some rambling thoughts...
The wizard and good neighbor, Himmaggery, talks in his journal about how he pictures the first series Chaosians as something more like the Fair Folk of White Wolf's Exalted setting. I don't know a whole lot about Exalted but he hits on something that I've thought for sometime: Chaos is too bland in the Amber RPG. Since most GMs and the RPG use the second series as a source, Chaos never seems as mysterious and strange as it does in the Corwin chronicles.
In the games I have played in, few GMs have managed to to bring a little strangeness to Chaos and come close to making Chaos how I pictured it should be.
Arref managed to create an excellent Chaosian society for his Bloody Grievance game that he runs at Ambercon North. His Chaosians had many strange rules and customs that confounded all the players and their characters. Sitting down to eat with them became a deadly event as the Chaosians, offended somehow, would kill themselves to regain their honor, while the Amberites looked at eachother confused. It was a blast to play and one thing was certain to all the players. This Chaos was not just a reflection of Amber. Still, with all its rules and customs, I was left feeling that this Chaos was more about Order than its namesake. When I picture Chaos, I picture something...well.....a little more chaotic.
Michael Kucharski's Methuselah's Children game came close to my vision on a few occassions, especially with his NPC: Nestor. Nestor was a minor noble of the courts and one of the greatest shapeshifters. My character, Alexander, ended up going to Nestor for training in the art of shapeshifting and while training with him, Michael painted a picture of a very dark side of Chaos. A shapeshifter that has been alive for so many centuries, Nestor no longer needed food to survive and....beng in control of every molecule in his body, did not find pleasure in the normal things in life anymore. What are the pleasures of the flesh to someone that can change everything about himself. Nestor, and later Alexander, learned to feed and take pleasure from the raw emotions of others. Terror being one of the strongest emotions, he appreciated most causing that emotions upon others, but all pure emotions were worth feeling. It was this touch and a few others that made MK's Chaos stand apart a bit from most. His was still somewhat rooted in the Wujick Chaos, but was different and strange enough to give it a bit more mystery.
I offer you my basic views on Chaos. I warn you that a lot of my views on them come from one thing: the name. Chaos.
Personally, I like to think of Chaos in terms of....no suprise here....Michael Moorcock's Chaos. While not evil in the traditional sense, Moorcock writes Chaos as agents of change. Moorcock's Lords of Chaos have a constant need to create. They create beauty and suffering but how they differ from Order is nothing stays the same for long. Many think of Chaos as evil and the Chaos Lords are often referred to as Princes of Hell. (see The Warhound and the World's Pain) They are seen as evil because in order to create, they need to first destroy what has come before. They destroy entire universes to create a clean canvus to work from. In contrast, The Lords of Order represent stagnation. They fight to preserve the status quo even if the status quo is not good or worth saving.
I picture the Nobles of the courts as being much like Moorcock's Chaos. They have armies of slaves and servants so they rarely need to involve themselves with the mundane stuff. They are purely creators. Some are dark and create shadows of pain and suffering while other create things of beauty. Still, they are creatures of whimsy. They will quickly grow tired of their latest creation and feel the urge to change it....even if it means destroying a world or two in the process. Even their sevants are often warped and changed by the will or the Chaosians. This is why they move in on Amber. Amber represents order. The Pattern makes it harder to change things and the closer to the Pattern one gets the more difficult change becomes. Half of the Amber universe ends up falling outside of the control of the Chaosians and a new power.....a new plaything...lies out there in Amber....waiting for them.
The majority of creatures in the courts serve the more powerful Logrus masters, the masters of creation. They do this because they want to or because they have to, but most of them will never see the masters that head each house. That is usually fine with them because they know whom they serve and that service to the house is their place in life. It gives their life a form of meaning.
The majority of the armies of Chaos are made up off all sorts of beastly people of the sorts Zelazny describes as part of the army of the black road. They have been twisted and shaped into the creatures they have become by the powers of Chaos.
The basic grunts of Chaos are nothing in comparison to an Amberite. They have no great mystical powers, perhaps knowing a few minor magical cantrips at the most. They are stronger than humans from shadow but not by much. They attack in hordes and that is where the danger lies. On the other hand, the nobles stand as equals next to the Amberites. While their magic powers tend to be greater, the power of the pattern helps an Amberite resist the powers of Chaos. It is what the Pattern was meant to do.