predator Shadows take a +10 bonus to Stealth tests. They will patiently pursue the party and attempt to set up ambushes, especially on isolated characters. Predators prioritise targets with low defenses and who are easy to hit. If they fail to pull off an ambush, they will attempt to retreat and try again.
Protective Protective Shadows take a +10 bonus to Awareness. They will not engage unless the party comes too close, or their allies engage the party. Protectives prioritise protecting their allies, either with their own body or with support spells. They will attempt to weaken foes they consider the most dangerous.
Smitten Smitten Shadows are in love with one ally and will never flee so long as the ally is around. If the object of their affection dies, they will fall unconscious with grief. If encountered alone, they instead fall for a party member at random and will stubbornly pursue them, proffering aid and fighting their foes. They are immune to Charm, unless the Charm is from their object, in which case it automatically succeeds. Smittens prioritise supporting the object of their affection, either with support spells or by fighting those who target them. They will also prioritise anyone they perceive as also liking their object, including other Smittens.
Smug Smug Shadows take a +10 bonus to Intelligence skill tests but a -10 penalty to Perception skill tests. They will engage on sight. Smugs prioritise targets whose weakness they can hit, so long as the target seems fairly strong. If a Smug scores a One More it will not use it to attack but will instead support or restore itself; these are the only times it will do so. If the Smug cannot support or restore itself, it will instead preen and gloat, wasting the One More.
Spoiler Spoiler Shadows will attack on sight. Spoilers prioritise disrupting targets' attacks, either through ailments, defensive spells, or by, say, knocking them over or engaging shooters in melee.
Strategist Strategist Shadows take a +10 bonus to Intelligence skill tests. If confronted alone, they will retreat to find more Shadows. Strategists prioritise targets whose weaknesses they can hit, and will attempt to Expose as many enemies as possible to set up an All Out Attack; if they cannot do so directly, they will either ailment likely candidates or support allies who can. If outnumbered or outgunned, the Strategist will voluntarily retreat and regroup, gathering more Shadows to itself.
Stupid Stupid Shadows take a -10 penalty to Perception and Intelligence tests, and a -10 penalty to resist Mental effects. They will attack the party on sight. Stupids prioritise the closest possible target, even if the target is unbeatable.
Traitorous Traitorous Shadows will turn on their allies if it seems as though they are going to lose. They do not like fighting by themselves, and will pretend to be non-hostile if forced to do so. Traitors prioritise weak targets who are least able to defend themselves or mitigate damage.

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