The Dark Umbra

As creatures who deal with life and death on an almost daily basis, werewolves seem quite accustomed to dealing with the concept of dying. The greatest Garou heroes are said to live on in the spirit world as ancestor-spirits after they die. As surprising as it may seem, a few elders voluntarily disconnect from the physical world to live on through eternity as spirits. Some werewolves believe that they will rejoin Gaia when they pass on, or be reborn as the next generation of cubs. Others have learned to channel the spirits of their ancestors. In either case, it’s easier for a Garou to accept the thought of dying. Although a sept’s Gathering for the Departed can be a somber affair with epic displays of mourning, Garou do not dread the end of a hero’s life.

Humans have trouble achieving such equanimity. In fact, the vast majority of them have some level of dread or fear of death. Although religion can offer hope of salvation, faith in the World of Darkness is dying. Since humans can never experience the spirit world (at least, not without help from mages, werewolves, or other supernatural allies), they endlessly speculate and argue about the outcome and even the existence of the afterlife. According to some spiritualists, this dread gives shape and substance to the Dark Umbra, the underworld of creation. Just as the Penumbra is a shadow of the living world on the other side of the Gauntlet, the Dark Umbra is said to be “below” our world, forming a shadowy reflection of the world. Places of entropy, decay, suffering, and death cast enduring reflections there.

In the physical world, humans who die in tragic circumstances with unresolved passions may become trapped in a life beyond death as ghosts. For a rare few, death is actually a time of transformation: they pass over to the Dark Umbra. No heaven or hell awaits them; instead, they endure an endless purgatory until they resolve their unfinished business or are destroyed. Just as the Penumbra is a place where everything is more alive, in the Dark Umbra, shadows form where the forces of entropy and decay predominate.

Silent Striders have a few rites and rituals for entering this realm, which have gradually been shared with other tribes over time. With enough wisdom, these Garou may even lead their packs on journeys into darkness, but the spirits of the Dark Umbra know these outsiders do not belong. Entering this realm is far more difficult than stepping sideways into the Penumbra. Nonetheless, when a Garou must face the heartrending truth about a human’s untimely demise, this sinister reflection of the real world holds the hope of revelation and resolution.