Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mapmaking for Tekumel

The beginnings of a map of Rü on the Tsolyanu/Salarvya border. It's for this year's con season. Con season for me runs from November to February with prep starting in July. I'll run the same two scenarios at U-Con in Ypsilanti MI in November and at Con of the North in Minneapolis MN in February.

This year's scenarios both take place in The Time of No Kings.

I'm also customizing my Glory and Empire rules for the time period.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Historical Eras for Gaming in Tekumel

Most people I've talked to who have run in Tekumel placed their campaigns sometime after 2354 A.S. (After Second Imperium), the current game year given in Empire of the Petal Throne. I've run games in all periods after that point, most often during the civil war or in the period before the war with Yan Kor.

Sometimes games will end up in another time. I played a game of Swords and Glory at the local university campus in the late 80s or early 90s where we were cruising around in First Imperium times along the northern coast of the southern continent. One of our party was even from that time period, but the rest of us were from the 'present', trapped there by some nexus point. We were also hoping to make it back to our own time.

But the other eras are rife with adventure possibilities. The previously-mentioned First Imperium is a great example. All of the Change temples are active and Queen Nayari's dynasty was certainly 'interesting'. Perhaps a campaign of Dragon Warriors, capturing towns across the north. I'd be the first to sign up for a Latter Times game.

I've chosen to set my next few con games during the Time of No Kings, the five thousand years preceding the Second Imperium. Why the Time of No Kings, you ask? Let me list the reasons:

  1. Only one great empire exists (Livyanu) many thousands of tsan to the west. Everything else is petty kingdoms, city-states, warlords, and vast wilderness.
  2. The strictures of Tsolyani society don't exist.  
  3. No Concordat.
  4. This is the time of legends and heroes. 
  5. During times of chaos, opportunities for adventure and mayhem are increased.
My version of The Time of No Kings has combat and magic schools in every town, more temples to more gods. Some of them are aspects of the main 20 gods and cohorts that got absorbed by the major temples later. Some might be old pariah gods not remembered later or aspects of the more familiar pariah deities. Some might be frauds and swindles. I also posit that the cataclysm that ended Engsvan hla Ganga tore the fabric of reality and made it easier to summon extra-dimensional beings, also known as demons. Something about the sundering of the Egg of the World.

Add in the standard Tekumel elements: outlandish costumes and nudity, flashy magic, and horrific beasts.
I think I just described a typical Sword and Sorcery setting. The Time of No Kings, I feel, can accommodate any S&S meme or plot you want. 

If you're intimidated by running a Tekumel, try the Time of No Kings. It's much more freewheeling and loose.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Day in Dells, a character story

(Once I got a handle on Sundown, I was inspired to take the last session and turn it into a story. Here's the first part of it.)

I sat on the scuffed wooden bench, watching the foot traffic at the checkpoint-cum-toll booth. It was a rare sunny morning, but the ground still stank of wet and mold. A scrappy young woman, beautiful but tough, stopped folks before they crossed the bridge into Dells, demanding either gas, alcohol, or other barter as a toll. Most paid, but grudgingly.

I was new in town, having left a tight sitch downstream. I hadn't eaten in a day and a half, and then it was only a piece of bread and a half a wrinkled apple. I needed food, but I also needed to save my barter.

I looked down at my shopping bag, one of those 'save the environment' reusable grocery things. I'd never seen a grocery store that wasn't trashed, but I'd heard the stories. Buy anything you want for paper. No one bartered, cash or credit.

I thought of them more as 'save the world' bags, specifically designed for the needs of the post-apocalypse remnants of humanity, so far fallen from our halcyon days. Nicely water-resistant, especially if you line it with a plastic shopping bag. In it, I had all my worldly possessions.

My spot was a good place to read folks, looking for a helpful soul with either food or barter or a job. I hadn't found a job, so food was a problem. I had a place to stay, an abandoned warehouse that still had water pressure.

The woman was lovely, but she had a dark attitude. Maybe it was the red hair, but I got flashes of fights and blood from her. I also couldn't keep my eyes off her lips. They were full and she had a way of pursing them when she accosted folks that made me melt inside.

"What'dya got Links? Gas or goods?" she said to a tall, lanky guy with light brown hair. His brown leather jacket was open for the unaccustomed heat and he had two bags like mine that looked full. Probably headed for the market.

"I don't have any of them, Mimi. I come across, do my business, and then I can pay you. You're usually on the afternoon shift, but the other guys know," Links said, a little exasperated.

She grabbed his arm and said, "Then you're not going across. No toll, no bridge. Max said himself this morning. Now pay up!"

Links froze in the face of Mimi's strong-arm tactics. When she reached for a huge knife on her belt, I stood up from my bench. Three steps brought me to her side, just in time to hear her say, "You wanna lose this instead?" as she poked the blade at his wrist. Links had a look of horror on his face. He sputtered, but nothing came out.

"Oh, Mimi. I'm sure that's not necessary," I said as I stroked the arm holding the weapon.

The fiery redhead turned on me, ready to fight, but softened visibly when she saw me. I can have that effect on people. It's hard to tell if I'm a boy or girl, and I can look as innocent as a bunny.

"Who are you? I don't recognize you from these parts," Mimi said, all the bluster out of her voice, replaced with curiosity. As she spoke, my eyes focused on her lips. Up close they were even more enticing than before.

"The name's Sundown. Used to live west of here. I got in this week after the raid," I said. I swallowed the lump in my throat, leaned in, and kissed her. I put my arms around her neck and slipped my tongue past her surprised lips. She tasted warm and sharp at the same time. There was a tang of alcohol. Then I tasted her mind. A glimpse of violence and passion on a knife's edge. I also felt a deep hurt that echoed in my own heart. I immediately liked her.

She broke the kiss to say, "Wow, I didn't expect that from you, mister." Her eyes smiled when she talked.

I decided the time for the truth has come. "I couldn't help myself, I couldn't take my eyes of your mouth." She laughed a good laugh with some dark undertones. She had also completely forgotten Links.

"Can I go?" he asked, as if on cue.

Mimi waved her hand and said, "Go on! Pay me in the way home!" Then she kissed me back. This time she grabbed a handful of my hair tightly in her fist and dipped me backward. I gasped into her mouth at the sudden sensation. Someone else walked past us to the bridge and Mimi didn't pause. They walked across.

I let her kiss me thoroughly, giving into the moment. After a week or a minute, I'm not sure which, she straightened me and said, "Hey, I like you -- you've got balls. I get off at six tonight. You should come by the militia barracks. I'll feed you. Look like you could use it." She poked playfully at my belly. I smiled at her. "Shall we call it a date?" she said.

"I hope so," I said. "Say, you wouldn't have anything to eat on you? It's been a spell since I had anything." I stroked her cheek.

Mimi smirked at me and winked, then rummaged in her pockets. "Sorry, this is all I've got." She held a piece of jerky and a half a roll. "I'm not sure what kind of jerky this is, but it's all I got."

I took them and stashed them in the shopping bag. I kissed her again, luxuriating in her flavors, and then broke it. "See you later, Mimi."

"Bye, hon."

I walked across the bridge into Dells. Mimi didn't ask me for a toll.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Sundown -- Brainer (Apocalypse World)

We started a new campaign last month -- Apocalypse World. We collectively came up with a pretty cool setting and the MC fleshed it out wonderfully. We are in the Wisconsin Dells after an environmental cataclysm. It rains all the time, sometimes it's the black rain. Then people die. The cities are all watery craters, the centers of these of strange perpetual storms called Maelstroms.

The Dells is now called just Dells. The lakes and rivers are MUCH bigger. Everything is wet all the time.

My character is a Brainer, those with the psychic powers. Meet Sundown.

Sundown, Brainer

Androgynous, sweet face, soft eyes, soft body. 

Cheap hooded rain cape, sweat shirt, tee shirt, jeans, leather bomber jacket, combat boots, backpack. 1-armor.

Cool 0
Hard 0
Hot +1
Sharp 0*
Weird +2*
* = highlighted

Chaplin -- Hx +3
Frankie Vett -- Hx +3
Ethan -- Hx +3

Brainer Special
If I have sex with someone, I automatically deep brain scan them. Roll+weird. MC chooses the questions.

Brainer Moves
Casual brain receptivity
In-brain puppet strings

Brainer Gear
Receptivity drugs
Deep ear plugs

Gear & Barter
Hidden knives

When young, Sundown used to trick Dad when he was drunk to get cash, so he wouldn't spend it all on booze.

A man attempted rape at thirteen. Sundown grabbed his head, looked him in the eyes,  and shouted, "Go jump in the river!" He did. She ran home, packed a backpack, kissed her father, and fled. She got picked up by Frankie on a long haul, coming back to Dells. She took her to Lucky, because she thought the bucolic life would be good for her. Unfortunately, her foster father died of a heart attack when she was 15, and her foster mother died in a flood the next year. Sundown lived by manipulating and seducing the local teens into feeding her and clothing her with hand-me-downs. The farmers got angry and she fled again, this time upriver to Dells. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Frunobulax "Frux", Wizard -- HOW character

Frux started as a hireling of Sir Trevor of Cumbria, while he was questing for the Grail. After many adventures and several close calls, he decided to join the quest in ernest.

(Frux was converted from a TFT version here.)

ST: 10
DX: 11
IQ: 11
EN: 10

Wizard's Staff: 5 EN
Robes (-1 AR, -1 DX)

Reveal Magic
Lesser Fire
Shock Shield
Reverse Missiles
Summon Bear/2
Detect Enemies

I had to trim back his stats by 4 points, since Frux was experienced, and his spell list is shorter as well. Two spells (Ward and Staff) doesn't show up in the HOW book, so they were cut. I used the Wizard's Staff from Magi Carta to replace Staff spell. Since Frux was a 36 point character in TFT, I decided to add 4 spell levels.