There is no Mythic India, there is only al-Hind

SindhTransoxbordersmapThe land of Al-Hind, on the far banks of the great river Indus, is mentioned briefly in The Cradle and the Crescent as a possible destination of merchants, the source of over-sized fantastic elephants and a place of many other marvels. There are vague references to the Mythic Muslim holdings of al-Sindh on the near banks of the Indus but much of this material was later cut.

Mythic India is deliberately not mentioned.

This is because it does not exist.

Continue reading There is no Mythic India, there is only al-Hind

Have you seen my Saluqi?

Saluqi Callgraphy (Taha al-Hiti 2009)

I’ve just added a short page detailing saluqi, the noble Arabian hound, and some other ideas for dogs and their image in areas under the sway of Mythic Islam. Unlike Mythic Europe, where dogs are treated as valued companions, in the Mythic Levant and the Mythic Middle East the dog is considered an unclean animal and generally reviled.

The only exception to this is the Bedouin hound known as the saluqi, which is afforded high status and even allowed to sleep in the tent of its master.

The section contains the expanded statistics for saluqi that were cut from the final draft of The Cradle and the Crescent, page 104, for space reasons and some other hound variants.

Sirocco the Magical Camel

“Moorish Warrior”. From: Stanley and the White Heroes in Africa (etc.) (H. B. Scammel, 1890). Wikimedia Commons. Public domain on account of age.

One of the parts I enjoy most about writing for Ars Magica is the research – it’s an opportunity to learn new things and explore the potential of novel ideas.  For example, I’ve learnt quite a lot more than I ever thought I would about camels while writing The Cradle and the Crescent – they’re quite interesting beasts, although I must say they’re not particularly likeable up close in real life!

See here for ideas on ways to use camels as magical mounts for Hermetic magi, sahir or other Mythic Levantine and Middle Eastern characters – in particular I discuss a simple conversion of Aeolus the Magical Horse into Sirocco the Magical Camel. Fortunately camels and coursers (the standard riding horse of Mythic Europe) are similar in Size so the conversion between them is relatively simple and opens up a whole lot of possibilities with relatively little work needed.

There are links to some internet articles on camels in the Mythic Arabia section.

Mesopotamian Monsters

I’ve just found this article by Robert Lebling (author of Legends of the Fire Spirits) over at the online magazine Saudi Aramco World, from which I’d used some of the articles on Arab falconry when writing The Cradle and the Crescent. Some of the jinn related concepts are found in the main book and I feel I’ve covered them fairly well already but there’s some additional material of interest on vampires and werewolves.

I don’t think we covered either the ekimmu or utukku – both are vampiric creatures that work well as non-Jinn Faerie creatures. The distinction of being “non-Jinn” is important as one of the main mechanical distinctions of “Jinn vs non-Jinn” in ArM5 now is that “Jinn” can be affected by Sihr (the most common Summoning Art used by sahir), whereas “non-Jinn” are unaffected by Sihr (but can be affected by different summoning magics depending on whether they are incorporeal spirits, elemental creatures or animals).

These Mesopotamian monsters might therefore make good nemeses for Middle Eastern wizards that control jinn – these vampires are unaffected by the summoning magic and bargaining mechanic of most common sahirs ie. those who use Sihr. I’ve detailed a similar “non-Jinn” creature sourced from Lebling’s work, the wolf spirit ‘udhurut, that would also be an interesting opponent for a sahir dominated Saga as many Arabian jinn fear wolves.

To me, the ekimmu sound as if they are physical humanoids, whereas the utukku are more spirit like from Lebling’s description – I suspect they could be easily modeled using the “Vampire Bestiary” rules that I’ve just read in the well-worth reading Transylvanian Tribunal sourcebook:  Against the Dark, pages 117-122.

In the final part of the vampire section Lebling also mentions a possible Turkish vampire, the izcacus :

Some vampire lore may also have entered Eastern Europe through the Turks. In Hungary, for example, the belief in vampires is said to date back to accounts from the 12th century that cite a demon called izcacus, or blood drinker. This word’s origin dates back before the Hungarians’ arrival in Europe from Central Asia in 895. Turkic culture expert Wilhelm Radloff says the word has its roots in ancient Turkish, which the Hungarians encountered during the late eighth century in regions between Asia and Europe. Migrating Turkic tribes may have acquired vampire lore from settled populations in western and Central Asia that had been influenced by the Assyrians and their successors.

I’d not come across the concept before – it would be interesting to develop the concept for the Levant or other Sagas set in the Silk Road and Beyond…

Oh, I also think the comic style art by June Brigman is interesting, but admit its not very Ars Magica in style – much more d20 Modern in feel.

Third Book in Final Stages…

AtlasNoImageMy third ArM5 supplement is now in its final stages.

I can’t talk about it and I can’t talk about why (due to the NDA), but I can say its gestation has been roughly equivalent to a combination of the Schism War and the Sundering without a half-time rest break for oranges. Having said that, I think it’s a real cracker now and all the hard work and grinding away by the playtesters will have been worth it in the end.

I still need to do some last minor edits and we need to come up with the art ideas and a cover image concept, but it should race through otherwise. I’m not sure exactly where this means it will stand in the release schedule however.

Once this is sorted and I’ve adjusted the last few changes to my “Training Packages for Redcaps” article for Sub Rosa, I’ll post more material here.

Of Wolves and Fearful Jinn…

Wolf Spirit (Deviant Art, by Tillantti linked with permission)

Despite their prevalence in European folklore, the concept of a werewolf is relatively unknown in the Mythic Middle East.

A Ghul, a member of one of the more evil jinn tribes, often assumes the shape of predators and scavengers such as jackals and hyenas in the tales, but the wolf is a form never mentioned in Arabian folklore as the shape of a shapeshifted jinn.

The Arabic equivalent of a werewolf, the qutrub, is believed to be a form of ghul that can assume the form of a “wolf-like” animal, but specifically stated as never assuming the appearance of a wolf per se. The form is therefore most likely a hyena.

Apparently this is because jinn greatly fear wolves. If I’d known, I would have made more of any potential confrontation between a Tremere with a wolf companion and a sahir with a coterie of jinn servants as a Story Seed… perhaps a lost opportunity.

I stumbled upon this fact only after I completed my final drafts for The Cradle and the Crescent in an excellent source of jinn related material and story ideas: Legends of the Fire Spirits, by Robert Lebling. I really wish I’d found this book earlier, but in my defence it was only published in early 2011. It’s a gold mine of ideas and if it had been available back when I was writing the first drafts I would have used it extensively.

There is however a ghostly spirit, the ‘udhrut, native to Yemen that takes the form of a wolf. Greatly feared by jinn, the spirit is the murdered ghost of an evildoer. In context an evil wizard such as a sahir in ArM5 terms is a potential option and makes an interesting opponent for the jinn minions of the native wizards of the Mythic Middle East…

To Wolves of the Middle East
To ‘Udhrut (the Jinni’s Bane)


More Posts Soon…

I’ve had a very busy week, which means the material I planned to post expanding on The Cradle and the Crescent and further ideas for Genoa has not been checked. I have plenty of material, it’s just that I’m exhausted and would prefer to post quality material.

It looks like comments on a (hopefully) final playtest for one of my upcoming books will be landing in my Inbox soon, so I’ll need to prioritise this for a few weeks.

I’ll likely do some tinkering behind the scenes and add to some of the existing pages before announcing changes in the main posts however, so feel free to poke around for surprises.