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The Shifting Sands
Game Master Zillamaster55
Total turns 12+
Start date January 1st, 1965
Creation date 25th of March, 2015
Status Finished
Link Here

The Shifting Sands is an RP made by Facepunch user Zillamaster55, set in the Middle East during the Cold War, starting in 1965. After several attempts to get an RP running (coming close with OUTBREAK!), the GM finally managed to get a full game going, receiving favorable support from within the community, as well as outside of it. A full-blown success story, it established the GM as one of the better game runners within the community.

With the end of the RP, Zilla began planning their next RP, leading to a vote on what game the players would want to see. Using the steam of success from this game and the results of the vote, they started their next game, one which would cement Zilla's place among the greats: On the Backs of Broken Men.

If you want to see any of the turns without going to Facepunch, use this link.


In Turn 12, the perspective of the map was pulled out slightly, expanding its view to a majority of Northern Africa, as well as India and Bangladesh.

Awards Ceremony

Something introduced in this RP was the Awards Ceremony. Here, the GM would hand out superficial awards to the players based on what they've done.

The Ceremony was announced after the 4th turn and held after it. This was the only time the Ceremony was held.

The concept would find more use in Zilla's next game.


OvB's oil production calculations: 1966

Warning: this could all be completely wrong, and should not be used for financial planning.

Oil production in million barrels per day for 1966

Saudi Arabia: 2.60
United Arab Emirates: 0.36
Bahrain & Qatar: 0.36
Iraqi oil deals: ~0.28

Saudi Arabian Total: 3.60 Million barrels produced per day.
Global Total: 32.96
Saudi Arabian % of Global Total: ~10.92%

The price of oil per barrel in 1966: $1.36
Production per day is worth: $4,896,000 (or about $1,787,040,000 per year)
Adjusted for inflation for 2015: $35,680,204.44 per day. (or about $13B per year)

But what about the other big producers?

List of countries by Oil Production in million barrels per day:

1. United States: 8.30
2. USSR: 5.23
3. Saudi Arabia: 3.60 - $4,896,000 = 10.92% of total
4. Mesopotamia: 3.59' - $4,882,400 = 10.89% of total
5. Persia: 2.13 - $2,896,800 = 6.46% of total

Total: 9.32 - $12,675,200 = 28.28% of total
'does not account for independent Kurdistan

Estimated Exports are difficult, and since OvB made some deviations from historical values in both of those, and the fact that data for these values for 1966 is hard to come by, he couldn't give a solid estimate for Exports.

Criteria for Ascension to Tigris Economic Union: 1967

Here, we have the three states of ascension within the Tigris Economic Union, or the TEU.

Stage 1: Qualification for joining and maintaining membership in Tigris Economic Union


Restrictions on market activity must be reduced, with an aim to eliminate price and currency controls. Economic data must be released at regular intervals. Credit and investment ratings are to be assesses by third parties, both must be in good standing or improving. Land reform must be done, in order to promote economic development. National land registry must exist.


Minority ethnic groups must have autonomy or political representation. Local and regional government must exist, and be granted powers over budget. There has to be a clear separation of judiciary, legislative, and executive. There must be free and fair elections for local and/or town level government.


A program to raise or maintain literacy rate above 95% has to be introduced, this includes the vernacular tongue. Demographic information has to be released at regular intervals. Public facilities are to be allowed to access government data, books, newspapers, etc.


There will be a free trade agreement with Tigris Economic Union, and there will be the establishment of at least one special economic zone.

Stage 2: Qualification for development loans, funding, and increased financial aid

Note: All criteria from Stage 1 must be adopted before the country may apply.

Not all these qualifications are necessary, but at least 4 from each section or 15 in total must be adopted to qualify. All reforms are to be overseen by third parties and inspection agencies, emphasized in several important areas as to where oversight will be greatest so as to crack down on corruption in particular.


There must be freedom of movement for workers, capital, and goods. There must be complete transparency of economic data, with both domestic and foreign companies able to access it freely. A regulated banking sector has to be established, and fiscal policy must be given stringent oversight by third parties. One must have a “growing” economy or better. A common exchange mechanism, with stabilized currency and reduced currency variability, must be adopted. There will be a coordinated monetary policy with TEU.


There has to be equality of ethnic groups, with full representation or autonomy. Local and regional government must be given full discretion and powers over local and regional affairs. There has to be developed modern legal system, based on rule of law and independence of judiciary. There must be free and fair elections up to and including regional government. Anti-corruption reforms are to be undertaken, observed by third parties.


There must be universal primary and secondary schooling. There must be complete transparency of demographic information, freedom of domestic and foreign entities to access said information. Reforms abolishing or discouraging consanguinity must be adopted. There has to be coordination of healthcare, sanitation, water, environmental regulations and policies with TEU, as well as coordination of railways, electricity, roads, irrigation, and air travel infrastructure with TEU.


There will be membership of customs union and common market. External trade policy must be aligned with the TEU. There has to be right of establishment for companies foreign and domestic, freedom to provide services. The GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) must be adopted in full. Membership of International Patent System is required.

Stage 3: Qualification for full representation in TEU, access to financial services, etc

Note: All criteria from Stage 2 must be adopted before the country begins to undertake these reforms

All reforms to be overseen by third parties and inspection agencies, emphasized in several important areas as to where oversight will be greatest so as to crack down on corruption in particular.


There will be a complete economic union. One must have a “strong” economy or better. Talents have to be adopted as the national currency. The Stability and Growth Pact has to be adopted. There must be a complete integration of trade policy with the TEU.


There must be coordination of education, administration, R&D, academia, media with TEU. There must be regular audits of government agencies by TEU auditors to ensure fiscal responsibility. There must be complete integration of healthcare, sanitation, water, environmental regulations and policies with TEU. There must be complete integration of railways, electricity, roads, irrigation, and air travel infrastructure with TEU. There must be coordination of legislative, judiciary, and executive with TEU.

A Poem [That's Not Canon]

Context: Zilla had to write a poem for class, so they wrote one based on the RP.

Cradled in rivers warm and blue
A nation rises between the two
From grain and dust to marsh and sand
A kingdom built to rule the land
But bell and time they do toll on
To end the mighty Babylon

Stretched far upon the mountain peak
A age old city for so many seek
Under sky and sun the borders free
An empire built cross sand and sea
But gone too far and made one furious
And thus it falls, the land of Darius

From merchant roots to prophet’s call
A world for one, and built for all
God and sword and sand together
A nation built to last forever
But come the sign of one man’s desire
Crushes the lengthy Arab empire

Though now no longer together as one
Still wars and borders fought to be won
The quest for better, richer lands
Paints the story of the Shifting Sands

Thoughts on Persia: 1968

It was April 1965, when I visited Persia for the first time. My time there is engraved upon my memory. I took one of the old routes to the capital Tehran, a route that at times was little more than a narrow dirt track. Although we crawled through the middle of the countryside, the road was absolutely full of people. There was an extraordinary juxtaposition of eras: women walking with their animals and carrying their produce, farmers riding bicycles, the occasional lorry trundled along what was an excuse for a road. In the fields and orchards alongside those roads worked the common peasantry. They wore the traditional clothing, held to the old customs, and prayed to allah as did every other man, woman, and child for the past thousand years.

But there was something fundamental changing. A country in motion, its people living for the present and looking for opportunity as if this were the only chance they had to seize it. I was engulfed by a wave of energy, willpower, creativity. Speculative, chaotic, dynamic, and a complete mess. It certainly was a mess, you could see construction everywhere as you moved towards the city. The road was half-made, the half-finished buildings spreading outwards from the ancient city. It was like a giant construction zone spreading outwards.

Just three years later I tried to retrace my steps with a news crew. There was not a single familiar sight I could find. The dynamic chaos was giving way to order. A plethora of brand new expressways, factories, warehouses, housing, railways, and a lot more cars. There was no longer the sign of the old juxtaposition of the old eras that fascinated me a few years ago. There were a few old mosques, but they lay empty, even though it was friday. I wanted to find the old sights to take pictures of, but when I asked the officials in their western suits they shrugged their shoulders as if to suggest it was in the distant past. For me it was barely three years ago, but to them it may as well have been a thousand.

Persian overview: 1968

Between fiscal year 1964 and 1968, Persia's gross national product grew at an annual rate of 15.1 percent at constant prices. The oil, gas, and construction industries expanded by almost 180 percent during this period, while the share of value-added manufacturing increased by 40 percent. Women’s participation in the labor force in urban areas increased. Large numbers of urban Persian women, from varying social strata, began to join the semiskilled and skilled labor forces. In addition, the number of women enrolling in higher education increased to to more than 18,000 in 1968.

Accelerated development of the middle class is a major outcome of the 1964 - 1968 period. Among this class are the new professional intelligentsia, called motekhassesin (experts). Their common denominator was the professional, cultural, or administrative expertise acquired through modern education. The patterns of economic growth and regional development along with the political reform of the shah’s regime in areas such as civil institutions, human rights, and property rights significantly improved opportunities for the majority of Persians to develop fully their social and economic potential. Economic and social reform is opening competition among businesses and stimulating development. Persians, once excluded from political and economic decision making, increasingly engage in politics and activism.

Postcard Transcript: 1968

Wish You Were Here Postcard (Zillamaster55)

The postcard in question.

Dear love,

How are you? I'll be headed home soon. The whole gas deal is almost done and I'll be on the first return plane to Dallas.

Tehran is great. If we ever get to go to Persia any time soon, you'd love it here. I almost want to stay!

I love you, Thomas

[To Hanna Asiimov
4529 Warwick Drive
San Antonio Texas, USA]

Islamic Sultanate of Mesopotamia Fact Sheet: 1968

Flag to the right ->

The flag.

Motto: Allahu Ackbar

Anthem: (someone find a good Islamic song about Allah)

Major Cities: Baghdad (Capital), Kuwait City, Bandar Shahpur

Major Exports: Oil, oil, oil, unleaded gas, Islamic literature, oil, oil

Political Parties of Mesopotamia:

Muslim Brotherhood;

They are one of the two largest parties, with 40% of Parliament. They are a moderate centrist Sunni party, pan-Islamic, pro-reform and democracy. Their motto is "Islam is the Solution."

Children of Husayn;

They are one of the two largest parties, with 45% of Parliament. They are a moderate centrist Shia party, pro-reform and prefers a strong central government. It is the party of Prime Minister Ayatollah Komenei. Their motto is "Islam is the Revolution."

Arabian Democracy Party;

They are one of the smaller parties, with 10% of Parliament. They are a minor nationalist party, right-wing, anti-Kurdistan, anti-Israel, anti-TEU and pro-unity with the Arab nations. Neither Sunni nor Shiite, not religiously focused, they retain what's left of the moderate members of the former Ba'ath party. Their motto is "Strength through Unity."

Euphrates Farmer's Party;

They are the second smallest party, with 4% of Parliament. They are a minor Shiite party, moderately left wing (as much as the government would allow), pro-worker's rights, pro-TEU, usually anti-Arabian Democracy Party.

Hizb ut-Tahrir;

They are the smallest party, with 1% of Parliament. They are a minor Sunni party, very right wing, usually at odds with all the other parties, extremely pan-Islam, anti-Israel, anti-TEU, based on a real party outlawed in modern-day Iraq.



There are 450,000 men (standing, not including conscripts rotating through their mandatory 2 year service), a classified number of Muhammad's Scrimitars (special forces) and 1,000+ tanks.


There are 2 UK-built Frigates, Jabbar and Ali, and they will be joined by soon-to-arrive Treasury-Class Cutters from the US.
Mesopotamia on Google Maps (Emperor Scorpious II)

The geography; ignore the IRL names.

Air Force;

It is whatever the hell Iraq had IRL at this time, as Scorpious hadn't fuddled with it for the whole RP.

Geography to the right ->