Historical accuracy of Ancient Egypt


#1

Hello everyone, I thought of just popping my head in here and ask just a few question that concern my upcoming game; Fallen Empires: Rise of The Egyptians.

As you would have figured out by now, my game takes place in ancient Egypt during the 20th dynasty, Year 31 of His Majesty’s reign, Ramses III. Not to give too much away just yet, the MC plays a role of an Egyptian prince or princess, the are numerous issues so to speak in writing this game.

The first that jumps to mind are the names of the royal family. During the 20th dynasty (also the 19th) it is also known as the Ramesside period and what stands out most is the birth names of the upcoming pharaohs, who are Ramses III (the pharaoh), Ramses IV (your father, the crown prince), Ramses V (your brother), Ramses VI (your uncle), Ramses VII (the son of Ramses VI) and so forth. They are all alive during this novel and don’t want to confuse the reader with so many RAMSES!!!

Secondly, gender also plays a role in this game. It is not that big of a deal that it would hinder the MC from their goals but it does affect how people around the MC see him/her. From what I have been reading so far in the forums of how people respond to historical depiction of man and especially woman, it seem to me that people divided. Should I make gender not affect the story, even if it is small anyway resulting in creating politically nice novel?

Thirdly, the customs of the Egyptians, particularly incest. For example, pharaohs were expected to marry their daughters out of tradition and to keep the bloodline pure. It would not have been a concern if the MC was not of royalty but unfortunately they are, and the father will become pharaoh (And there is the gender thing again).

With customs, the Egyptians believed in their gods and religion is after all the backbone of Egyptian culture. What if the MC does not believe in the gods, should I make a choice where they can be public about the lack of belief, resulting in them kissing away the chance of them getting the throne because the priesthood would never accept him/her as pharaoh.

Wow, I got carried away writing this. Sorry for the wall of text and any advice is appreciated. Thanks for taking the time of reading my post.


#2

Personally, I think you should go with historical accuracy rather than pander to modern sensabilities. I would be more interested to see Egypt through the eyes of a period Egyptian rather than a rose colored modern perspective.


#3

I don’t know a lot about ancient Egypt; but if it’s an era when (as you say) the same goals could plausibly be achieved by people of any gender (albeit with different paths), I’d recommend going for historical accuracy.

And giving the reader a choice to despise things core to the culture (like royal incest and religion) sounds great to me – then they have to choose whether to be overt about their feelings (and lose the chance to rule) or persist despite them.

That said: is the incest plot one which could only take place with a female MC? Or is it historically plausible that (say) Hatshepsut’s son would be expected to marry his mother to keep the bloodline pure? If the latter, I’d recommend making the Pharaoh a gender-flipping character, so that the incest plot for better and worse is not one faced only by a single MC sex.


#4

First of all I think it’s amazing wip idea. I’ve been interested in the ancient Egypt (especially regarding the reign of Cleopatra VII) for a long time.

The many Ramses names might be a problem but I think something that’s still going to be necessary if you want to write this game with relation to reality.
Same goes for the marriage problem. But of course you could still approach the topic instead with a sibling marriage. With the MC being quite a few years older than the other sibling and secretly having another love interest like Queen Cleopatra with Caesar back then.
As for the other idea… I think it would be unwise for the MC to make such an announcement to the public… and rather keeping it hidden instead. But the best historical example for a public gods defiance and the consequences would probably be pharaoh Echnaton when he tried to bring about a departure from traditional religion, yet in the end it would not be accepted.

But in the end it’s up to you of course
what you decide would be the best way.

I’m curious to see how you’ll solve this little issues but I’ll be following your post with interest and hopefully you’ll have a demo soon. I seriously can’t wait. :wink:

Good Luck with the further game development. :smiley:


#5

Regarding the religion, I wouldn’t even have it as a debatable point. It should be obvious to all of the Egyptians that the seasons are controlled by the gods, for example. Why would any Egyptian think otherwise?

While the reader may be able to use science to rationalise their thoughts, the Egyptians were less knowledgeable about the world and so a god would be a perfectly natural belief for them.

Regarding the Ramses, you could refer to them by a trait they have (the elder, the younger, the wise, the pale, the small).

Finally, the incest: Either scrap it or have it the same as the religion - completely natural to all Egyptians. Incest was there for the bloodline and nothing more, meaning it was about reproduction rather than romance. Just don’t go into detail with it.


#6

Putting a good word in for players who might want the choice to disbelieve: there was an honorable minority of skeptics and atheists in most if not all theistic societies, long before there was science. To some people, the manifest chaos and flux of the cosmos was always a sufficient argument against its divine origin/management.

I’m not aware of specific examples from Egypt, but as I said, that’s not a time period I know well. Their pre-Socratic Greek contemporaries had no shortage of atheist thinkers, with explanatory hypotheses for the universe that didn’t require deities. (Their hypotheses weren’t scientific, but nor were they theistic).

Given the intellectual exchange between Greece and Egypt, I think there’s historical grounds for an atheist MC. But I agree with you that since polytheism was taken for granted by Egyptian society overall, there’s no obligation on the author to write in that choice (or the choice to be a monotheistic heretic like Echnaton/Akenaten).


#7

I think you have two good options to go for and one that isn’t so good.

First good option is to be as historically accurate as you can be. It’s a different culture, a different time, a different world even. The suspension of disbelief is there if you remain true to history. It wasn’t a good or pleasant time to be alive, but a reader will understand that point if it is a clearly deeply researched historical period of time. You should also take full opportunity of the MC as a member of the royal family. It will allow you to give the player options to circumvent otherwise strict societal norms, such as religious feelings, at least to some extent.

The second good option is to make the story historical fantasy. The story is heavily based on the 20th Dynasty of the New Kingdom, but you take significant liberties in rebuilding the world to suit your own needs as the author. It allows you to change the major events, religion, societal norms or whatever other aspects of that period of Ancient Egypt that you might find to clash with what you want to do with your storyline.

The less good option is to go the Gladiator route and cherry-pick bits and pieces from history that you want to include and leave out entirely or present vaguely the things you don’t want to include. Muddle the facts, modify history and society to suit the modern sensibilities to some extent and make your version of Ancient Egypt highly romanticized.

Ultimately the choice is up to you entirely. I personally believe that if you have studied the history of Ancient Egypt enough, you can end up with an amazing rich world in your story that will draw a reader in even if it does not conform to modern sensibilities. Just don’t do the mistake of presenting to us a Ptolemaic Egypt when the story is supposed to take place over a thousand years prior.

One last thing, I seem to recall most Pharaohs had a different name prior to ascending to the throne. And even when they were on the throne, they had a longer name than what we call them by. I may be wrong, but there might be the solution to your naming issue.


#8

Thanks everyone for the response, really appreciate it.
@Havenstone
Now thinking about it, I could give the MC the option of whether or not they want to marry one of their family relatives, after all it is a choice game.

I do agree on making the incest plot also for the male MC but with regards to gender-flipping the Pharaoh, that I cannot guarantee. You see, Ramses III is male in reality and therefore male in the game also. Making him a female character will cause problems down the line because of the harem conspiracy that centers around him during the early chapters.

By the way, I am a fan of your work. Choice of Rebels is awesome.

@FinalFantasyFreak
I hope I can deliver a great game, I have been obsessed with the Ancient Egyptians for these past months. I think it’s getting out of hand.

In regards to the Ramses names, I’m taking the advice of @andymwhy, refering to their traits will make it a bit more manageable I believe. As I replied to @Havenstone, the best way out of the marriage problem is to give the MC a choice to whether they want to marry one of their relatives. Forcing the reader will prove unwise.

I admire pharaoh Echnaton, also known as Akhenaten, for his ‘ambitious’ attempt of religion transformation. While not successful, at least he tried and ended up being branded The Heretic or my favourite, Egypt’s False Prophet. My storygame is more of a political novel and the reader might realise Echnaton/Akhenaten was not as mad as everyone had thought, for the Amun-Re priesthood is becoming so powerful that one might say that their power even rivals the pharaoh’s.

@andymwhy
You do make a valid point, after all it is not as though an Egyptian knew of the monsoon rains that caused the flooding of the Nile.

Since it is a choice game, it is only fair to give the MC an option to question the existence of the gods but I won’t go so far as to give a choice where they reject their existence completely.

@Goshman
Hehehe, going Gladiator style route :). In your opinion could I take the first option of being historically accurate as possible while adding a bit of fantasy such as adding battles that weren’t recorded by the Egyptian which are purely out of my imagination?

I thought of using the throne name but as you would have guessed, you only get it after you become pharaoh and not before.

@everyone
Thanks again for the advice,I hope the game will be successful


#9

Of course. There’s painfully little detail about battles and major events Ancient Egypt was involved in and the surviving records are quite vague. Aside from the battles against the Sea People. I think those have survived quite well in hieroglyphs. Those were from the times of Ramesses III and are quite interesting actually (I’m looking up on them right now in fact) but that will actually serve you in a whole different way; you know exactly how the Ancient Egyptian armies of your chosen time period fought and what their strengths and weaknesses were, thanks to these records.

Go for it and see what comes out. I wish you the best of luck.


#10

Thanks, @Darkner – look forward to seeing what you do with your game!


#11

If you think you can make a historically accurate game, then do it. I’ve recently tested @AlexClifford1994’s “Divided we Fall” which is a historically accurate game and I learned a lot about the Spanish Civil war by playing it. I would love to leanr more about Ancient Egypt through your game.

as to your points:

  1. @andymwhy already made a good proposal, alternatively you could call them according to the relation to the MC (Uncle Ramses, Brother Ramses, Cousin Ramses etc.) or give them some nicknames (did they have them in real life?)

2.If the effects of gender are small, then include them. many official games have notable gender differences, showing the historically true differences would improve not only the accuracy but also the replayability.

a. As to the family incest and gender switch: is the Pharaoh the only possible partner for an incestuous realtionship? If I got your description right, he’s old enough to have adult or adolescent grandchild, has at least two adult sons and one grandson and a whole harem of wifes/concubines. Couldn’t the MC be obliged to marry some other close relative? if you want both the incest plot and gender balance, it would be best if MC’s designated spouse were their opposite gender sibling, like in case of Cleopatra.

b.as to religion: it could be very interesting if the player wouldn’t know for sure whether the religion/mythology is true and the Egyptian gods exist in-game, this would help to empathize with the MC.

c. as to the non-recorded things: my opinion is, you could add everything (battles, diplomacy, manging economy or construction of some temple or pyramid) as long as it’s plausible enough and helps to develop the plot. If you only want to describe a chain historically recorded events, you make a novel and not a choice of game.


#12

This game sounds amazing my advice try to stick to history as much as possible (things like religion, gender roles etc) or else you’re get a bunch of history nuts (me) angry

That being said be VERY careful with the gender choice a lot a people are sensitive with these kind of things

add the choice but try to be as historical about it (personally I love it when the NPCs look down on me because I’m female it makes it more fun to rub things that they couldn’t do but I did in their faces)

Ps in regards to the incest two things

  1. Add a choice for the MC to find a way to get out of it

  2. If they can’t get out of it then make a opposite sex sibling or another family member don’t gender flip the pharaoh or something like that


#13

Hmmmm… Personally I like it if Egypt gets attacked, they can call upon their gods, summon mythical monsters like a Scarab or a Wadjet to help defend your kingdom. Nothing says favoured by the gods better than summoning monsters.

On the subject of Ancient Egypt, getting the right tone of historical setting is particularly important. What I would do is start with modern adaptations of that time. So Prince of Egypt (1998) and the Egyptian Faction from Age of Mythology are a good place. Horrible Histories did a thing on that once as well.
These serve to get your mind into the right frame of context, what the houses looked like, how the serfs were treated, how Pharaohs rules, how their armies fought. The little things that make the time appropriate.

With that context in mind, you’re ready to put your character to paper. Looking up the possible character they could meet or hell, even craft a myth around them maybe. The best way I find that if you’re going for historical accuracy, I find it’s best to get into your character’s frame of mind. What will they see? What will they do? Who will they talk to, that kind of thing.
I’m a stickler for history but you don’t have to make it as accurate as possible, just placing the character in the time with a few references and let my brain fill in the gaps.

As for incest… urgh… Not a fan of it, so it would be welcoming to have said princess find a way out of it. I’m sure you’ll think of something.


#14

Omg a story about Egypt!

Ive always loved its culture, their monuments, In fact I love most of the Ancient worlds old civilizations!

As to accuracy well, I think you should find a suitable compromise between historical accuracy and perhaps other additions (magic etc) , Lets agree that if it were to be accurate, most of what happened in ancient egypt would not be accepted or viewed in a dim light by many , incest, animal sacrifice etc.

Perhaps incorporating major historically accurate events in with creative additions of your own to help support and make things interesting?

Either way, id still love for a chance to play a game with Egypt as its setting :smiley:


#15

It seems natural to refer to they as “Brother”, “Uncle”, “Father”, etc.-- at least in internal dialog.

Estimated dates for events this long ago vary, but going by the top googled results, this story occurs hundreds of years before the Greeks started philosophizing.


#16

@fox_vixen
I’m glad it got your interest because I was worried that people might not be interested in Ancient Egypt.

I plan to be very cautious about the gender choice. I’ll try not to offend people but I am not perfect. What I love most about the Egyptians is that women were seen as equals of men under the eyes of law, unfortunately this did not fully extend to real life. So yes, there will be instances were NPCs look down on you just because you are a woman especially the Amun-Re priesthood.

On the incest plot, I have it covered now. I can’t reveal too much but rest assured, there won’t be any gender flip of any NPC including the pharaoh.

@Taiho
Actually I’m more of a diplomat, I’ll solve conflict with enemies through a pen rather than a sword. In the outline I have already written out, Egypt will be fighting enemies to protect their borders but not summoning their gods to their aid. Sorry.

The characters in the game are from real life and the difficult part about writing about them is that there is not enough information to know exactly about their personalities. I have been reading so many Egyptian poems, stories and transcripts to get an idea of how they spoke and how they interacted with one another. So far it’s a headache but the knowledge I get in invaluable.

@Xhandas_Antonidas
I love the Egyptian culture so much too. I remember when I was younger how I was so convinced that aliens helped the Egyptian build the pyramids that I was envious that the Egyptians had a chance to see the grey and not me. Today though, it’s not only the pyramids that draw me in also the antique jewellery found in King Tut’s grave.

I’m planning on incorporating major events that actually had happened and filling the time gaps between them with my imagination. On the magic part, probably but no definite promises.

@eleazzaar
Thanks, it was suggested earlier by @andymwhy and I am planning on using it.


#17

Sounds just like modern day :slight_smile:

Doesn’t this give you space for your own imagination?


#18

I’ve always wanted to experience Ancient Egypt.

As a Prince/Princess of Ancient Egypt the MC would probably be expected to marry their own sibling of the opposite sex to keep the bloodline pure, sibling incest was permitted for royals back then, but I’m unfamiliar with Pharaoh’s marrying their own daughters, it was more common for siblings to marry instead.


#19

Just wanted to add a comment of support. This sounds awesome! :smiley:


#20

I prefer it when games tailor themselves so that is more fun for the player, over historical accuracy. For example, in medieval society, you would probably have 1 outfit you wear every day, and you work on a farm for 12 hours and 7 days a week. Most of your food would go to a noble that you will never meet. Is that very exciting? Not really. If historical accuracy doesn’t detract from the game, it’s welcome, and helps to set the stage.