A Role-Playing Game Campaign, Set in M. A. R. Barker’s World of Tekumel:
In the wake of the role-playing game that I hosted at the recent ‘Free RPG Day’ at The Source Comics and Games, there has been some discussion about continuing the adventures that people enjoyed, and exploring Prof. Barker’s creation. This is a prospectus for a game campaign that will – I hope - help this idea move forward.
I first began playing in Prof. Barker’s own campaign in 1976, and have continued gaming and archiving his work ever since then. I am, to be honest, fascinated by it and I have been fortunate to be both a publisher and player for and in his creation. What I hope that this document will do is set out what my goals and objectives are, and what players may expect as we adventure in Tekumel together. I will, as you will see, refer to “the custom of the house”; the traditions and play styles that we started back then, and which I still game by today.
First, players are not expected to buy sets of rules or other materials in order to play in this campaign. You are certainly welcome to do so if you wish to, and I will provide sources for these materials, but you are not expected to. I have a very large archive of Tekumel materials, and you are welcome to use those materials as we go along.
Second, you will not need to have any experience of knowledge of Tekumel in order to play. It is my job as game-master to guide you as you explore and adventure; all you need to play is to be willing to have fun and enjoy the company of friends. For me, having a bunch of my friends sitting around the table laughing their heads off is what gaming is all about!
Third, as your GM and guide, I will try very hard not to offend, to push people’s ‘hot buttons’, or test their limits of tolerance. To me, doing so is the mark of a poor GM who is poorly prepared; I do not take ‘cheap shots’ at my players expense, as they are my friends – and friends do not do that to friends. I will talk to each and every one of you, before we start gaming, to establish what you consider acceptable, and I will honor that. Tekumel has what can be considered ‘mature themes’ and I will make sure that they do not get in the way of a good time for everyone. I should also mention that all five of my daughters and my wonderful wife have played in my games, and serve as my ‘editorial staff’.
Fourth, I will always abide by the will of the group; from time to time, we may have guests to play with us – I do get requests for this from out-of-town visitors – but I will always discuss this in advance with all of you and abide by your decision. Likewise, if any of you want to bring a guest to a game session, please let me know so that I can keep the rest of the group informed. This will be your gaming group, not mine. Schedules and dates will be what the group wants and needs, and I will make sure that everyone in the group has a voice in these matters.
Fifth, we will be doing everything from individual player-characters’ adventures to the battles of large armies; you, as players, may very well find yourselves called upon to lead a legion into battle at some point. Back in those early days, we didn’t know that what are now called ‘wargames’ and ‘role-playing games’ were different genres; we played everything and anything in our campaign. In line with this, it was the custom of the house for each player to be represented by a miniature figure; again, you will not be expected to supply these, unless you want to do so. (I have enough to go around…)
I do have a few requests and expectations, and if I may I’ll set them out:
First, I work a second-shift job, so I am not available Mondays through Fridays. I am available Saturdays and Sundays. I will be happy to work with everyone to come up with acceptable dates and times for games, and then communicate that information. This is a dialog, not a monolog; we need to stay in communication for this to work.
Second, due to the difficulties of moving all of the stuff that I’ve accumulated in my gaming over the past forty years, I would prefer to run this campaign in my game room in my home; the Lady of the House (to use the Ancient Egyptian title for She Who Must Be Obeyed) has enjoyed hosting Burl Zorn’s 5e “Blackmoor” group, and is looking forward to being able to entertain all of you in her home. Chandra Reyer, of the “Multiverse” on-line magazine, did a little tour of what you’ll be gaming in:
Third, I believe in what we used to call ‘open table’ games; we believe that everyone has a place at our table, and in our home, and we would like all our guests to respect that just as we and anyone else are expected to respect you and your beliefs. If you are uncomfortable with anything, we want to know about it so that we can remedy it.
Beyond all of that, a bathroom and small ‘dorm’ fridge are provided for your use; the Lady of the House will provide refreshments appropriate to the season, and prides herself on being able to accommodate her guests. Our one very firm restriction is that there is no smoking in or around the house, as the Lady of the House has asthma issues.
For further information, and if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at my e-mail address: