World of Darkness - Alpha Network
“Special quotation regarding Character Examples..”
- Umbra is the Latin word for Shadow and is. technical term most commonly used by Mages to describe the regions within the Shadow, or the “space” or dimensions between the Phenomenal Realms and the Supernal Realms.
- The dark dimension…On the other side of the Gauntlet.
- Starlight… Some say that Heaven is the Shadow Version of Deep Space where the light of countless stars join. We only experience the tight, Fallen Reality of this material world.. we miss so much that is in Shadow. Scientists call that Dark Matter of course but it is do much more.
Let’s start with the basics- the Material World. It’s the one you live in. Ghosts, spirits, mental projections and other ephemeral beings exist in a state of Twilight. “Next to” the material world, separated by a thin barrier called the Gauntlet is the Spirit World, or “Shadow”, which is the spiritual reflection of the material world. These combined form the Phenomenal World, also called the Fallen World by mages.
“Above” the Phenomenal World are the Supernal Realms. These are realms of platonic forms, essential truth symbols, and the symbolic templates for material reality- the Phenomenal World is effectively a holographic projection of the Supernal World. Make changes in the Supernal, you make changes in the Phenomenal. The Supernal Realms broadcast reality via the Arcana, ten basic concepts describing existence and manipulated by Mages – Fate, Time, Death, Matter, Forces, Prime, Life, Spirit, Mind and Space. If you’re familiar with GURPS Cabal, the Supernal is the Iconic Realm and the Arcana are the Decans. Separating the Phenomenal and Supernal worlds – and distorting or interfering with the signal – is the Abyss, the realm of anti-truths, infinite chaotic nonexistance and a whole bunch of Lovecraftian nightmares.
“Within” the Phenomenal World are the Astral Realms- the dream worlds of individuals (Oneiros), the collective unconscious of humanity (Temenos) and the dreams of the world itself (the Dreamtime). Mages can visit, with each layer being progressively more dangerous and difficult to reach. The Astral Realms respond to changes in the material/spiritual world.
There’s also the Ocean Ouroboros, which separates the Dreamtime and the Supernal and contains the Abyss. Exactly where it came from is almost completely unknown, but it does wholly and totally consume anything placed within it. It’s a popular method for Mages looking to dispose of cursed items, but bathing in it is not recommended.
“Below” the Phenomenal World are the Lower Depths. They are so distant from the Supernal they’re starved for energy and have to drain it out of the Phenomenal World wherever and however they can. The Lower Depths are home to Abaddon (otherwise known as Hell), domain of the Great Unclean Ones, entities who thrive on sin and depravity; i.e., more traditional sin/vice demons. There are other Lower Depths; it’s one of the more unexplored sections of the setting.
Them’s the basics. But it gets a little more complicated!
The Supernal Realms have five rough divisions and regular Mages tend to have direct access to only one of them. Each division is based on an Arcana pairing and a set of common representative symbols perceived by Mages awakening to a Watchtower; an outpost in a Supernal Realm that allows mortals to attach their souls sympathetically to that real and Awaken their magical power. These divisions may be arbitrary as Archmages have less use for them, and there may be “other” Supernal realms representing different Arcana pairings and so forth. The five are: the Aether, Forces/Prime with a Heaven and Raw Energy theme. Pandemonium, mind and space, with a Hell theme. Arcadia, Fate and Time, with a general Faerieland vibe. The Primal Wild, Life and Spirit, with its great primordial wilderness, and Stygia, the abode of the Dead, Death and Matter. The Supernal Realms are also surrounded by Emanations, slightly more accessible dimensions with more fixed symbolic representations of the fundamental concepts present in the Supernal – an example is Yggdrasil, the giant world-tree from Norse mythology as an emanation of the Primal Wild. The iconography of the Supernal Realms (Heaven for Aether, Hell for Pandemonium, etc) are not necessarily indicative of any fact of those realms; in order for a mortal mind to interact with the Supernal without dissolving into the sea of pure ideas, they have to form a Lustrum; a conceptual filter. Archmages can do this themselves, regular Mages need the help of a Watchtower.
But wait, there’s more!
There are a variety of “off the map” realms. Mages are capable of visiting some or all of them, at least in theory. There’s the Underworld, the land of long dead ghosts which is “underneath” the world. There’s the Hedge, which is the border realm leading to Faerie which is where the True Fae of Changeling hang out, known as the Old Gods of Thistle. There’s Duat, where some of the souls of the dead who didn’t linger as ghosts are judged before moving on and is of primary concern to Mummies.
These other realms may or may not respond to alterations in the Supernal Realms, since powerful beings (Deathlords in the Underworld, the Judges in Duat, etc) can protect their abodes from changes, but they are on the same side of the Abyss as the Phenomenal World and so fall under the “Phenomenal World” category. Imperial Mysteries put Faerie as being on the other side of the Abyss, possibly in the Supernal Realms (or next to them), with the Hedge as a special tunnel through the Abyss, but I kind of thought that was dumb. Anyway, speaking of alterations in the Supernal Realms; tampering with the truth-symbols of real-world entities while you’re up in the Supernal Realms can instantly and retroactively alter those things. This means that very powerful beings- Archmages, Old Gods, True Fae, Deathlords, Judges, etc- who go up into the Supernal Realms can cause reality quakes, edit history, switch on or off natural laws, etc.
Atlantis is a casualty of one such reality quake; fragments of multiple (often contradictory) Atlantises got scattered about the new world- think of it as existential shrapnel. Theoretically, the only survivors of the One True Atlantis were those mages who got cast back to Earth after the reality quake (and so remembered the old world) back in prehistory, the Oracles; a faction of ascended Mages who kept magic alive after said reality quake, and the Exarchs- a faction of ascended Mages who took up ruling positions in the Supernal Realms to, well, rule the universe.
Last, but certainly not least, there’s The Principle, which is God. As in, creator-of-the-universe God, who dwells “above” the Supernal Realms and has a generally hands-off approach to things, if it is even intelligent at all. It’s servants are the Qashmallim, entities of Divine Fire who serve as cosmic repairman, messengers, and city destroyers. The relationship of the Principle with the God-Machine and the Demons of the upcoming Demon is unknown. As for the God-Machine, it’s somehow related to controlling the basic metastructure of reality itself and may serve to regulate just the Phenomenal World (or just its material laws), or the whole kit-and-kaboodle from the Supernal on down.