The Tékumel Foundation

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

Archive for the tag “Empire of the Petal Throne”

October 16th is the day!

The Tékumel Foundation is preparing to release the reprint of Empire of the Petal Throne on Monday, October 16th, 2017.  We’re all very excited about this, as it is the culmination of a lot of work on the part of a lot of people.  Some additional notes about the new release:

  • The Foundation is going to produce print-on-demand maps to provide reprints of the stunning maps included in the original boxed set.  We’re hoping to be able to release the maps of the City of Jakálla and the Eastern and Western maps of the Five Empires in the near future.
  • We will also be updating the PDF version when we release the print-on-demand edition, to a version matching the print-on-demand edition.  This will still be a picture PDF; the text-searchable version is in the works.
  • The ebook for Professor Barker’s second novel, Flamesong, is the next project on our list – more news on that as it develops!

 

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More Tekumel in 2016

This is the third follow-up to our earlier blog post about plans for 2016 – we want to explain in more detail plans for products from Tékumel licensees for the upcoming year.  If you have suggestions or would like to be more involved, please let us know!

There are several licensed producers of material approved for Tékumel, and the board and volunteers of the Foundation are very excited by what they have planned for 2016:

  • Jeff Dee and Unigames, who have already produced the Bethorm RPG, including the Kurt Hills Gazetteer and more support material for use in Tekumel campaigns;
  • John Till, who is working on his two planned FATE of Tékumel adventures for the upcoming year;
  • James Maliszewski and the The Excellent Travelling Volume, which provides fan support for new ideas and variants;
  • Choice of Games and possible follow-ups to Choice of the Petal Throne – the Foundation is interested in adapting the Adventures on Tékumel series to the text-based game format;
  • the Tékumel Project has new miniatures offerings, as well!

The Foundation is always interested in hearing from potential game producers for the world of Tékumel.  It is worth cautioning, however, that not every idea is easily produced as a game, or fits well within the Empire of the Petal Throne.  But if you do have something for which you would like to get a “approved for Tékumel” license, please contact us!

New projects in 2016

This is a second follow-up to our earlier blog post about plans for 2016 – we want to expand  and explain in more detail plans for new products for the upcoming year.  If you have suggestions or would like to be more involved, please let us know!

One of the important aspects of presenting the world of Tékumel is adding to the materials which have already been produced.  Quite rightly, fans are interested in creations from Professor Barker which expand their knowledge of this intricate and absorbing setting.  Here are some of the projects the Foundation is working to produce in 2016:

  • The original “mimeo” Empire of the Petal Throne is available in PDF form, but we want to make it available in a print-on-demand format, as well.  There are subtle differences between the playtest rules and the edition published by TSR, Inc.
  • The Jakállan Underworld, including maps and a reproduction of the key – this project has been in the works for some time, as we have been deciding what would be the best way to present it.  We now have a plan for that – and we think you will like it.
  • The Dlash Gazetteer and maps of the city in southern Livyanu, which features so prominently in The Lords of Tsámra.
  • Speaking of which, Flamesong and The Lords of Tsámra, in eBook and print forms.  Having Professor Barker’s novels available is something many of you have asked for – and we want to fulfill your request.
  • If we can fit it in, Armies of the Five Empires.  This would include information from the original army lists, as well as the military articles published in various periodicals.

There are other projects waiting in the wings: a Stability companion volume to The Book of Ebon Bindings, the Northeast Frontier maps and gazetteer, and other source material useful for gaming.  We will get to these as time and resources allow.  Help spread the word – run games, blog about your adventures, and share them with your friends.  The more source material people buy, the easier it is for the Foundation to produce new material.

Plans for 2016

The first post of 2016 for the Foundation blog is about the Foundation’s plans for the upcoming year.  2015 was a successful year: it saw a whole range of activities and events, including Tékumel tracks at several conventions, the re-release of The Man of Gold and The Tékumel Sourcebook, a new web-based text game, Choice of the Petal Throne, and a lot more.  We thought it would be good to provide an outline of what the Foundation plans to accomplish in 2016.  Here goes:

  1. We will continue to re-release material previously produced, including the following: the TSR edition of Empire of the Petal Throne in a print-on-demand format; the Swords & Glory Player’s Handbook; The Northwest Area Frontier Maps and Gazetteer; Flamesong; The Lords of Tsamra; the Dlash Gazetteer and the Book of Ebon Bindings
  2. We also will release previously unpublished material, including the “mimeo” Empire of the Petal Throne in a print-on-demand format, the Jakallan Underworld, and Armies of the Five Empires.
  3. We will continue working with existing licensees, including: Jeff Dee and Unigames, providing support for Bethorm support material; John Till and his planned FATE of Tékumel adventures; James Maliszewski and the The Excellent Travelling Volume; Choice of Games and possible follow-ups to Choice of the Petal Throne; The Tékumel Project with new and existing miniatures offerings
  4. We will continue supporting Tékumel activities and events at conventions, including, but not limited to, the following list: Con of the North (Twin Cities, MN); Gary Con (Lake Geneva, WI); Convergence (Twin Cities, MN); Celesticon (SF, CA); Gamehole Con (Madison, WI), and U-Con Gaming Convention (Ypsilanti, MI). If you are interested in running events at these or other conventions, please let us know – we want to help make your event a success.

To accomplish all this, we want to spread the word about the world of Tékumel, through websites, podcasts, and other media.  If you know of specific opportunities, such as the recent Conlangery podcast, get in touch with the Foundation and we can arrange to have a Foundation representative available.

Lastly, we are always interested in proposals for new material related to Tékumel. If you’d like to license your product idea and are willing to work with the Foundation on its development, we want to work with you to make your idea part of the creative legacy of Prof. Barker – the world of Tékumel.  Please contact the Foundation at info@tekumelfoundation.org – thank you!

News from Sokátis

TETV-04_cover

[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 first part of a two-part entry.]

By the time I started roleplaying in late 1979, M.A.R. Barker’s world of Tékumel was already legendary. I regularly heard tales of its “depth” and, more often than not, its “complexity” from the older and more experienced gamers I ran into at the hobby shops and games gatherings of suburban Baltimore.

Consequently, it would take me more than a decade to investigate Tékumel for myself, which I did by subscribing to the Blue Room mailing list and by purchasing the then-new Gardásiyal rules. I also began an email correspondence with Professor Barker – or “Phil,” as he insisted I call him. That correspondence, while irregular, instilled in me an abiding affection for Tékumel that is a driving force behind my launching my fanzine, The Excellent Travelling Volume.

My love of Tékumel is not academic. Though I enjoy lengthy conversations about Tékumel’s mysteries as much as the next fan, I also feel very strongly that Professor Barker’s world is best enjoyed through the medium of roleplaying. This is why I have refereed several different Tékumel campaigns since the 1990s, the most recent of which began in March of this year. This campaign uses the Empire of the Petal Throne rules, as have the last couple of campaigns I have run. I have come to appreciate the elegant simplicity of the original 1975 rules and have found them especially accessible to newcomers to Tékumel, of whom I often have several in any campaign I referee, including my current one.

This campaign is nominally based in the city of Sokátis, with all the characters being members of the local House of Worms clan. As its name suggests, the clan is devoted to Sárku and his Cohort Durritlámish. In terms of their direct experience with Tékumel (or Empire of the Petal Throne), the players are a mixed group. Some of them were complete neophytes, some knew something of Tékumel, and some were old hands, with a sophisticated understanding of the setting. Because I chose to run this campaign via the Hangouts feature of Google Plus, the players were as diverse geographically as they were in experience. I have players located across North America, as well as in the United Kingdom and continental Europe.

Because of their differences in experience with Tékumel, I decided early on that I would “start small” with the campaign. Initially, the player characters acted as agents of their clanmaster, undertaking errands and investigations on his behalf within Sokátis. This allowed me to introduce the neophytes to foundational elements of Tsolyáni society – the clans and the temples, for example – in a straightforward, easy to understand way. They learned by doing and, after only a few sessions, were familiar enough with the workings of their clan, temples, and city that they were ready for more.

[Part Two will appear next week.]

 

First Fantasy Campaign

DSC_0051

From time to time, the Tekumel Foundation blog will feature various items in the Tekumel archives.  In this case, Prof. Barker’s copy of The First Fantasy Campaign, written by Dave Arneson and published in 1977 by Judges Guild.  Dave was a close friend of Prof. Barker; they initially knew one another through the different game clubs in the Twin Cities in the mid-70’s, as board wargamers and miniatures players.  They became closer friends due to a variety of circumstances, including ongoing legal disputes with TSR which provided a common cause bringing them together.  Dave’s (in)famous character, Captain Harchar, was a larger-than-life character in the world of Tekumel.  One of the things that Dave liked to do was to make sure that Prof. Barker and players in the various Tekumel gaming groups had copies of different game products Dave had written.  The First Fantasy Campaign was not a polished campaign setting, as some commentators have noted, but it did provide an overview of Dave’s Blackmoor campaign – the setting for what became Original Dungeons & Dragons.  What makes this interesting for Tekumel fans is that both Blackmoor and Greyhawk were essentially backdrops for adventuring, leading Prof. Barker to wonder what a game would be like if it had a more complete and believable culture and society – what lead eventually to Empire of the Petal Throne.

 

Now make it YOUR Tekumel

The following excerpt is from The Tékumel Sourcebook; Prof. Barker presents some advice about how to approach playing Tékumel:

“There is no need for ‘your’ Tékumel to be identical with ‘my’ Tékumel. Introduce other characters, different animals, further races — after all, my terrain maps show only a portion of the planet’s northern hemisphere, and there is lots of room around the other side! Change the social structures, throw out or ignore features which do not appeal to you. Use your own imagination to bring in features which you and your players will enjoy. The game can function as a springboard into your own fantasy mythos, and if you go on to develop this, we shall all be the richer. If you have a campaign which uses some other set of rules, you may still wish to utilize these background materials either directly or as a stimulus to enhance your World. Even were we to issue a monthly newsletter or exchange data by telephone, there is no real way to prevent your history from diverging from mine. I can indeed provide further material — and some are already available from the publisher of this book — but we cannot keep your Tékumel from drifting away from mine. This is as it should be. You have just bought MY Tékumel. Now make it YOUR Tékumel.”

This advice is, if anything, more true today than in the past.  What Prof. Barker wanted was for people to go out and play in his world, and then share the results with one another and with him.  Trying to “get it right” is just falling down a rabbit-hole of needless worry.  It’s understandable that players and game-masters would want to capture the essence of Tékumel, but that should include testing out your own Tékumel inventions and imaginings in actual gameplay.

From time to time, the Foundation blog will present various excerpts and notes from Prof. Barker which should be of value to Tékumel fans.  This is the first in that series; we hope to provide some insights into what he thought was worthy of consideration as you explore Tékumel, the world of the Empire of the Petal Throne.

What Every Old School gamer should have

Nice video about Empire of the Petal Throne, Runequest, and Bushido.  Very cool – and some fun interference from a VERY young gamer.  Kudos to Hedgehobbit for mentioning Tekumel!

 

Adventures on Tekumel at GaryCon VI

TFound-GaryConVI-game

There were three Empire of the Petal Throne games at GaryCon VI this past weekend:

  • The Jakallan Underworld: a party of adventurers dedicated to Karakan and Thumis questing for gold and glory were led astray by a disembodied brain of a priestess of Dlamelish.  Drawn into the inner sanctums of the Temple of the Green Eyed Lady of Sins, only one of the party escaped the wrath of the Goddess and her minions.
  • Hard Times in Pijnar: this was a pick-up game, in which four Tinaliya charged with protecting a large device of the Ancients found that their Livyani master had been assassinated and the Mu’ugalavyani were invading the city.  They discerned how to operate the large, slow moving vehicle and began to escape the city.  All seemed to go well until the Lightning Bringer outside the city walls was brought to bear.  If they had only tried to use their Eye of Retaining All Things….
  • Fishing in Lake Parunal: agents of Baron Ald were sent to Lake Parunal to seek aid from the Nyagga – or so they were told.  Intrigue and danger awaited them in the fishing town on the shores of the lake.  But they were surprised to discover that they just might be some truth to the rumors which led them there originally.  After a terrible combat in a domed chamber under the lake, the party defeated their onetime source of information and were returned to the surface.  They may not have secured any help from the mysterious aquatic race, but they did capture two Eyes.

In addition, there were lots of discussions of Tekumel with fans, including Bill Hoyt, Mark Siefert, Mark Eggert, Adam Thornton, and many others!

(photo courtesy of Mark CMG; visit the www.creativemountaingames.com blog)

Another 40th Anniversary…

OD&D Men & Magic cover

OD&D Men & Magic cover

It’s the 40th Anniversary of the release of Original Dungeons & Dragons (OD&D)!  As Jon Peterson has already chronicled, sometime in January 1974 was the original public release date for Original Dungeons & Dragons.  It is a anniversary well worth celebrating, as it was the start of a huge shift in popular culture around the world.

Somewhat less well known is the fact that Michael Mornard – better known as “Old Geezer” in online RPG forums – was the person who introduced Professsor Barker to OD&D in the fall of 1973.  Professor Barker was the faculty advisor for the Conflict Simulation Association (CSA), a student organization at the University of Minnesota.  Michael began attending meetings of the CSA, and it was there he began running his own OD&D game, and as a result, gave Professor Barker an opportunity to experience OD&D.  Later, in early 1974, Professor Barker produced the “green cover” or “mimeo” set of rules for what would become Empire of the Petal Throne.

As part of the process of cataloging Professor Barker’s vast collection of games and material related to Tekumel, we discovered Professor Barker’s copy of OD&D.  When we looked inside the covers, though, we discovered that Professor Barker not only signed the books but dated them as well.  We hope you enjoy these photos, courtesy of Bob Alberti.

OD&D Men & Magic inside cover with Prof. Barker's signature

OD&D Men & Magic inside cover with Prof. Barker’s signature

OD&D Monsters & Treasure cover

OD&D Monsters & Treasure cover

OD&D Monsters & Treasure inside cover with Prof. Barker's signature

OD&D Monsters & Treasure inside cover with Prof. Barker’s signature

OD&D Underworld and Wilderness Adventures cover

OD&D Underworld and Wilderness Adventures cover

OD&D Underworld and Wilderness Adventures inside cover with Prof. Barker's signature

OD&D Underworld and Wilderness Adventures inside cover with Prof. Barker’s signature

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