Thursday, November 21, 2013


Scauwegs, from painted as Striped Hyenas by Roy Duffy. Fantastic! :-)

Again, not Tékumel but I think they are perfect regardless! YTMV ;-)

Monday, November 4, 2013


A pair of Banth from Bronze Age Miniatures, painted by Roy Duffy. Technically not Tékumel but I am going to be using them in my campaign anyway! :-)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Stratagems in "Kérdu"

I've been tinkering away at "Kérdu" again - that is, the big battle rules for Tékumel wargaming.

One thing I have been thinking about is the various stratagems that are such a big feature of Tékumel themed battles. Or which should be in order for them to be "authentic". An example is the "Bow of Hrúgga  which is described in the "Battle of Ry" account. This stratagem employs two adjacent phalanxes separated by a relatively narrow gap. The concept is that once the phalanxes have struck home the rear ranks wheel and charge up the gap - becoming the "arrow" - to strike home, presumably with some additional effect though, in truth, it is hard for me to see what actual benefit would be achieved by doing this in a Real World battle. So the question is: do we model such fantastical ideas or not? If not, then any ancient rules would be appropriate as long as it can handle the basic elements of melee, missile fire and phalanxes. All one need do is tack on a magic system and perhaps some modifiers to account for the various races and "voila" - it is complete! On the other hand, if we choose to model these various stratagems that are part of the flavour of Tékumel-themed battles then I think we also have to allow for a little suspension of disbelief. Just as when playing Space 1889 we accept that Mars is inhabited, that we can travel across the ether and that "liftwood" exists, so to, to properly wargame on Tékumel, we must accept that certain things "work".


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Paranoia, or: the Imperium is Your Friend. Trust the Imperium!

In the Paranoia rpg, secret societies are banned and membership is punishable by a trip to the incineration chamber. Mutations are treated similarly. Of course, by default every player character must be a member of a secret society and have a mutation.

I was thinking of doing something similar for Tekumel games. Membership in a secret society is no problem. It doesn't typically have the same deadly consequences as in Paranoia, but might effect some situations. Or the secret society could be devoted to the Goddess of the Pale Bone or one of the other Pariah Deities and then could indeed have fatal consequences!

Mutations are a different matter. One could substitute the political party or power block affiliation, but that follows on from the secret society to a certain extent.

The "off the boat" starting scenario might actually be the equivalent, now that I think about it. Especially if you play with strict and deadly enforcement of breaches of protocol. Being "foreign" is just like having a mutation!

The problem is that in Paranoia the PCs have access to six identical clones. Each time they die the next clone is activated and put into play. This allows the GM to be somewhat merciless without slowing game play by having to re-roll characters all the time.

I suppose one could start the PC's in the Foreigner's Quarter and say they have a Shaman that can bring them back, but only six times, perhaps with increasing "side-effects" or "defects" as they go along. They are all members of secret societies either because they are a branch of the same temple equivalent in their home country or because they have already been poached by local operatives.

An alternative is the method of "zero level" characters used by Dungeon Crawl Classics, an Old School Renaissance (OSR) rpg based on original D&D. They advocate starting with a large number of these zero level characters and just playing a no-holds barred game. Of course most do not survive but those that do go on to become the player's main characters, being promoted to 1st level at the end of the first adventure.

I think this is actually what I am going to try out: an "off the boat" game, which I have actually never tried before, with the players all being Naqsái, from the Southern Continent far to the southwest of Shényu. They worship of the Goddess of the Pale Bone but know enough to keep this a secret. This gives them two potentially lethal handicaps similar to those in Paranoia. 
Naqsái Lands
Below Shényu (to the bottom and bottom-left looking at the map) are the Naqsái lands. They were never under the power of the Priestkings, and if one were to follow the coastline west for about 300-400 Tsán you would find the city of Dhalái. In that city the Goddess of the Pale Bone is worshiped as is the One Other. Farther along the coast is an even bigger city, Balái, and these two cities make up the core of the Naqsái settlement in the region.

 The whole purpose of this is to try and ease players into Tekumel's alien cultures. Playing it the "paranoia way" allows the referee to be uncompromisingly harsh.

But maybe that is the way most people play EPT already?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Overdressed...perhaps not!

An Aridáni checks her text messages...

(I sincerely hope Dejah Thoris costumes catch on as much as Slave Leia costumes have!)

Edit: Apparently the model's name is Kim Lee.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

L is for Lilsú Isle

For such a small piece of real estate we actually know quite a lot about Lilsú isle.

Here is a description by Professor Barker,  quoted from the Blue Room mailing list:

"Lilsú Isle is low, rolling, covered with rather pretty farms and estates
owned by magnates from Jakálla, the Káija Protectorate, and also from
Thayúri Isle. Most of these estates grow garden vegetables, fruits, and
crops for the markets of the other islands and also Jakálla. Nuts,
berries, Dlél-fruit, and other commodities bring in a lot of wealth.
There are only small port towns on Lilsú, too small to be marked on the
map. There is also a central ridge of scrub forest, where a few wild
animals can still be found. The island is about 90 Tsán east-west, by
30 north-south. There are no good all-weather ports, however, and when
storms come, the inhabitants haul their fishing boats and cargo vessels
out of water and put them into protected drydocks. This precludes larger
vessels, of course. There are also dangerous shallow waters and shoals
off the northwest corner of the island, which only a skilled pilot can
avoid. The island is technically under the governorship of Thayúri Isle,
but in fact it tends to be semi-autonomous, run by wealthy landholders
and business folk from Jakálla, Káija, and Thayúri Isle."

The island can be found on the map snippet in my last post - "K is for Káija and Kerunán".

K is for Káija and Kerunán

Excerpt from original Swords and Glory map, by MAR Barker

The protectorates of Káija and Kerunán are two territories that Tsolyánu seized from Salarvyá in 2029 A.S. and 2031 A.S. respectively, taking advantage of one of that country's intermittent civil wars. That was during the reign of the 55th Emperor, Gyésmu “The Iron Fist”. The current year depends upon when you set your campaign. The original Empire of the Petal Throne game was set about the year 2365 during the reign of Hirkáne Tlakotáni “The Stone Upon Which the Universe Rests”, the 61st Emperor. Subsequent events have advanced the timeline and some set their games during the reign of the 64th Emperor, following the recent  Tsolyáni civil war. Mirusíya Tlakotáni has taken the throne name "Resplendent Flame", in honour of Lord Vimúhla, the God of Fire.

Salarvyá has attempted to retake both protectorates on several occasions, most recently during the civil war, but has never achieved lasting success. Nevertheless, elements of Salarvyáni culture are interwoven with the daily life in the protectorates. The city of Sokátis is said to be "...more typical of a Salarvyáni city: carven gargoyles, ornate parapets, intricate bas-reliefs, and walls which slope up to the ponderous vaults and domes of its roofs." (Swords and Glory, by MAR Barker.)

A.S. = "After the Seal", meaning the "Seal of the Imperium" after the founding of the Second Imperium by the first Tlakotáni Emperor.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

J is for Jaikalór and Jakálla

Excerpt from original Swords and Glory map, by MAR Barker

Jaikalór and Jakálla are two cities on Tsolyánu's southern coast. I've blogged about Jakálla before over on the Tekumel Project blog...over here.

Jaikalór is not the metropolis that Jakálla is, but rather, a small city in Tsolyánu's Káija Protectorate. Both the city and protectorate were once part of Salarvyá and the Ebon Throne still covets them. Salarvyá lies to the south and east, on the far side of the Forest of Gilrayá whose flank the city is nestled under. It is described in Swords and Glory, as "...a flat, faceless town of shops, clacking cloth-looms, and the redolence of timber cut fresh from the Forest...", but with strong defenses built to defend against the non-human Hlutrgú who inhabit the Layóda Swamps.

The Legion of Lord Lángsha of Jaikalór is stationed in the city to provide for its defense.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for the Isles of the Excellent Dead

Not a physical location as such, but rather a spiritual one.

The Tsolyáni believe that the "Spirit-soul" - or Báletl - one of the Five Selves that make up every person, is the part that completes the final journey after death.

"It is this part of a being which journeys on after death to the Isles of the Excellent Dead and thence to the Farther Shores of the Paradises of Teretané. As it travels, the Spirit-Soul sheds its burden of identity and memory in order to be born anew upon ever more distant planes of consciousness."

The Tékumel Source Book, By MAR Barker

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H is for Hlíkku, the City of the Mad God

From the Swords and Glory map, by MAR Barker

The city of Hlíkku is a closed city, its inhabitants devotees of the god known as the "Mad One of Hlíkku". The only written description mentions "irregular, curving walls and brown brickwork". Following the dictates of their god the residents wear no clothing within the city walls, except for gold earrings; outside the city they go clad in leather desert cloaks and use bone-tipped spears.

There is some debate over the nature of the entity known as the "Mad One": one of the Greater Demons? Pariah God? Or manifestation of one or more of the other gods? None know for sure, except perhaps the clergy of that city. What is known is that the city is a fertile location for the casting of magic, perhaps due to the presence of the their god; or perhaps the reason he is there in the first place. The priests still speak the ancient language of Tsáqw, a tongue often used for magical texts. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

G is for Gánga

Enterprising locals offer tours of the sunken ruins
of Éngsvan hla Gánga to wealthy Tsolyáni.

Gánga Isle is one of the islands off Tsolyánu's southern coast. In times past it was the seat of Éngsvan hla Gánga, "the Mighty and Powerful Empire"the Empire of the Priest-Kings. When the cataclysm raised up the northern lands (See "D is for Desert of Sighs") the southern coast of  Tsolyánu sank, drowning the capital and heralding the downfall of the empire. The star on the above map marks the location of the sunken ruins. 

F is for Fasíltum, Ferinára and Fénul

Eastern Tsolyánu

Fasíltum, the City of the Chiming Skulls, is the capital of a province of the same name in eastern Tsolyánu. It is a fairly large city located in some hill in the Desert of Eyági; where they get the water for a city of that size is the matter of some debate. Some speak of large cisterns and underground lakes below the city. Or perhaps aqueducts built into the sákbe roads? 

The city is the seat of the Vríddi clan, worshippers of Vimúhla, the Lord of Fire. The appellation comes from their practice of hanging the skulls of those executed from the battlements of the city walls. Here is a better post about the city over at Chirine's Workbench.

In contrast, Ferinára is merely a small town. As far as I know its only claim to fame is being the site of two slave revolts in the last century. Note that slavery is legal in Tsolyánu, being a common punishment for criminals and debtors - the other penalty typically being impalement. (Justice is swift and painful in Tsolyánu!) 

Another town, little Fénul, is just off the map clip to the east. A dusty frontier town, the word "fénul" means "where?" in the Tsolyáni language. You may well ask! ;-)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

E is for the Empire of the Petal Throne

The Empire of the Petal Throne, often abbreviated as EPT, is a role-playing game created by Professor MAR Barker way back in the early nineteen seventies of the millennium just past. It was published by TSR a little after Dungeons and Dragons. Tékumel is the planet on which the game takes place. Tsolyánu is the proper name for the Empire of the Petal Throne, a vast empire larger than modern day Europe that is ruled over by a God-King. The box cover is shown above. It depicts the city of Béy Sü, the capital of the Empire. My previous posts on Béy Sü can be found here...

Saturday, April 6, 2013

D is for Duh!

I noticed afterwards that I used the Desert of Sigh for my "D" post last year as well! Doh!

You can find that post here...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

D is for the Desert of Sighs

Excerpt from the Swords and Glory map, by MAR Barker
Each hex = 100 tsán (133 km)

The Desert of Sighs is on Tsolyánu's northern border. Here lies Milumanayá, a failed nation split between rival warlords in Pelesár in the west and Sunráya in the east. Nomadic tribes roam the wastes in between. Fiercely democratic, the tribes vote before undertaking any major action or decision - even the children are allowed a vote! The hapless traveler lost in the wastes might find their fate being put to a vote: whether given food and water or slain outright, the majority vote decides.

Beyond the desert lies Yán Kór, with the little nation of Pijéna to the west and Saá Allaqí to the east. Ages past this whole area was submerged as a shallow sea but a great cataclysm raised up the land. The Desert of Sighs is littered with old ruins that hint at the location of the old coastline. The red dot marks the "Harbor of Dusty Stones" - the site of an ancient coastal city. The red squares mark other ruined cities, that to the east also formerly on the coast. The red line marks the approximate line of an old Sákbe* road that followed the coast. This information comes from the Northwest Frontier Map Set, by Thomas Thompson and MAR Barker. Unfortunately, the gazetteer only covers the western end of the desert and so the full extent of the coast is unknown.

*a Sákbe road is a multi-tiered combination of road and great wall. Think "Great Wall of China" but with three levels. The lowest is wide and built for the common traffic; the middle level is for nobles and high ranking officials and the upper level is for Imperial Messengers and the like. The highest level is always built facing the frontier of the Empire. There are towers at regular intervals and fortresses at major cities. A model of a Sákbe road can be seen here. It is scaled for 28mm figures - the whole model is over 15' long.

The model was built as a special commission by Chris the Model-maker.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C is for Chéne Hó

Excerpted from the Gazetteer for the Northwest Frontier Map Set,
by Thomas Thompson and MAR Barker

Chéne Hó is a province and city in North Western Tsolyánu, south of the Átkolel Heights (see the letter "A" post from the two days ago.) It is described as having several walls, each inner wall higher than the last. How many walls is not stated. The Governor's Palace, major government buildings and the temples are within the innermost ring, as are the clanhouses of highest status clans and merchants. The other rings hold the clanhouses of the lesser clans, the markets and shops, descending in status towards the outer ring. The Foreigner's Quarter is located in the outer ring. While Tsolyánu in general tends to be hot, the climate in  Chéne Hó is "temperate", with only the summer months becoming very hot. I remember Professor Barker once describing it as somewhat like Montana...


I take that to mean rolling hills and grasslands similar to the picture above. The only significant mountains however would be the Átkolel Heights and the low Chákan mountains to the Southwest

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

B is for Berenánga

Central Tsolyánu,
excerpted from the original Swords & Glory map,
by MAR Barker

The Beranánga plains to be precise. These are the wide, fertile plains that span central  Tsolyánu from the Kúrt Hills to the Desert of Eyági.  Note that each hex is 100 tsán (133 km) across. Here are two images of the plains of India and Nepal that I am sure would have inspired Professor Barker...


Monday, April 1, 2013

A is for the Átkolel Heights

The Átkolel Heights

Located in the North Western corner of Tsolyánu, the Átkolel Heights, are the most distinctive geographic feature of the area. The heights are the the remains of the cone of a gigantic volcano, dormant eons past. They are surrounded by steep cliffs on eastern, western and southern sides while in the north the feature slopes gently down to the surrounding landscape. The caldera of the volcano is now a lush valley with forests and lakes. The cliffs are largely inaccessible but for a cleft on the southern face known as Júmre's Ladder, a series of ledges that provide access of a sorts.

Note that the map scan is from the original Swords and Glory map, by MAR Barker, published by Gamescience in the early 1980's.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Mega Miniatures closing down...

For those of you that may have missed it, Mega Miniatures is closing up shop. Why is this of interest to Tekumel gamers? Well, because they have a large range of animals and accessories.

Their "Fantasy Scenery" section includes baskets of produce for marketplaces, various dugeon furniture like bookcases and the like, some very nice ballista, barrels, etc.

They have an extensive range of animals: cats, dogs, wild beasts of all types.

Many of the old Metal Magic ranges ended up here: the Arabian Nights range is especially good. It should be noted that the figures are smaller than todays "heroic 28s" but are nice none-the-less. And for character figures that doesn't matter so much.

Anyway, I thought I'd remind people about this pending closure...

Friday, March 22, 2013

Picking through the Boneyard

Following a tip on TMP I did a search on the Reaper Miniatures site using the search terms "boneyard weapon" and "boneyard shield".

The searches bring up individual weapon and shield sprues available for purchase. Some are a bit pricey but some are not bad. This, for example, is a nice shield for Tekumel:

The pictures are not always that good, but there is a link below showing the figure it went with and that is usually a much better picture.

This shield is also quite nice...

Though it is very tall. I bought 20 of these sprues a few years back for a conversion (as yet unfinished.) I think I got them for about $2.50 each at the time. The winged helmet is potentially useful as well - I'm thinking for one of the Pijena Gureks.

I've always liked these Renegade Miniatures Warring States Chinese - at least the armour, anyhow:

I had thought maybe put the winged helmet on them and the large kite shield with the face to make those Pijena HI. I couldn't decide if I liked the helmet's visor, however, and now I can't find the various parts. :-(

The Renegade figures are also a bit big compared to our typical figures, if that is likely to bother you.

Anyway, tis food for thought!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

yWriter - uses for Game Play and/or Scenario Design?

One of the blogs I follow is Dariel Quiogue's "Hari Ragat Games" - I love the setting and am looking forward to the Vivid game set there. Anyway, Dariel is a writer and he just posted about this software package he uses when he is writing:


It's a free download so I thought I'd check it out. Not least because my Dad is doing some writing and I thought it might help him out. I also was curious about what other uses it might be put to like game play and scenario design. Many games - for example, Mythic - define the game as a series of scenes and that seems to be how this yWriter organizes the writing process.

It seems to me it might be possible to enter the characters from a scenario into yWriter as if they were characters in the book you were writing. You could then treat each scene in the scenario as a scene in the book - or vis versa. I haven't gone too far into this experiment as of yet, but I think it might have potential. One benefit is that the scenes would already be set up in a format set to be published and a "Wargame's Diary" is often a good thing to have, though hard to accomplish.