Realm of the Dead
It might not be an afterlife, but it at least isn't a void where you cease to be.
The Ethereal Veil is the place where all souls go to when one dies. Existing as a layer above the regular world, it is a place of thoughts and memories wandering about.
The veil isn't directly a dimension of its own, but a layer on top of the material plane. For the naked eye it is invisible, with only a few people capable of seeing it on the material plane. Few people are even aware of its existence around them, unable to see it.
Born from the essence of life itself, memories linger here and make thoughts reality. The collective of souls keep destroyed lands intact and births new places. So even if it share similarities with the normal world, its landscape can be quite different.
Common forms are ghost towns or ghost islands, born from the death of many. These places become the new home for those that perished, until they eventually pass on into the new life.
The Dangers of the Afterlife
Not every soul dies peacefully, which lingers even through the veil after their death. Negative thoughts and emotions lure in more from across the veil, gathering in places of mourning. Once strong enough to tear through the veil, it manifests as a ghost.
While parts of them can move on, these thoughts made manifest remain and haunt the places they died. If not handled quickly, the situation will only worsen and warp the barrier between life and death further. And in some cases, shatter it entirely.
Home of the Gods
The Ethereal Veil is not only the home of spirits, but also home to many gods worshipped by mortals. As a result of their faith, some of the veil's essence gets condensed, molded by the thoughts of hundreds of thousands. From it, a god is born.
Like ghosts, their presence can be felt both in the veil and the material, allowing them to grant boons and blessings. Depending on their level of worship, some can even warp reality to appear as visions or avatars amongst their followers.
However, their powers depends on their place of worship. If outside their area of worship or if their belief is too decentralised, their power might only be limited to their followers.
Psychopomps & Death Gods
While many gods have their own domains in the Veil, the ones who control it are known as Death gods. For them, their power resides here, controlling the souls that move towards their next life.
Many take the forms of psychopomps, whose appearance differs from beliefs and culture. Even depending on how one views death their looks can be either calming or terrifying.
Together with a myriad of other death gods, they help guide lost souls through the veil. Most of the time this works, but sometimes even they need aid from the world of the living.
Tearing the Veil
The Veil is a frail realm, prone to tearing. It doesn't take a lot to make the dead pour into our world, and even less to gaze into it. So imagine how easy it is to rip it apart by one's own hands.
The Veil is not as strong as some might suggest. As people die every day, the barrier between both worlds is very thin, downright fragile. As such, it is prone to tear from time to time.
Commonly this happens when widespread death occurs, such as through plagues, wars or genocides. As souls claw against the borders of both worlds, they leave behind tears that connect both. And with enough of them, rip a hole into it.
Whenever the veil tears it leaks upon the material plane. Both realms collapse into one another, causing a surge of paranormal activity. From possession to ghosts, haunted buildings to an increase of the supernatural. Even entire areas can emerge upon the material, blurring the line between both. With thoughts manifest, everything can happen.
The positive thing is these tears can heal over time, as the Veil fixes itself constantly. As souls move on, the holes mend themselves with their essence. Depending on the damage, said healing can take anywhere from hours to decades. If severe enough, intervention might be needed.
However, if the tear keeps leaking souls, it might never mend at all. In some cases it can keep tearing further, spilling the veil only further into the world of the living.
Home of the gods
Land of the Dead
The Domain of Souls