Friday, June 28, 2013

Armchair Review: The War of Horus and Set

Reference books on history, mythology, and warfare hold a special place in the gamer's heart -- they provide inspiration for many a character or game.

How wonderful therefore that Osprey Publishing's The War of Horus and Set delivers on all three!

Here's my review as it appears on RPGNow:
First off, please note that this version is in ePub format and not in PDF.
With that out of the way -- this is a fantastic resource for RPG gamers. The writing has a nice balance between providing succinct summaries of the history and general flow of the myth and history of this particular focus area in Egyptian myth and in providing telling details about the variants and nuances of these conflated stories to provide a lot of game inspiration and adventure hooks for GMs. 
The Chapter titled "Gods and Their Realm" gives a good grounding in the cosmology of Egyptian gods and a list of the major players in the pantheon.
In "The Jealous Brother", there is an sympathetic portrayal of Set before the troubles between him and his brother, Osiris, began the inexorable slide into generational family feuding and tragedy. Of particular interest is the scene where Osiris is tricked into a deadly trap in full view of an audience. 
"The Vengeful Nephew", focuses on the war between Horus and Set from the revelation of what Set had done to Horus's father, through the various clashes overseen by the gods, right up to their final conflict. It is not bits and pieces of myth, but a fully described, flowing narrative. 
The Chapter titled "History and Warfare" peels back the curtain behind the narrative to discuss the often contradictory sources and variants of the myths that have been woven together for this book, to elaborate on real world warfare that paralleled the unfolding myths, and to detail aspects of Egyptian warmaking. 
"Enduring Legacy" talks about how these myths have influenced the modern day, crossing over into other religions or are echoed in other modern stories. 
All in all a rich source of material for a GM and her playing group.
Usage in Mystara

Given the existence of the Nithian culture in Mystara, it's hard not to want to use this resource as a way to twist and fill in the histories there with material from this book. I like the references here to Osiris as the First Mummy and to Geb as the source of the reanimating spell as a basis for that culture's resurrection spell. I love the references to the challenges between the gods Horus and Set (who may also be Seth or Sutek), and the way that the rulers of the land and the gods interact and ally.

I also like how they talked about Osiris's powers as lord of the Underworld and the ability to unleash chaos-spawned beings as a possible source of magics.

Also, given my past posts on the merging of gods (with Pflarr perhaps an echo of Hermanubis), there's no reason why this can't be an ongoing struggle between their allies and offspring.


That's my side of things. Let me know what you think, my friend.

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