Amber does not have a standing army. Instead, the realm relies on the geography of shadow and the strength of its loyal subjects to defend it.
In the first instance, an attacking army must move through shadow to gain access to Amber. This will bring the Golden Circle and Amber’s Navy to bear.
Amber’s second line of defence is the various troops based in Rebma, Arden, and the outlying regions controlled by the noble houses.
At the last, an invader must deal with the princes themselves, along with whatever troops they bring to Amber’s defence.
The Golden Circle
Golden Circle armies are as different as the shadows themselves. Kashfa is well-known for her heavy kifaru troops, Begma is the only Golden Shadow with gunpowder, and the Gheneshi are particularly skilled at fighting shapeshifters. Wherever an approaching army might choose to breach, there will be a Golden Circle army more than capable of defending.
A little more than half of the royal ways that link the various Golden Circle shadows with Amber follow ocean routes. Amber’s navy also plies the oceans between the shadows, watching for incursions and occasionally rescuing storm-lost ships.
The Eastern fleet is led by Prince Gerard. He favours heavily armed ships that can overbear an enemy with sheer force of arms.
The Western fleet is commanded by Prince Caine. He favours fast ships, and will rely on surprise to overwhelm an enemy.
Rebma does not often involve herself in Amber’s wars. When they do, it’s usually in the form of support troops such as medical staff. That said, if a large fleet were to attempt an assult of Amber, the Rebman’s control over the ocean approach would quickly overwhelm any ships that managed to get past Amber’s navy.
Arden is a deterrent in and of itself — the forest is heavily wooded, making it difficult to move through it with large bodies of troops. In those places where the trees are sparser, a combination of ambushes and traps can dissolve more determined armies.
- The Warden: Julia is the Warden of Arden, a fearsome warrior well-equipped with artefact weapons and armour. Her personal cohort consists of hunting birds, stormhounds, and her steam-train of a horse, Morgenstern.
- Stewards: Arden is divided into three Ridings (north, south, and west), each commanded by a Steward. The Stewards are Julia’s most trusted lieutenants, and each commands a division of Arden’s troops.
- Rangers: Arden’s general troops are trained with bows and shortswords, and are expert at tracking, trapping, and sniping. They very rarely engage in frontal assaults, preferring to use the forest against their enemies.
- Mandrills: When frontal assaults are called for, the mandrills arrive. Imagine a horde of fast-moving apes, each the size of a gorilla, with canines capable of biting through armour and enough intelligence to orchestrate ambushes and feints. Their battle-cries are often enough to send hardened troops into panic.
The head of each noble house is expected to maintain their own militia, which the monarch can call on to defend Amber in time of need. Although officially called militias, they are all standing armies consisting of full-time soldiers.
- House Bayle: Bayle are the richest of the noble houses, and Baelish troops are consequently very well-equipped, with a high proportion of heavy knights supported by archers and foot soldiers. They are based at Castillo Sembrador near Baylesport, but can be quickly moved by ship.
- House Chantris: Chantric troops are trained in boarding actions, shore raids, and sharp-shooting – their troops can usually be found embedded on Amber’s trading vessels. They are based at Blackwall House on the docks.
- House Feldane: Feldanic troops are generally sturdy (if somewhat rowdy) infantry, with a core of sorcerous heavy-hitters. They are based in barracks at Arras, in the far south of Amber.
- House Karm: Karm’s militia are predominantly fast-moving cavalry, fighting with sword and shield. The Garnathi are based in barracks at Eorthwick, in the Vale of Garnath.
- House Venway: Being a military house, Venway’s troops are by far the most effective of the house militias. They are trained on foot and on horseback, and fight predominantly with spear and shield. They are based at the barracks at Qiang House on the lower slopes of Mt Kolvir.
The Royal Family of Amber are terrifying powers unto themselves. Capable of manipulating the very fabric of reality, a prince of Amber is an extremely difficult thing to deal with, even if you’ve brought an army.