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Lore: Shadow Magic

  • Member
    July 18, 2013

    Shadow Magic


    Scroll of Shadow

    A brief history of Shadow Magic

    First Scroll of Shadow

    … chosen to explore this relation of world to shadow, Azra was the first to realize that shadows were not a mere absence of light but a reflection of possible worlds created by forces of conflict. A light strikes a rock, and the shadow is a record of their clash, past, present, and future.

    Other conflicting forces produced less obvious shadows, fire and water, wind and rock, or nations at war.

    With skill and patience, the shadows of all could be read, and patterns teased out, emphasized, or eradicated.

    Manipulating a shadow could, through contagion, manipulate the object or force which cast it.


    Second Scroll of Shadow

    … Azra attempted what had never been done before, manipulating his own shadow to such an extent that he instantiated and melded all possible Azras at the same time, crossing over from this singular existence to all the existences in shadow

    Ignorant Redguard soldiers, fearing the power of Azra should he succeed, trapped and confronted Azra.

    The battle did not go well for the wizard.

    The hole blasted when he lost control of his magics can still be seen at the village that bears his name, Azra's Crossing.

    The science of shadow lost a great man that day, although others, such as Pergan Asuul, strive to take his place.


    What is Shadow Magic?

    To describe shadow magic, it might be easier to describe how it was discovered and eventually attempted to be used by various Shadowmages, which were few in number. Azra Nightwielder, whose name even possibly reflects his mastery over his newfound magic, was a pioneer of shadow magic. He was the first to discover that shadows were not just created by light being blocked/shaped by objects or an absence of light but a reflection of possible world created by forces in conflict. Shadows are produced through simple situations such as a light hitting a rock, a torch lighting a cave, or even a candle lighting a room, but shadows go beyond even these mundane forces. Shadows can also be created by something as powerful as nations at war. Azra's realization of these possible worlds among these conflicts of light and shadow made him attempt something no other magics could do. He attempted to manipulate his own shadow so much that he would meld all other possible versions of himself from all other worldly and planar existences into a singular being, making himself more powerful than any other on Nirn.

    Azra's attempts did not go unnoticed. Redguard forces, weary of Azra's power, surrounded the shadowmage in northern Hammerfell. Outnumbered and out of time during the battle, Azra unfortunately lost control of his magic and blasted an extremely large hole into the ground where he stood and was presumed to have died. After this catastrophic event, a small village was constructed around this crater to be later named Azra's Crossing to pay homage to the powerful mage. It is later revealed in the events of Shadowkey, part of The Elder Scrolls Travels series, Azra Nightwielder did not in fact perish in the traditional sense as he reappears to help the hero (player) to defeat a very powerful entity. It is also interesting to note that shadow magic is only prevalent in northern Hammerfell and small sections of Skyrim and High Rock. It is rarely found elsewhere or even practiced at all.


    War of the Bend'r-mahk

    Along with the name Azra Nightwielder, some other names are associated with shadow magic. These other mages, including Jagar Tharn and Pergan Asuul, used the conflict of the War of the Bend'r-mahk to harness a powerful Umbra' Keth, or "Shadow of Conflict" that was the result of the continuing war. The Umbra' Keth was a physical manifestation of the conflict, created and represented by the shadow from nations at war. The war was a result of Skyrim destroying the combined forces of Hammerfell and High Rock, taking miles of land of both regions as a way of reclaiming once lost territory to the people of Skyrim. The war, breaching Hammerfell's borders, created extreme tension between the two political and cultural classes the Crowns and Forebears, dividing these two named groups even further. The war even went as far as dividing the city of Dragonstar, resulting in walled off east and west sections of the city and creating war and terrorism between the two sides.

    As Tharn and Asuul planned to take control of the Umbra' Keth, it was Asuul who eventually succeeded and sacrificed himself to power the entity. Asuul is the main antagonist of the events of Shadowkey and is the only one standing in the way of the player before slaying the Umbra' Keth.


    Shadowgates, Shadowkeys, and Star Teeth … Oh my!

    In the events of Shadowkey, the player learns of three magical forces present that relate directly to the power of shadow. The first are Shadowgates. Shadowgates are powerful barriers created from shadow that protect, guard, or block anything or anyone without the unlocking Shadowkey, used to unlock and open various Shadowgates. These barriers are not always doors, however. Shadow magic can be used and is more common to protect valuable treasures locked away by mystical forces. There are only 11 Shadowkeys known to be in existence.

    Along with powerful forms of shadow magic, there are also Star Teeth. Star Teeth are magical crystals taken from the skies by Airships some time before the 3rd Era. Seven Star Teeth, artifacts of light and related closely with stars, were recovered and had the ability to counteract powerful shadow magic. The Ayleids believed that star light is the most purest form of light and Star Teeth resemble shooting stars, falling to Nirn, which actually implies they are made of meteoric glass. This also suggests they are somehow related to the well known Welkynd and Varla Stones.

    Using the 7 Star Teeth gathered by the player with the assistance of a reappeared Azra Nightwielder, the player is then able to defeat the Umbra' Keth, destroying the Shadow of Conflict, causing Azra to disappear once more and never be seen since.


    Applications and Philosophy

    Shadow magic is something one can ponder on for a long time and still be confused about no matter what they learn from it. The magic itself, in its essence, rivals the power of the Elder Scrolls themselves due to the fact that it is able to harness reflections and overlap versions of the wielder's self. Shadow magic is also a force able to summon different versions of the caster to aid him or her. Azra's view of shadows as reflections of all potentiality, meaning that one could simultaneously be harnessing all possible outcomes, past, present, and future, into one instance of existence. Pretty deep and powerful stuff.

    In using shadow magic, a caster could do various things. One could pass other versions of one's self into other planes of existence, performing a sort of "cloning" effect. A shadow mage would, as stated before, be able to meld all other versions of his or her self into one existence, essentially becoming as powerful as one could ever possibly be with all manifestations put into one. Death in a shadow realm is the only way to break these connections. Having multiple selves in multiple existences could ensure living beyond death in other realms.

    In addition to self manipulation, shadowmages can bind shadows into weapons, such as the Shadow Stabber, a blade made from shadow. Shadows can also be absorbed to strengthen the mind, potentially enhancing knowledge of otherwise unknown things in the world or realm the caster is existing. In the most impressive feat of shadow magic beyond gathering other existences, a shadowmage could bend and manipulate the shadow created by two forces, which in turn, could allow the mage to physically control and manipulate the forces creating the shadow in the first place. This, again, rivals the power of any other magic, including the Elder Scrolls.

    The concepts of shadow magic also delve deeper into the philosophy of multiple selves. In other worlds and realms, including the Shadow Realm, there are different versions of yourself that reflect possible outcomes of lives not yet lived in the world or realm you currently exist. Azra's realization of this potential power could have led to his downfall and eventual implosion of his own magics. Calling upon these other versions and reflections in shadow of one's self is to make one's self extremely powerful and is what brought surrounding forces to stop him, however genuine his intentions for the use of shadow magic were.


    As we can see, much is still to be explored in this realm of magic. Shadows are extremely powerful tools and forces when brought into the hands of a powerful mage who knows how to approach and manipulate them such as Azra Nightwielder. It is with my hope that future games will expand this powerful form of magic.


    (2. Art Symposium: Shadow Magic) ->

    Character: The Ceya-Tar

  • Member
    July 18, 2013

    My only suggestion would be that you quote your sources or link to them so the reader can refer to the original material if they so choose. Other than that I think this is a fascinating article and the linked concept a great addition to the site

  • July 18, 2013

    Nice addition to the group, Henson (and you totally rock because you tagged this article perfectly!)  Thanks!  I am really intrigued with how you are going to replicate these effects in Skyrim, so in essence, you have increased interest in your upcoming work.  Did you have the ability to play this?  I really wonder if any one has...the game description sounds great for its format, despite some of the unwieldy combat and character development that was criticized.  

  • Member
    July 18, 2013
    I have shame! 'Twas not I who tagged it, pretty sure Kyrielle helped to add those haha! But thanks, I actually have not played Shadowkey, but the lore I found (need to cite, thanks for the reminder Phil!) was fascinating and something not often seen. I hope to build even more interest with the story!
  • July 23, 2013

    Yeah, sorry Henson.  I totally ninja tagged your article. ^^  As I've been won't to do with anyone who posts without proper tags.

  • Member
    September 23, 2013

    Hi Henson,

    Wanted to point something out. Before you came out with your Ceya-Tar build, I was also researching into shadow magic. Having come from WoW and other older RPGs, shadow magic is classically defined as either a "Dark Magic" of evil origin, utilized in a controlled manner by the practitioner, with demonic connotations.

    This is opposed to other forms of dark magic, like necromancy and or blood magic. However, the lore in TES, seems to take this a step further and de-shell any connotations of fel magics or demons. Indeed, Shadow Magic in TES, seems to have it's own unclear definition of requirements, with a need to depend on Shadows (Think DnD 3.5 shadowmage).

    Whilst exerting direct control over a subject in Skyrim is impossible, the effects can be replicated and roleplayed as such (Illusion + Conjuration to simulate control of will and formation of "Shadow" weapons") but we know full well that illusion concerns the magics of the mind and conjuration are on truth daedric tainted, something which Shadow Magic was not. By the way, why shadow wepons? Shadows can be manipulated in so many ways.... makes me think that they intended Azra to be some sort of Nightblade (Remember shadow stabber?)

    The challenge is then, how to go forth replicating shadow magic within skyrim? Whilst your build does show how it can be replicated within Skyrim, i feel that Bethesda did a poor job in making this branch of magic relevant in the game. Here's what I think Shadow Magic should be like:

    Teleportation - Travelling through the shadow gates with the ability to appear anywhere at anytime, causes opponents to search for you. 

    Usage: This allows for a "Peekaboo" effect, appearing at different places to blast of mighty spells at various locations around your enemies.

    In Skyrim: Shadow Warrior Perk + Invisiblity + Sneak + Destruction Spell of Choice

    Shadow Magic - DnD Classifies Shadow magic as Normal magic that cannot be seen nor heard, with less somatic requirements. TES however defines it has creation of weapons from shadow and controlling of wills of others through the manipulation of their own shadow. Personally, I like being a mage :)

    Usage: Combined with the Peekaboo effect, it allows the casting of a series of destruction spells before vanishing out in thin air, leaving behind a trail of shadow.

    In Skyrim: Quiet casting perk + Dual cast Frenzy with all appropriate perks + Destruction spell of choice (Fire element preferred, as it benefits from bug and RP wise, casts a shadow when hitting targets, allowing manipulation of shadow)

    Note: Fear will not be used, cause frenzy aims for control of mob against their will, RPing manipulation of shadow. Fear is more mind related.

    These are the only 2 i can think of for now... just my 2 cents

  • November 14, 2013

    So being a Shadow Warrior is the same as being a Shadow Mage? Except you use the effects of the shadow  to manipulate yourself instead of the environment. So in a sense anyone who masters Sneak is a Shadow Mage. I'd imagine if you mastered Illusion as well it would add to the benefits. Cool.

    I've always wondered about this Shadow Magic stuff.

    Also would the Skull of Corruption (Oblivion, maybe Skyrim) be seen as a weapon (or tool) of Shadow Magic? It has the power to clone other people.

  • November 14, 2013

    Dude, I just realized when I was about to type out something else. Shadow Magic is apparent in Skyrim. Remember Malkoran in Meridia's quest? What he is using is Conjuration we know that much. But if you think about it, and consider the Shades he uses (including himself). That is a lot of Shadows, and the only way to create Shadows is by using light. He manipulates Dawnbreaker so that he can control the light in the Temple. I dont really know where I am going with this, but can you answer this. Does Malkoran use Shadow Magic?

    Ok what I was originally going to ask was if this magic was only unique to Redguards, Bretons, Orcs, and Nords?

  • November 14, 2013

    That makes more sense than the Shades. All because they don't turn into a pile of blackness when they die.

  • November 14, 2013

    I aint to sure about that one. I guess as long as there is light, there is gonna be a shadow. When there is a shadow it's possible that the existence of Shadow Magic is apparent.