Shadow 5e: Stats and Guide for Players & DMs

Last Updated on November 13, 2023


Medium Undead, Chaotic Evil

  • Size:  Medium
  • Creature Type:  Undead
  • Alignment: Chaotic Evil
  • Armor Class: 12
  • Hit Points: 16 (3d8 + 3)
  • Speed: 40 ft.
  • STR 6 (-2), DEX 14 (+2), CON 13 (+1), INT 6 (-2), WIS 10 (+0), CHA 8 (-1)
  • Skills: Stealth +4
  • Damage Vulnerabilities: Radiant
  • Damage Resistances: Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning, Thunder, Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Attacks
  • Damage Immunities: Necrotic, Poison
  • Condition Immunities: Exhaustion, Frightened, Grappled, Paralyzed, Petrified, Poisoned, Prone, Restrained
  • Senses: Darkvision 60 ft., Passive Perception 10
  • Languages
  • Challenge: 1/2 (100 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus: +2

Amorphous. The shadow can move through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide without squeezing.

Shadow Stealth. While in dim light or darkness, the shadow can take the Hide action as a bonus action.

Sunlight Weakness. While in sunlight, the shadow has disadvantage on attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws.


Strength Drain. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 9 (2d6 + 2) necrotic damage, and the target’s Strength score is reduced by 1d4.

The target dies if this reduces its Strength to 0. Otherwise, the reduction lasts until the target finishes a short or long rest.

If a non-evil humanoid dies from this attack, a new shadow rises from the corpse 1d4 hours later.

Shadows are undead that resemble dark exaggerations of humanoid shadows.

Dark Disposition. From the darkness, the shadow reaches out to feed on living creatures’ vitality. They can consume any living creature, but they are especially drawn to creatures untainted by evil.

A creature that lives a life of goodness and piety consigns its basest impulses and strongest temptations to the darkness where the shadows hunger.

As a shadow drains its victim’s strength and physical form, the victim’s shadow darkens and begins to move of its own volition. In death, the creature’s shadow breaks free, becoming a new undead shadow hungry for more life to consume.

If a creature from which a shadow has been created somehow returns to life, its undead shadow senses the return. The shadow might seek its “parent” to vex or slay.

Whether the shadow pursues its living counterpart, the creature that birthed the shadow no longer casts one until the monster is destroyed.

Undead Nature. A shadow doesn’t require air, food, drink, or sleep.


Basic Rules, pg. 344

What Is a Shadow in 5e?

A shadow is an incorporeal undead that ambushes its prey and leaves them weakened with their Strength Drain attack. Dying this way creates a new shadow from the victim’s corpse.

A Shadow’s Tactics

From a player’s perspective, a Shadow generally follows two rules when engaging in combat:

  • Location is Everything
  • Drain Strength

Rule #1: Location Is Everything

Shadows are ambush hunters. They have the Shadow Stealth and Amorphous abilities, which means you can not only find them in corners and pockets of darkness, but they can easily escape if threatened beyond their ability to handle.

Considering they create more of themselves, this means you are more likely to run into a nest of shadows than a lonely hunter.

You could find them in darkened rooms, perched above or in doorways. Consider how frightening an encounter with Shadows could be underwater.

In general, a shadow will wait patiently until you step too far into the dark where they can hide as a bonus action. Once within reach, they will attack with their Strength Drain.

Speaking of which…

Rule #2: Drain All the Strength!

A Shadow’s signature ability is Strength Drain. In addition to 2d6 necrotic damage, this melee attack deals 1d4 damage to your Strength Stat.

This means that everything that uses Strength is lowered. Your attack bonuses, your athletics score, your Strength Saves, your damage rolls — everything!

Once your Strength hits 0, you die. If you stay dead long enough, you rise up as a shadow yourself.

If this seems harsh, just remember that back in the days of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd edition D&D, Shadows had an ability called Level Drain, which was much, much worse.

In previous editions, Shadows and other Undead actually drained levels from you.  Ouch.

How To Fight A Shadow

Two words: Radiant Damage.

Everyone protects the cleric and distracts the Shadow by making yourself an easier target.

You probably have a magic item available somewhere, so hit it with that while the Cleric loads up their guiding bolt and sacred flame spells.

This will be difficult, considering the Shadow can move through your spaces, so keep your opportunity attacks available while it chases the cleric down.

If there is a Paladin in the party, get out of their way so they can smite the creepy little monster. Torches and fires do not count as sunlight, so a simple fire will not be strong enough to give the Shadow disadvantage on its rolls, but if anyone casts daylight, now is the time to do it.

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