We all have a Shadow, we are them, they are us. They lie within us, repressed, rejected and ashamed, a manifestation of those parts of us we don't want others to see. They are tied to the corruption that lies at the heart of our subconscious. They know our darkest secrets and are always present. Keep yours close but at arms length. Shadows are tricksters, they can help you, hurt you, betray you, or - when you are at your lowest - take possession of you.
Your Shadow can appear to you in many forms. It can be imbued in an item or totem - perhaps a family heirloom, a familiar animal, or perhaps a dark spirit that communicates with you by haunting your dreams. Maybe it's none of those, it but it speaks to you as whispers on the wind or flashes dark images inside your eyes as you stare into the fire.
How they appear to you will depend, somewhat, on your Väsen.
The shades of the Sol’Väsen often manifest in a physical form. They appear to be benevolent and virtuous and almost always take the appearance of harmless animals, divine creatures, or guardian angels. In truth this is a facade, under their benign appearance they are carnivorous animals, avian predators, unnatural creatures or evil spirits. They always draw your towards malevolence, either the other väsen or towards the zealotous Ren'Sol'Väsen.
Jor’Väsen shadows can appear in a wide variety of forms. They can appear the same as those of the Sol’Väsen or Mör’Väsen but are more likely to only briefly appear in the elements; Earth and Sand, Wind, Water or Fire.
Whenever you come unglued it is possible that your Shadow will take possession of your body. It is, after all, you. Your shadow can use all your skills, abilities, powers and magic. It knows everything you know. It can impersonate you very well. While it controls you, it will also indulge in all your repressed desires, committing egregious sins to satisfy itself.
The possession ends when one of the following becomes true, you have rested enough to recover from your trauma, or an egregious sin has been committed. Typically, one good night’s rest is enough, but your Chronicler may determine that a few are required. The sin will itself have consequences and become something the shadow will use against you whenever you get into a similar situation.
When you recover from possession, you are horrified, ashamed and wracked with guilt.
The more extreme your Väsen, the more opposite and extreme your Shadow. While a Sol’Väsen may harbor a lust for violence, as a Ren’Sol’Väsen you could be repressing truly dark malicious urges, such as a twisted pleasure derived from torture and mutilation.
Many of the feelings hidden in your Shadow are repugnant to you. They tempt and torment you. In Kabal, you will create a Shadow persona that must be the ultimate expression of your repressed desires and darkest secrets. If you are Sol’Väsen, your Shadow persona will be Mör’Väsen, and the opposite is true. If you are Jor’Väsen, your shadow persona will be one of the Ren’ väsen extremes.
When you fall to temptation, or fall prey to mental or spiritual attack, this persona comes to the fore and can take over, for a time, until your guilt and horror drive it back into the blackest parts of your mind.
A Boon and a Curse
Your Shadow will often communicate with you through directly, other times through vivid and terrible dreams. Or maybe a quiet whisper, or a gut feeling. The messages they deliver warn, guide, deceive, terrorize, and bring both hope and despair. Visions and dreams may prompt premonitions and prophecies. They can relay knowledge from the natural and supernatural realms and offer protection, but their aid comes at a cost. They will almost always tempt you or require you to indulge in your repressed appetites as a price for their support. These indulgences have consequences.
Regardless of the nature of your Shadow, a word of caution. Your Shadow can be captured and used against you. This is a favorite tactic of Olugbeja Buruku, Shamans, Witch Doctors and supernatural creatures. Not only can they manipulate it, but its relationship to you provides a direct means for them to target you with magic, wherever you are. The more conspicuous and noticeable your Shadow is, the more likely that some agent will claim it and use it to inflict terrible suffering upon you.
Abitoluwa, a Jor’Väsen Bushman, has spent much time walking the savanna, protecting its animals from hunters and poachers and protecting the hunters and poachers from the dark monsters lurking in the nearby jungle. On one occasion, some time ago, Abitoluwa came upon a pregnant okapi, dying from an arrow wound in the shoulder. Quickly he cut the calf from her mother’s womb lest the mother take her into death, then killed the cow so that she would not suffer needlessly. Or, at least that's what he told himself. In truth, he was hungry. He had not eaten in days. The cow would probably die, but he had healing skills he could try. No, he reasoned, that would just prolong their suffering, and besides not all of his herbs were fresh, most were too old to be useful.
The meat of the calf would be even sweeter, a voice in the back of his mind told him. He pushed it aside and helped the calf to its feet.
After rearing the calf and then re-introducing her into the wild the young okapi has occasionally come home to pay homage to Jargoth from afar.
One morning after breaking camp Abitoluwa spots an okapi cow staring at him from the forest, unafraid of his presence, then she stops, her nostrils flaring and bolts into the recesses of the woods.
This occurrence could convey approaching danger, or it may be a risky encounter with the okapi leading him into danger or temptation. Because he did not save the cow, this messenger could be a hostile shadow.
Mör’Väsen shadows always appear as powerful animals or demons, but behind their fierce appearance may be benevolent animals, spirits or even guardian angels that often act to draw them towards their inclinations for good. But this is not wholly true. Some of Mör’Väsen have truly wicked impulses, drawing them towards the radical Ren'Mör’Väsen.
Jane and Aunt Gertrude
This example is of a spirit shadow in an incident where a Ren’Sol’Väsen character has acted in a way that has caused her Väsen to shift from Ren’Sol’Väsen to Sol’Väsen.
Jane’s Aunt Gertrude was a pious woman, dedicated to her faith and unwavering in her virtue. She raised Jane in the same faith to hold the same values with militant awareness. Gertrude was righteous but also cruel and a tyrant, after all, Ren’Sol’Väsen must compromise nothing.
Jane has stopped with her fellow adventurers at an inn where she has had one too many drinks. Previously her shadow helped her escape pursuit by a horde of Kinn and now it wants payment. At the Inn is a young attractive man. He is obviously interested. As a Ren’Sol’Väsen Jane would normally rebuff his advances, but her shadow tempts her, knowing her lust. Jane feels a pull in her groin, the hot flash of lust igniting and spreading to her heart and her head. With the alcohol clouding her judgement, it is more than she can resist and in a moment of weakness, she takes the handsome young man back to her room.
Fast asleep you suddenly bolt upright, the hairs on the back of your neck standing at attention as your eyes perceive a darkness within the darkness in the corner of your room.
“Whore!” it screams as it rushes and passes through you with an icy blast that chills your soul and leaves you unconscious.
The next morning, you feel dirty and violated. Consumed by guilt, shamed by members of your Kabal who saw you disappear with him, you decide to publicly accuse the young man of forcing himself on you. In the crowd that gathers a self-righteous warrior kills the young man to avenge your virtue.
This encounter will shift Jane's väsen, but more - it is inevitable that her lie will be exposed and the young man’s companions or family, not believing him capable of rape, will pursue her to exact vengeance.