Say a mage with Spirit 4 creates a gateway between the Umbra and the Material World.

What happens when a spirit in the Umbra crosses that gateway into the Material World?

A relevant quote about Stepping Sideways from M20's main book, page 475:

To start with, a mage who steps sideways must use a Spirit 3 Effect to step sideways, employ Spirit 4 to open a gateway in the Gauntlet, or travel with someone else who opens that gateway for him. Certain powerful spirits can bring a mortal over to their side as well. Whichever way, the traveler becomes ephemera: the material of the spirit worlds. He might feel like flesh and blood, but he has become like the spirits around him.

In game terms, there’s no change between matter and ephemera. The character still uses all of his Traits the same way on both sides of the Gauntlet. Once he’s in the spirit world, however, that traveler cannot affect the physical world without using Spirit Sphere magick to reach the other side. He may, however, see and address spirits as if they were flesh and bone – something he can’t do when he’s in the material world. Even so, he needs at least two dots in the Spirit Sphere before he can actually touch them, and Life and Matter magick have no effect on spirits at all. (For details, see Part VIII: Umbral Spirit Entities.)

When the traveler crosses back to the mortal world again, the process works in reverse; he becomes material flesh again. On both sides of that crossing, the experience can feel pretty weird – after all, the traveler’s exchanging one kind of form for another.

Emphasis mine. It's clear that material beings get transformed into ephemera when crossing the gateway into the umbra, and they get transformed back into their material form when crossing back from the umbra into the material world.

What isn't clear is if this also works for ephemeral beings, do spirits materialize when crossing the gateway into the material world, as if using the Materialize Spirit Charm, even if they don't posses it?

If they do not materialize, what happens to them?

Wether the spirit is willing to cross the gateway or not is irrelevant, he could be forced to by someone else for example.

If the answer cannot be found in a Mage book, I would be interested in knowing if this is explained or mentioned in any of the other OWoD books.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @NobodytheHobgoblin My perception of the volume of [portals] tags edits was incorrect. I apologize for the now deleted comment. However, if you intend to systematically add the [portals] tag to old questions, please get some community input. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 23, 2023 at 6:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkovisonStrike No harm done. I have no plan to do this on a wider basis. (I think there are not that many portal questions really to make it a worthwhile effort). \$\endgroup\$ Jun 23, 2023 at 6:58

2 Answers 2


Parting the Gauntlet doesn't imbue the Umbrood with any particular ability to exist in the Material. A spirit that lacks Materialize, Possession, Inhabit, or some other means of obtaining a physical form simply would not cross the gate — any more than a person who saw a portal that led into the vacuum of space would cross it willingly. If what you're doing is a Summoning, as per the rules in How Do you Do That? for M20, then crafting the ward, fetish, or receptacle — or making a body — is part of the ritual.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Another way of thinking about it is that the Penumbra is the layer of the "real world" where immaterial spirits exist, rather than a distinct place, so crossing over without a material body to inhabit doesn't make sense. \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Jan 13, 2022 at 2:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Crossing over from the Material into the Umbra does imbue you with the ability to exist in the Umbra (you are turned into ephemera), so isn't it also reasonable to believe that the inverse could also be true? Anyway, according to you the umbrood just can't cross or if he does he would... die? Do you have a source for that? \$\endgroup\$
    – Yopi Lapi
    Jan 13, 2022 at 6:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @YopiLapi it doesn't: you start to fizzle away over time, unless you leave the umbra. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Jan 28, 2022 at 11:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @YopiLapi or you pay the Penumbra with Gnosis (because you are a Werewolf and 50% spirit anyway) \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Jun 23, 2023 at 9:18

It's immaterial unless it has some method of materialising or you give it a body with magick.

I believe that one of the End Times books addresses this in passing, when discussing a scenario where the Gauntlet is entirely dissolved. Simply put, if a spirit crosses over without a body, it'll become an immaterial spirit with no physical body.

It'll have its stats, but it won't be able to actually affect anything physical without using its powers. Mundane people wouldn't be able to see it, you can't hurt it by physically punching or shooting it (barring the use of Magick), et cetera.

The rules for constructing bodies for spirits to inhabit after summoning them is are in M20: How Do You Do That, in the chapter on summoning.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That's very insteresting, any chance you can provide the actual source/quote? \$\endgroup\$
    – Yopi Lapi
    Jun 26, 2023 at 5:27

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