in the Shadow of Greatness


October 1, 2002

Culture of Chaos

And this tidbit about the culture of Chaos. Players from the Bloody Grievance will recognize some of these issues:

Date: Tue, 1 Oct 2002 11:50:02 -0700 (PDT) Subject: AMBER PatternFall :: The Culture of Chaos
—- captain feedback wrote:
> However, if you wish to integrate the two series seamlessly, then the
> answer is, the Logrus was not present at the battles, and you have to
> explain why not. You can go with the oft-maligned societal reasons
> (it's considered wrong to do so in war, like poisoning fresh water
> sources in the desert is illegal during war on Shadow Earth
> (apparently), or how it's a war crime to assassinate a world leader
> during war (a law that I'd love to get rid of, and then maybe the
> chicken hawks would be a little more cautious), or how Borel thinks
> that it's wrong to fight an unmailed opponent when mailed)), or
> metaphysical (like Trumps turned off during Oberon's repair, perhaps
> the Logrus was turned off for some reason).

[SPECULATION] Chris makes the point clear: if we wish to make some sense of the chronicles, we should look at *all* evidence to suggest our speculation. Chaos is odd and alien.

Why don't we more often use the social/cultural reasons? Why don't we get creative with the intangibles? Is it because we moderns only like hard data that we can 'prove' our case with? Or do we want everything to have an answer that we can empathize with? What kind of warrior, a famous and deadly Lord of Chaos, takes off his armor to confront a famous Prince of Chaos? What sort of woman shows you a ring from a missing/presumed dead King, and expects everyone to follow her orders "from Oberon"? Not people that think the way we do, and certainly not as *gamers* of ruthless mindset. We would call these people, "stupid". We should think outside of modern conventions. We should use the patterns presented to us by the narrative. We have to roleplay a bit of backstory.

I think Chaos was isolated and alien in its culture. Smug if you will. I think they were arrogant, prideful, and culturally effete to the point of decadence (as we gamers might think). I think they were backward-looking, holding a mystic and political vendetta against Dworkin (and his blood) that lasted for thousands of years with minimal contact and resolution. The Chaosians had the older culture, the superior knowledge of arcane works, the greater numbers, and they were on the offense against a divided foe.

And yet I think the reasons Chaos lost are real, and not narrative convenience (although the books are pure entertainment.)

While the amberites did not understand their enemy well, they took a modern view of what was required for them to survive. They took the *gamer's view* and used almost every trick they could think of. They never considered a goal higher than survival. Perhaps my view is clouded by Amber's myth or naive understanding of history, but it seems to me that if you take a strict culture of traditional men and women, with an Elder hierarchy that must control long-lived sons and daughters with a rigid caste command. You then posit that this hierarchy is historically and culturally older and superior in most ways to all shadow sources of conflict, and you allow them physical and arcane toys in good measure, that you have an unbeatable society that knows just how superior and unbeatable it is. Then add in the ultimate culture clash. Bring on the ruthless *gamers* who, outnumbered, confused, scared, tired, are yet willing to use every scraping low-life, miserable, frightening bit of knowledge they have acquired in the nastiest shadows of infinity against their superior foes. Who are in fact, child-monsters out of the ancient nightmare-theft of the very Eye of your own Great Being of the Universe. These amberites have no chance to beat you Chaosians—- now that you have pushed them up against the wall of their little tiny sanctum and killed their King and plenty of their number.

Aren't there plenty of examples of cultures who fell to blind pride in our own shadow-history? I bet we could come up with a reason that the Logrus was "in the shop for repairs." How about the anniversary of the theft of the Eye? A holy time where people are meditating on home and hearth and the good things in life. How about the Amberites never allowed the Chaosians to form ranks or establish communication lines? How about the Amberites never let the commanders of the Chaosians exchange personal histories, antecedents, and rules for the disposition of the wounded? Or proven spells centuries old that couldn't touch enemy royals. Or demon flank busters who disappeared into enemy lines to no effect? How about the Chaosians panicked as element after element of their world-view shattered in blood and gore?

No answers. Just questions. [/SPECULATION]

Filed under : Amber at 01.10.2002