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....


  1. Aren't monasteries just groups of priests...the term being used for the lack of anything better?

  2. Howard, Its a good question. In fact, it is the central question, really, and part of what gave me such difficulty.. I guess the short answer is no, a monastery does not house a group of priests. A monastery houses a group of monks. Monks may or may not be priests (generally not), and their interests have often been defined in specific opposition to priesthoods, at least when their orders are first formed. Eventually, they may often become a part of the religious establishment, of course, but monastic orders often begin as a sort of back-to-basics anti-priesthood movement.

    As a kid, I got a religious education, two of the schools I went to were run by a religious order and they had monasteries attached. They weren't churches, they were monasteries. None of the brothers were priests, although they did have (and required) access to ritual priests when needed. In any case, there was a difference.

    The Professor also drew distinctions here. There is a better term for a priestly establishment: "temple." He used it a lot. But he referred to some religious establishments as "temples" and others as "monasteries." What did he really mean by that? In English, as I say, the words he used have specific and quite different meanings. I can't believe he was ignorant of those differences. To be honest, just between you and me, I suspect he used the word "monastery" mostly for atmospheric effect. "Hey we have temples, gotta have some monasteries in there too, cuz it sounds cool." I don't think he ever articulated how monastery and temple differed in a Tsolyani context. But I am sure he was aware of the difference. And even though it was a disctinction I don't think he was interested in exploring in detail, I would like to. Partly because other information he provides in the canon rather indirectly points the way to exactly how something like monasteries would contrast with temples, and function differently from temples in Tsolyani sects.

  3. I get the impression he didn't sweat the details. I mean, it doesn't matter as its Your Tekumel, but I suspect a monastery is just a place where male (and female) priests live, work and study away from the Temples. Didn't he make some comment about the use of the term in reference to the gender equality.

  4. "away from the temples"

    I think you are right, and that's the key to Tsolyani monasticism. Religious but "away from the temples." Not unlike Earthly monasteries. There are pretty cool implications from that.

    As for the Professor not sweating the details, I agree with you again. Where he did sweat the details, we don't have much room to contribute. Where he didn't, well, you have bought his Tekumel now make it yours, right?

  5. I'm looking forward to both projects, and agree that a monograph on monasteries would be very interesting!