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Questions from a newcomer to Tekumel contemplating starting a campaign

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  • Frank Filz
    I m plotting just what I want to run for a campaign come this fall. On the board is a campaign set in Tekumel, however, while I have some of the original
    Message 1 of 11 , Jun 30, 2004
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      I'm plotting just what I want to run for a campaign come this fall. On the
      board is a campaign set in Tekumel, however, while I have some of the
      original Tekumel RPG stuff (the rulebook re-printed by Different Worlds and
      Gardásiyal, I'm more interested in using an entirely different system (a
      friend's homebrew). I have some questions on what kinds of issues arise when
      using different systems for Tekumel.

      I'm assuming that combat and skill systems won't cause too many problems,
      but magic systems can be a big problem. I'd rather not do major re-work on
      the homebrew's magic system since I know that it is relatively well
      balanced. One big question is what sorts of spells are either very central
      to the Tekumel experience, or are very adverse to the experience? Another
      big area is magic items. The eyes may not map very well to the homebrew
      system, however, I'm inclined to keep them in some form, but perhaps being
      very rare (the system probably has a somewhat lower power level than the
      eyes represent). The system is very dependant on potions and charged items
      (that have a few uses) that would still be being made. Will that sort of
      thing be too anachronistic?

      After some experiences in molding other settings to systems other than the
      "official" one(s), I'd like to do a better job of matching system and
      setting up so that anyone who does happen to have knowledge of the setting
      doesn't get overly disappointed.

      I like the idea of using a well documented setting because I don't have lots
      of time or inclination for setting development. Of course similarly, I don't
      have a lot of inclination to write adventures, so another concern I have is
      how easy it is to grab modules from other settings and game systems and use
      them. Tekumel does at least have lots of "dungeons" (and probably has a
      better explanation for them than the typical D&D world, so grabbing a D&D
      dungeon and replacing all the D&D creatures with Tekumel creatures stands a
      good chance or working). On the other hand, a module with a more complex
      plot may not work at all.

      Hmm, what a disjointed list of questions...

      Frank
    • gstarrh
      Hello Frank, welcome to the group! ... The influence of the temple affiliation of the caster on the set of spells available to that caster is pretty important,
      Message 2 of 11 , Jul 1, 2004
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        Hello Frank, welcome to the group!

        On Wednesday, June 30, 2004, at 04:00 PM, Frank Filz wrote:

        > I'm assuming that combat and skill systems won't cause too many
        > problems,
        > but magic systems can be a big problem. I'd rather not do major
        > re-work on
        > the homebrew's magic system since I know that it is relatively well
        > balanced. One big question is what sorts of spells are either very
        > central
        > to the Tekumel experience, or are very adverse to the experience?

        The influence of the temple affiliation of the caster on the set of
        spells available to that caster is pretty important, especially for
        advanced casters, where the temple-specific spells tend to be important
        to the experience. The "universal spells" I think are not so central,
        as they are common to all temples, and don't depart that greatly from
        other systems.

        You might consider limiting your sorcerers' spell lists to spells
        appropriate to their temple.

        One particular point: the spell that allows curing of poisoning and
        envenomation (Alleviation) is a notably lower level spell in Tekumel
        than in many other systems. Perhaps not coincidentally, many dangerous
        creatures in Tekumel are venomous. You may wish to consider the
        consequences.

        I'm sure there's more to be said on this subject, but that's what comes
        to mind for now.


        > Another
        > big area is magic items. The eyes may not map very well to the homebrew
        > system, however, I'm inclined to keep them in some form, but perhaps
        > being
        > very rare (the system probably has a somewhat lower power level than
        > the
        > eyes represent). The system is very dependant on potions and charged
        > items
        > (that have a few uses) that would still be being made. Will that sort
        > of
        > thing be too anachronistic?

        Charged items are not too much of a departure. Eyes have charges too,
        and there are various magical amulets and other items that have
        charges. Potions would seem odd to me. I think Tekumelyani magic
        doesn't have as strong a material component as some other systems,
        magical power is employed by mental effort, speech, and gesture, rarely
        requiring substances or particular objects. Sure, complex summonings
        require materials, but most spells do not. Perhaps you could
        substitute scrolls for potions? That would fit better with the
        setting, and still allow for "one-shot" magical effects. Of course then
        your characters need to be literate... :)
        There could be "potions" in Tekumel, but I would think of them more as
        drugs, concoctions made by tribal shamans, eccentric alchemists, and
        small-town apothecaries that have maybe grant visions (enhance innate
        psychic ability), increase strength or speed (tweaking physiology with
        effects after), enhance sensory powers, etc. Not necessarily magical
        even, but with strong effects.

        > I like the idea of using a well documented setting because I don't
        > have lots
        > of time or inclination for setting development. Of course similarly, I
        > don't
        > have a lot of inclination to write adventures, so another concern I
        > have is
        > how easy it is to grab modules from other settings and game systems
        > and use
        > them. Tekumel does at least have lots of "dungeons" (and probably has a
        > better explanation for them than the typical D&D world, so grabbing a
        > D&D
        > dungeon and replacing all the D&D creatures with Tekumel creatures
        > stands a
        > good chance or working). On the other hand, a module with a more
        > complex
        > plot may not work at all.

        There are a number of scenarios written for Tekumel games too. Look in
        the Gaming in Tekumel section at www.tekumel.com, and be sure to check
        the issues of the Visitations of Glory, there are some good scenarios
        in there too. Also, we're told there will be a three-part adventure
        released at the same time as the new game coming out in a couple of
        months (supposedly), and the new game book itself has a bunch of
        adventure seeds in it.

        fwiw,

        George
      • Frank Filz
        ... I had noted that. The game system in question has possibilities for limiting spell selection, so I think I could work with that. I might have to add spells
        Message 3 of 11 , Jul 1, 2004
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          > Hello Frank, welcome to the group!
          >
          > On Wednesday, June 30, 2004, at 04:00 PM, Frank Filz wrote:
          >
          > > I'm assuming that combat and skill systems won't cause too many
          > > problems,
          > > but magic systems can be a big problem. I'd rather not do major
          > > re-work on
          > > the homebrew's magic system since I know that it is relatively well
          > > balanced. One big question is what sorts of spells are either very
          > > central
          > > to the Tekumel experience, or are very adverse to the experience?
          >
          > The influence of the temple affiliation of the caster on the set of
          > spells available to that caster is pretty important, especially for
          > advanced casters, where the temple-specific spells tend to be important
          > to the experience. The "universal spells" I think are not so central,
          > as they are common to all temples, and don't depart that greatly from
          > other systems.
          >
          > You might consider limiting your sorcerers' spell lists to spells
          > appropriate to their temple.

          I had noted that. The game system in question has possibilities for limiting
          spell selection, so I think I could work with that. I might have to add
          spells but that's not necessarily a huge problem.

          > One particular point: the spell that allows curing of poisoning and
          > envenomation (Alleviation) is a notably lower level spell in Tekumel
          > than in many other systems. Perhaps not coincidentally, many dangerous
          > creatures in Tekumel are venomous. You may wish to consider the
          > consequences.

          Certainly something to look at. Obviously if poison is a bigger issue than
          in traditional settings, the mages would have put more energy into dealing
          with it.

          > > Another
          > > big area is magic items. The eyes may not map very well to the homebrew
          > > system, however, I'm inclined to keep them in some form, but perhaps
          > > being
          > > very rare (the system probably has a somewhat lower power level than
          > > the
          > > eyes represent). The system is very dependant on potions and charged
          > > items
          > > (that have a few uses) that would still be being made. Will that sort
          > > of
          > > thing be too anachronistic?
          >
          > Charged items are not too much of a departure. Eyes have charges too,
          > and there are various magical amulets and other items that have
          > charges. Potions would seem odd to me. I think Tekumelyani magic
          > doesn't have as strong a material component as some other systems,
          > magical power is employed by mental effort, speech, and gesture, rarely
          > requiring substances or particular objects. Sure, complex summonings
          > require materials, but most spells do not. Perhaps you could
          > substitute scrolls for potions? That would fit better with the
          > setting, and still allow for "one-shot" magical effects. Of course then
          > your characters need to be literate... :)

          Hmm, scrolls would work. As you say, they would be less universally useable.
          There might be an issue of balance since the system assumes a limited number
          of potions can be consumed in a short period of time, but that could be
          changed to some sort of effect of having multiple scroll spells active at
          once. Hmm, a bigger issue might be that potions also don't allow targetting
          other creatures (though there are oils which can be applied by touch). Of
          course, scrolls might only work on the reader, or someone he is touching.

          Another thought of concern, the charged items (other than potions) all use
          magic points supplied by the user. I'm not sure how much that would affect
          things other than the concept of non-sorcerers being able to channel magical
          energy with help.

          > There could be "potions" in Tekumel, but I would think of them more as
          > drugs, concoctions made by tribal shamans, eccentric alchemists, and
          > small-town apothecaries that have maybe grant visions (enhance innate
          > psychic ability), increase strength or speed (tweaking physiology with
          > effects after), enhance sensory powers, etc. Not necessarily magical
          > even, but with strong effects.

          Hmm, something to think about. Many of the uses of potions would be appropri
          ate to drug/alchemical effects.

          Thanks for the suggestions. This is all at an early stage of thought. I
          still have to convince myself that I can effectively run the setting since
          it's much more exotic than other settings (and to think that I was a little
          uncomfortable with Talislanta and now I am thinking about Tekumel???? At
          least Tekumel does really have humans as opposed to something that might or
          might not be humans, I also note that there are at least a few earth
          animals, though most aren't too likely to come into play in adventures since
          they will mostly be domesticated animals, though perhaps feral dogs could
          result in packs of "wolves").

          Frank
        • George Hammond
          ... You ve got a pretty comprehensive listing of Tekumel spells in Gardasiyal. That might be useful for deciding who gets what. Also, you ll probably want to
          Message 4 of 11 , Jul 1, 2004
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            On Jul 1, 2004, at 5:13 PM, Frank Filz wrote:

            > I had noted that. The game system in question has possibilities for
            > limiting
            > spell selection, so I think I could work with that. I might have to add
            > spells but that's not necessarily a huge problem.

            You've got a pretty comprehensive listing of Tekumel spells in
            Gardasiyal. That might be useful for deciding who gets what. Also,
            you'll probably want to seek out the Tekfiles2 spreadsheets in the
            Files section of this group's website. It's got spell lists, legion
            lists, listings of important people mentioned in the sources (high
            priests, legion commanders, etc), and more.

            > Hmm, scrolls would work. As you say, they would be less universally
            > useable.
            > There might be an issue of balance since the system assumes a limited
            > number
            > of potions can be consumed in a short period of time, but that could be
            > changed to some sort of effect of having multiple scroll spells active
            > at
            > once. Hmm, a bigger issue might be that potions also don't allow
            > targetting
            > other creatures (though there are oils which can be applied by touch).
            > Of
            > course, scrolls might only work on the reader, or someone he is
            > touching.

            Amulets or charms might be another alternative to potions. That would
            resolve the targeting problem, and and the literacy issue. You could
            limit their use to one time, a few hours, whatever the creator
            specifies.

            > Another thought of concern, the charged items (other than potions) all
            > use
            > magic points supplied by the user. I'm not sure how much that would
            > affect
            > things other than the concept of non-sorcerers being able to channel
            > magical
            > energy with help.

            The pedhetl in Tekumel can easily be modeled as a bank of "magic
            points". If you have the Tekumel sourcebook see the section on magic
            in there for discussion of the pedhetl and the other four parts of the
            soul. Everyone (even creatures, I think) have a pedhetl, but normally
            only sorcerers can tap the energy of it to trigger spells. Magical
            items that draw on the user's pedhetl are quite plausible. I think
            there are some rituals, maybe battle magic, that include participants
            who act as "psychic batteries." They are often non-sorcerers
            themselves, unable to handle the rigorous study required for sorcery,
            but nonetheless born with substantial pedhetls

            Side thought: what happens to a sorcerer (or anybody) whose pedhetl is
            nearly or completely drained? Does this affect them physically or
            mentally? I don't know.

            > Thanks for the suggestions. This is all at an early stage of thought. I
            > still have to convince myself that I can effectively run the setting
            > since
            > it's much more exotic than other settings (and to think that I was a
            > little
            > uncomfortable with Talislanta and now I am thinking about Tekumel????

            Be not afraid! There is much fun to be had in Tekumel, best to just
            wade right in. Even if you are not planning to use the system, you
            check out the new game when it comes out (late August, we hope). There
            will be a lot in there that will help make Tekumel more accessible. In
            the meantime, if you haven't got it, get the Tekumel Sourcebook (aka
            Swords & Glory volume 1), either the 1 volume Gamescience edition or
            the three volume Different Worlds version (there is an index for, but
            not in, the former, but the latter has much nicer layout and
            typesetting, much easier on the eyes). This will give you the bulk of
            the setting information.

            > At
            > least Tekumel does really have humans as opposed to something that
            > might or
            > might not be humans, I also note that there are at least a few earth
            > animals, though most aren't too likely to come into play in adventures
            > since
            > they will mostly be domesticated animals, though perhaps feral dogs
            > could
            > result in packs of "wolves").


            Ah, I can speak to that (the fauna of Tekumel is a forté of mine). The
            only Terran fauna known on Tekumel are domesticated cats and dogs (the
            latter never occurring in the wilderness, the former rarely), some
            birds (no contemporary Earth species recognizable) and perhaps a
            smattering of reptiles, amphibians, and fish, also with no species
            recognizable. Supposedly there are horses on an island very very far
            from the Empire of the Petal Throne, but there are no humans there,
            they are unknown to the peoples of the Five Empires, and the idea of
            riding them is entirely lost.

            As to wolves, there is a creature quite ecologically similar to wolves,
            though perhaps a bit more formidable. They are called Hyahyu'u, or
            whoopers. They look roughly canine, but with three eyes, a long ovoid
            head, six legs, and a "mane" of sticky spikes running from the head
            down the back. Clever, and dangerous... Their name comes from their
            whooping call.

            cheers,

            George
          • Frank Filz
            ... You ve got a pretty comprehensive listing of Tekumel spells in Gardasiyal. That might be useful for deciding who gets what. Also, you ll probably want to
            Message 5 of 11 , Jul 1, 2004
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              > I had noted that. The game system in question has possibilities for
              > limiting
              > spell selection, so I think I could work with that. I might have to add
              > spells but that's not necessarily a huge problem.

              You've got a pretty comprehensive listing of Tekumel spells in
              Gardasiyal. That might be useful for deciding who gets what. Also,
              you'll probably want to seek out the Tekfiles2 spreadsheets in the
              Files section of this group's website. It's got spell lists, legion
              lists, listings of important people mentioned in the sources (high
              priests, legion commanders, etc), and more.

              I'll definitely have a look through all the spell listings.

              > Hmm, scrolls would work. As you say, they would be less universally
              > useable.
              > There might be an issue of balance since the system assumes a limited
              > number
              > of potions can be consumed in a short period of time, but that could be
              > changed to some sort of effect of having multiple scroll spells active
              > at
              > once. Hmm, a bigger issue might be that potions also don't allow
              > targetting
              > other creatures (though there are oils which can be applied by touch).
              > Of
              > course, scrolls might only work on the reader, or someone he is
              > touching.

              Amulets or charms might be another alternative to potions. That would
              resolve the targeting problem, and and the literacy issue. You could
              limit their use to one time, a few hours, whatever the creator
              specifies.

              I'm thinking amulets and charms work best for the system's normal charged
              items. Potions probably won't kill things too much. Actually, the biggest
              question might be what kind of effect will non-sorcerers having these
              various magic items affect the setting?

              > Another thought of concern, the charged items (other than potions) all
              > use
              > magic points supplied by the user. I'm not sure how much that would
              > affect
              > things other than the concept of non-sorcerers being able to channel
              > magical
              > energy with help.

              The pedhetl in Tekumel can easily be modeled as a bank of "magic
              points". If you have the Tekumel sourcebook see the section on magic
              in there for discussion of the pedhetl and the other four parts of the
              soul. Everyone (even creatures, I think) have a pedhetl, but normally
              only sorcerers can tap the energy of it to trigger spells. Magical
              items that draw on the user's pedhetl are quite plausible. I think
              there are some rituals, maybe battle magic, that include participants
              who act as "psychic batteries." They are often non-sorcerers
              themselves, unable to handle the rigorous study required for sorcery,
              but nonetheless born with substantial pedhetls

              Side thought: what happens to a sorcerer (or anybody) whose pedhetl is
              nearly or completely drained? Does this affect them physically or
              mentally? I don't know.

              Hmm, I'll have to read up on pedhetl. It may be a good match. Running out of
              (or even low on) magic points in the homebrew system doesn't have any
              physical or mental consequences, however, if that should be part of the
              Tekumel feel, it wouldn't imbalance the system to add it in.

              > Thanks for the suggestions. This is all at an early stage of thought. I
              > still have to convince myself that I can effectively run the setting
              > since
              > it's much more exotic than other settings (and to think that I was a
              > little
              > uncomfortable with Talislanta and now I am thinking about Tekumel????

              Be not afraid! There is much fun to be had in Tekumel, best to just
              wade right in. Even if you are not planning to use the system, you
              check out the new game when it comes out (late August, we hope). There
              will be a lot in there that will help make Tekumel more accessible. In
              the meantime, if you haven't got it, get the Tekumel Sourcebook (aka
              Swords & Glory volume 1), either the 1 volume Gamescience edition or
              the three volume Different Worlds version (there is an index for, but
              not in, the former, but the latter has much nicer layout and
              typesetting, much easier on the eyes). This will give you the bulk of
              the setting information.

              I have both the Gamescience volume 1 (picked it up used at a game store for
              a song a few years back - what a find!) and the Different Worlds volumes
              (which I bought closer to when they were published). I picked up the three
              recent novels plus Mitlanyál at Origins so I'm in pretty good shape on
              background material.

              Is Tita's House of Games still in business? The information at
              http://www.tekumel.com/tita/items_home.html is all dated August 2003.

              Frank
            • aquatone
              ... They certainly are. Or at least, they were when the shipped my latest bundle of essential Tekumel stuff a few weeks back :) ... No price rises since August
              Message 6 of 11 , Jul 3, 2004
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                Frank Filz wrote:
                >
                > Is Tita's House of Games still in business?

                They certainly are. Or at least, they were when the shipped my latest
                bundle of essential Tekumel stuff a few weeks back :)

                > The information at http://www.tekumel.com/tita/items_home.html is all
                > dated August 2003.

                No price rises since August 2003! Bargain ;)


                --

                regards,

                John


                I am angry, I am ill and I'm as ugly as sin
                My irritability keeps me alive and kicking
                -- Magazine, 'A Song from Under the Floorboards'
              • Frank L. Filz
                Back again with more thoughts on this... ... One thing I ve been thinking about here is whether to bother with the two types of spell casters in the system
                Message 7 of 11 , Jul 24, 2004
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                  Back again with more thoughts on this...

                  > From: George Hammond [mailto:geestar3@...]
                  > Sent: Thursday, July 01, 2004 3:01 PM
                  > On Jul 1, 2004, at 5:13 PM, Frank Filz wrote:
                  >
                  > > I had noted that. The game system in question has possibilities for
                  > > limiting
                  > > spell selection, so I think I could work with that. I might
                  > have to add
                  > > spells but that's not necessarily a huge problem.
                  >
                  > You've got a pretty comprehensive listing of Tekumel spells in
                  > Gardasiyal. That might be useful for deciding who gets what. Also,
                  > you'll probably want to seek out the Tekfiles2 spreadsheets in the
                  > Files section of this group's website. It's got spell lists, legion
                  > lists, listings of important people mentioned in the sources (high
                  > priests, legion commanders, etc), and more.

                  One thing I've been thinking about here is whether to bother with the
                  two types of spell casters in the system (Cold Iron). It has both
                  clerics and wizards, whereas Tekumel has ritual magic and psychic magic.
                  Cold Iron's magic system most closely resembles psychic magic. I'm not
                  sure how I would work ritual magic in (and I haven't dug into the
                  various rules systems enough yet to really understand the difference
                  between the two magics).

                  > The pedhetl in Tekumel can easily be modeled as a bank of "magic
                  > points". If you have the Tekumel sourcebook see the section on magic
                  > in there for discussion of the pedhetl and the other four
                  > parts of the
                  > soul. Everyone (even creatures, I think) have a pedhetl, but normally
                  > only sorcerers can tap the energy of it to trigger spells. Magical
                  > items that draw on the user's pedhetl are quite plausible. I think
                  > there are some rituals, maybe battle magic, that include participants
                  > who act as "psychic batteries." They are often non-sorcerers
                  > themselves, unable to handle the rigorous study required for sorcery,
                  > but nonetheless born with substantial pedhetls

                  Ok, I read through this section. I think Cold Iron's manna points will
                  work pretty well as pedhetl. There is a difference that you don't need
                  to rest to get them back, but that may be a minor flavor issue (it still
                  takes time).

                  > Side thought: what happens to a sorcerer (or anybody) whose
                  > pedhetl is
                  > nearly or completely drained? Does this affect them physically or
                  > mentally? I don't know.

                  Hmm, interesting question. While Cold Iron's manna points regenerate
                  themselves without rest, they do regenerate at a rate based on how many
                  you have (mathematically the ones you have earn interest - though you
                  can choose to invest the interest in running continuing spells instead
                  of growing your manna points). If you hit 0 manna points, you have to
                  wait a day for the first one to come back. I see no problem with
                  changing this mechanic to be more flavorful. It might even be reasonable
                  to require rest if you go below some fraction of your manna, I just
                  don't want to disrupt the regeneration system too much that it affects
                  game balance.

                  I'm still trying to decide how to handle all the magic items. I also
                  that only steel (or a few other special materials) weapons and armor can
                  be enchanted. That might work ok, though it does sort of mean that
                  magical leather armor and such are out, though could there be some
                  creature hides that might be useable? I'm also wondering about the
                  availability, though outside of "heroic adventures" and "villains", I
                  wouldn't expect much in the way of magic weapons.

                  I'm also guessing that the temples would be pretty tight with any magic
                  items with non-general spells, and items of temple spells would be
                  exceedingly rare (outside the temple at least - some might be reasonably
                  commonly made available to temple guards and such).

                  Of course there's also the issue of how prevalent magic items are. I'm
                  inclined to not tinker with the balance of Cold Iron by making items too
                  sparse, and assume that the novels don't mention use of the lesser items
                  simply because anyone traipsing around on special missions and such
                  would have them and their use wouldn't be noteworthy.

                  What this does bring up is the question of how far one can stretch one's
                  interpretation of Tekumel and not annoy people who might be attracted to
                  the campaign by the chance to play in a Tekumel campaign? I did have a
                  couple players drop out of my Talislanta campaign in part because they
                  didn't feel I was doing Talislanta justice (though I think the real
                  reason is that I run more of an episodic/somewhat hack 'n' slash
                  campaign and not grand plots and high role play - I still haven't
                  found a good way to describe my style because I think "hack 'n' slash"
                  is a bit unfair - I want the world to be meaningful, it's just that I'm
                  not going to run high intrigue and politics and such - it also takes
                  some time for the players and I to settle into things, but a rich
                  setting, especially with some knowledgeable players works really well -
                  one of my favorite campaigns was a RuneQuest campaign where one of the
                  players was quite knowledgeable [possibly more than me] - between us, we
                  were able to bring the setting to life for the other players).

                  > > Thanks for the suggestions. This is all at an early stage
                  > of thought. I
                  > > still have to convince myself that I can effectively run
                  > the setting
                  > > since
                  > > it's much more exotic than other settings (and to think
                  > that I was a
                  > > little
                  > > uncomfortable with Talislanta and now I am thinking about
                  > Tekumel????
                  >
                  > Be not afraid! There is much fun to be had in Tekumel, best to just
                  > wade right in. Even if you are not planning to use the system, you
                  > check out the new game when it comes out (late August, we
                  > hope). There
                  > will be a lot in there that will help make Tekumel more
                  > accessible. In
                  > the meantime, if you haven't got it, get the Tekumel Sourcebook
                  (a.k.a.
                  > Swords & Glory volume 1), either the 1 volume Gamescience edition or
                  > the three volume Different Worlds version (there is an index for, but
                  > not in, the former, but the latter has much nicer layout and
                  > typesetting, much easier on the eyes). This will give you the bulk of
                  > the setting information.

                  I've read through much of the sourcebook (I have both editions). It
                  seems like a workable setting. It certainly feels like a more real
                  setting than Talislanta. I like that while there isn't mono-culture
                  among the humans, they also don't have an entirely different culture in
                  each country. While it may be hard on role playing, non-humans that
                  aren't basically humans in bunny suits is also nice. I'm in a real
                  tossup between RuneQuest/Glorantha and Tekumel/Cold Iron. Both settings
                  are of comparable richness (though Glorantha probably has more published
                  material). I definitely plan on getting the new Guardians of Order
                  Tekumel offerings when they become available (hopefully Tri-Stat at
                  GenCon?).

                  > Ah, I can speak to that (the fauna of Tekumel is a forté of
                  > mine). The
                  > only Terran fauna known on Tekumel are domesticated cats and
                  > dogs (the
                  > latter never occurring in the wilderness, the former rarely), some
                  > birds (no contemporary Earth species recognizable) and perhaps a
                  > smattering of reptiles, amphibians, and fish, also with no species
                  > recognizable. Supposedly there are horses on an island very very far
                  > from the Empire of the Petal Throne, but there are no humans there,
                  > they are unknown to the peoples of the Five Empires, and the idea of
                  > riding them is entirely lost.

                  I would expect cockroaches, mice, rats, and other similar ubiquitous
                  pests. I guess it's possible space travel may have succeeded in
                  preventing their spread (being able to void the cargo hold to vacuum
                  certainly helps). I can see that dogs and cats being so ubiquitous as
                  pets, and being small enough to easily travel would be sufficiently
                  common that they would survive. I would expect a few types of birds and
                  fish also, but of course such things are so minor in the grand scheme of
                  things that they hardly bear mention, and certainly shouldn't cause
                  anyone to say "hey, that isn't Tekumel that you're running."

                  Obviously horses would be present, but in small enclaves. They aren't
                  really well suited to the climate, and their size might make them
                  prohibitive to transport through space (of course embryos travel a lot
                  easier - but if you buy that, then any radically terraformed world would
                  probably have many more Earth species and the setting would lose a lot
                  of it's charm). I did note that the sourcebook mentions that in some
                  areas, they are discovering the benefits of riding.

                  Hmm, question for farming. How well do chlen fill the oxen niche? I'm
                  guessing they fill it quite nicely (I may have skimmed that section of
                  the sourcebook also and missed something).

                  > As to wolves, there is a creature quite ecologically similar
                  > to wolves,
                  > though perhaps a bit more formidable. They are called Hyahyu'u, or
                  > whoopers. They look roughly canine, but with three eyes, a long ovoid
                  > head, six legs, and a "mane" of sticky spikes running from the head
                  > down the back. Clever, and dangerous... Their name comes from their
                  > whooping call.

                  I'll have to look through the bestiary. One question I have is what is
                  the best source of creature weights and sizes? Is there a good rule of
                  thumb on how to relate HBS to other factors?

                  Frank
                • Victor J. Raymond
                  ... (snip) ... Only really in Tane, off to the far west of the Five Empires. Horses are simply unknown in the Five Empires, and pretty much anyplace else
                  Message 8 of 11 , Jul 24, 2004
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                    > Back again with more thoughts on this...
                    >
                    (snip)
                    >
                    > Obviously horses would be present, but in small enclaves. They aren't
                    > really well suited to the climate, and their size might make them
                    > prohibitive to transport through space (of course embryos travel a lot
                    > easier - but if you buy that, then any radically terraformed world would
                    > probably have many more Earth species and the setting would lose a lot
                    > of it's charm). I did note that the sourcebook mentions that in some
                    > areas, they are discovering the benefits of riding.

                    Only really in Tane, off to the far west of the Five Empires. Horses are simply unknown in the Five
                    Empires, and pretty much anyplace else we've adventured. The only riding beasts we've encountered
                    were the Bazhaq, and they are rare and not as good as horses.

                    >
                    > Hmm, question for farming. How well do chlen fill the oxen niche? I'm
                    > guessing they fill it quite nicely (I may have skimmed that section of
                    > the sourcebook also and missed something).

                    Chlen are good for hauling carts, but I confess to little experience with them as farming animals (we've
                    tended to play characters who are much more noble than farmers).

                    >
                    Victor Jason Raymond
                    Department of Sociology, Iowa State University
                    vraymond@...
                  • gstarrh
                    ... It would be great if the Professor or his players could expound a little more on psychic vs. ritual magic. The operational difference is pretty clear:
                    Message 9 of 11 , Jul 26, 2004
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                      On Saturday, July 24, 2004, at 12:32 PM, Frank L. Filz wrote:

                      >
                      > One thing I've been thinking about here is whether to bother with the
                      > two types of spell casters in the system (Cold Iron). It has both
                      > clerics and wizards, whereas Tekumel has ritual magic and psychic
                      > magic.
                      > Cold Iron's magic system most closely resembles psychic magic. I'm not
                      > sure how I would work ritual magic in (and I haven't dug into the
                      > various rules systems enough yet to really understand the difference
                      > between the two magics).

                      It would be great if the Professor or his players could expound a
                      little more on psychic vs. ritual magic.

                      The operational difference is pretty clear: psychic magic is triggered
                      primarily by psychic energy alone, and requires little physical action;
                      ritual magic requires gestures, speech, and sometimes materials to
                      trigger a spell.

                      We don't know much though about the differences, if any, between
                      practitioners. If I remember right, Swords & Glory says that there are
                      lower minimum attributes needed to master one or the other (smart and
                      very psychic, or very smart and psychic, or very smart and very psychic
                      for both), but it seems to me that in the published stories, most
                      sorcerers cast both kinds of spells.

                      I don't think you need to try to map psychic or ritual magic to clerics
                      or wizards particularly. Magic in the 5 Empires is almost entirely
                      controlled by the temples -- they are the only places you can learn
                      more than the rudiments, and the spells that a particular sorcerer can
                      learn are in part a function of their temple association, so you could
                      say that all magic-users are clerics. On the other hand, as I
                      understand it, the process of spell acquisition and casting doesn't
                      require any direct intervention by a supernatural power. Sorcery is a
                      kind of mental technology, and one who has mastered it can still
                      prepare and cast spells even if one has violated the religious
                      principles of one's temple, or simply lacks any piety one way or the
                      other. So you could argue that all sorcerers are wizards. Either way
                      could make sense, I guess it depends on your game's definition of
                      cleric and wizard.

                      > I'm still trying to decide how to handle all the magic items. I also
                      > that only steel (or a few other special materials) weapons and armor
                      > can
                      > be enchanted. That might work ok, though it does sort of mean that
                      > magical leather armor and such are out, though could there be some
                      > creature hides that might be useable?

                      Possibly, though there hasn't been any mention of such that I know of.
                      But why bother? enchanted armor could be light and non-encumbering even
                      if made of steel plates

                      > I'm also wondering about the
                      > availability, though outside of "heroic adventures" and "villains", I
                      > wouldn't expect much in the way of magic weapons.

                      This can vary with gm's preference to some extent, just keep the
                      relative power levels intact. The power groups are the Imperial
                      government, the high clans, and the temples. They'll have the greatest
                      number and most powerful items. Item of substantial power are rarely
                      owned by individuals, they are (at least in part), property of one of
                      these organizations. Individuals most often get use of them to
                      accomplish particular tasks (e.g. a temple providing priests and guards
                      with protective amulets) or perhaps an item is awarded for life-time
                      use (an Imperial agent is granted an enchanted blade, a successful clan
                      cousin is rewarded with an heirloom suit of armor) with the
                      understanding that the item reverts to the group upon death,
                      retirement, or what have you. Of course items are held by individuals
                      sometimes, but the private property just isn't as strong a concept in
                      Tekumel as it is in a more D&D-esque world.


                      > I'm also guessing that the temples would be pretty tight with any magic
                      > items with non-general spells, and items of temple spells would be
                      > exceedingly rare (outside the temple at least - some might be
                      > reasonably
                      > commonly made available to temple guards and such).

                      yup. a sorcerer who shares temple spells without permission is likely
                      to be very severely punished. Impalement might only be the beginning.

                      > Of course there's also the issue of how prevalent magic items are. I'm
                      > inclined to not tinker with the balance of Cold Iron by making items
                      > too
                      > sparse, and assume that the novels don't mention use of the lesser
                      > items
                      > simply because anyone traipsing around on special missions and such
                      > would have them and their use wouldn't be noteworthy.

                      your game, your call. I don't think this would interfere with my sense
                      of the "Tekumel-ness" of the world, as long as who had them and who got
                      to use them was sufficiently in keeping with my ideas of how the
                      society works. The overall level of magic-richness can vary a bit, as
                      long as the relative structure stays the way I expect it too.

                      > What this does bring up is the question of how far one can stretch
                      > one's
                      > interpretation of Tekumel and not annoy people who might be attracted
                      > to
                      > the campaign by the chance to play in a Tekumel campaign?

                      Everyone has a different answer to this. the best you can do is talk
                      over things before you start.

                      > I've read through much of the sourcebook (I have both editions). It
                      > seems like a workable setting. It certainly feels like a more real
                      > setting than Talislanta. I like that while there isn't mono-culture
                      > among the humans, they also don't have an entirely different culture in
                      > each country. While it may be hard on role playing, non-humans that
                      > aren't basically humans in bunny suits is also nice.

                      The non-humans are pretty optional. I think you can quite plausibly
                      leave them in the wings until you get your group established.

                      > I'm in a real
                      > tossup between RuneQuest/Glorantha and Tekumel/Cold Iron. Both settings
                      > are of comparable richness (though Glorantha probably has more
                      > published
                      > material). I definitely plan on getting the new Guardians of Order
                      > Tekumel offerings when they become available (hopefully Tri-Stat at
                      > GenCon?).

                      Well, obviously we think you should go with Tekumel. :)

                      As to the release date for the new game, GenCon is a big maybe. Nobody
                      (Guardians, the authors) seems inclined to comment. Certainly there has
                      been no news on the Guardians site for months, except to push the
                      release back to "maybe we'll have it at GenCon."

                      >> Ah, I can speak to that (the fauna of Tekumel is a forté of
                      >> mine). The
                      >> only Terran fauna known on Tekumel are domesticated cats and
                      >> dogs (the
                      >> latter never occurring in the wilderness, the former rarely), some
                      >> birds (no contemporary Earth species recognizable) and perhaps a
                      >> smattering of reptiles, amphibians, and fish, also with no species
                      >> recognizable. Supposedly there are horses on an island very very far
                      >> from the Empire of the Petal Throne, but there are no humans there,
                      >> they are unknown to the peoples of the Five Empires, and the idea of
                      >> riding them is entirely lost.
                      >
                      > I would expect cockroaches, mice, rats, and other similar ubiquitous
                      > pests.

                      You can certainly have them if you want them, but they're never
                      mentioned, and there are other, more exotic vermin.

                      > I guess it's possible space travel may have succeeded in
                      > preventing their spread (being able to void the cargo hold to vacuum
                      > certainly helps).

                      Any culture that can bio-engineer creatures can certainly exterminate
                      vermin. Keep in mind that Tekumel was only mainly a human world, there
                      were plenty of alien ecosystems imported there too. Roaches and rats
                      might have lost the battle to something else.

                      > I can see that dogs and cats being so ubiquitous as
                      > pets, and being small enough to easily travel would be sufficiently
                      > common that they would survive. I would expect a few types of birds and
                      > fish also, but of course such things are so minor in the grand scheme
                      > of
                      > things that they hardly bear mention, and certainly shouldn't cause
                      > anyone to say "hey, that isn't Tekumel that you're running."

                      The Bestiary covers this in some detail, and you've pretty much got it
                      exactly right.

                      > Obviously horses would be present, but in small enclaves.

                      Why obviously? They might have been present for recreation, but what
                      are the odds of the herds surviving a planetary civil war or three,
                      with interstellar class weapons in play?

                      > They aren't
                      > really well suited to the climate, and their size might make them
                      > prohibitive to transport through space (of course embryos travel a lot
                      > easier - but if you buy that, then any radically terraformed world
                      > would
                      > probably have many more Earth species and the setting would lose a lot
                      > of it's charm).

                      The northern reaches of the Empire and beyond into Yan Kor would be
                      fine for horses. The thing to remember is that by the time Tekumel was
                      "terra"-formed, humans had been out among the stars for generations.
                      There's no reason to think that planets colonized by these folk would
                      be made to resemble Earth that closely.


                      > I did note that the sourcebook mentions that in some
                      > areas, they are discovering the benefits of riding.

                      One region that is extremely remote (off to the west of Mu'ugalavya)
                      has a hexapod reptiloid called the Bazhaq that can be ridden. The
                      people there are called Tané. Only a very few reports of these have
                      ever made it back to the Empire. Only one of the nonhuman groups has
                      riding beasts. The Hokun ride creatures that are apparently modified
                      members of their own or a very closely related species. They are
                      mainly found on the opposite side of Tekumel from the Five Empires, so
                      are not known.

                      > Hmm, question for farming. How well do chlen fill the oxen niche? I'm
                      > guessing they fill it quite nicely (I may have skimmed that section of
                      > the sourcebook also and missed something).

                      They're a *lot* bigger than oxen. Think very sluggish, mostly placid,
                      and sometimes sluggish Triceratops. They're very strong, so great for
                      pulling things short distances, but they don't have much stamina. Even
                      on a sakbe, a chlen-cart doesn't cover much more than 15 or 20 km a
                      day, and they eat and drink tremendous amounts. Freight that needs to
                      go quickly is carried by human porters, often large gangs of slaves, or
                      taken on boats.

                      > I'll have to look through the bestiary. One question I have is what is
                      > the best source of creature weights and sizes?

                      Unfortunately the Bestiary is currently the best source for this, and
                      it's pretty vague.

                      > Is there a good rule of
                      > thumb on how to relate HBS to other factors?

                      not that I know of. The Bestiary has a formula for calculating HBS for
                      creatures in the back of the book. You could reverse engineer from
                      that. HBS factors in speed and intelligence to some degree, so there's
                      not a straight relationship between size or mass and HBS.

                      George
                    • Frank Filz
                      ... The more I think about it, the more I think there is no need for Cold Iron s clerics, wizards will do fine. The main thing I need to do is categorize
                      Message 10 of 11 , Jul 26, 2004
                      • 0 Attachment
                        > ----- Original Message -----
                        > From: "gstarrh" geestar3@...

                        > I don't think you need to try to map psychic or ritual magic to clerics
                        > or wizards particularly. Magic in the 5 Empires is almost entirely
                        > controlled by the temples -- they are the only places you can learn
                        > more than the rudiments, and the spells that a particular sorcerer can
                        > learn are in part a function of their temple association, so you could
                        > say that all magic-users are clerics. On the other hand, as I
                        > understand it, the process of spell acquisition and casting doesn't
                        > require any direct intervention by a supernatural power. Sorcery is a
                        > kind of mental technology, and one who has mastered it can still
                        > prepare and cast spells even if one has violated the religious
                        > principles of one's temple, or simply lacks any piety one way or the
                        > other. So you could argue that all sorcerers are wizards. Either way
                        > could make sense, I guess it depends on your game's definition of
                        > cleric and wizard.

                        The more I think about it, the more I think there is no need for Cold Iron's
                        clerics, wizards will do fine. The main thing I need to do is categorize
                        spells into universal, generic, and temple. I may not worry too much about
                        ritual magic right now.

                        > > I'm still trying to decide how to handle all the magic items. I also
                        > > that only steel (or a few other special materials) weapons and armor
                        > > can
                        > > be enchanted. That might work ok, though it does sort of mean that
                        > > magical leather armor and such are out, though could there be some
                        > > creature hides that might be useable?
                        >
                        > Possibly, though there hasn't been any mention of such that I know of.
                        > But why bother? enchanted armor could be light and non-encumbering even
                        > if made of steel plates

                        Yea, probably not worth that much worry. In past campaigns, most people wear
                        metal armor since the system doesn't prevent spell casters from wearing
                        armor. A chain vest could be put as a lighter armor for those who need
                        freedom of action (of course there won't be "thieves" but certainly there is
                        still room for someone who can deal with locks and traps and such that might
                        be found in the underworld - and they might not want encumbering armor).

                        > > I'm also wondering about the
                        > > availability, though outside of "heroic adventures" and "villains", I
                        > > wouldn't expect much in the way of magic weapons.
                        >
                        > This can vary with gm's preference to some extent, just keep the
                        > relative power levels intact. The power groups are the Imperial
                        > government, the high clans, and the temples. They'll have the greatest
                        > number and most powerful items. Item of substantial power are rarely
                        > owned by individuals, they are (at least in part), property of one of
                        > these organizations. Individuals most often get use of them to
                        > accomplish particular tasks (e.g. a temple providing priests and guards
                        > with protective amulets) or perhaps an item is awarded for life-time
                        > use (an Imperial agent is granted an enchanted blade, a successful clan
                        > cousin is rewarded with an heirloom suit of armor) with the
                        > understanding that the item reverts to the group upon death,
                        > retirement, or what have you. Of course items are held by individuals
                        > sometimes, but the private property just isn't as strong a concept in
                        > Tekumel as it is in a more D&D-esque world.

                        Good points. One thing I certainly need to take care to preserve is the
                        concepts of patronage, and ownership of magic equipment is a prime way to
                        demonstrate that.

                        > > Of course there's also the issue of how prevalent magic items are. I'm
                        > > inclined to not tinker with the balance of Cold Iron by making items
                        > > too
                        > > sparse, and assume that the novels don't mention use of the lesser
                        > > items
                        > > simply because anyone traipsing around on special missions and such
                        > > would have them and their use wouldn't be noteworthy.
                        >
                        > your game, your call. I don't think this would interfere with my sense
                        > of the "Tekumel-ness" of the world, as long as who had them and who got
                        > to use them was sufficiently in keeping with my ideas of how the
                        > society works. The overall level of magic-richness can vary a bit, as
                        > long as the relative structure stays the way I expect it too.

                        This goes back to the thoughts of patronage. Obviously successefull minions
                        will be rewarded with more difficult tasks, and the resources they need to
                        accomplish those tasks.

                        > > I've read through much of the sourcebook (I have both editions). It
                        > > seems like a workable setting. It certainly feels like a more real
                        > > setting than Talislanta. I like that while there isn't mono-culture
                        > > among the humans, they also don't have an entirely different culture in
                        > > each country. While it may be hard on role playing, non-humans that
                        > > aren't basically humans in bunny suits is also nice.
                        >
                        > The non-humans are pretty optional. I think you can quite plausibly
                        > leave them in the wings until you get your group established.

                        That's what I'm pretty much thinking. Start everyone with humans, and after
                        they settle into the campaign, they can choose a non-human as a replacement
                        character.

                        > > I'm in a real
                        > > tossup between RuneQuest/Glorantha and Tekumel/Cold Iron. Both settings
                        > > are of comparable richness (though Glorantha probably has more
                        > > published
                        > > material). I definitely plan on getting the new Guardians of Order
                        > > Tekumel offerings when they become available (hopefully Tri-Stat at
                        > > GenCon?).
                        >
                        > Well, obviously we think you should go with Tekumel. :)

                        I am heavily leaning towards Tekumel at this time. The main reason I'm
                        giving much weight at all to RuneQuest is that it would be at least
                        marginally easier to recruit players for (between a somewhat more well known
                        setting, and use of a published set of rules vs. a homebrew set).

                        > >> Ah, I can speak to that (the fauna of Tekumel is a forté of
                        > >> mine). The
                        > >> only Terran fauna known on Tekumel are domesticated cats and
                        > >> dogs (the
                        > >> latter never occurring in the wilderness, the former rarely), some
                        > >> birds (no contemporary Earth species recognizable) and perhaps a
                        > >> smattering of reptiles, amphibians, and fish, also with no species
                        > >> recognizable. Supposedly there are horses on an island very very far
                        > >> from the Empire of the Petal Throne, but there are no humans there,
                        > >> they are unknown to the peoples of the Five Empires, and the idea of
                        > >> riding them is entirely lost.
                        > >
                        > > I would expect cockroaches, mice, rats, and other similar ubiquitous
                        > > pests.
                        >
                        > You can certainly have them if you want them, but they're never
                        > mentioned, and there are other, more exotic vermin.

                        I did notice ants had made the transition, though have mutated.

                        > > Obviously horses would be present, but in small enclaves.
                        >
                        > Why obviously? They might have been present for recreation, but what
                        > are the odds of the herds surviving a planetary civil war or three,
                        > with interstellar class weapons in play?

                        I thought I had seen some mention that there are indeed horses on Tekumel,
                        just no where anyone in the five empires has seen them. I agree that their
                        survival during a planetary war would be harder.

                        > > Hmm, question for farming. How well do chlen fill the oxen niche? I'm
                        > > guessing they fill it quite nicely (I may have skimmed that section of
                        > > the sourcebook also and missed something).
                        >
                        > They're a *lot* bigger than oxen. Think very sluggish, mostly placid,
                        > and sometimes sluggish Triceratops. They're very strong, so great for
                        > pulling things short distances, but they don't have much stamina. Even
                        > on a sakbe, a chlen-cart doesn't cover much more than 15 or 20 km a
                        > day, and they eat and drink tremendous amounts. Freight that needs to
                        > go quickly is carried by human porters, often large gangs of slaves, or
                        > taken on boats.

                        I was actually thinking more in terms of farming use. Of course plows can be
                        hand drawn. I didn't read the section on food in the sourcebook, do milk and
                        cheese exist? I did see a rough sheep equivalent so that could be a source
                        of milk. Of course in the tropical environment, I wouldn't expect milk to
                        drunk, instead one would find cheese.

                        > > I'll have to look through the bestiary. One question I have is what is
                        > > the best source of creature weights and sizes?
                        >
                        > Unfortunately the Bestiary is currently the best source for this, and
                        > it's pretty vague.

                        Yea, I'll just have to wing things. I did see some weights in some of the
                        GURPS Tekumel stuff.

                        Frank
                      • gstarrh
                        ... You re right, I didn t mean to give the idea they didn t exist at all. They re supposed to be on one or a few medium-sized islands way around on the
                        Message 11 of 11 , Jul 26, 2004
                        • 0 Attachment
                          On Monday, July 26, 2004, at 04:21 PM, Frank Filz wrote:

                          >>> Obviously horses would be present, but in small enclaves.
                          >>
                          >> Why obviously? They might have been present for recreation, but what
                          >> are the odds of the herds surviving a planetary civil war or three,
                          >> with interstellar class weapons in play?
                          >
                          > I thought I had seen some mention that there are indeed horses on
                          > Tekumel,
                          > just no where anyone in the five empires has seen them. I agree that
                          > their
                          > survival during a planetary war would be harder.

                          You're right, I didn't mean to give the idea they didn't exist at all.
                          They're supposed to be on one or a few medium-sized islands way around
                          on the opposite side of the world, in a region controlled by Hokun.
                          Human culture, at least the cultures of the Five Empires, has lost all
                          idea of them.

                          > I was actually thinking more in terms of farming use. Of course plows
                          > can be
                          > hand drawn.

                          I think Chlen are used like oxen in general: pull up stumps, drag carts
                          or sledges carrying heavy weights, combined with ropes and frames and
                          pulleys to lift things, etc. I'm not 100% sure on plowing just because
                          they are so massive that they might compress the soil too much as they
                          walked through the field. I suppose if they dragged really big plows
                          behind them it might work. I'm not sure bronze is up to that kind of
                          work though, and iron is too precious to be used for plowshares. So
                          maybe plowing is down with human power? Or maybe there is some magic
                          for this, I don't know.

                          > I didn't read the section on food in the sourcebook, do milk and
                          > cheese exist? I did see a rough sheep equivalent so that could be a
                          > source
                          > of milk. Of course in the tropical environment, I wouldn't expect milk
                          > to
                          > drunk, instead one would find cheese.

                          There are two "mammaloid" meat animals: Hma (larger, used mainly for
                          "wool" and milk, secondarily for meat) and the smaller Hmélu (meat
                          mostly, milk secondarily). Both are six-legged grazers, roughly sheep
                          or goat sized. Hma are mainly raised in the cooler hills and northern
                          regions, hmelu are everywhere. A popular beverage is "chumetl", spiced
                          buttermilk. Since buttermilk is what's left over from churning butter
                          from cream, it's already sour and presumably keeps better than fresh
                          milk. The Tsolyani do cool it, keeping it in deep cellars, storing it
                          in jars unglazed on the outside, so they hold moisture that then
                          evaporates and cools.
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