Between Sand & Sea: Mythic Africa

I can't really talk about Egypt (or Africa) because of the NDA, but the shocking thing for me is exactly how low-lying the low lying fruit was. The research load on Africa has mostly been carried by the other authors so I'm not sure what depths they went to, but for the core bits of Egypt, the research that said "There is a different way to do Egypt, that is Basically Better." took about two hours. That's to get to the point of saying "I am certain that this new approach has sufficient material behind it that I can write a book on this." I was just amazed at how much material was there which I'd not seen in other RPG books. I can't talk about the approach we are taking because of the NDA, but I can say that it's shockingly obvious that a lot of people who write RPGs don't even do the basics in terms of thinking about an idea, then thinking about if there's a better way of doing it. I honestly feel we could write half a dozen Egyptian books (in addition to the ones already out) and not break a sweat. Indeed, for about a day or so, my pitch on this was "Egypt is the new vanilla setting." (which didn't get up because, it's impractical, it's me doing the weird stuff I do at the start of projects, Provence does that job so well, and because TC&TC also does that: if you look at it, it's the guide to playing Ars without the Order in it.)

John Green notes, in one of his recent videoes about art, that the second thought you have about a project is generally better that the first thought. I find this a lot in the bit of fiction I'm doing on my blog: once I tell myself the story the second time it's better. A lot of RPG material on Egypt, and North Africa, doesn't make it past the first thought (which is basically movies, children's adaptions of Thousand and One Nights, and Tutankhamun festishism.)

We are doing something else, and we can't tell you what it is, I think the two books (which mentally I still think of as one big book, but that's not how they are written: they stand alone) will not just be good books, they will give us tools to tell new sorts of Ars stories, in the same way that mystery initiation, or limerance faeries, gave us new tools.

So, I think I stayed just within the NDA there...but my point is that I'm really enthused about these two books, and they have beautiful, but surprisingly easy, research behind them.

I fully agree with this. Particularly for TC&TC. "The Arabian Nights" are good but the actual Mythic Middle East is better.

Yep. That's the general idea, building on some of the lessons learnt from TC&TC.

They're going to be great... :slight_smile:

I think it's a problem with a lot of genre media. People stew in the popular but poorly-researched effluvia of a genre and regurgitate it without thinking twice.

This is a good discussion. I just spent two days doing legal research and I wish the fruit hung that low in my circumstances.

One thing I personally would have preferred to see in the middle-eastern supplements is a a bit more definition to story flaws and social v/f's that are more culturally precise. There is not a lot of either in TCTC and the most appropriate are in ROP:D. This would be something that would be useful to have included in Egypt but its development may be a bit advanced to incorporate more of that stuff.

Yeah. I'm not legal but professional research can be a lot harder (although Google Scholar is actually pretty powerful these days ie. kicks PubMed etc)

Hmm, OK. Most of the "cultural" V&Fs for the Levant or MME etc are simple enough mechanically to just use renamed ArM5 corebook flaws.
(OK it's not exactly equivalent but from a meta-game mechanics perspective the granularity is coarse enough in terms of XP benefit etc that it's probably OK)

RoP:tD(RE) does this to some extent already eg. Knight --> Emir. ArM4 Blood & Sand (available in searchable PDF, very useful) has some suggestions also IIRC.

See my Blood & Sand: Redux page for some material. I don't think I've uploaded some of the material form SubRosa with a few cultural aspects or some of my older Levantine sahir material yet but I'll check.

It's something I can look at perhaps from my cut-files etc and whip up a quick table.



I'm looking forward to this book, and an egypt supplement forthcoming in the future? Wow. Looks like some really neat books are upcoming in the next year or two. :slight_smile:

Someone from Atlas mentioned Egypt a while back, so people can say "Egypt!" and not a lot else.

But, yes, Egypt. Not in this book, though. P T Barnum used to say "White salmon, guaranteed not to go pink in the can!" which is why my web page had a graphic that said "Guaranteed no Egypt! No extra charge!"

...which is to say, (he added later, noting that other people do not share his love of grifters and urban myths) that I know Egypt naturally stokes people's enthusiasm and that some people might be disappointed to get this first. I'd counter by saying that North Africa is great as a setting of itself, and works well even if your saga is set in, say, Provence. If you open a tin of salmon, your disappointment on it not being pink is contingent on your wanting pink salmon. White salmon (or ivory salmon as they now call it, when trying to get you to pay more) is lovely. Similarly, North Africa is actually kind of great as a setting, and I'd like people to be opening the book not thinking "well this is not the Egypt I wanted." because although it has cultural and thematic links, it really is distinctly its own thing, with its own flavour. You aren't getting a pale version of Egypt,

Possibly too long a ramble...I hope you'll all forgive me. I have a baby due in a fortnight and I'm using insomnia and pointless Facebook arguments to deal with the stress. 8)

I'm looking forward to the North Africa book because I know for a ten-dollar fact that I couldn't have researched and written this book within a million miles as proficiently as the guys who did. These guys are proper job and frankly I'm buying whatever they're selling.

I'm with Timothy on this (and thanks to Mark for his compliments - it's a strong team of which I was just a minor part).

Africa is a great setting in itself.


This book looks very interesting,
Then again, so did Faith and Flame and that was a real disappointment. If this book is more like The Cradle and the Crescent, I will love it so much. I loved the way tC&tC
was written and almost everything about it. So with crossing my fingers, i look forward to this book.

I long for a book about Egypt and Ethiopia (and maybe about the lands of the south). Maybe in the future (After Rome?).

Could you explain, what you didn´t like in Faith&Flame? And what you liked more in "The Cradle and the Crescent"?

In Faith&Flame I read about a really shocking period of history (allright, some things I already knew... but it is not wrong, to write them down, I think.). In a way, it is the darkest Ars Magica Tribunal book, I´ve ever read.
But not only:
I liked the Criamon Clutch.
I liked undead Flambeau-the-Founder, too (although I´ll never use him in a saga of mine).
The Coenobium at least took my interest.

And there were numbers for the voting Magi at a 1220/1 Provencal-Tribunal... Oh... I don´t need it, but it interested me, nevertheless.

I can´t say, that Faith&Flame is the best Tribunalbook I´ve ever read. But in my eyes, it isn´t bad.


Could you explain, what you didn´t like in Faith&Flame? And what you liked more in "The Cradle and the Crescent"?

  1. Too many broken references (Look at Chapter X, page Y for info...nothing there).
  2. One of the biggest things in the tribunal history, (fall of Mistridge) if not the bigest is glossed over in very little text, almost nothing is written about the person who did it.
  3. Too much stuff with too little info per part.
  4. More broken references.
  5. I know they want to get rid of White Wolf, but Windgraven, Mistidge and the other old covenenats barely got 40 words each. It felt a little sad to see the covenants and conflicts we have seen and played for so long just ignored like that.

I'm really, really excited about this [strike]Tribunal book[/strike] supplement, particularly since I've recently been researching the Al-Jawf area of Libya lately for the background of an important sahir NPC. Also, I've been in love with northern Africa for a long time, and I'm really looking forward to being able to read what you do with it. :slight_smile:

You've been nailing every single Ars Magica area of interest of mine lately, and every one of the books that came forth have been rael pleasers!

Any date yet on the release of the contents page guys? Struggling greatly to contain the excitement. After Mythic Locations, what a year! Faith and Flame, Hooks and now this one!

Oh right! I really should post that contents page this week. Thanks for the reminder. :wink:

Thanks mate, reaching for the Ventolin as I speak.

:smiley: ... le-of.html - I've just seen this; and i must say, I was specting this book so much, and the preview/contents are so awesome that now I need it... very much.

A few minor layout glitches:

  • Under the "History" (p. 14) heading, "Carthage/and the Romans" and "The Arab Invasion/and the Berber Uprising" take up two lines each, with each line having a page reference. The "Other Communities" headings on the following page don't have this mistake. Also, the "Carthage and the Romans" heading probably fits into one line.
  • The "Geography of North Africa: Coasts" (p. 40) heading seems to be mistakenly indented.
  • Under the following heading "Story Ideas for Pirates" (p. 40), most of the entries are accidentally in small caps instead of italic.
  • The "Tanzerouft, the/Western Great Desert" (p. 74) heading also has two lines with page references.
  • The "Arranging Caravans" (p. 78) heading should probably be indented.
  • The "Choosing a Social" and "Status Virtue or Flaw" headings (both p. 120) should probably be merged as well, and maybe moved one up in the heading hierarchy.
  • The headings "Mystic Tradition:" and "Divine Murabitin" (both p. 128) are a likely candidate for merging as well.

That's all I caught for now. Hopefully these can be fixed before it's off to the printer. That said, really looking forward to this book. :slight_smile:

As a side note: I really preferred having a separate appendix for the relevant language skills, made for super easy reference material and comes up quite often in my games at least.

It also seems that the "The Central/Great Desert" heading (referencing page 71) is a single heading, but also has a page reference in each of its two lines.

As for the ToC itself, I'm really excited at seeing the entries for the Garamantians! :smiley: