Franchise / Shadowchasers
Shadowchasers is a fanfic franchise of Yu-gi-oh! fics (mostly set in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's
) created by Cyber Commander.
The plot of the series, in summary: The monsters of myth and legend are real. They've been on Earth possibly since before recorded history, but not by choice. They are native to some world elsewhere in the cosmos, but a mysterious force abducts (or rather, kidnaps) them, forcibly bringing them to Earth, leaving them with only fleeting memories of their previous lives. Unable to return, most of them try to make the most of the situation, adapting as well as they can. Emphasis on "most".
Only a few humans can see the monsters - called "Shadows" by most - for what they are. Most humans simply do not accept what they do not believe is real, and their minds paper over the Shadows, making them appear as human or other believable things. Only gifted humans called "Awares" can see them fully for what they are. This illusion makes humans vulnerable to evil Shadows, but also makes Shadows vulnerable to Aware humans who would want to exploit them.
The Shadowchasers are a global law-enforcement agency of sorts founded a thousand years ago - and still led - by Jalal Stormbringer, with the intent of keeping the peace between humans and Shadowkind. A Great Treaty that was agreed to centuries ago keeps humans and Shadows separate, and allows Shadows to live in peace unmolested. And ever since Duel Monsters became Serious Business
for humans in this reality, it became the way Shadowchasers and Shadows in general used for resolving disputes.
The series as a whole references Dungeons & Dragons
, the Cthulhu Mythos
frequently, and various other fantasy sources. It is based on the "Shadow Chasers" game mode of d20 Modern
. The author has occasionally given credit in the intros of some chapters throughout his main stories, including eventually crediting "Urban Arcana", the game which most directly inspired the original setting.
The series has the following storiesBy the original author
Cyber Commander allows other authors to write stories in the Shadowchasers universe as long as they get his approval. The following are some notable ones. By other authors Related stories set in the same universe
For future reference, only place Tropes that apply to Shadowchasers as a whole on this page. As a work in progress, Tropes on this page will be transferred to the appropriate Trope pages as they are created.
This series as a whole features the following examples:
- A Father to His Men: Jalal looks after every member of the Shadowchasers in a paternal kind of way.
- Action Girl: Pretty much every female Shadowchaser.
- Amazon Brigade: The Shadowchasers are closely allied with the female-exclusive Morgana's Kin, an ancient organization dedicated to exploration and dimensional travel. (The female requirement is necessary because only someone with a female body can master the special techniques needed to join.) The Trope name is a misleading, because they seem to be more a group of scientists and scholars than warriors, from what has been seen thus far.
- Attention Whore: The shadar-kai are an entire race of these, at least most of them. They have a society where leaders are chosen by whoever gains the most notoriety, and sadly, a lot of them do dangerous and careless stunts just to be noticed. Ophelia's mother is in prison for one such stunt, and she never regretted doing it.
- Badass Biker: Any duelist with a D-Wheel. (If female, the Biker Babe Trope applies too.)
- Badass Normal: Most Shadowchasers are at least this, with a few exceptions, and a few cross the line to Empowered Badass Normal after learning skills from Shadows (often via Training from Hell or other intensive methods. A rare few actually learn magic, or are actually Shadowkind with supernatural powers. (Jalal doesn't actively encourage Shadowkind to join because there's often a risk that such a Shadowchaser might show favoritism towards his own species, but he doesn't forbid it.)
- Barrier Maiden: As explained in Ascension Tharizdun is a villainous example. The gods dare not kill him, despite the potential genocidal cataclysm he would attempt to start if he was freed from his prison; killing him would allow the Great Old Ones to reclaim the power they invested when they turned him into their Unwitting Pawn, potentially resulting in them releasing a far more dangerous threat.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Quite a few are revealed throughout the stories. It's revealed in the original fic that Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison were aided in their experiments by gremlins and that many of Mozart's contemporaries were vampires. Later, in Torment it is revealed that Henry VIII was an Immortality Seeker who tried to convince Jalal to reveal the secret, and in Ascension, it's revealed that the Old North Church in Boston was chosen for its unique location to house a portal to the holy shrine of Tabjari. Backwater has an odd variation, where a doll golem reveals that The Muppets are also doll golems. (Whether that means Jim Henson was an honest to goodness wizard was not revealed. The Files have a few as well, revealing, for example, that Wolvercote Cemetery in Oxford is a sacred site protected by four powerful deities (of the elves, dwarves, halflings, and'' orcs) due to the numerous spiritual leaders of each race that have come there to pay respects. (Why? That's where J.R.R. Tolkien's grave is.)
- Betrayal Insurance: The card Jalal the Dragonborn (and its later version Dragonprince Jalal) can only be used by someone who is authorized to use it by Jalal. If anyone not authorized or someone who has fallen out of grace with the organization attmepts to use it, its fail-safe effect kicks in which would severely cripple the duelist who used it. (This actually appears on the card's text if someone who is not authorized has it, so a thief who is smart enough to read the text before using it likely will not do so.)
- Big Good: Jalal Stormbringer in most Shadowchaser story, although those that take place after the Zexal era have him replaced by his ward, Judy.
- Burger Fool: The Pandora's Box, mentioned in the first fic, is one unique to the series. Subverted in that it's actually rather popular among Shadowkind, both as far as customers and those seeking income, go. (The place has a fantasy theme which, while trite, has proved a success among children, and the narrative claims that "in areas with high Shadowkind populations, local elves, dwarves, goblins, bugbears, and many others creatures of Shadow could easily find jobs at the Pandora’s Box simply by being themselves.")
- Chekhov's Gunman: Red Feather and Jalie Squarefoot were first mentioned in Shadowchaser Files (that appear at the end of a chapter in the original fic and Power Primordial) before appearing officially in Ascension. Other characters that make smaller appearances after being mentioned in the Files are Kesto Brighteyes (in Torment) and Jemorille the Exile (again, in Ascension.)
- Children Are Special: This seems universally true, for the most part. Apparently, children are almost always Aware, but their ability to see Shadows fade around puberty, and they forget about it or dismiss what they saw as their imaginations (which adults typically believe their claims to be, if they speak of them). Adults who become Aware are simply gaining the ability back in some way or another. (In at least one fic, Jalal takes a villain's threat to assault a place frequented by children very seriously, reminding the Neo Domino group of this fact.)
- Moral Myopia: The Unseelie are one of the worst examples. The pretty much spit on the Great Treaty for years, meaning the Shadowchasers had to use force against the joystealers in the long ongoing campaign to liberate the eoshee. However, they pretty much embraced the concept of using Duel Monsters as a form of combat when Jalal proposed using it to solve disputes; up to that point, Shadowchasers had a big advantage in any physical confrontation, meaning the change only benefitted them. (Of course, in general, they don't seem to think rules matter at all, other than the Rule of the Jungle.)
- The Commissioner Gordon: Apparently, every local group of Shadowchasers has at least one government contact that helps them, due to the fact that regular law enforcement cannot hope to handle Shadow-related crimes on their own.
- Cool Sword: Every Shadowchaser is given a sword for instances where in dueling will not work. Not all of them use the swords, however. Dugan in Torment uses an enchanted blunderbuss for a weapon, while Red Feather's weapon of choice seems to be a bow and arrows.
- The Cracker: The series as a whole introduces a new spin on this with shadowjacks, computer hackers who are able to use supernatural skills to infiltrate cyberspace and hack systems. There are also the much rarer technomages, who are actual sorcerers who can cast magical spells through the internet. (There are benevolent shadowjacks including a few who are members of the Shadowchasers, but they aren't as common.
- Dying Race: The vampires. Borrowed heavily from Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, the cause of this dates back a few centuries ago when some leaders of the vampire race believed that they could live alongside humans peacefully without having to hide behind the same veil that most Shadowkind did. It worked for a while, but then something happened - exactly what was not known - that made both races hate each other. A war between the two races started, and the vampires clearly lost, reduced to near-extinction on Earth. The Shadowchasers regard this as one of the greatest tragedies in their history, but point to it as proof that the veil that hides Shadowkind from most humans must never be lifted again, lest a similar disaster occur.
- Empathic Card: The card Jalal the Dragonborn and its later version Dragonprince Jalal have a hidden effect that activates only if it is used by a someone not authorized to use it or a Shadowchaser who has lost favor that ensures that the user will lose.
- The Fair Folk: The Trope as a whole is kind of Zigzagged. Fairies are called fey races, and while most break the modern interpretation of them, they seem to span the entire moral and ethical spectrum. A few of the common themes of this Trope are mentioned (they used to abduct mortals in order to use tissue to build special golems, but once they found out that they could buy teeth from children for relatively cheap, they stopped doing so and started using tooth fairies.) Some fairies are, indeed evil, but many are good (the crisis with the eoshee is proof of this), and the Flying Dutchman, seen in Torment, is also one of them. Also, the Feywild is mentioned - and visited - in Power Primordial and again in Conspiracy. It is an alternate world where powerful nobles of the fey race reside. They don't encourage visitors, at least not on a regular basis.
- Fantastic Racism: Some Shadowkind accuse Jalal and the Shadowchasers as this whenever they focus efforts on one particular race. Jalal is attacked mercilessly by Shadow-exclusive supermarket tabloids on this and other issues, and has claimed that such slander has been directed against him since written periodicals first became popular. (It's often brought up by Jalal himself that in most realities, the method of dealing with races that consider humanity an enemy is outright genocide.)
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: If it's fantasy related, there is a good chance it's here.
- Gargle Blaster:
- Reptilian Shadowkind like the ophidia drink something called viperwine, a whiskey made from the venom of the Indian viper. This is actually lethal to any non-reptile who drinks it without taking an antidote. Shadowkind who sell liquor require a special license to sell it, which the Shadowchasers are in charge of issuing.
- It is revealed in "Ascension" that devils cannot become drunk by drinking regular alcohol, and thus have several incredible potent beverages that they use to become intoxicated. These drinks tend to far more potent to humans. Gughalaki is one example, which is like strong ale to them, and high-ranking devils like Jalie drink Demon's Blood (which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin and is savored by devils like fine wine.)
- Go Mad from the Revelation: Awareness Madness, a case wherein an newly-awakened Aware's eyes open to the truth, but his/her mind cannot grasp the new things he/she is seeing, and as a result snaps and can possibly become dangerous. (According to Shichiro, this most happens when a human becomes Aware at an older age than usual.)
- Greater Scope Villain: Each individual fic has one, explained in its own entry. The whole franchise might even have something that qualifies as a "Biggest Bad", more or less, seeing as It is suggested in Ascention that the Great Old Ones of the Cthulhu Mythos were the ones who originally corrupted Tharizdun and seek the destruction of everything.
- Guns Are Useless: Zigzagged. It seems that firearms just don't cut it against a lot of Shadowkind, but are effective against others. In Conspiracy, when a mobster argues with a dark elf priestess who he's supposed to be working with and insults her (admittedly immodest) attire, saying he'd be the one in charge if he had even one gun, she has one of her bodyguards give him a gun and dares him to fight her using it. End result; after he runs out of bullets, she is unharmed, and forces him to his knees with her sword. She spares him, however, and then explains to the scared shitless mobster about the protection magic she had that made the gun ineffective.
- Half-Human Hybrid: The series has LOTS of these. (And oddly enough, the Human Mom Non Human Dad Trope seems no more common than the reverse in this reality, unlike most.) The most well-known one is Jalal, who is half-human, half-dragon. Others of note include Ophelia, who is half-human, half-shadar-kai, Penelope (half-human, half-elf), and Lorelei (half-human, half-demon, also referred to as a cambion). The Shadowchaser's official term for anyone with one human parent and one Shadowkind parent is "Shadow-Touched".
- Heroes With Bad Publicity: Whether this is true or not is clearly a case-by-case basis; some Shadowchasers actually have very good publicity. However, following the events of City of Angels, the organization as a whole starts to get bad press, which is the biggest reason for the events of Tournament of Shadows, which is done in an effort to improve PR.
- Higher-Tech Species: The Incantifers. Technically, they are a race of sorcerers whose powers are supernatural, not technological, but they are still far more powerful and intelligent than most Shadowkind. To give an example of how powerful they are, one of them, Maskent, co-drafted and co-signed the Great Treaty, and is the Shadowkind representive for all matters concerning it. Fortunately for humans, most Incantifers are benign (one notable exception is the most powerful currently-living Doomdreamer, who is called The First).
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming:
- The chapters of each fic (except for Torment, Soulscape, and Ascension) are each named after a card in the game, a tradition started in Cyber Commander's previous work, Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Messiah. Shadowchaser fics from other authors also follow this pattern, with some exceptions.
- In Soulscape, each chapter is named after an episode of Code Lyoko.
- In Conspiracy the chapters are named after songs.
- Invisible to Normals: Mundanes cannot see or hear many supernatural phenomenon, and perceive Shadowkind as humans. Ironically, many Awares cannot see or hear Duel Spirits, and a person able to perceive Duel Spirits is often not Aware. Shichiro wanted to recruit Yusei Fudo into the Shadowchasers due to his incredible talent and connection to Duel Spirits, but alas, Yusei is not Aware.
- Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: The Fair Fight Clause, which ensures that any confrontation between a Shadowchaser and a Shadowkind must be completely fair. According to its history, for a long time there have been several disputes on whether or not a confrontation was considered fair until Duel Monsters came around and was suggested by Jalal. Because in a duel, both sides have no idea what to expect from one another, it was considered fair and Duel Monsters was used as the medium ever since. (Keep in mind that cheating tends to occur just as often among some unsavory types as it tends to do in the franchise as a whole.)
- Loads and Loads of Characters: There's at least 30 or more named characters (main or minor) in one story. Combine that with the rest of Cyber Commander's Shadowchaser stories and the other spin-off stories from other authors and, well you get the idea.
- Magical Library: Two important ones are mentioned.
- First there is the Origin Universe, a library that contains near-limitless knowledge. supposedly, it is the size of a world, and exists in a pocket dimension that only Morgana's Kin, who use it as their base of operations, can locate, let alone enter.
- Also, the Library Arcanium, an extra-dimensional place that plays a vital role in Shadowchasers: Backwater.
- Mistaken Nationality: Although most humans use the terms "demon" and "devil" interchangably, they are actually two completely different races of beings, and seeing as they are sworn enemies, each does not like to be mistaken for the other, as one points out to Nichole in "Torment". Their are many differences, but the biggest one is simply that devils are beings of Law that are native to Hell, while demons are beings of Chaos that are native to the Abyss.
- The various races of Yokai are often called demons too, which they do not like.
- No Name Given: More than likely, every native of the Lower Planes encountered in the series (except for Huszi, the devil encountered in one chapter of Ascension) was using a pseudonym when encountered. The reason for this is given in the chapter where Huszi appears: Such creatures must keep their real names secret, because they are needed for various powerful magical spells that can be used against them.
- Old Shame: A few In-Universe examples.
- There is an incident revolving an individual named Vladimir Bloodletter, apparently not only did he and his men murder several Shadowchasers, but he also managed to defeat Jalal in a duel, leaving a blow to Jalal's credibility as a leader and a duelist. While the Shadowchasers were victorious, the incident caused their reputation and credibility to decline in some parts of the Shadowkind community, leading to some attempted revolutions. As a result, Shadowchasers refuse to talk about it and use any of Bloodletter's cards. Tournament of Shadows shows that Jalal does not like being reminded of it. (The full story will hopefully be revealed in Shadowchasers City Of Angels being written by a different author, which seems to currently be on hiatus.)
- Another example does not involve the Shadowchasers, but St. Cuthbert's House, a charity organization that Nichole belongs to, and involves a mistake that St. Cuthbert, the Shadow-exclusive deity that they follow, admits to. According to legend, eons ago, Cuthbert was an advisor to the powers of Law, and he argued vehemently in support of the Pact Primodial, the document that would put Lucifer in charge of punishing sinners in the afterlife. His voice was one of the biggest reasons for the document being approved. However, Cuthbert would regret his decision years later, and forever after, when it became apparent that the Prince of Darkness was exploiting loopholes in the document to encourage evil among mortals and increase his personal power, which he still does to this day. Cuthbert shifted from Lawful Neutral to Lawful Good as a result, and his dogma became one of retribution against evil.
- Oddly Small Organization:
- The Knights of Domiel. People who know about them tend to be frightened of them, thinking that they are a legion of widespread and nearly omniponent Knights Templar. In truth, as the narrative in Torment claims, the group has no more than thirty members at one time, and only one base of operations. (They do not enforce their exaggerated reputation, but on the other hand, they don't discourage it either.)
- In fact, the same could be said for the Shadowchasers themselves. There were only six founding members originally (Jalal and five other knights, one of which eventually became a traitor) and Shichiro claims in the first chapter of "Tournament of Shadows" that the entire organization has about five-hundred members currently. That's rather small compared to other international peacekeeping groups. There's also the fact that there are usually no more than five members assigned to one city at a time (although the whole organization is well-connected).
- Omnicidal Maniac: No better term can be used to descibe Tharizdun, along with most mortals who worship him. A few philosophers claim that his goal of complete destruction may be a hidden desire to spare mortals from the terrible fate that he suffered at the hands of the Great Old Ones, but this theory is not widely believed.
- Open Secret: Judy (nicknamed Steelheart) a teenage half-dragon who is Jalal's ward and presumed heir. He tries very hard to keep her sheltered, but she is the worst-kept secret among the Shadowchasers. Thusfar, Judy has only officially appeared as a cameo role in "Soulscape", but was described more thoroughly in the Shadowchaser Files.
- Planet of Hats: Actually, in the series as a whole, the Earth is even less a Hat than it usually is, the diverse races of Shadowkind making it more of a melting pot that the real world. However, the town of Backwater, Nebraska, first mentioned in Twice-Told Tales, is an interesting variation. The town has no permanent residents that are Mundane humans, with all citizens being either Shadowkind or Aware humans. (It has been hinted that it was founded with this in mind.) Possibly not a true Hat in the strictest sense, but it does give the whole population a unique trait in common.
- Police Are Useless: Well, not truly. The Shadowchasers often have allies in local police (City of Angels being the best example) and they can be useful sometimes. However, one of the biggest reasons for the Shadowchasers' continued existence is because the police are unable to efficiently handle Shadowkind criminals on their own. (And it hasn't been for lack of trying. Law enforcement agencies have had Aware members who have tried to start progams on their own in the past, but almost none have had any success. The only one that comes close is the Commission for Research into Unexplained Phenomena, which is detailed in one of the Files.)
- Power at a Price: According to Jalal, the mortal mind is not made to handle living forever, and anyone who obtains immortality is eventually driven mad by the vast information he accumulates. The reason he founded the Shadowchasers in the first place was to give his life direction and a purpose. He still knows that madness will lurk in his future unless he eventually forfeits his immortality the way his father did; his surrogate daughter Judy has been mentioned as a possible successor, but not confirmed.
- Predecessor Villain: There are a few important ones:
- Athentia was a sphinx-like creature of godlike power, who acted as an oracle, but demanded a terrible price - she would inflict any mortal who sought her advice with her conundrum curse as "punishment" for seeking her out, which would place a perplexing riddle in his head making it impossible for him to do anything until he solved it. If he did, he would be worthy of the advice she gave him; otherwise, he would starve. Jalal's father defeated her in a game of riddles to gain immortality, which was later passed to Jalal. In the climax of the first fic, Athentia's daughter revealed that Athentia and her mate were servants of the Light of Ruin.
- Malys is another one, a powerful, cruel, and greedy red dragon who wanted Jamor's vast horde, but was unwilling to face him herself, and thus sent an assassin to slay him armed with poison that dragons were vulnerable to. After Jamor's death - due to his son taking his immortality from him to end his suffering - Jalal confronted Malys and slew her, which, symbolically, was his first act as a Shadowchaser.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Subverted, to a degree. While a lot of reptilian Shadowkind are criminals, a lot are decent folks some examples:
- Ophidia are traditionally enemies of humans, but some exceptions exist, and after the events of Power Primodial, there are signs that the relations between them and humans might start to improve.
- Glora, a gorgon who owns a liquor store in the original fic, is a decent sort; on the other hand, Alyosha, a male of the species who appears in Ascension and his girlfriend Natasha were both criminals.
- The lizard king Scath is clearly evil (lizard kings are at least part-demon) and the blackscale lizard men who work as his enforcers are brutish bullys. However, the shaman Sslinth and his greenscale followers are benign, and allied with the Shadowchasers.
- The banderhobb Brother Tion in Ascension is, unlike most members of his species, a nonviolent intellectual type.
- Riddle for the Ages: The biggest mystery in the franchise is likey the nature of the "mysterious force" that kidnaps Shadowkind from the Homeworld of Shadow and sends them to Earth. The identy of this being (if it is indeed a being), and what its motives are, are completely unknown.
- Riddling Sphinx: Jalal's father, a dragon, gained immortality by challenging a sphinx with godlike powers named Athentia to a game of riddles and winning. Later, he was poisoned by a would-be assassin, and Jalal feared that the agony it caused him would never end. His only option was to beg Athentia to take back what she had given him; she told him that the only way that could be done was for him to give it to someone else. Jalal accepted it himself.
- Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: This is pretty much the case across the board. The most revealing outfit a female Shadowchaser has worn (at least willingly) is one that fits a Bare Your Midriff Trope. Female villains, on the other hand, tend to lack modesty, constantly dressing in halters, short skirts, and even lingere in one case. Lorelei actually seems to enjoy playing the part of a slut in the scantily-clad costume that appears when she shows her true nature as a cambion. Justified for villains who are Shadowkind that specialize in seducing their victims using their looks.
- Slave Race: The eoshee, who were enslaved by their enemies the unseelie after losing a rigged contest five-hundred years ago, which transformed them into emotion-sapping beings called joystealers. Ever since then, restoring their freedom has been an ongoing project for the Shadowchasers, but since the unseelie have no real leaders, this has to be done one joystealer at a time, a very slow process.
- Soul Jar: The Magic Jar which necromancers can use as a last resort to preserve their souls. Edmund does this after all the worms that form his body were destroyed from his duel with Gears in the original fic.
- Sphere of Destruction: The Sphere of Annihilation which completely eradicates anything near it. It's also one of the few things actually capable of killing Jalal.
- Stepford Smiler: In most stories, the Shadowchasers are known to crack jokes every so often even in dangerous situations. According to them, it's mostly to relieve themselves from the danger of their jobs. (The Big Bad in "Power Primordial" says that this is one thing it hs never understood about humans, despite having lived for many millennia.)
- Techno Wizard:
- The series introduces a type of computer hacker called a shadowjack. While not truly skilled in sorcery, a shadowjack can tap supernatural powers to hack computer systems.
- Also mentioned are techno-mages, actual wizards who can cast spells through the internet. It is suggested that becoming a shadowjack is the first step towards becoming this kind of wizard. Kenshin from Backwater can use this kind of magic, and it has been implied in Conspiracy that Karl has evolved to this level of skill.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill Muggles: There's a variation of this. One of the most important clauses in the great treaty states quite simply, that unprovoked attacks against and assaults (by any means, not just physically) against humans is forbidden. However, this works in reverse; humans are not allowed to persecute or molest Shadowkind, and they are to be allowed to live as their cultures dictate, and are not required to answer to any authority other than their own or the Shadowchasers. (Of course, that's the simple version, and it tends to be broken by more unsavory types; what happened to the vampires is often used as an example of what could happen when this clause is ignored.)
- To Serve Man: The very first Shadowkind to appear was Hebi-Na, an ophidia, and this species plays a big part in "Power Primordial". Ophidia are a race of Snake People who traditionally view humans as prey. Law-abiding ones grudgingly accept that they cannot, but there are several instances (like the the case in "Power Primordial" of groups who desire a return to old traditions, making these groups dangerous enemies of the Shadowchasers.
- Urban Fantasy: The whole setting, with Post Moderdern Magik in heavy use by everyone.
- You Can't Go Home Again:
- Once an Aware opens his/her eyes to the world behind the veil, they can never go back to how their life was.
- The same can be said for Shadowkind, at least those who were not born on Earth. They are native to an unknown Alternate Reality (called simply "The Homeworld of Shadow"), and do not come to Earth willingly. A mysterious force kidnaps them and sends them to Earth with vague memories - at best - of their past. There is no known way for a Shadowkind to return to the Homeworld of Shadow (and many do not wish to go back) so the majority make the most of their new lives.