Tuesday, December 31, 2019
Thursday, November 1, 2018
Within this 16 page PDF, you will find:
- 4 magical arms and armor that no desert traveler would be without
- 21 wondrous items that even the pharaohs would desire,
- a rod said to be a gift from the Cat Goddess, and
- a ring housing the spirit of the Western Desert
Download the Treasury of the Sands for Pathfinder at the JBE Shop. You can also download this collection at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, >Paizo, and d20PFSRD.
The last exclusive look that I wanted to get out last week, I did not have time to post. So I took a few moments over the weekend to prepare some of the maps from Deadly Delves: Quests of the Sands. These two beautiful maps are from the short adventures Wreck of the Golden Barque and the Bandit King’s Hideout. Each of these short adventures, or quests, are enough for one night’s adventure with little preparation needed for the GM. All of these are Egyptian themed but work well for an Arabian themed campaign. Click on the image to see larger versions of these maps.
Download Deadly Delves: Quests of the Sands for Pathfinder at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, Paizo, and Open Gaming Store
Download all of our Deadly Delve Adventures for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, the OpenGamingStore, and Paizo.com.
Sunday, October 28, 2018
Outside a corrupted Necropilis, a Scarab Ogre attacks an Anubi Hero and a band of City-Dwellers of Cynopolis. Crocodile Games
The land of Aegyptus is a place of many legends, from the tales of the wondrous magical creations of the gods to the stories of deadly monsters that lurk in mysterious places. One such legend is that of the Scarab-Ogre. "Be good, or the Scarab-Ogre will get you." are the words used by stern Anubi parents to frighten their misbehaving children, and "Beware the Scarab-Ogre!" are the words spoken in hushed tones by spooked tomb robbers, to explain the dark tunnel from whence their comrades never returned. Only ever spoken of in whispers, the Scarab-Ogre was a story that everyone feared but few actually believed in.
Yet the truth of the story was worse than any dared to imagine.
The Anubi tell that during the time of the gods, Anubis was served by the scarab-headed god Khepri, who drove his chariot through the hazardous pathways of the Tuat. The tale of Khepri is a sad one, for the god was killed during the first uprising of the Eater of the Dead, in the heroic defense of the funeral city of Ankhara. What few people know is that Khepri was in turn served by his own race of children, the reclusive and monastic Khepera. In the deserts they toiled their long lives away in mystic ceremonies to venerate the dead. They were few in number, but steadfast, loyal, and strong. The last of their number disappeared during the Fall of Ankhara, still fighting against the relentless horde of undead until finally swallowed by the sandstorm the buried the entire city for over a thousand years. There, entombed in the stifling darkness of the catacombs beneath Ankhara, the Khepera were overrun and defeated. Somehow they were possessed and corrupted by the spirit of the Eater of the Dead, and the legend of the Scarab-Ogres became a reality. Since the rediscovery of Ankhara only a few years ago, some have encountered a creature they claim to be the actual Scarab Ogre in the flesh.
The tales of those few who have survived an encounter with the monster vary in the details. The survivors are frequently delirious from the experience, and some are actually driven beyond the point of madness. Attempts to describe the actual appearance are oft met with bouts of violent tremors and horrified screaming as the memory of the thing's awful visage is comes alive in their mind. Some accounts describe the face as that of the skull-like Necrobaeus beetle, others claim to have looked into two eyes, some as may as six, while others tell of no face at all. only a slavering mouth at the end of a writhing tentacle.
Saturday, October 27, 2018
Apophis, also known as Apep, dating back into the 1500s BCE, was the great water serpent god who slept in the mountains of Baku, rising with the morning star, daily attacks Ra on his journeys through the daytime sky and the underworld, and is subsequently destroyed each evening by Sobek, the god of the crocodiles.
As we have seen in most other religions and cultures thus far, the serpent seems to always hold some chthonic symbolism—that underworld characterization as the giver of life, possessing the creator aspect that seems ever present wherever the serpent is worshipped. Nowhere is this so evident and pervasive than in the mysticism of ancient Egyptian religion and worship. In the mythology and symbolism of Egypt exist some of the most glaring dualistic contrasts between reverent worship of the serpent and fear-based repudiation.
The Egyptians’ reverence for the serpent’s life-giving powers probably arose, in part, from—once again—observing them shedding their skins, continually exposing a new resurrected body in the process. The god Atum, the ancient Egyptian primeval creator deity, is represented in the form of the serpent who seasonally shed his outer skin, a symbol of the continual life, death, and new life cycle. At one point, Atum prophesies to Osiris, the Egyptian god of the netherworld and final judgment, that he is going to destroy the entire world he had created and revert back to his serpentine form.
Early-20th-century Dutch-born archaeologist Henri Frankfort, who spent his life reconstructing ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian culture and mythology, said of the Egyptian serpent gods, “The primeval snake survives when everything else is destroyed at the end of time. Thus the serpent was strongly and continually associated with creation and eternal existence in the ancient Egyptian ethos. The Egyptians portrayed life itself by the image of the rearing serpent, and a serpent biting its tail was a common Egyptian emblem for ‘eternity.’”
During the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (2030–1640 BCE), post-11th Dynasty, the god Amun came onto the scene as the patron god of the capitol city of Thebes. Amun in one of his manifestations was that of the serpent god named Kematef (“he who has completed his time”). At Karnak, during the beginning of the New Kingdom (1550–1090 BCE), Amun was merged with the sun god Ra, when Pharaoh Ahknaten uprooted the entire Egyptian system of religion and worship and decreed a new, monotheistic society. “Amun-Ra became the monotheistic, supreme state-enforced/endorsed god of Egypt during this period. Amun-Ra’s divine consort, the serpent goddess Mut (“the resplendent serpent”) gave birth to a son named Khonsu.” Together, this holy triad, in the Egyptian worldview, symbolized the perfect union both in the house of the gods as well as being representative of the supreme social structure of the royal family. And it was this family portrait that inextricably linked the house and family of the pharaoh to the mythological serpent of Egyptian mythology. But Ahkenaten’s monotheistic society lasted but one generation before it was overthrown and the implementation of a reversion back to the polytheism took place.
All periods of Egyptian history, from the earliest historical times all the way to the end of the New Kingdom, creation, fertility, birth, the goodness of the gods, rebirth, and resurrection were all embodied in the image of the serpent. Thermuthis was the serpent-headed goddess to whom were brought offerings at the time of harvest, thanking her for successful crops of both food and grape of the vine.
The Father of Serpents, Geb, was the god of earth and “the father of the gods.” The snake was linked to life after death and the recurring cycle of life due to Egyptian obsession with the quest for eternal life, and he became a symbol of survival after death and even resurrection among the ancient Egyptians. In the Egyptian Book of the Dead, sometimes referred to by its more precise title, The Book of Going Forth by Day, in chapter 87, we are told that transformation into a serpent upon death gives new life to the deceased.
A serpent goddess in pre-dynastic Egypt set the stage for her veneration as an enduring symbol throughout the rest of dynastic Egyptian history. The most important serpent of Lower Egypt was Wadjet (“the green one”) who eventually became the symbol of a unified Egypt and its royal house. It was this serpent goddess whose name became synonymous with the general Egyptian term for cobra and the foundation for the creation of the symbol of the uraeus, the standing figure of the cobra found most often as the headpiece on the royal Egyptian crowns. The cobra/uraeus became such an important piece of Egyptian iconography that the life of the Pharaoh became known as the living years of the uraeus. Wadjet not only became physically represented on the Pharaoh’s crown as his guardian and protector, but eventually was bestowed the title of the Eye of Ra. Her green color, significantly, became the color that represented resurrection in ancient Egypt, and Wadjet, also referred to as “the green one,” embodied the forces of health and fertility. As with most gods out of antiquity, you can quickly see how numerous titles continued to be added on, as the powers and influence of the god evolved in worship (Wadjet: the green uraeus of the Pharaoh, the Eye of Ra, the protector and guardian of the life of the Pharaoh, the power of fertility and good health).
Representing the oppositional character of the Egyptian serpent was the Serpent God of Darkness, the winged, fire-spewing Apophis, What Wadjet was to all that was good in ancient Egypt, Apophis was her counterpart, representing the demonic forces, evil gods, and powers of the bleak underworld. Apophis was the serpent of darkness, in complete opposition to the sun god Ra, who was the light of the world. But Apophis, albeit the antithesis to Ra, was never more powerful. He simply counterbalanced the serpent Mehen (“the coiled one”) who was the protector of the sun god Ra, assisting him on his journey through the realm of night to be reborn every morning. And as you find in many cultures and religions, the powers of darkness are thwarted by the power of good. As Satan is to God, so Apophis is to Ra, with minor alterations to the functionality.
It has been said time and again that the ancient Egyptians were utterly preoccupied with death—at least the royal family’s, as far as can be seen. Their entire lives, especially when a seated Pharaoh, were consumed with the afterlife and the resurrection. There is an interesting entry in the Pyramid Texts, the funerary papyri of ancient Egypt. In these documents is listed something for which there is very little explanation: the “snake game,” presumably a test of sorts, played out in the afterlife when a Pharaoh died—a game he has to win. How interesting a tie to modern Christinaity would that be!? The notion of an Egyptian judgment, test, or fist-a-cuff in order to enter the beautiful wonders of the afterlife seem a colloquial version of a much greater religious prime.
In the New Kingdom, particularly by the time of the Eighteenth Dynasty (when Egypt had imperialistic concerns), there was the establishment of a large and professional army with an organised hierarchy. This hierarchy seemingly created alternative routes to power which were even open to uneducated men. This meant that the traditional clerical administrators, trained by scribes, had to share military power with a new military class and this new development supposedly played an important role in the rise of the so-called ‘warrior pharaohs’ who emerged during the Eighteenth to Twentieth Dynasties.
According to Redford, the New Kingdom army comprised of a core of fulltime soldiers (who in times of peace would be stationed at the various garrisons throughout Egypt), supplemented during times of war by conscripted men from temple communities. The archery units were apparently the group feared most, mainly due to their use of the composite bow; a weapon that was more powerful by far than its predecessor, the simple bow. These archery units either made up an entire battalion of their own or were attached to various infantry units.
Recruitment into the Egyptian military for the core soldiers, in the New Kingdom at least, began early in a boy’s life and boys coming from military families would generally tend to serve in the same units as their fathers. The techniques that the young recruits would learn were part of a rigorous training course: marching techniques, proficiency with weapons, and military discipline were the order of the day for these young soldiers. Some of the New Kingdom literary texts seemed to be designed to discourage young men from joining the army. Papyrus Anastasi III, for example, suggested that for young recruits the training was brutal, with talk of body blows and heads splitting open from the beatings meted out to new recruits within the infantry.
Yet in contrast to the somewhat cynical view of army life presented by Papyrus Anastasi III, other evidence suggests that military life, at least in the New Kingdom, could be fairly agreeable. For example, Ramesses II’s Battle of Kadesh reliefs at the temples of Luxor and Abu Simbel portray army life, including the setting-up of a temporary camp. The encamped soldiers are surrounded by a barrier comprised of the soldiers’ shields, along with stabling for horses and cattle. The scene is complete with the depiction right in the centre of the encampment of the royal pavilion and the tents of the military hierarchy. Whether or not this is a realistic portrayal, it is certainly a vivid one. It does not, however, illustrate the training of the recruits. Another such example is found in the Memphite tomb of Horemheb and depicts a military camp at rest. Earlier in the Eighteenth Dynasty, Akhenaten’s training of young soldiers is described in one of the hymns in a tomb at Amarna, where Akhenaten is credited with training thousands of troops himself.
Whilst the training during the New Kingdom, and indeed during any period of Dynastic Egypt, could be brutal (resulting in a great deal of physical pain and hardship) there were also great rewards to be had from a life in the military. During service, much like the rewards possible from service in the Roman army, there was the possibility of advancement through the army ranks and the ever-present chance of spoils of war from combat victories. Those soldiers who survived the military and active service through to their retirement were gifted with land and livestock. This can be seen in the Wilbour Papyrus, dated to the reign of Ramesses V, which includes veteran soldiers (including Sherden mercenaries) in the lists the people renting land in Middle Egypt. The New Kingdom army was also supported by a small army in itself of craftsmen (necessary for creating and maintaining the weaponry), porters, drivers, animal handlers, and cooks, to name but a few (much as with any army, ancient or modern).
During the New Kingdom an edict issued by Horemheb states that, within the country of Egypt itself, there were two army corps which corresponded to the north and south of the country (Lower and Upper Egypt respectively). The royal bodyguard positions were served in ten-day cycles, with provincial soldiers serving the shifts. In contrast, during a campaign, there were three or four principal divisions of around 5000 soldiers, made up of a combination of conscripted men and professional full-time soldiers. These divisions took their names from a deity and followed it with a suitable epithet; it is likely that the deity names for the divisions were taken from the local deity of the area from which the soldiers had been recruited.
The ancient Egyptian infantry had a hierarchical structure that resembled the armies of most developing civilisations, including the highest rank in the Middle Kingdom (the ‘great overseer of the army’) which could be said to be the equivalent of the Western rank of general. The title of ‘general’ (not actually an ancient Egyptian term but a modern English translation) itself appears rarely until the reign of Amenhotep III. It is at this point that there was a major reorganisation of the Egyptian military and a more comprehensive division of the infantry and the chariotry. As stated above, there was a core group of full-time soldiers supplemented by conscripted men in times of war, with some later Eighteenth Dynasty soldiers spending their whole working lives in the army. However, it was more common for careers to combine both military administrative service and work in civil administration.
The infantry was generally divided into units known as companies, which comprised several groups of fifty men that were then divided further still into platoons of ten. Companies could comprise different armaments; some were made up only of archers whereas others were infantry armed with weapons such as spears and axes designed primarily for close-combat situations. These companies would take their names from their pharaoh, sometimes referring to the monarch’s battleprowess. This changed during the reign of Akhenaten, with associations with the Aten (as well as their pharaoh) being included.
The extent of the military innovations achieved by the ancient Egyptians is open to debate. Briefly, however, armour development was seemingly restricted to padded caps and rawhide shields, with the chariots apparently designed for speed rather than protection and force. The chariot driver did wear a level of protective clothing, including some body armour and a helmet of either leather or bronze, while the other chariot passenger would be armed with a bow and javelins. This armour and chariot design would suggest that the Egyptian soldiers were perhaps not strong in defence and relied mainly on their weapons and mode of attack. This suggestion is conjecture on the part of Redford based on the lack of armour development in Egypt.
The chariot was used by the maryannu, who were an elite corps within the New Kingdom army, and have been described as young heroes; part of an aristocratic warrior class modelled on an Asiatic military elite also named maryannu. The maryannu are referred to variously as chariot warriors and also as army aristocracy. The general consensus is that the maryannu were elite soldiers and charioteers and, for some, the maryannu were the most ostentatious chariot warriors of the ancient world. The chariotry was organised into groups of fifty and had a very important administrative infrastructure; during, and after, the Eighteenth Dynasty, the administrative titles were not limited to non-combatants alone; chariot warriors could also hold these titles.
By the time of the New Kingdom, warfare between Egypt and enemies from the Near East became a battle between the elite units, with a definite emphasis on the chariotry. Being part of a chariot unit required not only a great deal of wealth but great skill and specialisation; the skills needed to control a chariot moving at speed, as well as firing arrows when travelling at such speeds, requiring considerable practice, enhancing the status of those who were involved in the chariotry. The two soldiers associated with the chariot are generally described as 1) the warrior and 2) the driver and shield-bearer.
The bow and arrow has been described as the weapon of choice for the maryannu; they were apparently devoted to sports such as shooting with the bow and arrow, javelin-throwing, and the art of fighting from chariots. The construction of the chariot itself, and the form its crew took, ensured the creation of an effective fastmoving stage from which weapons such as the bow and arrow and the javelin could be effectively utilised. The power of the composite bow meant that it was used a great deal in chariot-fighting and it was appreciably shorter than a self-bow making Warfare in Ancient Egypt 27 it more manageable in a chariot. With expertise such as this it is not surprising that the maryannu were seen as elite soldiers.
The Egyptian army at times also had troops known as ‘auxiliaries’; foreign troops that would serve in each branch of the ancient Egyptian military, either integrated into existing units or in their own separate units. These foreign troops would use specific weapons that differed from those used by the native Egyptian troops, as well as carrying out tasks that were particular to them and their skills. As with the Roman Army, comprised of soldiers from many different countries and states in the Roman Empire, some auxiliaries seemingly became members of Egyptian society, having served in the Egyptian military for a sufficient length of time. Acculturation, such as instruction in the Egyptian language, and rewards, such as the provision of land upon retirement, would be used at times by the Egyptians to ensure the loyalty of their foreign troops. This could be an effective technique; if a foreign soldier spent enough time away from his home and acclimatised to his new surroundings, then he might well begin to display some loyalty to his new ‘home’. The promise of a worthwhile reward at the end of his service would only increase loyalty to the Egyptian army, since land was a highly valuable commodity. Again, there are obvious parallels here with the design and procedures of the Roman army.
The first recorded auxiliary troops were apparently the Nubians, recruited to fight for the Upper Egyptians during the First Intermediate Period in their campaign against the Heracleopolitans in Lower Egypt. These Nubian recruits, called the Medjoy (or Medjay), were later renowned for their roles in the ancient Egyptian military, as the ancient Egyptian equivalent of policemen, as well as being archers and scouts. The Medjoy continued to be in use in the Middle Kingdom, apparently playing a crucial role in pharaoh Kamose’s re-conquest of Egypt towards the end of the Second Intermediate Period, and during the New Kingdom. Indeed, by the time of the Eighteenth Dynasty the term Medjoy no longer referred to just Nubian soldiers but was used in reference to policemen and patrolmen in general.84 These Nubian troops were very much in demand, with examples of Egyptian vassals in Syria-Palestine requesting the aid of these soldiers in order to successfully defend their cities during the Amarna period.
There were other foreign troops that served in the ancient Egyptian military, with instances of Asiatics serving in the ancient Egyptian army, though (in the Old Kingdom at least) they were rarer than the Nubian auxiliaries. By the Middle Kingdom period, there were times when Asiatic military units were actually settled within Egypt’s borders, which again is a practice that has definite parallels with the structure of the Roman army.