Friday, March 28, 2014

Sourcebook: Hokun Trouble

Tekumel has no shortage of insects, arthropods, and intelligent bug races. Some are indigenous to to Tekumel; others are interlopers there, just as the humans are. The Hokun - "The Glass-Monsters" - are one of this latter type.

The Tekumel Bestiary says that the Hokun "resemble eight-foot-tall sculptures of cloudy green-grey glass." They have six limbs, the front two of which are used for manipulation of tools, while the middle set can be used for "heavy work, grasping, and balance." Their exoskeleton ranges from transparent to translucent. Many participate in a group-mind.

I've seen a couple of illustrations of the Hokun in Tekumel products; they look like a combination of a Grey alien and an ant. Sinister ant-taurs, perhaps. If you've seen ghost ants, you'll get the general idea. 

The Hokun inhabit Southern islands as well as areas of the Northern continent on the opposite side of the planet; I have read on the Blue Room archive that the Urunen of the far south are at war with some Hokun groups, while having friendly relations with others. Professor Barker also indicated that they are not particularly gifted with other-planar abilities, and have only maintained a little of the technology from their starfaring period.

Here's what the Tekumel Source Book tells us quite early on: 
  • The Hokun were starfarers from the Markab star system
  • During the catastrophic Time of Darkness, when Tekumel was cast into a pocket universe or Bethorm, "The translucent, insect-like Hokun pretended to cooperate with mankind for a time, warred with him, enslaved him, ruled him as gods, and were eventually defeated by him. Sulking and filled with hate, the Hokun retreated to their great island in the southern seas, and no man (or any other of his allies) dares now to land upon those shores."  
This is suggestive. They once ruled men as gods. According to The Tekumel Bestiary, they still hunt men for food in some places, while enslaving them and ruling them in others. The Bestiary says they "are perhaps the greatest threat to human hegemony over Tekumel."

It's easy to imagine ways that characters might stumble upon the Hokun in an adventure. While the Hokun are likely to be found only in very small numbers throughout the Five Empires, one might readily imagine them emerging from a tubecar station in a remote rural area of Tsolyanu (or another  of the Five Empires). 

The Hokun are living in long-forgotten ruins adjacent to a living village; they live off the meat-sacrifices of the human villagers who now worship them as gods. Perhaps the PCs were dispatched to this remote village by an absentee landlord in Jakalla. The landlord seeks to squeeze a bit more surplus out of their long-neglected peasants.

In Fate Core terms, you'd have a scenario issue something like this:

A remote village behind on tribute 

Possibly there'd also be the hidden aspect:

Tubecars bring trouble

The latter is almost a permanent aspect for tubecar systems on Tekumel.

Of course, the Hokun are also perfect for the kind of tubecar hexcrawl scenarios that Brett Slocum has run, such as the adventure "Where in Sarku's cold wormy hell are we?"  The PCs might emerge from a tubecar system almost anywhere on the planet. They might arrive in the middle of one of the Hokun states: perhaps one in which humans are hunted for food, or one where humans continue to worship the Hokun as gods.

Even more unsettling, the PCs might discover a symbiotic human-Hokun culture in which both species share a group mind. Maybe the Hokun have begun breeding experiments with humans, producing a number of specialized types - or strange genetic hybrids, such as humans with exoskeletons, humans with translucent skin, etc.

The possibilities seem endless.


  1. Hokun make a significant appearance in Dr. Barker's last novel, "A Death of Kings."

    1. I am embarrassed to say I have read that one and didn't remember!