The Battleground is one of the thirteen Near Realms in The Umbra. It is said that as long as there has been conflict of any kind, the Battlegrounds have existed. As such this realm has marked itself prominently in the mythology of every tribe, and it is here, so say the lorekeepers, that the Final Battle against the Wyrm will be fought.
Lay of the LandEdit
The realm itself is the embodiment of war, struggle, and conflict. Here every battle no matter how small, is fought. From savage Neolithic struggles against the cave bears of prehistory, to modern struggles of "ethnic cleansing", gang wars, and wars of the Middle East. In the Battleground, ephemeral spirits continually engage in battles that spiritually reflect past conflicts in the physical world.
This place is either a sane person's nightmare, or a military historian's dream come true. From the Civil War to World War II, from Roman Legions unleashing hell on Teutonic barbarians; to Washington and Cornwallis maneuvering their troops. Even the skies shake with the echoes of the Luftwaffe raining destruction on the spiritual counterpart of London.
Armies meld together as warriors from times past assist or wage war on each other. Korean troops may join sides with Confederate, or even fight against them. Whiles just a few blocks away from this conflict another one is taking place involving an inner-city scuffle. If it involved violence, struggle, and especially death, it's probably reflected somewhere in the realm.
Chaos rules this realm, as a faux-Gettysburgs flow into faux-Austerlitzes and Tet Offensives; but one feature of the place remains constant: the Signpost. Visitors arriving in the Battleground always manifest at this marker. It acts as the intersection of the two roads leading deep into the realm. Different visitors see the Signpost differently. I might be an Egyptian obelisk to the archetypal weathered post adorned with arrows to even a touch activated computer interface. Whatever the guise, it always contains a list of various historical (and forgotten, and minor) conflicts. The specific conflicts change depending on the time of entry. For example, a shapeshifter might enter one time and find "directions" to Waterloo, Thermopylae, and the fall of Saigon; the next time, the directions might point to entirely different battles. Those with a high enough Rage entering the realm, might find past battles that they themselves took a part in.
Any kind of terrain and climate can found here, for nearly all the world knows strife. The ground is littered with structures and debris from every time period imaginable. Wreckage of Sherman tanks and APCs shares the plain with medieval castles and roman-era fortifications. Trenches, rows of barbed wire, and prison camps liter the realm; clouds of smoke and acrid gas slowly drift along the landscape, limiting vision to about 50 yards under most conditions. As long as travelers stay on one of the two tracks, however, they will not be directly molested or hammered-- except perhaps by the legions of the Wyld, Weaver, and Wyrm.
Travelers remaining on the tracks will eventually reach the battles listed on the Signpost. From this vantage point, they can witness the battles playing out before them. So long as they stay on the tracks, they cannot be harmed, though bullets and exploding shrapnel might whiz all around them. The tracks themselves change in accordance with the specific battle; for example, a Vietnam battle might be viewed from a dusty trail through a sweltering bamboo jungle, while a Roman battle might be viewed from a Roman road. For naval battles, the "track" changes appropriately to a dinghy, motorboat or the like. Once one step off the track, it disappears, and characters may freely (or be forced to) participate in whatever conflict is at hand. The track will not return until the conflict ends. Characters remaining on the track may drag their compatriots back to safety, so long as they do not themselves step off of it. Retreat or Evacuation
One may choose to continue along a track, ignoring the events at hand. Should they do this, they will eventually be met with another Signpost. This one listing the option of "Retreat or Evacuation". Those that make it here will find ephemeral soldiers from all times and all places throwing down their weapons and fleeing into a semisolid wall of opaque mist. Those who leave the track and join them in this mist exit the realm, reappearing in the Near Umbra. As with the Signposts, Retreat sites can vary, though often take on the forms of a flare-lit clearing, a helicopter pad, even a buoy during a naval battle. Battles
Heading off the tracks, one is "free" to participate in the battles at hand. Some werewolves, particularly those with short tempers, and Get of Fenris (of course) love to expend their Rage on these Battles. Other Garou consider participation in these conflicts to be good practice and/or exercises in military strategy. Most shapeshifters consider the realm to be a good learning and testing ground for the young (I know of one Get Theurge who almost delights in teaching cubs about the Battleground). The world's greatest warriors and generals can be found here, and anyone can watch -- or participate in -- their successes or failures. Many Garou consider this place to be a training ground for the Apocalypse; a few Theurges observe the fields after the various battles take place, seeking to divine what will become of the world following the great struggle.
Off the tracks, one will encounter wounded and dying soldiers and refugees, as well as all too healthy squadrons of pugilistic combatants. Any struggle can be freely entered, and many visitors actions have changed the outcome of a famous historical battle -- least until the next time that battle is fought. Still, giving one's all to avert a famous massacre even one can result in a beneficial karma for the Garou involved. (Of course some totems may demand that their children join in on the winning side -- woe to the Wendigo pack that sides with Custer at Little Big Horn!)
The Plain of the ApocalypseEdit
No matter where they travel or whom they meet, Garou eventually come to a vast, broken plain of alkali flats and sparse patches of grass. This place, the Theurges say, is the Plain of the Apocalypse. On its expanse, the final battle for survival will be fought. The Get of Fenris have their own name for this place — they call it Vigard Plain, a name humans borrowed for their own tales of the final battle where gods and giants clashed.
In contrast to the rest of the Battleground, the Plain of the Apocalypse is eerily quiet. No shrieks or explosions disturb its stark silence. Rumors speak of an Army of the Apocalypse — an encampment of shapeshifters and spirits who wait in eternal vigilance for the Last Battle — but no recent traveler has seen or spoken with any member of this Army. On the borders of this plain, three mighty forces duel for supremacy.
The Warring HordesEdit
Recently, the Battleground has been invaded by a new conflict, one that dwarfs even the largest military actions of yore. This battle is waged by spirits and seems to represent the primal struggle between the Weaver, Wyld, and Wyrm. This monstrous conflict centers on a field adjoining the Plain of the Apocalypse, but it also spills across the other battles, engulfing them, passing through them, and moving on. The battle even spills onto the tracks; characters on the tracks may be affected by these combatants whether they choose to participate or not. Appropriately, there are three armies in this vast struggle. The first horde, a seething mass of drones and spidery spirits, clearly represents the Weaver. These arachnoid soldiers build bases and bunkers as they go, spinning roads, fortifications, and encampments out of metallic silk. The Weaver's forces act with precision and discipline; indeed, they are models of military tactics, flanking and dividing their forces whenever possible.
The second force, representing the Wyld, is an unruly mob of amorphous, chimerical spirits. This force randomly attacks and retreats, sometimes even turning on itself. Branches of the main body randomly overrun the realm, like the pseudopodia of a vast amoeba. The one constant of these spirits is that they seem to relish the struggle as much as any of the realm's other emanations. This is the smallest army, however, and it must often withdraw a space to lick its wounds while the other two are still entangled in combat.
The third force, a great army of Banes, is the Wyrm's legion in the fight. Scrags and other Bane spirits form the nucleus of this army, which is directed by reflections of the Maeljin Incarna themselves. The Wyrm-legions attack Weaver, Wyld, and ephemeral forces without favor, and they'll not hesitate to engage exposed characters should that be possible amidst the fray.
Some of the Battleground's ephemera have joined one or another of the three forces, fighting alongside the spirit-creatures. A few shapeshifters have joined the Wyld's army, evidently thinking that so doing might aid the struggle of Gaia's children on Earth. By such proximity to the Wyld, however, they have gone quite mad.
Battle Plan: Getting In and Getting OutEdit
Garou can arrive in the Battleground by the conventional means of a moon bridge. In this sense, they are as likely to arrive in the Battleground as in any other Near Realm. Garou who are full of Rage, though, seem to enter the Battleground more readily.
No moon bridges lead from the realm, although the Galliard gift Bridge Walker allows a Garou to create an exit route. There are, however, three primary ways to leave the realm.
The first way is to enter a battle and survive the entire fight. After a battle, the site sometimes fades from the Battleground entirely. All surviving shapeshifters in the area are expelled into the Near Umbra. This effect does not always happen — sometimes, the field of carnage remains in the realm, and travelers might thus endure several battles before they're able to exit. That's all right, though; one way or another, there's always eventually a way out of the Battleground.
The second means of exit, ironically, is to die during a battle. As with the Atrocity Realm, the inhabitants of the Battleground are primarily ephemera and cannot truly slay a character. A "slain" Garou reappears somewhere in the Near Umbra, someplace safe if they are lucky.
The last way to escape the Battleground is to find the Retreat or Evacuation site. This site functions as a moon bridge, allowing retreat into the Umbra.
The Laws of the RealmEdit
- The Battleground represents War incarnate; thus, it is easier to enter into the Frenzy state.
- Shapeshifters who participate in the realm's battles automatically gain Rage per turn for the duration of the combat.
- The battles a Garou faces in the realm often reflect, in spirit, the shapeshifter's battles in the material world.
- Spirit arms and armor may be collected from the various battlefields. However, these are made of ephemera and may be used only in the Umbra. They may be used in other Near Realms or parts of the Umbra, but once a shapeshifter crosses into the material world once more, the artifacts disappear.
- A shapeshifter who enters the Battleground in search of a particular battle or enemy can use their Gnosis to find them.
- Conflicts in the Umbra, even among spirits, are reflected in the Battleground.
- Changes in the outcome of a conflict in the Battleground might change the memories of people who participated in that battle in the material world. However, the result of the battle remains as it "really" was.
- If a shapeshifter participated in a material conflict that is reflected in the Umbra, that conflict does not begin until the shapeshifter arrives on the scene.
- As with the Atrocity Realm, those in the Battleground cannot be truly slain. If they are "killed," they are transported into the Near Umbra, but will lose Gnosis in doing so. In fact, nothing may truly kill a Garou in the Battleground.