Danger lurks everywhere in Gloomwrought, and it comes in all shapes and sizes. Large or small, humanoid or monstrous—in the City of Midnight, anything might be out to get you. Much as in any city, political, religious, and commercial factions constantly wrestle for power, and adventurers passing through make enemies among them through their very presence.
Chapter 4 of Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond discusses the enemies a party might face in Gloomwrought and other places in the Shadowfell. Although they were designed for this setting, you can use this material in any game. This chapter includes the following sections:
Deathless Watch: These guards do an effective job of protecting the interests of the law and of their liege, Prince Rolan, even though the organization is corrupt nearly to the core.
Ebony Guard: More than simply defenders of the Raven Queen’s preeminence, the zealots who make up the Ebony Guard want to see all other faiths expunged from Gloomwrought.
Ghost Talon: No group in the city is as devoted to its cause as the militant shadar-kai who make up the Ghost Talon. They work tirelessly toward driving all other races out of Gloomwrought.
Golems: In a place as bizarre as the ever-shifting City of Midnight, it stands to reason that golems born from the substance of the city are equally distinctive.
The Keepers: These shadowy shapechangers move in silence and in secret. Clearly, they have a role in how Gloomwrought works. Just as clearly, no one aside from the Keepers knows what that role is.
Midnight’s Own: Formed by peasants looking to improve their lot, this group has a convoluted strategy that actually seems to work.
Tenebrous Cabal: The top agents in this organization are masters of shadow magic. Their goals are not clear to the outside world, which makes them all the more dangerous.
Power Players in Gloomwrought: Many of the movers and shakers in the City of Midnight—living and otherwise—are spotlighted in this section.
The Keepers of Gloomwrought are mystery made manifest.
Despite constant attempts to learn more about the creatures and their enigmatic goals, the reclusive Keepers baffle all. They rarely interact with the city’s inhabitants, though they occupy nearly every street corner in the city. As they studiously examine the buildings, the creatures speak only in a series of guttural clicks. For the most part, the Keepers seem content to leave the other inhabitants of the city alone, provided no one interferes with their maintenance. If they are attacked, the Keepers do everything in their power to avoid further conflict, but they are surprisingly lethal when forced to fight. Keepers can shift between humanoid form and a motile mass of viscous black tar, evading, attacking, and devastating those who dare antagonize them.
Keepers rarely interact with others. When anyone asks a Keeper what it’s doing or where it came from, the Keeper ignores the question, avoids looking at the questioner, and keeps working. No sage has any record of a Keeper responding to such a query.
The Keepers do seem able to influence or control the golems of Gloomwrought, and they sometimes fight alongside a piece of the living city. They also have a strong connection to creatures of shadow, calling them into battle when facing a powerful foe.
City dwellers have long thought of the Keepers as a homogenous group, but recent events suggest otherwise. Keepers with silver skulls ornamenting their black smocks began showing up throughout the city, in ever-increasing numbers. On rare occasions, these Keepers were glimpsed fighting—and even killing—other Keepers.
This turn of events has led to speculation about “false” Keepers, creatures that are either Keepers corrupted by an outside force or beings able to mimic the Keepers. Worst of all, these false Keepers seem to have the ability to manipulate the city, making Gloomwrought strike out against their enemies.
Where facts are few, theories abound. Most citizens of Gloomwrought assume that the Keepers serve Prince Rolan, and that they are responsible for the constantly changing landscape of the city. No one in the city recalls a time when the Keepers were not there, quietly toiling in the background. The creatures might predate Gloomwrought, and some think the Keepers built the city with their own hands. New theories suggest the Keepers’ continuous vigil isn’t responsible for the city’s shifting face, but instead it fortifies Gloomwrought against degradation caused by the Shadowfell. As with most of the strange and inexplicable phenomena in Gloomwrought, the existence of false Keepers has been blamed on powers such as Orcus and Vecna.