Through a Mirror Darkly

Places In Shadow

Table of Contents


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:

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 Beach

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.

Trumps to the Beach seem to have stopped working lately...

(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.


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 rules much of the shadow from an iron fortress known as Angband, beneath Thangodrim.  Gil-Galad was held captive her for centuries, and by means still unclear, Gendo's sword Justice ended up here as well.


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.

(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.


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.

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.

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 recent Conquest festival (AY 1292), has sent the Efreet into a tizzy, especially as reports remain confused as to whether humans, efreet, or some combination of the above stole it.

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.


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.


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.

(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.

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.


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.

(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


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.

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.

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 a red-haired warrior Queen known as the Morrigan and by her masked sister, 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.

(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.

(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.


Transit Time from Arden: 18 days normal shadow shifting, 2.5 days by hellride.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Technology:  Cyberpunk
Magic:      Only in computer games
Social:      Mega-Corporate
Spiritual:   Many religions exist, but have no obvious miraculous powers.  Most people worship the almighty dollar.

Uncle Drake's cyberpunk mega-corporate shadow.  He goes here to hide from his relatives sometimes, as Trump only reaches into a single room in this shadow, from what you've heard.  You've heard stories, but unless he's your father, you probably haven't been there.

Rumor has it that Marketplace has recently been destroyed.  By a giant squid.  No, really.

(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.

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.

Similar to eighteenth century Europe.  Many of your Elders were sent here to learn social graces and swordsmanship, and you quite possibly were too.  The Academy itself contains a hidden arena which can only be accessed by those who have the Blood of Fuyutsuki flowing in their veins.

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.

(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 group that exercises the most control in Leng, relative to the others, is the one led by the Priest in the Yellow Mask, chief cleric of the Saffron Temple of Night. Not much beyond this is known about them, as few have gone in and managed to come back from their inner sanctums, and none of them were quite sane afterward.

(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 comes 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.

(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.


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 Shaft's wife... wives... but that's complicated and also another story.

Magic may or may not work in ShAmber, depending on Shaft's need for it, as he turns it off and on like a light switch.   Technology most definitel works, so come on down and bring your boomboxes. The speed is also variable, but usually one Amber minute = 1 ShAmber month.  Shaft believes in creative procrastination.

(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.

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 March 6, 2001