Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Tékumel in Chimaera zine

Recently discovered some early Tékumel game reports from 1970's British postal gaming zine Chimaera. Two issues have covers, which have been taken (traced) directly from the Empire of the Petal Throne rulebook, and printed in colour - no easy feat with the DIY printing technologies of the day. There is also some great proto-ascii-art, figlet typography going on in the header.


Chimaera issue #12 Feb 1976

Chimaera issue #13 Mar Feb 1976


Chimaera was a British game zine edited by Clive Booth, primarily focussed on running games of Diplomacy (including Tolkien variants), it also ran En Garde, Dungeons & Dragons and Outdoor Survival.

Starting with issue 11 (January 1976),  Clive begins a column that starts off as a 3 part review of Empire of the Petal Throne, then goes on to solo play report of an campaign over twenty two issues. The story follows the adventures of Ukshén, from getting off the boat in Jakalla, seeking fame and fortune in the fabled lands of Tsolyánu, to finding a patron in the magic-user Qyshü to delving into the underworld and beyond.

Unfortunately I don't own copies of these zines, but they have been made available at the Diplomacy Zines Archive and I've linked the relevant issues below for convenience.

Chimaera 11: Review of Empire of the Petal Throne
Chimaera 12: Viringálu: Colour cover, Review cont.
Chimaera 13: The Stroming of Ke'ér: Colour cover. Review. Cont, chargen
Chimaera 14: The Adventures of Ukshén Part 1.
Chimaera 15: The Adventures of Ukshén Part 2.
Chimaera 16: The Adventures of Ukshén Part 3.
Chimaera 17: The Adventures of Ukshén Part 4. - New Tékumal (sic) heading
Chimaera 18: The Adventures of Ukshén Part 5.
Chimaera 19: The Adventures of Ukshén Part 6.
Chimaera 20: The Adventures of Ukshén Part 7.
Chimaera 25: The Adventures of Ukshén Part 8.
Chimaera 26: The Adventures of Ukshén 9.
Chimaera 27: The Adventures of Ukshén 10.
Chimaera 28: The Adventures of Ukshén 11.
Chimaera 29: The Adventures of Ukshén 12.
Chimaera 30: The Adventures of Ukshén 13  + 14.
Chimaera 31: The Adventures of Ukshén 15.
Chimaera 33: The Adventures of Ukshén 16.
Chimaera 34: The Adventures of Ukshén17.
Chimaera 35: The Adventures of Ukshén 18
Chimaera 36: The Adventures of Ukshén 19. also brief article on naming.
Chimaera 38: The Adventures of Ukshén 20.
Chimaera 39: The Adventures of Ukshén 21
Chimaera 41: The Adventures of Ukshén 22
Chimaera 42: The Adventures of Ukshén 23

The headings here are my own, the column in the zines themselves are more often than not just Tekumel: The World of the Petal Throne with occasional variants. Alongside the two covers above there are occassional illustrations copied from the Empire of the Petal Throne rulebook. Sometimes the scanned, mimeographed typed pages aren't very easy to read, but are decipherable.

So far, I have only just skimmed them, and read through to Chapter 4 (with a cliff-hanger ending, testing the properties of some Eyes). but have found them quite entertaining, lightly written with the game mechanics only slightly poking through - combat is somewhat blow-by-blow. It's not Man of Gold by any means, but it's a nice insight to someone elses take on the Tékumel experience, with a focus on adventure, exploration, magic and combat, rather than world-building, clan-loyalites and cult divisions.

Bonus content

For Games Workshop fans and early British fantasy gaming afficionados, Chimaera 24 also has a nice advert for Steve Jackson & Ian Livingstones original zine, Owl & Weasel.

Owl & Weasel Ad. Chimaera 24

5 comments:

  1. Really cool! Also take note of the D&D writeup in issue #018, pp. 19-20. It contains a very brief intro to the game, followed by another page containing a sample dungeon level. (Don't kick the bucket!)

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    1. I'm definitely putting an empty bucket in the middle of an empty room in my next dungeon!

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  2. Zhu, I love these excavations into the ancient strata of the hobby. I'm so happy that this material is being digitized and preserved. St. Leibowitz would be proud.

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    1. We're pretty close to the bedrock of UK fantasy gaming here, spawning from the milleu of Tolkien fandom and postal Diplomacy. It is great that these have been made publicly available.

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