Diners of Amber

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Contents

Introduction[edit]

What follows is an Article called The Diners of Amber.

It was part of the Jeweled Amber Campaign using the Amber Diceless RPG.

The campaign it was originally written for ended a very long time ago but I always liked reading this bit of it and occasionally editing it.

Putting it here means others might use it and enjoy it.

Over the years two more arcs of my game have used it, one currently in play.

The original Diner article website included an addendum section and was posted on a Geocities website. Yahoo, in its infinite rapaciousness, devoured Geocites like a chop-shop that strips classic cars down and sells off the parts. They shut it down when they found better was to make money. Geocites was as much about creating and supporting communities and I don't think their replacements, Wikipedia and Facebook, do anywhere near as good a job at it. But Yahoo was in it for the money so communities be damned.

Moving it to RPGnet has made the original format obsolete, so I have added the addendum here in italics. Also this writeup is specifically for the War of Balance games, the current and previous arcs, so it does not relate to the first game much anymore. Not that any of those players are likely to ever find this. If you do, dear friends, let me know. Those games were some of the most enjoyable in my gaming experience.

As of 3/3.2018, ive begun including ((GM-Notes)) to list where I had put lines in this article with them as guides for the PCs to find adventures or mysteries, In the time the game was run some got looked into but not many. I put this here so if a GM decided to use the Diners article in their game, which I encourage, they will have some game ideas. If you the GM decide to use the Diners of Amber Article, let me know. I'll happily help facilitate that for you.


First arc and the Games beginning[edit]

A brief comment on the Jeweled Amber Game-

First Arc-5221. 20th year of Random's reign[edit]

The first arc campaign began in the 20th year of Random's Reign. The Books of Corwin, as dictated to Merlin are canonical. The second series as written by Merlin includes available people and powers but is mainly a fictional representation of Merlin and his family as he becomes High Lord of Chaos. In the Jeweled Amber game Swayvil is a title taken by the High Lord.

At the beginning of his reign he required an Article of Submission from his siblings and other member of the royal family. The article called Diners of Amber was what Bleys wrote originally. He had taken his failure to win Amber hard. He became a drunkard and a literati, produced plays, gave great parties and otherwise became something of an embarrassment to the royal family of Amber.


During Random's reign new members of the blood of Amber kept popping up and causing troubles. The final straw for Random was a man named Adrien, a son of Oberon, who acquired the Jewel of Judgment, and used it to sanctify the realm of Ygg, creating Mandalay, a Primal Realm. One of the effects of this creation was a jeweled puzzle-stone road from the Castle of Amber to the Abyss at the scene of the Battle of Patternfall. This road, called the Jeweled Road, cut through shadow and allowed a great deal of travel among shadows.

Enraged at the creation Random demanded that all members of the family bring their hidden children to court.

The game began there.

Second Arc-5242 41st year of Random's reign[edit]

The Second Arc of the campaign began in the 41th year of Random's reign when rumors of the opening of Azcala began to spread.

Third arc-5262. 61st year of Random's reign[edit]

The Third arc began in the 70th year of King random's reign. The ruler of Bursain is slain and the Rock Guard, the key of Bursain is lost. Its finding becomes an obsession for many people of power. During this arc Brand was discovered in the primal realm of Regor, the homeland of his mother Clarissa, Czarina of Regor. A shadow of the pattern of Amber was ripped from the depths of the Abyss and brought and sealed on the planet of Vulsar Base[[1]]


Fourth Arc 5281. 81st year of Random's Reign[edit]

The Fourth Arc began when 10 children were born in vastly separated realms at the same time and their births were witnessed by viewers far afield.




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Publication Credits on the Diners of Amber[edit]

A commentary on the Place Trumps of King Random's Deck

By Prince Bleys of Amber

Originally Published Jan 7, 5250, New Warren Press, City of Amber, Amber.

Revised and augmented by Bleys of Amber, Aug 30, 5251

Reprinted and included with the Citizen Decks of the King Random's Trumps.

Publisher's Note: "The Commentary & Addendums" have been subjected to augmentation as additional cards were added. Bleys has come to feel that new information was useful to the holders of Trump Decks as well as the general public. Especially since owners of both magical and non-magical decks seemed to receive the benefit of new cards, it seemed only proper that the Commentary & Addendum also enlarged. The enlargement of the original article, which served as Bleys's Article of Submission is a sore spot between Bleys and Dworkin. King Random's Last Word follows the Article and was originally only included in the magical card sets. But as the project grew in scope and usefulness, the Last Words became included.


  • Notations in Green are Addendums
  • Notations in Purple are GM Notes

Bleys' Introduction[edit]

Random is a funny kind of guy. No one disputes that. One need only ask Brother Ben how he feels about being Marshal of Amber to get a sense of what a swell guy Brother Random is. As is said in shadow, a picture is worth a thousand words. Good thing because Ben does not seem to say much when asked. A picture is far more expressive.

So what kind of expression do I set pen to page to provide? What kind of picture will I paint of our beloved monarch King Random I of Amber? How do I go about telling you the reader who steers the ship of state and yet keep myself from being sentenced to the bilge pumps of said vessel?

Let us take a look at the pictures in King Random's Deck!

The deck you most likely hold, unless my dear kinsmen read this and peruse their own deck, was the creation of the US Playing Card Company, Detroit, Michigan. Trust Random to get his printing done out of the country. What with all those hard working native playing card makers starving in the alleys of Amber. By For shame, sire.

I must admit that it is a clever trick that even these mass produced trump knock-offs occasionally grow new cards, change card names or images, or magically change font, numerical value, and card back designs from time to time. Random always was a tricky guy. An especially tricky thing happened soon after the original decks were handed out to the kinsman and non-magical cards were produced. Not only did the deck mysteriously generate new images of Amberian origin, but also several trumps of Mandalain and Chaosian origins appeared. Dworkin has stated that no card has been included without the king's approval despite the artist or realm of origin. They all come before his perusal and approval.

I suspect Dworkin is trying to encourage tourism or militarism. It might be worthwhile to examine who owns the hotels and diners near the point of arrival the new trump display. The reason I suspect Dworkin is that ol' granpappy cornered me and told me that from time to time I would be required to create new comments on newly added cards.

I told him that to do so would defeat the reason I did the first article called the "Diners of Amber."

His response was, "Tough shit, Kid. You gonna cross me?"

No, Grandfather, I am not.

Let me state for the record that I painted fully half of the original landscapes. Merlin, Dworkin, Fiona, Caine, Vance, and Delwin painted the rest. Merlin tells me that the trumps with Chaosian title bars came from his personal trump deck. Dworkin claims to have done the ones with Mandalian title bars. Dworkin's manipulation of shadow and the pattern caused the vast array of duplicates to appear for the travel ease of the cousins.

Perhaps in due time I shall apply myself to a commentary on them, as well as my beloved siblings. Fiona tells me that writing may wash away the angst I feel over my own grief. Really, sister dear? Perhaps I will start with you when the time comes.

As Corwin once said, "Come whisper me your objections."

But what does this have to do with the Diners of Amber?

Well, the Trumps of Amber are available at any of the more trendy places. I picked up the set I am examining at one of those nasty green coffee bars that seem to be popping up everywhere. We didn't have coffee bars when Oberon ruled. We had coffee shops that served breakfast eggs and potatoes swimming in bacon grease with black coffee you could float a nail on and you paid in silver or you got spit in your drink next time and you liked it. For those of you keen on details my favorite place was Aunt Galiray's Vale. It was near the castle road and served a meal an Amberite could really dig into. Corwin and I once left food on our plates. Those were the days. I hear Galiray is living in Garn now. Her vale is a Starbucks. How the mighty have fallen.

Speaking of which, these cards.

Pull out your own set and we'll go over them together.

King Random's Deck comes in two parts. Major Arcanum and Minor Arcanum.

The Major arcanum is further divided it to places and people. The place cards open portals for transportation if used by my kinsman. The family cards represent the members of the House of Amber or the lineage of Dworkin Bariman, previously a Lord of Chaos and a mental patient, recently revealed as sire of our line. We happy kinsman may use these cards with each other for communication, transportation, and as Brand proved, assassination of both characters and personages.

For those of you playing games with these, the Major Arcanum is good for Assassin's Gambit, Dangealri and Firs. It also has its uses for fortunetellers and real estate agents. Every place in the deck has raised its property values. Some have raised their prices. The lower arcanum is a typical playing deck. Four suits numbered 1 or ace to King, passing through nine, ten, Page, Knight, & Queen on its way. There is no Joker in the deck. That was simply too good a jab to make at any one member of the royal family and despite voluminous advice on that matter Random thought it prudent not to single anyone out. For that I guess I do owe him a nod of gratitude. Aficionados of card games play either 52 card or 56 card Poker, Tonk, Canasta, Gin, Balru, or Hand's War. The pages taking the roles of wild cards where needed. I prefer the 56-card versions myself. I like a game with an element of uncertainty. Go figure.

But I digress.

The deck betrays Random's love of food, cards, and his hate of horses.

Herein submitted,

Prince Bleys of Amber


Place Cards of King Random's Deck[edit]

The Lighthouse of Cabra

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The first card is the Lighthouse of Cabra. This picturesque isle sits miles out to sea and lights the way for ships bound to Amber's shore, either down one of the many merchant-shipping lanes or randomly out of shadow. Many a ship has smashed itself against that sudden shore, hence the reason for the lighthouse. Oberon ordered it built in the early days of Amber once he discovered it was too big to move. Osric designed it and he, Finndo, and Benedict did much of the actual labor. The place is a dour edifice architecturally but consider the creators.

Admiral Jopin of Cabra,(retired.) runs the tower and the whims of politics wash over him as unchanging as the sea. A solitary man by nature the Hero of Talgwin's Deep, the Battle of Diega Swan, the straights of Tortus, and the victor of Bunny Free's Siege suffers visitors with marginal grace as long as they are will to work at maintaining the place some while they are there. It is a coincidence, I am sure, that so many little projects were on the venerable captain's to-do list when company arrives. Bring your overalls if you make the trip. A good pair of gloves and a couple of kegs of the best brew you can find will also be a wise piece of luggage for those who come a knocking at his door.

It turns out that this card is extremely useful if you want to sail a ship in to Amber through a trumpgate. First gate on the left, straight on till morning.)

Recently Jopin found himself dragged back into active duty. He is not amused.

((GM-Notes; Bring your own overalls. PCs might just drop in on Jopin since he was a person in the books. Also Jopin was being reactivated and might have sent PCs to tend his garden, feed his cat, or maintain the Lighthouse and its light.))

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Castle Amber[edit]

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The second card is the courtyard of Castle Amber herself. It is by far the most commonly used trump in the deck since it delivers the weary traveler into the bosom of felicity itself. Of course the first thing one notices upon arriving is that a dozen pointed archery weapons are trained tightly on you. Ranging from the new repeating crossbows, the cloth yards of yew longbowman to the sinister clockwork ballisteas Random uses to punch holes in iron-shod ships; the armed array is impressive. Additionally, a cool company of the most unfriendly faces to ever walk the last mile of a death row prison hold a collection of pointy and edged armaments to greet the visitor who arrives with less then friendly intentions. Sorcerers with very little pity back them for security.

Benedict takes nothing for granted in the defense of Amber. Invaders would be well advised to choose another route in. Don't try the stairway up Kolvir either, its been tried and the price was paid in blood; My own.

In Random's favor can be pointed out that the finest trauma team to be found in shadow also awaits the traveler who arrives having found shadow too frolicsome for their tastes.

((GM_Notes: I had thought PCs might do duty as guards in this place where others might trump in.))

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Neal's Diner, New Velri City, Ruthar, United States of Antherica[edit]

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The third card is the first of the Diners of Amber and a swell place it is too. Neal's Diner is in the heartland of Antherica, on Urth, a technological epoch where the sound barrier is as newly broken as the color barrier is. New Velri City, in the state of New Velri, is a charming city that never sleeps. Likewise is the always-open Neal's Diner, a well-appointed eatery by any standards. Random included this place for two reasons.

First is that this massive coffee shop style restaurant serves one of the best breakfasts Random ever found and I must agree. He has established a tab usable by anyone telling the waitress to "put it on Randy's tab." Laura Dearly runs the front. Everyone calls her "Laura Dear." Buddy Drummen is the magnificent chef. He is willing to make amber-sized meals but insists on being called 'Sir.' Wise people do so if they want to be sure all they eat is his cooking. After one particular meal I decided if Buddy ever makes it to Amber I will knight him myself. I never have gotten a straight answer concerning who Neal is.

The second reason is that the basement is an underground card-club that Random frequents, and may have a stake in, financially. Georgie Reno runs the card game. Random supplies the bouncers, who are frequently members of the Amber Guard, in double-breasted silk suits. Cheating is not tolerated and frankly is rarely attempted.

Many an Amberite Guardsman can be found as bouncers and clientele both upstairs and down. Across the street is a boarding house that is a who's who of Amber nobility and younger sons serving their term of service. Two movie houses nearby show talkies and silent films, and color movies are all the rage. What the point is in a color-silent film I don't get.

A tattoo parlor on the same block has a collection of insignia and designs that can be found no where else in that shadow. Bruno Sveldt, a disreputable character at best, is an artist of the first water in the craft of body art. He has learned not to mock the large, burly men, and the lithe and equally stern women, who come into his shop to have the green disc and golden laurel wreath, surrounding a white unicorn, tattooed on their biceps. He made the mistake once; telling one such man that he must be part of a very tough gang of nancy boys and fierce butt-pirate swishes to want that tatted on himself. Bruno was missing for a few days, unlamented. Upon his return he was nothing but utter politeness and solicitude to any person who dared ask for that unusual design, and will put it anywhere they ask, at no charge. His hand never wavers till after the client is gone, then it shakes, he closes the store, and he drinks his whiskey through a straw.

Addendum

I was speaking to Sergeant Garry Gavno, a Calro member of the elite Amber Guard, and a frequent pattern guardian, about Neal's Diner. He gave me the scoop on what they did to Sveldt.

The story is that Constance Kieln, a very tough Dreanan man of the House of Brolic, despite the name, who holds the rank of Captain in the Amber Guard, was one of the first Amber Guards man to do service under Random at the card club beneath Neal's. He was a sergeant then. He and several guys got the tattoo on their upper arm, and Sveldt thought it a very funny little device.

At a later time, while getting some other tattoo work done, Sveldt made his little insult. Constance dragged Sveldt directly to Amber, to the compound that the Amber Guard calls home. 30 guys, led by Julian, took him deep into shadows where monsters dwell and beat the living hell out of him for a couple months. They put a band of healing on him and fed him to a passel of lions and tigers and bears, oh my, who could rip him to pieces but not fast enough to keep the healing band from repairing him. So they ripped him up as fast as he healed for about a month. They then unceremoniously dumped him back at home, short three days.

That is as good an object lesson as I can imagine for those who desire to cross the Amber Elite Guard.

Also, Dreanans do not take insults well. Dour bunch they are.

((GM-Notes: Neal's Diner and this word I envisioned as a common spot for PCs to meet, perhaps neutral territory between feuding PCS and such. Card games. Maybe even if the PC is an Elite, serving guard duty here for Random. And of course, who is Neal anyway...))

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Aglevar's Kitchen[edit]

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Fourth is Aglevar's Kitchen. Mama Aglevar is a wonder. She must be what all, good cooking, mothers are shadows of. She is the mother hen of a brood of small ones that either never grow up or breed very true copies of each other because the same kids always seem underfoot when visitors arrive. The cat Buttons is as friendly as can be.

Mama Aglevar will cook anything you ask, any time of the day or night, as long as you are willing to clean some dishes, look after the kids, or do any one of a thousand kitchen chores that always need doing. She will critique your wardrobe, hairstyle, or your choice in significant or insignificant others. She can put a wicked edge on a knife but won't touch anything larger than a carving knife or a woodsman's ax. Don't even ask. I get all my pocketknives honed to delicious razors in her place for the cost of a load of dishes or a few magic tricks to distract the kids from yanking on Button's tail. Benedict claims to have taught her this trick but I think the knack is hers.

While I consider it a Diner of Amber it not exactly a diner. I told Mama Aglevar I was calling it that and she thought the joke a funny one and gave me a cookie. A big chocolate chip and oatmeal one. With raisins too!

Did I mention she won't cook anything to go? If she makes you a pastrami sandwich, my personal favorite, you better smear it with her homemade mustard and prepare to eat it there. If you grab it and run you will never hear the end of it. "Bleys, you can't just grab that and run! Eating like that will hurt your digestion, your complexion, your hairdo, your libido, your ingrown toe nails, your...."

I never knew eating while walking could be so dangerous.

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Sea View Garden, Amber[edit]

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Overlooking the beach at Cabal's Neck, from the eastern edge of the 6th floor of the Castle Amber is a wide verandah balcony that is one of the most truly beautiful sights in all of shadow. Flora out did herself during Eric's reign when she converted a bare rooftop into one of the friendliest places in the city of Amber. 100 tables adorn this lush flower overgrown slice of heaven. Each table seems to have a great view and each seems to have ample privacy. Flora tells me that somehow the design of the place, with its rises and shallows seems to hinder the flow of sound from table to table, if not the flow of sea breezes and spring flower's scent.

This is the breakfast nook of Amber. Nearly all of the family, and most of the guests, try to get table space here to take their morning coffee. Waiters scurry unseen, the buffet is always fresh, and the coffee pot is always full. Tables seat between 2 and 20 people. It is not rare to find the Ambassador of Chaos and the King of Amber sitting together, taking croissants and cocoa at sunrise.

At night candles and oil lanterns that emit only light illuminate the garden. Glow globes sit on the tables themselves. The light is important because without them it is dark, dark, dark like a tomb. No city lights are visible. The castle itself blocks most of them. Even the great Signal Fire at the harbor gates is obscured.

Flora can be found here most nights, holding court amongst the ladies of the elite. Romantic dinners and private parties nestle amongst the vines and eavesdropping is considered a terrible breach of etiquette.

Let me tell you, there is one thing you do not want and that is to have Flora give you a lesson in etiquette after you have been caught showing that you need one.

Addendum

"The breakfast nook of Amber...."

"Sea View Gardens casts shadows of elegance. It is Flora's crowning achievement."

Each of us are archetypes and this is the expression of hers.

It is easy to underestimate sister Florimel. She cultivates the appearance of weakness and neediness and a shallow veneer that is so often attached to stunningly gorgeous women. It makes others defend them or provide for them. Don't be fooled. She carries grenades in her purse. Her wolfhounds are never more then a whistle away. She is a crack-shot with bow or rifle, shuriken or butterknife. She stood the line at the edge of the Abyss during the Battle of Patternfall, raining deadly arrows on the foethings. She is shockingly strong when she needs to be. I am told that during an argument Caine once slapped her. Her response was to kick him in the yarbles. Apparently medical attention was needed. Caine denies it but i've noticed he never stand close to Flora when shes angry.

In our youth we were all given military training. She fixated on archery. She no longer competes in the Civilian City Cohorts archery tournements and is often their judges. She has instructed both army and Elites in the longbow. She may not be a wargoddess but Diana has nothing on her at arrow point.

Her allure is that of a flibbertigibbet. Her resolve is steel. Never let her batting eyelashes make you forget that she is a Princess of Amber.

Men have come to fear me, or Benedict or Gerard or Julian, and even Dierdre. Remember Lothario, Floremel is of the blood royal and her knives are sharp.

The floral displays are exquisitely balanced for height, thickness, color combinations and scent. The food is a complex menu spanning simple fair such as bagels, cream cheese and lox, cold cereal, and oatmeal to crescents, crepes, and mind-boggling other concoctions common across shadow.

Some piece of minor sorcery and structural design does keep it fairly difficult to eavesdrop.

There is a piece of etiquette that has developed in Sea View that bears mention. While one may see a vast number of people at Sea View one does not usually walk up and just talk to them. First one catches the eye of the person you would have conversation with then make a tiny gesture, a quarter twist of a hand, indicating you would like to approach and speak. The response in the affirmative is for the respondent to motion with of opening and closing an upturned palm. A negative response is back and forth sweeping motion with the hand. The only counter to a negative response is to rudely ignore the desires of the respondent.

Flora is very unhappy about the fact that a number of conflicts have broken out here, harming the flowers.

By the way, thinking that Sea View Gardens is a better shortcut into Castle Amber then arriving through the Castle Amber trump is a bad idea. This way is guarded too. While you may get away with it once or twice, because Flora does not stock violent toys in abundance, it should be noted that Flora is often here holding court, and she is not someone to piss off. There is also a fair chance that the diners on the verandah might be violently annoyed if their lunch is disturbed. Fair warning.

A further note-I recently learned that the Amber Elites do in fact schedule meals here for the purpose of guarding the entrance as well as eating their meals. They REALLY don't like having THEIR meals disturbed.

((GM-Notes: This place is certainly a hotbed of activity. I envision PCs who need to talk to Random, or any Elder, might meet them here for drinks or lunch. Lover's quarrels. Random and the Ambassador of Chaos are said to meet for breakfast here. Handy information))

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The Oracle of Mandalay[edit]

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Many of the cards in King Random's deck are mere conveniences to the weary traveler who does not want to make an extensive Hellride just to get a slice of cheesecake or to play a few hands of poker; such being among the king's passions. The fifth card is not one of these.

Like any oracle the Oracle of Mandalay is a solemn thing not to be approached lightly or disregarded casually. For thousands of years we of Amber speculated whether the shadow realms existed independently of our will, or if they came into being at our wish. Oberon and Dworkin have both come down firmly on the 'Always Existed' side of the argument and that pretty much settles it for me. The question about Oracles is does the destiny they see exist before they reveal it or are your actions locked into the fates they foresee by your submitting yourself to their observations. Six of one, Half dozen of another. You place your bets; you take your chances. You pay your losses with cash in the coin of blood.

This Oracle was once a powerful oracle near the Chaos Sway world of Gknfhnismznup and the vale that contained Ygg. Don't expect me to pronounce it. I called it Guknup. When the Mark of Mandalay was created the world was swept up in the forces of creation and purified. Now this pinnacle created by ugly forces of erosion rises above a newly verdant world. Above it swirls a constant series of clouds in a speedy succession of rain, thunders, clear, fog and stormy lightning. Cast your question into the wind and live with your results. You have been warned.

Mandor's Commentary on the Oracle of Mandalay"[edit]

"The Oracle of Mandalay was once an oracle in a world near the center of shadow in a chaos sway world called Gknfhnismznup . It was a weathery place that the querent cast his questions into the wind and had a vision of his answer. It was powerful, True, and fairly obnoxious. When Mandalay was created the realm was taken into the Green Sway. The Oracle was taken under the auspices of the mark, and the accuracy of the oracle went up astronomically... but... it told damn near everyone. It turned up in people's dreams and splashed over people with a susceptibility to receiving these messages; prophets, soothsayers, crystal ball readers, and fortune tellers. It cast images of the visions onto walls as if they were murals by implanting themselves in the minds of painters. It impacted in people who could not shake the idea. Some of these later think they created the vision out of their own minds, and wrote them up as books, plays and movies. That's fairly annoying to the querent who might have liked it to remain a secret. That's the Oracle of Mandalay. "

((GM_Notes: There are 3 Oracles in the deck. Each has powerful abilities to give PCs unsure what to do with themselves a powerful direction. A GM can give them a good kick in the but with these))

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Gutsedvem[edit]

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The sixth card is the magnificent pleasure realm of Gutsedvem. For a more intensive description of this shadow look for Bleys' Book of Gutsedvem, available throughout Amber. I love this place. This Black Zone world is one of the most friendly and peaceful worlds close to chaos. It is a pleasure world where nearly anything is available. Even cheesecake.

It is also originally, the closest world to the Courts of Chaos in the deck and those traveling that far frequently trump here first. The question is having done so what might be important enough that they can't stay just a few days here. Maybe a week. Heck, Amberites are immortal and whatever problems you were fleeing to Chaos to solve, settle or provoke aren't really that important. Have a drink.

You see the danger?

The Baths of Bali are orgasmic. Warm, thick, like swimming in photosensitive, psychoactive, empathic, and aphrodisiac Jell-O.

The Halls of All have nearly every form of game, challenge, contest of skill or feat of daring.

The Hall of Magic has many styles of magical initiations. It has a Master's Mal at Riess. Its has the best known Woven Logrus, a 88% knotted construct.

The Feast Hall has a table that is thousands of mile long heaped high with every kind of substance one might be inspired to ingest, from the most potent smoking herbs to the most luscious ice creams. Egad...

I ought to snicker. Really.

Imagine putting this card in the deck? Its an instigation to get lost in shadow and never return. I only mentioned a few places I liked before but don't just look them up. This is a world. It has cities, realms, wildlife, forests, oceans, islands, and tens of millions of people that fled other realms to live here with the hundreds of millions of natives. It has an incredibly diverse ex-pat community with refugees from Amber to Chaos. However, Amber and Chaos, as well as most Golden Circle and Black Zone worlds, have vibrant Embassies here and they are postings greatly sought after.

Everyone here seems to have found their 'niche'. Unlike most worlds this place somehow subtly directs people onto the correct path to achieve whatever it is that is their heart's desire. It means that if you wanted to be an architect you become one, if you want to be in the circus you do it. If you love sex you end up a sex worker in one of thousands of establishments in this world where such work is respected. If you want to do nothing all day, you win one of the million lotteries, win big at poker, get a huge settlement, or otherwise get your hands on big money.

This is a black zone world though. There is a fair turnover in roles here and death occurs. There are gladiatorial games, wizards duels, and drag races.

There is an elaborate gladiatorial combat system that is an obsession on this world. It also spills out into Chaos. It is in its full fruition on the world of Gesheka but is extremely well represented here. The difference of course is that on Gesheka the Lords of the Games are mostly natives.

Topping this is a group of 150 Lords of the Games who gain their seats by a bloody death. A complex ranking system leads one from the lowest levels of Warriors fighting in clubs all over the world to Gladiators, fighting in regional arenas to Lord Gladiators fighting in the Main arena in Guro, Gutsedvem.

I hold the rank of Lord Gladiator and they all know who I am. They also know that one day I will decide which of the 150 Lords of the Games I want to kill. After that, well, this is a BZTP world after all.

For more on the Gladiatorial League see the world of Geshekaand the Warrior Core and Lord Gladiators Association, or of the thrilling novel the Harness of Blood.

Be careful.

((GM-Note: This place is full of lots of the things to distract PCS from their duties. And that is what I meant it to do. Distract PCs. As such it was going to be a place on a PC's hellride toward Chaos. Or a walk down the Jeweled Road. Additionally, the Gladiatorial League was intended to help school PCs in combat. Even non-warriors need to learn the ADRPG form of spoken combat and to get the hang of it in a way that does not necessarily include bloodshed.))

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Racsir Isle[edit]

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A small island in a massive world-spanning archipelago is the seventh card in the deck. I am not sure why Random included Racsir Isle but a couple things are clear. It is a great place for anglers, scuba divers, and water sportsman. Ships are common and thousands of little islands, some not much larger than one room, are connected by ramshackle walkways that make getting anywhere difficult. The people are friendly, open, and ask few questions. Nearly anyone you meet will gladly clean your fish, filet them, package them for transport or cook them up on the spot. They seem to have nothing else to do all day.

If questions are asked of them, they can become quiet as clams. Friendly, smiling, helpful, dumb as the fish they catch by the ton, taciturn and secretive as the Costra Nostra.

I asked Random what the deal was with this play. His response was," Don't you like fish?" I told him that I love fish, even love fishing, but there seemed something was wrong with the people there. He smiled and said, "Nope, that is just how I wanted them."

So take this shadow as a lesson in shadow navigation. Some places are just not full places. Ride on through them or deal with their vacancies.


I recently had a chance to travel around this world. It has some very odd things going on around it.

I took a sailing ship and found that in a southern sea, far from the location the card delivers its viewers, is a proper city called Hunkala, where the natives speak a Thelusian Thari with perfect clarity in the same way a Scotsman speaks english. This moist seaport seems to be where many fisherman bring their catches and where vast amounts of salted, dried, frozen, and jerked fish seems to end up through a ratline of traders and merchantmen that mainly ply the southern waters. Right next to the main wharf, near the center of an active market, is 300 feet of Jeweled Road. I had no idea. Apparently there is brisk trade in fish to nearby worlds, not that I had ever heard about it. Still, this makes me feel much better about this place despite my initial impression.

Secondly, to my shock, the atmosphere ends at a 12000' above sea level. Luckily few of the mountains on this rocky wet word come close to that. However, two do. One reaches 15k and has a castle sitting in the vacuum of space. What does the castle look like? Castle Amber of course. The other in a mountain on the southern polar pole. It is a spindly thing reaching 30,000 feet in the air. Its like a pin the top spins on and it can be seen at great distances Its pinnacle is a crystal large enough to glow from solar light and mariners us it as a beacon. Weird.

Lastly, as I traveled the planet, fishing, diving, relaxing, I noticed the types of fish were an odd mix. I dove in a number of places and I have come to conclude that in the waters of this world are numerous shadow paths that are well established and used almost exclusively by sea creatures. Perhaps a shadow of a Rebman trade route has cast its self into the deeps.

((GM-Notes: I thought a quiet conversation over fishing might be nice. Also a nice weird environment might be nice to explore))

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The Tombs of Amber[edit]

Pcorwintomb.jpg

Now the fact that Random put this eighth card in the deck is a clear sign that he has a nasty twisty mind. The card goes to a collection of Tombs on the face of Kolvir. The first one was a Tomb of Corwin that was constructed when it was believed he was dead. It turned out to be wishful thinking on Eric's part. Corwin once said that when he gained the Jewel of Judgment he considered blasting the thing to ruble but decided he might need it some day and it was a nice enough place to rest. Especially nice if the family could not arrange to dump his corpse in with the Ancestors of Darkness.

Since Patternfall a regular community of the dead has popped up in the area and a number of people visit it for clandestine meetings, quiet gatherings and sometimes even raucous parties. It is not officially off-limits, but that time may come.

Recently the Chaos born Cults of Amber have been having what amount to church services here. I walked in on one such groups at my sarcophagus.

I personally built Brand's Tomb. I figured no one else would care to, after what he almost did to us, but heck, I had some really fine times with my mad, tragic, and melancholy brother before he got shafted and died in the Abyss. Once upon a time I kept my booze supply in his sarcophagus.

Most of these are more monument then tomb. There are several of them here. All in all there are tombs for Corwin, Deirdre, Eric, Oberon, Brand, Finndo, Bleys, Osric, & Mirelle. Of these only Eric has the good manners to lay dead in his. Corwin, is still amongst the living. Finndo is supposed to have died on the pattern at the end of his short reign but the details of this are fudgey and Dworkin isn't talking. Oberon lays in Chaos in a place the royalty lay their dead called the Tombs of the Ancestors of Darkness. Brand and Deirdre both died in the Abyss. Oberon and Random both confirmed that both Osric and Mirelle are dead and properly buried but neither has had their corpses hauled back for burial. I'm building mine slowly, since im not in a real hurry to sleep in it.

Random once told me he thought having empty tombs could come in handy one day. I did not like the smile he gave me.

Addendum

Mirelle turns out to be plenty alive despite the wishes of the sons of Rilga.

Deirdre turns out to have survived her plunge into the abyss but was so traumatized that her mind was damaged. She now holds the form of the wolf and is bonded with Fleece. I could make doggie-style jokes I suppose but let us just take them as read.

Brand is alive too, and in distress deep in the abyss. Gosh, what a pity. I no longer believe that Finndo and Osric are dead but I have no proof to the contrary.

Eric is still dead. I checked.

I recently purchased a little plot of land on the slope of Kolvir. Well, purchased is not the right word, but you know what I mean. I am currently building my own tomb. Corwin had the right of it. It is always best to be prepared.

New News0. Yes, Osric and Finndo are both alive. Amberites are tough to keep dead. Even the dead ones have their plans.

More Good News: Brand is footloose and fancy free. Can no on rid me of this troublesome brother?

I am not sure calling these Tombs is appropriate. Call them abstract portraits in stone.

((GM-Notes: a fine place for clandestine meetings and secret rituals))

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Brolic's Tower-Dreana[edit]

Pbrolictower.jpg

The tenth card shows a tower, a tooth of stone, rising out of a crystal clear lake. The House of Brolic rules the vast realm of Dreana, a Golden Circle Signatory, from this edifice. The trump delivers you to the point that this view is taken from. A way station prepares visitors for the trip down to the shore, across the ferry, and up the winding trail that leads to the top.

Someone really nervous created this royal tower, someone really afraid of attackers. I would not be eager to try and take it by force. Within the realm of Dreana, where the Brolics rule, sorcery, conjuration, and even shadow magic does not work.

The interior is suitably medieval and gothic. I bet Oberon just loved the place. I find it and its people dour and depressing. If they don't like that portrayal they can kiss my hairy red-freckled arse.

Addendum

I was not going to talk about the Brolics, also called the Dreanans, but since Dworkin has me going to all the trouble of creating a whole new volume I guess I can heap some shit on my least favorite Golden Circle Kingdom.

Dreana, ruled by the House of Brolic, tends to breed true a depressingly hostile mindset. The world itself is heavily forested. Wood is one of their main exports.

Dreana provides something like 1/20th of the military of Amber, enough to make them a common presence in Amber. They are a fair skinned, dark-haired race as a rule with a shocking blotch of blue hair every so often. They have a heavy distinctive brow and a tendency towards square jaws. Their eye colors tend to change on a monthly basis based on the individual's current food intake. Weird. The Blue, those with blue hair, have deep light blue eyes, a more elfin stature, dramatically better balance and eye-hand coordination. Someone mated with something different somewhere in the ancient past. Dreanans tend to encourage the Blue to travel offworld.

They are fiercely pro-amber, and rumor has flown for a thousand years that the kings of Dreana, Lords of House Brolic, would jump like a cat if a Grand Ducal coronet were ever dangled before them. Trading in the royal crown of Dreana for an Amberian Grand Ducal coronet might make them citizens of Amber but it won't make them any more pleasant. Apparently the sticking point involves details of fealty and the acts of submission required to convert a sovereign realm into a part of the Kingdom of Amber. It figures that it would take a thousand years to get the Dreanans to bend q knee.

A disproportionate number of Dreanans become sergeants in the Amber military because they want to pick fights so often they need muzzles and the officer corp can provide this. The run-of-the-mill Dreanan is boring, loudly depressing, loudly pessimistic, mean-spirited, combative, and miserly. They rarely go in for the arts because they tend to be stupid and uncreative too.

If this seems a bit harsh then you go check them out yourself. Better yet, consider the following.

They export a dazzling variety of raw gems because the people in this shadow never developed the craft of stone cutting or adornment. Thus gems have no value in Dreana except as export items. After 12,000 years they still have not got the idea that gems look cool, and make great additions to daggers, crowns, rings, and other pretty things. Not that they would notice; 'Pretty' is lost on them. They have no tradition of jewelry beyond crowns and circlets, signet rings and household badges, unit insignia and pilgrims tokens. They wear crowns and circlets but they are nearly all the same. There are 12 levels in the Dreanan aristocracy and each level has a distinctive style of coronet. All dull, all plain, all made from silver. In a shadow with massive amounts of Mithril, far beyond normal proportions, these people make their circlets out of common silver.

I personally believe the reason the Dreanan's have not joined the Kingdom of Amber is that they can't figure out how to divest themselves of the 12th step of their coronets. I once had an argument about this with the King of Dreana. He refused to understand that he could simply start calling the King's Crown, the Grand Duke's Coronet. I pointed out to him that the Ducal Coronet and the King's Crown top the Dreanan scale of 12. He could swear fealty and then the ducal coronet and the Grand Ducal coronet would top the Dreanan scale. He argued that it was called the King's Coronet and asked how could he call it anything else. I asked if he wanted it to be a princely Coronet but he pointed out that the Dreanan scale does not recognize the rank of prince, except as a non-Dreanan rank. I wanted to shoot myself to end the argument but gunpowder does not work in Amber.

The crack about not recognizing princely rank made me think he was insulting me but you can usually tell when a Dreanan is insulting you because their lips quiver and they start throwing punches. I think he was just being stupid. I give them this; they don't go in for long drawn-out shouting matches. If they generate the brainpower to insult you they are ready to fight and throw the first punch. I hate to admit that this is one of the virtues I admire in the dreary dreanans.

The Dreanan social system allows advancement but is as rigid as any caste system in all shadow. As any historian will tell you, caste systems lead to social and technological stagnation and a lack of incentive to improve living conditions, develop medical advances, and expand mercantile activity. They also devalue historical study leading to 'unsound' historiography and a development of religious systems based on mythic characters. That’s the Dreanans to a tee!

I think the House of Brolic eventually conquered this world because someone in Brolic said, "Hey, lets make our duke's coronet a little bigger than everyone else's!" Thus are nations created in the stupid shadows.

They use the Amber currency system because despite vast gold, silver, and Mithril reserves, they never developed a metal-based currency or a currency of any form. Before Oberon and Finndo came to this shadow regional warlords stole whatever they wanted from each other and raided the subsistence farmers for their chow.

Understandably they do not go in heavily for mercantile trades and have developed a practice of hiring Calro merchants, Merchants from the very creative world of Calrabon, to sell their wares. In 12,000 years they have not gained the talent of double entry bookkeeping.

The Calro who have served the Brolics over the millennia have made themselves unbelievably rich, husbanding resources with skill, and flooding Amber markets from time to time. One must admire the Calro who have created this immense fortune at the same time that one can shake one's head about casting pearls before swine.

A brief comment on money and the Dreanans. Since the usual Dreanan is confused at best about money and oblivious to it at worst, you can cheat a dreanan outrageously. You can charge nearly anything you want for worthless junk and most dreanans will pay it. You can convince them a one room apartment in the harbor district of the city is worth the same as a manor in the hills because its close to the water and the water is great. Despite having vast amounts of mithril in their world they frequently mistake mithril ingots for silver ingots and pay for a bottle of Bayle's with mithril. They don't even think of asking for change or saying something to the bartender like; "Start me a tab." I know this having seen it done. I told the bartended to start the Amber guardsman[[2]] who made the mistake a tab. A couple of months later heard that the same guard, one Drusda_Brosc, was shocked to be asked for payment despite having drunk 'for free' for months. I laughed so hard I gave the establishment a very large amount of mithril and told them to never charge the man again.

However.The Dreanans are not all stupid. Remember, shadow has vast diversities. If you are cheating one and they say something like, "Hey, I think you are cheating me." Flee immediately. If they figured it out that far, you have only a moment to escape before they lay hands on you and pummel you to pulp. Conmen beware, the Dreanans are willing to beat you senseless and take the punishment for lawbreaking if they think you needed killing. They don't kill lightly though. If you cheat them they may only break your arm bones. Each and every one. Each and every one every time they see you, for the next thousand years. Persistent and determined are our dour friends in brown and blue.

There are no native musical styles. The people of this shadow never conceived of a need to record the legends of their ancestors in any format other than long, dreary, unbelievable recitations of facts, odd magical occurrences, and gossip. No bardic performers, musicians, or minstrels, theater or drama, Dreanan histories read like laundry lists and are heavy on genealogy, light on details. Off-shadow historians classify Dreanan histories as 'unsound'; a technical term for worthless.

The history of Dreana is so crammed with vicious warfare that the architecture of the world developed a siege mentality that is unbelievably stout. The Tower of Brolic is but one example of thousands of incredibly stout fortresses, albeit the pinnacle of such edifices. This is what brought Oberon and Finndo to this shadow in the first place. They were looking for theories of castle construction and they sought in shadow for a place where local conditions created strong fortifications. Once Oberon and Finndo found a household they could manipulate they helped the vicious weasel in charge of it to conquer the world. This was the great Duke Agnot Brolic; a more miserable bastard 'sound' histories have rarely documented.

A note to the Dreanans who read this. There are beginner classes in business theory and trade at most of shadows universities. Universities are those places people go to learn things. I mention this because the Dreanan have no universities themselves. Education is a family affair and many families never bother. Some ship their kids off-world to get an education, especially if they are Blue.

To their credit, most dreanans sent offworld to attend universities never return home to live. They may visit home, or gain posting in the Dreanan embassies in the GCST worlds, but any Dreanan smart enough to survive college and avoid the military realizes how miserable their homeland is and spends much of the rest of their lives staying away from it. Dreanan ex-patriots have done well in many different endeavors including, art, business and science showing that despite their origins these people are intelligent, and capable after a little eye-opening experience. Even some that have not had such enlightenment have done well and raised to the command levels of the Amber Military.

Dworkin told me once that the problem with this world has more to do with the parameters that Oberon and Finndo used to find the place. That they looked for a place that siege-mentality had dominated the growth of the people in the shadow. Sure, blame it on cosmology.

Maybe the Dreanans can be forgiven for their dour ancestry but not for failing to adapt over the 12 thousand local years since the House of Brolic signed the GCST in 1202.

I mean come on guys. Bang some sticks together and pick up the beat. Even military music would be an improvement.

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Its been a few years since I wrote the above addendum. In that time I have taken a ration of shit from a lot of Dreanans about it. What amuses me about this is that it comes from different angles.

One group, lets call them the Conservatives, decried my insulting tone when talking about their beloved homeland. They claim that I clearly did not understand the importance of tradition to them. I was incapable of grasping the true complexities of their kingdom and the importance of the Tier of Coronets. I was obviously too dense to see the nuances in their histories. And lastly, and my favorite, I did not grasp the vast importance of their inter-shadow mercantile industry.

The second group, lets call them the Blues told me that I was letting their ruling classes and merchant classes off too easy.

The conservatives would tell me of their vast contribution to the military of Amber and their deep involvement in the navies, and hence the commerce, of Amber. I agreed.

The Blues would howl drunkenly at how I didn’t go far enough about the THOUSANDS of years it took their royalty to grasp simple concepts of rulership and industry. I agreed.

The conservatives would go on about the lordly nobility of their ancestors and their lives lost in the defense of their homeland and of the Kingdom of Amber. I agreed.

The blues would ask me to kill their King and put a blue on the throne. I hemmed and hawed.

Clearly though, I am in the Blue camp.

What makes me write this is a shocking occurrence in the House of Brolic’s ruling line. Regicide, fratricide, lese majesty and all other kinds of bloody messes are common in the politics of Dreana. So after a prolonged round of assassinations and bloody carnage the Line of Brolic has just raised a new King to Throne. The new wearer of the 12th Coronet is King Dunran Brolic. He is a sickly man who has never been able to benefit from Amber medicine. He came to the throne after a convoluted political argument among the ruling family that took twenty years and killed off 59 members of the royal family. For Dunran the Sickly to have survived the gross stupidity of his kin, once they decided to go to the mattresses, is amazing.

But the really amazing thing is that as all this foolishness played out Dunran’s son was safe and sound at Fantalin, learning about double digit accounting and the value of diplomacy. Dunran’s eldest son is Markosi Brolic, the first Blue the ruling line has produced in a thousand years.

Everything exists in Shadow. Perhaps even hope for the Brolics.

((GM-Notes:So many things. I intended for several PC enemies to come from Dreana and the House of Brolic. Bleys hates these guys and he was my voice to the PCs. Also, I imagined the PCs being deeply involved in Brolic politics including acting as Bodyguards, friends, even rescuers of Markosi Brolic. I intended the PC to be gravely and even murderously insulted in public by Dunran the Sickly. Fun ensues. ))

Lou's Market, New Orleans, Earth[edit]

Ploumarket.jpg

The eleventh card is another of the Diners of Amber that seems to have Random's recommendation, and grudgingly my own. Lou's Market has the best fish available. Something Amberites have a hard time admitting. They serve great food in a to-go market, or you can sit at the counter and dig in there. No fancy tableware just chipped plates and paper bags. Just bowls to wash your fingers and rags to dry them off. There are jars of condiments so vast that a chef might forget the fish and just sample custom mustards, salsa, sauces, dips and salad dressings. Are you interested in getting 10 pounds of heavenly batter-fried fish and a jumbo box of wedge fries, with malt vinegar, salt, and homemade tarter sauce? Lou's is the place. There is a park across the street, usually crowded with people, families, ball-games, and picnickers under a nearly always warm and sunny sky. Even the rain is warm and pleasant.

There is a cool Jazz club near by. Great jazz and blues roll off the horns and hands of geniuses. A card club, Grimy Eddie's,is a mile or two away is worth the walk, and surprise, they can exchange Amber silver & gold wings for the paper play money they use there. Just don't ask to buy your metal back.

((GM-Notes:This place has two things I wanted to have the players interact with. Louis Armstrong and baseball. I had hoped to have a PC. or perhaps my PC-NPC bring both to Amber.

Braldig's Tinkery[edit]

Pbraldigs.jpg

In the city of Gorsali in the shadow of Larengar is a vast collection of buildings where all shadow seems to deposit their dead tech, old machines, and knockabout clinking trash. I spent two months once just going through the nooks and crannies of this palace. I counted over 3000 rooms filled with the strangest array of broken parts I ever imagined.

So who owns this place? Erasamus Braldig. This is a cantankerous guy who is unequaled in simple tinkery. That is a polite way of putting the truth. Braldig is a hairy pain in the ass. I think he is the person that casts shadows of nasty old cusses. He makes his own gin, drinks it straight, eats his beef raw, and you can piss off if you don't like it. You got to love a guy so sure of himself that he doesn't give a tinker's damn about what anyone thinks of him. He is that tinkerer and he keeps his damns close to the vest. That's the kind of a guy he is.

I love him. I drop by to drink his gin and curse at him every so often. If he tells you to fuck off and get the hell out of his shop, ya know he likes you.

So why is his place in the deck? Well, because he can fix anything.

From crossbows and fountain pens to rocket ships and laser rifles. If it hums, clicks, spins, ratchets or arcs he can make it better. The price is putting up with his insults. Amberites are not known for their patience in that area. Yet I watched Benedict let this bastard bark at him for three hours just so that he would figure out what was causing a glitch in some construct of his. Benedict is a pretty clever guy, even for an Amberite, and he doesn't give up on tough problems often. He also does not suffer fools, nor insults any better than any of the royals, less in fact, by far. So for him to come to Braldig is really saying something. That Braldig figured the trouble out in 3 hours is a testament to the difficulty of the problem and his true genius.

Braldig has a hobby that is really an obsession. It might be to see his progress on it that I drop by so often. He created and maintains the most massive constant action device I ever saw. Balls run down tube, flipping cards, that throw switches, lighting lights, cooking food, changing temperature, lifting levers, and swinging wires. Every action with a half-dozen equal and opposite reactions, no energy is lost. Random says he loves sitting in the middle of this device and just watching the thing run.

Me too. Drinking gin.

Addendum

Braldig is a great guy as long as you have a strong stomach and a steady nerve. It is rumored that Braldig is a shadow of Dworkin. Figures. Aries Colbresi, Dean of Treasures at Fantalin and holder of the Oberon Professorial, a powerful sorcerer and one of the most benevolent and capable minds in Amber's service, is also known to be a direct shadow of Dworkin. Makes ya wonder, eh kinsman?

Erasmus has one of the greatest Constant action machines in existance. But not the only one by far. Just the greatest one built a piece at a time. Others I have found are bigger, but came in to being by the forces of chaos and creation.

((GM-Note: Braldig was an opportunity to curse like a drunk sailor. Something that shocked my players since it was so out of character for me. Also it was a place to get advice on almost anything the PC might pick up in shadow or break in shadow.

Vine River[edit]

Pvineriver.jpg

Vine River is in the trump deck because it is a nice place go hunting. The mountains near this river valley are temperate, even in winter. A lush region of gentle mountains with heavily wooded areas and shallow, wide rivers abound in this sparely inhabited shadow. Deer, stags, moose, and a wide variety of game animals are here for the taking.

Some strange function of shadow causes mountain men, devotes of nature and solitude, to find their way here, leaving their home world behind. Most never know the difference, and few regret the transition. That they gain an unnaturally long life, such as those in worlds near Amber sometime experience, might surprise them. Many never question the fact that years and decades, even centuries have passed. They were not clock-watchers anyway.

Peaceful, nomadic, nature oriented peoples some time find their way here too. 1300 Nez Perce Indians arrived long before Patternfall and have been thriving ever since. Their leader, Chief Joseph is closed mouthed about his tribes fortunate rescue but will gladly assist hunters, trappers, and other peaceful people if he can. He is the ruler of this world he calls Wallowakias and Random has reaffirmed the Chief's title to the land, granting him the rank of Duke of Amber, if not quite a Golden Circle King.

Reane Vil Sar manages the royal hunting lodge here. She is a great lady. I promised I would say that because she has large sharp skinning knives and uses them with wicked skill. She has an infectious laugh that only makes her scarier. She arranges hunting expeditions of 3, 7, and 30 days up into the wilderness surrounding the Vine River Lodge. She is also married to Chief Josef granting her the rank of Duchess even if she never uses it.

Like many people in such places of royal importance Reane is retied from her original occupation. She served in the Amber military for 370 years eventually rising to serve for twenty years as chief of the Amber Elite Guard. The tattoo on her forearm is well earned. She also served unofficially as Oberon's chief torturer.

Addendum

Add this in the region of new data discovered by Sweet-as-stale-Vinegar Maylon Hendrake and her bloody Heirs and spares genealogy of Dworkin. It turns out that Josef, born Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, or Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain, is a son of Oberon. Imagine that. And while his allegiance to Amber is in place his trump shows the green bar of those in the sway of Mandalay. Dworkin assures me this has more to do with Vine River's location in shadow than Josef's personal allegiance. Sure. He has a blood son as well, Red Cloud.

I like this place for a lot of reasons. I grew up in Amber and places my mother knew, and schooled in Thelusia. But I found Gerard and I often sought out the solitude of the mountains and Amberites have a song in our souls for them, the reason unknown. Gerard and I and a man named Del Que spent a few year together far from anyone. Trapping, hunting, singing, brewing homemade hooch and living without a care in the world. The natives here are not war-like but make a very rough game of Counting Coup. We played. If asked, and in a suitably drunk frame of mind, when I was happiest in my life, its hard to say this was not one of those times. Gerard and I have a bond between us from those times. Its a bond I trust, but not one I want to test too hard.

Among the peoples that seem to wander in are a variety of creatures of natural bents that are a bridges between man and beast. They vary widely in physique. Titanthropes, Sasquatchs, Neanderthals, and some types creatures of these natures with lizard ancestry. These creatures are elusive, even compared to the mountain men. Yet they are creatures of great serenity and ingenuity even if their intelligence is not the equal of the more civilized peoples. They are not typically social creatures, outside their own kind, but they do develop relationships with others if the circumstances allow. The ropes woven by the titanthorpes are extremely strong, of necessity, but are also among the highest quality for any number of uses. Replicated copies of their rope is used on Vulsar for many purposes.

Another note about Vine River, and an important one, is that while one may hunt here to one's heart content it is a place of healing. Dispatch your prey if you intend to eat them. A wounded animal will bleed out if the wound is great enough but given a moment or two to recover will heal from great wounds. This makes the Counting Coup rough. You can get grievously injured and heal, reasonably quickly. If you bring someone wounded here they heal fast. Not instantly but a broken arm heals in a weak, a gut shot in a month. Be careful.

((GM-Note:The PCs might want to rescue indigenous people. Never know. Also, I have a huge interest in the mountain-man trapper period. Jeremiah Johnson, John Colter, Jim Bridger, Joseph Walker, etc. Real and fictional. Jeremiah Johnson is one of my favorite movies. I had hoped some of these heroes might come to amber as well.

14. Wala Heights, Taxorami[edit]

Pwalahieghts.jpg

Amongst the Diners of Amber is a world that really expresses the point of view that the realms of shadow did not exist before we found them. Wala Heights is one of Random's favorite places in shadow. He speaks of it in Corwin's Chronicles. A place of violence, cards, hang gliding, sultry days and long nights. Thermals ideal for hang gliding and flying.

Wala Heights is an improbable collection of technologies and cultures, mashed together in a fashion that belies explanation. This realm has no ancient history or legends of empire and kingdom. Culturally this place is stagnant. Early in this shadow's history the urge to grow from city-states to empires never really took hold. For tens of thousand years this place has developed a vast patchwork of walled cities that adorn the incredibly rock terrain. Garden agriculture developed as an art here, attempting to get the maximum amount of produce out of the tiny areas of arable land. A class of merchants, who are the only thing nearing a governing body or a religious order, monopolizes inter-city trade.

This realm must be on a thousand different shadowpaths of a dozen different initiations. That is the only way to explain the diverse flavors of both foods and technologies. The fact that one city-state might have electric street lights and its neighbor might use oil-soaked torches for lighting its roads shows that good ideas travel slowly. The lack of any responsible city government in a city-state is not unusual.

Food here is scrumptious, strangely spiced and exotic, but the portions are small. The drinks are potent and usually mixed. The beer is nasty. The roast pigeon in mustard sauce is sublime. Look for Mickle Firn's Hovel. It is a great restaurant/ casino with crash space around back. The food they serve is what qualifies this as a Diner of Amber.

Warfare never really grew above band combat. City-states tore building supplies directly off the mountains they were built on and into. Bands, gangs, and block warfare has dominated this shadow where people never developed the knack for recording history. Plays, music, and art, all revolve around the here and now; names are frequently changed to reflect the local clientele and the creator's names are lost. A careful and dedicated historian could chronicle the history of this world by cataloging and indexing the vast quantity of such performances. Having done so the historian would find that none of the people here would care.

"What have you done for me lately?" is the order of the day. People might remember what happened in their own lives but they know better than to try and tell anyone about it. Still, there is something to be said for the hedonistic, live-for-the-moment, live fast, die young, leave a nice corpse, lifestyle that dominates Taxorami.

Waste disposal is a problem in this society clinging to the sides of the rocky landscape. Organic waste and material waste are treated similarly but separately. Recycling is nearly a religion. Material waste is deconstructed to its component parts and reused ad infinitum. Everything here seems to have once been something else. The bottom of this process is that once things are too small to reuse they go into the mush that becomes the bricks and mortar the city is built with. Organic waste is deposited in mixing vats that sends it all through efficient wind-turned millstones that grind everything into mulch. The mulch is processed and elutriated till it is amazingly rich. It is then made available to the public for their wall gardens and personal agriculture.

This brings me to one disturbing thing that highlights their lack of a sense of history and it bears comment. Their funerary practices are grim, if practical. Wood is not exactly scarce but it certainly can't be wasted on pyres or cremation. Open ground is too scarce to use it for burials. With so many people, so crammed together, they are sensitive to bad smells, so the death practice of exposure is impractical too. Recycling is a way of life for these people. So the dead are tossed in to the huge mixing pits along with all the other organic waste products with little or no ceremony. Once a person is dead, his corpse is just meat. Cannibalism is a known, if not an active, practice. The bodies go into the mix. Luckily the millstones are good enough that the free mulch does not disgorge knucklebones and fingernails with any regularity.

No statues, monuments, or memorials remember the tales of the dead. Good works are unremembered; crimes not avenged in a few years are forgotten. Justice is swift and brutal. The preferred form of execution is to be thrown into the mulch alive. Understandably, people prefer to go down fighting if they picked a life of crime.

Lastly, in this land of forgetfulness, Random has managed to obtain a sense of immortality. He did it by importing millions of decks of indestructible and fine playing cards with his name and face on the back. Neat trick, brother dear.


((GM-Notes: This is in the deck for Random's convenience of course. But it might be a good place for time with Uncle Random. I had ideas of using this much as Random did, as a playground for PCs. Obviously Random has a place here, staffed by Amber Elites and Amber staff. Also, later on in this piece you meet Wet Wendal, a mayor of sort in another part of Taxorami. Nice to have PCs familiar with the place before getting involved with Wendal.

15. Mandalay[edit]

Mandalay1.jpg

Mandalay. This is a topic that will fill volumes and will scatter influences like silver amongst beggars. A few quick comments are worth noting.

Mandalay is a primal realm that stands beside, if a step behind, Amber herself. It is a realm of plenty. The ancient tree Ygg, apparently somehow akin to the Unicorn, the Serpent, and the Bear, was further sanctified by the creation of the Mark of Mandalay. Unlike the compact Pattern of Amber, the meandering Pattern of Avalon, or the shifting multitude of environments in the Lorgus of Chaos, the Mark of Mandalay is a massive circle that is easy to walk and unlikely to harm those who assay it.

The Hub of Mandalay is a wooden bar, 5 feet wide and 3 feet off the ground, surrounding Ygg, 8 miles away from its trunk. It slides away to reveal the Mark of Mandalay below. The interior of the mark is a 16-mile in diameter circle of grass that never browns. Here is found sitting groups, chairs, sofas, tables, and conversation pits. By the trunk is the Great Throne of Mandalay growing out of Ygg itself. Here sits Adrian in glory surrounded by the chairs of the Lords of Mandalay. Lords have his own chairs, suitable to their forms, that grow out of the ground at the tip-end of a root of Ygg. None but they sit upon them, not even Adrian.

Outside the circle is a vast ring 8 miles wide, beginning at the hub, where tents and encampments are arranged in an orderly and efficient manner. Benedict would admire the well-arranged walkways and paths, and the way the ratlines never seem to trip anyone. It is as if Ygg itself warns you silently to watch out for the ropes. Clever Tree. This is the Ring of Life. The Hub, Ygg, the Ring, comprise the Vale of Plenty. Low hills ring the Vale.

To the South of the Vale of Plenty is the Vale of Song. To the north is the Garden. To the East is the Vale of Flowers and to the West is The Vale of Rocks. The Jeweled Road leads east to west and has it's only break in the Vale of Plenty. Good luck marching an army through this mess. Eastward lies Amber; westward lies Chaos.

Adrian's Dramaturgy is in a small valley between the Vale of Plenty and the Vale of Song.

Now if you visit Mandalay here is the way to get food. You approach the bar and place your plates, bowls, schooners, trenchers, or whatever you want to carry food away in, upon the polished surface. You wrap on it two times and they are filled by the power of the Mark. Now what they are filled with is anyone's guess, and probably the mark's joke. Any type of food available in shadow is likely to arrive. I once got a peanut butter and banana sandwich, a plate of humis, a cup of ant-spiced coffee, a tray of bread made from corn and June bugs, and a decanter of the most delicious wine I have ever tasted. Diners beware.

Two things are guaranteed about the mana of Mandalay. None of it was made from sentient species, and all of it is edible. Of course people's tastes vary in shadow. There are some Black Zone worlds where they eat truly repulsive things.

The trick is that the longer you stay in Mandalay, the more often you visit, or should you take up residence in the region someplace, the more frequently the hub begins to know what you like to eat. Residents are even able to get the hub to learn what type of food you like in which platter. So if you feel like a balcony sandwich, bring the green plate, or like lasagna bring the red dish, or white mice in machine oil and chocolate sauce bring the black bucket with the chipped corner. I have managed to convince the Hub that when I put the crystal cup I stole from chaos on the bar I want that remarkable red wine. Splendid trick, really, and a fine way to encourage immigration. Lords are able to place orders. Really now. A very splendid recruiting technique if I do say so myself.

One of the many oddities of Mandalay is that when one decides to travel from one area to another, they think on it and the distance seems to shrink. Consequently rather than walking the 29 miles from Ygg to the Vale of Song one needs to merely decide to go to the Vale and within a mile's walk one arrives there. Not actually teleporting, sort of like skimming, one frequently sees striders appear, take 4 or 5 steps, and disappear. Of course, the striders may be going someplace but they can turn aside at any time; another very clever trick in this very tricky place.

Mandalay.. hmmm. Its a dare. Adrien turns out to be a son of Oberon and a long time resident of Chaos. He has contacts deep in shadow and some kind of affinity with the natural forces of shadow, apart of the sentient ones that seem to take care of themselves. I hesitate to call him the Arch-druid of Amber but the term is not far from the mark. Adrien is part of some deep game from the beginnings of the creation of Amber and I can't get Oberon of Dworkin to tell me a damn thing about it.

((GM-Note: Too many ideas to list easily. Mandalay is a new player on the multiversal stage and what might happen here is vast.

16. Castle Arden[edit]

Pcastlearden.jpg

Now the time comes for me to say a few mean things about Julian. Alright. I trust him least of all my kin. There, I said it. The discovery of Castle Arden is a case in point.

This castle is Julian's headquarters in Arden. Until recently it was not open to his brothers. Not exactly off limits, just secretive and not spoken about outside the secret circles of the Arden Guard. We all had seen various massive ranger encampments and fancy tents and giant log structures forts and manors but a frigging stone and stained glass castle? Even Benedict was unaware of this castle's actual size till it turned up in the deck. That takes doing. Look at the damn thing. Its a bloody cathedral in a open piece of parkland. And no one mentioned it? Really????

He raised his son Duncan there, never letting on that he had spawned.

Perhaps Oberon knew about it and kept it's secret but Random is a very different kind of king. He put a trump of the place right there in the deck. So much for secrecy, eh, Jules?

It is a military establishment of the first order and one of Amber's last lines of defense. When Corwin and I came to Amber with a few friends a while back we totally missed the place. From there the defense of the land route and the shadow trails is administrated.

A word to the wise. The point the trump takes you is at least as well guarded as the courtyard of Castle Amber, but the guards here want official travel passes exposed upon arrival or metal will fly. Ask Julian if you can drop by before you attempt to trump in. Julian will not be responsible for kinsman who die at his doorstep because they did not understand the need for security.


'Addendum

Julian and I have made some peace, as have many of my siblings, since Patternfall. So let me temper my comment on Castle Arden. I do understand the need for security.

I do check my cup when he hands me a drink, though. I trust he won't poison me, but I don't think he is beyond putting a scorpion in it or a freeze-stone. Haha... Who knew he had a sense of humor? I think its a mark of the success of Random's reign that we elders are starting to be comfortable enough to play practical jokes on each other again.

Adrian's Dramaturgy[edit]

Pdramaturgy.jpg

A short walk from the Hub of Mandalay is this valley dedicated to leisure and the performing arts.

Adrian's Dramaturgy is a massive collection of amphitheaters in a long, narrow, valley between the Vale of Plenty and the Vale of Song. Its complex of production areas, training and practice rooms, stages, stadiums and apartment buildings are a center of entertainment like few in shadow. The general tech level is high but different venues establish different tech levels for its viewers as well as it actors and crew. Why is any one's guess.

A thousand shadows send their best performers here to display their skills. Many of the performers never leave. They live in the Ring of Life, or in the apartments and condos in the region, and work in the Dramaturgy. Many live here, and living here, as in Amber, they become young and long-lived, if not immortal.

What do I recommend?

  • Start with a heavy meal, then wander off for snacks. Ugala's Diner is near where the trump takes you. The menu is irrelevant, since Ugala's has a 'Station of the Hub', a counter where the Hub delivers what you ask for. I made a trump to Ugalas for my personal deck for just this reason.
  • The Cabri Carts are the best snack carts to be found anywhere, with a vast profusion of finger foods and drinks. Each is staffed with a stand-up comedian or improvisational actor auditioning for parts in the established theaters. Auditions might take years as they dispense portable potables. The results are outrageous, profane, bizarre, often morbid, and hilariously funny. You have to give Adrian credit to have this in mind when he carved the Mark.
  • The Resheika Theater presents only works by Shakespeare, Alvian, Dresir, Mondolian, Aristophanes, Shaw, Arthur Miller and the famed, and well-respected dramatist, Bleys of Amber. I was there once and, honest to the unicorn, I caught a performance of one of my own works, from my early years. I was overwhelmed. The Resheika Troop does only the highest of class productions.
  • The Hop Shop is a comedy shop where the Cabri come for open mic nights and you are very likely to see famous celebrities from the length and breadth of shadow plying their trade. I caught Robin William, George Carlin and Droppa Ma Pantz doing a three-man show once. Spectacular. The fare is happy-hourish, the bar is well stocked. It has a vast selection of smoking herbs. It is truly a thing of wonder.
  • The other end of the scale is Miko's Bashery. This place caters to, aaa..low brow humor, shall we say? Here you will find people destroying a wide variety of things; not for the weak of heart. The only rule is that you can not kill it specifically for the show. However, you can kill it, even sacrifice it, if you plan to eat it afterwards. Oh, and no sentient victims.

As for Miko's I will state this for the record and Adrian can bitch me out if he likes. I saw Rahz Ferso's act and was laughing my head off as he bashed planters, and water bottles and portraits of Amberites. But when he shape-changed the fuzzy face of the kitten to look like Oberon, then gleeful took his time smashing it and playing with its severed limbs? Well, that was over the line. I don't care if he ate it.

So I hunted him down in shadow and iced him, roughly; tough luck for the smash fans. Like I have said before, you place your bets, you take your chances. We can't fix everything we don't like in shadow but I can certainly fix things that take the time to piss me off. Call me a harsh critic. Next act?

  • Kanil Dri's is a concert hall for orchestra and opera. Never a dull moment, never a note off key, never a warbling soprano unless the libretto calls for it.
  • The Bijou Multiplex is a massive movie theater with 10,000 screens. Rooms hold 12 to 12000 seats. The IMAX and ALLMAX halls seat up to 20k. The holoform rooms seat as few as 2 or as many as 30. Show times are set ahead of time.
  • The Bellevue Multiplex is next to the Bijou. It has 5000 small theaters that can be reserved for private shows. Then the renter may either provide their own tapes or discs, or pick from the unlimited collection owned by the Bellevue itself.
  • Shiki Lee's is a jazz/swing Dance club. Great tunes, great beat and lots of movement, cold drinks and willing women. Adrian, you lucky dog.
  • Lastly, The Forum of Gold. This massive concert hall features mainly loud techno music of the sort earth-folks term Metal or hard rock. The big bands and the big shows from a thousand different techno shadows either come here or have their shows holographically presented here. I have a private box.

Speaking of Holographs. Many of these venues kype holographs of performances out of shadow. Takes some of the juice out of seeing things live but it is probably a heck of a lot easier that way.

This entry will be unusual and hopefully helpful.

There are many forces in shadow that causes people to travel shadow to other shadows that draws them, uncontrollably. Vine River draws both individuals and nature oriented groups. Mountain men from thousands of shadows find themselves drawn to Vine River and may or may not notice the transition, depending on how often they seek the comforts of civilizations. Times of trail and danger opened the way for native peoples fleeing oppression and death. Adrian's Dramaturgy calls performers, some moments from death and despair to it. Theaters devotees, stage crewman, promoters, and fans seem to dribble in for many unclear reasons. So it goes as the Patterns and the Logrus tangle.

I ran into a group of Rahz Ferso fans in the Harbor district of Amber. Outside Thin Whip's actually. They had read my article and came after me to avenge Ferso's killing. Frankly I am surprised he has fans that can read, little lone find their way to Amber. 8 of these guys thought they could kill a Prince of Amber. SO I scattered them across shadow in veils with the most diverse natural laws I could imagine. If any of them find their way back I'll squire them..

The monetary system used in the Dramaturgy is sufficiently complex as to need study elsewhere. Obs in the Dramaturge

((GM-Notes:The Dramaturgy was going to be one of the main gathering places for PCs with easy access to shadow and entertainment. The chance to see famous groups of history is enticing.

Vale of Rocks[edit]

Pvaleofrocks.jpg

The Vale of Rocks is a region as big as a medium sized continent devoid of water, plant life and any sense of comfort. This desolate hole is on the Jeweled Road toward Chaos. The less said about it the better. Bring your own provender because even the buzzards have abandoned this nasty place.


Addendum to Vale of Rocks Turns out that under some exploration of this place, taken at something close to gunpoint, it does have animal life and it does have plant life, and it has some non-native sentient life hiding in the rocky hills far from the Jeweled Road. The gunpoint was the hand of Benedict who tasked me to seek out bandits, perhaps Azcalan troops, that were preying on travelers on the Jeweled Road. I found several things. First, the plant and animal life probably didn't start here.


So it was as I traveled into the far reaches of the most desolate plot of land I ever saw. First off, about 30 miles from the road the forces of the universe prohibit air travel. The shadow is also not a complete one so if you you are piloting a plane, or starship as it turns out, over the Jeweled Road you are fine. Take a right or left and 30 miles in you stop. Hard. Fast. Or if you bounce off the wall if you hit it at an angle. This wall goes down to 50' from a surface. Thanks, so I tried low level crafts, hover-cycles and such. but they puttered out.. frigging universe.

So it came to ridding a Varactyl. Nice beasts. Good hot weather beasts. Smell like rotting wet elephants and they like to cuddle. I traveled deep into the hot lands of fiery air on a stinky cuddle lizard.

«The Hollow in the Rock »

So there Childe Bleys did find the Hollow. The Hollow is what the people there call it. They are a collection of people from a wide variety of shadows and an unpleasant and stubborn lot they are. The Hollow has a function similar to the Dramaturge where criminals of mostly solitary inclinations find there way here and form a lose society of raiders and ravagers of a criminal nature.

They go off and raid the travelers on the road but its not their main goal. In the Hollow is a further collection of passage ways into shadow.

((GM Notes: Obviously a hideout of criminals has Adventure written all over it))

Phil's Diner[edit]

Pphildiner.jpg

Next on the travelogue of the Diners of Amber is the mellow nightspot called Phil's Diner.

This place is best described as a good place to get a decent cup of coffee any time of the night or day. It is a workingman's cafe and is usually pretty quiet. Sit at the bar and nurse your miseries over a cup of Phil's fine java.

The neighborhood is a reasonably safe one despite the shadow being lodged in an epoch of rum-runners, bathtub gin, speakeasies, illegal casinos, corrupt politicians, and gangland slayings. Fair enough excitement to be found if you take the time to look for it.

I must admit I have visited this shadow often enough to have bought a townhouse a block from Phil's. Phil works the midnight shift himself, and will gladly tell you about his 30 years as a military cook. He served in the Spanish American War, World War I, and even did some time in India under the British Raj.

He likes to talk military stuff while he cooks for the next day. The place smells of baked apples all night as he makes the two dozen apple, peach, prune, pumpkin and lemon marange pies he needs for the next day. He has a cute little service he provides the locals. They drop off their lunch pails after work. Then in the morning they come by, have breakfast for 1 buck, usually 2 eggs, 2 sausage, 1/2 a potato, toast and coffee. Then they pay a $1.75 for breakfast and a full lunch pail. The pail lunch contains a meat sandwich, an orange or an apple, a biscuit with a slice of cheese, and thermos of lemonade in the summer or cocoa in the winter, and a slice of fresh baked pie. They usually flip him 2 bucks, giving him a tip. That is until a day or two before payday when they are counting their nickels and dimes. Phil understands.

As we travel shadow we find absolutes. Phil absolutely makes shadow's best cheesecake and this is the ultimate reason Random wanted a trump of this place. Know your monarch, love him, praise him, and feed him cheesecake.

So if you show up of an evening don't be surprised to find yourself slathering mustard on wheat bread and slapping down bologna to feed some factory worker the next day. The fringe benefits are great coffee, friendly conversation, and a slice of fresh apple pie. Or, if you are lucky, a slice of his cheesecake on the house.

Don't let Phil fool you though. It might surprise you, as it did me, and would certainly surprise the factory men, but Phil has not only cooked for Blackjack Pershing, Teddy Roosevelt and Eddie Rickenbacker but for Benedict of Amber. Yep, he served Ben for 22 years as his chief logistical adviser for provender. Mainly a shadow role in Avalon, he none the less is a shadow wise wearer of a broken pattern imprint and a sorcerer of some ability.

He is enjoying his retirement though and sees no reason to return to active duty. I respect him when he says the greatest power being a shadow-walker has given him is the power to find someplace to be happy. May the Unicorn so bless us all one day.


((GM-Notes: Many individuals are sources of information for the PCs. Braldig, Mama Agalvar, and Phil. Phil is a cook. Never know when a good menu I needed.

The Church of the Unicorn, Amber[edit]

Pchurchunicorn.jpg

This card places one at the Royal entrance to the main shrine of the Church of the Unicorn in Amber. Here comes the Royalty of Amber to pay obeisance to our grandmother the unicorn. I would really like to say something glib and clever about that but I think I shall show a modicum of restraint. Let us say merely that we all know what this place is, and why we go there.


((GM_Notes-It was likely that at least one PC would be religious, a paladin type or a cleric type. There would be some type of healing spells.

Jeweled Road, Cantal, Diega[edit]

Pjeweledroad.jpg

This card could have been designed to deliver one anywhere along the road but Random chose Diega.

Diega is a vast shadow and a loyal member of the Golden Circle. The Empire of Diega provides something on the order of 1/20th to 1/15th of the Amber military and host one of its greatest military harbors outside Amber itself. It sits on a crossroad of multiple ocean going shadow trails.

It is approximately a day's ride, shifting shadows or following one of several shadow-trails, to reach Amber. Diega is in the same position Amber is technologically. All the same rules of nature, chemistry, and magic apply. The weather patterns and colorscapes are the same. They share the same sky. Also the same general laws, government and military readiness. They form one of the first lines of defense against invaders on the land route toward Arden.

The trump delivers one to a place outside the city of Cantal. It is a massive city that bears a similar layout as the city of Amber. A large number of land and sea trade routes converge in Cantal, narrowing to three major sea routes, and one major land route. The land route is now covered by the Jeweled Road. Much of the business in Cantal relies on this. House Fasray alone moves thousands of ton of merchandise culled from shadows deeper inward than the Golden Circle extends. The business of finding good stuff and selling it dearly in Amber reaps huge rewards.

Random will tell you that the military, political, cultural, and cosmological closeness between Amber & Diega is the reason he picked Diega for the Jeweled Road trump. He even sounds convincing. Our monarch can really deliver a line.

He selected this particular point on the road for a reason he may not want known. So of course I will tell you.

Look at the card. See the first tree on the left? Do you see how there are four trees in a row behind it running down the road, on the left? Well, once upon a time, Brothers Random, Brand, and Bleys had a very long lunch beneath the branches of these trees; beneath the furthest of the five. We shared Diega delicacies with three charming ladies of the House Fasray. Ilean, Nalya, and Kela. Kela shared a delicacy with his majesty that he had not tasted yet under the tree in front. Brand and I were enjoying our own repasts at the time but we were gladdened that our kid brother, so small amongst his elders, was finally going to have some really juicy gossip we could hold over him.

Until now, anyway.

I recently spoke to Benedict about this card and he said something amusing. That he said something amusing about anything is worth mentioning.

He said he thought the card to the Jeweled Road is in the deck so Random can find his way home when drunk.

Another strange thing about the card is that its fast. Really fast. Most place trumps open a gate in a few moments that you have to walk through. This card pops open with a snap and almost draws the viewer in. If one is wounded, drunk, disoriented, or distracted you can glance at this card, almost casually, and it pops open a narrow path and sucks you in. I discovered this recently and was amazed at the deck having something so useful.

It has recently been pointed out to me that in both the regular notation on this card and in the above Addendum entry I failed to actually comment on the road itself, thus making the reader curious about it. This has caused a great deal of research and paranoia. Usually reading while paranoid is amusing but I am assured that enough real conspiracies exits in Amber that creating the illusion of one concerning such a massive thing as the Jeweled Road is just mean.

So hear me all yee searchers of woe.

The Jeweled Road is a massive construct stretching from Amber to Chaos.

Through out shadow exist an innumerable variety of shadow trails created by equally innumerable methods. Most of my siblings in our youth spent some time traveling to create a network of trade routes in to and out of Amber. Some of these travel to and from Golden Circle worlds, some to places where we find items of worth in Amber. A similar situation exists in the Black Zone worlds. Also, enclaves of multidimensional connected worlds have webs of roads that can be traveled in a dizzying number of ways.

Basically, there were a lot of roads.

Next was a massive project begun at the behest of a young monarch of Amber, our Good King Random, to bring Amber the Nation out of the dark ages into at least the renaissance. This included a massive re-pavement program and an upgrading of services project featuring the creation of an extensive sewer system, running water plumbing and resurfacing of the streets and highways of amber with puzzled stone. All the streets of Amber were covered by puzzled stone well out into shadow and as far as Diaga. Houses were retrofitted with flush toilets and running hot and cold water. Sea routes were dredged. Streets were lighted by glow globes that required no maintenance. Cities created after Patternfall, the most notable being Garn, bear little resemblance to Amber save in kitschy architectural allusions, and street names. Garn looks more like a well conceived and planned Los Angeles than the magically created quaint fairytale city like Amber. Puzzled roads were part of their building as were magically produced electricity and advance plumbing.

Toll stations were established, as were frequent tiny villages just to help the weary traveler. Inns, taverns, repair stations as well as vehicle depots to help travelers from one tech level move his cargo along into another. I have enjoyed seeing computer parts being shipped by oxen teams...

So then comes Ygg, Adrian, and the Mark of Mandalay.

All acts of grand creation change things in unexpected ways. The Jeweled Road was one of these. The Mark of Mandalay was made using a number of different colored stones crushed to powder and used as a material component. Amber had just been repaved in highly puzzled stones. The powers of creation dragged these two things together and pulled on the road systems throughout shadow and created one long highway with Mandalay in the middle, and a massive Vales on either side of it.

So now many of the shadow trails have tendrils to the Jeweled Road and hence to Mandalay, Amber and Chaos. Sorcerers and drovers, merchants and corporations that had limited access to a few neighbor worlds now can trade their wares in the big cities.

The road itself is 100' wide in most places, with crossroads and connecting lines ranging from 30' to 70' wide. There are some precarious and unsettling ng 10' wide walking trails that cross dynamic landscapes and precipices. These jeweled stone ways are impervious to most damage. It can't be pried up, blown up, or bitten off. The time ratio is fast too. The little villages and way stations are at the same time ratio. Its as if the travelers can take a leisurely trip and lose nearly no time getting to whatever off ramp they are trying to get to.

I commented on how willing the card is, drawing the viewer e there they can get to places of healing and commerce fast or slow, at their choice. They can also use whatever travel method they like till they exit the road onto local traffic. So if you pick up a load of teak planking and transport it on a diesel 18 wheeler you can drive it from Jakarta all the way to Zilla or Amber before having to transfer the load to local conveyance. Neat Trick..

The road can be walked from Amber to Mandalay in 10 days. From Mandalay to Chaos in 5 days. It takes 2 days to clear Mandalay. Call it 17 days from Amber to Chaos on foot if you avoid being distracted. 10 days by Horse. A good Hellride can make it in 5 days but the rider will be a wet mess by the time the ride is finished. A casual trip might take a month. Now everyone can make the trip. Lucky us.

((GM-Note:The comment that the trump was "FAST" is the pertinent piece of information. Unlike other cards that take concentration and focus, and might be easy to disrupt, this trump practically drags one through it. Once called on the person can almost pass-out and still arrive on the Jeweled Road. There is a Military Post here as well to step in with troops if needed. I had Bleys suggest PCs put this card on the top of their deck rather the the Amber courtyard or Vulsar Base. Both have great medical centers but as for emergency uses this is better.

Halzir, Taxorami[edit]

P-Halzir.jpg Wendellofhalzir.jpg

Halzir is a strange section of a very strange world. I waxed rhapsodic earlier about this shadow so I won't repeat myself but Halzir is a different kettle of fish. While the regions Random once coasted over are typical for this very odd shadow they are distinctly different then Halzir.

This is one of the Diners of Amber. Three ribbons of stone, a twenty thousand feet long, 300 feet tall, and 200 feet wide rise out of a calm blue sea. A collection of spurs and smaller formations create islands in and amongst the three great rocks. The ribbons extend down 200 feet below the surface of the waters. Over the centuries these once solid ribbons of stone have been mined, carved, and populated. Bridges span the ribbons and nearly two hundred thousand people live here. Vast glass windows adorn lower halls giving a wonderful view of the sea life below the waves.

People here live on fish. The ribbons span a major spawning route and thousands of types of fish swim north to south every day. They just toss out nets from their windows, lower them and drag up a couple of fat trout for supper; maybe a couple dozen for smoking or drying.

Fishing for large game is both a sport and part of the local food supply. Salt water fish include a wide variety of tuna, halibut, albacore, sea & stripped bass, snapper, mackerel, barracuda, sturgeon, opah, yellowtails, salmon, sailfish, various marlins, and tarpons. Many variety of shark patrol the waters as well and while often are caught, they often come when an anglers has a good fighting fish on his line.

One would think they would get tired of a diet so heavy on fish. I did mention the fact that the Taxorami are forgetful, right?

Mollusks crowd the underwater portions of these rocks and are another important part of their diet. Abalone is one of the most common but other varieties are available. Crabs, Lobsters, shrimp and a wide variety of decapods also patrol the region, both in the water and on the land. A giant fighting lobster the size of a mule occasionally is found wandering the alleys of Halzir and causing a general ruckus.

The card actually delivers the traveler to the archway on the left of the card, near a wharf for riverboats, and gondolas. This is Wet Wendell's Hothouse. Wet Wendell runs a really tight ship. I consider him a close personal friend, which of course means I love him dearly and don't trust him a tiny little bit. Restaurant, card-club, distillery, boarding house, brothel, dance club, industrial hub, conference center and municipal offices all rolled into one. That's the Hothouse.

Wet Wendell passes for a Mayor in Halzir. In much the same way he might also pass for a governor of Taxorami. Or an emperor, pirate, robber-baron, procurer, pimp, or Indian chief. He is a pretty funny guy and knows very well about Amberites. Knows most of us personally. While Taxorami is physically nowhere near a Golden Circle world, Wet Wendell's has held high level meetings of a dizzying variety. One of the preliminary Patternfall Treaty documents was signed here. Two Golden Circle Treaties were signed here. A private defense agreement between Caine and Wet Wendell was worked out here. Both Random and the last Swayvill have been known to the vacation here. Wet Wendell understands about reservations, emergencies and the need for added security measures.

Wet Wendell also makes no secret of his eagerness to have Taxorami welcomed into the family of Golden Circle Signatory Kingdoms. Of course, that usually requires a monarch, or at least some kind of shadow spanning government, something the Taxorami are simply not culturally able to grasp. Signing a Golden Circle Treaty with Wet Wendell of Halzir would be like Amber signing a Golden Circle Signatory Treaty with Luxembourg on the earth world of your choice. He is eager to do favors for Amberites, even the nobles, if he thinks they might one day have enough of Random's ear to advise him on this matter.

The problem is that while Wet Wendell desperately wants a GCST, he is enough of a politician to entertain the possibility of signing the Black Zone Pact Instrument as well. He has been building up favors at both ends of shadow against the day he is in striking range of either a GCST or a BZPI and a working pen. This irritates Random, bothers the new Swayvill, and delights those of us that like to see our monarchs get a little pissy from time to time.

((GM-Note:I imagined many a hellride passing through here with players taking a break at the Hothouse.

The Berlin Train Station[edit]

Ptrainstation.jpg

All right. This one is my fault.

I have made a practice of visiting places where doomed people reside, and where their fates have been demonstrated as hopeless in nearby shadows. This is one such place.

It is an earth world in the middle 20th century in a country called Germany. A fascist regime called the National Socialists rule. In this shadow they began a war with the country to the east of them, called Poland, destroyed it in days, and marched directly to the massive country of Russia and conquered it in months. They then settled their differences with their other neighbors and sunk in to managing their internal racial problems.

Outside of the capital of Nazi Germany lays a train-station that is a convenient place for me to arrive if I plan to do some stuff in this shadow. It has a direct line to a collection of crematoriums of epic proportions in the region of Poland where whole races of people are being exterminated. Tartars, Jews, Mongolians, Muslims, Chinese are all being turned into smoke.

So I go there and throw monkey wrenches in the works, liberate the doomed, and relocate them elsewhere in shadow. Call it a hobby. I hate Nazis.

So I left one of my own trumps on a stack of finished place trump originals and when Dworkin created the multiple decks there it was.

I will give a bottle of Bayle's Red, of any of the good vintage years, for any Nazi rank medallions over the level of Colonel as long as proof of death comes with it. I am not squimish.

((GM-Note: This is a nice opening scenario, traveling shadow, hunting nazis. I also intended this scenario to be instructive of how to change history and shift shadow. Kill Goring in 1937, shift to the effected shadows down the line and see how things turned out. If they get Hitler admitted to the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna in 1907 and give him a big patronage to paint landscapes and move to Mexico in 1910, letting him skip trench warfare and you have a very different world by 1984. Sometimes the little rocks leave big ripples in the ocean.

Vale of Flowers[edit]

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Trust Delwin to take a lush heaven of flowers and life and to paint the trump in 20 shades of dull. The Vale of Flowers straddles the Jeweled Road as it meanders toward Amber. His trump looks like a paint-by-the-number landscape.

This lush meadowland is filled with the green of spring and flowers in their first bloom. It is restive, even calming, and camping here is sublime.

I have heard that Adrian has decreed that if it is in his power he will direct the invading forces from either pole into certain vales where they will act out their orgy of death. If Chaos is the aggressor the battlefield will be the Vale of Rocks; if Amber is the aggressor the battle will take place here amongst the snapdragons, daffodils, and camellia bushes of the Vale of Flowers.

Big Tree[edit]

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Yep, it's a big tree. Can't miss that.

There is not much to say about Big Tree. If it is a Diner of Amber it only serves fresh fruit. Massive trees, tens of thousands of feet tall, and wide, rise out of the ground on a narrow trunk. The roots extend hundreds of feet down, raising a parcel of land into the sky. This ends up with a series of strong roots supporting the tree hundreds of feet in the air.

The place must be really close to Chaos.

Addendum

I just learned something about this place. The only way for magic to work in this realm is if you are wearing the Jewel of Judgment! Nice Trick, my liege. Of course discovering that was an uncomfortable surprise for me.

((GM-Note: Random has a pergola here for talking to people who might try to use magic to get away.

Braldu's Retreat[edit]

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Braldu's Retreat is a quiet place. Utterly quiet. Too quiet.

I think Braldu is associated with Mandalay but neither, Random, Adrian, nor the artist of the card, Dworkin, is telling. Asking Braldu just makes you want to itch.

Ren Braldu runs this getaway site for the hectic. I am told it contains thousands of isolated dwellings, three and four-room bungalows dot this shadow. You arrive at the Barn, sort of a check-in spot where Braldu takes you into the back room then into a far too calm den. There he finds out what environmental, dietary and religious requirements you have. Then he sends you through a gateway to such a place.

So if you like mountains, eat pork three meals a day, and serve the unicorn, you arrive at a mountain chateau, stocked with bacon and pork rinds, with a Unicorn shrine and all ten Books of Order. If you worship Buddy Fish the Wonder Dog, like the ocean, and subsist on weasel flesh and onion rings you will find yourself suitably prepared. Braldu has no sense of humor when it comes to these details. I learned that weasel flesh is very lean and not to joke with Ren Braldu.

Don't arrive with a bunch of people expecting to all be together. It isn't that kind of retreat. If you all ask for the same things you will all find yourselves in separate places that are a lot alike. Its not a Honeymoon realm.

Trumps into this shadow do not function, except this one that delivers you at the front desk. Nor do trumps work inside this shadow. You can trump out though with place trumps. I guess that is a kind of an escape clause. Braldu gives you a trump that does work and it only reaches him, or his associates.

The magic of shadow is so weak it is hardly able to levitate crackers. Sorcery, conjuration, power words, hexery, all do not function. Neither does Magery, Warlockrie, Listry, nor anything else I knew.

If you want some quality alone time, this is the place. A good place to get a lot of sleep or get a lot of reading done. The time relation to Amber and Mandalay is a very favorable 90 to 1.

Addendum

I recently discovered that this shadow has a cosmological oddity worth noting.

Braldu's is meant as a place of rest, and sleep is one of the most common activities. It is also a place of solitude. For some reason it is also a place immune to boredom. The nature of the realm is that what ever you choose to do with your time you really enjoy it and get plenty of relaxation out of it. Bodily functions move toward peak performance. If you are hugely fat and come here to exercise you really enjoy it, get maximum relaxation, and the time it takes to burn the fat is nearly cut to a 1/20th of the time.

If you come to read you can devour tome after tome without rest. If you came to paint then your mind tosses up visions that simply must be transferred to canvas.

After it all you feel like you have been asleep for months and had just woken up refreshed and ready to face the day, month, or year.

Pretty clever. Nice place to do magical research.

((GM-Note: The idea that time barely passes and you leave rested might appeal to PCs determined to learn something or do something time consuming.

Oracle of Drisna[edit]

Poracleofdrisna.jpg

Yow. Drisna. This Oracle is a terrifying place; it is a place of revelation.

I spoke on Oracles earlier and this place meets all the criteria. A narrow bridge reaches the top of an isolated spire over a chasm thousands of feet high. The base of the mountains is lost in a shimmering illusion of blues and river water in this frigid realm. The pathways lead no where else. I traveled for ten days in all directions and could find no other sign of habitation.

Don't try to build here. If you mortar one stone to another it will crumble within ten hours. Tents collapses, decomole deflates. Weird. The place really does not want you to stay. The atmosphere disappears 20 feet off the ground, the water mist is sleep inducing. There is neither plant life nor any native animal life. Neither insects nor fish.

The spire of Drisna is a powerful artifact. Upon arrival your sense will be bombarded with a vast sense of power. Magic is more powerful here by a factor of ten. All my hung spells wove off their racks upon arrival. Conjure a candy cane out of shadow and a ton of suckers arrive.

The Oracle itself is an experience worth having. A colonnaded temple surrounds a low altar. Mounted into the altar is a glowing globe a foot across in which swirl colors in smoke and oil. Place your hands upon it and place your question. You will be swept away into realms of imagination where your question is played out and options are examined. Not for the meek.

There is really only enough room for one person at a time. Regardless the experience is not a group one.

Addendum There is one thing about Drisna that the Travel Guides do not mention and they really should. You leave with an experience, your question examined, your knowledge expanded. But there is a price. If you assay the Oracle of Drisna it will give you a small pinch that will take some time to fade away, if ever. You will sneeze for no reason. Stutter. Gain revolting body odor. Lose your taste buds or your sense of smell. You might gain the power to see invisible objects. Be able to tell when you are lied to. The effect could be almost anything, good or bad. The effect might last an hour, a day, or a century. Be warned. When I was young and assayed it I learned the information I needed on a small matter. But I also vomited every time I smelled gin. Hence why Caine drinks gin. He thought it was funny. All he got was a facial tick that went away in a week. Mine lasted 10 years and I don't like gin to this day.

Mandor's Commentary on the Oracle of Drisna[edit]

"The Oracle of Drisna is a True Oracle deep in Shadow near the realms of Cynsure and its thousands of intershadow pathways that existed long before the Jeweled Road. Its not a friendly place but it gives highly accurate visions. It is immersive in that you feel like you are in the prophecy as its played out. You can feel it, smell it, even taste it. While the effect varies most querents say they spent time in their prophecy. Not just hours but days, weeks, even years. Long enough to eat, drink, love, fight, and travel in the time of the conclusion of the prophecy as if the Oracle transported them to the shadow where the oracle is complete. Yet when they leave the vision no time in Drisna has past. "

"Now there are two bad things about this one. It may give you a True Vision, but afterwards as you take paths forward it nudges you to stick to the vision it foretold. One might never know its happening but the effect is unavoidable and may effect people around the querent and the shadows they travel in.. Its an invasive bitch. Second, it gives the querent a glitch. A facial tick, the inability to taste pork products, a lazy eye, farting during intercourse... Something. And the tick won't go away till the vision is achieved. That's the Oracle of Drisna.

((GM-Notes: There are a couple oracles in the deck. An oracle is a strong way to push a PC onto a course of action. I intended the oracles to have different levels of insistence. Drisna was forgiving. Sitting here I could lightly suggest a wide range of options. Sitting in the Oracle of Night, one was perhaps committing oneself and the whole game to a sweeping nightmare. Big EP! Lots of Prizes! But beware, you will get a funny side effect!))

Calrabon, Eruth[edit]

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Amongst King Random's Deck is the great Golden Circle Kingdom of Calrabon. Pictured is the tower city Of Calrosonas, three thousand feet tall and nearly a mile wide, honeycombed with passages, rooms, galleries and halls. The stone of Calrabon has been sorcerously fused and reinforced with metal structural supports. There is as much carefully managed usable space below the ground as their is above. This particular tower is uncommonly large but its design is fairly typical.

Most chambers are one hundred feet square. These squares are then furnished with dwellings, and businesses throughout. With ceilings at 12 feet and 3 feet of space between levels, a 100x100x100-foot chamber generally supports 6 levels of homes, business and storage space. It is truly amazing how much they pack into the chambers.

Living in such a cramped space they cherish the open areas of the 100-foot wide and tall galleries. Fountains, parks, entertainment areas and playgrounds manage not to impede the quick flow of the populace.

Technologically this place is a bit more advanced than Amber, having embraced electronics after Patternfall. The infusion of high tech is being warmly and enthusiastically greeted. Otherwise all the same technologies, cosmologies, and magic forms match Amber, but Magery and warlockery work too. Governmental forms rotate around chamber politics. As for the rest of the shadow, Calrabon is the governmental capital of a shadow spanning nation and there are hundreds of similar, if smaller towers. There are tens of thousands of what they call Chamber Establishments.

{Just to be clear, this nation is one planet and while there are a few wild freeholds and nomad bands across the surface of the globe the great vasty of space has been explored by the Amber Star Fleet. To the best of our knowledge there are no other intelligent species that have been run into in this shadow other then the ground dwelling beloved Calro. There are a dozen or so starbases in this shadow but none are in the star system Calrabon is in so don't mention it to them. Its a sore point between Amber and the Calro, not because its invasive but because we didn't give the Calro their own starships. Of course many Calro are coming up in the fleet and one day they may have a few native ship captains to boast of.}

The urge to block up comes from an early epoch, and Oberon casts a long shadow over the early years. Oddly so do Osric the Bold, Finndo the Wise, and Brown Ben. Call Benedict Brown Ben sometimes and see what happens. Clear your schedule and have a book you can read by candlelight with you. He only accepts that name from Calro natives and those have to have big brass balls to use it.

In the earliest days of this shadow, vicious beasts roamed the realms feeding on anything they could run down, including the two-legged long pork animals called Mankind. People apparently developed language out of a desire to communicate strategies of how to avoid being eaten by beasts. This gives their language a brutal edge that is reflected in their literature. Elephant sized tigers, bears, alligators, velosoraptors, and varieties of flying monstrosities once roamed the world and still appear sometimes. The farmlands and open areas have Chamber Blocks, smaller versions of Chamber Establishments, they run to when these creatures manifest.

So Oberon and his sons came and hunted whole species into extinction or chased the remnants up into the isolated regions of the mountains to breed into smaller, less frolicsome versions of their races. Thus the reasons Calrabon became an early GCST kingdom; gratitude and self-preservation. Osric once told me that Calrabon was sort of Oberon's game preserve.

The details are extensive and you can find casual and scholarly works aplenty. They are, after all, a major and ancient Golden Circle Signatory Treaty kingdom. In fact, King Fom Ross Treit's signature is third on the first of the ancient documents that developed into the formal GCST. A full seventh of the Amber Military, including naval, army, Guard and police forces are of Calrabon natives. Universities, seminaries, and administrations are rife with Calro. The church of the Unicorn is the only religion practiced here.

One would assume this ancient ally's military, social, commercial and political importance is the reason this card is in the deck. Right?

Nope. This is a Diner of Amber.

Don't deny it, brother mine, I know the truth. Sure, the Calro are great people, many of them are dear friends, and their service at Patternfall proves their loyalty. Yet we both know why the trump brings the hungry traveler where it does. Put your hand on the Book of the Unicorn and deny it, if you dare.

During the time of trials, when Oberon and the boys were stomping nasties, the Calro, a particularly competent tribe of men, domesticated the Buffalo. These are not the common buffs one thinks of. These are massive, 16 foot tall meat-heavy buffalo. Docile creatures that live off the plentiful grasslands are herded and efficiently executed then rendered down to cuts. One of the most common magics is the preservation spell that wraps the cut meat and keeps it fresh. Buff hide is the most common leather used in clothing and armor from Calrabon and is one of their most profitable exports.

Seeing the Butcher-Wizards work is a gristly experience in bloodletting. A powerful spell kills the beast painlessly, then separates the contained parts into piles. Everything is used and sold. It figures that the Calro would develop so friggin useful a spell. It works on any meat animal. Imagine...

So the galleries, halls, houses and shops are filled with huge slabs of delicious meat. The trump delivers you outside a southern entrance called Rilor Gate. The first Chamber on the left, is a single Restaurant. It is the shadow-famous eatery called Oberon's Fire. A never-failing barbecue cooks huge slabs of meat for easy eating. Potatoes, and a wide selection of vegies mix up a menu consisting of 4 or 5 different type of meats, dominated by Buff steak. A giant chicken-like bird called Fetrry is a close second to buffalo. Alligator, snake, and a collection of huge fish round out the meats of the menu. Snake is a common meat animal in Calrabon, being about 8 feet long and a foot wide. Snar snake tastes like chicken but really, really good chicken.

I recommend the Buff slab 3; a full 2-inch thick, 16-inch wide cut, cooked to choice and ready to go. A meal fit for an Amberite. The Fet Cut 2 is a breast of fetrry a foot long, and 8 inches wide and thick. Juicy. Try the Snar Cut 3, a plate of 60 or so cut strips, with 5 different dipping sauces. I don't like the alligator myself but it has it devotees, and the fish is pretty good too. They make a halibut ceviechee that is magnificent.

I am not going to comment of the brewers of Calro. Lets just say that in a world with a ancient tradition of farming, and beekeeping, the beers and meads are among the best in shadow. However, their wines rank among the worst.

Many of the royal feasts in Amber will include the Calrabon rainbow trout steak and Oberon's Fire cooks a mean Trout Cut 1, if you feel like fish. If you don't like fish, get out of Amber or fake it. Swayvill doesn't like fish. What are you? Chaosian?

Order a 'Corwin Dinner' sometime. A buff cut 3, a fetery 9, a snar strip platter, roast dive turkey, a gallon jug of porter ale and a gallon of brown honey mead.. Where does he put it all?

I would be doing a disservice to Oberon's Fire if I didn't speak about their Pepper Sauce. {I can hear the woeful sigh of ladies across the Golden Circle. There are few things as hated by them as having people turn the topic of conversation at a soirée to a condiment}

Oberon's Fire is run by a great man named Aggus Fet Arman. He is a great guy and a cook of unparalleled talents. He has been a general in the armies of Calrobon and served at Patternfall leading troops. He retired to take up full time his hobby of cooking. he is an amazing cook...

He has an aged pepper sauce that is possibly the best condiment in shadow. Many a lady of Amber has rolled her eyes when someone mentions it in conversation, since it tends to distract the attention of all the men in attendance, who consider it some sort of holy material. I don't know if its holy, but its worth the attention. Its a sort of, well, it tastes like.. uh... well... its a pepper sauce of the blackish red variety. What it contains is a state secret that Aggus Fet Arman guards with his life. I once heard him say he didn't even make it on Calrabon. Hmmmm a clue....

Dang. Now I am hungry. I think I'll take a break. I have this card right here.

Addendum

More and more I find myself thinking a lot went on before I was born that no one bothered to tell me about. The restaurant called Oberon's Fire is significantly named. It is not simply an homage to Oberon. It seems during his nasty-stomping days a huge bunch of nasties almost got the better of Old Oberon and the boys. They had to fight tooth and nail against a massive number of giant beasts and in the end Oberon was forced to use the Jewel of Judgment as a fire focus to destroy them. He was young though and the power of the jewel got away from him. Nice to know he was not always perfect.

So he became a immolated burning torch as the jewel fought to consume him and he fought to extinguish the fire. To quench it he threw himself into a massive pool of water, which burst into steam. The fire of the Jewel of Judgment was scoured off Oberon and remained in the pit. It has remained there ever since, never wavering. So the meat cooked over the massive barbecue pit is prepared by master chefs who know how to cook meat over a primal fire drawing its fuel directly from the Jewel of Judgment across vast expanses of shadow-veils. Cool trick. Nice fire.


((GM-NOTE:I had an idea to have the PCs get involved somehow in a bit of business over the Calrabon pepper sauce. Stealing its recipe, defending its recipe, bottling it for sale in Nu Yark, who knows.

Salisgir, Unari.[edit]

Psalisgir.jpg

Definantly not a diner.

Well, depends what you eat.

The Great Gorge of Unari houses a waterfall of amazing beauty. It is a vast region of incomparable appeal. Watercourse, flower draped bowers amidst smells of honey and roses.

I was surprised when Random wanted this card included. Nearly all of the elders have had assignations of the romantic kind in this shadow at one time or another. Rumor has always suggested that Osric, Finndo, and Benedict were conceived here. It is a great place to make whoopy.

In retrospect I must admit it makes some sense. Man can't live on bread alone.

Addendum

This idyllic place has fallen out of favor of late. The association with Doria has soured its romantic appeal. There are a number of small private shrines here. Most to the unicorn of course. It was at one of these shrines Doria committed suicide. Luckily while she died, her death was not a final one.

Trust Dory to ruin a perfectly good paradise.

Just a tad on the geography of this realm because one of the cousins, Vance of course, made a trip there and did something unusual. He brought his companion, not unusual, and two jet speeders with their camping gear. It had never occurred to me, nor anyone else it seems, to explore more then a few days horse ride from the spot the card delivers you.

The Great Gorge is certainly the most well known place. Within 500 miles of it on either side is a east/west ridge of vast waterfalls. Above it is a lush plain stretching further then we cared to explore when love was on our minds. It seems that a thousand miles north of the divide is a mighty lake, fed by an even greater snowy mountain range. This volcanic range dumps lava north, melting the snow that falls year round. A very dynamic water system, a friend of mine told me when I described it.

This lake blooms a dozen rivers each miles across to flow down toward the Divide. They splinter into smaller streams that create the waterfalls.

South of the divide is the verdant forests, woodlands, and meadows that we have all come to love and to love in. Six hundred miles to the south the rivers start reuniting as they bunch into a vast collections of lakes braced by a third ridge of low mountains and hills. These are more rock-piles then mountains and they trickle the water down to a beach unlike any I had seen before. They show an active water system having washed away light soil from hard stone.

A new areas for fun have been found.

The Beach is about 2000 miles long and at most 20 miles deep from the Third range to the crystal blue sea. The rives flow into the ocean creating fresh water trickles into a lightly salty sea. The beaches vary between white, gray, blue, pink, coral, golden, and black sands. Its very impressive.

What Vance found was a region of numerous white water rapids of great complexity from the First ridge to the Second Ridge. He and I recently ran a few and I think I may start charting the good ones. I was amazed at Vance, really. Ive long enjoyed white water rafting but it was sort of a private thing. When Vance and ran these it was amongst the most fun I ever had with a relative while sober. The ones we ran were in the high 3, 4, and low 5 range. We noted a few 6s and tried a few.. A rapid one runs while having a trump open as an escape route is a challenging one.

The rock climbing at the Third Ridge is challenging as well for freehand work. There are caves worth exploring in all three Ridges.

And of course the beach.

When Vance and I showed all this to Random his comment was "There goes the neighborhood"

For centuries that we elders knew of it an informal rule has been build nothing permanent here. Tent, yurts, Tippies, Vardo wagons, and such were the norm if more then a blanket was needed. Random has codified this now. He has rulled no digging, not building, except for Unicorn shrines.

I think he knows something we don't.

Fantalin, Thelusia[edit]

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Ancient Thelusia. Vast and mighty is the second ally of Amber, the second signature on the Golden Circle Signatory Treaty. Only Rebma sits higher in the Council of Nations overseen by Amber.

Thelusia is like the next-door neighbor you can't get to return your hedge trimmers and who never asks for his snow-shovel back. So many interactions occur between the kingdoms that the cultures are nearly identical. This has cosmological reasons as well as practical ones.

When a stage show goes on the road, its first stop is the Imperial Theater of the Dramatic Arts in Fantalin. While there are universities aplenty in Amber itself, the Imperial University of Thelusia houses the Amber Chair of Sorcerous Arts. This is in Fantalin. The Great Green Shrine of the Unicorn is the most massive temple of the Unicorn in the Golden Circle, dwarfing the Shrine of the Unicorn in Amber. The Athenaeum of Oberon, attached to the Imperial University of Thelusia, contains more original manuscripts from the Golden Circle than any known place. The Museum of Imperial Thelusia is the second greatest Museum in the GC containing more masterpieces than they can display.

Fantalin is the capital of a nation that comprises the entire known surface area of the planet it resides on. Even Amber shares her sphere with Rebma. Fully 1/4 of the military of Amber comes from Thelusia. It is the first major kingdom outside of Amber that is not in some way a Shade of Amber herself. It is big. All of the elder royals were unceremoniously dropped at Fantalin by no less than Oberon, and educated by the School of Royal Rights, Fantalin. Perhaps Random should revive the custom.

I would dearly love to poke fun at stodgy, loyal, ancient, and fanatically pious old Thelusia, and at my alma-mater IUT while I am at it. To tweak the noses of the Deans and professors that so dominate the culture and act as Miss Manners to its superior, Amber.

But I can't.

In Corwin's chronicles Oberon in the guise of Ganelon speaks of his youth in Avalon. It stuck in my memory. I have hoped, even prayed, since I read Corwin's Chronicle myself, that before Oberon slew him those words were originally Ganelon's. That Oberon repeated them to Corwin, at an appropriate moment, as homage to the man Ganelon once was. Corwin swears he repeated the tale intact.

Ganelon says, "Youth, love, beauty-I knew them in Avalon. Proud steeds, bright metal, soft lips, dark ale. Honor."

We should all have such a place. Fantalin, in Thelusia, was mine.

Addendum to Fantalin'

There is a tavern called Bent Copper's Drop, near the White River in Fantalin. It is a college tavern. I could tell you some stories about that place, believe you me.

I would like to write those tales out, but I tear to think of them. Days of youth when you believed in impossible things like truth, justice, loyalty, honor, majesty, duty, and spoke deep pacts against anyone who soiled these things. But in time they were soiled. All of them. Truth is in the eye of the beholder, justice can be bought, betrayal has a market value, honor falters, kings are just men, duty is as much an anchor as a it is wings, and pacts can be negotiated if you know the right wizard.

So we grow out of such belief in absolutes and accept that these things exist not as glowing points, but as points on a tape measure. Things with starts and conclusions. Hopefully, things that can be regained. Then in our elder days we come to believe in them again, but this time, with a touch of wisdom, and a sad smile for those in the first bloom of youth, clutching these ideals to their breasts.

(GM-Notes:I was always bummed I didn't get any PCs interested in higher education. I had a lot of silly frivolous scenarios set in Fantalin around the school. Young love, feuding rivals, demanding teachers. Fantalin is not just where young Amberites would be sent to school for book-learning. All the Golden Circle worlds probably did as well, for centuries. Getting a degree at Fantalin and returning to Alagulpa Riesa, a small but vital Golden Circle shadow on the trade routes out of Diaga, would be like getting a Harvard law degree and returning to practice law in Fiji. After Patternfall I had planned for young lords of Black Zone worlds and even young Lords of Chaos to attend Fantalin.

Then at some point I hoped to introduce a person I hoped to have rock the Amber universe by accepting a very public teaching position;Dowager Queen Cymnea. This person would have the goods on the Elders and the PCs would do well befriending her. Sadly, it never happened and she remains a recluse.

Amberdinerline1.gif

Augmentation to the Original[edit]

Here we come to a tricky part of this missive. The extra part.

What lie below this point were not part of the original trump deck published Jan 1, 5250. Forces that remain obstinate despite my personal suspicions magically added them. As I stated in the introduction of this reprinted version of my article. "Diners of Amber," I believe it is Dworkin mucking around with these cards. But he isn't talking and I am not forcing him too. I am merely putting my cards on the table, as it were.

So if my edge in commenting on these is too dull or too bitter, you know the reason and who to deliver you complaints. As I also said above," Come whisper me your objections."

Ang Ri[edit]

PAngRi.jpg

I have visited Ang Ri twice. Both times in order to prepare comments for these decks. That will do.

Ang Ri is a Black Zone world and a signatory kingdom of the Black Zone Pact Instrument. The kingdom is a vicious, deadly place where life is cheap.

This shadow is in a sword age and a wizard's age. As with most such places there is a wild danger to traveling here. The predominant life form is human but many humans do not end their lives as human. Lycanthropy is rampant. Magical initiations and chaos effects warp forms. Animals merge with men. Form is mutable. Dragons are a frequent presence and the Council of the Wing oversees and often violently vetoes what governments exist here.

Subsistence farming and isolated enclaves and sparse city-states dot this realm. Trade is dangerous but portal ways provide a degree of security for merchants.

Magic abounds this close to chaos. Everything works.

Here is one comment in favor of the city-state of GjYfil, which is where the trump delivers you. The region around this massive tent city is rolling hills sparsely speckled with the Unsat trees. There is a cooking area called Ganli's Pits. They make a weird meal I might have to stop by for again. The trees have a thick, pear like fruit with a distinctively honey taste that are a full yard across. The livestock can be called cow-like, despite their bulbous faces and 20 tiny legs, because the meat is beef-like. When I asked them what they called these animals they said they had no name. Gotta love Chaos for not cluttering up the language.

So what they do is take the fruit and the beef-like things and cut them into 1/2" thick, 1' wide, 3' long slabs. They then marinade them in a vat the contents of which all looked benign enough. Spices, oils, onions, are tossed into the pits to keep the marinade fresh. The slabs stay in them for a day or so. Then they remove them and roll one of each together with marinated onions between the layers. This tube is wrapped in Unsat leaves, which apparently are immune to fire, and they pitch them into a fire pit. Hours later they remove it and slice it to serve.

The result is exotic, but pleasing. Onions add a nice division between meat and fruit. I don't know if this dish will find its way to Random's table but I would bet credits to navy beans that Swayvill has eaten it.


I recently had to go here for purposes not necessarily pertinent to this article. Once there I went through a series of trials and tribulations which included an encounter with a weapon-master. This guy used a weapon he called a Deathwheeler. It was a pike on the back end, and on the front business end was three rows of curved knives. 4 curved up and forward, 4 curved down and backward, 4 in the center curved left and 4 in the center curved right. A pike point stuck straight forward. The knives spin somehow. The damn thing looked deadly as all heck. They have ones that don't magically spin. They have armies using it. Scary...

Another thing I learned about Ang Ri is that it was originally four other worlds, each very different except for having similar lifeforms. Not existing in a rational universe of stars and physics, but in the waves of variations that culminates in the Stuff of Chaos, four separate worlds at various point came into contact and instead of erupting in shards of ruined worlds they melted together like flavored butters. Now, centuries or millennia later, the cultures have grown together too. It explains a lot about the way the people in this world interact.

Beleriand[edit]

Pbeleriad.jpg

This world is a pristine one in the earliest epochs of its life. It is a vastly underpopulated world which supports Elven, Dwarven and human races, as well as Orcish and other monstrous races. This is a fantasy world lodged in a sword age.

I am told that this world is the birth world of Marke, Fiona's son. I also know that this world is part of a long series of shadows with similar histories and a consideration of this situation is worthwhile since the condition occurs in a limitless form throughout shadow. To finish off Beleriand let me just say this is a rustic age and quite a crude shadow technologically. Have fun, bring your own tent. Also, Beleriand has the purest water I have ever tasted.

A Digression on the Connections Between Cosmology and Fiction-The Travel Guides[edit]

Skip to the next entry, "Falri, Mandalay"-its a good one-unless you want a lesson in cosmology. This topic could occupy thousands of pages and does in a wide variety of tomes. But I will give you the dime tour of the cosmology of shadow using Beleriand as a guide.

Amber to chaos, everything exists. Shrodinger was right; everything that can happen has happened.

So go to the Earth/Aerth/Urth/Haaerth world of your choice. Find a reputable bookstore, such as Kobble's Nook across the street from Neal's Diner, and you should find a book called the Silmarilion and another series called Lord of the Rings. You can find these in the Library of Amber as well. In these books you will find a complex history from origin myths of the Valar and the Maiar who create the world with the overlordship of a primal being named Illuvetar. Nations rise, peoples move, wars are fought, monsters, dragons, betrayals, glorious wonders and all leading up to the defeat of Sauron the Sorcerer, the destruction of his artifact of power, and the dawn of the Fourth age.

Elves come, humans come, dwarves show up, bad guys, good guys, noble kings, heroic wanderers, evil sorcerers. It is all there. Thousands of centuries of history finalizing in the fourth age where peace will rule. Of course it doesn't but the story ends there.

So you read these books and say, "I would like to visit this place." So what do you do? Well, you look over the books again, and call them Travel Guides.

Since everything exists it stands to reason that every place is written about someplace else. Corwin, at the edge of the Abyss, dictated his Chronicles after the Patternfall War. Merlin then transcribed them, verbatim, into print and had them published by the fine people at New Warren Press here in Amber. (They publish my plays so call this a shameless plug.) Such are the editions the reader has undoubtedly read, as well as the semi-fictionalized sequel detailing Merlin's fantasy of himself becoming 'King of Chaos." As we all know, Merlin better than most, a High Lord, who gives up his own name at the time of crowning to become the new Swayvill, rules Chaos.

Yet I have found Corwin's Chronicles, faithfully printed word for word, in many bookstores throughout shadow, and presented as "Fiction". Merlin's too. As well as the series Caine wrote called Lives of Waterwalkers, and my own theatrical pieces. Sometimes my works have even been attributed to a guy named Marlowe. Without the courtesy of royalty checks even. The cheek.

So look over the Silmarilion and chart which epoch you want. Beleriend? Numenor? Gondor? First, second, third, fourth ages? I assure you there are fifth, sixth, and seventh ages but the details diverge from the mainstream of consistency at the fourth age.

Should you be interested there is one called Eighth Age that has high rises, interstate highways,ritualized combat sports, commerce, and international diplomacy. Nations of Gondor, Rohan, Harad, & Arnor run by Humans, Erebor, Iron Hills, and Moria run by Dwarves, Lothlorian, Greenwood, & Gray Havens run by diminish elves, Mordor, Rhun and lands to the East run by a mixture of Humans and Orcs. Seeing an Orc in a business suit going over transfer documents and bills of lading with Elves in casual friday wear is deeply disconcerting. Still, thus is shadow.

The concept of Travel Guides makes some people especially shaky. There are a few of these people that will be finding there way to Amber, and Chaos, that are the subjects of such Travel Guides/works of Fiction. That their lives are so displayed for the perusal of others is a nasty disadvantage. Some people have found their way to Amber that claim to have 'written' these fictions. Their certainty is impressive. One of them is now an Amber Guardsman of great skill who is writing dark Gothic horrors while serving in the Dungeons of Amber. Corwin mentions him in his chronicles.

Caine and I had a long talk about this situation once. We then set out to test the theory that every one of us is a fictional character. We both found that there are shadows where each of us is the star of any number of books. Yet across shadow certain particular people seem to be more dynamically represented. The Similirion is common in most Earth/Eurth/Erth/Aerth worlds. A couple of other series are ubiquitous.

Just ask Doria about this. Her history is laid out in a tremendous collection of books calling her 'Lady, Mistress of Charm' and painting her as a black sorceress empress of a great empire of darkness, served by ten dark enslaved sorcerers called 'The Ten Who Were Taken". One of these Taken turns out to be her slightly more crazy sister, my niece Desri. Its nice to see family doing things together.

When these 'Fictional Characters' show up they will have their histories laid bare at the feet of their kinsman, to be used against them. Sorry, kids.


On the topic of Travel Guides and fictional characters.

Doria was the main person disadvantaged by the use of these books. Her friends and her foes so chronicled have followed her. But others are there too. Some people are collecting the various versions of us and trying to figure out which ones were most accurate. Many of us have hunted down these books and devised defenses accordingly. Be forewarned.

Falri, Mandalay[edit]

Pfalri.jpg

Falri. Ah, Mandalay is getting to be a very fun place to visit. A very fun place to live. A very fun place to...

Falri is a few shadow viels away from the Hub itself. It is a fey world of pleasure of the purely sensual nature. Can you guess from the image on the card the attractions available? Women can find a similar pool nearby where the sprites are differently equipped. Or they can join in this one, or visa versa. This smallish shadow is a wet one where fantasies are fulfilled. Gentle rains, warm pools, fresh fruits, clean vegetables, and enchanting company.

Fane of Zila[edit]

Pfaneofzila.jpg

At the edge of the Abyss, at the site of Patternfall, is a vast temple to the serpent of Chaos.

This is the Fane of Zila. It is a many-chambered basilica of a precarious height and ornamented by uncounted millennia. Alcoves are dedicated to uncounted numbers of gods, demigods, heroes, fiends, celebrities, and miscreants.

There is a nasty section of the place added after Patternfall that every Amberite should visit. This is the Cult-hall of Amber. Therein is found shrines to the Unicorn, to Oberon, Dworkin, and yes, to every known family member in the House of Amber. It mirrors a far more ancient chamber that is the Cult-hall of Chaos. A small chamber is called the Cult-hall of Avalon but only shrines of the Bear, Corwin, Deirdre, and Merlin reside there. A new chamber is dedicated to Mandalay and it has many new visitors.

The Fane is also a shadow-trap. Shadow-walkers aiming for Chaos arrive here.

In Merlin's little fantasy Corwin has a moment in a Cult of Corwin shrine. He says there that "He has pissed on his tomb, he couldn't resist lighting a candle to himself."

I don't know if that really occurred or not, and not having a tomb I could not indulge in the former pleasure, but I have done the later. Who in the darkness of shadow, in fear of chaos, with abhorrence of death, has not wished to the stars, the fates, the gods, or the infinite absolute for guidance? None this side of Chaos, none who ever passed within the Fane of Zila to see themselves adored or vilified. If I light a candle to myself, am I vain? No, I cast light against the darkness.

The Fane of Zila turns out to have some very tricky rules and the place is massive in the extreme. It is a disorganized mishmash of cathedrals, basilicas, and churches. It seems that the forces of chaos and shadow casts a powerful shadow of the finest examples of each religion's temple into the fane. This means that even if a prime temple is destroyed it's shade is here. That does not mean the mad priests of Zila can't go adding and changing things. Some forgotten temple, massive in size was taken by the priests of Zila and converted to the Cult of Amber. When Chaos legalized the Amber cults, they inadvertently added a massive basilica, originally a Temple of Benedict created in shadow, that now houses the great Amber Cults. This has had some strange effects on shadow and I am afraid to say it may be making gods of us all.

I think I will take some time to decide if this is a good thing.

Ganras Galleries, Vies[edit]

Pganras.jpg

This is a good place to get a painting done or have a glass of tea or wine with really pretentious art critics in the earth world of 19th century Vienna/Vies in the Principality of Austria in the Kingdom of Greater Austrasia. This empire-nation spans the globe of a world where Napoleon and France conquered the world by 1840, leaving a strong imperial monarchy and several generations of able rulers. As has been commented on before, in shadow anything is possible.

For details on Napoleons impressive career visit the Addendum

A type of endless discussion group lives in this garret. It rests above a very fine café so it can be ranked amongst the Diners of Amber if you so choose. There is even a fair gambling club next to a brothel where fancy French women do naughty things to fancy Austrian women while fancy Nubian and fancy confederate women wait and warm each other up.

The garret itself though is a running debate. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week people come and go, sitting, talking, painting , primping, complaining, stargazing, planning, lying, wooing, and otherwise entertaining each other.

Six people dominate this circle of people. They are nearly always here. Pierre Renoir, Lewis Carroll, Vincent Van Gogh, Karl Lueger, Henri Toulouse-lautrec, Sigmund Freud.

Sigmund Freud is the father of psychoanalysis. Enough said.

Lewis Carroll is an English author and mathematician, and an exiled criminal. The writer of Alice in Wonderland was imprisoned in 1870 for sedition against the French government, after serving 5 years he fled England to live in Vienna. There he lives beneath the level of perception of the government, a general among the underground.

He said something I have always liked, caught my atttention and made me seek him out when I found out he lived here. "Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." I know the feeling.

Vincent Van Gogh is, well, Vincent Friggin Van Gogh. Now I have run into many artists that were Vincent Can Gogh. But this ine is the most Vincent of Vincents I ever met. He speaks eloquently on the value of madness for an artist and speaks in worshipful reverance of the ittinerant war-medic who saved his life when he attempted suicide.

Karl Lueger is a government employee in the Austrian Principality of Austrasia. A brilliant, anti-semitic, opportunistic, and driven man keen on the newest type of technology to improve the city. He is also a rabid anti-French Austrian patriot. This man is... interesting to argue with.

Renoir is a painter. A pretty good one too.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is the prototype of the eccentric artist. An interesting man in any shadow one find him, it seems the people of Ganrus helped him through his own despondency and helped him find useful medical treatments.

There is a cacophony of other renegades and roustabout artists and such here. It seems circuses are often in town and some of them spend their of hours here. .

I'm told my brother Pierre can be found here with some regularity. Someday I should visit to meet him.


Oh, the things that I could say about this place! Let us just say this is a very chatty place, filled with very chatty people, who have sources of information from Budapest, to Peking, to Los Angeles, to Johannesburg. They also have contacts from Amber to Avalon, Mandalay to Chaos.

Since most Amberites are familiar with earth history, being frequent guests there, it happened like this in this one.

Napoleon demolished Europe by 1805. Ignoring Russia he sent armies and embassies to take Scandinavia just to get people used to the cold. After this every soldier in his army learned to deal with cold weather and eventually were able to invade Russia, from Finland, if you can believe it, and conquer Russia in 1812.

This meant that by 1815 everything in Europe from the Orkneys and Ireland to Italy and the Low Countries, Russia to Spain and Portugal was now France. Not subject nations, they were provinces of the France Empire with new, or at least, renamed aristocracy. England, as a subject of the Empire, has never been comfortable. A new aristocrasy was laid on top of the old english one in the way the Normans were dropped on top of the british London and York are hotbeds of rebellious activities in thier world and it almost seems like thats by design. Every 4 or 5 years the opposition suffers a few deaths and a lot of setbacks.

Africa was never very organized anyway so all it took was some missionaries, some assassinations, and a judicious use of patronage and military might to take Africa from Cairo to the Cape of Good Hope. An impressive act of barbarism paired with the acquisition of an impressive Grand Duke made short work of Africa. Napoleon met a young Shaka Zulu in 1807. Soon the young man was a colonel of the French Army, fighting in Algiers and Egypt. In 1816 when Shaka's father died he went to take control of the Zulu nation. He took along about 20,000 seasoned French/Algerian instructors and enough weaponry to destroy any stone age people that reared their ugly heads. Within 15 years the Zulu, loyal French citizens everyone, had conquered Africa and Shaka Zulu was not only a Marshal of France but a Prince of the Empire.

With Europe, Africa, and Russia to draw troops, China, southeast Asia, and Australia had little hope. The Edo shogunate in the early 1800s had been dealing with the intrusions into this waters by American and Russian whalers and when the French conquered Russia began discussions of alliances. Feudal Japan began trading directly with French merchant shipping and gained western military equipment and supplies. Japan had roundly trounced most of China, Southeast Asia, and had nearly exterminated the Australian aborigines by the time Russia/French/Zulu troops had conquered the Indian subcontinent.

By 1830 three distinct spheres of influence existed on this world. French, American, and Japanese. American influence in the southern hemisphere was unorganized and ineffective.

By 1830 dissident movements had been squashed, transportation issues dealt with and the standard of living in Europe, Africa and Asia was uniform and high.

From 1806 French spies had been fomenting disunion in the United States and with French support the Confederate Army rose in 1842. This death blow to the United States meant that Canada, Mexico, and the United States were divided into 8 separate regions and were completely subjugated by 1849.

South America fell piecemeal throughout the 1830s. Moving troops around and visiting all the new provinces there took Napoleon 2 years between mid 1837-1839. It was in Panama, July 4, 1839, after laying out the plans and digging the first shovel full of dirt on a future canal, that he caught malaria and died.

It didn't matter. He had a son ready, a grandson in uniform, and a great-grandson in diapers.

It especially didn't matter that he died because he didn't. He merely rejoined Benedict's General Staff. The fix was in from the start.

Polynesia is still a hold out but so little government lives there than it is not worth mentioning. Besides, they need some place to send troops for practical experience.

King's Retreat[edit]

Phideaway.jpg

This place is a very interesting one and I think its inclusion in the deck is a little tweak at the rest of us.

This was Oberon's little hide out where he apparently spent thousands of hours. Now Random is king and the place is his.

The trick is that only Random can activate this trump, despite the chill it emits, it will not chime to the touch. It is a closed place. It is here in the deck so no mater which deck Random confiscates he can use it to escape. Clever potentate, a word for thee; my deck holds no such card and the trumps in your deck burn as merrily as any others.

Gerard's Hunting Lodge[edit]

Phuntinglodge.jpg

Imagine? Gerard has a hunting lodge. Stuffed dead things, tankards, beer kegs, flattened empty animals, candle lanterns, roaring fireplaces, and a kitchen designed to cook entire carcasses.

About what you would expect.

Hunting trips can be arranged through Gerard. His chief guide, Talowar, is a Nez Perce Indian from the Vine River tribe. A quiet, but friendly guy, he knows more about hunting, trapping, skinning, and other woodsy things than any man I ever met. He has one quirk that is really difficult to get used too. He knows more jokes about beavers than I ever heard. A night of listening to them was one of the most hilarious nights of my life despite my belief that there were not that many jokes about beavers in all shadow.

Oracle of Night[edit]

Poracleofnight.jpg

I have spoken about oracles a couple of times in this work. I have also mentioned that several cards have appeared in the deck after there original publishing date. I also related that Dworkin made it very clear I would continue to comment on the new cards. With these points in mind I give you the following.

The morning I peered through my deck and discovered a trump of the Oracle of Night and the Tower of Grief I broke out in a cold sweat. I remained in it for an hour. Then I went to the Sea View Garden and I drank a bottle of gin. Lastly, I wept.

Fiona found me. I showed her the card, she checked her own deck. She sat speechless, till she began drinking with me. It all started at the Oracle of Night.

Whoever is putting these cards in the deck is playing a dangerous game.

The Oracle of Night is a terrible place and the font from which many woes have flown. Brand, Fiona, and I sought in shadow for a powerful oracle. We sought the most powerful oracle we could find, the three of us, with all our powers focused on the task. We came to the Oracle of Night.

Therein we found the Seat of Seeking. Brand sat first. I was second. Fiona was third. Soon after we followed the paths laid before us. It led to our cabal, my assault on Amber, the Battle of Patternfall, the marring of the Pattern, Brand's imprisonment, and eventually to Brand and Deirdre's falls into the Abyss.

I am of a mind to raise an army as I tread shadow and to lay siege to the Oracle of Night, bringing it down to rubble. Sadly, it is protected by chaos.


Addendum

It was inevitable that the danger of forcing fate and the need to know the unknown would war against each other in King Random of Amber and make him think giving this horror a go was a good idea.

So one day I found myself forced at Jewel of Judgment point by my so lovely monarch to climb these stairs again for him. And he aimed the jewel at Brother Ben and my technocratic Nephew Vance. At least Random took the stair himself as well.

So if the arrows fall, and the shadows quake and hot rocks of chaos fall from the sky, you know who to blame. This time its not my fault.

Tower of Grief[edit]

Ptowerofgrief.jpg

The Tower of Grief is a very special place in Shadow. It is a place of great sadness and loss. It is a place to come to rest and leave your cares.

It is a temple of suicide. It is a mausoleum of the living. It is the last place you want to find yourself and sometimes it is the only place to be.

There is a saying in shadow that I like. "Don't go to Chinatown."

I don't particularly know what it means but I think it expresses the Tower well. Sometimes there are places we fear, and dare not visit, but eventually must confront. I confronted my grief in the Tower.

The Tower rests in a shadow near the Abyss and the Chaosians go there frequently. Once it was a construct of Chaos but the creation of Amber stranded it on this side of the abyss. Its mighty spires, three of which are pictured in the trump, contain balconies in vast numbers, none of which may overlook each other. Neither can sound of wailing or angst escape their walls, though laughter will. The heartbroken, the hopeless, the defeated come here. Those who could not bring themselves to weep, shed tears in the Tower of Grief.

Amongst the many powers of the tower is that from its balconies you can gaze out into shadow and view any funeral, memorial, or rite of death in shadow, at any time of the shadow's history. Eerie shit. I have it on good authority that the balconies were filled to capacity only once. When the funeral procession for Oberon came snaking out of shadow, dragging the remnants of the Black Road to the Fane of Zila, over the Abyss, and down into the very tomb of the Ancestor's of Darkness. There wept the Lords of Chaos for the death of Oberon, that they could cry at his passing, and bemoan the coming of a less lenient liege to Amber. .

If the Tower of Grief and the Oracle of Night seem similar it is because they are in neighboring shadow veils. The Oracle of Night is the first shadow of the Tower of Grief. They are one shadow away from the Fane of Zila.

Take what warning you may from the proximity of these edifices of gloom.

Tir Mar Gala[edit]

PTirMarGala.jpg

This place, like Tir no'gath in Amber, is a stairway up to a shadowy reflection of the Hub of Mandalay. It appears only once a month, rising from the pathway into the Vale of Song

Unlike Tir No'gath this is not a realm of prophecy, it is a realm of solitude. It is a cloudy realm that is death for the deathless, rest for the restless, and peace for the haunted.

Adrian tells me that in this cloudy realm one need only lay down to sleep to doze into peaceful, dreamless sleep. The sleeper wakes briefly once a month, to decide if he wishes to continue his rest. They may even determine how long they wish to rest. A month, a year, a century is all the same to Tir Mar Gala.

While here they can not be trumped, detected, taken against their will, nor slain, harmed or found. One may heal here, so if you are damaged, crippled, maimed or otherwise injured, and need some rest, this is the place to let all your cares go by.


Addendum

Through my seeking in various places I found out something odd about this realm. Adrian intended that the King Of Mandalay, be it he or his heirs, would have no power in Tir Mar Gala. That any Lord of Mandalay entering the realm would have no power to effect people within it. He was really serious about it.

Moondance Café[edit]

Pmoondance.jpg

Amongst the Diners of Amber is the bright splash of grease and pastels called the Moondance Café and it is a really strange place even amongst the spires of New York. One might get the wrong idea about this shadow if this is the only place you visit. Then again it is not far from 42nd street and I guess that counts as a weird zone too.

The Diner is staffed by waiters, waitress, cooks and busboys dressed as celebrities from the 1950's of the earth shadow. This dynamic period had many stereo types that are entertaining to watch them work in.

Now Random would not have allowed this in the deck if it was just for the weirdly dressed folks. Nope, this is a fine diner. The Blue Plate Special is a hearty meatloaf with potatoes and that really plasters an Amberite's' ribs. Breakfasts are heart and the coffee cup is never empty. These, however, are not the specialties.

The specialty the Moon Burger is a double meat patty, with all the fixings. A full 3/4 pound of red meat, cooked to please. On the side is a big plate of kris-cut fries, and a large cup of either cole slaw or the soup of the day. Friday is clam chowder day and it is a recipe Dame Margot claims to have created.

Yummy.

Rebma[edit]

Prebma.jpg

Rebma, the first Jewel. The first of the Golden Circle Kingdoms and one of the only other nations on the sphere that Amber inhabits. Oddly, they have never been very involved in the politics of Amber. Oberon never took a Rebman wife, though Llewella is the result of a brief affair, and Martin is the result of a dalliance of Random's. Rene is the result of a one-night stand between Moire and Corwin.

Things have changed. Rebma is a player in the game of nations in the Golden Circle Kingdoms, taking a leading role in the new era of King Random.

Sardi's, New York, New York[edit]

Psardis.jpg

Now we are talking.

Right dab in the middle of New York's Theater district is a watering hole of the elite. This is THE place to come after a night of theater and dancing. I brought the whole company of Dalwil's Feather to Sardi's one night and they fed us like kings.

I recommend making reservations though, rather than just dropping in. You want food to go, hit Calrabon, but if you want fancy food, served in the best atmosphere, this is the place. Also, their portions are human-scaled. Making a reservation insures that the portion sizes will be more in line with what we of Amber desire. Pay in gold; then tip in gold too.

I prefer the Shrimp Sardi. Really tasty and bite sized, but call ahead to scare the Neuva Cuisine crowd away.

Check out the wall of caricatures while you are there. Celebrities of the shadow are displayed here. Amongst the known people are less well-known faces of Bleys of Amber, Random of Amber, Gerard of Amber, and even Llewella of Rebma.

One quick thing. I got Benedict roaring drunk here once. I even paid for damages.

A word of advice; Don't get Benedict roaring drunk. He has issues.

The Gugenhiem, NY, NY[edit]

PgugenhiemNY.jpg

This is one of the finest museums in New York and in Shadow too. Of course just because they store some swell stuff is not why this card is here. It is here because it is an unusually good place for clandestine meetings. Hard to bug, lots of walking space and you can see most of it from the railing and see if you are being followed.

It is also as good a spot to arrive in New York as any, except maybe the palace.

Footman's Garage. Los Angeles[edit]

Pshoegarage.jpg

One has to give Random credit for cleverness. When I saw three new cards arrive in the deck that sent the traveler to the same New York shadow I asked him what was on his mind. I could understand the Moondance, the Gugenhiem, and even Sardi's, but the Footman's Garage?

Then he told me that the Footman's was in Los Angeles of the same shadow. I was perplexed. I asked him if that was the most important landmark in a city of twelve million people?

Want to guess what his response was?

"Hey bro, nobody walks in LA"

Right. So I took a look.

Random keeps a fleet of cars stored here. Ask for Randy's Fleet Service and check what cars are available. If you know to ask, they know to check them out to you.

He keeps a sweet group of rides there. A Jag, a mazaratti, and a cool custom Rolls Royce limousine and a collection of crotch rocket cycles. There are a couple Taurus', BMWs, several ford pickups, and a few Mercedes too. Many of the Amberites keep stuff here, all part of 'Randy's Fleet.' I keep two T-bird classics here, a '56 and a '67, as well as a Chiron. Flora keeps a blue corvette. Benedict keeps a locked section where he keeps his own toys. Merlin dropped off a VW rag-top I borrow sometimes and Corwin keeps a jeep and a Harley. Caine keeps a '34 ford stretch limo that is low on amenities but very high on cool. A few miles away Julian keeps several racehorses, Gerard keeps a very nice luxury yacht, and both Random and Delwin keep a few airplanes.

Of course there is also a couple other things in the Footman's Garage that confuse the employees. There are two Hummers packed with camping gear, a couple of one ton trucks and a couple large buses, a bobcat, A flatbed with a forklift, a back hoe, even a cement truck. One just never knows when one will need to dump a couple tons of quick cement into a big hole; or what one might want to bury under a couple of tons of cement.

Hidden from public view are two M1A battle tanks, 5 Bradley troop carriers, and several battle ready Hummers with mounted Vulcan cannons. Locked, stocked, and ready to rock!

That's my king.

Full list of Vehicles at Footman's Garage

Recently I dropped by to do a little sightseeing

Alrus, Begma[edit]

Palrusbegma.jpg

Begma has an ancient relationship with Amber. It is amongst the Golden Circle Kingdoms and trades in many of the items common in realms of barbaric splendor.

Alrus is the capital of Begma, a coastal city swelling with trade from a vast inland plain. Amberites wakes each morning to Begman tea and slather their bread with Begman butter. A vaste trade in food stuffs insures a peaceful relationship between Amber and Begma.

Besides, Begma lies just outside the regions of the Shade Realms. A near, but not really similar shadow of Amber. Begma

Church of the Serpent[edit]

Pchurchserpent.jpg

Of all the bizarre places that might find there way into King Random's Deck it boggles my mind to find this card here. I told Random he was nuts.

He said he was only being fair. He said in time there would be a Church of the Bear, the Tree, the Dragon and other creatures.

If you say so, Random.

Lighthouse of Hiemnal, Kashfra[edit]

P Hiemnal.jpg

The Lighthouse of Hiemnal is a very traditional feature on the coast of Kashfra. A recent signatory of a Golden Circle Signatory Treaty, they received Random's agreement that no place trump would directly deposit travelers inside the gates of the capital city of Jidrash. Perhaps they are not quite ready to trust their new allies.

Kashfra and Begma are traditional enemies, fighting over a border region called Eregonar. The king of Kashfra is Rinnaldo, the son of Brand of Amber and Jasra of Sawall. The actions of these people were prominent in Merlin's semi-fictionalized novels. A tall, red-headed, fast talker who can sell law books to Chaosians, Rinnaldo, also called Luke, is a friendly and gregarious fellow. His mother is a mean cuss and I have told her so to her face. Of course, I've boinked her too. After many years of usurpation, political wrangling, assassinations and negotiations, a GCST was finalized despite the rabid, even frantic objections of the Begman nation, people, and royal family. Having an Amberite sitting the throne goes a long way to smoothing over political difficulties, especially when the son prefers Amber and the mother is an advocate of chaos. Rinnaldo turned down the offer of a Black Zone Pact Instrument from none less then the old Swayvill himself.

This world is a Sword & Sorcery age. Flora once described it a 'Barbaric Splendour" and that pretty much covers it. They trade in furs, exotic spices, unusual jewels, and a wide variety of minor novelty magic.

There is a very minor, yet extremely interesting, brand of sorcerers in Kashfra. They create very minor, and extremely useful, magic items that work in Amber. They work there because they use miniscule spells based in full sorcery. These items replicate the nearly ubiquitous "Continualist Items" such as heat stones, cold stones, fire stones, and freeze stones, amongst a wide variety of others. These items will flood into Amber, changing the way homes are heated, streets are lit, food is cooked and stored, drinks are cooled, a ice is created. Rinnaldo really sold us a bill of goods convincing our king this makes up for the frolicsome state of affairs in Kasfra

Part of the agreement in the GCST is that the Council of Wizards, led by Jasra, will be joining the Royal Academy of Sorcerers at Fantalin. Jasra herself receiving a newly endowed Professorial chair; the Kashfran Chair of Temporary Magic. The Council of Wizards, being poor country kin and only partly trained in true sorcery has a lot of ground to catch up. But Jasra, as Queen of the Keep of the Four Worlds, has control over a rather nice power source despite being reluctant in the extreme to allow its use. To gain admittance to it one will have to bargain well, and remember that Jasra is a chaosian by birth who snared, and wed, a prince of Amber.

The rumor is that Rinnaldo told her that she could play nice or go home to Chaos. She blinked.

The Garden[edit]

Pgarden.jpg

In the Garden, there I brought her, 'neath the golden boughs above.

There we sang, and there we swooned, And there we played our ode to love.

There's a fun place in the Garden, Where the lads and lassies meet.

'cause it wouldn't do, to do the do, their doing, in the streets.


Mandalay seems an ideal realm and every time I visit it I like it more. In a vale to the northeast of the Hub of Mandalay is a quiet little realm apart from the universe. Wide golden boughs span beneath a soft sky, where flowers abound in a realm of terraces, gazeboes, and private nooks. The air smells of honeysuckle and love.

Adrian assures me of several things about the Garden. First is that conception will not take place, nor can diseases transfer. In fact a person with a social disease who sleeps the night alone in the Garden awakes cleaned of the taint. Many magical conditions can be cleansed by a night of rest here. Also, those who enter the Garden together can determine whether or not others entering can find them.

The realm is littered with tiny cabins, gazeboes, covered niches, and secluded meadows that can provide privacy to the lovers. They can not be disturbed nor interrupted, not contacted by trump nor surprised by REALLY loud screaming.

Adrian is a very clever guy.

Vulsar Star Base[edit]

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Vulsar; The planet of greens and yellows best seen from space. This is because next to nothing grows here that tops 3 feet unless it was brought from off planet. No natural animal life above the insect level except a sparrow like bird that zoologists can not explain why it is even found on this world since no evolutionary trace of it can be found and it pre-dates space travel and intervention by shadow-walkers. Lucky sparrow. Eerie. This is probably why Star Fleet chose it as the main star port in the eastern edge of the Milky Way.

Vulsar is in a shadow that developed along the line displayed in the Star Trek Travel Guides. Called fiction in many worlds, Benedict none the less found the place.

So what is there? Criminy, what isn't.

Pictured is the city of Vulsar Station. It is the governmental center of this planet. Across the vast plains are the construction facilities that produce a hundred spacecraft a year. Thousands of Orbiters, and tens of thousand of fighters come out of the vast production regions of Vulsar. While replicator technology is rampant they assemble the big stuff by hand.

This is one of the shadows Benedict subtly conquered assuming their technology into the Amber Navy. I remember the day he returned to tell Random about the addition of a thousand starships to the wooden Ships of the Line navy. He chuckled. Actually giggled, saying "Resistance is Futile, Resistance is Futile, Resistance is Futile!" Gave me the chills just to hear him. I wasn't not exactly sure why at the time, but then I don't spend that much time in tech shadows.

No attempt was made to bring this universe of diverse races and creeds, all living under one banner, into the Golden Circle. Ben just walked in, pile-drived shadow manipulation on the folks, and their United Federation of Planets seemed to them to always have been members of the Amberian Federation of Planets, the Amber Star Fleet and a direct part of the nation of Amber. Despite the lack of free will involved, it is probably a step up for them.

Shhhhh!!!!!! Don't tell them this. It's a secret.

Two points about why this card is in the general deck.

While not a Diner of Amber, specifically, they have replicator technology that can instantly duplicate any food it has been programmed to create. So most of the foods you find mentioned here can be replicated. Takes all the fun out of travel.

Secondly, and most importantly for my kinsman, this trump delivers you to The Vulsar Receiving Hall. A giant place starships could pop into and not disturb the furniture. Landing shuttles and all forms of magical & technological transportation forms deliver people here. While it is large enough for massive formal receptions that is not why it is important. The finest Trauma specialists Benedict could assemble wait here. Stasis fields, regenerators, resuscitators, and trauma Docs await the mangled battered and otherwise thrashed Amberite with baited breath. Cool trick, Ben.

Now, let us not accuse Brother Benedict of driving the people too hard in this technological wonderland. In the tropical regions is a series of islands that compare favorably with the most beautiful beaches to be found anywhere. Imported palm trees and adalan plants, flowers in vast profusion. There you can find a dark skinned, long-haired, thong clad sex goddess on the lounge next to you, sipping her mia tai and smoking her ganga dubage, who asks you to smear sun tan lotion on her perfect body, especially those hard to reach areas. Oh, and can you refill her drink, four is usually her limit, but today she wants a sixth!

So while you slather her with the sloppy stuff, plotting your strategy to remove the flimsy twine covering her point of entry, she casually asks for your take on the cross-dimensional exposure of the Benedictine-Amberic warp capacity problems inherent in piloting a starship at warp through shadow. Particularly in-between veils near shadow storms and Chaos effects, and especially considering the trisectional theories that Lord Vance and Prince Benedict debated at the Vulsar gathering at the Amber Star Fleet Grand Technical Convention meeting this morning, of which she is a Spatial Engineering delegate and instructor.

I tell you, it is enough to put you right off smart girls.

As time has gone by a few addendum comments on Grand Vulsara-Vulsar Base seem reasonable. There is a sense of everyone being from someplace else here which anyone who has served in a military can recognize. Orders come, people move, families relocate, and life goes on. But there is also an extremely large population that despite having ancestors who arrived on starships, considers its sthemselves Natives of what they no longer call Vulsar, or Vulsar Base but Grand Vulsara.

The trouble is the time ratio. Its 60 to 1 in Amber. As has been noted elsewhere the phrase means 60 days in Vulsar for every 1 in Amber. A year here is 12 months of 30 days. So for every 6 days in Amber a year goes by here. It builds up. Children are born, grow, attend school, go to Star Fleet academy, and receive posting on star ships and its not been a year in Amber. Regeneration technology and other forms of age treatments exist, but as an outsider you learn to deal with the Rank and the Office and the Specialist rather then dealing with the people. Its tricky. Because of the time relationships some long lived or immortal races have come here. So if you run across an Elf in a officers uniform, speaking Noldorian, don't fret. They just work here.

New Data. friggin Vance......now Vular Base is the Kingdom of Vulsara with its own shiny shadow of the Pattern of Amber. damn,thats somc double tough stuff there, Nephew.

Jack Rabbit Slim's[edit]

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Gracious me. Jack Rabbit Slim's?

It is times like this when I have start rethinking my opinion of our monarch.

This place has been described as a wax museum with a pulse. I think of it a sugary drop of nostalgia from a land that never was. It rocks.

As you come to this Los Angeles Hot spot there are a couple of things to remember. One is that this place is about a mile away from the North Hollywood location of the Footman's Garage. So you can go there & pick up a car first. Heck, borrow my '56 t-bird so you'll fit in. Just return it with a full tank of gas. The second is that being dressed right is a good idea. Hit a retro place for 50's chic. Third is that if you trump directly there ask for 'Randy's Table' at the maitre` tri-de`s station. They will take you to a booth, shaped like a cady. That is a Cadilac automobile for you sword swinging, horse riding, lute playing types.

The front of the place is neon and light, brick and glass. As you enter there is a slot-car track where miniature cars wheel around the course trying to out run each other bereft of gasoline. Tables line the walls, booths surround the raised dance floor that dominates the front room. Back rooms are available for private parties but they loose something in their seclusion. Waiters and waitresses dressed in 50's attire serve the flamboyantly named meals that are elegant and wild with a bit of country size and a bit of urban spice. Listen to the rockabily swing and the rock and roll hop.

I recommend the Bill Haley's Comet Platter. This is a 2/3-lb. onion burger with pickles, lettuce, mustard, grilled onions, two slices of cheese, 3 pieces of bacon and two avocado wedges. It comes with a huge plate of French fries and a giant 32-oz drink. Try the vanilla coke or the cherry coke. These are colas with a splash of vanilla extract and cherry juice.

I tried explaining onion burgers to the chef at Oberon's Fire in Calrabon. He was horrified. So I brought him here and set him up with a comet platter with a $5 milkshake. Now you can get an Onion Burger at Oberon's Fire.

The owner of this place is Elvis Beam. He knows very well about Amberites. He is a thin, wild guy who dresses like Elvis Presley, a musician in shadow, and who laughs easily and fights hard.

He knows a lot about Amber, and here is why. He was once the King of Amber.

Well, not our Amber, but a Shade Realms, Ambior. In his reality, he was Random, the last survivor of a violent throne war that swept Ambir at the beginning of Eric's reign. To hear him tell it most of the bloody parts were done when he and Corwen drove a VW bus into Amber. There they found Beniydict in the process of executing Fioyna. He and Corwen fought. They killed each other. Random took the throne. Cleaned the place up and set about securing the kingdom. Sadly he only had a few years to rule before Brandy, a female version of Brand, returned and destroyed herself on the Primal Pattern, wiping the shadows connected to Ambior away.

Only he, Flori, and Lewellen escaped. As the three of them traveled shadow they managed to find their way to a Broken Pattern of the True Realm. Once they assayed it they gained greater power over shadow and found out that they were mere shadows of reality. They found themselves to be shadows of the true players of the Great Game, their own lives and trials merely reflections of the True Patternfall. They learned that at the time that Brand marred the true pattern, Brandy had destroyed theirs.

To say they were depressed is an understatement.

As they traveled shadow they had a wide range of adventures but eventually found the Shadow Earth so many of us have spent time on. It being strong from the attentions of so many Amberites over the years; it was like a beacon. There they spent many years in this shadow, eventually finding a place of rest. Random, now Elvis, started Jack Rabbit Slim's, having found a similar watering hole in a nearby shadow. Flori, now Marilynn, lives in Los Angeles too, and can usually be found here. She is an actress famous for her roles in heavy make-up that only she dons. One can guess how that is done, eh, fellow sorcerers and shape-changers? Lewellan, still Lewellan, is apparently a surf bum in Polynesia some place. He drops by occasionally and is an expert at Broken Pattern Trump art. He is also a fair hand at cards and abstract art.

Of course abstract art is not a safe pastime for Amberites. Picaso and Dali had no idea just how wild shadow gets nor did they know that their weirdest art might be realistic portraits of Lords of Chaos. To paraphrase, Life imitates art.

Domain of the King[edit]

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B12, B12, and Out.

Never forget that. That life lesson will serve you well at any of the better parties.

I think now someone is playing a very nasty trick on me. I have been suspicious of this for a long while and I am more certain than ever now. Two cards arrived in the deck on the same day. They come from the same section deep in Chaos and I advise you to avoid both of them as if you get a free hot vanilla and Tabasco pudding enema with each visit.

Now I have mentioned the Travel Guides in this increasingly long article. These two places come from just such a series of novels. They are well loved in many Earth Worlds. They are loved because they display a sense of humor about themselves and they describe a cosmology that simply CAN NOT EXIST!!!!! Douglas Adams thought he was writing fiction novels, not travel guides despite the name he gives his series: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Yet we of Amber know better than they do. It all exists out there. Thus we have cards now to the Domain of the King Bar & Grill and Milliways-the Restaurant the End of the Universe.

Card 52 is the Domain of the King.

The Domain of the King is a really cool diner by itself. Diner of Amber by day, bar by night.

First the food. They are known far and wide for having really cold beer. They make fantastic meat rolls that are made from an animal they call Perfectly Normal Beast. Laugh if you will, they expect it. These animals are a step between the common steer and a buffalo. The meat is tasty, a little too much like wild game for some tastes. The rolls are served anytime of the day or night. At night they have a Roast & Grill menu, serving PNB meat. They also have chicken.

Now; entertainment. This shadow is connected to a vast universe of multiple planes of existence and probability that have tissue fragile borders between them. Let us just say it is close to Chaos and let it go at that. But in this shadow there was, is, frequently is not and then suddenly is again, an earth world. As they say, anything that can happen, did happen, and on this particular earth world, the space aliens did come to earth and they did not abduct Elvis Presely. He went willingly. He now is the owner and main lounge singer at the Domain of the King. He sounds as good as ever but has gone considerably to fat. He is also a bit distracted and is very difficult to talk to. It is my humble opinion, after listening to him sing and play that he IS a shadow of our own Truman of Amber, not the other way around.

A personal note to whoever put this card in the deck: You couldn't give me a trump somewhere with a sane Elvis, now could you?

Milliways-The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.[edit]

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This place is one of the strangest places in all of shadow and I defy anyone to prove otherwise.

Milliways is a restaurant on the last surviving rock before entropy destroys the entire known universe. At least in this shadow. The saying there is that if you have done 6 impossible things this morning why not round it out with breakfast at Milliways.

To go in to any detail about this place would be pointless and long. 7 is not a round number.

And while entropy destroys the universe here but it is entropy with a lowercase "e", not an Upper Case "E" to distinguish this universe destroying entropy from the universe destroying Entropy trapped in the Tomb of the Ancestors of Darkness.

I'll just tell you this much. The food is amazingly good by anyone's standards. They have scoured all space and time in this multiverse to bring the best chefs here. The drinks are tasty and big. Try the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, which is said to be the alcoholic equivalent of a mugging; expensive, and bad on the head. I find them tasty and potent.

The clientèle is eclectic at best, wacky at worst. They have a complete set of multiverses to draw people from and they do. Time is wacky here too. Recently Chaos Lords, Mandalayans, and Amberites, as well as many well-heeled or well-connected shadow dwellers, have been making the scene. One never knows what or who or who pretending to be what you might meet here. The Chaos Lords have all agreed, since this card appeared in their decks too, to make it a Neutral Zone for the purpose of warfare and animosity. Diplomacy is difficult here because the booze is strong. The music is wild, the food talks to you before butchering, and it has the best light show ever as the universe explodes and implodes around the restaurant nightly.

All things considered I would agree it is a good idea to make this place neutral ground. After all, trying to run any kind of battle in the middle of the natural universe imploding would challenge the cagiest of generals.

St. Masvir of Arkens Links[edit]

Pstmasvir.jpg

Well, of course the deck would include a golf course. You think we are savages just running around banging on each other with blunt objects?

Now anyone that takes it upon themselves to give you golf advice is violating one of the primal rules of the universe. Don't talk about anything you don't know anything about. Sam Sneed once said all you need to know about golf is to take the stick, hit the ball, make it go in the hole. I spent a lot of time once in a shadow that golf is very popular in and I can attest to that statement. It is possibly one of the dumbest games ever tossed out by pure chance and, as Mark Twain said, is one of the best ways to interrupt a perfectly nice walk. I shoot 10 under par myself.

Frankly I didn't know Random liked golf but I asked him about it before I dropped in on this place. Turns out he is a fanatic about it. Who knew? Of the many things I thought I might do with my brothers over the years this was low on the list. Then after this card arrived and I asked him about golf and it all snowballed. Soon I found myself on the tee of the third hole at the Big Mount course at St. Masvir's with Random, Julian, Caine, Vance, and Flora. Turns out Flora played the pro circuits on Earth for about 90 years. She shoots 15 under par, my brothers. Don't bet a bent copper wing against her. She won that day, beating all her brothers.

It was a gorgeous spring day and the weather was just perfect. I never felt closer to my kin then that day. I owe it all to Random being king, Oberon being mostly dead, and Caine, who painted this trump, being a golf nut. He shoots 14 under par. That day Flora shot 16 under par, Random shot 13. I managed to tie Caine at 14, Vance shot 11, and Julian shot an abysmal 5 under par. 5 under par may be good for the pro circuits but Amber is a tough crowd.

Golf has its detractors. Benedict and Corwin both hate it with a bloody passion. Ben actually growls when it is mentioned. So if I ever have to fight Ben, I would prefer it be on the links at St. Masvir's. With my luck he hates it because he can't break that 18 under par plateau. The bastard probably wants to shoot 18 in 18 and nothing less.

St. Masvir of Arkens Links is an amazing place. Fully 23 complete 18-hole courses ranging in difficulty from bunny to masters. An awesome driving range. It has a Masvir Route of 300 holes. It also has a 1200 hole miniature golf course, a gigantic video arcade, a 12 mile miniature race track for go-carts, and an amazing amusement park with 200 thrill rides culled from the most maniacal places in shadow. Six Flags, a giant chain of amusement parks on many earth worlds. Only contributed 4 rides. The bar for inclusion here is high.

For those unfamiliar with St. Masvir, I shall enlighten you. He is an Earth Roman Catholic saint who settled world problems in an earth shadow of 1495 to 1655 by taking opponents in world crisis's and making them play a full Masvir Route of 300 holes. It is this route that is the center piece at St. Masvir's Links. A Masvir Route is a course of over 200 fairways that one picks and choose which they want to play. While most shadows have 9 or 18-hole courses as standard, Masvir courses are also popular in shadow.

Masvir also forced two very serious world leaders to play 60 holes of miniature golf. He personally designed 48 of the silliest, oddest, most difficult of the emblematic miniature golf holes, most in theme to the conflict between the two. Whatever their issues with each other it was difficult for them to not laugh when the issue was seriously brought up in their future councils, making declaring war very difficult because each knew to do so would incur not the wrath of their foe, but the mirth. Hense Masvir's sainthood for extreme cleverness, amongst other aspects of his life.

I prefer the 18 hole courses myself. At St. Mavirs they have Big Mount, Flip-Fair, Andrew's Downhill, and McCormack's Waterways, amongst the many 18 hole trips. I have played several on their worlds of origin.

Sir Danreese Mirs, a broken pattern sorcerer and retired Duke of Manri, Diaga, created St.Masvir's. He sought in shadow for a realm with the desired physical properties of water, grass, and sand, under a sky with perfect golf weather and uncluttered by people. My understanding is that there was a native beast he hunted into extinction though. He did it over three hundreds years ago in Amber's time. The time ratio is 60 to 1 in Amber. So you can pop in for 18 holes and get back to Amber in the hour.

This realm is like Vine River in a couple of important ways. It is a realm created and run by Amberites or their allies, for the benefit of those immortals able to traverse shadow. It has a hundred shadow trails put in place by mainly broken pattern adapts. When the King of Amber and scads of amber royals arrived the lord of this realm, Sir Danak of Diaga, broached the prospect of the shadow trails being extended to Amber. Caine agreed to over see the extension to Amber, Fantalin, Begma, and other points east and West.

As I write I have just learned that both Adrian and Swayvil play golf. Go figure.

Addendum

One might say that the game is the thing but you have to get there to play. Recently a spur from the Jeweled Road extended from Diaga to St. Masvir's. It may become a popular place.

((GM-Notes:I had a golf phase. Not as a player, but as a spectator and a student of the game. It has a rich history. The scoring in the above bit is a bit off but give that a pass. I imagined this as a place PCs might bring those they intrigue with.

The Stone of Skulls[edit]

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The Stone of Skulls is a place where items can be given the chance to be empowered. It is a place where powers can be stolen. It is a crapshoot.

One of the things I have found in connection to the Travel Guides is that there is a wide swath of what are called Gamer Worlds. These are worlds that are somehow connected in a symbiotic relationship, one shadow urban, high tech, the other of a wide range of descriptions, The connection being that certain individuals in the Gamer Worlds seem to be the objects of observation by people in the observer worlds. Call the Observers Players and the objects of observation Characters. There is a game 'Master' who has a wider connection to specific worlds and when a dizzying number of changes and actions occur the Game Master knows of it. Its questionable which way the power flows.

To say this gives me the heebie-jeebies is a vast understatement. Caine and I once found large collections of 'fiction' novels that outlined real and imaginary details of all of our lives. It seems that there may be people in shadow able to know our darkest secrets and most private joys and crimes simply by the agency of letting themselves open to the operations of the game.

Do the math.

There are an infinite number of shadows divisible. I have been assured by Dworkin that a full set of infinity can have boundaries, Like Chaos or the Abyss, or Amber. Arguing the illogical nature of that is pointless and hard on the furniture. In these urban worlds are groups of people who meet as regularly as clockwork to 'play' these role playing games. There they believe they haul us about on strings and make us dance to their music, whatever cacophonic forms it takes, and in fact do seem to view into the lives of the characters on the Gamer Worlds. A nearly limitless number of people on vast numbers of urban worlds viewing the actions of a eclectic variety of shadows.

These shadows have certain similarities that bear considering. Many have an 'unfinished' feel to them as if the Game Master didn't have the time to figure out a better way for people to get water than to carry it in buckets. They have a weird collection of technologies. Barbaric splendor worlds with flush toilets, public transportation, knights on horse back while the population ride bicycles, and magical entertainment devices like televisions, as if the GM-Game Master- can not conceive of a world with out such conveniences.. It tends to be confusing.

Life is cheap on these worlds and justice is swift as a sword but you can never seem to kill the big bad guy no matter how many of his henchman you stab, shoot, scorch, or vaporize. Women tend to dress smuttier then in real worlds and that gives one a tantalizing guess as to the proportion of male gamers to female gamers!

One assumes that the degree of detail in the world, and the vast number of everyday activities that never reach the perceptive threshold of the GM, tell of the creative abilities and vision of the GM and the players. Or, the limitations of the need of the GM to oversee his "game" means he slides shadows down to finding the one that fits into the dimensions he imagines. I'm not sure which is scarier.

Or they may all be spies. Voyeurs into the actions of others, dice falling to illustrate the actions broadcast from the unfinished reaches of shadow.

I have played these games, and though they may be insights to the actions of my enemies I shall heretofore avoid playing them because the thought of someone over my shoulder, dangling and plucking my strings is at once fearsome and tantalizing.

Again, heebie-jeebies.

Why, you ask, do I go on so?

The Stone of Skulls resides in just such a world.

Men wear the badly preserved skins of animals they hunted with bows despite the fact that a worm in that world exudes a nylon silk that is woven into a Gore-Tex-like fabric that the commonest peasant uses to keep warm. Knights and warlords ride horses while merchants direct spoke-wheeled wooden wagons propelled by magic and everywhere bicycles are available. Terrible menaces to the universe in the forms of evil sorcerers, liches, lycanthropes, Ork-kings, thief guilds, and cruel gods are regularly and competently slaughtered by groups of 'adventurers' of the strangest combinations one can imagine.

Powerful magics are as easy to acquire as touching an item to a big rock with a candle-topped skull.

Now to our great joy, most of what appears in these worlds is limited to these worlds. Universe-devouring god-slugs can only attempt to chew up tiny sections of shadows before sword wielding knights, and wand wielding mages come striding up and kill them. Undead kings that seek to conquer all the multiverse, rarely get far beyond a single shadow. Powerful magical items that can change the tides, mutate the races, or etch the moon, are useless outside a shadow veil or two of their points of origins.

There are exceptions. The Stone of Skulls is such an exception.

One trumps in 500 miles or more away from where the image seems to indicate. Once there you must seek the stone on a directly northern route, travelling amongst the Gore-Tex clad peasants tilling the field with bicycle wheeled plows under the watchful eyes of the local lord or knight on his manly charger. You must fight a bizarre series of encounters as dangerous as swordmaster bandits, or seas of vicious rabid Hamsters. Rabid elephants are not unknown either. There seem to be a lot of giant things and a lot of rabid things and a lot of ensorcelled things. The GM of this world has a warped sense of humor.

Nonetheless one can certainly die here. Never doubt it. I was laughing so hard at the rabid elephant that charged willy-nilly about knocking over trees and scattering hordes of peasants, that I forgot it was really a rabid elephant and it stuck three feet of tusk through my belly and hurled me 30 feet in the air. Joke-time was over and I melted the beast into a puddle of char and grease before I hit the ground, bleeding and pissed off.

Once you battle the creatures of whimsy either cast by a GM or observed by one, you reach the stone. It is a scene of suitable splendor and the effects it gives can be potent. It is a cheep way to kick a powerful tool up a notch on the power scale. Points of advantage are where you find them and they can be found here.

Once you leave this realm the powers remain.

One last comment. To those who read this, dangling my strings; If it is all right with you, I would like to have a nice peaceful life for awhile and I hope to never meet a rabid elephant ever again.

I mean really, Rabies? Rabid Elephants? That's just mean.

Greenwhitedrapedsword.gif

Ok. So I guess the answer was No.

I have gotten in the habit of checking my deck every morning just to be sure no new cards have arrived. I am very busy, at the time of this particular writing, and would have appreciated it if this bloody deck could have gone a while without sprouting new cards.

So this morning what do I find? 5 new cards, and a mystery.

The mystery is that there is a series of number missing between 59 and 66. So down the line 60 to 65 will appear but never forget that 66 arrived with number 56 to 59.

Willie's Tavern[edit]

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Why this card is in the deck I do not understand. Personally I think it is a threat. The trump delivers one a hundred yards from the door. From there you walk, regardless of the weather.

I went there to look the place over as I do with all the cards. What I found was a rural tavern, the only watering hole for a thousand or so residents spread over a large tract of steep wooded hills. I was assured it gets snow for a several months in the winter but for the most part the weather is cool and crisp and the air clean. The sky is rarely clear, with clouds common, and its clearly at an elevation around 10,000' above sea level. A single road comes up from the lowlands in a tense collection of precarious cutbacks that discourages tourists. The road has a turn around near the tavern from which small paved or dirt roads cut off like tributaries to a river.

Technologically the world is in a jet & computer age, I was told. There is a mechanical cash register with an electronic calculator next to it. Food and drink orders are written on paper for the bartender and the cook, but nightly the orders are entered into a reasonable personal computer in the back. There is a coin operated Jute box that plays a wide range of musics on .45s but it frequently doesn't work. There is a stage which a three piece band can play on as long as they don't have a lot of supporting equipment.

There is a drum set in the back of the stage nailed to the floor and the bartender told me if a group needs its own drumset they can play somewhere else. That statement from the bartender, and the nods the regulars gave when he said it, makes me think they might recognize the great and mighty king of kings, the unicorn's choice, if he walked in and called for a glass of lager.

This place is a community center for people with only occasional needs for community, yet speaking to the regulars, they say they have a strong sense of community. I'll take their word for it. The regulars are working people. Mountain farmers, truffle collectors, spice collectors, folksy artisians, weavers, animal handlers, trappers, homesteaders. I'm told the region is all owned by the government but the government seems to have forgotten that. Everyone withing 40 miles of Willies gets there mail sent here.

No one knows who Willie is. One regular told me that a century or two before the aboriginals here hacked off a hunter's manhood on this spot and the tavern commemorates this. One makes jokes at a Prince of Amber at ones own hazard.

Camelot[edit]

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Camelot? Angel's and Ministers of grace defend us.

There was a time when Corwin once sought out a place of nobility and honor. He ran right into a vein of tales, legends, people, places, and monsters the like of which boggle the mind. Uncountable numbers of these veins exist but this is one similar to what he found. In the centuries that followed many of his brothers heard the tales of Arthur, Lancelot, Gwain, Lot, Tristan, Guennivire, Isuelt, and all the rest. Having heard them, we sought them out, to live amongst them or to fight against them. Sometimes both.

So now this card arrives and what does it do?

For reasons beyond me Dworkin ordered me to go spend time here. Thanks grandpa, so glad you started attending family dinners.

Once there I found it to be a realm of Camelot in its earliest years. The Realm of Camelot here is a large one, and valiant, if a bit idealized. The kingdom is strong and knights come from realms far and wide to serve Arthur. YOung men in the bloom of youth recieve the accolade and serve the realm for many years before being offered a place at the round table.

The Table itself is shockingly massive. 100 seats around a single table, a seat for the king, a seat for the queen, and dozen seats saved for specific reasons;Siege Perilous, Siege Perfectus, Siege Koa. Surrounding the massive table are three tiers of seats for Orders of Knights. The youngest untried knights take the 3rd Order and must travel to prove their mettle. There is not a dam bridge in this realm some steel-clad dolt isn't contesting passage on.

The land of the fair maiden, evil sorceress, the knight Errant and the ruffian mercenary is a boggle to the mind. There is something archetypal about this place and that should be born in mind when traveling here.

Field of the Cloth of Gold[edit]

Cloth of gold.jpg

Ah, France

The Field of the Cloth of Gold. [[3]]

This event was held in most Earth/Urth worlds at Balinghem – equidistant between Ardres in France and Guînes in the then-English Pale of Calais. It was a tournament field as part of a summit from 7 to 24 June 1520, between King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France.

As one looks through the deck one finds that King Random, certainly the Joker in King Oberon's Deck, has chosen to include many opportunities for chivalric behavior. Encouraging good behavior amongst his kin I believe. Ask me about that later.

Camelot, Avalon, The Stone of Skulls regions, the Dramaturge, Kizabat. Not to mention a number of places that just happens to have knighthood, such as Amber & Rebma, Diaga, Thulusia, Begma, Kashra. Each gives it a different spin of course and its not always the central passion of the places.

But if you contemplate this card, better be ready for the whole deal.

This card functions in an unorthodox manner. Its time relationship to Amber is about Twenty:One-Amber. (See Time Relations In Amber)

This gives one 20 days to one in Amber. Upon drawing the card one has a sense of the place and what is to be expected. One can gaze into it. When one steps forward, one can choose how much time there will be before the gathering of the Field of the Cloth of Gold. A day, a month, a year, 30 years, its the dealer's choice. Once there the dealer and his entourage can not open a trump themselves to leave. They may not used shadow-walking powers. Nor can one teleport, beam up or otherwise escape under your own steam. You may answer a Trump, and thereby escape, but otherwise he is there till July 30, 1520. After that date the block on trump use is lifted. Also, high level Sorcery is not available though several lesser forms of magic are.

The point the creator of this card, presumably Dworkin, is making is if you want to be here, stay awhile. Get the feel of the place and time.

If you do leave this shadow by someone else trumping you, something weird happens to this shadow. It freezes. It does not begin moving forward till you return and continue. After July 30, 1520, time moves normally.

I found this out when I first tried the card. On the time option I picked 30 years, not certain what would happen, not being well versed in the particular history of the region, and unable to Trump out. However, I had spent time in the Crusades of this world and had a general idea of who was who on what side as things went. Had spent some time in the Napoleonic Wars as well, so my knowledge of history was general. I had not visited the War of the Roses at that time.

Well, I was a Prince of Amber without Letters Patent in England or France. So I went to Rhodes for a couple years, got Knighted into the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem. I had respected them in Jerusalem in another shadow. That it took some finagling to get knighted, considering it is no small tale. Then I went to England as something of a high ranked Knight Errant. I fought in the Italian wars mostly which I can tell you was a clusterboink of the first water but for a military prince of Amber they were jolly fun. I knew little of the politics coming in, and being blocked from seeking information in a normal way I was forced to tough it out like mortals. By 1520 I was in the retinue of Henry the Eight with an English Patent, familiar with King Francis, and had a squires and servants as befit a man of rank.

Now as any knight, and most politicians will tell you, it wasn't all chivalry and flowers, granted favors. But the cards does seem to deliver you to shadows where once the event begins, you are expected to be on your best behavior.

It was a time of jousting, and courtly love, and intrigue and bad water. It was delightful. Longer then I expected since I was researching these cards at both Random & Dworkin's behest. I spent 50 years in this world, nearly 2 years of time in Amber. I lived here from 1490 to 1540.

A few days after the Tournament was over I was contacted by Benedict, looking in on me after such a long absence. He brought me to Amber.

When I determined the shadow my Trump was connected to was frozen, and I needed to return for a couple months at least to unfreeze the shadow, much to my surprise Benedict asked to join me. When I prepared to return Benedict arrived dressed in the Horse and Kit of an Italian Condottieri, and took a single Amber silverwing to serve as my hired man. At first this scared the ever-loving hell out of me, but in time I realized he was on vacation. We traveled together for 20 years, give or take a few separate excursions. It was a strange and happy time, a carefree time, for we who had been taught not to get close to one's brothers. When we returned to felicity, we looked each other hard in eyes and shook hands. I felt somehow forgiven. I was sad to see our time there end, but there is no reprieve from duty.

The pity is that once you leave, after JAugust 30, it won't deliver you to the same shadow. It wants you to start in a new one. I had to use the pattern to get back to the one I spent so long on. If one speaks to men in my employ, you will find many came from here. Including several currently serving in the Elite. I made a serious effort, suitable as a Prince of Amber, to bring them. I fell afoul of the If I'd died without hop of grace clause But I accept the blame for that.

So I said to ask me about Random's encouraging good behavior in his kin? With King Random's permission I inform the holders of these decks, able to make them chime and open, what happened when I spoke to Random after I returned from the Field of the Cloth of Gold.


Random-"So Bleys, you attended the Field of the Cloth of Gold? In the entourage of Henry no less. How did you fare on the field?

Bleys-"Truly? I was victorious, of course. Though the mettle of them men surprised me. Did you think they could stand against a Prince of Amber?

Random-"You kept faith, and left the field with your honor intact?"

Bleys-"King Henry thought so"

Random-"Kneel, Prince Bleys. *I knelt* I include you in the Knightly Order of Gold, a Knight of the Gold Order of Amber".

Of the many things I never expected in my long life, it was crying while being knighted by Random.


CoG1.jpg

Twilight[edit]

Ptwilight.jpg

If this place is supposed to be a secret why is it in the deck?

First off, the name of this world refers to the fact that its globe is positioned in its solar system in such a way that the landmasses are always just out of direct sunlight. There is a single landmass that ring's the planets northern hemisphere. The Northern Polar region is a giant sea that never gets direct sunlight. The southern pole is never in darkness and tends to boil at the very bottom. Only a couple isolated islands dot the entire southern half of this planet. And the bottom edge of the land ring, just over the Earth/Urth's Tropic of Cancer, is a gigantic mountain range, with spotty narrow beaches dotted with fishing villages.

Its as if all the landmasses south of the Tropic of Cancer, were shoved up and piled on the lower edge of the ring to create a massive mountain range, with peaks in the 30,000' range and several narrow passages that, Kyber Pass like, reach the interior and never go about 1000' above sea level. The rich and vibrant lands north of the South Ring Mountains never quite get full sunlight. However there is some function that pushes water up to the tops of these mountains and creates thousands and thousands of rivers and streams and creeks that weave and cross and pool and puddle till they seep out into rich rocky garden lands and stream into the Round Sea at the top of their world.

Lastly about the Southern Beach. It is dotted with small but efficient fishing villages specializing in whatever water fare is available. Yet something about this wolds southern hemisphere causes the water to cycle around the planet rather then causing waves to crash on the beach. This means the beaches tend to be rocky, pebbles, and a small amount of sand. Tales tell of once a century storms where the waters change direction and toss hundreds of feet worth of sand against the South face of the Mountain Ring. When the storm comes the villages break down what they can and they flee into the interior. Afterwards they, and large numbers of the interior populace come out to reestablish the fishing communities. A strangely communal project for a people that are mostly isolated.

Also, to add a bit more strangeness to this clearly broken world, the plants grow fast. Similar species of plants from this world grow four times as fast. Crops, such as they are grow really fast. The people of this world eat well.

Thats enough of the topography of the place.

There are no nations on this world. No great cities. There are perhaps a dozen places one could call cities but they are pretty spread out. Imagine an area the size of the Los Angeles metropolitan area with 200,000 people spread out in little enclaves of less then 5000 people. But since they are all in a vale or region that allows them some type of interaction they call themselves a great city. There are 50 million people on this world and except for the dozen major regions, few of the villages or hamlets has more then 5000 people.

There seems to be enough distance between the villages that most people in this world know the names of no more then a few dozen other villages. Maybe only 5 or 6 of the great regions.

But they all know the Seer of Song, my sister Evelyn. They all know the Harpist of Twilight, Evelyn's daughter Grace.

My travels here, and my meetings with these two, are not the topic of public conversation.

Next Card, Please.

Nu Yark, Nu Yark[edit]

PNuYark.jpg

This realm is a twist of this and a twist of that. It is a high tech age where man and machine blend easily and well. Nu Yark is a place I have spent time in to unwind and enjoy the simple ease of plenty yet have the rough trade of greed near at hand. This realm is dominated by this vast city that spawns out to the horizons. It is a city of towering pinnacles of glass and steel. Many of the arcologies that sustain their own populations in comfort and ease, at a price. Many an Arcology anchors Burroughs in this massive citystate.

Other megatroploies dot this planet.

Beneath the towering spires live the grim lives of the broken the elite have forgotten who must live out desperate lives by desperate means.

This is one of my places. I come here to enjoy to cross-shadow influences of music, drama, and art as well as the luxuries afforded the super-rich. Of course when I'm feeling peckish the food here is sublime.

I said there are crossshadow influences and they abound. This realm is nearer to chaos then to Amber yet it has internal checks and balances that keep a level of reasonable cause and effect in play. Of course what one considers reasonable is widely varied, depending when your last meal was, or when your child last ate.

Sometimes I dress up in black body tight armor and latex, and travel the dark ways and settle affairs for people unable to do so themselves. I feel silly afterwards but while I am there its vastly entertaining. If you are interested, I know where there is a good specialized tailor.

Addendum

As I said i've spent some time here. Its really out of my normal wheelhouse. I grew up in Amber, Thelusia, and parts of places in shadow that have a similar die on the sword lifestyle. But a few hundred year before Oberon did the shadowdance that led to Pattenfall, he abruptly took me here to meet and bond with a brother Oberon did not want to bring to Amber. Knowing Kibar will read this, it is only fair to tell him that Oberon strictly forbade me from speaking of how we reach Amber. He also told me that he was leaving it up to me if I thought putting a knife in his heart and throwing the body in a bonfire was a good idea. He said he could not make the call and anything I did he would consider for the Good of Amber.

As i've worked on this increasingly long tome ive often spoken of my kin. Flora in Adzikis, Julian in Arden, Random in Taxorami. And now Kibar.

He was hard, but funny. Oberon had been little more then a whisper in the night to his mother but he has a lot of Oberon in him. He suffered warfare as a child, block wars, gang wars, corporate wars. He learned the magics of electronics in this realm where the laws of Chaos combat the laws of nature. Where the evils and the graces needed to be balanced if one was not to become a monster. He has managed well.

Moins[edit]

Pmoins.jpg

This is the second city of Rebma. The Kid Sister of Rebma. It is as soggy as Rebma but decidedly more playful. While Rebma has the sophistication and culture appropriate to an Imperial Capital, Moins has the glitz and glamor of a cosmopolitan metropolis.

Its been many years since I wrote this comment. I visited the place just to look in on it for the comment on its card. I failed to see what was important to see. I've recently gone back and spent a long few weeks there. Its a wonderful place; like New Orleans under water. Playful, a place where the elite black-sheep of Rebma's noble families and lesser sons play. Much to my surprise its a place of piracy! Of the many sea lanes into Amber which run past Moins are many of the freebooter persuasion. They are a rough lot, making their way raiding the merchant lanes into Amber, dodging the Amber, Diegan, and Rebman navies; not an easy task. I made friends in this community for a time. Till they realized who I was. Then I had to leave. I did not see to their destruction, but I could not have stayed and not sunk in a knife or two. I left a few bodies of people I know were up to no good. I am after all, a Prince of the Realm.

Forever Gate[edit]

Pforevergate.jpg

This card is to a dry and barren ruin of a landscape in which remains the Forever Gate. This is a transportation portal to any time and place in this shadow.

If you were to jump ship immediately on arriving you would find that there is no living thing in this galaxy. Not a bush, a tree, nor a prickly skinned porcupine. Nothing. It is a completely dead shadow. Millions and millions of galaxies with uncountable stars and planets and no living thing exists in any of them.

And there is no one to tell you why except the Forever Gate. But if you ask it, it will merely tell you that there are no living things because they died. Great. Thanks for clarifying.

What I have picked up is that this realm is 1 to 1 Amber. Making research time consuming. Also the longer an anberite stays there, the more unfavorable to Amber it gets, 1 to 1, 1 to 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2, 2.5, 4, 7, 9, etc.

Once there were vasty empires, ancient races, technological space-faring nations, unified planets, and uncountable people. There were wars, peace talks, parades, carnivals, vast trade routes and intergalactic exchanges. Sometime in their history, someone somewhere caused a chain reaction to occur that eradicated any creature that can be scientifically called life.

This is a mystery worth exploring, but who has the time?

Paris[edit]

Pparis2.jpg

This is Corwin's doing, much to my surprise, since this is in Avalon. Not that you can shadowshift in Avlaon yet, that is still somehow forbidden. But you can get here.

Here is Paris. Late 1800's. Napoleon is dead. Napoleon III is Emperor. Corwin is Overlord. But the rest is the important part. It is a living place, exciting, vivacious. You can find music, art, dance, whatever your heart might desire of such a time and place.

But the Corwin seems to have decided to keep the Diners of Amber theme alive by locating the trump here. Here is Angeleous Lambert's Bakery.

I am not a bread person. I know people who can go on and on about this bread and this grain and that yeast. I had never really understood it. Even using the Bakery trump of the Useful Trumps Deck did little more than give me bread. But my first trip here Corwin and Mama Agalvar and Dame Margot came with me. 3 Bread people against one..

Hold on to your heart when you enter Lambert's. It smells like a very happy heaven in there and you might just expire from joy. Sourdoughs, wheat. Rye. The place is marvelous. Every shape and size you can imagine they probably have or can make.

There is an amazingly good cheese shop across the street. Lienne Lisile's place. Cheddar, not originally a French cheese, is here in abundance. Monterey Jack, Gouda, Edam, Camembert, Muenster, Swiss, Limburger, Blue, Gorgonzola, Provolone, Parmesan, Mozzarella, Soamorze, and hundreds of other cheeses I had never heard of.

Guido Regili is a butcher on the road with a massive selection of meats. Raw, cured and cooked.

Corwin joked that he added this card to his deck so he could always get a sandwhich.

Vagalorat
[edit]

Pvagal.jpg


This chaos realm is typical of the kind of wild weather worlds found in the Black Zone. Dark Skies, Lightning of a wide variety of styles. Cats and dogs falling from the sky. Don't get me started on the rain of frogs, or the rain of Frog Legs. Growing up in chaos may be hard on the people but I assure you, its hard on the frogs.

Temple of Resolve
[edit]

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This place seems to be some sort of meditation space. I have gone in for a wide variety of styles of meditation. Any Fantalin trained Sorcerer is skilled at the kinds of discipline needed to be a competent worker of the crafts.

[edit]

Ptoad.jpg


This is going a step too far.

This is not a place we should ever find ourselves. Ever achieve. Ever be trapped in. Ever go. Never use this card. It is a tease, a dare, a form of suicide. If you use this card do not call me for help out. Just kiss your ass good-bye and say hello to the Abyssal Gods that will be making your stay a really drag.


Cult of Entropy

Rebmaras
[edit]

Prebmaras.jpg


Rebmaras? Really? A technological shadow of Rebma above the water as well as below it?

We sometimes forget that Rebma is an Empire too, and the capital of an empire at that. Many are the watery shadows where dwell kings and presidents loyal to the line of Mior. This one is a place with humanoids of the Rebma form, able to breath air and water, that is ruled by an elected council.

Each province provides a Elector and the Council of Electors appoints a Consul for a 6 year term as chief executive. Each 2 years they elect a vice-consul who serves for 6 years. The 3 vice-consulships ships overlap obviously and in theory provide continuity of leadership. The ruling Consul may be chosen from any person having served as vice-consul in 22 years. Campaigning is actively discouraged and frequently the victor of the election has no desire to serve. If they refuse they must enter exile for 6 years. Makes for some rough politics and only the ample presence of water keeps their hands clean.

Pictured on the trump is the Arcol of Remien. An Arcol being short for Arcology. The trump delivers one in the Square of Lan, a fish shaped god no longer worshiped in this cosmopolitan city.

One gastronomical peculiarity of this world is the size of their shrimp. They call them Pol Bulls but the only difference between them and what we think of as shrimp is that Pol Bulls weigh over a ton. Dumb as stumps, herdsman swim up to them, neatly pith them, then attach balloon-like floats to them for harvesting. They breed quickly I hear.

Consequently Pol is the staple meat of this realm. Pol steaks, Pol burgers, salads.. everything. I like shrimp. Seeing an 800 pound shrimp roasting on a rotisserie is awe inspiring. Recently Pol has become a import to Calrabon. It can be had at Oberon's fire, at a price.

One comment on the people here. They are, like most aquatic peoples, a soggy lot, and frequently naked. Unbashful about nudity, they are prudish in the extreme about sex. Scoring with a Marrian is a point of pride. Though the ride is rarely worth it. Shadow is too full of willing playmates to grope a soggy trout.

But there is one thing in this place that is worth noting, for the militarily inclined. They have perhaps the most amazing array of underwater weaponry available. Clockwork crossbows that fire as fast as machine guns. a wide array of propellants to fire bullets. Rapid fire net guns.

Electricity works funny in this shadow, not shocking people, so you can sit in a cafe, underwater, eating Pol Bull burgers while watching Kilf Soccer on a television. Freaky really.

Calmir
[edit]

PCalmir.jpg


This card is in the deck, but it does not work.

This is a primal realm created eons before Amber and destroyed eons before Amber. A realm of limited shadows, called Eigenstates, or time paths. The Kangular powered the realm as the Pattern powers Amber. But when you assayed the Kangular you gain the power to travel in Time in Calmir, rather than in shadow.

I itch just thinking about it.

Addendum

The Primal Realm of Calmir and the Kangular of Calmir are worth a bit more explanation since Dworkin was foolish enough to ramble about it when I was around.

The Primal Realm of Calmir was created in the dim ancient drapes of time in the unchallenged Chaos and stood for uncounted eons. Its story is a cautionary tale that even Amber can be destroyed and all but forgotten, its powers and tragedies part of history.

Calmir was a royal realm lead by a High Lord. Nine High Lords ruled Calmir during its tenure. As the enemy of Chaos it drew the numerous attacks throughout its life. The capital city of Calroos was a grand city of 3 milllion inhabitants in a rich culture that survived for many generations.

The Kangular, the primal construct of the realm, cast 512 eigenstates out from its center. Adapts of the Kangular were able to time travel down the pathways of the eigenstates. Adapts were not able to time travel in Chaos, nor in Paragon, nor, most likely, in Amber. Although the lives of Calmir and Paragon did overlap, both realms had been long destroyed before Dworkin's creation of Amber.

The Dominion of Calmir spread down 175 eigenstates from their earliest births to their ends. It spread down 159 more in one form or another. The Soldiers of the Dominion were familiar sights in many other realms..

Chaos brought jealous bloody red war to the eigenstates and a vast, vain, proud, treacherous and in the end futile, war took place.

In the end. High Lord Swayvil I of Chaos, having slain the High Lord, and most of the princes and princesses of Calmir in battle, dragged the dying High Lady Escheziria over the Kangular and sacrificed her. This darkened the kangular, dropping the eigenstates, killed billions to the billionth power of inhabitants and ending the Primal Realm of Calmir.

The last surviving son and the last surviving Daughter of Calmir survived by hiding in Paragon during the final event. Ranvir Calmir, youngest son of Ganruuk and Kubresea Calmir and his sister, Laeessas Calmir, hid first in Paragon till it fell then fled into the Abyss steps away from pursuing chaos lords. With the rise of Amber they snuck into Amber and hid amongst its shadows. First in the shadows nearest Chaos, being familiar in many ways to them, till they discovered the existence in the shadows of Amber realms that were similar to the fallen realms of Calmir.

The Kangular of Calmir[edit]

The Kangular was a primal construct. Created in the dimmest early days of Chaos. It is a construct that casts shadows along a finite path of possibilities. 512 basic frame eigenstates radiate out from the Kangular. Off each basic frame are a vast number of offshoots caused by traumatic events within the realm or by the actions of those attuned to the Kangular.

Adapts of the Kangular can travel back and forward in the timeline of the eigenstate. Can detect offshoots and travel into them. They can back off time around them to a very small degree. General actions near them personally, Assaults, accidents. Many Kangular adapts skilled in alchemy and sorcery use the time effect to reverse effects caused in research.


(GM-Notes: This was included as part of a potential high power series of conflicts after PCs had had a bunch of time in game. Either Ranvir or Laeessas would have a theory how to find a tendril of time that has a tenuous connection back into the time that Calmir existed. Their endgame was to achieve the change in the time stream to allow Calmir to come forward. This would endanger Everything created after Calmir fell.

I had a scenario in mind where PCs would hunt down pieces of the Kangular. They would be powerful chunks of magic boosters. A piece the size of a quarter giving a minor sorcerer a huge bump in power. A chunk the size of a football being the base of a strong construct. a pieces the size of a VW being the power source of a might construct. Eventually, if enough pieces of the kangular could be assembled, perhaps its eigentstates could be accessed. Or perhaps Calmir could be restored to full power. Big points, lots of prizes.))

Callahan's Crosstime Saloon
[edit]

PCalahans.jpg


The morning I saw this card in the deck I knew that 'ulterior motives' does not quiet cover things. But I also saw connections. I began to view the deck differantly.

Callahan's is certainly a fine place to drop by and get a quick drink for several days. This card has been in my personal deck for years. I drop by to have the odd single malt whiskey and Irish beer. There are few places in the multiverse where you can find a 300 year old Aboulour single malt scotch and match it to a draft Double Guinness Stout and drink it in a place worthy of the pair. And pay a dollar for both.

As such it is a fine place, one of the finest, that is accepting of people with ---dynamic personalities. I have been a regular for decades.

Situated off route 25, 20 miles along the northern edge of Long Island, New York. It is staffed by Mike Callahan, aided by a former minister/former stick-up man named Tom Hauptman who bartends when Mike Callahan is gone. Also present is an odd assortment of regulars; Jake Stonebender; a folk guitarist and philosopher, a virteouso performer with a scared heart. A Brooklyn ragtime/punk pianist named Fast Eddie Costigan. Pytor, an alcoholic vampire and staff designated driver who drinks alcohol while transfusing victims that he drives home. Doc Webster; a nearly divine surgeon and a dangerous punster, Long Drink McGonnigle; a ex-moonshinner and jack of all trades. And lets not forget Ralph Van Wau Wau; a genetically engineered talking dog.

Throw in Noah Gonzalaes; a sergeant on the Suffolk county bomb squad, Dink Fogerty; a psychic fisherman, Mary Finn, Callahan's daughter, Lady Sally Callahan, Callahan's Wife and a notorious madam, Tommy Jensen; an empathic heroin addict on the mend, Don Domingo Montoya; an unfettered guitarist I had make my personal guitar. Also you will find the cheerful Charlies, the Mac Donald Brothers, a hobbit looking all too much like Bilbo Baggins for my taste, and a leprechaun named Fishy and now you have a glimpse at the cross section of people you might meet at Callahans.

So why come here? Well, the food is edible and cheep. 50c for a tuna fish sandwich. 50c for a shot or a beer, 1 dollar if you smash the glass in the fire place. I drop a grand in the free lunch box every time I drop by, to help those down on their luck.

Just to spice the batch of attendees lets include five more occasional visitors. A despondent ex-Lord of Chaos, defrocked of his powers, named Falowin Hendrake. A once dead pope named Joan. A man named Abe who does an amazing impersonation of Abe Lincoln that is only marred by the fact that he is Abe Lincoln, rescued just after his death in an earth Shadow. A primal beast named Spunky, who won't admit what his animal form is. And lastly, a Prince of Amber with a death wish, sublimated into alcoholism.

I mentioned connections. So here it is. These people solve problems. Emotional ones, tricky ones, unorthodox ones. So like the collection of people at Gallras Galleries, you can come here and layout a problem and get a wide range of solutions, some even useful. Then there is Erasamus Braldig, who while skilled in tinkery, has a startling clear and precise mind; organized and analytical; good for solving problems. Willie's Tavern is a fine place to pick up homespun wisdom. Mama Agelvar knows more recipes than anyone I ever heard of but she also knows more cliché's and proverbs than any sane person should. Then of course there are churches...

So- Connections. Draw your own conclusions.

Gilley's Club
[edit]

Gilleys.jpg


Now we are talking Diners of Amber!

Dworkin, I can not imagine that you are a fan of this place, but I am now.

In many worlds you will find vast regions dedicated to the production of horses, cattle, oil, and testosterone. Gilleys is in one of these places.

Located on an earth world is this honky tonk supreme. Pasadena, Texas sports this huge establishment where you can get a beer, a dance, and a fist fight in the space of 5 minutes.

Rest assured its worth the trip. The food is pedestrian but tasty. Burgers and fries, Reubens, subs, chicken dinners, and ribs, ribs, ribs. Steaks to make an amberite weep. Their steaks are not quite a Buff Cut 3 but they are large, well cooked, and cheap. I'll take three every time. The beer is cold, the whiskey hot, the tequila is fresh over the border. Don't order Vodka, that means you are a commie.

This is a dancehall as well. That means hot, eager, drunk women. Adds a whole new flavor to the Diners of Amber

Addendum

this is a place for the meat to meet the heat. Its deep in cattle country and cooking is an obbsesion.

Amberdinerline1.gif

The Antheris Deck[edit]

Three cards arrived on the same day. Not only are all three in the same shadow they are all on the same intersection. I shit you not. All three are within sight of each other at the corner of 5th and Bandoleer in Nenton, Antheris. While the reason for this alludes me at least I only had to make one trip to review them.

These are The Newsstand, King's Sandwich, and La Bisalta. Food and a place to read maybe?

Amberdinerline1.gif

The Newsstand.
[edit]

Newstand.jpg


If anyplace needs, thrives, or dies on accurate news, its Amber.

The first of the Antheris Deck is Big Jim's Newsstand. This is on the corner of 5th and Bandolier in the city of Nenton, Antheris. This near-Amber shadow has a great deal of casual travel among the Golden Circle kingdoms. Nenton is a trade route hub and distribution center. Most tech works here as does most magics. The standard of living is early space travel despite the availability of better due to the orbiting Amber Star Fleet bases.

So why put a Newsstand in a world moderately addicted to computers? Because this trade hub of Amber is a hub of information as well. Information from Chaos to Amber.

And Big Jim Torrio collects it all. Big Jim is hilarious. He is fat, and athletic. Cynical and idealistic. Wise and foolish. He seems to know everything about everything, and since he is rarely wrong it isn't boasting. He carries copies of the same magazines from dozens of different shadow. He collects everything he sells. He collects. He has a rabid passion for baseball cards and he personally has been responsible for the development of the game in numerous shadows. He collects Comic books, which are sort of like fireside tales in colorful pictures and cheesy language. He owns millions. He collects fiction novels and has one of the best collections I have seen.

Remember what I called Fiction novels? Travel Guides, thats right.

If you need info, he might know something. "Big Jim might know something" should be the first line of any investigation.

SO who is he? Well obviously he is a wizard. He holds a Shade Pattern imprint and a Broken Pattern imprint. This makes him an Amberite of one of the lesser realms that somehow broke out of the locked systems that such shades rule. I have shared many a burger with Jim and he refuses to talk about it. I am sure something bad happened. Something he either escaped or started. Since I know he will read this he knows I am looking into it. Casually, of course.

Addendum

This place has a vast collection of periodicals despite the rise of different types of more accessed media. If you must you can link in your tech devices for a small fee. When asked why paper instead of data feeds he says paper, like knives, work almost anywhere. True indeed.

Among this plethora of magazines are a series of comics called graphic novels. They are a step between comic books and novels designed for people who can read but like the pretty pictures better. The availability of certain titles in the serialized works is spotty at best. Just as well. Among them I recently found a title called “The Red Prince.” Disturbingly they turned out to be a comic based on my own recent adventures. Now I know the whole deal about fiction/travel guides. And I know that many of our adventures find their way into fiction works in shadow. But I am not comfortable to have them available to the collectors at some place you can get to by trump.

Is there no privacy?

Newish Information-Recently I happened to wander through some Shade Realms on an unremarkable mission. One in particular had little to recommend it since it seemed to be a shadow of Amber where an early war went badly wrong. The remains of the Castle were overgrown and lived in by bucolic residents herding sheep and goats and such. Upon examination the disaster must have taken place at a time when the city surrounding the castle had not spread into the North Riding. When Ober and Yaj were little more then fishing villages. Rebma was in ruins far worse then Amber and was totally uninhabited except by the normal denizens of the sea. The Mer race that inhabits our Rebma was long gone here.

Traveling around that level of Shade I found no shadowtugs for the sea lanes or shadow trails that we younger elders put down in our own youth.

Speaking to the natives they had ancient fireside tales that spoke of Great Obiryon and his four sons, Olo, Flint, Bela, and Birtik. The details of the story were fanciful as such stories get after centuries. Yet it suited its people to provide morals, fables, and a frame of history for a people who need few details and little education. What caught my attention and pushed me to examine the place further was that Olo was also called Yimtoryo. His description met Jim Torrio to a tee.

So I asked Jim. He nodded and said, "We all have our regrets, do we not, Prince of Amber?"

Yes we do, sir.

((GM-Notes:This was intended to be a big campaign. A Middle-power campaign. Something tough enough to be dangerous to tough cousins and players familiar with the universes history and my GM style. The idea starts with much of what Bleys found. A Shade Realm with a bad history. My thought was one that failed before the actual creation of the Kingdom of Amber. So that the power struggle may not have been dynastic, perhaps not even personal. Just something that happened because all things are possible. It occurred before Eric was born, before everyone else was. Its something that happened when shadows of Oberon, Osric, Finndo, Benedict, Borlak and Clymnea was all that existed of the family of Ambir. It was going to depend on what the PCs in the game turned out to be and how to get them all involved in a campaign together, what the goals and rewards would be. Was it personal disaster between the family members? Was it something that happened at the time of Finndo's time as King of Amber, thus effecting this shade realm? What lesson on cosmology was needed? Are their chunks of power around. Apparently, the actual primal pattern of this realm is intact still. Perhaps the PCs would want the pattern itself for construct use, and things could move from there. It would have a variety of shadows of people they would know like Bendict, Osric, Finndo, Borlak, Clymnea, Margot, and others from the dawn of time. Legendary chaosians, Calmirians, who knows. Pity it never happened. Anyway... make of it what you will.

King's Sandwich
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King's Sandwich.jpg


This corner holds a great burger joint. Its essentially a mobile wagon that got built into place. Plain. Simple. A dozen items on the menu and a hundred condiments on the sideboards. Burger, Cheeseburger, double burgers with and without cheese, polish dogs, hot dogs, Grilled cheese sandwiches, Sausage sandwiches, sliders, French fries, onion rings, and other fried, grilled and cold foods. Quick and easy.

Why Random felt the need to put this card in the deck when two other corners in this intersection already have trumps to them, I don't quiet understand. But he's the King. While there could be a nefarious reason I have come to think its just convenience. This shadow has commerce with other shadows. But a magic door opening in thin air and someone stepping through, right in front of your burger joint probably gets the king cuts in line.

Frankly I think he likes the name. He is getting awfully big for his britches.

73. La Bisalta[edit]

La Bisalta.jpg

This cafe' is the third of a pack of three cards representing 3 corners of 5th and Bandolier in the city of Nenton, Antheris. This is a wonderful place to have coffee with someone you would like to have become a loved one. Polite waiters can find nearly everything and anything you might want to sample. Drinks, pastries, snacks, and cru-de-te.

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74. Mc Hood's Roadhouse[edit]

Mchoods.jpg

Shadow seems to adore places where heat, cold, gunpowder and bloodshed mix . In many worlds you will find a place where the urge to expand and the development of gunpowder and steam locomotion meet. This is one such place. Mc Hood is a retired gunfighter, not that he shows himself often. He has issues. But his family runs Mc Hood's Roadhouse. Here cattle hands and stevedors, gunfighters, gamblers, ranchers, sheepherders, farmers and travelers of every kind might gather. This roadhouse is in the city of Bowdie, California. Yet it seems to also be on the cross-shadow paths of many of these similar shadows. So while it might be odd to come into the common room and see gunfighters conversing with each other despite the fact one is Caucasian and the other is reptilian. It is a nexus. Through this place run a many shadow pathways. Most in the same general epoch. The natives of this world have long since learned to not ask questions of the oddities that occasionally arrive here. Similar to Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, Mc Hood's Roadhouse is a gathering place for the eclectic and the lone wolves.

Addendum

Gunpowder and Steam Locomotion. Tallin Gum and Wind Power. Sandill and Flow Crust.

Its all the same. Weapons and movement of cargo. Its about the confluence of violence and commerce. Everywhere you go. Guns make the trains run faster.

The Blighted Land

Blighted land.jpg

This is just an invitation to commit violence.

Frasika Spire.jpgAley.jpg

The Blighted Land

On some worlds people are just bound and determined to make their lives dangerous and short. They take huge risks and if they are lucky enough to survive them, may get no reward at all.

This is an Earth/Aerth/Urth world that has seriously lost control. It is a testament though to how people can survive almost anything. To go over the political dimensions of this world would be pointless. They change. Sometime around the late 1900s all law and order slipped away. Wars, nuclear disasters, militarization, easy availability of weaponry, advancing technology despite worldwide carnage, an extremely vibrant commercial climate and little regard for human life are all big elements of this freak show of a world. National governments ceding great sections of their countries to corporations more able to provide services to the populace. Many countries became little more symbolic. Countries turning their military against their populaces. Countries creating huge prisons for criminals of every type. One of these is the New York Federal Penitentiary at Manhattan

The remaining Chikago metropolitan is over seen by the Frasika_Spire[[4]]. A large Arcology at the top tip of Damnation Ally, a region of nuclear devastated land across the heartland of what was once the American Nation.

Many of the people on this world have begun calling it the Blighted Land.

Nuclear disasters destroyed vast swaths of it. Industrial waste and human refuse have spoiled another chunk but some of that is being recycled. City-States, corporate oligarchies, criminal orginizations, heavily armed communal groups, and small Regional governments rule this planet. Many people cluster around huge corporate compounds that still do most of the producing. Transportation of goods has become a death sport. Technological advances were extraordinary in the face of necessity and the greed and malevolence of the rich.

The roads of this world are dangerous. There is an active sport called Autodueling that pits drivers against each other in both organized and chaotic conflict. The sporting angle of it gives a modicum of legitimization to the production of equipment that is then used, often as not, to further the insane degrees of regular violence on this world. National legal systems have allowed death-sports as a defined exception to the laws defining Murder.

Transportation of goods is done on the ground and on highways despite the road warrior culture for two reason.

First is the availability of easy to construct, extraordinarily dangerous remote control drones has all but eliminated air travel. Its difficult to mount enough armor on a plane large enough to ship cargo in. There is an underground anarchist organization called the Civil Air Patrol, that treats destroying flying vehicles as a sport. 10 points for a Cessna, 50 point for a F-4, 500 pips for UPS Air Delivery planes. Effort Shadow does not judge good and evil, but it does punish the stupid.


Addendum

Caine brought me here once. He said he wanted to find a world that had taken consumerism and militarism to the extremes. Someplace he could get a vehicle built for dangerous work. He found it. I spent a bit of time learning the hows and whys of this place and it makes no sense at all. It is a conflict of paradoxes.

This world is one of the most stupidly violent worlds I ever found, and i've looked, but it keeps you on your toes.

Hasik Station

Hasik Station.jpg

Not everyplace in shadow is clean.

Hasik Station is a dirty place where the paths of trade crash into each other and leave a big mess. And everyone gets a taste and everyone gets rich. Soldiers, fleet marines, ground troops, merchants, spies, and lunatics of a thousand flavors. And they are all armed to the teeth and trying to make a gold fullwing as easily as possible. The poor recycle, and recycling is big business. Its not corruption if its the way business is always done.

Now, as for Hasik Station.

On the planet Shatiro, a moon really, around a huge blue gas giant of planet called Halot, circling a sun called, the Sun, is a metropolis called Gadat. It has a population of over 12 million people and is only one of 9 metropolitan areas spaced out across a vast desert. They grew up around oil refineries and oil production facilities. The continent is dirt, overgrown and clogged with traffic from the subterranean rail systems to the ground level roadways systems to the many levels of air transport corridors.

The average temperature outside is from 90 to 130 degrees. Sometimes higher. Hot by most people's standards. They have given up on having outdoor trees. Water rests below and depending on the source is not hard to bring up. The 9 cities of this moon are on aquifers that are massive, enough to support generations of people. Of course once the water is brought it rarely goes down again. They have managed elaborate methods of keeping water here. Vast hydroponic farms recycle water through plants. A thick grass that grows a foot high is grazed on by lumbering beef animals that never run even when they are directed to the slaughter. The grass is often mowed and used as a base for a type of granola bar of mixed vegetables and bound in The Sweet Flora, shipped in from Adzikies in Winter by travelers.


Somewhere in the history of this world civilization broke down and a study of how they survived might be instructional.

In Gadat is a gigantic hub of industry called Hasik Station. It has the technical facilities to qualify as an interplanetary space-station, the storage areas to satisfy the needs of tens of thousands of traders, the charm of a trucker’s diner, and the cleanliness of a gas station bathroom. It’s a rough place but you can find what you are looking for in the vast cubbyholes of shops in this place. There are several long lanes where merchant ships make port and customers come on board through ally side shops to look over wares. Hand carts, wandering robot salesman, and guys selling watches and music boxes out of their trench-coats. Pickpockets live like kings.

What sets Hasik Station apart from any of a dozen other spaceport-land transport hubs in Gadat alone, or any of the similiar Stations in the other 8 mega-cities is one thing sequestered deep in one of its great stadium barrel vaults. In a swap-meet the size of a small city, under a single tightly sun-filtered dome, surrounded by official and unofficial kiosks, is 200 yards of Jeweled Road. Hence the trade in off-world goods. Trade-goods going from one shadow to another on one of the smalled Diaga routes passes through Hasik Station and the people here get a taste. They place orders. It has made this place rich and vulnerable. War may come.


For all the muck of this place, it has some big upsides.

I don’t know about calling this place a Diner of Amber but it does have some foods to recommend it. There are hundreds of noodle shops throughout the place. There are food carts filled with incredibly flavored meat on a stick that are lovely if you don't think about the kind of meat it is. A salted beef jerky is a traditional snack and is ubiquitous, found in almost every kiosk as an impulse purchase by the cash-box.

Erasmus Braldig owns a repair station here staffed by his apprentices. Need something repaired, see them. There is a bizarre range of items available in the shops here that might be from here or from anyplace in shadow.

Alien races, not native to this shadow where it turns out they were alone, have a foothold here and there. Elves in particular, of the Drow variety, are common. So is a race of essentially orc from a nearby shadow just up the Jeweled Road are a frequent sight. These orcs are merchants as much as raiders. All identifiable non-native races are called "Hasik Folk". This pisses off the native Hasik people enough to cause them to be either fiercely protective of aliens or radically xenophobic about them. Go figure, no middle ground.

Guilds of all kinds vie for trade and customers.

Addendum

I've not been able to run down the reason on this shadow but ones nearby it give hints as to why a planet wide cultural horror and legal prohibition against cannibalism is enforced too stringently degrees. Apparently in the long past, it was an issue. The idea of Eaters of the Dead draped in bear furs, ridding motorcycles and dune buggies, raiding peaceful and desperate remnants of a fallen society are the terrors these people experienced.

Shatiro is not the only inhabited moon around Halot. Halot has 70 or so moons of which half are inhabited on a regular basis. Nor is Halot the only planet around their sun. 8 other planets circle it. 4 gas giants and 4 rocks. There is a regular trade by star freighters and inner system ships pushing speeds fast enough to make star travel reasonable. Yet on none of the inhabited places in this system are new ships being built. All native space ships are hundreds of years old, often held together by wires, welds, and duct tape.

One is a garden of a world in the sweet zone. It is full of life, a wet world of mighty trees, raging oceans, vast plains, and amazing beaches. Despite there being the remnants of once mighty nations no one sets foot on it. It is the Garden to these people and is the world of their origin. For unknown reason when the people left to explore their solar system they decided to leave this world alone to recover from the ravages dealt it by a developing people. Im sure there is more to the story then that but their history seems to start when the left their home world. Its a blind choice of educators to just not discuss what drove them to the stars.

((GM-Notes: First off, like many places, this world has cubbyholes of people for any nefarious need.. Secondly, with an ethic of making a fullwing any way one can, the opportunities are vast. This options aside were bigger game ideas. One was the PCs defending the Jeweled Road segment from attack, maybe even establishing an embassy near it to show the flag. Another idea was for the PCs to unravel the mystery of why the garden world is avoided. I thought a virulent disease, one possibly dangerous even to Amberites, might infest the world. Maybe a hidden city of people whose ancestors didn't leave with the diaspora.

((GM-Notes: I had a large mad max/wasteland warriors campaign in mind.

Lisel’s Teahouse
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Lisel’s Teashouse is a tiny place on wheels. A collection of Vardo Wagons in the center of the big city. It can be found in the megatroplois of Unkantar. This highly technological world has a lot of people of a wide variety of shapes and sizes. It has technological wonders and gigantic corporations. It has urban centers with populations of over a million in a single Arcology. Most urban centers have several archologies besides having spread out metropolitan regions. This planet also has vast agribusiness empires that feed the multitude not lucky enough to live in the tightly controlled Arcologies. (See Arcology)

Stress between the arcologies and the urban centers they stand above is high.

Yet strolling among the shadows of the high-rises and the travel centers of the arcologies is a collection of gypsy Vardo wagons pulled by very tough looking mules. A large modern cargo truck follows the wagons as well. Gently urging them onward from the front reclining seat of the lead wagon is a short and well stuffed woman with long gray hair turned up under a straw hat. This is Lisel. When she parks for the evening, usually near some cultural event or activity, a whole little village appears. A small village. A fire pit is set up and a fire lit. Chairs are set out. Samovars are set up on tables next to the wagon. Silver, gold, mithril, and glass start brewing a variety of fragrant teas. Homemade cheeses, jams, and handmade crackers and scones appear.

Lisel is a wonderful talker, a historian, and a bit of a fortune teller. People come and gawk at this rustic woman in her homespun garb with her painted mules, colorful wagons and strange collection of attendants. People look her over but for some reason few come to take seats at the fire in one of her available folding chairs. But some do. They soon have tea in their hands and Lisel is happy to read their tea leaves once they are done.

She does not charge for the readings. But a donation jar clearly encourages generosity.

She has three constant companions beyond the collection of animals that are plainly visible when she settles in to camp for an evening. One is a short elvish looking hobbit with a very discerning palate for teas. His name is Antil Gardener and he can talk tea for weeks. One is a fat hobbit who tends the fire and the dinner fair, named Largo Baggins. One is a Leprechaun named Vonny who seems very quiet and withdrawn for a leprechaun but is a whirlwind of activity, silently taking cus, refilling cups, bringing nibbles. She tends to stay away from the animals who seem to fear her.

Another frequent traveling companion is Gacia, also know as Grace, daughter of Evelyn, granddaughter of Oberon. She rarely brings up her heritage and depends on her harpist skills.

That the presence of hobbits and leprechauns does not shock the populace is a sign that these creatures, if extremely rare, are not unheard of on this world.

Addendum

Alright. I went and spoke to Lisel and I had a horrifying shock. She is wonderful. She is knowledgeable. She is funny as heck. However, she is a dangerous. She comes from deep in the gamer worlds and from sections of it that interact with the Tosa/York universe. I have a particular horror of this region of shadow for personal reasons. There is a vast variety of peoples with a incredibly diverse collection of powers.

So Lisel turns out to once have been the Paramount Arch-Druid and Seer of realms closely connected to the fallen Shade of Amber in the Tosa/York. Realms destroyed in the fall. I am relativly certain, if the research was done, that she might turn out to have been Fiona in that shade of Amber before it fell; Now living under a new name. She went into Exile by the assistance of Tolknor of York. She gained a Broken Pattern Imprint along the way of the Highest order. The hobbits were Arch-druids in their own rights who fled with Lisel to York. The leprechaun is another refugee but she is not running from shadows. She is Vonnilia and is a crazy scary little piece of unfettered powers who has lain with monsters best not named, bore their children and does not sleep well. She only feels safe around Lisel, or when on a mission for CHAD. I have my reasons for distrusting CHAD, and Vonny is one of them.

Talosaril
[edit]

Talosaril.jpg


This desolate place is a vast desert landscape in a region under a very crowded sky. It is deep in the Chaos side of Mandalay and its cosmology is proof of it. Things Amber-wise tend to have at least some internal cohesion on natural laws. Things Chaos-wise, are not so picky. There are a vast number of what casually appear to be moons and tiny stars in the sky above this flat earth. There are desert plants and desert creatures here and a flat realm that stretches from the trumps arrival point for a million miles to either side. Ive no idea whats so important about this place as to earn its dusty ground a trump in King Random's deck. I'll leave finding out to others.


I recently spoke to a newcomer to Amber, Vek Hendrake, one of the Benedict/Lintra line. He says Talosaril has naturally occurring lakes of liquid glass that is rich in magical and Chaosian potency. He says somewhere deep in the sands, possibly miles below the surface must be either a reflection of the Logrus or a very powerful Woven Logrus. The liquid glass, infused with the power of chaos, remains liquid until specially treated to become solid. Till then certain Chaos spells and rituals use Talosara liquid glass. Many glass focuses, fortuneteller's balls, reading glasses, magic mirrors and other glass uses in Chaos are glass from here. He claims to have a pair of Rayban frames with lenses that allow him to see clearly in pitch darkness and see invisible beings. Lovely.

Adzikis in Winter
[edit]

Adzikis in Winter.jpg

'Ac tanu Mat ren Adzikis e Anoa'

Adzikis in Winter. Snow in drifts, in sweeps, in sheets, in the deep dark chill of mountains clear of fire. Adzikis is a world in recovery in many ways. In other ways, it has become something it had no hope of becoming. It is peaceful.

This world was once a vibrant and thriving world just nudging into a high technological age. They had discovered a type of magnetic reaction between three different type of stones that they had developed into a rail transport system and a wide variety of other technological devices. Oceangoing ships filled with well-dressed travelers plied the many seas and the cosmopolitan ports were thriving with their commerce. Manned flight was common but expensive and usually reserved for government personnel and cargo shipments. There were nation states with a variety of conflicts in a gun age that relied on archers as well as rifleman. Theoretical engineers were figuring out that the several moons could be reached by devices just outside the current state of technology, but in a few decades it was possible to explore the heavens. A few communication satellites had been placed in orbit and the computer age was taking off like wildfire. .

In small isolated enclaves were people that the vast populations considered nuts and wackos just because they claimed to be able to use magic and called themselves wizards and witches. They were objects of scorn and mocking comedy. Unknown to the masses though, they practiced high order sorcery as well as listry.

Then catastrophe struck.

My investigations suggest several things occurred at the same time and they are why this place is cold and peaceful. First a series of earthquakes, then dramatic cooling and a global winter. And since disaster breeds the best and worst things in the nature of man they had great efforts to save populations and devastating warfare over surviving resources.

This occurred over 200 years ago in their time. They adapted. They embraced the cold. They reordered their priorities.

They became poets.

Embracing their pain, they began to cherish life, and love, and art, and creativity. They began to prize ingenuity and invention. They developed poetic forms and languages for specialization in certain areas. One language, Aurol, was chosen as the language of business. Another, Untalis, became the language of anger. Feloso became the language of friendship and community. Ac Tanu became the language of love. Each language had its forms and its poetry. Once each language had served different races and nation-states, but the effort of recovery made them decide to use language differently. Now there was one universal language with subsets selected to be used for specific needs.

One language, Tufoli, became the language of food and drink. Here is where their genius really blooms.

Since they were embracing life and suffering extreme deprivation at the same time, they learned how to use what they had well. Spices were used to cover bland and uncertain meats. Sugars were used to fill caloric intake so baking became almost a religion. They eat all kinds of things sweet. They discovered that they could make a respectable alcohol out of almost any vegetable refuse and that by filtering it through specially scented charcoals got a nearly tasteless base alcohol with a variety of slight scents to cover the harsh base taste. Mixing sugar with it helped too.

More about sugar in the addendum.

Ive spent time here. It has a vibrancy of a world turned into an artists retreat. One where militarism has been abandoned. Where arguments between nations are solved though sports, cooking contests, and acrobatics. They have a form of international athletics that are followed by millions. I found people here amazingly forthright and direct, yet capable of great serenity. Its enticing, and dangerous. Its a process in development and only a world wide acceptance that violence is bad keeps the course pure.

Addendum

So this world took a serious walloping. It happens in shadow if you look.

First, a series of massive earthquakes associated with a great global shifting of tectonic plates, probably an effect of Patternfall, caused about 20% of this world’s lands to crumble into gravel and sink below the sea. Much of these were in the tropical regions, but one major chunk was in the arctic region.

The cataclysmic earthquakes and the subsequent disruptions of the oceans and weather systems caused a massive storm spanning most of the equatorial regions. This caused a general cooling of the world’s oceans. Due to the oceanic currents cooling, and other related effects, the general temperature dropped as much as 40 degrees around the world. This meant that even equatorial regions, used to balmy temperatures of 100, 110, and 120 suddenly were dealing with 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Unfortunately for this world, the regions 25 degrees north of the equator and 30 degrees south of the equator had only about 5% of its landmass after the earthquakes. Several archipelagos sprinkled around the central belt of this world survived the big shaking but volcanoes erupted and spewed ash into the already turbulent atmosphere.

The areas 25 degrees to 45 degrees north and 30 degrees to 50 degrees south had almost 70% of the landmasses. Temperatures plummeted. Worldwide populations suffered dramatically. Billions died. The long cold winter set in for good.

One major immediate effect of this global calamity is that about 50% of the world’s population of animal and plant life perished, including people. 3 billion out of 5 billion lost in days. Suffering and starvation in the first 10 years cost the planet a billion people. The 10 years after the disaster warfare cost the planet another half billion. In 10 years the population of the planet went from over 5 billion to under 400 million.


It all seems natural as catastrophes go. But it occurred at the time of Patternfall and there are tales of small battles fought by the wizards that make sense if they had a tiny piece of the Black Road come here to light things off. I can get no one to confirm it, but I have a strong suspicion that the appearance of the Black Road and the battle by wizards to eradicate it may have started the calamities that effected this world. Ive asked around, they are not talking.

Go Brand. Chalk up another shadow screwed by my mad, sad, and ought to be dead, brother.

Yet Adzikis has much to recommend it. They have survived a terrible tragedy on their world and by embracing life have become at once one people, regardless of appearances, and embraced creation of life. The change of the world’s name is a sign of their resiliency. Before the big shaking the place was called Adzikis. A poem about the new world called it "Adzikis in Winter". The name stuck and became a rally point for the survivors.

Despite the massive destruction, many elements of the growing industrial age survived. But their development was diverted down unusual paths. Intercity transportation occurs on a well-designed mag-lev rail system. Yet most travel in the city is on foot, bicycles, hoverboards, or in horse drawn carriages. Some magtrav wagons and vehicles exist but they are mostly used for official governmental travel and for cargo. There are some magtrav bus systems. Mainly on long cross-city and regional routes.

Solar power systems are the most common power source as well as thermal dynamic power.

The common people have a type of repulsion/hover technology that i'm fairly certain was imported from offworld. An extremely common sight is someone walking with a floating cart behind them carrying groceries and such. There are a wide variety of heating systems but most people have adapted to colder weather.

Nearly all agriculture on this world is hydroponic and communal. Most of it is also large scale and managed for the communal betterment of the population inside mammoth buildings. However, nearly every dwelling has small enclosed hydroponic systems used to recycle water, waste products, and air while growing herbs and small vegetables. These small hydroponic systems are remnants of the systems used at the time of the cataclysm by the survivors. In time the efficiency and productivity of these household systems may have been key to the populations survival. As such, the systems are as much decoration and art works as they are sources of food and clean air.

The Sugar of Adzikis

This world has a plant called the Sweet Flora. Really. The Sweet Flora. There is no linguistic reason for either word, or for ‘The’ to be put in front of it. It’s just spoken of that way.

“Hey, Jed, what’s that plant over there? It sure smells good. “

“Well, Zeke, that’s The Sweet Flora.”


Linguistically it is pronounced ‘thesweetflora.” In Thari it comes out as The Sweet Flora and that’s the common pronunciation. You’re not kidding anyone, sister.

This is a plant like a sunflower. Tall and thick stalked, with a gigantic pale yellow flower with bright purple seeds in the middle. It blossoms when the sun rises and follows the sun through its passage.

The lower stalks sprout bulbs the size of cantaloupes that contain an unpleasantly sweet sap of a dark yellow color. The roots are comprised of a deep straight taproot and a collection of tubers like potatoes right below the surface. It grows in all climes though it prefers temperatures around 40 to 50. It seems that there are aficionados’ that can tell what temperature the flower was grown in by tasting its various produce. Snobs. What I do know is that if you plant a sprouting of this it will grow in frozen tundra as easily as cool tropics of this world.

It does not, however, transplant well into other shadows. Funny thing that. It can be done just takes some doing. It is grown in large quantities at Vulsar Base.

The flower can be harvested in several ways. First off; the stalk and its taproot are generally left alone for a couple years. The stalk may be two feet across. The stalk and taproot are harvested after 5 years worth of seeds, leaves, petals, bulbs and tubers. It makes a reasonable paper, like a poster board.

The leaves, which grow big and thick, are used as a paper product, mulched and pressed into sheets. This is not terribly efficient and is usually only done for certain religious ritual reasons and for stylistic reasons. There is a type of poetry only written on Florimel Paper. I kid you not, it’s called Florimel Paper. Do you wonder who found this world first?

The leaves can be dried and cut and seeped in hot water and makes a very nice tea. It is the base of a wide variety of floral tea blends.

The leaves can also be cut into chunks and chewed to produce a slightly hallucinogenic and euphoric effect. A lot like cocoa leaves. This process is extremely common in the industry though frowned on and is thought to be a drug of the lower classes. It is also a bit disgusting, involving large oily wads of chaw and lots of sweet tarry spittle. It does, however, get around and is often found at fashionable soirées in a modified form.

Usually the tubers are harvested in warmer weather. They have a texture like potatoes and can be used like them. That is if you like your mashed potatoes to taste like pureed maple candies. That said, there is an extremely large volume of culinary lore that uses the Flora Tubers. Many of the dishes are extremely tasty if a bit too sweet for my taste.

The bulbs can grow to be 8” to 12” in diameters and can be harvested year round. They grow quickly. A clipped bulb leaves a stem attached to the main stalk that can be replaced in 10 to 15 days in a cool and watery climate. This is the main source of sugar on this world. The sap is easy to process and easy to store. It does not freeze in survivable temperatures, becoming a slow and thick syrup. Barrels are filled with the rendered sap and shipped off for refining. The bulb husks are considered a perk of the growers and harvesters and has plenty of culinary uses. These uses do not rise to the level of respectability though which is why the harvesters get them. Still, the husks are used in a variety of methods similar to tamales. They are also a main ingredient in fertilizers on this icy planet.

The flower petals are easy to render into both sugar and scents.

  • The sugar has a very strong and pleasant floral smell. It can be used in any preparation sugar can in most universes. A refined and strained form is nearly identical to unscented white sugar.
  • The seeds can be roasted and eaten whole; shell and all. It is nutty and sweet. A common preparation of flora seeds is roasting them and coating them in a ginger sugar. Clove, rosemary, and pepper coatings are also quite good. Seeds are also ground into a flour and used accordingly.

Flora seeds and petal are often used to flavor the filtered pure alcohol made from the bulb sugar. Sort of a floral rum and quite tasty.

One last comment on the Sweet Flora.

In the front article I commented that a base alcohol could be made by filtering the pruno-pure alcohol made from almost any vegetable matter through a scented charcoal. This is the charcoal made from the woody stalks of the Sweet Flora plant.

A bit time consuming, and not the easiest way to make alcohol drinkable, it is still a common practice, with a wide following on this make-do-with-less & waste-nothing world.'

Recycling is not as fanatical here as on Taxorami, though it is an ever-present activity, but the Adziks would understand and admire the Taxonomist thriftiness.

((GM_Note: This world was going to be a part of a campaign centered around Flora. And the battle of the black road, the wizards stopped the world from being consumed, but it might be hard to explain to the survivors on this ice block of a world.

Café Americana
[edit]

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Well, now Dworkin’s just messing with my head. This one may be my fault. In the deserts of Africa, on the coast of the Atlantic is a sweaty little mud-hole called Casablanca. I'm not a desert person but I seem to have a lot of these haunts in my collection of personal trumps. This is a fine restaurant in this war-torn shadow of Aerth. To tweak Dworkin’s beard a bit I’ll call this a Diner of Amber. This is a bar for the most part and a good one. Its technically French territory, Vichy France, during a time of war. So you see a lot of champagne cocktails, Pernod, a wide variety of wines. A lot of whiskeys and brandies are available and a lot of gins. Almost no vodka, and tequilas. Some rums. There is also a brisk trade in local home distilled drinks that will peal paint off steel and skin off your throat. There is a rival café nearby called the Blue Parrot that serves a grain alcohol based cocktail that has had cinnamon and licorice infused into it and mixed with Vichy water. I know, sounds revolting, but it really grows on ya. There are many entertainments in this Café besides food. Music, women, gambling, and the occasional gunfight or police raid. I can also engage in my personal little hobby of killing Nazis too.

Addendum

This realm is close to Amber in time. 3 to 1. That said the war seems to have been surging back and forth across the world for decades. Its an interesting world. The war seems to go on and on and every few years it quiets down for a decade. Technological progress varies and they have not quite figured out the bomb. Still, it is a place of intrigue and romance. Make of that what you will.

This region is a neutral place between warring countries. Everyone is well dressed and polite about it. Enemies know that places like Casablanca, Lisbon, Singapore, Honk Kong, and the like are necessary places of safety for warring tribes. But carry your sidearms anyway, peace is relative.

Kizabat, Ancona[edit]

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This desert oasis is deep in a surrounding land of sand, heat, camels, sweaty barbarians and a wide swath of people coming from all points on this world.

Ancona is on the world of Ulgala. This world is lodged in a sword age for the most part but has a great deal more trade then most such worlds. It has vibrant trade because thousands of years before the Rumorzaki Empire built wide thoroughfares using skilled stone workers and powerful magic. These roads are over 100’ wide and are impervious to most native magics. They were built to withstand erosion and heavy traffic. They also glow slightly, providing a dull illumination for travel at night. I’m told this has to do with the type of rock ground to make the mortar for the paving stones. WayWrens placed at various intervals provide wells, and resting places throughout the system. Cities grew up at places where these roads crossed major water sources. Rivers, seas, oceans and the like.

The Kizabat is one of these cities. It grew around a massive water source in the middle of a vast desert. The system of roads had to be forged through this anvil of fire or else make unacceptably long expeditions around it. So five nearly straight roads cross at this location. There is considerable evidence that Rumorzaki sorcerors drew up the water here and created the system below the ground that feeds the great pools and springs that now exist. Water is sent off to irrigate huge areas for farming, orchards and livestock. Oh, and for people as well.

This city has almost a million people and they all live off the cross-desert traffic somehow. Either provisioning the caravans, feeding the merchants, or tending to their own needs.

But doubt not, it is a Diner of Amber.

One takes one's meals in different diners in different worlds.

Take Dar ma Agalat. This stone building is tucked into the side of a palace and it seems the palace has let the restaurant take much of its first floor. Probably in exchange for a private entrance. Stone walls, arched doorways, corridors with booths making it a maze. Each table has a hookah pipe or three which are surrounded by plush pillows. Belly dancers, musicians, sword swallowers, and native magicians wander the corridors entertaining the dinners. Exotic foods are brought by the tray and a menu is never seen. One pays by the time spent, not the meal eaten. Iced fruits. Camel kabobs. Goat curry. Lamb in mint sauce. Falafel of all kinds. Masgouf fish[[5]]. Hummus, pita breads. Variotions on themes with differant names. They will bring you platter after platter to be eaten family style. Family style? I assume this does not apply to the family Bariman. Still, its a fine way to spend a day or two.

Business is conducted in many restaurants, large and small, of this kind. Ive often been tempted to bring its like to the City of Amber and establish a court of my own there.

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Addendums

Kizbat is a interesting place for many reasons. It is a Saracen place, with all the fashion and none of the religion. Dusky women and alluring men. Song, scents, spices, sweat, silks, cotton, dance, stories. Walkways and alleys covered by canvas sheets. A place of high heat and deep shades. It is a pleasant place.

A code of chivalry exists here and it has its knighthoods. As the crossroads of five major roads it is deep enough in a blisteringly hot desert devoid of breezes that it never been a good idea to try and make war on it. Still, the kingdoms at the end of the roads, all with a claim as the real heirs of the Rumorzaki Empire and pissed off if others make the claim, are next to each other elsewhere and they fight it out with gusto. Consequently, their battles occasionally arrive in Kizbat and the natives get caught up in them. So an order of Knighthood, "The Ars Ak Zaki" [[6]]. The "Zala Ak Zaki", knights who once served in the Ars ak Zaki, organize tournaments, jousts, hunts, dances, feasts, and other chivalric displays for thos interested in sweaty military displays.

The Mall at Caladoon[edit]

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This place is an unbelievably huge shopping center in the megatropolis Of Unara An ata Satar, on the planet Hurth. It’s an advanced world with all the tricky tech you can imagine. Its also near a chunk of the Jeweled Road that passes through so a lot of similar cosmological conditions. So if you buy a high tech toy here it will work as far in as Thelusia and Diaga. Of course one man’s technology is another man’s magic. I’d rather stick to magic.

This world is a clean world. One with a great many of the inconveniences of life taken care of automatically. Clean air, clean technology, lots of greenways, well maintained parklands. Healthy food and means to recover from unhealthy foods. Its amazing these people ever leave their homes. They can live, work, eat, be born and die in their homes all over the computer systems that so integrate their lives. Arcologies abound of the Treestka Towers style.[[7]]

Of course, the price is privacy, but what’s that compared to security and plenty?

Should you come to this world by a route other then the Jeweled Road it is amusing to travel a few shadows in other directions to see what this place would look like if the technology failed. Those are some very frolicsome worlds depending on which manner of failure you worked into your shadow-walking. Of course, thats just the tequila talking.

Addendum

Red Dog Tavern[edit]

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The Red Dog Tavern is a rough joint. Its often called the Red Dog Hall. Its not officially a biker bar but its a biker bar. Its a neutral spot for like eight huge bike gangs that live locally or do business up and down the lonely mountainous roadways. A huge 8 lane super highway is about 10 miles west of here for all legitimate through traffic. So this mildly curvy hilly road handles local traffic and nefarious cargoes. The Highway Patrol is a rare sight and they mind their own business.

Fights are discouraged with extreme prejudice. Black Ice, a large black biker gone to fat with a peg leg, 4 fingers on one hand, and one eye, runs the place. He employs a lot of bikers past their prime who have very little patience with trouble makers.

When bikers retire and come to live at the Red Dog they put their old patch aside and take the Red Dog patch. They leave old grudges and old crimes behind. Blooded enemies are under the same patch now, so relax and lets talk about the old days. The other gangs consider the Red Dog patch like a badge of honor that the rider had lived the life well and deserves to relax in a place with endless beer, lots of liquor, and young and old patch snatch.

The hills behind the hall are freckled with small roads and trails dotted with small houses, bungalows, mobile-homes, old Rvs, and renovated vans housing people who have lived lives of unexpected diversity and ended up here.

There seem to be a lot of old dogs around, retired fighting dogs. There is one cat, Charlie, a huge Maine coon with one eye and one ear. The dogs leave it the hell alone

If you need a small group of guys eager to work for gold with no questions asked, this is our place.

Addendum

Just an aside, Black Ice has a Broken Pattern imprint as does his cat Charlie. Make of that what you will.

(GMs Note: This place is based on Fallow's Camp in the Azuza Canyon Area up Cal 39 past the William's Resort. We once had a very nice SCA camping event here in the middle of legacy oaks. The retired bikers that lived north of the camp and hung out at the camp's tavern wer friendly enough to the medievally dressed campers. Of course, they did enjoy our tavern of homebrew beers and pudding games. The Camp is empty now and the bikers dead and gone, but the land has been fought over by La County, the City of Industry, and others with unclear ideas what to do with century old remnants of a once prosperous ghost towns.)

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Englewood Diner[edit]

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This is a moving place, so don't depend on it being anywhere near where it was the last time you visited.

The Jeweled Road is a vast construct that can not be measured in miles, nor in days, nor I gather in eons. I doubt it can be measured in anything but metaphysics and poetry.

It casts its own shadows of course and sometimes they link together in a way the Shade Realms of Amber do not. The road has a vast number of Way Stations, Forts, Military Bases, Tribal Rings, Caravansary, and yes, diners. The Englewood is one of the latter.

Imagine a stretch of road about 20 miles long and a quarter mile of open field on either side of it. This plot of land will move between shadows at random. Luckily the twenty mile long and half mile wide plot has fields, gardens, a few farms, livestock, wooded land, and even streams sometimes. The employees of the diner live variously on the farms and shacks on this region of land. The waitress is often Ruby or Emerald, or Alice. The cook is usually Carl; a heavyset older white-man. Sometimes Zebadiah; an extremely spry elderly black man. Occasionally Enrique; an elderly Hispanic man. or Dashel; a nephew of mine, and an Amberite of whom the less said the better. On rare occasions the cook is Gulliver, traveling east, and an Amberite, I think, of a Shade of Amber he won't talk about. I've asked.

They serve a wide variety of mostly utilitarian fare of a lower strata, inexpensive. While it has the usual eggs & Bacon, burgers, steaks or soup & salad & dishes on would expect, ordering the Blue Plate Special saves time. Its meatloaf as often as not and asking whats in the meat is just rude. They will wrap anything they make up to-go, for the traveler on the road.

This card has a bit of pull to it, like the Jeweled Road at Diago does. Not as urgent or reliable, but its there.

This is an actual diner. Its lodged thematically in the earth 30's and 40s and the people can of show it. While the clientèle can be anything from anywhere, as a joint on the Jeweled Road might expect to have, it seems to find its self in more human regions of traffic. There are no hotels near by, but there are fields and a chunk of forest. If you ask, they will loan you a tent. .

Big Tanax[edit]

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This card arrived in my deck one morning and the damn cow's eyes seem to follow me. So I went to see what can be seen. I have been to Texas on several earth/Urth/Eurth worlds. This is Texas, called Tanax, and it is a very busy place. It is a processing center on some kind of cattle drive route and trail-head. Rail lines connect here and cattle of a variety of forms get shipped all over the world. A well protected and highly electrical fence surrounds this place.

This tavern is a place for hiring the sort of people that ask few questions. Muscle for moving cattle or bodies.

Tenochilan[edit]

Here is the capital of Azcala. May the Unicorn preserve us.

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That this card arrived in the deck reflects the dangers of our times. It also does not function. Yet. That it arrived in the deck at all is a sign that someone thinks it will work someday. On that day I suspect someone will lead an army through it. I suspect Benedict will lead that army. I suspect I shall be standing beside him, in armor, with weapons of war, not the clown, the drunkard of war or the failed prince. If that occurs, then heed me foes of Amber, I shall acquit myself as a Prince of Amber. As one who almost conquered Amber by force of arms.

Heroch's Cantina[edit]

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Heroch? Really?...So this card popped up and I had to go talk to Dworkin about it. I mean really, Gramps, Heroch's Cantina? Young children might read this!

Ok, so lets start with Heroch. He's an Ushfa. He won't say who was the first creature he mimicked or what form he was born as, and in the end, it doesn't really matter. He has grown beyond his birth. He's a sigil lord of the Mal at Riess. He holds a Broken Pattern Imprint and I suspect a Sigil of Azcala. He is a serious character and a known battle-mage. However he is also personable, reliable, and kinky as a pile of pickup sticks.

The cantina is in the city of Azanam. Its island in one of the archipelago of this watery world of Anazala, a Realm of the Azcala Sway. Not specifically within the locked system but close enough to be within walking distance, or invading distance, to it.

The Cantina itself is a tricky place. First off if you drive past it in the daytime it looks like a unmarked shuttered up restaurant in a beachside town. A hotel is across the road and it has residents there who have been paying by the night for decades.The beach is a few hundred feet from the place and there is a lot of open land between the Cantina and the water. A few taco shops, junk shops, gas stations, and local hovels are nearby as well. The vast parking lot is speckled with rust pillars and charging stations and gas pumps.

But oh the night. At night the place comes alive. The clientèle are not local. The parking lot fills with cars of a thousand worlds and there is plenty of room nearby for spacecraft and other bizarre ships sailing in from Shadow. Heroch's one rule about parking is that the parking lot must be empty at dawn.

The party is diverse, perverse, and payment is made in advance. Heroch has a rule; "Everyone Pays. Everyone Plays. The only Title beyond the door is Proprietor." He isn't kidding. Ive seen Golden Circle queens strapped down for abuse. Ive seen Chaos lords dancing on marionette strings. There are dignitaries and the unashamed from thousands of realms here from time to time.

Moderation is for monks, but here the monks are deep in the mix as well.

It has dance space, bars, wild drinks, and crazy activities. Ive long thought it cast shadows of wild parties. As you might guess, ive spent a lot of time here over the years.

Addendum

At the time this card popped up there were only 3 ways into the locked system of the Sigil of Azcala. None easy to manage. Plopping a Trump to a place in a closely adjacent Shade of Azcala is extremely provocative. There does not currently exist a state of war between Amber and Azcala but they have made it clear they want one. This card, in my opinion, is someone telling Azcala that we can arrive anyplace. But don't worry, a melee at Heroch's would be redundant.

Alda Cora Prima[edit]

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The Coasarect of Alda Cora Prima[8]] is an Arcology in the world of Trinea. This highly advanced construction houses 1.2 million people and was the prototype for 30 other constructions in the Alda Cora model. There are hundreds of other ecologies on this planet.

Diega Raks[edit]

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Funny thing. I was here just the other day. I come by here often.

Deiga Raks is a Waymet on the The Jeweled Road a days travel west of Diega. It is a massive one compared to the many other places found along the shimmering ribbon. It has a major dinning room, bungalows and hotel-style rooms. There is a major caravansa nearby since this is often a major stop for cargo leaving Amber for points west or coming to Amber from points west, south and north. There is a Transport Station for people shipping cargo from one tech level to another. They can park their trucks and bobcats here and load onto horse wagons and clockwork devices. The Kingdom of Diega operates a shipping concern base here moving cargo from Diega Raks to the great Harbor, since the tech level changes dramatically just East of the place.

The Dinning Room is massive, with a giant bar, and a huge hearth big enough to spitroast a Perfectly Normal Beast. I know because i've done it. The Kingdom of Amber owns a collections of private bungalows her and so do a couple dozen other concerns and kingdoms. The Monarchs have a small collection of tents near by and friggin CHAD is looking like they are going to take over one of the westward Caravansa for one of their Guildhalls.

They operate a variety of traveler services. Gas Stations, animal care. Vehicle warehousing. I keep a motorcycle here just in case.

Trados Cru is an elderly man, a Dreanan Blue, who has served Diega, Dreana, and Amber for ages operates a currency exchange to keep him busy during his retirement.

Rue Katal[edit]

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The great Waymet headquarters, the Rue Katal, is just over the Mandalay side closer to Amber

Grrosieeks[edit]

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Grrosieeks is a Tavern-Waymet on the Jeweled Road. And a strange one it is.

Alamond[edit]

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Everyplace needs a playground. Apparently Oberon did. He made a squiggle just to have one.

First of all, many of the things here seem ridiculous to have been collected so. First it is hundreds of Amusement parks. Secondly it has a oddly structured magical system, with access to a powerful number of spells held on a frame.

The general belief is that when Oberon created the place he did so to test theories and methods of pattern construction. This was created long before Patternfall so when Oberon used the jewel of judgment to repair the pattern, at least he had an idea what was involved.

Pócaí[edit]

This tiny limited system is a collection of tiny shadows. Possibly thousands of them. It attracts reclusive, isolationist individuals and groups from all over shadow who prefer isolated and deeply cold weathers. Turn left and under a bush is a portal to someone icy haven. A shadow causes by a rock outcropping hides a narrow gap that leads to a large dark and cold cave under an icy yellow sun. These people like their privacy.

The main, and to my knowledge only, city in this realm is Triqis..This is the location the trump brings one to and a chilly slice of ice it is. Its a town of around 3000 souls living in stone buildings built against rock faces and small thick walled wooden halls. Wood is hard to get as this place is 8000 feet above the land's treeline and there are no paths down I heard of.

Its been long known this tiny place existed and its origin is lost to the earliest days of Amber. There is a feeling of something deeply ancient here but it does not advertise what it is. There was little or no reason to visit it. There was some trouble with it a many centuries ago that caused me to be there for a short time and deal with a little trouble, as a favor to my father. Most people who come here never leave. In fact the Wardens unofficially let new arrivals know that they will not be looking in on them. In the course of my work here I saw the dwellings of some of the isolated peoples here. Time and ingenuity is on their side. Log cabins, tipis, fur trapper tents, renovated caves, tree houses, decomole, and a wide range of other habitats fill the hard to find homesteads here.

Highly intricate wood carving and scrimshaw can be found here and some of the stores in Triqis deal in consignment sales. Cottage arts seem to be a common business. the solidly built stores seem full of the damnedest looking things one ever saw. Gorgeous, but...why? Triqis also has a few locations out of realms where they sell the artwork of the frozen inhabitants for the betterment of their community. Some of the work done here is incredible.

Sorcery and other magic systems seem to work here.

When I came here I was shocked to find a place that was hard to believe people chose to live here. Im a rugged man and have spent years living in the wilds. But this place looks like it is purposefully trying to freeze you to death. What I further am surprised by as was Random, is that Dworkin put this card in the deck without the king' permission. There must be a reason.

Atlantis[edit]

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Atlantis is a Limited Shadow System created early in the ages of shadow. It is unclear if Oberon or Dworkin created the realm.

It was begun as a realm echoing a water-rich artistic society originally known in Chaos as the Altalana. A collection of dozens of Noble and Rich houses of Chaos, the Altalana had connections to ancient Paragon and Calmir. Over the vast turnings in Chaos, the generally peaceful houses of the Altalana took a great deal of abuse by other houses and largely kept to themselves. Unlike the many houses, the focus of the Altalana were musical, sculpture, painting, creative arts and performance arts. They had little or no military intersts. Many Waymasters were numbered among the Altalana as creators of architeurals arts.


When suddenly Atlantis appeared there was a massive and sudden diaspora from Chaos to Atlanits. In a matter of hours dozens of House of Chaos abandoned Way and realm and crossed the Abyss into Atlantis which was sealed after them. Since then entrance to Atlantis has been strictly monitored.

Trasidy[edit]

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A Squiggles of Buildings that will take years to describe. Trasidy

Tyalece[edit]

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This tower of Stone is a fortress which does not invite tourists. While a small contingent lives at the base of the tower to provide emergency relief.

The Trump delivers one to a free-standing dock 50' beyond the wharf. From there a sailor will bring a rowboat over to discuss why the person arrived.

Acadia[edit]

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Acadia is a large island west of Amber proper in a sweet spot for a comfortable temperature. It is a green place. It is ringed by narrow ridges, such as a volcanic explosion might leave though there is no legend of an eruption.

The main city of Acanat is at the rock opening of the surrounding wall. The harbor is a deep water one and is large despite the narrow entrance. This nation island has a GCST treaty with Amber but is for all practical purposes integrated into the military of Amber.

The Acadians are a peaceful people usually known for their love of food and drinks. They make a fine mead. Many become famous chefs. More become ship's cooks.

There are enclaves of Acadia in most good sized cities and they have the best restaurants.

Far Isle[edit]

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Amber is on a sphere in a universe where there is no other sentient life beyond that on the Planet of Amber, also called the Planet Kolvir by some. Amber, Rebma, Tyalece, and Acadia are all in the northern hemisphere.

The Far Isle is as far from Amber as its possible to get, nearly opposite it on the planet in the Southern Hemisphere.

This series of islands, rock outcrops, sand bars, coral reefs and sunken ships is sparsely inhabited mostly by small communities.

The climate is sub-tropical with warm daytime breezes and cool nightly breezes. Occasionally humid, but normally comfortable.

This sailor's retreat is inhabited by retired sailors and their families and dependents, as well as a . There is a small commercial trade among the isles. They make a variety of lovely fruit wines.

The Conclave of the Unicorn is in the Far Isles as well. It is a place for monks, nuns, priests and other members of the religious communities to retire from Amber. Founded by Queen Harla, it is a quiet place of faith for those who have lived a life of service and wish to end their lives in privacy.

Call me whimsical but I was deeply unhappy when the Far Isle card appeared in my deck. It isn't that the possibility of one of the hundred or so kinsman using the deck that saddens me. Its that the millions of people in Amber and shadow who had either no idea or had forgotten that this curious place exists.

I've been coming here since I was young. I had a small hut on a beach on the far side that had wonderful sunsets and cool nights. It wasn't easy to get there but a young prince could hitch a ride with a navy ship on the the way to the Blue Sea Base fairly easy. From there it was easy to tour the small isles, the little hamlets, the tangles of beached ships turned into homes for those who loved the sea but could no longer sail upon it.

After my disastrous involvement in Patternfall, and my decades of alcoholic abuse and involvement in the theater I took the time to build a place for myself. I went out into shadow and hijacked a ship of the line, the Mars a 48 meter and a beast of the waters. I brought in and dragged it up on the beach and converted it to a personal residence. Should any of the hundred plus kins man wish to see the place just give me a call.

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Here is my Conclusion[edit]

The original intent of the Diners of Amber article was to mock the crown and cast pearls before, well, Random. As time has gone by, and I have added to a work that seems to grow weekly, I have become oddly engaged by the project.

I am not sure yet if this pleases me but there it is.

While rewriting and editing this tome I noticed that I use the term "I must admit" quite a lot. It leads me to the nasty conclusion that despite my natural inclinations and paranoia, and my, well, sizable ego, that I have gained some grudging respect for young Random and his activities. Don't hold this against me, my countrymen, it surprised me too.

Random's tastes have always been a little more urban than my own. Having researched the places these cards send one to, I have had an education in the high tech as well as a reminder of who the allies of Amber are.

May our travels be peaceful and may our monarch grow wise.

More to come, I am pretty sure.

Prince Bleys of Amber

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King Random's Last Word[edit]

Let us get this straight, at the first. Amber officially embraces a Free Press and Free Speech. To do otherwise would harm the peace of shadow from Kolvir to Chaos.

Of course, a king may do many things. I could easily have Bleys whacked for lese majesty.

But I won't. Maybe we need to speak our mind every so often. Just for the novelty of it. Julian said as much once after we retrieved Brand from imprisonment. Point taken.

In one of my favorite shadows a man named Cicero wrote:

"For just as some women are said to be handsome though without adornment,

so this subtle manner of speech,

though lacking in artificial graces,

delights us.

Besides, Brother, I was there too. It is a terrible burden for us all to have been so thrown together and so pitted against each other by a domineering father. I know now that he set us all up. He had things in mind for all of us. I think he wanted Eric, Corwin and you to fight for the throne, to inspire loyalty in the rest of us, driving us to fight, to weed out the weak, and in the end, to leave the throne to the most powerful cabal, deeming it most fit to rule.

When all was said and done it was Corwin who won, with no cabal to aid him. Yet all Oberon's plans fled before Corwin's selflessness. Another round of fratricide on the edge of the abyss would have served no one. So the Unicorn ended the conflict. Forgive me, brother, for taking the throne. I now know better than every creature in reality and shadow save a rare few, that the throne of a primal realm is no picnic.

Grant me grace, brother, as I grant you leave to be bitter.

Random I

King of Amber






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