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Orbis Mundi 2
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Orbis Mundi 2

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Rated as a 'Project We Like' on KickStarter and successfully backed by almost 500 people!

Most fantasy role playing games use elements if the Middle Ages in their background ... but they provide little or nothing in the way of real background ... and what they do provide is generally anachronistic, misleading or downright wrong.

Orbis Mundi2 is a massive expansion of the information presented in the first edition and is intended to provide Game Masters and Players with a better understanding of key aspects of Medieval life – with more accurate and more up-to-date information based on deeper research than most RPG designers carry out.

The material inside includes chapters on –

* City & Country, covering the organisation and likely contents of Towns and Villages, Medieval Agriculture, the nature and contents of the Medieval countryside outside of settled areas and more.

* Kingdoms & Crowns, which deals with the Feudal System … not just the usual pastiche of the Anglo-Norman version but also including a detailed look at it and the French variant as well as some idea of how it worked in other areas of (mainly Western) Europe. Law & Justice is also covered – again, not just the Anglo-French ‘norm’, but some information about the rest of Europe, as is the complex issue of Money … and its regional variations.

* De Civitate Dei (‘The City of God’) looks at the main Medieval religions (and heresies) – Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Judaism and Islam, how they were organised, what they believed, how they viewed each other and so forth.

* De Re Militari (‘On Military Matters’) covers military organisation, by region and ethnicity, the cost of warfare and logistical matters, Weapons and Armour, Castles and Sieges.

* Ars Mechanica (‘Mechanical Arts’) looks at the technological and business side of the medieval period (they didn’t really differentiate).

* Ars Scholastica (‘Scholastic Arts’) looks at the educational side of things – and what passed for the ‘scientific’ side as well, looking at everything from Reading & Writing through to University Education as well as Alchemy (Chemistry) and Medicine.

* Daily Life covers all those things that don’t fit elsewhere – how they thought and what they believed, Hygiene, Leisure activities, Names, Calendars and timekeeping, Weights and Measures and Heraldry

Note: The Original Orbis Mundi included a large section with an Annotated Price List ... OM2 doesn't, the Price List will be in a second volume, which will also be considerably expanded in page count, tentatively titled "Orbis Mundi2: The Marketplace"

If you think that your favourite FRPG has a background that is the most accurate representation of the Middle Ages since the Middle Ages, then Orbis Mundi is not for you.

If you don’t care about historical accuracy in even the slightest respect, then Orbis Mundi is not for you.

If you do care about historical accuracy and much, much, more ...

Then Orbis Mundi is for you!

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (5)
Discussions (13)
Customer avatar
Andrew K January 07, 2022 1:23 am UTC
So if one already owns the original Orbis Mundi is this book necessary or would the $39.99 just be better spent on The Marketplace and/or the quarterly magazine?
Customer avatar
January 07, 2022 2:47 am UTC
Hmm. Think about it. The original OM was ~100 pages. OM2 is 470 pages. Do you think there might actually be some additional useful information in the extra 370 odd pages?

That and the fact that the material in OM2 is based on is 10+ years more recent than that in OM1 and there have been significant changes in our knowledge and understanding of the Medieval world zince OM1 came out?

Short Answer: Yes. Long Answer: HECK yes.

As for the Magazines, they add additional material to supplement OM2 and The Marketplace as well as Ithura & Porthaven/Fantasy Europe ,,, they aren't by any means necessary or required, but they are of some interest if you find the OM2/The Marketplace of interest.

If you're on a budget, sure, The Marketplace is probably a good start for the economic nuts and bolts. OM2 is more about the social, economic, cultural and technological underpinnings of Medieval Society between roughly AD 1000 and AD 1400 and is really helpful in running a realistic(ish)...See more
Customer avatar
Andrew K January 24, 2022 11:43 pm UTC
Well put like that my money is obviously better spent on product from authors who don't lead off a pitch by talking down to customers
Customer avatar
January 25, 2022 2:24 am UTC
I'll live without it ...
Customer avatar
Emil H April 05, 2021 2:31 pm UTC
While reading through the book, I came upon something that seems to be an inconsistency. Judging from the info on page 34, it sounds as if medieval Europe was covered in large areas of 'forest primeval'. But judging from the info on page 62, it sounds as if the amount of woodland wasn't much different than today.

Is it an inconsistency, or am I just misunderstanding the text?

I have included the text excerpts below:

Page 34:
“Outside of the regularly spaced (for the most part) settlements you will find that there is little evidence of the hand of man…

As late as the 15th and 16th centuries large swathes of western Europe were covered by (relatively) trackless “forest primeval” – with islands of civilisation scattered amongst the tree”

Page 62:
“Most of Europe had had high density agricultural populations for long enough for deforestation to be well and truly under way.

There were still tracts of the ‘forest...See more
Customer avatar
April 06, 2021 2:05 am UTC
Well, consider that the book covers a period of 400 years ... AD 1000 to AD 1400 ... and it makes more sense. That and the fact that the two quotes are *not* mutually exclusive! It is quite possible to have settled areas where deforestation was almost total AND also have 'large swathes' of forest primeval between them.

In some areas, of course, most of the pre-agricultural woodlands were gone ... but that left large swathes of unimproved land (wastelands) that could vary from moorland, swamp and marsh, scrubland to light tree coverage ... none showing much of the sign of man. Indeed, feudal magnates prevented lots of development in such areas (called 'Forests' in England, even though they might have been completely bare of trees, simply because specific land use laws applied to them to preserve hunting) so there was a lot of unimproved land.

Then, of course, Europe is a big place. I suspect there probably wasn't much non-agricultural land in the Netherlands even in AD 1000 ... but large...See more
Customer avatar
Emil H April 13, 2021 3:29 pm UTC
Thanks for the quick reply and clarification, and sorry for the late reply on my side. I don't make a lot of comments on this website, and I thought I would get an e-mail notification when I received a reply.
Customer avatar
April 13, 2021 3:42 pm UTC
you can always ask direct at aspqrz(at)tpg(dot)com(dot)au ... happy to answer any and all questions if I can!
Customer avatar
Mariok H July 16, 2020 9:43 am UTC
Hello, I love this book! But I did come across a slight error concerning the Baltic tribes, you write this here:

"The West Slavs. The Estonians, Latvians, Lithuan- ians were Tribal confederations and their military was organised along family, clan and tribal divisions.
Like the Rus, the Tribal leaders raised Druzhina Hearth-troops to form the core of any army fielded – unlike the Rus, these seem to have always been Cavalry rather than mounted infantry."

I have no idea about the organization of the Baltic tribes, but they were certainly not West Slavs. They were Balts. The Balts are related to the Slavic languages through the Proto-Balto-Slavic family which existed from c. 3000 BCE to 1000 BCE. So, a long time ago.

And the Estonians are not even Baltic at all; they're Finnic!

Additionally, the concept of "Latvia" and "Latvians" is relatively modern since there were several different tribes living in that area speaking different...See more
Customer avatar
July 16, 2020 10:07 am UTC
Ah. Sorry. Like I say (probably several times in several different places) the problem with doing anything outside of western European things ... heck, anything outside of Anglo-Norman or NW French or Franco-Norman ... founders (for me!) on the fact that there is generally very, very little *on* areas outside ... and, indeed, friends and acquaintances who have some facility with Eastern European languages have told me that even *they* have found very, very little of use in the sort of nitty-gritty social and military nuts and bolts I can get for Western Europe in English.

Which means, yes, that almost certainly, there are more outright errors in what I have written on those places than the specifics you have mentioned ... for which I apologise ... I will see what I can do about correcting it for the next edition.

That said, I am currently working on some expansion material for the book and, *if* you have better information on the area in question that could be expanded on, well, I paid...See more
Customer avatar
Mikołaj S July 14, 2020 10:31 am UTC
This look like a great day to day manual of customs and prices. But what about some guidelines of what can be found in dungeons, with suggested prices for treasures and where to sell them? Can I find it somewhere in your books?
Customer avatar
July 14, 2020 11:10 am UTC
Not a lot of Dungeons of the sort that you can loot in the REAL Medieval Europe (oh, and btw, OM2 doesn't have much on prices, "The Marketplace" does.

There are, however, valuables listed. Not all treasure is found in 'Dungeons' and not all treasure is 1/10th pound Gold and Silver coin.

Silk, Spices ... worth more than their weight in gold, even with 72 to the pound gold coins (and Cloth of Gold and Cloth of Silver are even *more* valuable).

Cotton, also an expensive luxury (no Cotton Gin yet, so all the boll material has to be picked out by hand).

Cloth, in general, is expensive (though not as expensive as Silk or Cotton) as it is hand woven.

Dyes *for* cloth are either cheap and cheerful from natural products or, again, worth their weight in gold.

Mordants (to fix the dye to the cloth so that it won't run and dye *you* when it gets wet).

Purebred horses ... imported from Hungary and Central Europe.
...See more
Customer avatar
Mikołaj S July 15, 2020 10:25 am UTC
Thank you for this swift reply. I love your work and I'm actually considering buying hardcover collection of OM2.
Since the topic is more relevant to Marketplace I will jump there with this discussion.
Customer avatar
Sean P April 16, 2020 6:47 pm UTC
What time frame is this designed for? There are vast differences between early, middle and late medieval eras.
Customer avatar
April 17, 2020 12:08 am UTC
Indeed there are huge differences. OM2 covers the period from around AD 1000 to AD 1400 but, due to the real world constraints of limited information for the very early part of the period, the bulk of the coverage is for late 11th century (post Norman Conquest) onwards. Coverage is mainly for the Anglo-French realms. That said, OM2 makes a good stab at indicating what the changes were to key aspects of society & culture, government & administration, the economy, military matters and technology over that period as well as providing some information about areas other than England and France ...

OM2's companion, 'The Marketplace', however, covers matters economic and market related (including an extensive annotated price list with realistic prices not set by the need to fit in with game mechanics) concentrating on the 13th-14th centuries, though with information that will allow a GM to adjust those to earlier periods (which can actually be done fairly easily with the information provided)....See more
Customer avatar
Sean P April 19, 2020 12:10 am UTC
Thanks! My world setting is roughly 11th-12th C.
Customer avatar
March 02, 2020 10:37 pm UTC
Again, I've received notice of a comment which doesn't show up here.

The question asked was, basically, if there is a B&W preview ... the answer is ... no.
Customer avatar
January 03, 2020 10:25 pm UTC
Reply to Logan M (got a notification that you asked about how it compares to Expeditious Retreat Press's 'A Magical Medieval Society' but the comment doesn't show up here on any Browser ...)

So, how does it compare to AMMS ... I actually have the first edition and it runs in at 160 pages, the latest edition (the 3rd, I think) is just over 200 pages. OM2 is 470 pages ... The Marketplace (sold separately) runs to 313 pages. 783 pages compared to ~200 gives you an idea of the depth of coverage provided in OM2/TM compared to AMMS.

As for the actual information, AMMS was written in 2003 and provides information that was easily available in the equivalent of Coffee Table books and general Senior High School/Introductory College level texts ... which is to say, the information is, as often as not, wrong, misleading or incomplete ... and often all three at once. OM2/TM is written using more up to date material that hasn't yet filtered down to such sources, mostly not even today, as they tend...See more
Customer avatar
Stacie W June 20, 2019 11:41 am UTC
The pdf example shows full color interior but the print options only list Black and White. Is the Pod version actually B/W and not color?
Customer avatar
June 20, 2019 3:32 pm UTC
Yep, that's why they're listed as B&W.

Colour for a close to 500 page book would be prohibitively expensive ... first, to proof (my experience is that colours invariably come out muddier than they appear on the Monitor), even if you do Premium Colour (which would be *extortionately* expensive for multiple go arounds, let along for the potential purchaser).
Customer avatar
Stacie W June 27, 2019 6:45 am UTC
That's disappointing. Check out the Exalted 3e product for a book close to 700 pages that's full color. Just as a comparison. I'd pay an extra $50 to get it full color over B/W for this book of yours. Plus, can it hurt to have it as an additional option to choose from???
Customer avatar
June 27, 2019 7:24 am UTC
It's a trade off. Only B&W was ever promised in the Kickstarter and, as I noted, the cost of proofing a book in premium colour, given that the illustrations are sourced from the internet and have no consistency at all as to colour values would almost certainly require several go-arounds (I use Serif PagePlus, which is, well, quirky, and doesn't play well with LSI's processes ... I've found work-arounds for the ones I've come across, but adding in premium colour processes, well, not easy and likely to make the whole process more expensive) ... that and the fact that shipping to Australia is not cheap, either, and I would be looking at probably A$120-150 per go-around in costs. Given the likely target market (tiny, I'd estimate), it just doesn't make economic sense. Sorry, but that's the way it stands.

If I ever do 'Orbis Mundi 3' I will probably try and do it using paid illustrations and industry standard software ... but that's several years off at the soonest.

Customer avatar
Stacie W March 02, 2020 6:37 pm UTC
Do you have a black and white preview?
Customer avatar
March 02, 2020 11:05 pm UTC
Customer avatar
March 02, 2020 11:07 pm UTC
Run the preview through a PDF distiller (like DoPDF) and set it to 'B&W' output if you really want ... that's effectively what I did to create the PoD version.

You might also note no complaints about legibility of the PoD version, which is what I presume you may be worried about.
Customer avatar
Joshua F January 23, 2019 10:18 am UTC
I forgot to ask this in my previous post, but does this book explore ways to make fantasy tropes work? for example, many elven societies are seen as not having traditional laborers, with most elves being soldiers, artisans or aristocrats. To make this work the elves as a nation would need to be wealthy enough to completely contract out their labor, or they'ed need to rely on slave labor. does your book explore how societies like this could potentially work? Like how wealthy would they need to be, what could lead them to be that wealthy, how many slaves would they need per elven citizen... ETC
Customer avatar
January 23, 2019 11:49 pm UTC
There's 15 pages at the end of OM2 that deals with some of the shortfalls of all existing Fantasy RPGs - including some idea as to how it would affect things economic.

No, it doesn't cover that in detail for a whole variety of reasons - I suppose the main one being that if magic *did* exist and was as limited as it has been increasingly made in D&D style games since the 1970's (and it has, increasingly, been limited in availability, increased in difficulty and cost etc.) then it would both make little difference in a lot of areas of the economy or a whole lot.

As for an entirely militarised Elven culture with no labourers etc ... well, you'be hit the nail right on the head by suggesting the actual historical solution, contracting it out. That's what the Feudal System actually was ... and Slavery was quickly ditched by the beginning of the period as it dawned on people that it was, economically speaking, far less effective that serfdom (and, no, serfdom is NOT the same as slavery ......See more
Customer avatar
Joshua F January 23, 2019 9:26 am UTC
Will the market place book that you're working on explore trade and the different things that affect it? How would you personally compare your book to "grain to gold" or "silk road" which are currently the gold standard for RPG economies? How much does your book address the Fantasy of an RPG? things like different races, magic, and wild animals that can basically level cities if turned the wrong way.
Customer avatar
January 23, 2019 11:38 pm UTC
I've already commented on 'Grain into Gold' re your post on 'The Marketplace' - suffice it to say that its *close* to worthless from a historical realism point of view, at least based on the evidence of the sample pages available online.

'Silk Road' - the sample pages are of no use in estimating its value and, in any case, it doesn't cover a topic that either of my books does in any detail (i.e. specifically the trade route between Asia and Europe). However, based on having purchased 'A Magical Medieval Society' by the same publishers when it first came out, what, a couple of decades ago, I would *guess* that, like the earlier book, it attempts to make a D&D style economy 'work' by force fitting elements and systems around it rather than making a real attempt to provide a *realistic* system.

AMMS wasn't *completely* useless, there was, from memory, *some* stuff in it that was OK - perhaps 15-20% of the overall material - but it couldn't (and still can't) be regarded as 'realistic.'...See more
Customer avatar
Bronto C May 13, 2018 1:44 am UTC
Worthwhile information, collected usefully for gamers.

It's a terrible shame that, despite the pdf costing more than most hardbound tomes, no money could be found for a proofreader, let alone a full-blown editor.
Customer avatar
Chad K April 22, 2018 7:16 pm UTC
Are there prices, costs for various things (equipment, food, mounts, lodging) ?
Customer avatar
April 23, 2018 12:07 am UTC
A limited amount.

The second book funded by the Kickstarter, 'The Marketplace' is 99.999% complete and will be released as a PDF to backers (and here on RPGNow) in early May (Print proofing will hopefully mean a Softbound version will be available by mid-May and a Hardcover by the end of May) ... it runs to 300 pages and includes extensive notes on Markets, Economics, Prices and price changes over time as well as extensive annotations as to what the items were, how they were used and some rules that make them 'usable' ... so, for example, actual historically available weapons and armour are rated for D&D3/Pathfinder/D20 OGL and RQ3/Mythras ... pricing will be ~2/3rds of the PDF pricing for this book (for print versions, all I do is add the actual print cost to the base price plus, usually, ~$5 for Print + PDF).
Customer avatar
Michael P December 29, 2017 6:36 pm UTC
Looks very promising and I like the content in the preview - but it's rather expensive for a PDF. Can anyone tell me (a) is there any benefit to buying this rather than a couple of medieval social history textbooks and (b) do the authors give references/footnotes for the information they're providing? Thanks.
Customer avatar
December 29, 2017 10:38 pm UTC
Sure, you *can* buy 'a couple of medieval social history texts' ... if you know the ones that *aren't* mostly outdated collections of mis- and dis-information ... but none of them have the breadth of detail that OM2 has. Decent (and recent) ones will cost, individually, a good percentage of the cost of OM2 *each* and for decent coverage and detail you'll need many more than 'a couple' ... I guess the point of the book is that it distills the scores of expensive books I have consulted over the last dozen years or so, many many hundreds of $$$ worth, cross checking facts and factoids and references in thousands of hours of research and writing.

As for footnotes, well, it's *not* a college or university textbook (most of which, as you will find if you consult and compare, aren't all that useful and are frequently not up to date and, indeed, full of known errors) and was never intended to be, so, no, there aren't any footnotes.

There's a quite extensive annotated reading list, however, to...See more
Customer avatar
December 30, 2017 12:28 am UTC
As a comparison, Cumberland Games & Diversions has two PDFs on 'Fief' and 'Town' for $19.95 (100 pages) and $24.95 (150 pages) ... OM2 is around twice as many pages and, for the PDF, about $5 cheaper. As far as I can tell from the samples, these other two products are perfectly OK, but off less information, obviously, than OM2.

If you want a better handle on the sort of things covered, have a look at the Kickstarter page and some of the earlier Updates, which cover a variety of things 'everyone knows' about the Middle Ages ... and which are completely wrong!
Customer avatar
Michael P December 30, 2017 1:47 pm UTC
Ok, many thanks for your replies. I wasn't trying to imply that the book wasn't full of great information - I'm sure it is. But I just wanted to make sure I would be getting something "extra" above the medieval history books I already own, and that any factual claims were backed up by references (sounds like the reading list covers this). I shall add to my wishlist and consider a purchase soon! Thanks again.
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