Shadow: Spirit of Darkness

Ah, Dungeons and Dragons. The only game where you’re own shadow can kill you.

Aside from that one boss fight in Kingdom Hearts 1, but we’re going to pretend that doesn’t exist.

Lore: A Deadly Shade

Resembling a humanoid form’s shadow, these creatures are undead that feast on the vitality of living beings. While they will feed on anything, they are particularly drawn towards those untouched by evil. Such beings, who live piously and well, cast their temptations into the darkness, making them a shadow’s ideal feast.

Should a shadow eat a victim to death, the victim’s shadow will take a life of its own. These new shadows might seek their ‘parents’ in an attempt to find revenge. Until the shadow is destroyed, the creature that birthed it no longer casts a shadow themselves.

Minimal as this lore is, it’s rife with potential! Perhaps the players could try to commune with a shadow to help it find rest. Or maybe they stumble into a town infested with them and they need to find a way to save the populace. Maybe you could focus your efforts on a cleric or paladin player, using a shadow to test the true piousness of that player’s character.

Can you make a BBEG out of a shadow? Probably not. But for a one-off session or a side quest, this is an excellent pick!

Design: Humanity Removed

You know the Cybermen from Doctor Who? Yeah, it’s kinda like that. Just remove the cyber part.

Give me a hug, stranger!

This is one of those rare times in this series where less is actually more. Sure, they could have drawn this thing to look like a winged demon with long tendrils and a devilish face. But why bother? With a monster like this, extra details would only detract from the horror, not add to it!

There are no features here to speak of. No face with any expressions, no clothes, no personality whatsoever. Only its vague humanoid outline serves to connect it to the being it used to be. It’s completely unknowable and totally uncompromising. All humanity has been stripped away, and all that’s left is something empty and hungry.

It’s a genuinely creepy design. Especially since it’s one you can so easily play with. You can add whatever little details you want, such as height and width, to tell this monster’s story. Was the person who became this shadow a tall elf? Maybe a fat little dwarf? Or is there no semblance of their old selves left whatsoever? It’s up to you, the DM, to decide.

Whatever you roll with, this is a fantastic design.

Stats: Fear the Dark

As you might expect from a shadow, this monster isn’t particularly durable. Its AC and HP pools are both fairly low. It relies much more on stealth, for which it has a fairly strong boost, to survive.

That being said, it is still difficult to hurt something as incorporeal as a shadow. It’s resistant to acid, cold, fire, lighting, and thunder damage, as well as all nonmagical melee. On top of that, it’s completely immune to necrotic and poison damage, as well as all conditions.

However, it is vulnerable to radiant damage. As one might expect; light dispels shadow and all that. Hope you’ve got a paladin in your party if you’re fighting this thing.

This monster has three abilities. Its first, Amorphous, allows it to move through spaces as narrow as one inch without squeezing. The second, Shadow Stealth, allows it to use the Hide action as a bonus action while in dim light or darkness. Finally, it’s third ability, Sunlight Weakness, gives it disadvantage on attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws while it’s in direct sunlight.

Finally, there’s it’s primary action: Strength Drain. This attack does a fair bit of damage for a low-level monster. More than that, it reduces the target’s Strength score by 1d4 each time it hits. Should that score be reduced to 0, the target dies. Should that happen, a new shadow will be born 1d4 hours later.

Don’t worry, barbarians. You’ll get it back after a short or long rest.

As simple as these stats are, it can make for a really interesting early game fight! The shadow has plenty of options for sneaking around and escaping dangerous situations. Yet at the same time it has a myriad of weaknesses. How do the players use those weaknesses against it? How do they keep themselves strong enough to keep fighting? Can they turn its ability to hide and escape against it and set a trap using the environment? Depending on how you build it, this could be an extremely fun and memorable fight!


This was a surprisingly strong entry! It’s lore isn’t much, but what’s there is fairly substantial! It’s design is minimalism at it’s best, and it’s stats can make for an excellent battle! All in all, a high-tear monster!

With all that in mind, the Shadow is going to #27 on the Best of the Bestiary!

  1. Beholder
  2. Death Tyrant
  3. Mind Flayer
  4. Dragon Turtle
  5. Mummy/Mummy Lord
  6. Nagas (all three of ’em)
  7. Green Dragons
  8. Red Dragons
  9. Blue Dragons
  10. Black Dragons
  11. White Dragons
  12. Silver Dragons
  13. Couatl
  14. Behir
  15. Aboleth
  16. Sea Hag
  17. Lamia
  18. Bronze Dragons
  19. Brass Dragons
  20. Copper Dragons
  21. Gold Dragons
  22. Chuul
  23. Kuo-Toa
  24. Gibbering Mouther
  25. Kraken
  26. Intellect Devourer
  27. Shadow <—————–
  28. Chimera
  29. Death Knight
  30. Fomorian
  31. Bone Devil
  32. Dracolich
  33. Faerie Dragon
  34. Gelatinous Cube
  35. Lich
  36. Peryton
  37. Remorhaz
  38. Orcs (all four of ’em)
  39. Magmin
  40. Kobold
  41. Kenku
  42. Hobgoblins
  43. Night Hag
  44. Green Hag
  45. Black Pudding
  46. Ankheg
  47. Hook Horror
  48. Oni
  49. Purple Worm
  50. Storm Giant
  51. Hill Giant
  52. Empyrean
  53. Efreeti
  54. Grimlock
  55. Minotaur
  56. Dao
  57. Cloud Giant
  58. Manticore
  59. Scarecrow
  60. Drow (all four of ’em)
  61. Shadow Demon
  62. Modrons (all five of ’em)
  63. Marilith
  64. Drider
  65. Aarackockra
  66. Azer
  67. Demilich
  68. Spectator
  69. Gray Ooze
  70. Ochre Jelly
  71. Hydra
  72. Rakshasa
  73. Marid
  74. Salamander
  75. Harpy
  76. Werejackal
  77. Otyugh
  78. Satyr
  79. Half-Dragon
  80. Cambion
  81. Fire Giant
  82. Nothic
  83. Pixie
  84. Animated Armor
  85. Roper
  86. Banshee
  87. Basilisk
  88. Yochlol
  89. Bulette
  90. Cloaker
  91. Darkmantle
  92. Doppelganger
  93. Revenant
  94. Ghoul and Ghast
  95. Sahuagin (all three)
  96. Ettin
  97. Medusa
  98. Pit Fiend
  99. Erinyes
  100. Chain Devil
  101. Bearded Devil
  102. Barbed Devil
  103. Spined Devil
  104. Ice Devil
  105. Mimic
  106. Djinni
  107. Merrow
  108. Nalfeshnee
  109. Glabrezu
  110. Chasme
  111. Grell
  112. Barlgura
  113. Horned Devil
  114. Balor
  115. Shadow Dragon
  116. Myconids (all four of ’em)
  117. Piercer
  118. Werebear
  119. Lizardfolk
  120. Vrock
  121. Dretch
  122. Pseudodragon
  123. Gnolls (all three)
  124. Goristro
  125. Hezrou
  126. Manes
  127. Quaggoth
  128. Frost Giant
  129. Weretiger
  130. Werewolf
  131. Duergar
  132. Quasit
  133. Dryad
  134. Flumph
  135. Goblin
  136. Nightmare
  137. Rust Monster
  138. Wereboar
  139. Wererat
  140. Githyanki
  141. Owlbear
  142. Planetar
  143. Imp
  144. Ogres/Half-ogres
  145. Roc
  146. Clay Golem
  147. Flameskull
  148. Displacer Beast
  149. Carrion Crawler
  150. Githzerai
  151. Grick
  152. Invisible Stalker
  153. Rug of Smothering
  154. Bugbear Chief
  155. Bugbear
  156. Flesh Golem
  157. Vine Blight
  158. Twig Blight
  159. Needle Blight
  160. Mephits (all six of ’em)
  161. Bullywug
  162. Hellhound
  163. Ettercap
  164. Gas Spore
  165. Cockatrice
  166. Lemure
  167. Homonculus
  168. Merfolk
  169. Solar
  170. Deva
  171. Gorgon
  172. Hippogriff
  173. Griffon
  174. Cyclops
  175. Centaur
  176. Ghost
  177. Pegasus
  178. Fire Elemental
  179. Water Elemental
  180. Air Elemental
  181. Stone Giant
  182. Deep Gnome
  183. Dinosaurs (All six of them)
  184. Iron Golem
  185. Stone Golem
  186. Earth Elemental
  187. Galeb Duhr
  188. Helmed Horror
  189. Flying Sword
  190. Crawling Claw
  191. Violet Fungus
  192. Shrieker
  193. Gargoyle

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