Shades are the remnants of the souls of the dead, mere shadows of their former selves, which drift around the Underworld. They are at best animalistic, drawn to the scent of mortal blood, and pone to attacking living creatures. This is because mortal blood can grant them some semblance of their former selves. A shade which feasts upon that blood can communicate with the living, other dead (such as the phrenes), and intelligent undead. The transformation of a shade in such a way is only fleeting though, and many will attempt to gorge themselves—even as they realize what they’re doing—in order to retain intelligence.
Shades are a common sight in Kheol, ignored the way other city-dwellers ignore pigeons and rats. The danger they pose is lessened by the fact that their lack of sentience means they are easy to fool. A living being may wear a mask—one which resembles a humanoid face—to confuse shades into thinking that they too are merely spirits. These masks are a common sight in the city, and almost nobody ever goes out of their home without wearing one. They can be gotten for as cheap as one or two coins, and a market for fanciful and custom masks has, of course, arisen.
It is also possible to buy charms and perform rituals to keep shades from entering a home, and all but the poorest parts of Necropolis are protected by large scale charms of this sort, cast over whole blocks of buildings.
The Rite of Sanguine Thought is a ritual that can grant intelligence to a shade. If a person digs a small trench (about a foot long, half as wide and half as deep) and fills it with a pint of blood (taken from a still living creature, though it matters not what kind) mixed with equal parts milk and wine, they can speak a sequence of prayers and summon a shade to them. Upon drinking the mixture, the shade will be granted sentience for 1 hour, and is honor bound to not harm the person who performed the ritual. Any other living thing, however, is fair game. Anyone can perform the ritual, though performing it wrong can have dire consequences.
|Creature||HD||Actions and Specials|
|Feral Shade||2||Incorporeal. Can drink blood to become a Thinking Shade. Drinking blood restores 1d8 HP.|
|Thinking Shade||3||Incorporeal. Gains 1 HD each time it drinks blood, to a maximum of 10 HD (gaining 1d8 HP each time). HD wear off at a rate of 1/hour. At 2 HD becomes a Feral Shade.|
Incorporeal is a new special feature for monsters. A creature which is incorporeal may only be harmed by magical weapons, spells, or weapons made out of spiritum. Their attacks ignore armor that is not itself magical or made of spiritum.
At the GM’s discretion, the following monsters from The Black Hack can also have the Incorporeal feature: Shadows, Banshees, and Spectres. Feel free to apply this ability to other undead as you see fit.
Artwork: “They Got Hold of Her Cloak,” by unknown, from Folk and fairy tales, by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, 1883.