Plane of Shadow

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Greyhawk Plane
Plane of Shadow
Type Transitive
Layers n/a
Alignment Mildly neutral
Native Inhabitants Shadar-kai, shadowswyfts, shadows, dark ones, darkness pseudo-elementals, khayal genies, shadelings, gloamings, shades, shadows, slow shadows, greeloxes, cloakers, illumians, nightshades, shadow dragons, and shadow demons.
Greyhawk Powers Shad-Duan (?)

The Plane of Shadow is a plane of existence in the multiverse of Oerth and the Greyhawk campaign.


The Plane of Shadow is a dimly lit dimension that is both conterminous to and coexistent with the Material Plane. It overlaps the Material Plane much as the Ethereal Plane does, so a planar traveler can use the Plane of Shadow to cover great distances quickly.

The Plane of Shadow is also conterminous to other planes. With the right spell, a character can use the Plane of Shadow to visit other realities.

In 1st and 2nd edition, the Plane of Shadow (called the Demiplane of Shadow there) touches the Ethereal Plane at all points, its ethereal curtain shaded so that few details beyond can be distinguished. In 3rd edition the plane had portals to the Astral Plane, but mainly serves as a transitive plane between the various alternate Material Planes.


The Plane of Shadow is a world of black and white; color itself has been bleached from the environment. The sky is black and the ground is powdery white; it otherwise appears similar to the Material Plane. The shadows of an infinite number of other planar features can be found on the Plane of Shadow; the shadows of deserts, mountains, forests, and far, far more. The Plane of Shadow is magically morphic, and parts continually flow onto other planes. As a result, creating a precise map of the plane is next to impossible, despite the presence of landmarks.

Despite the lack of light sources, various plants, animals, and humanoids call the Plane of Shadow home.


All natives and native features of the plane are composed of "shadowstuff," which behaves like normal matter (although shadowy) while on the plane but on other planes dissipates in bright light. Shades are mortals who have infused their bodies with shadowstuff in order to become immortal.


The Plane of Shadow is inhabited by the literal shadows of the creatures of other planes. Some of these shadows become "unstuck," taking on an independent life of their own.

Other animals of the Shadow Plane include shadow symbionts, beacon moths, dusk beasts, shadow mastiffs, shadow jellies, ecalypses, shadow spiders, and shadow asps.


Plants native to the Plane of Shadow include umbral bayans, which have the ability to shift into the Material Plane.


Inhabitants of the Plane of Shadow include the khayal genies, dark ones, darkweavers, shadar-kai, shadelings, gloamings, shades, shadows, slow shadows, shadowswyfts, greeloxes, cloakers, illumians, nightshades, shadow dragons, and shadow demons.

Features and settlements

  • Bleak Sea (ToM, pg. 185 - 189)
  • Nightcrawler Chasm (ToM, pg. 179 - 184)
    • Balefire, City of Lanterns (Drg322, pg. 14-20)
  • The Blinding Tower (Planar Handbook, pg. 162), a mysterious shining edifice that burns natives of the plane.
  • Dark mirages, warped and twisted reflections of the Material Plane and its inhabitants.
  • Darklands, regions infused with the power of the Negative Energy Plane.
  • The realm of Erebus, an ancient being thought to be one of the first of all gods.
  • Elirhondas, a metropolis that is the home of the illumian race. Surrounded by a circle of volcanoes that spew shadowstuff, one by one, as regularly as a clock. Also the abode of the illumian god Tarmuid.
  • Lacc, the city of monoliths. From Dungeon #136.
  • Loliadac's Tower, the home of an exiled rakshasa lord. From Dungeon #35.
  • The City of Onyx, capital of the khayal genies. A city of twisted spires and tall minarets growing in all directions in defiance of gravity and the laws of physics.
  • Sphur Upra, a city of the gloaming race. From Underdark.
  • The Shining Citadel (MotP, pg. 64), a legendary structure that might have been responsible for the Plane of Shadow's creation. This is possibly the same as the Blinding Tower, above.
  • The Veil (Planar Handbook, pg. 158), a strange gray ripple in the air that addles the mind and contains secrets of the nature of concealment.
  • Zol Darklock's fortress (Castle Greyhawk, page 97). This is the stronghold of a prince of the Plane of Shadow, assuming his sister hasn't destroyed it with her extravagant parties.


The temperature on the Plane of Shadow is tolerable, though a bit cold by human standards. Light sources burn dimmer here; torches are only as bright as candles, and candles are barely visible at all. Even magical is only three-quarters as strong as normal. Despite the dark nature of the Plane of Shadow, spells that produce, use, or manipulate darkness are unaffected by the plane.

Those who have lost their shadows can come to the Shadow Plane to confront and retrieve them. Visitors to the plane face a small (1%) risk of their own shadows coming "unstuck" when they try to leave.

  • Magically morphic. Certain spells modify the base material of the Plane of Shadow. The utility and power of these spells within the Plane of Shadow make them particularly useful for explorers and natives alike.
  • Mildly neutral-aligned.
  • Enhanced magic. Spells with the shadow descriptor are enhanced on the Plane of Shadow. Such spells are cast as though they were prepared with the Maximize Spell feat, though they don’t require the higher spell slots.

Furthermore, specific spells become more powerful on the Plane of Shadow. Shadow conjuration and shadow evocation spells are 30% as powerful as the conjurations and evocations they mimic (as opposed to 20%). Greater shadow conjuration and greater shadow evocation are 70% as powerful (not 60%), and a shades spell conjures at 90% of the power of the original (not 80%).

  • Impeded magic. Spells that use or generate light or fire may fizzle when cast on the Plane of Shadow. A spellcaster attempting a spell with the light or fire descriptor must succeed on a Spellcraft check (DC 20 + the level of the spell). Spells that produce light are less effective in general, because all light sources have their ranges halved on the Plane of Shadow.

Publishing history

The Plane of Shadow was identified as an Inner Plane in Deities & Demigods (1980), defined as the plane where the Positive and Negative Material Planes meet in the shadow of the Prime Material. It was listed as an Ethereal demiplane in Manual of the Planes (1987) and A Guide to the Ethereal Plane (1998). The latter work defined it as the destination (as opposed to source) of all shadows cast on other planes, saying that while vortices might exist leading to the Positive and Negative Energy Planes, the Demiplane of Shadow (as it was known then) existed independently of those twin forces.

In City of Hawks (1987), Gord the Rogue ventures into the Plane of Shadow, usually called Shadowrealm in that work.

In 3rd edition, the Plane of Shadow was listed with the Ethereal and Astral Planes as one of the three known transitive planes of existence, and given a fairly extensive description there.

Tome of Magic (2006) defines the Plane of Shadow as "the literal shadow of the Material Plane, cast not by any light but by the mystical energies that hold creation together." It also says, however, that a few understand a deeper truth: that the shadow plane, sculpted from the "endless darkness" that is the only force that is truly eternal, is actually "greater meaning, and greater existence" than the Material Plane, and that the Material Plane is only an ephemeral reflection of the true, shadowy reality.

In 4th edition, the Plane of Shadow was replaced by a similar plane known as the Shadowfell, which combined characteristics of the Plane of Shadow, the Negative Energy Plane, and Ravenloft.

Shadowrealm in the Gord the Rogue series

In City of Hawks, the Shadowrealm is ruled from a Chiaroscuro Palace by an entity known as His Umbrageous Majesty, His Gloominess, the Lord of Murk, the Shadowking. Races native to the plane include the dwarflike murks or murklings (descended from dwarves and gnomes), the shadowilk, the tall, gangly fuligi (descended from elves), and the human-descended phantomfolk, whom the parasitical gloams prey on and can easily defeat. The gloams are the most potent humanoids on the plane, as the duskdrakes are the most terrifying of the plane's beasts. The adumbrates, who resemble masses of shadows that envelop their victims, are little more than beasts, but they are as powerful as gloams in certain aspects, and they are enemies of the gloams. Other beasts include yeth hounds and dog-faced ghouls known as ghulaz. Powerful lords of the plane include the gloam Smirtch and the gloam-lich Imprimus.

The sky is deep gray, filled with "stars" that are points of blackness. A deep metallic sphere, known as Mool, hangs in the sky, providing the plane with what little light it has. The light of Mool is variable, dimming to produce the periods of Twilight and Snuffdark. The land is made of flowing, dancing shadows, and the foliage is all shades of gray; some of it is actually translucent. Within the grays and blacks of the plane are the hints of deep purples, blues, metallic and crystal tinctures, and more besides. Distance is strange and subjective on the plane.

Besides the Chiaroscuro Palace and the ruined cities of the gloams, there are a dozen or so settlements on the plane inhabited by phantomfolk, including the village of Dunswych.

Shadow in d20 Modern

In the Urban Arcana and Shadow Chasers campaign settings, the plane of shadow is simply known as Shadow. Due to an unknown reason, creatures from other material planes can be randomly ripped from their current plane of existence, and deposited on Earth with no memory of their previous home, and fluency in the local language (which is always the same as Common). This is called The Gift of Lethe.

The Shadowfell

The Shadowfell in 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons is a gloomy, melancholy reflection of the World. It has both a sun and a moon, although they shine dimly. The souls of the dead travel through this plane on their way to their unknown destinations. Settlements include domains similar (or identical) to those in the Ravenloft setting, cities of shadar-kai, and Gloomwrought, the City of Midnight, a port city in the midst of a foul bog whose walls and buildings continually shift and change, watched over by enigmatic humanoids known as the Keepers.

See also


  • Austin, Alec. "Gates of Oblivion." Dungeon #136. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2006.
  • Richard Baker, Rob Heinsoo, and James Wyatt. Manual of the Planes. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2008.
  • Bonny, Edward. "The Demiplane of Shadow." Dragon #213. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1995.
  • Cordell, Bruce R. and Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel. Planar Handbook. Renton, WA: TSR, 2004.
  • Cordell, Bruce R., Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, Jeff Quick. Underdark. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2003.
  • Larwood, Phillip. "Shadow's City: Balefire, City of Lanterns." Dragon #322. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2004.
  • Noonan, David, Eric Cagle, and Aaron Rosenberg. Races of Destiny. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2004.
  • Slavicsek, Bill, Jeff Grubb, Eric Cagle, Dave Noonan. Urban Arcana. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2003.
  • Thalasinos, Nicholas J. "Lord of Darkness: Erebus, the Void between the Stars." Dragon #322. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2004.

External links