Malifaux: Through the Breach
The World of Malifaux
Malifaux is an alien world, a parallel world where magic is stronger. This parallel world is only able to be reached through the Breach, a huge rift in space controlled by a world-spanning organization known as the Guild. A single rail line crosses from Earth to Malifaux, passing through the Breach just before entering the great city bearing the same name as the world.
A simple glance at the sky will inform a traveler that they are no longer on the Earth they once knew. The sun of Malifaux is a harsher one, brighter at noon than Earth’s sun but dropping off into darkness at dusk far more quickly. The sky is not the clear blue of Earth either, but a dull and flat greenish-blue that can make newcomers feel ill. The clouds are darker, lower, faster—they almost seem to rush across the sky even when no wind can be felt.
At night, the difference is even more pronounced. Malifaux has two sickly-colored moons, one slightly larger and more distant than the other. Both have a vague orange-yellow cast to them, and their craters uncannily resemble grinning skulls or demonic faces. When they line up in eclipse, they create the unnerving impression of an enormous eye staring down from the sky. The stars of Malifaux are different than those of Earth as well; some astronomers have attempted to give them names and create new constellations from them, but few people care.
Malifaux’s air always tastes vaguely stale, except after it rains—when the air smells vaguely rotten or mildewed. The water is safe to drink if boiled, but otherwise might carry any number of unpleasant diseases or parasites. Few plants other than the ugly and leafless knotwood trees grow in Malifaux’s parched, cracked ground, except in the lowland marshes, where the wetlands are utterly choked with thick undergrowth, weeds, and black-leafed willows.
Rats and roaches came across the Breach with humans, and now they’re ubiquitous in the city. Dogs and cats were brought over intentionally but inevitably escaped captivity, so large populations of both animals live as scavengers and rat-hunters. Few other “normal” animals dwell on Malifaux. Most of the native creatures are monstrous or seemingly mutated versions of Earth animals. Several large breeds of vicious wild boar and alligators live in the marshlands, and vultures are known to populate the badlands.
Malifaux is a poor place to live for humans, and it’s unlikely that anyone would actually want to live here—were it not for the presence of soulstone. Other minerals and metals can be found in abundance in the mines and quarries of Malifaux, but soulstone is the true wealth of the world beyond the Breach.
Soulstone is a gem-like mineral that comes in various sizes, from fingernail sized chips up to fist sized nodes—and even bigger, supposedly. A soulstone kept in the presence of a dying human begins to glow from within, having captured some portion of the person’s life force as they died. That stolen life force can then be used by a practitioner of magic to fuel his spells, or by a builder of wonders to power his devices. The soulstone drains over time, however, and only more death can fuel it.
The Guild has instituted a number of callous policies regarding hospital wards, prisons, and the like which allow them to keep their stockpiles of soulstone regularly charged. The larger the soulstone, the longer its “charge” lasts; especially large soulstones can be quite dangerous for their users, though.
The city of Malifaux lies directly on the other side of the Breach from Earth. The Malifaux River runs through the city, coming from Fortune Falls and the upriver marshes to the west and bottoming out in the swamps of the Bayou to the east. North and south of the city are the expanses of the Badlands, parched desert spotted with mining towns and railway stops.
Very little of Malifaux had been explored during the first opening of the Breach, and that remains true today. Between monsters, Neverborn, gremlins, and the sheer hostility of the environment, few people other than prospectors have any real motivation to go further from the city than they have to. Most of the world remains a great unknown.