Introduction to the Gloom
She steps through the portal created by her dagger, its origins still unknown. On the other side, the light seems to be swallowed by the surrounding darkness and it is hard to see very far into the distance. The air is frigid here, and regardless of what she does, she can’t shake the chill at her core. She hears a disembodied echoing in the distance but is unable to see its source. Suddenly, the sound is behind her, and as she turns a shadowy face is before her.
The Gloom is an eerie plane located within the Arch along with the Material Plane and Vibrant. The Gloom mirrors the Material Plane much like the Vibrant does, but the Gloom is much more dark and sinister. The shadows of the Gloom make it hard to navigate or even discern. In many ways, the Gloom is the opposite of the Vibrant: here you’ll find muted colors, much like you were looking through shaded glass. The lack of vibrant color isn’t the only muted point of the Gloom – the plant life is bleak and the water reflects light from a dim grey sun that casts shadows regardless of its position.
The Gloom is as close to a true mirror as you can get to the Material. It’s a constantly expanding and shrinking plane of insubstantial shadow. A mile trek across the wilderness on the Material Plane could be 1,000 miles, or 10, depending on how the Gloom feels. Most of the plane seems to be shrouded in a mist that swells and thins like breathing and shrouds your vision. The sounds of the plane seem to echo and change direction frequently, leaving creatures unable to use sound to locate threats or even call for help. Lights seem to fall off after a much shorter distance than one would expect, with a few exceptions. The sun, Farilis, the stars, and the constellations of the Zodiacs can be seen clearly, except on cloud-covered days. The water on this plane seems to possess a black sheen that drinks in the surrounding light, making it seemingly opaque, but that is not the case once you get close enough. Rain here gives the impression of ink droplets falling from an unseen inkwell. Creatures not native to the plane often complain of a brisk cold that seems to permeate the landscape, but regardless of what they do, they cannot shake the chill.
Wildlife native to the plane seems to be accustomed to the darkness, moving and finding their way through the Gloom with ease. Muted colors, greys, and blacks are common among the local fauna, who also seem to have a penchant for remaining silent. Creatures who create their own light, or boast flamboyant natural color, seem to do so for nefarious purposes. Flora and other plant life seem to be both familiar but incredibly unusual in comparison to the Material Plane. As a mirror plane, locations that possess heavy forests, jungles, or other such extensive plant life seem to be in the same general locations on the Gloom, with the exception that trees overall seem to be significantly larger on the Gloom, giving the appearance of pillars rising into the mist. The local flora seems unfazed by the lack of brilliant sunlight and appears adapted to the conditions of the Gloom. Unlike the Vibrant, physical structures created on the Material show up on the Gloom, but only in dilapidated and ruined forms. As physical as they may be, the structures are composed of shadow, and if harvested they disappear into darkness. All natural resources are native to the plane and exist after being harvested.
Due to a lack of extensive exploration (or lack of desire from many people to explore the Gloom), the amount of intelligent humanoid races that live on the Gloom is unknown. But fret not, we do know the Gloom is home to many creatures of darkness, nightmare, and undeath. Among the terrifying and unsavory beings that inhabit the Gloom, the shadow masters known as the Umbraga rule over this plane, and they impose their will upon the Gloom. The Umbraga are loners that hold sway over the specific areas they choose to call home. They are their own entities much like the Radiant Reagents of the Vibrant, but the similarities end here. Umbraga are all equal in power and they do not possess lieutenants. There is no real structure to how or why they rule other than they do. While shadow is their domain, the Umbraga normally possess the form of humanoids.
There are a few methods to travel to the Gloom, such as rare weapons that can cut to the Gloom or planefalls. The most well-known entry point is the planefall in the Harrows, where the Gloom seeped into the area where Elessar once stood. Normally, only those seeking treasure travel here due to the threats it presents. However, if one did wish to travel to the Gloom, it would take roughly the same amount of effort to travel to the Gloom as the Vibrant, arguably it may be a little easier to find access to the Vibrant.
Research of the Gloom and the magic tied to the Gloom is lacking due to the dark magic it’s generally tied to. In fact, it’s so lacking most average citizens of the world have little knowledge of the Gloom outside of what happened to Elessar and there is so much fear surrounding this that no one cares to know. With the little research or exploration that has been done, researchers have concluded that the primary language of the Gloom is Umbral and primarily beings of undeath and shadow have been found. With this hole in knowledge and the threat of the Gloom unknown, the world could use more brave explorers to travel to the Gloom and help Vathis better understand its mysterious neighbor.