The Claim Shadow

I tell ya... Ol' Janric ain't gonna be too happy wi' us jumpin' on 'is claim so soon after 'e got 'imself killed. I can feel it... 'E's here... an' 'e don't want us ta be. Me? 'E didnt' seem ta mind too much, but 'e never did like you, Mattias. 'E's gonna let us know, an' we ain't gonna like it.
— One reluctant miner to another upon discovering a deceased miner's old camp
I
n every mining community, there are stories told of prospectors that go off into the mountains alone to seek the ore vein that would would make them rich. In many instances, these tales end with the words, "...and they were never seen again.". There are also tales of haunted mines and cursed claims that prospectors find dangerous and difficult, if not impossible, to work.

While most of these tales are dismissed as superstition, there is a kernel of truth to some. And in many cases, that kernel of truth is due to the existence of a haunting spirit of a type unique to the remote mines of the mountainous regions that surround the Feywood. Knowingly or not, the tellers of these tales are recounting the workings of a Claim Shadow.

Description

The Claim Shadow is the non-corporeal, undead spirit of a prospector that remains after death to protect a mining claim. They are usually completely invisible to all but those with magically enhanced senses, though many tales tell of seeing strange shadow-like apparitions that do not move as normal shadows do. On rarest occasions, a Claim Shadow may manifest more fully, appearing as a ghostly image of the prospector.

The Claim Shadow exists primarily in the Ether, though its senses extend into the Material world. Based on the tales of their interactions with the living, it is clear that they can see and hear what goes on in our world. And if they do not like what they see and hear, the tales also make it clear that they can take actions that affect our world. Support beams suddenly shift. Mining equipment goes missing. Campfires suddenly are doused... or flare up. Whether the creatures become temporarily corporeal to effect these things, or whether their action is a manifestation of their will, is unclear.

Suspected Origins

Not every solitary prospector or miner lost in the wilderness or a deep mineshaft will become a Claim Shadow after meeting their demise. It appears that only those that were exceedingly greedy or protective of their claims have their spirits remain after death to continue to guard what is theirs. Many believe that the presence of a Claim Shadow is evidence of a rich, hidden ore deposit somewhere nearby -- something worth protecting. That is not always the case, though; some Claim Shadows relentlessly guard barren patches of earth and stone simply because, in life, the prospector was certain that the spot contained the 'mother lode' they sought after so greedily.
Classification
Undead
Encounter Regions
Hills and mountains believed to be locations of rich ore deposits, and especially in the regions surrounding the hamlets of Crystal Rock, Stannilode, and Ferrilode on the borders of the Feywood.
Original Being Type
Practically all Claim Shadows were either Human or Halfling in life. Occasionally, a solitary Dwarven miner working alone and away from a Dwarven community will 'turn', and there are extremely rare reports of Goblins and even an Orcish Claim Shadow appearing near Crystal Rock in the Teeth of the Sea mountains.

Claim Shadow Statblock
(coming soon)
 

Encounter Locations

Claim Shadows seem to be bound to the area immediately around the spot where the prospector toiled in life - even if that miner's death occurred in a place far away. In those cases, the spirit 'migrates' to its rooting area. Usually, this migration is not detected, but it is in fact the time when a Claim Shadow is most likely to be seen as a recognizable remnant of a living person.
Didja hear old Tommy goin' on about the spirit he saw on the trail into the hills last week? Yar... twas the same night that old hermit Janric came into town from his secret claim, an' got himself killed at the dice table in the tavern. Tommy claims he was passed on the road by ol' Janric's ghost... headin' back into the mountains, probably to work some more silver outta his mine.
— An unnamed miner in Crystal Rock discussing a Claim Shadow sighting

There are rare tales told of apparitions that are most likely Claim Shadows existing in all of the major mountainous regions of Cartyrion - wherever mining takes place. But by far the most such appearances seem to be concentrated in the Iron Mountains regions near the hamlets of Stannilode and Ferrilode, and in the mountains called the Teeth of the Sea near the hamlet of Crystal Rock. As both of these areas border the Feywood, it has been speculated that the concentration of magical energy in that area makes these locations more conducive to the creation of a Claim Shadow.

Special Actions

There are two special actions that a Claim Shadow is capable of performing. In both cases, these actions require a successful "touch" attack that is manifested by a dark shadow that rapidly appears, passes over (or through?) the target, and then disappears again.
Touch of Foreboding
With this special action, delivered by touch, the Claim Shadow is able to fill the target's thoughts with a message that instills a sense of foreboding. This message may take the form of a wispy voice coming from everywhere and nowhere at once, or it may be a visual image.
Touch of Doom
With this action, the Claim Shadow can physically interact with an object in the material world. Shaft supports can be shifted; tools can be lifted and moved.

Interactions With the Living

Not every Claim Shadow is malevolent, and not every tale of their existence is one of calamity. There have been occasions where the Claim Shadow appears to approve of a new miner or prosector stumbling upon and subsequently working their claim, These folk find that their tools are sharpened for them overnight. One miner told of a sense of foreboding before a mineshaft collapse that allowed them to escape the area before being trapped. She described it as a "voice that wasn't a voice, telling her to get out before it was too late".

More often, though, the Claim Shadow is jealous of others that gather riches from the mines that they discovered and worked in life. These undead spirits take actions to discourage the "claim jumpers" from remaining in the area. Worse, if their first few warnings are ignored, the actions of the spirit can become deadly.
...I tell ya... I jus' barely got out after a voice in me head tol' me ta start runnin'. I tried ta warn Mattias, but 'e just laughed... and then the beam shifted and the shaft fell in on 'im. that ol' Janric's spirit were still in th' mine, but he didn't listen. I knew ol' Janric's ghost were in that mine, an' 'e didn't want us takin' 'is claim. An' I tell ya, ya won't be seein' me back there again... Janric can keep it,
— Miner recounting the recent loss of his partner in the hills outside of Crystal Rock

Cover image: The Inn from the Bridge over Daphinia's Stream by RPGDinosaurBob (with Flowscape)

This species has multiple parents, only the first is displayed below.
All parents:

Comments

Please Login in order to comment!
Powered by World Anvil