Technically "Sci-Fantasy", but I'm adding this in the "Fantasy" section. ;)
(x-posted to my blog)
(M.A.R Barker's World of Tekumel)
If you have a mental entry-point to the world named "Tekumel" or "EPT" then you may get rather excited about this document which was originally released prior to TSR's 1975 release of this D&D based game. I like to class these types of products as "archival" or (to coin a trademarked cliché) "unearthed arcana". ;)
I remember very little of this game, except perhaps seeing the box in Nottingham's Games Workshop (before they killed role-playing in the UK - long story). At the time I must have filed it under "Weird" along with Sky Realms of Jorune. I'm aware that it's been reborn again in different editions with different systems, but the next time I heard of this was across a handful of blogs and then in Ethan Gilsdorf's Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks.
For me, PDF texts of the older games are a lot of fun to read (as opposed to games you buy to actually play), especially when you compare these to other games from the same time, especially for gaming hobby assumptions and dice system similarities - much of which to modern players' eyes may seem very alien, or quaint. The way some of the early editions are written can differ greatly in formality (My copy of Monsters!Monsters! is almost too friendly! - but that's T&T for you, all of the authors were clearly drunk).
Erik T. of Tenkar's Tavern makes some interesting game comparison observations here.
The earlier the edition of many a game in the 1970s, the more like a fanzine they look (like the white/brown booklets of OD&D). What is delightful about this 1974 manuscript is that it is both a facsimile and an e-text book. The odd numbered pages reminded me of the pre-photocopy spirit duplicated worksheets we had in primary school - rendered readable by the digital text on the even pages. This is an artefact from gaming history, so very close to the genesis of the tabletop role-playing game. Dedicated EPT fans will possibly be very charmed by this, the earliest of the editions and will possibly not think twice about the $15 price tag. I was lucky enough to have a review copy and I decide to give it a good read. I'm going in blind. Slowly but surely I realise why players of this game always sounded like they had joined a cult:
(p2 - 200.THE WORLD OF “TÉKUMEL”)
They weren't kidding about the impact of language in the background. Never trust a creative anthropologist!
Realising that I was way in over my head I decided to pick up the actual TSR rules. Then further research told me that the original box set (depicted here) included two sets of maps as well. A graphic of the box art from my memories is included towards the end of the rules. So if you want to download the full 1970's EPT-in-box experience you'll need to purchase the following:
I'm assuming that quite a bit of the material in M.A.R. Barkers World of Tekumel storefront is usable as source material for the different versions of the game since every line in every product is imbued with Tekumel phrases and lore.
In summary, if you're already a player or fan of EPT then you may want to take a long educated look at the Original Manuscript; if you're researching a genre or looking for the quintessential old-school gaming experience then you're probably better off downloading the TSR1975 rulebook and maps first. :)
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