Friday, July 19, 2013

Shadow Demon

This ought to make my old-school readers happy: Today we talk about the shadow demon.

Shadow demons apparently owe their 1e existence to White Dwarf and the Fiend Folio, and they snuck into 2e via Ravenloft.  I first encountered them in 3.0’s Book of Vile Darkness, where they blew my mind because they weren’t a tanar’ri subspecies (nor were they obyriths or loumaras).  I loved that they were outside even demon society—almost pure expressions of the Abyss’s power to create…creatures of darkness too insidious to be rooted out even by the tanar’ri’s numberless hordes.

In Pathfinder, shadow demons are spirits of envy personified. They are the darkness of covetousness, resentment, and jealousy given shape, shadowing the successful champion and the bitter loser alike.  They are distinguished by their speed and mobility, their powers over darkness, their vulnerability to sunlight, and their hallmark: the ability (and need, as dawn approaches) to possess other beings.  Shadow demons might be found ruining the reputations of the respected, or whispering in the ears (and granting their vile powers to) the disaffected.  It is bad enough that they possess and despoil the innocent, but at least in those cases the demon must hide evidence of its existence.  On the rare occasions they possess a willing host, however, the two minds working in concert can achieve new heights of villainy.

A cave outpost of the forces of Light is under siege by a haunt of shadow demons from the bowels of the earth.  Surrounded, the defenders pray for two things: that the sun will rise and peek over the lip of the cave mouth, or that sunburst-wielding reinforcements from the Goldmorning Priory will arrive.  Neither seems likely to occur in time.

A sculptor, long acclaimed the fourth best in the holy city of Ascension, absolutely loathes his competition.  A shadow demon possesses him, causing him to sabotage his rivals’ worksites, murder their assistants with shadow magic, vandalize monuments, and otherwise spread mayhem throughout the sacred city.  Meanwhile, the demon is not content with just possessing people; when not riding the sculptor he seeks magic that will allow him to inhabit and leap between the many sculptures in his thrall’s workshop.  Killing the sculptor is not an option—by now he is so steeped in envy himself that he will rise as a new shadow demon by the following midnight.

It’s a race against time near the North Pole as the brief autumn turns to winter.  A shadow demon must be found and expelled from the ice palace of the royal family of Gelidous before months of darkness take over.

Pathfinder Bestiary 67

Googling “Paizo shadow demon” also came up with this very relevant thread about a shadow demon near-TPK.

“But where’s the shadow?” you ask.  Here at TDB, we’re all about strict adherence to ABC order, and that means we covered the greater shadow and shadow way back here.

Oh, and remember yesterday, when I asked vanadies to elaborate?  He bloody well did.  Worth the read!

(Remember, I’m not currently in a gaming group and have only played a handful of published Adventure Paths (especially Age of Worms, Kingmaker, and chunks of Shackled City) and modules.  So while I’m reading for ideas/story/inspiration, your mileage may vary at the table, and vanadies’s post is a great example of that.)

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