Monday, April 18, 2011

New rules? Systemless books?

A recent discussion on the Tekumel email list was about what the next step for Tekumel should be. Some of the goals stated during this debate were (1) bring more people into the Tekumel tent, (2) have a steady set of rules and source materials professionally published in print and electronically, and (3) there is no goal #3.

Some people advocate creating a new set of rules based on Pathfinder or Savage Worlds or some other existing rule set. Some people think that system-less source materials should be published. Others think that one of the previous incarnations should be revamped into a modern form.

My take on this question goes this way. There are about 1000 Tekumel fans worldwide that are connected enough to know about Tita's House of Games. The Tekumel mailing list has about 700. Tita's customer list is about 1000. This number needs to at least double to sell enough books to make publishing commercially viable.

I also personally think we have enough rules for Tekumel. With four commercial systems (EPT, S&G, Gardasiyal, and T:EPT) and numerous fan systems, enough different styles of play are covered to appeal to most everyone. I've written several system conversions, as well as translations from one system to another. Why should we reinvent the wheel for yet another time? How many wheels do we really need? Also, the rules in all of these systems are not what keeps people in the Tekumel tent, it's the world. I've personally played using about a dozen different rule sets.

So, my proposal, and my challenge to you, is that the only way we are going to double the number of Tekumel players in the world is for us to play in Tekumel. If you are a Tekumel enthusiast, pick a set of rules that people you play with will play, read a novel or two and some beginning adventures, cajole, bribe, or shanghai your players into playing, and see what happens. Or start a game at your local game store (they still run games in local game stores, don't they?) If 20 percent of the 1000 each started a new game with 5 new players, we'd be very close to doubling our current numbers.

Now, to help facilitate this surge of new games, I'd like to see some of the old rules made available in electronic form. The only system in electronic form right now is Empire of the Petal Throne. The other official rules are available in print from Tita's, but stocks are low for T:EPT (if any are left at all -- Tita's site hasn't been updated since 2009). I'm not sure what happened to the electronic version of T:EPT that sold for awhile. I know that work is being done on a PDF of the Swords and Glory sourcebook, but that work has been ongoing for over a year, and that isn't the rules. I don't know if Gardasiyal can ever be made available electronically.

Or you might go with other unofficial rules. I wrote a set of GURPS Tekumel character rules. Sandy Peterson wrote RuneQuest/BRP rules. Dave Morris wrote Tirikelu, a custom set of rules. There are FUDGE, Torg, AD&D, D&D 3E, Talislanta, D6, Savage Worlds, and Fantasy Craft rules. If you want to look them over, you can go to The World of Tekumel Unofficial Rules page or my own RPG Rules for Tékumel page. Something should appeal to you.

So, let's get more campaigns going out there. Then we can worry about publishing something new.