World: Black Wastes
Diet: Carrion, life force
Height: Same as in life, shadow can reach about 3-5 times body length
Lifespan: 3-5 years, can be extended by absorbing souls
The Black Wastes are home to many forms of native undead, some of them stable and capable of their own reproduction, but many are brief, fleeting things, born of virulent curses that linger upon the land, especially within the massive abandoned city of Pszchtz, dominating one of the Waste’s former continents. Some districts have grown strange and dark, and those who enter them risk picking up Shadow Sickness.
Few things can cure this disease, and left untreated, it is invariably fatal. The body becomes covered in painful pustules that begin to leak wretched black fluid, hideously toxic and capable of passing the disease on to anybody unfortunate enough to come in contact with it. This fluid smells like sewage blended with liquefied intestines. Those so infected will eventually become incapable of movement without agony, as carbuncles form on their joints. In the last stage, the body becomes pale but for the dark boils and they cast no shadow. Within a week of contracting the illness, they will be dead. This dead body rises when night falls, or immediately if it is already night.
A risen shadeshambler dislikes bright light, preferring places with houses or caves to shelter in during the day. They retain none of their intelligence from life, incapable of using tools and moving stiffly. In combat, they would be considered as harmless as standard zombies, but for their shadows. The original soul of the corrupted being is not contained in their body but their shadow. This shadow retains all of their intelligence, but cut with a need to feed on living beings for survival.
While their bodies stiffly shamble about, searching for whatever scraps of flesh they can shove into their mouths, their shadows range freely, anchored to the body but stretching in any way it wishes. A shadeshambler’s shadow can extend under doorways and around corners, and merely touching it will drain the energy of a living being, reducing them to fatigue and eventual death. Additionally, while the body can be destroyed by any regular means, the shadow is only vulnerable to magical assault, with fire, electricity, and light being particularly effective. However, these shadows cannot speak or handle physical objects, and are reliant on their dim-witted and slow bodies to carry them where they need to be.
Lonely and constrained, these souls seek others to join them. With luck, their bodies can be commanded by a necromancer, allowing them human contact without their body attacking, but most find themselves relying on their soul-catching ability for company. When a sapient being dies from a shadow’s draining attack, the being’s soul is sometimes captured as a second shadow, extending their lifespan but making their body less stable. A shadeshambler may be torn in two by its shadow’s warring personalities if they do not get along, and three is the largest number of shadows ever confirmed on a shadeshambler. However, some say that in the darkest parts of Pszchtz, there are shadow kings, shadeshamblers with dozens of shadows.