Thursday, June 10, 2010

Outremer and the Thousand and One Nights

I'm currently reading a one volume edition of Burton's translation of the Arabian Nights. It's unexpurgated, though abridged, so it's rather frank and racy for the times. Burton also has many, many footnotes which are utterly fascinating, as his knowledge of the East is extensive and first hand. He is especially knowledgeable about the customs of the various cultures, explaining why the characters in the stories do the sometimes strange - to a modern American, at least - things they do.

One thing that is readily apparent is that Islam in the renaissance period was a very different practice than it is today. Far less puritanical - everyone drinks wine, and there is a lot of sexual adventuring - and far more tolerant of peoples' imperfection, and of religious differences, than is generally seen today.

I am, of course, reading this as research for Outremer. The game is set in these times, the late Medieval to Renaissance, and this would be the Islam current in Outremer. The magic seen in the Nights fits perfectly into the structure of magic in Outremer, and the Djinn are just as fascinating as I had hoped. The Persian Magician in the Ebony Horse is perfectly set as an Outremer Alchemist. Some magicians are Sorcerors, binding and commanding Djinn, but most are Esotericists - and for some reason mostly female - with an ecclectic mix of very specific spells.


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