Very sad news for us Tekumel lovers. I just received the following press release from the Tekumel Foundation about the passing of Phil Barker and my heart skipped a beat. More later on this beloved and creative man.
Excerpt from the release:
“Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 16, 2012: Professor Muhammad Abd-al-Rahman (MAR) Barker, known to his friends as “Phil,” died peacefully in home hospice on March 16, 2012 with his wife Ambereen Barker at his side.
A Fulbright Scholar (1951) of vast accomplishment, Professor Barker is probably best known for his creation of the world of Tékumel which he developed for over 70 years and which has been compared to Tolkein’s ‘Middle Earth’ in its scope, sophistication, and complexity. Barker was a Professor of Urdu and South Asian Studies at the University of Minnesota during the period when Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax were developing Tactical Studies Rules’ (TSR) first role-playing games in the Twin Cities and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
In 1975 Barker’s game “Empire of the Petal Throne” was the first role playing game published by TSR, Inc following the release of “Dungeons and Dragons.” Role playing games set in Tékumel, have been published every decade since the 1970’s, including the 1983 ‘Swords and Glory,’ 1994’s ‘Gardásiyal,’ and 2005’s ‘Tékumel: Empire of the Petal Throne.’ Beginning with “Man of Gold” in 1985 Barker published five novels, several game supplements, and a number of short stories set in Tékumel. In 2008 Barker established the Tékumel Foundation as his literary executor to protect and promote his intellectual property...”
Professor Barker is survived by his wife of 53 years, Ambereen. Details on memorial services will follow. In lieu of flowers, memorials to the Tékumel Foundation are preferred, visit the Foundation website here. (Donations to the Foundation can be made via Paypal on the front page of their website.)