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Penumbra

Penumbrae, also called shadow folk, believe all creatures with souls to be descended from the marriage of magic and matter. While most souls have long since lost their connection to magic in favor of a material body, the penumbra retain most of it.

They consider themselves children of the natural and supernatural, striving to preserve and respect both.

With their true form and origin largely unknown, they roam the world as shadows in more than one sense. Letting others fear them as ghosts, penumbra themselves keep their true nature a secret.

The Origin of Souls

What exactly a penumbra is, is debated even amongst those rare common folk who have seen one. Laying somewhere between myth and legend, stories range from that of souls tainted by dark magic, cursed to live forever as shadows of their former selves, to specters born of wild magic, stealing souls to live. Their nature is far less brutal, though most Penumbrae have no care to correct it.

The most generally agreed upon story among the various tribes is that the penumbra were the first sentient beings ever to exist in the mortal plane. They were created simply as souls, a gift from the magic of the immaterial planes to the material ones. However, that ensouled magic had no concept of the material, and so they existed as souls without bodies. Over time, contact with the material planes slowly began to wrap these souls in shadow so they could be seen.

It was not long though before different deities began to take notice of these souls. Each for their own reasons, the gods began to entice the souls, trapping them in mortal bodies. Unbalanced by the entrapment in a body, magic withdrew from all souls except those who had not yet been bound. The remaining free souls still wrapped in shadow, are the ancestors of today’s penumbrae.

Penumbrae in their true forms have no body. Without a mask, penumbrae are not completely tangible and can only be seen because of the shadows that surround them, giving them a humanoid shape. To touch one in its true form feels like cold electricity.

New penumbra are created through an annual ritual, in which groups of two penumbra who wish to have a “child” bind parts of their souls in hopes of creating a new one. As generations have passed though, successful soul bindings have become rarer and rarer. Some elders take this as a sign that matter and magic are growing further apart.

Penumbra Names

Names are a big ordeal among penumbrae given how rarely new penumbrae are created. The “birth” name given to a shadowling is an amalgamation of their parent’s birth names. However, once they come of age they choose their own name, keeping their birth name as a surname. When living on the outside, penumbrae will adopt a name appropriate to their face, sometimes even the name of that face.

Male Names: Tyr Nymhae (Nym + Miyanhae), Rey Marrmyr (Marr + Kahmyr) Female “Birth” Names: Gyrma Miyanym (Miyanhae + Nym), Rymana Kahmarr (Kahmyr + Marr)

Penumbra Traits

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom increases by 1, your Charisma by 2, and your Intelligence by 1.
  • Age. Penumbrae age similarly to elves, reaching maturity around 18 years but capable of living up to 500.
  • Alignment. Penumbrae tribes tend to be lawful, though those who choose to live on the outside skew chaotic.
  • Size. Penumbra range from under 5 to over 6 feet tall and have builds similar to a human, although your size may appear moderately different depending on the mask you are wearing. Your size is Medium.
  • Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
  • Illusory Senses. Having barely a physical body to block you from connecting to the magical world, you have a supernatural sense about both the world and people around you. You have advantage on saving throws and ability checks to overcome illusions.
  • Mask of Face-Stealing. You can spend 1 hour to cast disguise self as a special ritual requiring a mask you crafted as a material component. When you do so, you take the form of a Small or Medium humanoid that has died, and you have seen the dead body of. When you cast the spell this way, your appearance holds up to physical inspection as the illusion creates other sensations such as touch or smell. This special version of the spell lasts until dispelled, or until you choose to end it by removing your mask. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for the spell.
  • Shadowy Form. Any time you are not under the effect of the disguise self spell you cast using your Mask of Face Stealing trait, you are in your true shadowy body. Your size is Medium and you are difficult to see. Creatures have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks to spot you and shadowy areas count as being heavily obscured for you. Starting at 5th level, you can cast greater invisibility when you remove your mask once, and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for the spell.
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Galder’s Gazetteer Author(s) Matt Click, Gabe Hicks, Jess Ross