Monday, December 31, 2012
The Year in Review - Year-end Round-up
The year began very, very badly. My little family and I were very involved with Phil's health care during his past illness, and we were not helped at all by some folks that thought that they were smarter then us, better then us, and thought that they could do whatever they damn well wanted because they just wanted to. Regrettably, I wasted a lot of 2012 on them, and they are now the reason why I now run a full criminal background check on anyone who says they're a "real Tekumel fan" and want to visit me. Sadly, two of my oldest friends turned out to be two of my greediest ex-friends, and it cost me a pile of money in legal fees to get clear of all of them. I've been asked to 'name and shame' the culprits, but I won't; when somebody really screwed up in the good old days in Ancient Egypt, the stonemasons took chisels to the inscriptions and carved out the names of the guilty. (Presumably, the crocodiles also had a nice lunch. One hopes so, anyway.) I'm of the same mind; too bad, but the jackhammers already came out on the obelisks. ( I think I hear the crocodiles burping, too.)
Good things did happen; Phil and I had a chance to reconnect, and settled some very old and very bitter disputes. I am back to doing what I had wanted to do for him, back in the day, and he was happy with that. I am archiving everything I can about Tekumel, preserving everything that I learned from him as well as many of the things we did for him like the various costumes we made. It's a long process, as I have limited energy these days, but it's something I enjoy doing. In the coming year, I'll be doing a long series of posts telling you about Phil's Tekumel, and what he wrote about it.
One of the things I should point out is that despite being Phil's archivist and publisher for many years, I and most of the people in our original Thursday Group out at Phil's were never 'real gamers'. We were, in effect, Phil's 'sounding board' for things, and occasionally we rolled dice so we could pretend we were doing some 'gaming'. What we were doing was more or less participatory theater, and I made the props and scenery to back up Phil's stories. So, fair warning: If you are expecting a 'gaming blog' when you visit here, you may be very disappointed; all I'm doing is telling Phil's stories, and giving you a synopsis of the play. Yes, I do run game sessions, and yes, we do use various rules sets. However, like Phil, I don't let the number-crunching get in the way of the plot.
As the year went on, I fulfilled one of my long-term objectives. I finally had access to all of Phil's files relating to Tekumel, and as I read 2,000 words a minute with a measured 95% comprehension and retention (I have what's referred to as an eidetic memory, whatever that might be) I now have a huge store of trivia to baffle players with. The most important thing was that I got to see the whole enchilada at once, and was able to see the full sweep of what Phil had in mind over the sixty years he thought about his creation.
Another point that I think I need to make is that I work to a very different time scale and for very different goals then most people. It's a very common assumption that I am a 'gamer', and I think in terms of 'gamer' goals and objectives; it's a mistaken one, and one which people have been making about me for over thirty years. I've been on the edges of F / SF fandom and 'mainstream gaming' for most of that time, but not really part of it; gamers and fans tend to work for immediate goals, and for personal politics. I don't have a problem with that, but it's not the arena where I choose to compete. Our original Thursday Night Group was never in the 'mainstream' of Tekumel fandom or gaming, back in the day, even though we were the people who did most of the 'grunt work' in publishing Phil's vision. We thought that doing costumes, for example, was a really fun thing to do; nobody in 'real' Tekumel fandom thought so, and so we were thought of as being 'too far out there'.
(Well, we had fun, and from the photos of Phil taken at the time, he seemed to be amused. Can't ask for more then that.)
By the end of this past year, I had been forced into being the business manager, chief cook and bottle washer, and general factotum for Tekumel yet again. I had warned folks that I wasn't interested in doing this all over again, but I got blown off. "Mission creep", or "Jeff will do it!" became the norm, and I wound up being extremely unhappy and finally in the hospital. I have a very long memory, and the people pushing me to fix their problems for them seemed to forget that they were the ones who had made a large part of my time as Phil's publisher utterly miserable. Ya know, now that they are in the hot seat, I'm not going to return the favor; I have better things to do with my time and energy, and I am just not interested in the publishing and business side of the thing. Been there, done that. All these folks wanted the job, so I think they can have it. "Good luck with that," as one of them once said to me, and I do wish them all the good luck in the world.
So, where are we, going forward into this year?
First, I am not beholden to anyone anymore; I have no connections to the 'business' side of the house, and I dare say I have no real connections to 'mainstream' Tekumel fandom - whatever that may or may not be. I am where I was some thirty years ago, in my own little pocket dimension, doing my thing, and vistors are always welcome. What you take away from here is your own; I can advise and suggest, but I do not command.
Second, this will be a 'build year'. I have some projects that got side-tracked in this past year by other peoples' problems, and I'll be working on things like "To Serve The Petal Throne" and "Qadardalikoi: Advance Standards". I also have several scenery projects, like the 'big' Sakbe road model, to finish; I also have all of the wonderful new miniatures that Howard Fielding and The Tekumel Project are doing to pain as they arrive.
Third, I will be supporting people like John Till and Brett Slocum as they run games this year; more news on this as I get it, and I'm looking forward to it.
Fourth, I will be doing a long series of posts about Phil's work for his creation, and how you might be able to use it in your games. It's what we all did around the table on those Thursday Nights back in the late 1970s and in the 1980s, and I'm inviting you to take a trip back there with me. Along the way, I hope to have some fun, and we'll be glad for your company.
Welcome aboard; fasten your seat belts, as it's going to be a wild ride...