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Fiction Date 2013-11-25
Last Updated 2020-10-03 17:33:12 - Update

Episode #5: ... of The Shadowfell

The Iron Guard Campaign

NPCs mentioned in this Episode:



"Long ago, during the collapse of ancient Netheril, one of the empire's flying cities survived the realm's destruction by shifting completely into the Plane of Shadow.' Safe from outside predators and the disasters that befell their kin, the city-dwellers were free to practice their magic and experiment with the stuff of shadow.' After generations of living within the Plane of Shadow, the rulers of the city became suffused with the dark energy of that place, achieving strange and remarkable abilities.

Returning to Faerun in 1372 DR, the people of the renamed city of Shade began magically exploring the world and fortifying their defenses against old and new foes, such as the Phaerimms.' The shades consider all of Anauroch their territory, and once they have established their borders it is likely they will try to expand their realm.' Backed by the arcane might of ancient Netheril and their alien power of shadow, the shades are a serious threat to the safety and security of people all over Faerun.

The true goals of the Shades are unknown.' They may turn up in almost any part of the world looking for information, sowing dissent, defying authority, or looting old caches of Netherese items.' The shades may try to ally themselves with magocracies (such as Thay or Halruaa), groups with ties to shadows (such as the Shadow-masters of Telflamm or the church of Shar), or far-reaching political organizations such as the Zhentarim, if only for the purpose of acquiring information about the world their ancestors fled almost two thousand years ago."

--From the 3e Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting


The Shadowfell was created in'1385 DR'when'Shar, having successfully arranged'Mystra's death, bound the energies of the'Negative Energy Plane'with the'Plane of Shadow. Since then, the Shadowfell has existed as a center of Shar's power as well as a transitory place for dead mortals on their way towards judgment on the'Fugue Plane.


The'Shadowfell, sometimes simply called'Shadow, is a parallel plane'from which'necrotic'energies and'shadow magic'stem. It exists as sort of a counterpart to'Feywild'in the sense that it is a reflection or "echo" of the'Prime Material Plane'except that it is a bleak, desolate place full of decay and death. The Shadowfell is a type of underworld, and the thematic successor to the Negative Energy Plane and Plane of Shadow from earlier editions. The Raven Queen makes her home here rather than the Astral Sea. Creatures native to or connected with the Shadowfell generally have the shadow origin.

The Shadowfell is a dark reflection of the world, the gateway the dead pass through en route to their final destination. While is it not necessarily an evil place, it is certainly a place where evil has a strong presence. It has small populations of most civilized races from the world, but it also has a number of native (or now-native) races including'Death Giants,'Dark Ones'the'Shadar-Kai'and'Zamar-Sha. Most of all it is populated with the'dead'and'undead.

Sages from the world will tell you that the Shadowfell's'geography'corresponds to that of the 'real' world, but that is only half the truth. While every part of the world is reflected in the Shadowfell, that does not mean every part of the shadowfell is reflected in the world. The full extent of the Shadowfell's scope is unknown, except perhaps to the gods.

At first blush, the Shadowfell seems much like the world. It is not a lush and verdant hunting ground like the Feywild, nor is it the tumultuous battleground of the Elemental Chaos. Its appearance can be deceiving, though, for the Shadowfell's differences are woven into the fabric of the plane.

In this dark and imperfect reflection of the natural realm, shadows and gloom replace light and hope, suffusing everything with melancholy. A sense of fear and isolation fills living creatures with the urge to surrender to fate. Only those who are strong of heart and mind can survive in such a place.

Even though it's an echo of the natural world, the Shadowfell is nevertheless unique in both its fundamental nature and the mood it evokes. The Shadowfell is a bleak realm that houses both the dead and those among the living who have embraced a dismal existence there.

The Shadowfell is in a state of flux. These alterations can be dramatic or subtle: A giant sinkhole might swallow up a swath of land, or a path that leads through a forbidding mountain range might alter its course to descend into the Shadowdark. These transformations can be physical, but they can also be a by-product of the plane's ability to warp the memory and imagination of those who walk its shadowed paths.

There are a number of locales of interest in The Shadowfell:

Gloomwrought, the City of Midnight
Letherna, Realm of the Raven Queen
The House of Black Lanterns
Moil, the City That Waits
Nightwyrm Fortress
The Plain of Sighing Stones
The Shadowdark (Underdark of the Shadowfell)

The town of Winterhaven stands watch over a ruined keep that was once a bastion of good in the realm. Within two short decades of the collapse of the Nerath Empire (the most recent Empire that ruled across the world, bringing peace and prosperity that collapsed), the keep was abandoned for reasons that vary from miltary uselessness to it being haunted. The keep is rumoured to overlook a Shadow Rift, a dark scar in the world that was once a gateway to the Shadowfell. This portal was said to have been blocked and maybe destroyed by the last remnants of the Nerath empire who guarded over it.


The City of Night; The City of Shadows; the largest city in the Shadowfell. It serves as a port that serves as a hub of travel and trade. The streets of Gloomwrought are unforgiving. Undead prowl the unlit alleys at night, and gargoyles lurk on rooftops, watching for unwary travelers to pick off. If one is to survive in the City of Midnight, he or she needs allies. Even as certain groups such as Midnight's Own, the Ghost Talon, and Houses Harskel and Carradh vie for control of the city, other individuals and organizations are content to play at neutrality. However, few in Gloomwrought are without motivation, and friends can quickly become enemies when different goals collide.

Dead Empires

There are places long lost to the world that still echo in the Shadowfell. Fortresses from the Tiefling Empire, Pyramids of the Illumians, Ziggurats of Moil and other impossible ruins still linger in dark corners.

Dread Domains

There's no way to tell how many of these there are, and each is a unique location, isolated , but not entirely disconnected from the rest of the Shadowfell. Each is the kindgom (or perhaps prison) of a being of great power, and its environs reflect the nature of its master. These are mostly known in rumor and lore, for it is generally accepted that a rip into a dread domain is a one way trip.

The North

Wherever you are in the Shadowfell, if you go north far enough you will find your way to a land of ice and snow. Somewhere in the center of this eternal winter is the tower of the'Raven Queen. The dead who find their way here subject themselves to her judgment, and those who fail become the undead who haunt the ice and snow. Scholars may call this place "Letherna", but no one who lives in the Shadowfell calls it anything but the north.

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Much of the Shadowfell is a twisted reflection of the Prime Material plane and is populated primarily by dead creatures such as ghosts, specters, and other undead who for whatever reason have refused to leave the Shadowfell and continue on to the'Fugue Plane. There are however, numerous other inhabitants such as communities of'shadar-kai'and'dark ones.

Creatures of shadow plague both travelers and residents of the Shadowfell. Souls drift across the desolate landscape, sometimes becoming trapped or tormented. Great forces vie for control of this land, waging war for dominion over death. For these reasons and more, the Shadowfell beckons heroes who have a thirst for adventure and a desire to do good.

As a shadowy reflection of the world, the Shadowfell can manifest differently to visitors. The plane is an amalgam of differences and similarities to the world. Each person finds something both recognizable and disturbing in its grim landscape.

The Shadowfell is not inherently evil, but evil creatures are strong and plentiful there. Fearsome opponents await heroes in the Shadowfell, for the darkness provides a safe haven for dark and sinister things. Adventurers can expect straightforward fights against mindless undead and shadow beasts, as well as intrigue and conspiracy as they face off against cunning sneaks and master manipulators.

Creatures in the Shadowfell use darkness and fear to their advantage, surprising and ambushing unwary foes. A situation need not lead to a battle in order to instill tension and fear. A narrow alley with dark windows where assassins could be hiding can put players on edge, even when no threat is present.

The monstrous denizens of the Shadowfell can be as insular and dejected as those of the world. The people of the Shadowfell are more xenophobic and mistrustful, though. They are apt to draw steel first before talking. A band of travelers in the Shadowfell, for example, represents a greater threat than one in the world. The constant danger of attack can lead adventurers to feel suspicious of anyone they encounter.

Death is a fundamental part of the Shadowfell, as ubiquitous as life is in the mortal realm. Any heroes who come to the Shadowfell should expect to stare straight into the face of death. Creatures of death roam the dismal landscape, feasting on the vitality of those foolhardy enough to wander the desolate landscape. Also, the Raven Queen keeps a watchful eye on those who visit her domain, dispatching her sorrowsworn to deal with any who threaten her rule.

Passage of Time

Creatures sometimes perceive time differently in the Shadowfell from how they do in the world. Rather than passing with the rise or fall of the sun, time moves based on the gloom infecting one's mind. As a person succumbs to depression and apathy, time seems to slow to a crawl. If one sinks into the deepest depths of despair, time seems to stop entirely.

A visitor to the Shadowfell might feel as though days or weeks have passed, when in fact years have gone by on his or her native plane. More than one traveler has ventured into the Shadowfell, only to find that when he or she returned home, everything that person loved and cherished was gone.

<-- Previous Episode in the Campaign
... of Shades

Next Episode in the Campaign -->
Part I: The Red Star