Since the days when elves, dwarves, giants, and dragons ruled a Faerûn of trackless forest and unspoiled wilderness, those who could manipulate the Weave have sought deeper understanding, greater power, and hidden knowledge in the hope of gaining an advantage over their enemies. The early human empires were no different. The Imaskari mastered the lore of gates and portals, transporting thousands of hapless slaves from other worlds to serve their arcane might. The Netherese studied the art of devising magic devices, creating marvels and terrors that still slumber under the sands of Anauroch. The Raumathari blighted Faerûn forever by summoning hordes of orc warriors to serve in their war against old Narfell and then losing control of their own warriors.
Wizards dream of secret schools of magic, paths of spells made possible by a new understanding of the Art, and forbidden studies leading to awesome new powers. Dozens of paths to power and understanding have been tried and abandoned, and new research - some founded in meticulous study, some inspired by fevered flights of horror - routinely unveils some new methodology of arcane spellcasting or results in spells never before seen in Faerûn.
Stories abound of the legendary spells of old Netheril and the vanished elven realms, spells whose power dwarfed that of the mightiest wish possible today. Wizards have unlocked the secrets of a dark Weave unfettered by Mystra's power, clerics and adepts draw potent spells with runes, and the wreckage ot ancient dweomers lie scattered across the land in the form of a portal network riddling the fabric of space.
During the course of her eternal war with the goddess Selûne, the goddess Shar created the Shadow Weave in response to Selûne's creation of Mystra and the birth of the Weave. If the Weave is a loose mesh permeating reality, the Shadow Weave is the pattern formed by the negative space between the Weave's strands. It provides an alternative conduit and methodology for casting spells.
Shar, being the goddess of secrets, has mostly kept the secret of the Shadow Weave to herself. Over the millennia some mortals, mainly her servants, have been allowed to discover the Shadow Weave or have stumbled across it in their researches.
Shadow Weave users enjoy several advantages. First, they ignore disruptions in the Weave. A Shadow Weave effect works normally in a dead magic or wild magic zone. (An antimagic field, which blocks the flow of magic, remains effective against Shadow Weave magic, as does spell resistance.) Skilled Shadow Weave users are able to cast spells that are extraordinarily difficult for Weave users to perceive, counter, or dispel.
Shadow Weave users also suffer some disadvantages. First, Shar has full control over the Shadow Weave and can isolate any creature from it or silence it entirely without any harm to herself. Second, the secrets of the Shadow Weave are disquieting and injurious to the mortal mind. Withdut assistance from Shar, a Shadow Weave user loses a bit of his or her mind. Third, while the Weave serves equally well for any kind of spell, the Shadow Weave is best for spells that sap life or muddle the mind and senses, and is unsuited to spells that manipulate energy or matter - and cannot support any spell that produces light.
Finally, the more familiar a mortal becomes with the secrets of the Shadow Weave, the more divorced she becomes from the Weave. An accomplished Shadow Weave user can work spells that Weave users find difficult to detect, dispel, or counter, but the Shadow Weave user also becomes similarly unable to affect spells worked through the Weave.
Magic items created by those who use the Shadow Weave are rare and dangerous. Only the clergy of Shar and Shar's few arcane devotees create any number of Shadow Weave items. Shadow adepts unallied to Shar's church are rare and reclusive enough that only a handful of magic items are manufactured as Shadow Weave items.
Shadow Weave items are nearly identical to items created by Weave users, but the differences are profound.
Spell-like effects generated from Shadow Weave items have the same benefits and limitations that a Shadow Weave spellcaster has: Effects from the schools of Enchantment, Illusion, and Necromancy gain a +1 bonus on their save DCs and a +1 bonus on caster level checks to overcome spell resistance. The same benefits apply to effects with the darkness designator. Effects from the schools of Evocation and Transmutation have their caster levels reduced by one (though their costs are based on the original caster level). The reduced caster level affects the spell's range, duration, damage, and any other level-dependent variables the effect might have. The effect's save DC is reduced by -1 and caster level checks to overcome spell resistance suffer a -1 penalty. The DC to dispel Evocation or Transmutation effects from a Shadow Weave item is 11 + the reduced caster level. In general, Shadow Weave users do not bother to create items that include Evocation or Transmutation effects.
Shadow Weave items cannot generate effects with the light designator.
Shadow Weave items can pose a serious danger to users who are not familiar with the mysteries of the Shadow Weave. Activating a Shadow Weave item through spell completion, spell trigger, or command word deals 1d4 points of temporary Wisdom damage to the user unless the user has the Shadow Weave Magic feat. A use-activated Shadow Weave item deals 1 point of temporary Wisdom damage the first time it is used each day unless the user has the Shadow Weave Magic feat. If the item functions continuously, the temporary Wisdom damage occurs at dusk each day or when the user takes off or puts aside the item, whichever comes first.
Magic in the Realms