[The Foundation has invited James Maliszewski to describe his on-going Empire of the Petal Throne campaign, set in the city of Sokátis. This is the second part of a two-part entry.]
Over the course of months of weekly sessions, the player characters ventured beyond Sokátis, following in the footsteps of a revered clan elder who had been something of a ne’er-do-well in his youth. Their travels took them to Rü on the Salarvyáni border (and beneath it), where they became entangled in local politics, and to the Salarvyáni city of Khúm, where they tangled with a group of Yán Koryáni exiles seemingly in the employ of a Thirreqúmmu prince. More recently, an ill-timed use of an untested Eye of Departing in Safety obtained earlier in the campaign has transported the characters somewhere cold and even farther from home than Salarvyá. Such are the hazards of adventure!
What I have found most delightful to watch is the way in which the players, including those with little previous experience of Tékumel, have quickly become acclimated to the setting. In one notable example, the characters had been invited to dinner with a former high priestess of Avánthe in Rü. The players spent some time thinking about how their characters would dress for the occasions. What impressed me about this was the players considered this topic worthy of discussion at all. This was proof to me that, for all of Tékumel’s oft-mentioned complexity, newcomers could indeed get into the spirit of the setting.
I think it worth noting that, as the referee, I have not found my duties unduly onerous – certainly no moreso than when I refereed other roleplaying game campaigns. Now, it is true that, after more than two decades as a Tékumel fan, I am no neophyte. At the same time, it is worth noting that, for several months, the characters were based in Salarvyá, about which Professor Barker wrote very little. For that reason, I often had to come up with answers to some of the questions that arose through play, e.g. What are the Salarvyáni names of Pavár’s gods?
Rather than fret about how little I knew about Salarvyá, I decided early in the campaign to answer questions only as they arose. My initial mantra of “start small” evolved into “think small,” which is to say, “think only about matters at hand.” There was no need to know everything about Salarvyá in advance. Instead, I drew on what I already knew to come up with answers to questions that emerged through play. I felt no pressure, no stress, to “do it right.” Moreover, it is my firm belief that, so long as the players and referee are enjoying themselves in Tékumel, they are doing “right.”
My campaign will soon reach seven months of weekly sessions, which is admittedly not long in the annals of Tékumel campaigns. Nevertheless, I am greatly satisfied to have found six players who have not only turned up week after week to play at my virtual table but who have entered into the world of Tékumel and found it very much their liking.
[What’s going on in your Tékumel campaign? Share your stories with the Foundation – we’re always interested in finding out what people have discovered playing in the world of the Empire of the Petal Throne.]