PBP campaign is set in the Chaigari Protectorate, an out of the way
corner of Tsolyanu inhabited by a wide variety of peoples and creatures.
The PCs are mostly members of the Illakma, a
Jannuyani speaking tribe living in the Chayengar range.
an Illakma PC
Campaign notes, maps and
As this is an introductory adventure, all PCs will start as
'outsiders' to the Empire of the Petal Throne itself, initially ignorant
of the complexity of the cultures of the Five Empires.
are the mighty Illakma tribe, dwellers in one of the finest valleys in
the Chavengar mountains, feared by our enemies, revered by our allies
for our wisdom and loyalty.
dwell in Illakmanu village, which has seventeen huts (two more than the
wretched Uchumun tribe!) three terraced fields, one with tall wheat, and
we control five upland pastures where our herdsmen keep our fine strong
hmelu (six legged goats).
Our best hut is the Menís hut, where the Dzeu (headman) keeps his
bronze spear and wooden plough and the carved tallies of the herdsmen.
It stands just outside the fence which marks where the authority of the
Womenís Hearth begins and ends. All within that circle are subject to
the rule of the Dze-uch (headwoman) and her council, and woe betide any
man or woman who refuses to perform their daily tasks.
young men never go within the village at all and stay out in the
pastures or in the Menís hut, just to avoid being told to hoe the
fields and card wool by their mothers. They change their minds when they
realise this means they never get to meet any girls and will never get
valley was carved from the rock by the goddess Uchsvun, mother of the
tribe, Queen of the green grass and sweet water. Our wise woman lives in
a hut by the spring and makes the sacred drinks for the spring rites,
though she does not take part herself, remaining unmarried and chaste
her whole life. Each man must go to the shrine of Thek, which lies high
on the bare mountain side among the snows, and place upon it a stone
carved with the names of his children by the hermit there, so that all
might be recognised by Thek and admitted to heaven. Prayers written on
soft woollen cloth are also left there, fluttering in the breeze from a
know how to grow the tallest wheat in the mountains, we can weave the
finest woollen cloth, our hmelu-dogs are the best and most loyal, we can
build stout square huts from stones, mud and dung that only let in a
little bit of wind and rain and pens for our sheep from piled dry
We know how to terrace the steeper slopes with such walls to save and
deepen the soil, and how to find clay for pots by the deep pools down
the valley in the land of the Uchumun. We can chip stone to make good
blades for our bows and spears, though the chlen-hide ones we get from
traders are better. We know a good rate for trading hmelu cloth and
leather for salt from the desert men. We know you must have salt or your
neck swells and children become stunted and stupid like the Uchumun
are our allies?
allies are the Gukhu clan and the Iutamau clan. They are nowhere near as
rich and magnificent as we are, and we kindly help them out when their
flocks are raided, and help them take vengeance on trespassers.
are our enemies?
enemies are the A'ul, crazy thieving desert folk who live in the next
valley. They herd hmelu and thus pretend to be real people, but we see
through their lies. We do not like the Kraikma tribe. They do not talk
properly and wear black and worship some god called Kark or Karki,
something foreign and nasty anyway. They are good with spears though,
and when we take their pastures and herds it will be a tough fight.
We also dislike any beast that takes our hmelu. The Hlaka, the flying
people, used to do this, but after we made war on them and threw their
babies off cliffs with their wings bound they stopped.
world beyond our valley is full of ignorant fools. The Uchumun are weak
and their Dzeu is lame. They spend too much time in their fields and
village being bossed about by their wives and not enough in the high
pastures breathing the clean air. We took their pasturelands from them
easily and stole all their hmelu, not that they were worth much, being
as stunted and stupid as the Uchumun themselves.
We see traders every year who come from the north, the land of the
thieving desertmen, and trade for salt. Later in the same year these
traders come up again from the south with beads, pots and stuff called 'Chlen-hide'
which makes good knives.
Once every seven or eight years, a priest of the God Under the Mountain
comes to our village. He dresses in colourful robes edged with feathers
of many colours and wears a hat with a huge plume in it to cover his
bald head. He talks in a strange accent and tells tall stories. He says
we are all owned by his God, which is proven by a piece of thin leather
covered in squiggles. He always demands to see the herdsmenís tallies,
and then takes several hmelu away. The elders say it is unwise to stop
his thieving, which he calls 'tax'. Some tribes tried once and then
giants with sharp spears turned up and killed everyone. This priest is
not all bad though; he settles disputes between tribes that wars have
been unable to resolve and claims he can speak to the flying people, the
Hlaka, and stop them stealing hmelu. Once, it is said, he came with a
gang of men with bronze collars and made good paths down to the village
of the Uchumun and beyond and steps up to the pastures and wise
Illakma are, like all Tekumeli, copper skinned. The men tend to be
darker than the women as they spend more time in the open. A fine dark
tan is considered attractive in a man, denoting long hours wandering the
mountains doing manly outdoorsy things and making a living for the clan,
while pale women are considered attractive as they are obviously
inclined to stay indoors working hard at their spinning wheels, looms
and cookpots. Illakma culture is not quite advanced enough for
cosmetics, but advice to young men is to spread a little dirt on your
face before coming into the village, and to young women to
surreptitiously dab flour on your cheeks before your young man comes
The Illakma are short and broad-shouldered with slightly bowed legs, not
dissimilar to the physique of the Andeans. The men average five feet two
inches and the women four feet eleven inches. There is some variation,
and some related clans, like the Uchumun, are even shorter.
Their faces are broad-cheeked with small chins and a slight epicanthic
fold round the eyes - Terrans would think them like the Nepalese - but
they have thick black wavy hair and a tendency toward lighter coloured
eyes. They have a higher than usual chance of having outright blue eyes,
a very rare thing on Tekumel, but unlike the Tsolyani, they attach no
great significance to it.
and Personal effects
Illakma live in a colder mountain environment and wear more clothes than
is typical on Tekumel, and are even somewhat prudish about exposing
They go barefoot in the valleys and in the village, but wear substantial
boots when going up into the mountains. These are made from thick felted
woollen cloth with leather soles and are held up with blue woollen bands
just under the knees. They protect the lower legs and feet from thorns
and insect stings very well. Quality pairs have patterns embroidered on
them in blue.
They wear loincloths that have short fringes at front and back, and both
men and women wear long tunics of lighter wool. The women's versions are
usually short-sleeved and have some fancy needlework round the neck in
coloured threads. These are the usual daily wear and are rarely removed to be washed, these garments
are usually stained and patched, but fine ones as work by wisewomen and
headwomen have snail shell and iridescent blue beetle back sequins. They
are worn with leather belts which tie securely in the front and have
built in pouches for sundry personal effects such as bone needles, flint
retouchers, small blades etc.
The women wear hmelu hide cloaks in poor weather, but the man's hmelu-herders
coat is a work of art. Made of shaggy hmelu hide taken when winter wool
is at it's longest, it hangs down to the calves and has ties at the
front with bone toggles. In warmer weather only the top one is done up
and the coat slung back like a cloak, but when the wind comes up the
herder will huddle in it like a mini tent, sticking his arms out through
the side holes only when he has to. The lower fringe of the coat has
coloured wool, usually red, braided into the pelt, and is hung with
small slate beads. The most magnificent versions, worn by headmen on
ceremonial occasions, are decorated all over in many colours and weigh a
ton. All men tie at least one magic stone or bone to the hem of their
herders coat. Superstitious types may have dozens. These often fall off
unnoticed, and men will attribute some minor bad luck to the loss of a charm.
The hat, removed indoors, is of woollen cloth, dyed and embroidered to
taste. Stripy blue and red ones are common. They are round, like a large
skullcap, and have earflaps. Over this hmelu herders will wear a conical
leather construction to keep of the rain.
wear small bones carved with abstract symbols and stones with natural
holes on thongs, but most prized are the small bronze and copper beads
sold by the traders, worn on woollen bands round the wrist. The
tradition of presenting your sweetheart with beads made from the canine
teeth of an enemy and/or his herd-dog has died out in favour of these
prettier objects, but older women still wear large amounts of these
dental necklaces, handed down over generations. Some can still say in
which fight a given great grandfather knocked the tooth out and who the
original owner was.
Illakma like spears, heavy ones you can tackle a bith or zrne with, with
big broad stone points (see the
culture), and use slings to take small game and warn off lesser
predators. Some use wooden short bows with stone tipped arrows, but many
men think making arrows, or even javelins, is too fiddly and time
consuming. Bone handled short stone blades are universal, everyone has
one. Chlen-hide pocket-knives are a popular but expensive buy from the
traders - they are sharper, but do not last as long. Usually an Illakma
will carry a bit of horn set in wood to chip fresh edges on their blades
as they become blunt.
Illakma use dry stone walls for everything, chinking them with turf and
dung where they need to keep the wind out. Roofs are sloping, made of
hmelu hide, straw thatch and branches; smoke holes and chimneys are
unknown, smoke gets out through the gaps between the hides. Standards of
construction vary. The huts up on the pastures used by shepherds are
tumbledown and always need repairs, the granary hut is stoutly built
with big lintel stones among the myriad fist-sized bits of slate that
make up most of the walls binding the thing together.
Illakma weave and sew very well, and export woollen cloth. They have to
import most dyestuffs and make sparing use of colour. Their pottery is
not so hot, pretty crude with indented patterns, and imports are
preferred when they can be had. They carve symbols on bone, and make
bone flutes, but these are average quality. One export is their fine
ground slate knives with carved bone handles. Around the village and up
and down the valley are carved representations of the gods, chipped out
with verve and vigour on naturally interesting looking boulders and rock
faces. The priests and priestesses often do these themselves - one of
the few times you find a Thek priest away from his freezing hideyhole is
when he is carving an ugly face to loom out over a mountain path.
They have lots of songs and stories, and play mournful music on their
bone flutes telling tales of glorious hmelu-stealing raids. One favoured
legend is that of Makchun, who united 12 clans into a mighty warband and
conquered the world, only to fall into arrogance and hubris, before
being slain by his own people. The headman of the Illakma bears
Makchun's bronze spear. The tales of Illakma the Wise, son of Thek and
ancestor of the clan are also popular.
For further ideas on Illakma culture look up 'Otzi the Iceman', the
neolithic chap found frozen in the
, and Pre-Inca period Andean villages.
an Illakma PC
adventure is at the Gritty Realism level (30 Character Points, 15 skill
points) and has moderate magic (1 Skill =2 Magic).
All Illakma have the following free skills:
Speak Jannuyani 2
Knowledge: Chavengar Mountains 2
Kilalammu Etiquette 1 -applies to cultures of similar ethnicity
across most of central Tekumel
Occupation Tribesman 1 - this can give a bonus to the usual daily
activities of a mountain pastoralist; finding lost hmelu, repairing dry
stone walls, hoeing vegetable patches, chipping flint blades etc. Their
culture is too small to provide for much specialisation in ways of
making a living.
Other notes on skills:
Artisan skills - Stoneworking, Tanning and Woodcarving are available,
perhaps others if you make a good case for them existing in a neolithic
culture of about 50 souls.
The Illakma are a VERY LOW clan; they are not considered clanless, but
they are pretty close.
CANNOT have the following Attributes:
Flunkies - the most a tribesman might expect is a kid to do a bit of
running about for him, and this is better covered by Retainer, as such a
person would fight
Veteran - no Illakma has served in the army. They would probably make
excellent light infantry if anyone bothered to recruit them, but no one
Wealthy - The best an Illakma might expect is to be less Poor than
usual (see below). There is just not the opportunity to accumulate
Illakma MUST take the following Defects:
Poor 2 (owning a chlen-hide knife makes you wealthy)
Second Class Citizen 1 (Don't speak Tsolyani, live in the sticks,
smell strongly of hmelu)
Uneducated 1 (Goes without saying)
Clan members can be priests of Thek (vaguely equivalent to Hnalla and
Thumis) or priestesses of Uchsvun (equivalent of Avanthe/Dilinala). The
village has a wise woman in residence, but the hermits of Thek live some
distance away on a wind blown summit.
Taking the Low Status Defect makes you a member of the Milumanyani
speaking A'ul clan, a people so benighted even the Illakma regard them
as low lifes; High Status makes you a Black Hmelu clansman, a Tsolyani-speaking
tribe who still rate Very Low, but are not automatically considered
second class citizens.
The Illakma are a sexist lot, and while female herder/hunters are known,
they are looked down on. On the other hand in the village the woman's
word is law, and they carry out most of the useful crafts and trading