Welcome to The Hall of Blue Illumination, the podcast dedicated to the world of M.A.R. Barker’s Tékumel. In this episode, our hosts are joined by special guests Bill Acheson and Steve Braun, who talk about Tékumel miniature gaming on the East Coast.
But first, our hosts discuss the person of one Gámalu hiBeshyéne, the High Princeps of the Temple of Thúmis.
[00:00:53] Victor explains the origin of the writings about the Temple of Thúmis. Why was the first article Prof. Barker wrote about the temples about the temple of Thúmis? Because one of his players was a priest of Thúmis. The High Princeps of the Temple of Thúmis, Gámalu hiBeshyéne was actually a player character, played by Gerald Sabera. Back in 1974-1975, Prof. Barker got contacted by Mr. Sabera who asked to be the High Princeps of the Temple of Thúmis.
[00:04:34] The “Domain Game” is presented in the back of EPT, and Victor surmises that a character like Gámalu hiBeshyéne, who was started in a position of prominence, provided a great entry point for Prof. Barker – this is why Thúmis’s Temple came first.
[00:05:42] What if Gámalu hiBeshyéne wasn’t the High Princeps? One of the things that the Temple of Thúmis has, which spurs forward Tékumel’s meta-plot leading to the war with Yán Kór, is Surundáno, one of the hidden candidates for the Petal Throne. The revelation of Surundáno leads to the Temple of Vimúhla revealing Mirusíya, something prompted by player characters’ actions in Prof. Barker’s campaign.
[00:09:19] James only creates the names of characters he really needs. Contrary to some rumors, that’s what Prof. Barker did as well. Each major and minor town would have all manner of minor officials and temple administrators, so there’s way too many people involved to individually name if the players will never encounter them.
[00:11:22] There’s an interesting difference in EPT and the Source Book’s lists of imperial heirs. Surundáno and Mirusíya are added in the Source Book. This is because they were revealed through players’ actions in Prof. Barker’s campaign.
[00:12:10] The fact that “hidden heirs” exist, gives the GM an opportunity to introduce new ones as a plot device. Moreover, Victor says that in Prof. Barker’s campaign, they encountered other timelines on the Tree of Time that had different sets of revealed and unrevealed princes and princesses. The most notable example is the priest of Belkhánu named Kírkta who turned out to be an imperial heir in another timeline. Victor isn’t sure if this character was an heir in the prime timeline.
[00:13:52] The Kolumejálim is a private event, but when it’s called, all the interested princes and princesses must either declare themselves or step back. In Flamesong, we find out about a prince we’ve never heard of before from the previous Kolumejálim. (Oops, spoilers!) This prince neither recused himself, nor competed for the throne, thereby guaranteeing he’s an outcast.
[00:16:30] It’s easy to view the actions of Gámalu hiBeshyéne as those of a PC. He did three things before triggering the revelation of Surundáno: 1) he initiated the compilation of an encyclopedia of all knowledge; 2) he built a zírunel, which had success against the Ssú (see Tékumel Journal #2, p. 10); and 3) he authorized the re-establishment of the Legion of the Lord of Wisdom.
[00:18:14] Special Guests, Bill Acheson and Steve Braun join our hosts to discuss Tékumel miniature gaming.
[00:18:34] Steve has recently started playing a Tékumel RPG, but he’s been doing miniature gaming on Tékumel for a while. Steve is from the Twin Cities, but now lives on the East Coast.
[00:19:03] Bill is originally from St. Croix County, WI. He got into Tékumel in River Falls, and started out wargaming on Tékumel with a group in the early 80s.
[00:19:43] Bill and Steve met through the miniatures gaming community, and discovered their mutual interest in Tékumel miniatures. Bill’s game club has produced rules for fantasy and historical games and he’s considered creating rules for Tékumel wargaming. Their rules, however, use 10mm figures, and there are no 10mm Tékumel miniatures on the market.
[00:22:07] One of the big things that’s changed in miniature gaming is the level of detail. 28mm figures now have the detail of old 54mms, and 10mms can stand in for older larger minis. The technology has gotten much better.
[00:22:30] Bill has run several games using the Dragon Rampant ruleset. This is a tactical level game portraying smaller battles, and is a lot like what Bill was playing in the 1980s.
[00:23:03] Steve has run a couple of games using a hybrid ruleset based on Howard Fielding’s rules and using a little bit of Savage Worlds. One of these Steve calls “Seas of Tékumel” and involves using different ships and races trying to recover objects from the board. A Hlǘss submarine shows up. He’s also adapted a scenario called “Necronomawhat?” to Tékumel as a quest for the Book of Ebon Bindings. The usual outcome is that the last man standing is driven insane.
[00:24:38] Victor has been painting some of Howard Fielding’s minis, and everyone praises them. Victor’s putting together an army.
[00:25:40] Bill first played with Howard Fielding in the same year Howard contracted with someone to build a Sákbe Road section. They used what minis they had at the time, and ran a battle between the forces of Dhich’uné and Esélne. He wrote a battle report of this for the Tékumel Miniatures Group. Bill’s done this for several games.
[00:26:53] Mike Lung is another person running Tékumel wargames. He likes the WarGods of Ægyptus ruleset, and ran a modified Rangers of Shadowdeep scenario at last March’s Cold Wars.
[00:28:00] What rulesets are Steve and Bill using for Tékumel battles? Bill has used the fantasy version of Combat Patrol in his last few games. This is a skirmish level game, with 10-20 figures organized into squads of 10 figures each. Some of the scenarios he’s run include “Panic in Pán Cháka” where adventures have to figure out why villagers are disappearing.
[00:29:11] Steve has used his kitbash ruleset, as well as Dragon Rampant. He’s also playtesting a new ruleset called Mortal Gods. Both of these approaches recreate the “small war” mechanic of Qadardalikoi.
[00:30:41] How would someone get into skirmish level Tékumel miniatures battles? Bill suggests picking a ruleset designed for small unit battles and suggests Combat Patrol or Feudal Patrol. Bill has actually sent a proposal for a Tékumel adaption of these rulesets to the Tékumel Foundation.
[00:32:03] Bill explains the plotline of “Panic in Pán Cháka.” It ends with a crashed spaceship and Ssú! For the second scenario, Bill built a modular terrain system of tunnels that the PCs had to go through and complete various tasks. He even used cinnamon-scented pinecones to make parts of the terrain, so that it smelled authentically Ssú.
[00:33:34] Where would someone obtain their Tékumel minis? That’s a difficult question. You can make “proxies” from existing figures, obtain some of the older figures from the now-defunct product lines of the 1980s, buy from Howard, or even use some of David Allan’s 3D prints.
[00:35:10] To build a core, you can join the Tékumel Club and get minis from Howard. He also has suggestions for substitute figures.
[00:36:22] Howard sells his figures in warbands of about 20 figures. You can buy this and a commander and you have a warband to represent a hero and his entourage. Bill has built “movement trays” so they can be moved as larger groups for the Dragon Rampant ruleset.
[00:38:03] Bill uses a lot of Eureka figures. Harlequin also made many figures that work well for Tékumel. Confrontation used to make a Celtos range that are perfect for N’lǘss. “A guy in a kilt is a guy in a kilt.”
Hosts: Scott Kellogg, James Maliszewski, and Victor J. Raymond.
Special Guests: Bill Acheson and Steve Braun
Tékumel Products Referenced:
Empire of the Petal Throne is the original Tékumel sourcebook and rules set. It was first published by TSR in 1975. It can be purchased as a print-on-demand book, or as a PDF from DriveThruRPG.
Swords & Glory Vol. 1 (a.k.a. the “Source Book”) was first published by Gamescience in 1983. It is a detailed sourcebook for the world of Tékumel. You can purchase it as a print-on-demand book, or as a PDF from DriveThruRPG.
Flamesong, Professor Barker’s second novel remains out-of-print, but is easily acquired through online used booksellers. The Tékumel Foundation plans to reissue it in print and electronic versions in the near future.
The Tekumel Journal was the first journal devoted to gaming on Tékumel. Issue #2 is available for purchase from DriveThruRPG as a PDF.
You can see pictures and a summary of Steve’s “Seas of Tékumel” scenario here.
The Book of Ebon Bindings is fantastic, but currently out-of-print. The 1978 (or was it 1979?) edition was published by Imperium Publishing. Theatre of the Mind Enterprises re-printed it in 1991.
David Allan is creating Tékumel miniatures that can be 3D printed.
In this episode, the guys talked about older Tékumel miniature lines. The original Legion of the Petal Throne miniatures were sculpted for a company called Old Guard by William Murray in 1977. Ral Partha began issuing these in 1978, with Tom Meier and Brian Apple providing additional sculpts. Ph.D. Games did reissue some of these after 1979, when Ral Partha discontinued them.
Two previous out-of-print rulesets for miniature gaming on Tékumel are Missúm!: Miniature Rules for Tékumel, which was published in 1978 by Imperium Publishing and developed by Gary Rudolph and Craig Smith; and Qadardalikoi: Miniature Campaigns on the World of Tékumel which were created by Jeff Barry and M.A.R. Barker, and published in 1983 by Tékumel Games, as a companion of sorts to Swords & Glory.
Dragon Rampant is a wargame ruleset intended for use with fantasy battles. It is written by Daniel Mersey, and published by Osprey. Armies in Dragon Rampant usually consist of 6-8 units comprised of 6-12 figures on individual bases.
Savage Worlds is a generic rules system first published in 2003 by Pinnacle Entertainment Group.
WarGods of Ægyptus is a miniatures gaming ruleset and setting based on a Egyptian mythology. It is published by Crocodile Games.
Rangers of Shadowdeep is a solo and co-operative miniatures game, written by Joseph A. McCullough. You can download the original version on DriveThruRPG, but should instead consider the Deluxe Edition now published by Modiphius. This is available at Modiphius’s site in print and PDF, as well as at DriveThruRPG in PDF.
Cold Wars is a wargaming convention held in Lancaster, PA every year in March. It is organized by the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society.
Combat Patrol is a miniatures skirmish ruleset created by John R. “Buck” Surdu. You can purchase it from DriveThruCards. A new set of rules geared towards ancient, dark age, medieval and fantasy scenarios called Feudal Patrol is in the final stages of playtesting.
Mortal Gods is a miniatures game published by Footsore Miniatures & Games, set in the world of Ancient Greece.
Eureka Miniatures is an Australian company that produces several distinct lines of miniatures in a host of size ranges.
Harlequin Miniatures was a UK company founded in 1994 by Dean and Vaughan Edwards. They produced a variety of fantasy and historical miniatures, some based on licensed properties. Their designs were eventually acquired by Dean Edwards’s Black Tree Design and many are still in production.
Confrontation is produced by Rackham, a French company that produces skirmish level miniatures and rulesets. You can find their current lines here.