House Helgram: Helgramways
Welcome to Helgramways
- Administration and Organisation
- People of the House
- The Zócalo
- The Helgram Academy
- Back to House Helgram
- Back to the Helgram Game Main Page
Technology and Timeflow
Helgramways is made up of many Shadows, and it has an experienced Waysmaster who keeps everything in check. It does have certain underlying defaults in those sections of the House located in the wider Courts of Chaos, rather than in the Royal Ways zone:
- An oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere
- Climate: relatively mild winters with only occasional ground frosts, but rainy days about a third of the time; the summer months are warmer (average range 15-25°C) and fairly dry, although there can still be wet days.
- Gravity at Earth standard
- Functional magic
- Logrus, Broken Logrus and Trumps work normally
- Pattern is slightly better than in the Courts as a whole; Broken Pattern is hard to use, but not completely blocked
- A base tech level of around 1970
- Revolvers, bolt-action rifles, and shotguns work
- Nuclear power and weapons do not work at all.
- Timeflow is locked to Thelbane standard.
In those parts of Helgramways that comprise the public access areas for other Houses, Royal Ways defaults apply, with warnings posted on the gates between the higher-tech main House and the lower-tech Royal Ways.
Helgramways runs on a calendar comprising 15 months a year, each of 28 days (January, February, March, April, May, June, September, October, November, December, Justember, Thesember, Valens, Cornel, Yule).
Each day comprises 25 hours, each of 60 minutes. Like the rest of Chaos, the overall timeflow is roughly three-times that of Amber.
The Helgram Plaza
When a visitor first arrives in Helgramways, they come through to the Plaza, which is located within the Royal Ways Zone. This is the most open area as far as arrivals by Magic, Trump, Logrus and other Arcane methods are concerned. Non-Helgrams coming to visit will always be diverted to this area, unless they happen to be accompanied by a member of the House who can make their own arrangements.
The Plaza is a paved public space in the shape of a slightly distorted pentagon and is roughly 150yd on each side (total area, about 39k yd2). The look and feel is similar to Trafalgar Square in London, although it’s probably sunnier. It is surrounded by buildings of British-Georgian style architecture, dressed with Portland stone, between which are pathways that lead out into the extensive gardens that surround the Plaza. There are no roads. The arrivals gates are located on the two lower sides of the Plaza, adjacent to the Helgram Marketplace.
All arrivals appear facing Helgram Palace, which is located on a terrace above the main ground level of the Plaza. With respect to the rest of Chaos, this is the official residence of the Grand Duke (although more often, he actually stays in his own Ways, which has private internal links both to hear and the main House), and contains the major Helgram State Rooms, such as the Great Hall, the Throne Room and the Grand Ballroom. Major Helgram State occasions are held in here – such as Royal visits or visits from other Grand Dukes, and it is also sometimes used for major House functions.
From the terrace, paths slope down to ground level on either side of the Plaza, seperated from the lower level by balustrades. There are also a large central staircase and two smaller ones to the sides. In the centre of the Plaza is a large marble fountain, with four bronze lion statues at the base. There is a Church of the Serpent church to the right-hand side of the terrace. This is balanced by the Keep, which hosts the Plaza security office as well as a small force of Helgram military.
The Plaza, and the Ways that are joined to it, are the face which House Helgram shows to the Courts as a whole, and where those departments with dealings with the rest of Thelbane have their offices. These include the External Office, the Helgram Diplomatic Service and the Helgram Commercial Office.
The Helgram Marketplace
To the south of the Plaza is the Piazza. There is a stone-built covered market building at the centre, which has stalls selling foods, crafts, etc in its central courtyard, and more permanent outlets within the building. The south side of the Piazza is lined with bars and restaurants that are open to anyone from the Courts who wishes to frequent them. There is also a small arts centre with a gallery, plus three halls which stage plays and concerts, showcasing the best of House Helgram talent. For those staying overnight after a performance, then the Lion Hotel can also be found in this area.
The Central Nexus
The Central Nexus is the true heart of House Helgram. Located in the Courts Zone (rather than specifically in the Royal Ways), the Nexus connects the “internal” parts of the House. On arriving at the Nexus, the change in base climate between the Plaza and the House proper is obvious, with the light seeming brighter, and a more Southern Continental feel to the air. The Nexus is a large, roughly hexagonal space about 250 yards on each side (roughly 162k yd2), and paved with small stones. It has the feel of an Italian piazza, and is by far the largest single space within Helgramways (although it is considerably smaller than the Plaza Mayor in the Zócalo).
All arrivals appear facing the Great Palace, a large structure on the north face of the hexagon, with a huge Greco-Roman style entrance portico. Along with the portico, the most notable external feature is the huge dome of the Great Hall of the House, which can’t be missed by new arrivals in the courtyard.
To either side of the Great Palace, and partially round the north-east and north-west faces are continuous three storey-buildings, with a tall colonnade facing the central square. The arches of the colonnade offer access to the communal and administrative areas of the House. There are also four demarcated gate areas which lead to the Academy and associated Prep School, the Halls of Culture, the Stadium and the Helgram Institue of Magic and Technology. The two southern angled faces are made up of two rows of retail outlets, bars and cafés. The southern face is taken up by the Citadel and the Cathedral of the Serpent, along with three “doorways”: two of these go back to the Helgram Plaza in the Royal Ways Zone, and the third goes to the Zócalo.
This Nexus area has five fountains, surrounded by a marked area of coloured stones. Each is situated far enough out from the corner points to form a star, which is also marked out on the ground in coloured stone. In the centre of this area is a statue of Grand Duke Graham the Elder, and his wife Maíread, the founders of the House. Four of the Fountains are arrival points for people moving around the House by Arcane means (ie magic, Trump, Logrus or other methods), with the marked out areas around them indicating the area that should be kept clear for safe arrivals. The one nearest the Citadel is merely decorative
Assorted trees and pieces of statuary and sculpture are scattered around the plaza, as well as a dozen decorative suns, inset into the stone, and maybe 20ft by 20ft in size, and some apparently random individual coloured stones. Many of these, if touched, triggered or stepped on with the right words will take you through to the various sub-Ways of House Helgram: the individual properties belonging to members of the House who have been deemed worthy of such things. Moreover, like the Helgram Plaza, the Central Nexus is surrounded by gardens.
The Great Palace
This is the Helgram government and administration complex, and home to the Helgram bureaucracy. The physical building that faces onto the Central Nexus contains the Great Hall of the House, as well as the Helgram Council chamber and assorted offices and meeting rooms. The Palace anchors what is probably one of the largest sub-Ways within Helgramways as a whole.
The Great Hall is arranged amphitheatre style and can accomodate the whole House, apparently stretching to fit if needs be. The Council Chamber is in the wing to the right of the Great Hall as you enter from the Nexus outside, and takes up a two-storey space from floor to ceiling, with offices above. The left wing comprises smaller halls and conference rooms. In addition, the Grand Duke has a private audience chamber here, which is where the Helgram Cabinet meets.
The military heart of House Helgram is situated on the southern face of the Nexus and is last line of defence, should Helgram be on the receiving end of the likes of Benedict of Amber. Within the Citadel is Ways access to barracks, training grounds, etc, as well as the Helgram Prison Ways.
The Citadel is the official residence of Dowager Grand Duchess Joan, the Helgram Warleader; and also Llewellyn Stephenson-Helgram the House Master at Arms. The Citadel also acts as the central command headquarters for the various smaller forts and bastions situated around Helgramways. On high days and holidays, the Helgram forces put on displays within the Nexus Plaza, itself.
The Cathedral of the Serpent
House Helgram has its own central place of worship, where its members can practise the official religion of the Courts. However, many Helgrams also have small personal shrines to those they wish to venerate.
The central temple is a tall, gothic building, with a rectagonal sanctuary where the altar of the serpent can be found. Effigies of the two previous Grand Dukes – Graham Senior and Graham Junior – are to the sides of the altar. At the opposite end of the temple, in a circular area, is the “Pit”, which allows access to the Abyss for major House funerals.
Other Helgram Institutions and Locations
The Helgram Preparatory School, aka “the Lion Cubs”
Those Helgram parents who do not wish their children do be educated in Shadow, will usually choose to send them to the Family prep school. This caters for children from four to eleven, and gives them a good, all-round basic primary education. There is also a small orphanage attached to the School for those few Helgram children who have lost their parents and not been “adopted” by other members of the House. Around the end of the Reign of Oberon, and during the Interregnum, there were between thirty and forty orphans at any given time, due to the actions of certain members of the Amber family. Nowadays, however, there are only about half a dozen children being brought up here.
The Helgram Academy
For well over a thousand years, House Helgram has run its own school to teach and train the members of the House (or at least, the ones whose parents don’t send them off into Shadow) in the various skills they’ll need to survive as active members of the Courts of Chaos. Pupils join the Helgram Academy when they reach their eleventh year, and depending on their abilities, graduate any time from eighteen to thirty, depending on how far they wish to take their studies. By the time they reach their mid-twenties they are usually becoming more comfortable with their abilities, and beginning to learn their responsibilities as full members of the House.
Details of the Academy can be found here.
The Halls of Culture
This is a combination arts complex and school for the more artistically inclined members of the family, and is the heart of Helgram’s cultural heritage. The Helgram Gallery and Helgram Museum are both located within the Halls, as are a theatre and a separate concert hall, as well as a musical conservatory. The Helgram School for the Fine Arts is also part of the Halls, for students who wish to pursue a career in art or music.
This is the home ground of the Helgram Flames, the official House Chaos Rules Football team. It was purpose-built ten years ago, and is maintained personally by Wayskeeper William. The Flames usually do pretty well in the Thelbane CRF league, given their combination of Helgram natural magical ability, along with the more tactical outlook of their Hendrake cousins.
The Helgram Institute for Magic and Science
Helgram practitioners have long been at the forefront of arcane ability within the Courts of Chaos, but to stay ahead involves constant research and work to improve existing Powers and other arcane abilities. This is largely a result of the Helgram Institute of Magic, which was established by Grand Duke Graham Junior when he succeeded his father. The Institute developed new spells and new uses for existing spells under a number of different Shadow conditions. Many a young Helgram who studied Magic at the Academy later moved on to the Institute to continue with lines of research developed during their Masters or Doctorate programmes, adding to its reputation as one of the best arcane research facilities in the Courts.
As time passed, its remit expanded to include scientific research and discovery, both on its own merits, and with respect to how it can be used with magic. It also develops techno-magical solutions to everyday problems and for the benefit of the House. The name of the Insitute wasn’t formally changed to include Science until Bleys became the Grand Duke, after the end of the War Between the Powers.
The IMS has one of the most extensive sub-Ways within Helgramways, due to its specific need for many different types of underlying Shadow conditions for experimentation. In spite of – or perhaps because of – this, “lab accidents” within the IMS are one of the major sources of work for the House Waysmaster.
The Black Zone is the Chaos equivalent of Amber’s Golden Circle. It is comprised of a myriad of semi-Real Shadows which have varying degrees of allegiance or otherwise to the Courts itself, or individual Houses within the Courts. Historically, House Helgram did have interests in the region, but they weren’t a priority. Since the upheaval of the War Between the Powers, and the opportunities that has created, that has changed.
The Zócalo is the Helgram trading base in the Black Zone, and comes under the purview of Representative Jowan. It is a centre for trade and commerce, with open access to both the Courts and the Black Zone, and has direct but guarded connections to both the Helgram Plaza and the Central Nexus. It is the place to a Helgram capital in the Black Zone, and is guarded by Helgram troops. For further details, see the Zócalo page.
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