Friday, April 24, 2015

Another Historical Era for Tekumel Adventuring

So I've decided on what I'm going to run at U-Con in November and Con of the North in February. Here's my crazy idea. I'm going to use Warriors of the Red Planet to run a Tékumel adventure in The Latter Times. This would work pretty much as is. 

Warriors of the Red Planet, one of my favorite rules systems, is a BX clone reskinned for sword and planet adventures -- Fighting Men, Scoundrels, Mentalists, and Scientists having adventures on the alien landscapes with Barsoom, Venus, or Skaith.

With the Latter Times being just a few thousand years after the Time of Darkness, plenty of the technology of the Humanspace empire still exists. With both Mentalists and Scientists, I figure I can set it late enough that psychic abilities have developed, but soon enough after the the Time of Darkness that Scientists still know to make technological devices.

Now to design the adventure.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Con of the North Tékumel Track, Part I

(I apologize for the lateness of this report. I really had to getmy dad's taxes for two years finished, as well as my own.)

The Tékumel Track I organized at Con of the North in February went off in grand style. We had 40 hours of games over the weekend, including adventures run by Don Kaiser, Stephen Vossler, and myself, a wizard duel miniatures game of my own design inspired by War of Wizards, Tékumel Trivia (I didn't know all the answers) and a Hirilákte gladiators card game from Stephen, and a palanquin street race (with scavenger hunt) miniatures game from Howard Hendrickson. One of the Referees that was scheduled to run games was unable to attend at the last minute, so Stephen and I covered his time slots.

Before I arrived on Friday morning, Stephen Vossler from South Dakota and his players decorated the room with 40 years of Tékumel art.

Then the Referees added their own floor plans and maps.

My Broken Reed clan house floor plan
plus Stephen's Penóm area map
Don Kaiser's Trireme floor plan

Friday started off with a meet and greet for track participants and referees. Jeff Berry told tales of playing Phil's campaign. Don Kaiser displayed 40 years of Tékumel game products, with some help from me (he didn't have Bethorm). About a dozen folks showed up, besides the referees.

Next up was a session of my Wizard Duel board game. Two non-Tékumel folks came to play, plus a couple of Track-folk. I redrew the arena from a two-wizard arena to a four-wizard arena. The players had fun. One player chased the others with a Wall of Serpents, one of the others summoned a demon right off the bat, and then proceeded to blow the rest of his spell rolls during the game. He ended up being the winner by shooting the last opponent with his trusty bow and arrow after all his spells were exhausted. The mechanics for the Wall seemed to work nicely.

Next was Stephen Vossler's Tékumel Trivia, designed sort of like Trivial Pursuit on a pyramid. We had fun, there were several questions I didn't know the answer to, but I won in the end.

Next came Don Kaiser's Intercalary Intrigue, a little murder mystery during the intercalary days at the end of each year. 

I played a Tinaliya, surprise, surprise (my personal favorite nonhuman race).

Then came the late night 10pm to 2am game slot, where I ran Heroic Age of Tékumel in a modified version of Dyson's Delve. I called it The Broken Tower of Gilraya Forest. If you're not familiar with Dyson Logos, he's one of the top OSR mapmakers, and due to his Patreon campaign, he pays his rent making maps for us to use. He releases his maps with a free non-commercial license, and at least 2 maps a month are released with a free commercial license (starting this month). I love his style and attention to detail. 

A small group of Pygmy Folk was discovered, making furniture to sell in the Rǘ marketplace. Also a bunch of undead were discovered. Tombs were looted.

And that's just Friday!

End of Part I

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together

Two of my favorite OSR games right now are Heroes and Other Worlds by C.R. Brandon, a The Fantasy Trip clone, and Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures by Flatland Games, a B/X clone designed for Coming of Age stories from the likes of Ursula LeGuin or Lloyd Alexander.

Beyond the Wall has a unique chargen method where players pick an archtype, and then roll on lifepath charts to see their upbringing and events that formed their character. The results of the lifepath rolls give the character attribute increases as well as skills and spells. This is best done all together at the first session. Connections between the players are generated at this time, since they all grew up together in the same village. Opportunities are built into the process for the players to specify locations and NPCs in the village. All hooks for the GM to use for weaving the game.

I came up with the idea to use the Beyond the Wall lifepaths for creating HOW characters after reading E.P. Donahue's Zero to Hero article in Cauldron #1. His article detailed a process for using Dungeon Crawl Classic's Level-0 Funnel idea with HOW, which started with 25 points in attributes.

Going through the archtype playbooks, I noticed that each table can give attribute bonuses, skills, spells, and items. BtW uses the standard D&D attributes, while HOW uses Strength (ST), Dexterity (DX), Intelligence (IQ), and Endurance (EN). By ignoring attribute bonuses given in BtW playbooks that don't have a HOW equivalent (WIS and CHA) and by translating any skills or spells to HOW equivalents, the books work as-is for creating connected backgrounds. Just start all attributes at 8, except for the ones mentioned in each playbook as starting higher. Also, if the resulting character has less than five skills or spells, the player can select new skills or spells for the difference. If the character has fewer than 10 extra attribute points (Hero points), the player can spend the remainder on attributes.

Here's the results of the first test run:

Millie deFleur

(Witch's Prentice playbook - starts at ST: 8, DX: 8, IQ: 10, and EX: 8.)

  • Daughter of the local smith, he taught her the bellows and forge.
  • She solves everyone's problems, never mentioning her own.
  • She is about the marry into the Miller's family.
  • The witch was impressed by her old stories and lore that filled your head.
  • The witch was good at color and hue, teaching her illusion magics.
  • One night a stranger came to rob while the witch was in deep trance. Millie caught him unawares and frightened him away. Millie's friend (person to the right) was there and helped rout the robber.
  • A dark spirit came to claim Millie. The witch died banishing it and protecting her.

ST: 12
DX: 9
IQ: 13
EN: 11

Skills: Craftsman [Smith] (from Smithing in BtW), Naturalist (Herbalist in BtW), Lore [Folklore] (from Folklore in BtW).


(I haven't translated the spells yet, so these are the Beyond the Wall spells.)

Cantrips: Hexing, Glamor Weaving
Spells: Greater Illusion, Terrifying Presence
Rituals: Gather Mist

Equipment: witch's charred staff, dagger, simple clothing, a flamboyant hat, a small musical flute, 13 coins

She has eight skill points, and 13 Hero points, substantially more than a beginning HOW character (5 skill and 10 Hero points). I think I'd probably give her Craftsman for free, since it builds character and is marginally useful, except for earning a wage. Needing to cut two more skills, I'd drop Gather Mist and either Hexing or Glamor Weaving, or whichever spells don't have a good equivalent in HOW. I'd most likely let her keep the extra Hero points, since she got lucky.

I would allow a player to move up to 2 points between attributes. 

Here's another character.

Henny Youngman

(Young Woodsman playbook, starts at ST: 8, DX: 10, IQ: 8, EN 8.)

  • He's an orphan. Things were hard.
  • He never met someone who didn't like him.
  • The grizzled mercenary who settled in town taught him a thing or two.
  • He is a great trapper, never coming home empty-handed.
  • He has a musical gift. He plays a lute.
  • There are many forgotten paths in the woods. He guards them, but not always alone. (person to right also helps.)
  • He saw something glittering in a lightning-cleft rowan tree; he found an abandoned, but alluring blade.

ST: 13
DX: 11
IQ: 9
EN: 11

Skills: Survival, Hunting/Trapping, Alertness, Lute


Magic sword, knife, lute, clothing, leather armor (+2 AC), heavy cloak, flint and tinder, waterskin, 16 coins

Here we have 12 Hero points and 4 skills. Since he has a magic sword, I'd pick Sword as his extra skill. Here again I'd keep the higher Hero points. I'd also give him a free Lute skill. Instrument skills are not included in HOW, but because of their limited combat and adventuring usefulness, I see no reason to eliminate a nice character detail.

I might think about moving a ST point to IQ or DX.

So if you hear the strains of Stairway to Heaven in the woods, it might be him.

So here is the procedure:

  • Use the Beyond the Wall playbooks as-is.
  • Start with ST, DX, IQ, and EN at the levels given in the playbook for STR, DEX, INT, and CON. Usually this is 8 in everything except one attribute.
  • Ignore bonuses to WIS and CHA.
  • Translate skills and spells to HOW.
  • Add extra skills if character ends up with less than 5. Remove skills if more than 5.
  • Add extra Hero points if character ends up with less than 42 points in attributes.
  • Season to taste.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Gaming Bucket List -- sort of

Someone asked about what setting you wanted to play or run. I expanded the question to what setting and what rules system, and gave a long list. And here's my list. Some of these would be one shots, some a series of sessions, and some full-fledged campaigns. Think of it as a gaming bucket list. Not necessarily in order.

Games/Settings I Want to Run:

  • Beyond the Wall + Midkemia (campaign)
  • Warriors of the Red Planet + Jungle Venus (campaign)
  • Labyrinth Lord + #Narcosa and all magic users are Drug Trance Mages (campaign)
  • Swords & Wizardry White Box/Delving Deeper + DNA Apocalypse (series)
  • Heroes and Other Worlds + Morgansfort/Haven/Citybooks (campaign)
  • Lamentations of the Flame Princess + Isle of the Unknown
  • DCC + Well of Souls/Treasure Vaults (series)
  • Flashing Blades/Lace and Steel/Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies + Renaissance Fantasy (campaign)
  • D6 Star Wars (campaign)
  • WaRP/OTE + Time Travel Troubleshooters (series)
  • Ruins and Ronin, Bushido, or Land of the Rising Sun (campaign)
  • Mazes and Minotaurs (series)
  • HOW+ B-series on this guy's map (one-shot)
  • Chivalry and Sorcery (1st or 2nd Edition) + Arden or mythic Europe (series)
  • Other Dust/Mutant Future + Metamorphosis Alpha Complex (series)

Games I Want to Play:

  • Space: 1889
  • Runequest
  • The Red and Pleasant Land
  • ACKS
  • Paranoia
  • Skyrealms of Jorune
  • Legend of Five Rings
  • Ars Magica
  • Seven Seas
  • Sorcerer's Crusade
  • Carcosa
  • Thieves world
  • Lankhmar
  • Pendragon

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Random Tsolyáni Family Structure

I've posted the initial family structure rules before, but not the Build a Clan Workshop. Enjoy.

Random Tsolyáni Family Structure

Family Creation

Start by rolling a d6, d8, d10, and a d12.

Parents: d10-1

Siblings: d12-2
Add +2, if 4 parents or more.

Spouses: (optional)
Not married
2 (+1 on Child roll)
3 (+2 on Child roll)

-2 if person is 20 or less
+1 if person is 31 or more.
+1 if person is female
+1 if person lives in a rural area

Concubines: (optional)
Roll again on the Spouse Table without modifiers for the number of concubines.

Children: d6-3
-1 if person is 20 or less
+1 if person is 31 or more

Each roll is an open-ended roll. If the maximum roll is rolled, roll the same die again, apply the same modifiers, and add the result to the total. For instance, if rolling parents, if you roll a 10 (-1 = 9), roll d10-1 again and add to 9.   

Build Your Own Clan House for Fun and Profit

Using these rules you can generate an entire clanhouse.

Clan Elders

Urban Clanhouse: add 2 to result

Then take the Clan Elders through family creation and two more generations down.

1st generation: For each elder, get siblings, spouses, and children. For each sibling, get spouses and children.
2nd generation: Then for each child, get spouses and children.
3rd generation: Then for each child, get spouses and children.

The brothers of fathers are clan-fathers. The sisters of mothers are clan-mothers. The wives of clan-fathers are clan-mothers. The husbands of clan-mothers are clan-fathers. The sisters of father are clan-aunts, and the brothers of mother are clan-uncles. The wives of clan-uncles are clan-aunts. The husbands of clan-aunts are clan-uncles. The children of clan-mothers and clan-fathers are siblings. The children of clan-aunts and clan-uncles are clan-cousins.