A sorrowsworn was a creature that preyed upon feelings of grief and loss. Once held to be a breed of tanar'ri demon from the Abyss, they were later said to be a shadow creature from the Shadowfell. Though they resembled undead demons, they were in fact manifestations of the Shadowfell and fragments of death incarnate. Three kinds were known: soulrippers, the stealthy assassins; reapers, the brutal slayers; and deathlords, their dread leaders.
A sorrowsworn was a gaunt humanoid standing some 12–15 feet (3.6–4.5 meters) tall and weighing 500 pounds (230 kilograms). It had hooked claws for hands, a dusky black hide, and slender bat-like wings emerging from its back. Its face was a demonic, skeletal visage contorted into a mockery of utter grief, with a wide toothy maw and two short and twisted horns upon its high brow. Reapers and deathlords dressed in robes.
At a whim, the sorrowsworn demon exuded an aura that provoked creatures within 30 feet (9.1 meters) to suffer intense feelings of despair and personal loss, constantly imagining the worst bereavements and failures they'd ever known or could dread to know. Those of iron will could shrug off such thoughts; the rest were overwhelmed and distracted and weakened by them.
When in battle or tormenting a victim, a sorrowsworn demon hissed and whispered incessantly, both in voice and in the mind. It could affect one thinking being at a time, to a distance of 60 feet (18.3 meters), and could change the subject of these mutterings to provoke different responses. If it whispered of past losses, whether real or made-up, a victim would become dazed as they thought on these. If it spoke of the great emptiness of history, of genocide, massacre, tragedy, and pointless sacrifice, a victim might become dangerously confused. If it promised future sorrow or taunted its victim with the futility of fighting against the inevitable, they would become stunned with fear. Only a strong will could ignore these whispers of loss.
A sorrowsworn demon was also a mind-reader, using detect thoughts to raid the memories and thoughts of its intended victims for true losses and fears to taunt them with, making them more vulnerable to its whispers of loss if they were caught within its aura. As a demon, it could also communicate via telepathy to any within 100 feet (30 meters) who spoke a language in common, enabling it to transmit its cruel whispers.
As a master manipulator of the mind, the sorrowsworn demon was well inured to similar tactics, possessing an unholy will and a resistance to spells.
In addition to such supernatural powers, the sorrowsworn demon could also detect magic, become invisible or impossible to detect, or teleport anywhere at will. Thrice a day, it could dispel great magic, cause idiocy with a touch, and cause an unholy blight. Once a day, it could make a victim feebleminded or fog their mind, shift to another plane, and create a weird and deadly phantasm. However, it lacked the power other demons had to summon others of its own or lesser kind.
The sorrowsworn demon was innately good at stealth and survival, and was well-practiced in deceit, intimidation, and knowledge of lore and magic. It had extremely keen senses and obscenely great strength and resilience.
Shadow sorrowsworn had a bleak visage that instilled fear in their foes, making it harder for them to fight back.
A sorrowsworn demon preferred to prey on its victims from hiding, using its skills and magic to remain unseen and unknown as its spied on its targets, reading their minds and gauging their strength. It then appeared suddenly among them, using its powers to weaken them before finally slaying them.
Shadow sorrowsworn fought similarly. Soulrippers stalked and ambushed their victims; with a flutter of their wings, they would teleport, surprise, and grievously strike their targets, or just rush in and claw them apart. Focusing on one at a time, reapers made devastating scythe attacks; if a foe was knocked out or slain, the reaper was healed. Meanwhile, deathlords went for hit-and-run attacks, teleporting and passing through walls to reach any foe; as soon as they attacked, they were gone again, teleported and turned insubstantial as a shadow. Their mournful whispers dazed any being beside them and their scythe weakened their foes.
Sorrowsworn preyed upon folk who'd suffered great loss or sorrow. They coaxed them to ever greater depths of grief, and consumed such feelings. They only appeared after a battle or war had come to an end, to feast on the sorrow that saturated a land with the cutting short of its youth and potential.
They came to past battlefields and made their lairs in close-by ruins where they could feed on the despair that still hung over such places. Their lairs were bleak places, such as dank caves and thorn-filled pits. Small cavities in these places housed gruesome trophies and body parts, each with a grim tale behind it.
They often lurked about hospitals for the wounded, orphanages for those left without parents, the homes of bereft people, and at mass graves. Such places offered the greatest density of souls suffering loss to feed upon.
Some sorrowsworn, who came from the Shadowfell, were servants of the Raven Queen. They were dispatched to kill great mortals who'd cheated death or her clutches and take their souls. With innate knowledge of what their victims valued or regretted, they harassed them with whispers of previous failures and their coming fate. A few served other entities with power over death in a similar fashion.
They also shielded the Raven Queen from the schemes of nightwalkers and fought against death giants who did not obey the queen. High-ranking shadar-kai and other servants of the Raven Queen could become sorrowsworn by some means, granting them a form of the immortality they desired.
Following the war against the Tuigan Horde in the Year of the Turret, 1360 DR, sorrowsworn demons were to be found in the populations of those realms who'd lost their kin to the invaders, such as Cormyr, Sembia, Rashemen, and Thay.
- Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, James Wyatt (June 2008). Monster Manual 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 242–243. ISBN 978-0-7869-4852-9.
- Andrew Finch, Gwendolyn Kestrel, Chris Perkins (August 2004). Monster Manual III. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 36–37. ISBN 0-7869-3430-1.
- Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. Edited by Jennifer Clarke Wilkes, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 69. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
Caligrosto • Dybbuk • Guecubu • Manitou
Adaru • Alkilith • Armanite • Arrow demon • Babau • Balor • Bar-lgura • Bulezau • Cerebrilith • Chasme • Dretch • Gadacro • Glabrezu • Goristro • Hezrou • Jovoc • Kastighur • Klurichir • Lilitu • Mane • Marilith • Maurezhi • Mavawhan • Molydeus • Myrmyxicus • Nabassu • Nalfeshnee • Palrethee • Rutterkin • Solamith • Sorrowsworn • Spyder-fiend • Succubus • Uridezu • Vrock • Yochlol
Draudnu • Ekolid • Golothoma • Laghathti • Sibriex • Uzollru • Verakia • Wastrilith
Abyssal chicken • Abyssal scavenger • Abyssal wretch • Abyssal wurm • Bebilith • Bonegouge assassin • Deathdrinker • Demon spawn • Ferrolith • Ghour • Haures • Immolith • Jarrlak • Kazrith • Mahataa • Maw demon • Nashrou • Quarrak • Quasit • Rageborn • Retriever • Shadow demon • Shoosuva • Skulvyn • Tomb demon • Voracalith • Whisper demon