"Servants, come forth from the gates of Hell! Attack! Rid my master's castle of this pest!"
— Shaft to his servants
In 1792, Shaft resurrected Dracula and aided him in his plans to kidnap several young girls, including Maria Renard and Annette, in order to provide his master with a bride. Richter Belmont encountered him at least once in his adventure, and Shaft was defeated after conjuring several monsters previously fought by Simon Belmont. Exclusively in Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles, Shaft's final fate depends on the protagonist's actions. If Richter or Maria failed to rescue Annette, she took the place of Shaft Ghost as the boss of Stage 7, and Shaft Ghost survives, arriving before Dracula is killed and protecting him long enough for him to escape. If Annette is rescued, Shaft Ghost is fought properly and destroyed.
Shaft would come to exist only as a spirit transferred and kept in a crystal ball.
"Ha... I die victorious... Count Dracula rises even now! Let him purge the world in flames! Hahaha!"
— Shaft's last words to Alucard
In 1797, Shaft kidnapped Richter and brainwashed him, knowing no one could defeat him because he was the strongest of all vampire hunters. He was instrumental in using his evil powers to control Richter, turning him against anyone who would seek to defy the Count (unbeknownst to Maria and Alucard). Maria guessed that he was under supernatural coercion and helped Alucard see past Shaft's deceptions. Alucard was able to save Richter instead of killing him and put an end to the dark priest's ambitions. However, Shaft, knowing he ultimately succeeded in his goal of resurrecting Dracula, ultimately was content even after Alucard tracked him down to the Reverse Castle and defeated him.
Magic mastery: Shaft can use many types of magic attacks, most of which are fire, ice, or lightning-based. Shaft usually uses his magic through his orbs.
Summoning the dead: Like the Necromancer, Shaft can resurrect the dead.
Immortality: Shaft can be killed, like Death and Dracula, but he can return in ghost form.
Projection: While merged with his crystal ball, he was capable of projecting his corporeal form. This was best evident with his interaction with Alucard just prior to their battle.
Shaft will initially not fight the player himself, but instead summon four bosses from the original Castlevania (in the same order as they appeared in that game, and excluding Death, as he has his own boss fight): the Giant Bat, Medusa, the Mummy Man and Franken.
Once all these monsters have been taken care of, Shaft will teleport back into the chamber to fight Richter himself. With this intent, he will summon two magical orbs with elemental properties; these can transform into large flames that can be redirected with a strike; float to the top and unleash lightning downward; or be commanded by Shaft to simply rotate around a point, creating an obstacle for Richter.
As his penultimate form, Shaft manages to cheat death again for one last shot at Richter. When Richter enters the ceremonial chamber, Shaft's empty cloak appears on the altar and soon comes to life. Shaft Ghost attacks mainly by flying around the room, continually pausing to summon the rotting remains of two past enemies: the Wyvern and the Behemoth. The Dead Wyvern breathes fire and dives at the hero, while the Dead Behemoth leaps out from the ground itself.
Shaft is first encountered during Richter Belmont's boss fight, albeit not in physical form; he appears as a green crystal ball hovering over Richter and controlling his actions, and cannot attack by its own. The orb can only be seen as long as Alucard is equipped with the Holy GlassesMaria gave him at the Castle Center. Even though Shaft's HP is only 10, his defense is so great (5,000 DEF) that each hit will only deal 1 point of damage. Although he has no weakness, it is recommended to use a Holy or Stone attributed weapon, such as the Holy Sword or the Medusa Shield, since Richter is immune to those elements. Destroying the orb will release Shaft's ghost from it, and after a short conversation, Alucard will be granted access to the Reverse Castle where he will be able to continue his quest.
Shaft returns as the penultimate boss directly before encountering Dracula. He utilizes orbs (30 ATT, Hit) as he did in Rondo of Blood, although they are far more numerous. The orbs use the same elemental properties, although they attack in completely different ways. They can turn into flaming spheres that launch toward Alucard's general direction and which will burst into towering flames on impact (42 ATT, Fire). When two orbs become parallel with each other, they will launch lightning continuously between them (43 ATT, Thunder). The orbs will also occasionally start to rebound around the room (64 ATT, Hit).
However, it's Carmilla's abilities in the same game the ones that are nearly identical to Shaft's own powers in Rondo of Blood.
Shaft's possession of Richter Belmont is foreshadowed during the first encounter with him, where "Belmont", while summoning a Minotaur and a Werewolf to deal with Alucard, says a similar incantation to the one Shaft used against Richter before summoning monsters to fight him ("Open, Hell's gate! Come forth, my servants! [...] Crush this flea who invades my castle!").
The Dracula X Chronicles also changes the storyline of the original game to some extent by giving Shaft a larger role. He was ironically responsible for detecting and unlocking Maria's magical potential (rather than Maria getting caught while trying to be a heroine), and was also the one to explicitly kidnap Annette.
Also in The Dracula X Chronicles, if the player has not yet felled his ghost, Shaft will appear after Dracula's second form is defeated. The two villains will flee, thus ending the battle –and the game– prematurely.
Shaft's possession of Richter Belmont in Symphony of the Night was referenced by Alucard in Richter's Palutena's Guidance conversation in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
In addition, Mewtwo's classic mode route, Psychic Control, has Mewtwo having as its "ally" one of its previous opponents. Richter acted as its ally in the fifth round, which was most likely a reference to Shaft brainwashing him in Symphony of the Night.
His name may be a miswriting of the German suffix "-schaft", which equates as "-hood" or "-ship" for words such as bruderschaft (brotherhood) or partnerschaft (partnership).
Shaft was given a mention in Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls, where Lucy Westenra speculates from the records that Maria's abnormally high magic potential at her age was likely the result of it being awakened by Shaft. Genya Arikado (a.k.a. Alucard), hearing this, curses him as a malcontent and deduces that Shaft most likely did that as a gift for Dracula.