THE CHILDREN OF THE ASHEN SUN
Despite its vast feeling of decaying permanence, there are those who wish to extinguish the lights of Umberwell. The Children of the Ashen Sun are a sect of druids who believe that they must usher in the end of days to restart the natural cycle of death and rebirth. The Children of the Ashen Sun cult is led by an air jinnasi named Melora Rime; Rime was formerly a prisoner in a far-off land, and the cruelty she experienced has shaped her dim view of the immoral decadence of civilization.
THE CODICES MALEFICA
The six known copies of the Codex Malefica are sentient grimoires possessing unfathomable aims and goals. Servants of the books sometimes hire picaros to further the tomes’ inscrutable agendas; they pay for any services rendered with desirable secrets or particular lore about the Abyssal Disunion and its demonic masters. The six Codices sometimes work at cross-purposes; although the books were penned by the same hand, each has its own desires and schemes.
There are magical regions scattered throughout Umberwell called interplanar zones—areas of planar breach where the veil between the planes is thin and allows creatures to enter or leave the Material Plane. Umberwell is known to overlap with the Alchemical Plane of Salt, the Dreaming Forest, the Emotional Plane of Sorrow, the Ethersea, the Astral Expanse, the Abyssal Disunion and the Bureaucracy of Hell. At the heart of every interplanar zone is a hungry cipheric hole—a black void of negation that has desires and must be fed if one wishes to slip through the portals and conduits that connect the planes. Each cipheric hole requires a unique kind of satiation before it will open a doorway between planes; one cipheric hole might favor a specific lullaby, while another might crave a rare item or a treasured memory.
LAW, CHAOS, AND BALANCE
Behind the petty squabbles and bloody warfare that occurs between criminal gangs, political parties, aristocratic families, and religious orders are two overarching planar factions: the Machete and the Machine. Agents of the Machete are chaotic; they value liberty above all else and are willing to pay the price of violence and anarchy to protect it. The forces of the Machine are lawful; they foster security and stability at the cost of oppression and obedience. When the battle between law and chaos threatens the balance in Umberwell, the Damozels—pure forces of neutrality sometimes referred to as the Rust Maidens—intervene to protect the city. The Damozels appear in a number of feminine guises; they wield the ultimate power of banishment and are capable of bringing the most powerful creatures to heel within the boundaries of the city—which leads many to believe that they are inextricably linked to the spirit of the metropolis.
I saw one of the city’s Damozels once. Most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, and the most frightening.
– Karsk Vendemen, watchman in the Caul ward
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