Shade (5e Race)

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"Do you want to know the biggest problem with humans? With every race, really? The dead outnumber the living."
—Missy from Dr Who

Physical Description[edit]

Shades are inky black creatures formed after death. They usually retain a form vaguely resembling that which they were in life. This outline may have wounds or arrows stuck into it; a telltale sign of its cause of death maybe. Shades are but remnants of who they once were, and so their forms may sometimes appear misshapen in some way. A fallen orc may return with most of its muscle mass missing, or an elf may return with an ear clipped off. Their eyes gleam from their shadowy form, like the only windows of light on their bodies. Despite their seemingly shadowy appearance, they are by no means wholly incorporeal. Darkness peels from their dark skinned body in wisps, a mark on those who rejected death.


When heroes die, men and women around the world can feel it, that tiny change in the balance of light and dark. However, that is not the end of their story. Humanoids all have an idea of an afterlife, a place you go after you die to live or die forever. Shades, the inky black villains we all know and loathe saw and lived that before returning to the Material Realm. Shades have been all over the place since the beginning of time, ever since death was a thing. The first shades were made by the first people, the first societies. After that, they only grew in numbers.

That was the biggest truth for a while, that someone would fall in battle and may return as an undead, like a shade, ghost, or zombie. Fear of the risings of undead led to many people burning all remains of the dead, though this certainly did not deter the more incorporeal ones. Shades were distinctly different from ghosts, as they were not wholly incorporeal, nor could they possess people. They were mistaken to be shadows, but could not steal ones vitality. Rather, they lingered in places where their former selves once may have frequented, bringing back bad feelings usually.


Shade society is mainly focused in places like Shadowfell, where their souls are believed to have been trapped instead of passing to the Fugue Plane. In the Material Realm, they are known to swarm in dark chasms of the Underdark. Their communities are called underworlds, due to their love of the dark and their ominous forms. Few have ever seen the inner workings of these places and survived to tell the tale. They are believed to be a nest of bad things. Other ne'er do wells like drows and duergar, for example, find business and refuge with the other scoundrels which congregate in these shade communities. Thus, shades are thought to not only act with evil, but attract more of it.

Shade Names[edit]

Shades are undead, and as such retain the names of whatever they had in their past life. If it cannot be recalled, they take on a new alias.

Male: Bob, Jorick, Fir

Female: Jane, Ea, Mul

Shade Traits[edit]

Shades are creatures of random sizes and abilities from a past life and as such, the possibilities are through the roof.
Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2.
Age. Shades do not age.
Alignment. Shades interact with evil but lean towards being good.
Size. Any size they had in life.
Speed. Your base walking speed is the speed you had in life.
Undead Knowledge. Most shades remember their past lives and all the spells and battle training in those lives. You have advantage on Intelligence skill checks to recall information.
Ethereal Sight. While upon the material plane, you can see into the ethereal plane up to a distance of 30 feet, and vice-versa.
Undead Nature. You have both the Undead type and the Humanoid type. You cannot be charmed or poisoned, and are immune to poison damage and disease. You do not need to eat, sleep, drink, or breathe. Instead of sleeping, you just sit there, fully conscious, waiting for your damage to heal. 4 hours of this, just sitting, is the same as a human resting for 8 hours.
Ghostly Vulnerability. If your Shade dies, their essence is irrevocably dispersed and are unable to be resurrected.
Languages. You remember all languages spoken in your past life, plus Abyssal and Infernal.

Random Height and Weight[edit]

6′ 0'' +0 0 lb. × (0) lb.

*Height = base height + height modifier
**Weight = base weight + (height modifier × weight modifier)

Suggested Characteristics[edit]

When creating a Shade character, you can use the following table of traits, ideals, bonds and flaws to help flesh out your character. Use these tables in addition to or in place of your background's characteristics.

d4 Personality Trait
1 I can't be distracted from my goal. Ever.
2 I have the tendency to find the sadness in everything
3 Because of my experience with death, I look on the bright side of things.
4 I would never abandon those who accept and protect me despite what I've become.
d4 Ideal
1 I never want anyone to go through what I did.
2 I will watch this world burn.
3 My family is under my protection at all times.
4 I can get away with anything now...
d4 Bond
1 I need to stay good for my family.
2 I need to find the man who killed me... and exact my revenge.
3 I have a job that needs to be finished before I leave for the last time.
4 I need to find a way to live again.
d4 Flaw
1 I bring everyone around me down with my gloomy disposition.
2 I can't stop talking about my past life or I'll forget it.
3 I'm kinda gullible. Just my nature.
4 I cry at the worst times, remembering everyone I've lost.

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