Saturday, December 15, 2012

Interview with Jim Harland - Part Three of Nine

Me, too, back in the day and on the table, with the deck chair
I used on all the voyages with Dave / Harchar.

Jim Harland publishes the "harlandski" blog [Link in the left column for you] from Central Asia, and contacted me last month to ask me some questions. I'm reprinting the conversation for your amusement, with his cooperation...

Jim's questions are in >italics, and my replies are in the plain text. In about a week, I'll save these posts as pages so they are available for you.

>Thank you for taking the time to describe things in such detail! The videos
>(apart from their intrinsic humour and/or excitement) are useful 'pegs' to
>hang the different styles you describe. So I take it you took part in games
>refereed by Gygax and Arneson as well as by Barker? I think I now
>understand much better about the caller as well, and am tempted to suggest
>we introduce something like it in the two D&D games I'm involved in at the
>moment, at least as an option in certain situations. I can really see the
>benefit for a team acting cohesively and effectively in an emergency
>situation, and also in terms of moving the action on without getting bogged
>down in each player's own cogitations.

    Yes, I had the chance to play in games with all three. I spent just about all of my time in Phil's games, with only occasional sessions with Dave and sessions with Gary on visits to Lake Geneva.

    Yes, our game group played very cooperatively, and it was much easier for the group to have one voice in a crisis situation. People lived longer that way! And yes, it also moved play along quite smartly; people could cogitate all they wanted, but they weren't 'on-line' while they did it.

>You asked if I had any more questions :-) I have a few concerning things in
>'To Serve the Petal Throne.' (By the way I am really enjoying it, the
>different aspects of the world you bring out, including the politics and
>bribery - reminds me of a certain country I've become familiar with in
>recent years! I look forward to the chance to read the whole thing one day
>- I find the gaps between chapters tantalizing. It's really 'fleshing out'
>Tekumel for me, and making it ever more likely that I will actually referee
>a game...) Anyway, to my questions:

    I'm glad you like it; it's my intention to give people the 'flavor' of what Phil's world was like as Phil saw it.

>- Is all magic in Tekumel considered to be power derived from another
>plane? I seem to remember from my reading of the history at the beginning
>of EPT that the 'gods' of Tekumel are other-planar beings who the denizens
>of Tekumel managed to make contact with. So is all magic (wizard and
>cleric) ultimately derived from them?

    No. The 'Gods" are immensely powerful other-panar beings, who regard Tekumel and the other 772 pocket universes as snadboxes to play in for their amusement. Magic is basically technology; all 'magic' is really using other-planar power to make things happen. The spells we use are the same as the technic objects called 'Eyes', and work the same way. One 'completes the circuit' using the wetware in one's head to get the desired effect, and if done too much will really reduce one's stamina.

>- What was the game mechanic behind Chirine ba Kal's 'battle magic' when
>you played? Was it part of the standard rules or did you add extra cool

    I was unique. I was the last PC created using EPT in Phil's games, and the first PC to use the expanded spell lists from "Swords and Glory" in Phil's games. I was also unique in that I was a military magic user, the only one *ever* in Phil's games, so I had a special spell corpora in the 'M' series (M for Military) that was later written up as "The Art of Tactical Sorcery" by John Tiehen. I'm going to try to show the difference between Chirine and other magic-users in the book, too.

>- Why are spells divided into skills and bonus spells?

    No idea. I'll look in the play-test copy of EPT for you that I have to see what Phil had in mind. I think that the idea was to codify the basic spells that a priest in one of the Temples would learn as the skills, and the bonus spells were there to create more individual characters. I should note that all magic-users are priests or shamans in Tekumel, but may not be part of a Temple staff. On the other hand, not all priests are magic-users. there are lots of temple administrators and scholars who have never cast spells. It's a cultural thing that I don't think came through very well in EPT.

>- Where is the stress (accent) in Chirine? As a linguist I'd like to get it
>right as I read :-)

    I think I'd write it as CHi-ri-ne, with three syllables and and hard CH at the front. The 'ba' is a Chakan prefix, the same as the central Tsolyani 'hi' or the Vrayani 'vu'. "Kal" is the very obscure Chakan lineage.

>OK, I'd better go. Also a forewarning of radio silence as I need to prepare
>for my D&D game at the weekend, and so emails are going to go on the back
>burner until Sunday (or possibly Monday). So feel free to take your time in