Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Digitizing Tékumel, Part 11 - a first look at Lake Vejápa

Lake Vejápa

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 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?


  1. re: fief size; that's actually a thread that, if you pull on it, before long resolves into a worm, coming out of a can full of its friends, taking the lid with them. How do "fiefs" as described in EPT and the NW Frontier Gazetteer (and really nowhere else, published) fit in with the fairly centralized, bureaucratized hierarchy of imperial regional administration that appears most everywhere else? I get the impression that the Prof's own games definitely had the Empire granting "fiefs" to PCs, but also regional/local/etc administration run through the Palace of the Realm -- and I have no idea how that fit together at all.

    Could "fiefs" simply be estates or plantations, granted by the Empire to favored courtiers (for life, perhaps passed on to heirs at the option of the Empire?), to be run and profited from as private property for the duration? I kind of like that idea, but the vibe I get from published material and reports from the Professor's table is that "fiefs" entail governance and law enforcement and (imperial?) tax collection and all that.

    I'm gonna stop blithering right there and move on to something more important: I LUUUURVE the cartography you've been working out here. If I haven't commented before, and don't always comment in the future, it doesn't mean I'm not compulsively checking for new items and poring over the images you post. I'm enjoying it tremendously, I'm envying it miserably :)

  2. Thanks for the kind words and encouragement! :-)

    re. fiefs - I think EPT does state some basic responsibilities like tax collection, maintenance, etc. I don't see a conflict with the Palace of the Realm, however. You as the fief-holder are responsible for collecting the taxes from your tenants. The PotR will send out tax collectors escorted by soldiers from a local legion (per the Battle of Ry account) to collect from you and other fief-holders.

    I do think that EPT's way of defining fiefs (size and income) was way too vague and random to be of any use. It seems tacked on a the last minute at the last minute. There aren't enough large hexes, for one thing! I know the fiefs are not hereditary but even if that is not the law I bet they don't change hands on the fly all the time! In fact, there are suggestions that they do tend to stay in the same clan at least. Or with the same Temple, as the temples are fief-holders as well.

    As potential fief-holders we have the temples (ie. up to 20 entities) plus some, but not all, clans (certainly all those clans of "High" status and above, plus many from the lower strata.) Add to these those individuals granted fiefs. General Kettukal, perhaps?

    IMO there are too many fief-holders for a fief to be the size of a large hex as suggested in EPT. I suspect clans and temples have many fiefs, of varying size, scattered all over the Empire. It would look like a map of the Holy Roman Empire back in the day.

    Just some thoughts...

  3. I agree, the "large-hex fief" always did seem implausible. And fiefdoms do seem to be an awkward fit in general.

    One way to approach this is to disregard them entirely, as a part of "game Tekumel" that doesn't exist in real Tsolyanu and needn't exist in one's own Tekumel.

    But if you do use them, I think you probably have the right idea, that fief-holder = tax-farmer.

    Still an awkward fit, since fief-holders are doing a job that normally should be done by clans and temples. So perhaps fiefdoms are just a temporary expedient that the Empire uses wherever the normal clan structures are weak or corrupt. Maybe peripheral or tribal districts, newly-conquered territories, areas of dubious loyalty to the Empire, or areas decimated by war or disease, that sort of thing. In which case it should be very rare to find fiefdoms deep in the heart of the Empire, they are more likely on the relatively wild and lawless peripheries.

    1. I think clans and temples are the fief holders for the most part, but
      as happened in feudal Japan a clan could be ordered to give up a fief
      and see it assigned to somebody else. Fiefs are stated to be
      non-hereditary. So presumably if Lord So-and-So is granted a fief, on
      his death that fief will be reassigned. It might be re-assigned to his
      heir but it might also go to somebody who is deemed worthy of a
      reward. I think in many cases it might just be rubber stamped and pass
      on to the heir but I don't think that is always the case. Similarly,
      clan lands may have been "theirs" for so long that they are associated
      with the clan but at any time the Emperor or the Palace of the Realm
      could decide otherwise. In Japan the Shogun moved clans about as a
      form of punishment or reward. It might be polite to have an actual
      reason or excuse for doing it, but I think in Tsolyanu the Emperor
      wouldn't actually need one to evict a lord or clan or reassign land
      from one temple to another.