Nightmaria is a nebulous place of horror and baleful things. It is also called the Well of Shadows, the Bale Lands, and the Fell Lands. The Well of Shadows is one of the two transcendent planes. Along with the the Heart of Radiance, it is the most mutable of concepts and substance – for it lacks any material component. As such, it can be merged with the essence of material things, twisting and transforming them through Shadow Bond.
The Well of Shadows is part of the greater multiverse. Often confused with the abyssal realms, these are strange, ‘could-be’ continuums which are places where worlds literally collide. It is unknown how these come about, but a continuum of the real world will be reflected by the void or vice-versa, creating a shadow like copy of its source, but blending the two influences. Dimension is blurred, spheres are irrelevant, sanity is relative and perceptions are often only an illusion. Even time is but a mere shadow of itself (Shadowlands). Because of these warping factors, many attempt to use the Shadowlands to travel across great distances near instantly, or to transition from one sphere or dimension to another if they lack the powers to accomplish it otherwise. Deep at the heart of these Shadowlands is the realm of Nightmaria – like a black sun to the planets orbiting it, it sits at the virtual and symbolic center of the the Well of Shadows. The most common experience of shadow is when one of the realms overlaps a real time and place, covering it in a Glooming. The Shadow Realms border the Aetherlands as well and can be used, albeit dangerously, to travel into or tap into their power as well.
Where the weave is worn thin and the realm of shadows touches other worlds, there seems to be a strange effect on some crystalline structures – called Dark Vein.
The realms of shadow and radiance are difficult to access directly. Most who catch glimpses of them do so from the bordering Aetherlands – the “place” which connects all places and the
“time” which brings together all things. Travelers in the Aetherlands become part of the scene in the transcendent realms.
Denizens – The Umbragen
Those beings which dwell in Nightmaria, extending their presence to the Shadowlands, are known as Umbragen. Those outside the Shadowlands, even those of void, never see the real Umbragen – they are outside of time and space. Only their ‘castings’ are ever experienced – usually through a summoned essence, encountered in The Glooming, or observed through a target adopting Shadow Bond.
In both the realms of Radiance and Shadow, Spirits are bountiful and manifest automatically with increased pressence. Spirits of the Shadowlands are often referred to as “broken spirits” – having transcended their normal bounds through will born of malice and an evil hunger towards the living.
Life in the Shadowlands
Time has no meaning for any dweller of the Well of Shadows. Once they have become part of the Shadowlands, their part is played out time and time again, time and history fade and merge with the many possibilities and the distant understanding that every moment that happens has happened before and will happen again. Utter hopelessness and madness beat at the heart of the Shadowlands. The stuff of the shadow realms is tied to directly to the primeval force underlying the malicious code of conduct. Any interaction with of denizens and the environment there will generally reflect those principles. The Shadowlands are a nightmarish static landscape populated by broken spirits. These are generally malign, hostile and fearful. The Shadowlands often take on a mirror of the reality the visitor is used to, albeit a terrifying and obscene one.
Vezpyr – the “language” of the dark umbragena. Natives “speak” it without problem, for non-natives it is always a fumbling attempt to communicate in the strange whispered,
half-tones. There is a strange, runic type inscription based version of the tongue, though non-natives with a skill less than fluent in understanding it must make a SAN check when concentrating on it to translate (decipher/inscribe); failing causes confusion for 1 hour; mental anguish which leaves them unable to communicate in their primary mode for 24 hours-SAN).
Court of Darkness
In nearly every setting, there is mention of “powers of darkness”. Those familiar with divine and occult ways know that these powers are nearly always represented somehow through means of faith or the occult (witchcraft). This ‘court’ is a persistent manifestation of the iconic ideas associated with the Shadowlands and their inhabitants. The specific manifestation varies from setting to setting – some may be gods, in other spirits, or even just shadows of the truth in historical record or social movements. Yet they are always present in some from.
- Destroyer – deconstruct
- Aggressor – conflict, anger
- Control – conqueror, fetters
- Chaos – possibility, denial, flux