Welcome to The Hall of Blue Illumination, the podcast dedicated to the fantastic world of Tékumel. In this judiciously-timed episode, our hosts discuss and compare Tèkumeláni holidays. Then they take up the “graduate level” Tékumel subject of the Undying Wizards.
[00:00:30] Holidays in the Five Empires! The Intercalary Days are five days at the end of the year and are a major event across all of the Five Empires. (S&G 1 §1.1050, p. 127)
[00:01:20] Holidays have cultural significance. They’re associated with different temples, and even the same days are celebrated differently depending on the temple and the city.
[00:02:22] The Sourcebook provides a list of holidays across the Five Empires. (S&G 1 §1.1050, p. 125).
[00:03:18] The list of holidays in the Sourcebook is one of the few times a Tsolyáni word is given alongside its equivalents in other languages. You can see the kind of linguistic drift that has taken place.
[00:04:29] James notes Ikáner (the 1st Intercalary Day) is celebrated both by the Temples of Dlamélish (in Jakálla) and Shiringgáyi (in Livyánu). This is notable for those who are interested in comparisons of the Tsolyánu deities to those of the other Four Empires. Shiringgáyi has aspects of both Avanthé and Dlamélish.
[00:05:32] Sometimes the names of the holidays tell you something about their ritual significance. “The Putting on the Raiment of the Doomed Prince” tells us that the garb of the icon of Ksárul will be part of the ritual.
[00:07:27] Turugdáshe (the 2nd Intercalary Day) is notable for the reverence given to the Shadow Gods throughout all of Livyánu.
[00:08:23] James is fascinated by the reference to the celebration of the Two Moons in Gháton. Our hosts make a note to come back to the subject of Gháton in a later episode.
[00:10:05] Victor proposes that Avanthé’s celebration of the Wearing of the Girdle on Turugdáshe may be an answer to the already mentioned celebration of Dlamélish on the preceding day.
[00:10:42] Vraháma (the 3rd Intercalary Day). Our hosts also discuss how The Raising of the Standards might now be a universal celebration across Yán Kór thanks to the efforts of Baron Áld.
[00:12:31] This is the first non-human celebration mentioned. The Shén are the least likely to adopt a human holiday. They don’t even share the same calendar (see S&G 1 §1.1050, p. 125), but maybe its placement here has more to do with the seasons than the fact that it aligns with the human Intercalary Days.
[00:14:14] The Offering Up of the Sword of Fire doesn’t refer to Flamesong (the weapon of Vimúhla) but Bloodsong (the weapon of Chiténg)
[00:15:49] Ngaqómi (the 4th Intercalary Day). James purposes that the Pageant of Death is something like a mix of Mardi Gras and Halloween.
[00:17:40] Chitlásha is the 5th Intercalary Day, and as the last day, it has the most celebrations.
[00:20:09] There are holidays from distant places here. Our hosts discuss the festival of the Mad One in Hlíkku, and how this relates to theories on which of the Pariah Deities the Mad One is.
[00:20:55] Victor uses comparisons of some of the festivals to broach a broader discussion of the cosmology behind the relations of the different sets of gods to one another.
[00:22:50] Moving on from the Intercalary Days to other festivals throughout the year, Victor notes the 9th day of Lésdrim, which is the birthday of the Tsolyánu emperor. Is this the official birthday, or the actual birthday of the emperor? Our hosts guess that it’s the official day, but note also that it’s not the accession day (the 10th of Dohála).
[00:24:37] Some of the holidays are mentioned in the novels. The Fete of Boats (the 7th of Pardán) takes place in Béy Sü. It appears in Man of Gold (Man of Gold Ch. 11, p. 86 in the DAW edition). Victor feels that this was an early aspect of Prof. Barker’s Tékumel, while other festivals were created later.
[00:25:40] Baron Áld’s birthday is celebrated in Yán Kór on the 5th day of Halír (Y: Hél). Again, it’s “universal”.
[00:27:40] Something that is “unexplainable”: the 29th day of Drénggar, another celebration listed for Gháton. We know very little about the religion of Gháton, besides the Tsolyáni view that it’s primitive.
[00:29:52] When a GM is trying to bring Tékumel to life, the holidays are an important thing to pay attention to. James gives an example from his own campaign.
[00:32:18] Victor questions his earlier identification of the holiday in Man of Gold [GPD: but he’s actually correct, see the citation above at 00:24:37]
[00:32:40] An Urunén festival noted. These are a relatively distant “moose-headed” race of bipeds from the southern sub-polar area of Tékumel (see S&G 1 §1.413 (15), p. 26). Victor suggests that the reason they show up in the Sourcebook is because there was a moose-headed miniature available around the same time. Victor discusses this race.
[00:36:30] Tékumel is big, and the Five Empires are only a small part. James briefly mentions other far-flung races and cultures.
[00:38:12] The calendar itself is an Engsvanyáli artifact.
[00:39:00] The Kòluméhagi is a leap day that is added to the calendar every four years (S&G 1 §1.1050, p. 125). It is celebrated differently in each of the Five Empires.
[00:41:53] The Undying Wizards and the College at the End of Time. This is a “graduate level Tékumel” topic.
[00:42:35] What is the College at the End of Time? Per Victor, it’s “a College at Avanthár where wizards who have an existence outside of time engage in…an apocalyptic battle with the Goddess of the Pale Bone.” Some of the wizards oppose the Goddess, and some support her.
[00:43:40] What’s so special about Avanthár? Of course, it has historical significance to Tsolyánu, but why did the Undying Wizards choose it? Victor doesn’t know, but mentions that there are batteries of weapons there from the time of the ancients. These are huge – they’re literally planetary defenses – and it doesn’t seem like they could be moved there.
[00:48:10] Speaking of cosmological significance, there is of course the Crater of the Unstraightened City, which is the “stem” of the magical and interplanar nature of Tékumel. Victor mentions a few other distant, significant places.
[00:49:20] There’s discussion of the metaphysical aspects of the Tree of Time, and Avanthár’s significance to the survival of the branching timelines.
[00:50:02] The Unstraightened City is more “active” than Avanthár. It’s where a faction of the Undying Wizards resides. There’s also speculation that a Mihálli Hall of Many Worlds was located here, and its ancient destruction led to the modern appearance of the Unstraightened City.
[00:51:53] What’s the meaning of “College”? People do study there. Victor guesses that Prof. Barker was influenced by his own experiences in academia, since there are professors, students, and student-assistants, and factions among them.
[00:52:40] The Blasphemous Accelerators. This is the faction of the Undying Wizards who control the Unstraightened City. They seem to believe that Tékumel is better off reaching the conclusion of its existence so something better can be result. They’re opposed by the Germinators, who feel that Tékumel should be allowed to flower and develop towards its eventual conclusion in its own natural course.
[00:54:01] They also differ on their opinions of the gods. The Accelerators feel that Tékumel would be better without the gods, because they slow the development of Tékumel. The Germinators, on the other hand, approve of the involvement of the gods to varying degrees.
[00:55:24] Victor gives an anecdote regarding when his party arrived at the End of Time, where they met Pavár himself.
[00:56:30] The Wizards travel throughout Tékumel’s history influencing time and using their great power to further their ends. Victor notes an example from the Gardásiyal series of Adventures on Tékumel (it’s specifically in Adventures on Tékumel Part Two/Volume Two: Beyond the Borders of Tsolyánu, pp. 72-74)
[00:58:54] The Wizards are a fairly advanced concept, and you have to establish a lot of cosmological groundwork before you can discuss them. Yet, a few of their names are mentioned in EPT, even if the concept isn’t discussed. The earliest mention of the Undying Wizards are in Tékumel Journal no. 2 (1978).
[01:01:31] Turshánmü is an Undying Wizard who is kind, but very forgetful. He may be associated with the “Spell of the Red Goo.”
[01:03:33] While Turshánmü is a bit of a bungler, Súbadim the Sorcerer is definitely not. He appears in several places in the Tékumel corpus as a fisherman. He’s also supremely powerful, and opposed to the Goddess of the Pale Bone. He serves an enigmatic master, whom Victor guesses is Ksárul.
[01:04:52] Victor dispatches an agent of Lord Ksárul.
[01:05:37] Many of the Wizards are mysterious and lurking at very high levels of play. Who each of the wizards serve is one of their secrets. This is made more difficult since the gods are bigger than the common conception of them, and their nature remains elusive.
[01:08:45] Some of the wizards can be associated with change or stability. But their motivations remain mysterious.
[01:09:56] By the time Súbadim is fishing at the End of Time, he’s not catching mundane fish. Instead, the fish represent the essences of alternate planes or other possibilities.
[01:11:24] Most of the Wizards we are familiar with are connected to the area of the Five Empires, even if they’re from a time before they existed.
[01:15:05] The Wizards are a reminder that Tékumel is much bigger in scope than what’s going on with the player characters. James gives an example of an NPC in his campaign who has encountered his players “out of order.”
Hosts: James Maliszewski and Victor J. Raymond.
Producer: Thomas Tiggleman
Tékumel Products Referenced:
Swords & Glory Vol. 1 (a.k.a. the “Sourcebook”) 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.
Mitlányal is an in-depth exploration of the religious practices of the Tsolyáni in two volumes. It was written by Bob Alberti and Prof. Barker and published in 2004 by Zottola Publishing. It is currently out-of-print.
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.
There were several supplements for the Gardásiyal ruleset in the Adventures on Tékumel line. They were published between 1992 and 1994 by Theatre of the Mind Enterprises and are now out-of-print.