Eruk

Text by Vincent Darlage, who notes that the map for Eruk was published in "Shem: Gateway to the South".

"After these rolled a horde that seemed to encompass all the desert. Thousands on thousands of the war-like Sons of Shem: ranks of horsemen in scale-mail corselets and cylindrical helmets the asshuri of Nippr, Shumir and Eruk and their sister cities; wild white-robed hordes the nomad clans." -- Robert E. Howard: "Black Colossus"


Eruk is a city-state of Shem whose asshuri are famed for their skill at arms. Located on the caravan trail from Akkharia into Koth, Eruk is built on the meadowlands near the hills that separate the grasslands from the eastern deserts. Eruk began as two separate villages, named Kulabba and Eannah, which later grew together and became Eruk. Eruk specialises in copper production and the smelting of iron, although Eruki steel is not as famed or as strong as Akbitanan steel. Another caravan trail from Stygia, via the Ford of Bubastes, passes through or near Eruk on its winding route to Shumir. Eruk has a population of almost twenty thousand people, not including the four towns and many villages that are subject to its king. An amazing amount of the city is dedicated to gardens and temples.

Fortifications and Military Strength

Asshuri of Eruk

Like most Shemite cities, this one is surrounded by a huge, thick wall with battlements and ornamentation. A unit of 400 asshuri make up the home guard and another unit of 400 asshuri serve in foreign wars. An average of 200 mercenaries (or Free Companies) bolster the strength of the home guard asshuri.

Their Regional Commander is a 19th level soldier/noble/scholar. He is aided by four captains who are typically 14th level soldiers / 2nd level nobles, each with his own flight of body-guards. Approximately 40 10th level flight leaders command 100 or so 7th level hawk leaders, who command the remainder of the men. Eruki asshuri tend to be, on average, a level or two higher than most asshuri of similar rank.

Administration and Power Centres

Ruler: Eruk is ruled by the temples and its king. Like most Shemite kings, he is also from the soldier class and is a capable warrior. His queen is usually a high priestess of Derketo.

Regional Commander: The regional commander of Eruk has a lot of political clout and influence. Who he is and what his agenda is will be up to the Games Master.

Third Centre of Power: There are always at least three centres of power in Eruk. This centre is left open for the needs of the campaign. It may be a powerful dam-gar, a wealthy craftsman or a sorcerous priest - or even a demon.

Layout of Eruk

Eruk is built upon a series of irregular hills. The temples and palaces are mostly upon these hills. The slums are on the plains beneath the hills. Zikkurats, temples and shrines rise up in scattered places throughout the city, and the other "wards" mingle and entangle throughout a maze of alleys cutting and twisting between the main streets. In some parts of the city, the canals operate as streets, much like modern-day Venice. The middle and lower classes live in low mud-brick cities around the larger buildings.

The whole city is surrounded by a thick square wall with two main gates and four minor gates. The main gates are decorated with symbols of the god the gate is named after, as well as symbols of Lugal-irra, the god of doorways and gates. The minor gates are decorated with emblems representing Neti, the brother of Lugal-irra.

There are 21 main streets in Eruk. They are narrow and irregular, hemmed in by high windowless walls on either side. The streets are 3 to 25 feet wide. The largest street is the Processional Street, which is paved and decorated with lion statues and lion moulds in the sun-glazed bricks. Processional Street, which passes from the Akitu Gate to the central zikkurat district, is lower than the other streets of Eruk and is kept clean. The other streets are built from clay and garbage. There is no sewage system, so garbage is thrown to the streets. When the streets become unmanageable, the garbage is buried underneath a layer of clay. When the street rises high enough, people tear down their houses and build up the foundation and a new house on the higher ground. Huge aqueducts carry water throughout the city.

Districts of Eruk

Eruk is segregated into sprawling wards and districts used to separate the city into manageable social units and neighbourhoods. People in these wards and districts know each other, vouch for each other, celebrate with each other and work with each other. People native to a particular ward with Knowledge (local) of at least one rank know everyone else in the ward, so Reputation bonuses always apply when a character is in his home ward and dealing with other natives of that same ward.

Slum Wards: The slum "wards" cover 39 acres of the city, boasting a total of 2,652 small mud-brick tenements and other structures throughout the city to house the city's 9,750 lower- and middle-class adult labourers and slaves.

  • Iddin: This is mostly middle-class housing and has a few mansions, although closer to the Iprum Gate it becomes worse and worse.
  • Ninurta: This is the foreigner's district. It is barely patrolled and is one of the worst and unkempt of Eruk's slums.
  • Kubi: This is where most of the city's agricultural labour live. A shaman is said to live here, ministering to the oracular needs of the lower-classes, although the temples and the asshuri cannot find him. The shaman is said to be a spectacular swordsman who also rights the abuses of the upper classes against the lower classes by acting as a force of vengeance for the people. He is known as Urzi ("Truth's Champion").
  • Emudbalem: The citizens responsible for maintaining the city walls and maintaining the canals outside the city live here.
  • Ewum: Many of the temple's labourers live in this district. Most of them are responsible for upkeep on the palaces and temples, as well as maintaining the canals and aqueducts.

Karum Wards: 108 caravanserais, taverns, brothels and inns can be found in the karums of Eruk, as well as hundreds of dam-gar stalls and small market-places. A karum lies inside and outside each of gates. The city gates are massive, double-towered constructions, fortifications inlaid with coloured tiles and decorated with colossal figures of gods and sphinxes. Other karums are along the main canals and along the river. The karums of Eruk take up a combined 12 acres. 2,652 people live and work here (approximately 822 of them are dam-gar) amid 672 different structures.

  • Ana Deratim: This karum serves the king and the temples. A rather large plateau is at the south end of the ward and is used to execute criminals or perform especially large sacrifices.
  • Ana Shir: This karum runs along Shir Street, a long boulevard taking travellers from the Iprum gate to the Great El-Lil Canal. It mostly buys and sells foreign items.
  • Ana Mahar: On the inside of the Mahar Gate, this karum deals in livestock, wagons and other needs for caravans. Most of the city's caravanserais are located in this district. The Mahar Gate is large enough for most caravans to enter the city.
  • Ana Sn-Taklaku: This karum sells mostly religious articles and artefacts. There is also a well-known Pelishtim scholar in this district who will buy scrolls from foreign lands and translate them into Shemitish, putting them down on clay tablets for eternity. He employs a considerable number of scribes to accomplish this. After translation, the scrolls he buys are placed in clay urns and hidden in a secret cave somewhere. This scholar is said to be centuries old, although he claims he is somewhere in his seventies (although if one asked around, one is likely to find someone who claims his grandmother says the Pelishtim in question made that same claim when she was a child).
  • Ana Abum: This karum sells mostly house-hold items built in Warka, but sometimes imports from foreign lands can be found.
  • Ana Qati: This karum sells mostly metal products, especially arms and armour.
  • Ana Sharrum: This karum sells mostly bitter wines and beer intended for foreign markets.
  • Ana Iprum: This district is mostly inns for smaller groups of travellers (caravans are asked to go through the Mahar Gate).

Craftsman Districts: There are many craftsman districts in the city interspersed throughout the slum wards, and are about 14 acres combined, each stretching along the wide avenues and narrow lanes of the city where the craftsmen live in a spider-web network of minor craft bazaars. There are 840 structures supporting 2,870 people, most of whom are slaves working for the craftsmen and artisans.

  • Girsu: This is a combination karum and craft-ward. It primarily serves the temples as their outlet for buying and selling, although many of the people living here are also craftsmen in the employ of the temples.
  • Warka: This district is where the city-builders, home-builders and other engineering craftsmen live. Furniture, roofs and various house-hold items can be built here.
  • Kiaru: This ward is dedicated to the crafting of metal, including scimitars, tulwars, curved daggers and armour. Bells and statues are also forged here. Horseshoes are also forged here and sold in the Ana Mahar district to caravanseries.
  • Aruduru: This is a wine-making ward. Beer and other beverages are also brewed here. Eruki Dam-gar also treat some section of this district as a minor karum, using it to sell the wine to locals.

Temple District: The 39-acre temple district is built on the large hills in the centre of the city. Their domed and stacked appearances gives the ridges the look of a stegosaur back when the skyline is viewed. The district features a magnificent temple dedicated to El-Lil and acres upon acres of gardens. The temple complex also features smaller shrines to most of the rest of the Shemite gods. There are a total of 1,950 structures in the temple district, including the two palaces of the king. 3,075 people live and work in this district, 398 of whom are various priests and temple prostitutes.

  • The White Temple of El-Lil: This temple, built upon a brick terrace, is 73 by 57 feet in size instead of the standard 20 by 20 feet seen in most Shemite temples. The temple has three doors. The main entrance faces toward the south. Although not built on as tall of a zikkurat as many Shemite temples, none dispute that the White Temple is one of the most beautiful temples in all of Shem.
  • The Palace of the King: The palace is located high above the king's karum and can be reached by a massive set of stairs.
  • Bit Imeri: This is a massive temple complex containing temples to the major Shemite gods, except El-Lil and Ishtar, who have temples elsewhere in the city.
  • The Gardens of Gigunnm
  • The Gardens of Mazzashtum
  • Bit Amr: This is another temple complex containing shrines to dozens of minor Shemite gods.
  • The Zikkurat of Ishtar: This is a seven-tiered white zikkurat of impressive design and multiple colours. Many of the glazed bricks coating the outside are embossed with golden lions. The first tier of the temple is 92 feet high and 256 by 256 feet in area. There is no interior to the first tier - it is built of mud-bricks and is solid, as are all the tiers but the final one. The second tier is 50 feet high and 197 by 197 feet in area. The three main stairs go to the top of this tier into a double-towered gate built on the tier. Stairs extend from the back of this gate to the top of the third tier, where more stairs lead people from tier to tier. The third tier is 20 feet high, 167 by 167 feet in area. The fourth tier is also 20 feet high, 107 by 107 feet in area. The fifth tier is 20 feet high, 96 by 96 feet in area. The sixth tier is only 12 feet high and, 80 by 80 feet square. The seventh tier is bronzed, is 50 feet high and is 59 feet wide and 70 feet long. This final tier is actually the temple and has an interior. The gypsum walls and limestone ceiling are plated with gold and impact braccia. The altar, throne, footstool and large-breasted, nude statue of Ishtar are all copper. The temple needs constant maintenance because it is made of mud and straw for the most part.

Military Compound: The military compound, built like a small castle within the city, is eight acres of land devoted to the asshuri and their needs. 1,160 people live there among 432 structures.

  • Map: See Shem: Gateway to the South
  • Population: 19,879 (96% Meadow Shemite, 2% Shemite, 1% Kothian, 1% Other)
  • Size: Large City (112 acres of land)
  • Average Population Density: 177 adults per acre
  • Average Number of Structures: 60 structures per acre (approx. 6,666 structures total)
  • Wealth Limit: 400,000 silver coins
  • Ready Cash: 397,580,000 silver coins
  • Government: Theocracy
  • Income for the Temple: 993,950 silver coins per year
  • Religion: El-Lil is the patron god; Shemite pantheon
  • Imports: Trade Goods, especially grain
  • Exports: Copper, iron, steel, bitter wine
  • Code of Honour: Civilised