Today marks the end of Forbidden Magic Week here at Necromancers of the Northwest. Just like I provided you with a forbidden magic-themed class at the beginning of the week, I wanted to use today’s article to provide you with a race that allows you to make the most out of forbidden magic, and the spells and rules presented in The Book of Forbidden Magic. While this race is playable without the book, you’ll need it (and forbidden magic spells) to make the most of them. Enjoy.
Sha’vani are a race of elves who were long ago tainted by the power of forbidden magic in such a strong and profound way that it not only set them apart from their kin, but actually passed down through the generations, eventually creating an entirely new and distinct race. Exactly when and how the sha’vani first separated from other elves and became a separate people is something of a mystery, though legends of both the sha’vani and the elves indicate that it occurred eons ago, during an age when the use of grand and world-shaping magic was more frequent, and before the spells currently known as “forbidden magic” became entirely forbidden. At the time, the elves were at war with an unnamed foe. The elves were losing this war, and were divided amongst themselves about whether or not to use a particularly powerful forbidden magic ritual in order to defeat them. Most recognized the dangers of this magic, and wanted nothing to do with it, but a radical minority chose to go through with the ritual, which, according to legend, completely erased the elves’ foe from existence, as though they had never been, but took a terrible toll on those who performed the ritual, and this dark touch was passed down through the generations to create the sha’vani.
Physical Description: Unlike the drow, the taint and evil that affected the sha’vani did not turn their skin black and their hair white. Instead, sha’vani look very similar to normal elves, and could almost pass for an elf at a glance, except for the various marks and blemishes which pattern their skin. These take the form of crimson-red loops and whorls, which many who are not familiar with the sha’vani mistake for tattoos. These markings cover a sha’vanar’s body from head to toe, though their skin is still predominantly the same color as any other elf’s. Each sha’vanar sports a different pattern of symbols on his body, and no two are quite alike. All sha’vani have black hair, although it is common for sha’vani to shave their heads in order to better display their markings. Most sha’vani who do keep their hair tend to wear it in a tightly-bound topknot.
Society: Sha’vani have their own society, and have lived apart from elves for untold millennia. Sha’vani do not share their elven cousins’ love of or bond with nature, and, in fact, most popular sha’vani art actually depicts scenes of desolate beauty, rather than bounteous nature: barren wastelands and leafless trees are symbols with which the sha’vani can relate to more than verdant forests and lush grasslands.
Sha’vani society highly values magical talent, and it is expected that all sha’vani will display at least some talent for magic. Those who are particularly poor at spellcraft tend to be spurned and looked down on by the other sha’vani, who see magical ability as a matter of effort and willpower more than one of innate talent. Exceptionally talented magicians are held in very high regard by the sha’vani, and the highest echelons of sha’vani society are filled with the most powerful spellcasters among their race.
Despite the evil taint that runs in the blood of all sha’vani, their society is not particularly more malevolent or harsh than that of most other races. Though the strong rule, they do not, overall, oppress the weak. The sha’vani, as a people, are very conscious of the dangerous and corruptive power of forbidden magic, and if a sha’vanar begins to show signs of exceptional corruption, his friends and family can generally be counted on to steer him back to the right path, or else the errant sha’vanar may find himself banished.
Relations: Sha’vani tend to have poor opinions of other races—or, at least, any member of other races that does not possess at least a certain amount of magical talent. For the most part, the sha’vani keep to themselves, and remain in their own heavily isolated cities. While these cities are not explicitly closed to outsiders, the sha’vani do nothing to encourage guests, and the average sha’vani city does not possess any inns or other places for travelers to sleep. Though most sha’vani do engage in some limited trade with nearby settlements, their dealings are almost always strictly professional, and ended as quickly as possible. As a result, it is generally only exiled sha’vani—those who proved too easily influenced by the taint that runs in their race’s blood—who interact with outsiders. This gives other races a slightly skewed perception of the sha’vani, who are generally perceived to be a race of evil megalomaniacs.
Alignment and Religion: All sha’vani have a certain amount of evil in them, which is a part of their blood and heritage, and extremely difficult for them to excise completely. Much of sha’vani society is structured to mitigate the effects of this taint as much as possible, and to keep the sha’vani from descending into depravity and self-destructive evil. As a result, while sha’vani have a natural proclivity towards evil alignments, most of those who remain within sha’vani society and engage in sha’vani practices tend to be neutral, instead. This is a constant struggle, however, and those who let their guard down quickly fall to the ways of evil, which may ultimately lead to exile.
Few sha’vani worship deities, but nearly all sha’vani follow a set of pseudo-religious tenets that they refer to as The Razor Path. This doctrine, designed to help the sha’vani fight the taint of their blood, is named for the “razor-thin” path that they must walk between giving in to evil, and living in denial of the evil that is inside of them. The Razor Path focuses on the importance of introspection and meditation, and those sha’vani who follow it are far less likely to be evil-aligned than those who do not.
Adventurers: While it is not common for sha’vani to become adventurers, it is not unheard of either, especially in the case of exiles from sha’vani society. Some sha’vani—especially the evil ones—adventure in search of wealth and power, and especially in search of forgotten lore relating to powerful forbidden magic. Other sha’vani adventure as part of a quest for atonement—sometimes this atonement is the sha’vanar’s way of attempting to be able to return home from exile, and a few sha’vani throughout history have been able to perform great feats of heroism and in so doing earn a place among their brethren once again. In other cases, this atonement is an attempt to cleanse themselves of the taint of their blood, and such metaphorical atonements are encouraged by The Razor Path, as long as the sha’vanar who is atoning makes sure that he continues to follow the Path while doing so. Nearly all sha’vani are bards, sorcerers, witches, or wizards, though summoners and maguses are not unheard of. It is very rare for a sha’vanar to have levels in any class that does not grant spellcasting.
Names: Sha’vani have the same naming conventions as elves.
Standard Racial Traits
Feat and Skill Racial Traits
Magical Racial Traits
Senses Racial Traits