Dark and Golden Ages

A Brief History of Chaos

According to the Book of the Serpent Hung Upon the Tree of Matter, the first Lord of Chaos was, in fact, a woman named Lilith. Consort to the Serpent, she gave form to Shadow by drawing upon the energies of a node of raw Chaos known as the Pit. The artifact she created to accomplish this became known as the Logrus, and she was the first Keeper of the Logrus.

From her unions with the Serpent, she birthed many a child. Each was a Lord or Lady of Chaos capable of initiating into the Logrus. Each in turn begat their own lineages. These came to be known as the Houses of Chaos. These Houses formed an oligarchy over Chaos, each sharing rule of the land. Of these, eight houses hold the most sway.

Reality and Shadow

There is one node of reality in Chaos at this time, a giant rock of existence called the Core. It's an island floating above a swirling node of Primal Chaos called the Pit. Within the Core the Logrus is housed and many of the central governmental buildings are situated atop this rock. All other residences are a patchwork of Shadows stitched together into Ways. Only the High Lords of Chaos are allowed to have their patchwork of Ways connect to the Core. Everyone else is expected to connect on to one of the other existing Ways.

Unlike the state of affairs after the Creation of the Pattern, there is no infinite array of Shadows stretching out from Chaos. There are just those that are sculpted with Logrus and tacked on to the Ways.

Character Creation

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All characters are built off of 300 points. In addition, all characters receive the powers Logrus Mastery and Shape Shifting for free. For the most part I will be using the basic ADRPG rules with a few of my own tweaks as described below.


The four attributes are interpreted a little differently from the rule book:

Pysche: This does not provide telepathy through eye contact or physical contact. Nor does it provide psychic manipulation, surgery or even “mind raping.” You would require a specific power (such as Sorcery or the like) to pull that off. Otherwise, the most you can do with this is to daze or stun someone over a Trump contact. On the other hand, this attribute covers social interaction and stealth. Magical abilities depend heavily on this ability.

Warfare: Most of the physical aspects of this attribute have been stripped out. This attribute mainly covers tactical reasoning, ranged combat and most formal dueling situations. You can, in theory, use this with something like a sword or staff to buy a bit of time and moving room. However, a significant Strength advantage negates the usefulness of such a tactic.

Strength: This covers most physical abilities. Running, jumping, beating someone down. In hand-to-hand combat, this attribute is more heavily weighted than Warfare.

Endurance: This functions about the same as in the book. I tend to weight threats to health (such as poison) based off of the Endurance hierarchy. So, if everyone drinks the poison wine, the PC with the highest Endurance will be okay, if ill, while the person with the lowest Endurance will be screwed.

There will not be an auction, though there will be an informal ranking system. I will leave it up to the players to determine whether they want to have the ranking be public, if they want to just know who is top in a particular stat, or if they want to have all this information secret.


Powers from the book are generally available, with the obvious exception of Pattern. Neither Exalted powers nor anything from Shadow Knight is available. I will be willing to consider particular specialties or knacks above and beyond the powers listed in the core rules, but that is all.

On the other hand, I will accept some powers from the Rebma Sourcebook.

Powers that require special note are:

  • Logrus: Because there is no conventional Shadow, Logrus is not really a shadow-travelling utility. Logrus Summoning and searching with Tendrils involves searching through the Ways or, more rarely, the barely-realized quasi-worlds that exist in the mathematical nonsense that surrounds the Pit. So summoning something that would just be convenient runs the risk of having another Lord of Chaos get pissed off at you.
  • Conjuration: In addition to the usual uses for this, you can also use it to create Waygates between shadow fragments.
  • Shapeshifting: I tend not to use the nonsense involving Primal Chaos Cancer.
  • Jewel Attunement and Mastery: Each of the PCs will receive one Jewel-of-Judgement style artifact that is randomly assigned. Each of those will have the 10- and 25-point versions of attunement to the item. The basic Attunement will allow about the same things available with the standard Jewel attunement. The stuff you see Corwin do in the series sums up most of it. I'll need to figure out what 25 points worth of attunement actually does.

I won't go into a case-by-case, but some broad notes are:

  • Don't be lame. Yes, there are loopholes you could drive a bus through in the item rules. Don't exploit them.
  • No 8-or-more-point Qualities or Powers. The rules break down even more than usual once you try to push past 4.
  • No quantity multipliers higher than "Horde." It's not that I care if you have a bajillion Deadly Damage Care Bear Ninjas. It's just that the way the multipliers work at those levels don't really make sense given the structure of the universe and some of the things you would use this for become irrelevant with the simple House-defining mechanic.

These will be handled with the mechanic to define your House.


No more than 10 points of either Good or Bad Stuff.

House Resources

In addition to the 300 points for your character, you have 100 points to distribute among special Attributes to define your House as well as some other resources. You can sell these stats down to -10 and -25, just like other attributes. -25 indicates that your House has no resources along those lines.

The four House Attributes are:

  • Lore: This represents your House's magical and scholarly might. A higher rank in this means you have more sorcerers in your House and more books.
  • Espionage: Your ability to get dirt on others. A higher rank means you have better intelligence and counter-intelligence than your peers.
  • Military: Training, equipment and man-power for your private brute squad. Not only do you have a strong standing army and kick-ass body guards, but you also have better assassins.
  • Economy: The stuff your House owns and produces, the size of your Ways, etc. This can also include favors being leveraged against lesser Houses.
There is also an equivalent to Stuff called "Popularity." You cannot have more Good Popularity or Bad Popularity greater than 10. It affects how well your House is liked by others and how lucky it tends to be.

In addition to this numerical stuff, there will also be two boons.

The first is the Great Artifacts. There are eight and each High Lord of Chaos owns one. It's how they got to be a High Lord. Each PC will have one of these items randomly assigned. These items are:

  • The Jewel of Judgement
  • The Jewel of Destiny
  • The Blade of Honor
  • The Blade of Cunning
  • The Staff of Wisdom
  • The Spear of Might
  • The Cauldron of Mystery
  • The Chalice of Purity
They are mysterious and powerful, and their power is only exceeded by their mystery. Legend corresponds each of these items to a portion of the Serpent's anatomy. The exact truth of this is unknown.

The second boon is that there are some resources that cannot be bought and will not be randomly assigned. I will use a secret formula to determine who receives them, most likely a combination of stats that may or may not be relevant to the boon at hand. I will not guarantee that everyone will receive a second boon. These boons could include:

  • Which House the Keeper of the Logrus is loyal to.
  • Which House has the Lord High Constable is loyal to.
  • Which House has the most influence over the Shadowmaster Guild. Etc.
I have not finalized a list for this yet.

Background Information on the Courts of Chaos

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Here are some concepts that I typically use in my Courts of Chaos games.


The Constabulary: While most Houses have their own security force, the Crown has established a law-enforcement body to establish order in the common areas. The Lord High Constable oversees the organization, with Sheriffs responsible for different legislative areas. As far as the common creature of Chaos is concerned, the Constabulary is the law.

Shadowmaster Guild: In the world of frayed Shadows that make up the Courts of Chaos, these are the carpenters and plumbers who stitch together these Shadows.

Demons: A non-human creature native to the Courts of Chaos or the Abyss that is not descended from Lilith. The spectrum of creatures that qualify as demons is so broad, that it seems to be more a matter of tradition than any specific taxonomy. Unless specifically recognized as a free citizen of Chaos, they are little more than chattel.

Commoners: The free citizenry of Chaos that is not affiliated with any House due to lineage or enslavement. Most are vaguely humanoid, but on occasion a demon manages to obtain freedom.

Slaves: A sentient creature kept for service by the Lords of Chaos. Most slaves in Chaos are demons, but occasional humanoid thralls are brought in from Shadow. Also, slavery is a common punishment for commoners who break minor laws. Slaves are bound to obedience by layers of high compelling. A slave can earn his freedom in a variety of fashions, and once set free cannot be made a slave again. Some groups are dedicated to the abolition of slavery as an institution and break enslavement spells whenever possible. Escaped slaves must hide in the common Ways of the Courts and hope that they don’t get caught, or they must flee into Shadow.


The Pit: The node of Primal Chaos that powers the Logrus. Some have said it looks like the cycle of creation and destruction that some universes go through: A Big Bang followed after a time by the Big Crunch. The Pit will spit out churning and spiraling lines of energy through the Abyss, which are then sucked back in. On occasion solid things are also spat out: swords, station wagons, creatures. Tempered by the forces of raw Chaos, they are considered almost indestructible.

The Abyss: Unlike other interpretations out there, this Abyss does not represent a place of entropy or destruction. Instead, it is simply a big Nothing that contains the Pit and the Core, plus the occasional debris that either falls in from above or is spat out from the Pit. The stuff of Shadow, unbound by either Pattern or Logrus, is easy to manipulate in this area. Anyone with sufficient will can mold the area to his will. This includes making small platforms to ride across the Abyss, or moving rocks around.

The Core: This is a giant chunk of Reality that houses the Logrus and other important locations. Some say it is made from the body of a dead god. It floats above the Abyss.

The Cathedral of the Serpent: The central place of worship for the Serpentine faith. It is located on the portion of the Core closest to the Pit, and has a remarkable view.

The Rim: This is the edge of the Core that is closest to the Pit. Beyond this point, even Lords of Chaos are hesitant to venture. Some do build ways that extend out past the Rim for any number of reasons, the biggest being “an excellent view.” The snarky counterpoint being “And it gets better every minute.” Anything bordering on sane and rational physical laws break down entirely into non-Euclidean fragments, mathematical abstractions, and quantum foam. Many breeds of demon call this no-man’s land home, especially the realms where physical forms are not possible. Also, many use this barren wasteland as a convenient place to fight duels of honor away from the eyes of authority. It’s also a great place to dump a body.

The Ways: The term used to describe a vast horde of Shadows stitched together by trained Shadowmasters who use the ambient energies of Logrus to solidify the tatters of Shadow that exist around Chaos. Only the Major Houses allowed to have Ways that touch upon the Core, but they often allow public access through these areas.

Common Ways: A general term used to describe Ways that are not controlled by any Houses. These are often the Ways of dead Houses that have been taken over by commoners and expanded by rogue shadowmasters.


Absinthe: The Courts have absinthe the way Mexico has tequila. It comes in varying degrees of quality, from the most refined beverages served by nobility to the murkiest crap served in dive bars with a giant sugar bowls in the center of the table.

Blood: Those of Chaotic origin tend to burn when wounded. This is not to say they don’t have blood. But in some places the blood bursts into flames when exposed to air. It varies depending on a lot of subtle and weird cosmological laws.

Filmies: A platform of raw Shadow-stuff formed by concentrated will and used to cross the Abyss.

Pit-Forged Goods: Items spewed out by the Pit. They are generally indestructible and weapons made of this hold a good edge.

Pit-Gold: This is a blackish-gold metal spat out by the Pit. Though indestructible like all Pit-forged items, it is malleable and can be made into coins. The material is impossible to adequately forge and cannot be found in Shadow, making it an ideal form of currency. Typically only the wealthy possess any Pit-gold.

Time: Each Way has a slightly different flow of time. While there are few extremes, most are relatively close. Still, conventional time is harder to tell. Instead, time is based off of the color of the sky in relation to the Core.

The sky is divided evenly between inky blackness and swirling colors. The Core can be thought of the hand of a sundial, pointing at a portion of the striped sky of Chaos. When the swirling colors are closest to the Core, the color is based off of the portion of the sky at the horizon. When there are no colors near the Core, then it is based off of the color on the opposite horizon.

There are five units of reckoning time in Chaos: Skies, turnings, cycles, seasons and years. A “sky” is simply the span of time that a particular is within phase for the Core. This equals about an hour and a half. There are 8 skies to a “turning” which is a run of all the colors in the sky: white, blue, green, purple, brown, orange, yellow and red. When the colors are closest to the core it’s called a “light-turning” and when it’s farthest from the core it’s called a “dark-turning.” You can think of this as AM and PM. There are two turnings to a cycle, which is equivalent to a day. There are 30 cycles to a season, and 10 seasons to a year.

Trisp and Fandon: Traditional dueling equipment of Chaos. A trisp (also known as a trisliver) is a short, spear-like device with three razor-thin prongs on the tip. By squeezing the haft of the trisp, it fires out three beams of energy to a distance of about 8 feet for one second. These beams cut flesh to a depth of ¾”, which can be lethal in places with major veins or after numerous small wounds, but otherwise it’s mainly good at fighting till first blood. A fandon is a 3-foot long shield of filmy mesh, weighted at one end and designed to scatter the beams of the trisp.