Shadar-kai

From 1d4chan
Ow the edge.
Even more edge.

Shadar-kai are a Dungeons & Dragons creature where you really have to specify what edition you're talking about. Both versions have a gothy sadomasochistic theme (imagine a whole race of Cenobites from Hellraiser), but the difference between 3e and 4e really couldn't be much greater.

In 3rd Edition[edit]

An obscure beastie, the 3.5 shadar-kai is a species of Fae that has been dwelling on the Plane of Shadow for generations. This has caused them to suffer a magical affliction where they steadily fade away into nothingness, unless they can stimulate themselves. The most easy way to do this is via torture and self-mutilation, to the point that their iconic gear are arm-bands with cold iron spikes on the inside, which they drive into their own flesh to keep them "anchored" into reality. They hate all mortals for not having to put up with the same effect, blaming them for their choice to live in the Plane of Shadow in the first place.

In 4th Edition[edit]

Debuting in Dragon Magazine #372, the shadar-kai of the World Axis became both a humanoid race and a playable species. Basically, they're the descendants of humans who migrated to the Shadowfell in pursuit of immortality. They got it... of a sort. If they can keep themselves active, amused and interested in life, they can live forever. If they succumb to ennui, they start fading out of existence. Their culture is thusly dedicated to stimulation of all sorts: carnal experimentation and sadomasochism, boasting contests, athletic contests... in essence, they're a race of "live for the moment" loudmouthed jocks, with a tendency to cut themselves when things get boring.

Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity; +2 Intelligence or +2 Wisdom (originally, they were a Dex/Int race, with Dragon #397 letting them trade the Int for a Wis bonus instead.
Size: Medium
Speed: 6 Squares
Vision: Low-light
Languages: Common, one language of choice
Skill Bonuses: +2 Acrobatics, +2 Stealth
Shadow Jaunt: Once per encounter, as a move action, teleport 3 squares and become Insubstantial until the start of your next turn.
Shadow Origin: Considered a shadow creature for the purpose of effects that relate to creature origin
Winterkin: +1 racial bonus to Fortitude defense, +2 racial bonus to death/unconscious saving throws

In Dragon Magazine #391, the article "A Legacy in Shadow" officially canonized/examined the presence of shadar-kai in the Forgotten Realms, saying they began to spontaneously arise as a result of the Spellplague touching the shadowborn humans brought back to Toril by the Shadovar of Returned Netheril. This not only provided a number of new racial feats, but also included the subraces/alternative powers for shadar-kai descended from shades and krinth, represented as a pair of Heritage Feats:

  • Krinth Heritage: +2 to Intimidate, become Insubstantial until the end of your next turn when you suffer a critical hit from an enemy, replace Shadow Jaunt with Demonic Aggression (1/encounter, as an immediate reaction to being damaged by an enemy within 3 squares, teleport to an unoccupied square adjacent to that enemy and gain combat advantage until the end of your next turn).
  • Shade Heritage: Vision becomes Darkvision 5, +2 to Stealth checks (so +4 total), replace Shadow Jaunt with Shade Stride (1/encounter, teleport either to any square within 5 squares or to any dark or dimly lit square within 10 squares as a move action).

In 5th Edition[edit]

Shadar-kai made an appearance for 5e in the November 2017 issue of Unearthed Arcana; whilst the focus was purely on crunch, their fluff was essentially a clumsy amalgamation of their lore from before - in a nutshell, taking all of their 4e lore, but making their base race be elf rather than human. As such, they are mechanically a subrace for elves, although their entire statblock is repeated here because 1d4chan is awesome like that.

Ability Score Increase: +2 Dexterity, +1 Charisma
Size: Medium
Speed: 30 feet
Darkvision 60 feet
Keen Senses: Proficiency in Perception.
Fey Ancestry: Advantage on saves against being charmed, and immune to magic that puts you to sleep.
Trance: Trancing for 4 hours yields the same effect as an 8 hour sleep.
Deathly Cantrip: You know a single cantrip chosen from a list of Chill Touch, Spare the Dying and Thaumaturgy. This cantrip can't be changed at a later date. Your spellcasting ability score for this cantrip is Charisma.
Blessed By The Raven Queen: You can use a bonus action to teleport to an unoccupied space within 15 feet. After teleporting, you gain resistance to all damage until the end of your next turn, during which time you appear translucent and ghostly. After using this ability, you must complete a short rest or a long rest to use it again.

Shadar-kai later appeared in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes but with some edits. The most notable among these changes includes the Deathly Cantrip being removed but the range of their teleport is increased to 30 feet. A new interesting detail for them is that they look like actual wrinkly old people while they're in the Shadowfell for some reason. Also, they're no longer BDSM freaks, instead they just treat their bodies as disposable since they know their Raven Queen will resurrect them anyway.

Ability Score Increase: +2 Dexterity, +1 Constitution
Size: Medium
Speed: 30 feet
Darkvision 60 feet
Keen Senses: Proficiency in Perception.
Fey Ancestry: Advantage on saves against being charmed, and immune to magic that puts you to sleep.
Trance: Trancing for 4 hours yields the same effect as an 8 hour sleep.
Necrotic Resistance: You have resistance to necrotic damage.
Blessing of the Raven Queen: You can use a bonus action to magically teleport to an unoccupied space you can see within 30 feet. Starting at the 3rd character level, you gain resistance to all damage after teleporting with this trait until the end of your next turn, during which time you appear translucent and ghostly. After using this ability, you must complete a long rest to use it again.

If you want something closer to the 4e version of the race, Ulraunt's Guide to the Planes has got you covered!

Ability Score Increase: +2 Dexterity, +1 to an ability score of your choice
Size: Medium
Speed: 30 feet
Darkvision 60 feet
Shadow Blend: While in dim light or darkness, you can use a bonus action to become invisible, along with anything you are wearing or carrying. The invisibility lasts for 1 minute, until you make an attack or cast a spell, are in bright light, become incapacitated, or until you use a bonus action to end it. Once you use this trait, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.
Shadow Jaunt: When you are in dim light or darkness, as a bonus action you can teleport up to 60 feet to an unoccupied space you can see that is also in dim light or darkness. Once you use this trait, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
Shadow Stealth: While in dim light or darkness, you can take the Hide action as a bonus action.
Spiked Chain Proficiency: You are proficient with the spiked chain and the heavy spiked chain.
Languages: You can speak, read, and write Common.
Epic Racial: Ghostly Jaunt: When you reach 25th character level, after using your Shadow Jaunt, you gain resistance to all damage until the start of your next turn.
Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Races
Player's Handbook 1: Dragonborn - Dwarf - Eladrin - Elf
Half-Elf - Halfling - Human - Tiefling
Player's Handbook 2: Deva - Gnome - Goliath - Half-Orc - Shifter
Player's Handbook 3: Githzerai - Minotaur - Shardmind - Wilden
Monster Manual 1: Bugbear - Doppelganger - Githyanki
Goblin - Hobgoblin - Kobold - Orc
Monster Manual 2: Bullywug - Duergar - Kenku
Dragon Magazine: Gnoll - Shadar-kai
Heroes of Shadow: Revenant - Shade - Vryloka
Heroes of the Feywild Hamadryad - Pixie - Satyr
Eberron's Player's Guide: Changeling - Kalashtar - Warforged
The Manual of the Planes: Bladeling
Dark Sun Campaign Setting: Mul - Thri-kreen
Forgotten Realms Player's Guide: Drow - Genasi
Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Races
Player's Handbook: Dragonborn - Drow - Dwarf - Elf - Gnome
Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human - Tiefling
Dungeon Master's Guide: Aasimar - Eladrin
Elemental Evil Player's Guide: Aarakocra - Genasi - Goliath - Svirfneblin
Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide: Duergar - Ghostwise Halfling - Svirfneblin - Tiefling Variants
Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes: Baatific Tieflings - Duergar - Eladrin - Githyanki
Githzerai - Sea Elf - Shadar-kai - Svirfneblin
Volo's Guide to Monsters: Aasimar - Bugbear - Firbolg - Goblin - Goliath - Hobgoblin - Kenku
Kobold - Lizardfolk - Orc - Tabaxi - Triton - Yuan-Ti Pureblood
Eberron: Rising from the Last War: Bugbear - Changeling - Goblin - Hobgoblin - Shifter - Warforged
Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica: Centaur - Elf - Goblin - Human
Loxodon - Minotaur - Simic Hybrid - Vedalken
Mythic Odysseys of Theros: Human - Centaur - Leonin - Minotaur - Satyr - Triton
Unearthed Arcana: Minotaur - Revenant
Plane Shift: Amonkhet: Aven - Khenra - Minotaur - Naga
Plane Shift: Innistrad: Human
Plane Shift: Ixalan: Goblin - Human - Merfolk - Orc - Siren - Vampire
Plane Shift: Kaladesh: Aetherborn - Dwarf - Elf - Human - Vedalken
Plane Shift: Zendikar: Elf - Goblin - Human - Kor - Merfolk - Vampire
One Grung Above: Grung