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ShadowFinder Gazetteer: Elseward

ShadowFinder continues to work towards release. Some of the material I am drawing on for parts of the worldbuilding in this play mode are heavily inspired by things that helped me through some dark times in my life. Elseward is one of those.

(Art by Grandfailure)


Some of the areas in the demiplane known as the Shadowblast that are very close to the Material Plane. These regions, called Shallows, appear to be tightly bound to some mortal concepts or emotions and follow special rules compared to the rest of the Shadowblast. There exist natives of the Material Plane who are survivors of severe trauma and depression that can access a Shallows section of the Shadowblast known as Elseward – a violent, vicious realm that mixes dense noir city and surreal untamed jungle with no apparent rhyme or reason – usually without even knowing it. Projecting themselves partially into the Shallows, these Elsewarders exist in both their native Material Planes and the Elseward Shallow. They see and experience things other folk around them in the Material world do not, often mistaking Elseward events for daydreams. Some Elsewarders even develop special powers with the Shallows, creating a ethereal ShadowSelf that exists within Elseward even when the Elsewarders are not connected to it. Elsewarders then experience their ShadowSelf lives through dreams and reveries.

In a few cases, Elsewarders manage to heal and slowly disconnect from the Shallow, perhaps leaving their ShadowSelf behind, perhaps integrating it into themselves and departing from Elseward entirely. But more often, they eventually begin to draw bits of that Shallow region out into the Material Plane, beginning with minor Shadowblastoi creatures crossing over and growing in number, complexity, and power as time goes on. Such a traveller from Elseward into the Material Plane is known as a Drawesle, and its behavior is often dictated by the fears and nightmares of the Elsewarder that drew it through the Shallow.

(Art by Duy)

It’s common for Drawesles to destroy their related Elsewarder, ending their link to the Material world and sending them back to the Shadowblast. Elsewarders with extreme will or some eldritch power source sometimes instead begin to spread their vision of the Elseward into their own world, and in rare cases even forge links between the Elseward and Material world denizens to whom they have strong (not necessarily positive) emotional connections. These advanced situations can result in small groups or even tightly-linked communities existing in both their own realities and the Elseward at once, appearing to experience ongoing shared dreams and hallucinations.

Some Elsewarders continue to hop back-and-forth for decades, with more and more links to the Shadowblast connecting to them as time passes. When the Elsewarder is secure, supported, and dealing with their trauma well, incidents are mostly just deep dreams and odd noises in dark corners, and easily dismissed by them and others as a wandering mind’s intrusive thoughts. When exposed to new trauma or under high stress, these well-worn links can actually anchor parts of Elseward to the Material world, generally in abandoned, remote, or chaotic, badly monitored locations. This leads to Drawesles building a Material Plane power base, seeking to torment the Elsewarder and those close to them to further strengthen the link.

In these cases, outside intervention is often needed to save the Elsewarder and those near them from their literal personal demons. This may be done by seeking out and ending the Drawesles’ base of operations on the Material world, or it may require a trip into Elseward to cut off the intrusion from the source. Of course, destroying a trauma-induced monstrosity preying on an Elsewarder doesn’t end the Elsewarder’s underlying issues. But it can help give them space to do the work needed to heal themselves, and give reassurance that their trials are very, very real.

(Art by evilinside)

At one time, you were tightly linked to the Elseward, or some other section of the Shallows in the Shadowblast, and you have developed special powers that only function there.
Benefit: For each character level, you can select one tier of enigma power, one bonus feat for which you meet the prerequisites, or one level of spellcasting from a specific spellcaster class list (gaining spells known, spells per day, and a caster level equal to your levels of spellcasting selected with this feat). These are separate from your normal feats and (if you have them) enigma powers and spells. Abilities gained through this feat only function in Beachheads and Shallows of the Shadowblast.

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ShadowFinder: The Shadowblast

So, first some legal stuff.

Nothing on this page is OGL. This is a post of Community Use content of Paizo materials.

One element of the upcoming Starfinder Infinite product, the ShadowFinder Core Book, is the demiplane known as the “Shadowblast.” Obviously that demiplane gets a fairly lengthy writeup in the Core Book, but I haven’t talked much about what it’s actually like in these previews, So, here’s an excerpt about one of the Shadowblast’s regions. (And yeah, “Shadowblastoi” get an entry as well, but the short version is that they are creatures stuck in the Shadowblast, who want to get out.)

Shadowblast Regions

The Shadowblast is often described in terms of an ocean, with Beachheads, Shallows, Reefs, the Faraway, and the Deeps.


“Beachheads” are areas literally overlapping with another plane (so a creature not bound to the Shadowblast can simply walk from the Shadowblast into the overlapped plane, and a ShadowWalker could walk from that plane into the Shadowblast). A creature that is not a ShadowWalker could walk right past the overlap with nothing more than a sense of something weird going on. But a ShadowWalker on the Material Plane might take a wrong turn and go from their own world to the Beachhead, without having any idea why the city around them suddenly looks like a mostly-abandoned ruin. A ShadowWalker can also walk from the Beachhead back to their own Plane… if they know what route will take them back, and if the Beachhead doesn’t fade away first.

(A Shadowblast Beachhead that overlaps a major Material Plane city. Art by David Edwards)

A Beachhead overlapping the Ethereal or Astral plane generally looks like a fog or mist.Those connected to elemental planes are often a mix of that element and ruined vehicles or land. Those overlapping slivers of infernal planes often seem to be endless buildings with offices dedicated to sin and torture, and fiendish residents sometimes don’t notice the difference until the Beachhead fades.

Beachheads are temporary, and generally caused by massive amount of undirected energy (ranging from mass death to nuclear power meltdowns and interrupted rituals) or planar or astrological conjunctions. They may last as little as a few minutes, or as long as a few months. The area near the overlap on the connected plane is usually lightly-populated and/or hard to reach. Things from the Shadowblast yearn to escape it, and seek Beachheads—often causing trouble for the denizens of the connected plane. However, many powerful Shadowblastoi cannot pass through unless a Beachhead is reinforced, which requires energy—emotional, magical, or technological—to be released chaotically on the other plane. Some beachheads need specific kinds of energy, while others grow stronger with anything from a rock concert to a political riot to a wildfire.

But the majority of Shadowblastoi that pass through a Beachhead are sucked back into the Shadowblast when the Beachhead closes. The amount of energy to keep a Beachhead open slowly increases with time, so a permanent Beachhead seems impossible. Even so, the Shadowblastoi desperate to escape their demiplane keep trying to find new forms of energy or magic to make a Beachhead last, or be able to create one at-will. Since the planar barriers are thinnest between the Shadowblast and the Material Plane around Lost Golarion and Rasputin’s Legacy Earth, those are the places Shadowblastoi most often seek to invade (though certainly efforts to wedge open Beachheads to other planes are also undertaken).

Want to ask questions about ShadowFinder? See a huge backlog of game stuff in articles? Just like my stuff and want to support its creation? Check out my Patreon!

ShadowFinder is Coming!

So, first some legal stuff.

Nothing on this page is OGL. This is a post of Community Use content of Paizo materials.

And I am doing it because with the announcement of Pathfinder Infinite and Starfinder Infinite, I am, in fact, going to be doing ShadowFinders, like I have ben carefully not focusing on for a few years now.

So, what the heck is ShadowFinder? Well I’ll talk about it more once the first ShadowFinder product is up on Starfinder Infinite, but until then, let’s look at part of the introduction from that book.

What is ShadowFinder?

ShadowFinder is a Play Mode for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game. What do we mean by “Play Mode?” We mean this is not a new game, or even a new campaign. It’s just a way to play Starfinder and get a different feel, and be focused on different kinds of stories. You don’t need to learn a new system, and while we tweaked a few things to better support the playstyle we expect game groups to use for ShadowFinder, none of that is mandatory.

Specifically, ShadowFinder is a game about being on a world with a technology level very like the Earth currently has, and yet a world with a great deal of magic as well. In fact, one of the two places we assume you’ll play ShadowFinder is Earth… but an Earth that has been very different since heroes from Golarion arrived during WWI to kill Rasputin. The other world is Golarion, but not only is it much further along in its technological development, it’s been cut off from all the rest of the universe by some sort of cosmic Gap, and Torag is the only god that directly talks to people anymore.

In both these worlds there is what is known on the surface… and then greater threats that lurk in the Shadows. Specifically, there is the Shadowblast  (“Shadобласть,” in the first Soviet notes to talk about it), a hazy and semi-substantial place that seems to be a overlapping blend of the Shadow Plane, First World, and some infernal planes. Journying from Golarion to Earth apparently left a scar in the Astral plane, and the Shadowblast is a demiplane that has formed within that scar.

On Earth, the Shadowblast has been the source of magicand magic creatures to seep into the world, bringing back energies and secrets kept locked away since the Old Egyptian Gods left the world. On Golarion, the Shadowblast is a way for the planar flotsam and jetsam to wash ashore in this Gap-severed pocket of the Material Plane, causing things from Earth to arrive… but also horrors and travelers from other realms who are pretty annoyed that, once on Golarion, they seem stuck here forever.

And in both worlds, the Shadowblast is clearly a thing being explored by alien empire far from known space, as shirren, ysoki, vesk, and other species find themselves dumped out of the planar darkness, generally suffering great confusion and memory loss. And, it seems, less savory things from the Void have been visiting, and perhaps even leaving, with grays and reptoids the least horrific of these threats.

Whether playing in a relatively normal-looking Deep Shadows game on Earth, where the general public is still in the dark about the growing eldritch threats, or a Shadows Everywhere game on either world, where magic and mythic species are well-known, but the true danger from the Shadowblast remains a problem only a small fraction of people are willing to do anything about, the PCs take on the role of ShadowFinders, trying to mitigate the damage from things leaking out of (and sometimes plotting from within) the Shadowblast, while seeking answers to the true nature of the incursions that are growing in frequency and intensity.

Welcome to ShadowFinder.

(I literally cannot show you this amazing ShadowFinder image by Jacob Blackmon yet. But, soon!)

Want to ask questions about ShadowFinder? See a huge backlog of game stuff in articles? Just like my stuff and want to support its creation? Check out my Patreon!