“Haints are dangerous lad, deadly dangerous. They ain’t like no other beastie you might have crossed swords with. I’ve faced them only once, and now that two of me friends have been taken by them I’ve no heart to face them again. The first thing to remember is that they be smart, not troll-stupid. They can plan, lay traps and ambushes, that’s their angle. Never head on, always a snare, a trap,a lure, sommat thing that gets you unaware and at the disadvantage.
I’ve lived here a long time, long past my years allotted, something about when the shadow touched me it changed me. I can feel them at times, when they get too close to the wards of the city. I’m sure they could feel me too. Its a cold sensation, a sinking in the belly, and a passage of goose-pimples all at one time. Almost makes you want to feint like some milk-blooded lassie.
They have lived as long as me, but they’ve no aged a day, Nayer has watched me from a distance, not aged a day since he was taken. Just standing there, with that black pitch oozing from his eyes, made it hard to see into his face, but it was him. They don’t age, not a wink, and that makes some of them very old. Very old Haints are the worst, they are the ones who leave you hacking at your own like the devil because you think each other’s been shadow-tainted. The young ones are easier, but they call up their shadow-minions quicker.
But there is some good news, they can be hurt, they can bleed, and most importantly, they can die. For ones, they done like these flowers, daylily shadowmasters. Silly name you think, its a damned daylily that happens to ward the lesser shadows off like garlic and vampires, and it makes the Haints think twice about messing with you. Why do you think they call me a blooming dwarf, if it was up to me, I’d have these things blooming out people’s hats and asses.
Then there’s chamugra oil, they don’t like that either but I’ll not fill your head with wild fancies of hacking shadows apart. That’s how they find new meat, no bodies to replace the haints that are lost. Remember, the Haints serve the shadow, but they also serve themselves and they have no love for one another, not even Nayer and old Panther and they was man an wife.
Ah, the gory bits. Hes, I faced a haint once, it was a young one, not much more than a slip of a boy, but it was fast, coming at me with those damned shadowy tentacles that they can call, swarmed us with about a dozen lesser shadows. Abroin, our mage, Gods rest his soul, set off some sort of fireball spell, used some-sorta magic feather with it. Never seen fire hurt a shadow, but it keeps them back a bit. This magicky fire went all white and blasted all those minions to shadow-dust. Good old Abroin, always fast with those pouches. So that left us to face this Haint, Ravenscry was already down, I’ll never forget her death scream, or the scream of the Haint when it touched her. Like fire and oil, it hurt the haint to touch her…
Sorry, had a bit of a soft spot for the girl, fatherly affection, nothing perverted mind you. We went after it, Nayer laid into it first, his magic sword Glosamagar hurt it pretty bad but me own axe, neh magic to it did nothing. It was Abroin again, he cast some sorta spell on it, made it glow. The next swipe took off it’s arm. Blood and that inky black that seeps from their eyes went everywhere. Panther used that fancy fang dagger of hers and split the haint from groin to gullet, spilling shadow and guts everywhere. It died bad, howling and screaming, its summoned shadows writhed about until we put them down with our magicked weapons.
Never even saw the second Haint…it took Nayer and Panther without a fight, and we barely escaped alive. Sometimes I hope that Gazzo made it through the smoke, I hope he carried the word out of this place, and maybe one day he might bring us some help. Time moves strange here though, I’m not sure how much time has passed since I came down the Chiaroscuro Road, how long since we tried to used the Thurible to snuff out the Swollen Shadow. Stop flinching, its name ain’t got no power…
The Real Deal
A Haint is a mortal, typically human, who has become completely overtaken by the Swollen Shadow. Each individual retains their powers and abilities, such as a mage who becomes a Haint retains his spell casting powers, albeit in a shadowy form. The only exception are clerics, and all clerics are converted into warriors of equal level, but with no bonuses to changing class.
They are completely immune to sleep and mind controlling magics, but are almost always fooled by illusions, no matter how poorly done. Poison, mundane weaponry, and mundane fire have no effect on them other than causing temporary discomfort. Magical fire, magic weapons, and the like deal damage as normal, and items/spells with the Good/Holy descriptor can deal double damage to a Haint.
PCs as Haints
The advantages are pretty obvious, a scary new appearance with eyes that bleed tangible shadow and a big list of immunities and kewl shadow powerz. There is a signifigant cost as well, each Haint has a semblance of its old life, its old memories. but they are fragments, a Haint lives only to serve the Swollen Shadow. If a Haint is magically cut off from the elder entity that created them, they thrash for a short time and then perish is a burst of shadow energy.
Without the Shadow
Haints might seem like a pretty cool antagonist for a game, and while they were created for the Swollen Shadow codex, there is nothing that says they have to stay with this set up. Haints can appear in any basic fantasy game and can draw paralells to the Ring Wraiths from Lord of the Rings, or the Myrdrrall from Jordan’s Wheel of Time. They are a consumate foe that the PCs should have little moral qualm over killing.