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A shade assassin takes to the rooftops to evade pursuit.[HoS:121]
Abilities +2 Charisma
and either
+2 Dexterity or
+2 Intelligence
Skills +2 Arcana
+2 Stealth
Size Medium
Speed 6
Vision normal, darkvision
Languages Common + 1
Traits Fragile Mortality
Master of Shadows
One with Shadow
Practiced Sneak
Shadow Origin
Avg. height 5' 6"–6' 2"
166–186 cm
Avg. weight 100–160 lbs.
59–77 kg

Seekers of power willing to trade their souls to the darkness.[HoS:121]

Shade is a player character race in Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition introduced in Heroes of Shadow supplement.[HoS:121]

Racial Traits[]

As a player character race, shades receive the following racial traits.



  • Practiced Sneak: You have training in Stealth.
  • Fragile Mortality. You have one fewer healing surge than normal.
  • Shadow Origin: The Shadowfell has left its mark on you, so you are considered a shadow creature for the purpose of effects that relate to creature origin.
  • One with Shadow: You have the one with shadow power.


Ambitious, ruthless, and paranoid, shades are humans who trade part of their souls for a sliver of the Shadowfell's dark essence through a ritual known as the Trail of Five Darknesses. Even more so than the shadowborn (natives of the shadowfell descended of common races) shades are gloom incarnate. No matter what nations or land one was first born into, each shade undergoes a dark rebirth that transforms him or her into a creature of stealth and secrecy who is caught between life and death. In exchange for the twilight powers granted to shades, the Shadowfell taints their souls with dark thoughts and a darker disposition.

Physical Qualities[]

For the most part, shades resemble a twisted form of their former stature and shape. Since they were all humans prior, they all retain a humanoid shape. But their form is changed to that of a slender shadow of their former selves. Their eyes become accustomed to the dark and take on colors of grey, white, or even darker hues like black or purple. Their hair becomes jet-black and their skin turns pale.

Shades usually have a taste for limited color in their clothing. They wear dark, somber shaded tints of black. The clothing choice varies from silk, leather or sueded though the color rarely deviates. Any weapons they carry usually are treated so they do not reflect light.

The ritual conducted which creates shades affects the subjects longevity drastically, elongating it from that of a normal human. Some shades, who have gained power through their long lives, are rumored to even be immortal.

Attitudes and Beliefs[]

Since humans are so widespread, shades follow in tandem and are present in many cultures. However, they are greatly changed due to the Trail of Five Darknesses, which steals away a part of their soul. They develop a very impassive front due to the shadows in their very soul subduing their emotion. It is not a stretch to say they become colder.

Shades are more likely to advocate for restraint, poise and patience to achieve their goals, making them excellent assassins. While they may feel emotions within, their expressions are not very telling. This detachment factors into how they have little reverence for idols. As such, they are different from the shadar-kai , who revere the Raven Queen

Despite their cold demeanor and lack of real attachment, their broken souls do still sometimes yearn for contact. Shades are more likely to find allies among those whom they consider to be strong, and those they consider close allies may see sides of them others will never glimpse. For example, shades are civil towards the vryloka , whose plight they sympathize with.

Shade Communities[]

With the taint of shadow so visible, shades are often displaced from their original home as soon as their transformation is discovered. They therefore develop distrust and paranoia towards most, with the most misanthropic ones becoming total hermits. 

In the natural world, most shades are wanderers and outcasts. They develop various tricks to disguise their true nature to survive. If they were part of a group like a clan before, they are likely to reject their past selves and find a new name under which they become a new person.

In Shadowfell, shades exist in larger communities, which are also more savage. Due to the brutal nature of denizens of the plane, shades are forced to reciprocate. They embrace the darkness in their souls and fight to survive. Usually, houses of nobles rise and they scheme against one another in avaricious battles that would tear society apart if not for their incredible restraint. Those caught unaligned in these battles are shown no mercy.

Favored Classes[]

Shade Utility Powers[]

  • Fleeting Shade (2)
  • Twilight Touch (6)
  • Shadow Monsters (10)
  • Shadow Jump (16)
  • Five Darknesses (22)

See Also[]