Monday, December 24, 2012
Charting The River Of Time, or, More Heresies from the Ancient Apostate!!!
This post is a reprise of the dialog I have been having with regular reader and friend Kokigami; I think what he's been saying is important and needs to be both reposted and answered:
>kokigami has left a new comment on your post "Oh, My God! - How Can He Say
>These Horrible Things...":
>all well and good, I say. But the fact is, most people want to stay in the
>navigation lanes, and fear running off into the swamp. A lot could be done
>to mark the channel, and map the hazards. Those kinds of navigational
>charts would have an audience, though I am not sure if they would pay
>enough to justify the costs.. (which is why I advocate a crowd sourced
>model for getting the data together and organized..).
I could not agree more. I'm going to be working on a series of posts here that do just what you are asking for, and if you wanted to grab them and post them elsewhere you'd be welcome to. I'm going to work my way down the publications list that Brett Slocum's compliled, with a Guide To Everything.
>I haven't caught up on the flurry of post that have appeared here of late,
>hope to soon. I understand that I will never get to sail the river with the
>Professor. But I don't want to one day discover I beached my craft on high
>ground in a festering swamp. So, figuring out as much about the river as
>possible, before the channel inevitably erodes, and changes, is still
>important to me..
And that, if you want my opinion, sums up the Way Ahead. I think you 'get it'; learn as much as you can, then go ahead and run something. Your game reports have been right in the same sprit as Phil's games were; I think he'd be very proud of you and your players, and say that "you get it".
>Honestly, I doctor them a bit. My largest weakness when running is my
>generally egalitarian mindset. I have a very hard time keeping the
>structured hierarchy of class and clan in the day to day role play. I
>expected this, which is why I set my characters in the middle clans. There
>are things I "know" but things I haven't yet absorbed.
I think you have it, here; I play it much as you do, with the possible caveat that I over do the connections to clan and temple as a way of making my games 'different' from the 'usual D & D' games. And I agree about knowing more then I've absorbed; I am still learning about Phil's Tekumel from learning from other people, and I think it's an ongoing process.
And in the end, you have to graduate the campaign setting to what your players are willing to play. I include as mich worls-setting detail as I can, but some things I put on the shelf as not being currently relevant to what the players are doing. I run my games as basically a geographically-based campaign; if the players aren't in the area, it's irrelevant, unless they hear about something as a rumor being mentioned in passing by the NPCs. I am following the timeline I've come up with for Phil's games, and reestablishing the meta-game that he was running with his NPCs, but it's background detail; the players don't have to interact with it unless they really need to.
>This is, I think, the crux of the demand for more "Canon" material. It
>helps to internalize the culture, so as to slow the erosion that comes from
>all those little "errors".. Can my Tekumel have pigs? Yes, perhaps, it is
>mine, but at what point does it cease to be Tekumel? Where does the river
>become the swamp? And, without "Canon", how do we know? Sure, a little
>brakish swamp water won't foul the channel, but the accumulation eventually
>will. Tables and rules can substitute for understanding, at some level. The
>professor knew who was on the Sakbe roads and why, but I, if I want to stay
>close to the channel, need a chart that tells me who is likely to be there,
>on any given sarunra.
I agree with this completely, which is why I started this blog in the first place, and why I am so glad you are asking these questions. I want to be in the role of the old pilot who knows the river and can tell you where the shoals and snags are, and not the managing director of the shipping line (the role I was being forced into for the past year.) The former is something I do very well, and the latter is something I simply hate being and don't want to be doing. (After all, I did do the same job for Phil between 1978 and 1988, and I never ever want to have to do it again.) It's a job, and a responsibility, that rightfully belongs to other people and I'm more then delighted to let them have the opportunity to do their jobs.
What I can do, and am planning on doing so this coming year, is doing my best to chart the river for you; I can tell you what I know about all the various publications that have come out over the years and how they are practically useful in a game setting, I can tell you about all the lovely miniatures and other items that have come out, and I can tell you about things we did to have fun with Phil's world setting. I can also tell you about what items didn't really work, and in some cases why, and help you choose what you want to use in your games.
It's what I'm here for, and what I love doing.
>But, swamp sludge can be fun too.. I don't want to make the impression that
>I am more interested in purity than fun. (Even if I am... damnit). I mean,
>I would love to play a bit of the Humanspace Empires, but I don't need yet
>another distraction. May fit it into my campaign, if we can ever coordinate
>a schedule for gaming..
I don't think you're favoring one over the other; I've seen your games, and I know better. What you're doing is making the decisions that we did all those years ago about how we wanted to balance 'purity' over 'fun' in the game sessions. As an example, Phil would have loved to have all of us become fluent in Tsolyani; it would have been really pure Tekumel, but really crummy game sessions. So, we struck a balance; I had, in Phil's wonderful phrase, "a fine scribal hand", and Phil got on with the adventure.
I love Humanspace Empires, too. I'm working on Ahoggya spacesuits, in odd moments...