East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

An artifact from a more civilized time


They say that no good action will go unpunished, but sometimes a selfish action gets an award.
I had proof of this yesterday.
As I announced I went with my brother to the Winter PineroleGames, a small, by-invitation-only, roleplaying gamefest in Pinerolo, a city by Turin from which comes a fair chunk of my family, and that has a long and respected tradition as the seat of the old Savoy Kingdom Cavalry.
Not that the cavalry has anything to do with roleplaying games, of course.


As I also mentioned, I was there to playtest the first installment of the forthcoming Hopoe & Glory plot point campaign, and thus my motives were pretty selfish.
Add to that the pleasure of seeing some old friends and meeting some new ones, and spending a day having lots of fun – because we had lots of fun.
The expected blizzard did not hit us and it was not necessary to send sherpas to look for us, but my brother had the not-so-great experience of driving for about 240 kms in thick, John-Carpenter-grade fog.

And we really had a wonderful time, and in the end there was a little extra – because the event was sponsored, and the sponsor – GGStudio, publisher of the Italian edition of Savage Worlds and other wonders – offered a complete roleplaying game to the game masters for the event.


Original cover: Stonehenge, Roman centurion, Egyptian sorceress, ancient ruins, human sacrifice, barbarian action, Odyssey-style shipwreck.

In this way, basically having fun and testing my work prior to publication, I landed a copy of the excellent Italian translation of Man, Myth & Magic.
For the uninitiated, Man, Myth & Magic is an old game – it was published originally in 1982, and written by Herbert Brennan, a bestselling novelist and non-fiction author still very much active today.
The game is presented as a historical fantasy, set roughly in Classic and Roman times, what the cool guys call “Antiquity”, and looks just right to play something like Talbot Mundy’s Thros of Samothrace books1.
The system is quirky and probably not suited to all parties – but I know my players would love it – and while strangely complicated in some instances, the engine is still reasonably light while quite atmospheric2.
And just consider what the original cover promises to the players…

Will I ever play it?
I don’t think so.
But as a piece of history and an artifact of a more civilized time it will be a perfect addition to my collection. It is a piece of history, and it interests me both as a gamer, as a game designer and a writer.
And I love the cover of the Italian edition.


Our Egyptian sorceresses, brawny barbarians and Roman centurions are better.

And yes, as a guy that sometimes writes historical fantasy stories set in the antiquity, and featuring a Roman centurion and an Egyptian sorceress, I am biased.
But I don’t care.

  1. excellent historical fantasy that you can read for free thanks to Project Gutenberg of Australia
  2. I mean, a game that assigns characters a Chance of Failure? How’s that for setting the mood? 

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

4 thoughts on “An artifact from a more civilized time

  1. When I saw the thumbnail of the cover I thought it was the cover for an Aculeo and Amunet anthology! (The thumbnail didn’t show the title).


    • Imagine my reaction when I first saw the handbooks!
      And certainly it would be great to have a cover like this one – even if the ones Luca Morandi did for the first three books are just beautiful.


  2. I am easily taken away by sweeping alternative histories and the geographies they play in. Fantastical maps that rework familiar lands or that are similar in spherical shape only. The Mediterranean as backdrop is a favorite on mine too 🙂


    • There is a wonderful book called “The Dictionary of Imaginary Places”, by Manguel and Guadalupi, that you should check out if you haven’t already.
      I think I’ll do a post about it.


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