Roleplaying game pioneer M.A.R. Barker was an anti-Semite and Nazi sympathizer

For roleplaying gamers there are fewer "holy grail" games than M.A.R. Barker's 1974 now-rare Tékumel: Empire of the Petal Throne. Barker's complex, linguistically-inspired fantasy world was often compared to J.R.R. Tolkien's (Barker was also a linguist). Barker is often included in the same reverent breath as D&D creators Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson as one of the fathers of RPGs.

So, imagine the surprise as news recently surfaced that Barker was a Nazi sympathizer, an anti-Semite, and the author of a pseudonymous book, Serpent's Walk, published in 1991 by National Vanguard Books (publishers of The Turner Diaries). Oh, and it turns out, Barker was also on the Editorial Board of the Holocaust-denying Journal of Historical Review.

After news of Barker's authorship of Serpent's Walk began to circulate in the gaming community, the Tékumel Foundation suddenly remembered they'd forgotten to share this inconvenient little tidbit and published the following statement:

The Tekumel Foundation Board of Directors wants to acknowledge that our research shows Professor M.A.R. Barker wrote Serpent's Walk, an anti-Semitic novel that was published under a pseudonym in 1991. We have done our due diligence to ascertain the facts regarding Serpent's Walk and Professor Barker's affiliation with The Journal of Historical Review and we believe this needs to be recognized as part of Professor Barker's past. While nobody today is responsible for the odious views Professor Barker presented in Serpent's Walk, we are responsible for recognizing this book as part of his legacy.

That this acknowledgment was not done earlier was and is a mistake, and we apologize for that. We have been reaching out to several Jewish organizations to express our outrage over our findings and make our priority to work with them through this issue.

What Professor Barker did was wrong and forever tarnished his creative and academic legacy. As stewards of the world of Tekumel, we reject and repudiate Serpent's Walk and everything it stands for and all other anti-Semitic activity Professor Barker was involved with.

The Tekumel Foundation has never been involved with or profited from the publication, distribution, or sale of Serpent's Walk in any way, shape, or form. All of the proceeds from sales of Tekumel-related material have gone and will continue to go to the Foundation and its work, and not to any racist or anti-Semitic organizations or causes, in any way, shape, or form.

[H/t Michael Hughes]

Image: Fair use