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  • Dissapointed by the Netjer preview

    I want to preface this by saying both that I mean no offense with any of this post, and that I'm a casual student of Egyptian myth with very little academic backing for my studies. The Netjer have been my favorite pantheon for pretty much my entire life, and I'm a fan of them and of Scion above everything else.

    That said, I am profoundly let down by the Netjer preview we've seen, and have enough individual complaints with it that I'm honestly considering doing a complete rewrite of the Pantheon myself, because I'm not sure the section can be salvaged properly before going to print. I don't want any of this to read as a personal attack on the section's author or their credibility, but at the same time it hurts pretty bad to see so many questionable decisions in my favorite mythology.

    In no particular order (and using Greek names as the text does):
    • I can't think of any reason for Hathor to have not made the list, as one of the eldest (many believe her to predate Egypt as a civilization) and most important gods of the Netjer. She's the patron of women and mothers, a goddess of love and femininity with widespread worship across the breadth and historical length of Egypt. I'd sooner see her cut entirely than merged with Isis, a combination I'm not familiar with having ever happened historically and roughly akin to merging Aphrodite with Hera just because both are goddesses who love; if any merger were to happen it would be with Sekhmet, her fellow solar deity and shared holder of the Eye of Ra title. There's an element of personal bias here (Hathor is my favorite of the Netjer), but at the same time as a student of myth I really can't see any reason for this cut/merger to exist, and citing wordcount really just rings hollow to me.
    • The Pantheon as a whole feels rather grossly mischaracterized; they should relatively grim and stoic, focused on upholding the just and proper way of ma'at (to the point where the Eye of Ra is sent to punish mankind, and souls are condemned to oblivion or the lake of fire for living lives not in accordance with the proper way of things, nevermind how callous that is), yet these Netjer seem a lively, fun bunch who squabble over "family drama" and scarcely paying too much mind to duty. The Virtues attest to a proper treatment of the Netjer as a very traditional bunch who care as much as about doing things the way they've been done for thousands of years according to tradition as they do about doing the right thing, as Ma'at dictates that the latter is strictly the former and nothing else.
    • Why are the Netjer constantly fighting their Titans? Geb and Nut are well-liked, Aten is apparently now another name for Re, and argument could be made for Ma'at as a Titan of Order. I believe Neall had previously said that the Netjer got along quite well with them, too.
    • Each god's write-up is more focused on telling one of their myths than actually saying anything about who they are or what they were the gods of.
    • Nothing in the section describes that the Netjer have sacred animals or that they appear as animals or animal-headed humans. While this is fairly common knowledge, it should come up.
    • They text as a whole is pretty dry and feels very rough. I know this is a first draft, but the Theoi and Tuatha sections were just more pleasant to read overall.
    • Anubis has no reason to be characterized as passionate. His entire purpose in myth is to be the unflinching judge of the dead willing to feed hearts to Ammut and damn souls to oblivion because it is his duty, and it's honestly bizarre to take any reading of Anubis' character in myth as one where he's a caring, emotional sort. He's prepares and judges the dead, so having him out there and fretting over the living just seems absurd. "Anubis never cared if he was the one to read the scales" is a very, very strange reading of a god who existed to do just that.
    • Bast was a guardian above all else, the holy protector of house, home, and Egypt whose sacred animal was possibly the most-loved in the entire culture; writing her off as an insane drunk who randomly beats anyone who dares speak to her seems as incorrect as it does offensive. The Sekhmet merger doesn't make a ton of sense, but if it must happen then it should be reflected as a duality between savagery and civility, the blood-crazed killer who nearly exterminated humanity and the beloved figure whose messengers were more loved than the humans of the empire. She really should have the Guardian Calling, as that was her chief purpose to the Egyptians as both the protector of home and grain and as a defender of the solar boat. Sekhmet was a goddess of medicine as well, so possibly consider giving this weird Bast-Sekhmet the Health Purview.
    • Set and Horus never split Egypt, and suggesting so only makes any sense if we're deliberately trying to subvert the unification of Egypt, which I can't think of any reason to. Horus is king of Egypt proper, and Set rules the 'red lands' of the desert along with the foreign lands beyond.
    • Everything about Isis. Characterizing the noble wife of Osiris as a one who would deal with Apep and try to steal power from Re makes her out to be a thousand time worse than Set is ever depicted at his worst, and she seems like a controlling jerk who aims to control her husband utterly rather than as his loving spouse. Nothing is said of her primarily mythological role as goddess of magic and master of true names, beyond the latter being touched on in her conniving theft of Re's. If she's going to be merged with Hathor (which I am massively opposed to), then her description should focus more on her role as patron of women and embodiment of love and the caring wife, or else drop Hathor as an alternate name for her entirely. Isis has no ties to cows that I'm aware of other than this unfortunate merger with Hathor, so if you must merge them at least mention Hathor as, say, a Mantle with a bovine aspect.
    • Ma'at's description should probably touch on what ma'at meant to the Egyptians: everything in its proper place, everyone performing their appointed duties from birth until death. It was about justice and order, but it was also a force for imposing and protecting a strict hierarchy, and rebelling against a 5000 year-old traditional way that Things Absolutely Have To Be is exactly the kind of thing for scrappy Scions to do in play. I'd honestly make her an allied Titan of Order instead of a god.
    • Osiris is a noble king of the dead, and also the beloved giver of the harvest (you see a lot of art where the harvest sprouts from his corpse); portraying him as a scheming jerk who extorts the dead is against every depiction of him I'm familiar with. There are no Orpheus-style bargains to return from the dead in Egyptian myth as Osiris himself embodies; though returned to life, he still must remain in Duat, as he has died and it is the proper place for the dead. Again I must object to Isis being shown as a petty figure holding his leash who "despises" him, and again I must strongly object to showing Anubis as eager to reject his duty or why the weighing of the heart should be Osiris' task. Also, shouldn't the lord of the dead have the Liminal Calling? And why does the Relationships section make him out to dislike Re?
    • You may want to define the ib as the heart, or else just call it the heart.
    • I'm not sure you want to suggest Aten as an alternate name for Re given that he was a Titan in 1e, and I would at least mention somewhere in the text that Khepri is his aspect as the scarab beetle pushing the sun; it's too iconic a Netjer image to miss.
    • Set is absolutely savaged and painted as an outright evil figure, which I cannot forgive. I don't think I've ever seen a version of the myth where he kills Osiris at Re's command (it's almost always motivated by envy for the throne of Egypt), and if that strange version of myth is the one you want to tell then why is he hated by the Pantheon as a traitor if he was following orders from their highest authority - and aided in it by Thoth?! You can't completely recontextualize the most well-known Egyptian myth and then move on without touching on that. Something definitely should be mentioned regarding his role as the most commonly-depicted guardian of the solar barge and his eternity-long fight with Apep, and it seems odd to have the Egyptian god of foreigners only interact with one foreign god - and adversarially at that! His mortal form should have red hair. Giving him Beasts (Donkey, Pig) is absurd and based wholly in attempts on guessing what the sha beast is, and looks very odd when you go on and describe the sha beast in the Borthrights section. As protector of the travelers, surely he deserves the Journeys Purview, and as the one who walks the boundaries of Egypt and the red lands beyond he's as Liminal as they come.
    • If Nu is going to be the Netjer Overworld (which it shouldn't, as Nu is a member of the Ogdoad and makes much more sense as a Titan of Water) then it should be the primordial sea that predates time and that the universe sprang from. I'm not sure where the inverted earth thing comes from, but Nu has always been a great ocean as well as the god of it. Shouldn't Aaru be their Overworld instead - or more accurately, shouldn't they just have an Underworld?
    • Duat is absolutely full of demons and other perilous threats, to the point where most of all recorded Egyptian religion recorded is advice on how to safely cross through it and protect yourself from its threats. Duat is a dangerous land of magic and monsters with flaming seas and constant challenges for the dead. The text should reflect any of this.
    • Again, if you're going to describe Kemeticism, probably go further into detail on what ma'at actually meant and how it's about performing your duty to civilization and not upsetting the applecart too much. I'd also explore some sample cults for some gods (I'd do one for Bast and one for Thoth, personally), as the Theoi got example Mysteries.
    • Deception has no place as an Asset Skill for the Netjer, as should be readily apparent if you're starting the section with the 42 Confessions. Speaking falsely was a sin worthy of having your soul utterly destroyed in Ammut's jaws, and it's fucking ridiculous to have the Netjer praise that. Occult fits much better, as does whatever Storypath's Empathy-equivalent is.
    • The Relationships section is strange. If the Theoi section is going to mention that the Netjer protected them in the past and currently lord that over them, maybe that should be mentioned. I would definitely explore the idea of West as sacred to the Egyptians and what the Netjer think of the American deities in that context (especially given theories of Egyptian contact with the Americas). I think the dedicated servants of ma'at would get along swimmingly with the proper, orderly Shen, and I think mention should be made of how the Netjer view their immediate Mesopotamian neighbors (and I get that they aren't in this book, but the Tuatha preview touched on the Welsh and Gallic Pantheons).
    • Heku just refers to magic, and makes for a strange PSP given that it... doesn't really describe anything, or rather describes anything magical. I think it could use a more specific name. The sum of everything in the soul is the Sahu, not the Ha. I've never heard Heku used to describe vital life force.
    I expected concessions to be made to fun and for some myth to be played with pretty loosely, but this goes well beyond that into being wrong and sometimes offensive. I hope the other Pantheons are treated with more respect, because this is shockingly not-right.
    Last edited by atamajakki; 10-19-2016, 02:56 AM.


    Just call me Lex.

    Female pronouns for me, please.

  • #2
    Well the Overworld shouldn't be Aaru, because Aaru is a paradise for the dead, not the realm of the celestial gods. What I'm thinking for my own table is that the Underworld in general is shadowly lifeless place, but realms tied to specific deities who bridge life and death can become verdant paradises. So Osiris as a resurrecting god of the dead creates Aaru as a paradise sanctum beyond the rest of the Duat, just as Persephone's cycles between the World and the Underworld allow the Elysian Fields to bloom.


    Check out my expansion to the Realm of Brass and Shadow

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    • #3
      Honestly, a lot of the issues that you raise also struck me,--

      --I pretty much assumed, "Huh, I guess I know a lot less about Egyptian Mythology than I thought."

      Which, you know, didn't hugely surprise me because I have absolutely no scholarly background. I thought I understood these Gods better than this,-- I've generally got a pretty good understanding of the Theoi, for instance, and while there's a few little nitpicks that I'd have with that write-up... nothing really struck me out of the blue or really surprised me..

      (n' I just don't know enough about the other Pantheons at any but the most shallow level to know one way or the other...)

      Like you, I'd rather not have Divinities merged together without very good reason, if only because if they're not merged then one can assume that they were only left out for space and easily toss them into the Pantheon without worry. Like, no Hebe in the Greek! That's fine; I can put here there if I want.

      I like the telling of myths related to the Gods, in general, though I agree that more space could be devoted to explaining about the God in question...

      ...anyway, just my two cents, chiming in supporting the points you made with my own thoughts.

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      • #4
        I've suggested the idea that Sutekh killed Azar in part out of LOYALTY to Re, but not at Re's behest - on the notion that Aset stealing Re's Ren came first. But I'd agree him doing at Re's behest would need a lot more fleshing out if they're going with that idea.


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        • #5
          Originally posted by CrownedSun View Post
          Honestly, a lot of the issues that you raise also struck me,--

          --I pretty much assumed, "Huh, I guess I know a lot less about Egyptian Mythology than I thought."

          Which, you know, didn't hugely surprise me because I have absolutely no scholarly background. I thought I understood these Gods better than this,-- I've generally got a pretty good understanding of the Theoi, for instance, and while there's a few little nitpicks that I'd have with that write-up... nothing really struck me out of the blue or really surprised me..

          (n' I just don't know enough about the other Pantheons at any but the most shallow level to know one way or the other...)

          Like you, I'd rather not have Divinities merged together without very good reason, if only because if they're not merged then one can assume that they were only left out for space and easily toss them into the Pantheon without worry. Like, no Hebe in the Greek! That's fine; I can put here there if I want.

          I like the telling of myths related to the Gods, in general, though I agree that more space could be devoted to explaining about the God in question...

          ...anyway, just my two cents, chiming in supporting the points you made with my own thoughts.
          I'd be less mad about the mergers if it wasn't handled as "and this god also goes by another name and nevermind the fact that that second name has an entirely different personality and associations." If the Bast section said that Sekhmet came to earth to slay mankind and was tamed with copious offerings of beer that turned her from a fierce lioness into a gentle housecat, that would be one thing, but this doesn't even bother with that.

          Saying "Isis, also known as Hathor" and then only talking about Isis myths while stapling a Cows Purview to her is not a fair treatment of Hathor, and I'd sooner see her not mentioned at all than whatever the hell this is.


          Just call me Lex.

          Female pronouns for me, please.

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          • #6
            Yeah, rather disappointed with this. I'll probably have to completely remake them if I end up playing Scion.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by milo v3 View Post
              Yeah, rather disappointed with this. I'll probably have to completely remake them if I end up playing Scion.
              I'll go ahead and rewrite them myself if the writers don't.


              Just call me Lex.

              Female pronouns for me, please.

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              • #8
                I gotta say? I think I agree with you about most of this.

                ​The merger of Isis and Hathor makes no damn sense. They are two very distinct and separate goddesses who both deserve their own write-up.

                ​Isis can be conniving, but this write-up makes her sound flat-out evil and cruel. I don't agree with that at all.

                ​Set is a mix of good and evil. He does bad things, but he's also Ra's most stalwart defender. It makes no sense to portray him this way.

                ​It's almost like the writer is trying to get the Netjer to "out-Theoi the Theoi," or something. I'm worried about this, and I hope that this thread will be considered a good sounding board for fan concerns for the devs.


                "We have done the impossible, and that makes us mighty."
                Captain Malcolm Reynolds

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                • #9
                  The core 12 I'm inclined to go with at my table (with Ma'at as a distant but honored primordial figure rather than a ruler)

                  Re (with his primary Mantles being Khepri for the dawn, Atum-Re the Creator for noonday sun, Khnum the shaper for dusk, and the unseen Amun-Re at night)

                  Azar

                  Aset (she is not petty, she is however Machievellian, and is the political shadow behind the thrones of Re, Azar, and Heru simultaneously)

                  Sutekh

                  Nephthys (she's so loosely defined, I can go with the Purview set they were using for Ma'at, and just replace Ostrich with Kite)

                  Heru

                  Hathor/Sekhmet (two mantles of the same goddess, one a creator/fertility goddess, the other a destroyer/war goddess; wife of Heru)

                  Djheuty

                  Bastet (At one point simply another name of Sekhmet, but this Mantle grew into a separate being that may be a Scion who seized a spare name; while lioness Sekhmet is a fierce direct warrior as Eye of Re, the cat Bast is a guardian and assassin in darkness where he is unseen)

                  Sebek

                  Anpu

                  Ptah



                  (I like the idea of the infinite forms of the Ogdoad themselves [who can be Primordials instead of Titans] being the Overworld of the Netjer, but that should be explicitly the case rather than just using Nu as a catchall term)


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by atamajakki View Post
                    Also, shouldn't the lord of the dead have the Liminal Calling?
                    Okay, I can't speak for a LOT of the writeup, what with my understanding of the Netjer coming from Age of Mythology and finding Gods of Egypt to be rather pretty brain junk food, but gonna throw in my... Haypenny, it's not even two cents worth.

                    But the Liminal, while Psychopomps and Lords of Death DO have it, doesn't universally apply to Gods of the Underworld. It's for those who travel, those who guide, those who straddle multiple worlds. IIRC, Hermes has the Liminal Calling.

                    Osiris, by your own admission, is trapped in the Underworld. As in cannot cross between the worlds.

                    So he cannot be a Liminal. Anubis is more of a Liminal, being one who guides the dead to their final resting place.


                    Disclaimer: I'll huff, grump, and defend my position, but if you're having fun I'll never say you're doing it wrong.

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                    • #11
                      I just finished reading this preview, and I must say that it needs some serious work. It's starting to look like gods (that is to say goddesses, you'll note none of the dudes are being forces to share a bunk) are only being merged for the sake of page/word count, and that kind of sloppiness honestly makes me want to withdraw my pledge.

                      I'm surprised, given the attention the Kickstarter has garnered, that things aren't expanding to the point where we get Pantheon books for each of the major pantheons. Something a bit more general in the core books would be sufficient, and those of us who care about a particular pantheon over the others can then buy the Pantheon book for them, you could even make said releases PDF only to avoid printing costs.

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                      • #12
                        Oh, I SO agree with the objections to this, to the point where it would have seriously undermined my enthusiasm for the game if this had been the first Pantheon previewed. For all of Lex's reasons, the general tone, and the overall seeming lack of respect and understanding of the Egyptian deities, I sincerely hope this gets an overhaul before final draft. Add Nephthys, split Hathor, Isis, Bast and Sekhmet - who cares if some myths say they could be unified? One period of history replaced all the Netjer with Amun, and we aren'the using that version, are we? More potential patrons isn'the a bad thing. Are you going to unite Kali, Durgha, Lakshmi, Parvati, and Sarasvati because they are all part of the same female principal of Hinduism?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Solana View Post
                          [A]nd that kind of sloppiness honestly makes me want to withdraw my pledge.
                          Okay, let's be fair. Three Pantheons have been previewed, out of the ten that'll be in the core, and the 2.5 that'll be in the Companion.

                          Of those, the Theoi and the Tuatha sections were good. Great, even.

                          The Netjer one may not live up to the other two, but is missing one out of three really enough to make you consider withdrawing your pledge from what is otherwise a really promising project?

                          Were the Netjer your make or break for the game? Do you not care about the other Pantheons?

                          Honestly, given the track record so far, I'd say a more reasonable response would be "I'm disappointed, because I know this game can do better" and maybe seeing what the rounds of editing do.


                          Disclaimer: I'll huff, grump, and defend my position, but if you're having fun I'll never say you're doing it wrong.

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                          • #14
                            But if it's your favorite Pantheon, then it's really disappointing when they aren't treated with respect. And if this one is so bad, who's to say that the others won't be the same? Yes, the Theoi and Tuatha were great - but the Netjer is really bad, so that's 33% of the previewed Pantheons so far that are a disappointment. Hopefully, the devs will read this, and make some hasty changes, so the Netjer can be as great as the other two we've seen. And they will treat the other 11 Pantheons we have coming with a bit more TLC - after all, the game is all about the Gods and their Scions, right?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Kyman201 View Post

                              Okay, let's be fair. Three Pantheons have been previewed, out of the ten that'll be in the core, and the 2.5 that'll be in the Companion.

                              Of those, the Theoi and the Tuatha sections were good. Great, even.

                              The Netjer one may not live up to the other two, but is missing one out of three really enough to make you consider withdrawing your pledge from what is otherwise a really promising project?

                              Were the Netjer your make or break for the game? Do you not care about the other Pantheons?

                              Honestly, given the track record so far, I'd say a more reasonable response would be "I'm disappointed, because I know this game can do better" and maybe seeing what the rounds of editing do.
                              They were fine, I wouldn't say they were 'great', that's just a matter of personal opinion on my part. I personally had no interest in the Tuatha pantheon, and the preview for that didn't really change my feelings.

                              I've already decided that without some substantial changes I'm completely rewriting the Netjer pantheon. If the Aztec pantheon is anything like it was in the first edition book, that's also getting rewritten for the sake of my players, as I have a very different take on them that closely ties them to the Mayan and Olmec pantheons, which I will also have to create myself as they aren't part of the official release.

                              At this point, I'm really almost using the books purely for their mechanics, and not their actual fluff. You could argue that threatening to drop a pledge over one pantheon is overreacting, but for me I've already been considering whether or not investing in both books in hard copy is worth it, and things like this give solid pushes toward either canceling my pledge entirely, or dropping it down to the significantly cheaper PDF pledge.

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