Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Weekly Update for Sunday, November 9th, 2014; Hard Radiation, Chlen-carts, and Palanquin Chases!

Bullock cart from Tamil Nadu, Phil's old stomping grounds
Recreation of a Roman traveling wagon
Palanquin from the Temple of Ksarul, with Qol;
Every thing's better with Qol, you know.

Some quick updates, and then I have a little essay for you to hopefully be amused by...


The Missus is embarking on the fourth and final week of her hard radiation treatments, and asked me to thank everyone who's written in and commented about her. She's really touched by all of you taking the time to do so, and wants to thank everyone for their kind words. She's doing pretty well, she says, and is just tired out and a little sunburned; the doctors are very happy with her progress, and so am I!


Well, color me chagrined! I finally quit dithering about The Weighty Dilemma, and will be painting up the Mu'uglavyani crossbowmen as per Phil's specifications. (The Red-Hats can use the help, frankly.) While getting the raw figures out for conversion, basing, and priming, I discovered that I had some drawers full of the Bob Charrette / Ral Partha 'Chaos' figures. Full, like in really, really full. Eight archers, eight crossbowmen, thirteen heavy axemen, and (!) eighty-two pikemen. That's a full legion's worth of troops, and I'd feel like an utter fool if I didn't paint them up as my Legion of the All-Consuming Flame. I had clean forgotten that The Missus had had a run of luck on Ebay several years ago, and gotten several bulk lots of these pikemen for me; I think I really need to do a full inventory...


I had a 'Phil moment', the other day; one of our Regular Readers made a comment that I think should get a longer answer:

From Virche hiDune, November 7, 2014 at 3:35 PM
Looking at the wagon picture makes me wonder. Because I didn't imagine any 4 wheeled carts for Tekumel.

And, in general, you'd be quite right to do so; almost all chlen-carts are of the two-wheeled variety, and Phil does say this in the Sourcebook in the section on land transport. However, he never drew one! he did draw a chlen, in the War of Wizards board game, but never the cart. I think that this is because we were all expected to know what a cart looked like - we all had an idea what an ox- or bullock-cart looked like, and Phil had seen quite a few of both in his time in South Asia.

Well, you can guess what happened; when it came time to do the illustrations for  my miniatures rules, "Qadardalikoi", gifted artist Ken Fletcher asked the Professor what a typical cart looked like do he could draw it for me. Phil looked blank for a moment, and then said he didn't really have a good idea - the things were so common and ordinary that he'd never stopped to consider them and document them. He pointed out the South Asian examples, and Ken asked, "Well, how may wheels to they have?" Phil offered the opinion that, just like the carts he'd seen in real life, they almost always had two wheels - but that in rare circumstances, you would see the very occasional four-wheeled cart. Ken got out pad and pen, and went to work; you can see the drawings in the rules to this day.

While Ken was sketching away, the rest of us at the game table had a very fun and lively discussion of how goods are moved on Tekumel. Phil offered that people and cargo went by boat or ship, if possible, but otherwise one hired porters and carts; the normal movement process would see a merchant contracting a carter/porter clan to move his shipment from the starting town to about halfway to the final destination; at the mid-point, the merchant would off-load his goods into a new set of carts and porters who would have been hired in the destination town to come out and meet the shipment - a runner would have been sent ahead to make the reservations, and the clan at the destination would normally announce that they were taking on loads to go to the first town. The original set of carts and porters would take on the new loads that were going to their home town, and so avoid 'running empty' on the homeward leg. This series of 'stages' repeats across the entire trip.

The exception to this is somebody like me, who is traveling with my personal goods and family; normally, a ranking person like my humble self would hire porters and carts for a short trip, but buy slave bearers for longer ones and then sell them at the destination. I didn't do that; I would hire porters on long-term contracts, and bought a cart and draft animals to carry our luggage. The carter clans were always bemused by this approach, until they remembered that I am a military man and so used to having my own 'baggage train'. They were also a little astonished  that I supplied my bearers with their own tents, sleeping mats, and cooking equipment - again, they realized that I treated travel like a little military campaign, and were happy to help outfit my little column. The clan in Meku sold me a nice four-wheeled cart, and I hired a nice young man and his fiancee to drive it; they also sold me a pair of chlen, which have multiplied over the years and have provided me with my own herd of the beasts.

(The cart itself was drawn by Ken, and much to my amazement showed up on my doorstep many years later as one of the wonderful '3-D printing' models done by David Allen - complete with the little family of chlen and their herders! (Thank you, once again, sir!!!) Gerald Dagel, one of my long-time gamers and an old friend, also pointed out that we didn't have any chlen in our miniatures collection - so he did one, cast them up in resin, and we made some carts to go with them. And, of course, I had to make a Sakbe road to cary them all...)

So, some years later, I was in the way of becoming what they call a 'family man' and we were about to go off on campaign and thrash the Young Master and his lot out east of Hekellu. Si N'te, my lovely and very determined mother-to-be, insisted on coming along; I panicked at the thought of moving a very pregnant lady across all that terrain, and did what I always did in such moments of Dire Crisis - handed the problem off to the Tinaliya we had in the group. That worthy, in conjunction with his crew of slightly demented engineers, built a special custom cart that had a full suspension for the cabin. At the time we came up with this, I had had no idea that the Romans had such a thing - and you know, I think Phil (despite his loathing of the Romans - he took the downfall of the Ptolomies at their hands very personally) did - the reconstruction of the wagon in the museum - in Trier, I think - is the very likeness of the wagon Si N'te travelled in with our little army. I'll have to get this built - I've got the wheels, so I really have no excuse!

Traveling with Phil on Tekumel was always fun; you never knew what would happen next, as Phil drew on all of his travels in South Asia to regale us with innkeepers, merchants, servants, police, and everyone else you'd meet along the way. I still get a lot of fun out of it, both in gaming and modeling - one of the best game sessions I've had was The Great Palanquin Chase...

Our Vriddi lord was investigating the murder of his clan-uncle, who had been blown up by an exploding packet of letters; it was all very mysterious, and the Vriddi had a personal reason to investigate - the letters had come from him. People were all very impressed, and were going around saying that he'd blown up his uncle in a struggle for control of the clan - "You know, most people use poison or daggers for this kind of thing, but that young man has style! Exploding letters! Wow!" Yes, the Vriddi are that kind of clan...

So our young lord is in hot pursuit of a suspect, when the suspect runs out of the clan house and gets into their palanquin and leaves the area. Our young lord calls to his own palanquin-bearers to "Follow that palanquin!" Being faithful retainers of the family, they do and set off in pursuit - carrying the lord's palanquin, of course, because that's what they do. Unfortunately, I as GM then asked the young lord if he'd gotten into the palanquin before it took off in Hot Pursuit.


Nothing daunted, our young lord took off after his palanquin, and in a move worthy of Tom Mix, Roy Rogers, Zorro, Robin Hood, and an entire generation of heroes came alongside his running palanquin and vaulted into it to continue the pursuit.

It was wonderful; the chase went through most of Butrus, and attracted a lot of attention - there was quite the chase scene until the suspect escaped by diving through the gates of the Mu'uglavyani Legation...


  1. Your wife is nearly there, keep going both of you...
    best wishes

    1. Thank you! I try to keep that in mind! :)

      - chirine

  2. One of my favorite responses thus far. TY

  3. glad to hear your wife is making good progress, I wish her all the best.

    and great stories! as usual!