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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Geoffrey, Dragonsfoot, EPT, and Jeff Berry-


"As noted by one of the other posters, Tekumel isn't a 'fantasy' setting; it's better described as 'scientifiction' in the classic Gernsback/Burroughs mold, and with a lot of the influence of Lovecraft/Howard/Ashton Smith. As such, it doesn't seem to appeal to RPG gamers of the classic sort; the RPG gamer culture that has developed over the last thirty years has it's own set of cultural references that it applies to games and world settings.

Tekumel has always been outside that culture, as it has for miniatures gamers who have problems dealing with the idea of non-humans in what (to them) should be classical ancients wargames, but it does seem to appeal to F/SF fans who haven't had much assimilation into the gamer culture. I've got a dozen regulars on one Tekumel RPG group, with a second group of 12 in the process of forming, and very few of them are what I'd call experienced RPG or miniatures players; all of them however, are F/SF fans who have a taste for 'classic' F/SF.

Regarding the goofy names, I'm reminded of when we used to flog the merchandise for Dave Arneson at Gen Con; we had a guy who for three years running who would make a point of coming up to the booth and getting in our face about Tekumel's languages, and how he wouldn't buy anything for Tekumel unless we went through all the books and changed the words to something *he* could pronounce. The third time around, a bystander who had listened to the guy's diatribe stepped up to me, apologized for the guy's behavior, and suggested that he leave the area. The guy gave him some lip, saying "Who the f*** are you?", and Gary Gygax merely proffered his convention badge for the guy to read. It was, as they say, one of those moments you live for.

My advice, as it has been for the past three decades, is don't play what you don't like. Nobody is holding an Eye of Raging Power to your head and insisting that you must 'do' Tekumel, either as game or world-setting; play what you like! All I'd ask is that you do take a few moments to actually read what you critique; some of the reasons I've seen given for "Why I Hate Tekumel" seem to based on the same sort of logic that says "Dragons are real, because my sister's brother-in-law's third cousin what lives in the next duchy over says he heard that somebody's sheep got et by one!". These days, of course, it's "I saw it on the Internet, so it must be true!"

Speaking as somebody who has had the luck to play in three of what I guess might be called 'Old School' RPGs (Dave Arneson's "Blackmoor", Prof. M. A. R. Barker's "Tekumel", and Gary Gygax's "GreyHawk"), the 'sense of wonder' back in those far-off days was a lot more palpable and present; none of us knew what we were doing, of course, either as players or GMs, but that didn't stop us from having fun.

What ever happened to fun, by the way? I don't seem to see it much in gaming, anymore, but then maybe I travel in the wrong circles.

Just my two kaitars' worth - sorry, two GP... :wink:
" -- Jeff Berry / Chirine ba Kal

That was much nicer than anything I could have mustered.

[Playtest Campaign] 11, December-

First, a correction: The daisy-chain door is not the same thing as the polished black stone 'door'. It appears to be a double door, with a handle on 'each'.

We updated the PCs (except for CiCi and the still deceased Delver) to the new rules-build, including Frame and the increased Dynamic Pool value with the Conditions, the Letter-rated Skill system, and Combat rolls made on 2d12.
--Things went smoothly, and I noticed that tracking damage via the Conditions was speedy and seemed to enhance play through the understanding of the character's status (Fit, Able, Pained, etc.).
---Ashta was upgraded to Bxhr, or amazon, and through that and other mods determined in chargen, ended up with the indisputable ranking of highest DP, topping it out at 109 points, primarily due to her score of 20 in Fighting (was Strength) and her previous 62 points. Next in line is Darius with 102, and Ymyk. Mela Mela was just edged-out by Tybylt, but their Coma/Dying values are within one point of each other. The percentile values on the Spectral Index may need a bit of tweaking upwards in the centre, but it played smoothly enough. --- The vexatious double door was attempted after the (previously unmentioned) fireman's pole was scouted out by Ashta's (previously un-used) ghost-rat (a rat skull with a command word that activates its non-corporeal body), which didn't like the floor of the pit to which the pole descended, so the party skipped that. The already tested knob (actually a latch but I just went with the knob thing to keep the game rolling) was the daisy-chain paralysis trap, and the right-hand door, but the other hadn't yet been tried. --Tyb used the 'Rope of Awesome' to curl 'round and turn it clockwise, receiving some electrical damage. He then turned it counter clockwise and the door was able to be pushed in, revealing a 3'-wide corridor down which the rat was sent. ---A four-way intersection which led to three doors: * 'west' = Fountain with eight radiating pools and seven additional doors facing the arms of the pool, within was seen jewellery, coins, and gems. * 'north' = room with 90+' deep crater and evidence of an explosion which also damaged the walls and ceiling, suggesting that the surface was reachable through it. A sewer grate led to a 10'x10'x40' sluice that terminated outside. * 'east' = when the rat passed through this door, it showed an all-dark room of great size that was, in fact, too large to be where it was without some sort of dimensional shenanigans, as it would overlap the northern room's sluice. The rat couldn't, however, find a door on that side, which the party correctly diagnosed as *not a good thing.* Ratskull was asked to check out the entire room and discovered a walled complex with several portcullis, and was ordered back to where it had first appeared. Tyb Jaunted to the other side of the 'door' and was greeted by extreme cold and dangerously low air pressure, so much so that the air was being forced out of his lungs even through his sealed lips. He quickly grabbed Ratskull and expended an extra Spell Point to Jaunt back with it at which time he informed the party of his findings. --A divination deck was consulted and 3 Turns later Tyb knew that his daughters were in fact in that black citadel; that there were two despotic figures running the show, and one was playing the other; and that these were behind not only the slave trade, but the tentacled things they'd fought in Qerzyk. ---Plans were made to 'open the door' (?!), and I asked which direction the lone and centrally-placed knob would be turned by Tybylt: Clockwise (remember what happened above ?) Tybylt disappeared and for a moment, I dealt with the party's reaction before turning to him: Paraphrasing myself -- "You dimly see arches and a covered roof. Around you are statues, some old enough to be pitted and moss-covered, others more recent. You find that your vision is dimming as your eyes are calcifying-over and you cannot move. Please give me an Experience Critical Test roll." Tyb passed the Test and Jaunted backward 5', knocking down and breaking another statue, as well as realising that his calcified dermis (as in his skin) as well as clothing had been left at his initial point of arrival, which meant he was spontaneously bleeding from every square Snk of his body, but was fortunately largely unaware of the sensation due to the loss of his surface nerves.
--I have him a freebie by allowing him to successfully drink a healing potion, and then had him roll for all of his equipment, much of which (including the rope and his magicked Black Metal garotte, and scrolls and potions besides) failed their Test and were destroyed. Of the few possessions which did survive, one was a potion of flight, which he imbibed and used to fly from the tower's top down to the entrance (to retrieve the Xarj' bow) and then (using a Change Self) greet the party where he then revealed his current state.
---A few regeneration potions, an ebony and pearl lightning protective skein, and his self-administered Shadow-infused lightning-ring bolt - later, his skin had regrown, turned Dryvv grey, and his eyes widened and his cheekbones grew more pronounced.

After that soaked-in, I held the session, suggesting that the party was in no condition to attempt the raid on the black citadel (in the Void).

Rough session.