View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next The Shad - Updated for 5th

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2015-03-23, 01:47 PM
An inner planar race, the shad were introduced in the Planescape Monstrous Compendium 3, which dealt with creatures from the Inner Planes, the Astral Plane, and the Ethereal Plane. They were introduced as a playable race in the planewalker update for 3rd edition. Much of the fluff is from the planescape monsterous compendium.

The Shad


Life in The Anvil

Long ago, a guild of druids had one clear vision in which they would turn The Elemental Plane of Earth from a wasteland of rock and dust into a verdant paradise. It is beyond the knowing of why they chose to undertake this task. Many on the world said it was impossible, and that the druids risked bringing down the fury of those in The Anvil who saw it has a haven, rather than an abominable expanse of stone. But the druids were not to be deterred, and after years of toil, the druids had succeeded against all expectations.

Using arcane magic and spells to open portals to other elemental planes, huge chambers, big enough to engulf entire continents had been wrought from the endless stone. The portals to the planes of water and radiance were opened, and the druids sewed the seed of a thousand different species of flora.

Those who seen the caverns describe a verdant paradise in which trees so tall that they would have scraped the sky on prime worlds, vines that had stems as thick as tree trunks, and lily pads on lakes that could support the weight of an entire company of a kings finest knights (including their steeds). Fruit grew to epic proportions, and offered far more than just the sweetest and purest flavour.

Of course, the druids also imported creatures from the prime, to fertilize the endless flower fields and the blossoms. They also accidently imported a tribe of creatures, some say, goblins, others wild gnomes, who were brought in from the prime. They were unknown to the druids. They made their dwellings in the huge trees that the druids had nurtured, and over time, they changed to the demands of their new home.

Then, an invading army came to the caverns and slaughtered the druids. The identity of the invaders is still unknown, but when all the druids died, so did the greenery. The creatures that lived in the trees had no choice but to leave. The natives of The Anvil saw the newcomers as only vermin to be hunted down. Only the toughest, most resilient and adaptable of these survived.

These creatures became The Shad.

Excerpt from the tome “The Great Elemental Expanse”


The shad are small (3.5ft-5.3) humanoids, with grey skin and are very wiry and thin, rarely weighing over 45 pounds. The most notable features are their large, golden eyes and their huge ears, which are decorated with earrings, symbolizing clan, relations, feats and occupation. Their hair is usually short, and they have a flat, stubby nose and a wide mouth. The shad generally wear plain, austere clothing that is decorated by precious stones that have need collected on their travels.

A shad has a body that is double jointed and has a lot of cartilage, therefore making it incredibly flexible and able to contort itself into openings 6 inches by 6 inches. This ability has helped them survive on the plane of earth, and makes them hard to bond. As dao slavers are one of the main threats to the shad, this ability is crucial to their survival. As a shad gets older, it’s not uncommon for it to carry a large number of scars, due to the stresses of squeezing through tunnels and run-ins with creatures that see them as vermin.

Other skills that have helped them to survive are a remarkable ability to withstand poison, paralysis and disease. Despite all this, shad live short, tough lives, reaching adulthood at 14. An individual that lives to see 60 is fortunate, and due to the hostility of the inhabitants of the plane of earth, there is a high mortality rate- something that is carried over to those that try and colonise new areas, as they are rarely welcomed with open arms anywhere. This leads in turn to a high birth rate among the shad, and a great number of their race are wanderers and explorers, looking for a new safe haven for their clan. On prime worlds, it is not uncommon for shad explorers to scout areas near portals to and from the elemental plane of earth, and despite the difficulty that dao slavers have in restraining shad, to be found as slaves in marketplaces where the dao conduct their trade.


Shad live in a clan oriented society. Due to the twofold demands of their home plane and the intent of most of the creatures towards them, they rarely stay in one area for a long period of time, and most tribes are nomadic. Those who travel beyond the plane of earth will try to settle down in an area, but will more often than not be forced to move on, as many of the races they meet have the same attitude towards them as the inhabitants of The Anvil, and it is not unknown for races to attempt to enslave them or force them back into the clutches of the dao. The shad have difficulty learning common, which makes it doubly difficult to interact with other races. The shad also have extreme difficulty with trusting other races - for good reason. However, once the shad have got past the distrust, they make good friends. It may take a while, but shad can make good allies – trustworthy, steadfast and loyal.

A shad tribe will travel the Plane of Earth in search of essentials for 14 hours, and then rest in one of the many caverns of that plane, in order to rest, mend weapons and tools, and reiterate family bonds. Shad rarely use fire and usually catnap in small spaces that they contort themselves into. If a shad is in an adventuring party, it is not uncommon for one to rest in a set of drawers or in a chest, while the rest of the party seek softer material.

Shad tell the story of their race though their bardic storytelling – a shad saying is that a bard or druid can recount a thousand stories. A Get together of the clans is a time for great celebration, and can last for days. At the end of another day of survival in the harsh landscape, the shad will often come together and tell tales of endurance.

A shad clan is usually led by a druid. Druids are respected among the shad for their ability to grow food from fungi and plant life using very limited resources. Diet consists mostly of flora, though the shad will make use of meat from suitable foes, which are few in The Anvil. Druidic lore runs deep in the shad, and while life in The Anvil may be brutal, many still stay on the plane. Perhaps it is defiance in the face of hostility, or maybe the mission of the druid’s guild still holds sway.

One aspect of the shad that disgusts other races is cannibalism. When a shad dies of natural causes or an attack by one of their myriad enemies, the shad put the body to good use by eating the flesh of the deceased, and use the bones as tools and weapons, ligaments for binding and hair for clothing. It is not unknown for a shad to start cutting up the body of a companion as soon as mourning has finished – to them, a dead body is a resource. This is often the source of revulsion for other races, but the shad have to make lemonade out of lemons more often than not.


The shad speak a dialect of druidic, learned from the creators of the original caverns. The shad find it difficult to learn the common language. The dialect of druidic spoken has many terms that describe the features of The Anvil in very specific detail – a trait that is essential for survival.

Shad also employ what other races call “Shad Graffiti” – a system of pictures, glyphs and numbers that tell of features that help survival, such as lakes, food stashes and forbidden places.


The shad tend to revere nature, and worshipping a power is rare. Of those that do, powers of travel, protection, and nature are the ones that the shad are drawn to.
In terms of the factions, the Society of Sensation and the Belivers of the Source are ones that are popular, perhaps due to the short lifespans of the shad. In terms of the sects, there are a number in the Verdant Guild.

Those shad who have been exiled for selfish and unbecoming behaviour against their clan often join The Dispossessed.


The shad would like to settle down and live in peace. Most inhabitants of The Anvil will not let that happen, so adventurers and explorers are an essential part of shad life. The search for a new land is one of the main reasons for exploring, as is a sense of curiosity. Moreover, since the shad have lifespans that are often a fraction of the longer lived races and have little concept of the afterlife, many adventurers travel in the hope of seeing the multiverse and experiencing all it has to offer.

Roleplaying a shad

The crucible of The Anvil has made you strong, and in enduring, you will grow even stronger. Your strength will help you and your companions through what the planes will throw at you. You will see that the shad will survive, and in your travels, your experiences and your tribulations, you will teach future generations to thrive. The tales told in the rock and the tales told to your clan will ensure that. Life is short – as a result, you seek to enjoy it as much it forces you to endure. And when you seek out new horizons for your clan, seek the places that will offer you tranquillity – for your companions, for your clan, and for the shad.


As a shad, you have -

• +2 to Dex and +1 to con
• A Base speed of 25ft
• Darkvision up to 6oft. You can only discern objects in black and white
• advantage to saving throws against poison, paralysis and disease, and resistance to poison damage
• Immunity against petrification
• Advantage against grapple checks – Shad are notoriously hard to subdue.
• Proficiency to Acrobatics.

You can read and write druidic and common.

Artwork by Tony Diterlizzi

So, any thoughts on the updated shad?

2015-03-23, 08:06 PM
Seems fair and super cool. The one thing that's a bit out of place is the +2 on saves- AFAIK, no races give save bonuses in 5e, just advantage. Also, maybe give them poison resistance (in addition to the save advantage) like dwarves and stout halflings.

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2015-03-24, 09:57 AM
Seems fair and super cool. The one thing that's a bit out of place is the +2 on saves- AFAIK, no races give save bonuses in 5e, just advantage. Also, maybe give them poison resistance (in addition to the save advantage) like dwarves and stout halflings.

Thanks man, Ive decided to update planescape races, as they can occur in almost any setting and most of them are really cool. Ill do the Child of Neth, the Nathri, the Bauriaur and the Bladelings.

Ill implement the changes.