Thank you and the other "old timers" for the very informative history of
I have searched the web and cannot find the web page with the early gaming
stuff for Tekumel. I do have a copy of it on my hard drive and I will email
it to the group.
] On Behalf Of
Sent: Saturday, June 07, 2008 2:25 PM
Subject: [tekumel] Re: Early Tekumel Material?
I have consulted with a few other "old timers" and we have
constructed a more "thorough" history of Tekumel--as opposed to EPT.
The sequence of events in late 1973 and early 1974; Phil was the
faculty advisor for the University of Minnesota wargame club, which
met on Tuesday nights at Coffman. Dave Arneson and his friends had
been doing a lot of Chainmail games and started introducing fantasy
elements into them, which led to D & D: Mike Mornard had moved up
here from Lake Geneva bringing the new D & D game with him, and most
of the group had bought copies of the original boxed three-volume set
by late 1973.
The specific genesis of EPT came after the publication of
"Gods, Demi-gods, and Typos"; Phil was kibitzing a game being run by
Mike Mornard, when the group slaughtered the Archangel Michael. Phil
objected to this on various grounds, and Michael told him that "it was
in the rules". Phil responded by asking the famous question, "Well,
then, how many hit points does Jesus Christ have?"; Michael replied to
Phil that if he didn't like the rules, he should go off and do his
own. Phil then vanished for about two months and came back with the
mimeographed two-volume manuscript for EPT. Phil told me that Arneson
saw the manuscript, had Phil send it to TSR, and Gary Gygax
came up to negotiate the contract for EPT.
As to the "game" system, originally Phil "borrowed" the D&D system
for EPT. It was pretty close to D&D itself, it took very little
explanation to someone familiar with D&D. Gary thought it should have
its own system, and so Phil went back and developed his original game
system as seen in EPT. Phil was an old hand at wargaming, so the
system was not a difficult matter for him. The world and the rest was
what Phil was selling, not the actual mechanics of playing it. And
this is what has caused so many disagreements, IMHO. This
endless "D20 vs whatever system" argument is really not important.
The world of Tekumel is the important thing, not how you play it,
because there have been so many dfferent "game systems" within the
As to where Tekumel itself came from, that goes waaaay back. Phil
said he felt lonely and isolated as a child, he said he had few
friends growing up and so he developed a rich inner fantasy life.
Tekumel is the result. It probably was mostly "gelled" by the time he
was in high school, but I imagine it was still evolving as he read SF
and learned about other cultures and languages etc. in college and
beyond. You can see in the drawings Phil did, that he was influenced
by the popular culture of his day, Ma'in looks a lot like Claudette
Colbert etc. He did the original map for Tekumel while he was in High
School, and it hasn't changed a lot since then.
Phil is a member of First Fandom in SF--he was around in the
Late '40's and 50's and knew almost everyone. He attended worldcons
and the rest in those days. He was active and did work for fanzines,
including drawing maps for Jack Vance's world. (The L. Ron Hubbard
story on the founding of Scientology is from Phil who did indeed
witness the original drunken chat/argument/dare.)
Interestingly, Phil told a lot of stories about his world travels,
meeting peoples and cultures around the globe. In some respects he is
a real-life Indiana Jones, going to all sorts of exotic places and
having "adventures" there. He didn't collect artifacts however, but
languages and cultures instead. He is a natural linguist. He taught
himself heiroglyphs and the ancient egyptian language when he was a
child of 8 or 9.
Phil had been 'gaming' a form of 'proto-Tekumel' since his childhood;
he told us about his collecting Britains' 54mm Roman and
Egyptian figures, and how these evolved into Tekumelyani (Tsolyani vs
Yan Koryani). He also hadncarved his own figures, which I've seen and
which are quite charming - he did these when he was in his early
teens, and they have a life all their own. (The figure that he used
for the courtyard statue on the Temple of Vimuhla model is one of the
same kind of thing as these.) What is interesting about the figures
is that Phil was not only using a sort of H. G. Wells's "Little Wars"
type of game for wargames on the floor, but he was also using a
series of colored dots on the bases of the figures to indicate their
particular strengths, powers, and attributes when he was using them
as individual 'hero' figures. He also had some 'monsters' that also
used the same base-marking system, and he told me that he had
done 'adventures' of a kind that could be considered a form of 'proto-
Now some of these color code dots may have been due to Phil's bad
eyesight. He was legally blind in 1974 (20/200 or worse at that time)
and he's worn glasses all his life. He did outline the figures he
painted with ink to make the detail stand out better. This was a
popular style of painting in Britain among wargamers there, but few
did it in the US. The wargaming figures he painted himself are really
beautiful, as well as brightly colored--again probably for ease of
identification. Phil can see fine up close, but is lousy at a
distance. He did not drive, for that reason.
Phil continued this 'proto gaming' when he was doing his grad studies
at Berkeley; he gathered a group of SF fans which included people
like Bill Shipley and Vincent Gola, and they played the roles of
various clans and familes in Tsolyanu; the "Shipali" family of
Kerunan Province was Bill Shipley's, for example, and was the reason
why Phil did up the land-grant document that was used for the cover
of the Dragon issue, and an 'exploration' permit dates from the same
1950s period in Phil's life.
Probably, as a result of all this, as well as Phil's later extensive
miniatures playing in the ancient and medieval periods, the arrival
of D & D sparked Phil's interest in the medium. However, to answer
the main thrust of the questions, yes, he had been doing Tekumel
gaming prior to EPT's publication, and that since the 1940's...
I can't find the link to that early 1974 first gaming session stuff
myself. Please feel free to re-post it, I said what I said then, and
it still stands.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Mark Eggert" <meggert@...> wrote:
> Hello Lady Anka'a,
> Please delurk and grant us another audience.
> This thread on the pre-TSR version of EPT reminded me of a posting
> years ago which had a link to a web page with a picture of the
> EPT rules and a story of the original game session of EPT. I was
> saved this and indeed I have found it. And I see it was you who
> Please either repost the link, or allow me, to for all to enjoy
> the web page was posted on the 30th anniversary of the game session.
> Four years ago when I first heard of the pre-TSR version, I
wondered if this
> was what TSR used for their release of EPT and if so how much was
> from the original. Before knowing of the pre-TSR version, I always
> if the professor only provided the world setting aspects and TSR
> the variant of D&D for the ruleset. Or if the professor had
> ruleset? Can you tell us how close the two rulesets are?
> Patiently waiting your reply,
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