In BFJB-relevant news, I wanted to note the release of The Design Mechanism‘s Mythic Babylon for the Mythras System. I’ve spent much of the past 24 hours pouring over the PDF, and I’m eagerly awaiting the softcover. My initial impressions are that a monumental amount of research went into the production of this book, and the synthesis and presentation of information is stellar.
To the extent that my humble oeuvre gives me any authority to pass judgment on Babylon-related RPG material, Mythic Babylon earns the highest rating I’ve ever given, well, anything. Excepting my own output, there isn’t any better treatment of the subject available; Mythic Babylon puts to shame all of the other cursory, trope-heavy, low-density and poorly-researched Ancient Near East or “Bronze Age” RPG material currently available.
Of course, anyone who checks out Mythic Babylon will instantly recognize a significant amount of overlap with the world of Babylon on Which Fame and Jubilation Are Bestowed. Not only do both books deal with the same subject from a historical point-of-view, they’re also both focused on Babylon in the late second decade of Hammu-rapi’s reign. I’ve been aware of the impending release of Mythic Babylon since summer of last year, and I’ve been anticipating it, but not for any kind of cynical reason that it might cannibalize my sales.
In fact, and I’m going to be really frank here, I’m certain that I would have never written BFJB if a product like Mythic Babylon had already been available. It’s precisely what I’ve always wanted as a resource for RPGs set in the world of the Ancient Near East. There’s a wealth of information presented which I, as an essentially one-man operation, would never be able to compile or write-up effectively.
So go buy Mythic Babylon now. If you’ve bought, played, or enjoyed BFJB, then you’ll love it.
That said, you might be wondering how the release of this potentially-competing product effects the future of the BFJB line. I’m actually not sure about that right now, but I’ll note that I’ve seen an uptick in sales over the past week. That seems to indicate that customers share my opinion that there’s room for both products on their shelves. A rising tide…
Moreover, I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that the world of Babylon, even in the 1760’s BCE, is big enough that no one can cover all of it. There’s a significant amount of historically-accurate information that is exclusive to one or the other books, like BJFB’s emphasis on presenting the actual cuneiform, or our discussion of pastoral populations, or the diseases, or the smaller cities…
But I digress. Go buy Mythic Babylon, buy (if you haven’t already) Babylon on Which Fame and Jubilation Are Bestowed 2.0, and use whatever system strikes your fancy. Happy gaming.
5 thoughts on “Recommendation: Mythic Babylon”
I was intending to get Mythic Babylon anyway, but a recommendation from you leaves me in no doubt at all. I will add though, that given this – “I’m going to be really frank here, I’m certain that I would have never written BFJB if a product like Mythic Babylon had already been available” – I’m glad MB came out after yours.
I will echo the other commentor in saying that I am glad that MB didn’t come out earlier and deprive us of BFJB.
Your favourable review has made me more inclined to get a copy of MB. Having looked through the preview, I have to say that I find their use of language really jarring — eden for EDIN, edinnu for ṣērum, random mimation, etc.
šumma awīlum RPG ša Bābilim išṭur lā Akkadâm iltamad…
awâtim ṭābātim taštapram
I understand precisely what you mean, however, I also appreciate that not everyone gets excited about ancient languages like we do. There are a few places in Mythic Babylon where the terminology cited exhibits grammatical or phonetic peculiarities that can only result from the authors not having first-hand experience with the language. Of course, correct and detailed Akkadian citations were important to me in BFJB (nay, they are a point of pride), even though I recognize that ninety-five percent of the audience for this material isn’t going to care one way or the other.
That said, my only real criticism of the book is the lack of a thorough bibliography. Maybe this reflects the out-modded pedigree of my aging demographic, but I’ve always felt that it’s important to document your sources, and not for the didactic reasons our grade school English teachers harped upon. To the contrary, as an independent researcher, bibliographies have been a huge resource for me over the years. In my opinion, there’s a community aspect to a proper bibliography; documenting your sources makes it so much easier for those who come after you.
But regardless, I remain convinced that Mythic Babylon is a significant achievement, and everyone involved in it should be incredibly proud of what they’ve made.
Truly, I do get super excited about ancient languages. And I’m perhaps over-sensitive, but I’ve had 20 years of encountering bad Latin in RPG supplements (except for BRP Rome, which is fantastic), and even longer for strings of meaningless Egyptian hieroglyphs (Valley of the Pharaohs did well though, and BFJB of course!).
I’m definitely in the pro-bibliography camp. Scholastc concerns aside, for historical RPGs they make up a very useful ‘Appendix N’.
You’ve definitely convinced me to get a copy. lupaḫḫir kiṣallī ša ešret pānī!
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