Monday, October 8, 2012

A long road ahead

That what it appears to be like to catch up on Tekumel. I am not prepared to do so today, as I just realized how very far behind I am. I am going to have to take some notes, and make some drafts, and fill in some memory holes with spackle. A bit like my terrain projects, which are equally behind. But fall leads to winter, which leads to more time cooped up, so, this might be doable.

On a plus note, cooped up time will probably also lead to continuation of the campaign. The group split, momentarily, in two, and one simple tangental story has been played, and also needs to be blogged. Another is brewing in my head.

I had planned on putting the campaign on hold until I returned from Ucon, but that looks to be farther off than I anticipated, as I won't be going. My eldest/youngest/only-est is off to college, and money has dried up.  I need a part time job, I think. So does my eldest/youngest/only-est, but with her class load, it will probably have to wait til summer.. At anyrate, 500 buck I figure I "save" by not going.. which is 300 more than I could have afforded to spend.. So, a good deal that one can't pass up, even though one would like to..

Shouldn't blog when tired.. the brain becomes a barrier

On a related, but more generic note, I have some terrain Bling. From Foxhole Terrain, I picked up some bits of road, some bales of hay, and some fences, as well as some ships, not shown here today.. All can be employed on or off Tekumel, as the need arises. 

On the 40fnordK frontlines, the troops are going into the Warp, until such time as I can score the new rules at a reasonable price. Or possibly forever. Not at all happy with the 4-6 year life cycle they have established for their product line. Looking at 5150, and other sets for getting the 14 ROD into battle.

Ok, sleep calls. One of the reasons I fall behind on projects like this blog is I don't go to bed, so I sleep during my productive hours.. yeah, that's it.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Older projects

I have been on a bit of a terrain kick of late. Lots of things half started. It would be a lie to say lots of things half finished. Tekumel is kinda in Idle. We have played, a bit, but I haven't blogged on it.. which I will remedy. Working on the History of the Three States of the Triangle, but I keep being distracted. Both real life, and terrain. Haven't had much chance to play anything of late.  House projects, and local politics are competing for my attention. Tekumel has been too strenuous, intellectually, I think I need a minis fight..

Towards that end I have been buying or trying to build terrain.  First I bought a Hirst Arts project someone else created, off TMP. Space ship interiors, kinda for Space Hulk type scenarios. They were assembled and rough painted. Figured I could put them on table as is. Didn't figure on shipping damage. Pics

very disheartening. Kinda my fault. I asked him to ship them cheapest means possible. And, I didn't note that the description said plaster, not hydrocal. Some of the damage has been repaired. A lot of tiny pieces missing. Currently Boxed.

A couple years back I bought a pile of Hirst Arts Water Cavern Castings, with the intent of making a Cave setup.. This should have been during the Cavern portion of my Tekumel campaign, but, I don't find any posts on it.. which surprises me. At any rate, I have returned a bit to that project. I already have a pile of painted stalagmites and limestone formations. Working on a system for building a cavern. Originally I was just planning on duplicating the Hirst Arts Set, but feel it looks more like a dungeon than a cave. Good for certain types of games, but not really for a tactical fight, and not flexible enough. So, this is what I am thinking at the moment..  pics

cut some pieces out of foam core
build em up as limestone flows

use them to highlight the rock formations. They will need some texturing, and paint to match. Hope I can figure out how I painted these castings..

Building terrain will serve several purposes, I think. There is a bit of a zen quality to the task, so it might relieve some anxiety, It will hopefully consume some of the clutter I have accumulated over the past few years.. most of which I acquired thinking I would use it somehow in terrain of as troops. And it might generate a place for me to field some figures, any figures. A water cavern is generic enought to allow me to stage a battle among pirates, ImperFNORDial Troops, or Sarkus Minions. Or a host of other figures. I also have been cutting bases for all the foliage I have collected. But none of this is getting the campaign arc up to date..

Saturday, March 24, 2012

And life goes on

I had planned to finish the project of catching up our timeline, when I learned of the death of  M. A. R. Barker, Professor of Linguistics and creator of Tekumel (in all it depth, breadth, and glory), I felt that a period of silence was in order, as those who knew him personally had time to grieve. I knew little that I could add to the discussion, save my personal feelings.

I never met the Professor, though I long wished to do so. It bothered me that this man, who had such a strong influence on the pattern of my life, lived only 2 hours away, in a city I visited frequently, and I had no reasonable hope of meeting him. It was EPT that got me "hooked" on RPG games in about 1979. It was the first one I played. My session.. including character creation, lasted all of 15 minutes.

In high school a friend convinced me to join AV (audio visual) in order to gain access to some reasonable quality audio equipment for dubbing our own cassette tapes. (Oh, you young'uns... google it...). What I found was a lair of gamers, people who had learned to play RPGs from people who had gone to school in Minneapolis and played with Gygax, Arneson, and Barker. They brought the drug, like Zu'ur, to the northland. They were Seniors, I was a soph. They ignored me. But I watched and listened to them. I learned later they were playing Chivalry and Sorcery.. and they had a sophisticated campaign.  When he was alone, the Alchemist would spend the hour in AV just rolling dice, and cackling under his breath, as he processed formulae trying to find an elixir that would help him breed a better war horse.. The game was, during those moments, entirely in his head, though he would occasionally explain what he was doing, I suspect more because the nature of RPG is the shared experience than because I asked.

I spent free time trying to reverse engineer the game from what I had seen. I was a huge fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Barsoom, at the time, and I tried to create my own game for that. I did not have access to the fancy dice, and my game experience to that date was pretty limited, mostly Milton Bradley and such, so I had no sense of sophistication for game mechanics, and no sense of balance. I did force myself to learn something of probability theory.. mostly by creating charts of possible outcomes - I was a poor math student.

Eventually, I managed to pester them enough to get them to let me try a game. They had switched campaigns, or perhaps they were simply rotating, at any rate, the game they had out that day was the TSR version of EPT. They had to explain the stats a bit, and how to use the dice. It was the standard barbarian on the boat scenario.

Now, I had seen them playing Chivalry and Sorcery, and probably Metamorphosis Alpha, and perhaps D&D, and I had seen plenty of rogue behaviour, which, of course, was all well and good in those setting. I followed suit.  After selling my boat, I tried to pick a pocket. I was unsuccessful, and quickly nabbed by a guard. I had no weapons, I could barely speak Tsolyani, I was handed to the AOL, and impaled. I always figured I was being discouraged from another attempt, but I was hooked. The bell rang... I was off to another class. My grades never recovered.

Having at least the vague notion of how a game was structured, I re applied myself to Barsoom, but I began to listen to their EPT campaign. Tekumel was like Barsoom on Acid. Ahoggya, Vimuhla, Sarku, and my adolescent favourite Hrihayel - whore of five worlds.

I did manage to get one more game of EPT in during AV a few weeks later. One of the players was a Junior, perhaps more sympathetic to my position, and he ran me solo. This time I fared a bit better, and I began to really understand the concept of RPG. My character was a Magic User and I  had a high comliness, so I took Courtesan/ Gigolo as a skill. I don't recall how, but I know I was thrown into the jails of Jakalla, probably as a minor apology for having been impaled on my first gaming session. There aren't many offences that earn jail time, I believe. I spent most of the hour trying to figure a way to pick the locks. What I eventually did was use a spell to cause two guards to fight. Fortunately, they both died. Unfortunately, they were out of reach. When the watch changed they asked what had happened, I stared in horror, and lied about a plague from my home that drove men to homicidal madness. The watch fled.. and they elected to burn the cell block clean... But I stayed low, and the fire weakened the chlen hide doors, and I managed to escape. I disappeared into the foreign quarter, working as a cheap date.

Late in the school year, or early summer, I ended up in a theatre group (outside school) and one of those seniors was a member. I got to know him, and he did me the favour of buying my first RPG when he made a trip to the cities. I had forced my folks to make a side trip to the "Little Tin Soldier Shop" (gone now) when we had been down, and bought dice - and depleted my budget a bit  - sometime before this, I think.. I had seen EPT on the shelf, but it was outside my price range. (I did buy a few EPT miniatures, my first miniatures as well).  I had about 10  bucks, and sent it with him. He brought back Traveller. I also got to know other gamers in the area.. and made life long friends, some I haven't seen in years. I got to play EPT on occasion, with people who knew the setting fairly well, but my Barsoom experience tended to make me a ref, often with worlds I built based upon other works that I understood more readily. Most of the EPT crowd moved away.. this was a sour time for the local economy.

 It would be a couple years before I could buy EPT. A few months before I tried to run it. I was overwhelmed, and decided to focus on simpler fare for a bit. I loaned my copy to a friend.. who had a small child.. (it wasn't destroyed.. but it was damaged). I tucked it away for safety. At some point I loaned the maps to a theatre production that wanted fanciful maps on the set. They were never returned..

But I never lost my love of the setting. Years later there was a local campaign based upon real life and an alternative future (inspired by the book Ariel) in which all the players played themselves. I started the campaign, after pestering from a friend, and then went to Basic and he carried it on. I never had a chance to spin the story in that campaign that I really dreamed of running: A trip to the U of M campus, and the Professors old office, and a gate into Tekumel.

It wasn't until I saw an advert at the Source for a Tekumel Minitures event, just a few years ago, that I found the impetus to get back into Tekumel. It was being sponsored by the Aethervox Gamers and I met Chirene. He has been a tremendous help to me, and I am pleased to call him a friend. I had met Victor Raymond a few times, briefly, over the years, in Fandom, but didn't know he was close to the Professor. I got to know him a bit better a few years back at U-con. Through the power of the net I have met or followed others who either knew the Professor, of simply love his work. I think of them all as friends.

I never met him, but I miss him. My sympathies to all who knew him, and to those who love him..

And life goes on.. richer for those who have gone before.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Emperor Hirkáne, ‘the Stone on which the Universe rests' is Dead

This was the news that met them when they returned to Camp. All of Tsolyanu was in morning, and they closed down all non essential operations at the cave and returned to Butrus to aid their temples and clans in showing their respects, and anguish, and engage in any political posturing necessary. Suni volunteered in her temples public rituals of mourning, Mriga in recitations of the accomplishments of the great emperor, and Sanjesh, and the temple of the Green Lady, did what they can be expected to do in times of uncertainty. This continued for an appropriate time, and then things returned to "normal", save the increased interest in imperial politics, and concerns about the now leaderless nation at war, with enemies on all sides.

However, the tree of time grows despite the desire of men to take a moment to sort things out. With Mis  Ritual of the the 32nd unspeakable act closing in, the group decided to make another trip to Tumissa, and do a bit more business for Mrigas clan. They loaded up slaves with 10,000 K worth of paper and similar products, and headed out again on the Sakbe Roads. Mriga hired himself a personal body guard,  an clan Cousin who has a deep desire to join the 1st Imperial Legion. And Sanjesh had his Temple Guard and Suni her Pachi Lei interpreter slave. Mriga was also tasked with bringing a package back to Butrus, which he should pick up at his clan house in Tumissa.

 At the half way point, they stopped to rest, and encountered a Pachi Lei merchant, with a Chlen Cart worth of arrows, quarrels, bows, and spears, heading for Tumissa. Along with that came news that Moog legions, not skirmishers, but full legions, had been seen coming through the Chakas en route, apparently, to Tumissa. Through the interpreter slave they spoke with the merchant, who was interested in buying their slaves, and any others they could obtain. They wished to transfer as much of their cargo to slaves, to move it to Tumissa and the Legion of Tangled Root Eaters, before a major confrontation could take place, and the Chlen were proving to be too slow. They negotiated a deal, where in the Pachi Lei could rent their slaves,  for the next few days, for an outrageous sum, and the group would load their own cargo onto the cart. The also leased the use of the interpreter for the night.

In this way, the Pachi Lei acquired a small army of slaves, and the party found itself traveling at Chlen pace, along with several others who had made similar arrangements with the Pachi Merchants. There was a  couple from a high clan (purveyors in recreational powders, filters and other consumables), a Lower clan Carpet peddler, a Tinilaya lock and trap-smith, and a few others of little note. They also traded in a bit under one days travel for just over two.

The next day travel was slow, and they were passed by many travelers unburdened by the pace of the Chlen. The High Clan couple left the operations to their agent, and traveled well ahead of the rest of the party, and the smell of the Chlen. Suni took a position with her interpreter, also a bit ahead, not far behind the couples Palanquin. By afternoon, she and her slave had picked up a notable contact high from fumes wafting off the palanquin, but, other than some unintentional Public Displays of Affection between the two, there appeared to be no serious consequences. Until morning, when the Slave was found dead, apparently from a bad reaction.

There was immediate talk of Shmatla, which was reported by the Couples Agent to the couple. He was authorized to negotiate a simple settlement. However, mistaking the PDAs from the night before for a more long standing relationship between Suni and the Slave, he ended up seriously over estimating the slaves worth. Suni, who comes from a Merchant Clan, took every advantage, and played up her price, so that she cleared perhaps 5 times the slaves cost. The slave was dutifully buried just off the Sakbe  roads, in a manner fitting for such a skilled slave.

They also briefly encountered the Priest of Qon they had met earlier. He had, apparently, left the roads after their last encounter, and now returned, again crawling, and salting his wounds, and still trying to reach Tumissa. He had heard of the movements of the Moogs, but was not concerned. If he did not reach Tumissa before the conflict, he would have to simply wait for it to resolve. His preparation rituals were more important. So, they left him behind (even at a chlens pace, they were leaving him in the dust).

Upon arriving in the City, they split up. Sanjesh and the Tiny went off to locate the Pachi Lei in the foreign quarter, discussing Tiny Culture along the way.  Suni reported to her temple and Mriga hired local porters to bring his cargo of fine paper to this clan house. And there he met the Package.  The Clan placed him in charge of delivering their most talented young scribe, a girl of maybe 13, as a gift to the new emperor, as soon as one is chosen, after the Kólumejálim. This was, he was told, a prestigious honor for both the Girl, and the bearer of the gift. He and his Cousin had been chosen for the honor, and though they could turn it down, (and expect considerable loss of status in the clan) they would at least be expected to deliver the girl to Butrus, and pass her along to another who would take the job. 


Instructions.. Mouse over this text.. from here to the word end. The text is in white, so I think this will work..

Well, that is what he told the rest of the party. In fact, what he was told was that his girl was and Imperial Heir, far to young to compete in the Kólumejálim, it had been decided that, none the less, it would be very prestigious for the clan to bring her forth and reveal her in Bey Su, or Avanthar at the contest. It was also a concern that some agents in the competition might wish to eliminate her prior to her revealing, and that, during this time between emperors, she was most at risk.  As a result, they advised him to take an indirect route to the games. It was decided they would travel south to Jakalla. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

In through the out door.

Let's see if we can start to bring this up to date.

There has been some disunity in the party of late. As a ref, I could have encouraged a more unified party composition, clan, or temple affiliations..perhaps. But I didn't. So we have two followers of change, and one of stability, all with very different world views. Having brought some level of closure to the story arc concerning the property rights of to the cave, which has been at times dubbed "The Abundant Womb of Hrihayal", the parties common interests have ebbed.

They decided that it was now important to determine who holds title on the land with the back entry to the caves, so they went out to the site, and then climbed to the approximate location where the chimney exited the cave system.   They spent the evening of arrival looking, but found nothing.  Well, not nothing. Mriga found several small blue insects, known for healing properties, and not common to the area. This led him to also find a small, very old, very rusted, iron insignia, possibly dating back to the age of the dragon riders. It caused a bit of discussion.

That night, Suni suggested they all break open the wine, to celebrate being out camping again, but Sanjesh thought that this was a bit suspicious, as she had never suggested that she enjoyed the camping that much. He believed there might be skullduggery afoot, but, in keeping with his temples precepts that one doesn't pass up pleasure, he allowed the guards to imbibe. Which they did. What happened after dark could lead to spoilers, so,

Instructions.. Mouse over this text.. from here to the word end. The text is in white, so I think this will work..

For Sanjesh's part, he tasked a slave to keep an eye on Suni for the night. 
For Suni's part, she had slipped a mickey into the wine. And the guards got woozey. And tended to fall asleep, on duty. But she also noticed that she was being watched, so she took the slave for her pleasure, and drugged the slave as well. 

Sneaking past the sleeping guard, she went to the chimney.. oh, she had found it earlier, but not informed the others. Suni had instructions from her temple. They had sent a team to do an recon mission into the caves, and they had not returned. She was supposed to destroy the evidence, and, if possible, determine what had happened. First she decided to climb down and take a look around. 

At the bottom of the chimney she felt a very strong flow of other planar energies. It was centered on the Stele, which, it appeared, was shifted slightly off it's base. There were smudges on the cave floor, and nearby rocks that indicated what had happened to the recon party, who had exceeded their authority , with disastrous results.  And she felt she was being watched. 

Suni exited, cleaned up any evidence, roused the guard on duty, and sent him to find his relief, and went to bed with precious little time to sleep. 

end spoiler.. for now..

The next day Sanjesh advised his guard to go hunting, and that they would only eat what they caught, as a penalty for drinking too much on duty. The group set out again to find the chimney, and, by noon, had found it. They also found an abandoned campsite, a ways away, low enough to see the fires of their own cave site, but far enough from the chimney that they may not have been related. The chimney, for its part, seemed undisturbed and sat in amoung the ruins of a very old, and quite simple foundation, as noted by Sanjesh, whose comes from a clan of builders. Suni expressed and interest in climbing down, and, based upon her agility, she was allowed to do so.

Instructions.. Mouse over this text.. from here to the word end. The text is in white, 

Then a stranger approached her. The stranger from Tumissa, though he shimmered, as if ethereal. He explained that he wasn't really there, just a projection, made possible by the brooch she had been given to trigger communications. She asked if he could see what she was up to through the brooch, and he said that, yes, he could, though he usually didn't bother. (Suni, as you can imagine, was none to pleased with this information.) 

He informed her that these findings: increase in interplanar energy, the remnants of the earlier group, all increased his belief that the object he sought was, indeed, in the cave. And that it would be quite large. He also told her that she was not safe in the cave alone, and things were watching. He wasn't sure what they were, but he was sure they were there. 

End spoiler
Suni exited and reported that things were all normal in the cave, and the party packed up and returned to the base camp. 

Because there have been a few adventures since my last update, I will take them in small chunks. Expect more in a few days.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Going on a short Hiatus in theTekumel Game..

Probably only a couple weeks. What this means is that I have a couple weeks to bring the empire up to date on what has been happening. I may also have time to reference a 40fnordK game or two that I have played. And perhaps get back to work on the Microscope project. And I may find time to take some pics of the minor (and I do mean minor) progress I have made with the Hlutgru figures I have acquired. But, let's not get ahead of myself.

This post I can easily check an item off that list. I have said before, I am not a huge fan of the GfnordW game mechanic, but, it is the popular minis game locally, and, not as terrible as I originally thought. Well, at least it lets me push lead around the table. I have played two games recently, both against my old nemisis, the Tafnordu, and their general.. some call him Tim?

I have been beaten both times, but, I am improving. I am not going to do battle reports here, as I have already done them elsewhere. If you haven't read them, I am shocked.. and can only assume Google has failed.. But I can help.

Game one..
some bling

Game two..
Some more bling
The battles are described at the link, for those inclined to such. I am still debating if this is the place for my GfnordW shame.  My opponent and I are trying to pull together a tourney of 40fnordK to support our FLGS. Need to do some work on that. No idea where we are gonna get prizes..

I picked up a deal via Mantic. Always a sucker for a grab bag, Mantic was selling their folio bag with a pile of random sprues for.. oh.. should have paid attention.. but an ok price. I have been itching to buy some undead for Mrur, and decided to buy a sprue or two and get the bag, hoping for a windfall. It was about 50 shipped. Got like 80 elves, and two elvish ballista, 60 or so undead..mostly skellies, a dozen dwarfs and maybe two dozen Orcs. I am ok with this, as the elves and undead can be tekumel-ized.

I have a draft of the campaign update started. Should be up soon. Possibly friday evening?