Umbra & Mirn are collectively the 12th Era of the Cosmic Mirror, a fathomless and ancient cosmic artifact that has seen many eras over 4 million years.
What makes Umbra and Mirn unique is simple: in the game system, you will play on both sides of the Cosmic Mirror, utilizing two different characters in two distinct worlds. In one game session, you will go from playing your Mirrar character on Mirn, to playing your Umbran character on Umbra.
The reason for this 2 character connection is a simple one: your characters share a soul, an invisible tether linking them through their two separate worlds. On the shadowy world of Umbra, you will play your Umbran, a six armed creature with an empty face mask of bone, trailing a bit of shadowy ephemera. Umbra is a world of perpetual shadow and twilight. It’s the closer of the two worlds to a traditional, though darker, fantasy setting. In Umbra, your characters will fight monsters from the dark, adventure out in old, decrepit ruins, and seek after arcane secrets. Umbra is a living world full of animistic beliefs, and a fair reverence for spirits, nature, and the gods. The primary elements of Umbra are seen in the five towers, the yellowed tower of Death, the black tower of Knowledge, the blue tower of Dream, the black brick and red mortar tower of Fire, and the symbolic, all-encompassing tower of Shadow. Each of these elements is reflected in the base five races, the Deathless, the Knowledged, the Dream-born, the Forged, and the Shade-born. Each race sees two to three distinct bloodlines in this core book, allowing for 14 unique bloodlines to be chosen, each with 5 unique racial abilities.
On the glass-like world of Mirn, you will play your Mirrar, a six tentacled fungoid snake creature. Mirn is a naturally synthetic world to our understanding. Glass deposits are found in trees, in the ground, in rocks; silver and other metals are natural landscape substances; hills of glass and mirrors common; plants are metallic and glass like as well; and more uniquely still, wells of lightning are common-place throughout the world, spotty caverns in the ground that have at their core an enormous amount of electrical energy. In Mirn, your characters will deal with political intrigue among the seven nations, explore ancient technologies lost in old ruins outside of civilization, and even engage with the reflected creatures of this advanced world. On Mirn, computing technology and electricity are paired side by side with swords and armor, marking this world as distinctly sci-fi fantasy. In Mirn, there were just three core elements, corresponding to three, pre-existing wells. One of Light, one of Time, and one of Quick-Silver. These three wells have been added to by the Mirrar, who through their hubris, crafted four more core elements to their world, making the wells of Might, Determination, Cunning, and Vision. As with Umbra, each well has a corresponding race, the Light-born, the Silver-born, the Time-born, and then the new races, the Mighty, the Determined, the Cunning, and the Visioned. As with the Umbrans, there are 14 unique bloodlines with 5 unique racial abilities, allowing for 2 bloodlines for each race.
How Will I Play 2 Characters?
Now how will you be playing these two characters in two separate worlds? Fair question. Around the Cosmic Mirror orbit three suns.
The orange and black suns orbit around the mirror, while the green sun orbits through the mirror, passing through massive holes in the mirror itself, called Sun Wells. When the green sun rises on Mirn, the world of Mirn bustles into motion. When it sets, and begins to rise in Umbra, Umbra bustles into motion. However, the world that has been left by the sun enters a sort of stasis. Everyone and everything in that world freezes in place, and the consciousnesses of those beings slide down their soul tethers into the middle of the Cosmic Mirror itself, into an area known as the Glowing Sea. The Glowing Sea is a vast interconnected dream space, where those who are in stasis begin to dream. In this way, neither world is ever moving at the same time, and that means your characters will be played opposite of one another.
Now I’ve mentioned a few times this idea of this soul tether, of sharing a soul between two characters. It’s time I explained what that means mechanically in this game. There is a unique aspect to this game called Bleed, which is when your characters psychically Bleed along their souls to their other. When your character is going into the dream state, the stasis of their world, they can send a number of gifts to their other, the character they are tied to in the other world. These gifts can be things like memories, allowing your characters to get to know one another, they can be specialties, which allows your characters to share their unique skills with one another, they can be dream powers, wherein you are sharing the dream logic of the dream you are entering with your other, allowing them to perform dramatic and impossible feats, such as flying, growing another head, convincing people of your lies supernaturally, spitting acid, having glimpses of the future and many other possibilities. There are currently 60 dream powers in this core book. Your gifts can even be things like items, your weapon, your artifact you found, or they can be things like racial abilities, allowing you to share some of your unique racial powers with your other. There are currently 140 unique racial abilities, meaning the combinations that can be attained with these racial ability gifts are many, and allow for many unique options. These are only half of the gifts you can send to your other, with time, you can even share your core attributes, or appear to them in their world, either for short bursts of time, or with the highest power, you can completely manifest in their world for the full day.
Unique Games with 2 Worlds
Because of the two worlds, and two sets of characters, your game will be expansively unique. You can maintain two full, separate storylines, or combine them. You can run a horror game in one world, and high society thriller in the other. Because of how different the worlds are, you can even run the same genre of game in both worlds, and experience a vastly different game, simply due to the differences between the two. The soul tethers allow for many unique options in this game. Your character doesn’t even need to be tied to another intelligent species. Your Umbran could be tied to a plant in Mirn, or your Mirrar could be tied to an animal in Umbra. In this way, you can play just one character, allowing the Story Leaders of the worlds to be different. One player who plays in Umbra might not have a character in Mirn, allowing them to run the game in that world, while a player in Mirn has no character in Umbra, letting them run the game in that world. Story Leading does not have to be on one player if your group doesn’t want it to be. On top of that, this means that especially for gaming groups who only have time to play in one game a week, you get to engage two unique characters, in two unique worlds, in two unique stories. However, the soul tether also offers a very unique form of campaign integration across the worlds. When your character’s other dies, and your soul tether is essentially broken, your soul has a dead weight in that other world that needs to be filled. When the green sun rises on that other side, your now un-bound character appears there, filling the void of soul. This means that unbound characters never enter stasis or dream, but constantly live in whichever world is active. This allows for incredibly unique enemies and storylines that travel back and forth between two very different worlds.
The System, and How It’s Played
The system for Umbra and Mirn right now is the simplest of the systems being built on the Cosmic Mirror. You have six core attributes, Might, Finesse, Intellect, Body, Speech, and Soul. Most of these should be familiar to those who’ve played tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, Shadowrun, or other games, like the White Wolf and Onyx Path games. Soul is the particularly unique one, pertaining to the strength of the soul bond your character has, determining how many gifts they can send, receive, and what types of gifts they have access to send or receive. Rather than skills of any kind, I am using a specialties system. If you want to be good at fighting with a long sword, you take a specialty under Might for Longsword. If you want your character to be good at specifically convincing enemies to join your side, you can take a specialty under Speech in just that. Specialties are endless in possibilities, and are meant to allow you to build your character specifically for what you want them to be capable of, rather than trying to fit your skill and attribute scores to your character concept. Your specialty bonuses can get as big as the related attribute, meaning that a character who isn’t very strong could still be quite effective with their weapon of choice.
The randomizing element is based on dice pools of D6’s, and no other dice are necessary for the game to run.
The game is purchasable now on DriveThruRPG, $10 for the PDF, and $30 for a hardcover copy of the book.