Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Ancient Near East is HOTT

(Note from Alan: The HOTT 2.0 rules contain a set of lists covering Sumerian and other ancient near Eastern mythology. These were written by Nigel Tallis, but were only a small sub-set of his original contribution. This piece is the lists that didn't make it, plus a couple of others devised after his original submission. They should be considered a supplement to the Sumerian Myth lists on Pages 39-40 of the HOTT 2.0 rules.)

The Ancient Near East is HOTT
Army Lists for 'Hordes of the Things'
By Nigel Tallis

THE SLAIN HEROES (The dead gods)

Stronghold: the underworld, Kurnurgi or Dannina (see UNDEAD HOSTS)

1 x Behemoth general @ 4AP (Palm Tree King)
1 x Dragon @ 4AP (Dragon)
1 x Beasts @ 2AP (Seven-headed, 4-legged, mushmahhu-serpent, Six-headed wild ram, Bull-man, Saman-ana)
1 x Sneaker @ 3AP (Imdugud bird)
1 x Blade @ 2AP ("Gypsum")
1 x Blade @ 2AP ("Mighty Copper")
1 x Horde @ 1AP (Magillum-boat)

The idea of the Slain Heroes in Mesopotamian mythology came about in the time of Gudea of Lagash following the gradual amalgamations, and demotions to the ranks of monsters and demons, of many minor and local gods. They were then absorbed into the cult of their divine conqueror, originally. Ningirsu/Ninurta (son of Enlil, patron of Nippur), then Lugalbanda, Zababa, Nergal, and eventually Marduk.

In different myths, the lion-headed Anzu or Imdugud bird was variously a friend of man, or a thief who stole the Tablet of Destinies. Its wing-beats caused sandstorms, and its beak was like a saw. The bird was killed/tamed by Ninurta/Ningirsu, and thereafter became one of his attendants. Often found nesting in highly inconvenient places, like holy mountains or sacred trees. The call of the Imdugud bird is recorded as "Kapp-i! Kapp-i!" The magillum was a bizarrely magical living boat from the lands of Makkan and Dilmun (Oman and Bahrain). There are representations of a half-human, half-boat creature that may be the magillum.

The demon Saman-ana's preferred diet was an eclectic mix of young people and harlots. He had the mouth of a lion, dragon's teeth, eagle's claws and a scorpion tail. The Palm Tree king, ancient progenitor of all things animated and woody, should be represented as a huge palm within a grove of smaller palms. Interesting and tasteful fragments of the same best depict the personifications of gypsum and copper...


Stronghold: The primaeval sea of chaos

1 x Magician @ 4AP (Tiamat) 
1 x Hero general @ 4AP (Qingu with the "Tablet of Destinies")
1 x Dragon @ 4AP (Mushushshu snake-dragon, Umu, the storm-demon, and Ugallu, the great storm-demon)
5 x Beasts @ 5AP (Mushmahhu, ushumgallu and bashmu, the giant horned snakes; Uridimmu, lion-man; or Girtablullu scorpion-man; or Kusarikku/gud-alim, the bull-man)
2 x Hordes @ 1AP (Kulullu, fish-men and the army of Qingu)

Tiamat, or "sea", was the personification of the chaotic primordial salt ocean, the female counterpart of the male Apsu, or fresh ground water. The only beings in existence after the separation of heaven and earth, they gave birth to the line of Annunaki or "older gods", including An, and Enki/Ea, who in turn produced the Igigi, the next generation of "younger gods", the "Great gods" of heaven. Apsu was so irritated by the incessant noise of his progeny, which kept him awake, that he attempted to destroy them - only to be killed and then fashioned into a bijou new home by Enki/Ea. Any parent should empathise.

In revenge, Tiamat spawned the "monsters of her insides", led by her lover Qingu -whom she made invulnerable with the all-powerful "Tablet of Destinies". Eventually Aššur/Marduk, the youthful champion of the Igigi, slew Tiamat and Qingu and routed the spawn in an epic battle. The defeated red Mushushshu dragon, "furious snake", then became the loyal beast of Aššur/Marduk.

From Tiamat's body, "split like a fish", Aššur/Marduk fashioned the present heaven and earth, while mankind was created to serve the gods, though unfortunately from the tainted blood of the evil Qingu. In retrospect something of an oversight. Tiamat fought only with spells during the battle and is therefore classed here as a magician, rather than a behemoth.


Stronghold: Nippur/Babylon/Assur or An (heaven)

1 x Aerial Hero general @ 4AP (Ninurta/Marduk/Assur in storm chariot)
1 x Dragon @ 4AP (The seven winds)
2 x Knights @ 4AP (The Annunaki and Igigi in divine chariots)
2 x Blades @ 2 AP (The Igigi)
2 x Shooters @ 2 AP (the Igigi)

This list was designed as an opponent for that of the Spawn of Tiamat. The Annunaki and Igigi are the lesser gods who accompanied Marduk into battle against Tiamat. According to the Babylonian Epic of Creation the gods were ineffective against Qingu. Storm horses drew Marduk's chariot, and he is described as being armed with a bow and a huge net. He also had a sack in which is contained the four directional winds and the seven evil winds. It is these winds that are ultimately used to defeat Tiamat.


Stronghold: Mighty-walled Uruk

1 x Hero general @ 4AP (Gilgamesh)
1 x Hero @ 4AP (Enkidu the wild-man)
1 x Sneaker @ 3AP (Shamhat the harlot)
1 x Blade @ 2AP (Birhurturri, the officer)
11 x Hordes @ 1AP (Young men of the city)
Alternatives: Cleric @ 3AP (Siduri the barmaid)

King Gilgamesh, 2/3rds divine, was the offspring of the deified king Lugalbanda and the goddess Ninsun, or "Lady Wild Cow". He caused endless trouble in Uruk by oppressing and levying the young men for war, and by his constant ravishing of the womenfolk. The god An created Enkidu, a mighty wild-man introduced to the pleasures of urban life by the harlot Shamhat, to tame him. After a wrestling match won by Gilgamesh they become friends and adventurers (or, in the Sumerian version, proper protocol is maintained and Enkidu becomes his servant...) killing Huwawa, the guardian spirit of the great pine/cedar forest. The goddess of love, Innana/Ishtar, became a deadly enemy after Gilgamesh turned her down for a date. Siduri, a protector of Gilgamesh, was a minor goddess of brewing and wisdom, presumably on the basis that most people think they're a genius when drunk. She hosted the tavern at "World's End", which, despite the name, probably isn't the one you're thinking of!


Stronghold - Eanna, the house of the sky/heaven

1 x God @ 4AP (Inanna) 
1 x Behemoth @ 4AP (Bull of Heaven)
1 x Sneaker @ 3AP (Galla/gallu)
1 x Lurker @ 1AP (Snake)
1 x 6 x Beasts @ 2AP (Gate guardians)
Alternatives: Hero @ 4AP (Huwawa, guardian of the great forest)

Strictly, as Huwawa had got the chop before Inanna became an enemy of Gilgamesh, he shouldn't be included here at all, but good baddies are hard to come by. In the Babylonian version of the Sumerian stories, Gilgamesh became obsessed by his own ultimate mortality after the gods decreed the death of Enkidu for his insult in slaying the Bull of Heaven. He roamed the world searching for the secret of immortality, eventually meeting the Mesopotamian "Noah", Utnapishti or Ziusura, on Bahrain, who took pity on him by telling him of the plant which gave renewed youth. Naturally, Gilgamesh lost it (a snake stole it from him while he was having a swim) but eventually the hero found some solace in the permanence of his city, the mighty Uruk.


Stronghold: walled city and the temple, E-mete-ursag

1 x God @ 4AP (Patron divinities, Zababa)
1 x Hero general @ 4AP (Mesalim in battle-car)
1 x Cleric @ 3AP (Priest or priestess)
4 x Blades @ 2AP (Guards)
2 x Shooters @ 2AP (Archers)
1 x Horde @ 1AP (City militia)

Kish was the pre-eminent city of early northern Sumer. Zababa, the local deity of Kish was a war god, later associated with Ninurta. In the Kassite period his symbol was an eagle-headed sceptre.


Stronghold: walled city and the temple, E-kish-nu-gal

1 x God @ 4AP (Patron divinities, Nanna/Suen)
1 x Hero general @ 4AP (Meskalamdug in battle-car)
1 x Behemoth @ 4AP (Bull of Nanna)
1 x Cleric @ 3AP (En priest or priestess of the Gipar)
4 x Spears @ 2AP (Guards and city militia)
1 x Horde @ 1AP (Other militia)

Nanna, Suen or Nanna-Suen is the Sumerian moon god, later known as Sin. The hero general here is the owner of the famous electrum helmet excavated at Ur, his name means "Hero of the Land", appropriately enough, but others are equally suitable.


Stronghold: walled city, the temple, E-ninnu, and the Gu'edena steppe with burial mounds

1 x God @ 4AP (Patron divinities, Ningirsu)
1 x Hero general @ 4AP (Eannatum in battle-car or on foot)
1 x Sneaker @ 3AP (Imdugud/Anzu bird)
1 x Cleric @ 3AP (Priest or priestess)
4 x Spears @ 2AP (Guards and city militia)
2 x Horde @ 1AP (Other militia)

The world's oldest coherent historical composition, of ca. 2,500 BC, survives as the so-called "Stela of the Vultures", by which Eannatum of Lagash celebrated his victories over the neighbouring state of Umma. Eannatum was credited with suitably supernatural attributes and divine affiliations (of which a height of 2.75m was one of the more immediately obvious.)


Stronghold: walled city and temple, Akkade or Ur

1 x God @ 4AP (Patron divinities, Annunitum, Nanna/Sin or king)
1 x Hero general @ 4AP (King or mortal general in battle-car, or on foot)
1 x Cleric @ 3AP (High priest/priestess)
2 x Blades @ 2AP (Guardsmen)
5 x Hordes @ 1AP (Soldiers)
2 x Shooters @ 2AP (Archers, frontier troops)
Alternatives: Sneaker @ 3AP (Soldier with pin)

This list covers the imperial armies of Akkad and the Third Dynasty of Ur. The patron of Akkad was the war goddess Annunitum, also called Ishtar of Akkad. Later Akkadian and Ur III rulers, after the illustrious Naram-Su'en (the prototypical "flawed hero") adopted divine honours, so the God can in fact represent the king, while the Hero general remains a mere mortal. Later Babylonian myths of the fall of Akkad recount the annihilation of one huge army after another by the supernatural creatures of the "Hostile Lands", so most of the soldiers here are classed as Horde. A soldier was sent armed with a needle to see if the creatures from the Hostile Lands were human or demonic - they bled: they were human. Strange that spears or axes had failed to reveal this, but that's myth for you.


Stronghold: a mountain cave

1 x Hero general @ 4AP (Memandah, the oldest brother)
6 x Blades @ 2AP (The other sons of Anu-banini)
8 x Horde @ 1AP (360,000 warriors)

The allies of the Hostile Lands were human invaders of Akkad, led by the seven royal children of Anu-banini (also known as an historical king of the Lullubi..) They were said to have the faces of ravens and the bodies of richly plumaged birds, which might just be meant to imply big noses and brightly-coloured dress, of course! This list is derived from the later, more fantastical, versions of the myth.


Stronghold: a rocky jebel surrounded by open steppe

1 x God @ 4AP (Patron divinities, or the god Amurru)
1 x Blade general @ 2AP (Truffle-grubbing, raw-flesh eating barbarian chief)
1 x Blades @ 2AP (Retinue truffle-grubbing, raw-flesh eating warriors)
2 x Shooters @ 2AP (Truffle-grubbing archers)
11 x Horde @ 1AP (Truffle-grubbing barbarians)
1 x Lurker @ 1AP (Devious truffle-grubbing barbarians)

An alternative title might be "no townie likes a traveller", as this list is inspired by the written impressions of the settled peoples in the Near East. It covers semi-historical Amorites and their ilk (while mythological Lullubians and Gutians are covered in "The Hostile Lands" list and in the HOTT book as the Asag list, respectively).


Stronghold: walled city and temple

1 x God @ 4AP (Patron divinities)
1 x Hero general @ 4AP (King in early chariot, on ass, or on foot)
1 x Cleric @ 3AP (Priest or priestess)
2 x Blades @ 2AP (Guards)
2 x Shooters @ 2AP (Archers)
5 x Horde @ 1AP (Militia)

This is the list for the time of Hammu-rapi of Babylon, or, since this is fantasy, one can just about get away with calling him Hammurabi!


Stronghold: Ziggurat - E-sharra, or Eanna

1 x God @ 4AP (Assur/Ishtar/Sin/Shamash/Ninurta/Adad) 
1 x Hero general @ 4AP (King or Queen in chariot)
1 x Behemoth @ 4AP (Winged bull-man gate-guardian)
1 x Rider @ 2AP (Cavalry)
4 x Spears @ 2AP (Soldiers)
1 x Flyer @ 2AP (Scorpion-man, gate guardian)
Alternatives: Cleric @ 3AP (Scholar, prophetess, ashipu and asu physicians, or divination or incantation priests), lurker @ 1AP (Brawling women, each missing at least one finger), behemoth @ 4AP or sneaker @ 3AP (Queen Semaramis' dummy elephants), Knights @ 2AP (Chariots), Regrade soldiers as equal numbers of blades and shooters.

As offensive magic was regarded as black sorcery in the Near East, we have classed the various state magicians as Clerics. Gate-guardians were powerful, semi-divine, and benevolent protective spirits. Either bull or lion bodied, they were thought of as winged with human heads, equally adept against evil on earth, water, or air.

The brawling women are inspired by the Assyrian laws - a woman who crushed a man's testicle while brawling forfeited a finger, if she crushed both she was executed. The dummy elephant is a later Greek attribution, but I don't see why it shouldn't be in.


Stronghold: Ziggurat, E-temen-enki or Temple, E-sagila "the palace of heaven and earth"

1 x God @ 4AP (Marduk/Sin/Nabu) 
1 x Dragon @ 4AP (Mushushshu snake-dragon)
1 x Hero general @ 4AP (King in chariot)
4 x Hordes @ 1AP (Soldiers)
4 x Shooters @ 2AP (Archers)
Alternatives: Cleric @ 3AP (Lama or lamassu, scholar or priests), Knights @ 2AP (chariots)

Lama or lamassu were extremely attractive minor female deities, tasked with protecting individual humans from evil. Early Assyriologists confused them with bull-men, but nobody has done that for years - mistaking a maiden for a bull being a largely fatal error ...


Stronghold: Khatushash, walled town on steep hills with a small latrine...

1 x Hero general @ 4AP (King in chariot) 
2 x Knights @ 2AP (Chariots)
2 x Spears @ 2AP (Severely constipated guardsmen)
4 x Hordes @ 1AP (Famished, plague-ridden soldiers)
2 x Beasts @ 2AP (Amorous horses, bulls and sheep) 

Please Sir, May We Leave The Room?
This list, deeply informed by history in every line, pays special attention to Hittite textual sources; particularly the proper chain of command for obtaining permission to go to the latrine when caught short. Plagues ravaged the Hittite homeland so severely that their Egyptian allies sent food aid (having previously sent the plague in the first place) while the Hittite laws reveal the seemingly incessant molestation of innocent citizens by lecherous farm stock.

All in all, it's a wonder the Hittite Empire lasted as long as it did.

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