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The greatest terrors of the Shadow World lie not only in its creatures - things both seen and unseen - but in the unperceived. A trickster spirit rules the Shadow World and confounds all mortal senses. Even the most knowledgeable guides and learned loremasters do not fully understand the workings of this mysterious realm.

On Aebrynis, where the laws of nature and magic both apply normally, one expects a rock to fall when it is dropped, fire to burn until it has nothing left to consume, and the mystical energy of a spell to discharge according to the rules of magic. In the Shadow World, these laws are suborned by an even greater force: the Seeming. An unpredictable force, the Seeming cannot be truly explained, as every rule set to quantify it appears full of exceptions and contradictions. Still, Dungeon Masters who wish to run adventures in the Shadow World - or in areas of Cerilia where the Shadow World has begun to encroach - may use the following guidelines to adjudicate the unexplainable.

[top]The Nature of the Seeming

The Shadow World is steeped in the Seeming, a word which comes from an ancient elven term meaning both "master spirit" and "true illusion." Everything about the Shadow World is unreal. There, illusions live and shadows walk of their own volition. Powered by the magic of the Seeming, things unreal come to life.

Whether the Cold Rider or some other driving force guides its illusions is unknown, but the Shadow World's very land can warp itself in ways that trick and test those who would venture into that darksome realm.

Cerilians seeking knowledge or power have opened their own doorways to the Shadow World, and a few have even emerged the better for their experiences. Heroes have quested in the Shadow World, overcome the Seeming, and returned. The High Mage Aelies's experience with the shadowstone is the most prominent case of a Cerilian able to master the illusion of the Seeming and return to the real world alive. Of course, many others have ventured there and never returned. Heroes who brave the dangers of the Shadow World, or who encounter this realm encroaching on Cerilia, almost certainly will become embroiled in the Seeming. They will encounter illusions, tests, and other phenomena they cannot possibly overcome by tried-and-true means. The Seeming is so powerful that simply disbelieving its illusions cannot defeat it; only learning to see through the Seeming's effects can save a would-be champion from harm. It is a long, frustrating, and dangerous road.

[top]Seeming Score

Whenever heroes encounter a creature or phenomenon of the Shadow World, they must deal with its Seeming score. A Seeming score is like a bloodline strength score - it can be measured both numerically and by level, as seen in the table below:


The Seeming score can also serve as a skill for Shadow World creatures for opposed tests involving the Seeming. A creature with a moderate (17) Seeming score can access more powers and abilities than a character with only a slight (4) Seeming score. The powers and abilities might be defined by a creature description, or they might be very flexible, but the difficulty of the challenge presented should have a base seeming bonus of the Seeming score. Conditions encountered, such a an illusiory path that is a dangerous and harmful place instead of a path, would have a DC derived from the Seeming score.

Few Cerilians ever gain access to Seeming scores and, if they do, it is probably because they have been tricked or suborned by the Shadow World or one of its most powerful entities - a fate no hero should welcome (see Taint).

[top]Seeming Perception

Cerilians and some rare Shadow World creatures can battle the illusions and manifestations of the Seeming with their intelligence and their experience. Heroes can gain the skill Knowledge (Seeming) as a class skill. Normally this knowledge skill is an unknown skill for it can only be learned by experience with the Seeming. However, 5 ranks of Knowledge (Shadow World) does grant a synergy bonus of +2. Once a character has a rank in Knowledge (Seeming) the DM may reveal one or more feats that aid in confronting the Shadow. Tales are told, though these may be naught but vain hopes, that a valiant few champions of Ruornil and possibly Avani might learn techniques to better deal with the Seeming. Of course such thoughts must immediately present the danger that other Cerilians, driven mad by their hunger for power, might also have dark arts to manipulate the Seeming for foul ends.

Through experience, cleverness, determination, and (occasionally) magic, heroes may gain ranks in Knowledge (Seeming), which they can measure against the Seeming score of any Shadow World character, creature, or phenomenon, in the hopes of lessening that foe's power over them. Illusions melt away in the face of high bonuses in Knowledge (Seeming), leaving a hero free to do battle with the true threats of the Shadow World.

[top]Navigating the Shadow World

The Seeming alters the landscape and features of the Shadow World in much the same way that Aebrynis once changed - in response to rules known only to itself, or because of a stimulus provided by its inhabitants. As a result, natural laws of Aebrynis do not apply to the Shadow World.

Heroes who venture into the Shadow World will confront, before anything else, the strangeness of the world. An individual may encounter never-changing dark plains lying beneath a cloudy sky, or high mountains with no apparent passage between them. One might see a river flowing upward or a lake in the sky - only a perceptive adventurer can tell what is real and what is not.

The unnatural phenomena of the Shadow World always have a Seeming strength determined by the Dungeon Master. In order for adventurers to make it through areas of the Shadow World, they must either make a Knowledge (Seeming) check at the DC established for the area, or they must deal with the strangeness of the land as if it were real.

For example, a band of heroes might come upon a river flowing above the ground. Before they realize it, the river has flowed around them, cutting them off from all exit. Then, to make matters worse, the river starts to wrap about the heroes, and a watery death looms before them. What can they do? The most obvious choice would be to avoid the river-ring somehow. They might be able to use spells - fly, jump, teleport - to remove themselves from the ring. Or, they could deal with the water directly, by swimming through it or using other spells to breathe it. The river-ring might even be guided by a presence they can negotiate with. In any case, the first choice is to accept the effect and deal with it as if it were real.

The less obvious (and almost always more difficult) choice is to try to penetrate the Seeming of the area. The DM knows the Seeming strength of the effect; if the heroes make their Knowledge (Seeming) check, then they will see it for what it really is: a giant reaching out to crush them, a normal river flowing in front of them, or nothing at all. It all depends on the Seeming.

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