Shadows of Chaos
The Black Zone
This page is reference material for the Amber DRPG campaign A Bride for Merlin,
which is run in Atlanta, GA by Franklin W. Cain.

The Black Zone

The term "the Black Zone" can mean more than one thing, depending upon to whom you're talking, and on the context of your conversation. Basically, "the Black Zone" can mean one or both of the following:

It is extremely unusual for anyone to have a greater level of control over a Black Zone kingdom than what is indicated by the writeup below. Usually, a character will have up to eight points (8 pts.) "invested" in a Black Zone kingdom (or a multiple of this, if he has a group of Black Zone Shadows).

Note that most of the Black Zone kingdoms are actually part of a Duchy of Chaos (each of the great Houses of Chaos is also a Duchy; this is the source of the term "Rim Duke").

These are some of the Black Zone kingdoms (and their associated Duchy):

Anch   [D. Sawall]


(This Shadow and/or Family was mentioned, briefly, in one of Zelazny's books.)

Axsum   [D. Jesby]

This Shadow is a mostly rural place, used primarily as a hunting preserve for House Jesby.

This Shadow was severely damaged during the PatternFall War by Benedict and the hosts of Amber, as the Black Road approached very closely to Axsum.

(This Shadow was the childhood home of Flark, Lord Jesby.)

Bazaar (i.e., the Grand Bazaar)   [D. Minobee]

The Shadow named Bazaar is an easily-accessed Shadow containing the Grand Bazaar, which is one big, constantly running open-air market with merchants and trade goods from throughout all of Known Reality. The Grand Bazaar exists all throughout this Shadow.

Historically, the title "Count (or Countess) of the Grand Bazaar" is held by a senior member of House Minobee who is not in the direct line of succession.

Recently, a Shadowfolk mageling attacked Bazaar, killing dozens of Chaosians, and wounding hundreds more. This impudent terrorist was hunted down and killed by Flark, Lord Jesby and a small group of stalwart companions.

Bloodpool   [D. Barimen]


Burning Flows   [D. Sawall]

oceans and rivers of lava


Felosh   [D. Minobee]


The Grim Marches   [D. Helgram]


The Iron Wastes   [var.; see below]

The Iron Wastes is actually an area of the Black Zone comprised of numerous shadows and pocket shadows that have a high background level of ambient energy (i.e., they are very similar to our physical Universe moments after the Big Bang). These energies are useful for empowering spells and artifacts (including constructs), and thus, control of these Shadows is often hotly contested.

About a third of these Shadows are controlled by House Barimen, and Houses Sawall and Helgram each control about a sixth or a fifth of these Shadows, and the remainder of these Shadows are fought over by the other Houses.

Many of the Shadows in this region have names that are all but unpronouncable to human tongues, in each case, being an onomatopetic representation of the background noises, such as a high-pitched whine, or a constant buzzing or rasping, or a heavy bass, low-pitched rumbling, (etc.), prevalent throughout that specific Shadow.

Here is a short list of named Shadows of the Iron Wastes.

  • AH!   [D. Helgram]
  • E!   [D. Barimen]
  • F!   [D. Helgram]
  • M!   [D. Barimen]
  • R!   [D. Sawall]
  • S!   [D. Helgram]
  • V!   [D. Barimen]
  • X!   [D. Sawall]
  • Z!   [D. Barimen]

Kehalla   [D. Minobee]

tropical climate; lush, animate vegetation of an energetic, aggressive, and carnivorous nature

Melnibone   [D. Helgram]

This shadow is the ancestral home of the Family of Melnibone (a minor house which is usually associated with House Helgram).

This Shadow has a strong history in the Magics, especially in Sorcery. In fact, this one Shadow has produced more members of the Guild of Sorcerors that any other Family or House in Chaos.

Furthermore, the current GuildMaster of Sorcerors, Vnu Elricson-Melnibone, is also the holder of the Baronial title to this Shadow (and thus, is said, by some, to be in vassalage to the Duchy of Helgram).

Tchun   [D. Sawall]

No one knows much about this Shadow. The Family of Tchun is very tight-lipped about their ancestral home. (If the Elders of House Sawall know the secrets of this Shadow, they have yet to tell anyone this.)

(The Family of Tchun is a minor house which is usually associated with House Sawall.)

Tvar   [D. Hendrake]

This Shadow was conquered by the Family of Tvariens many centuries ago, when they were still just a clan of shadow-spanning mercenaries. In the intervening years, they have turned this Shadow into their ancestral home.

(The Family of Tvariens is a minor house which is usually associated with House Hendrake.)

Valkens   [D. Hendrake]

This war-ravaged Shadow of rugged mountains and fertile valleys is the ancestral home of the Family of Valko (a minor house which is usually associated with House Hendrake).

Vrell   [D. Helgram]

This shadow is the ancestral home of the Family of Vrell (a minor house which is usually associated with House Helgram).