Professor Muhammad Abd-al-Rahman (MAR) Barker, retired University of Minnesota Professor, author, linguist, and Tékumel creator died March 16 at the age of 83. He was also a popular science fiction author who helped inspire the creators of Dungeons and Dragons.
His creation of the world of Tékumel over the course of 70 years,has been compared to Tolkien’s ‘Middle Earth’ in its 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.
[Based on the press release. Thanks to Dan Goodman for the story.]