Monday, March 26, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

M.A.R. Barker 1929-2012 (RIP)

M.A.R. Barker, author of the the Empire of the Petal Throne novels and games set in Tekumel passed away this morning in his home.

Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 16, 2012: Professor Muhammad Abd-al-Rahman (MAR) Barker, known to his friends as “Phil,” died peacefully in home hospice on March 16, 2012 with his wife Ambereen Barker at his side.

A Fulbright Scholar (1951) of vast accomplishment, Professor Barker is probably best known for his creation of the world of Tékumel which he developed for over 70 years and which has been compared to Tolkein’s ‘Middle Earth’ in its scope, sophistication, and complexity. Barker was a Professor of Urdu and South Asian Studies at the University of Minnesota during the period when Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax were developing Tactical Studies Rules’ (TSR) first role-playing games in the Twin Cities and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. In 1975 Barker’s game “Empire of the Petal Throne” was the first role playing game published by TSR, Inc following the release of “Dungeons and Dragons.”

Role playing games set in Tékumel, have been published every decade since the 1970’s, including the 1983 ‘Swords and Glory,’ 1994’s ‘Gardásiyal,’ and 2005’s ‘Tékumel: Empire of the Petal Throne.’ Beginning with “Man of Gold” in 1985 Barker published five novels, several game supplements, and a number of short stories set in Tékumel. In 2008 Barker established the Tékumel Foundation as his literary executor to protect and promote his intellectual property.

Born in 1929, Barker graduated Magna cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Washington with a BA in Linguistics in 1951. He traveled on Fulbright Scholarship to India where he studied the Koraku, Korwa, Uraon and Jaunsauri languages of rural India and the Himalayas, and while on this trip converted to Islam. Upon his return to the United States, Barker was elected to the California chapter of the Sigma Xi Society for the promotion of research in science.

In 1959 he completed his Ph.D. by publishing the grammar and dictionary of the Klamath Indians of southwestern Oregon, which was used as reference material for Native American languages by the producers of the ‘Northern Exposure’ TV series during the 1990’s.

He traveled again to Pakistan in 1959 on a Ford Foundation grant where he studied the Urdu, Punjabi, Pashto, Baluchi, and Brahui languages. In 1961 he published an anthology of Urdu poetry. From 1961 until 1969 Professor Barker taught Arabic, Urdu-Hindi and linguistics at McGill University in Canada, and in 1970 spent a year sabbatical in Lucknow and Hyderabad where he worked on an advanced reader of classical Urdu poetry.

In 1972 the Barkers moved to Minneapolis, where Professor Barker chaired the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies. He continued to teach at the University of Minnesota until his retirement in 1992.

In addition to Tékumel, Professor Barker was an avid student of Meso-American cultures including the Inca, Maya, and Aztec peoples. His creation of Tékumel includes elements of Central American and southeast Asian cultures, including religious pantheons, ornate pyramidal temples, and elaborate costuming.

Professor Barker is survived by his wife of 53 years, Ambereen. Details on memorial services will follow. In lieu of flowers, memorials to the Tékumel Foundation are preferred, visit

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Greyhawk City 3D

I ran across these over on cghub. They were having a design contest, and I just felt I had to share these images by AaronRogers



Sunday, March 11, 2012

Prominent Geographical Features of Greyhawk - Rivers

Artonsamay River: This is one of the longest rivers on the continent. It is navigable from Redspan Town in Tenh all the way to Nyr Dyv.

Att River: A tributary of the Velverdyva, which is navigable to small craft well beyond Littleberg.

Blackwater: A tributary of the Dulsi.

Blashikmund River: A tributary of the Tuflik, which forms the current border between Ekbir and Tusmit.

Cold Run: A tributary of the Artonsamay, which flows south to join that river west of the town of Rookroost.

Crystal River: A tributary of the Veng.

Davish River: A very cold and rapidly running tributary of the Javan.

Deepstil River: A tributary of the Dulsi, which flows eastward through the Vesve Forest.

Dulsi River: A broad and deep inlet of Whyestil Lake, navigable to the fork of the Blackwater.

Duntide: A river rising in the Flinty Hills, which flows southward into the Gnatmarsh where it joins the Nesser.

Ery River: A tributary of the Selintan, which flows south of Greyhawk City.

Fals River: A tributary of the Velverdyva, which marks the northern boundary of Veluna.

Flanmi River: The greatest water in eastern Flanaess, its basin drains nearly all of the Great Kingdom, and most of the river and its tributaries are navigable by ship all the way to Rauxes, and by barge beyond.

Fler River: The principal inlet to Lake Quag, flowing from the Burneal Forest and the Land of Black Ice beyond. It is supposed that much of this river is passable to large craft.

Franz River: A tributary of the Nesser, which is navigable to Trigol. It forms the boundary between Nyrond and the County of Urnst.

Frozen River: A swift flow running mainly north from the Griff Mountains through the lands of Stonefist to empty into White Fanged Bay.

Grayflood: A tributary of the Thelly, which now marks the extent of land, claimed by the Iron League (Sunndi).

Harp River: One of the longest rivers of the continent, the Harp’s headwaters are in the Rakers, and its mouth is near Chathold in Almor where it empties into Relmor hay. It is navigable for about half its length.

Hool River: A tributary of the Javan, broad and with swampy banks.

Imeda River: A tributary of the Flanmi, which joins the latter at Rauxes.

Javan River: This river is the longest on the continent, beginning high in the Barriers and coursing southward for hundreds of miles before turning east and emptying into the Azure Sea above Monmurg in the Hold of the Sea Princes. It is usable by large vessels only to the town of Cryllor in the Good Hills of Keoland.

Jewel River: A river which rises just south of the Kron Hills and flows south through the Gnarley Forest, Welkwood, and Suss Forest to empty into the Azure Sea. It divides the Principality of Ulek from the Pomarj. About 150 miles of the waterway are navigable by large craft.

Kewl River: A tributary of the Sheldomar, which divides the Duchy from the County of Ulek.

Lort River: A tributary of the Sheldomar, which divides Gran March from Ulek Duchy.

Mikar River: A tributary of the Flanmi, which rises in the Lone Heath and flows through Grandwood Forest.

Nesser River: A long and exceptionally broad and deep artery, which drains Nyr Dyv. Despite many islands and numerous channels, the Nesser is so wide (over three miles on the average) that seagoing vessels can sail up or down its entire length if properly piloted. It forms the boundary between Nyrond and the Duchy of Urnst.

Neen River: A tributary of the Selintan River, which is broad but shallow.

Old River: A tributary of the Sheldomar, which bounds County Ulek from the Principality.

Opicm River:
The eastern inlet of Whyestil Lake, which also rises in the Cold Marshes. It forms the boundary of the lands of Iuz.

Realstream River: A tributary of the Javan, which flows through the Dim Forest to join the latter waterway just below the town of Hochoch.

Ritensa River: A tributary of the Veng, which divides the Shield Lands and the Bandit Kingdoms from the territory of the Horned Society.

Selintan River: A relatively broad and deep channeled outlet of the western Nyr Dyv, it flows past Free City of Greyhawk into Woolly Bay, and is plied by considerable traffic.

Sheldomar River:
A river, which divides Keoland from the Ulek States and is navigable from its mouth to the city of Niole Dra.

Teesar Torrent: An exceedingly swift river which rises in the North Province of the Great Kingdom and feeds the Harp below the Blemu Hills.

Thelly River: A tributary of the Flanmi navigable to the town of Nulbish.

Trask River: The Trask flows eastward through the North Province of the Great Kingdom to empty into the Solnor Ocean. The Town of Atirr at its mouth is a busy seaport.

Tuflik River: This is a long, westward-flowing river which has its headwaters in the northern end of the Barrier Peaks and divides Ket and Tusmit from the Plains of the Paynims. It is also the boundary between Ekbir and Zeif. The Tuflik empties into the Dramidj Ocean.

Velverdyva River: This river might be the second longest on the continent. There is debate whether the lower Fler should be called the Velverdyva. The river is the boundary between Veluna and Furyondy. It is open to large vessels to a point north of the Veluna City area, while barges can travel all the waters Thornward in Bissel (Fals River) or to Lake Quag (with some difficulty).

Veng River: This waterway is the outlet of Whyestil Lake and an inlet of Nyr Dyv. It is navigable along its entire length, being both deep and broad. The river forms the boundary between the Horned Society and the lands of Furyondy and is strongly patrolled by river craft, cavalry, and infantry.

Yol River:
The Yol is a tributary of the Artonsamay, which rises in the Troll Fens and divides the Phostwood from the Nutherwood, forming the border between Tenh and the Pale. It is plied by barges from Wintershiven and those journeying to that city.

Zumker River:
The Zumker is a tributary of the Artonsamay whose headwaters are reputed to be a large mountain lake in the Griffs. It forms a border between Tenh and the lands of the Bandit Kingdoms.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Prominent Geographical Features of Greyhawk - Mountain Ranges



The Corusks form a bow, the backbone of the Thillonrian Peninsula, which runs from the Solnor Ocean in the east, north and west and then southwest where the range terminates (Hraak Pass). While the lower parts of the mountains are inhabited by humans, various bands of evil humanoids and monsters of all sorts dwell in the central fastness. It is thought that this range possesses little in the way of valuable ores or gems.



The Crystalmist range is the highest on the Flanaess. It begins where the Ulsprue and the Barrier Peaks join and runs southeast to the Hellfurnaces. Beyond these mountains to the west is the Dry Steppes area, while several small states nestle against its eastern slopes where arms are thrust northward and eastward. Amidst the high peaks and weird valleys of the Crystalmists dwell many and varied monsters, tribes of humanoids, and many giants, ogres, and the like. Despite this fact, men often enter the range in search of precious metals and gems, for exceptionally bold and sturdy mountain dwarves also reside amidst these mountains. A great glacier in the middle of the range gives rise to the Davish River (which flows through Stench to join the Javan).



As the name implies, the peaks of these mountains are the habitat of many monstrous creatures. The Griff range extends from the western terminus of the Corusks at Hraak Pass, southwest and west for over 100 leagues. These mountains divide the Hold of Stonefist from the Duchy of Tenh and the Theocracy of the Pale below. Being only a trifle lower than the Corusks, the Griff Mountains are similarly uninviting to human settlement, although there are some sprinkled here and there, for these mountains do contain valuable mineral deposits. There is supposedly a small and beautiful land in the heart of this range. Ruled by a powerful prince, and protected from all invasions by magic and might, this tiny realm is said to have buildings roofed in copper and silver, gold used as lead is elsewhere, and jewels lying about on the ground.



The Hellfurnaces range is part of the Crystalmist Mountain range, but it is active volcanically in many places, and thus its different name. As with the northern part of the chain, the Hellfurnaces are a hive of evil, being populated with all sorts of monsters, particularly those, which enjoy warmer temperatures, such as Fire Giants. There are reported to be whole labyrinths of passages under this range of mountains, these underworld highways actually going for scores, possibly hundreds, of miles in all directions.



These mountains are clustered thickly for many leagues west and south of Lake Quag. They, along with the Barrier Peaks, divide the Baklunish portion of the continent from the rest – save in the north where western nomads have pushed across the top and beyond. These mountains form the boundaries of Ekbir, Tusmit, and Ket to the west. In and along their eastern slopes are found the Concatenated Cantons of Perrenland and the territory of the Olvenfolk (Highfolk). There are numerous humanoids and monsters dwelling within this range of mountains, but there also are some hardy demi-humans and mountaineers. The Yatils are quite rich in ore deposits and gems, although it is difficult to locate and mine such deposits.



Barrier Peaks: This range stretches from the southwestern edge of Bramblewood Forest to the Crystal-mists. Its terminus of northern hills is so rugged and steep as to be regarded as basically part of the mountain chain. The Valley of the Mage is hidden within the central Barriers, and their southwestern end forms the western boundary of the Grand Duchy of Geoff. These mountains are infamous for their strange inhabitants. Of course, there are some dwarves dwelling in hidden places within the Barrier range, for they have many precious minerals and gems.

Clatspur Range: This small group of mountains below the Sepia Highlands borders the Vesve Forest on the west and funnels the southern portion of Lake Quag. These peaks have some valuable minerals, and Perrenlanders dwell in small villages in the lower ranges and valleys. There are few demi-humans found in the Clatspurs proper.

Drachensgrab (Mountains): The small Drachensgrab mounts are highlighted by several towering peaks, which thrust up from their center. The whole area is known to be filled with prized metals and fine quality gemstones, but many strange creatures of hostile nature live amidst the hills and mountains of the Drachensgrab. Additionally, it is speculated that some terrible curse is upon the area, and legends relate that some powerful being or beings will arise in anger if their resting-place is ever disturbed. The mountains are now the major stronghold of humanoid invaders holding the whole Pomarj area. These include ores, hobgoblins, bugbears, and numbers of ogres and ogre magi.
Glorioles: This is another lesser mountain range, which is found at the northwestern end of the Hestmark Highlands. The Rieuwood lies to the west of the Glorioles, and the Grayflood and Thelly Rivers above. The peaks and valleys of this range are the homeland of perhaps 10,000 or more mountain dwarves. These dwarves, despite an antipathy for elvenkind, have of late aided in the warfare being conducted by the Iron League against the invading forces of the Great Kingdom.

Jotens: The largest arm, or spur, of the Crystalmists is known as the Jotens, both because these mountains are very high and imposing, and also because they are the dwelling place of numerous hill giants and not a few stone and cloud giants as well. In all other respects this range is similar to the Crystalmists (q.v.).

Lortmil Mountains: This low chain of mountains, often fading into hills with age, contains several very imposing mounts nonetheless. It is the homeland of many sorts of demi-humans – dwarves, gnomes, mountain dwarves, and a few venturesome halflings, as well as scattered aarokocra tribes. These folk have acted in concert in the past to expel most of the humanoids and many of the vicious monsters from the Lortmils, and they are subjects of the small states, which have formed in the shelter of the range such as the Ulek realms and Celene (qq.v.). The Lortmil Mountain range contains some of the richest gem and precious metal deposits known, and the dwarves, gnomes, and halflings living in the region are reputedly as wealthy as princes.

Rakers, the: A southern arm of the Griff Mountains which runs downward into the central part of eastern Flanaess is known as the Rakers, as the tall, sharp peaks seemingly rake the skies. Their terminus, the Flinty Hills, is discussed elsewhere (see Hills and Highlands). Although infested with humanoids and fearsome creatures, these mountains also provide a home for a number of groups of dwarves and mountain dwarves. It is not known how much valuable ore is contained within these peaks.

Sulhaut Mountains: This range runs westward the place where the Crystalmists and Hellfurnaces meet. It separates the Dry Steppes from the ghastly Sea of Dust (q.v.). It can only be supposed what can be found in these mountains, for no certain information is available to us. Reports of Drow are not uncommon. A tortuous pass supposedly exists, enabling passage from the Dry Steppes into the Sea of Dust or eastward into the kindlier lands of the Flanaess.
Ulsprue: The lesser peaks of the Crystalmists, thrust northwest and north into the Plains of the Paynims, are known to the Baklunish as the Ulsprue, possibly for the people who dwell in the cup which these mountains and the Barrier Peaks form on the plains. No certain information regarding other aspects of this range is available.

Prominent Geographical Features of Greyhawk - Marshes and Swamps



The vast stretches of fens and bogs north of the Howling Hills separate Blackmoor from the lands of the Wolf Nomads and the Rovers of the Barrens. Here rise the Dulsi and Opicm Rivers, both of which feed the great Whyestil Lake. There are said to be riches in the highlands to the south of the marsh, but only the very brave or extremely foolish venture near the place, for the Cold Marshes are most renowned for the vile creatures which inhabit their mires.



The vee of land, which narrows to, but 30 leagues in breadth above the neck of the Tilvanot Peninsula is sunken in the center and cliffed along both coasts. This cupping causes water to form into standing pools and sluggish streams and flowages. The resulting morass of water and vegetation is known as the Vast Swamp. The upper swamps begin below the middle of the Hollow and Hestmark Highlands, which flank it to west and east. The swamp runs southward for well in excess of 200 miles, being over 150 miles across at the top and funneling down to only 30 miles breadth at the base where Spine Ridge rises. The movement of water in the Vast Swamp indicates that it gradually drains southward, hut there is no known river rising from the end, so it is thought that there are underground channels through which the waters run.
Certain desperate outlaws dwell within the Vast Swamp, and there are also native humans and humanoid tribes, bullywugs in particular, found within its bounds. Ferocious predators and loathsome monsters likewise consider this their domain. The men of Sunndi, and the folk dwelling in the hills to either hand, keep constant watch to assure that these denizens of the Vast Swamp do not roam beyond its edges. There are many tales and legends concerning this area, but the most likely is that of the lost burial place of the demi-lich, Acererak, who once ruled the morass and beyond into the cockscomb of Tilvanot.



Gnatmarsh: This comprises an extensive area of very treacherous wetlands which stretch along the east hank of the Nesser River from the Celadon Forest to below the joining of the Duntide. These bogs are home to many ghastly creatures and spawn myriad millions of biting insects during the summer months.

Hool Marshes: After the initial rush of the Hool River from the high lake and freshets in the Hellfurnaces, it begins to meander across the plains, and most of its length is surrounded by quaking mires and bottomless pools. This forms a natural boundary between the lands of the Yeomanry and the holdings of the Sea Princes to the south. These marshes are also home to renegade humans, humanoids, and many types of monsters.

Lone Heath: This great marsh gives rise to Mikar River east of the mighty Grandwood Forest. The area provides sanctuary to outlaw humans and demi-humans fighting the evil and oppression of the Over-king and his minions. Unlike most areas of this sort, evil things fear to enter the trackless Lone Heath.
Pelisso Swamps: These unhealthy stretches along the north coast of Hepmonaland are unexplored and who or what dwells there is unknown.
Rushmoor (Marshes): A long stretch of land east of the mid-Javan to the headwaters of the Sheldomar is known as the Rushmoors. This area forms part of the northern boundary of Keoland and is a part of the unclaimed region consisting of the central Dim Forest, eastern Oytwood, and the Rushmoors. Many dangerous creatures inhabit the marshes, and there are reports of humanoid bands there as well.

Troll Fens: The chill mists of the Troll Fens, located against the shoulders of the Griff Mountains and the Rakers at the head of the Yol River, cloak a place of unnameable horrors. The Pale carefully hedges the place with watchtowers and keeps, and strong patrols constantly ride the verges of the southern end of the Troll Fens to watch for unwelcome visits from the monsters and humanoid bands dwelling within. As its name implies, the fens are infested with particularly huge and vicious trolls in numbers.