Winds of Change

The Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is a loose alliance of twelve shadow realms that all have some sort of regular commerce and/or treaties with Amber.  In some cases, this amounts to no more than a rather loose understanding of who's top seadog.  In other cases, there are formal embassies set up in either Kingdom, complete with Ambassadors, staff and functions.
Rulers:  Elders Lavis, Kreekikik & Daro
Tech Level:  Roman Era
Magic Level:  High (General)   
Trade Goods:  Fish / Ocean Products / Artwork -- primarily sculpture.
Ally:  Nautiline

Atoll kingdom with humans and large dolphins sharing a canalled city.  Gleaming white marble structures.  Intellect and Artistry prized.  Ruled by a democratically elected body.

Rulers:  Shogun Takami & Kouhi Minami
Tech Level:  Japanese Medieval
Magic Level:  Low - Nature-based
Trade:  Soft woods / Quarried stone / Martial Artists

A rugged mountainous land with fertile river deltas and thriving port cities.  Behavior, station and 'face' extremely import to the inhabitants.  A contentious people given to ritualized -- and highly effective -- battle forms.
Rulers:  None (several separate city-kings)
Tech Level:  Ancient Mayan
Magic Level:  Low -- Animal-based
Trade:  Pottery / Wildlife / Pharmaceuticals

Winding rivers through tropical jungles.  Steep lush mountains with circular pools in subterranean caverns.  Step pyramids and cities of stone.  Copper-skinned people.

Ruler:  Don Calvayo
Tech Level:  Moorish Spain
Magic Level:  Null
Trade:  Horses / Steel Weaponry / Literature
Ally / Rival:  Khalidan -- long history of mutual wars and treaties
Hot, high and dry in places.  Lush river valleys elsewhere.  Excellent seaports and shipping industry.  Extremely sensitive nobility prone to dueling.

Rulers:  None (or more accurately Admiral de Jour)
Tech Level:  Napoleanic Era
Magic Level:  Low / General Cantrips
Trade:  Plunder / Narcotics / Sailors

Center of the Pirate Archipelago.  Roaring dives of seaports.  Anonymity and a good time guaranteed.  Fast, violent and short lives also guaranteed.
Rulers:  His Eminence Chiang Li Song
Tech Level:  High Fantasy
Magic Level:  Low
Trade:  Smelt Iron / Tea / Spices / Silk

Ancient land of ancient mysteries.   Has a long and ornate history, a high level of organization and a flair for social rituals.  Origin of many philosophies, including several martial ways that have grown into diverse and deadly martial arts.  Land is huge and diverse -- resources making Han empire one of the strongest dynasties in the Golden Circle.

Rulers:  Sultan Al-Hayid & Sultana Djani
Tech Level:  High Fantasy
Magic Level:  Moderate (General)
Trade:  Spices / Fabrics / Stories
Ally / Rival:  El-Soya -- long history of mutual wars and treaties

Land of a Thousand Tales and Mysteries.  The archetype for Babylon and the Arabian Nights.  Loosely allied city-states answering to the Sultan and Sultana.

Ruler:  First Wing Glirit
Tech Level:  Medieval
Magic Level:  Moderate (General)
Trade:  Fur, Leather, Pelts / Large feather products / Musicians

Steep, craggy mountains with sheer sides.  Cities are aeries built into mountains.  Hunters are bonded with giant birds of prey.  Magic expressed through music and wind.

Ruler:  Dweller Nimimnis
Tech Level:  Ancient
Magic Level:  Low
Trade:  Music / Sea-based textiles (waterproof) / Jewelry
Ally:  Atlantia
Rival:  Rebma

A world inside a coiled Nautilus shell -- everything is pearlescent and organic.  Polynesian peoples who live mostly carefree, happy lives.  The Dweller is designated speaker for The Seed, an ineffable life force that dwells in the very tip of the shell.

Rulers:  Pharaoh Teptisumet and Lady Evengel
Tech Level:  Ancient
Magic Level:  Moderate (Specialists)
Trade:  Building Stone / Pharmaceuticals / Domestic Animals

One long and twisting river valley with seasonal flooding and ebbing.  Mighty stone palaces and monuments surrounded by tenements and huts of slave races.    Evengel is rumored to be a powerful undead spirit.  Powerful religious orders abound.

Ruler:  Queen Moire
Tech Level:  High Fantasy
Magic Level:  Low
Trade:  Secrets / Small Enchantments / Songs

The enigmatic and elusive mirror of Amber, Rebma is a place of bewitching misdirection and seductive leisure.  A place easier to get into than out of, this underwater kingdom will only reluctantly return that which drifts into its nets.

Ruler:  Pro-consul Viator
Tech Level:  Roman
Magic Level:  Low
Trade:  Foodstuffs (especially grains) / Textiles
A passionate and fiery people inhabits this small continent and archipelago in large teeming cities / colonies.  Gambling and spectator sports are constant in the many coliseums and arenas.



          The distances between various Golden Circle Kingdoms or between a certain Kingdom and Amber can vary greatly depending on the time of year (relative to both ports.)  Generally, though, if one sets out along the established trade route (known to most inter-shadow captains) one will get to one's destination... eventually.  Barring unforeseen accidents, storms, sea monsters or pirate attacks.

          Wind and current also factor heavily into a vessel's travel time.  As does the vessel's sail and construction.  Thus, no captain of the Golden Circle can really give a firm timetable in terms of the length of a voyage, though some have their tricks (or at least say they do) for shaving days or weeks off of a voyage.

          The Golden Circle Kingdoms are laid out in a rough hub and spokes fashion as seen here.

Golden Circle Diagram
          Please note that the above diagram is for illustrative purposes only.  It is not to scale and is *far* more regular than the actuality of the Circle.  For game purposes though, assume that a very fast ship captained by a member of the Royal Family sailing in ideal weather with ideal currents (best case scenario) could travel a spoke in approximately 2 weeks, and a rim voyage between two adjacent kingdoms in approximately 4 weeks.


          The description of direction is unique in each Golden Circle Kingdom, though many do use an equivalent of 'North' 'East' 'South' and 'West.'  Compasses are also unique to each Kingdom and do not function either between Kingdoms or in another Kingdom.  A well-traveled captain may have six or seven different compasses locked up in his cabin for use in various ports.  Between Kingdoms all of these compasses tend to give either unreliable readings or to 'swing' wildly.  Keeping to the established trade routes between Golden Circle Kingdoms is a matter of dead reckoning, skill, memory and sheer luck.
          As there are no fixed orientations while traveling between Kingdoms, directions are 'called' from a ship's orientation.  For example; while in the middle of a trade route, a wind wouldn't be described as out of the Southeast – it would be described as out of the Aft-port.  Once a vessel has entered the calmer waters surrounding a particular Kingdom, i.e. once the compass starts working, then directions would be described by their local orientation.

Relative Timeflows:

          The first thing that the well-traveled shadow voyager should be aware of is that there is no consistent relative time-flow between each of the Golden Circle Kingdoms and Amber.  No shadow consistently faster or slower relative to Amber nor consistently faster or slower relative to another shadow, including the Golden Kingdoms.

          Nevertheless, the time-flows between the Golden Circle Kingdoms and Amber stay close enough to one another to allow a crafty captain to make some estimate of when they might arrive at their destination given when they are leaving from their origin.


          Each Golden Circle Kingdom speaks its own language or languages, has its own currency or currencies and its own cultures.  A trade patois of Thari is spoken in many of the ports of the various Golden Circle Kingdoms, but that may not carry very far into the interiors.  More civilized Kingdoms have adopted formal Thari as a 'court language' but one may still find it hard to speak Thari to middle-classed tradesmen not in the shipping business.  The chart below shows the commonality of Thari speakers in the various Golden Circle Kingdoms.

Availability of Thari Speakers
Spoken commonly as a second language (though poorly in some cases.)
Spoken only by a few 'trade-speakers' – a specialized class designated to dirty themselves by contact with foreigners.
Spoken only by the highest nobility.
Patois very common in larger ports and cities.  Court Thari spoken by most nobles and upwardly mobile merchants.
Patois common in ports.
Patois common in ports.  Some nobles speak Court Thari.
Patois very common throughout most of Kingdom.  Court Thari extremely rare.
No Thari spoken.  Trade conducted in sign language.
Patois uncommon but exists in ports.  No Thari in interior.
Patois spoken in ports.  Court Thari spoken by Royalty, forbidden to others.
Shadow native language.
Extremely variable.  Patois available in most ports with a large number of excellent Thari speakers sprinkled throughout shadow.


          Of course, each Golden Circle Kingdom is its own unique world, complete with laws, customs, history, stories etc.  Far too much to go into here.  If a player is interested in more detailed information about a specific Golden Circle Kingdom, I'll be glad to work up further documentation as suits their needs.

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