View Full Version : Manual of Exalted Power: The Umbrals [Exalted]

2010-12-16, 05:23 AM
So I'm recruiting for an Exalted game over in the Finding Players forum, and it's all about parallel histories. Now, one thing that one must have in any setting with parallel histories is a mirror universe. So I've got one, and in it the Nocturnals (incidentally, a better name would be great) read dark stars to guide the Labyrinthines into casting down their Abyssal masters, and the Shadow-Fiends retreated to the borders of Creation in fear of what might happen. I don't know enough about Sidereals or Terrestrials to even contemplate trying to mirror them, but with the Lunars book on hand, a decent understanding of how they work, and no end to the school holidays in sight, why not?

What is an Umbral Exalted?

The Umbrals are the result of overwhelming a Lunar Exaltation with necrotic Essence, causing it to warp into a new form. They could also be created by deliberately changing a captive Lunar Exaltation through a process similar to changing a Solar Exaltation into an Abyssal Exaltation.

A complete Manual? Are you sure?

Probably not a complete manual, but by the time I'm finished I hope to have Umbrals be at least sketchily playable as more than some guidelines to refluff Lunars.

Any other questions, please ask.

The twisted half-light of Creation illuminates the forest. For want of a better word, it oozes. And there, behind a tree, lies...

A shadow.

But the ghost-creatures of this world flee from it, and even the forest itself seems to bend away from that patch of deeper darkness, cowering away from the vague glimmer of light that is all there is to see by. And then a twisted thing that is half deer, half ghost, runs past it, and the shadow is changing, and the beast realizes too late its mistake.

And a few moments later, it runs off, casting its shadow.


During the Primordial War, many things could have happened. And what did happen was that the Primordials were defeated, and the Solars reigned supreme for millenia, and were cast down, and now attempt to rise again.

What also happened was that in killing certain of the Primordials, the Exalted made a fatal mistake, and that unprecedented death echoed across creation, tearing all living beings inside out, rebuilding the Essence pathways on every level from the ground up. Only the gods and the Primordials were exempt, and that only because the Primordials were to great to be so changed, while the gods were able to channel the effect into their domains and creations instead of themselves. They fled into the Wyld and into Elsewhere, and created their own tiny reality. The Neverborn turned on their kin, and bound them within themselves, that they might have sole access to the Games (now uniquely suited to them and them alone). Then they retired, leaving Creation to their new Children, the Chosen of Void, of Night, of Shadows and of Death.

Millenia passed, and over time the Chosen came to be discontent. The Deathlords (for so they were named, here) grew complacent, and some even turned to the forbidden arts of sorcery as a path to alleviate their endless tedium. Ultimately, the Spark can never be changed forever, and enough time will wear through the worst tarnish. So the Abyssals grew into heroes, not tyrants, and their underlings turned on them, and overthrew them.

But while they reigned, all lived in terror of them, for two reasons. First was their own terrible puissance. And second was the power of their constant companions, Death's Shadows, the Umbrals. The protean essence of the Umbrals was changed more than any other, and they dogged their masters' footsteps as pools of darkness. To face a Shadowkin is terror indeed.

Shadowkin, like their uncorrupted counterparts, were forced to flee into the wild when their masters were overthrown. They, too suffered the breaking of the castes. The three castes of the Umbral Exalted are:

Deep Shadows: The warriors and combatants of the Shadowkin, they focus on Strength, Dexterity and Stamina.
Manifold Shadows: Duplicitous and deceptive, these terrible beings are powerful in Charisma, Manipulation and Appearance.
Flickering Shadows: Masters of necromancy, as well as of other dark arts, these savants are most puissant through their Perception, Intelligence and Wits.

Once, the Manifold Shadows were not a single caste, encompassing Long Shadows, Hidden Shadows and Grey Shadows. Those times are past, however, and the Shadowkin today barely remember the lost castes.

Character Creation

Step 1: Concept

Just like any other character, an Umbral Exalt needs a good concept to be a good character. Because Umbrals Exalt in moments of savagery, it is rare for a city dweller to become one of Death's Shadows. Still, it can happen. It is important to consider your character both before and after the Exaltation to get a good idea of what sorrt of person they are.


As mentioned above, the Shadowkin are divided into three castes. As part of deciding on your character concept, decide on which caste your character will be a part of. Because of the inconstant nature of the Castes, it is possible to Exalt for an act more appropriate to a Long Shadow but finally settle into being a Manifold Shadow. While a character's Caste doesn't define them entirely by any stretch of the word, it is an important part of their character, and some though should be given to it.

Spirit Shape

The Umbral Exalted are dangerous for many reasons, but their shapeshifting is one of the strongest. Upon receiving the Second Breath, each Shadowkin gains another shape which they are capable of assuming. This can be any shape which they are capable of assuming without Knacks. In general, an Umbral's Spirit Shape reflects some aspect of their personality.

The Tell

Shadowkin have Tells, like the Lunars, but theirs are different. Where a Lunar's body takes on some animalistic tendancy, an Umbral's Spirit Shape manifests through their shadow. Because it is already hidden, the magic that protects it is not as strong. Hence, an Umbral's Tell may be noticed with an MDV of 8 or higher, but requires a Difficulty 4 Perception + Awareness roll to notice even after piercing the Illusion.

Step 2: Attributes

Umbrals are baser, more savage than their lieges, and their magics weave not around learned skills, but around innate power. Hence, an Umbral chooses two Attributes from their Caste Attributes, and any two other Attributes, as Favored Attributes. These Attributes will cost less to advance, and their Charms will come more naturally to the Umbral.

When creating an Umbral, first prioritize your Physical, Mental and Social Attributes as for any other Exalt. Primary Attributes have 9 dots to distribute among them, Secondary Attributes 7, and Tertiary Attributes 5.

Step 3: Abilities

The Umbrals are powerful, and unsurpassed in their chosen fields, but limited outside them. An Umbral may have two Favored abilities, one of which must be Survival if he is to be associated with the Dark Accord. The Shadowkin has 28 dots to distribute among her abilities, including at least one in each Favored ability. No ability may go above three at this stage without spending bonus points.

Step 4: Advantages

Representing both magical power and the Umbral's place in the world, advantages are an important part of character creation.


Umbral shapeshifting is limited at first, but over time a Shadowkin can learn to assume previously impossible forms, or to distort those forms in one of various ways. A starting Umbral receives three Knacks, which she must meet the prerequisites for.


Like all Exalted, the Umbrals are capable of channelling Essence through themselves to create powerful magic. These effects are produced by Charms, of which a starting Umbral receives 7. At least 4 of these Charms must come from the Umbral's Favored abilities.


The Umbrals do not exist in a vacuum, and begin play with certain resources outside themselves. An Umbral may have up to seven dots of Background points at character creation without spending bonus points, and no Background may be raised above three without spending bonus points to do so. The Umbral Exalted have access to certain unusual backgrounds, detailed below.

Step 5: Finishing Touches

An Umbral begins with 5 dots to distribute among the Virtues, a Willpower rating of 5, and an Essence rating of 2. His personal Essence pool is his (Essence + Willpower x 2), and his peripheral Essence is (Essence x 4 + Willpower x 2 + Highest Virtue x 4). He begins play with a number of intimacies, up to his (Compassion + Willpower), and may spend his eighteen bonus points on anything he chooses. He has the standard 7 health levels for an Exalt, unless he purchases the Stamina charm Ox-Body Technique.

Umbral Shapeshifting

The Umbral Essence is different from what it was in many ways. In particular, the core of it, the ability to change one's shape into different forms, has been warped into an entirely new form. Where a Lunar must consume the life of her prey, the Umbral consumes a shadow.

The Umbral performs the sacred hunt in exactly the same way as the Lunar, save that where the Lunar devours the heart's blood, the Umbral devours its shadow. Any corpse slain by an Umbral for this purpose casts no shadow, for the Umbral has added it to their collection.

When an Umbral takes a form from his collection, rather than a true form, his shadow warps and twists into the new shadow. Then he assumes the new form, but his Tell leaps from his shadow to him. That means that while he wears that form, his Tell no longer needs a Perception + Awareness roll to spot, but it shrouds itself deeper in magic. Increase the Dodge MDV needed to notice his Tell by two while he wears a form from his collection.

An Umbral's shapeshifting differs in another important respect. An Umbral may assume the form of ghosts without knacks, but must purchase the Life's Breath Knack in order to assume a living form.



Except in very rare circumstances, no Umbral Exalt may have a living familiar. They may, however, have an Underworld Familiar, as per Manual Of Exalted Power: The Abyssals.

Tattoo Artifact

This Background functions almost identically to the Lunar version, save only that the Umbral tattoo is made from Shadesilver (see sidebar). This material is unique to Creation That Is Not, but could be created by exposing Moonsilver to certain necromantic spells and necrotic essences.

Sidebar: Magical Materials in Creation That Is Not
In Creation, there are five magical materials. Orichalcum, Moonsilver, Jade, Starmetal, and Soulsteel. None of these but Jade exist in Creation That Is Not, primarily because the Exalts indigenous to this world attune to their inversions. The death of the Neverborn triggered a chain reaction which converted Orichalcum to Deathgold, Moonsilver to Shadesilver, Starmetal to Nightstuff, and Soulsteel to Vitium. Jade remained mostly as it was, but the realignment of the elements changed its colors (though not is properties). Deathgold appears as gold with a purple tinge, and has the same properties as does Orichalcum. Shadesilver seems to be perpetually in shadow, always darker than the surrounding area, and in addition to what it could do before it is the sole substance capable of operating in the Shadeplain without assistance. Nightstuff is pure, deep black, reflecting nothing, and has much the same properties as its counterpart. Vitium is a subtle blue-green, and acts almost as does Soulsteel. However, Vitium has adverse effects on the dead, not on mortals. No material of Creation resonates with any Exalt of Creation That Is Not, and vice versa, but it is possible to invert such a material with a thaumaturgical ritual in the Art of Alchemy identical to the process for refining it in the first place, performed twice.


This background functions identically to the Heart's Blood background. Only the name differs.

2010-12-16, 05:24 AM

Umbral knacks function similarly to Lunar knacks. In fact, the two share a number of knacks, including the following: Humble Mouse Shape, Emerald Grasshopper Form, Towering Beast Form, Mountainous Spirit Expression, Prey's Skin Disguise, Intimate Training Recollection, Honing the Stolen Form, Flickering Star Infusion, Hearth And Flame Shell (which they know as Ash and Bone Carapace), Green Sun Child, Heart-Theft of the Behemoth, Luna's Hidden Face (known as Shadow of Chaos), Laurels-And-Ivy Technique, Hybrid Body Rearrangement (Shifting Shadow Alteration), Monkey Arm Style (Shadows At Dusk), Changing Plumage Mastery, Internal Form Mastery, Twin-Faced Hero (Mutable Shadow Face), Subtle Silver Declaration (Subtle Shadow Declaration), Quicksilver Second Face, Lightning Change Style and Constant Quicksilver Rearrangement. A Lunar who knows a knack shared between Umbrals and Lunars may teach it to an Umbral, and vice versa, exactly as if teaching another of the same Exalt type. Umbrals also possess the following knacks, unknown to the Moonchildren.

Umbral Shadow Shaping Technique
Prerequisites: Prey's Skin Disguise, Charisma 4, Essence 3
The Shadowkin sometimes find it convenient to have another wear their face for a time. This charm permits an Umbral to give their shadow to a willing subject to wear. The Umbral may only give false shadows, and cannot wear that shadow for the duration. The subject assumes the form represented by that shadow for an hour, or a day if the Umbral invests some of his self in it (suffering one lethal health level of damage). The subject only gives permission for the transformation to begin; thereafter the process is entirely under the Umbral's control.

Domineering Shadow Victory
Prerequisites: Umbral Shadow Shaping Technique, Charisma 5, Essence 5
The Umbral forces her shadow onto another. The target and the Umbral must make opposed (Willpower + Essence) rolls, and if the Umbral succeeds then the target is affected by Umbral Shadow Shaping Technique.

Momentary Theft of Shadows
Prerequisites: Wits 3, Essence 2
The Umbral may steal a target's shadow briefly, not severing its occult connection to its owner but merely taking it through brute force for a while. All that is required for this theft is contact, however brief, between both the Shadowkin and target and their shadows. The target no longer has a shadow for the next day, while the Umbral may wear their shadow as he would any other.

Mingling Shadow Power
Prerequisites: Momentary Theft of Shadows, Perception 4, Essence 3
By exchanging shadows with another, the Umbral's power grows. This knack permits the Shadowkin to take a false shadow from another, willing Umbral in a ritual requiring 15 minutes. The Umbral must pay a point of Willpower to use this knack, and rolls (Willpower + Essence). Each success either allows him to take another shadow, or allows him to keep it for double the length of time (base one hour). By spending one experience point per shadow, the Umbral may duplicate shapes into his own collection, avoiding the requirement that the other participant lose access.
Sometimes, the Chosen of Shadows turn on each other. This Knack may also allow an Exalt to choose another Umbral as a target for a sacred hunt, and absorb all their shadows both false and true (although the target's true forms are absorbed as false forms).

Life's Breath
Prerequisites: Intelligence 3, Essence 3
The Umbral's power feeds on shadow, but some learn to tap into what they might have been. This knack permits the Umbral to assume any forms that they could if they were a Lunar. Lunars know a similar knack, Death's Shadow, which allows them to assume forms that an Umbral could.

Lustrous Shadow Reimagination
Prerequisites: Manipulation 6, Essence 6
By focusing her Essence inward, the Umbral inverts herself momentarily, just long enough. She may henceforth learn Lunar knacks as if they were Umbral knacks. In any scene in which she uses a Lunar knack, her Tell manifests as both an Umbral and a Lunar tell, spreading itself thinly enough that the Dodge MDV required to notice it decreases by two. Lunars may learn a similar knack called Deepening Life's Darkness, with the inverse effect, allowing them to learn Umbral knacks. This Knack was developed independantly in the first age by both types of Exalt, but it was never popular, and is virtually unknown in the second.

Fatal Penumbra Form
Prerequisites: Manipulation 3, Essence 2
The Umbral is terrible in the world of light, but his true power lies shrouded in shadow. Using this charm, the Umbral inverts himself, standing on the Shadeplain and casting a shadow into the world of light. The Umbral may still interact with normal reality, but because of his natural affinity with shadow gains certain benefits.

All his physical Attributes increase by one.
So long as the Umbral remains in this form, all his attacks may bypass non-Shadesilver (or Moonsilver) armor.
All non-Shadesilver or Moonsilver equipment that the character possesses is left behind on his shadow, so he cannot use it.
All attacks against him must pass through his shadow, so he may soak Lethal damage with his full Stamina, and Aggravated damage with half his Stamina.
In addition, due to the protean nature of shadow, he may reflexively use Shifting Shadow Alteration (if he knows it) once per action so long as he remains in this form. In addition, if he knows any Gift charms (Umbral or Lunar) he may incorporate them into this form.

Reserved for Knacks and Charms.

2010-12-16, 05:28 AM
Reserved for more Charms.

2010-12-16, 05:29 AM
Reserved for further Charms.

2010-12-16, 05:30 AM
Reserved for yet further Charms.

2010-12-16, 05:33 AM
Reserved for Artifacts, notes, and miscellany.

2010-12-16, 05:34 AM
Reserved just in case.

And on your marks...

Get set...


Lix Lorn
2010-12-16, 03:07 PM
(watches from the shadows)
I had this idea as soon as I heard about Abyssals, but dunno the rules well enough. I was gonna call them Malefics.

Rikandur Azebol
2010-12-16, 03:59 PM
Dark Lunars.

Perhaps they have something similiar to Chimeraism ? They have to steal shapes, themselves shapeless, to stay sane and/or alive. Where Lunars are protectors, they are parasites. Where Lunar is shapeshifting ... Umbral steals shapes, being shapeless. Where Lunar endures stuff, Umbral makes others endure stuff.

First of all I would change basic Lunar Castes in a manner similiar to Abyssal/Solar changes.

2010-12-16, 04:34 PM
First bit of stuff is now up! I need to think a bit more before I work out the shapeshifting, but I know it's different to Lunar shapeshifting, at any rate.

2010-12-16, 11:52 PM
Most of the Umbral Knacks are up now: I need to think about their warform, because it's an unusual mechanism that I plan for it.

Primal Fury
2010-12-17, 02:05 PM
So... Killing a single Primordial inverted all essence across Creation, turning everyone and everything into Creatures of Death? And the Neverborn defeated and imprisoned their living kin?

2010-12-17, 02:59 PM
So... Killing a single Primordial inverted all essence across Creation, turning everyone and everything into Creatures of Death? And the Neverborn defeated and imprisoned their living kin?

Sort of.

In actuality, there's a couple more factors at work here, which makes it significantly more possible, to say nothing of plausible.