No taller than 7 feet 3 inches
Colorless skin ranging between alabaster and medium gray
Usually pitch black hair, though pale to white tones weren't uncommon
Solid black eyes with no sclera
No facial hair
Most often Neutral Evil
Cannot be Good
The shadar-kai, or shadow fey, are a race of bitter, determined fey whose souls are constantly at risk of being subsumed by shadow. Due to their prolonged exposure to the Shadowfell, also known as the Plane of Shadow, shadar-kai are nearly devoid of emotion. They are known to be bitter, grim-natured, troubled, and driven, with souls tainted by darkness. They are often seen as cold and pitiless to outsiders.
Long ago, the shadar-kai thought to preserve the world from the rising humanoid races. Skilled in shadow magic, the shadar-kai made a pact with Shar to cast the world into an endless twilight in which the shadow fey would rule supreme. But the experiment went awry, and the shadar-kai were left bound to the Shadowfell, cursed to lose their souls in its dark depths. This shadow curse affects shadar-kai to this day, and every member of the race is engaged in an eternal struggle to stave off inevitable doom.
Because of this curse, the Shadowfell exerts a tremendous pull on a shadar-kai’s soul, which is only tenuously connected to its mortal body. This pull is actually lessened when a shadar-kai is in the Shadowfell, making it seem as though it is a refuge for the race. However, it is strong emotions and sensations that best keep a shadar-kai's soul connected, and the Shadowfell is a place where everything is dulled, including emotions and sensations, making it an inevitability that each shadar-kai that continues to live there, for the 500 years they can generally survive, will be subsumed.
To fight this pull, the shadar-kai use cold-forged iron equipment with inward needles and spikes, or deep piercings to affix their soul to their body, but which also cause never-ending pain. It is the combination of cold iron and pain that helps to keep pieces of their soul from tearing away until it is all lost, but it is also this temporary solution that has made them vicious. Their willingness to commit acts of cruelty and violence grows with each generation that has experienced this endless torment.
The slender Shadar-Kai stand slightly taller than average humans, and their soft movements exude grace and uncanny stealth. They have dusky gray skin and colorless complexions that vary from alabaster to medium gray; black hair, with few shadar-kai having extremely pale hair; and dark eyes lacking any sclera or clear pupil. Shadows on their bodies or clothing always seems to be deeper and darker than shadows elsewhere, and shadow seems to follow them and reach out, especially when they are angry. Many shadar-kai display all kinds of cold iron body piercings in nose, ears, eyebrows, shoulders, and other parts of the body, and purple-inked tattoos on body, limbs, and face.
Shadar-kai have very little regard for their own lives. Often viewing a present incarnation as but one in an endless cycle of death as foretold and impossible to change, the have grown jaded and careless with their bodies. Their curse defines them as a people and influences every aspect of their culture. Death temporarily protects their soul and allows for eventual reincarnation as a new shadar-kai, but if one’s soul is subsumed by the Shadowfell as a result of their curse that means complete oblivion, and so death is a much more welcome option.
A shadar-kai's connection to the Shadowfell is not without benefit, as it has made them a deceptive, subtle and cunning people that all have an innate ability for stealth and ambush.
Relations with other races
The shadar-kai have developed a predatory society. They have few permanent cities of their own but can often be found in other settlements. The cities built by humans and other intelligent races have little chance of keeping out a determined group of shadar-kai infiltrators because such cities are full of shadows. There they steal, torment, and kill whatever suits their needs, sometimes working amongst the criminal underbelly of a city to make a better living out of doing so. Because of this, most races view shadar-kai with contempt and fear, and the shadar-kai see little reason to change.
Outside of simply using other races for whatever they can, shadar-kai hate other fey, and they hunt and kill those fey unlucky enough to cross their path. Occasionally shadar-kai make alliances with other evil fey, usually to deceive or infiltrate a population of good humanoids.
While many already exist on Orius, their appearance in the Emerald Reach is far more recent. The story goes that a shadar-kai city in the Shadowfell was under siege by a powerful creature, which drove them out of the Shadowfell and into the Emerald Reach. There, they have taken up residence in Wurgoth with the promise to aid the faction in return for providing safe refuge to their population.
Magic and Religion
Like most other Fey, shadar-kai have strong affinity with both arcane and divine magic, although they heavily lean towards the arcane due to its greater ability to destroy and manipulate.
The shadar-kai are generally not a very religious people. Their curse pulls them from the normal cycle of life and death that could eventually see them amongst the realm of their deity, and instead their tattered souls are wiped clean and forced again to live through the torment of another lifetime as a shadar-kai until they are inevitably subsumed by the Shadowfell. This knowledge makes it hard to follow a deity, although the chance that a deity may see something useful or special within one, and purposefully pluck their soul from the cycle, is enough to draw some toward various religions; with Shar, Mask, Loviatar and Cyric common choices. The wish to have their soul literally saved from inevitable torment and oblivion quite often makes a religious shadar-kai extremely zealous.