Outside the jet-black walls of Gloomwrought, the bleak vastness of the land of shadows both beckons and cautions the traveler. The City of Midnight offers plenty of rewards and intrigues, but it is far from the only place in the Shadowfell that attracts adventurers.
Chapter 3 of Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond details five sites beyond Gloomwrought, each of which poses a unique challenge for anyone brave enough or desperate enough to take them on. It includes the following sections:
Shadow of the World: Brief tips about running adventures in the Shadowfell.
Oblivion Bog: This morass, extending out from Gloomwrought, is fraught with peril both from the dangers of the bog and the depredations of the creatures that thrive in it. Many travelers bound for the Raven Queen’s temple take a route through this swamp; some of them don’t live to regret that decision.
Thyrin Gol: A shadar-kai enclave nestled in the caves of the Gol Mountains, Thyrin Gol has recently come under attack by sinister creatures emerging from the Shadowdark. An uneasy truce persists at the moment, but that situation could change in the blink of an eye.
Dead Man’s Cross: For those who aren’t reluctant to ask directions, this crossroads can be a boon to getting around in the plane of shadow. It’s also the location—once in a while—of the famed House of Black Lanterns.
Darkreach Mountains: Born in the death throes of an ancient primordial, this mountain range is frigid and unforgiving but far from desolate. It includes, among other attractions, a fortress occupied by death giants and a githzerai monastery whose existence is a closely held secret.
Letherna: Many of the living creatures that come to the Shadowfell do so as part of a pilgrimage to Letherna, the realm of the Raven Queen. The location is also a destination for souls seeking a final resting place.
Shadow of the World
As the heroes of your campaign travel through the Shadowfell, they should bear one important fact in mind: It is a reflection of a thousand worlds, not just their own. They might come across towns and features of the landscape that are almost identical with those of their homeland, except for subtle—and dark—variations.
An idyllic village populated by people who share the same faces as friends and loved ones might welcome travelers by day, only to imprison them and drink their blood by night. The heroes might come upon the windswept ruin of a bustling city they saved in their own world, demonstrating the horrors that could have come to pass had they failed.
The Shadowfell can instruct as well as horrify. The plane might seem like a nightmare, but its very bleakness inspires mortals to cling more closely to those objects and people they treasure, lest they slip away to shadow.
Adventuring in the Shadowfell
If mortal creatures define life by its challenges, survival in the Shadowfell is a tale of heroism in the face of cold, enduring doom. The dangers facing the living are many, ranging from shadar-kai raiders to marauding death giants to spontaneously rising armies of undead. Even simple existence has its dangers—the very nature of the place drains life from all who dwell in it. Distances are distorted; a landmark that seems just a mile away one day might lie far over the horizon the next.
The most straightforward way for adventurers to explore the Shadowfell is to do what they do best. Those who attempt to live in this haunting realm always need heroes to help them fend off attackers, recover lost items, or deliver goods necessary to sustain life in the Shadowfell’s isolated settlements. Adventuring sites are plentiful in this place, and characters can find lots of adversaries against which to swing a sword or cast a spell.
Those who have adapted to life in the Shadowfell have learned the hard way that cooperation is the key to survival, so trade flourishes. Traveling merchants set out from Gloomwrought into the sweeping dusk, employing sellswords to ward off danger. Adventurers who have the ability to scout out ambushes, detect spies or traps, and thwart attackers can make a fair amount of coin selling their services. A caravan is one of the most dependable means of transportation in the Shadowfell—assuming the merchant captains don’t plan to double-cross their passengers.
The shadar-kai came to the Shadowfell before any of the other civilized races that dwell there, and they long ago became one with the place. Many choose to dwell inside the walls of Gloomwrought, but others continue to live as all shadar-kai did when they first arrived. These shadar-kai are organized into war tribes that compete fiercely for meager resources and take refuge inside heavily defended enclaves.
Thyrin Gol is one such enclave, a network of mountain caves that can hold out against an invading force ten times greater than the number of its residents. Two hundred or so shadar-kai dwell here, along with another hundred slaves. Thyrin Gol has never faced a full-scale invasion, but it continually fends off roving bands of nightwalkers and other undead, as well as the concerted efforts of rival shadar-kai looking for supplies and slaves.