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The Umbra: the Double Shroud Problem

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  • #16
    Unfortunately, everything you just was either either contradicted in the original post or in the KotE book. There are specifically two different Mirrorlands according to the KotE, where they mention objects reflecting shadows into both worlds and both are shaped by the viewer. They also mention that the heavens are barred off, which would be analogous to the Astral realms.
    Mage specifically mentions that there's just one Penumbra and there are three versions that everyone sees one of and Werewolf mentions that ghosts can even be found in the Penumbra with spirits. Additionally, Mage specifically mentions that spirit stuff and ghost stuff are one and the same stuff in M20, which is also why Spirit can affect ghosts.

    This means it's not just a bunch of different nicknames used by them and that KotE is contradicted by both Mage and Werewolf.

    Originally posted by Aleph View Post
    I imagine the truth it's 4, namely because we know for a fact that the different gamelines weren't always built with a the others in mind, but for crosover purposes 3 it's more convinient.

    Except that frequency it's not just about subjective viewpoints: Ironically, Mage proves this: Mages of death still travel the Penumbra, and not the Shadowlads. They can see the Shadowlands, but are explicitly banned to enter there w/o being dead (or "dead" with special magicks, or having a supernatural Merit that "attunes" them with death, or...), so your status as a "living being" also matters, and not just your belief
    Mage also refers to the Penumbra of Death as the Shadowlands.


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    • #17
      Originally posted by theoutlander523
      Mage specifically mentions that spirit stuff and ghost stuff are one and the same stuff in M20
      Can you show specifically where M20 states this? Beyond that, Wraiths, Spectres, and Plasmids of the Low Umbra are all made up of ectoplasm and are aligned with Entropy. Spirits are composed of ephemera, completely different from what things in the Low Umbra are made up of. Not only that, Spirits are living entities ("living" in a different sense from mortals and physical living things, mind you) and thus cannot be possibly be the same as Wraiths or "Ghosts" as you call them.

      Now checking, even the same page (consider this a retroactive-Edit, lol) as the one I checked about the Mirror Lands even goes on to confirm what I'm saying here:

      Originally posted by Kindred of the East, pg. 148, Fabric and Paths
      Much of the spirit worlds' "substance" consists of forbiden zones - undeveloped spiritual energy. Shen refer to such as the Fabric. The Fabric of Yang is commonly called ephemera, while the fabric of Yin is called ectoplasm
      And I also know for sure in Wraith that it also confirms the notion of the differential between ephemera and ectoplasm. I don't even know for sure if Mage, again, if Ghosts are even affected by Spirit. I thought it was always Entropy, and especially with the Euthanaos being specifically honed toward death due to that. Even necromancers in Mage are Entropy focused for the most part.

      Originally posted by theoutlander523
      There are specifically two different Mirrorlands according to the KotE, where they mention objects reflecting shadows into both worlds and both are shaped by the viewer
      It seems you got confused by the passage you read. Yes there are two Mirrorlands. I never said or inferred there weren't two to begin with, I was arguing FOR that specifically.. so I don't know why you bring it up; one represents the Shadowlands aka the "Yin World", and the Spirit Wilds aka the "Yang" world. The Kuei-Jin don't have separate names for either of them because how fluidly they can be in other side of things, accounting for the type of pranas, rites, or Dragon Nests they have access; which is contrasted to most Splats that can only readily access one side. My point before in the previous post, was just to explain why the Kuei-Jin just say Mirrorlands for either the Shadowlands or Spirit Wilds.

      Originally posted by theoutlander523
      where they mention objects reflecting shadows into both worlds and both are shaped by the viewer
      This blurb from the book seems to dispute this.

      Originally posted by Kindred of the East, pg. 148
      While viewing one world, a Kuei-Jin cannot see what is happening in the other world.
      I think it would suggest here that you can only view one "len" of specific sight, at a time.

      Originally posted by theoutlander523
      Werewolf mentions that ghosts can even be found in the Penumbra with spirits
      Can you source this in Werewolf, where it infers that Ghosts can casually be in the same Penumbra (aka the Spirit Wilds) as Spirits? I know for fact this isn't a thing in even Wraith and I doubt it is the same for Werewolf.


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      • #18
        Originally posted by theoutlander523 View Post
        Mage specifically mentions that there's just one Penumbra and there are three versions that everyone sees one of and Werewolf mentions that ghosts can even be found in the Penumbra with spirits.
        This is not quite true.

        There's just one Penumbra with three different versions, but the Shadowlands ain't part of it. I've recently done some research on this for a different thread, and this is the impression I got:

        Originally posted by Aleph
        That always baffled me a little, so I went back to the Book of Worls

        The Penumbra - the place where one goes when Spirit 3, barring Merits - it's, for the most part, only one.

        And the Shadowlads, analogous as they may be, ain't part of it - this makes the Videre Mortem the odd duck here, but more on that latter

        Videre are described as perspectives, different ways of seeing the same things trough the lenses of Ressonace. Same in M20. So, it stands to reason that, w/o delving more deeply, the mages on each one of these Videre would interact with each other and with the same stuff, even if they see the stuff with different colors - it's not really a different place until you enter a Domain or go to the Vulgate/Near Umbra/Shadowlands

        In the general rules section (p.183) there's this passage, that says (more or less, I'm traducting from the spanish version): "Any character that enters in the Other Worlds starts at the Penumbra...Astral voyagers can interact with spirit voyagers in the Middle Umbra. Travelers that use Spirit magick can enter the lowest reaches of the High Umbra, but not get any further. Spirits deal with everyone. The exception it's the Low Umbra, w/o certain Gifts or magick, the living can't affect the Shadowlands and the spitits of the dead can't enter the other two Umbra"

        So, what I take from there it's that the Penumbra has both Banes and Astral spirits. Travelers will see each other, and will see and interact with all the spirits. They will see and interact mostly with the same things, but will have different perspectives

        This isn't so outlandish, I'm no expert in Werewolf, but they mention spirits of concepts and ideas, and even a type of Domain, that are linked to the High Umbra. Obviously Werewolf as a game doesn't focus on these, and as perspective will focus on the spirit one, but that doesn't mean it's super rare for them to find Astral stuff in "their" Penumbra.

        The Videre Mortem it's most emphatically not the Shadowlads, but the Shadowlands it's reffered as the Low Penumbra (and, really it is: There's no place closer to Earth). Still, one doesn't just step sideways here (not usually), and in all books they're treated as different places

        It's best to think as Penumbra as the place where one enters with Spirit 3, and the Shadowlads being the other place that's also close to Earth but it's not the Penumbra. And the Videre Mortem it's mostly the Penumbra doing Wraith cosplay

        As per M20 (p.91, p.99):" If her melancholy temperament favors the gloomy Vidare Mortem, she’ll perceive the rotting Shadowlands...a living person might see the Shadowlands but couldn’t enter them...To truly step over – to pierce what’s called the Shroud, Death’s own Gauntlet – while still living requires special magicks with a heavy cost."

        So, it seeems you can see (maybe hear) ghosts, but not interact with them . And I would say *this* is something the other Umbral travelers cannot see (w/o furhter magick to pierce the Shroud), this is what makes the Videre Mortem an odd duck, in my opinion.

        I don't know if Wraiths can see the mage in the Penumbra, but I would guess not because they can't see anything on the Penumbra w/o adjusting their senses to do it.

        As per Euthanatos(Revised): Agama travelers have a Corpus and can traverse trough stuff like Wraiths do...so I guess the answer to what to do against a closed door in the Skinlands it's: loose one of your HP to step through the door rather than open. OR, well, use other magick to do that instead. I would guess the same rule applies to the odd travelers that find other ways into the Underworld
        Werewolf does state that sometimes ghosts can be found in the Penumbra, but that should be no surprise when you can travel from one of the three worlds to the other using portals or refined magic (or magick). it's also implied in Werewolf that the spirits of the dead are lost in the Penumbra and have to be shown the way back home

        Meanwhile I'm pretty sure Wraith states that Wraiths can (with some effort) see the Penumbra, but not interact with it

        Additionally, Mage specifically mentions that spirit stuff and ghost stuff are one and the same stuff in M20, which is also why Spirit can affect ghosts.
        This is true(-ish?). You kinda also need Entropy in M20 sometimes (I'm pretty sure this varies between editions), so it's debatable if it's exactly the same stuff. But in a broad sense I would say that, yeah, "plasma" it's "ephemera". Or at least that's the impression I got.

        Mage also refers to the Penumbra of Death as the Shadowlands.
        However, in all places where it actually matters, the Penumbra and the Shadowlands ARE treated as different places..
        Last edited by Aleph; 07-23-2021, 07:58 AM.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Shakanaka View Post

          Can you show specifically where M20 states this? Beyond that, Wraiths, Spectres, and Plasmids of the Low Umbra are all made up of ectoplasm and are aligned with Entropy. Spirits are composed of ephemera, completely different from what things in the Low Umbra are made up of. Not only that, Spirits are living entities ("living" in a different sense from mortals and physical living things, mind you) and thus cannot be possibly be the same as Wraiths or "Ghosts" as you call them.
          Originally posted by M20, pg 476
          Whichever way, the traveler becomes ephemera: the material of the spirit worlds. He might feel like flesh and blood, but he has become like the spirits around him. In game terms, there’s no change between matter and ephemera. The character still uses all of his Traits the sameway on both sides of the Gauntlet."
          They go into the massive argument about what it means to do that transformation cause a Shallowing breaks that rule in theory and how it becomes a pointless argument cause it still works on pg 474. Regardless, Spirit 3 alone allows them to reach out and harm ghosts. Mage Revised gives a munch more descriptive explanation under the Spirit Sphere description in the magick rules, but I don't want to copy paste the whole thing.
          Interestingly it also says there's one Gauntlet and it keeps the both spirits and the dead from entering the material world.

          Originally posted by Mage Revised, pg 185
          The Umbra — the spirit reaches — is separated from the physical world by an invisible and intangible Gauntlet, a mystic barrier that keeps the dead or the spirits of nature from crossing into and affecting the living world.
          Originally posted by Shakanaka View Post
          Now checking, even the same page (consider this a retroactive-Edit, lol) as the one I checked about the Mirror Lands even goes on to confirm what I'm saying here:

          And I also know for sure in Wraith that it also confirms the notion of the differential between ephemera and ectoplasm. I don't even know for sure if Mage, again, if Ghosts are even affected by Spirit. I thought it was always Entropy, and especially with the Euthanaos being specifically honed toward death due to that. Even necromancers in Mage are Entropy focused for the most part.
          Mages can use Spirit 3 or Entropy 3/Prime 2. However, it is mentions that ephemera comes in different flavors or whatever description you want to use which are flavored by their emotion.
          Originally posted by M20 pg 418
          Entropy Does Bad Things to Ghosts: The Restless Dead are more closely tied to Entropy than to Spirit. Although the Spirit Sphere affects them too, it’s the combination of Entropy 3 and Prime 2 that attacks their essence on a metaphysical level and acts like Life Sphere magick on them. Unfortunately, this also literally brings out a ghost’s worst qualities. Mages who attack ghosts with Entropy magick find themselves confronting a spectre – everything vicious and forbidden about the ghost in question.
          Originally posted by Shakanaka View Post
          This blurb from the book seems to dispute this. I think it would suggest here that you can only view one "len" of specific sight, at a time.
          You're reading this blurb out of context. It's referring to seeing in either the material world or the Penumbra, not both. Here's the full quote. It doesn't mention seeing the other aspect and actually there's no mechanics for that now that I looked for it. Which honestly doesn't surprise me.
          Originally posted by KotE, pg 148
          A Kuei-jin in the Mirror Lands may automatically shift her vision between happenings in the spirit worlds and happenings in the material world; doing so takes one turn. While viewing one world, a Kuei-jin cannot see what is happening in the other world.
          Originally posted by Shakanaka View Post
          Can you source this in Werewolf, where it infers that Ghosts can casually be in the same Penumbra (aka the Spirit Wilds) as Spirits? I know for fact this isn't a thing in even Wraith and I doubt it is the same for Werewolf.
          It's in the original post, but I'll quote the part for you to read.
          Originally posted by W20 Umbra - The Velvet Shadow pg 31
          As the modern world crumbles and strife spreads like a sickness, more and more stretches of the Penumbra take on traits of the Dark Umbra. Graveyards overflow and stinking crematoria exude an aura of fear. In third-world countries where conditions are so unsafe that people die every day, whole Penumbral villages and towns become beacons of Dark Umbral unrest. Ghosts walk among spirits and stalk the living. These places are powerful in the Shadowlands, but havens of ghastly Wyrm-taint in the Penumbra. Con- ceptual spirits of hatred, fear, pain and death flourish, and these things are rarely so benign toward Garou as Naturae. Their actions further the cycle of suffering. They wallow in fear-soaked shadows and cultivate landscapes wrought from Man’s nightmares. Reaching these areas is difficult and extremely dangerous.
          Looking at it, I think over all, each splat line has it's own slight variant of the Umbra or the writers couldn't or didn't cement anything down across the lines, and there's a lot of variant in the same splat lines. The real question is how would one make a Unified Umbra Theory which sorts all of this out for everything.


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          • #20
            Aleph
            In regards to what you said about the Dark/Death Penumbra, is contradicted in both M20 and W20. I linked both in the post above and in the OP. But here's some more info.
            Originally posted by W20 Umbra - The Velvet Shadow pg 99
            The ghosts of the Dark Umbra have their own terminology for their world. The Shadowlands is their term — accepted by other travellers — for the Dark Penumbra, while the roiling fury between the Umbral Realms is better known as the Tempest.
            Originally posted by M20 pg 91
            If her melancholy temperament favors the gloomy Vidare Mortem, she’ll perceive the rotting Shadowlands. In the distance, she’ll hear the ever-moaning winds of the Tempest, an eternal storm that has been called “the Voice of Oblivion.” Dour-minded reincarnationists claim that the Tempest is the whirl of Entropy itself, the karmic blender through which dying things are recycled for their next rebirth. It’s been said that the Avatar Storm came up from this Tempest, after some sort of spiritual bomb had been dropped on a city of the dead. As with so many things in our world, that’s open to debate. The idea, though, makes a certain degree of sense.
            Originally posted by W20 Umbra - The Velvet Shadow pg 31
            As the modern world crumbles and strife spreads like a sickness, more and more stretches of the Penumbra take on traits of the Dark Umbra. Graveyards overflow and stinking crematoria exude an aura of fear. In third-world countries where conditions are so unsafe that people die every day, whole Penumbral villages and towns become beacons of Dark Umbral unrest. Ghosts walk among spirits and stalk the living. These places are powerful in the Shadowlands, but havens of ghastly Wyrm-taint in the Penumbra. Conceptual spirits of hatred, fear, pain and death flourish, and these things are rarely so benign toward Garou as Naturae. Their actions further the cycle of suffering. They wallow in fear-soaked shadows and cultivate landscapes wrought from Man’s nightmares. Reaching these areas is difficult and extremely dangerous.
            All of this indicates that the Dark/Death Penumbra, aka the Vidare Mortem, is the Shadowlands and that spirits and ghost interact with one another. It's also possible that ghosts don't actually see what is defined as the Shroud to a mage or werewolf, aka the Gauntlet between the Penumbra and the Lower Umbra. Perhaps to them it just doesn't exist because they're already dead and it's only visible to the living.

            Originally posted by Aleph
            Meanwhile I'm pretty sure Wraith states that Wraiths can (with some effort) see the Penumbra, but not interact with it
            I haven't actually seen anything in Wraith stating any interact with anything else really. If you have a source, I'd love to see it, but as far as I'm aware the other splatbooks are the only source of such interaction and they seem to indicate there is one between spirits and ghosts.


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            • #21
              Originally posted by theoutlander523
              The real question is how would one make a Unified Umbra Theory which sorts all of this out for everything.
              A Unified Umbra can work for the most part, given how hilted to suggestion and medium set of rules it has to it. When dealing with it in a session, just have to use common sense and not get fibbed on the minutiae variations in the various books.


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              • #22
                I have actually been trying to come up with a Unified Umbra Theory, but I have only hinted about it in various post over social media. For me, the best way to make every mentioned realm in all the game lines work is to divide the Umbra into three pairs of opposing Realms, each one favoring one part of Werewolf's Triat balanced by another Realm dominated by the other two working together, somewhat. The Underworld (Wyrm|negative y) of Oblivion, Entropy and Destruction balanced by the Astral Umbra (Wyld/Weaver|positive y) of Creation, Dynamic Structure, and Symbolic Idealism. The Spirit Wylds (Wyld|negative x) of Spiritual Oneness, Dynamism, and Life hanging on against Physical Reality (Weaver/Wyrm|positive x) of Static Wholeness, Corrupted Forms, and Survival. The Dreaming (Wyld/Wyrm|positive z) of Beginnings and Endings, Stories, and Chaos balanced by the Unknown Sixth Realm (Weaver|negative z) of Stasis, Structure, and Order [This realm and Physical reality may have their polarities reversed, and this may have happened sometime in the past.] All six surround Mt. Qaf/Midgard/etc where all spiritual qualities are balanced and all are one. Areas like the Maya/Dreamzone, the Thousand Hells/Yomi World, and Demon's pocket dimensions exist between the realms. All of the six major Realms are divided roughly into five "layers" with each one have an analog in each realm.
                1. The Overlap: entry level accessible to those who belong/follow the rules, sets stage for deeper layers, distance/direction/time roughly equal in each one
                2. The Primary Access: here are the main locations of a realm, all are equally accessible once reached although some have additional rules
                3. The Transition: special division where the rules of layer 4 can be in affect, but still as accessible as layer 2, a combination of the two
                4. The Limited Access: layer where stricter rules are in affect, those not of the Realm face problems if rules are not followed
                5. The Core: layer the epitomizes the qualities of the Realm, inaccessible to PCs, inhabitants face problems if they try to leave, even if they go only to layer 4
                Admittedly, this is a watered down version of my theory, but it can be modified so that every referenced location in the Otherworlds can have a place and new ones could be added. Note that this theory is hinged on the fact that physical reality is not at the center of the Umbra, but just one more layer in my triple axis model. A few details, such as Mage vidares, might have to be rewritten or renamed, as well as rearranging whole layers and Realms, but I feel that this system could work as a basis for a unified theory.


                THWarted

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                • #23
                  I'm not going to even attempt to make a 'unified umbra theory' but as crossover enthusiast who's currently running a wraith game I have thought about the metaphysics and cosmology quite a bit. What follows obviously isn't supported by canon but hopefully nor does it contradict it either.

                  I like to split the mental and spiritual aspects into the two realms. Thus the Umbra is filled with spirits both living and (un)dead and there is a barrier between the two. The mental aspect is the Astral realm and the Shadowlands are thus the Astral Realm of the dead (or, more accurately, forgotten), and there is a barrier between the living part and the dead part. This allows the two to coexist without getting tangled up in each other.

                  Thus the occupants of the Shadowlands are actually the memories of their living antecedents. The spirit or soul is not found in the Shadowlands, that goes somewhere else, probably some part of the Umbra. This means that Vampiric Necromancy generally deals with the occupants of the Shadowlands not the Umbra.

                  It's a but much to explain entirely but is based on the concept of a mind/spirit divide.

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                  • #24
                    Any "unified Umbra theory" needs to pretty much literally be welded together. As in, some parts will be melted down into unrecognizable shapes where you're connecting things. Each Storyteller will probably have their own theory suited for their own table, if they bother getting into the weeds of it (it is generally not necessary beyond exploring any particular hiccups that come along in your chronicle). But the wonky metaphysics are indeed one of my favourite aspects.

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