Land Before Time

Pangaea is one of the thirteen Near Realms in the Umbra. The Garou are creature of long memory. Their Silver Record chronicles ages stretching far into the mists of prehistory. Yet Gaia is older even than they, and nowhere is there better evidence of this than in the Umbral Realm of Pangaea.

Umbral travelers depict Pangaea as a single enormous landmass, with scatterings of archipelagoes and islands off its coasts. This landmass continually shifts and alters in titanic displays of tectonic instability. Volcanoes belch ash into the steamy sky, and earthquakes level old mountain chains and throw up new ones.

Pangaea itself, in terms of geography, flora and fauna, is reminiscent of the world during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic Eras. In the far north, great glaciers carve fjords and fissures into cliffs of shale and granite, while great mammoths and titanotheres wander over the endless ice. Broad bands of tundra and taiga, punctured by strings of tar pits, provide homes to sabertooth tigers, monstrous elk, and packs of dire wolves. In hotter regions, boiling volcanic deserts offer sanctuary to nothing save blackened bones and the bloated finbacked reptiles that gnaw on them, while great cycad forests, steaming coal fens, and clubmoss jungles offer refuge to countless forms of life. Herds of ornithosaurs thunder over blistering savannas pursued by ravening antrodemi or tyrannosaurs.

Titanic sauropods bellow and frolic in the continent's rivers and lakes, while plesiosaurs and mosasaurs sport in its shallow seas, battling with the megalodons and architeuthids that occasionally drift up from the deeps. Over the whole swoop flocks of pterodactyls and archaeopteryxes, scavenging what they can from larger, toothier predators.

Pangaea seethes with spiritual energy. Naturally formed [[caern]]s dot the landscape. Shapeshifters in Pangaea feel whole and fully alive, even in the midst of the realm's obvious perils. And there are dangers aplenty. Besides the ever-prevalent carnivores, the environment itself is exceedingly hazardous. Tar pits, active volcanoes, quicksand, ice floes and earthquakes can make an end of careless shapeshifters.

Those who can survive Pangaea's dangers, however, will discover a world of wonders here. For starters, the Changing Breeds themselves are stronger, more like they were at the dawn of time. No tribal distinctions exist here; there are no Fianna or Red Talons, only Garou; no Khan and Bubasti, only Bastet. Shapeshifters entering Pangaea for the first time regain all temporary Rage, Gnosis and Willpower. Healing and shapeshifting in Pangaea are easier than they are in the material world. This mystic vitality extends to the rest of the realm. Sometimes the very landscape alters, touched by the transforming power of the Wyld. Earthquakes and volcanoes rack the land, and rivers commonly flood.

Gaia Primeval

The Elder Serpent

Perhaps the mightiest resident of Pangaea is the spirit known as the Elder Serpent. This fearsome beast is so huge and monstrous that even the largest carnosaurs flee in horror from it. The creature resembles a dragon, and many shapeshifters are convinced that it's a Wyrm Incarna, perhaps even a new facet of the Wyrm.

Mokolé do not share this view; they respect the Elder Serpent, though they don't worship it. Some of the savage tribes of Pangaea do, though, depicting the beast in cave paintings and crude sculptures.

The Elder Serpent lairs high in the tallest volcanic mountains of Pangaea. No shapeshifter has thus far reached its lair, though many (foolish) shifters long to battle and slay the creature (impossible). However, the Serpent has occasionally approached Changing Breed visitors to Pangaea. The sheer size and presence of the monster are such that even the bravest shapeshifter must make a fox frenzy check or run howling in terror.

The Elder Serpent asks (well, demands) that shapeshifters do favors for it. These favors often have to do with the thwarting of Weaver manifestations in other spirit realms. Occasionally, though, the Serpent has asked shapeshifters to undertake a mission against manifestations of the Wyld. The Star Gazers postulate that the Serpent might be a manifestation of the Wyrm as it was in the primordial days, before it was corrupted.

If so, the Star Gazers say, the Serpent might be trying to teach the Changing Breeds that, just like the Wyrm, the Weaver and Wyld could be growing too strong and unchecked. As a Balance Wyrm, the Elder Serpent is trying to preserve the balance among all the Triat.

Most other shapeshifters scoff at this idea. To them, the Elder Serpent is but another manifestation of the Wyrm. Nonetheless, a surprising percentage of shapeshifters do as it asks: Not only does it promise them favors (such as the teaching of rites) in exchange, but the Serpent is just so awe-inspiring and powerful that one cannot help but do its bidding.

Shapeshifters who dare to refuse the Serpent's demands are unharmed… the first time. However, the Serpent orders them to leave Pangaea, telling them that should it cross their paths again, it will slay them. Wise visitors heed this warning; foolish ones tend to disappear.

Graveyard of the Lost

Somewhere in the depths of Pangaea's forests lies a great mound of bones, exoskeletons and fossils. This is the Graveyard of the Lost, a sacred place containing the remains of all the extinct species of the material world. If shapeshifters find the Graveyard, they may treat it as a Level 6 caern.

The Mountains

Pangaea's volcanic mountain ranges are riddled with trails and caves, whose inhabitants are supposed to be even stranger than the "normal" dwellers in Pangaea. Subterranean cavern complexes riddle the area. Legends persist of emanations of Mokolé progenitors who, defeated in ancient wars, were forced to retreat deep into the caves. Over time, the legends continue, these Mokolé degenerated into frightful troglodyte savages who lurk and hunt for food in the dark.

The Savage Locals

Interestingly enough, primordial, monster haunted Pangaea has a scattering of human tribes dwelling (precariously) in its wastes. Alternatively hunting and being hunted by the continent's fauna and visiting shapeshifters, these tribes scavenge what they can from the treacherous countryside.

Why these "apes" dwell here remains a mystery. Some Garou speculate that the tribes are spiritual remnants of primitive humans who died before Gaia created a special realm (the Dark Umbra) for the souls of the human dead. Other Garou, particularly some among the [[Children of Gaia]], believe that these tribes were led here over a spiritual moon bridge by human shamans during the days of the Impergium.

Technologically, the tribes remain at a Stone Age level. In character, these tribes range the gamut. Some fully embody the yesteryear concept of the "noble savage" — strong, clean-limbed, virile and honorable. Others are barbaric, cannibalistic, Wyrm-tainted or worse. Wars between various savage tribes spill over the whole of the supercontinent; shapeshifter visitors occasionally participate in these feuds, and Wyrm spirits sometimes stir up the tribes through false visions and enchantments.

Desert Barbarians

Even in the blistering deserts of the continent's center, tribes of desert barbarians manage to scrape out an existence. These nomads hide from the scorching sun in sandstone caves or underground pits, coming forth to hunt and scavenge at night. They fashion axes from the black glass of the desert interior, as well as crude spears and spiny armor from a species of gigantic cactus. This cactus, the iixa, is central to the barbarians' existence, for it also provides nourishing pulp, water and, when fermented, wildly intoxicating liquor.

The Thulan

Proud, tall and bronze, the manifold tribes of Thulan have spread their culture, flint tools and spoken language throughout much of Pangaea. Though illiterate, the Thulan have developed a crude confederacy and trading network. In character, the Thulan are like something out of a Burroughs novel — honorable and proud, but suspicious of outsiders and extremely superstitious.

The Thulan hate the Zarak-Ur with a passion, for the cannibal tribe often attacks them in pursuit of food and mates. Shapeshifters who can gain the Thulan's trust would find them a strong ally against the Wyrm's minions in Pangaea.

The Zarak-Ur

The scourges of Pangaea, the Zarak-Ur haunt the jungles of the south. Formerly an honorable if savage tribe of hunter-warriors, the Zarak-Ur have become enthralled by visiting Wyrm-spirits. Now they are malevolent cannibals that seek to prey on all living creatures, but prefer-to eat the brains of sentient beings.

The Zarak-Ur are great hunters, stealthy and cunning enough to lay traps for the largest dinosaurs. However, other humans are their favorite prey. Zarak-Ur totems resemble Banes, and certain figures painted on their dwellings bear great resemblance to Black Spiral Dancers — this despite the fact that all Garou in Pangaea are tribeless.

Recently, agents of the Wyrm have taught the Zarak-Ur the secret of fire. They've learned this secret with great relish, and now they use the weapon indiscriminately. If left unchecked, the Zarak-Ur might scorch large sections of the realm in their mad raids against the other tribes.

Entering the Cave and Coming Out of the Stone Age

Pangaea is not the easiest Near Realm to enter, but it's not the most difficult, either. A fair number of moon bridges lead to the realm, though the realm's proximity to the Wyld makes many bridges treacherous and difficult to follow. Then, too, because of the place's restorative powers to shapeshifters, the Wyrm often urges Banes to lurk along the Umbral paths to Pangaea.

Certain Glens in the deep wilderness link directly to Pangaea, and once in a great while, spirit-beasts from the realm will cross over into the material world. Most die out within hours, of course. Rumors persist that certain natural phenomena deep within the earthly wilderness can lead to Pangaea.

Garou travelers have spoken of cave complexes far beneath the earth that lead into subterranean grottoes where dinosaurs raven, or of great cataracts and tributaries deep within African and South American jungles that wash unwary travelers into the Timeless Land. Glens are the primary means of exiting the realm. A shapeshifter who finds a Glen in Pangaea may automatically leave the realm.

As well, shapeshifters may leave Pangaea for Dream simply by going to sleep in Pangaea while under the influence of certain narcotic herbs.

The Laws of Nature

  • Any action dealing with one's Primal-Urge receive one automatic success, due to the primordial character of the realm.
  • All shapeshifters in Pangaea regain a temporary Gnosis point with each dawn.
  • All Garou, upon entering Pangaea, are considered to belong to the same tribe. They lose any signs of tribal identity, and even forget about tribal differences, while there. Characters may purchase and use tribe specific Gifts at no penalty. Even Black Spiral Dancers are affected by this law, although other Garou may not purchase their Gifts, as these are from the Wyrm and not Gaia.
  • Garou in Pangaea may not shift into Lupus form, only Hispo.
  • All Bastet in the realm lose any distinguishing tribal characteristics. Essentially, their wereforms are those of sabertooth tigers. They cannot take feline form, only Chatro.
  • All Rokea have added strength, as their wereforms reflect the features of the Carcharodon megalodon native to Parigaea.
  • All Mokolé in the realm have more Physical Attributes and increased Willpower, Rage and Gnosis. Furthermore, upon entering Pangaea, a Mokolé may spend points of temporary Gnosis; for each point spent, the Mokolé will gain an additional feature to her Archid form while in the realm. This effect may be invoked only once per visit, and the effect fades once the Mokolé leaves.
  • Shapeshifters double their healing rates (for aggravated and nonaggravated damage) in Pangaea. Two health levels of aggravated damage may be healed per night of sleep. Shapeshifters regain two lost health levels per turn when resting. In combat, shapeshifters automatically heal one health level per turn.
  • Silver is extraordinarily rare in Pangaea, although the Zarak-Ur cannibals have a few silver weapons and captured [[klaive]]s. If silver is used against Garou in Pangaea, they may use Stamina to soak the aggravated damage.
  • The activities of Pangaean emanations are governed by the phases of the moon. During the new moon, quiet overtakes the land, though small mammals creep out to steal the eggs of the dinosaurs. This time is dangerous, though, for it's when the velociraptor packs come out to hunt. During the crescent moon, animals migrate from place to place, and (fife human tribes enact their most important rites. During the half moon, predators and prey are at peace with each other, and violence is kept minimal. During the gibbous moon, animals (and humans) come together to mate. The full moon is the hunting season, when the jungles echo with bellows and the predators war with each other.
  • Metis who enter Pangaea are cured of their metis deformities while in the realm. They are as whole and normal as any other shapeshifter. The deformities return when the metis leaves Pangaea. Although a metis in Pangaea can sire or bear a child, the child is always a spirit emanation of the metis' animal form, and cannot leave the realm; if a pregnant metis leaves Pangaea, the spirit in her womb osmoses into her body, never to be heard from again.
  • Climate in the realm is one of extremes. The polar regions reflect the chill of the Ice Age, the deserts are broiling hot, and the jungles are as steamy and inhospitable as they were in the Mesozoic.
  • The ability to change forms whiles in Pangaea is reduced.
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