By David Kuijt
"He's afraid of his own shadow" is a country saying for someone who is scared of everything. It goes without saying, then, that ones' own shadow is something not to be feared. Such country bumpkins know nothing of the power, and the terror, of the Shadow Lord.
From whence he came, few know. In appearance he is a Dark Elf, a Drow, but he does not associate himself with Drow, and shows no sign of following their dark gods. Yet neither does he care to fight against them, unless they oppose his aims. He follows his own path, and it is one of terrible power.
For the Shadow Lord has gained dominion over many shades, shadows, and ethereal beings. His magics command them, where other mighty mages can barely see them, much less fight them. The untutored see his arts as akin to Necromancy, calling spirits of the once-living. But these are no ghosts he masters -- no once-human shades, holding memory of their brief candles, now blown out. These are unnatural beings of Shadow, Translucent forms that never rose from bodily flesh.
Home Topography: Shadowvale. Mostly normal appearing terrain.
Stronghold: Magical Keep (Tower of Shadow) surrounded by Shadows. Anyone who's got some idea how to pull that off, let me know!
The Shadow Lord is perhaps the mightiest Shadow Wizard in centuries. Among the greatest of his powers is this -- when he creates Spirits of Shadow, they are no illusion -- he instantiates them in the world of flesh. Some other wizards are powerful enough to do this and maintain it with constant concentration, but Shadows created by the Shadow Lord keep corporeal existence even after his attention passes to other things. Thus the Shadow Lord has no need of minions of flesh and blood, as his bodyguards and warriors are Shadows, and can guard him as he sleeps. None know the limitations of this power, but it is what levers him up above the rank of petty illusionists, who can only influence what they concentrate on.
Even without his bodyguard, the Shadow Lord has mighty magic he can bring to bear against those who resist his forces. His favorite spell is to cause the shadows of an army against him to rise up and attack their owners. Have you ever tried to outrun your shadow? If your shadow is carrying an axe and trying to kill you, it isn't hard to imagine!
Shown on the right is the Shadow Lord with his personal bodyguard of Shade Knights.
This is the most terrible spell of all the Magery known of the Shadow Lord. In times of o'erbearing need, he can summon (some say create), the Caller in Darkness. The Caller in Darkness is a magical entity so powerful that it can only barely be controlled, and that not for long. Mighty wizards, great masters of their craft, debate whether the Caller in Darkness is an animate spell given form, an extra-dimensional being pushed screaming through a rift in the fabric of the Astral Plane, or a way of tapping into some Ur-gestalt of terrible power. What they do agree upon is this -- they would all like to keep their contact with the Caller in Darkness at a theoretical, impersonal nature. Its power is so great that even the mightiest Wizards of them all, Mage-scholars of the Unseen University, fear it. And therefore fear the Shadow Lord.
The power that motivates the Caller in Darkness, or the connection that keeps it in our dimension, is unpredictable. The spell that the Shadow Lord casts to tear asunder the threads of existence and allow the Caller in Darknessto pierce screaming into our plane takes a terrible toll. Scholars examining the rising career of the Shadow Lord agree that the Caller in Darkness sometimes does not arrive, and other times may remain only a short time before the tear is repaired and the Caller in Darkness disappears.
Is the Shadow Dragon truly a Dragon, or maybe a Shadow in the form of a Dragon, or even perhaps the Shadow-filled hole left when a Dragon is torn out of our plane of Existence? None know, but whatever it is, it is clear that the Shadow Lord controls it, and it is one of his most powerful minions. It flies like a Dragon, and has the shape of a Dragon, and those that survive fighting it report with shudders that it seems to be as difficult to injure as a Dragon.
The Shadow Lord's wraith is a fierce spirit of shadow, terrible in its onslaught. It seems much like the spirits of the dead summoned and controlled by Necromancers and Thanatologists, but that is its appearance alone. Its being is other, and some scholars theorize that the Shadow Lord was amused to mimic what was expected, to mock those who confuse his dread arts with those of the Undead and Living Dead. Be that as it may, the Shadow Lord's wraith can slaughter with a touch, and is terrible to behold.
These minions of the Shadow Lord are silent, fast and deadly, as agile in rough terrain as any giant cat bound in flesh. None but the Shadow Lord know if they are creations of his magics, or if he merely summons and binds them from some half-seen ethereal dimension. Their movement is swifter than any other wingless minion of the Shadow Lord.
Some of the simplest minions of the Shadow Lord are his Shade Knights. They appear as translucent forms armored and fighting with two-handed swords, and they feel neither fear nor pain. Shade Knights act as the footsoldiers of the Shadow Lord. They can be struck down in combat, but they leave no bodies, and whether they die, return to some other dimension, or never really existed at all, is unknown.
These shadows take the form of malicious winged spirits, fierce and mobile. They are perhaps less effective in battle than the Shade Knights or the more powerful minions and spells of the Shadow Lord, but they make up for it with the tremendous speed of their assault.
The Shadow Lord has been known to ally himself with any force that can serve his arcane plans, and sometimes sends his forces without him to serve others, to create a debt or gain some artifact or power. The one thing that is certainly known about him is this -- he does not seek an earthly dominion. Given the power of his magic, that is a good thing for his neighbors.
The Shadow Lord has great power, and that alone acts as an attractant for some. In times past he has had to fight off several invasions of his dominion, Shadowvale. Further, it is known that he has had conflicts with the Drow, although he has also been known to ally with them. An on-again, off-again relationship based upon similar goals is known between himself and the Unseen University. Similarity of interests has sometimes led to conflict, but on other occasions they have worked together.
All the figures of this army are unmodified D&D Miniatures figures. One of the best things about the DDM prepainted plastics is their ability to model translucent figures, which is impossible in painted lead. The Shadow Army models many of the DDM translucent plastic figures. Many of them are relatively inexpensive, around $1 per figure. The Shadow Dragon is usually $12 or more on ebay or the individual-sale merchants, and is the most expensive figure in my Shadow army. There are a few other $8 and up translucent figures in the DDM ranges that I haven't used.
One of the finest figures overall is the Caller in Darkness, and that is quite reasonably priced. Even if you don't ever make up a Shadow army, I recommend it as a figure that serves as a super-cool "god" class mega-spell for many genres of army (shadows, necromancers, or super-powerful wizards)
The Shadow Army is a powerful pip-hog. If you can consistently roll 4-8 pips a bound on a six-sided die, this is the army for you. But hey, it looks fantastic.
Page created December 4, 2008.
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