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Shadows have been in the game since the beginning. They were usually undead in previous editions, but here they get a bit of new lore.
It’s understandable that someone would think shadows are undead, but the truth is that they are a species of creature native to the Shadowfell. They’re sapient but they perceive the world in a way that makes then inimical to most other living creatures. They hate light, and believe the shadows cast by living creatures to be prisoners in cages of flesh. Many seek to rescue these prisoners by destroying their cages.
Shadows might form alliances of convenience with other people that would offer them the chance to “liberate” lots of living creatures, but they rarely care for the causes or gods of us fleshlings. The exception seems to be spellcasters versed in shadow magic, who can summon them very easily and always find them to be obsequious and eager servants. It’s almost like the shadows know something that these mortal masters don’t.
Shadows slip into the world via these summonings or at natural contact points between the world and the Shadowfell. Their number has increased in recent years, but no one knows why yet.
Shadows are Medium Shadow Humanoids with a ground speed of 8 and Darkvision. They’re insubstantial but vulnerable to radiant damage. Exposure to ambient light doesn’t damage them, but reveals their position and leaves them with less places to hide.
Their signature trait is Born of Shadows, which allows them to make Stealth checks to hide mid-combat when they have any amount of concealment, instead of needing total concealment. All of the variants here are trained in Stealth.
This one is equivalent to the classic shadows of editions past. It’s a Level 3 Lurker with 25 HP.
The stalker attacks with a shadowy touch that does necrotic damage, and it has a Shadow Stalk power that deals necrotic damage and allows it to meld with an enemy’s shadow (save ends). While melded, the shadow moves in lockstep with its victim, without provoking opportunity attacks. It gains a +4 to all defenses and a +5 to attack the victim. When the victim saves, the shadow appears on an adjacent square.
Its triggered action is Shadow Step: when a nearby creature drops to 0 HP, the stalked teleports to an adjacent square and gains a +2 bonus to attacks for a turn (from eating the victim’s shadow). This also recharges Shadow Stalk.
Shadow Stalkers become major threats if they manage to land their Shadow Stalk attack. Its buddies should focus fire on the stricken PC, which increases the chances of the PC dropping to 0 HP and recharging the power. Note that it’s possible for multiple stalkers to meld with the same PC’s shadow, and that the attack also recharges if an enemy hits 0 HP.
PCs should focus their fire on any shadow stalkers in Team Monster, preferrably with radiant and force attacks to kill them quicker.
This is a spellcaster specializing in remote shadow control. It uses the shadows it devours to fuel its magic, so it must feed more frequently than its fellows. Stranglers are Level 9 Artillery with 53 HP.
The Strangler’s shadowy touch deals necrotic damage and makes invisible to the target for a turn. Its basic ranged attack is a spell namd Blinding Shadows that deals the same amount of necrotic damage and makes the target unable to see further than 3 squares for a turn. Its special attack is Strangling Darkness (recharge 5+) which restrains and deals ongoing 15 damage (save ends). And finally it has an encounter power named Devouring Dark that’s basically a “shadow fireball” that deals light necrotic damage and blinds everyone it hits for a turn.
Despite being artillery, stranglers are very controllery. They pair well with lurkers whose increased damage depends on combat advantage or on being unseen by their targets.
This powerful shadow has a more refined palate. It seeks to feed on the shadows cast by souls as they depart for the afterlife. So while the others might leave their victims a bit drained but alive, this one is definitely out for murder.
Puppeteers are Level 14 Lurkers with 74 HP. Their shadowy touch deals extra damage against targets that cannot see it, and creates a zone of lightly obscured squares centered on the target’s space that lasts for a turn. Its special attak is Shadow Puppet, which targets a creature that cannot see the puppeteer, deals light necrotic damage, and dominates them until they start their turn not adjacent to the shadow.
Puppeteers and stranglers have amazing synergy. If you want your PCs to sweat for their victory, it’s definitely worth it to adjust their levels so they’re closer to each other and can be included in the same encounter. Keep the strangler as the lower-level half of the pair to make things slightly less hard for them.
PCs fighting a puppeteer should remain mobile to avoid lingering in the darkness it creates, and should use forced movement powers to keep it away from potential domination targets. If they face the tag team described above, they should focus on killing the strangler first, since it frees the puppeteer from having to set up its lurker bonuses.
Shadows don’t usually work well with other monsters, so you’re most likely looking at all-shadow teams when building encounters. If you want more variety it might be possible to turn another monster into a shadow by changing its origin, halving its HP, making it insubstantial, and making its basic attack into a touch that targets Reflex and deals necrotic damage.
The original reason shadows were scary was that they drained Strength, but here they’re scary because they’re sticky. The basic stalker can enter your shadow and attack you from there until it kills you. The puppetter does the same but dominates you to attack your friends while it’s doing it. And the strangler makes it a lot easier for the other two to do their part.