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In fantasy literature and games Shades are a spiritual or emotional imprint left on a person, place or thing.



They often take the form of a "presence" which might only be seen out of the corner of the eye or sometimes physically felt. Shades can come in many forms, anything from a deceased or living person's or animal's imprint left on something or someone, to something invoked into the "possession" of an object or person. Shades are sometimes thought of as strange or mythological creatures with powerful abilities, and are a commonly used phenomenon in literature and video games.


In various games and books, shades are creatures that can control shadow movement to darken a room, engulf a creature, or even sink into a shadow and appear out of another shadow. Shades are sometimes depicted as vampiric, although are more commonly feeding on life force, rather than blood. Unlike vampires however, light is commonly described as either having little adverse effects on the shades, other than causing a mild annoyance, or sometimes presented as to make a shade virtually powerless. Yet some think the Shade has absolutely no power in the sunlight, making them vulnerable to any attack.

Shades are sometimes described as evil, sometimes merely as misunderstood, and/or said to have no morals or mercy, just killing for fun.

Poetic use

A shade can be taken to mean the (usually benevolent) spirit of a dead person. Thus the phrase 'peace to the/thy/her gentle shade' (and endless rest) is sometimes seen in epitaphs, and was used by Alexander Pope in his epitaph for Nicholas Rowe.


  • In Eragon, Eldest, and Brisingr, a Shade is a very powerful sorcerer who has been possessed by the spirits they summon.
  • In Warcraft, they are invisible scouts for the Undead.
  • In World of Warcraft, they are monsters lurking in Undead territory.
  • In the Myth series of computer games, shades are undead sorcerers much like liches. Another monster called the Mahir fit the description of the traditional shade. Some flavor text for shades may indicate that the Mahir are the Shade's shadows or/and souls, and might be channeled to raise a Shade.
  • In RuneScape, Shades are a kind of swamp spirit that players can fight.
  • In the Xanth mythology, as written by Piers Anthony, shades have the ability to take over a living person, given that it is still during the process, which usually takes about an hour. A Shade's abilities and power are then present in the possessed body.
  • In Age of Mythology, when a player chooses Hades as his/her God, Hades will grant the player one Shade for every five men killed.
  • In F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate and F.E.A.R. Extraction Point, shades are creatures sent by the main antagonist, Alma, to kill the player and sometimes other characters.
  • In Forgotten Realms a shade is a sorcerer who has melded with the essence of the plane of shadows.
  • In Magic: The Gathering a shade is a creature, usually black, with the ability to become stronger at the cost of mana.
  • In Australian writer Robert Hoods four book series Shades, a shade is a teenage/young soul taken by a darker world before death, and then experimented on, turning the soul into a shade.
  • In the MMORPG Lineage 2 a Shade is a Demon like creature summoned by Darkelf Wizards as a servitor.
  • In The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri many of the dead are referred to as shades including Dante's guide, Virgil.


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