Dances with His Shadow

Published April 21, 2014 by

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You grew up alone, first fearing what could happen to you every night, not sure if you would awake the next morning. But you had to learn your way and survive in this world and you started to grow confidence in the shadows as they would embrace and hide you from your fears, then the light became your enemy as it would reveal and expose you. For some reason, this game of fear started to express itself into your shadow, that was always dancing around. When you finally joined the dance you and your shadow became more than one, you were never alone anymore as this subtle friend was there watching over you.

When you are born you´re afraid of the darkness, and then you´re afraid of the light. But I’m not afraid when I dance with my shadow…
Taste of India, Aerosmith

Your shadow is part of what you are, it is not something that the light casts onto the ground. It’s something your fear – later your courage – projects. It’s not bound by light, it moves freely in your vicinity as it’s projected from your soul, your shadow exists around you even when there is no source of light around. Now that you and your shadow are in a constant dance, you fear nothing, as you’ve learned to look into your fears and dance with them to survive.

As you cast your shadow, it casts you, so your skin becomes dark as a shadow. The shadow moves freely around and it is part of your mind, it acts somewhere between your conscience and the depths of your mind. Most of the time the shadow is wherever it wants, but it is as easy as moving an arm to move your shadow to an specific place, controlling your shadow into specific places and positions is reflexive and doesn’t require concentration, but sometimes when your mind is not at ease, the shadow may act on its own accord.

The light seems to never touch your body, you look like a living shadow.
Errant Shadow
Your shadow is never where it should be based on the environmental light, instead it’s dancing around up to short distance of you. The shadow is not “connected” to your feet and it exists even in total darkness, which means you can continue to dance.
Transdimensional Light Vulnerability
Some rare numenera produces light that exists in many different dimensions at once. These forms of light are able to actually touch your skin and to bind your shadow to its “correct” place. While exposed you appear to be a regular person and all of your shadow related powers are turned off (you still retain the skills gained by means of this focus).


GM Intrusion: Your shadow is distracted and reveals your presence accidentally; In a social interaction, your shadow may reveal a little of your intentions.


Choose a PC, that character sees through your shadow and perceives your fears. The character knows a little more about yourself than you would like and that makes you and your shadow at uneasy. By knowing your fears, this PC is the only one able to intimidate you.

Esotery Effects:

If you perform esoteries that would normally seem to have a physical effect your shadow acts on behalf of it. For example, using Hedge Magic to close a door your shadow goes to the door and closes it. For Push, your shadow rises from the ground and pushes the target. These alterations just change the appearance of the esotery, except for Barrier that also blocks light making it impossible to see through.

Minor Effect Suggestions:
You can immediately attempt to hide after this action.
Major Effect Suggestions:
Your foe is terrified of your shadow and uses his next two actions to flee.
Tier 1:

Shadowlike: You lived in the shadows for so long that you look like and have learned to behave as one. You are trained in following people. Due to your dark appearance and your errant shadow the difficulty of spotting you is increase by one step. Enabler.

Dance of Fear and Guts: You have thrived in the darkness for too long and there are few things that can make you cower. You are immune to fear and you reduce the difficulty of any task involving intimidation by one step. Enabler.

Tier 2:

Shadow Dance (2 Intellect points): You change places with your shadow while you dance (and fight), as long as your shadow is at short distance. You move the difficulty of your speed defense tasks one step in your favour. This also can be used in non-combative situations, but only in short range. This effect last for ten minutes. Action.

Dervish: You are trained in all physical performances and balancing. Enabler.

Tier 3:

Shadow Senses (1 Intellect point): You expand your senses into your shadow, you can see and hear as if you are standing at your shadow’s position. This moves any perception roll one step into your favor and the difficulty to surprise you up one step. You can also use this ability to spy, as your shadow may stand close to an ongoing conversation and to see around corners. The effect lasts 10 minutes. Action.

Tier 4:

Attacking Shadow (3 Intellect point): You can attack your opponents by attacking their shadows. This ability moves the attack difficult one step in your favor and you increase your reach to short distance, if are using weapons of immediate distance. The effect lasts for 10 rounds. Action.

Tier 5:

Shadow Persona (5 Intellect points): Your shadow gains mass and form as a real person, it rises and stands by your side. This creates a Level 4 shadow persona. Like before, the shadow acts accordingly to your will, as it is still part of you, but can act on its own accord as it embodies hidden parts of your persona. The clone has 20 hit points, deals 4 damage and it can move a little more freely from you, up to long distance. You can still dance with your shadow, swapping places. This effect lasts for 10 minutes and if your shadow gets killed it melts back to the ground and can only behave as a regular shadow for 10 rounds. Action.

Tier 6:

Requiem for a Shadow (6 Intellect points): You kill your target’s shadow by consuming it. You inflict 8 points of lasting damage to his Intellect pool and every action that he does against you is moved one step in you favour, for they are frightened. It takes one week for the shadow to recompose, and the lasting damage to heal. You can use it only once per creature, until it’s shadow recomposes. Action.

7 thoughts on “Dances with His Shadow

  1. Hollis McCray says:

    Overall I like it, but I think it could use a little adjustment. Trained in stealth and following people plus the difficulty of spotting you increases by 1 step? That sound a bit much at first tier.

    1. Gustavo Sicoli says:

      It makes sense, since difficulty in spotting would add up with the stealth. Do you think it solves to take stealth out and let this power only make it difficult to spot and gives you training in following ppl?

      Any more adjustment suggestion?

  2. Daniel Pires says:

    You nailed it. One of my favourite foci so far.

  3. tygertyger says:

    I love the theme of this focus. It could use some tweaks, though.

    Tier 1: This tier is significantly overpowered. Stealth bonus, plus a bonus to following people, plus a bonus to resist fear? I think the stealth bonus — as simple as “trained in stealth” — is enough for for first benefit; that would apply to shadowing (heh!) as well. The fear bonus works as is, though I think that the language “immune to fear” is misleading.

    Tier 2: Shadow Dance says that you can change places with your shadow but doesn’t include any mechanics to allow it. Adding something like, “You can move a short distance as part of another action to the location of your shadow” would fix that. This addition makes the Dervish ability unnecessary, though I understand why you’d want it for keeping with the shadow dancing theme.

    Tier 3 & Tier 4: These levels are great as is, but adding trained in intimidation to Tier 4 would be OK.

    Tier 5: This is good, except that the duration that a shadow remains “killed” seems off to me. I think it should be for the remaining duration of the effect, but that’s just my opinion.

    Tier 6: This is also pretty good as is… except for the part about inflicting fear. What about beings other than shadow dancers (or other shadow dancers) who are resistant to fear? This power automatically bypasses their resistance? That doesn’t seem right to me. How about a free intimidation attempt as part of the shadow-eating action instead? And beings who are immune to Intellect damage would also be immune to this attack — the language of the write-up should reflect that.

    Those critiques aside, this is a really cool focus!

    1. Gustavo Sicoli says:

      Thanks 🙂
      Your suggestions are very good, I’ll think about them and
      how should I change things up. But the nicest part is that they are here
      for other ppl to see 😀

      After my 1st few sessions of numenera I was going home listening to Aerosmith and this is the result.

      idea of inflicting fear upon eating the shadow is because it’s a mental
      attack intending to terrorize the victim. Fear immune beings should be
      immune to that, but another shadow dancer you got me there… Because
      eating a shadow dancer’s shadow would render most of his powers
      useless… And could you eat his shadow while it’s running from you or
      while it’s a persona? you gave me a lot to thing 🙂

  4. Lucas Freitas says:

    This is such a good Focus, has so much potencial on a background.I used it for my first RPG and completly aprove it.

    1. Gustavo Sicoli says:

      Thanks 🙂

      My character assumed this focus when his daughter died, he had the focus “hunts with great skill” before that.

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