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 Umbra - The Spirit World

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PostSubject: Umbra - The Spirit World   Sun Apr 17, 2011 10:50 pm

The Umbra is a realm existing alongside, and yet seperate from, the material world. Some consider it an alternate dimension.

The term "Umbra" is generally used, particularly by werewolves, to refer specifically to the "Spirit Wilds," or Middle Umbra. However, there is much more to Umbral cosmology than this.

Near Umbra
The Near Umbra collectively refers to the three Umbrae and the Gauntlet. Though each infinite in scope, they are all contained "within" Earth: the boundary of the system is Earth's atmosphere.
Near Umbra


Separating Earth from the Umbrae is a membrane known as the Gauntlet. Some humans almost manage to get close to the Gauntlet in times of bliss, meditation, or creativity: this state is known as the Periphery.

The Gauntlet is thinner in places such as a haunted graveyard or the wilderness, and thicker in places such as laboratories and shopping malls. The relative strength of the Gauntlet determines the ease with which one can cross it, or "step sideways." The Gauntlet is usually treated as a single phenomenon, when it is actually sort of three Gauntlets in one: one seperating Earth from the Astral Plane, one protecting from the Spirit Wilds, and one blocking access to the Underworld. The latter Gauntlet is also referred to as the Shroud by Wraiths, and as the Stormwall by agents of the Orpheus Group.

As of 1999, the Avatar Storm has raged within the Gauntlet, composed of jagged shards of souls and Avatars. It doesn't affect most supernaturals, but the shards are drawn to the Avatars of the Awakened. The more powerful the Avatar (and the higher the mage's enlightenment), the more the shards are drawn to him, and thus the more damage is potentially done when stepping sideways.

Directly "overlapping" the material world is a portion of the Umbra known as the the Penumbra. The Penumbra mirrors physical reality, but reality as it is "supposed" to be. A toxic waste dump site will swarm with malevolent Banes, a city will be covered in cobwebs woven by Pattern Spiders, and a grove of trees will stand taller and wilder.

The appearance of the Penumbra seems to be based on the viewpoint of the viewer. Werewolves will see it in a more animistic fashion, with an immense Moon dominating the sky (the Sun, conversely, tends to be much smaller), and everything represented by a spirit. Some mages may see it more representing ideals and concepts rather than spirits. Other mages (and the lucky vampire who makes it here) will see things in a state of decay: a swollen red sun shining on crumbling buildings and rusting husks of cars. An uninformed observer may assume, based on description, that there are three different Penumbrae, one for each Umbra. This is a mistaken assumption, however: if three different travellers arrive in the Penumbra, each viewing a different "facet," they are still able to see and contact each other. Despite the varying perspectives, there is truly only one Penumbra.

For this reason, it's possible that the Shadowlands/Wastelands is simply one aspect of the Penumbra.

Astral Reaches
Although directionality when discussing Umbrae is an exercise in futility, if we were to step and look at the universe from a four-dimensional perspective, then this may apply.

That said, if one were to go "up" from the Penumbra, one would reach the Astral Reaches, also called the Astral Plane, the Astral Umbra, the High Umbra or the Upper Umbra. The Astral Reaches are the realms of thought, of idea, of concept. This is the Umbra most frequently travelled by mages.

The High Umbra or Astral Umbra is a place that can broadly be considered a reflection of the consciousness of the entirety of humanity. It can be divided into the Vulgate (a region where various common ideas (invention, love, hand-to-hand combat) form small microcosmic realms that interact frequently with one another as human ideas and beliefs change), the Spires (a region where major abstract ideas such as War or Love form sizable realms), the Courts (where major societies such as the Mount Olympus of myth and the Court of the Hindu pantheon, gods included, can be found), and the Epiphanies (a realm of ultimate abstraction, unattainable by most mortals). Interestingly, while certain afterlives (such as realm that are apparently the Christian Heaven and Hell) seem to play themselves out here, evidence suggests that they are not populated by the souls of the dead but instead by beings who exist as a fundamental part of the realm.

Realms found within the High Umbra include:

* The Grand Hall (in the Vulgate)
* The Inventium (in the Spires)
* The Elemental Courts (in the Courts, nearer the Spires)
* The Afterworlds (in the Courts, nearer the Epiphanies)
* The Well of Souls (in the Epiphanies)
* The River of Language (in the Epiphanies

Middle Umbra
Unlike the High Umbra, the Middle Umbra is not organized hierarchically. Instead, it is divided into a series of discrete realms of physical reality divided by gulfs of relative emptiness and pockets of spirit activity. Roads between realms vary considerably (moon paths and trods being two examples). Realms in the Middle Umbra usually have their own Gauntlet and many are apparently infinite in their own private scope. While many realms in the Middle Umbra resemble the abstract realms of the High Umbra, the important distinction is that the realms of the Middle Umbra exist independently from the consciousness of humanity, while the High Umbra does not. The Middle Umbra is also notable for the influence of the Triat and the presence of entire hierarchies of spirits associated with them. While many realms are not controlled by one of the Triat, most realms have also been touched by one or more of them.

Realms found within the Middle Umbra include:

* Abyss (also called the Chasm)
* Aetherial Realm/Reaches
* Atrocity Realm
* Battleground (also called the Realm of Fighting Spirits)
* CyberRealm (also called Dystopia)
* Erebus
* Goblin Jungle
* Hy-Brasil (also called the Arcadia Gateway)
* Legendary Realm
* Mountains of Heaven
* Pangaea (see Shenti below)
* Scar
* Summer Country (also called the Gardens of the First Age)
* Tiger Lands
* Umi (also called the Dragon Kingdom of the Sea)
* Wasteland (see Shenti below)
* Wolfhome

Spirit Worlds

When going "out," or "sideways" from the Penumbra, one would attain the Spirit Wilds, or Middle Umbra; hence the term "stepping sideways," so popular among the Garou. This is the Umbra most frequented by werewolves, and is the Umbra of spirit, of essence. In the Middle Kingdom, this Umbra is known as the Yang World.


The Underworld is rightly named such, although it is also called the Afterworlds, the Lower Umbra, or Dark Umbra. It is home to the Restless Dead, the Wraiths who still cling to the world because of something left undone. Very few have the desire to travel here. This is the Umbra of memory: emotion invested in things which no longer exist. Even Wraiths themselves can be said to be creatures of memory and passion — although whether it is the memory of those still alive or of the Wraiths themselves which keeps them alive is unknown. In the Middle Kingdom, this Umbra is known as the Yin World.

There is a gravity of sorts in the Underworld, but it has nothing to do with mass. Instead, all things are drawn inevitably to Oblivion, the end of all things.

There are several zones which pass through the Near Umbra. If the Near Umbra can be seen as a triple-layer cake, zones exist as slices into the cake. An ant walking across a layer might keep walking over a slice, or he might travel into the slice. So it is with zones. An individual could walk travel through the Astral Reaches without ever knowing she has just stepped through a zone, or she might enter into the zone and find an entirely new realm of existence within.


The most well-known of the zones is the Dreaming. The Dreaming exists in a similar fashion to the Umbrae, yet somewhat seperate from them as well. There exists the Near Dreaming, the Far Dreaming, and the Deep Dreaming. Either within the Deep Dreaming or further beyond it lies Arcadia, the fabled home of the fae.

The Digital Web

The Digital Web is a sort of extension of the Internet, but unlike the Internet appears to have no basis in hardware: it is a network without servers or cables. Most remarkably, anyone (even mundane humans) with the right equipment can interface with it. While holistic immersion is possible, only certain mages are capable of it. Entire digital realms exist within it, and it is considered by many the "new frontier" to be conquered. The Virtual Adepts currently have the best handle on this growing zone.

Ostensibly discovered in the 1950s, the Digital Web is actually the remnants of the Ahl-i-batin's Web of Faith, a spiritual information network that collapsed during the Dark Ages.

Hollow Worlds

Not one but a series of versions of the theory of the existence of a Hollow Earth. Superficially similar to the types of realms seen in the Middle Umbra, the Hollow Worlds are noteworthy because they can be reached by mundane humans through use of certain subterranean passages, mine shafts, and unremarkable elevators. Furthermore, some argue that the Hollow Worlds constitute an entirely different type of Umbra, and call it the "Inner Umbra," claiming that if Earth is a theater and the world beyond the lobby is the Umbra, the area backstage is where the Hollow Worlds can be found. In any case attempts to cross the Gauntlet into the Hollow Worlds invariably fail, baffling most theorists on Umbral topography. The Sons of Ether are especially fond of this zone, because of how well suited it is to high adventure.

Mirror Zone

This mysterious region seems to migrate through all parts of the Near Umbra, causing localized hallucinations that are at once impossible and highly personal. Victims of the Mirror Zone have described unexpected encounters with past lovers, dead enemies, and other personal relations, as well as having witnessed those around them apparently exhibit radical changes in personality. These manifestations only last a short while (leaving the victim disoriented and often leading to misunderstandings with others who did not experience the zone), but can be highly confusing and potentially dangerous if the hallucinations prove hostile.

Null Zone

This strange region permeates the Near Umbra, connecting all places to all other places through a series of small tunnels. Most notably, almost all supernatural, magical, and technological phenomena simply cease to function within this region. Guns won't fire, werewolves lose their spiritual gifts, and mages can't alter reality. The one exception is abilities that allow a person to cross a Gauntlet - by travelling to another place in the Null Zone and passing back through into the Umbra, a traveller will enter another locations, seemingly at random.


These roaming scenescapes can be discovered in any part of the Umbra and overtake a traveller's senses to display some event of titanic proportions repeatedly until the Vista moves on. Events might include the Big Bang, Armageddon, or some other moment of catastrophic creation of cataclysm. The trapped viewer is safe from the effects of the Vista, and cannot affect them. Were it not for the disappearance of those individuals trapped within, they would seem nothing more than a roving holistic hallucination.


More info here: http://whitewolf.wikia.com/wiki/Umbra

Last edited by yanamari on Sun Apr 17, 2011 10:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Umbra - The Spirit World   Sun Apr 17, 2011 10:50 pm

The Wyrm

In the theology of the Garou, the Wyrm is one of the three incalculably powerful spirits comprising the Triat. The Wyrm's purpose is the cleansing and rectification of creation: eliminating that which the Wyld creates and the Weaver structures.

According to Garou theology, the Wyrm was the second member of the Triat to go insane. Once the Weaver went mad and began encasing everything in Webs, the Wyrm was progressively constrained until it went mad and started to destroy everything. Consequently, the Wyrm is now a spirit of destruction and corruption, the essence of everything the Garou oppose.

As part of a resultant multiple-personality disorder on a universal scale, there are three "heads" of the Wyrm, each representing a different part of its personality. As mentioned in the book of the Wyrm the three heads also represent the Triat and the original balance Wyrm trying to figure out what went wrong.

* Beast-of-War, a monster of senseless rage, ready to destroy all in its path. It is said by some that frenzy and Rage are this Wyrm's blessings. Represents the Wyld.
* The Defiler Wyrm, a scheming entity of corruption and decay. Most Pentex operations are likely under the sway of the Defiler Wyrm. Represents the Weaver
* Eater-of-Souls, the gnawing hunger of greed, lust and gluttony. Vampires are said to be under the sway of Eater-of-Souls. Eater nearly manifested in North America, but was banished by the sacrifice of an entire tribe of Garou. Represents the original balance Wyrm.

Creatures of the Wyrm

The Wyrm counts many different creatures in its employ. Some serve knowingly, some unknowingly. But their actions all serve to bring the Apocalypse ever closer and drive the Garou ever closer to extinction.

Banes: These foul spirits of the Wyrm are thankfully usually confined to the spirit world. Unfortunately, some of the strongest can possess mortal hosts and use them to affect the real world. Even strong men can be overwhelmed and made the puppet of a Bane. No man or beast is safe from these spirits of pure evil and corruption. When confronted however, Banes will frequently give up their mortal shells and burst forth in the full horrifying glory, displaying razor sharp fangs, tentacles, hundred of fascetted eyes, or a thousand other horrors, each worse than the last.

Black Spiral Dancers: The Wyrm's greatest triumph, the Dancers are foul twisted reflections of the Garou. Just like the Garou, they consort with spirits and can gain gifts from them, except they gain their gifts from Banes. Everything the Garou do, they do in service to the Wyrm. They are fond of capturing normal Garou and torturing them until they too become Black Spiral Dancers.

Fomori are created by binding a bane into a mortal host, either a human or animal. However, these are less powerful spirits than most Banes, so are more firmly bound to the flesh of their hosts, producing much more obvious deformities. Fomori are usually created by Pentex.

Pentex is a shadow corporation with its fingers is every pie it can think of. It taints everything it touches, all beneath a veneer of 'business as usual'. Oil spills are just a 'part of business' not part of a master plan to corrupt the world. Violent video games and movies are there just to satisfy the demands of customers, not to corrupt the hearts and minds of the young. Pharamceuticals with soul crushing side effects are hailed as miracle cures. Pentex has one purpose: bring on the Apocalypse and then step in as the savior, to be church and corporation all in one.

The 7th Generation: Perhaps the worst of all the factions of the Wyrm, the 7th Generation was a cult of knowing human servants of the Wyrm. They defiled children and sacrificed them to dark gods to achieve power for themselves. Their organization has been broken however, and there are only a few scattered survivors now. The Garou, led by King Albrecht, worked together for once to eliminate this vile cult... but if they are not wary, it may reform soon enough.
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PostSubject: Re: Umbra - The Spirit World   Sun Apr 17, 2011 10:55 pm


The Weaver is one of the three great spirits of the Triat. Its function was thought to be to make order from the creations of the Wyld, giving them form and function for the duration of their existence before they were destroyed by the Wyrm, maintaining a balance between creation and destruction. Many Garou believe that the Weaver is primarily to blame for the imbalance in the Triat; their mythology states that the Weaver grew tired of its order being destroyed by the Wyrm, and spun its webs to imprison the Wyrm and end its destruction. This imprisonment drove the Wyrm mad and caused it to begin destroying everything rather than just those things whose time had ended.

The Weaver's avatars and children often take the form of spiders, or sometimes insects. She is a patron of law, order, science and technology, and as such is revered by shapechangers including some Glasswalkers, Ratkin and Ananasi (who refer to her as Grandmother Spider - they believe the Weaver created their patron spirit, Queen Ananasa). Most realise however that the Weaver is far too powerful in the modern world, where cities and steel are more important than nature.

Some mages of the Technocracy may also revere her in one guise or another; certainly the Weaver's supposed goal of unending perfection mirrors the Technocratic goal of a static reality.
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