"It is the unknown that sows fear in mortal hearts. Is there life after the grave? Is there peace or salvation - maybe a chance to live again? Or is there only annihilation’s uncaring embrace, where oblivion’s ravenous appetite erases all deeds, experiences, hopes, and fears?" -Daveak
Race: Human, Shade
Affiliation: Emissaries of Gloomwrought
Ambitious, ruthless, and paranoid, shades are humans who trade part of their souls for a sliver of the Shadowfell's dark essence. Even more so than the shadowborn - natives of the Shadowfell descended from the common races - shades are gloom incarnate. No matter what nations or land one was first born into, each shade undergoes a dark rebirth that transforms him or her into a creature of stealth and secrecy who is caught between life and death. In exchange for the twilight powers granted to shades, the Shadowfell taints their souls with dark thoughts and a darker disposition. A human who chooses to become a shade is reborn into shadow through a transformative ritual that draws on the ambient magic present at shadow crossings - places where the veil between the world and its dark echo is thinnest. Known in scholarly circles as the Trail of Five Darknesses, this arduous ritual is as likely to slay its practitioner outright - obliterating body and soul - as it is to grant the ability to wield shadow magic. Unbridled ambition and utter desperation are common reasons for a human to undertake the Trail of Five Darknesses, since the taint of the Shadowfell marks a shade as an outcast forever. Shades maintain a determined self-reliance when among their own kind, because they know all too well the greed and duplicity their race is capable of. However, shades also believe in strength in numbers, and as such they congregate in settlements close to shadow crossings, both in the world and the Shadowfell. A few shades deny the self-serving nature of their kind, striving to ensure that the true nature of their souls overcomes the shadowy nature of their chosen path. Rejecting their own kind, these shades seek the company of the common races. Drawn to the life of an adventurer, such shades try to earn the trust of a close circle of friends, defending those comrades with the ruthlessness for which their kind is known. However, some decry this behavior as just another facet of the shades' characteristic avarice - treating friends as personal possessions that must be kept safe at all costs. Daveak had an unwholesome or unhealthy interest in the dead. Some say he experimented with necromancy, others say that he stole corpses, leaving the question of what he did with them when he got them unanswered. This interest persisted throughout his life.
Gloomwrought, also known as the City of Midnight, is one of the few bastions of civilization within the Shadowfell. It is a place of treachery and subterfuge, where only the savvy survive. Unscrupulous political houses, whose special interests far outweigh the concerns of social needs, handle governance of the city while Prince Rolan the Deathless serves as the de facto leader. With all the political intrigue surrounding daily life within the city, many wealthy and powerful individuals ceaselessly work to expand their spheres of influence. One way in which they accomplish this is by sending out special envoys that work to further their interests and the interests of Gloomwrought. These Gloomwrought emissaries are crucial to the expansion of the city’s political reach and are the eyes and ears of the noble houses. Joining this elite corps of specialists can be difficult, and whom you know - not what you know - is important in most cases. In some cases, an existing agent of a house recruits emissaries passively by following them for some time and observing them from a distance so their skills and abilities can be gauged. This gives the recruiter time to evaluate and pass judgment before contacting the potential emissary and bringing him or her on board. In other cases, emissaries are cultivated from within the house and are trained from a young age, a method that has a high success rate in developing bright new talent. Daveak's life as a Gloomwrought emissary depended largely on the master he represented at the time. He had served as a crafty spy, and as a hired assassin sent to eradicate an enemy of his house. He had served Gloomwrought as a diplomat by using his silver tongue to help spur, and incite, bloody conflict. No matter how he served, Daveak was an important part of the city’s social landscape
Countless fighting styles issue from dedicated masters - unimpeachable figures who devote their lives to perfecting combat maneuvers that are carried onto the battlefield by their disciples. But not all techniques evolve from the teachings of these paragons of the warrior’s art. Some methods come from origins far less noble. The path of the dread reaper is one such shadowy road. According to legend, the first dread reaper was Gulkanon, a human paladin of the Raven Queen, stripped of his station and power for offending his god. Even without the connection to the deity he had long revered, Gulkanon was unwilling surrender his place as her champion. He turned to a new avenue of military study, building upon the techniques of savage and fell races in the world - orcs, goblins, ogres, and trolls. He took the crude strokes of these brutish creatures and refined them, developing a range of exploits that focused his strength into a vehicle of appalling carnage. As he grew more confident in his newfound skills, he took the title “dread reaper.” He set out to send souls to his estranged patron in hopes of rekindling the bond that had been broken. Whether he succeeded is lost to time, but his legacy remains. Daveak, one such dread reaper, served the Raven Queen, and small cults of such warriors can be found who are willing to train promising candidates. Others who have this training, however, lack the will or discipline to find true favor with the god. A few stretch her tenets to accommodate their own excesses. The Raven Queen’s vigilant servant Daveak was known to hunt and slay the worst of those offenders. Daveak had an affinity for death-dealing, and he turned to the techniques of the dread reaper. The training offered him a special array of fighting maneuvers that emphasized his already impressive proficiency with two-handed weapons. Daveak's training transformed him from a competent warrior to a terrifying force of destruction. Rather than minding his defenses, Daveak favored wreaking havoc in combat. Enemies couldn’t help but notice his destructive potential and ignored him at their peril. Daveak could perform astonishing attacks, sweeping through his foes and laying them open with his steel.