Beings from the Underworld, commonly referred to as The Shadows, appear throughout the Risen series. The greatest number of Shadows are encountered in Risen 3, where they almost always serve the Titan Lord of Death, Nekroloth. Types of Shadows vary in form and strength, including both those with wills and sentience and the mindless, also known as "the undead".
Sentient Shadows are more powerful, with their own wills and ability to act without being directly controlled by an outside force. Often, these themselves control other, lesser Shadows, especially the mindless undead. While not all of these speak, at least some sentient Shadows possess the ability.
Undead Shadows are "stranded in the world of the living" and attack all the living they encounter. According to Tao, the Guardian of the Dead, the undead are beyond saving. This curse appears also to extend to anyone killed by them on the Isle of the Dead.
Known types of Shadows include the following.
|Ghosts / Spirits||Bog Bodies|
|Hellhounds||Ghouls / Black Ghouls|
|Shadow Lords||Shadow Guardians|
In Risen 3, portals have been opened that allow many Shadows to travel to the living world directly from the Underworld. Frequently these are guarded well, with a Shadow Lord nearby along with several other Shadows of varying types.
Additionally, some spirits can be called back from the Underworld using magic. In Risen 2, the Nameless Hero uses the skull sceptre to temporarily bring back the ghost of Captain Steelbeard for a conversation. A more powerful magic was used by Nekroloth to return Captain Crow's spirit to the Southern Seas in Risen 3.
In some cases, there is a limited amount of time during which someone affected by the Shadows may resist. On Taranis, the minion Shax continued to fight their influence as long as he could. The Son of Steelbeard himself also resisted the Shadows for a time as he searched for a way to regain the soul stolen from him.
Although Shadows may include spirits, these should be distinguished from those whose souls have been trapped in the Underworld. These souls are not Shadows, as they still belong to living individuals. This separation of the soul from its body results in great confusion, although "there is hope for them", provided the soul and body are reunited relatively soon. However, if too much time passes, they will become fully converted Shadows, and reunification becomes impossible. Bones was one such individual in Risen 2.
Steelbeard's Son was also a pseudo shadow in Risen 3. Strictly speaking, when he and his half-sister, Patty, encounter a Shadow Lord of Hate at a crystal portal, he is completely killed, with his soul trapped on Skull Island. The "resurrection" Bones performs returns life temporarily to the Son of Steelbeard's body, allowing him to search for and eventually reunite with his soul. However, just as for any other pseudo shadow, there was a limited amount of time (not actually tallied in-game) to achieve reunification before he would have become a Shadow creature.
It appears certain spells may imitate Shadows. For example, Burke was placed under a spell on Calador that separated his spirit from his body. When the Son of Steelbeard encounters Burke's Manifestation on the shore, he finds the proper incantation to return him to his own body. However, in this case, Burke was never truly a Shadow, but only under the effects of the spell.