Shadow Mages

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Simon E. Phipp
Created On 17 September 1997
Last Updated On 17 September 1997
Copyright (c) Simon E. Phipp 1997

Becoming a Shadowmage
Benefits and Powers
Disadvantages of being a Shadowmage
General Statement


In the old days, before Time began, there was Primal Darkness. Many gods walked in the Darkness, safe from all harm. Three of those gods found something new hidden in the Darkness. For a while they viewed it from a distance and made up their minds about what they thought it was. These three gods were Argan Argar, Xiola Umbar and Zorak Zoran. "It is Friendship from afar" said Xiola Umbar. "it is just another godling" said Argan Argar. "It is an enemy and I shall eat it to hide it away from us" said Zorak Zoran, and he lifted the bundle and uncovered its veil. Aether, Lord of Light was meditating on his powers and when he was disturbed, he sent forth the power he was thinking of. The light and heat burned Zorak Zoran and made him an enemy of light ever since. Argan Argar, further away, turned his back and ignored the light, taking no permanent damage. Xiola Umbar, furthest away, blinked rapidly and remembered what she saw.

Later on, the gods went to the surface world and saw the carnage and destruction that had happened. Zorak Zoran leapt in and caused more damage and pain. Argan Argar took command and led some of the people to safety. Xiola Umbar felt that she must do something to soothe people's fears. She remembered the Light Within her and used her powers of midwifery to bring forth the powers into the world. Thus was born Rashoran, and it is a secret who his mother was. Rashoran went amongst the people and taught those who would listen not to be afraid. Eventually, like many gods, Rashoran was slain and some more light left the world.

When Yelm, the Fire God, fell and plunged into Hell, he fought with many deities. One of these was Styx, goddess of Dark Waters. As they fought, their blood and natures mixed and from this mixture of Light and Darkness came Anilla, first of the Moons, the Blue Moon, born of Light and Darkness.

After Time began, Rashoran's corpse was found and many rituals were performed on it. The trolls were part of this project and firm supporters until the followers of Zorak Zoran saw the corpse and what it contained. They recognised that this was the god who had burnt their master, so they withdrew and began summoning a great deity to fight it. Rashoran was brought back and called Osentalka, The Perfect One. The trolls summoned the Black Eater, a fearsome and terrible god, who was sent to attack Osentalka. The new god wrestled with the Black Eater and brought forth his powers of Light to drive it off. From then on, he was called Nysalor, the Bright One. He sent the Black Eater back to the trolls, where it attacked the womb of Kyger Litor and devoured part of it.

In the struggle between Nysalor and the Black Eater, both were mixed. The Black Eater gained some light, which it shed when it devoured Kyger Litor's womb. Nysalor gained darkness, which he shed when he created Gbaji, the Deceiver who was Nysalor's Shadow, his Other.

Nysalor's reign was a good one, bringing plenty and health to many people. However, Nysalor's Shadow caused trouble and spread bad ideas through the Empire. Many people turned to the Darkness and took on evil powers. In the backlash that followed, a hero came forth and fought the evils of Gbaji. His name was Arkat and he was a Knight of the West. Gbaji fought Arkat at Castle Kartolin and trapped him, binding him in Hell. Thus, the light was bound into Darkness. The Lightbringers of Harmast brought Arkat back, introducing him to his father's cult of Humakt. Arkat fought many battles against the armies of Gbaji and received many wounds. One of the wounds caused him much trouble until it was healed by the trolls of the Shadowlands. Arkat was impressed by the trolls and became one of them, thus joining light and darkness once more. He became the terrible Zorak Arkat and met Gbaji in combat, destroying the evil god. However, Arkat lost something in the battle and retired before he became like the evil Gbaji.


The Shadowmages have an overriding philosophy of Light within Darkness. They recognise many gods as manifestations of this principle. They especially recognise Rashoran, Nysalor, Arkat and the Red Goddess as manifestations of this principle and allow worship of all these within their belief system. Gbaji is seen as Darkness within Light, their principles turned inside out. His worship is not promoted, nor is it forbidden.

Shadowmages are friendly with the cults of Anilla, who they recognise as a mixture of light and darkness and Xiola Umbar, who is the holder of the secret of Light Within. They also recognise deities of Shadow and allow their worship.

When Arkat came to power, some Shadowmages became important in his cult and continued his worship afterwards. With the destruction of Arkat's Dark Empire, these Shadowmages kept their version of Arkat's cult, expanding and strengthening them. Whilst much has been lost elsewhere, these Shadowmages keep the core of Arkat's beliefs intact.


Shadowmages are sorcerers tied to the element of Darkness, or more specifically, to the element of Shadow. They follow the Stygian Heresy of Malkionism which allows the worship of other deities than the Invisible God, in particular they can worship any god of Shadow or Darkness. Uniquely, they can also worship some cults of Light, mainly star cults, whom they recognise as Lights in the Darkness.

Shadowmages encourage the practice of Illumination, but discourage the abuse of these abilities. They are largely self-regulating, being able to monitor those followers who tread dangerous paths and trying to persuade them to act differently. If, however, some choose to follow Gbaji's path, the Shadowmages merely let them go their own way, but deny them any further assistance. Where Arkat is strong, Shadowmages may then hunt down these outcasts.

There is no place of power for Shadowmages, they are not politically important in any region of Glorantha. Where they form into schools, these are small and generally closed. In the lands of Ralios, Dagori Inkarth and the Holy Country, there are minor schools comprising a few Shadowmages and their apprentices. Where they can be found, they are often priests of other cults and are known as great scholars and Wizards. Recently, they have tried to move into the Lunar Empire, especially near troll strongholds of Yolp and the Blue Moon Plateau.

The first Shadowmage was a follower of Malkion who found a way to bind a piece of Darkness to his soul. From then on, all Shadowmages have also bound darkness to their souls.

Becoming a Shadowmage

The first stage in becoming a Shadowmage is to find a current Shadowmage and persuade him to accept the character as an apprentice.

The apprentice Shadowmage gains experience as a normal apprentice sorcerer. The spells he receives are mostly darkness oriented spells such as Dominate (Darkness Creature), Summon (Darkness Creature), Create (Basilisk, Vampire, Mummy, Zombie), Venom, Palsy, Stupefaction, Tap (Characteristic).

When the apprentice has progressed enough to become an adept, he must take as a familiar some creature associated with darkness, such as a bat, mummy, hag, shade or vampire. Only then can he go on to become a full Shadowmage.

At any time after he becomes an adept, the apprentice Shadowmage may try to awaken his own Shadow, the final stage. This procedure is similar to that of summoning a Shaman's fetch.

The prospective Shadowmage must go on a Quest to a recognised darkness holy place. There he must defeat a foe of light and a foe of darkness, befriending them both. He must eat of magical darkness plants and magical fungi. He makes a summoning roll to summon a piece of darkness to inhabit his shadow, sacrificing POW in the process. If the roll succeeds, he awakens his shadow, giving it 3D6 INT and a POW equal to that used in the ritual. If the roll fails, he does not awaken his shadow.

The prospective Shadowmage is now attacked by a spirit from Yelm's Court (POW 2D6 + 12) who will engage the Shadowmage in spirit combat for 1D10 rounds or until one side has been defeated. If the Questor is defeated, the spirit burns away his shadow, leaving him permanently without a shadow and unable to become a Shadowmage in future.

If the Questor is not defeated, he emerges as a full Shadowmage with new powers and vulnerabilities.

Benefits and Powers

A Shadowmage can see in all non-total darkness as if it were light. In total darkness, he can sense his surrounding within his POW in metres.

A Shadowmage has no fear of darkness, so Shade Fearshock, Zorak Zoran/Subere Fear/Demoralize spells have no effect.

A Shadowmage adds his Shadow's POWx5% to his hide in shadows skill, this is automatic whether or not he attempts to hide - whenever he is in shadows, he has a Shadow's POWX5% chance of hiding, even when moving.

A Shadowmage can use his Shadow's INT to store spells, and its MPs to fuel spells. He can give extra POW to his shadow at any time.

A Shadowmage can contact and worship darkness deities in the same way that Shamans can. All he needs is the Contact (deity) spell and a number of worshippers. The form of the cult is a little different from normal spirit cults, but for all practical purposes is the same. This can form a major part of the Shadowmage's power and prestige.

A Shadowmage can send his shadow out in the world. He must succeed in a ceremony roll and expend 1D6 magic points for every hour the shadow is to be activated. The shadow then goes forth as a Spirit Warrior with perception skills equal to its POWx5% or the Shadowmage's skill, whichever is lower. Its Hide in Shadows skill is POWx5%. If its physical form is destroyed it returns to the Shadowmage. If its POW is reduced to 0, it is permanently destroyed and the Shadowmage loses his shadow and special powers permanently.

The Shadow, when activated, can cast any spells in its own or its master's mind as a fetch can. It has its own magic skills, starting at 1D6% + its magic bonus.

Disadvantages of being a Shadowmage

A Shadowmage takes double damage from fire and is automatically demoralised by the Sunbright spell.

A Shadowmage can venture into daylight, but at a cost. He must roll percentile dice - if he rolls beneath the current cloud cover he is unaffected. If he fails the roll then he is demoralised whenever he is in daylight that day. If he fumbles, then he is affected by a Fearshock which lasts whenever he is in daylight that day.

General Statement

Shadowmages are very rare. When they are found, they will be in isolated areas, near darkness holy spots or near darkness creatures. They are usually surrounded by darkness guardians and spirits, so often have undead guards of mummies and zombies. Many Shadowmages have befriended troll clans and count them amongst their guardians.

Shadowmages are always shrouded in mystery and fear and will be the source of many rumours and legends for the local folk.

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