Empire of the Petal Throne
Date: Apr 6th, 2012 11:30:25 am - Subscribe
Mood: somber

We lost another master worldbuilder recently. M. A. R. Barker, the creator of the science fantasy world of Tékumel has passed away.

Tékumel is a pastiche reminiscent of Jack Vance's Planet of Adventure novels with an admixture of ancient Meso-American and Mesopotamian cultures and healthy dose of psychic powers. Like J. R. R. Tolkien, Barker added to the verisimilitude of his fantasy creation by inventing a convincing imaginary language. (There were enthusiasts speaking Tsolyáni years before anyone thought of inventing Klingon.) Unlike Tolkien, Barker created a religion for his fantasy world.

Empire of the Petal Throne (1975) was not only one of the earliest FRPGs, it was one of the first to situate the action in a cultural context. Players were presented with an astonishingly detailed world in which to adventure. It was also one of the few games to find its way into fiction. In the 1980's DAW books published two of Barker's Tékumel novels, The Man of Gold (1984) and Flamesong (1985), and more recently three more of his were printed.

M. A. R. Barker was one of the most singular imaginations of his age and will be remembered fondly by fans for the rich tapestry that he wove.

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