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How are the Multiple Penumbras supposed to make sense?

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  • How are the Multiple Penumbras supposed to make sense?

    I understand that for a purely Mage game, the differing perceptions of the Penumbra are just aesthetic, and Mages perceiving the different layers still perceive each other and interact, but how does that work with Werewolves and Wraiths?

    Can a Mage perceiving the High Penumbra see the Werewolves and Weaver Spirits, and Banes etc in the Middle Penumbra? Can they be perceived by those beings in turn? Is the Shaman perceiving the Middle Penumbra unique in their ability to see and interact with both, while themselves being blind to the Astral concept spirits the Mage perceiving the High Penumbra can see and interact with?

    Are the Shadowlands the Low Penumbra? If so, is the necromancer in the Penumbra perceiving the Wraiths while their Shaman and Theosophist compatriot cannot, while the necromancer is blind to the Werewolves, etc?

    Furthermore, if the Shadowlands are the Lower Penumbra, how does that work when the Mage interacts with the physical mirror structures? Normally the penumbra just mirrors the physical world, but interacting with a door on one side doesn’t make it open and close in the other - but the shadowlands are different, at least for wraiths. A closed skinland door is shut to them in the shadowlands unless they use an Arcanos to affect it across the Shroud, or else they need to sacrifice corpus to step through the door rather than open it. So how does it work for Mages in the Low Penumbra?

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  • #2
    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...aliving 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 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
    Last edited by Aleph; 03-19-2021, 10:12 PM.


    • #3
      Joking Answer

      How does it work?


      Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.


      • #4
        I too have pondered this question, and don't generally feel like I have a satisfactory answer. Mostly I take a view similar to Aleph , but I do actually regard the Shadowlands as part of the Penumbra. But most of the stuff that might be regarded as "native" to that Penumbra is uniquely disconnected from everything else in there, by the Shroud. Actually, the best comparison may be found in a bit of layman reading that I was doing on the subject of dark matter. It was talking about the fact that dark matter doesn't impact with regular matter, or even other dark matter, the way that regular matter does; when galaxies collide, the dark matter doesn't seem to respond like it is running into something else, whereas the two galaxies in question do. The Low Umbra may be similar to dark matter in this way; it has some connection with the rest of the Umbra, but it doesn't "touch" it, can't be "sensed" except by those with the appropriate abilities or nature. It does make it a bit messy that the Vidare Mortem has to see a deathly version of the Penumbra that nonetheless doesn't include Wraiths, Relics, and ghostly structures.


        • #5
          Okay, this is going to get complicated. I've been working on a three axial model of the Otherworlds, where each section has five different levels with increasing restraints on how and who can enter. In this model, each section has its own "penumbra" lowest level. The Middle Umbra's lowest level, the Penumbra, can be entered by any being with a "living spark." The dead can "borrow" life energy to do so. (I'm also working on Tempered Arcanoi for Wraiths to travel the Umbra.). The High Umbra's lowest level, which I'm calling the Astral Plane/Twilight World, Is open to any thinking being. This is where vampires go when they use the Auspex power Astral Projection, although it's missing from V5. In it, one can sense physical reality, but there has been little of anything written about what else is there. The Underworld's lowest level, the Shadowlands, is open to anyone who is dead. Symbolic death counts for those still among the Quick. Finally, there is the Dreaming's lowest level, the Near Dreaming. One must have a tie to the Fae to enter there. Ancient contracts count, as do other forms of self-enchantment. Each of these five levels, including physical Earth, share a similar geography, but exist on a different spiritual frequency as it were. One can sense, to a slight degree, what is happening in each one, but really can't interact unless some unusual power sets/strong cosmology knowledge is utilized. Natives to each level may have an easier time sensing from their "home" level, or to their "home" level if out of it, but "physical" contact between layers is all but impossible. They are separate and different. The Vidare is mostly a focus upon what a Mage focuses most upon when in one such level. When in the level most in tune with a Vidare, a Mage sees the level more clearly, contrariwise when in the "wrong" level. A Mage with the Vidare Mortem can see the Shadowlands more clearly the their compatriots. That same Mage might catch glimpses of Banes and Wyrm-taint more in the Penumbra than the rest. It's a trade-off. Some things might 'bleed' into other levels, depending upon a power level or so, but the actual object/entity could not be interacted with.