28 June 2021

Mythic Babylon unleashed

I’ve been part of a Mythic Babylon campaign as a play-tester for about a year now (meeting roughly twice a month). The campaign is being run by one of the book’s co-authors (Chris Gilmore). It took me a while to get myself oriented in the setting. Bronze Age Mesopotamia is far less familiar to me than, say, Dark Ages Britain or Imperial Rome. And while I certainly would not claim to have a clear grasp of the setting even now, a year later, it does not feel quite as alien as it did at first. It’s an interesting place, and I’ve been enjoying the campaign enormously in recent months. 

Now everyone can enjoy this excellent setting for themselves: Mythic Babylon has been on sale to the public for over a week now.

Here is the description of the setting from the Design Mechanism site:

What is Mythic Babylon?

Mythic Babylon is a role-playing supplement for the Mythras game system. It provides everything you need to take your Mythras game back to the 18th century BC and enter a world of cut-throat diplomacy, Machiavellian politics, and ecstatic prophets. Within these covers you'll find information on the society, culture, religion, trade, laws, and beliefs of Old Babylon and the surrounding lands. The setting is presented as a sand-box with a wide-ranging gazetteer of places to explore, each loaded with plot hooks. For those who like to play against the backdrop of history, we provide a timeline of past and near future events. A bestiary and a chapter for game masters rounds out the end of the book.
This book contains everything you need to create adventures in the lands of Sumer, Akkad, and Subartu from the low lying Eden to the Cedar Mountains and even into the Underworld. Follow in the steps of kings like Gilgameš, Kubaba, or Hammurabi in this mythological and historical setting that was nearly 4000 years in the making.
Where is Mythic Babylon?

Mythic Babylon is set in what will later be called Mesopotamia by the Greeks, which means 'The Land Between the Rivers', referring to the Tigris and Euphrates. At the time our book is set, there is no one name for the whole region. Instead, the southern plain is called Sumer and the central plain is called Akkad. Together, these will one day be called Babylonia after the city of Babylon. The northern plain is called Subartu, but will one day come to be called Assyria after the city of Aššur.
This book focuses on Sumer, Akkad, and Subartu. Peripheral regions such as ancient Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Bahrain are given a more cursory treatment.
Mythic Babylon is expertly illustrated by James Turpin, and is an exceptional addition to the Mythic Earth range for Mythras. It comes as a hardcover book, 322 pages, and the PDF price is included in the hardcover price, along with an additional PDF file containing additional maps.
Initial reviews are very positive. This is no surprise to me. I can confirm that it’s a great setting and that a lot of serious research went into it. My only quibble is that there is no sample scenario included. I generally think such scenarios are helpful so that players can “test out” a setting or game without too much difficulty. This especially is the case for settings that likely will be unfamiliar to many players. But this, obviously, is a very minor thing. 

What impresses me the most about this book, like the others for Mythras with which I am familiar, is how successful it is in translating a difficult setting into something suitable for a game, that is, in rendering the world playable. Hats off to Chris Gilmore and Paul Mitchner on producing such a fine work.

For an interesting discussion of the importance of lists in ancient Mesopotamia, and their application to world-building in role-playing games, check out this post by Chris at The Many Coloured House

After years of waiting Mythic Babylon is finally available to the masses. Praise Marduk!

[A Mušhuššu (Babylonian dragon) – my character beheaded one of these pests!]

10 June 2021

Mythras Bundle of Holding

I thought that I would mention that there are four days left to pick up the Mythras Settings Bundles (PDFs): the “Starter Collection” (which includes the Mythras core rulebook, the Mythras Companion, two combat adventures, the Monster Island setting, and the Monster Island Companion) and the “Bonus Collection” (which includes the excellent Lyonesse role-playing game and setting, two Lyonesse adventures, the Luther Arkwright setting book, and Parallel Lines, a book of adventures for Luther Arkwright).


As I’ve mentioned before here, Mythras is an excellent role-playing game, my favourite of the past two decades, and has the best combat system ever designed. And Lyonesse is brilliant setting, certainly one that belongs in the collection of any fan of Jack Vance’s fiction.


More information here.

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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who lives primarily in Toronto but teaches in Milwaukee (sometimes in person, sometimes online).