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Ægyptus is an imperial province of the Imperium, established by Augustus in 30 B.C.E. Its capital is at Alexandria. It extends along the Nile as far as the first cataract. The province is divided into three districts: the Delta, the Heptanomia, and the Thebais (with the attached Dodecaschoenus, a frontier region beyond the first cataract, something of a buffer between Ægyptus and Kush). The province as a whole is governed by a prefect of equestrian rank (as opposed to most Imperial provinces, governed by military procurators of senatorial status). Each district, in turn, is overseen by an epistrategos, and subdivided into several "nomes," each governed by a strategos. Two legions are stationed in the province, in Alexandria and in Babylon, III Cyrenaica and XXII Deiotariana.

Of course, the primary geographical feature of Ægyptus is the Nile River. Without it, the province would be entirely desert; as it is, the desert encroaches close but the land thrives near the river — the delta's marshy land supports papyrus growth, the area around Lake Moeris is fertile, and grain is grown on a narrow strip of land on either side of the river. Even with this limited amount of fertile soil, Ægyptus has been called the breadbasket of the Empire, providing all of the corn for the supply of the city of Rome for a third of the year.

Exports and resources: linen, glass, corn and other cereals, papyrus, precious stones, perfumes, spices, incense, muslin, marble, granite, gold, animals for arena (camel, gazelle, crocodile, hippopotamus).

Flora and Fauna

Plant life of all varieties flourishes within a few kilometers of the river, but quickly vanishes into the sands of the great desert to the east. Papyrus thrives in the marshy delta, and the province of course produces boatload upon boatload of grain every year. Vegetables of various sorts are cultivated, as well as olives, grapes, and flax.

The most famous animal species of the Nile are the crocodile and the hippopotamus. Other animals, such as the ibis, hawk, and jackal, are familiar because of their connection with Egyptian deities (Thoth, Horus, and Anubis, respectively). The most important animals of the area, however, are cattle, which are domesticated and provide many of the necessities of life for the people of the region.

Various other animals are found in Egypt, many of which have some sacred associations. Among these are rams, gazelles, hares, dogs, jackals, hyenas, wolves, foxes, asses, pigs, wild cats, mongoose, hedgehogs, leopards, lynx, baboons, mice, rats, weasels, porcupines, and bats. (A side benefit, for farmers, of the Nile's annual flood is that it drowns many rats!) Camels, interestingly, have only recently been introduced into the region from Arabia. Notable birds include herons, hawks, vultures, eagles, swallows, geese, ibis, and ostriches. Snakes are of course very common, including cobras, horned vipers, and some more fantastic varieties: ten-headed serpents, winged serpents, and various giant species. A tremendous variety of fishes also dwell in the Nile and the nearby Mediterranean, as well as the various small lakes and marshes in the Delta region. Scarab beetles (including a giant variety), scorpions and wasps (both also in giant varities), toads, mantises, grasshoppers, and bees are examples of the other animal species of Ægyptus.


Ægyptus is tremendously socially stratified. With the establishment of the Ptolemaic dynasty and the influx of Greek settlers after Alexander the Great's conquest of Egypt, an upper crust of Greek citizens was overlaid upon the lower classes of Egyptian natives, and the Egyptians paid heavily in taxes for their annexation. The coming of the Romans simply added another stratum above this, a tiny proportion of the population being, in effect, the priveleged peak of the Egyptian social pyramid. Roman citizens enjoy a comfortable position, with the citizens of the three Greek cities (Naukratis, Alexandria, and Ptolemais) only slightly lower. Ethnic Greeks outside of the major cities lost some of their legal privileges with the imposition of a new tax in 24/23 B.C.E., but still live better than the oppressed Egyptians.

Nevertheless, these oppressed natives are the vast numerical majority of the population, and it is from this class that player characters are most likely to come. However, a tremendous number of foreigners also dwell in Ægyptus, particularly in Alexandria but in the countryside as well. These include Phrygians, Syriacs, Asians, Indians, Jews, Lycians, Boeotians, Arabians, Ethiopians, and Libyans. Besides all these human ethnicities, various non-human races make their homes in and around the province. Dwarves are found in all the nearby mountainous areas (see below), gnomes in the hilly regions of Arabia and along the Red Sea, halflings in the fertile delta region, and hatt’ in the surrounding deserts. Halfelves are not uncommon in urban areas. All these foreigners, human and non-human alike, have a fairly low status in the Roman social hierarchy, roughly equivalent to that of Egyptians. However, the non-humans, being to an extent outside the hierarchy, are more easily able to rise in status in the Roman world, with wealth and the proper connections. In Ægyptus, perhaps more than in the rest of the Empire, elves are looked upon with superstition and suspicion, if not outright hatred.

Two other humanoid races are native to Ægyptus and are rarely found outside the province. Mavda resemble nothing so much as humanoid (bipedal) hippopotami. They are generally friendly to humans, but are extremely rare and reclusive. Sbekki, on the other hand, are all too common. They are fairly small humanoids that resemble crocodiles. While they are too weak to threaten a strong human in single combat, they have been known to make raids on riverside villages in bands of up to a hundred.

Outside the bounds of civilization entirely, in the desert to the east of the delta, many human and demi-human groups are known to roam. Several bandit groups lurk on the outskirts of populated areas. In the border regions are "barbarian" tribes: Nubae, Trogodytae ("those who creep into holes"), and Ichthyophagi ("fish-eaters"). At least one tribe of gnomes wander the desert near Egypt, trading at oasis towns and stopping into larger towns periodically as well. More mysterious are the so-called "desert riders," a group of humanoids who occasionally raid merchant caravans and other travelers as well as human settlements. Their name derives from the large shambling creatures they ride, thought to be related to oxen. They are also called desert goblins, and this name is in fact more accurate, since only a few of the many tribes of these humanoids actually ride. In fact, the desert goblins are mostly subterranean. Foreigners in Ægyptus often call them "orcs."

The major human languages of the province are Greek and Demotic (a late form of the ancient Egyptian language, with an alphabetic script). The census of 14 CE recorded the combined population of Ægyptus and neighboring Cyrenaica as 5,500,000.

The Dwarves of Ægyptus

The dwarves of Ægyptus have kingdoms which are the major non-Roman political power in the region. There are several such kingdoms, most of which have poor to hostile relations with the others and with the human polities as well. All but one are independent from Rome, however. 

The duergar are not a significant political force in the surface world, though their influence certainly is felt in the politics and trade of the dwarven kingdoms nearer the surface.

The dwarves found in the human cities of Ægyptus are mostly confined to ghettoes, where they cling to the scraps of their culture they are able to maintain while sundered from clan and stronghold. As a result of this fact, the view of most humans in Ægyptus regarding dwarves is colored by their exposure to these "sundered dwarves"—all dwarves are thought to be rather dirty and unappealing, and the splendor of dwarven strongholds is not common knowledge in the human cities. There is a significant dwarven ghetto in Alexandria, across the canal from the rest of the city—significant, that is, in terms of its size, not (by any means) its splendor. This ghetto—the sixth "quarter" of the city, called Zeta—is almost entirely populated with sundered dwarves, perhaps the largest concentration of this race in the Imperium.

The Dwarf Wars (29-21 BCE), resulting from Rome's attempt to conquer the dwarves of the region after annexing Ægyptus proper, set the tone for most of Rome's interaction with the dwarves there. Khamiz was the only one of the five dwarf kingdoms to lose to Rome; the others fought brilliant defensive campaigns (in territory very difficult for humans to negotiate) and staved off Roman occupation. Most humans living now do not remember these wars, and their opinion of dwarves, as mentioned above, is shaped mainly by the sundered dwarves of the urban ghettoes. Those few human veterans of the wars who survive, however, have a much deeper respect—and with it, in many cases, a deeper hatred—for this hardy race. The dwarves, of course, remember the wars quite clearly.


Ægyptus is a land of many gods. To the Roman world at large, its native religion seems bizarre. Classical authors hold up the animal-headed idols of Ægyptus as the prime examples of bizarre superstition, carefully distinguishing such blasphemy from the true worship of the Divine (after a Platonic fashion, of course). Plutarch, who died in 125 CE, however, believed that even these strange myths (he wrote in particular on Isis and Osiris), when properly interpreted as allegory, contain some truth about the Platonic God.

The religious life of Ægyptus is dominated by the Osirian triad — Osiris, Isis, and Horus. Romans, Greeks and Egyptians alike worship in their great temples (though the Greeks call the gods Sarapis and Harpokrates), but the temple priesthood is exclusively drawn from the Egyptian priestly caste. Sarapis and Isis, in rather non-Egyptian form, are popular far and wide in the Empire as well.

The other gods of Ægyptus — Bes, Bast, Tho‘ris, Ammon, Thoth, Souchos (Sobk), Apis, Anubis, Anhur, Taurt — in some cases are tied to specific regions, in other cases have achieved a wider popularity. Most Egyptians feel no qualms about worshipping whichever deity seems most able to help in a particular situation. The Greek and Roman gods coexist in peace with the native deities, often being identified with them (Hermes with Thoth, Athena with Tho‘ris, Zeus with Ammon) and exchanging attributes. The emperor cult is here as everywhere, sometimes located in, for example, the temple of Isis.

Popular religion, of course, thrives in Ægyptus. Amulets for various magico-religious purposes can be purchased on any street-corner. Oracles, too, are available from various holy men at countless tiny shrines in towns and countryside. An important and widespread tradition centers around the secret revelation of Thoth/Hermes. While this tradition has not yet been codified at all or written into what will become the Corpus Hermetica, it is passed on orally by secret brotherhoods of mages and priests. There are a few different Hermetic groups in the province, each maintaining its own set of traditions and practices.


Beyond such things as local and provincial government, trade guilds, and local confraternities, certain organizations of Ægyptus deserve mention here.

The thieves' guild of Alexandria may be one of the most powerful such guilds in the Empire. Located as it is in the second greatest city of the Empire, that is not too surprising — nor is the fact that its members feel a real rivalry with the guild of Rome. It is a huge guild with its fingers in every aspect of the city's life, and extending its influence into the rest of the province and even beyond. Local thieves guilds exist, of course, in most sizable towns and cities of the province as well, but they cannot help but have some dealings with the Alexandrian guild (often in the form of large payments of "tribute").

Ægyptus has long had a reputation for sorcery and the occult. Its magical schools are, accordingly, fairly well-organized and established, though still quite secretive. In fact, given the mystique surrounding magic in the province, mages tend to keep their true activities all the more secretive, allowing the mystique and misconceptions to flourish. A town of substantial size will have at least one magical school, however small. Depending on the size of the town, multiple schools with different emphases among the various schools of magic may exist. These organizations tend to be organized like philosophical schools, focussed around a single powerful personality, though this is not always the case.

The Order of the Desert Sun is a semi-religious warrior order organized by a wealthy and powerful lord in the city of Hibis, in the Great Oasis to the west. Professional warriors from all over Ægyptus and beyond come to Hibis to offer their services to this lord, an Ethiopian named Mekros. They go through rigorous trials, and the most suited are allowed to join, donning the trademark bronze breastplate of the Order. Its members can be found across the Empire and beyond, from Parthia to Brittania. The Order is made up of fighters, paladins, and rangers of most races and many nationalities. Many are myrmidons, some are wilderness warriors, others are barbarians and beast-riders. What binds them together is, first, their devotion to Mekros, and second, a shared ideology — undergirded with a vague philosophical theology — of warrior ideals and noble behavior. With decadent Romans ruling the world, there are some who feel that the Order of the Desert Sun is the only true nobility left in the world.


A Brief Chronology of Egyptian History

(events in dwarven history are listed in italics.)

4386 BCE — Belthdorthrarr Stronghold founded, Kingdom of Gyaiok established

4155 BCE — Dalhak Stronghold founded

4061 BCE — Bolth-Beldalbek Stronghold founded

3832 BCE — Farbelak Stronghold founded, Kingdom of Tzav’akk established

3517 BCE — Bolth-Beldalbek and Dalhak unite into Kingdom of Gorril to fight desert goblins; war of Gorril and desert goblins continues to the present

3496 BCE — Daldemalk Stronghold founded

3141 BCE — Nalbof-Thorboleft Stronghold founded as colony of Daldemalk

3100 BCE — Menes establishes first dynasty of Pharaonic Egypt

2827 BCE — Thorbolkak Stronghold founded as colony of Belthdorthrarr

2815 BCE — Dovthroduum Stronghold founded as colony of Bolth-Beldalbek

2762 BCE — Dwurak Stronghold founded as colony of Farbelak

2686 - 2160 BCE — Old Kingdom (pyramids, capital at Memphis)

2160 - 2040 BCE — First Intermediate Period (capital at Heracleopolis)

2041 BCE — Thruzak Stronghold founded as colony of Belthdorthrarr

2041 - 70 BCE — steady war between Gyaiok and trolls, provoked by founding of Thruzak

2040 - 1786 BCE — Middle Kingdom (capital at Thebes (XIth dynasty) and Ittowy (XIIth), expansion south and trade with Asia)

1885 BCE — Dovthroduum conquered by Kingdom of Gorril

1879 BCE — Daldemalk conquered by Kingdom of Gorril

1802 BCE — Nalbof-Thorboleft conquered by Kingdom of Gorril

1991 - 1786 BCE — artistic renaissance of Middle Kingdom

1786 - 1567 BCE — Second Intermediate Period (breakdown of central authority contributes to success of Hyksos invasion)

1680 BCE — barbarian Hyksos (charioteers from Asia) conquer Egypt

1567 BCE — Theban prince leads successful rebellion against Hyksos

1567 - 1085 BCE —ÊNew Kingdom

1567 - 1320 BCE — XVIIIth Dynasty — expansionist policies, empire spread into Palestine and Syria

1388 BCE — Daldemalk and Nalbof-Thorboleft split from Gorril to form Kingdom of Khamiz

1388 BCE - 44 CE — steady war between Gorril and Khamiz, provoked by schism

1381 BCE — sporadic war between Farbelak and gnomes begins; continues to present

1379 - 1362 BCE — Akhnaton temporarily establishes monolatry of the sun-disk Aton

1085 - 525 BCE — Egypt ruled by Libyans, Kushites (760-644 BCE), Assyrians, brief Egyptian renaissance under Psammetik I before Persian conquest

525 BCE — Cambyses brings Egypt into Persian Empire

336 - 323 BCE — reign of Alexander the Great, who won Egypt from the Persians

323 - 30 BCE — Ptolemaic (Greek) dynasty in Egypt (including Cleopatra)

165 - 124 BCE — desert goblins conquer and hold eastern portion of the Delta, from Daphnae to Rhinocolura

39 - 34 BCE — reign of Memnirret the Usurper, the Jann King (with some serious internal dissent), ousted by Antony and Cleopatra in 34.

30 BCE — Octavian annexes Egypt and solidifies internal affairs

29 - 21 BCE — Dwarf Wars, resulting in the subjugation of the Khamiz while the other kingdoms remained free

21 BCE - 33 CE — Tzavíakk continues war against Rome

24/23 BCE — introduction of poll-tax, with laws defining Greek citizenship and barring that status from many who had claimed it earlier — those now defined as citizens were exempt from this tax; paying it was thus degrading

20 BCE - 54 CE — life of Philo, Jewish philosopher of Alexandria

38 CE — pogrom against Jews in Alexandria, anti-Jewish outbreaks through 40