The Clan of Sky Blue Water, Distinguished and Sedulous
Some background before we begin
The short of it: I fell in love with the Empire of the Petal Throne boxed game in the late 70s as a high schooler. College and life intervened and my love of the setting sat idle until 2014, when I got back into gaming. The group lasted about a year before collapsing—just as I was about to take over the DM slot and dust off my dormant EPT campaign.
I have one player, my good friend Chris. We don’t play as regularly as I might like, but often enough that my interest in Tékumel has remained rekindled. Between sessions, I’ve taken the time to flesh out some of my 30+ year old ideas. Chris isn’t familiar with Tékumel, so we decided to operate in more of a “one-off” mode so that adventures are kept short. Once we get to a point where he is comfortable with the setting, I have a “campaign” mostly ready to go.
We’re using Béthorm, a skill-based, points-buy system, with a 2D10, roll low mechanic. Chris plays all PCs and I play the rest. I’d really like to minimize the “roll playing” and emphasize the “role playing”, but frankly neither of us are quite there.
And off we go...Into the CisternLike many of the better-off clans in Jakálla, Sky Blue Water was proud to boast it had its own cistern. In a city as large and densely populated as Jakálla, water and sanitation were a continuing concern. Sure, Jakálla had running water. But the supply wasn’t as constant—or as clean--as the Palace of the Realm would have one believe. Access to a steady supply of clean water was a true luxury. And a sign of status.
When Sky Blue Water first built their clanhouse, they had taken advantage of an area not filled by the last Ditlána, the periodic ritual razing of all or portions of a city upon which new structures were built, to create the cistern. Old stonework was cemented over to create the holding tank, which lay approximately two stories underground—deep enough to stay cool but not so deep as to be affected by Jakálla’s periodic flooding.
The cistern sat in the middle of the clan’s courtyard, housed beneath a columned roof of blue-gray slate. The tank itself, probably the remains of a previous occupant’s great hall, was accessed by a spiraling flight of stairs. It was a popular gathering place for members of those lineages whose apartments sat at ground level and could not take advantage of cooling breezes.
So it was a source of great anxiety when the water level suddenly dropped. There must be a leak somewhere, and the precious water was draining into Jakálla’s Tsuru'úm or underworld. Gúrush hiChayénga, the chief clan elder, ordered the cistern drained, cleaned and the leak to be found and patched. This work was assigned the highest priority, as summer was rapidly approaching and the water supply was urgently needed.
The real excitement came when Gemet hiDangól, chamberlain of Sky Blue Water, while relaying items discussed by the clan council, read the following to the assembled representatives of the lower clan lineages:
“We have been informed that our hiIndukar cousins (most diligent) discovered what looks to be the outline of an ancient doorway while effecting repairs to the clanhouse cistern. This is likely the source of our problems. The scholar Wachánu hiVayéshtu (esteemed among his peers) speculates that it may predate the last Ditlána. He seeks to assemble a team of explorers to investigate what lies beyond that door, that we may exploit any gains to the betterment of Sky Blue Water. This survey needs to be completed within the fortnight, so that the repairs may be completed and the cistern refilled before the start of the dry season. To those who participate in this survey, a portion of any spoils will be given to their lineage coffers!”
- Wachánu hiVayéshtu, scholar and antiquarian
- Kéttukal hiBaláshi, purveyor of exotic goods, assigned by clan to act as cataloger/appraiser
- Tabriz hiIndukar, laborer
- Tufiq hiIndukar, laborer
- Ikané hiShúkla, an Aridáni, Wachánu hiVayéshtu’s minder, a volunteer
- Rachan hiShúkla, Ikane’s younger brother, attendant to the hiVayéshtus, a volunteer
- Údey hiDangól, friend of Rachan hiShúkla, attendant to the hiChayéngas, a volunteer
- Kámat hiDangól, Udey’s cousin, friend of Rachan hiShúkla, wine steward to the hiChayéngas, a volunteer