Saturday, December 31, 2011

Getting Ready for 2012!

In preparation for 2012, I have created a new blog in which I intend to chronicle my non-tékumel gaming (which is considerable...)

The blog is called "Lohwand", an anagram of "Howland", and a name I have frequently used over the years for my fantasy and imagi-Nation games.

Please come and visit...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Heroic Journey?

Not having anything of my own to post, I'd like to point out that Dariel has posted some really cool ideas about how to handle the "There and Back Again" bit of an adventure.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sale over at "Lamentations of the Flame Princess"

All their PDFs from RPGNow are on sale next week for $1.35 so if you are an OSR geek get thyself over there now...see the blog post here.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Laws of Magic

These laws appeared in the old Dungeoneer fanzine, unfortunately I don’t know which one as I can no longer find my original issue. I’m pretty sure I still have it, it’s just been eaten by all my “Stuff”. ;-)

The original article was for a new D&D magic system based upon the “real” laws of magic as outlined by P.E.I Bonewits in his book, Real Magic. The article’s author, Bill Seligman, listed the laws – or perhaps only those laws he thought best adaptable to the game – and then offered rules on how to categorize the spells created along with rules for spell creation as they fit into his D&D game*.

Here I have re-stated the laws and in some cases expanded upon them based upon my interpretation of how they might work. I am not offering a “system” as such – indeed, while I really like the concept – there are problems, I think, with making it work. The main problem being the [potential] workload imposed upon the GM to come up with NPC spells. Some of my additions are notes aimed at curtailing attempted power-player abuses of any system based upon the laws.

*Note: I assume this must have been OD&D as I recall the Dungeoneer being one of the early fanzines.

The Law of Knowledge

As the saying goes: “knowledge is power” – and with understanding comes control. If you know all that there is to know about something then you can gain absolute control over it. This law, and its sub-law, the Law of Self-Knowledge, are somewhat tempered by the Law of Infinite Data and the Law of Finite Senses. Gaining the “full” knowledge of something does not come easy. One could argue that beginning characters should be limited in their access to this law, given that they have had little enough time to learn everything about a subject. Or, it could be argued, the limitations on the spell are set by the extent of the knowledge.

Sub-law: the Law of Self-Knowledge

Know thyself – the most important knowledge you can have is about yourself. Many of the powers commonly associated with D&D Monks, or indeed, OEPT spell-casters, could be derived using this law. Long years of self-discovery and meditation should be required to benefit from this law.

The Law of Names

The knowledge of the complete, full, and true name of any entity or thing gives you control over it. The true name of an entity is important because it embodies the essence of that being and can thus be used as an associative device for that entity. This law makes naming ceremonies pretty important (and private) events. It also means a person may have more than one name: their childhood name, their common, “use name”, and a true name. Discovering an entities true name could be a quest in and of itself. “Smaug”, for example, was probably not the Dragon’s full or true name. Had it been known, perhaps Gandalf might have been able to wield some power over him?

Sub-law: the Law of Words of Power

There exist certain words that when spoken can be used to change or control the inner and outer reality of the speaker. The nature of this influence and the scope of its effect depend upon the word spoken. At greater skill levels, it might be possible for the mage to merely think the word, rather than actually utter it, for the spell to take effect.

Sub-law: the Law of Arcane Rituals

There exist certain gestures or combinations of gestures which can alter or control reality much as a Word of Power might. Similarly, there are symbols and geometric designs and patterns, including numeric patterns, which contain power within them. The movement of terrestrial bodies, the seasons and other rhythms of nature can also have similar power if one knows how to harness it. Glyphs and wards used as protections from Demons are covered by this law, as is magic derived from astrology or numerology. Some nature spells might also be covered if they are based upon some natural cycle of life, and/or, death.

The Law of Association

An association between two entities provides a link that can be used to influence or control those entities. Each will influence the other, the degree of influence or control being dependant upon how much in common the two entities have; the greater the association, the greater the effect.

Sub-law: the Law of Similarity

Effects resemble causes – anything that is associated with an entity can be used as if it were that entity and provides access to that entities powers. So that is how Icarus’s wings worked! Well sort of, anyhow. Note that spells are not necessarily perfect, and may have inherent flaws, as Icarus found out.

Sub-law: the Law of Contagion

Things that were in contact continue to be in contact and interact after separation. While the emphasis is on physical contact, other forms of contact may also work. This is where those old “witches brew” ingredients come into play: a lock of hair, some toenails, etc. It might also be how a mage (or creature such as a Succubus) could enter the dreams of another, having established the contact some time earlier, perhaps through contact with a cursed object, say.

The Law of Identification

Given a close association between the world view of yourself and the world view of an entity, you can become that entity and use its powers. This may be how a “skinwalker” Shaman gains his powers. It also lends strength to the concept of Hero Questing; rituals designed to emulate a Hero’s deeds and so gain some of his powers.

The Law of Synthesis

The union of two opposing ideas will produce a new, third, idea which is brand new and truer than either of the first two ideas. It will not be a compromise, but rather a new and better truth. This may be how the magical rebirth of the Phoenix works…

The Law of Polarity

Anything can be split into two completely opposite entities with opposing characteristics and each of these polarities contains the essence of the other. Anyone familiar with Star Trek, the original series, has probably seen this in action!

The Law of the Balance

All aspects of the universe with respect to yourself should remain balanced if you wish to survive. Failure to heed this law can result in miscast magic; a spell may simply fail or the effects could be more severe. This is a useful law for the GM to invoke when faced by Power Gamers attempting to mini-max the system.

The Law of Infinite Data

We will never run out of things to learn. There is always something new. While Lord Thumis probably doesn’t mind, I’m sure Ksarul priests are a little ticked off by this law. ;-)

The Law of Finite Senses

We haven’t seen or sensed everything there is in the universe and we never shall. Along with the Law of Infinite Data and Infinite Universes these are nice “catch all” laws which could help to justify a variety of spells. I think if a spell relied too much on these laws for it’s justification then it would have to be considered weak.

The Law of Infinite Universes

There are an infinite number of ways to perceive reality and thus an infinite number of universes. That there are many planes of reality is well known.

The Law of Pragmatism

If it works, it is true. That is, if it is most convenient to assume something then do so until it becomes inconvenient to do so.

Sub-law: the Law of True-Falsehoods

One may encounter two truths both of which are contradictory and which can be held without a fuss until a decision can be made. If it’s a paradox, it’s probably true.

The Law of Personification

Any phenomenon can be considered to have a personality and thus be alive and an entity. This is how Elementals and nature spirits are can be summoned and controlled.

Sub-law: the Law of Invocation

One can conjure real entities from one’s own reality into other’s realities. The so-called “Voodoo Doll” uses this law to achieve its effect.

Sub-law: the Law of Evocation

One can conjure real entities from other’s realities into one’s own reality. This law is often used in spells that allow one to fly or breathe underwater.

The Law of Cause and Effect

The act of casting magic will always have an effect, whether that effect is perceivable to the caster or not. The effect cannot always be predicted and may not be exactly what was expected. Also, if the magic goes awry it may rebound upon the caster, with unpredictable and possibly catastrophic results. Even if the desired effect is achieved it is possible for more subtle effects to occur concurrently which may return to affect the caster’s reality in some way. It is when the Law of the Balance is ignored or broken that magic most often goes awry or these other effects occur.

It's Official: New John Carter Movie is going to Suck!

I've had a bad feeling about this movie from the first design pictures that came out, then those horrible skyships, and now this - is that supposed to be Woola?!

It's now official: Disney has completely fucked this one up (not that I expected better from Disney!) They should never have been allowed to have the rights in the first place...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

Golden Chersonese Miniatures

Golden Chersonese Miniatures

The link to this site was posted on one of the forums I frequent. To quote from the website:

"Golden Chersonese Miniatures was set up as an artistic endeavour to produce original exquisite miniatures for the connoisseur collector. We are a specialist maker of truly unique miniature pieces which are based on exotic lost kingdoms and unusual cultures from the Far East and Eastern Archipelago."

They are 1/32nd scale, Toy soldier style miniatures. The subjects are mostly "Gamelan Orchestras", both Balinese and Javanese. Check out the pictures of the miniatures - I'm thinking possible use in a Yán Kóryani court...

Not of these specific miniatures, of course (though something in 28mm and a more realistic style would be cool), but the concept...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Starting Age

In "A Band of Joyous Heroes" a character's nominal starting age is 15. The actual age is determined in part by the stat generation process, and in part by the talents and flaws taken.

When generating the character's stats, a roll of '6' is taken to mean a "natural" - a child prodigy, someone who picks up things easily, hence the bonus talent. Rolls of '1' or '2', however, indicate that things don't go so smoothly. The character is going through the "school of hard knocks", as it were. The character gains a bonus talent but he had to earn it and, if a second '1' or '2' is rolled, then there is a cost as well, as he gains a flaw.

Each roll of '1' or '2' adds +1 or +2 years to the character's starting age, respectively.

Each roll of '6' allows the player to adjust the character's starting age up or down by 1 to 3 years after the final starting age is calculated. This is at the player's discretion and is completely optional.

Some traits require time to acquire. One does not become "battle-hardened" overnight, for example, nor does one typically amass a huge fortune in only a short time.

The following traits will modify the character's starting age by the listed amounts:

Battle-Hardened - plus 1d3+2 years;
Weapons Master - plus 2d6 years;
Elite Training - plus 1d3 years;
Learned - plus 2d6 years;
High Rank - plus 2d6 years;
Scholar of Note - plus 1d6+6 years;
Friends and Allies - plus 1d6 years;
Wealthy - plus 1d6+6 years;
Well Placed - plus 2d6+3 years;
Successful - plus 1d3 years;
Respected - plus 1d6+6 years;
Good Reputation - plus 2d3 years;
Stupid - plus 1d3 years;
Dull Witted - plus 1d6 years;
Low Rank - plus 2d6+6 years;
Enemies - plus 1d6 years;
In Debt - plus 1d6 years;
Exiled - plus 1d3 years;
Bad Reputation - plus 2d3 years.

The character's starting age is the total of 15 plus all of the above modifiers. Poor rolls or an abundance of time-consuming traits could potentially cause the character's starting age to be quite high. In some circumstances it may be so high as to render him or her infirm from old age, or make the character so old that they must surely be dead! In such cases, assume that the character lived a full but unassuming life and start over - only don't choose so many time consuming traits next time!

Sunday, October 23, 2011


As every Tsolyáni knows, Ghosts are real. The priests know more about them than the commoners, of course, who tend to be a superstitious lot. But even what the priests know is not certain. They would say that ghosts are manifestations or "other-planar emanations" of the Shadow Self of individuals. What causes them to manifest is not completely understood, but it is thought to involve strong emotions or trauma.

Some temples have an affinity for different aspects of the Five Selves - that is, they are more interested in different parts of the Soul. Lord Sárku, for example, is only interested in the Hlákme (or Intellect), while others are interested in combinations of the Bákte (Body) and the Pedhétl. Some are interested in the Chusétl - or Shadow Self.

Those temples interested in the Shadow Self have a greater understanding of ghosts, can summon and communicate with them and possibly banish them. Ghosts can attack the Shadow Self of sleeping individuals with fatal results for the person if their Shadow Self is overcome. Some temples can set up wards to keep ghosts away from a specific area. Many Shaman also have these powers.

Not all ghosts are hostile, however, and some may seek to communicate with individuals who stumble into their haunts. It may be that their ghostly existence is related to some item that must be found and returned to its rightful owner, or to some deed that must be somehow undone. In these cases the ghosts may try to communicate with and barter with people in order to gain their release. In other cases, hatred towards a group (such as the Yán Kóryani) might provoke an attack.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Traits: Talents & Flaws

Traits are used to further define the characters; they can be positive (Talents) or negative (Flaws). Some are chosen by the player, while others must be diced for. The following list in not conclusive, and is still subject to change as things are refined.

Characters start with a base of 3 Talents. To these are added any Talents earned when rolling for the Character stats. To determine a Character’s base Flaws 1D6 is rolled, with a roll of ‘6’ indicating a Flaw. Any Flaws earned while rolling for stats are added to this.

These base Talents and Flaws are selected by the player. Additional Talents may also be taken. For each additional Talent taken, an additional Flaw must be taken as well. These extra Talents and Flaws are determined part by selection and part randomly. The Flaw is selected first: if it is chosen then the Talent must be randomly rolled; if the Flaw is rolled for then the Talent may be chosen.

A Flaw that nullifies a previously determined Talent (or Talent that contradicts a previously determined Flaw) is re-rolled. Sorcerers cannot have the Low Pedhétl or Magic Dampener Flaws. Warrior types cannot have the Untrained Flaw.

To dice for a Trait, first roll a d6 to select the category of Talent or Flaw, then roll a second d6 or 2d6, as necessary to determine the attribute.



(1, 1-6) Ambidextrous – Character can use a weapon equally well with either hand.
(2, 1-4) Battle-Hardened – +1d6 in HTH combat.
(2, 5) Weapons Master – +2d6 in HTH combat with specific weapon type.
(2, 6) Elite Training – The character has received training from one of the elite schools scattered throughout Tsolyánu. As a result he may reroll one failed melee die once per combat turn that he is active, when using the specific weapon he was trained for.
(3, 1-4) Keen Senses – +1d6 in Surprise situations.
(3, 5-6) Streetfighter – Once per combat encounter the character may reroll all dice in a single combat round. The result of the second roll must be taken. Requires either the Black Sheep or Bad Reputation flaw.
(4, 1-6) Accurate – Will roll 2d6 instead of 1d6 when Shooting, counting the best score.
(5, 1-6) Nerves of Steel – The character is not subject to Run For Cover.
(6, 1-6) Fast Reactions – +1 when Activating. +1d6 when testing Awareness.


(1) Large Size – +1d6 in HTH combat.
(2) High Strength – +1d6 in Strength challenges and +1 to Weapon Impact.
(3) Strong Constitution – +1d6 vs poison.
(4) Agile – When the character is Fast Moving he does not suffer any Shooting penalties. +1d6 in Agility challenges. +1d6 in HTH combat unless immobilized.
(5) Fast – The character receives +1d6 when taking the Fast Move test and has a bonus of +1d6 in HTH combat.
(6) Endurance – The character rolls +1d6 to Recover after a fight.


(1) High Pedhétl – Roll 1d6:
1 = +3 Pedhétl;
2-3 = +2 Pedhétl;
4-6 = +1 Pedhétl.
(2) Smart – +1d6 in Intellect challenges.
(3) Good Memory – Increase spells known by 50%, rounding up.
(4) Perceptive – +1d6 when trying to Spot Hidden items or traps.
(5) Intuitive – The character may always activate, including in Surprise situations, even if not normally permitted to do so – i.e. prevented by rolling higher than his Body score. If permitted to activate normally, he may choose to go first, even if the other side won the initiative; if not normally permitted to activate, he may still do so, but does so last. +1d6 in certain Social situations.
(6) Mental Agility – Spells can be maintained for less cost.


(1) Learned – The character has amassed a wealth of knowledge, gaining +1d6 on Knowledge challenges. Knows ½ Intellect (round up) +1 languages in addition to Tsolyáni.
(2) High Rank – The character has achieved high rank, with its attending privileges and obligations.
(3) Scholar of Note – The character is an authority on a particular branch of knowledge. Once per relevant Knowledge challenge the character may reroll all dice in a single challenge round. The result of the second roll must be taken. Limited to a character from the priesthoods.
(4) Gifted – +1 on Advancement rolls.
(5) Strong Willed – +1d6 in any Test of Wills.
(6) Dilettante – Knows a little bit about many subjects. May choose to add up to 2d6 to any Knowledge challenge, counting successes as usual but with each roll of '6' on these two dice cancelling one of the successes rolled on his usual dice.


(1) Born Leader – Adds 1d6 to all personal Reaction Tests. Any friendly character within 6” of him will react as the Born Leader does regardless of what their reaction would have actually been.
(2, 1-3) Astute – +1d6 in Social challenges. Character may reroll all dice in a single challenge round. The result of the second roll must be taken.
(2, 4-6) Canny – +1d6 when Bargaining or Negotiating as part of a challenge.
(3, 1-3) Attractive – Roll 1d6:
1 = +2d6 in Social challenges. May reroll a single failed die once per Social challenge. The result of the second roll must be taken;
2-3 = +2d6 in Social challenges;
4-6 = +1d6 in Social challenges.
(3, 4-6) Skilled in Seduction – The character receives a bonus of +1 to +3 d6 in certain social challenges.
(4) Social Graces – The character is a master of etiquette and so gains +1d6 in all Social and some Heritage challenges.
(5) Friends & Allies – May recruit additional friends and allies.
(6) Devout – The character gains +1d6 in any challenge test when dealing with “allied” temples and priesthoods, and +2d6 when dealing with his own temple.


(1) High Born – The character is from a clan one status higher than usual for the game being played.
(2) Wealthy – The character has amassed a vast personal wealth. He will have a personal residence in the starting locale, outside of his clan’s ownership. In addition, roll 1d6 against Intellect to gain:

(1) a second, smaller residence in another city;
(2) a business concern separate from his clan;
(3) a country villa;
(4) a farming estate or trading vessel;
(5) a villa in another city, plus roll again (once);
(6) no extra properties. Any roll above Intellect counts as a roll of “6”.

(3) Well Placed – The character has contacts in one of the Four Palaces, gaining +2d6 in any Social challenge involving that Palace directly
(4) Successful – The character starts with one or more magical or special items.
(5) Respected – The character gains +1d6 when asking his clan for aid.
(6) Good Reputation – The character has a good reputation (player decides) in some locale; +1d6 in Social challenges where this may be a factor.



(1) Slow Reactions – Minus 1 when Activating.
(2) Faint Hearted – Will roll only 1d6 when taking the Received Fire test.
(3) Untrained – Character has no combat training. In HTH Combat or Shooting count 3 less dice than normal up to a maximum of 3. The minimum value is 2 Combat dice.
(4) Timid – Minus 1 to Body when taking the Threatened Reaction test.
(5) Unlucky – During combat each '6' rolled on his dice cancels a success rolled.
(6) Inaccurate – Counts as minus 1 Body when Shooting.


(1) Small Size – Minus 1d6 when in HTH Combat.
(2) Weak – Minus 1 to Weapon Impact in HTH Combat.
(3) Ill Health – Minus 1d6 vs poison.
(4) Clumsy – When testing to Fast Move and fails with doubles will move 1d6” then fall in place prone. May not regain feet until next active.
(5) Slow – Treats a result of pass 2d6 as pass 1d6 when taking Fast Move test.
(6) Frail – Minus 1 to Recover after a fight.


(1) Low Pedhétl – Roll 1d6:
1-3 = Minus 1 Pedhétl;
4-6 = Minus 2 Pedhétl;
6 = Minus 3 Pedhétl.
(2) Magic Dampener – The character cannot cast magic. Minus 1 to sorcerers casting magic within 3”.
(3) Stupid – The character has a penalty of minus 1d6 during Intellect challenges.
(4) Absent Minded – Each session - or after any significant break has occurred during a session - roll the first time the character attempts to use any small special item that he possesses. A roll of '6' means that the character has forgotten where he put it. A second roll of a d6 indicates how many turns it will take to find, with another roll of '6' meaning it has been left at home or the place the party last rested.
(5) Dull Witted – The character always activates as if he were 1 lower Body stat than actual. Rolling equal to Body does not count as an activation. In addition, the character has a penalty of minus 1d6 in certain Social and Heritage challenges.
(6) Oblivious – The character has a penalty of minus 1d6 when attempting to Locate Traps or hidden items. In addition, the character has a minus 1d6 penalty in Surprise situations and when testing Awareness.


(1) Illiterate – The character cannot read.
(2) Low Rank – The character has only achieved low rank in his occupation.
(3) Weak Willed – Minus 1d6 in any Test of Wills.
(4) Slow Learner – Minus 1d6 on Advancement rolls.
(5) Unlearned – The character has a penalty of minus 1d6 to all Knowledge challenges.
(6) Sheltered – Only knows about immediate locale. +1d6 to Knowledge challenges in locale; minus 1 without. In addition, the character has a penalty of minus 1d6 in some Social challenges.


(1) Enemies – The character has one or more enemies. This flaw has a value from 1 to 3. Roll a D6 whenever an “Enemies” encounter occurs: a roll equal or under this value means that the character’s enemies take a hand in the adventure. This flaw yields talent points equal to its value.
(2) Boorish – The character is lacking in Social Graces. Roll 2d6 before any Social challenge, counting 1-3 as success and 4-6 as failure. Two successes = no effect; one or more failures = a penalty of minus 1d6 in the challenge. If the character failed with a roll of two '6's then the penalty is minus 2d6.
(3, 1-5) Ugly – Roll 1d6:
1-3 = Minus 1d6 in Social challenges;
4-6 = Minus 2d6 in Social challenges.
(3, 6) Cursed – The character has blue eyes; this amounts to a minus 2d6 penalty in all Social challenges.
(4) Greedy – The character is greedy and will always attempt to take treasure when it is found; if directed to leave the treasure alone, he will attempt to take it surreptitiously or return alone later to steal it.
(5) Proud/Haughty – The character is more proud and haughty than the typical Tsolyáni - if that can be imagined! In Social challenges involving equal social status he receives a minus 1d6 penalty; and a minus 2d6 penalty in those involving a social superior.
(6) Hedonistic – The character’s nature lends itself to hedonistic ways; minus 1d6 versus certain Social challenges.


(1) Low Born – The character is from a clan one or more status levels below what is typical for the game being played.
(2) Foreigner – The character is not a Tsolyáni. He may even be one of the intelligent non-human races accepted in Tsolyánu. These are typically: Ahoggya, Pe Choi, Shen and Pachi Lei. More rarely Tinaliya, Swamp Folk, Pygmy Folk, and Hlaka may be encountered. If human, he is probably from one of the other great Empires, but may choose to be from a smaller nation or tribal group. All incur a minus 1-2 d6 penalty in certain Social challenges and may face other restrictions.
(3) In Debt – The character owes a debt of some kind to some party; this may be monetary, a favour or one’s life.
(4) Exiled – The character has been sent to present location by his clan as punishment. As such, he may not ask his clan for aid except under extreme circumstances.
(5) Black Sheep – Minus 1d6 when asking clan for aid.
(6) Bad Reputation – The character has a bad reputation (player decides) in some locale; -1d6 in Social challenges where this may be a factor.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Balétl [bah-LAYTL] - the Spirit Soul

This is the last of the character stats. The Balétl, or Spirit Soul, is that part of the soul that continues after death, travelling as it does to the Isles of Teretané - also called the "Isles of the Excellent Dead" and the "Farther Shores of the Paradises of Teretané."

The Spirit Soul can be contacted by a Medium, however, as it makes the journey it sheds it's identity so the longer the delay after death the less chance of success there is.

Similarly there are spells that will return the Balétl to it's body - they also have time constraints after which they will be ineffective.

Still other spells will banish a Spirit Soul from one body, leaving an empty shell into which another Soul can be inserted.

The Balétl stat provides base dice that are used in these interactions: communicating with the Spirit Soul, bringing it back from it's journey, etc. The Medium uses his Balétl score to first attempt to find the Soul being sought, and then when communicating with the Soul it is used again.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Pedhétl [pay-THAYTL] - the Psychic Reservoir, or Power

The Tsolyáni refer to the Pedhétl to as "the Enemy". It is said to represent the raw emotions possessed by an individual. Additionally, it represents the amount of other-planar power stored in the individual that may be used for casting magic. This capacity is stated to be fixed; as such, Pedhétl is the only stat that cannot [normally*] be increased after a character is generated.

In game terms it is used as the basis for casting magic, providing the base dice used to determine success or failure. It can be drained during spell casting, making subsequent spells more difficult to cast until the mage has rested. This is determined as part of the casting roll. A really bad roll can result in a spell backfire.

The basic procedure is:

Start with base dice equal to Pedhétl. Add or subtract any situational dice. The final number of dice are then rolled looking for successes in the normal fashion. (1-3 = success, 4-6 = failure)

To successfully cast a spell the mage must achieve two things:

1) attain at least one success;
2) the total of the mage's Hlákme(Intellect) stat plus the number of successes rolled must equal or exceed the spell difficulty level.

Any dice that roll a '6' are removed from the mage's psychic reservoir for the duration of the scenario.

If more '6's are rolled than successes then a backfire is said to have occurred.

By a happy coincidence, the spell difficulty level is the level of the spell in the old Gamescience "Swords & Glory" Players guide. ;-)

* allowing for the inevitable exceptions! ;-)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hlákme [HLAWK-may] – the Intellect

I’ve been having a “re-think” about the Intellect. From the source descriptions, this is the character's conscious mind, intellect and sense of self. My impression had been that it didn’t include one’s knowledge and memories, which were – I thought – part of the Balétl (or Spirit Soul.) This interpretation leads to problems with certain spells, however, particularly those that cause another Soul to inhabit a body and also Necromantic spells that re-bind the Hlákme to a slain body. The problem has to do with how does one cast spells in that state, or what knowledge does one have. I began to question where the memories and knowledge lay.

Then I realized that I wasn’t looking at it from a Tsolyáni point-of-view. I was trying to be too much of a “God Learner”, to borrow a term from Gloranthan gaming. Basically, I wanted to know too much, rather than be content with “this is the way it is.”

What happened was I realized that the Shadow Self functioned with full intelligence, memories and knowledge – at least the related spell descriptions don’t suggest otherwise.

So if the Shadow Self possesses all one’s knowledge and memories, then so to does the Spirit Soul, and so could the Hlákme. So when a necromancer causes one’s Hlákme to re-inhabit a copse then that person is not returning without his former knowledge and memories. Similarly, when a Spirit Soul is placed into another body, it is not without its memories and knowledge.

Where the differences lie, is – I believe – more subtle than what I had first thought. I imagine the astral projection of a mage must feel somewhat different – detached, perhaps, because the intellect, that normally drives and motivates the individual is not immediate, unless one assumes a connection is maintained to the Hlákme via the spell.

No connection exists with the Spirit Soul after it is sent into the Unending Grey. Once one is slain, the Hlákme stays near the corpse, so the Spirit Soul, while processing one's knowledge and memories must only have a semblance of one's former personality. This is hinted at in the source material when describing how difficult spirits can be to contact, and how there are time limits on sorcerer's ability to make contact.

What does this mean?

In BOJH terms, the Hlákme (or Intellect) stat is used for anything requiring the mind - spell casting, language use, social challenges. In this it functions much as the Bákte (Body) does for physical challenges. A rating of Hlákme 4 provides 4 dice to which dice are added or subtracted for situational modifiers and Traits or Flaws. Opposed challenges involve a “roll-off”, with each side looking for successes. This would normally consist of one or more “rounds” until only one side (or neither) is left with successes. The number of successes indicates the relative level of success.

Spell casting also utilizes the Pedhétl and so is done slightly differently.

Certain spells will have effects dependant upon how they manipulate the Hlákme or Balétl.

Lastly, as mentioned, when a person dies the Hlákme becomes dormant adjacent to the body and may be re-inserted by necromancy.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chusétl [choo-SAYTL] - the Shadow Self

As stated before, the Chusétl is the dream-self of the character. The character can enter this state through his own dreams and nightmares; through a spell such as Etherealisation; a drug-induced trance or the predations of some creature such as Succubi/Incubi or the Demon Pa'íya [paw ~ EE-yaw]. In all cases the astral projection of the character is represented by his Shadow Self and all interactions while in that state use this Character Stat. No magic can be cast by the Chusétl, and injuries suffered are suffered physically by the Bákte. If the Shadow Self is slain so is the character. Likewise, when an individual dies so does the Chusétl.

In game terms, Shadow Self dice are used just like any other Character Stat, with the restrictions and consequences outlined above. It is used for all challenges undertaken while in the astral state, regardless of the stat normally used for resolving them. As spell casting is not possible, Pedhétl is unlikely to be used, though it could still be drained by negative encounters with certain creatures.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bákte [BAHK-tay] - the Body

In a Band of Joyous Heroes, Bákte [BAHK-tay] - or the Body, is the character stat used to describe the character's physical abilities. It is used in opposed physical challenges such as strength or agility test, and will modify unopposed challenges. It is also the primary stat used for melee combat, where is provides a character's base melee dice.

That is, Bákte 5 = 5 base dice.

In opposed challenges both sides roll dice looking for "successes". A successful roll is a roll of 1-3, with a roll of 4-6 indicating failure. This is par for the course for those familiar with THW rules sets.

If both sides rolled one or more successes they discard the failed dice and re-roll the rest, again looking for successes. In melee, this constitutes a melee round - some Talents allow one to modify the dice based upon melee rounds so this is important to understand. (Perhaps I should call it a "challenge round" as some Talents may modify other challenges. Hmm...)

This continues until one or both sides has zero successes. In general, zero successes for both means the opponents are evenly matched. This marks the end of the challenge for the turn. If only one side has zero successes then this means their opponent has landed a solid blow or gained an advantage. How many successes one has left when the other runs out determines the level of success.

In melee the results are typically: OD (Obviously Dead) or OOF (Out of the Fight), and occasionally ADV (Advantage). The latter gives the victor bonus dice next melee round and usually some other effect like knocking the opponent down or disarming them. OOF means the loser is down and out. He will need to recover before he can fight again, either after the action or by being healed. The nature of the injury is not defined and is as much determined by his recovery roll. OD means that there is a lot of blood and he is dead. Obviously Dead! In the case of Heroes this may not turn out to be the case after all is said and done (but he sure looked a goner at the time!) For ordinary Grunts, however, it is "game over man!" ;-)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Noble Action

Noble Action, or Khomóyi [ko-MOY-ee], refers to the prime Tsolyáni principles of how to live ones life. These principles vary according to ones beliefs rather than being universal across Tsolyáni society.

Lán [LAN] = Noble

Bússan [BOOS-san] = Ignoble

In game terms, Khomóyi is given a rating that is used to represent ones progress on the path toward becoming a “Hero of the Age”. The higher the value, the closer one is to achieving that goal. It is accrued through successful adventures that achieve a noble goal. It can be lost through unsuccessful adventures.

Lán and Bússan are components of Khomóyi. Lán is accumulated by performing noble actions during a scenario. Bússan points are accumulated by performing ignoble actions during a scenario. Both are awarded at the end of the scenario at the discretion of the GM.

Lán provides bonus dice, referred to as Khomóyi dice, which can be used at any time during a scenario. The player merely states he wishes to roll x number of Khomóyi dice and they are added to his roll. This can be done even if the player has already made his regular roll. Successes and failures are counted as normal except failures are just returned to the pool of Khomóyi dice unless a ‘6’ was rolled, in which case they are removed from the pool for the duration of the scenario.

The number of Khomóyi dice available is the difference between the character’s Lán and Bússan ratings. Khomóyi dice that are removed from the pool during a scenario are regained after the scenario.

Designer Notes: These ratings replace Star Power as used in previous THW rules. They do so in a way that encourages the players to play “in character”, rewarding them when they act as a Tsolyáni might, and penalizing them when they do not.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Character Creation in A Band of Joyous Heroes

As previously posted, characters in A Band of Joyous Heroes are defined by a series of ratings or stats, which reflect the Five Selves that make up the Tsolyáni concept of the Soul. They will also be defined by their Temper, which is a measure of the character's courage or martial disposition; good and bad traits, known as Talents and Flaws; and a characteristic known as Noble Action. Other information is important as well: name, gender, lineage and clan, rank and status are all important bits of information that must be determined.

To start with the basic stats, the first step is to determine a concept about what your character is to be like. A sorcerer or warrior, are important choices right off the top - or scholar or whatever.

In the final version, we might even start by determining clan and status, but for now we are just looking at stats.

To determine the characters basic stats, roll 5D6 and assign one die result to each stat as you prefer. For example:

To create my wanna-be Warrior-Priest of Chegárra I roll 5D6, getting rolls of: 2,4,6,5,4

I then apply these rolls against The Five Selves:

Bákte [BAHK-tay] - Body = 6
Chusétl [choo-SAYTL] - Shadow Self = 4
Hlákme [HLAWK-may] - Intellect = 4
Pedhétl [pay-THAYTL] - Power = 2
Balétl [bah-LAYTL] - Spirit Soul = 5

Each stat will start with a value of between 3 and 5.

Any roll of '6' counts as a result of '5' and additionally, provides for +1 Talent to be selected later in the character creation process.

Each roll of '1' or '2' must be re-rolled. First, each provides a bonus of +1 Talents. Apply the results of the second roll. If the roll again comes up with a '1' or a '2' then the stat is assigned a value of '4'. In addition, a second roll of '1' or '2' indicates that the character has +1 Flaws.

In this example, I rolled a '6' which I assigned to Bákte(Body) as I think that is probably the most important stat for a Warrior Priest. This becomes a '5' and gains my character +1 Talents.

I also rolled a '2' which I must re-roll. I rolled another '5' which becomes my Pedhétl(Power) rating. My character also gains an additional +1 Talents.

The final result is:

Sample Warrior Priest:

Bákte(Body) 5
Chusétl(Shadow Self) 4
Hlákme(Intellect) 4
Pedhétl(Power) 5
Balétl(Spirit Soul) 5

Talents/Flaws: +2 bonus Talents, no additional Flaws.

The last step is a bonus that applies only to Sorcerer characters:

Roll 2D6. Any roll of 1-5 gains +1 Pedhétl(Power) yielding a possible +2 bonus.

This is because sorcerers are only chosen from those with the best magical potential. Note that the High Pedhétl talent can increase this value still further.

Pedhétl is the only one of the Five Selves that cannot increase in value after the character creation process is finished. All the others can be increased as the character moves along the path to becoming a Hero of the Age.

Next we will look at assigning Talents and Flaws.

Where was I?

Well, after over a month's lapse, I'm back at it again: working on A Band of Joyous Heroes! I left off where I was about to substitute Reputation(REP), as used by the THW family of games, with something with a little bit more of a Tékumel flavour. What I decided on was to use the "Five Selves" as the character's basic stats. Some attempts have been done in the past to do this - this is my effort:

The Five Selves

The "five selves" represent the Tsolyáni concept of the Soul. It is divided into five parts:

The Bákte [BAHK-tay] - The Body

The physical body. When the individual dies this is the part that stays behind and eventually decays. In BOJH terms, Bákte (or Body, if you prefer) will be used for anything physical - fighting, climbing, swimming and the like.

The Chusétl [choo-SAYTL] - The Shadow Self

This is the dream-self of the character that inhabits his dreams and can interact with illusions and the astral plane. In BOJH, certain spells allow the character's Chusétl (or Shadow Self) to go forth and interact with the world. No magic can be cast by the Chusétl, and injuries suffered are suffered physically by the Bákte. If the Shadow Self is slain so is the character. Likewise, when an individual dies so does the Chusétl.

The Hlákme [HLAWK-may] - The Intellect

This is the character's conscious mind, intellect and sense of self. It does not include his knowledge and memories which are part of the Balétl (or Spirit Soul, see below.) In BOJH terms, the Hlákme (or Intellect) stat is used for anything requiring the mind - spell casting, language use, social challenges. It might possibly get a bit grey at times, but we'll run with it for the time being. When a person dies the Hlákme becomes dormant adjacent to the body and may be re-inserted by necromancy.

The Pedhétl [pay-THAYTL] - The Psychic Reservoir, or Power

Referred to as "the Enemy", the Pedhétl represent the raw emotions possessed by an individual. Additionally, it represents the amount of other-planar power stored in the individual that may be used for casting magic. In BOJH terms it functions just as that, and is used as the basis for spell casting.

The Balétl [bah-LAYTL] - The Spirit Soul

The Balétl is the part of the individual that travels on to the after-life. It comprises all his knowledge and memories. The Spirit Soul can be communicated with after death through the use of magic. Spells can also be used to restore a Spirit Soul to it's body. Other spells can expel a Spirit Soul from it's body and allow another to inhabit it. If the Balétl is destroyed the individual ceases to exist - there is no after-life for them! Few things can totally destroy the Spirit Soul, fortunately. Only the Temple of Wurú possesses a spell that will destroy the Balétl. Called the Tathyánikh [tath-YAN-eek], or the Grey Hand, the spell makes high ranking sorcerers from the temple justifiably feared.

I'll provide a bit more how this will work in a little bit...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Reputation or 'Rep'

Reputation, or 'Rep', is the main stat for many Two Hour Wargames (2HW) rules. It is basically experience, skill and knowledge all rolled into one - it is as much how the World views a character as it is a rating of how good he is. Which is why it is called "Reputation". Basically if someone is a known hard case then probably he has the skills to back that up.

But under the 2HW rules, even the best can have a bad roll and be taken out by a lowlife. There are no hit points, as such. Only: No Effect, Out of the Fight (OOF) and Obviously Dead (OD). Now characters do get extra benefits, so they are not easy to kill regardless how bad the roll, but they are not as invincible as characters in some games.

In addition, if a hero has a bad adventure his Rep can actually go down for the next one. This basically represents lingering physical injury, or perhaps a certain demoralization - the hero is basically functioning at sub par abilities until he "gets his game back".

In a Band of Joyous Heroes, I want to get a more Tékumel flavour so I am thinking of doing things a little differently than just one stat. Whether this will work within the same basic system remains to be seen. More on this tomorrow...

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Garden of Kama

Another great post on the Golden Age Comic Book blog! This being illustrations from a 1901 compliation of Indian love songs, illustrated by John Byam Shaw (1872-1919).

I love the colours and patterns in the materials. It is that kind of vibrant colour that I think would be found in Tsolyánu.

I think I'm going to get figures made based on the dancers! :-)

Two New Art Blogs...

I've added two art blogs to my Blogroll...

1) Igor Baranko, a Ukrainian artist.

He hasn't updated his blog for a while, but his stuff is good none-the-less. Some examples:

His take on the Battle of Grunwald.

and some pages from a new (in 2010) graphic novel:

"Les Princess Egyptiennes". Also Here.


2) Rich Longmore, who will be doing some stuff for us in the coming months.

A Band of Joyous Heroes (BoJH)

It's been a while since I worked on these rules - maybe even as long as six months or more. I became too focused on getting the background info sorted, or rather, how I was going to communicate it to players - and that led me off on a series of tangents which I won't go into now.

Lately however, I've started to think about the rules again. For those who don't know, A Band of Joyous Heroes (BoJH) is a game set in MAR Barker's Tékumel setting; the setting from the old TSR game: The Empire of the Petal Throne (EPT).

What sort of game you ask? Well, in the past I've called it a "Tabletop Adventure Game" or "RPG-Lite" and, as you may know, it's based upon the Two Hour Wargames family of games. They have started using the term "Immersion Game" for some of their games so I guess that is what it is.

It is definitely intended for tabletop play, definitely with miniatures, with the table representing the scenario or scene for the nights game. I should also note that Two Hour Wargames gets their name from the fact that their games are typically playable in that amount of time - so that is what BoJH is striving for. This means that if things work properly then you might be able to complete more than one scene in an evening. How cool would that be?

The term "Immersion game" comes from the fact that the rules strive to place the player in the role appropriate for the game. ie. the Squad Leader, the General, or whatever. They use mechanisms like "Reaction Tests" and "PEFs" (Possible Enemy Forces) to take away the powers of the 200 foot general. Power Gamers and Mini-Maxers need not apply. I have no idea if anyone has ever run a tournament with any 2HW rules, but I suspect they would not work too well for that purpose. Totally different mindset, IMO.

So my intent is to cast the players as Tsolyáni citizens, with all the rights and obligations that that entails. (This is why I have been so focused on background this last little while.) There would be no "adventurers" as such - not in the D&D sense. For one thing there aren't any traditional D&D taverns - a low status hostel probably comes the closest to that. The players are intended to be higher status, however, and Tsolyáni social mores would prevent to two social classes from mingling on such an intimate level. The peasant is very much the peasant, and his social superior is "Exalted One", if spoken to at all (not unless spoken to first!)

Another reason there are none of your typical "adventurer" types: everyone has a job. When I say everyone, I mean most people. There will always be some who don't work, and many in the high status clans don't work, as such, but where they don't work they have obligations, which has the same effect in that you don't hang about as a sword-for-hire doing odd jobs for wizards and such. Not that there are Wizards hanging about either - magic is pretty much controlled by the temples, so magic-users are priests (and shaman) who are generally employed by their temple in some role.

That isn't to say that there aren't adventures - there are. It's just that they have purpose. The goal of the game is to style the players as [potential] "Heroes of the Age"* in the employ of a Patron, or possibly Patrons. They could be acting for their clan or on behalf of their clan with another party; they could be acting in the interest of one of the Temples, or one of the political parties, one of the many secret societies or the Imperium itself. Their patron could be a wealthy or powerful individual (such as one of the Imperial Princes) or they may not even know who their true employer is.

This will necessarily effect the choice of characters a player can have. Broadly speaking, they can be from the same faction as other players, ie. the same temple or clan; from an allied faction, ie. another temple of stability; or from a reluctant ally, in a case where normally opposed factions have joined to achieve some mutual goal.

* The term "Hero of the Age" comes from the background material. Every Age has a great hero or heroes, who do fantastic deeds that become the stuff of legends; or, if they fail, become the cause of some great mythical cataclysm.


I tried to post yesterday, but after a lot of typing a technical malfunction (damn mouse) caused me to lose everything. I was so disgusted I didn't try it again - heck, I don't even know all that I typed - "I was on a roll", as they say! *sigh*

Anyway, basically I want to start using this blog for what it was intended - Tekumel gaming. I am hoping to post something daily - either on Kérdu, or on A Band of Joyous Heroes (BoJH).

Not sure if that is actually "doable" but I'll give it a try. And there is a "Short Adventure Challenge" coming up in September that I am thinking of joining, so if I want to use A Band of Joyous Heroes for that I'll have to set out at least the basis of the rules so people at least know what I'm talking about.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

All Hail the Great EGG!

It is the anniversary of Gary Gygax's birthday today! Google didn't do anything so I guess geeks are just geeks. I remember referring to him as the "Great EGG" back when TSR started sticking "Official D&D Approved" labels on stuff - it just seemed very pompous at the time. I don't think I even played D&D, having moved on to RuneQuest and eventually away from RPGs altogether. I continued to collect them, I just didn't actually play them for a long time...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mike Hoffman

I just added Mike Hoffman's Blog: The Muse to my "blogroll" at right.

Lately, he's been doing a series of Video Blogs where he has been chronicling his recent work.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Away over on Grognardia, one can find the advance pictures of the Dwarves from the Hobbit. I still have misgivings about what PJ might possibly do to mess this up, but despite those I have to admit that I like these concepts. Even Fili and Kili, which many people don't seem to like.

I think that the climax of the Battle of Five Armies, when Thorin and Company charge out will be an epic scene and I am expecting big things from Fili and Kili as they fight to defend Thorin's body!

Edit: Three More that were left out because the "Dwarves" tag was forgotten.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dejah Thoris = Hot Elf Chick?

By now, you've all seen the John Carter of Mars teaser trailer, right? Is it me, or is Lynn Collins [Dejah Thoris] trying to mimic Liv Tyler's [Arwen] accent from the LOTR movies?

I paused it on the shot of Tars Tarkas (in full screen mode) - Hmmm, not sure... I know I don't like the airships. The Thark doesn't look mean enough. Couldn't see the Thoats clearly enough to comment on them. Overall, I think there is still plenty of room for Disney to screw this one up. In fact, I fully expect them to.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Map Making...

I should mention that The Warlock's Home Brew has a nice series of tutorials on Map Making, the latest of which you can find HERE.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I'm looking for a Blog!

There is a blog - I can't quite remember it's name - but it's got "paint" in the title or has something to do with painting. And it's blue - the main colour is a shade of blue. And the header has a nice painting. I keep stumbling upon it through other blogs I visit but I keep forgetting to follow it or bookmark it.

And now I can't find may way back!

It's one of those places that you can't get to unless you are not really trying. Grrr...

EDIT: Found it! It's called "The Pictorial Arts", which I got to via The Warlock's Home Brew. So it is about painting, though "paint" doesn't appear in the name, and the colour theme has blue in it. And the header has a nice painting. Happy again... :-)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

On the Painting Desk 2 - Photos

Puppet Master

Excited Children

High Priest of Durritlamish, Princess Vrisa

High Priest of Durritlamish, Princess Vrisa,

Prince Eselne, Imperial Messenger (sans wings)

Puppet Master vignette

So here is conclusive proof that I don't know how to take photos! Hopefully where there is room to improve, improvement will occur!

Sculpts by Alan Marsh, John Winter and Federico Genovese. Painting and photography (!) by moi. (Click on the picks to bigify them.)

On the Painting Desk

So, I've starting painting again! Yay!

I've started painting a few of our new releases: Princess Vrisa, the Messenger Vignette, the Sacrifice Vignette and the Puppet Master Vignette.

For the flesh I am using Foundry paints - the South American triad (code #119), though I don't like the lightest colour so I am just using the Shade (119A) and the main colour (119B). One could equally well use a Ceramcoat or Delta terracotta, or something like that, for the shade but I'm not sure what one would use for the next colour. Foundry's figures and paints are generally nice but their pricing is crazy and not very fair for North American customers as it doesn't reflect true exchange rates. My advice: take advantage of their sales!

I'm just starting to think about what colour to paint the Puppet Master's kilt, and those of the three children in the vignette. I don't think it should be the typical plain white kilt typically used for "ancients". I've been doing some research on fabric patterns, searching mainly for traditional Indian designs. I also dug out some design books I picked up dirt cheap at a sidewalk sale one day - they are booklets intended for embroidery and similar hobbies. I thought "these might be useful sometime" and bought them - they were only a dollar or so each anyway, so why not? Anyway, that was a couple of years ago and I've finally found a use for them. I have Persian and Japanese designs and also a booklet based upon some famous designer related to ballet. That is, I think he designed the costumes - the designs are all "eastern" - Turkish, that sort of thing.

To my mind, there are two things to consider: the colours to use and the pattern, if any. There is a lot of colour association in Tsolyani society (and other Tekumeli societies, in general) - the gods all have colours (and often metals) associated with them; the Nation has a colour associated with it (azure blue for Tsolyanu, for example); and the clans have colours, often based upon their religious leanings. Unfortunately, in the case of the Puppet Master's clan - either the "Clan of the Striding Incantation" or the "Society of the Hands Which Are Not Seen" - not much detail is known. My feeling is that he is a performer, so he would be colourful. Though not of high status, Puppet Masters are revered throughout the land so he could have fairly expensive clothing. So that means a pattern. Something that I can paint! And it means finding the right colour combination...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hari Ragat Games

In case you missed them, Dariel Quiogue over at the Hari Ragat Games blog has been posting a great series about Heroic warfare, the use of Glory, organization, etc. Check out his June blog posts, starting with "A Fistful of Spears"...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Zothique d20

In cased you missed it, the Yaqqothl Grimoire posted this "heads up" about some d20 "guidelines" for Zothique:


Like he puts it: Awesome!

Oh, and I added a link to a preview on YouTube to yesterday's equally amazing book...Reconquêtes

The Art of François Miville-Deschênes

Just discovered this guy yesterday! He's French so you might have to source Google translate or Babelfish, but I think it is well worth it , even if it ends up a little garbled.

Anyway, it seems he has been working on a fantasy graphic novel about Amazons - I haven't translated all the passages - this is just what I can glean from the pictures. It's called Reconquêtes - if you follow the appropriate tag at the side you watch how it has been developing.

The cool thing is that it isn't even published yet! It's due to be published on June 20th, by Lombard. I'm going to check whether my local comic store can get me a copy.

I think this guy would be great for a Tekumel Graphic novel - though it would cost a fortune. He's not shy about nudity, for one, and for another his scenes are well populated with good attention to the architectural details.

François Miville-Deschênes


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Hail Caesar!

Locally we have been trying out a new set of wargame rules called "Hail Caesar". Written by Rick Priestley (the Warhammer guy, if I am not mistaken) and published by Warlord Games, they are just another set of ancients rules.

Overall I like them so far. We just did a Roman vs Celt mash-up to try and figure out the rules. No magic, of course, but the basics are there. Units have a clash value for when they first engage and a sustained value for continued melee. Romans are a solid 7 in each, whereas Celts are 9 clash, 6 sustained. (The numbers being the number of dice rolled.)

There are rules for closing ranks like the Ancient Greeks would do if being charged - apparently they had three different spacing depending upon whether they were marching, advancing or receiving an attack. The close ranks rule also covers things like shield walls. There are rules for a few formations such as wedges and phalanx.

What's missing from a Tékumel gamer's point of view are the ritual duels at the start - easy enough to add, but what would be the effect? Also the magic, but again I think probably fairly easy to add. The hardest part about the magic is how to handle the illusions.

It would be nice also to try and model some of Tékumel's unique formations. I don't think the armies fight exactly how we might assume they do. This probably applies to the RW as well. Nobody really knows just how phalanx vs phalanx worked do they? It's not something you can simulate as you can't go around jabbing people in the eyes with spears.

There is that quote about "one more step" - which led to victory, but what does it mean? Were they shield against shield pushing, as I think some interpret it. Or were they at spear-tip length dueling and the side that advanced into the spear tips first would over-awe and vanquish the other (less brave) side(?)

On Tékumel we have the standard phalanxes but then we also have units discarding their shield just before combat and going in with two-handed weapons. There are formations were one person protects the other - often, but not always, a missile user. Examples are the "Meadows of Death" formation or that Yan Koryani gurek were the medium infantry female protects her heavy infantry male partner armed with a pike. So the women with their large shields would presumably form the front rank and then the males with their pikes the second. With the pattern presumably repeating. Or would it? IIRC, the numbers of medium and heavy infantry do not match one-for-one and yet the fluff says that members of the unit have to immediately remarry if one is slain, or leave the unit. (Note I might be confusing Tsolyani and YK units here - I don't have my references in front of me. Apologies if I am leading you astray.)

Anyway, my point is that for a Tékumel game we might want to consider basing our figures differently, and perhaps using some special rules to model the little idiosyncrasies of Tékumeli warfare.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Eowyn and the Nazgul

Don't know if this has been posted anywhere before but I just came across this pretty cool Art Challenge:

Eowyn and the Nazgul

Basically a challenge to produce art based upon the famous confrontation between Eowyn and the Witch King at the climax of the Battle of Pelennor Fields - that's Tolkien, don't you know! ;-)

It's over now but check out the the entrants!

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I hate Encumbrance rules!

It's not that I think players should get a totally free ride, not at all. Its just that most of the time - at least in the systems I am familiar with - encumbrance is, well, an encumbrance. It's book-keeping, accounting and math. Adding up the weight of each and every little thing the character is carrying is boring and takes too long.

Generally I don't bother. The games we play we assume that the characters have anything they need for most situations. I assume rope, iron spikes and the like (or whatever.) If they have been doing a lot of stuff or they have lost their packs, then they have problems.

I also assume they can carry all the stuff they need.

Mind you, they are not allowed to specify that they are carrying 100 iron spikes, or 10 coils of 100' rope, but the basic load they get without any issues.

Yesterday, after my post about waiting for the Flame Princess to arrive, I went and downloaded the free stuff from the site, including the character sheet which, BTW, is one of the better ones I've seen. I don't know if the way the encumbrance is done is unique to this system, but it is certainly elegant and - to my mind - is another way of getting rid of the book-keeping.

The method used seems to be (I haven't read the actual rules - I'm just going by the sheet) that one simply marks off the descriptions that match what you are carrying, starting with the least encumbrance. Total the dots marked and that gives you a line on a table which summarizes the effects of your encumbrance on your speed, etc. A step above what I advocated earlier, but still more simple and elegant than most encumbrance accounting systems.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Vornheim & Lamentations of the Flame Princess

Not Tékumel as such, but I am still looking forward to Vornheim and Lamentations of the Flame Princess which I ordered after seeing mention of them on Grognardia.

What really made me want to buy Vornheim is this MAP. I mean - Wow! All maps should be like this!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Art of Barsoom

I found and interesting Blog yesterday entitled: The Art of Barsoom. Edgar Rice Burrough's Mars stories (along with Venus and Pellucidar, in that order) are some of my favourite science fiction settings. This blog is a collection of the published art for Barsoom by Artist - I spent a good bit of time yesterday looking at the various artist pages.

I can plainly see how many artists have [IMO] been influenced by Frank Frazetta. I would like to sort out who influenced him!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

With Great Power

This is what I am listening to right now!

Future World Music

Great Stuff!

Check out Two Steps from Hell and Thomas Bergersen (Ocean Princess) as well!

Spaceswords and Glory

The playtest PBB game has started, albeit slowly. Which in some ways is good. I am not sure where everyone is - meaning timezones - but I get the impression that many are on the West Coast and so I think I go to bed before many of the posts are made.

I'm also having a bit of problem with Blogger - from my computer at work especially, where the anti-spam text takes several refreshes to get it to even display properly. I have already lost the first version of my first input - which was quite long. The version posted is similar, but I am sure not worded the exact same way, and stuff may have gotten left out. Since then, I now type the comment/response in word and paste it into Blogger!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Leveling Up...

I have leveled up: 3rd Level...

Languages: Sunnuz and Scientific-Sunnuz

HP 25

Skills: biologist-botanist +1, physician +2, energy pistol,
programmer, chemist +1, roboticist, astro-physicist, holographic
scanner, attractor field, inter-planar physicist

Higher Powers: Y-Ray, Z-Ray (out of total of 7 attempts.)

Gear - assume I can sign gear out of ships stores.

Personal Gear:
Lens, laser pistol, skin suit, Med-kit, Med-Scan, Contra-grav belt,
Communicator, Scan Scope, Utility Belt, Survival Rations, Backpack,
Air tablets (48 hrs worth), canteen.

Remaining Credits: 125

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spaceswords & Glory

Turján Mors

I am in one of the Drune's playtest PBP games for Humanspace Empires over at Ix. For those of you that don't already know, this is Tékumel gaming before Tékumel! This is the universe of the Humanspace Empire that eventually colonized Tékumel prior to the catalcysm that resulted in the game setting we know and love. As I understand it the timeline is approximately 10 years after Tékumel is discovered and the colonization process begun. Not sure if the Ssú and Hlüss are even fully pacified yet!

Turján Mors

Human Male

Strength - 10
Dexterity - 15 = -1 AC, +1 Att/Int Mod, +1 Save (vs Energy blast)
Constitution - 13 = +1 HP, +1 Save (vs Poison/Disease)
Intelligence - 14 = +1 Lang, +1 Skill/Power
Psychic Power - 15 = +1 Save (vs Psy effects)
Charisma - 15 = -1 Reaction, 5 Retainers, Retainer morale 8

Prime Requisite: INT and PSY = +10% Exp

HP: 8 = 1+6+1(Con Bonus) (assumed 1st level)

Starting Skills:
11 = 2 basic, 2 technical plus 1 expert:
Background 20 = Super-scientific
Basic: Urbanite, Tailor;
Technical: Lab tech, Trader;
Expert: Medic

Starting Skills: 5 = choose 4 skills/lvl 1 powers form the first 8

biologist-botanist, physician, astrophysicist, holographic scanner

Starting Credits: 7 x 200 = 1400 Cr

Not bought yet

Remaining Credits: 1400

Turján used to be an up-and-coming researcher in the employ of Duke Vissékka, of House Cános, but some ill-advised investments in the asteroid mines of the rings of Tau Ceti ruined him. A dalliance with the Duke's concubine - pictured - forced him to flee prematurely. Signing up with the Navy seemed the easy way out...

I have to fill out the background a bit and also "level up" to 3rd level...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Colours of Tékumel

Chirine over at Chirine's Workbench sent me a link to this site as an example of, or inspiration for, their Butrús Clanhouse.

And I quite agree that it is a great Real World example that helps one get a feel for "what it might be like" on Tékumel.

After admiring the palace pictures, I delved deeper and went back to the root of the site:

Here we can get a glimpse of some of the scenes that [I think] must have inspired Professor Barker when he was creating and developing Tékumel. Just check out the vivid colours in some of the photo galleries.

Example 2

Example 3

Example 4

I know that each of Tsolyánu's cities has its own distinctive features as described in the Swords and Glory source book but I think vibrant colours such as those in the pictures on that site would be a feature of everyday Tsolyáni life.

A far cry from the drab colours we [I] normally associate with medieval Europe.

Just one more reason why I appreciate Tékumel so much. :-)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hari Ragat Games

I found a new blog recently (via Ix's Blogroll - tip 'o the hat to the Drune) that I think Tékumel gamers should take a peak at even if you have a system you like. I'm referring to Dariel Quiogue's Hari Ragat Games, which is a role-playing blog with an Asian flavour, coming as it does out of the Philippines.

Dariel has been blogging about a system he is developing "Vivid" - and I think quite a lot of the concepts are applicable to Tékumel gaming, especially if you are adopting the concept of the players aspiring to be the Heroes of the Age.

In his games the players are intended to play heroes - as opposed to sneak thieves and other low types. His system incorporates the characters heritage and accounts for retinues and domains (which may be of interest to those following the thread on domains over at the Hill Cantons.)

I think a concept such as Noble Action would be a nice fit in such a system. He already has a thing called "Taint" which primarily seems to affect sorcerous characters but could also be used to model something like nakome status.

This post in particular, about Epic Feasts makes me think of Tsolyani society. I think a scenario could easily be built up around "Lord So-and-so's Feast."

Anyway - check it out. Use the categories for Hari Ragat and the Vivid system to get straight to where I am pointing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Games that I play...

Seems like a logical place to start to explain a bit about the games that I play. I am primarily a "wargamer" rather than a "role-player", though the wargames I like to play are often the sort with an almost role-playing type of character development.

I mean, I play a wide selection board games and games like "Battlelore" or "Command and Colors" but tabletop miniatures games are my hobby. Heck, I play both of the latter games using miniatures on the table (w/o hexes) rather than the way they were intended to be played.

I collect role-playing games, and have, on-and-off since I first received "Greyhawk" and "Blackmoor" for Christmas as a kid. The boxed D&D set was sold out and on backorder so I guess I got a second printing. But it a first printing of the first two supplements! I also have the other books, but they came later. And I went back and ordered "Chainmail" because it was referenced in the rules and I didn't understand the "Alternate Combat System" - not at first anyhow.

Back then I lived in the country and I had to make my first odd shaped dice out of cardboard and cellotape.

I encountered Tékumel in a Wargaming Magazine, "Wargamer's Digest, which featured a battle report about the "Battle of Ry". That got me interested. The "Empire of the Petal Throne" game was always advertised in the TSR ads each issue but $25 was too costly for me at the time! I had to wait until the Swords and Glory books came out in the early 80's - I snapped those up as soon as I realized what they were! :-)

Anyhow, I'm rambling a bit here. Back on track...

The aim of this blog is to ramble on about my Tékumel gaming. This will include "A Band of Joyous Heroes" which is more of a tabletop game than pure role-playing game though it definitely has an element of character development. Also "Kerdu" which is a set of wargames rules. Both of these rulesets are based upon the Two Hour Wargames mechanisms. I have also recently been toying with the Original EPT rules - which I finally picked up on ebay a few years back, and also Humanspace Adventures, by The Drune. Visit IX to see what he is doing.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Welcome, Heroes!

Throughout Tékumel's history there have been valiant heroes whose deeds are enshrined in myth and legend, poem and song. Mighty Hrúgga, Hero of "The Lament to the Wheel of Black" is one such "Hero of the Age".

In my view, players gaming on Tékumel should be aspiring to become the "Heroes of Their Age".

This blog is intended to chronicle my attempts at gaming on Tékumel.