The following shadowy goodness comes to you from the dark mind of BDC!
In the above mentioned campaign pitch, I also gave five or six options for a big bad creature of shadow so powerful that you could base a campaign on it. I mentioned I wanted to do an article on ‘The Forgotten Gods of Shadow’ or ‘SHadowfell’. But none them really fit the bill and none of them were forgotten. Gods like Shar, The Raven Queen, Mask and Vhaeraun are well known especially to those who play the Forgotten Realms Campaign and NONE of them are actual gods of shadow. Oh, Vhaeraun and Mask are called such, but not really. And I’ve found no actual Cleric Domain of Shadow EVER.
Then I ran upon some third edition lore that stopped everything.
It all begins in the jungles of Chult. The prime god there is Ubtao; Founder of Mezro and Father of Dinosaurs. He was a regional god. He was unconcerned with the rest of the world. Growing weary of his worshiper’s fighting, he abandoned his followers. One of the factors were their overreliance upon him which I thought was the point. But anyway, before he left, he created a pantheon of many gods. One of those creations command our interest here.
Ubtao was a primordial, not a god but since he made a deal with these new gods thus becoming The Deceiver, he was able to keep his worshipers from Chult free of any of the gods interference. He did this only to walk away later. But, before this, he created the various nature gods from pieces of his essence. One of these was his very shadow; a dark piece of his primordial soul. Because it came from him, the other pieces were always weaker than him.
The shadow, called Eshowdow, always strove to overcome his creator to no avail. It seems that, upon creation, Ubtao buried this entity ‘underground’. But the Eshowe people freed him calling him a ‘Shadow Giant’. They used this entity to try and destroy Ubtao’s city of Mezro and the Tabaxi residents. It didn’t go well.
This constant failure and his feeling of subordinance and weakness drove him more and more to lie in wait for his moment to topple Obtao. But it never came. Around 30 years before Obtao abandoned Chult, Eshowdow was killed without explanation and his role taken by Shar herself. THE END.
But is it?
Once I had read over this entry in the tomes of D&D, my mind began to reel. I found Eshowdow in the process of looking for an actual god of shadow. What I actually found was a shadow of a god; a unique creature in the cosmos. And, although reportedly dead, he had a reason to loathe Shar, Faerunian goddess of darkness. So how do we get around the fact that he’s dead? Well, in D&D, is anything really ever dead? lol.
So begins my pitch for the biggest. baddest shadow in all of D&D lore (not a lot to pull from though).
Whatever killed Eshowdow (my bet’s Shar put a god killing knife in his back), death was not the end. Many gods pass on to the Ethereal Plane and end up having a Gith city built on it. But this is not even a GOD of shadow, actually. Eshowdow is the shadow of a Primordial. SO what happens to such a creature when it dies? There is nothing to compare it to.
This leaves it in the ever capable hands of the DM. Sure you could forget it since it hasn’t been mentioned since third or fourth editions. But, if, like us, you are looking for a Shadowy big bad, Eshowdow ticks all the boxes.
SO, here’s the meat of the pitch:
After death, Eshowdow found his essence pulled into the Plane of Shadow aka the Shadowfell to return from wince it came. This return to shadow alone would make it more powerful here than anywhere else. But it is stated in much of the material that everything in the Prime Material Plane has a darker shadow in Shadowfell. If Eshowdow has such a dark duplicate, it would be an immense power of negative energy. It’s possible that this dark shadow was waiting for the abandoned shadow; ready to absorb what was left of his essence.
Consolidating power, this creature retreated to one of the newly created fringes of Shadowfell to lick his wounds and regroup. The plan that grew out of this time led to our campaign pitch.
The first part is the shadow of a primordial that finds new life and more power in the Plane of Shadows. It pulls to its side allies and begins to gather the shadows that will make up its army. Maybe its stay in Shadowfell enriched his negative energy; making it an actual Shadow (see 5E Monster Manual Page 269) only advanced. It actually becomes a Primordial shadow of epic proportions.
The second part is this shadow entity making excursions into the Prime Material Plane thus effecting the PCs lives and garnering the attention of the gods of Shadowfell who want to know what this entity is up to. During these invasions, Eshowdow or whatever has taken its place gathers an army of shadows.
Next, the shadow, feeding off the ambitions, hunger and dreams of its former self, finds its goals getting bigger and bigger. In the end, nothing short of godhood will do. With Ubtao gone, it sets its sights much bigger.
Finally, it would turn its attention to forging a weapon of negative energy and shadow so powerful that it could possibly attain the heights of his goals.
There’s no way this adventure doesn’t go to Chult at one time or another. It’s possible that the Shadow formerly known as Eshowdow returns to the Valley of Lost Honor to retrieve something from one of his abandoned temples. More likely, priests who receive their power from Shar have set up residence there. Therefore, while the shadow goes to retrieve the secondary McGuffin, it would more than likely turn to revenge and vindication against the Eshowe people who he fills turned on him.
You could also bring another temple or place holy to his ally, Sseth, who is also estranged in worship, into the story. Maybe there’s a part of the puzzle there AND in the Valley of Lost Honor.
If your party does go to Chult and, in particular, the aforementioned valley, you could bring in a certain Adult Red Dragon named Tzindelor or Tinder. The problem is that an adult red dragon is a CR17 creature. It’s too strong a creature for an early campaign and even a medium powered party would struggle with such a task. So, possibly, work the dragon in without a direct combat or give them a way out of the range of Tzindelor. Maybe, you could foreshadow it early with them getting a look at the dragon and narrowly escaping its grasp only to come up against it later on in the campaign.
Maybe have Eshowdow capture Tinder early and drag it to Shadowfell. Using the power at its disposal, you could transform Tinder into a Shadow Dragon. But since you don’t have that much time throughout the campaign, it would have to find a way to accelerate the process. Just a thought.
Refer to the Campaign Pitch for info about the forging of a weapon out of the Shadowstuff including dark versions of the Azer who actually work the darkfire forges in Shadowfell. They are possibly part of what Eshowdow is building.
That’s all for now. But I think there are some strong bones of a great campaign. Where you take it from here, I would love to see. I will debate working further on this, since I have worlds to build and campaigns to run myself! Let us know what you think or what you would add in comments below or hit us up on Facebook!