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In the book Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, we are presented with the prehistory of the raven queen and the subrace of the Shadar-kai elves. The book says that the Shadar-kai are not afraid of death, because for them it is a "temporary state", because the queen of ravens will take their souls after their death and resurrect them.

In this regard, there are several questions:

  1. How they are reborn:

    1.1. Babies without memories
    1.2. Babies with memories
    1.3. Full-fledged elves with memories (as from the effect of the spell * resurrection*)

  2. Do new Shadar-kai appear or do they breed like ordinary elves?

  3. Are the half-elf Shadar-kai considered servants of the Raven Queen?

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We don't know, but can make some reasonable guesses.

As is further expounded on here, the "Elves who serve the Raven Queen and are functionally immortal" lore of the Shadar-kai is new to 5th Edition. And, as we'll get to in a second, 5E isn't even consistent with them. Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes is contradicted by Monsters of the Multiverse, which is the most recent lore book and thus the "current rules" for them.

In particular, Monsters of the Multiverse makes absolutely no mention of the immortality and resurrection mentioned in Tome of Foes.

But assuming they are...

How are they reborn? Probably as adults with memory intact

The only piece of lore we have about their resurrection is the one you paraphrased--here it is in its entirety:

The shadar-kai know that when they die, the Raven Queen captures their souls and returns them to the Shadowfell, where they are resurrected to serve her yet again. Thus, they consider death to be a temporary condition, and many shadar-kai care little for the physical shell they currently inhabit.

If a Shadar-Kai lost their memories when they died, it would be the same as losing their 'self.' The fact that a new Shadar-kai spawns when you die doesn't mean that you didn't die. If your only concern is the "physical shell" you currently inhabit, that strongly implies that their mind lives on.

As to age, they likely come back as adults. For this, I give two reasons:

  • Adults are way more useful servants than infants, and the Raven Queen has massive dominion over life and death. She could just resurrect them as adults, so why not?
  • The choice of words: "Resurrection." Not "reincarnate" or "reborn," but "resurrected." Resurrection is specifically "restoring a dead person to life." I think if they came back as babies, they'd have used a different word. Especially since the word they chose matches a spell that brings you back as-you-were when you died.

Obviously not a strict rules-as-written answer here, but this seems like the most reasonable interpretation.

Do new Shadar-kai appear or do they breed like ordinary elves? Probably born

Of course, some of this depends on which source you're looking at. Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes presents the Shadar-kai as true immortals, universally bound to The Raven Queen's will.

But then you look at Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse and there it describes the Shadar-kai as far less of a monolith where some of them choose to continue serving The Raven Queen.

Shadar-kai are the elves of the Shadowfell, originally drawn to that dread realm by the Raven Queen. Over the centuries, some of them have continued to serve her, while others have ventured into the Material Plane to forge their own destinies.

But they are listed as having a lifespan of 750 years...and no mention is made at all of their supposed immortality.

However, in both cases, they are listed as humanoids and nothing unusual is said about how a new Shadar-kai is born/created. So they probably reproduce like humanoids do, unless the cursed servants of the Raven Queen are so tied to undeath they can't reproduce at all...but that's not said so it's left to the DM.

Are the half-elf Shadar-kai considered servants of the Raven Queen? They don't even exist in official 5e rules.

I can't find 5E rules for a half-Shadar-kai. The only half-elf subtypes I can find are generic half-elves, then wood, high, drow, or sea half-elves, plus the Eberron subtypes.

That said, by "latest lore" not even all full Shadar-kai are servants of the Raven Queen--so it's a safe bet that a half would not be required to be either.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Worth noting that at least the latest update is a clear attempt to separate races from a diety and way of being rather than any sensible lore reasons, they just want to give players that choice like not all drow are evil etc. Doesn't explain all the old lore changes, but that is almost certainly why MotM got the change it did. Did your Shadar--kai do poorly in the race? Well you get a prize anyway. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Oct 10, 2023 at 18:09
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How the Raven Queen resurrects Shadar-kai is up to the DM in 5e

Shadar-kai are a playable race, and their current game rules are found in Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse (p. 31), superceding the Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes version. These rules contain all the necessary information to play a Shadar-kai from a game mechanics perspective.

The lore there mentions that:

Shadar-kai are the elves of the Shadowfell, originally drawn to that dread realm by the Raven Queen. Over the centuries, some of them have continued to serve her, while others have ventured into the Material Plane to forge their own destinies.

So to your third question, not all Shadar-kai serve the Raven Queen, so there would be no reason all half-Shadar-kai would have to serve her.

The lore also posits that:

they now they exist in a state between life and death, thanks to being transformed by the Shadowfell's grim energy.

However, none of the rules there indicate that they cannot reproduce or that resurrection would work differently for them than for other elves, nor is their creature type (or the type of NPC Shadar-kai) Undead. They are Humanoids and considered to be elves for all effects that care about it, like any other kind of elf. The resurrection spell would restore them to the normal form they had at the time of their death (unless they died of old age after about 750 years, when they normally could not be resurrected any more). So for your first question, they would breed normally. (Note that there is no canon explanation where the souls of newborn babies from other elves or races come from, either).

As there is no other guidance in 5e, what the Raven Queen does when she resurrects a Shadar-kai, so that is really up to the DM. As she is a deity, this is a question of plot, not of game rules, so there is no predefined answer to your second question. She could resurrect them as fully grown up, or as babies with or without memories, whatever best fit her needs.

As guildsbounty points out, from a perspective of having them continue their work, it would make most sense to have the Raven Queen reinstate her followers by resurrecting them with all memories and in adult form, not as newborns without memories. In a campaign, they could be back the very next day to oppose the PCs like that. But the Raven Queen is described as enigmatic, and nobody really understands her inscrutable and mysterious ways, so anything is possible.

There are also Shadar-kai as NPC monsters (p. 212ff) with stat blocks. They neither have special rules for resurrection.

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