The Shadow Beast. One of the more memorable terrifying moments from the original Ultima Underworld was the encounter with one of these horrifying beasts on level 7. But what were these creatures? Where have they been since then? Our esteemed producer Chris sat down with one of the shadow beasts that are finally making a triumphant return in Underworld Ascendant.
Producer Chris Siegel (CS): Hey thanks for spending a few minutes with me before getting to work in the new Abyss. What should I call you?
Shadow Beast (SB): Shadow Beast is fine. We don't like to reveal our real names to outsiders. This is why we always ask to get paid in cash, so we don't have to reveal our personal information to...you people.
CS: I see. (Shifts in his seat) Let's talk a bit about your history to get started. Even back in the original game you were mysterious. Let me read you the excerpt from the Memoirs of Sir Cabirus 'There is little we can say about this entity, or family of entities - we obviously cannot see that which is invisible, so we do not know how many there are. The Shadow Beast is thought to be immensely powerful, more than a match for any single warrior. When attacked by unseen adversary, first look up (for a flying attacker) and down (lest a small worm or other foe is striking) - if none of these be the case, then suspect the Shadow Beast and begin to strike in all directions!' Not much to go on there. If I remember correctly you liked to sneak...
CS: Excuse me...Stalk up on players when they entered your lair.
SB: Yeah. The reaction of those half a million humans screaming and running away still brings a smile to my face...
CS: But they kept coming to your lair, you owned one of the best weapons in the game isn't that correct?
SB: Dirty thieves. That sword was a family heirloom. Same thing with the armor. Never ceases to amaze me on players thinking that everything is there for them. Smash the door, take the vase and break it on the ground, light bridges on fire, take the gold from the table and anything else that is not nailed down. Bunch of vandals is what they are. (Laughs)
CS: It's been a long time since players have seen you in Ultima Underworld. What have you been doing since then?
SB: Finding a new lair after the end of UU was surprisingly difficult. I tried Hyrule, but they already had a Shadow Beast, same with Wizards 101. I tried to find a home with a pop band too, that also did not work out. I guess I don't work well with others, and trying to play guitar with these hands is difficult. I was too late for the call for Brutal Legend, and Diablo II. I would have loved to move into one of Horny's dungeons in Dungeon Keeper. We had a few lunches and some chats on the crystal balls, which would have been perfect situation. Alas, none of that worked out.
CS: But now you are back! New and improved! Can you tell us a bit about how you fit into the new Stygian Abyss?
SB: Sure, I don't want to give too much away of course. First let's be clear about this. Shadow Beasts are smart. We are not really just apex predators, we have communities. We have a natural camouflage mechanism that causes us to take on the coloration of their surroundings. Moreover, we also have an innate magical ability that occludes us from easy detection (they appear dimly, if at all, under light or detect spells-Ed.). Lurking in the far corners of the Underworld, we use our stealth to waylay the unwary. We have been known to take contracts from other factions and races to...remove obstacles forcefully. (I think he means they hire out as assassins-Ed.)
CS: Interesting. Tell me more about your communities.
SB: We live in small familial communities in the darkest, most secluded parts of the Underworld. We don't like visitors. No one has ever discovered a shadow beast clan home. Or at least none have lived to tell the tale. (Laughs) We usually build our clan homes in cool, dark and dry areas. But we are everywhere not just in the dry regions, and when hunting for food will range into other biomes of the Underworld, including hot caverns and the fungal forests. One thing we dislike is the stench of the Underswamp. (Makes face. Pinches nose).
CS: I see. How do you get along with other races of the Underworld?
SB: We are very territorial and clannish and live by an 'eye for an eye' credo, so sometimes a particular shadow beast group will take umbrage with one of the Underworld factions, or another shadow beast clan, sparking a short lived but violent dispute. If we are angry with a faction we do not attack outright, but from the shadows, always from the shadows.
CS: This seems very different than the brute from the old Abyss.
SB: We all have our roles to play. They hired me to be brutish, so I played brutish. There are a group of shadow beasts out there that have mutated and are mindless. Maybe there are some of those still lurking about. Those guys are brutish and not as cunning as us.
CS: What do you eat?
SB: We beasts live on a wide range of foodstuffs, and will eat most anything when times are tough. Our favorite is Earthclot, with a single one of these creatures being able to feed a clan for a week. We also hunt Rippers, and I think we may be the only ones tough enough to eat them.
CS: Thanks again for sitting down with me and chatting. It was a ton of fun.
SB: Anytime. Speaking of food, I'm feeling a bit peckish... mind if we turn out that light?