Forth the Nine Riders

Places In Shadow

Table of Contents
 



Shadow

If you can dream it, it's out there for you to find.  Or possibly you actually create it by your will from the unformed stuff of Shadow.  Amberites debate endlessly over how real Shadow is and whether anything in Shadow actually exists before an Amberite encounters it.  Do Shadow Dwellers have rights?  Is there a sharp distinction between Shadows and Reality or is it a sliding scale?  The existence of the Golden Circle further complicates matters, as does the vast variety in size of shadows.

Shadows become bigger and more flexible as you move away from Amber towards Chaos, then become even more flexible but tend to shrink in size again as you move past Yig.  There is a similar hardening of boundaries between Shadows which is greatest in the middle between Amber and Chaos; close to Amber and Chaos even those without the blood of Reality can step between Shadows.

Shadows become more real the more they are exposed to Amberites (and one would suspect, to Chaosians).  A shadow dwelt in by Amberites for prolonged periods of time becomes more complex, more solid, and more lasting.  It can no longer be as easily molded, except by those who remained resident in it.

Shadow dwellers are not necessarily inferior to Amberites in strength or power; Cthulhu, Shiva, Sauron and other frightening beings can be found in Shadow who can even tapdance on the graves of Elder Amberites.

Shadows possess variable laws of physics and magic, and so the degree to which science and magic work or fail to work is very variable.  They also possess varying laws of social organization.  Certain Powers may be barred in various shadows as well.  And just to further confuse matters, Shadows may have some aspects of high tech, some aspects of low, and miss various things inbetween (such as a shadow with Computers and Battering Rams, but no Steam Power...).

Notable Shadows:


Acme Construction:
(From Sources of Power in Shadow)

Transit time from Arden: 3 weeks normal shadow shifting, 3 days by hellride.
Time Differential: One day equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology: Through 21st Century Shadow Earth.
Magic: Up to Difficult.
Social: Shadow Earth, ca. 1950
Spiritual: Nothing particularly notable.

Need to build something? Take a swing by Acme Construction. It has everything you could possibly imagine needing for construction work -- hard-hat trees, lakes of quick-drying cement, I-Beam forests... storage sheds full of common building explosives dot the landscape, and rivet pits are everywhere. Sunsets there can be particularly beautiful, watched through the frame of one of the thousands of skeletal buildings that can be found on the Plain of Warner, and the colonies of sentient power tools can make your job much easier if you can capture and tame a few.

A successful visit to Acme Construction does require a certain amount of planning and foresight, however, as some of the natural features can be dangerous to the uninitiated. A few of the hazards you should be aware of:

Adelphi
(Written by Kuonji Inji, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit Time from Arden: 3 weeks normal shadow shifting, 3 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 2 days in Amber.
Technology: Bronze age
Magic: Present but weak and difficult to use reliably.
Social: Bronze age theocracy
Spiritual:   An oracle.

The famous Oracle of Adelphi, like Ymir's Well, was renowned for being able to answer any question. It had a reputation for being somewhat less cryptic than the well, however, and was regarded with some wonder even by the Sidar who created it. Small wonder, then, that the Panopticon expedition that rediscovered it expected to have made the find of the century.

They were bitterly disappointed. At the center of the bronze age city bearing the same name as the Shadow sits a ziggurat, and atop it lives a woman who spends her days inhaling fumes and doing fairly obscene things with a snake. (It _looks_ like a snake. I believe it to be a synthetic Animal God created by the Sidar. Cryptic mentions of such beings can be found in the Goran Codexs.) She is the Oracle, and will answer questions put to her with utter accuracy.

Unfortunately, something seems to have gone wrong with the system. Professor Watson records the following question/answer exchange:

Watson: Will I be made a full professor for this discovery?
Oracle: Yes, but the marriage will not be what you expected, and you will appeal to the Suron God Maagi for an annulment of the joining rite.
Watson: How long ago were you made?
Oracle: No. The alignment of the planets is not yet favorable.  Wait three years, then kill him and bury him behind the forge with the others, like your mother will suggest.
The Panopticon expedition went home in disgust.

I revisited the site some years later, and did more exhaustive research. Because of this, I was able to uncover something which had eluded the first expedition. The oracle was still answering questions asked with accuracy, but her queue had become temporally unsorted. Thus, the answer you get is likely the answer to a question asked several hundred years ago, or possibly one that will be asked several years later.

With this discovery, I have employed a set of scribes to take down every answer given in the hopes that a matching of questions to answers can later be done.

The city itself is priest-ridden, smelly, and unremarkable. The Oracle herself is fairly uncommunicative when not answering oracular questions, and not at all good company unless you have a particularly degenerate snake fetish.
 
 

The Akashan League

Transit Time from Arden: 2 weeks normal shadow shifting, 2 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 hour in Amber.
Known Barriers:  Their home shadow can only be accessed through the Stargates
Technology:  Advanced Bio-Technology
Magic:      Only Petty and Minor magics.  However, most Akashans possess psychic powers capable of generating effects similar to spells up to the Difficult level.  Some entities possess up to God-like powers, though these tend to be things like brains the size of planets.
Social:      Multi-species, multiple world governments.
Spiritual:   The Akashans wield substantial spiritual powers.

The Akashans are a powerful civilization whose records would seem to indicate they might actually predate the Pattern and the Logrus.  According to their myths, the Sidar themselves guided the development of the early Akashan civilization, guiding them from a primitive state towards space-faring civilization. Then, one day, the Sidar simply stopped visiting.  The stargates used by the Sidar to visit their shadow still existed, but they've never found the Sidar down any of them.

What followed was a period in which they went forth through the gates and tried to guide other civilizations as they had once been guided by the Sidar. This had mixed results, including one shadow which somehow blew itself to bits and now exists only as a space full of primal chaos.  This caused them to withdraw and become more isolationist, although they still watch over the various species of their home shadow.

The Akashans use bio-technology, technology based around specialized, genetically engineered life forms, whenever possible.  Most live for hundreds of years thanks to their advanced medicine and aganathic treatments.  They also have developed psychic powers to a fine art.

The Akashans use the Sidar Stargate network to travel through shadow in techno-organic ships, and use certain advanced technologies to mold shadow on a limited scale to enable those ships to work almost anywhere.  This involves special trees called 'Reality Trees', which carry the laws of the Akashan home shadow with them in a radius.  They're usually immobile, but Akashan ships generally contain a reality tree.  Such trees are grown from seeds from the Primal Tree on Akasha itself, which looks rather like a smaller version of Yig.  The power of Reality Trees seems to fail within the Golden Circle or the Black Circle, which has hampered contact between Akasha and Amber.  They can also use their technology to create short-term Stargates to shadows which don't already possess them, if the target shadow can support their level of technology.

The Akashans are known to have quite friendly relations with Panopticon University.
 

Baywatch:  The Beach, Mark 2

Transit Time from Arden: 1 week normal shadow shifting, 1 day by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 hour in Amber.
Technology:  Modern Earth
Magic:      Up to Very Hard Magics
Social:      The entire world is one big city/beach with many ethnicities, but only one nation.  Governed by a mayor.
Spiritual:   Many religions exist, but have no obvious miraculous powers.

The beach is a shadow which is simply nothing but a sandy beach with a narrow strip of dry land behind it on one side and a large stretch of ocean going the other way.  Some regions of The Beach are built up with civilization and comforts, while others are isolated and peaceful.  Virtually every Elder maintains a residence there somewhere for vacations. Parts of the ocean are wide enough to contain islands to explore or island resorts to relax in.  A strip mall stands in one stretch of the Beach, which contains portals to Friday's and Cafam.

Certain aspects of the Shadow's reality are best not questioned, such as where all the industrial goods, clothing, food, etc, actually comes from or how the economy can function.  It's just there for having fun.

The original Beach was transformed into ShAmber.  The new Beach is a very similar shadow, although it does require one to be willing to put up with periodic encounters with a shadow of David Hasselhoff.
 

Bedrock:
(Written by Beowulf Kohl, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit time from Arden: 1 week normal shadow shifting, 1 days by hellride.
Time Differential:  1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology: Stone age, with a few interesting twists...
Magic:      Up through difficult magics, though the natives don't seem to be aware of them.
Social:     Amazingly like 20th century Shadow Earth, making allowances for the stone age environment. See below.
Spiritual:  Many religions exist, but have no obvious miraculous powers.

Pinata (q.v.) is one example of how a society can overcome limited technology; Bedrock is a completely different variation on the theme. The inhabitants of this shadow have substituted animal power for technology, creating a society that faithfully reproduces the United States of Shadow Earth, circa 1950 -- construction workers that use large dinosaurs in place of cranes, elephants to drive bulldozers, muscle-powered cars, and the like. People go to work in offices, punch in using a  water-powered time clock, and in general live a life straight out of a period TV show.  House in the suburbs, neighbors to go out drinking with, trained birds to substitute for telephones, alarm clocks, steam whistles... All in all, the natives have shown a remarkable ingenuity -- one saner, if not quite as creative, as the folks in Pinata -- in creating an 'advanced' society.
 

Beleriand:

Transit Time from Arden: Two weeks normal shadow shifting, 2 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 4 months here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  Late Medieval
Magic:     Mortals can wield up to Very Hard Magics, the Valar and Maiar and their descendents can work God-like magics
Social:      Monarchical; Valinor is ruled by a council of the Valar.
Spiritual:   The gods walk the Earth.  .

This is a fantasy world of Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Dragons, and the Valar.  The Elves of Arden originated from here, fleeing to escape their enemy Morgoth, a renegade Valar (roughly equivalent to a 'god').  Morgoth ruled much of the shadow from an iron fortress known as Angband, beneath Thangodrim.  Gil-Galad was held captive here for centuries, and by means still unclear, Gendo's sword Justice ended up here as well.  Shaft, Makoto, and Yumi overthrew Morgoth, and now it enjoys a new Springtime of Arda.
 

Cafam:

Transit Time from Arden: 2 weeks normal shadow shifting, 2 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber...usually
Technology:  Modern Earth mostly, but higher tech is for sale and in use in some regions of the store.
Magic:      Up to Hard Magics.  At times, items may be for sale with greater powers.
Social:      The entire world is one big department store, run by the never-seen Manager.
Spiritual:   Many strange entities exist in Cafam, and items exist infused with spiritual power.
 

"Blue Light Special on Pattern Blades in Aisle 56783847384738743-B!"

Shadowwalking to Cafam seems to always end up with you in a stripmall in front of the main doors.  Friday's can be entered at the other end of the mall.  One such mall stands in 'The Beach', allowing easy shopping access.

Cafam is the ultimate store.  Imagine if the entire planet Earth was hollowed out and turned into a shopping mall.  From the outside, Cafam is about the size of a typical department store.  On the inside, it contains at least as much space as the entire land and sea surface of the Earth, possibly more.  Fortunately, Cafam also has high tech public transportation to facilitate shopping.  Those seeking a little more adventure can rent a mule train and pass any of the several wilderness zones which exist inside the store for no discernable reason whatsoever except to make one's trip more interesting.

If you can imagine it, Cafam likely has it for sale...if you can find it.  Fairly mundane simple things can be found near the checkout counters within a few minutes walk.  But the really cool things like giant mechs, trumps of supposedly dead relatives now trying to destroy the Pattern, designer Spikards, and other such toys have to be quested after in the depths of the store.  Indeed, Cafam seems in some ways to be a miniature of the universe, with Amber as the Checkout Counters and Chaos as the far distant storage rooms; Pattern is nearly impossible to use near the checkout counters,until one steps out the front doors.  Using Logrus is a bad idea in Cafam...some force seems to ensure you always grab the wrong thing.  Making a Trump of your favorite aisle works for a while, until the next time the store is reorganized.  (Trumps of the Checkout Counters remain good forever, however).  Magic is unreliable, working only in some regions of Cafam.

In general, if Cafam has something in stock, you can find it in 1 hour per 1 point property, 6 hours per 2 point property, and 1 day per four point property.  Items with 8 point or even 16 point properties are ocassionally for sale, but this is fairly rare and usually prompts a rush and a riot.

Cafam only accepts Real precious metals (in coin, lump, or jewelry form), drafts on Amberite banks and moneylenders, or jewels as payment from Amberites, although the many shadow customers seem to be allowed to use their own universe's currencies.  It remains unclear how these customers get to Cafam.  Normally, when you exit, the doors put you back in the shadow you came from, but if you follow shadow dwellers out, you may end up almost anywhere.

Calendar World:
(Written by Beowulf Kohl, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit Time from Arden: 1 week normal shadow shifting, 1 day by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  Reliable Nineteenth century technology, with some more advanced artifacts.
Magic:     No sorcery.  Conjured items which duplicate technology will function, others will become inert.  Power Words work.
Social:      Old West
Spiritual:   Many religions exist, but have no obvious miraculous powers.
 

Sand. Hot, sandy, and dry. Did I mention the sand?

Calendar World isn't one of the oddest places I've visited -- in Shadow, it isn't even in the top 100 -- but it has an atmosphere all its own, shared only with a hundred Westerns of Shadow Earth.

Ah... perhaps that wasn't the best way to put it, but it's probably truer than any other description I could come up with. Calendar World is a desert planet, dotted with small towns and cities that often struggle for survival against the encroaching dunes. (There are only twelve major cities on the planet, each named after one of the months of the calendar; hence its common name among Amberites.) This shadow apparently operates at a technology level consistent with the Industrial Revolution, but only just, with no weapons more advanced than the common gunpowder firearm (admittedly very well-developed in this shadow). Buildings are largely made of wood, with some leavening of adobe and stone; streets are unpaved. Set yourself down in the middle of a Calendar World town, and you'd swear you'd wandered into the Old West of Shadow Earth. Until you look at some of the more anachronistic details, of course...

For Calendar World hides a much higher level of technology than the facade might lead you to believe. Motorized vehicles do exist, though they are few and far between. There is a surprising amount of cyborg technology, though on a relatively primitive level. Most of all, there are the Plants. These gigantic structures, which resemble nothing so much as an enlarged piece of laboratory glassware, use very advanced technology to convert sand into water and arable soil. The Plants are very old, and considerably in advance of Calendar World technology in general -- leading one to suspect possible colonization by a more advanced civilization, and a catastrophe that cut off contact with the industrial base of that civilization. (Another possibility, of course, is an advanced civilization originating on this planet which was destroyed by catastrophe. I lean against this theory myself.) Rumors of this possibility are what led me to visit Calendar World.

Unfortunately (both for myself and the unhappy inhabitants of this shadow), most knowledge of this technology -- particularly the most advanced examples, such as the Plants -- has been lost, presumably in our posited catastrophe. This includes any knowledge of the colonizing civilization. My visit there hence proved fruitless.

However, Calendar World is not necessarily a fruitless destination for Amberites; indeed, a certain amount of covert trade exists between the worlds. Presumably, this is facilitated by a Unicorn track leading here from Begma. Potential visitors should strongly consider a short course in using gunpowder firearms before you arrive, as they unfortunately appear to be a rather active part of this society.

Cape Westb'ryport Crater

Transit time from Arden: 2.5 week normal shadow shifting, 2.5 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber
Technology:  Early 20th Century
Magic:      No magic whatosever
Social:      Tribal
Spiritual:   Many tribal religions exist; their shamans possessing strange spiritual powers.

Once this was a thriving city on an early 20th century model.  Now it, and much of the surrounding countryside, are a giant crater two hundred miles across, flooded by the ocean.  Jungle surrounds the crater on all sides, pocked only by a few volcanos and lagoons. There are said to be ancient temples here, possibly from the Pre-Logrus Civilization, possibly from early Shadow migrations around Amber. Adventurers occasionaly mount an expedition to loot one.  Sometimes they even come back. But not very often.
 

Castrovalva:
(Written by Beowulf Kohl, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit time from Arden: 1 week normal shadow shifting, 1 day by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals... well, I'm not entirely sure, actually. It almost seemed like time was speeding up and slowing down in the period I spent there. Most odd.
Technology:  Eighteenth Century
Magic:      Up to Challenging Magics
Social:      Eighteenth Century style monarchies.
Spiritual:   Many religions exist, but have no obvious miraculous powers.
 

Castrovalva... a place of perfect peace and tranquility. The atmosphere has a profoundly calming effect, making it an ideal place to recuperate and heal, particularly from overall shocks to the system. So the references say.

I decided to visit Castrovalva for myself after a rather... unfortunate... encounter I had with a group of odd beings out of time and space, on the fringes of Yig, left me with a yen for rest and recuperation. I found it much as advertised -- a very soothing place, simple and unadorned, and quiet. I could almost feel myself healing as I lay back and relaxed, sitting and letting my mind clear. For a while, at least...

For Castrovalva posed a most intriguing puzzle, when I had recovered enough to think of it. It seemed uncommonly easy to become lost there, for one thing. The inhabitants seemed peculiarly inept at giving directions, as a simple request for the route to the library would inevitably end with four different villagers pointing in four different directions. It seemed that this odd confusion is a part of the environment, as I found my own sense of direction becoming confused the longer I stayed there. Heading down a street heading east, I would somehow find myself at a communal dining area to the west. I would set out for the Library, go up a staircase and through a narrow winding path around the courtyard, and end up outside my room again without descending. Curious.

Ah, the Library. A magnificent edifice, indeed -- elegant Gothic rooms filled with ancient books, all 600 years old at the very least, chronicling the rise of Castrovalva to the present day. I enjoyed the time I spent perusing their contents, and hope to spend more time researching the city's history the next time I visit.

I would have loved to spend more time there, exploring the intriguing mysteries of the place. Unfortunately, I had rather pressing business elsewhere, and thus had to trump out before I could come to the heart of the matter. I fully intend to return someday and solve the riddles of Castrovalva.

Cathuria:

Transit Time from Arden: Unknown
Time Differential: Strangely Variable
Technology:  Indistinguishable from magic
Magic:      Huge Honking Wadges of it
Social:      City state ruled by a philosopher-king
Spiritual:   The gods come and hang out with you
 

Many have sought Cathuria and few found it.  Or more precisely, few have found it and returned to tell of it.  If Amber is the Eternal City, Cathuria is the Perfect City, a land of bliss and light and peace where all may come and find new hope and joy.  The gates are open to all travellers...but few can find them.  Neither its location in shadow nor the best route by which it can be approached is known for sure, and most only glimpse it from afar, yet find it gone when they reach the place where it shimmered on the horizon.

The most famous sighting of Cathuria was that of King Tylor, who in his youth, sailed into a shadow where the ocean raced over a great precipice into infinite mists below.  He had followed a ship with white sails which lead him there, upon which was blazoned a red phoenix.  But when they reached the cliff, it took wing and flew upwards towards Cathuria in the clouds, while his ship plummeted down into the mists.  The Pattern failed him, and he was forced to trump out.

Yet others have found Cathuria in a great cavern beneath the Earth, on a floating island, in the heart of a great jungle, and many other places.  Some speculate that perhaps like Amber, Cathuria is reflected, a place of great reality.

A handful of travellers have claimed to have visted Cathuria and stayed for centuries while minutes passed at home, before their duties drew them back.  Others spent mere moments, and centuries passed in Amber.  The truth of the matter is not yet known.

Some travellers have encountered a ghost fleet that flies the Phoenix flag, which is said to serve Cathuria and battle various strange horrors.  A century ago, led by Princess Juri, this fleet came to the aid of Amber on the Day of the Dead.  Juri has since returned to Amber, and Cathuria has withdrawn into hiding again.
 
 

Cinema 2 Billion
(Written by Mitsune Butler for a geography assignment at Ohtori, c. 1330 AY)

Transit Time from Arden: 1 week normal shadow shifting, 1 day by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 hour in Amber.
Technology:  Modern Earth
Magic:     The Magic of the Movies (ie, no magic, but lots of special effects)
Social:      Please be quiet so others can hear the movie
Spiritual:   Many religious films are always playing here

Even though magic doesn't work here, this is still a great shadow.  Every movie you could ever want to see, and plenty you wouldn't, are always playing here.  The place is a movie theatre the size of a small planet, endless levels of red carpeted hallways with doors into theatres every sixty to a hundred feet.  Concession stands selling movie theatre food can be found every few hundred feet, staffed by friendly people.

The theatre is laid out by genre; to find the movie you want, just head for the right level for that genre, then search alphabetically.  As more movies come into existence, the theatre grows.

Each viewing room is tailored to maximize your viewing experience.  Some rooms are very small, perhaps holding only a dozen people, while others are huge arenas with enhanced sound systems, smell-o-vision, etc.

The front doors of the theatre open onto the Beach, Mark 2.

Order is maintained by the Ushers.  They appear to be ordinary humans in red uniforms.  Those breaking the rules will be ejected by them into shadow.  One warning, any effort to mind control the ushers results in one finding oneself dumped somewhere hideously unpleasant in shadow.  But in general, if you abide by normal theatre rules, they won't kick you out.

Circas
(Written by Kuonji Inji, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit Time from Arden: 5 weeks normal shadow shifting, 5 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 2 days in Amber.
Technology: Elizabethan Technology
Magic: Present in normal quantities
Social: Monarchy with Parliamentary noble representation
Spiritual:   Strong and mysterious belief system

This place was quite a revelation to me. A fairly large nation, Circas possesses Shadow-walking abilities of the sort one would only expect Amber and Chaos to have. They make use of many Sidar techniques and devices, and have conquered or made vassal states of numerous surrounding Shadows.

Experiments on and subsequent dissection of a captured noble has revealed that the noble caste is, in fact, part Sidar. These halfbreeds retain some of the Sidar's abilities, although which manifest themselves vary from individual to individual.

They worship a god of some sort who, like many Shadow deities, will smite those who his priests indicate. What is disturbing is that said smiting does not appeared to be limited to the Shadow. Perhaps some refugee from the War of the Gods has fled here.

With their bloodlines, size, and abilities, Circas would probably pose a threat to Amber or Chaos if they had a better grasp of Shadow. Fortunately, they seem hopelessly bewildered by technology higher than their own, and are thus limited to the Shadows their wooden galleons can traverse. Still, I recommend that both powers keep tabs on this place.
 

The City of Brass

Transit Time from Arden: 4 weeks normal shadow shifting, 4 days by hellride.  The City of Brass is a week past Yig.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  High Medieval
Magic:      Up to Very Hard Magics
Social:      Monarchy
Spiritual:   Many religions exist, priests wield some spiritual power
 

Emerging from the whirlwinds of Chaos, the City of Brass is home to the efreet, wish-granting beings who have fire at their command.  The City itself floats on islands of basalt with rivers of lava that separate the main islands.  Barges traverse these lava-rivers connecting the main island Impara to the satellite islands.  The only road into the City is the Fire Highway that the Efreeti traders use to ply trade with Umayadd, Abbasid, Fatmid, Zoroastria, the Emirate of Ylarum, Nithia, and Dysthenia.  It is very much a trader's paradise, that is, if you can withstand the constant 350 degree temperature.  It is because of this reason that not many humans trade with the efreet who live here and the efreet generally look down on humans anyway as being easily cooked appetizers.

The City of Brass is ruled by the Caliph Fahram ibn-Alshuana, who was once imprisoned by King Gendou of Amber.  It is said that after he escaped, he fled to Yig, dripping blood-fire along the way, giving rise to the magical flame-flowers that impart wisdom that are found only around the City of Brass.  There, he traversed the underground rivers back to the City and imparted  a decree: Anyone who is revealed to have Amber blood in them  must be killed on sight, no questions asked.  A siege was attempted, but Drake, the Marshal of Amber at that time managed to turn them back at Yig.

Ibn-Alshuana rules alongside Queen Timpara in an autocratic monarchy.  The Grand Vizier, Al-Ghazali, the most powerful
mage of his generation, has custody of the legendary Heart of Flame.  The City of Brass has a population of about 5,000 efreet and 3,000 slaves.  The four seasons are Very Hot, Hot, Warm, and Hot.

There is a caste-like society in place in the City of Brass, and the castes are as follows: the nobility, the merchants, the traders, the soldiers and the slaves.  Nobility are granted plots of land for dubramin farming with each noble being granted a set amount of soldiers according to his yearly production value.  The merchants have formed their own separate guilds which are headed by a master of each guild.  Under guidance from the Caliph, they set prices and guard against monopoly in any one guild.  The traders are mostly autonomous, with a Ducat Trader named to run interference with the Caliph.  Slaves are captured along the Fire Highway and wherever the pirate-traders roam.  They range from humans, to humanoids, to mobile protoplasm, to other efreet.

In recent years, a strange cult has risen to prominence, promoted by the leaders of the nation, the cult of the Cow Goddess, Hathor.  In most shadows, Hathor is a gentle goddess, but here, she seems to be some sort of goddess of revenge, urging the Efreet to avenge themselves for all the Efreet enslaved by human sorcerors.  It is generally agreed this will likely lead to trouble.
 

The Heart of Flame's Significance for the City of Brass

About six centuries ago, a small human army rode in from the Fire Highway, the leader holding aloft a ruby the size of his fist.  It pulsed with a magical fire and as the army rode through the streets, tendrils of fire arced out of the ruby to strike every efreet they passed.  They started to shrink, and as they shrunk, the other riders on horseback opened bottles to trap the efreet.  The markings on their uniforms showed them to be from a far off shadow named Darinstar.

Abduna Lamdimar, the Caliph at the time, was on a state trip  through the Trade Lands, so over two thirds of the populace were imprisoned before he returned.  Using the Fire Amulet, Lamdimar was able to defeat the leader of the army, Bargle, and capture the ruby, which he named the Heart of Flame.  He then traveled to Darinstar, laying waste to the city using the Heart, capturing and killing the members of the Senate and forcing the Empress to return as his concubine.

Since the day of that great victory, posession of the Heart has been passed down from Vizier to Vizier, hidden deep inside the castle in the middle of the City.  Every year on the anniversary of that battle, the Conquest Festival is held, starting with a parade through the streets, a lively booze up the following day, and  a competion in the Fourteen Strengths for prizes.  There is also a slave auction, held at the end of the second day, with  the proceeds going to charity.

The theft of the Heart of Flame during the AY 1292 Conquest festival (AY 1292) provoked the Efreet to great, but impotent anger.  Still, it is thought they will one day seek revenge.  While Hiko has died, Juri has not...
 
 

Dair Andruin

(Written by Kuonji Inji, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit Time from Arden: 5 weeks normal shadow shifting, 5 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 2 days in Amber.
Technology: Medieval
Magic: Very, very strong
Social: Dark age society at its finest
Spiritual:   A crude spiritual system is in place, but it is either myth or incapable of producing visible 'miracles'.

One of the awe-inspiring feats of the Sidar. This Shadow seems much like a typical low-tech fiefdom, with squalid little villages, squat stone castles, and the occasional two-bit sorcerer. All of the natives are terrified of the local 'Taboo Mountain,' and you shall find out why when you climb it and see what is at the summit.

What, you may ask? A huge shaft, widening into a cone as it goes down, falling perhaps two hundred miles down a brick lined well. What makes this feat impressive is that _no_Shadow_molding_ was used to make it. Every brick is Real, and every brick was set in place by hand, using the low technology axiom of the Shadow. It must have taken centuries to build.

At the bottom of the shaft is a complex seal built around what is unmistakably an Elder Sign, and one of the most potent examples of the art I've ever seen. When I first discovered the place I was certain I'd stumbled upon an imprisoned Outsider, but exhaustive tests using my methods have shown a distinct lack of Great Old One. Possibly it was intended as a trap but never used -- or maybe it imprisons some other sort of being from the War of the Gods. Whichever is the case, I judged it prudent to avoid tampering. You should too, if you can suppress your natural lemminglike tendencies.
 

Dark Reign

(Written by Kuonji Inji, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit Time from Arden: 5 weeks normal shadow shifting, 5 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology: High technology
Magic: Sidar Variation B3 Technomagic (Nonorganic)
Social: Mechanical
Spiritual:   Nonexistent

 I've named this Shadow after the code name of the only feature of interest in it. The massive Dark Reign gun platform floats in the void of space, massive in size. An energy weapon of vast power, it appears to function using a form of power sorcery I've occasionally run across in Sidar technologies -- one which rather irritatingly has thus far defied replication.

The destructive ability of the gun is impressive, but not terribly unique in Shadow. What _is_ unique is that the gun is able to sense and target ships or people in nearby Shadows. I have calculated that the weapon can track and fire upon targets two days' normal Patternwalk away.

The thing that frankly baffles me is the presence of an apparent 'warning system'. People targeted by the Dark Reign hear a tiny voice saying, "The Sidar cannon is targeting you! Get out of its range!" I am uncertain what causes this, or what function it served.  I have tried and failed to move the gun platform from its home. The Shadow appears to be an integral part of the weapon.

A word to the wise -- the last time I visited, someone attempted to fire at me with the gun. It seems impossible to dodge, even for someone with my reflexes, and I only escaped death via a well-timed teleport spell. Approach with caution.
 

Detention
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 minute in Amber.
Technology:  Stiff metal chairs and apparently unbreakable walls
Magic:      Dream on, honkey.
Social:      It's just you.  No one else here to be social with, even when you all get sent to detention at the same time
Spiritual:   Prayers aren't getting you out any faster.
 

Sooner or later, you've all been sent here for annoying Miki.  You end up stuck in a chair, in a corner, with no way out and nothing to do but stew in your own juices.  The only way to get out is via Trump, usually him Trumping you out of there; Trumps carried with you seem to mysteriously vanish from your pockets most of the time.  Trump Artists can be a pain sometimes.
 

DOOM

Transit Time from Arden: 4 weeks normal shadow shifting, 4 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 hour in Amber.
Technology:  REALLY BIG GUNS!!!!!
Magic:     This isn't Hexen.  Sorry.
Social:      Hobbes' State of Nature
Spiritual:   Everyone is too busy dying or rampaging to pray
 

Think live-action Doom.  Drake found this shadow, and goes there to hone his combat skills.  It's an endless maze of tunnels and mutants.  Kill all you want, they'll make more.  An example of the sort of treatment of shadowdwellers which bothers some Amberites and amuses others.  DOOM is beyond Yig.

Dworkinland

o/~ It's a small shadow world after all o/~

The management is not responsible for ravening madness or exploding in a shower of blue sparks
--Disclaimer on all tickets

Transit Time from Arden: 1 week normal shadow shifting, 1 day by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  Amusement Park Technology
Magic:     The Original Magic Kingdom, baby!
Social:      Corporate
Spiritual:   All faiths accepted as long as they're willing to pay the entrance fee

All amusement parks are but a feeble shadow of Dworkinland.  Imagine an amusement park the size of Chicago, with its own docks and a handy mountain range nearby.  The physical environment around Dworkinland is the same as that of Amber itself, except with an amusement park instead of a city.  The staff lives up the side of Mount Rivlok, in Castkle Dworkin, then comes down to man the park during operating hours.  Mount Rivlok also contains a hollowed out set of tunnels used by the 'Pattern Mountain' rollercoaster ride.  Castle Dworkin contains a Broken Metal Pattern; everyone on the staff has walked it.  Visitors are kept away from it (since it kills 9 out of every 10 people who try.  They tend not to mention that to potential new employees, though...)

Dworkinland is divided into about a hundred or so constantly changing 'shadows', each modelled on some particular shadow with appropriate rides and games.  Some of these have been around a very long time, while others are torn down and replaced if they don't turn a profit.

Some notable regions and attractions:

Abyss World:

A recent addition, this sector is dedicated to all things Abyssal, including the Feral Brand Funhouse, the Evil Black Tar Smoke Shop and Tea House, the Abyss Bungee Jumping Pit, and the very popular Abyss Pirates of the Caribbean boat ride.  Every night, the death of Brand and the Duel Called Revolution are reenacted here on opposite sides of the Abyss Bungee Jumping Pit.  Every so often, something goes wrong and Caine accidentally shoots Venir, or the Feral Brands get loose and try to save Brand, so it's always an exciting show.

The Acid Trip Shadowwalk Ride

This exciting ride simulates shadowalking on drugs.  Advanced sorcery literally remolds this entire area to fit your strange hallucinations and inner wackiness.  This can be good for some, and BAD for others.  The Lewis Carrol Bar is a popular attraction here.

Amber World:

Centered around the huge 52 story rollercoaster, THE PATTERN, Amber World sits just inside the north gate of Dworkinworld.  The Kolvir Mountain monorail has a station here for easy access to Laputaworld and Castle Dworkin.  IT is laid out to resemble a typical ward of Amber City.  It includes Damask's Burning Embassy.  During the day, it is a place to purchase finely made foods and clones.  At night, they burn it and the resulting explosions serve the role of fireworks.  Gabrielle's Grill is located next door.  Rumors they use the embassy to cook food are sharply denied.

Boredom City:

This is not the official name, but it's where all the rides which can't be shut down for political reasons get shoved.  This includes Walker's Texas Ranger Ride, Julian's Forest of Mystery, and Dara's Little Shop of Pants.

Queen Cait's Funland For Grownups (You Must Be Over 18 To Enter).

'Queen Cait's Funland is not reccomended for the elderly, pregnant, faithfully married, those with heart trouble, back problems, or Dante.'--warning sign on the gates

This area is restricted to adults only.  It is a red lantern district where you can buy tantric trumps (or have them drawn on the spot), get exotic tattoos, gamble, pick up ladies of the evening, and generally do many other things you don't want the kids around for.  Notable establishments include:  Queen Cait's House of Family Intimacy, Flesh-Eating Beatlemania (live, every night), Angus' House of Naughty Logrus Blades, Devan and Cupio's House O' Whores, Bumpy's Casino, Morgenstern's Disco and Love Shack, Jacqui's House of Extreme Pleasure and Many Willing Bitches, and Deirdre's Bed of Bliss.
 

Courts of Chaos:

Located adjacent to Abyss World at the far southern end of the park, this region centers around the famous non-Euclidean rollercoaster, THE LOGRUS, the only rollercoaster known to necessitate shapeshifting to survive riding it.  It also includes the famous 'Hall of Nobles', where you can meet animatronic versions of the Kings and major Nobles of Chaos.  The Dancing Swayvill Cabaret stands next door.  Those who are hungry can enjoy the fine dining at the Black House Restaurant.  Near the east side is Mr. Merlin's Wild Ride.  Those seeking information might well check out Professor Gopher-Beetle's Hall of Knowledge.

Dworkinland Docks:

Dworkinland has its own port, in which supplies are shipped into the park, tourists can arrive by sea, and you can catch a ferry to Rebmaworld, Dworkinland's Underwater Fun Park.  Once recent addition to the docks area is a popular ride, '20,000 Leagues Inside the Squid', which lets you ride around on a cross-shadow rampage by Lucky the Animatronic Logrus Squid.  Lucky surfaces to let off and take on passengers at 9 am, Noon, 3 pm and 6 pm (at 9 pm, he returns the last group of passengers, but doesn't take on more)

Glantri City:

Glantri City is the center for magic shows, magical rides, many stores full of occult trinkets, and several magically centered amusements.  These include 'Fireball Frolic in the Forest', 'Horatio's Laboratory', and 'Spikard City', a shop full of tacky, knock off 'spikards' produced in Chaos sweatshops.

Gummi World:

Home to the loveable Shinsengummi bears, this place is a big hit with the kids, at least until they break one of the rules and Saitoh Gummi gatotsus them.  The entire area is edible, but eating the buildings is strictly forbidden.  Aku.  Zoku.  Bounce.

Happy Fun Land:

Everything is happy fun, fun here, in this region full of rides and games.  Mr. Toad's Hellride is here, along with the BumperJuriCars (each of which has a plushie of Darako and Venir tied to the rear bumper for some reason).  Games include:  Gerard's Hackeysack Challenge, Ivan's Whack-A-Squid Game, Pin the Arm on the Finndo, Survive Multiple Corrine Hugs, Julian-Construct's Pie-Throwing Game, Trump the Wumpus, Nail Juri to a Tree, Virtual Whack-an-Outsider, and  Ghostwheel of Fortune.

Keep of the Five Tourists:

This area is a life-sized duplicate of the Keep of the Five Worlds, right down to the Font of Power Flume Ride.  Okay, maybe that part is different...  Those wishing to save time can dip themselves in the font and gain the power to teleport around, along with some endearing psychotic tendencies.  The charge wears off if you leave the park.  If you're thirsty, you might want to stop by Evil Blind Joe's Jazz Bar.

Lord Damask's Blood Creature Petting Zoo

This is a wonderful petting zoo full of exotic creatures from Chaos.  Most of them are blood creatures created by Lord Damask, although some are quite real.  It is fairly close to the Courts of Chaos.  Please do not feed the blood creatures.  You also might want to visit Ivan's Amazing World of Talking Animals, a recent addition.

The Magic Forest of the Funk Elves

This is a magical forest full of cuddly animals and cute funk elves.  The power of P-Funk permeates all.  Puppet shows every hour for the kids.  Pongo's Playhouse is to be found here; Pongo loves to play with children.

Main Street Shadow Earth:

You could believe yourself to be in Shadow Earth in this area; it's a restaurant and tacky tourist trinket zone.  It's most noteworthy feature is the photosticker booth, where you can frame your picture in hundreds of different ways.  Superimposing one's head on an Amberite's body is especially popular.  Ota's Shooting Gallery is another very popular attraction.

Olympus Hill:

This district is full of tacky tourist temples, things like Shrines of the Unicorn where you can get married if you're tacky enough to stage your wedding at Dworkinland.  Especially popular is Horatio and Jasra's Wedding Chapel.  It also has the very popular 'Falme's God-Tossing Game', where you can get prizes by hurling dieties as far as you can.  Big Daddy T's Entropic Bar and Grill is a popular place to eat here.

Race Track:

This is full of driving games, race tracks, train rides, and other things involving vehicles: EvilMike's Tank Ride, Stagger Lee's Go-Kart Track (SD-28 Fords), Mr. Toad's Hellride, Horatio's Train Yards, and VENIR 2.0's Bike Chase Ride, With Real Flaming Concrete.

Toy World:

Toy World is pretty much a giant tourist trap, set up to sell souveneirs and toys, though it does contain the popular 'Catch-22 Merry-Go-Round'.  Among the items on sale are:
 

Emite'm Irp

(Written by Kuonji Inji, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit Time from Arden: 3 weeks normal shadow shifting, 3 days by hellride.
Time Differential: One day here equals 6 hours in Amber
Technology: High Technology with gaps
Magic: Present
Social: Showbiz
Spiritual:   Star worship

Some of you have made the effort to learn Sidar, for which I applaud you. It can admittedly be frustrating to have mastered it, only to have very little to use it with - a handful of inscriptions and no native speakers.  Emite'm Irp is a marvelous way to practice your vocabulary, learn about Sidar culture, and enjoy delightful entertainment.

As best I can tell, this was a giant studio for a Sidar communications combine. The transmitting equipment and sets are still intact and functional - well, technically. They worked on something similar to trump which no longer seems to function, probably as a result of the principle it was based on going MIA after the massive rearrangement of the universe. (If you have studied the Sidar at all, you are well familiar with the frustration these dead natural principles can cause.) The real trove here is the script library, which contains delightful popular shows of the Sidar heyday. True works of genius can be found here.
To quote one of my favorites:
 

 Interlocutor: Have you no fish for the cat?
 The Gods: The cat, the cat. The cat is fat.
 The Optometrist: I have herring. Let us all praise it.
 Interlocutor: I deny this herring. My sheep is a surgeon.
 The Gods: Hubba hubba hubba, zooty zoot zoo.
 (They all dance the Dance of Scenery Repainting.)
 Interlocutor: Go team, Sidar rules ok.


 Beautiful. Absolute mastery of the form.

If you do decide to enrich your lives here, I particularly recommend the first two seasons of Creamer The Great Satan On My Pogostick and the entire run of Guttural The Criminal Apprehending Impregnation Demigod.
 
 

Endor

Transit Time from Arden: 9 days normal shadow shifting, a little over one day by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  Stone Age, although the natives make ingenious use of organics to build some kinds of machinery, such as catapults
Magic:      Up to Difficult Magics for mortals, up to God-like Magics for trees.
Social:      Divided into many different tribes
Spiritual:   The furry humanoids worship nature spirits and derive minor powers from them.  The trees wield greater spiritual powers.
 

The word for world is forest.  Utena found this shadow when drunkenly shifting shadow after watching the Star Wars movies at a party on Shadow Earth.  The entire planet, about the size of Earth's moon, is one giant forest, inhabited by sentient tree civilizations and small furry humanoids.  Amberites who enjoy a good walk in the woods or want advice on nature magic often come here.

Prince Moriya and Princess Motoko and company are said to have found Withywindle sealed here in a tomb a century ago.  Whether anything else remains to be found has yet to be determined.
 

Ennui:
(Written by Beowulf Kohl, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit time from Arden: 3 weeks normal shadow shifting, 3 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  With no one to invent anything, who can tell?
Magic:      Up to Difficult Magics
Social:      No people = no social
Spiritual:   No people, no gods, no nothing, unless the plants are secretly worshipping something
 

This shadow has the unenviable distinction of being, bar none, the most absolutely boring place I have ever been. Dull, Dull, DULL! Nothing happens here. NOTHING. All there is... all you *ever* see is a fairly sparse forest, with large stretches of undistinguished grass, with a few puddles of water scattered here and there. The water isn't stagnant, so I suppose you could use it for drinking, but that's about the only thing good I can say about it; it isn't even deep enough to decently wade in!

It will be a very LONG time before I ever consider re-visiting this place.
 
 

EV:
(From Sources of Power in Shadow, by Telemain Kohl)

Transit time from the Courts: 5 days normal shadow shifting, 1 day by hellride.
Time Differential:  One day equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology: Somewhat variable; see text.
Magic:      None used by the inhabitants; visitors can use up to Hard magics.
Social:     See text.
Spiritual:  Depends on the civilization present.

There *must* be some unusual source of power behind this shadow, but so far I have been unable to find and analyze it.

When I first ran across this shadow, passing through on the way elsewhere, it was a fairly traditional 'space opera' setting; a small universe, about 30 different inhabited solar systems, with a Federation showing some signs of oppression and with an active rebellion, so on and so forth. A nice flavor, but nothing particularly special.

However, when I passed back through it a few weeks later, it had changed substantially -- Earth had been ravaged by war, Alpha Centauri was now the main manufacturing center of the Federation, and several alien races had made their appearance on the scene. More unusually, the layout of the universe had changed -- systems had moved, some systems were gone, many others had changed, and there were close to three times as many inhabitable systems in that area of the galaxy. So, and so, someone had been there after I had passed through and had molded the shadow... not a common thing, but not impossible either, although I was not able to detect any sign of it with my devices. I made some notes on the changed conditions, and moved on.

Three months later, I passed through to find that the shadow had returned to its original state. Unusual, but still possible; perhaps the original molder of the shadow had decided there was a chance he'd been detected and returned it to its original state to remove the evidence. I did a thorough examination, again found no evidence of shadow molding, frowned, and moved on -- but resolved to come back later.

After three weeks, the shadow had shifted again -- the inhabited area was now three times the size it had been, a partially destroyed network of hypergates tied the universe together -- and while there were several distinct cultures in this inhabited area, they were splintered remnants of a larger human empire instead of completely alien races. And again, there were no apparent traces of shadow molding. This was, as they say, the final determining factor; I found a good place to set up a residence, and settled down there for a year to track the changes in the shadow.

What I found was quite surprising. In that year, I saw the shadow change fifteen times, completely re-working itself around me. The shadow cycled between the three situations described above, with minor variations -- once or twice the Voinians would manage to conquer Earth, in one cycle the Polarans were irritated at a diplomatic incident and went on a wave of conquest, in another variation the Miranu were manipulating the conflicts behind the scenes, and so forth. The cycles did not always repeat in sequence.

Shadows can change over time... but rarely this completely, and I don't believe I have ever encountered a shadow where these changes *cycled*. I was not able to detect any signs of volitional shadow molding, nor any evidence of the known Powers at work. I am at a loss as to the cause of these changes, but the changes themselves are undeniable, and evidence of some Power that shapes this shadow.

I shall have to return here again, once I have had the opportunity to hone my skills further -- preferably in the company of someone skilled with the Logrus, as it is quite possible they may detect something I have missed.
 

Fermilab:
(From Sources of Power in Shadow)

Transit time from Arden: 3 weeks normal shadow shifting, 3 days by hellride.
Time Differential: One day equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology: None apparent.
Magic: Up to Hard.
Social: No population in this shadow.
Spiritual: No population in this shadow.

This shadow consists entirely of large... rings of wind, for lack of a better term, that can be up to a kilometer in diameter. An item dropped into one of these 'wind rings' will be driven around in a circle, going faster and faster, until finally it has enough energy to break free of the ring and shoot off on a tangent. Until it gets captured by another ring, and the process starts over again. Many of the rings are of precisely the correct diameter and velocity for objects in them to be accelerated to very high speeds... but never be flung away, leaving them circling endlessly.
 

Flawed Ambers

Amber casts many reflections of itself into shadow, some of them nearly the same as the real thing.  Some feature shadows of the royal family.  Others warp the geography or history of the real thing.

Friday's

Transit Time from Arden: 1 week normal shadow shifting, 1 day by hellride.  Most people just trump there.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  Modern Earth
Magic:      Up to Difficult Magics
Social:      The entire world is one big restaurant.  Governed by a manager.  It remains unclear who appointed him...
Spiritual:   People come to eat, not to pray, though all faiths are welcome as long as they can pay.

By definition, it is always 5:15pm on Friday in this shadow. The week is out, it's time to relax, to take a load off. And what better place to do that than at a bar and grill the size of a large city? This is Friday's.

It's staffed by a veritable army of cooks, several battalions of bartenders, and plenty of waiters and waitresses--the only people at work at this time, of course. But they're quite happy to serve, so long as you tip, and the next guy gets on the shift on time. And they're good at what they do. Medium rare steak? The prime choice grade A cut of beef will have a center which is a warm, juicy red. White Russian? Expertly and quickly mixed, using only the finest vodka, the finest coffee liquer, and the finest milk--skim, lowfat, or whole, whatever you want. The beer is strong, the buffalo wings spicy, and your choice of professional sports will probably be playing on the nearest 48" television.

For those wishing privacy, there are rooms that you can rent. Well, one says rooms, but they can approach the size of banquet halls, for the really big parties. Some are large enough to have their own kitchen to serve them.  And they're not just for eating, either. They have karaoke rooms, movie rooms, dance floors, even some rooms for passing out peacefully. Friday's aims to cover every base. It's got the space and the resources for it, after all.

There are a couple of house rules, of course. No violence--please check your weapons at the door. Don't worry, you're guaranteed to get them back when you go. No shirt, no shoes, no service...and though casual dress is acceptible, too many holes will get you turned away at the door. This is, after all, open to families, too. And the strongest thing you can smoke is a bad cigar; marijuana, crackpipes, and hypodermic needles bring a frown to the face of the bouncer standing a few tables down. Besides, there's more than enough alcohol here to make you happy in less dangerous ways. Please follow the rules, or no soup for you. Fortunately, the patrons seem to be pretty well behaved, and no one can remember the last time someone was
forcibly booted out the door. Really.

Friday's is a place to hang out, plot dirty deeds done dirt cheap, try to pick up someone, catch a good meal...but mostly for having fun. Bring your gold doubloons, because they don't take American Express. Nor Visa, nor Mastercard. In fact, at Friday's, the mention of the word 'credit' is commonly regarded as an act of violence. But don't despair--the dishwashers could always use a couple extra helping hands. Can't you just imagine how much silverware needs to be cleaned?

Friday's. Enjoy.
 

Glory Road:
(Written by Mitsune Butler for a geography assignment at Ohtori, c. 1330 AY)

Transit Time from Arden: 2 weeks normal shadow shifting, 2 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  Military tecnology out the wazoo
Magic:     Not on the Road itself.  Variable in the battlefield shadows
Social:      Military
Spiritual:   There are no atheists in a foxhole.

In infinite shadow, every battle ever fought exists somewhere, endlessly repeating in infinite variation.  The Glory Road connects them all.  It resembles an endless median-divided highway, stretching from horizon to horizon through endlessly shifting terrain.  As one rides along the highway, exits provide access to shadows in which every battle imaginable is being reinacted.  Anyone can ride the road and leave it into battles; normally, only those who possess some means of travelling through shadow can enter the road from those battles, although a few people somehow do it anyway.  Shadow Dwellers can follow you onto the road, as with ordinary shadow travel, though.  Once on the road, they could then leave wherever they liked, but then couldn't get back on.

Unlike normal shadow travel, speed of transit on Glory Road is determined by one's Warfare.  The more Warfare you have, the faster you can find the battle you desire.  In general, one finds battles one participated in personally the quickest, then those that happened in or near your shadow of origin, then longer and longer the further away from your home shadow those battles took place.

Bring your own food; there's no native food sources on the Glory Road; I guess armies are expected to march on an empty stomach.  Although you could simply plunder the camps of the armies in the battles along the way...

Graceland:
(Written by Beowulf Kohl, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

o/~ I'm going to Graceland, Graceland,
   Memphis Tennessee.
I'm going to Graceland... o/~
      -- Paul Simon, "Graceland"

Transit time from Arden: 3 weeks normal shadow shifting, 3 days by  hellride.
Time Differential:  1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:   Mid 20th-century Shadow Earth.
Magic:      Up through difficult magics.
Social:     Strong emphasis on the importance of music.
Spiritual:  Belief in a three-in-one deity.

Those with an interest in music -- particularly blues and blues/rock -- will be well rewarded by a visit here.

Graceland resembles the southern United States from Shadow Earth, during the first Golden Age when blues music was morphing into the beginnings of rock 'n roll (although there are some anachronisms that would appear to be from a period two or three decades later). It's hard to find a city street to walk down that *doesn't* have at least one recreational establishment
with the sound of live music -- *good* live music -- spilling out the front door. Cover charge is usually nominal, seating is comfortable... and unlike the Shadow Earth equivalents, the air is typically not choked with various forms of tobacco and non-tobacco smoke.

The shadow does have one peculiarity in its organized religion. Pictures of their deity are common street decorations, usually showing him lifting one hand and clad in shimmering white robes. He is presumed to have a three-in-one nature, the trinity consisting of the Elder Statesman, the Young Rebel, and He Who Has Returned To Us. (Most of the street pictures depict the Elder Statesman aspect.) Doctrine appears to be muddled but relatively benevolent -- respect for others and their personal space, compassion for the poor, a healthy critique of oppressive government agencies, and sermons on the importance of love (though tempered by an odd antipathy to the common animal).

Religous services are somewhat unusual, consisting almost entirely of the singing of hymns. Outsiders are welcomed and even encouraged. The churches themselves are arranged like a large ampitheatre, with rows of seats arranged around a central dias, with excellent accoustics. The music itself is wonderful. It's INCREDIBLE! It was better than Cats. I want to go see it again. Over and over and over ag

[Pause]

Dear me. It appears that someone there managed to slip a High Compelling on me while I was there, to be triggered when I remembered the concert.  Fortunately, someone was present to stop me before I slid completely into its grip; thank you for the brainscrub, Mother. I leave the previous description in place as written, both as a guide (the music there truly *is* exquisite) and as a warning.

Now, does anyone know where I could sell a pair of white-sequined suits?
 
 

Graduation Test:
(Written by Beowulf Kohl, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit time from Arden: 4 weeks normal shadow shifting, 5 days by hellride.
Time Differential:  1 day here equals 1 minute in Amber.
Technology: Approximately 20th century Earth, but with transportation limited to walking and/or riding animals.
Magic:      Almost none.  *Fortunately*.
Social:     'Eeeey, man, like, no worries, 'kay?
Spiritual:   It's out there, man. Just out there.

If someone other than my mentors at Panopticon University (q.v.) had discovered this shadow, it would undoubtedly have a more... creative... name. As it is, they seem quite happy simply to refer to it as their proving ground for graduation, and even happier that very few people know where to find it.

Given Panopticon's emphasis on studies that require field work, they understandably want their graduates to be able to handle themselves in the wide and varied conditions found in Shadow. Therefore, they sought out the shadow that eventually became Graduation Test, a relatively safe 'swimming pool' that degree candidates could be chucked into as part of their final exam. Candidates are brought to the shadow, dropped off in a random location, and are expected to make their way to the Panopticon base for return to the university.

So far, this is not a terribly uncommon survival test. What makes Graduation Test uniquely challenging is its atmosphere, composed of a mix of mind-altering gases that will affect every sapient being in one way or another; typically one will face intoxication (as if, for example, one had smoked several marijuana joints), the loss of most inhibitions, impaired coordination, and even psychedelic hallucinations at times. Shapeshifters are not immune to these effects, much to the chagrin of a few overconfident Chaos Lords.

By the time a candidate makes it to the base station, they will have learned to function under some of the more outlandish stresses one can imagine; ordinary near-death situations should hardly faze them. Truly a worthy program.
 

Groundhog Day:

Transit Time from Arden: 10 days normal shadow shifting, 2 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  Modern Earth
Magic:     Only Power Words work here
Social:      Similar to Shadow Earth.
Spiritual:   Many religions exist, but have no obvious miraculous powers.

It remains unclear to most of the Elders as to why Wakaba named this shadow 'Groundhog Day'.  It is a shadow caught in a time loop, reliving the Fourth of July three day weekend over and over, ending with nuclear fire destroying civilization.  No matter what anyone does, the shadow restarts from July 3rd, 1992, and the events repeat over and over unless a being of Reality intervenes.  The Elders come here to study human interactions and the ways in which history can and can't be changed.  The shadow is much like Shadow Earth except for its endless time loop.
 
 

Haji
(Written by Kuonji Inji, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit Time from Arden: 3 weeks normal shadow shifting, 3 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 12 hours in Amber.
Technology: Iron age
Magic: None
Social: Monastic
Spiritual:   Element Worship

This was once a major center of Sidar element worship, and it shows. The grounds of the place are carefully tended by a subject race of monastic persuasion, the leaders of which are element masters of various persuasions. They have some interesting philosophical perspectives, and several of them were kind enough to give me several days worth of interviews on what they recall about the Sidar. A gentle, wise, and very polite folk; most civilized.

The huge Temple of the Elements stands at the center of the Shadow. It has five 'doors', each composed on one element. To enter, one must pass through it.

As one progresses further and further in, through the inner chambers, more doors appear. Getting through these requires higher and higher mastery of more and more elements, and the monks tell me that tradition claims that only a Grand Master of all five elements can enter the inner chamber. They regretfully inform me that none of their race have the power, mental or physical stamina, or lifespan needed for such a feat.  They believe that only the Sidar were capable of it, and that it will never be opened again.

I gained access to some of the outer chambers through means I will not repeat here, and found some highly enlightening inscriptions within.  I'm told that each chamber contains a great secret, and that the inner chamber itself contains something miraculous.

I admit to being quite intrigued by this, but not intrigued enough to devote myself to several dozen centuries of masochism in pursuit of elemental mastery.
 
 

Der Heimat von Pukenheim:
(Written by Beowulf Kohl, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit time from Arden: 4 weeks normal shadow shifting, 4 days by hellride.
Time Differential:  1 day in this haven for EVIL is one day in Amber... it just feels longer.
Technology: A hideous cross between 1950's Shadow Earth and '1984'. See below.
Magic:      All native magic consists of diabolical rites involving the EVIL one.
Social:     The kind of mind-sucking pablum that turns bright, intelligent young children into mindless zombies.
Spiritual:  Worship of the EVIL one.

I have travelled far across Shadow. I have visited many places -- some beautiful, some fun, some boring. A few were rather nasty places, on the whole.

Der Heimat von Pukenheim is the only one that I think needs to be utterly destroyed. *Eradicated.* I intend to speak to King Tylor on this matter as soon as is feasable.

This shadow is a nightmare straight out of every children's TV show that you could possibly imagine. Walking the streets feels like living inside a comic strip: everything is rendered in bright, primary colors. Buildings, automobiles, and the like are designed for maximum visual interest and resonance with a typical child's toybox. The only break in this facade is the pervasive use of video screens -- in store windows, on street corners... built into *mailboxes*, for pity's sake! I believe this is intentional, as those in control of this shadow WANT to draw peoples' attention to them; they are the regime's propaganda organs. Every screen is filled with the pap that passes for childrens' programming in this shadow, reducing the minds of most children (and not a few adults... those not already doomed in childhood) to guacamole.

Children are incited to perform hideous rites for the purpose of raising dark power: gathering in circles, chanting evil rhymes like "Romper Stomper Bomper Doo" and singing songs of praise to the EVIL one. I could feel the assault on my mind, like a looming avalanche, and barely managed to retain enough presence of mind to scribble down a report and trump out.

Presiding over the whole twisted, insane mess is the god of the population... Bjornie Von Pukenheim. Stolen from a good parody of a bad TV show himself, von Pukenheim is an eight-foot-tall anthropomorphic caricature of a creature, modeled after the favorite reptile of children across shadow, colored oddly and dressed in black studded leather and jackboots. Together with his satanic associates, von Pukenheim appears to be raising an army of magically-gifted mindless zombies... for what purpose I do not know -- as with the Unicorn's grace, his diabolic magic will not work outside his home shadow.
 
 

The Infinite Library:
(Written by Beowulf Kohl, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit Time from Arden: 3 1/2 weeks normal shadow shifting, 3 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals one second in Amber. (Trust me, you'll need the time.)
Technology:  Very little is used, but almost anything seems to work here, especially data storage tech
Magic:      Up to Difficult Magics
Social:      Tribes of researchers and librarians exist
Spiritual:   Many religions exist, but have no obvious miraculous powers.

Ah, the Infinite Library. Legend across a universe of Shadow, dream of a million readers, hope of researchers everywhere. Every book possibly printed, all collected in one place. Surely this is *the* place worth seeking after?

Think about the old cliche of an infinite number of monkeys turning out the works of Shakespeare. There's quite a lot of dross to weed out before you could actually read those works, yes? And so it is with the Infinite Library.

Physically, the Library resembles the lattice of a crystal structure. Each 'reading room' has four hallways leading out of it, at the four cardinal points; a spiral staircase in the center of the room leads up and down to other levels. So far as anyone has been able to tell, the rooms go on forever, with no 'outside' to go to; there are no discernable identifying markings in the rooms, and indeed any signs you post will mysteriously vanish by the time you return to any given room. One could, presumably, come up with some kind of index or map by using the books in the room as identifiers; however, given the nature of the books, this would be rather difficult, and at this time no one is known to have done so.

Thus we come to the books themselves. A careless consideration of the notion 'every book possibly printed' might lead one to think of a library filled with the works of Shakespeare, Heinlein, Hemingway, and even (unfortunately) Danielle Steele. Indeed, all of these things are here. There are also an unimaginable number of books filled with every typographical error ever made. Entire rooms are filled with books that are nothing but permutations of the letters 'a' with one 'b', liberally mixed with punctuation. In short, throw away any of the cliches about hard-to-find items -- needle in a haystack, grains of sand, all of them -- because none of them are adequate to the situation. Attempts have been made to work out a pattern to the arrangement of books, both within and between rooms, so far without success.

At least you sit in comfortable surroundings as you engage in your quest. The reading rooms are paneled in an odd wood that doesn't match anything I've seen in Shadow, but which lends a warm glow to the walls. The rooms are small, only about 30 meters across, making for a cozy feel. The lighting complements this atmosphere, coming from perpetually-burning gas lamps set in the corners of the octagonally-shaped rooms. (I have tried breaking the lamps, as I am sure many visitors have, to make sure they could not set the books on fire; they are made out of crystal too strong for me to break with any tool at my disposal. I suspect it would take a Pattern blade to cut them.) Shelves fill the four walls not featuring hallways, and the floor and ceiling are covered with intricate interlocking parquet patterns. A circle of padded chairs surrounds the staircase, exceedingly comfortable with lapdesks that swing up from the side for note-taking. The temperature always seems to be perfect -- just warm enough to relax you while cool enough to keep you alert. Soft music plays in the background of every room, seemingly adapting itself to the occupants, as it never becomes distracting nor annoyingly banal. I have brought my own books here to study many times, as I find it a most conducive atmosphere.

Iowa:
(From Sources of Power in Shadow, by Telemain Kohl)

Transit time from Arden: 11 days normal shadow shifting, 2 days by hellride.
Time Differential:  One day equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology: 20th Century Shadow Earth
Magic:      Up to Difficult
Social:     Small rural farming communities.
Spiritual:  A curious combination of Shadow Earth Bible-Belt with pagan fertility rituals.

Primal Corn.

I never thought I would find myself saying those words.

Here you can find endless fields of corn, truly the Platonic Ideal corn, and all the various things associated with it. You might take especial note of:
 

Every year or two, Iowa is raided by some unknown force that leaves the fields practically stripped of their crops. The raiders have not yet been identified.
 
 
 

Isles of Avalon:
Transit Time from Arden:  Variable
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber, usually.
Technology:  High Medieval
Magic:      Up to Very Hard Magics
Social:      Monarchy ruled by the Morrigan and Morgan le fay
Spiritual:   The Unicorn is worshipped here

The location of the Isles of Avalon in Shadow remains obscure, as travellers have found it all over the place, including beyond Yig.  It is most commonly found within the seas of the Golden Circle, however.  Travellers sometimes find that the Narwhal currents will bear them there instead of to where they normally go, especially when such travellers are on the verge of disaster.  They are ruled by Morgan le fay, a powerful sorceress.  The isles are green and beautiful, and seem to be mostly inhabited by red and brown haired women, who are noted for both their fighting and their healing skills.  The time flow of the Isles seem variable, as some travellers have stayed for decades, then returned to Amber only a few years after they left.
 

The Isle of Dreams

Transit Time from Arden: 5 weeks shadowshifting, 5 days hellride
Time Differential: Generally, 1 local day=1 Amber day
Technology: If you can dream it, it's there
Magic: If you can dream it, it's there
Social: No society
Spiritual: The Dreaming King can be considered a god
 

o/~ Close your eyes, forget your every care,
 Picture faerie castles in the air-
 Magic is in store for you,
 You may find your dreams come true,
 When you wake your wishes may be there-  o/~

-- Heather Alexander, Close Your Eyes
 

The Isle of Dreams is a most interesting place to visit, and of interest to those dabbling in dream magic. Usually appearing as a largish island with white sandy beaches, grassy hills, and small forests, it has a crystal castle straight out of a fairy tale hovering over its center, its many spires glittering in the eternal sunlight.

A traveller will find himself on the beach when he arrives, his footprints leading up from the water. So far, nothing seems out of the ordinary. But when he starts exploring, the strangeness of this shadow will become apparent, as creatures and things from the traveller's dreams will show up, sometimes complete places. They appear completely real, and are fully capable of interacting with each other and the traveller.

While most dream-images are harmless, the occasional nightmare can appear too, and entering one of the few caves on the island is an almost certain way to meet them. It is a good thing then that death on the Isle of Dreams is not permanent ... the 'dead' wake up some time later on the beach, unharmed, but with the memory of their 'death'.

The cause for this shadow's peculiarities is the castle, a vast crystaline structure protecting the Broken Air Pattern at its center and the throne chamber where the Dreaming King sleeps on his crystal throne, tall, thin and pale, untouchable. Examination will reveal that the castle is a construct, ancient and intricate, gathering power from the Broken Pattern and feeding it into the Dreaming King ... and the Dreaming King seems to be linked into the shadow itself, taking images from visitors' dreams and making them real.

Local reality is fairly malleable, despite the presence of a primal power, or in this case because of it. If it doesn't change the shape of the shadow itself, the castle, or the local nature of death, a trained will can manipulate local reality even without access to the usual powers.  However, due to the nature of the Dreaming King benevolent manipulations are much easier than malevolent ones, and it takes a strong mind indeed to actually threaten anyone here.
 
 

The Keep of the Five Worlds
Transit time from Arden: 2 weeks normal shadow shifting, 2 days by hellride.
Time differential: varies as Shizumaru needs; usually on par with Amber, otherwise
Technology: Equal to Amber
Magic: Up to Hard magics
Social: Shizumaru is the Master of the Keep.
Spiritual: No Outsiders, please. Shizumaru acknowledges both the kami as he knew them in Lipun, and the Unicorn.  On the Day of the Dead, the Dead Walk.

The Keep of the Five Worlds once was a stronghold of the Outsiders. It housed the Fount of Power, which was actually a fragment of Yog Sogoth that pierced through from Outside. However, toward the end of the Annadil Crisis, it was taken by Shizumaru, and the Outsiders were sealed away, and the Fount was choked off.

The Five Worlds refer to the five elements, as the Keep is a focal point for them. It is surrounded by five shadows, each filled with one of those elements: a great forest, a field of lava and flames, a stretch of metal-laden rocks, an ocean, and the sky above the Keep. These shadows feed their power directly into the Keep shadow, manifested as colored areas on the ground of the courtyard, within towering stone walls. The most distinctive detail of the Keep is the towering giant golden oak tree that rises above those walls, into the air shadow above. This is the means by which Shizumaru managed to wrest control of the Keep from the Outsiders, as the person who plants the golden acorn and grows that tree gains total control over the shadow it is planted in. As Shizumaru is the Child of Wood, that happened very quickly indeed.

Within the walls, along with the tree, is the aforementioned courtyard and the fortress. In the center of the courtyard, where the colored areas converge and where the Fount of Power once stood, is the Elder Seal that locks out the Outsiders. It is a five-pointed shape inscribed into the ground, with markings of the Pattern and abstract representations of the Logrus within. Each point is aligned with an element, and is empowered by them. People are advised not to approach it, and there is a railing set around it, with magics designed to protect the seal. The seal is always watched over by Kafuin, a construct designed around a Flawed Jewel of Judgment (one of the spoils of the battle that evicted the Outsiders; a Flawed Wood Demijewel bolsters the golden tree). The Flawed Jewel enables Kafuin to monitor all five elements, maintaining the balance needed among them to keep the Seal strong. Kafuin is also linked to the tree to help control and alter the Keep's reality as needed when Shizumaru isn't there.

The fortress is a pentagonal building, five floors above ground and five floors going below, set between the courtyard and one of the walls. (It's never quite facing the same wall; it seems like the contents within the borders are constantly rotating, in relation to the outside.) It was formerly divided up into five sections, with each being a shrine to one of the elements, but Shizumaru has since eliminated them, as they were rather twistedly linked to the elements as controlled by the Outsiders. The part above ground is where the living quarters are. The top floor is reserved for Shizumaru's family, though with only himself, Rimururu, and Moriya so far, there is quite a bit of empty space still. The two levels below are guest quarters and servant quarters respectively. The first two floors are reception areas, meeting rooms, a banquet hall, kitchens, and so on.

Below ground are special facilities. Here are where training areas, laboratories, libraries, and the like are. After all, the Keep is not just a vacation home for Shizumaru, it is a place for study of the elements and their use. All the way on the bottommost level is where Kafuin's physical parts are kept. Only a very few are allowed down here--Shizumaru himself, and the people who helped build and maintain Kafuin. On this level is also the vaults, where items such as the Seed of Hope, the Logrusfoil Thought when it is not in use, and such, are kept under some very strong locks indeed.

Shizumaru initially did not employ real people as servants, but rather, used a small horde of wooden golems, in part controlled by Kafuin, to take care of guarding the Keep, taking care of everyday chores, et cetera.  However, it can get rather lonesome this way, and one day, upon waking, Shizumaru and Rimururu found a small staff waiting to serve them.  Apparently, Shizumaru's subconscious molded them into being while he was asleep, reflecting his desire for there to be other people around. Much is still done by the golems, but things like cooking and taking care of the library is now done by actual people. This both lends a more personal touch to the Keep, as well as takes care of some tasks that golems really aren't up to doing, such as making a good plate of sashimi.

The residents of the Keep want for little; if anything is needed, Shizumaru can simply mold it into existence (or Kafuin can do so if Shizumaru is away).

For the last century, on High Summer/The Day of the Dead, those who visit the Keep meet their dead, those people most significant to them, for good or ill.  The dead can only speak, but for some, speaking is enough.  For others, meeting the dead brings only sorrow or madness.
 

Kornbluth:
(From Sources of Power in Shadow)

Transit time from Arden: 4 weeks normal shadow shifting, 4 days by hellride.
Time Differential: One day equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology: 19th Century Shadow Earth.
Magic: None.
Social: Shadow Earth -- almost.
Spiritual: Worship of a deity named Chiat-Day.

          The natives of Kornbluth are specialists in persuasion. You have heard
          all of the traditional similes, I am sure -- selling ice to Frostspire,
          energy to Ember, wood to Arden, and the like. Visiting Kornbluth makes
          them seem... inadequate, somehow.

          Imagine, if you will, the most skilled salesman you can think of. Now
          imagine his twin sister. Imagine them honing their skills on each other
          since childhood. Then put them on the lowest rung of the salary ladder,
          as that is where they will be in Kornbluth's hierarchy.

          They are the masters of any persuasive technique you can think of, and
          quite a few you haven't -- my propaganda classes at Panopticon barely
          scratched the surface of what they can do. The best way to avoid being
          talked out of something is not to visit there; the second-best way is to
          avoid going there with anything you are worried about giving away.
          (Conjurers have a certain advantage here, though one should try one's
          best not to reveal the existence of a device that you do not wish them
          to have.)

          I would imagine that the persuasive powers of a Kornbluth native would
          be very useful when working out in the field. Unfortunately, the one
          time I attempted this, my chosen subject started dwindling to a wraith
          within a few minutes' hellride of leaving the shadow, and vanished with
          a pop shortly thereafter -- leaving an ugly pinhole in reality that I
          had to immediately seal. Perhaps this is the universe's way of
          protecting itself; I do not think I shall repeat the experiment.

Kumbayah:
(Written by Beowulf Kohl, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit time from Arden: 7-9 days normal shadow shifting, 1 day by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  Modern Earth
Magic:      Quite common, moreso than in Amber, but only up to Hard levels
Social:      20th century Earth
Spiritual:   'In Aibo there is Love, and in Love there is Aibo, and in Aibo there is The Way.' 'In Aibo there is Mind, and in Mind there is Aibo, and in Aibo there is The Way.'

A rather odd place I stumbled across on a random trip through Shadow, Kumbayah was admittedly a place I was rather glad to see the last of.

At first glance, Kumbayah seems a most pleasant shadow, filled with quaint little houses set in neat rows with well-kept lawns. The inhabitants are quite friendly, and always stop to greet you cheerfully when you walk by.

Perhaps it's the greetings that made me slightly unsettled. They all seem to be variations on a simple theme: 'In Aibo there is Love, and in Love there is Aibo, and in Aibo there is The Way.' 'In Aibo there is Mind, and in Mind there is Aibo, and in Aibo there is The Way.' Rather charming, the first 20 or 30 times you hear it, but it does wear on the nerves after a while. It may be simply the amiable monotone and glazed eyes they have when chanting... hm. It's difficult to say.

The people also take a gratifying interest in strangers; it seemed like I could hardly walk down a street without a cheery inquiry regarding my name, what I was off to do, and particularly my health. For some reason, they seem to be obsessed with one's mental state; I was continually fielding questions about how I felt, and politely refusing offers to join something that sounded like a mental health spa. (I'm not entirely sure about that, actually; they were distressingly vague when I asked for specifics on this place.) I'm not entirely certain why the culture has this fixation; the people seem quite intelligent and well-balanced, and indeed show many manifestations of above-average mental ability. (People seem to sense each other's feelings at a glance, use Power Words casually... even Sorcery and Conjuration are uncommonly common here.)

As for physical type... well, most of the population is the average racial mix you'll find in Shadow, with one odd exception. About one in 25 people will be a tall (over 6'), strongly-built male with a heavy Germanic accent, with (minor details of clothing and hairstyle aside) identical features. Outfit and personality will vary slightly, but these individuals will always be in positions of authority, and are treated with a great deal of respect by the population at large. They are seldom seen together; if three or more congregate, it is a matter of great moment. At the end of my stay there, I was met in the street by a delegation of seven of these gentlemen, who invited me to 'come to the Center of Aibo for processing'; at this point, I felt rather uncomfortable continuing my imposition on their hospitality and reluctantly chose to leave, contacting my friend McGillicuddy and trumping out.
 

Loompaland:
(Written by Beowulf Kohl, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

o/~ Who can take a sunrise,
       Sprinkle it with Dew,
    Cover it in chocolate and a miracle or two?
       The Candy Man! o/~

Transit time from Arden: 2 1/2 weeks normal shadow shifting, 3 days by hellride.
Time Differential:  1 day in Loompaland is one day in Amber.
Technology: By and large, that of late 20th Century Shadow Earth. Inside the Factory, though, you can find the odd anomaly...
Magic:      He *must* have had magic to make it taste that good... right?
Social:     Outside the Factory, very much late 20th Century Shadow Earth. Inside...
Spiritual:  Appears to be primitive nature worship among the Oompa-Loompas. No one's quite sure what Charlie and Mr. Wonka worship, if anything.

Loompaland doesn't look like much when you first arrive -- a city of late 20th Century Shadow Earth, grimy and run-down in spots, with a huge walled industrial facility dominating the entire eastern half of the city.  Industrial nightmare, take one. Until you go around the building, and see the wonderfully wrought gates to the Wonka factory, and a stray breeze brings the divine scent of chocolate to your nose...

For Loompaland is the home of the great chocolate maker Willy Wonka.  Outside, the factory is cold and grey. Inside is a world of wonders, where every method you could imagine (and quite a few you couldn't) is used to turn raw materials into endless varieties of chocolate and other candies. Want a sweet that'll last you through a long hellride? Try an Everlasting Gobstopper. Prefer to outright stun your taste buds in ecstasy? Go for the Scrumdiddleumptious Bar. Playing it safe? The traditional Wonka Bar never disappoints.

Yet the chocolates, wonderful as they are, actually take second fiddle to their setting. The inside of the Factory is like another world; warm, humid, exotic vegetation is everywhere, odd-looking machines whirr and go 'ping' everywhere, and a chocolate river that snakes its way through the factory. (Yes, I said a chocolate *river*. Starts at a great waterfall, and carries its goodness through every production room in the factory. The man has true vision.)

And then there are the Oompa-Loompas, for whom the shadow is named. They are a small, lithe people, who Mr. Wonka brought over from a primitive country -- also named Loompaland. I personally find them delightful, if a little frivolous; although they handle most of the work for Mr. Wonka, they seem to find plenty of time to dance around, singing their pithy songs and poking fun at the foibles of the rest of us. Indeed, I recommend paying close attention to the songs... the Oompa-Loompas show a decided gift for satire in their songs -- and while it may not always be comfortable to have your own flaws pointed out to you, those who listen are almost always wiser for the experience.

There are far too many wonders in the factory to do them justice... and, to be honest, I'm not sure how fair it would be to describe them, as most people are unlikely to see them. Mr. Wonka is a highly reclusive man, becoming so after a rather unhappy period in his life when competitors infiltrated his factory and started stealing his candy-making talents; his chosen heir, Charlie Bucket, is much less bitter about life, but maintains the factory's seclusion for the sake of the Oompa-Loompas. (I believe he is wise in this; they are different enough to attract a certain amount of enmity from the other residents of the Shadow.) I consider myself honored to have had one tour of the factory, and would be very surprised if I ever had another one. Really, the chance to visit the shadow and sample the wonderful wares from the local candy shops is pleasure enough.

Mostly. <Sigh>

Later note:
A unicorn track, burned by, to the surprise of everyone, Prince Mikage, now runs from Amber to Loompaland, making its yummy, yummy candy (favored by Captain Demetrius for the 'Brand Pinatas' he has made popular in Amber) much more available to the children and adults of Amber.
 

Lovin' Spoonful:
(From Sources of Power in Shadow, by Telemain Kohl)

Transit time from Arden: 2 1/2 weeks normal shadow shifting, 3 days by hellride.
Time Differential:  1 day here=1 day in Amber.
Technology: The inhabitants use technology on the level of steam-powered wooden ships. Higher-tech items brought into the shadow do function, however.
Magic:      See text.
Social:     Medium-sized nations, with a very loose neo-feudal organization dotted by independent city-states.
Spiritual:  Nothing particularly noticeable in the way of organized religion.

o/~   For the Magic's in the Music,
       And the Music's in Me.
       Magic...
       Do You Believe in Magic? o/~

In this shadow, magic does not operate according to the usual principles of Sorcery; instead, it flows from the performance of music. No training in spellcasting is necessary; I found this out to my surprise when I pulled out my Theremin to start a Trump rote and accidentally cast a spell instead. After I cleaned up the resulting mess (tribbles can be incredibly troublesome at times), I began a thorough exploration of the phenomenon.

I eventually determined that in this shadow, magic operates through a semi-conscious interaction between the performer's subconscious mind and the shadow's mana; the proper music, when focused through mental concentration, will unlock the mental potential to tap magical power, in a sense similar to that of the 'magic of Shadow' lynchpin used by a typical mage in normal spellcasting, and also guides the formation of the power into useful shapes. The performer can control this to a limited extent -- as, for example, changing the cabin stores of a ship brought into being by a chorus of 'Come Sail Away' -- but not to any great extent, as the majority of the 'shaping' action seems to happen at the subconscious level.

This subconscious interaction also means that the results of any given song will vary from performer to performer, making such magic a very individualistic sphere indeed. It also means a fair amount of risk when training, as the fledgling music-mage can never be sure what will happen the first time they try a given song. Thus, while theoretically anyone with musical skill can become a mage in this shadow, in practice most people never try. Calm, phlegmatic souls make the best mages in one respect, since their subconscious is more likely to be controlled and disciplined, hence predictable. The unfortunate side-effect of this is that the amount of power behind the spell is liked to the performer's emotional state, so that a calm spellcaster produces weaker results than a passionate one. One might suspect that psychoanalysis could become very popular here; perhaps some day I may try introducing this discipline to Lovin' Spoonful. It will be interesting to see the results
 

Lucas:
(Written by Beowulf Kohl, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit time from Arden: 8-10 days normal shadow shifting, 1 1/2 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 5 days in Amber.
Technology:  1940s tech
Magic:      Magic is rare and usually found in items.  Anything above Difficult magic cannot be racked, but must be cast when desired.
Social:      1940s Earth
Spiritual:   Many religions exist, and a limited number of priests have potent miraculous powers.  It's usually the obscure hidden sects, not the public ones with many worshippers that wield such powers...
 

Ah, the joys of classic adventure serials. You remember those while you were growing up, yes? No? Pity. Mother always loved them, and she 'raised me right,' as they say.

Those who do remember them will feel right at home in Lucas. The shadow is packed cheek-by-jowl with hideous temples, exotic jungles, vast deserts, and a teeming metropolis as the capital city, with wall-to-wall skyscrapers and an eee-vil underground society of muggers, noble cat-burglars, talented swindlers, ladies in the (ahem) Oldest Profession, and other denizens of the entertainment business. On any given day, you'll see three dramatic bank robberies, five battles between G-men and organized crime syndicates, one team-up between an organized crime syndicate and G-men against secret agents from the neighboring evil empire, two quests into the wilderness for mysterious lost artifacts... I believe the pattern is sufficiently clear?

As a consequence, perhaps, the inhabitants of Lucas are uncommonly capable. While the average shadow-dweller is 'only human,' I daresay even a teenage child from Lucas would be able to give the average Amberite more than a challenge in most feats of physical or weapons skill. They hold each other to high standards, and will hold you to the same should you visit. There are a few unfortunates who fail to meet the societal standards in any area; these are generally looked-upon with disdain, and end up having to take the dirtiest jobs (alligator cleanout in the sewers, digging underground bunkers, and the like).

Lucas might well be a good place to visit for people who are in sudden need of some fairly talented manpower. Just be sure, if you try to recruit, that you are someone they can respect... or they're likely to laugh in your face.
 

Marx:
(Written by Beowulf Kohl, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit time from Arden: 3 weeks normal shadow shifting, 3 days by hellride.
Time Differential:  1 day here equals 1 minute in Amber.
Technology: 20th century Earth
Magic:      None apparent.
Social:     You need to ask, Comrade?
Spiritual:  Religion is the opiate of the masses.

All hail the People's Glorious Kumquat Revolution!

No, no, I mean that. Really.

It's refreshing to visit a shadow populated solely by hard-boiled idealists dedicated to the revolutionary improvement of the people's lives. After all, any place which can field agitators dedicated to the liberation of vegetables is obviously possessed by the *true* radical spirit.

Given their undoubted fervor, they have managed to remain remarkably amiable in their activities. It is an unfortunate tendency of the revolutionary mind to develop a strong -- even vicious -- 'enemies' mentality, where those in power are demonized and fought with very little in the way of scruples. Here, on the other hand, opponents are treated with respect; a successful revolutionary transfer of power is met with a handshake and a welcome to the office, jolly well played, and the defeated today may well come back as the victor next week. (*Un*successful revolutionaries are still, admittedly, laid up in the dungeons and tortured; traditionally, this appears to consist of having one's arms tied over one's head and being tickled with an ostrich feather, for what reason I cannot fathom.)

The proletariat here is generous and open-hearted; simply don a pair of hornrim glasses and a false moustache, the badge of a revolutionary throughout the shadow, and you'll be welcomed with open arms.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to liberate a few vegetables... with lots of butter and sour cream.
 

Mechanus (Image at http://www.thekeep.org/~chrisb/mechanus.jpg )

Transit Time from Amber: Unknown
Time Differential: Usually, one local week=one Amber day
Population: ca. 1 million
Technology: Advanced technology
Magic: Advanced magic
Social: Vector Rules Here
Spiritual: The people are not very religious
 

Mechanus, the artifical world.
Mechanus, the world of artifice.
Mechanus, the tech world.

Mechanus is an artificial sphere some 4000 miles in diameter, surrounded by a sun-hot barrier shield, fed by two pillars of light emerging from large openings at the poles.

Once ruled by Lian of Amber, it is now controlled by the Construct known as Vector, who frowns on visitors.  Frowns on them with Pattern flame.  Little is known of its current status.

Melnibone:
(Written by Mitsune Butler for a geography assignment at Ohtori, c. 1330 AY)

Transit Time from Arden: 2 weeks normal shadow shifting, 2 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  High Medieval with some ingenious clockworks and the use of steam to do tricks to fool the gullible
Magic:     Lots of magic, but it usually involves summoning creatures and binding yourself in contacts with strange entitities
Social:      Utterly lacking a sense of humor; huge sprawling cross-shadow imperial state
Spiritual:   Many religions exist, but have no sense of humor either.  Their priests often wield strong powers.

Melnibone is home to a broken Air Pattern and ruled by an elite noble class made up of those who can walk it.  So far as I can tell, the air pattern strips you of your sense of humor and replaces it with sexual perversity and the desire to ride around on dragons conquering things.  You also get pale and your hair gets bleached; frankly, I think just going to a salon would be better if you really want bleached hair.  Did I mention they have no sense of humor?

Dragon-Emperor Moorcock I rules over these morons, leading their armies out into shadow from the giant crescent shaped island they live on to conquer other shadows.  They rule a hundred or so shadow provinces, although weirdly enough, they've ignored most of their home shadow, which is divided up into many petty kingdoms which they refer to as 'the Young Kingdoms' for no apparent reason, as there's plenty of young people in Melnibone too.  Moorcock is your basic megalomaniac Shadow ruler, constantly ranting about his enemies, and no doubt spending his time torturing his slaves and plotting revenge for us kicking his ass when he tried to invade Harad a few years ago.  Oh, and he married his sister, Fati.  This is apparently their custom.

The Melniboneans practice slavery (until they get it right, I guess).  Conquered peoples become slaves of the Melnibonean elite, working estates in the conquered shadows to support families of Melnibonean warriors. They've become pretty dependent on those slaves, who do most of the craftswork and farming, while the Melnibonean warriors and elites go conquer more shadows and play with their harems.  From what I hear, some pretty disgusting stuff happens in those harems, but I won't go into details so I don't get an F again for being too explicit. Slave revolts are a periodic problem, and slaves have pretty much no rights.  Slaves can never be freed.

The Melniboneans are a bunch of humorless, warmongering, perverse bastards, but it does have to be admitted that they make great art and architecture.  Beautiful sculptures, wonderful buildings, and well-planned and designed cities are their hallmark.  They even have several floating cities which ride around in clouds; Melnibon City itself is one such, home to the Maze of Clouds, their broken Pattern.  Some five hundred thousand people live there.

Melnibonea's Dragons are crucial to their military forces and to some extent to their economy.  They range in size from a few dozen feet long to hundreds of feet long, providing a powerful air cavalry controlled by the Melnibonean ruling class.  Dragons also pull the flying boats the Melniboneans use for trade, and byproducts from dead dragons contribute to the manufacture of their nearly invulnerable scale armor worn by the elites.  Anyone who walks the Maze of Clouds can control these dragons.

Melnibone also has a large army of heavily armored footmen, made up of levies from the free Melniboneans.  They're usually armied with pikes and halberds and crossbows.  They're well disciplined and effective, although we kicked their butt anyway.

Melnibonean sorcery and religion both revolve around the gods of Chaos and Law and all their funky servitor creatures.  Most magic involves making pacts with such beings so that you can later summon them up or call upon their powers.  This tends to eventually turn most sorcerors into mad, raving twisted freaks and most priests into virtual avatars of their dieties...assuming they aren't using technological tricks to fake their powers, as many temples use steam-powered clockworks of various kinds to fake omens, make doors open 'magically', etc.

If you're looking to have some fun, visit during one of their religious festivals; they all go crazy and have fun, even if the nobles still don't understand this 'laughter' thing.

Melnibone is quite near to several other shadows with tons of dragons, including Krynn and Pern.

Historical Annotation by Lord Franich, 1432 AY:

In 1375-7 AY, there was unrest in Melnibone, as Moorcock I grew old and died.  His sons squabbled over the throne and their sisters, and in the end, the eldest son managed to win, in part by faking his own death, then waiting for everyone else to kill each other off.  He then took the throne as Moorcock II, marrying his sister Michie.
 

1386-1391 AY:  The Second Melnibonean War.

Under a new King, the Melniboneans invaded Amber.  Amber called upon the Golden Circle for help, and a massive war resulted.  Things went poorly for the Melniboneans.  While they originally took Petra, as they marched on Caerlon, Marshal Tsuwabuki united with a Kashfan force and crushed the invaders.  Shortly afterwards, the Kashfan government had a financial crisis after the coastline was ravaged by Melnibonean raiders, and withdrew from the war.

Forces led by Tsuwabuki, Shinobu Major, Touga, and Drake pressed into Shadow and attacked Melnibone, sacking many of its cities, and forcing the signing of a favorable peace treaty.
 

Moorcock II now turned to breeding up a crop of children and conquering and oppressing shadow kingdoms, a task which continues to this very day.  His known children are:


 

Muscovy:

Transit Time from Arden: 1 week normal shadow shifting, one day by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  Late Medieval
Magic:     Up to Hard magics, although few people use magic
Social:      Bastard Feudalism; large imperial states in Asia.
Spiritual:   Many religions exist.  Most priests have no or little spiritual power, but some have more.

Ruled by Ksinge Peter, Muscovy is home to a broken Pattern known as the Martyr's Walk.  The shadow is geographically like Earth, though it remains to be seen whether the Americas exist in it.  The Martyr's Walk is to be found in a basement under the Ksinge's palace in Muscovy itself.  It got its name from its use by the pagan Varangians, who used it to execute criminals and Christians.  In the time of Ksinge Boris, the Varangians converted to Christianity, abandoning the worship of Tobar the Thunderer and Witan the Wind Lord, and the Martyr's Walk ceased to be used to persecute Christians.

A few centuries later, the Varangians had become weak and divided, and the Mongols conquered them.  Two centuries after that, Prince Ivan of Muscovy, a vassal state of the Golden Horde of the Mongols, discovered how to use the Martyr's Walk the right way, and went into shadow, where he allied himself with Tobor the Thunderer, who gave him Withywindle and convinced Lokar the Lucky to teach the arts of Trump to Ivan.  Ivan returned, instituting Tobar Worship, persecuting Christians, and driving out the Mongols.  Then he and his sons built up a cross-shadow empire.  But Ivan sank into insanity and paranoia, and eventually created a secret police which terrorized the nation.  Finally, he had to be overthrown by his children and by Tobar, who imprisoned him on Endor, building an elaborate tomb with Withywindle as the key, as Ivan was becoming a Greater Soulstealer due to tampering with Broken Pattern magics best left untouched.

His eldest son, Nicolas took the throne, but Nicolas didn't live very long, and his son Alexander tripped on the Martyr's Walk and perished while trying to attune himself.  The three younger sons of Ivan all tried to take the throne, and decades of brutal civil war ripped the land apart.  While a new Ksinge finally emerged, the unity of the state was shattered as all of the major lords became mostly independent.  Since then, Muscovy has suffered much at the hands of its enemies: the Mongols, the Poles, the Witanic Knights, the Swedes, and the Magyars.
 

Mystara:
(Written by Mitsune Butler for a geography assignment at Ohtori, c. 1330 AY)

Transit Time from Arden: 2 weeks normal shadow shifting, 2 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  High Medieval to Renaissance, but no gunpowder.  Oddly, extremely advanced technology (starships, lasers, robots, etc) also works.  But not the stuff in between
Magic:     Goatloads of magic
Social:      Incredibly diverse, from corrupt empires of mages to democracies to plutocracies to a kingdom ruled for a year by whoever wins an adventuring contest
Spiritual:   Many religions exist, and if you make fun of the Immortals, they may well drop by your house and crush you.  Sufficiently skilled and determined mortals can rise to their ranks.

To a casual glance, Mystara looks like just another shadow with magic, although unlike many such, it's a round globe instead of flat or curved in non-Euclidean ways or carried around in a bowl.  However, it's also hollow with a second sun at the center, and people living inside it.  I'll get more into 'the Hollow World' later.  It's also surrounded by a sort of wind shield thing which keeps the atmosphere from wandering away and hampers sailing off into space.  (They have flying boats, you see)

The ground surface is divided into three big continents--Skothar, Brun, and Davania.  I didn't have time to explore the whole planet and still make it back in time to turn this in, so I'll just focus on Brun.  Brun is shaped roughly like Shadow Earth's North America, if you yanked it around at an angle so it faced the wrong way.  Way up north, there's a huge hole that you can climb down into the Hollow World if you really wanted to.  There's a bajillion kingdoms in Brun, so I'll just list the ones I thought were most interesting or most fun.

Alphatia:
Think Holy Roman Empire crossed with magocracy.  It's a huge sprawling patchwork of states sort of obedient to an Empress, Eriadna, elected by a council of a thousand really powerful wizards.  Each province has its own king and sometimes they fight each other.  The nobles are all mages and priests and look down on anyone who can't cast spells.  They throw great parties and there's lots of nifty places to visit, like Floating Ar, where all the buildings are on huge floating rocks that fly around over the land below.  Unfortunately, many of them are hooked on drugs and they keep slaves.

Darokin:
This is a merchant republic; the more money you have, the more rights you have.  They throw great masquerade balls for charity, though, and it's a great place to buy anything you can imagine (at this tech level).

Glantri:
Like Alphatia, but more culturally diverse, as there are mages from all over living in little micro-kingdoms.  I'm technically an Arch-Duchess there now, having beaten the former Arch-Duchess in a duel after she decided I would make a good toad.  They're a bit duel happy, although once you slap a few of the bigwigs around, they start trying subtle poisons and summoned monsters instead.  A council of Princes rules the land.  The Great School of Magic there is tons of fun; I've never wrecked so much havoc in my life.

Ierendi:
Think giant medieval tourist trap.  It's tons of fun with lots of nice hotel, sunlit beaches, safari adventure parks, beautiful landscapes, and friendly tropical islanders who don't wear much clothing and look rather good that way.  They're all out to get your money, but they're pleasant about it and you get your money's worth.  I especially recommend the Wild, Wild World of Adventure Fantasy Park.

The Northern Reaches:
Three kingdoms of pseudo-vikings (living next door to pseudo-arabs, pseudo-mongols, and pseudo-Teutonic knights.  Some weird cultural geography in Mystara, I have to say) who fight each other and raid their neighbors. Lots of fun if you can swing an axe well enough to get their respect.  And...umm...don't try stealing Hel's boat on a dare.  Trust me.

The Savage Coast:
Imagine a giant Zorro movie with a set five hundred miles long and several hundred miles wide.  That's the Savage Coast.

Thyatis:
Your basic neo-Roman warmongering, backstabbing bastards.  They and Alphatia fight constantly to see who can be bigger assholes.  They keep slaves, but some slaves do eventually become freemen, and go on to buy slaves, having apparently learned nothing from the experience.  Still, they really know how to party, and they're great at building stuff.

Mystaran magic is kind of funky.  They have to rack their spells, and they do it all in their heads.  Mortals can only rack up to Hard spells; the really big magics are the province of the Immortals.  But they cram way more spells into their heads than we can.  I've seen Mystaran sorcerors fire off dozens of really powerful spells and still have more in reserve.  But they can't seem to remember how to cast spells unless they carefully study books of magic as they do their spell racking.  Weird, huh?  Take away their books, and once they fire off what they've memorized, they're screwed.

There's tons of magical items floating about, and in some countries, magic is common as silverware.  Maybe more so.  There's also tons of magical critters, from the friendly to the ferocious.  Even though they're evil and vicious, I have a soft spot for Displacer Beasts, black tentacled Panthers who are never quite where you think they are.  They're just cute.

Mystara has many powerful priests who serve the Immortals, all of whom rose from the ranks of great heroes to become gods.  This requires going on many important quests, finding good Artifacts, and destroying evil ones.  I'll probably try it one of these days just to see what it's like, and so I can finally get into Pandius and spank Loki for being naughty.

Inside the planet is the Hollow World. It's a museum for failed civilizations; if you get your ass kicked and you're all about to die, the Immortals move you inside, where special magics insure you remain losers forever, unable to change or fix the problems that got your ass kicked in the first place.  I don't quite see the point, but I have to admit I enjoyed visiting some of them.  The pseudo-Egyptian Nithians and the Merry Pirates are especially fun.
 

Narbonne
(Written by Kuonji Inji, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit Time from Arden: 4 weeks normal shadow shifting, 4 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology: Some technology, although none in obvious use
Magic: Present but unexceptional
Social: Manor-style agrarian steadings
Spiritual:   Vestiges of a pre-Logrus faith

I came to Narbonne seeking a Sidar arena from the Second Imperial Period. I found it, but it was in terrible shape. It had been built using stone and lead mortar, and the years have not been kind. I did get some interesting data on Sidar cults from the remains of chapels and catacombs around the main building, and have stumbled on to some most unusual conclusions that I intend to follow up on as soon as possible.

My stay was a pleasant one, as the lady of the nearby manor invited me to dinner. I talked to her and her daughter for some time, trying to pull out some details of the folk living in the Shadow. They were both aware of the Sidar, and spoke of them with some accuracy (and some inaccuracy that can probably be attributed to the distorting effects of time on oral traditions). To my surprise, they also seemed aware of Amber and Chaos. I suspect I am not the first visitor they have had from out of Shadow.

The meal, at any rate, was excellent. Delicious country food, and a superb wine from the omnipresent vineyards (I have sent a case of it to Tylor and a case to Corrine with my compliments). The lady was charming, and her daughter seemed bright if a little shy. And both had impeccable manners.

If you wish a safe, comfortable look at a pre-Logrus ruin, this is a fine place to visit.
 
 
 

Nemuro Memorial Hall

Transit Time from Arden: 1 week normal shadow shifting, 1 day by hellride. (Adjacent to Ohtori, practically only a single step away by Shadow)
Time Differential: Variable, although these days, 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  Eighteenth century Europe
Magic:      Up to Difficult Magics
Social:      Absolutist monarchies
Spiritual:   Many religions exist, but have no obvious miraculous powers.

One thousand and a hundred years ago (local shadow time) this previously-unnamed Study Hall and Research Facility burned down at the hands of one Professor Nemuro, killing off one hundred students.

The rebuilt Hall is named Nemuro Memorial after this tragic incident.  Currently the head of Nemuro Hall is Prince Souji Mikage, who is head of archaeological and anthropological studies of Ohtori Academy, though he is away most of the time on foreign trips.

Rumors abound about this rather somber place, not least of which is the stories of it being haunted by the dead students, who protect the hall of any who wish to do it harm.

There are also the stories of the so-called Black Rose Society, which, depending on your sources, is either a cult worshipping the Elder Gods, a group of Dionysians, a secret society of manipulators, or the name of Mikage's research cabal. Nevertheless, the stories about the Black Rose Society always mentions the dead students, who are referred to as 'Duelists', whatever that means.

Applications for the much-coveted position of research assistant are screened by Mikage (or whatever assistant he's left in charge), and those who pass the initial screening are personally interviewed. People always talk about these 'research assistants', basically through a friend of a friend of a friend, but no one seems to know any specific person to be one.

And then there is the so-called 'Confession Elevator'. Stories about this room are even more vague than the Black Rose Society stories, and fewer and far between.

Mikage's office, which is probably the only room besides the lobby that anyone else has seen with their own eyes, is cluttered with books, and on his desk, next to the black and gold Waterman fountain pens, is a single book, 'The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage', with a strange, finely-crafted crossbow bolt stuck through it. It is in a glass case, and Mikage allows no one to touch it.
 

Nome
(Written by Kuonji Inji, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit Time from Arden: 3 weeks normal shadow shifting, 3 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 12 hours in Amber.
Technology: High Technology, though limited in scope
Magic: Nonmagical with extreme prejudice
Social: Frontier/Corporate
Spiritual:   No formal spiritual system.

Nome seems to have once been a Sidar mining operation. It's a frozen tundra with a maze of tunnels and shafts that have been dug into the cold rock. The Sidar dug deep, and since then the tunnels have been expanded.

At present, a corporation named SkagTech seems to have occupied most of the mines and is making a go at resuming operations. They're having trouble making a lot of the old Sidar machines work, but have compensated somewhat with more mundane technology and slave labor. I am fairly certain that they're a proxy mask of some house of Chaos or another.

The reason the mines are valuable is that Nome contains a wealth of Real minerals, including a peculiar blue ore that seems to act as a natural magic sink. The presence of large deposits of this stuff deep below the surface makes magic even less useful here than it is in other places.

SkagTech has had limited success in retrieving much of the blue ore. It seems that at the depths the stuff is found, something keeps killing off their workers. I could hazard a few guesses as to what manner of bane might be lurking in the bowels on an old Sidar mine, most of them unpleasant.
 

Ohtori Academy:

Transit Time from Arden: 1 week normal shadow shifting, 1 day by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  Eighteenth century Europe
Magic:      Up to Difficult Magics
Social:      Absolutist monarchies
Spiritual:   Many religions exist, but have no obvious miraculous powers.

Ohtori Academy is considered one of the finest finishing schools out in Shadow. The faculty is very capable indeed, both at teaching their subjects and counseling their students. Classes range from Amber history to higher-order algebra to etiquette and social customs in various Golden Circle kingdoms. The facilities are of the highest quality, of course.  Tuition is somewhat expensive and they accept only Real currency, whether in physical form or notes drawing on Amber banks (or on those few national Golden Circle banks acknowledged by Ohtori). Hence, it is a place largely for the nobility and wealthier merchants. A few merit- based scholarships exist (some sponsored by the school itself, others by Amber and GC governments) and they are rather hard-fought over.

In addition to classroom academics, there are numerous clubs, as well.  Sports clubs of various sorts (including kendo, fencing, soccer, and basketbal), drama production clubs, music clubs, science clubs (though they sometimes need to go to nearby custom shadows shared by the associated science classes to do their experiments), debate clubs.... There is even a student government, elected by their peers, which runs certain aspects of student life. These include things from seasonal festivals and holiday dances to establishing certain guidelines for conduct at the school. Occasionally, a student accused of breaking certain rules may choose to be tried by a jury of his peers, and the council oversees such a trial (with help from the staff, of course).

The campus is large and sprawling, buildings spread out among large open fields. The architecture is largely eighteenth-century European, rather grand designs and majestic heights. Each general department (history, mathematics, science, social studies) gets its own building--not usually the norm for what is basically a high school, but this is not your average high school. One particular structure of note is the Chairman's Residence, which boasts the highest tower on school grounds. There is a planetarium and observatory at the top, which is used occasionally by the astronomy club by the Chairman's generous grace.

Bordering the athletic fields is a large forest which is off-limits to most students. However, Princes and Princesses of Amber--that is to say, all who have the Blood of Fuyutsuki in their veins--may enter, though usually it is a good idea to get permission from the Chairman first.  Within is an arena similar to the Dueling Arena back in Amber itself. What happens in here is usually not something to be talked about outside, so many students who are the children of Golden Circle nobles or trading collective executives can only wonder why it's so special.

Two adjacent shadows of note that are associated with Ohtori are the Shadow Puppet Theater and Nemuro Memorial Hall, Prince Mikage's domain.
 

Panopticon University:
(Written by Beowulf Kohl, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit time from Arden: 1 1/2 weeks normal shadow shifting, 2 days by hellride.
Time Differential:  See text.
Technology: Well beyond that of Shadow Earth; they have mastered the building of dimensionally transcendental travel machines and time travel.
Magic:      Very little; technology rules here.
Social:     See text.
Spiritual:  Nothing particularly noticeable in the way of organized religion.

The home of my alma mater suffered rather a strong shock when they realized that they were no longer the Lords of Time they had fondly imagined themselves to be. Although Gallifreyan society is still undergoing some upheaval in the wake of this discovery, the more adventurous folk (the ones who had always enjoyed field work) were soon delighted by the new vistas of Shadow opened up to them. Panopticon University was founded by these folk shortly after the Opening, and is now one of the better centers of learning in the known cosmos.

Gallifrey pre-Opening had discovered time travel, and indeed had refined it to a very high level. A broken Pattern known as the Eye of Harmony was discovered on Gallifrey by a pair of researchers known as Rassilon and Omega, and together they harnessed its energy to power a long series of time capsules (known colloquially as 'Tardises'). The classic Tardis was dimensionally transcendental, with an interior that could be restructured at will; it was capable of spatial travel as well as time travel; and it used a device known as a 'chameleon circuit' to generate an infinitely customizeable real-world interface for the craft. The Gallifreyans used their Tardises to study both the history and cosmology of their shadow, and dubbed themselves 'Time Lords' to reflect their supreme physical and temporal power.

Thus their discovery by travelling Amberite proved a severe blow to their sense of self-importance, as they had changed from being the supreme power in a large but limited realm to being an advanced but still junior power in a near-infinite cosmos. Prior to the Opening, Time Lord society had become highly rigid and formalized, due to the long life of its citizens; the Time Lords were divided into several chapters, each with its own social requirements and stereotypes. Those who felt uncomfortable with this fraternity were typically those who volunteered most often for field work, and it was these people who founded Panopticon University when they discovered a whole new cosmos out there to study.  Currently, while the old structured Time Lord society still exists, it has been shoved to the fringes by the vibrant, active world of Panopticon University -- to the point where the shadow has taken the university's name, and not that of their home planet.

Soon after the contact with the wandering Amberite (speculation is that this was none other than King Tylor, in his travelling days; he has refused to confirm or deny this), the brightest minds of Gallifrey did some studying of the arts of Broken Pattern, and learned how to expand the use of the Eye of Harmony to enable Tardises to travel across Shadow. Just as they were in the old days of the Time Lords, the Tardises have remained the workhorse of the Panopticon field researcher; they provide plenty of room for quarters and equipment, and a convenient means of travel. The retention of temporal technology has made timekeeping rather confusing, however; while Panopticon University retains the Gallifreyan timeline, the temporal shifting enabled by the Tardis makes relating that timeline to Amber fairly difficult.

On the whole, Panopticon University provides a better education than even the best schools in Amber. I do not want to disparage the efforts of my fellow Amberites, but our position at one pole of Reality has led to a certain... self-satisfaction? that breeds complacency, much as the Time Lords pre-Opening. The Opening proved the shock that Gallifrey needed to unlock its still tremendous energy, leading to a flowering of knowledge and learning that those still content in the certainty of their power
cannot achieve. As a result, students flock to Panopticon from across the cosmos; one is as likely to find a Logrus initiate there as an Amberite, and students are welcome from throughout Shadow. (Field researchers have licence to bring in promising candidates that do not have the ability to travel Shadow on their own.) I count myself proud to be an alumni.
 

Pariseau

Historical/Fictional Inspiration:  Gainax Scifi/Fantasy
Population: [Standard world pop for early 23rd cent]
Travel Time from Arden:  2 weeks normal shadow shifting, 2.5 days by Hellride
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber, as far as we can tell.
Known Barriers: This shadow is documentedly Trump-Barred.  Trumps will NOT function within it, nor can trump communication reach anyone within it or outside it.
Technology: A hybrid of 20th to 22nd century Earth Technology, and artifact-magics.   Magic tends to power most major devices.
Magic:  Up to Difficult Magics.  Creatures with magical abilities and some form of intelligence exist on Earth.
Social: Similar to Shadow Earth, though there is more of a World Government by this point, or at least different factions from the expected baseline.  Other planets are by now settled, with their own cultures.
Spritual: Many religions exist, but have no obvious miraculous powers.

Geography:

Pariseau's geography is much like that of Shadow Earth's, with various countries in the usual places.  Some names have changed over the centuries, but the layout is familiar for experienced shadow travellers.

History:

Pariseau is the name commonly given to the world of Corrine's exile during the First Alan War.  It is much like Shadow Earth in many respects in culture and history, save that magic is much more prominent and acknowledged by the general public, taking a place in daily life.  Even if a person is incapable of using magic themselves, they generally know at least one person who is a mage, or have access to magical technology.  Dragons exist in Pariseau and are used for personal air travel much like horses are used on land.

The presence of magic did not have major effects on the key points of history in Pariseau, at least before the twentieth century.  As long as there have been people, there have been wars and disputes, carried out no matter how much technology or magic exists.  In the 1900's, however, a concerted effort was made to cross magic and technology together, creating a hybrid magical technology that powered most devices, revolutionizing travel and communcation across the globe.  A world council began to develop, to help manage affairs between nations, especially given the formation of several space programs by those nations.  Eventually, by the time of the twenty-second century, a unified tri-fleet had formed, to convey settlers and materials across the interstellar distances to other planets that could support human life.

It is now 2247, and the three fleets of Terra (The Fleet of the Star, The Fleet of the Sun, and the Fleet of the Comet) ply the spacelanes, protecting the settled Free Worlds of the Vega Sphere.  Yet Earth is still an important place, a keystone of culture and diversity, containing many historical places and museums, including the world-renowned Ursala d'Ambrelle Academy of the Arts and the adjoining Arisugawa Museum Of Fine Art in Paris, home of the world cultural treasure, "The Defender Of The Realm," an inspiration to all those who gaze upon it.

Funny how one Amberite's presence can make a difference, eh?
 
 

Pinata:
(Written by Beowulf Kohl, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit time from Arden: 1 week normal shadow shifting, one day by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 hour in Amber.
Technology:  Rube Goldbergian.  See Description.
Magic:      Only Power Words
Social:      20th century
Spiritual:   Many religions exist, but have no obvious miraculous powers.
 

There are those who believe that adversity builds character. That one gains strength by doing things the hard way. Might I suggest those with such inclinations pay a visit to Pinata?

Oh, and be sure to duck the instant you arrive.

Pinata has access to neither magic nor high technology. Therefore, its residents have come up with... creative... methods to work around these deficiencies and achieve a surprisingly high-level civilization using nothing more than springs, rubber bands, pulleys, levers, and miscellaneous household objects. Myself, I suspect some shadow-traveller in the past dropped off a collection of cartoons by a Shadow Earth artist known as 'Rube Goldberg'.

Cultural contamination aside, Pinata's inhabitants have shown a remarkable creative genius in assembling complex collections of objects to perform common tasks out of the normal reach of their technological level. Walking down a typical residential street in their capital, Hatlo, provides a spectacle unrivaled by many a carnival midway. Objects fly through the air with abandon, roll down chutes, *plonk* into cups, and otherwise put on amazing acrobatic displays for the discerning viewer... who is well advised to wear a hard hat at all times, as one never knows when a particularly enthusiastic effort will send a golf ball flying at one's head. (Indeed, passive protective garments of various kinds are fashion de regiur in Pinata. Active protection, on the other hand, has been officially frowned upon ever since one particularly aggressive protective item managed to knock the fez off the head of the Grand Poobah during a national celebration.)

I enjoy visiting Pinata when I have the opportunity. It never fails to cheer me, viewing the magnificent creative transcendence the human spirit is capable of when placed in adversity.

Of course, I do worry sometimes about what would happen if the Pinata folk ever get their hands on some fairly advanced technology.

Plateau of Leng:

Transit Time from Amber: Transit time to an adjacent Golden Circle shadow, then 2 days travel along a Unicorn Trail.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  Roughly equal to Amber
Magic:      Very potent and nasty
Social:       Mostly tribal with evil monarchies
Spiritual:   More evil spiritual powers and dark gods than you can shake a stick at.
 

There are things that go bump in the night; the Plateau of Leng is a Shadow that goes bump in the night, and during the day, as well. It is a huge, craggy plateau, filled with dark caves and crevices, deep valleys and simple holes in the ground, some of them turned into temples to mutated horrors barely imaginable by nonresidents of this place. It's thought that Leng had once been an actual towering mountain, absolutely huge, until the activities of its denizens blew off the top like a volcano with a really terminal hiccup. The landscape certainly looks blasted enough to support that theory. In its history, it is known to have been destroyed once through a terrific effort by the late King Gendou, but somehow came back, much to the dismay and interrupted celebration of its neighbors. No one is sure just how this happened, exactly.

Those who live here (used loosely to include undead types) number mad sorcerors with magical abilities that rival the most powerful spellcasters of Amber, deranged monks serving in their twisted shrines to unholy spirits, cannibals, hideous monsters, and a fair amount of ghoulies and ghosties. Many speculate the only reason the inhabitants of Leng haven't completely destroyed most nearby shadows is because they're spending most of their time battling each other for ascendancy and resources. Still, they have quite often either settled their differences for long enough or were able to spare some of their forces to cause a great deal of problems for those lands of the Golden Circle nearby.

The overthrow of the priests of Leng by an expedition led a century ago by Prince Beowulf has led to anarchy in Leng, making an already horrible place worse.
 

Quicksilver:
(Written by Beowulf Kohl, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit time from Arden: 4 weeks normal shadow shifting, 4 days by hellride.
Time Differential:  1 day here equals 1 minute in Amber.
Technology: Appears to work through the level of microelectronics, at least.
Magic:      None apparent.
Social:     No one home...
Spiritual:  See social.

This entire shadow is nothing more than a lake of molten metal, stretching as far as anyone can see. Surprisingly enough, though, ordinary people can swim in it unprotected; it feels no worse than a strong hot springs resort, though I certainly wouldn't open my mouth under the surface!

The unique thing about Quicksilver is the way the metal reacts to your presence -- specifically, your mind. If you concentrate hard enough on a section of liquid metal, it starts to form into a shape driven by your thoughts. With enough time, you can form quite complex structures, and the metal seems to become more receptive to your thoughts the longer you work with it. (Given the way currents sweep any specific volume of metal around, you need to isolate and contain it to do any lengthy shaping; a small pool cupped in your hand works well to start with.)

Unfortunately, objects made from the metal fall apart when removed with this shadow. A pity, really. Perhaps some day a group can organize some form of permanent structure here to serve as a gallery; I could see Quicksilver becoming very popular among sculptors.
 

Ramon's Party House:

Transit Time from Arden: 1 week normal shadow shifting, 1 day by hellride.
Time Differential: However much time Ramon wants equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  Late 20th century
Magic:      Up to Difficult Magics
Social:       Ramon will kick you out if you break his rules or set it on fire
Spiritual:   The Unicorn is worshipped here, sort of
 

This is a shadow which is all one huge party pad, with all the conveniences of life.  Ramon and Keiko come here to heal, rest, and throw parties which last for months.  You can call out for just about anything, and it'll be delivered in thirty minutes or less, or your money back.  It's known to include at least five pools, a jacuzzi the size of the Hippodrome, a shooting gallery, a golf course, and several nightclubs.  Thanks to Keiko, there's a giant shopping mall in the third sub-basement too.
 

Rock Chalk:
(From Sources of Power in Shadow, by Telemain Kohl)
 

Transit time from Arden: 5 days normal shadow shifting, 1 day by hellride.
Time Differential:  One day equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology: 20th Century Shadow Earth
Magic:      Up to Difficult
Social:     See text.
Spiritual:  Worship of the Crimson and the Blue.

Strictly speaking, this shadow is not in fact the home of a significant Power, in the sense of a Trump font or even an Elemental source. However, their presence as a well-nigh unstoppable force -- and, admittedly, a certain fondness for the place -- led me to include it here.

Rock Chalk is the home of the Jayhawk Combat Marching Band. The setting is a college campus -- attractively laid out, across a series of hills known as Mount Oread, creating a pleasant visual experience and a good amount of exercise for the students.

The university differs from the norm in that it is completely dedicated to the production of the best possible 'marching band' in the whole of creation. Some traditional fields, such as mathematics and physics, are still present, but they are entirely geared to the needs of a marching band -- physics geared towards sound reproduction, for example, and language study as needed to read/translate musical literature from other countries.

The College of Instrumental Research covers a full third of the campus, and incorporates what would in most universities be the schools of Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, and High Explosives. Rock Chalk instruments are fearfully complex, and typically require many years of study to master for anyone not raised in the shadow, but repay the effort with a range of effects that simply cannot be matched anywhere else.

Backed by the power of these instruments, reinforced by strict, disciplined training, the Jayhawk Combat Marching Band can blast through most normal obstacles, and indeed has leveled armies in the past.  Watching them go into action is a stirring experience -- the initial basso rumble as the tubas open fire, followed by staccato bursts from the snare drums, and the flare of the trumpets that cut through the serried ranks opposing them. The tromp of thousands of feet, all hitting the ground in perfect unison, vibrates up from the ground, and the sympathetic resonance can bring unprepared structures tumbling down. I never tire of watching them go to work.
 
 

Sargasso:
(Written by Beowulf Kohl, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit time from Arden: 25-27 days normal shadow shifting, 3 1/2 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  Much imported technology fails, yet technological style artifacts are to be found here.
Magic:      Up to Hard Magics
Social:      Tribal
Spiritual:   Dark cults weild spiritual power
 

A truly sad place, inhabited by the dwindling remains of a once-great people.

Sargasso is a shadow of jungle -- thick, rich, tree-y jungle... hot, moist, swampy jungle... vine-tangled, giant spider-infested quicksand jungle... Sargasso has it all. (Along with some rather interesting tropical diseases, but that's neither here nor there.)

I first visited there as part of a field expedition from Panopticon University, formed to investigate rumors of a series of pre-Logrus ruins sighted in this shadow. These rumors proved to be inaccurate; Sargasso is actually the home of an entire (though small) intact city dating from the pre-Logrus era, although the current inhabitants are almost certainly not the original builders. I believe the city, which the other expedition members nicknamed 'Gratuitous Demise' for reasons I cannot fathom, will be an incredibly valuable site as soon as we can persuade the inhabitants to allow us to explore it.

Unfortunately, they have proven somewhat recalcitrant. They do not appear to take kindly to strangers, and two of our members went missing when they attempted to infiltrate the city; we must assume that they met their fate at the hands of the natives, as all we could find of them later were small bits scattered around the city walls.

Our first glimpses of them were rather sketchy, watching from the top of the city walls; flashes of moving green, nothing more. (Rather hard to tell, as there were very few natives in the city.) It seemed to unnerve some of the less stable members of our group, who fled screaming silently (I think they were too terrified to make a sound) into the jungle. Alas, they never made it back to the expedition's camp; I do hope they have managed to survive, and will be able to meet the next expedition when it arrives.

When we were finally able to encounter one of the natives outside the city, we found a most surprising fellow -- an anthropomorphic serpent, if I may twist definitions that far. Definitely bipedal, with well-developed grappling appendages and solid feet for walking, it nevertheless gave the impression of slithering as it moved; perhaps it was the meter-long tail. We attempted to make contact, but it seemed most reluctant to talk, and we were forced to calm it down through the
judicious application of physical restraint. The poor fellow didn't look very comfortable at all, even though we made sure to use our softest straightjackets for him; kept ranting about how his people were the Chosen Successors, how they would bring the Great Ones back, and usher in an era of peace and happiness. He wasn't very polite, either; refused to answer any of our questions about the city, how long they'd lived there, or anything like that. The other expedition members were fairly disappointed... I have to admit, though, that I was looking forward to exploring the city on our own, experiencing the thrill of discovery in its purest form. I did want to bring our erstwhile friend along with us, taking him back to his home, but it proved to be impossible -- he started writhing inside the straightjacket before he'd been in there an hour, as if it were burning his skin; he went into convulsions shortly after, and died in a few minutes. I made sure he got a proper burial inside a convenient crocodile. Poor thing.

On our first attempt to enter the city, we made it about a hundred yards before Yuna met her end; I was rather surprised, as most Shadows don't go to the trouble to find a compound that will poison a shapeshifter, let alone a lord of Chaos. I suggested we press on, as it was highly unlikely that even paranoid shadowdwellers would put more than one poisoned pit-trap in a row, but I was outvoted and we returned to base camp. We made three more attempts to enter the city, each ending with a rather unfortunate reduction in our party; in the last one we lost the expedition's leader, and her replacement decided we should make sure that at least the minimal information we had gathered would be returned safely to Panopticon. I have so far been unable to convince anyone in the department to sponsor a return expedition, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.

Screwtape's World:
(Written by Beowulf Kohl, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit time from Arden: 4 days normal shadow shifting, 1/2 day by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  20th century Earth
Magic:      Only if you sell yourself to the demons
Social:      20th century Earth with Extra Bureaucracy
Spiritual:   Like 20th century Earth publically, but covertly, powerful spiritual entities exist and war on each other
 

I sometimes think the only constant among civilized societies is bureaucracy.

All right, all right -- I know that statement's trite, hackneyed, and cliche. Call it a reaction to visiting this shadow. The Devil is supposed to be in the details, to steal a popular saying, and nowhere is that more true than in Screwtape's World.

Screwtape is the patron saint of this shadow. Well, he would be if the title weren't antithetical to the society -- the concept certainly is not. Screwtape is the spirit of bureaucratic petty-mindedness in action, focused on gaining people's souls through banality, and the folk of this shadow seem drawn to his example like a fly to flypaper. Everywhere you turn, there's a Bureau of Soul Procurement here, a Department of Musical Corruption there, and everywhere the drone of pencils filling in Form 666XJ7.

Above all arches the concept of pragmatic order. Screwtape himself, in his writings (of which there are many) admonishes his readers not to wallow in the throes of pain and suffering most devils seem to delight in: "In the end, nothing matters so much as the tendency of some behavior to move a person closer to the Enemy or to Our Father Below," he writes. "I have seen patients lost to him, saved from a strong tendency to social ambition by an even stronger taste for liver and onions!"

As a consequence, a visit to Screwtape's World will undoubtedly be one of the most boring -- not to say safe, to be sure -- experiences of demonic temptation that you will ever encounter. Oh, they are out to corrupt you and bring you into their orbit, no doubt... but they are unbelievably *polite* about it, if you can imagine that, seeking to keep you nice and lulled into complacency. The hotels are comfortable, the food pleasant but not spectacular, and the servants unobtrusively efficient -- as Screwtape himself said, a mind lulled into numbness slides easily away from the light. This can actually make Screwtape's World a pleasant place to visit, as long as you keep your wits about you.
 

Shadow Earth:

Transit Time from Arden: 2 weeks normal shadow shifting, 2 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 5 days here equal 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  Modern Earth
Magic:     Up to Difficult Magics, but very few people use magic
Social:      20th century
Spiritual:   Many religions exist, but have no obvious miraculous powers.

Roughly similar to real-world Earth; many of your Elders went here to gain training in 'modern technology' and related skills.  Drake loves it.

Shadow Theatre:

Transit Time from Arden: 1 week normal shadow shifting, 1 day by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  Classical Greece
Magic:      As Amber
Social:       Nobody lives here but the Shadow Girls
Spiritual:   The shadow players are spiritual entities, apparently with strong precognitive powers
 

  A small shadow near Ohtori Academy is the Shadow Puppet Theater, a lone island sitting in the midst of the ocean. What rests upon it is a classic Greek amphitheater, a semicircle of stepped seats facing a large stage, backed by a high wall. The curve of the seats is broken in the middle by a large gap, through which the sun--almost always on the horizon, as if locked in sunrise or sunset--shines, right against the wall. The entire structure seems to be created of a single piece of seamless rose marble, as if there had once been a monolith of the stone placed there, then carved into its present shape.

  The rays of the sun diffuse through the gap and casts shadows of invisible origin onto the wall. They are usually of spindly female figures and their assorted props, acting out mysterious and often whimsical scenes; they are accompanied by voices speaking out from somewhere in the vicinity of the wall itself. What is played out here is often prophetic or contains some hidden lesson. They may or may not be pertinent to whoever the current audience is; it takes some measure of wisdom even to figure that out, let alone what the meaning is.

  Every so often, the sun will quickly rise into the zenith of the sky and shine straight down onto the stage, and have a scene play out there, on the ground. This happens rather rarely, and it is uncertain why this happens. Once the scene is played out, the sun sinks back to its usual place behind the gap, and normal showings resume.

For a time, the Shadow Theatre lay in ruins after its destruction during the Herald Crisis, but sixty years ago, Fuyutsuki, Anthy, Nausicaa, Hanajima, Eowyn, Yumi, Motoko, and Davros rebuilt it, and it has resumed its oracular ways.
 

ShAmber

Transit Time from Arden: 1 week normal shadow shifting, 1 day by hellride.
Time Differential: Usually, 1 month here equals 1 minute in Amber.
Technology:  1970s
Magic:      Varies, but tends to be turned off
Social:      20th century
Spiritual:   Many religions exist, a lot of them tantric, but have no obvious miraculous powers.
 

Proof that Idle Hands do indeed make trouble.

Created by Ota 'Shaft' Tenjou because, quote, "I was bored", ShAmber's birth set off a reality storm and helped to upset the delicate balance between patterns.

But that's another story.

ShAmber is a world eternally in the 70's funk badass mofo mindset, where afros and bellbottoms are still just fine, baby.  In The City, there's lots of jive talking brothers and sisters, and plenty of love all around.  Not a lot of brothers in this world, but the ones that are there are all badass mofos sporting names like 'Super-fly', 'Action Jackson', and 'Dolemite'.  All the sisters are super-fine, knock-down gorgeous and with plenty of heart and soul.

All the natives are entirely willing to try to kick booty if you do them wrong.  Try not to do this.  Stay nice and they'll probably show you a good time.

Outside of the city is The Beach, where lots of vacation homes happen to be.  Every now and then you might see pink bunny clouds over the horizon.  Nobody knows why.  It's a prime spot for windsurfing, ogling at the ladies getting on the supertan and having a thrilling motorboat chase set to bwow-chika-bwow-wow music.  The Beach is 20 minutes away from The City, connected by a stretch of suburban fields.

This area is primarily where Shaft stays when he's there, in seclusion with his wife... wives... it's complicated, but that's another story.

There are two things that stick out about ShAmber, though, and those two are entirely unexpected side-effects of this world's creation.  First is the existence of Bumpy the Pimp, or a Bumpy the Pimp, this world's version of Shaft's neighborhood nemesis.  It's hard to say how much power Bumpy commands, but he does have an army of his own, cruising the streets in black Cadillacs with gold trim, always armed to the teeth.  The other unexpected side-effect is this world's pattern knight.

Kasumi the Leather Knight.

Prone to violent mood swings, definitely high in warfare capability, she's a force to be reckoned with.  Usually seen with a bazooka, battle axe and Harley Davidson bike.  She's also one of Fuyutsuki's wives, but that's complicated and also another story.  She rules the shadow.  More or less.

Destroyed by Shaft's mad son Taylor, ShAmber was soon after recreated by Princess Jacqueline and the Jewel of Judgement.  It is more or less the same as ever except for a huge, highly defended fortress over the Pattern.  There is rumored to be some way to cross over to Arcadia inside the fortress, heavily defended.
 

Sidar Mill
(Written by Kuonji Inji, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit Time from Arden: 3 weeks normal shadow shifting, 3 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 2 days in Amber.
Technology: Some high technology with large gaps
Magic: None
Social: Sickening
Spiritual:   An example of Hell.

I first met Beowulf here, while working on a dig to uncover what appeared to be a pre-Logrus orchard and windmill. It had some potential to be a quaint little find. However, to quote the project director's log:
 "...Kohl must have somehow activated whatever it was, for a beam leapt out of nowhere and took what I assume was a brain scan. Seconds later, everyone in the room was treated to a virtual lifespan, living out what Mr. Kohl later identified as his ideal existence, from the perspective of being him. While it appear to last several decades, our clocks show that only three minutes actually passed. Five team members have committed suicide, two appear to be raving madmen, and Mr. Kuonji is curled up in a fetal position and fingering a knife..."

I don't want to talk about it any more.

Smackdown
(Written by Kuonji Inji, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit Time from Arden: 6 weeks normal shadow shifting, 6 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 4 days in Amber.
Technology: High technology
Magic: None
Social: Anti.
Spiritual:   You may very well move on to another plane of existence as a result of your visit.

Welcome to Smackdown, a place I encourage you all to visit. From the moment you enter, something will be attempting to kill you. Repeatedly. As far as I can determine, some arcane form of Sidar technology pulls past adversaries from your brain and throws them at you, gradually increasing them in potency and numbers. For my part, I began by having to shoot several twelve-year-old bullies who had annoyed me in my youth, and ended by fleeing for my life from a disturbingly realistic replica of my father. I did get to kill a wonderfully exact Beowulf, though, and that made it all worthwhile.

The interior of the Shadow resembles a large, dark, gloomy city, rather like Newark on Shadow Earth. Automationlike pedestrians bustle through the streets; they're mindless, ignore them. Your opponents will start hunting you almost the second you enter, increasing in number and destructive ability as time passes.

Oh yes. When you leave, the Shadow seems to dispatch some sort of robotic killing machine after you that can travel through Shadow. Like the threats inside, the toughness of the thing seems to be tied to how long you remained inside. A visit of a few minutes gave me a mech that I turned to scrap without breaking a sweat, while my record of 23 hours set a nigh-unstoppable death droid after me that I was only able to finally defeat by luring it onto the Pattern.

I'm not quite sure what purpose this place had. Possibly it was a training facility, or perhaps a form of punishment, with prisoners being sentenced to longer time spans inside based on their crime. I see no logic at all in the pursuing machine. Definitely a puzzle that I hope to solve one day.
 
 

Soloth
(Written by Kuonji Inji, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit Time from Arden: 5 weeks normal shadow shifting, 5 days by
hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 2 days in Amber.
Technology: Some high technology with large gaps
Magic: Present but highly unpredictable
Social: Nonexistent
Spiritual:   Nonexistent

       I believe Soloth was at one point a major Sidar power-generating center. The settlement patterns also indicate that a sizable community had formed around the site as well, although I remain uncertain was to what purpose it had for existing.

      Whatever the case, Soloth has been collapsing since at least the Manifestation of the Logrus and possibly longer. By 'collapse', I mean that the Shadow itself is literally coming apart and on the verge of destruction. What currently exists would seem to be the result of an automatic system buried within the heart of the main generator, which uses a Sidar art to reaffirm the reality of the Shadow in a manner not dissimilar to Pattern. This repairs the fabric of reality, which promptly starts to collapse again. This can be quite dangerous to the visitor, as hole in existence can pop into being around one at literally any second. Stay close to the generator for safety.

       The generator itself is a fascinating piece of equipment, and I believe it capable of producing vast amounts of raw, Shadow-transferable power. Easily 333 stories high and three times as wide, it's now overgrown with the Sur-Vines so common to Sidar ruins, the beloved, tamed plants grown feral, unkempt, and decidedly vicious. I've found records in other ruins that indicate that Soloth fed power almost halfway across the universe. Could it be a Construct? Or the ancestor of modern Constructs?

       We will likely never know. I have considered activating the generator, but my research has left me certain that activating it with the state of reality being what it is with have spectacularly catastrophic effects possibly not contained to this Shadow. I have also considered turning off or removing the repair system, but I strongly suspect the result would be a breach in the universe. I do not know for certain what is causing the collapse. I do know that neither Logrus nor Pattern function in the Shadow. I suspect that it is, in fact, _not_ part of the universe as reflected by the Pattern, and thus is only sustained by the ancient machine of the Sidar.

       My attempt to reproduce the generator design destroyed the Shadow of Zonde and most of its reflections. A pity. I shall miss their blue nachos.
 

Talislanta

Transit Time from Arden: 4 weeks normal shadow shifting, 4 day by hellride.
Time Differential:  Five hours for every hour in Amber
Technology:  Renaissance with Hypergeometry
Magic:      Up to Very Hard.  Often involves geometry or water.
Social:      One big street
Spiritual:   Many religions exist, weilding great spiritual authority and power.

Talislanta is part of the 'Pythagorean Squared Circle', a collection of oddly-geometried shadows which are all linked by 'veils', weak points where anyone with proper training can step between them.  Talislanta is itself a mobius strip, a ten mile long street which eventually loops back on itself in such a way that people live on top and on bottom of the strip, but the strip only has one side to it...Gravity works by pulling things to the street; no buildings have basements as the strip is fairly thin, and mostly filled by the sewers.  Some places have simple access holes for rapid transit through the street.

Talislanta's sky glows blue during the day and turns navy blue at night.  There are stars at night, but no moon or sun.  It rains the last four hours of each night and the first four hours of each day.  There are no real seasons, only slightly cooler or warmer spells, but usually it stays around 65 farenheit year round.

Talislanta meets its needs by trading with other Pythagorean Squared Circle shadows, by Chaos Tourism, and by producing powerful sorcerous items usually involving geometry.  Many buildings link through bent space.  Most are larger inside than outside.  It possesses many fine restaurants, casinos, and hotels.  It also possesses Non-Euclidian University, a school focused on math, philosophy, and music.  Many students take six years to graduate due to getting lost.

Tapestry:
(Written by Beowulf Kohl, D.PLH, Panopticon University)
 

o/~ My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue,
       An everlasting vision of the everchanging view.
    A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold,
       A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold. o/~
          -- Carol King, "Tapestry"

Transit time from Arden: 3 days normal shadow shifting, 6 hours by hellride.
Time Differential:  1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology: The Loom is the only thing you see.
Magic:      Very little; although power is plentiful here, something seems to prevent one from using it.
Social:     Only one person here, but she's quite amiable. Mostly.
Spiritual:  When I inquired, she just smiled mysteriously.

There's something about seeing a wonder in person that overwhelms you, no matter how shopworn or cliched the idea.

Take Tapestry, for example. Yes, there have been many examples in fantasy literature of a woven rug/wall hanging that either allows one to view the world, or in some figurative or literal sense *is* the world. Some of them have been quite good; Becca's Loom in the Alvin Maker book Red Prophet is one instance. But after reading enough of them, the idea begins to lose its power, yes? It goes from being a strange and wonderful thing to just a commonplace fantasy trope.

Visiting Tapestry will restore your sense of wonder. Even if the Ka'Riatha limits you to the Viewing Room, and chooses not to allow you to enter the Weaving Room and examine the Tapestry first-hand, you will still feel the glory of the experience. The threads glow in vibrant colors, in a way that simply cannot be conveyed through the clumsy medium of prose. As the Ka'Riatha spins out the ever-changing vista of Shadow from her loom, adding in the grace notes echoed back from the Logrus and the Pattern with vibrant octarine thread, a presence fills the room that simply cannot be denied.

If you are allowed to enter the room and touch the Tapestry itself, I would advice caution and a certain amount of meditative preparation beforehand; the first touch feels rather like grasping a live wire, as the sensory experiences of that bit of the Universe lash directly into your brain. You won't die from this, but you will be incapacitated for quite some time without proper preparation... and the Ka'Riatha will simply give you this amused *look*, as if you were a five-year-old caught in his own cleverness. Trust me, you do not want this to happen.

She is rather like one's irascible grandmother -- thin but spry, with leathery skin that shows she's spent plenty of time doing her *own* work, thank you very much, and why aren't you following her example? -- but caring underneath it all. She takes no nonsense, but can be quite accommodating if asked politely; an offered favor is always welcome, and if you don't hedge it around with qualifiers, she will be quite reasonable in her requests. (If you *do* hedge, be prepared to work much harder; she dislikes people who try to lawyer their way around a favor. Honest limitations she understands, and she'll respect you if you state yours openly... just don't act like you're trying to get out of something.) She is not one to meddle with casually! Just go in with respect, and you'll meet with her approval.
 

Tiffany:
(From Sources of Power in Shadow)
Transit time from Arden: 4 weeks normal shadow shifting, 4 days by hellride.
Time Differential: One day equals 1 minute in Amber.
Technology: None apparent.
Magic: Up to Hard.
Social: Think of Shadow Earth's Hollywood, as covered by Entertainment Tonight.
Spiritual: A lot of worship, but no deities...

<i>o/~ You don't have to be a star, baby... to be in my show... o/~</i>

          'Star Quality' is a term I've heard used to describe performers with an
          excessive degree of charisma, and it would certainly apply to this
          shadow.

          In Tiffany, everyone is a 'star' of some sort. Everyone. Every
          shoeshine boy gets a column devoted to him in some entertainment forum,
          somewhere -- and, astonishingly, actually has fans who read it.
          Don't ask me how the logistics of this work; the times I've tried to
          unravel just who publishes the thirty-five different editions of People
          Magazine, and how they make money off of it, I found a nest of financial
          relationships so tangled that it made my brain hurt. It's better simply
          to accept the situation as a fact and go from there.

          The end result is a society of people that are surprisingly
          well-adjusted. The equivalent to a typical denizen of Tiffany in a
          'normal' shadow -- someone with their own fan club, public notority, and
          lots of attention -- typically will become self-absorbed, egotistical,
          and disregards the importance of others in their life. However, since
          everyone in Tiffany suffers under these conditions, there is no
          particular self-importance attached to them; and thus we find people who
          are happy, have a high self-esteem, and are brimming with
          self-confidence. This also, not unexpectedly, leads to a high level of
          charisma as well; I would expect a native of Tiffany, if transplanted
          into another shadow, to naturally impress others with their outgoing
          nature and attract their own group of followers. Assuming that they
          survive the removal from their natural habitat and emotional support
          system, of course.

          Hmm. I wonder if Princess... no, the comparison is invidious. Away with
          it!
 

Trantor:
(Written by Mitsune Butler for a geography assignment at Ohtori, c. 1330 AY)

Transit Time from Arden: 3 weeks normal shadow shifting, 3 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 5 weeks here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  Jump Drive Tech, space fleets, interstellar trade, blasters, neuronic whips, grav jets, all the high tech toys except no robots
Magic:     None.  Not one bit.  So don't count on it.
Social:      Inter-galactic EMPIRE!!!
Spiritual:   Many religions, but many people are agnostic or atheist, and none of them have any miraculous powers

Trantor is a planet which is one huge city.  The entire surface is domed over and paved over.  In some places, the cities extend fifty or more stories underground.  Some areas are just full of roads between major sectors and all the things like powerplants and recycling centers which would get in the way elsewhere, but most of the planet is heavily populated.  Moving strips provide the primary form of transportation inside the many 'sectors' of the city.  Each has its own distinct character; many of them hold the cultures of the worlds of the Galactic Empire which founded that sector.

Trantor rules tens of thousands of inhabited worlds.  The empire is ruled by a hereditary Emperor and his appointed council.  There's a Senate, but they're just there as a figurehead remnant of the past.  Omri XII was ruling last time I was there.  I didn't have time to go visit the whole empire, but you can travel to any planet within about a week.  Their ships basically spend about 2 days cruising out of a system to where it's safe, then hyperspace jump to the next system and cruise into it to reach their destination.  I got to fly one; it was a lot of fun.

For the most part, the Trantorians have massively advanced technology, but for some reason, they don't use robots or full artifical intelligences.  Some sort of old prejudice, very deep rooted, inhibits this.

Unlike most space empire shadows, only humans live in this universe, although they've been around so long, they can't remember which planet they actually came from.

I especially recommend the holotheatres; many good plays to be seen there.  Also, there's good skiing in the northern sectors where they've domed over actual mountains!  Just don't get hit with a neuronic whip.  You won't like it.
 

The Underground

(Written by Kuonji Inji, D.PLH, Panopticon University)

Transit Time from Arden: 8 weeks normal shadow shifting, 8 days by hellride.
Time Differential: Varies from minute to minute, but seldom exceeds 2 Amber days.
Technology: 20th Century with a high breakdown rate
Magic: Present, strong taint in many areas
Social: Scavenger/Subculture
Spiritual:   Nothing you'd care to worship, trust me

Do not go here. That is all your tiny little minds need to know.

But you will anyway, so I shall go into more detail.

I think this used to be a transportation system. It looks like it was, anyway, and I do find the rudiments of Sidar design philosophy in its elements. However, it is highly crude in both construction and technology, which leads me to believe that it was an early Sidar system later abandoned after they reached their height. Or possibly it is a later, shallow imitation of Sidar glory. Certain inscriptions and artifacts lead me to favor the former explanation, however.

Picture winding, vaulted tunnels, with tracks and broken cars. They go in every direction, but inevitably they spiral down. One may pass the empty platforms and stations, many bearing what seem to be severed, inactive gateways through Shadow. Eventually you will come to the wharf of Ghaunttown, that phasmagoria of red paper lanterns and peeling paint and fireflies and glowing windows. Here you will meet the inhabitants. They can be dealt with if you have the power and the knowledge. They are fond of bright objects and sweet things. You may find a boat here, but be certain it is of sound construction and does not bear the Yellow Sign upon the prow - they will try to paint over it, be wary! The boat can take you down the river, past the riverboats and the aqueducts, into the flooded tunnels and canals. Soon you will reach the Boneflow, and the skeletons shall begin sailing past you in their small boats, do not listen to them, and past them that abyss of watery hell...

Well.

I have concluded that there is an active opening Outside in the depths. Possibly more than one, and probably very large. My mind was unable to take the strain at the lower depths, and the number of people who can better resist the effects of the Outsiders are very few. Something is holding it in check, but the further one descends the weaker... do you know, I think for a time I had crossed over, Outside...

Do not enter this Shadow. If you find it by accident, leave immediately. Do not attempt to 'fix' it. If I find that you have even thought about visiting, I will hunt you down and kill you.
 
 

The Union of the Snake

o/` The Union of the Snake is on the rise o/`
--Duran Duran

Transit Time from Arden: 2 weeks normal shadow shifting, 2 days by hellride.(It's only minutes from Shadow Earth, which is quite close to it in Shadow)
Time Differential: 5 days here equal 1 day in Amber.  Occassionally different.
Technology:  Modern Earth with some further advanced technology (like attack robots)
Magic:     No Magic
Social:      20th century
Spiritual:   Many religions exist, but have no obvious miraculous powers.

A land that, at first, seems like a normal 21st century place, with all the usual amenities of Earth.  However, watch long enough and you'll notice the red Cobra insignias everywhere.  The terrorist organization COBRA has managed to overthrow all the governments of the world, and has now held on to power for half a century, and with every passing decade, the world accepts COBRA's dominance even more.

COBRA rules from an island stronghold, Cobra Island, and the infamous fortress Terrordrome, a circular towering structure with cannons on all sides, holding several squadrons of attack jets and a swarm of robotic infantry.

Ruling over the shadow is Cobra Commander, a figure shrouded in mystery.  Wearing a blue military uniform, his face hidden in a featureless chrome mask, he has a distinctive rasping voice and a short temper.  Usually uptight, he is known to call for world-wide holidays on occasion, in his words, "just for the hell of it."
 
 
 

Wasyuu's Laboratory

Transit Time from Amber Port: 2 weeks normal shadow shifting, 2 days by hellride.  Wasyuu knows a special shadow short cut, however, which lets her make the trip in mere hours.
Time Differential: Highly variable.  When Wasyuu is not resident, she sets it to one day = one Amber day.
Known Barriers:  Wasyuu's laboratory is Trump-Barred.  It would appear to only be enterable by the use of flying beds during shadowshifting.  And you have to find the correct portal to enter through.
Technology:  Scads and scads of it.
Magic:     Ludicrous amounts
Social:      Wasyuu is absolute monarch
Spiritual:   The smurfs have come to fear the great spikey haired goddess and her strange whims.
 

Wasyuu's laboratory is either adjacent to, or a subdimension of a shadow of Lipun known as 'Japan'.  As is sometimes the case with Shadows, 'Japan' is much larger than Lipun, as while 'Japan' proper is only the size of Lipun, it's part of a planet which is part of an entire galaxy containing space-faring races and galactic empires.  A small house tucked away in the woods of Japan contains the main portal into Wasyuu's laboratory.

The laboratory itself consists of five hollowed out planets connected together by a complex framework, all floating in 'subspace', which is whatever Wasyuu needs it to be.  It is a rare high-tech and high-magic environment, full of Wasyuu's twelve million experiments in progress.

Notable regions of her laboratory include--

The Infirmary:  A giant automated infirmary capable of treating several thousand patients at once.  Usually quite busy.

The Smurf Village:  A functional life-sized Smurf Village, used for sociological experiments.

Chibi-Ry'leh:  Home to Chibi-Cthulhu, periodically rises in the waters off the beach near the Smurf Village.  Used for amusement.

Asteroids Billiards:  A giant pool game using asteroids and very large Waldoes.

The Greenhouse:  About half of one of the planets is devoted to growing every kind of plant Wasyuu can find and conducting plant breeding experiments.  This includes things like ice cream trees and wooden nickel bushes.

The Alchemy Lab:  Better living through alchemy.  Think chemistry lab the size of the pentagon, with constant experiment work being conducted by Chibi-Wasyuus.  Doesn't that just make you feel all tingly?  Don't worry, the rash fades quickly.
 
 
 



 

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Last Update April 18, 2002