Descendants of darkness, forgotten but never gone
Shar Heritage Traits
Except as specified below, game mechanics for the shar are identical to the shadar-kai race detailed in the D&D 4e official rulebooks. For all other mechanical purposes (including feats, paragon paths, etc.), shar is simply an alternative name for shadar-kai.
Languages: Sorana, plus any one.
Strange eladrin infused with shadow, the shar are among Alm’s most mysterious people. Cautious and secretive, they have no nation of their own, but rather owe their existence to Sorairo’s most dreadful secret. They are the children of the Aganai—a labyrinthine prison that, by some terrible misfortune, found itself bleeding into the shadowfell.
A maze of deadly traps and puzzles, the Aganai lies hidden within the island of Sorairo, its very existence known only to the empire’s most powerful authorities. Such records as exist describe it as a teaching tool, supposedly a means to reform dangerous prisoners through shared penance and cooperation. Perhaps to no great surprise (and perhaps also by design) this rehabilitation failed to eventuate.
It is unclear when the entropic energies of the shadowfell begin to seep into the prison—and unclear whether the planar fabric was eroded by chance, or by intent. However it happened, it gradually became clear that the inmates of the Aganai were suffused with shadow, to the point it had warped their very essence. The Empire ordered the prison sealed, condemning those within to whatever dark fate awaited them.
Today the Aganai’s existence is long buried—yet, its inhabitants persist. Though the original inmates are long gone, their descendants have lived their entire lives in shadow, suffering for the sins of some long-forgotten ancestor. Their very existence an act of rebellion, these embittered survivors live for the day they can make their escape—or more often, die trying.
Those who did escape would eventually be identified by surface scholars as “shar”—a corruption of the Sorana “sha”, itself though to be an archaic word meaning “them”—and their origin attributed mistakenly (or not) to “The Agony”.
Play a shar if you want…
- to be a newcomer to the surface world.
- to be a lone wolf, slowly learning to trust your friends.
- to explore individual responses to trauma in a safe and heroic context.
Shar look much like eladrin, but with skin of muted blue hues and red, purple or yellow eyes. They tend toward more wiry builds, though this is most likely due to the unforgiving environment in which most develop, rather than to biology. Shock-white hair is overwhelmingly common, though individuals frequently dye this as a matter of practicality (in the Aganai) or self-expression (on the surface world).
Without a deep connection to any surface culture, an escaped shar has little choice but to define their own aesthetic. Many develop an eccentric sense of style that strongly serves their particular self-image, while others have tastes constantly in flux. In either case, they tend toward extremes—either shaped by the grim pragmatism of their homeland, or indulging the sort of hedonism that can only be embraced in relative safety.
Shar longevity is a double-edged sword. While they remain close to the shadowfell, their aging slows to a crawl, making them almost immortal—if they could retain the will to live. In practice, it rarely takes longer than 30 or 40 years before apathy starts to overcome them. A shar who escapes to the surface loses this longevity—living a similar lifespan to a human—but can stretch their remaining years by once again exposing themselves to the shadowfell.
Playing a Shar
Although the shar have existed for many generations, they have never escaped in large enough numbers to form any distinct community. Thus, shar born on the surface world are almost unheard of, and most adventurers are still Aganai escapees. They grow up in a world of bitter need and ruthless pragmatism, but also intense determination and ferocious bonds. Living between condemnation and oblivion, survival itself is their constant act of rebellion.
Nonetheless, even a child of the Aganai cannot resist entropy forever. Sooner or later, those who survive but do not escape will sink into apathy—the most terrible fate of all. Thus, every young shar comes to their ultimate rite of passage: seeking the path of escape.
With the prison sealed for millennia, the only way to escape the Aganai is to explore the endless tunnels in search of a one that emerges beyond the labyrinth—either to the island’s underside, or through the foreboding dark of the shadowfell. Either path is perilous, and most do not survive—but what choice do they have? Those who wish not to fade away must be willing to burn.
With all this in mind, shar adventurers tend to remain self-reliant, careful and opportunistic individuals, who forever carry the trauma of their imprisonment. Whatever their nature may be, they tend toward intense personalities, unable to shake the fear that tranquility will lead to oblivion. Some embrace a giddy hedonism, desperate to feel anything and everything with new intensity, while others find they must take care to avoid regular sensory overload.
With a general lack of familiarity with social norms, shar often come across as odd or intimidating to strangers, which leads to frequent misunderstandings. This is perhaps why they often lead solitary lives, even if they inwardly crave the company of others.
Shar are perceived as... weird, cunning, bitter, intense, pragmatic, resilient, fierce, rude, solitary.
Names: Most shar are given Sorana names, though they have little use for more than one. Escapees frequently give themselves new names, leading to an eclectic mix based mostly on personal taste.