Proper Name: Caliphate of Ekbir
Ruler: His Sublime Magnificence, the Caliph of Ekbir, Xargun (NG male human Clr16 of Al’Akbar)
Government: Aristocratic theocracy; ruler must be a high-ranking cleric from one of five royal clans
Capital: Ekbir City
Major Towns: Ekbir (pop. 63,700), Kofeh (pop. 29,400), Fashtri (pop. 10,000)
Provinces: Numerous minor sheikdoms
Resources: Foodstuffs (plus fish), cloth, wood, shipbuilding supplies
Coinage: Star (pp) cup (gp), galley (ep), charger (sp), sentry (cp)
Population: 1,960,000—Human 96% (B), Halfling 2%, Elf 1%, Other 1%
Languages: Baklunish (Ancient and dialects), Common
Alignments: LG*, NG, LN, N
Religions: Al’Akbar, Istus, Mouqol, Pelor, Geshtai (all state favored); other Baklunish gods
Allies: Tusmit (sometimes), Zeif (sometimes)
Enemies: Zeif (sometimes), Tusmit (sometimes), Tiger Nomads (sometimes), Ket (sometimes), Knights of the Watch
Overview: The caliphate’s southern and eastern borders are formed by the Tuflik and Blashikmund rivers, while her northern border follows the Yatils to their terminus in the Yecha Hills. This arm of the mountains is filled by the Udgru Forest, a largely untamed region where the caliph’s authority does not go unchallenged. Ekbir, located on the coast of the Dramidj Ocean, boasts one of the most imposing fortresses in all the Flanaess within her capital city. The city is also a destination for pilgrims wishing to pray at the Mosque of Al’Akbar.
The city of Ekbir and the coastal areas of the caliphate are mild and pleasant year-round. The interior of Ekbir is another matter, for the winters there can be quite severe. The Hadash River marks an unofficial boundary between the settled and wild lands of the caliphate. The country is quite fertile, and the interior is almost purely agrarian. The people are very devout for the most part, though few here could be described as zealots. Most citizens follow the Exalted Faith of Al’Akbar, and even those who hold some other deity or deities as patron still have great reverence for Al’Akbar as the Restorer of Righteousness.
Ekbir’s military is more than sufficient for the defense of the realm; a large force of seasoned light and medium cavalry patrols her borders and pilgrimage routes, and a one thousand-man army of mace and scimitar-wielding heavy infantry is personally commanded by the caliph. The nation’s formidable war-fleet is based primarily from the capital city, though her mercantile fleet is divided almost equally between the capital and the more southerly port of Kofeh. The shipyards of Hadash Bay are quite busy as well, refitting several ships of state to honor the fiftieth anniversary of Xargun’s reign as caliph.
History: Ekbir is arguably the oldest of the Baklunish states in the Flanaess, its capital city having been founded by Al’Akbar himself, and where he reigned for the last decade of his mortal life. The simple guidelines he established for proper government, trade, and agriculture were quickly elaborated upon by his followers. Within twenty years of his ascension, a well-defined social order had already been achieved. While most of the rest of the Flanaess was in disorder, Ekbir was an island of stability and benevolence. Her clerics journeyed to neighboring lands to preach the accumulated wisdom of the Exalted Faith. They met much opposition, especially in the lands of the degenerate Satrapy of Ghayar (modern Zeif), but many converts were won as well.
When Ozef the Warrior overthrew the last of the Satraps and established the Sultanate of Zeif, he turned to the caliphate and the clergy of Al’Akbar for guidance in establishing his new government. Yet, with his untimely death, the blessed influence of the caliph was diminished. Meanwhile the importance of the nefarious viziers grew ever more profound. Thus, the proper relationship of sultan to caliph was never realized between the two nations, despite the importance of the faith of Al’Akbar to both.
During the reign of Udmey the Seer, the first order of knighthood in service to Al’Akbar was established, called the Farises. The caliph understood that mounted warriors had always proved most effective in the lands of the Baklunish, and these knights were organized to defend the nation, clergy, pilgrims, and citizens. They also served as a counterbalance to the mounted raiders of the plains. Udmey oversaw the creation of the naval force of Ekbir. The size and quality of this fleet was steadily increased until it came to dominate much of the western ocean over the next four centuries, providing security for travelers and merchants of all nations.
Sadly, this era of maritime prosperity was slowly brought to an end by a protracted conflict with the Ataphad city-states. The Ataphad Islands had been ignored for centuries by the Baklunish Empire, and they had provided a haven for the most degenerate elements of that civilization. When the Baklunish successor-states colonized in the Dramidj isles, they brought with them a culture that was opposed to the practices of the evil lords and sorcerers of the northern isles. A state of war soon developed that saw little open hostility, but relied heavily on espionage, often using the most potent magical means to undermine trade and government authority. Piracy also became commonplace; combined with sahuagin attacks and the treachery of turncoat ship’s captains, the sea-lanes of the Dramidj became some of the most dangerous on Oerth.
While the Ekbiri faced opposition on the open seas, they also suffered a grievous assault to their religious foundation. During the 16th Procession of Blessing, in 2878 BH (219 CY), the Cup and Talisman of Al’Akbar were brought by the grand mufti out of the Mosque of Al’Akbar, according to established custom. The procession was immediately attacked and the relics stolen by strange elves who were as tall as men. They escaped pursuit astride giant eagles, traveling above the Plains of the Paynims toward the distant Barrier Peaks. The grand mufti was held responsible for this irreplaceable loss, and he was exiled from Ekbir forever, ultimately finding refuge among the mountain tribes of the Yatils. Over the next decades, he formed the tenets of the True Faith, claiming the caliph was no longer the true spiritual heir of Al’Akbar.
Upheaval in the southern lands brought several large groups of mixed Oeridian and Baklunish refugees from the region of Ull into Ekbir in 2975 BH, along the pilgrimage routes through the plains. The caliphate established refugee camps near the Blashikmund to accommodate the exiles, setting guardians over them to maintain order. Later that year, when two even larger bands of nomads entered the caliphate, they refused to submit to the Ekbiri. Instead, these Paynims stirred the inhabitants of the camps to join with them in seizing arms and mounts from their guardians. Most of the guardians were slain in the struggle, and the nomads quickly moved north, stealing food and horses from villages along their route. Though harried by Ekbiri cavalry, the nomads eluded their pursuers with guile and unexpected magical force, managing to escape into the Yecha Hills in less than a fortnight.
For much of the next decade following the Nomad Intrusion, the borders of Ekbir were closed to large groups of pilgrims or other wanderers. The nation took a decidedly more aggressive stance toward its security, assuming control of Tusmit from the sultanate in the process. Teachers and administrators were sent to Tusmit to help organize the necessary social reforms in the new protectorate, but the obstreperous nobles (many of whom had supported the successors of the grand mufti of the Yatils) resisted every effort made by the Ekbiri. Finally, the pasha himself was forced to compromise with the nobles, and Tusmit was declared an independent state, though the pasha was still expected to acknowledge the caliph as his personal superior.
When the current pasha of Tusmit assumed his office, he failed to make ritual obeisance to the caliph, instead giving his pledge of loyalty to the sultan of Zeif. This has not helped relationships between Tusmit and Ekbir, needless to say. The relationship between Ekbir and Zeif, on the other hand, is near ruin. For the last twenty years the sultan has sought to advance his claim as the highest temporal authority in all Baklunish lands. The caliph has rejected this utterly on the basis of history, and also on morality, pointing to the corruption in the sultan’s court. Ships from one nation are now routinely harassed in the ports of the other, or simply refused berth. It is hoped that the growing tensions can be resolved without violence, but the armies of the caliphate stand ready to defend their nation.
Conflicts and Intrigues: Tension increases in the Dramidj between Zeif and the Ataphadi. Advisors express concern over contacts between the Ataphad city-states and the Tiger Nomads. Religious authorities are disturbed by tales of a new Mahdi among the Paynim tribes.