The Chancel

A lot has changed from the initial concept for the Chancel we'll be using in our game of Nobilis, taken from the original concept of The Imperator and the four original players:

In terms of what is in the Chancel, and in relating to the Imperator's personality, I suggest something slightly dark and inhospitable, although not overtly hostile. Like a dark forest, or a constantly overcast stormy sky or something. Or maybe the lighting just doesn't work. Furthermore, if you like the idea of the Imperator having a fascination with humans, I suggest that the inhabitants of the Chancel be something closer to the Wild or ancient spirit of the Imperator, beings that look up to humans (and, well, maybe cats as well), especially the Powers. To tie in with the aspects of the Powers I suggest they appreciate brains over brawn and the necessity for pain as part of the trials of life. Tough little creatures, but also slightly playful. Yes, perhaps a little like cats.

Since then there has been input from the final player, who is playing The Power of Faith, which has lent itself to a more contemplative chancel. The players were, as a whole, inspired by the works of M.C. Escher. My ideas now are as follows in the bulk of this page.

In Nobilis Game 1 the name of the Chancel is established as Locus Antilogia.

Origins of the Chancel

The Imperator originally sought inspiration from the minds of creative mortals. Though there has existed a Chancel for a long-time, much of it was wild and untended, as the Imperator spent most of the time involved in the war in the spirit world, whilst its body lay tended by former versions of The Powers, deep in the Chancel. However, with the events of various world-wars causing pain across the surface of the planet, The Imperator's attention returned to the earth. The Imperator had a final sixth Estate it had not blessed any mortal with, and watched over mankind, of which it had become increasingly fascinated as the height of evolution that now seemed intent on destroying itself. At this time it became aware of an artist whose vision combined both the realistic and the impossible, M.C. Escher. However, as it studied this mortal it became apparent that this mortal was close to the end of his existence, seeking some sort of peace with the world. And yet, internally, the artist seemed able to construct incredible complex worlds and structures.

And so it was, in 1972, when the artist died, his soul was claimed as guardian for the Chancel, and the Chancel evolved in a completely new direction. At the same time the ripples caused swallowed up part of the Rosa Spier Huis where he was living, a hospital/rest home for artists that granted them their own studios and artists materials. Many of the doorways here, at this retirement home in Laren, in the north Netherlands, lead into the Chancel. However, most of the entrance-ways into the Chancel open up from elsewhere.

Entering and Exiting the Chancel

The entrances and exits between the real world and the Chancel are all doors, generally disused doors in the real world. Typically they are doors that appear when needed, or temporatrilly replace existing doors, rather than being gateways that anyone might stumble through. These doors are typically non-descript (without windows or ornate woodwork and frequently plain white), and can normally be found in any major city. Almost without exception they can be found at the bottom or top of a staircase. More often than not they'll appear in public buildings like hospitals, schools and offices, though rarely at busy times.

Each Noble has a particular affinity with one door, the one through which the Imperator sent forth an Estate to enNoble the relevant Power. For example, The Power of Pain is connected to a door in the hospital he was brought to when he suffered his injuries. These gateways will automatically appear when the affiliated Noble is nearby - furthermore, when a Noble seeks to leave their Chancel they will be able to locate a gateway to this location easily.

As of the first proper gaming session these personal doorways were established as:

As an additional note the Chancel doors normally lead out only if The Imperator needs something done at a particular location, or if the Powers choose to leave via their own personal exit. Powers can lead their colleagues out.

Brief Description

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Stepping through a doorway leading into the Chancel takes you directly into the centre of a maze of gravity defying stairs and corridors - each wall is also a floor and a ceiling, depending on your point of perspective. The Chancelfolk, as well as The Powers here, are attuned to the Chancel and can find their centre of gravity quite well, and change 'facing'. Other people tend to get stuck on one horizontal plain. Fortunately there seem to be seats all over the place to stop and contemplate the weirdest, whichever way up you're standing.

Doors only open if you're facing them the right way up. If you try to force your way into a door facing the wrong way up, it will eventually open, revealing a long dark shaft leading to the Refuge Dump. More often than not gravity will reassert itself as to drag the offending person down it. Doors will otherwise generally lead to rooms, such as simple washrooms, kitchens and living quarters (each inhabitant has a 'cell' of their own, with a thin window slit looking out at cool sunny skies), spiral stairwells up, or down, to doors leading into other sections of the Chancel.

Stairways also lead to gardens and public areas. These areas always seem to be bathed in an early morning sunlight, not too hot, not too cold. These areas appear to be in the grounds of a large house, much like the Rosa Spier Huis, a single-floor building. Peering in through the windows allows people to see the the cells within, though of course from the other side the only window appears to be a narrow slit. These windows cannot be broken, or rather they CAN, but with much the same result as knocking down a door.

Sections of The Chancel

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Grounds of The 'Rosa Spier Huis' - Walking away from this building leads you to the walls surrounding the properties. Climbing over the wall takes you straight back into the grounds, though it might not be immediately obvious. Alternatively, you might choose to open one of the doors in the wall - these go straight back into the centre of the Chancel.

Refuge Dump - this is where intruders have a knack of ending up. It's very dark. After a while a door will offer the offender a door to leave by. Where this door leads is entirely up to the judgement of The Imperator or it's Powers. Often it simply spits the offender out of The Chancel into the real world.

The Imperator's Room - uncannily like the Refuge Room, this dark room waits for visits to be settled, the door softly closing behind them. Then the white mask will slowly appear, and flashes of the Imperators clothing, before it addresses those that have come to visit. The Imperator will normally choose which visitors and Nobles it will see, by opening the door to it's room at whichever location in the Chancel they are in. It then opens a door to wherever they need to be.

The Chapel of Faith - The Power of Faith's altar to All-Faith.

The Library of Evolution - The Power of Evolution's records of evolution and mutations.

The Boiler Room of The Underdog - for those Chancelfolk starting to show a bit of spirit and resentment of their condition, this is where The Power of The Underdog allows them to 'deal' with their condition. Fight Club?

The Monastery - There are two views of the Monastery. From the bottom various walkways and doors lead out onto balconies and stairwells, beyond which is nothing but a vast white plain. From the top you reach the perpetual staircase, upon which Chancelfolk are eternal walking up or down. Falling down the middle leads directly to the Refuge Dump, after a very long fall.

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The Watermill - Similar to the Monastery in ways, you can only exit from the central chancel to stand amongst the small collection of buildings at the base of the mill. The water runs on the mill eternally, cleansing itself and powering the Chancel as it does so. The watermill sits in an alien landscape, at what appears to be at the bottom of a multi-tiered crater, with alien plants growing like coral.

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The Chancelfolk

All of the figures in the Chancel are plainly dressed, and have blank faces, almost maskless but simply unmolded clay, unpainted canvasses, without voice. They normally seem to be performing their actions without thought, as if acting automatically, or repeating the habits of a lifetime. In particular, those who walk the eternal staircase as part of the monastery seem to do so as part of a ritual or some form of meditiation. It's worth noting that they are not emotionless, just quiet, uniform and faceless. It is theorised that they are beings that have yet to evolve, whilst others suggest they are souls yet to reincarnate.

The Chancelfolk is led by a similar figure who watches over The chancel as some sort of landlord. In his case, however, it appears that he wears a mask, albeit one without any holes in. He also wears a respectable suit.

Final details

The Chancel, although appearing to be sculpted out of stone and granite, seems to have grown or evolved, sandstone, mahogany and crystal that has either grown into artistic and/or grotesque shapes. When damaged, it eventually heals over, or evolves in different ways, like a slow acting hydra.

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