Blood & Sand (1)

Return to the Levant – Sagas and Mundane Landscape

This page covers the mundane sections of the supplement, the appendices and the overall changes between editions that affect sagas set in the Levant, either transitioning between editions or those beginning an ArM5 saga drawing on this ArM4 era resource.

Chapter 1: Introduction

This whole chapter forms the free preview available from e23. It contains a useful map of the Islamic lands as they were in the 13th century, covering an are at least the size of the core regions of Mythic Europe. It helpfully notes that anything contained in the gray background insert boxes in the first five chapters is ArM4 game mechanic related, which makes it easy to spot the relevant material that may need conversion or directly relate to a Levantine Saga.

Chapters 2-4: History, The Levant in 1220 & Life in the Latin States

These three chapters are invaluable for an Ars Magica Saga set in the 13th century Levant regardless of which edition you use and in fact could be used for pretty much any other game system using this setting as well. As a specialist medieval Islamic historian, Niall was well placed to write all this and it’s probably one of the most useful and accurate historical sections in and Ars Magica supplement to date IMHO.

All the unboxed main text is still valid regardless of which edition or game system you use, but it’s worth noting a few changes in the shift to ArM5 that affect some of the boxed inserts and Story Seeds mentioned herein.

Many of the changes relate to the implications of the significant geographic changes in the are covered by the Tribunal:

  • There is no Treaty of Baghdad. TCatC completely invalidates this concept. Baghdad is now the cultural centre of the ArM5 Order of Suleiman and the ArM5 Levant Tribunal’s eastern border is now at the western edge of the Syrian desert. This has several implications for later chapters but in particular Aurora of Jerbiton, at least in the form initially presented, is no longer tenable.
  • Greater Armenia, Georgia, Edessa, and the neighboring Christian lands and Muslim petty states north of Iraq and Jazira are no longer considered part of any Hermetic tribunal and are covered in The Cradle and the Crescent in further detail. The area is still ripe for potential Hermetic settlement of course but these areas now exist outside of established Hermetic claims to the area.
  • As noted in The Sundered Eagle, The Empire of Trebizond is now considered part of the Theban Tribunal in ArM5. Similarly the unusual and isolated covenant first detailed in ArM2 Sorceror’s Slave called Urania is no longer part of the Levant.
  • Somewhat surprisingly perhaps, Egypt is no longer part of the Levant, and although it was not detailed in TCatC due to space limitations, it may be developed further in a future ArM5 supplement. Thus the Covenant of the True Cross and the ideas for covenants at the Pyramids are no longer canonical in ArM5.

The other main change relates to the implications of the ArM5 version of the sahir and Erik’s now canonical version of the Order of Suleiman. This has specific implications for Chapter 8: The Hermetic Levant (see below), but some of the broader implications are listed here:

  • References to the Muslim Hermetic Tradition are now invalid. This includes anything to do with Harun al-Rashid being trained as a Hermetic magus.
  • Non-Hermetic sahir are no longer part of the Order of Hermes. The only sahir in the Order are the Hermetic sahir descended from the remnant tradition of Andalusia who retain only the Sihr Ability and lack the other Solomonic Arts. Thus Wardat al Quds would merely be a member of the Order of Suleiman.

Chapter 5: Islam in Ars Magica

This whole section has been updated and effectively replaced by Chapter 5: Mythic Islam of Realms of Power: The Divine (Revised Edition). Niall wrote both of these sections, so the later ArM5 version should be viewed as the definitive take on things. The insert boxes dealing with mechanics in this chapter are outdated now but the ones containing Story Seeds and cultural comments are still valid. This includes the various Virtues, Flaws and new Abilities. The implications of Foreigners in Muslim lands is touched on briefly in TCatC but the inserts here may be helpful for guidance – I based the relevant paragraph on this material.

The insert box on “Muslim Ghosts” is still of interest – it does not appear to have been carried on into the ArM5 material and may be relevant if using a variant version of sahir as presented on this blog.

The “Variations of Islam” section contains details of various sects not detailed in either RoP:tD or TCatC and may be helpful for Troupes seeking more specific details.

For Chapters 6-8, see the next sections.

Appendices

The Appendix on Muslim Names is invaluable, although the material has been represented in the Appendix of TCatC along with sample Persian and Turkish names which may be useful for sagas involving characters in the Levant from these backgrounds. Specific Kurdish names are not presented but Turkish names may be substituted for Ayyubid era medieval Kurds as necessary.

The Timeline contains some Hermetic references that may no longer be relevant in the wake of the upgrade to ArM5 following the publication of TCatC. Specifically, this includes all references to The Treaty of Baghdad, the Hermetic Embassy, Aurora of Jerbiton or covenants no longer extant due to their location or their membership of ArM4 Ex-Miscellanea sahirs.

The other Appendices, Glossary and Bibliography remain very useful – in fact they are a major reason for purchasing the PDF even if you do not use the saga ideas contained within as they are system.

The Rules Reference Guide is perhaps outdated in the main but the Saga and Story Seed Index is likely to be useful. As a side note, this latter list was well before its time – a similar development for ArM5, the “List of Inserts” that now appears amidst the ToC of each new supplement has only crept into the comparatively recently.

Next section – “The Supernatural Landscape”

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