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The Geography of Chaos

In I Have No Idea, the region of Chaos encompasses several major features.  First, there is the Abyss, a seemingly infinite expanse of nothingness, sight of which only the distant shifting sky interrupts.  Into it, Brand fell with Diedre, and even their bodies have not been recovered.

In the Abyss, dividing it into its Near and Far expanses, lie the Courts of Chaos, sometimes called the Hub. Visible from a distance as a shifting mass of uncertain size, the Courts are a place of disparate, shifting cityscapes and parklands.  Within the Courts, streets and ways shift location.  Space weaves in and out of itself, and knotting through nearby shadow. The sky may well be the bottom of the Abyss, or some other Shadow entirely.  Walking from one end of the city to another is nearly impossible.  Most inhabitants do not even try, but use ways (small 'w') located in archways, streets and buildings to travel to and from recognized landmarks.  Imagine yourself in a cramped old world city like Prague or Florence, then fold it over itself like origami, light it with strobes, and throw it in a blender.  Add spatial distortion effects, and you might be able to imagine the madness of the Courts.

The solid land which borders the Abyss and faces the Courts is known as the Rim; the Lords of Chaos consider it prime real estate.  Beyond the immediate Rim lie the shadow lands of the Black Zone, most of which are claimed by the Lords as their demesnes, but some of which lie in the keeping of petty demon Kings.  Lands so close to the Abyss are extremely unstable.  Kingdoms and cities shift their location overnight.  Forests turn to deserts, turn to clouds, turn to forests again.  Fortunately, the will of the Lords is such that they can tie their personal lands together with specialized ways, their possessions trailing through shadow like beads on a necklace, winding around other such necklaces and loose pearls in the over-shaking basket that surrounds the Abyss.  Lords may not be able to control their neighborhood, but they are rarely separated from their holdings.  Petty kings are rarely so fortunate.

The Ways of Chaos

A way, small 'w', is a fusion of two  pieces of shadow, producing a single area of space linked to two distinct locations.  Ways are easy to create on the far side of Yigg, so much so that they act as common doorways, almost replacing travel in real-space altogether.

Ways, with a capitol 'W', are massive networks of ways, small 'w', owned by a Lord of Chaos. Often in form a single massive building, spread diffusely through shadow, Ways allow the Lords of Chaos to survey all their holdings in ease and comfort.  While the Ways of a Lord are not, strictly speaking, synonymous with his or her territory, they are often confused.  To speak of Borelways, for example, refers at once to the Ways themselves and all his holdings.  Most Ways connect to buildings within the Courts, which they use as their main anchor.  While innumerable smaller Ways belong to the petty nobility, the number of great Ways have always been few.  At present, there are at least five great Ways, maybe more: the Royalways,  Daraways, Borelways, Varnways, the Ways of Neergeth, and Suhuyways.  Some might count Sleerways as among the great Ways,  others Berimenways, which although they have been sealed for centuries, if not millennium, are rumored to be extensive.

The Lords of Chaos

Any initiate of the Logrus automatically receives the title of Lord or Lady of Chaos, as does any member of a noble family.  (The two are almost always synonymous.) Each Lord is usually associated with a House, which is called after either its most prominent Lord or (more rarely) a family name or deceased former head.  While many petty Lords exist, only a half dozen or so hold real power.  At present, the 'Amber Question' sets the Great Houses against one another, and they remain close to open warfare.

The Royal House

King Swayville of Chaos (duh!) heads the Royal House.  The Royalways remain the largest of all the Ways, and the armies of Chaos lie at Swayville's command.  his power, however, is on the wane, because of the humiliating treaty he signed with King Random after the war.  He houses Amberite troops in his Ways, and they 'assist' him in enforcing the treaty and putting down revolt.  The Royal house recently abolished the separate office of High Priest of the Serpent, and now claims that for the throne, whose occupant is now both Rex and Pontifex Maximus.  Swayville prefers to appear as a wildly-bearded man with ropey hair and red eyes.  Rumor has it that he has sired a crown prince to help shore his reign.

House Neergeth

The Lord Chamberlain Neergeth heads the more conservative elements of court, maintains the kingdom's finances, and acts as liaison to Amber.  He has always been a thorough-going royalist, and he bears the recent humiliations stoically.  Thus he stands high in the favor of the King and Benedict.  Neergeth changes his shape regularly, so any description would be pointless.  The Ways of Neergeth are the second largest in Chaos.

House Lintra (House Hoellemaedchen)

The Lady Dara heads the House Lintra, also called House Dara, after her or House Hoellemaedchen or Hellmaiden after its many warlike occupants.  The lady Dara prefers to remain remote from the current court, and  opposes the treaty.  She does, however, attend court and occasionally speak with her father.

House Varn

The Margrave Varn was High Priest of the Serpent before that office reverted to the crown. (And, no, he didn't have to give up politics to become priest. Screw the Merlin books.) Margrave Varn no longer frequents Swayville's court, but keeps himself in his rural estates or in his heavily fortified townhouse, and has collected about himself a cadre of "right-wing" Chaosians, including Lords Sleer and Flark.  The Lord Varn prefers the form of a stag-headed man.  He has been known to parlay with Julian and Caine, for what ends, none know, although ostensibly the two have arrived to sample his hunting preserves.

House Borel

Duke Borel is dead, and his Ways and House have reverted to his sister.  She possesses none of his skill at blade, and Borelways shrink by the year. Officially, House Borel cleaves closely to the crown, but many suspect this is only for its own safety.  The Lady Dara has been seen entering Borelways, as has Caine.

House Suhuy

Nobody fucks with Suhuy. Suhuy is apolitical.

Gender and the Lords of Chaos

The inhabitants of Chaos are variform. Being shapeshifters, the Lords of Chaos have no gender as such: they may manifest male or female organs at will. Naturally, this means that any shapeshifter can bear children at any time.  It also means that there are no visual cues to whether a Lord may wish to do so or has done so in the past.  A shapeshifter  need not grow obvious reproductive structures such as widened hips or a full-sized womb until after fertilization and need not manifest breasts (if a mammal) until after giving birth.  (And some choose even stranger forms of replication: like asexual budding or fission.)  Lords of Chaos, therefore, find the Amber ideas of "male" and "female" to be rather unusual.

However, this is not to say that the Lords of Chaos have no social categories relating to sex.  Far from it.

Firstly, Chaosians roughly categorize people into "tops" and "bottoms."  Many shapeshifters often find that they prefer either the active or the passive role in sexual activity.  Chaosian culture attaches a slight social stigma to"bottoms", but not a dehibilitating one. The Chaosians do not use gendered pronouns amongst themselves.   When speaking to Amberites, however, Chaosians sometimes refer to "bottom" Chaosian as a "Lady of Chaos" instead of a "Lord of Chaos" or use feminine pronouns to refer to such an individual.  It is doubtful whether Chaosians fully understand pervasiveness of gender in Amberite society or its function in Oberon's court, and thier use of pronouns is often clumsy.  One Chaosian might speak to an Amberite of "Lady Dara" and another of "Lord Dara", but they both would mean the same person.

Secondly, the Chaosians possess a rather cruel institution which resembles Amberite marriage practices.  Chaosian Houses often set aside one or more children to be "virgin brides" in arranged marriages to other Houses.  These children are not allowed any physical contact with other Chaosians to prevent any transmission of genetic material through the skin and sometimes the "brides" are even cordoned by magical wards to prevent transfer by air. Only in such a way can the Houses be absolutely certain of the integrity of their genetic line (and of the validity of marital alliances).  After the birth of their first child, the "brides" are usually free to do as they wish, although their future fidelity is sometimes vouchsafed with oaths or codes of honor.  Many such "brides" hold lingering resentments towards their parents or Houses.  House Hellmaiden contains many brides or former brides: hence its name.  Around Amberites, Chaosians often refer to such beings with female terminology and pronouns, even if the "bride" is currently male in appearance, which has confused or offended several Amberites, including the Princess Flora.  The Lady Borel is such a "bride," although her recent dalliance with Caine has affected her status.

The lesser inhabitants of Chaos (the "demons" as Amberites sometimes call them) are not all shapeshifters and some of them who are shapeshifters have not the same range of control as the Lords of Chaos.  These lessers may have gender, especially if they immigrated to the Hub from more distant Shadows.  For the most part, they keep to their own kind(s) and have little impact on the culture of the courts.


Many Amberites reside within Chaos, or visit regularly.  Benedict commands the occupation forces.  Caine and Julian spend most of their time in Chaos, visiting one or another Way and generally relishing in the unsettled times.  Fiona has occasionally visited court to seek after ancient magics, Flora to sample the pleasures of Swayville's court, and Corwin, Gerard and Llwella merely to visit.

Last Modified 3-5-99


(c) Tom deMayo 2003.   Please do not reproduce this page without my permission.  Mention of other people's game systems, Trademarks, etc are without permission and purely for comparative purposes. No challenge to their status is intended. 

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