The Shadow Realm (RP)
From Path of the Vampire Wiki
The Shadow Realm is the land of shadows. In the past, it acted as a hell for vampires, until Cobb forced the First Sundering. Since then it could be more accurately described as a limbo plane of existence. However, it is only possible to escape the Shadow Realm if you die within the boundaries of Harper Rock.
It is important to understand, first and foremost, that the Shadow Realm is not a physical plane of existence which one sees with their eyes. It is an entirely ethereal limbo dimension. However, those that have experienced the Shadow Realm have described it as a world of black and grey ruination; a mirror of the real world, where all things are dilapidated and lie in absolute ruin.
There is no color in the Shadow Realm; all is darkness and deep grey tones. Where -- in the real world -- stood a garden awash with vibrancy and a milieu of life and color, stands a fleeting, surreal and ethereal representation of that same garden. Dead flowers, with no more color than a black and white photograph. The Realm, it would seem, is partially metaphoric in nature, in that it is a representation of death as much as it is a home of the dead. Buildings are crumbled, hollow husks, and trees are stripped of life as though burned to a black crisp.
All structures and objects shimmer in the Shadow Realm, as if blurred by the wind itself (which doesn't exist in the Shadow Realm). The form of a spirit or a wraith appears as a silhouette -- rippling as if it was but a shadow cast in a pool of darkness. There are no features on faces, nor definition on their bodies, as though the Shadow Realm itself is mocking visitors -- reminding them of their lifeless, bleak existence as part of the realm of darkness.
The lonely, oppressive cage which is the Shadow Realm has been known to send vampires insane if they spend too long there, and it is little wonder. The Shadow Realm is a truly terrifying place.
There are also "Windows" in the Shadow Realm, which occasionally give dead vampires a chance to see pockets of reality, but in most cases, they cannot interact with that reality.
Prior to 2011, it was impossible to return from the Shadow Realm. Although the barrier between realms (Shadow and "Real") has always been thin surrounding Harper Rock, no vampire was ever able to break through that barrier and return to life. However, that all changed when Cobb, the last surviving vampire, "sundered" the barrier between the Shadow Realm and the "Real", effectively ripping a hole in the barrier (presumably, by mistake).
Since the fay of the First Sundering, not only have vampires been able to return to life with a great deal of effort, but also, certain human souls seem able to return to their corpses, regardless of the state of their decomposition. The effect of the Sundering is most powerful surrounding the area of the Quarantine Zone, and this is where the majority of zombies and spirits rise from the figurative grave.
The tear between the Shadow Realm and the "real' world is often called "The Rift".
Humans and the Shadow Realm
Though human souls who are dragged into the Shadow Realm are quite often stuck there forever, vampires can now find their way out, but only if they died in the vicinity of Harper Rock. It is unknown if humans dying outside of the vicinity of Harper Rock are also pulled into a realm of shadows, but the experience of the Elders who spent centuries in the Shadow Realm is that the spirits and wraiths found there in that time were mostly that of vampires (or similar creatures).
It is thought that human spirits are only dragged into the Shadow Realm due to the proximity of the Harper Rock anomaly (wherein the barrier (or "fade") between worlds is weakest), as human spirits were reported to appear in the Shadow Realm just 10 years before the sundering. If this is true, it is unknown where the spirits of mortals were originally destined for.