The Tékumel Foundation

News about the World of Tékumel® – the creation of Prof. M.A.R. Barker

Archive for the month “January, 2013”

Inimical Races Kickstarter Ending Sunday

Just a quick reminder that the latest Kickstarter by Jeff Dee to draw the inimical and aquatic creatures of Tekumel is ending this Sunday, January 27th, 2013.  Supporting Jeff helps ensure that there are great new illustrations for the world of Tekumel – and will contribute to his work for his new RPG, Bethorm.  If you haven’t seen what he’s been doing, check it out by clicking here.

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The Inimical Races drawn by Jeff Dee

Boosting the signal about a new project from Jeff Dee: the Inimical Races of Tekumel!  Jeff has a new Kickstarter project, and the Foundation is very happy to help spread the word about this.  From the Kickstarter announcement:

This project is the 10th installment of my ongoing series of projects to re-visit or re-create artwork from early tabletop role-playing games. Last time, I revisited seven illustrations I did in Professor M.A.R. Barker’s article, “Legions of the Petal Throne Painting Guide” in Dragon Magazine Issue 6 – and I also created eighteen brand new drawings of underworld creatures who didn’t get ’em in the original Empire of the Petal Throne rulebook.

This time, I’m returning to EPT and creating new illustrations for the inimical nonhuman races from that game (minus the Ssú, who were covered in my previous project).

You can find out more about the Kickstarter project from clicking HERE.

Five Questions with Howard Fielding

A priest preparing to make sacrifice

A priest of Durritlamish preparing to make sacrifice.

Howard Fielding produces truly amazing miniatures for Tékumel.  You don’t have to take our word for it: just go visit the website for The Tekumel Project, and see things come to life through 28mm cast figures.  Here is a modest introduction to the man running the foundry:

Tell us a bit more about yourself – who is the creative spark behind the Tékumel Project?

My name is Howard Fielding. I started out in the “rag trade” [ed. garment industry] then went back to college for computers studies and did a few years of IT Support before deciding that was like being on a learning treadmill all the time. After that I worked as an Industrial Analyst auditing Aluminum Extrusion plant and Aluminum Scrap Recycling facilities in North America and the EU. Currently I am employed by the Department of Defense. I have a business partner but I think he would prefer to remain anonymous.

What is the Tékumel Project, and how did it start?

The Tékumel Project is devoted to producing 28mm scale miniatures for MAR Barker’s World of Tékumel. It started back in 2005, if I have my dates right. I had corresponded via email with the Professor about 3D Poser computer graphics for Tékumel but that didn’t come to much. I did get a preliminary 3D mesh of a Yan Koryani Khil done but it still needs tweaking before its perfect. Anyway, I had a previous association with Nic Robson of Eureka Miniatures as a customer and a sponsor for some of his “100 Club” figures. It occurred to me that we might be able to do a range of Tékumel-related military figures. The idea was that my business partner and I would commission the “greens” and Eureka would handle the manufacturing and sale of the range. Without going into the details, I approached Nic about the idea and he agreed. I then approached the Professor got his permission to go ahead.

The project started as a military-focused range. It has changed a bit over the years. One thing I found was that everything took so long to accomplish. Part of that is my fault, I admit but some was just fitting into the schedule of the sculptor and manufacturer who, of course, had other things to make and do besides our stuff. I think it was 2007 or 2008 that I decided to try going it on our own. I started investing more heavily in sculptors and artists to try and get ahead of the production – so we would always have something ready to come out. Of course, this also meant we had to purchase the molds from Eureka and this has taken a while to do – primarily because I was focused on “moving forward.”

We’ve made some good progress. Our ranges now include civilian and role-playing subjects as well as combat units. We have a pool of 7 or 8 sculptors who have done, are doing, or are scheduled to do stuff for us. We have resin models as well as metal figures – and more recently we have creatures made through the 3D printing process (though not yet in general release.)

We formed the Tékumel Club and enjoy the support of many loyal Tékumel fans. They provide vital financial and moral support, as useful suggestions and comments which we do or best to take into consideration. Some have even “sponsored” legions! In return we try and provide the most authentically Tékumelani miniatures that we can. The have been Tékumel miniatures in the past. Our goal is to provide a broader range. More poses. Better sculpts. Subjects that haven’t been done before. If I had the money we would strive to recreate all aspects of Tékumel in miniature! 🙂

How did you get interested in the World of Tékumel?

I first encountered Tékumel via the “Battle of Ry” account that appeared in the March 1976 issue of Wargamer’s Digest. I was hooked! Later I spotted Swords and Glory on the shelves of Fandom II, Ottawa’s premiere gaming store, and as soon as I realized what they were I snapped both parts up immediately. I think about the same time the Man of Gold came out. Unfortunately at that time I didn’t know about the other Tékumel publications, and living in Kingston, Ontario, in the age before the Internet and email one was pretty cut off from the hobby. In 1991 I started wargaming regularly. I picked up any Tékumel product I could find. With the advent of the Internet I started following things online until eventually I ended up in email correspondence with Professor Barker himself.

What has been your biggest success so far with the Tekumel Project?

Not sure. What does “success” mean? I like that we finally got the Ahoggya released, and am very excited by the upcoming Swamp Folk and Tinaliya, which have never been made in miniatures before, IIRC. Certainly not the Swamp Folk anyhow. I think my favourite releases have been the “Puppet Master” vignette and the “Sacrifice” set – and the new Qol palanquin which is really, really cool!  The puppet master is based upon some art by Dave Maggi – one of the few artists who really “gets” Tékumel, while the sacrifice set is based upon art from the original Empire of the Petal Throne role-playing game. Both sets really capture their subjects I think and I’ve always liked to have “entourage” for my table-top games. Cows in the fields, baggage, civilians to get in the way, that sort of thing. I envision our figures being used in both pure set-piece battles and also table-top skirmish games set in a market place or temple precincts. I’m working on a scenario inspired by the tale of the 47 Ronin. Its tentatively called “the Vengence of Grai” and involves an assassination attempt on Karin Missum by survivors of the Grai massacre. It would basically be an assault on a pleasure palace owned by the general…

What do you hope to do with the Tekumel Project in 2013?

Lots and lots of stuff. Bring over the rest of our molds from Eureka and put them back into production. Get our huge (and I mean huge) backlog of unreleased miniatures into production. Release the Swamp Folk and Tinaliya – both are on the verge of release. For the Swamp Folk it is the start of a more expansive range, while the Tinaliya are pretty much complete. I just took receipt of a 50lb box of Qol, constituting the the completion of that range. Ssu and Pachi Lei are planned plus about a dozen legions have been commissioned. As always, everything takes so very long to come to fruition! 😦

The original, as done by Prof. Barker, and published in Empire of the Petal Throne.

The original, as done by Prof. Barker, and published in Empire of the Petal Throne.

Five Questions with Peter Gifford

peter

Peter Gifford, graphic designer and creator of the Tekumel.com website

While many people have visited the visually stunning Tekumel.com website, only some of them are aware of who put it all together, Peter Gifford.  We thought it would be a good idea to get to know the graphic design wizard behind the curtain:

Who is the fellow behind the Tekumel.com website?

An Australian graphic designer, working freelance under the name Universal Head (www.universalhead.com) for almost 20 years. I recently left the city of Sydney and moved to New Zealand, where I’m having a great time rediscovering the great outdoors.

On top of my usual commercial work – websites, branding, packaging etc, I occasionally manage to combine my two main interests by designing graphics for boardgames like Tales of the Arabian Nights, Ninjato and Aztlan. I’m also known among gamers for creating hundreds of boardgame rules summary sheets, which you can find at my blog site, http://www.headlesshollow.com. And I’ve played drums in lots of bands over the years.

In 1997 I rediscovered Tékumel after a long absence and, as a personal project, decided to create a professional-looking website celebrating Professor Barker’s creation. It eventually became the ‘official’ site and I had the honour of exchanging emails with the Professor and getting to know the Tékumel community. The site has been redesigned several times and, despite the occasional long hiatus, is still expanded and improved now and then.

How did you originally get involved with Tékumel?
In the distant, murky past – 1978 to be exact – I was in my first year at high school and walked into the library to see a couple of guys sitting at a table rolling some funny-shaped dice. After walking back and forth a few times I finally asked what they were doing, and one of them answered “this is a game where you make up your own game.” It was Empire of the Petal Throne. With the occasional lapse, I’ve been playing role-playing, board and miniatures games ever since – though, funnily enough, no Tékumel-based games since those very early days.

What intrigues you the most about Tekumel?
As a young person first discovering Tékumel it was the exotic scripts, the weird nonhuman races and monsters, and some of the other things we all associate with Tékumel – the underworlds, impalement, Sakbe roads, the Ssú, Eyes, the Petal Throne … actually, now I think about it, all those things still intrigue me! Tékumel has an imaginative weight, a remarkable sense of alternative reality, that is incredibly rare among creations of fantasy.

You’ve done a lot of creative work on the web and elsewhere – how has that shaped your approach towards envisioning Tékumel?
I approached the design of the site the same way I would any professional project – I wanted it to be beautiful, useful and well-designed – but in this case I also had the luxury of doing exactly what I wanted visually. It was also in the early years of the internet and games like Myst and Riven, and there was a real feeling of excitement around creating ‘worlds’ on the web. I tried to capture my own vision of Tékumel in the site’s graphics – the textures, the logo, some interactive graphics in the original version of the site – and fortunately I travelled to India around that time and took a lot of photos of textures. In fact I remember seeing a sign one night in Varanasi that I could have sworn was in Tsolyáni! Those photos informed a lot of the design choices, as have subsequent travels to South America, Mexico and Morocco (you can find my travel diaries at www.petergifford.com), and some excellent contributions by a few professional illustrators.

Strangely, no one has ever asked me what the object is next to the main logo. It’s a portable communication device I designed for a computer adventure game proposal many years ago, but it just ‘felt’ right to be reused on the site.

If there is something new you would like to do for Tékumel, what would it be?
I’d love to get more professional illustrators visualising Tékumel. I think that one of the problems people have with approaching Tékumel is that there are too few high quality illustrations that really capture its unique atmosphere. As wonderful as all the descriptions are, most people respond much more quickly to visuals. A few good conceptual designers need to get involved creating images exploring the world in the same way John Howe and Alan Lee have explored Middle-earth.

Oh, and I’d really love to design an Empire of the Petal Throne boardgame. I must get to work on that!

Thanks, Peter!

FAQ: what does “Approved for Tekumel” mean?

What does “Approved for Tekumel” mean?  Material produced by Prof. Barker during his lifetime, and material created by others which he specifically authorized, is considered canonical.  The Tekumel Foundation will authorize new material that passes review as “approved for Tekumel.”  “Approved for Tekumel” means that the material has been examined and critically reviewed to ensure that it fits into the World of Tekumel.  The Foundation will approve material that is of high quality and is consistent with Prof. Barker’s own vision.

How do I submit my material for review and possible approval?  Generally speaking, if you would like for your material to be labelled as “Approved for Tekumel” you will need to send it to the Tekumel Foundation for critical review.  There is a distinction made between non-commercial “fan” publication and for-profit publication – you can find out more about that here.  If you intend to produce something for sale, you should first send a letter of inquiry to the Tekumel Foundation (more details about how to do this here).  For larger projects it may be necessary for the Foundation to review a draft or complete business plan.

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