Sunday, February 21, 2016

Further Pondering Tsolyáni Monasteries

So I have been giving a bit more thought to a short monograph on Tsolyáni monasteries. Like I posted earlier, I would dump much of what I wrote in the 90s, and focus instead on how Tsolyáni monasteries actually operate vis-a-vis the Temples: a change I think would also make the monograph more useful for people who are "gaming" Tékumel.

There isn't that much information on Tsolyáni monasteries at all, and I think I have most of the reference materials I would need: Mitlanyál, Man of Gold, Sourcebook, etc. along with most or all of the piecemeal references to monasteries made over the years, including the Professor's one-paragraph description of monasteries in general from the Blue Room archives.

There is one thing I am missing. Apparently, one of the old Adventures on Tekumel books (Beneath the Lands of Tsolyánu?) includes an adventure set in a monastery. Since I don't have this, I am wondering how useful it might be. Is it a monastery we already know a fair bit about? Is there much description applicable to monasteries in general? If anyone out there already has a copy, I would love to hear your thoughts on how important a source it might be.

On another note, there are very few monasteries out there for which we have Tsolyáni names, but two that we do (the Ksárul "Kauingákte Monastery" and the Thúmis "Hauninngákte Monastery") both have the suffix (or stem element) "-ngákte" in their names. Anybody know what this might mean? I can't find -ngákte in the Tsolyáni language book at all.....

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Tekumeláni Naval Warfare - one week on

It has been a week since I released Naval Warfare on Tékumel, and I would like to thank everybody for your positive and encouraging responses. I have no idea how many times it has been downloaded (it seems that Dropbox won't actually tell me that) but based on the recent traffic on the blog, there must a be few of you out there! Thank you for your interest!

I haven't started work on any further Tékumel projects yet, and I don't expect to for another month or two at least. Instead, I have been roaming around the blogs and message boards and what-have-you, catching up on what I have been missing over the past year (quite a lot, as it turns out!, and some really interesting stuff!). I expect to continue in that vein for a while.

Once I do return to completing another fan contribution, what will it be?

The obvious choice is my ethnography of the Tsandáli Clan. It is my pet project, and has been for some years now, and it was, after all, the raison d'etre for starting this blog in the first place. Unfortunately, that is not a project that will reach completion any time soon. At the moment, the Tsandáli monograph stands at about 76 pages, about half of it rough notes. I have 12 illustrations complete, but that too is only about half of what I envision for the final product. And the ones that remain are the most complex illustrations I have planned. At a guess, I would estimate this study will come in at 120-150 pages, half-again or twice as large as Naval Warfare. This is looking like a deliverable for 2017 at the earliest.

There is another option. Believe me, I hate to defer the poor Tsandáli yet AGAIN to focus on something I can achieve faster, but I god help me, I am considering it.

See, I do have another essay lurking in the background, and that is a study of monasticism and monasteries in Tsolyánu. This was actually my first attempt at writing pseudo-scholarly Tékumel non-fiction, something I started back in the mid-90s. I abandoned it years ago because of difficulties in modelling how a monastic tradition might arise in a Tsolyáni cultural context. Sure I came up with a theory, but the more I looked at it, the more my theory seemed to be not only non-canon (which I am totally cool with) but significantly counter-canon (which I am not so cool with). The end result just didn't feel right. Nevertheless, there is some stuff in there I am pretty happy with, and even allowing for mission creep, I like to think a re-worked version might come in at 20-25 pages, a third the length of Naval Warfare. I only have one illustration that might work for this piece (on the cover), and no ideas for other illustrations to add, but if the scope could be kept to 20-25 pages, I might be okay with having no internal art at all.

Anyway, something I will be considering over the weeks to come....

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Naval Warfare on Tékumel - done and available for free download!

I must apologize for the long time that has passed since my last post (over a year!)

There are two reasons for the lapse in activity. The first is that it has been a busy year for me workwise. The second is that I have kind of kept myself cloistered from the Tékumel community at large, trying to devote my limited Tékumel time to completing my essay on naval warfare. I had really hoped to have it done in 2015, the 40th anniversary of the release of EPT. Obviously I didn't quite manage that, but close. The essay is finally done. Or as done as it is going to be.

The finished piece is an 81-page pdf, about 4.5meg in size. Pretty reasonable, I think.

If you would like a copy, just click the cover image at right to get the Dropbox link.

So what all are you getting? Well, it is a primer on naval warfare on Tékumel. Section 1 is a brief introduction. Section 2 discusses the history of naval warfare on Tékumel. Section 3 deals with naval architecture and the organization of fleets in the Five Empires. Section 4 covers the "modern" practice of naval warfare. Section 5 describes two historical naval engagements, to illustrate the points raised in Section 4. Section 6 offers some brief concluding observations. This is followed by a rather lengthy section of endnotes and then a brief list of references cited.

Now, a few words about what this essay isn't:

1) It isn't "official" canon Tékumel. It is a completely unofficial fan essay. In fact, there are a few instances (clearly identified in endnotes) where I explicitly depart from canon fact. Moreover, in the Tékumel of my imagination, it is still the reign of the 61st Seal Emperor Hirkáne “The Stone Upon Which the Universe Rests.” For me, subsequent canon historical events have not happened yet (and may never happen). The disclaimer required by the Tekumel Foundation for fan work appears on the first page of the Table of Contents.

2) It isn't a set of naval wargame rules. This is a pure fluff piece. I originally envisioned it as a naval equivalent of Professor Barker's "Military Formations of the Nations of the Universe" article published in the Dragon Magazine back in 1977. Although the scope grew over time, it is still intended to serve the same kind of role.

3) It isn't a quick read. I have to admit the style is a little pedantic and pseudo-scholarly. In fact, I even made the layout reminiscent of a social sciences monograph series from the 1950s-1970s. No apologies for that, it is just how I roll. Besides there was sometimes more than a hint of pedantry in the Professor's own work on Tékumel! Personally, I always kind of liked that....

4) It isn't professionally-illustrated. There are illustrations, in fact you will have seen a few samples already on this blog. I guess I would describe the style as "enthusiastic amateur" rather than professional. A professional artist could surely have done better, but for me, some of the fun of fan-non-fiction is building it yourself, so, for better or for worse, that's what I did.

5) It probably isn't for the newcomer to Tékumel. Prior familiarity with the world of Tékumel is assumed.

Anyhoo, if you aren't put off by what it ISN'T and you think you might be interested in what it IS, please feel free to download a copy. It should be a quick download, and it's free. I hope you find it interesting, and maybe even useful.


(ps Any problem with the download link, please let me know. I think it works, but I haven't used Dropbox before, so there could be glitches)