Saturday, May 23, 2015

Thinking about the Swamp Folk...

Given that our Swamp Folk are going to show up eventually, if not soon, I have started to think about how to paint their white flesh. I stumbled upon the art of Chet Zar via his father's art page. I think the two pictures above, in particular the top one are along the lines of the effect I would like to achieve. 

In case you don't remember what they look like, here are some pics of the Swamp Folk greens...

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Art Cards

The Clan of Flowering Life, Art Card #03

Art Card #02
Art by Jeff Dee

Some time ago - back in 2010 - I decided to try some promotional material. For U-Con 2010 I had a promotional postcard (or art card, if you prefer) made up with some art by Paul Ballard. On the reverse was a blurb and a code that gave a 10% discount on any purchase. IIRC, nobody actually redeemed the card. So much for promotions!

Art Card #01
Art of Paul Ballard

But I decided to persevere, mainly because I just like that sort of thing, and had another one done with art by Jeff Dee. This I had intended to include with parcels and was sized to fit my common package size. A few went out but I discovered there were issues with packaging the figures and the card so neither was damaged by shipping. It turned out the cards just got in the way.So I stopped doing that.

Then James Maliszewski started publishing his little fanzine for the Empire of the Petal Throne RPG: "The Excellent Traveling Journal". After receiving my copy I realized that the art card fit inside the center of the booklet. I had fifty copies left and I arranged with James to get them inserted into the first fifty copies of the fanzine ordered.

The plan is to include similar cards in each issue, if I can manage it and for as long as James is willing. Card #03 is pictured at the top. That card is away at the printers now and Zhu is already working on the next one. :-)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The White Worms

Image by Hobobill (negative version of...)

In My Tékumel, the Íto clan uses the chalky hills of the Chákan Range to mark out both the eastern boundary of their lands and also their allegiance to Lord Sárku. Great worms, some with five heads, are carved out of the hillsides beyond the forest boundaries allowing the chalk to show through. (Just like the White Horses that are found in the UK). Some of these White Worms, as they are called, are actually now outside the present boundaries of the clan. At least one is large enough and high enough to be seen from the north-south sákbe road. There are no such worms in the vicinity of the Monastery of the Grey Cloak as that region has long been a stronghold of Lord Thúmis.

Dyson Does it Digitally...

There is a new Character Sheet for "Empire of the Petal Throne" players available over at Dyson's Dodecahedron.  You can see it pictured in the background above (picture from his blog, used w/o permission, but hopefully he won't mind!) Also shown are the original rules for "Empire of the Petal Throne" and two issues of a new publication by James Maliszewski, of Grognardia fame: "The Excellent Traveling Journal". The first issue (now sold out) was rather nice. I'm still waiting on my copy of the second issue. Make sure to order yours soon - he only prints about 200 copies and they go fast!

Dyson's Character Sheet is a PDF download and, as he says, it could be "prettied up". Hopefully, if there is enough interest, he will do just that! :-)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Returning to a Band of Joyous Heroes...

Challenge Tests

Compare Ratings:
Lower ..........................  -1 (min of 2)
Equal ........................... +0
Higher ......................... +1
Double ........................ +2
Triple .......................... +3 (1 AS)
Four Times ................. +4 (2 AS)
Five Times or More .... +5 (2 AS)

AS = Automatic Success

Challenge Resolution:

1)   Each challenge consists of one or more Challenge Rounds (CR).
2)   During each CR both sides roll their dice, looking for successes. A success is any roll of equal or less than their rating, with a roll of ‘6’ always indicating failure. Example: a ‘Body 4’ rating succeeds on a roll of 1-4.
3)   Both sides discard any dice that failed.
4)   If one or both sides have zero dice remaining then consult the Challenge table to determine the result.
5)   If both sides have dice left then steps 2 and 3 are repeated until step 4 applies. Each time they do this is referred to as a Challenge Round (CR). Thus a challenge will always consist of a minimum of one round but may consist of many rounds.

Unopposed Challenges:

Not all challenges are opposed. Many physical challenges, such as forcing open a door, are like this. Unopposed Challenges have a Difficulty Rating (DR) that the character compares his stat against. This is used to modify the challenger’s dice as indicated above (and under the specific challenge). Only the challenger rolls dice, and the degree of success is determined. If the challenger is not successful (ie. an Evenly Matched result is obtained) he may be able to try again, but this depends upon the specific challenge being attempted. Note also that a failed attempt may result in consequences.

Determining Challenge Dice:

1)   Each side always has a base two dice and may never have less than two dice, despite all modifiers.
2)   Compare the Stat Ratings of each side.
3)   Consult the table above, adding or subtracting dice.
4)   There may be additional modifiers depending upon the character’s traits and skills, weapons, armour, etc. These are unique to each challenge.
5)   Sometimes it is possible to receive Automatic Successes (or ‘AS’ on the above table). Each AS dice is set aside each CR as a success without rolling, unless the challenger has only two dice remaining, in which case it is rolled as an ordinary die.
6)   In the case of unopposed challenges, the stat rating of the challenger is compared to the DR of the challenge.
7)  If the DR is many times higher than the challenger’s stat rating it may gain AS dice.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Rough Guide to Clan Status...

How's this for a rough guide to clan status?

The Emperor - Is;
The Imperial Clan - Are;
The Very High Clans - Always Have Been;
The High Clans - Did Something;
The Middle Clans - Do Something;
The Low Clans - Serve Someone;
The Very Low Clans - Do Something No One Else Wants To (or can or knows how to).

But how does it work?

(Does it even work? I think it does. It does for sure re. the Very High Status clans who all claim lineages stretching back thousands of years. I haven't tested it extensively for the lower ranks, however. Not yet, anyhow. And there are always going to be exceptions).

But how *does* it work?

Well, say you've got a clan you've made up, or have only a vague description of, and you want to know what status they are. Then you consult the guide.


I recently came up with the following description for a clan:

The Clan of the Third Eye Blue - note that this is a name borrowed from Glorantha. Perhaps we should use "The Clan of the Third Indigo Eye", even though that seems to have some sort of tantric/yoga connection IIRC.

"A very low status clan of nomadic smiths who travel in small family groups with their forges and tools carried in chlén carts. Found in rural areas across Tsolyánu’s central plains, as well as in Pijéna, Saá Allaqí and Yán Kór. They avoid cities and, keeping to the secondary roads, are often welcomed in small villages and towns where established metal-working clans are not as prevalent. Clan houses are small, used primarily for storage with a caretaker to look after it."

I already decided they are "very low" status. Does it "fit"? Well, they are nomads eking out an existence on the secondary roads. They "do something", but I think it is more "do something no one else wants to" so that makes them "very low" rather than "medium".

But that is one I just made up. I can decide what status they should have. What about a canon clan that is ill described? Recently I found a reference to the Clan of the Balanced Stone.

It is based in Ssa'atis, in Mu'ugalavya and is a source of Tsahltén judges. It is also stated to be:

"...famous as a source of reliable body servants, majordomos, chamberlains, accountants and judges of sporting events".

It is stated to be found across the Five Empires.

So what status should it be. Some say "medium", but I personally favour "low".

Does it fit?

It does in the Rough Guide as they "Serve" as their primary reason for being.

There is also a canon example - the Clan of the Granite Lintel - who are "cooks, body-servants and kitchen workers" and which is also "low".

But what about "majordomos, chamberlains, accountants and judges of sporting events"? Would they be "low"? Well, they are still servants, yes?

To say they were "medium" status would give them ideas above their station! :-)

As always...YTMV. :-)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Flats of Tsechélnu - Digitizing Tékumel, Part 17

The Flats of Tsechélnu

My maps are based upon the Swords & Glory map, scaled to meters. In AutoCAD there is a tool called a polyline and if you draw an enclosed shape you can consult the properties and get the area of that shape (in square meters, in my case). So I traced the area on the map that is the Flats of Tsechélnu and a quick check returned the following statistics:

352526588986.0591 sq m 
= 352,526.589 sq kilometers 
= 35,252,658.9 hectares 
= 136 111.277 sq miles

Some RW comparisons:

170,304 km² = Florida
696,241 km² = Texas
20,000 km² = area of Tigris and Euphrates marshes (shared by Iraq and Iran). Note that this the original estimated area, not the current area. The marshes  were drained by Saddam and are only now slowly recovering.
357,168 km² = Germany

So, about double the size of Florida, half the size of Texas and almost the same size as present day Germany. And many times that of the Tigris and Euphrates marshlands.

Yesterday I posted a question on the Facebook Tékumel page, asking how many distinct ecosystems people thought might exist within an area that large. The above illustration is my first, rough guess.

Shown are nine regions:

1) In the far west. My thinking is that the Bútrus Gazetteer probably has this covered. :-)

2) This may or may not be a separate region. I have to re-read the Gazetteer to see what it says.

3) These are the coastal areas. Barrier islands, reefs, beaches and mangrove swamps. Look to the Everglades, or Kerala, or the Mouths of the Ganges for inspiration.

4) This region is described in one of the Solo gamebooks published for Tékumel.

5) Each of these three rectangles is 20,000 km², illustrating that there is a significant area that could be inhabited by Tékumel's version of the Marsh Arabs. The real marshlands have a sea of grass standing over head height in some places. If you did get up high enough to look over all you would see was a "Sea of Grass" extending off to the horizon in all directions. You might see the top of a sail on a boat moving down some distant channel. This is the Hméchànyukh, or "grass sea". :-)

6) This is the region where the flats transition to firmer ground.

7) The present day Mssúma river delta which I have been mapping. This is a relatively tame area of the Flats. The further west one goes the wilder it would become. I would say the sákbe marks the end of the "safe" area and the start of the dangerous sections.

8) This is a region that isn't grasses. Perhaps similar to #2 above. This is where the Mssúma river used to flow in ages past. This river course is now called the Nyélmeyal river (the River of Dreams). The ancient ruins of Ngála no doubt contribute to the character of this region.

9) The final region is Point Kuné. This includes the ruins of Hrúgga's Fortress. so I assume at least parts of the region have high ground or rock outcrops. But I also think it might have been part of the Mssúma river's ancient deltas.

Anyway, that is what I have so far. As always, comments are welcome...