- Brutality: Shadow is a brutal place where things hunt one another for subsistence.
- Crime: High crime areas create fear and tension, literally causing those in the area to feel on edge and nervous, and likely to react to any sudden stimulus with fight-or-flight. Also attracts spirits of crime and negative emotions, and will taint the Resonance of the area.
- Exaggerations: Everything is more epic in scope in the Shadow – rivers eternally fast and strong, the ocean utterly black and without bottom.
- Overcrowding: Very crowded areas are reflected by smaller, tighter details, such as narrower streets and buildings that seem to loom overhead, threatening to smother.
- Pollution: Shadow reflects the pollution best known in that area, streaking skies and buildings with filth that reflects the worst conditions of that pollution.
- Weather: Generally reflects the worst conditions of the city’s weather patterns, often on the cusp of the worst of those. Peace and calm in the physical is reflected by good weather in Shadow, and riots and civil unrest can cause massive weather-based catastrophes in Shadow. In the wild, the weather seems more alive and vibrant, and sometimes gives birth to spirits of those traits.
- Ancient History: Areas are affected by the “memory” of the land, which remembers longer-lasting phenomena as much more real than short events.
- Battlefields: Almost always the sites of multiple battles throughout history, so the spirits of warfare, violence, weapons and bloodshed wear details of many historical periods, surrounded by a faint rain of ash and bloody mist. Usually appear as though battle is immanent, with high tension, and violence breaks out without notice.
- Crime Scenes: Places where crimes have happened trap spirits around them into replaying the roles of criminal and victim, if crime was devastating enough to individuals or community. Don’t last for long, though those who intend to commit the same crime in the area may be drawn to do so there, eventually imprinting that crime permanently on the Shadow there.
- Mountains: Always more extreme in features in the Shadow, and usually home to the spirit of a mountain (and sometimes a court).
- Rivers: If the river has a spirit, it runs eternally deep, while those without spirits seem to be quite shallow, mere trickles of water. Some are home to water elementals and plant spirits, while others are infested by spirits of pollution, chemicals and commerce.
- Airports: Spirits from all over the world, who know that this is the place to travel to, and end up in riotous combat with other spirits due to the madness and chaos of an airport. Often home to Verges, or Wounds if the airport has seen great tragedy.
- Asylums: Forged by the thoughts and emotions of the inmates; different areas are often tainted by the madnesses that have been there. Many end up as Wounds, verges, loci, with twisted Resonance. Derangements are harder to resist while in Shadow near an asylum (-2 penalty to resist).
- Buildings: Some reflect the buildings that are there, while others reflect more important buildings that once stood there. Always affected by the mood of that building – if it feels claustrophobic or lonely in the physical, those traits show up as details in the Shadow. Predominating moods set the tone.
- Factories: Some are eerily quiet and dead, while others are mad cavalcades of whirring machinery. Those that see death eventually produce a “hungry” factory that will result in additional deaths.
- Fast Food Restaurants: Places of happiness and gluttony, with mad frolicking spirits clad in either employee uniforms or the appearance of iconic marketing characters. Often lorded over by a spirit of the building itself in the shape of the company mascot.
- Grocery Stores: Shelves are two or three times as tall, and filled chock-full with insane logos and brightly colored packaging that can drive one mad; produce sections are home to slowly dying vegetation spirits, and meat aisles are home to spirits of rot, misery and carnivore spirits.
- Hospitals: One element is exaggerated: clean hospitals seem to be frighteningly crisp, cold and sterile in spirit, while less affluent hospitals have blood-spattered walls, filth-encrusted surfaces and swarms of carrion insects. Spirits of sickness, pain and misery about in either case. Sterile hospitals may end up as Barrens, while filthier places may become Shoals or even Wounds.
- Place of Worship: Like battlefields, appear as conglomerates of all the faiths that have served in that spot, with spirits of faith, reverence and religion-concepts that often appear as angels, demons and the spiritual entities of the faith. Important religious centers are bathed in light.
- Slaughterhouses: Inflict terrible wounds (or sometimes even Wounds) on Shadow. Places covered in a thin veneer of fat, with ankle-deep coagulating blood over all the floors, and the shrieks of animal spirits imprisoned and consumed by machinery, commerce and industry spirits nearly deafening those who venture into it. Occasionally, one animal spirit will consume its imprisoners, and become a terrible blood-maddened spirit-king sacrificed every day, but who demands his own sacrifices from the real-world workers, causing an increase in job-site accidents. This Resonance is hard to get rid of, and lingers, even once the slaughterhouse is torn down.
- Streets: Streets run strangely, and will go from reflections of the real world to strange and sudden twisted memories of earlier street incarnations. Attract spirits based on purpose of the area: shopping and retail districts attract commerce and greed spirits, industrial areas attract spirits of labor, endeavor and machinery, while run-down “bad” streets attract spirits of violence, crime and vice. Only very well known and important streets on a global scale gain their own aware spirits.
- Suburbs: Often appear as thin, wasted, veneers, lacking in true character, although intense emotions can cause more “reality” therein, whether caused by jealous feuding neighbors, the neighborhood wife who sleeps with all the handimen or a family of genuinely loving, caring people. Such sites can result in Shoals or Glades, but most people don’t stay in one place in suburbia long enough to have that kind of effect. Subdivisions and gated communities are often ruled by a single spirit of peace, pacifism, racism or other predominant tenor, which enforces assimilation on spirits that come into its domain, or chases them away if they don’t “fit in.”
Fountain of spiritual energy that act as crossing points between Shadow and the physical world. Hotly contested by spirits and werewolves. Focused around a single object, in which spirits of similar Resonance are capable of hiding and manipulating both Shadow and physical world from. Spirits also heal at double speed within the radius of a locus of appropriate Resonance. Generally speaking, there are between two and eleven (1d10+1) loci in any given neighborhood area, with variable ratings:
- 1-3 Locus •: Two yards in area
- 4-5 Locus ••: 15 yards in area
- 6-7 Locus •••: Single floor of building, forest clearing
- 8-9 Locus ••••: Entire building or section of land
- 10 Locus •••••: Whole city blocks, lakes or communities.
Places of Power
- Glade: Positive emotion and peaceful energy where violence is difficult to enact, requiring a Resolve check to fight or even argue and inflicting –2 to all attack rolls to those who succeed (-3 for spirits); Defenders gain +2 to defense or Resistance traits. Requires a site of natural perfection and peacefulness to form.
- Verge: Places with no Gauntlet, where spirits easily enter the physical world, and humans can stumble into the Shadow. Don’t happen in areas w/lots of people, and they don’t give signs of their opening (the passages are invisible, generally). Unseen Sense can detect the presence of a Verge (though they may not necessarily know what it is), and Verges don’t move. Spirits passing through the Verge enter in a state of Twilight. Some Verges are keyed Verges, wherein bringing the keys together will open the Verge for longer periods of time. Others are persistent Verges, which exist constantly; most cities have no more than one or two.
Places of Doom
- Barrens: Places of strong Gauntlet, lack of Resonance and no Essence generation. Mage and werewolf powers based on Spirit get a –3 penalty. All other supernatural powers have a –1, and emotional responses are deadened, gaining a +2 to resist frenzies, derangements and powers that cause emotional responses.
- Wound: A place of vile, crawling spiritual vitriol, where plague, natural disaster, genocide and other mortal tragedies (or atrocities) happen. Known to attract particularly vile spirits that fight to keep it as is. Degeneration rolls are made at –1 die, and Morality rolls at –2 dice. Rolls to resist derangements are at –2 dice, as are resisting frenzies. Injuries inflicted here are one greater type (bashing becomes lethal, lethal becomes aggravated), while spirits gain +1 level of damage to every injury. Many take on the “flavor” of Vices.
The shartha are strange spiritual creatures closely tied to real-world animals. They have the ability to infest a human being rather than possess the way other spirits do, latching on to a given target and filling their body with near-animate swarms of creatures that lurk just below the outer layer of flesh. They often have dramatic effects on the Shadow environment where they dwell.
- Rats Nests and Crows Nests: Massive gatherings of rats or crows can chew through the Gauntlet, eventually possibly causing a locus or Verge. When rat colony or murder of crows reaches 100, Gauntlet begins to reduce by 1 point per week, to a minimum of 1, creating a locus. When Gauntlet reaches 1 and the colony or murder reaches 300 creatures, a month later the place becomes a Verge. With each drop of the Gauntlet, something strange happens. Characters have a –3 penalty to resist poison and disease in areas of rat- or crow-chewed Gauntlet. Often home to rat or crow shartha.
- Spider Webs: Massive gatherings of web-spinning spiders can strengthen the Gauntlet. Each week they are in the area, the Gauntlet increases by 1.
- Serpent Pits: Though serpent shartha do not affect the Gauntlet as do others of their ilk, their pits are often aswarm in serpent spirits.
- Dead Spot: Opposite of Verges, and found in the physical world, mainly. Place of deadened emotion and stagnancy. Gauntlet of 6+. Resistance rolls gain +2 dice, but Empathy and Expression is at –2. Mages, Ridden, werewolves and spirits experience a pain and get a –2 penalty to all rolls (cumulative with other penalties). Rarely bigger than a 100 yd radius. Caused by a single individual, who must either die or spend a full Willpower dot to get rid of the effect, but will reform unless the character’s own mental issues are treated. Dead spots always form Barrens in the Shadow, but not all Barrens have a corresponding Dead Spot.
- Shoal: Place of negative emotion and nihilism; any place where despair and apathy settle in. Attempting to leave a Shoal requires a Resolve + Composure roll, at a –1 penalty per roll past the first (with each Shoal having different Intervals). Lost objects often end up in shoals, however.
- Window: Place where it is possible to see from Shadow into the physical, and vice versa. Usually occurs only when certain circumstances are met: viewing from a particular angle, at a time of day, when the wind blows from the east, etc.
- Broods: Groupings of spirits of similar Resonance and theme. Generally, they have staked out territory somewhere in the Shadow, chasing off spirits that can’t be assimilated into their Brood.
- Domains: An area ruled by a Pantheon of spirit who may not necessarily follow the same theme, and who make a point of controlling the supplies of Essence, allowing others to inhabit their territory in return for fealty. May be dominated by Mob Rule (multiple strong spirits banding together to bully the others), Feudal Court (a single powerful spirit rules, receiving fealty from lesser spirits, with reciprocal give and take between them) and Gods & Monsters (potent and terrifying spirits dominate others into service through violence and destruction – those who wish to stay must obey and worship, or be destroyed).
- Catalysts: Places of extremely strong spiritual Resonance that can taint other spirits, pulling them toward that theme. Very thin Gauntlet; Humans will Willpower below 5 begin to take on traits of that Catalystic theme.
- Places That Aren’t: Mythical or urban legendary locations with no real correspondence to the real world.