Maybe it is because I played "The Valley of the Pharaohs" in my youth and always had an interest in Egypt, but lots of things in Lands of the Nile just do not sit right with me.
Part of it is that they decided to only allow the Pharaohs to exist for a maximum of 2,070 years starting sometime after 2402BC. That chopped 750 years (over 25%) of the time off. This also changed much to all of the things that happened during the Two Lands period into something that never happened or has to be jammed into a totally wrong time. It also ignores things like villages as old as 5000BC that have been discovered.
I found so many things in it I disagreed with that I was actually pleasantly surprised that they got Upper and Lower Egypt right. That should tell you how I feel about it right there.
That's a more fundamental question. I can't, as an Ars writer, say "The premise of the game is wrong." and still write for the game.
You are familiar with the Egyptian religion? That's a huge swath of history to be familiar with, so, well done. I'm not: I worked from the best texts I could find about C12th Arabic views on what the ancient Egyptians were doing, as written in period sources translated by modern Egyptian scholars. I'm not able to write from personal spiritual revelation.
Troy, hi... It's not a matter of "allowing". Ars has always basically had the position of "where people's folklore is true". In C13th Egypt, the Muslim cosmology is basically right. That does give us "There are always more monuments" which personally I liked, but much as I wasn't allowed dinosaurs in Sanctuary of Ice, the cosmology doesn't allow the extra time.
The Muslims being right is a fresh take...they are wrong in virtually every other game. That this brings in other ideas like the fecundity of Egypt and the incessant additional monuments, which gives us a real life dungeoneers guild, seemed fun to explore.
Which is point 2 of my long standing disagreement- "people's folklore is true" is not the same thing as "monotheistic theology is true". At the time of Chaucer people were still swearing by Jupiter even if they didn't still worship him, and a great deal of folklore was not a part of the texts of theological authors.
That is most likely what is causing the dissonance for me.
Considering that I grew up fascinated by the history of Egypt and the first RPG I played (in the 80s) was set in a time older than the oldest that can be in Lands of the Nile is most likely what caused my near instant dislike for large parts of it.
The Muslims being right in Ars might be a fresh take, but they are wrong in virtually every other game because they were actually wrong.
Sorry if I came across as thinking it is not well written or researched. But the basis that the Muslims were right and Egypt is no where near as old as it actually is makes me no want to play in it. My current group was surprised when I wanted nothing to do with a trip to Egypt in game. After I told the SG he would have to throw away most of the fluff for me to have any interest basically torpedoed the idea since me and my character were the reason he even suggested it. So only NPCs travel there to buy grain in our game.
Silveroak, I hope you are going to be doing Magonomia. I think it works better with your way of interpreting truth. It has active practitioners of wicca in it's research pool.
Could I convince you the Ogdoad are titans?
Troy, if I needed everyone actually wrong to be wrong bit parts of Europe go off limits. Transylvania is unwritable, for example.
That is why it is good that Ars Magica covers so much area and has so much variety to choose from to play. There are bound to be areas that everyone disagrees with to some extent and do not want to play in. I just took it extra hard because my favorite RPG can not use the writeup of my favorite real world local without extensive rewrite because of how wrong it feels to me.
It is like Icecream is your favorite food and vanilla bean is your favorite flavor, so you get super excited when you find a really highly regarded and fancy vanilla bean icecream. Then you taste it and something is just... wrong. Whats this? Vegan?! And that pretty much sums up my reaction.
Oh, and I love Sanctuary of Ice. I still hold out hope that someday it and Lion of the North will get a 5th edition update. Even if Rome would most likely get priority over Sanctuary of Ice if Atlas started putting out 5th edition books again.
I could certainly buy the Ogdoad as titans (or an equivelent) in the ars magica context- the issue is that they weren't really overthrown- Amun merges with Ra to become Amun-Ra (Egyptian deities merge like mighty morphin power rangers having a zord-orgy), and Amun stays part of the mythology, as does Nut, and the rest of the Ogdoad. The closest thing to a battle a la the titanomachy would be when Set kills Osiris and Osiris rises again- which is really more of a resurrection myth similar to Dionysus or Jesus. Egypt did have a chaoskamph of sorts in which Amen defeated Apep, but unlike the slaying of Tiamat Apep has to be battled every night.
Actually, Silveroak I might be remembering the bit you are misremembering.
In Al-amara, the Faerie gods snuffed out the Divine worship of Aten. No-one is sure how they did it, but they are a known case of the Divine losing to Faerie.
I'm surprised to learn that some people didn't like Lands of the Nile, as for me it was a book that I delayed buying for a while as I had quite low expectations (Egypt didn't hold much interest for me, personally) but found it unexpectedly great when I finally got around to it.
The focus on the medieval Islamic interpretation is very interesting imo, and if it had instead been all about ancient Egypt I'd have been quite nonplussed (that was what I had expected going in tbh, and it didn't excite me as an idea). It was interesting enough that it got me doing extra reading on medieval Egypt even though no saga I'm currently involved with is likely to go there any time soon.
The Hibernian book draws from stuff I'm intimately familiar with and it does the same splitting of Irish mythology into magic/faerie (and then into subdivision within faerie) in a way that arguably draws distinctions that didn't really exist in the oral/literary tradition or the beliefs of the time - and that's ok! It's a reasonably sensible divide and it's good for gameplay purposes. I'm quite fond of that book even if it isn't perfectly "accurate" (and the pronunciation guides can be a little wonky, lol...).
We are on opposite sides of the coin about Land of the Nile. What caused you to have low expectations and delay buying it is the reason I bought it right away. What you found unexpectedly great about it was what I really did not like.
I really like ancient Egypt and playing an RPG based in it is my oldest and one of my fondest RPG gaming memories. That does not make the book bad, just bad for me personally.
While it will never happen (why would it?), if there was an Ars Magica book that included the Cajuns and Cajun area I would most likely have a similar reaction to it that you had to the Hibernian book.
I can give you multiple explanations, though I am used to seeing the place referenced as Akhetaten, not the name of a city in Syria, and of course my version of events has magic, not faerie deities.
Option 1: This was not truly divine, but a proto-divine realm. Potentially either faerie or magical it was a being attempting to ascend themselves to the divine realm who failed.
Option 2 Humans. The move to create a monotheistic society in ancient Egypt crushed the economy in the real world (given the timing arguably the same could b said for the Roman empire), and after Akhetaten died his son restored the old religion. The only location with a divine aura was Akhetaten, which was abandoned, and the divine aura would fade overtime.
The Arabic name, which is the C13th name and modern name, is Al-Amarnah. You find Amarnahs all over the Arabic world, because it means a place from which a province is ruled, hence the one you found in Damascus. The word "Emir" has the same root.
The site was abandoned in 1332 BC, and rediscovered in the 18th century. Why would there be a 13c Arabic name for it?
It was known to have existed and was written of as a lost place. That's like asking why we had a name for Troy before 1873.
The difference being why would you rename a place you don't have a location for. New Amsterdam was renamed New York when the British acquired it from the Dutch. Nobody has renamed Atlantis to match their own culture and nationality, at least to my knowledge. Naming an archeological ste is one thing, renaming a lost city of legends is something else.
... and not actually that uncommon. Please remember that while these days, it's generally accepted that one shouldn't translate names (though not all adhere to that rule!), that's a fairly new rule of thumb.
The romans were - of course - particularly systematic about this, as you can't speak latin if you can't commit grammar on the words. And foreign words don't necessarily have a format compatible with latin grammar. I have no idea if the same thing is the case with the arabic language, but I wouldn't be surprised.
Don't assume though. We have the name (Atlantis) from the writings of Platon, whose name is translated/transcribed as Plato in English sources. Probably because the romans did so.
Platon has the story in a text called Critias (or the Critias Dialogue, depending on translation), who claims to have it from Solon, who again claimed to have it from egyptian priests.
Thus Atlantis is possibly a greek attempt at giving the name of something for which we (to my knowledge) have no record of what the egyptians named it. They could well have called it something that would translate as "The Westernmost Isle", but which someone in the greek chain called Atlantis, as a reference to Atlas. Is this certain? No. But can one prove otherwise?