Shadow is a more than a mere absence of light in Golarion. It's a fundamental force, no weaker than the elemental energies, no less vast than the ethereal or astral planes, and far more common in everyday life than any of those esoteric materials. The Shadow Plane is a physical place, a colorless realm that serves as a dark reflection of the Material Plane, and its existence can mold and shape those within it. The fetchlings who dwell there are the descendants of Azlanti refugees, who over generations have been altered by constant exposure to its planar power until they are no longer truly human. Conversely, the wayang found on the Material Plane have been changed by their lack of access to the Shadow Plane, their pathways between their new lands and their original homes destroyed when the sun returned and the Age of Darkness ended.
Illustration by Anson Tan
The deepest shadow, of course, is total darkness. Such lightless realms may lack the planar power of shadow, but within the darkness other powers over move about unseen and unfettered. It was in the darkness of the Darklands that a group of elves fleeing the destruction of Earthfall became vulnerable to demonic influence, and in time so corrupted themselves and their society that they became something wholly different than elves. The drows' transformation may not have involved direct exposure to the power of a plane, but it remains a testament to the power of the shadowed places.
Illustrations by Tawny Fritzinger and Marjorie Davis
These then—drow, fetchling, and wayang—are the races that receive the most focus of Player Companion: Blood of Shadows. Some examination is given to how the rest of Golarion treats those tied to shadow, with discussion of shadowy origin stories (from benign envoy to umbral operative). The idea of the taint of shadow reaching beyond these races is explored with darkborn and shadowborn alternate racial traits. Then in the sections dedicated to each race, the options players often look at to customize their characters are expanded, with favored class bonuses, alternate racial traits, and sometimes racial feats. Some idea of how these cultures handle core roles differently is revealed with common archetypes that can be traced back to these races (though now generally also available to a few beyond the originator societies), ranging from the shadow-themed rogue talents developed by the fetchlings, to the shadow ink tattoos and shadow mysteries once exclusive to the wayang.
Feast of Rats
Price 45,125 GP
Slot none CL 19th Weight varies
Aura strong evocation and illusion
A swarm of shadowy rats clump together to form this +1 stalkingUE light melee shadowcraft weapon. Three times per day, the wielder can throw the weapon into one square within 10 feet while speaking a command word, causing the weapon to disperse into a shadowy haze that functions as fog cloud. Each round, any creature within the fog cloud takes 1d6 points of damage and must succeed at a DC 19 Fortitude saving throw or become nauseated for 1 round. This effect lasts for 1 minute, after which the weapon returns to its previous form. Alternatively, any time before the effect's duration ends, the wielder can spend a move action while adjacent to the fog cloud to return the weapon to its previous form, dismissing the effect and returning the weapon to her hand.
A feast of rats can be used as an unholy symbol divine focus of Lao Shu Po, the Old Rat Woman.
Cost 22,712 GP
Craft Magical Arms and Armor, Create Reliquary Arms and ShieldsUM, deeper darkness, fog cloud, major creation, shadow weaponUM
Other shadow-themed characters are also given support in the form of archetypes, spells, and magic items. Morphing shadowform weapons, which range from humble weapon of solid shadow, to mighty reliquaries often carried by divine champions can be found in Blood of Shadows—including the more powerful weapon above!
Owen K.C. Stephens