Lifestyle of Shadow People

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Valarium, May 25, 2020.

  1. Valarium

    Valarium Dreamer

    So i'm developing a shapeshifter-esq race of shadows, and am thinking about how they would operate in day to day life. The general idea is that they have the freedom to change their form, even shifting from a 3D form to a purely 2D form (as a shadow independent of an object essentially). Though they still have to do basic biologic functions like eating and sleeping (For stuff like eating, they've gotta do it in their 3D form as shadows can't really eat with any effectivity).

    I'm not quite sure on how some stuff might develop for them. Some things i've considered is stuff like housing, would they lodge like a human, or maybe they would choose to live a more ascetic lifestyle as a deep slit in a rock is good enough to sleep in for them. Lock-boxes and the like wouldn't work as a bandit could just imitate a key to break into it, so what could be a replacement (And basically just storing things safely in general)? Or how would a prison system work when someone could so easily slip out of handcuffs or a jail cell?

    If you got any comments or additional questions to propose, please feel free to comment
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  2. Night Gardener

    Night Gardener Inkling

    Hmmmmm.... so you want a three-dimensional, coporeal (biological) humanoid entity that can "shape shift" into a 2D shadow (that can master stealth.)

    My question first: is there any limit on how long they can remain as a 2D shadow?

    If they need to spend a good portion of their time as more 3D to faciliate biological functions, then I would think they would live in 3D environments, something domestic enough that most other humanoids could kind of relate to.

    If they can carry objects on themselves and shift from 3D to 2D, then that also changes how they might live and protect their personal property. I would imagine these shadow people would be Masters of stealth... which suggests a preferred occupation and a culture of a predisposition clandestine nature... spies, theives, intelligence, detectives.

    If they are mostly worried about other Shafow people slipping in to their homes to steal or spy on them, I think they would engineer ways to thwart such activities, through magic or mechanics. And, double-down efforts to keep that level of technology secret. As a shadow person, you want to protect yourself from other shadow people, but don't want to give non-shadow people technology to hinder your job and livelihood.

    And, as far as security goes, my mind hits on this: stark, harsh, ambient (multi-directional like a professional photo studio) and overly-abundant lighting. A shadow person's home might be lit up inside like a baseball stadium to eliminate the deeply contrasted, shadowy hiding places. Maybe they construct furniture that is mind-blowingly thin, or very translucent, to eliminate potential hiding places for shadow-intruders. It's difficult to be a deep dark shadow in a bright open space. Maybe they like furniture that can be stored away when not in use, like bedrolls at night. A non-shadow person would be under the impression that these shadow people live in a very austere, no-frills environment.

    Perhaps they always leave their lights on, to avoid total darkness. They probably build with lots of windows, light wells, skylights, and transums. Maybe they like living in radical open-concept spaces, using sliding walls or screens to section off and transform spaces as needed.

    Perhaps a caveat to their power has to do with visual volume? Yes, they can hide in tiny cracks and dark spaces, but maybe they aren't able to be mobile or active if they condense themselves too small... little more than cramming your conciousness into a crack in a rock. Becomming the shadow of a chair might be more comfortable in comparisson.

    This also makes me think that shadow people are going to develop a very sophisticated understanding of cryptology and code-speaking. If you never know if you're being eavesdropped, you're not going to speak openly about anything of signifigance without developing codes.

    I would also think shadow people might be quite paranoid. Perhaps, they constantly check their environment for shadows that don't belong, or develop a piece of technology, maybe a lens (feircely guarded, of course) to actually look through and scan the room for 'planted bugs' like they do in mafia-cop movies.

    Now, if a 2D shadow person has the ability to interact (touch or restrain) another 2D shadow person, this overwhelming security task becomes much more feasible. Maybe shadow people have to be in the same form at the same time to interact with each other properly.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  3. The first two thoughts that came to my mind were what if your evolved shadow people had once been simple human shadows, which was (and still can be) a sort of prison or servitude for them. Sentenced to be bound to a flesh creature at a human or animal's birth, forced to live out their days in that 2-d version, only being able to take the 2-d form of the creature they are permanently bound to? That solves your "jail" idea issue but also may be a fun origin story.

    Perhaps in the shadow creature's world there are so many tens of trillions of shadow entities that the world is massively overpopulated. At some point it was decided that to ease the burden, a number of them are chosen to become "indentured" to serve as human shadows on Earth. This has been a simple solution to remove billions of them from their world. Perhaps a few discovered a way to break the binding and evolve again into their 3-d powerful form. This could even be a great place to start their tale with a shadow that has been struggling against it's binding for 40 or 50 or so years, breaking away at the moment of their human vessel's death in some way to finally gain their freedom.

    This liberated shadow then assists others in breaking free and begins to build their own shadow society on earth or whatever world you are working in. I'm thinking here along the lines of the original 1972 dystopian, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes where Caesar, the only talking ape, leads the less-evolved apes of Earth into revolt against humans for their mistreatment. Though in this case the shadow people may not be known to humans at all. I actually thought of this movie when I was thinking of your shadow people communicating. There are scenes where Caesar does not need to speak, only uses his eyes to convey his message to the less evolved apes who nod in understanding.

    Second, and this ties in somewhat with the first, what if the now evolved shadows are able to partially sustain themselves in 2-d form by attaching to any animal, human etc so that when the living creature eats, they too gain some of the sustenance. BUT the effect on the shadow of taking nourishment this way is more of an opioid like effect, getting them the brief boost of life force but it's also harmful to them. In a further tangent, it could hinted at that this is the very reason humans age because the shadow that has been bound to them, over time, is weakened and drained of its life force. Some last longer, and those human vessels live longer but it is directly tied to the ability of the shadow creature to tolerate the binding over so many years. So, the body of the human vessel deteriorates because the shadow that has been bound to it is wasting away over the years of this binding and form of "addiction".

    Of course, here I am assuming your shadow creatures are the main focus of your story/book idea. :)

    Lots of interesting possibilities in the world you're creating.
    Good luck!
  4. spaced06

    spaced06 Dreamer

    Have you considered what resources the shadow people need to live? All societies spend a good amount of time and energy into obtaining and refining essential resources. Figuring this out will give you a decent idea of the most basic aspects of their society. What do they eat? Do they just hunt and eat vegetables like us in 3d form? Do they feed off of other beings' natural shadow? Do they somehow extract energy from sunlight? Or do they digest some made up resource that exists only in their world? This alone would have a massive impact on their society. If they eat regular food then they will need to farm and hunt and maybe even domesticate animals, in some way. If they feed off of other living creatures' shadows then I would expect them to be either nomadic, or a sort of parallel society that exists in the shadows *wink wink* of other civilizations. if they consume some other resource that you will make up, then you might want to consider how much of it they need, how it's produced, etc, etc, etc. If they eat a fungus that grows only in caves, they will have a very different culture than if they are carnivorous.
    Once you get the food part straight, you can move on to other resources. What do they build with, and how do they do it? If they build all glass houses with high illumination as someone above suggested, then they will probably have a very highly developed glass blowing tradition or something along those lines, which in turn implies access to considerable amounts of sand to melt down, and also some magic/technology to allow them to heat it up. On the other hand, if they build out of wood, then they would certainly need to live mostly near forests, and have a robust supply line to get wood where they don't. Now, I'm not saying you can build your entire culture based on this sort of practical, needs based thinking, but it will give you a solid foundation to start, You will know what some of the most common jobs need to be, what the general geographic needs of their communities might look like, and probably some of their behavior as well. Just look at it this way: In the real world, building near rivers, lakes and coastlines is something common among most sedentary cultures on all continents, because we all need water to survive. How much of an impact has this had on our societies and cultures? I'd say a pretty massive one.
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