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Gilganesian Islands

author:  Andrew Bragg

Population

Approximately 3,500,000

Pantheon

Babylonian

Geography

The Gilganesian Islands consist of four islands, the two eastern most being hot, desolate, uninhabitable deserts subjected to the ravages of war. The northern of the two is called Ara and the southern is known as Syr. The island in the middle of the chain is the most fertile of the four. It is still mostly desert and scrub land, but has fresh water and is much more habitable. This centrally located island, named “Gilgan” is the center of population and trade for the chain. The fresh water on Gilgan is peculiar in that it comes from a river with no source. There is a portal that the water flows out of near Babylon and the river meanders along the middle of the island then disappears into another portal, only to reappear again in the south and flow into the ocean via the Chaldean delta. The northernmost island, “Nimrud,” is a scorched wasteland consisting of nothing more than charred remains of an ancient forest. The only landmark on the island is a giant tower of unknown origin infested with harpies...

Government

The Gilganesian Islands are composed of independent city states which are ruled by governors. All of the city states, however, are subject to the same common law, as dictated in Hammurabi’s Code. The Code puts forth strict rules for a vast number of situations ranging from contractual obligations regarding trade to penalties on judges for unjust rulings. Each city maintains judges who are members of the ruling class and who serve two year terms. Lex Talionis, or “An Eye For an Eye” is basic tenet of Gilganesian law, although ex-slaves (“freed men”) and “slaves” are subject to different rules varying with their social station. The King is an autocrat who tours the Empire and makes himself available to the citizens.

Anthropology

Hammurabi has been the King since anyone can remember. The governors of all the city states have also held their positions for a long time and never seem to age. Since these positions are for life and the civilization has done reasonably well for itself, no one complains. The bounty of the harvests and the charisma of the leaders keep the populace assuaged. Infrequent rumors of dark powers perpetuating the life spans of Gilganesia’s rulers are summarily squashed, and never spoken of publicly.

Every month, the King chooses a city state to spend a weekend hearing disputes which are not able resolved by the local courts. Each city state holds an enormous festival celebrating the King and present him with lavish gifts. The gifts also serve the dual purpose of paying the “taxes” to the Kingdom every year. The governors of the city states perform an elaborate ritual presenting the King with the gifts, and as the King graciously accepts the offerings, he declares the city state to be his favorite and waives the yearly taxes.

The Akita festival is celebrated at the beginning of spring. It is a celebration of a new year for planting and a time for the Gods to express their plans for the year to Marduk. It takes place in Babylon and large portions of the population travel there, despite the perils, to give thanks, praise, and tribute to the Gods for their support. They also pray to Ramman for a bountiful crop during the festival.

The Gilganesians have warred with the Accadian Archipelago for centuries. The two Pantheons closely resemble each other, due to the similar nature of the environments, so both cultures have deities that share similar domains. Since deities are a vainglorious bunch, there can be only one set. Because of this, the Gods have manipulated the populations of each island to wage war on each other. The fighting isn’t just over culture either. Vast amounts of resources have been found on Ara and Syr and both civilizations try to stake their claim. A number of dragon lairs have been spotted there as well.

There is only one thing sacred in the war between the Gilganesians and the Accadians, and that is the river, as it is the life blood for both civilizations. If one tried to poison the water, then both would be affected. For this reason a pact was formed long ago to never affect the vital waters that keep the people on both sides alive.

Flora and Fauna

As the Islands are mainly desert and scrubland, the area is home to some fierce and hearty creatures. Giant scorpions are commonly seen in the craggy wastes hunting. Packs of Blink Dogs and Displacer Beasts have been sighted vying over territory near oases. Basilisks are common, and adventurers tell stories of Abyssal Basilisks defending ancient caves with ornate entrances in remote areas of the desert. Even packs of undead have been seen roaming the islands, but no one knows why…

Characters venturing to the Islands must be wary of the extreme temperature variances between night and day, as well as the various diurnal and nocturnal predators. Since the islands are mostly flat and arid sandstorms and dust storms occur frequently and can be very intense. Quicksand is a real threat in areas close to groundwater reservoirs.

City States

Babylon

Population: 550,000

Diety: Marduk – The Supreme God

Governor: Hammurabi

Babylon is the home to Marduk. It houses his temple, Esagila. It is the capitol of Hammurabi’s kingdom as well as the largest city. It is located in the center of Gilgan and is the hub for all political, social, and economic activity for the islands.

Notable landmarks: Esagila – This complex dedicated to Marduk is the centerpiece of the city. It consists of a large court enclosing a central shrine. Considered the center of the universe by the Gilganesian people.

Etemenaki – “The Foundation of Heaven and Earth”. A ziggurat 92 meters tall. Dedicated to the gods, this structure consists of a series of levels with rooms for each of the gods, the topmost belonging to Marduk.

Kasr – Hammurabi’s palace. Centrally located between the Esagila and Etemenaki, the Kasr is where all aspects of the governing the kingdom occur. The centerpiece of which is the great Stela, which has the code of laws etched into it.

Chaldea

Population: 450,000

Diety: Anu – God of the Sky

Governor: Nebuchadnezzar II

Chaldea is the breadbasket of the empire. It is located on the southern end of Gilgan in the delta of the Euphrates River. Nebuchadnezzar has been Hammurabis closest advisor for centuries. He is also the primary general in times of war.

Notable Landmarks: The Garden - Nebuchadnezzer had a massive garden constructed along the entire outer wall of the city to display the fertility of his region.

The Idol - With a head made of gold, torso of silver, thighs of bronze, and legs of iron, this centerpiece to this city was made to represent the wealth of Chaldea and the Gilganesian Islands.

Ziggurats – Two huge ziggurats are located just outside the city. One is dedicated to Anu and the other to Ramman.

Other useful references: THE COMPLETE CODE OF HAMMURABI: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/ancient/hamframe.asp