When an expectant mother survives an injury from an undead attack, there is a chance the child she carries will be tainted by the negative energy of the attacking creature. These children are known as shadowborn.
The subject of considerable suspicion and superstition in many cultures, shadowborn are tolerated rather than accepted. While some find a safe haven among accepting communities, persecution and distrust are often daily occurances throughout a shadowborn’s childhood. Shadowborn appear much like a typical member of the race into which they are born (referred to as their 'parent race'), though they often have a distinctive physical coloration and certain personality traits that mark their unusual heritage.
There is rarely more than a handful of shadowborn in a community, and many people might go their entire lifetime without meeting one. Despite their rarity, stories of these folk have traveled far and wide and many people believe they know all about them. Naturally, most such stories are highly embroidered and genuine understanding of the shadowborn is rare.
One trait that is commonly ascribed to the shadowborn is that the unusual circumstances of their birth are an omen that they will encounter great conflict and difficulty in their life.
Personality: The taint of their birthright affects the personality of the shadowborn just as it does their appearance and capabilities. Most shadowborn have a reserved and somber demeanor. They rarely smile or joke, and even when they do there is usually an edge of bitterness to their humor.
Shadowborn are often gravely intense, able to focus their energies and attention on a single task or cause to an almost manic degree. This intensity can be both alluring and repulsive to those around them. Many shadowborn are social pariahs; others are almost supernaturally charismatic leaders.
Physical Description: Shadowborn usually have pale complexions. A sizeable minority are true albinos, with reddish eyes and white hair. Those that are not albino usually have dark hair and eyes, contrasting sharply with their pale skin.
Other than their coloration, shadowborn appear much like any other member of their parent race.
Relations: Shadowborn typically face greater distrust and suspicion in remote and uniformed communities. There are many old fireside tales of the shadowborn 'succumbing to the taint of their unholy blood', and these stories still command belief in some communities.
These prejudices are less common in more cosmopolitan settlements, though there are still a few educated bigots who complain of the 'incipient threat' of the shadowborn.
Alignment: Some shadowborn live up to the worst expectations of those around them, descending into the vilest kinds of evil. Others actively seek to overcome the stigma of their birth, becoming powerful champions of good. The vast majority of shadowborn, however, simply want to live their lives. Unless their parent race has a strong tendency in one direction or the other (in which case they share that tendency), shadowborn tend toward neutral alignments with respect to good and evil.
Shadowborn share their parent race's tendencies with respect to lawful and chaotic alignments.
Shadowborn Lands: Being born in such small numbers, the shadowborn do not have a nation or homeland of their own. Many take their place in the lands of their parent race, while others, particularly those who experience distrust and bigotry in their youth, search for cultures in which their unusual heritage will be better tolerated, or at least ignored. Many shadowborn thus gravitate toward large cities in human lands, as these are the settlements most likely to boast a wide range of races amongst which the shadowborn will go all but unnoticed.
Religion: Given the nature of their heritage, it is not surprising that most shadowborn are deeply interested in questions of life and afterlife; death and undeath. Most are deeply religious, though not necessarily publicly outspoken about their beliefs. Shadowborn generally follow the gods of their parent race or culture, though some consciously adopt deities that better reflect their own nature and experiences. Most shadowborn also respect the gods of death, even if they bear them no love.
Language: Shadowborn speak the same languages as their parent race.
Names: Shadowborn share the same names as a typical member of their parent race, but many also take on names of their own choosing. These often reflect the shadowborn's unnatural heritage; either celebrating or refuting it, depending on the shadowborn's attitude toward its own nature.
Adventurers: Marked by the unusual circumstances of their birth and often distrusted by those around them, shadowborn are often drawn to the adventurer's lifestyle. It allows them to travel freely, never settling in one place long enough for uncomfortable questions to be asked about their background. It also allows them to build a reputation (for good or evil) that has nothing to do with the circumstances of their birth, but only with their own endeavors.
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Shadowborn Racial Traits
• Shadowborn is a template that can be added to any humanoid. Shadowborn have all the racial traits of their parent race, as well as those noted below.
• -2 penalty to Constitution. Shadowborn are tainted with death from the moment of their birth. This modifier applies in addition to any ability modifiers for their parent race.
• Shadowborn can see in the dark up to 30 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and shadowborn can function just fine with no light at all. If the shadowborn's parent race has darkvision with a greater range, use the parent race's range instead.
• Add +1 to the Difficulty Class for all saving throws against necromancy spells cast by shadowborn. This adjustment stacks with those from similar effects.
• +2 racial bonus to intimidate. The unnatural taint in the shadowborn can be sensed by other creatures, making them uneasy and nervous around the shadowborn.
• All shadowborn gain the shadowtaint feat as a bonus feat, without the need to meet the normal pre-requisites. The shadowborn's unnatural heritage means they have already developed a resistance to death magic and negative energy attacks.
• Favored Class: Cleric. A multiclass shadowborn's cleric class does not count when determining whether they take an experience point penalty. This favored class replaces the favored class of the parent race.
• Level Adjustment: +0