Shadowhunter's Codex (Page 4)

Shadowhunter’s Codex(4)
Author: Cassandra Clare

Battle gear is crafted of a well-processed black leather, created by the Iron Sisters in their Citadel, stronger than any mundane leather and capable of protecting the skin from most demon venoms while still allowing for swift and free movement. Nephilim on regular patrols or similar excursions may choose to wear only the basic gear, but those preparing for battle will often add bracers and greaves, traditionally of electrum (see “Materials” ). Both the gear and accessories such as bracers are typically Marked, both with runes of protection and strength and with more decorative symbols. These might include family crests, Marks commemorating battles, names of angels invoked as protectors, and so on.

The standard Shadowhunter gear involves, for both men and women, simple flat-soled shoes and sturdy, closely fit trousers. For most of Nephilim history gear differed between men and women—men would wear with the above a closely fit waist-length shirt and sometimes a jacket, whereas women would wear a long belted knee-length tunic. This tunic was always a less practical choice, and was worn historically to maintain the standards of modesty and decorum that were required of women as they moved through mundane society. In the past fifty years or so, the use of this tunic has faded in favor of more unified, unisex gear worn by male and female Shadowhunters alike.


Many new Shadowhunters through the years have arrived at their first day of training proudly clad in their family’s ancestral plate armor, as if they were going off to fight the Hundred Years’ War. (Obviously this problem was at its worst during the actual Hundred Years’ War.) In truth this kind of heavy armor is not very useful to Nephilim; standard fighting gear is preferred, and the specifics of the gear are less important than one’s weaponry. The mundane world went through a complicated “arms race” through the Middle Ages regarding armor. Both weapons and armor gradually improved in effectiveness, with new weapons designed to pierce armor, and then new armor designed to withstand those weapons. Armor reached its apex with a somewhat ridiculous full suit of steel intended to stop a blade or an arrow, and became rapidly irrelevant with the advent of artillery and firearms in mundane warfare.

Shadowhunters never participated in this silly exercise. First, Shadowhunters have always, by necessity, prioritized such attributes as freedom of movement, detailed assessment of the environment, and swiftness over raw strength of material, and as a result were rarely tempted by heavier, bulkier armor. Second, the fact is that mundane armor is designed to protect the wearer from the attacks of other mundanes. We, on the other hand, frequently face foes who wield magic, and who might on any given day attack us with fire, with excoriating acid, with bolts of demonic lightning, with venoms and poisons of all kinds. We know of no material—including adamas—that can keep a Shadowhunter safe from all of the devices at the disposal of our demon foes. We therefore have always had to learn to avoid harm by our wits and reflexes, since no amount of steel covering our bodies would truly keep us safe.


Shadowhunters do not typically travel heavily loaded with equipment. What they take with them on patrols or investigations must not slow them down very much, or compromise their agility. Thus they typically prefer small tools, lightweight and easily kept in a pocket. Most Shadowhunters will find a set of tools that they will take with them everywhere; it is worth some time considering what tools you find useful to keep on hand. Some common tools are here suggested, and described in detail where necessary.



—Primary weapon

—Two seraph blades

—Ranged weapon (e.g., crossbow, sling) (Optional)

—Stele You’re kidding. Lame. Okay. Custom lesson from Jace here. Yes, take all that stuff.


Actually, carry two witchlights. Some other stuff that I always carry with me on patrol: chalk. A multi-tool with screwdrivers and two knives and a corkscrew and all that. A sturdy watch. A strong folding utility knife. A butane lighter. A phone.


If you are also carrying a backpack, I recommend throwing in nylon rope, a small crowbar, binoculars, a basic first aid kit, a spare stele, two extra seraph blades. Oh, and rubber gloves. Every so often you’ll be very glad you have them.


The Sensor is a common Shadowhunter device for detecting demonic activity. Sensors have varied in design over the years, but today the Sensor is usually a small handheld oblong made of a black metal. It bears some resemblance to a modern cellular phone or other handheld mundane communication device, but where that mundane device would have control buttons and switches labeled in a mundane language, the Sensor is labeled in Marks whose meaning must be learned. The original Sensor was invented in the late 1880s by Henry Branwell and for a time revolutionized the pursuit and capture of demons. It’s a tricorder.

What? What is a tricorder? Three . . . cords?

Unfortunately, the Sensor is somewhat limited in what it is able to sense. It functions as a frequency detector, tuning in to the vibrations that demons create as they pass through the magical ether. These vibrations vary by demon species and change in intensity based on the intensity of demon activity (number of demons, demonic magic in use, etc.). In theory it is possible to create a “frequency table” matching specific demon species to specific frequencies, and in fact much ink and time was spilled in the years following the invention of the Sensor, creating endless tables for “translating” specific demon signals. In the field Shadowhunters almost never have time to consult a table, and it is usually faster and easier for them to learn from experience to recognize demon types by sight. These tables are now considered mostly a historical curiosity.

But we have wasted your time by telling you about them anyway.

These days Sensors are designed not to be manually tuned (though most can be so tuned if the user demands it) but to scan up and down continuously for all demon activity and offer some educated guesses about the causes of any frequencies that appear. Modern Sensors may have mapping systems, proximity alarms, and other colorful features.

The Sensor often baffles new Shadowhunters, mostly because of its control buttons, which are labeled in angelic runes. This is done to allow the device to be used universally around the world, as the Shadowhunters do not share a single common language other than the language of Raziel and the Gray Book.

* * *

SENSORS THROUGH THE YEARSThat title makes me sleepy just looking at it.

I have never in my life been bored enough to actually read this sidebar.

The first Sensor used as its warning mechanism a standard mechanical metronome, which in the proximity of demons would begin to clack rhythmically, its speed increasing as the demon and Sensor grew closer together. This metronome sat atop a large wooden box clasped in copper, the copper having been elaborately inscribed with Marks, and a variety of Marked and un-Marked mechanical works inside did the sensing and ran the metronome. The whole contraption sat atop a heavy cart with four wheels that had to be pushed around, since the metronome had to be kept level with the ground at all times and could easily be disrupted by unexpected movements. Various experiments took place through the early twentieth century to try to make the Sensor self-propelled and able to follow a Shadowhunter, patrol an area independently, and so on. These experiments never resulted in any usable innovation, and more often resulted in a dangerously mobile demon-powered cart that might at any moment charge the nearest Shadowhunter with unknown intent, clacking madly because of its extreme proximity to its own sensing apparatus. This failed branch of Sensor evolution fell away from the tree entirely in the 1960s when modern rune miniaturization magic made it possible to create Sensors that could be carried in a trouser pocket.

The Shadowhunter interested in its history can find older models displayed in libraries and museum collections of older Institutes.

* * *

Did you Know? No!

The Codex has a different definition of “interesting” than me

Interestingly, the standard runic labels on the Sensor were originally intended as a temporary measure. In his classic memoir of 1910, A Whoops and a Bang: The Shadowhunter of the Modern Age, Henry Branwell hypothesizes a single Mark that could be used to cause the buttons of a Sensor (or anything else) to appear in the native language of the person holding it. Such a Mark is not known to exist, but Branwell was at that time enthusiastically arguing for the use of warlock magic in collaboration with Nephilim Marks to create new and more complex effects, an unpopular position both then and now (although see the Grimoire, Chapter 6, for a discussion of the history of the Portal). This course of Branwell’s experimentation, however, was disrupted when in 1914 he began a long collaboration with the Iron Sisters, the results of which remain secret to this day. The Mark of Translation remains uncreated, and the Sensor remains covered in runes whose meanings must be committed to memory.


The Sensor is a complex tool, and many Shadowhunters struggle with the nuances of its use. Here we attempt to answer those questions that arise most frequently.

Yes, that is what “Frequently Asked Questions” means, thank you.

Can the Sensor be modified to detect werewolves, vampires, and other Downworlders?

It cannot. The Sensor is attuned to the presence of demon energy; while Downworlders all have some demonic magic in them, they are not demons and do have normal human souls. Therefore they will not register on a Sensor.

Can the Sensor be modified to detect only certain kinds of demons?

Yes! This is a lesser-known but useful function of the Sensor that requires no modification. The buttons can be manipulated, using the Marks, to isolate only demons who match a certain set of qualities.

Can the Sensor be modified to detect a specific Greater Demon?


Can the Sensor be modified to detect where I left some object?


When will my Sensor support the Flash rune?

The Flash rune referred to here causes a burst of bright holy light, and rumors have existed for years that the Sensor was going to be modified to be able to successfully hold the Flash rune. Unfortunately, the Flash rune currently causes the Sensor’s normal function to slow down and often stop working entirely. As yet, the only Sensors available do not support Flash, and only the Iron Sisters know whether they ever will.

Help, my Sensor’s buttons are all labeled in runes.

Those are Marks.

I haven’t learned these runes yet!

We might recommend a trick long known to Shadowhunters, involving drawing your own labels on the Sensor buttons with a felt-tip marker.

My Sensor is vibrating!

That is within the normal bounds of Sensor operation. When a Sensor is overloaded with the proximity of demon energies, it will begin to vibrate with intensity. This was long considered a deficit in the design of Sensors, but the advent of modern technology has caused many Shadowhunters, especially those more familiar with the mundane world, to regard the vibration as a useful feature.

Unlike the mundane tools that vibrate, the Sensor can become so overloaded with demon energies that it can ignite and explode. Therefore, caution is advised.

My Sensor has vibrated so much that it has ignited and exploded.

You will, unfortunately, need to requisition a new Sensor from your Institute. Also, there is a tremendous quantity of demonic energy in your immediate vicinity. You must make sure to evaluate your immediate circumstances before trying to examine your Sensor; it is possible that you are about to be devoured by either a Greater Demon or a Portal to Hell.

So if you had a human who’d drunk a lot of Greater Demon blood when he was a baby, would he set off a Sensor?

Who would do such a terrible thing.

Just hypothetically.

If you already know this guy, track him down! Sensors are for demons you don’t already know personally!

God, get a room, you two.

Good point.


The stele (pronounced in English ‘steh•lay) is listed here among the tools of the Shadowhunter but could just as easily be mentioned among weaponry; it is the fundamental tool of the Nephilim, the device by which Marks, our only magic, may be inscribed. An elaborate decorated stele is often the first tool given to a young Shadowhunter at the beginning of her studies.

The stele is a wandlike instrument, made of pure adamas. It is inert when not in use but when taken up glows and warms with the magic of the Marks. It is longer than modern writing instruments, usually a foot long or more, and as a result contemporary Shadowhunters will require practice to be able to draw runes with facility when using one.

All steles are functionally identical, but of course there is wide variation in their design. Many have handles inscribed with family crests and the like, some are studded with gems—the only requirement for a working stele is that it include an unbroken rod of adamas of at least a certain length. On the other end of the spectrum are the narrow practice steles given to child Nephilim to learn runic manuscription on sheets of parchment.

The first stele is believed to have been a rough oblong of adamas used by Jonathan Shadowhunter to inscribe the first Marks on his own skin. The stele designs have become refined over the years. Some scholars see a link between the stele and the Jewish yad, the ritual pointer used to avoid physically handling the parchment of the Torah when reading from it, but no direct connection can be made, although it is probable that the earliest Iron Sisters were inspired by such designs. Represent!

Demons are not harmed by exposure to a stele, but they will typically recoil from one, as they will recoil from all adamas.


One of the great secrets kept by the Iron Sisters is the precise manner by which adamas is extracted and purified from its ore. What we do know, however, is that the presence of adamas affects the rock from which it is extracted, and though it is simple rock, it gives off a pure white glow, as though reflecting the light inherent in the adamas. These “sister stones” of adamas are broken up and polished by Iron Sisters, and Marked to make their glow a property that can be turned on and off at the will of the Shadowhunter holding them. Most rune-stones are basic and interchangeable, and rarely do Shadowhunters get attached to a particular stone over any other. All Shadowhunters carry a witchlight stone, to remind them that light can be found even among the darkest shadows, and also to supply them with actual light when they are themselves literally among dark shadows.