Thursday, January 24, 2019

Psi-Wars Atlas V - The Umbral Rim

Default Navigation Modifier: -4

Alternate Names: The Dark Arm.

The Umbral Rim invokes both dread and a sense of curious wonder. The veils of its nebulae shroud its worlds from sight, and its alien inhabitants exude an aura of exotic appeal. Its strange philosophies have swept the galaxy, and its inhabitants once ruled the galaxy.

Where the Glorian Rim is home to the least aliens, the Umbral Rim is home to the most, which makes this region of space a melting pot of cultures and genetics. The three most famous alien species to arise from the Umbral Rim are the sacred Keleni, who produced the True Communion philosophy, the vampiric and beautiful Ranathim, who conquered the Galaxy and produced ecstatic cults of Dark Communion, and the hungry and disgusting Slavers, who currently rule the Umbral Rim.

The dead system of Styx and its nebulae dominate the Umbral Rim’s astrography. Once the homeworld of the Ranathim, some secret and dread technology, suspected to be of Eldothic origin, caused their star to go supernova and collapse into a black hole. Its death shattered the hyperspace routes and cast a nebulous veil over the Umbral Rim. Its death also broke the Ranathim’s tyranny, and they fell from being a race who held others in slavery and into a race itself enslaved. Today, those Slavers ply the stars of the Dark Arm, demanding a tribute of flesh, trading in the alien races native to their region of space and coveting the chance to capture more exotic species, like Traders, the Nehudi or even humans!

The nebulae and the broken hyperspace routes make travel through the Umbral Rim difficult, but not impossible if one is familiar with the region. A successful roll of Area Knowledge (Umbral Rim) grants a +2 to Navigation rolls, while a successful roll of Area Knowledge for a specific constellation within the Umbral Rim grants a +4.

The Umbral Constellations

  • The Hydrus Constellation: The sacred worlds of the Keleni and the Templar; the origin of True Communion
  • The Corvus Constellation: Skirting the edges of the Shroud, these worlds are the most accessible of the deep Umbral Rim
  • The Shroud: The heart of the great nebula the covers the Dark Arm, where the dead world of Styx rules.
  • The Sanguine Stars: The far end of the Umbral Rim, and heart of the Slaver Empire.
For Companion (or better) Patrons, you can vote on what worlds you'd like to see more of here.

The Hydrus Constellation

Default Navigational Modifier: -2

Alternate Names: The Tangled Expanse, the Templar Stars

The semi-aquatic Keleni call the Hydrus Constellation home. They slowly built up their civilization and colonized the worlds of the Hydrus while cultivating their connection with True Communion and bringing its sanctity to their worlds. When the Eldothic Empire conquered the Hydrus Constellation, they scattered the Keleni, leaving their worlds open to the conquest of later empires. As a result, though these worlds originally belonged to the Keleni, few Keleni can be found there today.

The Hydrus Constellation lies at the boundary between the Galactic Core and the Umbral Rim, making it a vital region for both trade and war, and it has changed hands several times, falling first to the Eldoth, then to the Ranathim Empires, then to the Alexian Dynasty; when a pirate cartel captured it from the Alexian Dynasty and began to enslave the remaining Keleni, those aliens and humans who had become followers of True Communion rose up in the Communion Crusade and liberated the Hydrus Constellation, forming the original Templar State and founding the Order of the Templars of Communion. During the era of the Galactic Federation, House Elegans ruled it and, today, the Empire controls the Tangled Expanse.

The worlds of the Hydrus constellation tend to be warm, tropical and very wet.

  • Samsara (Alahari): Default Navigational Modifier: +2. The most famous world of the Hydrus Constellation, it is the most easily accessible world of the Umbral Rim, and served as the capital of the Templar Worlds and then, after their fall, of House Elegans. Its notorious canal city, Maon, rises from a great and shallow sea beneath the watchful gaze of a mountain and its temple to Communion. Scattered among is canals and narrow buildings, one can find great pleasure barges, roving gangs, self-flagellating cults, and aliens of every stripe and sort. Something shadowy tames the wild garden of crime in the city: while prostitution, gambling and drugs might run rampant across it, relic smuggling, slavery, racketeering and murder struggle to take hold. The street whispers that a shadowy Templar order called the Dark Vigil secretly governs the organized crime of Samsara, determining what it will allow, and quietly eliminating what it will not. The Empire technically rules this mess of a world, but its governors struggle to make heads or tail of its chaos.

  • Temjara: Default Navigational Modifier: -2. The oceanic homeworld of the Keleni now lies largely empty. Small communities of Communion faithful have gathered to maintain its island temples, and pilgrims from all over the galaxy make their way to see the birthplace of their faith and to meditate in its temples. The Empire controls Temjara, and maintains a small presence at its orbital starports. They’ve cut off access to the world by anyone but themselves, including pilgrims or requests by the Keleni to resettle the world.

  • Temuka, the Promised World: Default Navigational Modifier: -10. Keleni prophecy speaks of Temuka, the promised world. According to these prophecies, the sanctity of True Communion pervades Temuka, and it can speak to its inhabitants, or even to the truly faithful. It shrouds itself, preventing any travel to it except by the worthy. On the great day when the faithful have achieved oneness with True Communion, Temuka will open its arms and welcome them to settle on its shores and mountains. Most modern scholars don’t take the claims of Temuka, with its magic powers and secret cities, seriously, but many faithful search the stars of the Hydrus Constellation for it.

The Corvus Constellation

Default Navigational Modifier: -3

Deeper in the Umbral Rim, resting near its spinward edge, not far from the Syvlan Rim, the Corvus Constellation skirts around the Shroud, making it one of the more navigable parts of the Umbral Rim. While its worlds tend to be marginal, the fact that one can actually reach them makes them a popular destination for merchants and empires alike.

  • Sarai: Default Navigational Modifier: +1. The nexus world of the Corvus Constellation lies not too far from the Hydrus Constellation. Having recently liberated it from the Slaver Empire, this world represents the deepest extend that the Valorian Empire has pressed their influence into the Umbral Rim. Deserts, savannah, great mountains and fertile river valleys make up most of Sarai, and its population of mostly Ranathim attempt to scratch out an existence there. Recently freed, the Empire has allowed the Ranathim a measure of self-rule, and they even have a king, a largely ceremonial boy-emperor under the thumb of his “wife,” the high priestess of the Ranathim ecstasy cult of pleasure and freedom, Domen Sefelina. The Ranathim have come to see Sarai with hope, as a new homeworld to which they might go, and the Imperial Governor struggles to restrain their alien impulses, and to prevent his own soldiers from falling under the sway of beautiful Ranathim dancing girls or the intoxicating effects of their drugs and wine.

  • Hekatomb (The Hungry World): Default Navigational Modifier: -3. Deep in the Corvus Constellation lies a dangerous world that, according to some, the Slaver race worships as a god. Strange monsters roam its jungles, and the quicksand of its swamps suck hungrily at one’s feet. A dark psychic presence lingers over the entire world. The slavers import slaves by the hundreds to their great ziggurat city, and then ceremonially release them into the wilds of the planet, which devours them like a sacrifice. Its dark psychic presence make it attractive to those who walk the paths of Communion. Ranathim psychics sometimes travel to the world to seek mastery over the power of Hekatomb, while rumors persist of a Templar master who used the darkness of Hekatomb to hide his or her presence and that they live there to this day, awaiting an era that needs them.

The Shroud

Default Navigational Modifier: -6

Alternate Names: The Lethean Expanse

Styx and its nebula lies at the heart of the Umbral Rim and, in fact, give it its name. The shroud covers many constellations, but when speaking of the shroud, the denizens of the Umbral Realm mean its heart specifically, that ominous dark region where the black sun that once blazed over the homeworld of the Ranathim churns malevolently. Hyperspatial storms ravage the region, and its nebulae foil sight and sensors, making piracy a very real threat. Few journey into the Shroud by choice.

  • Styx: Default Navigational Modifier: -2. In their native tongue of Lithian, the Ranathim call the black hole of Styx, “Natlan Khemet” the desiccated husk that revolves around it, “Teragant,” though they rarely name either, for they have a superstition against naming the dead, and their world is dead. But not destroyed, for despite the power of the supernova, their world somehow survived. To be sure, it lies shattered, with a tail of broken planetesimals and fragments behind it, but slightly more than half of the planet still retains its rounded shape and even some of its atmosphere. Volcanoes wrack its surface and great fissures split it. Great Ranathim cities lie in shattered ruins, with toppled monoliths and cracked pyramids. The Death Cult of the Ranathim guard its surface, protecting any who would approach from the nightmarish psychic aura that now dominates the planet.

  • Moros (Nuthijant), the Plague World: Default Navigational Modifier: -6. Plague regularly sweeps through the Umbral Realm, often made worse by the fractured infrastructure, the humanitarian crises caused by rampant piracy and Slaver raids, and the treatment that slaves suffer, especially when they outlive their usefulness and their masters discard them. Some plagues fester permanently in those who catch them, condemning them to a lifetime of misery, while others will linger for a month or so before perishing in agony. Those who suffer used to turn to the Hydrus constellation, hoping that the Keleni sages and, after them, the Templar space knights, could use the power of Communion to heal them. Today, with only a xenophobic Empire in the Hydrus constellation, they turn to Moros. When the Slavers ordered a purge of sickly slaves, some fled into the shroud and found this frosty world and settled out of desperation. Something of a colony has arisen on the world, one tended most strongly by the compassionate cult of sin eaters, Domen Venalina, who offer succor to the sick, and bring comfort to the dying. Their white-clad temple, with its wind chimes and idol to the Pure Lady, greet all those who come to the world.

  • Tarvagant: Default Navigational Modifier: -6. The ancient Ranathim empire stole the secrets of thanatokinesis from the Eldoth and used them to forge an artificial race of dead flesh, the Gaunt. While hardy, only a handful of the Gaunt, the True Tarvathim, are truly immortal, and none can reproduce on their own. One such True Tarvathim, a queen named Lady Maktelina, rediscovered the world of Tarvagant, an old industrial world that held the laboratories and flesh-vats where the artificial flesh of the Gaunt was first crafted. She has rebuilt the machinery and uses it create more Gaunt as well as mastering the other, lost technologies of the Flesh, making this something of a homeworld for that wretched race.

The Sanguine Stars

Default Navigational Modifier: -4

Deep in the Umbral Rim, near its fringe, dim red stars cast a baleful glow on the mists of the Shroud. These stars, though small, boast worlds with rich mineral wealth and hyperium deposits. They served the Ranathim empire as a foundry, and today serve as the basis and capital of the Slaver Empire.

  • Rath, The Blade Shrine (Lithamere): Default Navigational Modifier: +0. This majestic space station circles the brightest red star of the constellation, called “Lithamere” by the Ranathim, and “Rath” by other cartograhers. Lithamere is the star sacred to the Ranathim god of vengeance, and the Blade Shrine is His holiest temple. This served as the home of the cult of vengeance, Domen Sonostrum, and the asteroid belts and gas giants of the system became fodder for its rampages across the Umbral Rim. The Slaver Empire seized the Rath system, despite the best efforts of the pirate-cult, leaving them to rage in impotence as the Slavers desecrated and retooled the shrine into their capital, filling it with gladiatorial arenas, dancing girls and their own triumphant parades. For the Slavers, the conquest of Rath allowed them to spit in the faces of the Ranathim who had oppressed their people for so long.

  • Wyrmwood (Litha Temkor): Default Navigational Modifier: -4. Alone among the Sanguine Stars, Wyrmwood burns a strange and eerie green rather than red as a result of some interaction with the mists of the Shroud. The world beneath its baleful green eye gave birth to the ugly, vermiform race that now rules the Slaver Empire. Thick, turgid seas covers the surface with only a few swampy landmasses rise above the oceans. Humidity and heat thicken the atmosphere to a cloying miasma that smells of rotten fish and most races find the world intolerably sweaty. The ziggurat-cities of the Slavers rest on the bedrock of their shallow seas, with high tide bringing slow waves to lap at the feet of pedestrians in its streets. While the Slavers hail from this world, they do not rule from it. Instead, they treat it as a world of commerce and tourism for their kind, with many successful overseers bringing their slaves and wealth with them to the planet when they choose to retire.

  • The Blood Moon of Charybdis (Saton): Default Navigational Modifier: -4. Hidden deep within the nebula of the shroud is a small and unremarkable red dwarf. An enormous “hot jupiter” gas giant orbits it, with one side eternally facing the star with an eye of smoldering red, and the rest of its cloudy atmosphere coal black. Orbiting the gas giant is a planet-sized moon, dusted red with rust from is iron-rich interior: the Blood Moon of Charybdis. The world is sufficiently insignificant and hard to reach that the Slaver Empire ignored it, and thus unintentionally made it a haven for every alien refugee in the constellation. The outcast cult of vengeance first seized it, turning it into a staging ground for their eventual efforts to retake their sacred shrine. Later, lost tribes of Keleni, outsider Ranathim, lost Gaunt and other races took shelter on the surface. Today, Ranathim pirates regularly launch raids from it, and then vanish back the mists of the Shroud.

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