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Native to the furthest depths of the Negative Energy Plane, the nightshade puts the lie to the idea that the plane is a region barren of all but the undead. Much like the microscopic organisms that inflict plague across the planes, the nightshades are a form of pseudolife empowered by negative energy rather than positive. Their nature is little-known by even the most well-studied sages, as any sighting of one of these colossi, even outside the Negative Energy Plane, is sure to bode ill tidings for the witness.
Unless summoned, nightshades are almost never encountered outside the Negative Energy Plane, save the rare appearance upon the Plane of Shadow. Even the Negative Quasielemental Planes are too distant from their home for any nightshade population to establish itself, though the rare summoned straggler has been known to make a lair there rather than make the full journey back to their own realm.
As with most negative energy-based beings, nightshades loathe positive energy. Much as with mortals in the presence of especially powerful undead, exposure to too much positive energy brings about an unavoidable unease in nightshades that often leads to attempted destruction of the source. They consider any true life as anathema as mortals consider the undead, similarly seeking to end it by whatever means possible. Should a nightshade be summoned somewhere with any appreciable degree of life, then, all about them are likely to be a target for the nightshade's ire. Despite this, though, they have no great feelings for the true undead; while they appreciate their utility, they're largely apathetic otherwise, granting them the same consideration that the average person would give a construct.
The term "nightshade" encompasses four physically distinct creatures, each merely a variation in physical form of the single base entity. It's believed that the form a nightshade takes is a reflection of the type of circumstances they are summoned into, whether it be underground, upon the surface, within the water, or into the air. Nothing is known of what their natural state within the Negative Energy Plane may be, as — much with elemental beings — within their home realm it can be difficult to determine where they end and the plane begins. Based on what few observations have been made, they seem to have an ever-varying form that constantly degrades and reconstitutes itself, an innate expression of entropy. There is even some slim evidence that the aging process may be reversed for such entities, beginning as excessively massive creatures spawned through unknown processes (theorized by some to be related to the destruction of large numbers of undead and the sudden coalescence of the energies that once sustained them), and slowly decaying into smaller and smaller forms, eventually breaking apart into countless disease-bearing microorganisms that eventually themselves degrade to nothing.
Little useful can be said about a nightshade on the Negative Energy Plane, and so all descriptions will be of their forms as represented outside that realm. All forms of a nightshade share certain characteristics. They are all pure black in appearance, seeming to absorb light about them into their form, with nothing in the way of surface detail or notable feature. All are surrounded by a haze, the exact boundaries of their form indeterminate, with the extent of this haze in a slow flux as the creature moves. The air about a nightshade always holds a chill to it, similar in nature to that found around certain powerful undead, and at times even carries a scent of death much as a graveyard. The very presence of a nightshade tends to bring sickness and woe, and their presence is often marked by signs of death or decay: plants withered and dead, smaller animals dead either from virulent disease or without and apparent cause, items rotting or crumbling more quickly than they ought to.
The most commonly encountered form is also the smallest: that of the nightwalker, a 20-foot tall generic humanoid form that seems to correspond to no one specific species. Beyond this, the other known forms of the nightshade are the nightcrawler, a 100-foot-long beast similar to the purple worm; the nightswimmer, an eel-like form of near to the length; and the nightwing, a form similar to a bat or ray with a 50 foot wingspan.
- Dungeon #92 - The Razing of Redshore, pg.96
- Monster Manual, pp.195-197
- Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix, pp.83-84