Saturday, December 27, 2014
I found this while doing research on fiefs. I've been trying to decide upon a reasonable fief size. So I've been looking at feudal Japan and the fiefs - called han - during the Edo era and earlier. I stumbled upon this research paper: "Anatomy of a Peasant Economy - a Rice Village in the Philippines" while doing this research.
This paper dates from 1978 and looks at a typical rice village in Laguna province of the Philippines. There is a nice map of the village and very good statistical information on the number of families and, of course, crop yields, planting seasons and the like.
I think this could be a good example of what a typical village in the Mssúma delta might look like. The barrio is one of thirteen in the municipality of Pila. It is a relatively small village with only 95 households and a population of 549 (in 1974.) The households are divided between farmers (large and small) and landless workers. There are 54 of the former and 41 of the latter.
My thinking is that a similar Tsolyáni village - say one of those surrounding the village of Nisuél - might be of similar size, or perhaps slightly larger. Larger would be better, actually, as this takes up a really small patch of land and if all villages were this size then I have a lot more to draw! This village only covers a couple of hectares and the delta contains over 78,000 hectares! Some of that is lost to rivers, lakes and streams, marshes, secondary roads and footpaths, irrigation and transportation canals, the villages themselves, forested areas and orchards. It is still a lot of area...
Saturday, December 20, 2014
By Yosaburō Takekoshi
Why am I interested in a 1930's book with the esoteric title "The Economic Aspects of the History of the Civilization of Japan" you ask? And what has it got to do with Tékumel?
What indeed! :-) (Did I mention that there are at least 3 volumes in the series?) :-)
Fortunately, I think I am only interested in Volume One, which covers the earlier phases of Japan's rich history. I discovered this book while conducting deeper research into koku. See my previous post on the subject for my reasons. Google actually offers a pretty good preview of the text - except there are gaps in all the wrong places. Here are some sample pages:
...page 418 unfortunately not part of the preview. :-(
These pages show the koku associated with all the fiefs of feudal Japan in the Toyotomi Age. Unfortunately, page 418 is not included in the preview and that would be the page to detail the Shogun's holdings and those of the wealthiest lords. These preview pages are not without use, however, even with that gap.
For example, page 421 states that the total number of lords is 61. But it goes on to say that the land was divided between the Shogun (Hideyoshi) and 160 others. This I don't exactly understand. Pages 419 and 420 of the preview have 50 entries each and page 421 has I think 30 more. The missing page 418 could have another 50, giving a total of 180. Looking at the entries, some are shown by identifying the province and others are not, perhaps indicating that some lords have multiple fiefs under their control. I assume that is also the case with the Shogun, so while there are 61 lords (plus the Shogun?) there are 161 fiefdoms? Is that what it is saying?
There are other tantalizing details in the preview but in every case the missing pages get in the way of full understanding. :-(
I discovered that a copy of the original edition is available for about 700-800 GBP but I don't have that kind of cash. I have managed to order a copy of a later reprinted edition which as just over $25 plus postage. :-) That will not arrive until the New Year - February, actually if the delivery estimate is accurate. (Hopefully not!)
Friday, December 19, 2014
The Mssúma Delta
The green-covered solo game book, "Adventures on Tékumel, Part 2, Volume 3: Beneath the Lands of Tsolyánu" provides the only published description of Nisuél and the surrounding region. The village of Nisuél is the headquarters of the Clan of the Golden Sunburst, a high status clan with a long and illustrious history. It is stated to be about 100 tsán north of Jakálla and in the Mssúma river delta. The delta is described as "lush and green" and "crisscrossed by canals and secondary roads". It is said to be the "produce-garden" that feeds the cities to the south.
Here I've started drawing in some canals. The book suggests that there are multiple fiefs in the area so that probably means more villages and more canals. To be honest I hadn't pictured it as this developed, but I could be thinking of the part of the delta further south and west. I think I'm going to limit the densely cultivated area to the area to the east of the Nyélmeyal river.
To give a sense of scale I've drawn two circles, both centered on Nisuél. The smaller has a 10 km radius and the larger a 50 km radius.
The Southern Coast
Next up is to sort out where my rivers (see list of names on the map and in my last post) are going to go. The intent is fill in the area between Penóm and Point Kuné with them. Maybe there could be one to the east of the Nyélmeyal river as well. We'll see...
Thursday, December 18, 2014
I've been trying to come up with names for all the small rivers I've been adding to the map. I could of perhaps used the naming chart from the "Tsolyáni Without Tears" article that appeared in one of the early Dragon Magazines (to be found as a download on the Tekumel.com website.) Instead I went to the Tsolyáni Language books which are available as a PDF download at RPGNow.com.
I have to say that these books are fast becoming two of my favourite Tékumel books. Not because I think I have any hope of actually correctly pronouncing any of the words or that I want to learn the language. But because they are useful and contain quite a lot of insights - IMO - into Professor Barker's creation.
Anyhow, here are some of the names for rivers I have come up with. They all have more-or-less the meaning in the quotations. I say more-or-less because I am not a linguist and most of the language terms used in the books are new to me even when you are talking about English! So, if I've botched it: "oh well!" I think they look cool...
Gohóimu River "Festival"
Ubó River "Fever"
Ssünrü River "Fear"
Ssánga River "Mad/insane"
Prazhúrin River "Eternal"
Kárin River "Red"
Mikárun River "Black"
Jangáivu River "Emerald"
Zháurun River "Green"
Tathén River "Grey"
Baradá River "Wild"
Abásun River "White"
Kólumeljarài River "Exalted Emperor"
Kólumelbabàrkohàya River "Ever-glorious Empire"
Ogrún River "False"
Dhu’ónin River "Golden"
Ssudú River "Ghost"
Tabár River "Forbidden"
Sharé River "Gods Protect Us"
I reckon Nisuél, headquarters of the Clan of the Golden Sunburst is sitting on the banks of the Dhu’ónin river. The Gohóimu river will be nearby. The Ubó, the Tabár and the Sharé, and others with similar foreboding names will be used throughout the Flats, flowing south to the sea. The Ogrún is intended to be used for one of the off-shoots of the Mssúma river. (There is an off-shoot of the Mississippi, called the False river, which is part of the old watercourse which is now cut off and goes nowhere.)
I also tried coming up with some creature names. I use a lot of Proxy Figures. I don't mean just proxy models being used to represent Tékumeli creatures, but also other beasties I have imported into My Tékumel. Basically, if it is cool and exotic, I have little objection to including it if I have the need.
Take these Barzoomian Great White Apes, for example:
Great White Apes, by Bronze Age Miniatures
Of course, "ape" is not in the vocabulary so that caused a bit of difficulty. What I came up with was:
Qu’qúmabàsudàli "Great White Monster" (I think!) :-)
Monday, December 15, 2014
I have recently been reading a book about the 47 Ronin and that account reminded me of the feudal Japanese unit of measure – koku – which was used as a unit of wealth and represented “the amount of rice required to feed one man for one year”.
I’ve encountered this term before. The old Shogun boardgame used koku as a game element, as a points system to buy game pieces. Wouldn't it be nice, I thought, to have something similar to measure the relative wealth of temples, clans or individuals in a Tékumel game?
Myself, I prefer to avoid bookkeeping and keeping track of Káitars (the standard Tsolyáni gold coin) seems like it would get a bit tedious. And how do you figure out how much a clan brings in each year?
Greg Stafford’s Pendragon role-playing game uses an abstract system of represent fiefs and towns. Population is described using a POP stat, and there are Hydes and Hyrds stats to track crops and livestock respectively.
Lee Gold’s Lands of Adventure role-playing game used a Wealth stat. I’ve seen other games do similar things more recently but that was the first occurrence I can remember. Pelgrane’s The Dying Earth RPG, uses a Wherewithal stat which I think serves the same purpose.
In Japan the koku was a somewhat abstract concept. Fiefs that could not grow rice were still accessed a koku value (per wiki) and samurai were paid a stipend in koku. A clan's status was linked to the koku value of the fief or to the stipend paid.
In essence the koku value assigned to a fief was in many ways an indicator of the relative power of the fief. This is a useful concept that I think can be adapted for Tékumel. (Something that I don't think has been done yet...)
Saturday, December 13, 2014
In case you didn't know, I've been a big backer of Mike Burn's "Egyptian Miniatures" Indiegogo campaigns. Why? Because IMO the figures are - for the most part - perfect for Tekumel as well as Ancient Egypt. As Chirine will tell you, often times Phil would say what was needed was just "a guy in a kilt". :-) And from my point of view, buying the figures ready made is way better than making them myself! (You've probably heard that joke about how to make a million dollars in the miniatures business...)
Anyhow, Mike's latest campaign is in the home stretch as it were:
Well it has come down to the last 48 hours of the campaign! It has been quite an exciting project with the release of a large number of cool new miniatures. We are getting closer to unlocking the next stretch goal which is the skeletal guards II set and I'm hopeful this wont be long. Yesterday, I received some new images of recently completed sculpts by David Soderquist which include the two female warriors with axes that are part of the unlocked stretch goal set, Egyptian Female Guards IV. There is also an image of the 2nd Tomb Robber set, which is the final stretch goal reward that is available for the campaign. I am going to post a few more images of these tomb robbing desperadoes in the gallery - they really are packed full of detail and character. To give a better chance of reaching the Tomb Robber set I am going to reduce the goal to $13000 to unlock them.
I have another surprise for you all - three amazing new Add-Ons! These are NOT stretch goal rewards, so there is no goal to be reached - Everyone can simply add them to their perk by making a contribution for the amount required and letting me know your selections. I was not sure these models would be sculpted in time before the end of the campaign, but pharaoh's overseer is persuasive and reach of his whip is long ;) The first Add-On was sculpted by Brother Vinni and is of a mummy kidnapping one of pharaoh's concubines, inspired by the Lon Chaney 1942 horror classic, The Mummy's Tomb. This awesome set also includes a standing version of the concubine and is available for only $15. The next new Add-On is the waterline crocodile sculpted by Andy Pieper - silently waiting in the Nile for a victim to snatch in its terrible jaws. This model is 25mm x 50mm (the same dimensions as a horse base) and is only $5. Finally, Dave Soderquist sculpted a lovely Egyptianised Dejah Thoris inspired model, called pharaoh's favourite. Adorned in lots of gold and jewels and little else, pharaoh's favourite holds a mirror and is yours for only $5! I thought it might be fun to end the campaign with a bang by surprising you all with these new Add-On models.
Thanks for your support and contributions - this range would not exist without them!
All the best,
From here: Indiegogo Campaign
The rest of Mike's figures are part of the Dark Fable range. Highly Recommended!
Friday, December 12, 2014
The Nyélmeyal River
Today's post follows closely on from yesterday and my supposition that the Mssúma River has not always flowed into the Gulf of Perudáya. Assuming that this was indeed the case and that the First Imperium city of Ngála was located on the banks of the river - both highly speculative (but fun) assumptions - what would the river have looked like? Or, more importantly, what does it look like during our current epoch?
The above drawing shows part of my initial attempts. I have even come up with a name - the Nyélmeyal - which I'm fairly certain hasn't been used before. The word "Nyélmeyal" translates as "dreams", making it the "River of Dreams". As it now flows languidly by the ruins of ancient Ngála through the jungles and swamps of what I take to be one of the wilder parts of the Tsechélnu Flats I think the name is fitting.
Nowadays the ruins are mainly used for demon-related rituals of the temple of Hriháyal. I think the best route for the priestesses would be to take a ferry over to Ngálar Déka from Jakálla and then follow the sákbe road north until it crosses the Nyélmeyal river. At that point I assume there would be a temple and a landing with boats to convey the groups down river to Ngála. Far better than trekking overland through the swamps!
I had a bit of difficulty doing screenshots because the orientation of the area doesn't fit the landscape monitor I use. At least, not at the zoom level I wanted.
So here are two PDF files...
Please let me know if you have any issues with these files.
Nisuél is stated to be the headquarters or seat of the Clan of the Golden Sunburst, which rose to prominence during the Empire of Éngsvan hla Gánga, that of the Priest-Kings, long before the current empire existed. The area around the village is stated in the green solo book to be "crisscrossed with canals and secondary roads" all of which have yet to be drawn in. My speculation is that in ages past the Mssúma river flowed past Nisuél and joined with what is now called the Nyélmeyal river to reach the sea to the west of Point Kuné. What caused it to change course - assuming you accept this supposition - is unknown, but it might possibly be assumed to have occurred as a result of the cataclysm that sank part of the island of Gánga, drowning the capital of the Priest-Kings empire.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
The ruined city of Ngála originally dates from the First Imperium, which flourished some fifteen millennium prior to the current time. It is located in what is now the Tsechélnu Flats. Did the flats exist back then? That is three thousand years before Éngsvan hla Gánga and almost thirteen millennium before the cataclysm that ended that Empire. Personally I think that the flats are a byproduct of that seismic event. I'm not sure if this is stated anywhere though.
The reason I bring this up is because it occurred to me today that the Mssúma River might not have always flowed into the Gulf of Perudáya. I know that the Indus river changed its path as the result of an earthquake. Why not the Mssúma River?
It seems reasonable to me that if Ngála is one of Queen Nayári's, "gleaming cities of the South" it is highly likely it would be built on a major watercourse. My speculation is that instead of curving east and then flowing into the gulf, the river instead flowed south west to Ngála and then south to enter the ocean to the west of Point Kuné in hex 2713.
I'm going to do some sketching tomorrow. I have the start of it blocked in, I think, as I rather fancy that Nisuél - seat of the Golden Sunburst Clan IIRC - also has a similar ancient heritage. This is from a period that pre-dates the sákbe roads if I'm not mistaken.
I need to look at the Indus river for inspiration as to what happens to the old riverbed, only in that example the region is much drier and so might not be entirely appropriate...
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
I've been thinking a bit about the fiefs in the vicinity of Lake Vejápa, in particular that island I've plonked down in the middle of the lake. I've intentionally made it so that is always an island whereas the others only become islands for 3 or 4 months of the year.
The above picture of the monasteries at Meteora, in Greece, illustrates something of what I am aiming for, only the rock outcrop is an island. On top would be perched a monastery/temple to Lady Avánthe. My assumption is that this temple would administer a fief centered on the lake.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Here is that large lake that I showed off yesterday. I've given it a name, stolen from I don't know where. OK, I know where...do you? ;-)
The idea is that the lake is around all year but varies considerably in size. When the rains start the channels flowing from the Mssúma river fill and it starts to grow in size. Then the floods come - some years higher than others - and the lake overflows its banks until some or all of the shaded area is inundated. In many areas the water will not be that deep: waist deep and often less than that, but in the central portion the waters could be many meters deep. The white areas are those areas that generally do not get flooded though when those once-in-a-hundred-year rains come, even those areas may see some flooding.
This area will have small villages or clusters of clan houses dotted all across the floodplain. They will typically be up on mounds above the normal flood level, or will be on the shores where it rarely floods. When the water recedes they plant their crops and reap the benefit of the rich soil the rivers sediment provides.
What is on that island in the center of the lake? A monastery? A shrine? Or perhaps that is where the local fief-holder has his seat? Which makes me wonder again about fiefs? How big should they be?
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
I've tried to line these up so you can see how the river is shaping up in one go. Not sure how it will display in different browsers...
Here I've started expanding the Mssúma river floodplain. It was bothering me that it was so uniform and narrow. I don't think it would be in a real world. So I pushed it back in a few spots, and added areas where the elevation is high enough that they end up as islands when the river is in full flood. Not that they are necessarily "hills" as such, just enough of a rise to avoid the flooding. Of course, this would vary from year to year. I remember reading a bit about the Sikh wars and I seem to recall all the towns and villages being up on mounds or hilltops.
In the bottom picture I've added another lake. This lake is there all year round but during the floods it expands to over 5 or 6 times its size! I've actually gone a bit further than this, sketching in islands and ox-bow lakes as well as secondary channels. I've also started penciling in some lesser tributaries. Hopefully I'll be able to show you these in a day or two.
Part of my reason for adding the lake is to give a reason for the sákbe road to curve to the west like it does. Why wouldn't it go as straight as possible across the river bend? And there are not enough lakes shown on the large maps anyway. What are there - three, maybe four, in the whole map set?
I've also started to think about how fiefs might be distributed in this new terrain, and who owns what. Well, we know the Emperor "owns" everything, but who are the fief-holders. These will include the temples as well as the clans and nobles. I'll have to look up where each province is administered from as well.