The nations of the Golden Circle are the shadows that are in Amber's immediate vicinity. Very nearly as ancient as Amber herself, these are places that are very nearly as shadow-stable as Amber herself. Over the years, sea shadowpaths have been laid between Amber and many of these shadows, and it is now possible for a sea-captain to sail the shadow seas with naught but these secrets in his head.
Each nation of the Golden Circle is a place of power in its own right. Some even view themselves as peers of Amber, and even those who do not are not to be casually trifled with. Each has powers and secrets of their own, many of which are unknown to Amber and which even surpass Amber's within their field. Certainly, the power of a Prince of Amber is beyond measure in its scope, but broad as it is, that scope is not all-emcompassing, and many secrets and powers can be found beyond its borders.
There is no such thing as a "Golden Circle treaty". Individual Golden Circle shadows may have treaties and other formal or informal political and economic arrangements with Amber. "The Golden Circle" is a name that is generically applied to the shadows nearest Amber.
Most of the Golden Circle nations are independent of Amber. However, there are some that were conquered by Amber in the past, and are now held in her thrall. These shadows are known as Regencies; they are held by the throne of Amber, with the position of Regent of each traditionally granted by Oberon as a reward. Regencies have no political independence, and are treated as extensions of Amber for political purposes. (That is, at least, the theory.)
Characters from Shadow
If you create a character who is from shadow rather than from Amber, we strongly encourage you to come from a Golden Circle shadow, and you will also want additional hooks that give you reasons to stay in Amber and to care about what happens there. Amber is ultimately the center of our game, and we believe very strongly that involvement in goings-on really demands being tied into what's happening there.
Most characters from the Golden Circle should probably be emissaries — people who are tied to the potentates of a place, and are in Amber on their behalf. (Note that we are happy to hand out prop control of NPC rulers of Golden Circle shadows if need be; for instance, if you want to play the Ambassador to Amber from a particular place, we will probably give you prop control for that place's ruler.)
We know that players frequently come to an Amber game with concepts heavily drawn from Earth history or Earth mythology. Rather than allowing a ton of Shadow Earth-centric concepts or a huge proliferation of shadows, we've chosen to design a Golden Circle that encompasses the most common sorts of these desires.
The Golden Circle shadows are loosely themed; the theme is meant to convey a suggestion of broad flavor, rather than anything more specific. As play evolves, details will be filled in.
Independent Golden Circle Nations
- Alhambra - A desert kingdom of endless sands, verdant oases and mysterious pyramids. (Theme: Arabian Nights)
- Begma - Magical technologists and engineers, Begma is a prosperous nation that produces many of the finished goods of the GC. Their 'technology' is unreliable throughout the Golden Circle, but when it works, it is worthy of respect. (Theme: Magicpunk)
- Cibola - Tropical jungles surround the golden city of Cibola. (Theme: Aztecish)
- Jade - The thousand nations of the Immaculate Jade Empire are proud to call Amber her brother nation, and her infinite legions have ever been willing to stand by Amber's side. (Theme: Imperial Chinese)
- Kitezh - Low country and volcanic activity warmed the city of Kitezh, but the frozen wilds beyond it kept the people fierce and strong. (Past Theme: Russian/Norse. Current Theme: Ragnarok!)
- Lyonesse - The isle of Lyonesse is only a fragment that remains of a once-great empire which sank beneath the waves. Those who remain have dedicated themselves to honor and chivalry, seeking to make certain that the final days of Lyonesse are golden indeed. (Theme: Celtic & Arthurian)
- Montevalno - The bards of Montevalno make great dramas from the feuds of these warring city-states. Aspiring member of Amber's trade network. (Theme: Shakespearean Italy)
- Minos - The Sea Kings of Minos are famous for their ships, their merchants, and their pirates. Home of Rilga. (Theme: Pirates! yar!)
- Pathi - A hidden city of wizards, Pathi's membership in the Golden Circle has made it no less isolationist, and the way to Pathi is known only to a few. (Theme: High Magic)
- Rebma - The empire beneath the waves, most famous for its reflected city. (Theme: Atlantis)
- Sukho - The largest city of Sukho is small indeed, as most of the population is nomadic, scattered throughout the thousands of islands of this vast Archipelago. (Theme: Polynesian)
- Tanus - Mouth of the great Tanus river surrounds the spires and and ancient temples of the the eternal city, meeting ground of the Maharajas of the great river kingdoms. (Theme: Vedic with some qualifiers)
- Weirmonken - An old enemy of Amber, and home of the shapeshifting Weir, it has historically been a regency held by Prince Eric for his role in their defeat. In the very recent past, it has passed through other hands, before being granted its independence. (Theme: Black Forest legends and nightmares)
- Ghenesh - Home of the famous Moonriders, this Regency was granted to Corwin for his triumph over them. However, his disappearance came short thereafter, and coupled with the absence of Oberon and Benedict from he kingdom, this regency has never been strongly held. Eric has taken steps to change this, but other priorities have consistently claimed his time.
The regencies are not as strongly connected to Amber as the Golden Circle shadows are. While there are ways to get to each of them, the way is not so clearly laid out that it can reasonably be called a shadowpath, at least not the same way it's meant for the Golden circle.