Friday, May 3, 2013

Post 197 - The Thursday Night Group Goes Back To Tekumel

Photo © 2013 by John Everett Till 

Last night, the Thursday Night Group had a visitor from Duluth, +George Harnish who likes both Tekumel and FATE.  So we took a break from playing the Alwyn Campaign and broke out some Tekumel using FATE Core. We had a two hour slot for gaming, so to get characters created as quickly as possible, I ran a brief follow-up adventure to my Con of the North game, "Raid on the Temple of Vimuhla."

Three of the five players created warriors. The fourth created a thief from a high status clan (one who specializes in stealing from "them that has", while our fifth, the Man from Duluth, created a priest of Dlamelish.

The set-up was that the PCs had just rescued the two hostages being held in the Temple Of Vimuhla in the city of Katalal. Their goal was to get out of the temple and make it to the underground tube car system whose nearest known station was under the local Temple of Ksarul.

Imagine the scene in the temple: at the highest levels in the temple, the Ritual High Priest and Scholar High Priest had just been killed by intruders (our PCs). Down below in the dungeons, the chief torturer and several young and willing apprentices had also just been killed (can you guess by whom?). Meanwhile, the temple was chockablock with hangers-on who were there for the evening feast.

A hostage from the Green Kirtle clan, and her armed escort had just been freed by the party, and the PCs were itching to get out of Dodge.

I asked the players to choose three Aspects to set the stage for the game session. Their choices were:
  • Night
  • Underworld
  • Carnival (everyone kind of smiled at this idea)
When I asked "Hmmm, what kind of carnival?", player Rachel quickly responded "The Parade of Worms." 

This produced groans.

I said: "Let's go with that. Sounds like a Sarku festival to me."

The priest of Dlamelish did a quick investigative roll as we started the adventure and declared that temple personnel had hinted that there was another very secret entrance to the Underworld from the lower regions of the temple of which the PCs were unaware. I said, "Sure. You were told it's in the crypts, but you'll have to find it on your own. They were a little too vague on the details."

The PCs headed down to the crypts and entered the ossuary. There was a bit of a tussle here between the thief and the priestess because in the ossuary, the thief discovered a beautiful green jade ring.It was on a finger bone in the ossuary's finger-bone jar. Next, the PCs found the secret holy-of-holies to Lord Vimuhla, and then a special crypt room with a very large central sarcophagus on a dias, as well as lesser sarcophagi and funeral urns on all sides.

Then there was a battle with the supernatural guardians of the sarcophagus room. The temple's first high priest was buried here. Our female warrior fought a Fire Shen; the grizzled male veteran of the legions faced off against a Magma Ahoygga; the priest of Dlamelish sought to flatter and seduce an orange fire demon so that it would not attack.

Eventually our players found their way into the Underworld. They descended a vast staircase.

At this point, we were running out of time, so I pulled a few RPG Inspiration Cards to set the final scene. One of the cards was Carnival, another was Lovers, another was Death, and the final one was Twins. I asked the players what all of this meant. The results are below.

Before the PCs reached the bottom of the stairs, Rachel made a declaration that the level where the stairs landed deep below was in fact a tubecar station. So we actually have two access points to the tubecar station in the Underworld below in Katalal, OR the temples of Ksarul and Vimuhla have Underground passages that converge - which is bound to cause trouble from time to time.

A tubecar arrived. When the doors opened, the PCs discovered to their dismay that the contents were the fungal congerie better known as the Parade of the the Undead! An Unspeakable Ritual was underway within the tubecar. The car also contained a mysterious twin of the Green Kirtle woman they had rescued. On this horrific note, our adventure ended.

A Couple of Quick Reflections
  • With some help from Rachel, I am going to develop some quick Tekumel handouts to facilitate faster play in the future. Things like Clans, Gods, Races, Legion names, and cool Tekumel flavored Aspects.
  • The implementation of magic that the Dlamelish priest used worked well, I thought.
  • I need to tweak the skills a bit more, to increase the Tekumel flavor and utility for players.
  • One player hadn't been to Tekumel in about 20 years. He said it felt natural stepping right back in to the world.
  • The Man from Duluth reflected that he had wondered what it would be like to do a dungeon crawl using fate. I think he felt it was a pretty good experience.


  1. Adding aspect "Dances with Fire"...

    1. Absolutely, George! I really didn't get to see everyone's character sheets until this AM over my morning mocha and vanilla wafers - there were some great ones there!

  2. Hmm. Sounds like a pretty normal night to me. :)

    I'd be delighted to get copies of your handouts, too; these are exactly the thing I think have been needed for years, and are a great follow-up to ken Fletcher's "Battle Kibitzter Guides" which were devised to be handed out at miniatures games. Having a set that you and Herself have optimized for the RPG player would be tremendous!

    yours, Chirine

    1. Absolutely, Chirine! I might add that this was the first time I had the chance to GM for a group where ALL the players had been to Tekumel before - that was really nice. That being said, I think the handouts would really speed character generation. I had a really good experience using Aspect cards at JonCon this past weekend, so I know they can work.