This work is intended as a Background for Players at AmberCon X '99, where I will run multiple Game Slots (described here) based on this material.
Why the Empire of the Gleaming Banner? Why all the effort of a completely different background to the Amber DRPG system?
Well, if you are reading this I must be doing something right. :-)
The idea for the Empire of the Gleaming Banner was actually a long time in the works. However, the flash point of inspiration was Ambercon IX, where I was exposed for the first time to the pleasure of Amber DRPG on a larger scale for over three solid days. What variety! What whimsy! What panache!
So first, this is about giving back some of that pleasure to others.
Secondly, on the way back from the Con, many thoughts about things that Roger Zelazny said about his creation and things that my local players had been doing came together. RZ had pointed out to critics that the novels never really define the apparent races of most of the Family. There is room to interpret Corwin, Caine, Julian, Gerard and the others as Real representatives of a broader range of appearance and background than the usual european-centric framework they are often cast into. Therefore, there was room to read these figures as the Real sources of proto-mythic heroes from every corner of the universe. While I agreed with this enthusiastically and intellectually, I also realized that in my own mythic center, I thought of these characters exactly as the paragons of that european-centric framework. Dilemma?
Solution! Where RZ tells us less, I thought there would be more.
RZ lets drop clearly that Sand and Delwin had their own corner of the universe to live in-- a corner Real enough to keep them occupied far from Amber. And why wouldn't that corner represent the other potentials of Shadow's infinity since Sand and Delwin carried the blood of Chaos and Amber?
The Empire of the Gleaming Banner is my own cut at the static assumptions of Corwin and the narrow, less mature adventures of Merlin with an eye towards upholding and invigorating the Zelazny background. Nothing in my Empire of the Gleaming Banner is intended to revoke the mythic power of Amber or the Courts of Chaos. Instead, like another series of novels might have done, I seek to invoke a more complex universe, where some of the Reality of Amber and the Courts of Chaos has met the resistance of the best that Shadow has to offer.
If you like a wilder game, where the canon is turned on its head, this isn't that game. But-- if you like the challenge of starting the 'game' two steps down from the major antagonists of the universe and coming out on top anyhow-- this could be your game.
Visually, Amber is much of castles and Unicorns, emerald forests from the beginning of time, sailing ships and swordplay. Visually, the Empire is about sun-white palaces with open arches, flying carpets, dark jungles, and white sand deserts that are so beautiful you can forget how deadly they are.
Amber stands alone against the mighty Courts of Chaos. A single Family against an ancient bastion of magick and strange environs. Most interpretations of Amber, respecting canon, make Amber and the Courts two poles within the sphere of the Universe.
This game will skew that interpretation and make the straight line between two points over with a third point. A third point not between the other two. Neither the deadly rippling lights above the Courts of Chaos, nor the brilliant blue skies of Amber really define the entire range of Experience in Shadow.
Come and have some fun in a polyglot realm with a larger stage. That's the illuminating point of the Empire of the Gleaming Banner.