Shadow. Wherever you walk in all the realms of Midgard, it surrounds you. It lies beneath the sun-dappled waves of grass on the Rothenian Plain and between the sky-scraping peaks of the Ironcrags. It echoes your footsteps in the alleys of Zobeck and reaches down from the starry sky in the frozen Northlands. It rises up from the lightless caverns where the ghouls feast or is carried on the wind through the sandstorms of the Southlands. The Shadow Realm always lurks just on the other side of the light, watching. Waiting. Yearning. Just as an oak tree casts dancing shadows of its leaves and a stretched, darkened effigy of its trunk against the light of day, so too does the world of Midgard cast a shadow. The Shadow Realm exists as a place of dark reflections and distorted expectations. Another plane of reality, it stands alongside and beneath the material world—the middle of the coin between Midgard and the far side of the universe. Dark magic seethes here, spawning creatures unlike anything else in existence. The place also beckons mortal creatures, tempting them with whispered secrets and forgotten power. The touch of the Shadow Realm can be a great asset, but that power comes at a terrible cost.
The sky of the Shadow Realm appears as a perpetual smear of charcoal, only ever reaching twilight illumination. Stars gleam through the gloom for brief moments before strange clouds swallow them up again. There is no sun; a diffuse, weak, natural illumination has no discernible source other than the faintly luminous sky. Muted colors appear dull in Shadow. Even colors brought into the realm from Midgard fade and wash out. If they linger long enough, their vibrancy fails to return even when returned to Midgard. If one could look down from a star’s-eye view, the Shadow Realm would resemble Midgard as seen through a smoked glass mirror. Prominent Midgard landmarks have echoes in the Shadow Realm, often playing host to similar, or sometimes opposite, essences. A population center in Midgard might correspond to a city or town where natives of the umbral plane live and scheme. Or it could hold a blighted desolation of tumbled stones and salted fields where a settlement once stood. The Shadow Realm’s waterways—streams, lakes, and rivers—are even more disturbing. Instead of water, they contain rushing torrents or rippling tracts of pure shadow. Two major waterways twist like ribbons of black silk across the plane; the rivers Styx and Lethe. Their tributaries and minor outlets reach nearly every corner of the realm, providing accessways if one can survive the perils of a waterborne journey. The shores of the Shadow Realm look out on the inky expanse of the Shade Sea, an endless, roiling stretch of wavering darkness.
Fauna & Flora
Beasts in the Shadow Realm adapt to the plane’s unique nature. Shadowy reflections of ordinary beasts.