- Oct 26, 2009
As-salam alaykum, and welcome to Caliphate on the Edge This is my second try at creating a Forum Game, and you will most likely notice its similarity to my previous game, The Twilight of Antiquity and influence derived from RedNomNoms’s original St Peter’s Throne. This time the setting is in Medieval al-Andalus and once again I decided to make this a character based game. The Players will navigate their character through the Caliphate of Cordoba during its highest point. Will you fight the Heathens, work for further advancements in science or perhaps make a fortune with trade? Or will you and your character enter the dangerous court intrigue and plotting of al-Madinat al-Zahra? This game will again be a combination of cunning political intrigue and bloody warfare. As not everyone might be totally familiar with the setting, I have tried to write some basic details and summaries about certain aspects of the society of Islamic Spain. Caliphate on the Edge starts in January 977, several months after the death of the Caliph Al-Hakam II, and beginning of the regency for his son Hisham II. Many thanks go to nachopontmercy who has helped and is helping me with translations and details.
Summary of the history of al-Andalus
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire the Visigoths established their Kingdom in Iberia. The capital of the Visigoths was at Toledo. Visigoth kings succeeded one another with great rapidity because of internal strife and civil wars. They nevertheless tried to establish order, but didn't get far, as they were faced by constant invasions or insurrections by hostile groups, including other Visigoths.
Islam rose in Arabia in the early 7th century when Prophet Muhammad received various revelations from Allah. He verbally taught them to his followers in Arabia, thus establishing the monotheistic religion Islam. On his death in 632, as he had no sons, there was disagreement over who was to succeed him. Eventually Abu Bakr was chosen as the first Caliph. Bedouin tribes began to move out of Arabia and within the first 10 years, they managed to conquer the Empire of Persia and some parts of the Byzantine Empire. By 661 they had moved into North Africa from Egypt to Libya. After the second Caliph Umar, Muhammad's trusted friend was assassinated, Uthman, an early convert to Islam from the Umayyad family, related to the tribe of Muhammad, was chosen as the next Caliph. Extremists however in turn murdered Uthman and “then the followers of the Prophet proceeded to tear one another apart. Clan fought clan and tribe fought tribe". The First Fitna ended in an Umayyad victory. They moved their capital from Arabia to Damascus in Syria, and proceeded to double the size of the Caliphate.
Muslims had already invaded the Maghrib in the late 7th century. By 682 Musa ibn Nusair had defeated the Byzantines at Kairouan. As the 8th century opened, Ceuta, the African pillar of Hercules, surrendered to the Umayyad Caliph of Damascus, and the Romans lost their last outpost in Africa. Julian, the Byzantine commander, managed to retain his ranks and have some autonomy, as he was a good diplomat in both Berber and Visigothic politics. Eventually a Visigoth named Roderick became the King. Julian was eager to attack the Visigoths, as his daughter had been mutilated by Roderick, but Musa was hesitant to go on an Iberian adventure. Tarif ibn Malluk crossed the Straits and had a minor success in the southern Spanish areas. Because of this, Musa ordered a full reconnaissance by the Governor of Tangier, the Berber Tariq ibn Ziyad, accompanied by Julian.
In the spring of 711, 7,000 men were sent on a strictly reconnaissance mission, while Roderick was busy subduing Visigoth rebellions in the northern town of Pamplona. Tariq arrived in Spain at the European Pillar of Hercules, which was named Jebel al-Tariq, the Mountain of Tariq, after the victorious leader. Tariq took Carteya, which became port of Al-Yarizat. Receiving the news of this, Roderick came south to Cordoba. Tariq dug in along the coast expecting a full Visigoth onslaught. He got reinforcements of Berber infantrymen, so he had a total of 12,000 soldiers. Then allies began to flock to the camp, especially Jews, but also discontented Visigoths, including the Bishop of Sevilla. Roderick marched in, but his wings were commanded by men who envied or loathed the king and his rank-and-file consisted mainly of serfs and slaves, proxies for landowners, thus not soldiers and not eager to fight. Many abandoned their rank and Roderick fled. The Muslims met what was left of the Visigothic army on the Barbate River and King Roderick was routed. Then Tariq marched on Toledo, meeting no resistance. At that point, Tariq decided not to chase fleeing Visigoths into the mountains as winter was coming. In less than half a year, Muslims had subdued over half of Spain.
Most of the Iberian Peninsula became part of the expanding Umayyad Empire, under the name of al-Andalus. It was organized as a province subordinate to Ifriqiya, so, for the first few decades, the governors of al-Andalus were appointed by the emir of Kairouan, rather than the Caliph in Damascus. Arab families who began feuding after the death of Mohammed in 632 continued to wage war against each other; both in North Africa and Spain Berbers given bad land fought Arabs given good land. The mullahs managed briefly to unite these warring forces by proclaiming a holy war and inciting the warriors to invade Bordeaux. From Spain they managed to get all the way to Tours on the Loire before being routed in 732 by Charles Martel, grandfather of Charlemagne. In the north the Muslims fought a continuous war against the Christian Kingdom of Asturias. The war was mostly fought in a manner of raiding.
The Umayyad line ran out with Marwan II. On November 28 749 Abu al-Abbas raised the black flag of the Abbasid dynasty which was to last for 500 years. Marwan II fled but was murdered in Egypt. When al-Saffah, another leader of the Abbasids, declared amnesty for Umayyads, 80 gathered near Jaffa to receive pardons, and all were massacred. The remaining Umayyad family members fled. 20-year-old Umayyad prince Abd al-Rahman was able to make his way to North Africa. There he gained support of the Berbers and eventually crossed to Iberia, marched up the Gualalquivir river to Cordoba and took the city.
In 929 the Umayyad Emir of Córdoba Abd-ar-Rahman III, the leader of the Umayyad dynasty, declared himself Caliph, independent from the Abbasids in Baghdad. Thus began the Golden Age of al-Andalus. Linen paper was becoming popular. Not just sacred texts, but literature and scientific essays were popular among Andalusian readers, and large libraries, sometimes headed by women, were established. Abd ar-Rahman III was a great patron of architecture. In time, he started the construction of his own fabulous fortified palace complex, Madinat al-Zahra, just outside Cordoba. Cordoba and al-Andalus in general became the leading cultural center of the Islamic World.
Al-Hakam II succeeded to the Caliphate after the death of his father Abd ar-Rahman III in 961. He secured peace with the Christian kingdoms of northern Iberia, and made use of the stability to develop agriculture through the construction of irrigation works. During his reign, a massive translation effort was undertaken, and many books were translated from Latin and Greek into Arabic. This effort was taken by 150 women lead by the scientist Lubna of Cordoba. Over 600,000 books were translated and stored in Madinat al-Zahra, and taken care of by Lubna as the secretary of the Caliph. The famous physician, scientist, and surgeon Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi, father of modern surgery, was active in Al-Hakam's court during his reign, serving as the court doctor. Al Hakam II expanded the mosque of Cordoba, and finished the construction work of Madinat al-Zahra.
Internal administration was left increasingly to the Berber vizier Al-Mushafi and Saqaliba general Ghalib was gradually gaining influence as leader of the army, fighting against the raiding Norsemen, Zirids, Fatimids and the Christians. Al Hakam II was however slightly eccentric and openly kept a male harem. This proved to be a problem as first it seemed that he would be unable to produce an heir. However, he took a Basque slave named Subh as a concubine and had two sons with her, only one of whom - Hisham II al-Hakam - survived to adulthood.
Al-Hakam II suffered a stroke in October 976 and was thus unable to properly prepare his son for leadership. Hisham II al-Mu'ayad, who was only 11 years old at the time and was a nominal ruler under the Hajib Ibn Abi Aamir (later to adopt the name al-Mansur), General Ghalib and Al-Mushafi as regents. As the mother of the Caliph, Subh however held considerable power inside the Palace of Madinat al-Zahra, and was allied to Ibn Abi Aamir
Society of al-Andalus
The population of al-Andalus was very diverse: from an ethnic point of view, it was mainly composed by Hispano-Goths and Hispano-Romans as well as Berbers, with large Jewish and an Arabian ruling class. The Hispanic ones were named Muladies/Muwalladin if they converted to Islam or Mozarabes/Musta'rabin if they were still Christians. The ruling class was formed by Arabs, Berbers and Muladies. By the 10th century, most of the population has converted to Islam, and the religious minorities have adopted several principles of Arabic culture. While Arabs mostly settled in the southern coastal areas, Berbers were also spread to the northern parts of al-Andalus, mostly because they were widely represented within military ranks. Another social group was the Saqaliba, who were originally slaves of Slavic or North European origin, and served in the military.
Islamic judges of al-Andalus divided the society into Ummah or community of believers and Dhimmi, nonbelievers, who could not occupy any position in control of Muslims. The Umma was divided in Jassa (nobility), Ayan (notable ones) and the Amma (mass population). Non-believers had freedom of worship, but were subjected to a personal tax called Jizaya and another based on their lands revenue (Jaray). Both Mozarabs and Jews were subjected to their own authorities and could be judged according to their own laws, but could not have any political post (with several exceptions especially for diplomats and some court advisers and mentors), marry a Muslim woman or live in the Muslim zones of the cities. Many Jews living in the cities became involved in trade as merchants.
In Arabic culture a person's ancestry and family name are very important. An example is explained below (From Wiki).
Assume a man has the name of Saleh ibn Tariq ibn Khalid al-Fulan.
Saleh is his personal name, and the one that his family and friends would call him by.
ibn translates as "son of", so Tariq is Saleh's father's name.
ibn Khalid means that Tariq is the son of Khalid, making Khalid the grandfather of Saleh.
al-Fulan would be Saleh's family name.
Hence, Saleh ibn Tariq ibn Khalid al-Fulan translates as "Saleh, son of Tariq, son of Khaled; of the family al-Fulan."
The Arabic for "daughter of" is bint. A woman with the name Fatimah bint Tariq bin Khalid al-Fulan translates as "Fatimah, daughter of Tariq, Son of Khaled; of the family al-Fulan."
Here is a good guide to Arabic names and a list of names.
All the ethnic groups also used Arabic naming conventions, with the Jews being the exception in some cases. The Mozarabs employed Arabic-style names such as Zaheid ibn Zafar, Pesencano ibn Azafar, Ibn Gafif, Ibn Gharsiya (Garcia), Ibn Mardanish (Martinez), Ibn Faranda (Fernandez), in purely Christian contexts. This demonstrates that they had acculturated thoroughly and that their Arabic names were not mere aliases adopted to facilitate their movement within Muslim society. Some Mozarabs identified themselves with undeniably Islamic names such as al-Aziz, and Ibn Uthman. Several Mozarabs and Muladies also used the name Al-Quti (The Goth).
Some Christian names such as Lope and Fortun entered the local Arabic lexicon (Lubb and Fortun), and others were adopted in translated form (such as Sa'ad for Felix).
In al-Andalus Jews existed in a linguistic dualism moving back and forth between Arabic and Hebrew. The names that they gave their children reflect this and represent a mix of forms. Jews appear with classical Hebrew biblical names in both the Hebrew form, and with Arabic cognates of those names which appear to be used interchangeably. Arabized traditional Hebrew names from the Torah include Ibrahim, Isma'il, Ishaq, Ya'qub, Yusaf, Ayyub (Job), Da'ud and Sulayman. Many Jews used the Arabic ibn instead of bat or ben when it was the norm (Ibn Ezra).
It is strongly advised to spend time on creating an authentic name for your character.
Culture and science of al-Andalus
The diverse cultures of al-Andalus formed a composite hybrid culture.
The art of al-Andalus had a distinctly Arabic and Islamic inspired flavor, and manifested itself mostly in sculptures and mosaics and other artifacts that served a dual purpose besides that of being aesthetically pleasing. What made these works distinctly Andalusian was the combination of various artistic elements from Catholic, Roman, and Byzantine artistic traditions.
The literature of al-Andalus represented both a translation of classical Greek and Roman works under rulers like al-Hakam II, which had been lost to Europeans, and also the coming together of Christian and Arab ideas into entirely new works. Muslim universities, libraries, courts, and to some degree Christian monasteries were hubs for literature, the former were also hubs for the hybridization of literature and thus of ideas. Foreigners from across Europe and the Middle East came to these universities in al-Andalus, contributing their own ideas.
As a result of this literary exchange, a wealth of new literature on the subject of theology, philosophy, science, and mathematics was produced during this time. The works of Muslim physician Abulcasis, female Muslim poet and linguist Lubna of Cordoba, Jewish scholar and physician Hasdai ibn Shaprut, are direct products of the cultural exchange manifested through literature.
Under the Caliphate of Cordoba, Jews experienced A Golden Age of Jewish Culture, in which Jewish scholars, philosophers, and poets prospered. Jews also contributed to the scientific and mathematic fields of study prominent in Cordoba at this time.
Administration of al-Andalus
The Andalusian Caliphate was organized in 6 Nabiya or main regions, three interiors and three bordering Christian lands. The 6 Nabiyas were (first 3 are the ones ruled by in-game Viziers, last 3 the ones ruled by military commanders, Qa´ids):
- Al-Gharb: Huelva and south of Portugal
- Al-Mawsat: Guadalquivir and Genil valleys (former Baetica)
- Al-Sharq: Mediterranean coast, from Murcia to Tortosa
- Al-Tagr al-Ala: Zaragoza and surrounding areas
- Al-Tagr al-Awsat: Toledo and surrounding areas
- Al-Tagr al-Adna: Mérida and Extremadura
Each Nabiya was organized into several Coras under the rule of a Wali. (Not to be confused with the totally separate religious title). The Coras were also divided into smaller provinces called Iqlims, normally organized about a castle or important town and ruled by a Zalmedin. The most important Coras of al-Andalus are represented in the game and they are:
- Labla (Huelva, includes Niebla)
- Martulah (Beja and Mertola)
- Al-Fagar (Silves).
- Isbiliya (includes Sevilla, Aracena, Alcala de Guadaira, Utrera and Lebrija)
- Firrish (north of Sevilla and Cordoba and east of Badajoz, high mineral deposits)
- al-Yazirat (includes Algeciras and Tarifa)
- Rayya (includes areas south of Cordoba as well as Malaga)
- Saduna (Jerez, Arcos de la Frontera, Gades)
- Qurtubah (Cordoba)
- Istiyya (Ecija)
- Yayyan (includes Jaen, north of Granada and Almeria, Ciudad Real and Albacete)
- Garnatah (Granada, Alpujarra and Sierra Nevada).
- Tudmir (From Murcia to Alicante, both included)
- Balansya (Valencia, Xativa and Denia)
- Turtusha (Tortosa, north of Castellon).
- Maridah (Merida, Extremadura and parts of Portugal).
- Tulaytulah (Toledo, Alcazar de San Juan and surrounding areas)
- al-Belat (north of Caceres and Toledo)
- Santabariya (Cuenca, Guadalajara and Teruel).
- Saraqusta (includes Zaragoza, Ricla, Alcañiz and Calanda)
- Barbitaniya (Huesca and Barbastro)
- Larida (Lerida, including Mequinenza and Fraga)
- Todela (Tudela).
It should be noted that in the Hispano-Muslim model, border was conceived as a disorganized separation line, without being a part of the territorial structure, with limited population and just marked by some specific points.
The coras of Tulaytulah, al-Belat, Santabariya, Saraqusta, Barbitaniya, Larida and Todela enjoy tax exemptions to certain extent due to their geographical location on the border of the Caliphate and their commitment to the defense of the borders.
Iqlims were territorial divisions under the Cora, normally formed around a Castle or defensive position. They are ruled by Zalmedins. There are three playable iqlims in the game:
- Mayurqa (Baleares) (Under al-Sharq)
- Melilla (Under al-Mawsat)
- Tanja (Tangiers) (Under al-Mawsat)
Each Nabiya has a standing army, for which an upkeep is paid by the Treasury. It should be noted that the Caliphate usually used mostly mercenaries of Berber origin for their military campaigns, and thus the standing armies are small. Efficiency represents the morale, training and quality of troops. Each Nabiya holder also directly holds one Cora inside his Nabiya. Governors of the Coras shall be acting as lieutenant commanders in the armies of their Nabiya under their respective Vizier/Qa'id during times of war.
The government of the Caliphate was a theocratic one, with the Caliph at its top and several advisors to him. The Caliph’s power is however highly reduced by the three-polar regency. The most important and thus playable court titles of al-Andalus were:
- Hajib: The most important advisor, who ran daily issues and was the right hand of the Caliph.
- Viziers: a second order minister who had wide powers and more than one existed in several periods. In the game, there are three Viziers who also control inner Nabiyas.
- Diwan: Foreign minister, who is responsible for diplomacy and negotations
- Sahib al-ziman: Responsible for tax collecting and the treasury
- Qadi: Main judge in the Caliphate and also a religious authority, a much respected figure. His work is supported by the Shura council. (NOTE: should not be confused with the Qa’ids)
- Wakil: The Wakil was a noble trusted with the administration of the possession of the Caliph’s son until the son became full aged. Wakil also was in charge of hiring the teachers who would teach the Islam to the prince.
- Qa´id al-asatil: Commander of the Navy of the Caliphate
- Amir al-Umara: Commander-in-Chief, holding influence in military matters, though the Arabic military model is not that much focused on a single commander-in-chief
The tax collection of the Caliphate was undetaken by three different treasuries.
- Personal treasury of the Caliph: Composed of the revenues of his personal terrains, confiscations and a special trade tax named zakat al-suq.
- Treasury of the Ummah: Administrated by religious authorities and kept in the Cordoba Grand Mosque. This treasury is composed of charity donations and should only be used for pious projects. It is run by the Qadi
- Public Treasury: composed by the vassal “tax” and the general taxes paid by all citizens. It is the most complex and important of the treasuries, and the Sahib al-ziman is running it. The public tax is composed of the personal tax for non-believers, the vassal tax and the general taxes paid by all citizens.
Joining the Game
The game can be joined at any time.
All players must join the game as either a bureaucrat, noble, intellectual or a soldier.
Several historical characters will be needed for the game to start, and they are listed on the Realm post below.
To join, simply make a post in the following format:
Culture: (Arabic, Berber, Muwallad, Mozarab, Jewish or Saqaliba)
Field: (Must be bureaucrat, noble, intellectual or soldier)
Biography: (Short background story for your character
In The Caliphate on the Edge, the Characters have three Stats: Income, Wealth, and Influence. Wealth is measured in gold dinars, and represents a character's material's worth. Income is measured in gold dinars per year, and represents the net tithes or income a character has. Influence is measured in clout, and is representative of the sway, friends, piety and favors a character accumulates over time.
So how are they useful? Well, each turn your income generates more wealth from you. And then wealth can be used on different orders, like buying more land and estates, or mercenaries etc. Influence is gained by having position, winning battles, courting favor among, and so on, and will make your orders, actions, and plots generally go smoother.
Orders cost wealth to carry out, and plots use influence to increase their chance of success. If you are low on wealth, you can spend Influence on orders, but not vice-versa. If you plan to do this, note it in your orders.
Every character gets one personal order per turn. This can be anything, though you may want to make it useful. For instance, if you are short on wealth, getting favor from an official would be smart so you are granted more land. If you are looking to carry out a plot, visiting noble families and currying their favor would be a good idea. This should be limited to a single action, and should take up no more than four lines in the message box.
In addition to their personal order, all players get an an administrative order. This is used to carry out their duties for the Caliphate, such as handling administration, or drilling troops, etc. The Caliph and the Regents have one of these, and he is to use it for administering the Realm (i.e. if he wants to improve the army, build specific buildings, etc.) The administrative order can have multiple actions in it so long as they are related, and should take up no more than six lines in the message box.
Note that the personal order is for actions that help your character, and the administrative order is for doing the duties that a character is tasked with doing by the Realm or other organizations.
You can use an administrative order to help yourself, but you must make it reasonable.
Finally, the Caliph and the Regents get an additional Realm order on top of their administrative and personal orders. This is used to do Realm actions such as granting titles, promoting (or demoting) characters, etc. The Realm order can have as many appropriate actions as the Caliph/Regent wishes in it, and it will have no limit for length.
Orders should have a subject of “Caliphate on the Edge - Your Character’s Name, Current Year”. So, for example:
Subject: Caliphate on the Edge - Ghalib, 977
Lots of fun stuff.
Even more fun stuff.
The most fun stuff.
Lots of fun war stuff (only to be used when attacking/raiding/etc. For recruitment/training, use other orders)
Due to the fact that the downloading of PMs seems to have been disabled, it is possible (and recommended) to send orders to my email, firstname.lastname@example.org
Plots are group covert efforts, for example assassinations. These will be treated as a special kind of order. Players are free to secretly plot, gather influence, etc. without GM approval. When the plot leader feels he is prepared to act, he must send the GM a PM detailing the plot goal, its plan, and those who back it. Any requests for NPC support (such as the King of Leon, Berber tribes, etc.) can be directed to me. Once I confirm the people that back the plot, it will be considered an order. A plot serves as the player’s personal order for the turn he decides to launch it, as well as for all those backing the plot. The greater the combined influence a plot has, the more likely it is to succeed.
Note that any assassination of a higher ranking Realm member, or the ruler himself, will need a VERY powerful plot backing to succeed.
Updates, Events, and War
There are two types of updates. These will contain the results of orders, events, and other important happenings. The first type of update is a Main Update. It will cover a year in-game, and will contain the results of all the orders sent in, among other events that happen that year. The second type of update is a Mini Update. It will highlight or cover a specific event during the year.
Events are significant happenings (such as a war, a new ruler in another land, a natural disaster, or an unexpected benefit) that will usually cause a headache for the Caliph and Regents, though sometimes will bring them or other characters joy. The majority of Caliphate on the Edge will be player-driven, but the events will provide the substance for you as a player to create this content.
Once an army goes to war, its commander will send me the general war plan. The war plan must include the commanders (either players or NPCs) for the right and left flanks, as well as the composition of forces for the center and the flanks. The army's commander will command the center, and guide the strategy and overall tactics of the army. The flank commanders will detail in their orders the individual tactics of their flank during a battle.
I will write up mini updates for major battles, and perhaps if you are a soldier or an officer commanding a flank, you will be noted in such a mini for commendable service to the Caliph and your faith.
Well, that is it! If you still have any questions regarding the rules, or if some part of them is unclear (or badly written, I am not a native speaker, feel free to PM me here on the Forums or contact me on IRC. Have fun with The Caliphate on the Edge!
The IRC Channel is for OOC conversation and speaking with the GM. It is not a requirement, but it is strongly recommended.
Channel name: #TA
1) Go to ColdFront using the link above.
2) Choose the Flash or Java Client
3) Create a screen name
4) The client will auto-add you to #coldfront. Leave this channel.
5) In the command box type "/join #TA"
You should then be logged in and ready to chat.