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Umbral

No matter how bright the light, no matter how far it shines, there is always a shadow waiting.
– Caia Nairn Voss, Stalking Steward of Selene

Also Known As: Shadows, Operators
Pre-requisites: Culture: Selenian, Level 3 in any standard calling, Recruitment by an existing Umbral.

Summary

Umbrals are the clandestine operatives of the city of Selene; spies, assassins, and saboteurs charged with keeping Selenes enemies at bay by watching and, when necessary, striking them where they live. While other nations have developed sophisticated espionage apparatus very few match the skill and subtlety of the Umbrals and none possess the same access to advanced technology.

Advantages

The greatest advantages the Umbrals possess are training and abilities augmented by the remnants of first age technology. In particular, the Umbrals have access to devices which allow them to become invisible, strike silently from a distance, steal the knowledge of others, and travel long distances quickly. Umbrals are granted considerable leeway in their actions, though any action that has even the slightest potential to reveal an Umbral must be approved first. Umbrals also have access to some forms of support from the Silent City including the ability to command Sentinel Prides and more exotic allies. They are also granted ample courtesy and sway within the city itself.

Limitations

Membership in the Umbral order is highly selective and new Umbrals are put through a battery of skill and loyalty tests to ensure they are fit for the role. The few that pass these tests are then inducted in an initiation ceremony that is equally rigorous and creates a link between the Umbral and their gear. This ceremony makes leaving the order an impossibility. Once one becomes an Umbral they are forever lost to the records of the city, erased and obscured by the power of the Order. Umbral names are not remembered and Umbrals do not retire; they die in the dark, in service to the Lady.

Description

The Umbral order is a clandestine organization that has existed longer than Selene has kept records of it. Built around mystery and obfuscation and guided by the hidden figure known as the Umbrex, the shadowed left hand of the Lady of Selene, those who know of the order rightly fear their abilities and wrath.

Becoming an Umbral is not easy. Most Umbrals are selected from among orphans Threshold and Selene and raised in the shadows of the mountain, the cavernous great structures built into the lower mountain. Umbrals are trained in both social and martial skills, raised to be as adept with a dagger as they are with a quip. Some Umbrals prefer to specialize, focusing on one of the three ‘paths’, becoming a deadly assassin, a brilliant saboteur or a charming infiltrator. The most notable figures of the order however, become adept in all fields.
Not all Umbrals join as children and orphans. There are those who join in their later years, as teenagers or young adults, recruited by the order only after they have distinguished themselves. These late recruits are often treated more harshly as they are not seen as ‘part of the family’ in the same way as the others. Nevertheless, these Umbrals often excel their cohorts by diligent training and focus.

The success of the Umbrals is based on adroit planning, brilliant risk assessment, and the use of action ‘at the right time, in the right place, in the right manner, and by the right person’. To facilitate this the Umbrals utilize pervasive information gathering and clandestine operation paired with complex analysis and outcome modeling.

Spys from other organizations claim that the Umbrals maintain operatives in almost every major locale in Aeldos with the level of force commitment proportional to the risk a given culture represents to Selenian goals and objectives. This is either a terrifying truth or a testament to the level of paranoia that the Umbrals induce. In actuality Selene maintains hidden outposts across Aeldos, staffed by Umbrals, Sentinels or both depending on the location. These outposts are carefully hidden from their intended targets using cloaking and camoflauge, subterranean structures, or by coopting local buildings. Umbral outposts act as dispatch points for infiltrators and provide and observations and intelligence findings back to Selene on a regular basis. Outpost service is often the first assignment for a new Umbral and acts as a chance

Despite their portrayal by other spy’s as deadly operators and saboteurs most Umbrals spend their lives gathering information. Active operations are only initiated with direction from above with the exceptions being Belumbral deployments to identified problem areas and local outposts staffed with regional Archon’s who are granted authority and freedom of action by the Umbrex.

The order works hard to keep themselves hidden and few in the general populace know of the Umbrals, within or outside of Selene. Books and records of their existence are key targets for the order, as are those who speak too freely about their activities. As a result what few stories that do circulate, typically among old and drunken Sentinels or foreign agents, paint them as legends and folklore.


Features

Expertise: Umbrals gain access to the full training resources of Selene and when not on assignment are fully funded towards this end. This could be training with the Master Mechanists of the Magna Fabrica, the Lorekeepers of the Academy, or weapons training with master Sentinels. Whatever the desire or need Umbrals have access to the masters of the field.
Medtech: Umbrals are granted exclusive access to advanced Selenian medicine and prosthesis. Umbral prosthesis blur the line between organic and mechanical and grant bearers superhuman abilities. While not all need or want to, any Umbral can request assessment and implantation of exclusive tech including Spinal and Cerebral implants. These highly invasive and dangerous implants can significantly increase reflexes, strength, memory, and neural processing power.

Life of Service: Umbrals are forever committed to service and obedience to the Umbrex. Leaving is not an option as the secrets and technology they possess are considered too valuable. What the Order commands they obey, whether it be leaving a place that has become home to travel through dangerous wilds to a likely end, or killing an asset they have come to love. Loyal Umbrals who survive and grow too old to continue their duties continue to serve in the Shadow Tower as trainers, analysts, and strategists. Disloyal Umbrals who attempt to abandon their duties die when their connection to the Gnomon is cut.
Hunted: As with all clandestine operatives Umbrals are always at risk of exposure and exposure typically means long torture and a messy and potentially public death. In particular, Umbrals are hunted by Ossandrian Ossators for their interference in imperial operations, but few cultures appreciate Selenian operatives in their dominions. Every Umbral knows that discovery is a death sentence and acts accordingly to protect their cover.


Core Trait

Gnomon: The core trait for an Umbral is defined by their connection to and synchronicity with the Gnomon or Shadow Tower of Selene. The more developed this connection the more power the Umbral is able to channel through it. Advancing this connection requires a combination of understanding or praxis alongside advancement of formal rank.

Ability levels cannot exceed the characters level in Gnomon.


Abilities

Formal Rank: Each Umbral must prove themselves worthy of the gifts and authority of their title and their rank determines much of their capacity. For example, Umbral rank determines how many pieces of gear they can possess and their authority over other Umbrals. Advancement requires fulfilling duties in service to the order and ranks can be lost along with access to the Umbral gifts. Losing rank generally requires actions against the wishes of the order or which reveal it in some capacity.

Rank Title Features
Veterascetl Unofficial Asset, no authority granted  
1 Adumbral Official Asset, 1 piece of gear, no authority granted
2 Penumbral Intitiate, 2 piece of gear, no authority granted
3 Umbral Proven, 3 pieces of gear, command authority over unassigned lesser Umbrals and Setninels
4 Belumbral Trusted, 5 pieces of gear, command authority over all lesser Umbrals
5 High Umbral Honored, 7 pieces of gear, full regional command authority

Gear

Umbrals get their choice of the potent remnants of first age technology. This includes both weaponry and gadgetry.


Inkblade: Inkblades are weapons forged by the Umbral craftsmen using ancient and closely guarded secrets. They come in any number of forms, from dagger to rapier, but are always a blade of some kind. Named for their pitch black colouration and tendency to produce a contrail of inky black smoke when unsheathed, Inkblades are as sharp as any Nehepi weapon and capable of inflicting grievous wounds. Each blade is bound to their Umbral owner using ancient and arcane rituals performed during its creation. Accordingly, as the bearer grows in skill and spirit so to does the blade grow in deadliness. While Inkblades start out as merely fearsome, they can become truly terrifying with time; capable of inflicting hidden wounds which fester with the finality of the flux, or paralyze, or cause an obscuring smoke to pour from them. Some say a masters blade can even steal the faces of the victim for a short time, bestowing upon the user a perfect disguise.
Damage: Dependent on Blade Type

Level 1

  • Nimble I: Parry +2
  • Shear I: Armour Piercing 2

Level 2

  • Lockjoint: * Once per combat the Umbral can afflict an enemy with Lockjoint, imposing -3 to their actions for the remainder of combat.

Level 3

  • Nimble II: Parry + 4
  • Spiritbound: The Inkblade can be pulled to the wielders hand at will. The blade must be within visible range to utilize this ability.

Level 4

  • Shear II: Armour Piercing 4
  • Shadowblade: Once per day the Umbral can inflict a shadow wound on an enemy. This wound bypasses armour, clothing and skin and causes only internal damage, severing muscles, sinew and bone without an open wound. A skilled Umbral can use this ability to murder enemies while leaving their cause of death entirely hidden.

Level 5

  • Keen I: +1 Damage
  • Oathblade: The Umbral is able to channel a portion of the power of the Gnomon to create a binding oath with tangible consequences. The oath is an explicit contract sworn to on the blade and can be made with anyone. Any violation of the terms of the contract inflicts a terrible illness upon the oathbreaker, reducing them to a single health over the course of three days. This illness is incurable by standard means and the oathbreaker will not heal until they meet the conditions of the contract. Only the Umbral who seals the oath can undo this.
  • Smokeblade: Once per combat the Umbral can inflict a wound which seeps a dense and shadow smoke for a number of rounds equal to the Umbrals will. This smoke obscures the vision of everyone except the Umbral and renders all proximate parties entirely hidden for the purposes of ranged combat. It also inflicts a penalty to all actions until it clears.
  • Mask: The Umbral can take on the appearance of any human enemy they strike with the blade. This illusion only affects appearance and lasts for a number of hours equal to the Umbrals will. The mask itself is perfect, but other cues such as voice and behaviour can reveal the Umbral.

Caster: A caster is a collapsible bow shaped device with no visible string. In its compacted form it looks like a complex knuckleduster, but when activated by keyword or cypher-touch the device unfolds into a short bow without a physical string. Drawing ones fingers across the space where a string should be reveals a strange resistance, an invisible fibre of sorts. This unseen force acts as the bowstring and with practice the caster can be used to project any material fast and far. The Caster amplifies the power of the Umbral considerably and being hit by a dart or arrow propelled by one is as lethal as any Canna, with the added benefit of being entirely silent. At higher levels the Caster is capable of generating damaging blasts of concentrated energy even without a projectile.
Damage: 7D

Level 1

  • Piercing I: Armour Piercing 1

Level 2

  • Piercing II:Armour Piercing 2

Level 3

  • Guided Shot: By focusing on the Caster the Umbral can trigger the technology within to assist by imparting a complex array of forces on the shot making dodging highly difficult. The attack gains a +5 to hit. This feature can be used a number of times per combat equal to the Umbrals Will.
  • Spectral Ammo: The Umbral no longer needs solid ammunition. Instead, the caster generates a missile of pure kinetic force.

Level 4

  • Piercing III: Armour Piercing 3

Level 5

  • Meteor Shot: By ‘charging’ the Caster the Umbral is able to impart additional velocity and kinetic punch to an attack. The attack gains a +5 to damage. This feature can be used a number of times per combat equal to the Umbrals Will.
  • Swarmfire: By ‘charging’ the Caster and firing an arcing shot that descends upon an enemy the Umbral is able to impart a time delayed scattering effect on the attack, raining fire on an area rather than a point. Swarmfire can be used to attack all enemies in a 5 meter radius. This feature can be used a number of times per combat equal to the Umbrals Will.

Ring of Masks: The Ring of Masks is a rare artifact within the order which grants the wearer the ability to ‘steal’ some small part of a victims knowledge and skills. Using this an Umbral can operate undercover with the skill of an expert, impersonating soldiers, merchants, nobles, and technicians with considerable aplomb while lacking any true background or training.

An innocuous ring with a concealable needle that can be used to pierce a targets skin. This piercing allows the wearer to inflict conditions or pilfer skills and knowledge. Conditions can be inflicted Will x/Day

Level 1

  • Skill Thief: The Umbral can ‘steal’ up a single broad skill and three focus skill that the target possesses. To do so the Umbral must pierce the targets flesh with the needle which reduces the target to 1 in the selected skills. The Umbral can only access the skills of a single target at a time. As soon as a new target is pierced the old skills are lost. The maximum skill bonus gained from this is 3 or 6 with both Broad and Focus skills combined.

Level 2

  • Inflict Condition – Dull: The Umbral pierces a target and they must roll a Power vs. the Umbrals Intellect + Ring level. The target suffers -1 to all actions for minutes equal to failure spread.

Level 3

  • Inflict Condition – Slow: The Umbral pierces a target and they must roll a Power vs. the Umbrals Intellect + Ring level. The target suffers ½ movement for minutes equal to failure spread.

Level 4

  • Inflict Condition – Paralysis: The Umbral pierces a target and they must roll a Power vs. the Umbrals Intellect + Ring level. The target suffers paralysis for minutes equal to failure spread.

Level 5

  • Tenebrae Venom: The Umbral pierces a target and they must roll a Power vs. the Umbrals Intellect + Ring level. The target suffers -3 to all actions and Damage equal to the failure spread.
  • Umbral Mask: The Umbral can take on the appearance of any human enemy they pierce with the ring. This illusion only affects appearance and lasts for a number of hours equal to the level of the Ring. The mask itself is perfect, but other cues such as voice and behaviour can reveal the Umbral.
  • Thought Thief: The Umbral can gain access to a targets thoughts and desires. The Umbral and target roll opposed Will + Intellect checks. On a success the Umbral gains some access to the targets mind. On a failure the Umbral takes a point of stress for each point by which they failed their check.

Faeles Crown: This thin band of matte silver which touches the temples is a device which grants the wearer enhanced perception, perfect night vision and a sense of lies and truth. In combination with the Cloak and Caster this makes for highly skilled assassins.

Level 1

  • Insight I:: Perception +2

Level 2

  • Night Vision: The Umbral gains perfect night vision.

Level 3

  • Truth from Lies: The Umbral can detect any overt lie told to them, regardless of the skill of the liar or the strength of the lie. This ability can be used a number of times equal to the level of the Crown per day.
  • Insight II: Perception + 4

Level 4

  • Truth from Lies: The number of times Truth from lies can be used is increased to 2 times the level of the crown per day.

Level 5

  • Insight III: Perception +6

Shadowjack: These specialized clatterjacks are diverse in form but all serve a single function; to act as scouts and spies for solo Umbrals operating far from support. Unlike most Clatterjacks these are crafted to be small, and subtle, often mimicking common wildlife. Also, unlike most jacks, they are almost silent, with finely crafted and well oiled mechanisms driving their motion. A common shadowjack form is that of a cat, which represents both Selene and the Umbrals nature, but ravens, serpents, and rodents are also used. Shadowjacks are bound to the Umbral by an ‘imprint’ and capable of sensing their users condition. The design and abilities of a Shadowjack are determined at creation.


Spectral Cloak: Spectral cloaks allow the wearer to fade into shadow, becoming functionally invisible and, with sufficient practice, intangible. They operate poorly in daylight but they are virtually perfect after the sun has fallen or in the light of the moon. A dark gray cloak with black bands and almost invisibly fine etching.

Level 1

  • Obfuscate I: +5 to Stealth in dim or dark conditions

Level 2

  • Phantom I: The Umbral gains combat concealment equal to ½ cover

Level 3

  • Obfuscate II: +10 to Stealth in dim or dark conditions

Level 4

  • Obfuscate III: +15 to Stealth in dim or dark conditions

Level 5

  • Phantom II: The Umbral gains combat concealment equal to full cover
  • Ephemeral: Once per day the Umbral can call on enough power through the cloak to render themselves fully ethereal for two rounds or 12 seconds. The Umbral must remain immobile during this period but becomes impervious to harm.

Shroud: A highly specialized variation on the Mantle, Shrouds weaves into the flesh of the Umbral, granting armour and a variety of enhancements. Note that Advancement for a Shroud costs new level x 10 XP

Level 1

  • Armour: B5 – S5 – P5

Level 2

  • Mending I: The Umbral heals an additional +1 per week
  • Concealable: The armour is easily hidden.

Level 3

  • Environmental Resilience: The Umbral becomes immune to Environmental conditions such as hot and cold.
  • Immunity to Poisons: The Umbral becomes immune to all conventional poisons.

Level 4

  • Mending II: The Umbral heals an additional +2 per week.
  • Waterbreathing: The Umbral can breath under water indefinitely.

Level 5

  • Regenerate: The healing capacity of the Shroud is highly advanced and the Umbral heals most types of damage rapidly, up to a full damage each round. Some injuries can persist; burns and acid in particular.
  • Sculpted: The Shroud’s changes to the Umbral’s body enhance their appearance, granting them a permanent +2
  • Rift: Once per week the Umbral can access the ‘Outsiders Rift’, an otherworldly realm with aberrant space-time which facilitates travel over vast distances quickly. An Umbral who travels a day through this realm emerges a week distant in Aeldos. The Umbral can use this ability to travel up to 500km in a single day. The Umbral must spend 5 stress to activate this ability.

Implants

Umbrals have the option of seeking physical enhancement via advanced prostheses and surgeries available only in Selene. The implanting of anything below requires a Level 5 Surgeon with a Medicine of 5 and a Technology of 5. The Surgeon must make two checks: Intellect + Technology against a difficulty of 20 and Grace + Medicine against a difficulty of 23. A success indicates the implant was properly seated. A failure of 1-3 means the implant was made but may not function properly. A failure of 4-6 indicates the implant has failed and been rejected and the patient is in critical condition and additional checks will be needed to sustain them. A failure of more than 6 indicates the patient has died.


Spinal Implant:
If the Umbral survives the implant they are able to acclimate and gain a permanent bonus to Power and Grace equal to their level in the implant. They also gain a +5 to their maximum Health. Umbrals can exceed normal aspect maximums via these devices.


Cerebral Implant:
If the Umbral survives the implant they are able to acclimate and gain a permanent bonus to their Intellect and Intuition equal to their level in the implant. They also gain a +5 to their maximum stress. Umbrals can exceed normal aspect maximums via these devices.