So I may be a bit late on this since the Shadowfell box set came out a bit ago, but I've still been reading through the book, which is best described as theWeem and theAngryDM put it as a great "bathroom read." The blend of new monster stats and unbelievable fluff is full of ideas for adventure hooks and just great concepts to get the creative juices running. Just working my way through the chapters of the book, I could see the potential campaign arcs and concepts just flowing out. Phenomenal material.
But the big thing that caught my eye was a particular creature highlighted in the back of the book. There is a host of really cool factions and different monsters and power players to include in any game setting, but the very last entry was something special to me.
The Widow of the Walk is described as a matriarch of a mercantile family who moved against the local leadership. In the battle of the noble families, all of her children were killed and when she died her spirit was condemned to walk the city looking for her lost children. Now the crunch behind this creature is truly impressive. She is a SOLO of almost epic level and she doesn't have a single ability that is a direct attack power. She doesn't even have an ability that costs a standard action! When I started reading it over, I was taken aback and really just not too interested in this monster that doesn't attack. But then I saw what she could do and just how impressive it was.
First off, the Widow is a ghost so she has some insubstantial effects that is good, but she also has a minor action ability that basically demands the target ends their turn next to her or take auto damage (and pretty substantial damage). Essentially, Mother demands you come home. Creepy! Then her abilities are all triggered. If an enemy ends their turn within 5 squares of her, she dominates them and specifically convinces them they are one of her dead children. She has tactics and bonuses for the specific children coming into play, but for the rest of the encounter she just sits back and lets the party tear themselves apart. It is all constructed in such a way that it protects the Widow from the Solo problems that have come up in monster design before. This is such a fascinating concept, a monster that doesn't directly attack the party, but really takes them under her wing and drives them mad. This was a really good way to simulate the possession concept and creates a really difficult encounter, no matter the location. I was totally challenged by the concept behind this because it makes a lot of narrative sense, but isn't something incredibly intuitive in the way I plan. So kudos to the developers and my party had better beware because this unconventional Solo changed the way I think about how monsters function.