Tuesday 27 October 2009

The Qadarni - "the Little War"

The Legion of Ever-Present Glory

When Vreshsheqmu advanced his army into Tsolyani territory they carried before them the standards of the Qadarni, or "the Little War."

These battles are quite common between the forces of rival nations. They are fought for prestige and glory, for loot, and in order to obtain captives for ransom or sacrifice. They are highly formalized and ritualistic, with both parties striving to observe the proper forms.

They involve much ceremony and colourful display of finery and martial skill. Personal challenges and duels are widespread. The battles are ritualized skirmishes often ending with little loss of life, though there may be captives who are later sacrificed. The victor receives the glory and the agreed upon spoils, the loser retreats in shame.

Monday 26 October 2009

"Give Me What I Ask, And Kerunan Will Wear Black Again!"

The Protectorate of Kerunan © M.A.R. Barker

And so a young, hot-headed Salarvyani general set in motion events that would eventually lead to his death. General Vreshsheqmu used those words in his request for more troops from Koyluga, having over-stepped his orders in an attempt to seize the Tsolyani held Protectorate of Kerunan back for Salarvya.

Black is the colour favoured by Salarvyani troops, just as Azure Blue is worn by the Tsolyani. The Protectorate of Kerunan had been held by Tsolyanu for some 300 years and the Salarvyani had coveted it ever since.

Invasion had not been General Vreshsheqmu's original intent, having with him only 4000 Heavy Infantry, 3000 Light Infantry, 1000 of the reptilian Shen mercenaries, and a small contingent of priests providing limited magical support. Rather, he had advanced this force in search of prestige and glory. His original intent had been to engage in Qadarni, or "Little War"; and he had no authority to go further.

Having learned that the famous Tsolyani general, Kettukal, had recently arrived to take control of Kerunan, Vreshsheqmu hoped to best him and his First Legion of Ever-Present Glory in the ritualistic battle that comprises the Little War.

A note about spelling: the spelling of "Ry" is archaic; that on the map is more current and is the way it is pronounced.

Sunday 25 October 2009

The First Legion of Ever-Present Glory - 1st Imperial Heavy Infantry

This legion was our first release, featuring both spear-men and archers, command figures (Officers, Musician and Standard-bearer) and the redoubtable General Kettukal himself. The above picture is from Eureka's Tékumel gallery and was painted by one of their in-house painters, I believe.

General Kettukal

The reason I chose this legion to start with is that the General and his legion were the heroes in the magazine article that first introduced me to Tékumel. That magazine was "Wargamer's Digest", and the article was the account of "The Battle of Ry." IIRC, the year was 1976.

That battle was fought in 2347 A.S.*, between the Tsolyani and the Salarvyani before the small city of Ry on Tsolyanu's Eastern border. The Salarvyani general Vreshsheqmu thought he would take advantage of apparent Tsolyani weakness to gain a quick victory for Salarvya.

The accompanying map is shown below:

The reference numbers are a bit blurry - I will try and do something about that. More later...

* After the Seal (of the Imperium.)

Zrné - “the Barbed One”

This vicious, six-legged hunter is one of the most dangerous animals of Tékumel. It is found in deep forests, jungles and mountainous foothills. A slightly larger subspecies is also found in the highlands of Jánnu and Kilalámmu.

Instinctual; Aggressive; Very Dangerous (4D6); Moderate Size (+0) to Large (+1); Very Fast (+2); Move: 16”; Ambush; Poisonous Bite (Spd 1, Tox 3, Incap).

Reputation: 6 (7, if Large)

I would really like to get one of these made...but in the meantime I am making do with this plastic D&D Figure, called a "Warbound Impaler":

It's not bad, really. It's certainly "barbed". And it already exists - that is a plus. Not quite like the artist's concept, however. YMMV, as they say.

Saturday 24 October 2009

Hyahyú’u - “the Whooper”

A pack hunter, this 6-legged wolf-like creature it gets its name from the weird “hyaa-hyuu” cry it makes as the pack corners their prey. They generally only attack humans if they significantly outnumber the party, otherwise they tend to avoid contact. It is said they will flee if the party has a Páchi Léi in it; they seem to have a special dread of that nonhuman species.

Instinctual; Aggressive; Dangerous (3D6); Moderate size (+0); Fast (+1); Move: 12”; Wary.

Reputation: 4

Reaper Miniatures makes a good proxy figure: the Bloodwolf.

Note: The picture shown above is from their website, painted by Anne Foerster, and is copyrighted by them. The beast is #02754: Blood Wolf ($5.99), and is sculpted by Sandra Garrity.

Sunday 18 October 2009

The Museum of Role-Playing Games

Never been? Shame on you! ;-)

I highly recommend a visit.

Make sure you visit the extensive Tekumel section. This contains descriptions and reviews of many of the previously published works.

It also has one of the best introductions I've seen to Tekumel.

Pity I can't borrow it for BoJH! ;-)

House Keeping

I've been puttering away at BoJH for a while, so I thought I'd take a quick break to do some house keeping. Nothing much - I have just added some more links in the "Sources for Tekumel" sidebar.

If there are more, let me know and I'll add them as well.

Friday 16 October 2009

Fight On!

This magazine has been around for a year or so - it's all about "Old School" role-playing like Original D&D, Ardiun Grimoire and, of course, Empire of the Petal Throne. And it's pretty hard to get more Old School than EPT!

Anyway, I'd been umming and awwing about it for a while but I finally took the plunge and ordered all the back issues - not the PDFs*, but the print copies. This was last Saturday - the 10th - and they arrived via FedEx yesterday. (That is pretty good service if you ask me.)

I haven't had a chance to do more than flip through them all and read the odd bit here and there, but I am impressed. There is a good chunk about Tekumel - all non-canon, of course, but it all looks pretty fine. There is a bit about the Pygmy Folk and another about Ahoggya - this latter looks like it might be really useful.

The production values are HIGH and the art is pretty good throughout. And they are big - averaging 100 pages or so it seems. It's going to take me a while to catch up on everything all six issues have to offer - and number 7 is due out soon.

EDIT: I see from the Fight On! forums that no. 7 is to be a Tekumel-themed issue, dedicated to Professor Barker! Yay!

EDIT #2: Correction - I guess that it is to be Halloween-themed, but also a bumper Tekumel issue, with the dedication to Professor Barker! (Still Yay!)

You can find Fight On! here.

* I find PDFs a bit of a red herring. I always lose them and when I print them out the quality isn't near as good as if I'd sprung for the printed version. Plus a print cartridge can set you back a few bucks these days! Trying a professional print shop is an option, but I find just ordering the printed version works better for me.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

A Band of Joyous Heroes

A slight delay in getting the 60% draft out. I can't type fast enough it seems. On the plus side, there will be more to the Magic Section as that "brainwave" I mentioned was basically a system for assigning a Rep to the Spells based on their traits.

A Spell has a Reputation (Rep) indicating how difficult it is to cast and control. The traits describe the spell: it's duration, range, area of effect, etc. The Rep is a sum of all the trait values. An example is Range: Self (0 points), Touch (1 point), Close = 5 x Caster Rep in inches on the tabletop (2 points), etc.

I was at something of a loss on handling spells as, while I had a method for casting, I didn't have a method for rating the spells. This system, which derives from a system I used to use in the late '80s, provides just that method.

Then there are the space considerations and I was despairing about the sheer number of spells, and how many to include and which to exclude. This system will allow us to describe a few spells, offer hints about others and let the players and GM's come up with their own specifics.

Or so I hope! :-)

Sunday 11 October 2009

A Band of Joyous Heroes

Work on the game is ongoing. With luck I hope to have the 60% draft version out tomorrow or Tuesday. This may have the bare bones of my proposed Encounter system. It will have a pretty-much finalized combat system (Yes, I have made some amendments). I have yet to type up the Unarmed Combat section, however.

It will also include the proper reaction charts this time, though these are still a work in progress. I am trying to incorporate Noble Action into them...

The non-human intelligent races should also have something in there.

What will probably be missing is any in-depth expansion to the magic section, though I did have a bit of a brainwave while walking the dawg just now.

And the section on backgrounds and force creation may or not be there. I have composed it over and over again in my head, but nothing has been typed in yet.

I've made progress with the Talents and Flaws, though some are still either un-defined or ill-defined.

The Challenge System might be better fleshed out. I've decided to go with the basic system 2HW uses in All Things Zombie and actually define [typical] mods for special situations.

Artwork: still trying to line up one or more artists. Bill Acheson, who is doing some great work on Fauna for the game, reminded me today about an artist who is already into Tekumel. (Remember Hapless?) I'll have to try and get in touch...

Gotta Go,


Wednesday 7 October 2009

Spiegel Online Tekumel article

Just so nobody misses it, the German news magazine "Spiegel" has published an article about Tekumel in their online version:

Tekumel Article

I'm not sure how long this sort of article stays accessible so be sure to check it out. There is an English translation to be found here:


I found the article enlightening in some respects and the full score of accompanying photos very interesting. I've never met or spoken to the Professor, having only corresponded by email. And the only picture I'd previously seen of him was a very poor quality one from an old Dragon magazine.

Monday 5 October 2009

Playtesting, Mapmaking and Stuff...

The Band of Joyous Heroes:

Been working on this pretty steady but more working things out than typing things in. I had hoped to have a 60% draft ready on the weekend but that didn't happen. Instead I tried my hand with a bit of mapmaking. BoJH will need a map or two. I will probably end up with four one-page (8.5" x 11") maps, each showing a quarter of Tsolyanu plus a little bit of border. The rules format probably won't allow for anything bigger. I want the maps to be more tolkien-style, if you follow me, with the hills and mountains drawn in; that sort of thing. I'm using photoshop and it's working out not too badly, so far. I picked up some tips from the Cartographer's Guild and am hoping to try them out.

Got a bit of a playtest in last week. Tried out an idea I have for tracking encounters. Hmmm...think it worked Okkkkay - I'll put it in the next draft I send out and people will hopefully let me know how it works. (or doesn't work, as the case may be.) The main fight was more satisfying than previous encounters. I've tweaked the combat a bit so beating the opponent by 1 is OOF, by two is OD - both of these with saves for armour; a result of 3+ is OD with NO save, however.

Once again the Shen character was slain almost immediately due to him rolling extraordinarily badly.

The scenario was a Ksarul priest and escort looking for a lost temple in the Kurt Hills. They ended up being ambushed by some Goddess of the Pale Bone cultists. Most of the acolytes and servants ran away but the priest's escort (an ex-gladiator, two ex-soldiers in heavy armour, and the Shen) put up a stiff fight. The whole party suffered from bad rolling, however, with the priest being knocked OOF without getting a single spell off, and one after the other the rest falling killed or wounded. The ex-gladiator was the Rep 5 Star and every time she used her Star Power her player declared she was performing her "dance of dismemberment". ;-)

To no avail. Eventually she rolled so badly that she ran out of star power. The session ended with the surviving (but OOF) party members being trussed up and hauled off by the cultists.

The next scenario will continue from there, with their escape from the Goddess of the Pale Bone!

Or so they hope.

I also have to figure out how to post pictures. I don't think it should be too hard. Hmmmm....

Note: for those of you not familiar with the Two Hour Wargames rulesets, OOF means "Out of the Fight", while OD = "Obviously Dead".

The session started around 8:00 - well between 7:30 and 8:00, but we had to decide on the characters first. We only roughed them in and then started with only a bare-bones idea for a scenario. We finished about 10:00 after a biggish fight between the party and about 10 or so cultists.