Shadowsign Language in Derkomai | World Anvil


The Shadows of The Night of Apopshe are taught and use Shadowsign, a secret system of hand signals, gestures, and marks used to identify Shadow operatives and communicate important information between them.   Shadowsign has three forms.   "Large Form" consists of arm and hand signals and body postures used to communicate instructions between Shadow operatives in outdoor or combat situations where silence is required, but subtlety is not. Shadowsign Large Form is also known as Battlesign.   "Small Form" is used for covert communications, typically indoors, where the Shadows do not want others to be aware that any communication is taking place. Shadowsign Small Form uses small gestures of the hands and fingers, facial expressions, and body postures to communicate. Small Form is designed to look like natural, everyday movements, so that observers are unaware that any communication is taking place, other than what is being said verbally. Small Form is usually called "Shadowsign," and when used without other context, the word Shadowsign refers to Small Form.   "Long Form" is a system of subtle, natural-looking marks that can be placed on objects, either indoors or outdoors, to communicate persistent information to Shadows as they perform missions. Long Form marks can communicate directions, locations of supply caches, people or places to avoid, and so on. It is called Long Form because the communication is persistent, lasting as long as the marks are visible. Long Form is also known as "Shadowmark."

Writing System

Shadowsign Long Form consists of a set of subtle, natural looking marks that can be placed on objects, cut into the bark of trees, tied into knots, or arranged in piles of rocks, leaves, or branches. Directions in forest situations can be communicated in the way that leaves are stripped away from certain tree branches or bushes. In urban areas, small pieces of knotted string can be tied to or draped over certain objects to communicate messages.


All forms of Shadowsign are silent.


Shadowsign Large Form uses large, easily seen and understood hand and arm signals and body postures to communicate instructions for movement, combat formations, weapons use, and so on, in covert situations where silence is required, but subtlety is not. For example, an upraised hand might be a command to stop movement. If followed by a crouch and right arm extended straight out to the right, it might be an instruction for all to crouch.   Shadowsign Small Form uses small, natural looking sequences of gestures, expressions, and postures to communicate covertly, usually in indoor or public situations. For example, if a Shadow pulls at her ear, blinks both eyes three times, then shifts her weight from one side to the other, it might mean, "the situation is dangerous; we must leave now."   Shadowsign Long Form uses a variety of different methods to persistently communicate directions and instructions to Shadows traveling in unpopulated areas and in urban environments. For example, a small piece of red string tied into a loop and stuck into the roof shingles of a building might mean, "kill everyone in this building."

Cover image: by Peter Nelson (Zero Sum Games)


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