Tékumel is a fantasy world created over several decades by M. A. R. Barker, now a retired professor of Urdu and South Asian Studies. In this world, huge medieval empires contest each other using magic, large armies, and ancient technology. Professor Barker began creating this world in his imaginative play as boy, and as a setting for short stories he wrote as a young man. In a 1984 interview, Barker states that the Tsolyani language and its writing system had taken their present forms by the time he was twelve years old -- long before his professional career as a linguist began.
Barker's own role playing rules for Tékumel developed over many years. In 1975, TSR released the first published rule set for this setting as Empire of the Petal Throne. Articles on Tékumel have appeared in general RPG magazines such as Dragon, The Space Gamer, Different Worlds, in dedicated magazines and fanzines such as Seal of the Imperium, and as postings by Professor Barker and his gamers to online forums and mailing lists.
Barker and his co-authors have published five role playing games for the world of Tékumel:
Tékumel is also the setting for several board games and miniature warfare rules. Barker has published five Tékumel novels:
- The Man of Gold (1984)
- Flamesong (1985)
- Lords of Tsámra (2003)
- Prince of Skulls (2002)
- A Death of Kings (2003)