Garou Umbral Lore 101
The Umbra is known by many names. The Velvet Shadow, the spirit world, the ephemeral realm, the "shadow" of creation. Whatever its name, the Umbra is a world that is beyond the world we know, and defies even the most basic of natural physical laws. That being said, the amount of information dealing with the Umbra itself cannot be encompassed with in this article. The physical plane is a place of static laws, where science rules with an iron fist, yet the Umbra exists simultaneously atop it, in it and through out it, but at the same time, remains apart from it.. Reflecting the very being of the physical world and influencing it ways that no mere mortals can comprehend. It is a world of dreams, mysticism, and magic.
There was a time when the World of Matter, and the World of Spirit were as one. The powers of mysticism and magic were evident everywhere. However this perfect balance was broken when the Weaver raised the Gauntlet. From one world now sprung two, the Earth and the Umbra. Over time these two slowly drifted farther and farther from each other, all the while creating smaller realms. Realms birthed from the minds of the Garou and the dreams of mankind — as well as their nightmares.
In the farthest reaches of the Umbra, Garou can see the world as it was, how it is, how it can be, and how it never was. It is truly a place were the only limit is the imagination. And whiles the Weaver and the Wyrm continue to wreck the influence on the Umbra, the Garou continue to forever quest to its farthest limits. Seeking out secrets to questions that plague them, searching for hidden lore, questing for long forgotten powerful relics, or fighting the Weaver and the Wyrm on their home turf. From the cub that takes his or her first steps in to the Penumbra to packs of elders seeking the distant shadows of other planets, the Umbra is a place for Garou to pursue great and epic quests. Along the way, heroes face the greatest horrors the mind can conceive.
Whiles the Umbra can be separated into many different realms, sub-realms and smaller umbral pockets, to do so would be enough to drive anyone mad. Therefore there are different Umbral markers that most all Garou can recognize. The first of these are the umbral membranes. These act much like the Gauntlet does, separating each "layer" of the umbra from the other. These different layers of the umbra radiate from the physical realm.
- Soft Umbra - The wall of the Gauntlet isn't a hard structure as most Garou believe it to be. In fact it is rather porous in some parts. In these weakened sections, the spirit world may "bleed over" to the physical world. Most humans disregard the spirit world believing it does not really affect them. However the Spirit World doesn't offer the same courtesy Like a living day dream it touches and sometimes even inspires those who experience it. Yet it remains just out of reach to all but the most enlightened of human minds. Here feelings and emotions are lit with colorful hues and textures that normal reality doesn't give off. Lovers can appear to have a rosy color about them, a depressed person might have a cloudy, blueish aura around them or a rather violent man will appear with a flaming redness. Most people who have slipped into the shrug their experience off. However some artists and poets use the Periphery to gain a stronger spiritual link to their inner selves, drawing from the strong creative energy, they produce raw expressions of the spirit world. Such expressions can have a strong effect on humanity, because they draw at humanity's subconscious. And whiles it is too weak to be a focus for Garou, Kinfolk can be easily touched by this "sub-realm" of the umbra. Receiving messages, omens or even send impressions to Garou who are traveling the umbra.
- The Penumbra - The Penumbra, or Shadow, is the Umbra that most any Garou can recognize. When cubs talk about the Umbra, they are really talking about the Penumbra. And when it comes down to it, if you do not wish to explore the umbra any further, it is all that you need to know. The Penumbra is the closest approximation of the immediate spiritual reflection of the surrounding area. Here things are not so strange as they would be in the Far or Deep Umbra. Buildings cast their shadows, covered in pattern webs, with hundreds of pattern spiders running up and down their surfaces. A factory may glow sickly green from the toxic gases it produces. In turn places that waste products are buried maybe invisible to the eye in the physical world, but depending how long they have been there, they will start to show much quicker in the penumbra, as hoards of banes gather and feed of the suffering of the land. Places that are over grown and un-kept in the physical world may be a public eye sore to some, however in the penumbra, these places are marked by the forces of the Wyld, and are even more lush and green with life. The Penumbra also marks those whom travel to it. A Glass Walker who may be a bit untidy most of the time, will appear much cleaner and more organized. His hair slicked back, his clothes neatly pressed, his eyes even showing a steely sheen to them. A Fianna teenager may look more like a mystical lore keeper, his hair wild and brazen, Celtic knotwork tattoos on his arms, and a passionate look in his eyes. The Penumbra shows things about a person that would other wise be hidden from the common looker.
- The Near Umbra - Not quite the Penumbra and not quite the Membrane, this realm is the realm in between. Again here is were most people's understanding of the umbra breaks down. Whiles it isn't the direct shadow of the Earth, it contains not only the reflections of the physical plane, but the thirteen well-known Near Realms. Theses near realms are orbiting Gaia, and are stronger than the surrounding Umbrascape. Each one is a world unto itself, with different fauna and flora, different rules and laws of physics. These places are places of highly concentrated spiritual energies, and according to legends, the Near Realms are not set places. Meaning that they have changed and evolved with the spirit world throughout the ages. Twelve of them are generally accepted by most Garou lore keepers, while the thirteenth, the Summer Country, is seen most as a myth or wishful thinking, along with hopes and desires of young and old.
- The Deep Umbra - The strangest and most dangerous part of the Umbra, Aspects of the Umbra that are not of Gaia but are only found away from The Realm exist here. The farther one goes here, the more fragmented "reality" becomes.
The Thirteen Near Realms
- Abyss - The Abyss is a gaping hole in the fabric of the Umbra. It has been said to be the Mouth of the Wyrm itself, and with good reason. Things go in, but they rarely come out. It isn't a wonder than that the things the Garou have sent here are not only forever lost, but most likely best left that way.
- Aetherial Realm - These are the Umbral Heavens, a vast cosmic vault stretching out to the Membrane. Here Anchorheads and the spirits of the heavenly bodies roam. Spirits from powerful spirits of the air to those of the stars themselves. Here Phoebe, an Incarna of Luna dwells, as do all the spirits of the Planets themselves.
- Arcadian Gateway - One of the other realms considered a "myth" by many Garou who have not been there, it is one of the last outposts to true faeries in the Umbra. They protect the Gate to Arcadia from the Wyrm, and pursue their own conflicts with the spirit world.
- Atrocity Realm - There is no describing Atrocity Realm that best suits the realm itself. It is a frightening testimony to victimization in all its forms. Every terrible war, every genocidal rampage of both human and Garou are recorded in this realm. None can escape this spawning ground of Banes without emotional scars to prove they were there.
- The Battleground - Dedicated to all forms of conflict, particularly that of War, the spiritual emanations of every battle from the Impergium to the attack on Pearl Harbor and beyond is played out here. Shades of all the world's wars are manifested in rings around the empty Plain of the Apocalypse, the area in the Umbra were the Final Battle is to be fought.
- CyberRealm - A realm nearly dedicated to all things that are of the Weaver. CyberRealm is a mess of high-tech gadgetry. A combination of The Sprawl and the Computer Web, Garou can take the battle against the Wyrm with tools of the like that only the World of tomorrow has seen.
- Erebus - Beneath the vast caverns of the Umbrascape lies Erebus. The dreaded underworld were Garou are condemned to suffer for their sins in order to be cleansed of them in the vast Lake of Silver. Some say this is the only way that anyone can atone for their transgressions or fully turn away from the Wyrm.
- Flux - In the Physical World, mankind has learned to change their environment. However when in Flux Realm, the Environment changes You. When the Wyld began to leave Gaia, he left his heart to sustain her. The powerful and strange energies of this realm have been encased by the Weaver's pattern web. Even the Weaver knows that anything is possible in the Flux Realm.
- Legendary Realm - The Umbra records and remembers all, and with in its realms are the legends of the Garou. These stories and legends are expressed even more so with in the Legendary Realm. Here, modern Garou experience the lives of their ancestors. The disparate heritages of the tribes have created a composite mythic-fantasy realm. A place that may have, or may not have been but is still real in the Umbra. It incorporates the legends of all the tribes.
- Malfeas - The very pulse of corruption beats here. And though the Wyrm itself may make its home in the Deep Umbra, the most corrupt and demented of its servitors have flocked here. to a realm born of its most hideous dreams.
- Pangaea - Here is the spiritual memory of an Earth before civilizations, before the Impergium, before tribes, before metis, even before the corruption of the Triad. In its pure form it may hold the secrets to the salvation of Gaia and the Garou.
- Scar - A horrible mix of both Wyrm and Weaver the Scar rose out of the darkest days of the Industrial Revolution and is every employee's nightmare come to life. Here, soul deadening horrors of the workplace are realized. Wyrm creatures and tainted Weaver Spirits constantly produce fetishes that are meant to destroy the Tellurian.
- Summer Country - A world of pure, uncorrupted love from Gaia. A land of endless bounty, The bounty of Gaia given to all without restraint. Near impossible to reach, its mere existence is hotly debated.
- Wolfhome - Wolfhome is a strange reflection of Gaia that is hostile to any shifter coming to it. For all that come here are forced to their animal forms. Many Lupis Elders who feel that homids do not understand the ways of the wolf, are sent here to endure the true terrors that they may face, and truly learn about their primitive natures.
The Rest of the Umbra
As stated before, the umbra is an endless realm, in which there is endless possibility. However, there are "pieces" that are respectively recoginzed by most Garou and the Fera and are loosely grouped into five remaining categories.
- Domains - Places in the Umbra sustained by spiritual energy that comes from outside their bounds. The Tribal Homelands are some of the strongest here.
- Mini-Realms - These strange and exotic realms do not derive power from any other area in the Umbra. They are connected through other areas by spirit trails and moon. Paths. The Garou classify anything they don't understand as a mini-realm however.
- Sub-Realms - Sub-realms are reflections of the Near Realms or Zones. All sub-realms are connected to a Near Realm, but sub-realms contain enough spiritual power to sustain themselves.
- Vistas - Vistas are areas Garou cannot enter, only watch. They are images and meanings adrift in the Umbral flow. They may not have any connection with any other areas of the Umbra, or anything in particular.
- Zones - Zones are the least understood of all of these places in the Umbra. They are areas that are a part of the inherent structure of the Umbra. They have aspects that cannot be explained satisfactorily even by insane spirit world standards. For example, Dream is not a Near Realm, but a Zone with amazing strength. All Zones have strong connections to the rest of the Tellurian, and damaging them is not only a bad idea, but draws the attention of Lesser Celestines. Most Zones are believed to be Part of the Deep Umbra, as this part of the umbra is the most abstract and confusing. There are at least three zones rumored to exist, along with a rumored fourth zone known as the Temporal Zone.