Skip to content

Lore and Technology Report, June 2021

First off, apologies: RL threw me for a loop recently and May went by without a report or much work to report. We will have some new lore ready for Obsidian Day, Saturday 24th July 2021 from 18:00 BST, including a panel at 21:00 BST for discussion.

For now let me just direct you to another note on Romulans from Picard showrunner Michael Chabon. The opening discussion on Narek is good, but a wonderful bit of additional lore appears at the end with a description of the Romulan game of Zhamaq:

“As with tarot cards on Earth, the pikhmit “fortune telling” cards originated as part of a game, called Zhamaq.

Zhamaq can best be understood as combination of chess and bid whist, played with both a deck of cards, the pikhmit, on which the gods, heroes and demons of the Romulan (ancient Vulcan?) pantheon are depicted, and with tokens representing stylized military figures (munifex, conicen, immunes, centurion, praetor, quaestor, and emperor) on a soft fabric game mat. A Zhamaq mat is inscribed with stylized “landmarks”: mountain ranges, rivers, and forts, overlaid with a triangular grid. Traditional mats are often quite beautiful.

Zhamaq is a game of alliances and counter-alliances, treaties and betrayals, played by three players. The tokens come in three colors (red, white and black). The game play is generally understood to be modeled on the dual nature of warfare: the interaction of the tactical (play on the mat) with the psychological (play with the cards, which involves bluffing and trick taking). Some see a metaphor for destiny, human life, in that card play (the gods) controls and determines the possibilities of mat play. The Romulans view Zhamaq, rightly, as the game of games, the one that most perfectly balances skill and luck.”

Michael Chabon

Cam, Dark Mistress of Lore & Tech