The Shadow is a class that sits between the agility of the Ranger and the intellect of the Witch; a cunning and graceful murderer for hire, this class more than any other has little odds of being able to claim a noble background, although there are always those who find their way into horrible situations despite the best of natures and intentions. The Shadow is, essentially, an assassin who, in the wake of performing a job they were hired for, found themselves sacked and tossed onto the next ship to Wraeclast’s shores. They can be forgiven for being more than a little miffed about the situation.
As example Shadows, we have the Merciless Killer, the Repentant, and the Hapless Slayer. The first is a person who might be willing to take a life for the price of a beer; the second has, in the process of being exiled, found regret that their life has led to this and now they seek to atone; and the last is the poor strange fool who found their natural talents to be aimed at the death of others, yet the rest of their life is at odds with such a profession.
For High Aspects to define these individuals, we have The Hand of Death or Remorseless Murderer as simple, matter-of-fact descriptors for the Killer; The Penitent One or Sorrowful Sinner have a flavor to match the Repentant; and Jack of Blades or The One They Never Suspect hint at the happy-go-lucky nature of the Hapless.
For Troubles, we have Nobody Pays For Things Around Here as a perpetual complaint that troubles the Killer, The Dead Haunt Me for the Repentant plagued by the ghostly voices of Wraeclast’s damned souls, and Touched By Dark Whimsy for a Hapless who simply doesn’t connect the fact of killing a person with them being dead.
I Always Make My Target, I’m A Professional, and There’s Always Another Knife are additional Aspects for a Killer, both improving their ability to deal with things in their chosen trade and marking out how bad they are at things like small talk or putting people at ease. Violence Is The Last Thing On My Mind, Onward Until My Debts Are Paid, and Desperate Times Call For Desperate Heroes call up the desperate determination of the Repentant to redeem themself and atone for the deaths they’ve caused. I Dance With The Dead, Memento Mori Knick-knacks, and Laughing With The Damned evoke the macabre, twisted, and sometimes almost childlike nature of the Hapless.
Fight and Sneak are key skills for any Shadow, although a Repentant might prioritize Empathy and a Hapless Rapport to play up the nature of their particular inclinations. Notice, Will, and Athletics are all also key. A Shadow who specialized in ranged assassination might have Craft (for creating poisons and antidotes alike) and Shoot as high skills, as well. A Hapless might have a decent skill in Lore, representing the strange facts and tidbits they’ve gleaned while skipping and dancing through the bloody aftermath of their jobs.
Stunts will likewise tend to follow the particular nature of a given Shadow; a Killer might have Knife In The Dark, granting them a +2 bonus on a Fight or Shoot roll (depending on the relevant skill) made while concealed by Sneak. Apothecary might be something a Repentant has, allowing them to spend a Fate Point to get an automatic success with no shifts on a Craft skill to create an antidote to a poison they’ve used in the past. Fool’s Grace for the Hapless gives them a +2 bonus to Athletics checks to Defend against surprise attacks made on them, representing their twisted fate and monstrous luck.
All in all, a Shadow is a class that can fit numerous character concepts, from unrepentant murderers turned hero by necessity to those who seek redemption for their sins; even the kind of person who plays D&D’s Chaotic Neutral alignment as Chaotic Insane can find something on offer here, without needing to twist anything out of true.
Next week we’ll look at the last class of Path of Exile, the Scion – a noble child condemned to the cursed shores for the crime of refusing to belonging to the civilized cruelty of Oriath’s upper echelons.