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[Dark Eras 2] One Thousand and One Nights - Islamic Golden Age Thread

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Master Aquatosic View Post
    Also, not really familiar with Mage or the Golden Age of Islam (bar one class on Muslim Spain). Could you please help me understand what was wrong with the Subtle Ones Legacy as originally written
    I couple things, which I may outline more in detail later. The basic problem is that the entire "Old Man of the Mountain" legend of assassins smoking hashish and being treated to harems in gardens is a complete fabrication by Sunnis with a grudge against the Ismailis. The idea that Hassan-i-Sabah was a decadent, corrupt bastard is more that a little insulting. And I take very strong issue with the usage of the word Heratic to refer to the Ismailis, especially because we don't tend to refer to non-Catholic Christians as heretics just because they are different denominations.

    If you are interested in learning more, I'd strongly suggest picking up Assassin Legends by Farhad Daftary. I may comment further at a later date.


    CofD booklists:
    Beast I Changeling | Geist l Hunter l Mage | Mummy | Promethean | Vampire

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    • #17
      I guess to all the people saying it lasts until the modern day because vampires are ageless I have to ask, "Aren't mummies more ageless? So why do their Eras not go until the present day as well?"

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Omegaphallic View Post

        Wow, okay then, at least I know who to go to if I have any questions about Islamic History on this board ;D
        Yup, that would be me. Love talking about this.

        Originally posted by Omegaphallic View Post
        I'm curious as to why pre-Quaranic religion would be a good fit for Demon, that seems interesting and I'm only alittle bit familiar with that religion, I've heard of the Asnam, and I think Allah was originally a Moon God in Arabian polytheism, I know the holy site at Mecca predates Islam, but it used to have idols back then. Not much more then that.
        Okay, I should clarify, what I mean my pre-Quranic here is literally right before and during the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet. I am speaking of the Pagans mentioned in the Quran. It was sort of Abrahamic polytheism where the God of the Jews and Christians was at the head of the pantheon and a variety of lesser gods and angels filled out the roster. There's a essay on JSTOR by Patricia Crone that you can download for think free on it. I it would be really cool to see a setting where this was the religion the God-Machine was planing to spread across Arabia, then the Prophet Mohammad came out of nowhere and fucked it all up, causing tons of Angels to become Demons and be some of the most devout early Muslims since the Prophet broke there chains.

        I hadn't heard of the Allah-as-Moon-God before, but a quick Google has shown why. For the record, none of what follows is a personal dig, I'm explaining it so you know for the future.

        Okay, so the idea that Allah may have originally been a Moon God is not something historians give any credit to. The idea sprang from Christian Evangelists around 1900 and then got picked up again by Islamophobes in the 90s to try and "prove" that Muslims didn't actually worship the same god as Christians or Jews. There is no solid evidence for this particular hypothesis and quite a bit of evidence that runs counter to it. For one, Allah literally means "The God" and is roughly equivalent to spelling God with a capital G in English. It is also well documented that Arab Christians and Jews both referred to their deity as Allah prior to the revelation of Islam. So not only is the Moon God hypothesis offensive to Muslims, it marginalizes erase Arabian Christian and Jews. The idea was probably based on the Crescent Moon symbol, but while that icon does come from a Moon God(dess) originally, its association with Islam is far more modern.

        The Crescent Moon was the national symbol of the Ottoman Empire, which basically controlled most of the Modern Middle East at one point or another, so it became very wide spread. Additionally, the Ottomans were the last widely recognized Caliphs (stupid Daesh), so their symbols became associated with Sunni Islam in particular. The Ottomans got the Crescent Moon when they conquered Constantinople, since previously it was the state symbol of the Byzantines. Thereby, the Ottomans used the symbol to lay claim to the legitimacy of both Eastern and Western Rome. The Byzantines use the Crescent Moon because it was the old cult symbol of Constantinople, specifically of Artemis-Hecate, and thus has absolutely nothing to do with Pagan Arabia.

        Ironically, one of the people who helped promulgate the idea that Allah was a Moon God who had nothing to do with the Christian God was none other than Jack-freaking-Chick. I figure that if anyone can sympathize with Muslims for being misrepresented and demonized at the hands of Chick, it's us RPG boardgamers.

        And now you know. Because knowledge is power!


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        Beast I Changeling | Geist l Hunter l Mage | Mummy | Promethean | Vampire

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Master Aquatosic View Post
          Also, not really familiar with Mage or the Golden Age of Islam (bar one class on Muslim Spain). Could you please help me understand what was wrong with the Subtle Ones Legacy as originally written
          Okay, long form time! There are three portrayals of Ismailis in CofD: The Ahl al-Jabal, the Subtle Ones, and Tome of the Watchtowers. I'll start with Ahl al-Jabal because it is by head and shoulders the best one of the three.



          Ahl al-Jabal(Hunter Compact from Ancient Bloodlines)

          This is by far the best representation of Ismailis in CofD. It uses the actual terminology that Ismailis use, it uses an appropriately altered version of history that sticks to the basic facts other than making Rashid al-Din Sinan ally with Sala al-Din to go hunting vampires. It does meantion that non-Ismailis call them Hashshashin and that the modern word assassin comes from that title, but it doesn't reinforce the myth of Ismilis smoking hashshish before assassinations and it calls out the fact that Hashshashin is what other people call the Ismailis, not what they call themselves.

          The only issue that I take with this portrayal is that it refers to Shi'ism as a heresy, which I don't think is a fair judgement to pass on an entire major branch of a religion. Were it written today, I doubt that the offending passage would have been included. This issue is also with the next two portrayals as well.



          Subtle Ones(Mage 1e Corebook Legacy)

          Oh boy. There's a lot of ugly and racist stuff in this one.

          While the Ismailis of the Nizari state did use assassination as a military tactic, it was far from their only tactic, they were from the only ones who use it, and they often got blamed for it whether or not they were the ones who actually assassinated a person. The idea that they smoked drugs prior to an assassination was invented by their Muslim enemies, primarily the Sunni Seljuks, who then repeated it to the Crusaders who then brought the tale back to Europe.

          The legacy writeup calls Ismailis a "deviant sect" of Islam, which makes about as much sense as calling the Amish a deviant sect of Christianity. Yeah, technically it's true, because their practices and beliefs deviate from those of others, but that's so damn offensive because deviant in the context of religion tends to read more closely to "perverted" in the sexual sense.

          The assertation that Hassan-i-Sabbah was deeply morally flawed as shown by the phrase "nothing is true, everything is permitted" is plain stupid. The saying is apocryphal anyhow, but in either case its interpretation in this instance has nothing to do with the actual Hassan or actual Ismailis. Funnily, Ezio's interpretation of it in Assassin's Creed 2 is much closer to both what Ismailis would think and how I think Mages would read the spiritual meaning of that statement. In any case, the real Hassan was a Da'i or wandering preacher, who is roughly akin to the Nizari State's George Washington and is highly respected by the decendents of the people he converted. I am all for pointing out that historical figures aren't as saintly as we may be led to believe... but this is like saying that George Washington cynically created the United States in a bid to make himself king. That's laughably wrong, since Washington voluntarily gave up the presidency despite popular demand after two terms. It's pretty much the same thing here. Hassan was pious man devoted to his cause and making the lives of his people better. The idea that he was immoral originates from anti-Islamic polemics from the Christians and anti-Ismaili polemics from the Seljuks.

          The idea that the Subtle Ones have long used brainwashing or acts that would get them condemned in other spiritual traditions reeks of Islamophobia. It propagates that idea that Islam and Ismailism aren't real religions and can't get people to convert without brainwashing them. If you want to keep brainwashing as part of the Subtle Ones, it needs to be framed much differently.

          On the plus side, I do actually like the association of Ismailis with Mastigos. If there a Muslim community that has embodied the ideal of enduring thourgh hardship and self-purification, its them.



          Tome of the Watchtowers

          Pretty much everything above, except with the added suggestion that in addition to being hedonists, the Ismaili Mages implanted Demons and Imps into the minds of their warriors to make them perfect killing machines. It is racist as fuck, especially since the historical Ismaili warriors were stone cold badasses, and this reading of their fiction history robs them of that.


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          • #20
            Originally posted by Second Chances View Post
            Yup, that would be me. Love talking about this.


            Okay, I should clarify, what I mean my pre-Quranic here is literally right before and during the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet. I am speaking of the Pagans mentioned in the Quran. It was sort of Abrahamic polytheism where the God of the Jews and Christians was at the head of the pantheon and a variety of lesser gods and angels filled out the roster. There's a essay on JSTOR by Patricia Crone that you can download for think free on it. I it would be really cool to see a setting where this was the religion the God-Machine was planing to spread across Arabia, then the Prophet Mohammad came out of nowhere and fucked it all up, causing tons of Angels to become Demons and be some of the most devout early Muslims since the Prophet broke there chains.

            I hadn't heard of the Allah-as-Moon-God before, but a quick Google has shown why. For the record, none of what follows is a personal dig, I'm explaining it so you know for the future.

            Okay, so the idea that Allah may have originally been a Moon God is not something historians give any credit to. The idea sprang from Christian Evangelists around 1900 and then got picked up again by Islamophobes in the 90s to try and "prove" that Muslims didn't actually worship the same god as Christians or Jews. There is no solid evidence for this particular hypothesis and quite a bit of evidence that runs counter to it. For one, Allah literally means "The God" and is roughly equivalent to spelling God with a capital G in English. It is also well documented that Arab Christians and Jews both referred to their deity as Allah prior to the revelation of Islam. So not only is the Moon God hypothesis offensive to Muslims, it marginalizes erase Arabian Christian and Jews. The idea was probably based on the Crescent Moon symbol, but while that icon does come from a Moon God(dess) originally, its association with Islam is far more modern.

            The Crescent Moon was the national symbol of the Ottoman Empire, which basically controlled most of the Modern Middle East at one point or another, so it became very wide spread. Additionally, the Ottomans were the last widely recognized Caliphs (stupid Daesh), so their symbols became associated with Sunni Islam in particular. The Ottomans got the Crescent Moon when they conquered Constantinople, since previously it was the state symbol of the Byzantines. Thereby, the Ottomans used the symbol to lay claim to the legitimacy of both Eastern and Western Rome. The Byzantines use the Crescent Moon because it was the old cult symbol of Constantinople, specifically of Artemis-Hecate, and thus has absolutely nothing to do with Pagan Arabia.

            Ironically, one of the people who helped promulgate the idea that Allah was a Moon God who had nothing to do with the Christian God was none other than Jack-freaking-Chick. I figure that if anyone can sympathize with Muslims for being misrepresented and demonized at the hands of Chick, it's us RPG boardgamers.

            And now you know. Because knowledge is power!
            Interesting. Complex stuff. I looked up the book you suggested, read a chunk of it, enough to get an idea about what you we're talking about in regards to Pre-Quranic Angels-Lesser Gods.

            It kind of reminded me of certain schools of Hinduism, where the gods are considered aspects of GOD.

            Complex stuff, but I can see the connection to the Godmachine in it, good call.

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            • #21
              I would be wary of reading toooo much on Patricia Crone; a lot of her work I find discounts Islamic traditions and oral histories out of hand. Her later stuff I gather is better, but I've only read the early highly-Revisionist School stuff, which is the most... controversial work, along with Michael Cook and their teacher Wansborough.

              I agree on your characterization of the treatment of Isma'ilis, Second Chances. Ahl al-Jabal are a very good treatment, the others, less so.

              I'm verrrrry interested in how they're going to treat pious Muslim Vampires trying to reconcile their situation with their faith. I've written a good little bit in odd places in these forums, so I'm pretty invested in seeing how the writers handle it.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll View Post
                I would be wary of reading toooo much on Patricia Crone; a lot of her work I find discounts Islamic traditions and oral histories out of hand. Her later stuff I gather is better, but I've only read the early highly-Revisionist School stuff, which is the most... controversial work, along with Michael Cook and their teacher Wansborough.
                I'm right there with you on that one actually. My understanding is that she has distanced herself from her early work and discounted it as being flawed. The primary book of her's I use is God's Rule, which is circa 2004 and was suggested to me by a former professor who is head of Graduate Studies in Halifax. The work I mentioned above is 2010. From what I know, both of those should be clear of her earlier biases.

                I'm glad you (and the other's who liked the post) are with me on the treatment of Ismailis. It is really important to me, and frankly, the Nizari State was fascinating enough without some bullshit European legends being added on top.
                Last edited by Second Chances; 07-14-2017, 07:41 PM.


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                • #23
                  As to whole Moon God thing - It's pointing that ALL monotheisms are worshiping one - from Judaism, Christanity, till Islam - as the God was previously Moon God in Judaism, in time of writing Old Testament - reasons is pointing that Jews use Moon based months calendars. It's great idea for Werewolf - basicly all monotheists are in reality Luna worshipers! 😉 / More real in setting is that monotheims are worshiping BOTH Helios and Luna, as one being - and generating Essence for them. /


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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
                    As to whole Moon God thing - It's pointing that ALL monotheisms are worshiping one - from Judaism, Christanity, till Islam - as the God was previously Moon God in Judaism, in time of writing Old Testament - reasons is pointing that Jews use Moon based months calendars. It's great idea for Werewolf - basicly all monotheists are in reality Luna worshipers! 😉 / More real in setting is that monotheims are worshiping BOTH Helios and Luna, as one being - and generating Essence for them. /
                    It's not. It's a bullshit excuse used by racists and cultural sepremisits to try and spread their hatred. There is zero basis for in history or theology. The hypothesis was used by the exact same people who claimed that Dungeons and Dragons caused Satanism to say that Muhammad was a fraud, conservative Christianity was the only true religion, and that Islam was a sham. It may have been rationalized as a unifying aspect of Abrahamic faiths after the fact, but there is also zero evidence I've seen for that. My knowledge of Judisim may be shakier than Islam, but I'm pretty sure I'd have heard of that one. It has zero place in any game produced by OPP and honestly, if they went that route, I'd stop buying their products on the spot. Use the lunar calendar as a hook for werewolf? Sure. The Crescent Moon iconography? I'm game. The Allah-As-Moon-God hypothesis? No fucking way.


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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Second Chances View Post
                      Use the lunar calendar as a hook for werewolf? Sure. The Crescent Moon iconography? I'm game. The Allah-As-Moon-God hypothesis? No fucking way.
                      Lunar calendar as story hook have ONLY sense IF you assume that YHWH/God/Allah can be Moon Father. ( As most calendars in the world are already lunar ones. ) I understand it can be sensitive idea for Muslims - but so do for Jews or Christian then, as all three religions have common root and to all three this hypothesis points as their god maybe 'pagan' in reality.

                      More on the idea - from Judaism perspective - was in Werewolf topic on myths of Uratha around the world...

                      Originally posted by Kat View Post
                      I read an article at one of Polish sites that the use of lunar calendar in early Hebrew culture could indicate a link between YHWH and Moon. Maybe Werewolves through early Abrahamic lens are linked to YHWH somehow?
                      Originally posted by Kat View Post
                      I would translate it myself probably, but I await two major translation requests from my workplace.

                      http://www.racjonalista.pl/kk.php/s,...pekty.Judaizmu

                      Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post

                      Okay, idea is this - early Hebrew there is odd correlation of they calendar, 28 day month ( 4 times 7 days week ) and New Moon. First Shabbat of the year comes in the New Moon, seventh is most sacred of them all, worshiped very extensively in early Old Testament. At the beginning of books day starts at the dawn ( solar cult ), but later, start of the Shabbat is at the seventh day's dusk ( lunar cult ). In the middle of Old Testament there is mentioned purge in Israel, negating worship of other gods in it. From then on only YHWH is mentioned - but clues from earlier cult were left, and calendar or Shabbat practices remained, pointing on that probably Moon cult was absorbed in to Tetragrammaton itself.

                      My take on this idea of Jewish werewolves myth based on it would be this...

                      Unholy Sons

                      On the beginning was a Word. And Word was a World. The Father created with the Word whole Creation. And it was good. He later created humans in Paradise and gave them free will. But Eve, first women, was tempted by the Snake to obtain the apple from Tree of Knowledge. And they needed to be banished from the Paradise.

                      But Father weren’t only having righteous face of the Sun. He was forgiving as the Moon. He couldn’t lifted his own decree, because he knew it was right - humans weren’t suppose to return to Paradise any more. But he also couldn’t left Adam and Eve, and the kind alone in the world. He needed to defend them, and Paradise against them.

                      As the Moon, he appeared to the most dangerous of Paradise animal and come to make with it the race of guardians. The Father Moon conceived with Mother Wolf new kind - half man, half wolves. Not pure as humans, but needed to protect them and the world from the man. As sons and daughters of so foul creature as Wolf, they could do what need to be done - even go to the Hell itself, if the need rose.

                      But the Wolf Mother wanted more and more of her half human children to behave like a wolves, forsaking they sacred duty from the Father. Then he come to them and told what need to be done. And so they killed they Mother under his command, like Isaac was ready to sacrifice his son.
                      This is who we are - we are His children, with duty to him and respect to our Mother memory. We didn’t destroyed the Paradise, but were made to guard it. And now we atone for our sins in the eyes of Father.

                      So what do you think about this story? It’s only first draft, I will make it more later.
                      Last edited by wyrdhamster; 07-15-2017, 12:56 AM.


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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post

                        Lunar calendar as story hook have ONLY sense IF you assume that YHWH/God/Allah can be Moon Father. ( As most calendars in the world are already lunar ones. ) I understand it can be sensitive idea for Muslims - but so do for Jews or Christian then, as all three religions have common root and to all three this hypothesis points as their god maybe 'pagan' in reality.

                        More on the idea - from Judaism perspective - was in Werewolf topic on myths of Uratha around the world...





                        You aren't convincing me Wyrd. That's like saying that it's okay to write a Jewish superhero gaining their powers through radioactive gas just because you have a Christian and Muslim superhero doing the same thing. It reinforces a violent and tragic history. I can't speak or read Polish, so I have zero ability to verify or refute anything in the link you've provided. I did do a search before I replied initially, and just did another one, and found zip. There are plenty of other possible ways that the Islamic calander could have ended up being Lunar without Allah originally being a Moon God, and there are many ways to write a plot hook. A hook could be something as simple as Islamic Werewolves having a tradition like "the Herd honors Luna through their Calander, so we can only hunt the Herd under her light."


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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Second Chances View Post

                          It's not. It's a bullshit excuse used by racists and cultural sepremisits to try and spread their hatred. There is zero basis for in history or theology. The hypothesis was used by the exact same people who claimed that Dungeons and Dragons caused Satanism to say that Muhammad was a fraud, conservative Christianity was the only true religion, and that Islam was a sham. It may have been rationalized as a unifying aspect of Abrahamic faiths after the fact, but there is also zero evidence I've seen for that. My knowledge of Judisim may be shakier than Islam, but I'm pretty sure I'd have heard of that one. It has zero place in any game produced by OPP and honestly, if they went that route, I'd stop buying their products on the spot. Use the lunar calendar as a hook for werewolf? Sure. The Crescent Moon iconography? I'm game. The Allah-As-Moon-God hypothesis? No fucking way.
                          Well said.


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                          • #28
                            What is happening?.....

                            You know that the ancient Canaanite god of the moon is called Yarikh, a word which was used (and is still used) in Hebrew to describe the Moon (just like Luna in latin)? If the Abrahamic God was, from ancient Jewish perspective, a Moon God, logic dictates that his name would have been, well, Yarikh? Plus, the Lunar Calendar is of a Babylonian origin (which had their own moon god called Sin), and that the main reason that one would use a Lunar Calendar is because, well, it is easy? You know, you only need to track the state of the Moon to do it. I mean, the moon is not even a special symbol in Judaism. There is no proof that the Abrahamic God is somehow connected to the Moon more than any other aspect of nature. Trying to connect the two together, just in order to support a theory about Allah as Moon God, which Second Chances has just disproved, makes zero sense. Seriously, zero sense.

                            What is happening?....


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                            • #29
                              The non-evidence that adherents to the "Allah was a Moon God" bs point to is evidence of the word "Allah" being used for one divinity or another by polytheists - but that's because it's literally the Arabic word meaning God/god. Arabic speaking Christians use the word Allah the same way Muslims do. Attempts to avoid this fact underlies the non-Muslim preferred translation of "La ilaha illallah" as "there is no God but Allah", which is strangely selective in terms of which word is translated to English and which isn't. Probably better English would simply be "There is no god but God". This is not to say the first translation is wrong, but it's misleading to non-Muslims.
                              Last edited by glamourweaver; 07-15-2017, 04:10 AM.


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                              • #30
                                I honestly don't get why we always have to pick at highest possible mysteries (whether you believe to them or not), matters of importance or complex issues of the real world in order to make them fit in a, at least by intentions, "clear" and "definitive" picture of the CoD setting. First, Chronicles of Darkness does not work that way even with its own fictional hidden foundations and, second, deprives all parts of their (admittedly different) dignity and mistique. It's not like those kind of things will come up in a game either, at least not in a shape that demands them to be spelled out clearly before anything else in the setting. Why the heck where's having what's essentially a fanfiction talk about these elements is beyond me. It's a thing that happens from time to time in the forums, with many different people, but reeks of the worst ideas of the Classic World of Darkness, and I speak as someone who has still plenty of love to give for that setting.

                                And that's only addressing this issue, not even getting to the more delicate or problematic parts of the discussion

                                My spirituality is a clumsy, silly, syncretic and self-aware mixture of Gnosticism, Buddhism, Jungian ideas and some other things thrown in for good measure, with overall little consideration for real faiths. Still, I read my holy texts and made my researches. I keep that sort of things separated when the games demands for certain topics to appear. Sure, I use real elements to play with the various gamelines, that's pretty much the basic appeal of CoD, but I don't feel the need to spell out and map everything clearly.

                                Want any gameline to work within an Islamic framework? Find an aspect of the Islamic culture or folklore and use it. "All exists because of Allah and there's no way we can, or should, know the entirety of God's work" is pretty much the sort of answer you can always use in an Islamic Golden Age and one that runs well even with real world Muslim faith.

                                It might not offer detailed answers for the various gamelines but it offers questions and plot hooks, which are frankly more interesting from a narrative standpoint.

                                I had a game where the climax involved Iblis freeing an army of evil Djinn from King Solomon's mines, feasting on the comatose ephemeral body of Ahriman to cannibalize its powers and the main characters travelling to Eden in order to find a way to defeat him by eating apples from the Tree of Knowledge, all while creatures from all kinds of religion kept popping up during the campaign, and at no point I ever stopped to give the players a complete picture of the cosmology. I went quite high-tier with that game. It ended with the protagonists becoming divine champions of some sort, but the force that exalted them was "merely" God, without specifics or details attached to It. Nobody ever complained about it, and my players are have all different ideas about religion.
                                Last edited by Cinder; 07-15-2017, 04:53 PM.


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