Jul 7, 2010

Canonical Tekumel

Pale, whitish-scaled, Ruby-red eyed, subterranean reptiles with 4-arms, 4-legs, a serated beak and bone blow-guns who serve one of the Pariah Gods.  These creatures were discovered in Professor Barker's own game way back during Chiine ba Kal's hey-day.  This is about as 'Canonical' as you can get, and yet the creatures have not been collected into any Tekumel-oriented bestiary that I'm aware of. (If I've overlooked something, please do let me know)

Likewise with those unpleasant-looking folks around Purdimal who seem just a tad bit 'off' from typical full-blooded humans.  Yeah, those guys.  The ones who are hybridized with the N'yagga...and possibly other aquatic things.  The Tekumel equivalent of the Innsmouth Look.  Again, straight out of Professor Barker's personal game...about as Canonical as you could hope to ever get...and also overlooked or 'lost,' whatever euphenism you care to apply to the situation.

A certain Empress of ill-repute once forced the creation of unspeakable human-Pe Choi hybrids...of course the Pe Choi rose up and did much delicate violence to this particular Empress who suddenly fell out of favor and power.  All those unspeakable blasphemous hybrids were destroyed.  That's what the priests said.  That's what the OAL said.  That's what the Pe Choi said.  But is it the truth?  Did some of them survive somewhere?  With all the competing factions, super-science and sorcery running around on Tekumel--especially within the Imperial Court of a truly decadent empress...surely someone was motivated to sequester a few of tehse things out in some undisclosed location, possibly beyond a Nexus Point and on some adjacent plane...it would just make sense.  Again, this is Canonical stuff, if not exactly in wide circulation or talked about a great deal.

I won't even raise the stinky spectre of the 'Green Ssu' that were foisted upon Tekumel by an artist who was unfamiliar with the setting.  The cover to Flamesong is still a great book cover.  And as Prof. Barker has said innumerable times in the past there are countless Sub-Species of most of the Races, Animals, Beasts and other Creatures scattered all across Tekumel.  The humble Ru'un have dozens of variants and sub-types alone.  Look at the original edition Empire of the Petal Throne; the Pachi Lei illustration is labelled as being 'a Sub species of Pachi Lei'  It's right in there.  Whether it was because of sub-standard artwork, Prof. Barker being unsatisfied in some way, or whatever, the thing was done, the piece was printed and right out of the chute Tekumel was gifted with the Canonical Doctrine of the Oodles and Myriads of Sub-Types.

To the left is a pencil-sketch of a Sagun from back in the Eighties.  This is a Sagun (Sah-Goon), not a Hokun.  This is a nasty sac of fungus that can do all sorts of unpleasantness with micro-fine tendrils, spores and so forth.  It is soft, squishy, and well a virulent form of mushroom gone terribly, horribly bad.

It is NOT a Hokun.

As per Prof. Barker, the Hokun are angular, mantis-like and semi-transparent, similar to the Pe Choi is certain respects, yet completely other.  They are not smooth, rounded or flabby, nor do they have heads like bags of moldy clay.  Yet they have been mis-depicted as such, and frankly, even using the loosest and most generous interpretation of the Canonical Doctrine of Sub-Types mentioned above won't cover the creatures mis-identified as Hokun.

But does having been published on the cover of a box-set make something Canonical even if it is just flat-out wrong?  Huh.  One Paperback book-cover gave us Green Ssu.  Maybe an out-of-print box has given us a flabby, squishy, degenerate form of pseudo-Hokun?

I've been going over all my old notes from back when I was talking to Prof. Barker about the creatures, ecology and races of Tekumel.  At some point, after copying them and filing them, I plan on turning them all over to the nice folks at Aethervox for posterity's sake.  Maybe one of these days we'll get the chance to see more of the Canonical versions of these creatures that have been 'over looked,' 'missed,' or 'creatively re-interpreted.'  Maybe.  But if people can't get a Hokun straight from a Sagun, they have no business handling Prof. Barker's monsters.  But that's an opinion, and admittedly a fairly biased one.  I would have hoped that it would be a Canonical one as well...