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Shadovar, Shades, and the City of Shade

By Sean K Reynolds

The main villains of the Return of the Archwizards trilogy by Troy Denning are the mysterious wizards of Shade. Dating back to the Empire of Netheril, the people of Shade were isolated in another dimension for 1,700 years and have only recently returned to Faerûn. While they were gone, the people of Shade learned the strange magic of shadow, and some of them -- the Shades -- have gained additional power by absorbing the power of shadow into their own bodies.


The History of the City

Back in the last days of Netheril, the flying city of Shade was ruled by a powerful wizard known as Lord Shadow, the man who discovered how to travel to other dimensions (or "planes of existence") and return safely with treasure and magic. One of these places was the Plane of Shadow, which is a strange realm of muted light and darkness inhabited with shadow creatures. While the other people of Netheril eventually welcomed his discovery as a source of slaves and a place to dispose of unwanted things, Lord Shadow saw it as much more than that. He loved the strange realm, its responsiveness to his magic, and the things he could learn from its strange energies. Over time he developed ways to transport more and more material to and from the Plane of Shadow, and he eventually completed a spell to send his entire city to the Plane of Shadow. Unknown to him, he saved his city from destruction, for the day after his city vanished, magic stopped working in Faerûn, causing all of Netheril's flying cities to plummet to the ground. When magic was restored on Faerûn, Lord Shadow transported his city back again, but they found nothing but ruins and the dead.

The people of Shade were horrified and cried for vengeance, assuming that their enemies the phaerimms (a bizarre subterranean race of spellcasting monsters) had caused this destruction. Lord Shadow grieved, but he knew that one flying city was no match for the might of the phaerimms, so he vowed that some day his city would return, avenge the Netherese, and recreate the old empire in its former glory. He then transported the city back to the Plane of Shadow, where (due to unforeseen circumstances) it remained for centuries. In the year 1,372 DR -- last summer -- the city once again returned to Faerûn.


The City of Shade

Like all of Netheril's flying cities, Shade was made from the severed top of a mountain. Lord Shadow carved it free and flipped it over. At the center of its flat surface is a powerful magic item called a mythallar that allows the city to fly and provides magical power to many of the city's magic items. The rest of the city is covered in large and small buildings like most large cities, except that very few places exist for housing large animals. Shade has no large roads suitable for wagon traffic, nor does it have any docks, for from the moment of its creation it was meant to be a flying city and never touched the ground. People had trade goods flown or teleported to and from the city by magic. The entire architecture is archaic and carefully maintained by the residents. Residents do not allow radical change, and much of the city's resources are dedicated to preserving the existing buildings rather than renovating them or building new ones in their place.


The People of Shade

The city is home to approximately 25,000 people, who are called the Shadovar. Most of the people of Shade are normal humans just like those that lived in Netheril thousands of years ago. They are mortal and descend from the original inhabitants of the city from centuries before. A handful -- only 500 or so -- have learned how to infuse their bodies with the energy of the Plane of Shadow, becoming the beings known as shades. These shades are the leaders of the city and the architects of their plans in the Faerûn. Shades in shadow or darkness are more powerful than normal humans. They can heal from mortal wounds, become invisible, see in absolute darkness, shrug off magical attacks, and live much longer than a human. The highest level of the Shade nobility is Lord Shadow himself and his twelve sons. These thirteen men, all shades, are very old and very powerful.

The Shadovar dress in the style of clothing worn in old Netheril, which is a courtly style emulating that of powerful wizards. They favor dark colors such as black, burgundy, charcoal gray, dark green, and midnight blue. Those who can afford it wear a great deal of jewelry. Their patron deity is Shar, the evil goddess of darkness and unrevealed secrets. The Shadovar feel that Shar, who was worshiped back in ancient Netheril, protected them during their long time in the Plane of Shadow. They also believe that the Shadovar will play some key role in her plans to plunge the world into eternal darkness. While their immediate plans are unknown, the Shadovars are making plans to make the world theirs again, and they have the power to accomplish their desires.

For more information and Realms product on the Netherese and the Netheril empire, See Also:

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