Guild Of Shadows

Current Apparent Leader: The Darkness

Current Actual Leader: The Darkness

Approximate Numbers: Unknown

Membership: All races with ties to Shadow

Notable Personae: See below

Organization: Hierarchy/cells

Ranking: Caste

Goals: To spread the influence of Shadow onto the Prime.

Method of Operation: Subterfuge, assassination, spreading knowledge of Shadow magics.

Typical Lairs: Ruins, underground lairs

Group Sigil: A circle depicting a swirl of black (shadows) on light gray.

Distinctive Apparel: Dark clothing

Distinctive Markings: None

Distinctive Weaponry: None

Allies: Clerics of the gods of darkness/night; beings of Shadow; any race that lives in darkness (drow, illithid, duergar, etc.),

Enemies: Any cleric of the gods of the sun or light; any race that lives in the light.

The Guild of Shadows is an organization based on the Plane of Shadow, established several centuries ago by The Darkness (see below), in partnership with Erebus, god of shadows. Today, the guild's membership numbers anywhere from 500 to 5,000 (or more; no one beyond the leadership is quite sure how many there really are, in keeping with the guild's credo); they participate in all manner of activities, from assassination of powerful figures, to spreading the knowledge of Shadow-related spells, to corrupting paladins and others opposed to them, all in the name of spreading the influence of Shadow. They are subtle, patient, and very rarely work openly - most people outside the Guild don't believe it even exists, and its members do their best to keep it that way.

The guild has four "tiers" of membership, defined by ability and affinity with (and knowlegde of) Shadow, not necessarily power level (though those on the higher tiers are undeniably among the more powerful members of the guild).

The first, and lowest, tier is reserved for those with little or no tie to the Plane of Shadow – operatives on the Prime, minor illusionists, etc. Many are beings who have joined the cause but not yet proven their worth, or who (perhaps unknowingly) serve the guild in some other capacity – spying, passing on information, or engaging in a short-term contract. They are never given access to the Citadel (very few even set foot on the Plane of Shadow), and most don't see the member that hires them, or to whom they report. They are considered expendable, given very little (if any) information, and abandoned when their usefulness has ended.

The second tier consists of those who have a small tie to the Plane of Shadow, or a slight ability to manipulate Shadow essence – Jack o' Shadows, Shadowdancers, Dark Guardians, higher-level shadow illusionsists, low-level clerics of Erebus, etc. Many of them have actual (albeit small) roles in the guild – spies, enforcers, or low-level hit men, both on the Prime and the Plane of Shadow. They know of the guild's existence and its overall goal (to spread the influence of the Shadow), but few are privy to a greater amount of information, and that is always related only to their cell's current plan; they are generally used in a limited capacity, based on their abilities and knowledge. Those with ability who are not part of the guild (a freelance shadowdancer, e.g.) are watched carefully to see if they could be sympathetic to the cause.

The third tier is the first true tier of the Guild's hierarchy. This tier includes the higher-level clerics of Erebus, shadowmancers, and Walkers in Shadows. These people wield a good deal of power, both individually and as a group, though they comprise only a small part (about a quarter) of the total membership. They spend a good deal of their time on the Plane of Shadow, in or near the Citadel, but can spend months or even years on other planes, creating and maintaining plans to spread the influence of the Shadow. They usually know a good deal of information about the guild, its members, and its goals – numbers, locations of operatives, ongoing plans, etc.

The fourth and highest tier is the leaders of the Guild. Only those who have reached great heights of power (i.e., 20th+ level) will even be considered for promotion to this level, and even then only a few succeed – Shadow Slayers (assassin clerics of Erebus) and Shadowfanes, as well as powerful shades or other shadow beings, comprise the membership of this tier. They set policy in the guild, pass on the word of their god to his followers, and create the plans that their underlings set into motion. They are the only ones who know all the guild's members and plans, but even they keep things from each other – private plots, operatives, and even goals.

Over it all sits The Darkness, a being of inscrutable motives, great power, and shadowy mien. No one is quite sure what manner of being The Darkness is – mortal shadowmancer, shade, undead, or something entirely different. He always wears a voluminous black robe with a deep cowl that hides his face (or lack thereof), and his hands are hidden by black leather gloves. Rumors abound as to his origins; it is known that he is a powerful mage or sorcerer, and though he worships Erebus, the clerics wonder (though not openly) if he actually follows his god's dictates, or if he has his own agenda(s). Since his goals coincide with those of their god, however, they are content to follow him for the time being.

Notable members of the Guild include:

The Darkness (see below).

Alithyrra Nerresilan, head of the intelligence arm of the Guild. She controls all spying, assassination, and infiltration operations. Alithyrra is a petite (5 feet tall) half-elf who weighs 100 pounds dripping wet, but she uses her small size to her advantage – often her targets have no inkling of her presence except for the blade that slips into their ribs or the base of the skull. She has dealt with several contenders for her position – every five years or so, someone gets up the guts to challenge her, but all have failed.

Darrek Hernoldt, Captain of the Guard, Dark Guardian, and personal guard to The Darkness himself. Darrek is a huge (near 7 feet tall) human with a shaven head, dour disposition, and a long-handled greataxe. No one in the Guild can match his skill at arms, despite his having served for nearly 50 years (some say his life is being extended or sustained by magic or Shadow; he certainly doesn't appear to be aging, though he bears no evidence of Shadow energy). He brooks no foolishness from his men, and is quick and decisive in his punishments of transgressions.

Xanril Belaver, High Priest of Erebus. He is one of the most powerful members of the Guild, perhaps second only to The Darkness. He is cunning and ruthless, and not a bit mad – he thinks that the time for worshipping Erebus in secret has passed, and that the god should be receiving worship like some of his more well-known brethren. He is not so far gone as to openly preach about Erebus to the uninitiated, however, so The Darkness is content to let him remain in place, as removing him without good cause would create more problems than it solves.

M'Kisa Kishta, archmage and Shadowfane. M'Kisa, strangely, is the only shade (besides The Darkness) sitting on the High Council. No one is quite sure of her origins, or even her original race – she underwent the transformation before she joined the Guild, though she has never said how or why she did it. Hints and clues she has let slip over the years suggest that she is most likely human (though not totally), but her native plane is not the Prime. Rumor around the Guild says that she hails from one of the planar metropoli, but guesses as to her parentage vary widely, from fiends to angels, and some even say she has elemental blood. Whatever the case, M'Kisa is a tall, statuesque, and very powerful sorcerer of the Shadow bloodline, more interested in the acquisition of knowledge and power than spreading the influence of Shadow, though she is willing to work toward that goal, as it provides her with new insights. She is one of the few to whom The Darkness has taught any of his lesser-known spells.

Sarandathar the Gray, a powerful shade who joined the Guild for reasons known only to himself (some whisper that he is a spy for any one of a number of beings or organizations – Erebus himself being among them). He is knowledgeable in both magic and stealth, and serves as a spy and sometime assassin.

The Darkness: The enigmatic figure known as The Darkness is really a drow elf named Caladaar. Caladaar served for many years as an assassin, working against the surface elves in particular. He is one of the pioneers into the research of Shadow magics, and one of the first Walkers in Shadows.

History records him as having disappeared after completing "one last contract"; opinions widely diverge on what actually happened to him, though a knowledgeable few say that he discovered and underwent the process to become a shade and now resides on the Plane of Shadow. As it happens, they are incorrect, but not far off the mark – he did indeed undergo the process to become a shade, but due to a slight error (even Caladaar is not sure what happened - a few mispronounced words, a miscalculation in the amount of ingredients, or simply a bit too much energy), it changed him. He has many of the powers and weaknesses of a shade (the ability to regenerate, manipulate shadows, agelessness, and waxing/waning power depending on lighting conditions), but he is also bound to – and draws those powers from - Plane of Shadow.

When he first found out that he could never leave the Plane of Shadow, he was furious, but further research and experimentation revealed new, greater powers that came about because of the link – the ability to teleport anywhere on the Plane (a greater form of Shadow Jump), the ability to summon and control shadow creatures, and even to create shadow doubles (effectively projected images, but they are 50% real due to the infusion of shadow energies) on other planes to any place he can see (via a crystal ball, gate, scrying spell, etc.). Using these doubles, he has managed to hide the fact that he cannot leave the Plane of Shadow – if his underlings, especially the clerics of Erebus, ever found out, his hold on the Guild's rulership would become tenuous at best.

In the course of his research, Caladaar discovered the demigod Erebus. Erebus was impressed with the elf's mastery of Shadow and offered some insight into his condition, as well as a suggestion for getting around it – if he could infuse another plane with enough shadow energy to effectively create another Plane of Shadow, he can move there as well. At first, Caladaar dismissed it as a fantasy, or worse, a joke played on him by the god. He had spent a long time coming up with other alternatives, but the best he could do was severing the bond; if that didn't kill him outright, it would negate most, if not all, of the abilities he had, and that was untenable. So, he set about attempting to prove or disprove Erebus' theory; after several years, he proved it true by transforming several demiplanes of various sizes (one of which he uses as a private sanctum). A full plane like the Prime, however, would be much more difficult, beyond the abilities of any single being, even one as powerful as himself.

He went back to Erebus with an offer – he would create a guild to follow the god and spread the influence of Shadow, in return for Erebus granting his power to the clerics and influencing them to follow Caladaar's aims (which coincided quite nicely with the god's own). Erebus agreed, and Caladaar set about gathering together members to create the guild.

In the centuries since his binding to the Plane of Shadow, Caladaar has gained immense power. He has developed several legendary spells, created the Shadowfane prestige class, and furthered his training as a mage and assassin. He should be considered to have levels in wizard, rogue, assassin, Walker in Shadows, and Shadowfane, and is always accompanied by a huge (10 HD) shadow mastiff, which has itself been altered to give it several extra abilities. He is never without at least three weapons (+3 or greater enchantment) on his person, as well as various and sundry magic items, most of his own creation. His inner sanctum is heavily guarded by unique spells, shadowstone golems, undead shadows, and probably even a nightshade or two.

Before he vanished, Caladaar was of average size and appearance for a drow elf – a bit over five feet tall, with a lean, wiry build, silver hair, and pale blue eyes. He always spoke in a low, whispery voice, though none were sure if this was an affectation or the result of damaged vocal chords. He was known as a cold, cunning, and ruthless assassin who never quit until the target was dead or out of his reach. Little has changed since undergoing the ritual – his skin has changed to a dusky gray, but his eyes remain the same pale blue (even he is unsure why – he thinks it's a side effect of the botched ritual), he still speaks in a whispery voice, and he is still driven toward achieving his goal, despite its change in focus.

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