Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tell Me About "Empire of the Petal Throne" (TSR)

About the only glaring hole I've had from the early days of TSR / D&D (at least rules wise, not talk modules / adventures) is the original Empire of the Petal Throne.

Over the weekend I snagged a copy on eBay - still sealed, even if the wrapping is a bit torn. I will be doing the unthinkable and opening this sucker up when it arrives. Games are meant to be read and played when possible. (maybe I'll do an "Unboxing" post with photos)

That being said, what little I know about EotPT is what I've read on the internet. I've never known anyone personally who has played it or owned it.

I know there is an active EotPT / Tekumel community out there.

What should I zero in on when I read this? What should I be looking for first to add to the collection? How complete are the rules? A crapton of other questions will probably arise when it arrives ;)


  1. I too have seen the name on and off for years, but never a good description of this product.

    Is it a module(s), is it a setting, is it variant rules? It's been some time since I looked for information, but wtf is Tekumel.

    So, whatever basic info you can unearth would probably be more than I have at hand now.

    Looking forward to an Unboxing"!

  2. Please do an unboxing post with lots of photos. It'll be better than Geraldo's Titanic TV special!

  3. Acquire the Empire of the Petal Throne first, just for the beginning. When you get comfortable with the stuff from this buy Sword and Glory vol 1. It's the ultimate tekumel setting sourcebook. Then you can buy Mitlanyal(tekumelani pantheon) and Book of Ebon Bindings(sort of patheon of deamons). A very nice addition would be Tekumel bestiary.

  4. wow did that cost a fortune? it is basically a setting along with rules. the rules in this first iteration of the game are very similar to od&d, but there is also kind of a crude skill/background system. the world itself is still somewhat incomprehensible to me, even though i have read the rule book twice. the guy that wrote this was a genius who spoke like 10 languages. he started coming up with this world when he was a kid, and kept building on it all of his life until he passed away recently. it is a very unusual product and is deserving of its legendary status. i have never heard of a new copy still being around. the author, M.A.R. Barker, also did all of the artwork, which is awesome.

  5. I am envious. The only Tekumel games I ever ran were with the edition you just snagged, and I only had access to the original book at the time. It was, along with FGU's Bushido and 2nd edition Runequest one of the games which pushed me into a different style and perspective on how to look at RPGs back in the day. I've never really recovered from EPT...it was a demonstration of just how exotic and alien a setting could be if one tried. The few games I ran were muddy and confusing, but a great deal of fun (keeping in mind I was 14ish when I ran EPT).

  6. Go to tekumel.com and have a look through the stuff collected there. They've got some alternate rules, conversions and some archived 'zines.

    There's a lot of stuff out there. 4 sets of "official" rules, a couple of homebrew systems (like Tirikelu) and a handful of conversions for AD&D, TFT, RQ, GURPS... Brett Slocum's Weird Realms site has details on a few of them. Jeff Dee is working on a new set of rules for Tekumel.

    The Swords & Glory rules are often touted as the best source material for the setting. The Guardians of Order system Tekumel: World of the Petal Throne has awesome illustrations. The Tekumel Bestiary from TOME has excellent creature descriptions with an appendix of stats for Gardasiyal/Adventures on Tekumel.


  7. The Empire of the Petal Throne is a door to a fantastic realm. There are novels (5 that I am aware of), zines, archives, a rare line of miniatures, articles found in Dragon mag, supplements, declarations of war and death done in the script of the setting. Unbox this set at your own peril. Some can become lost within, but it is not a world that appeals to everyone, and others never find their way to Tekumel.

  8. The constancy and level of detail is like Harn only...

    weirder. ;-)

  9. I just remember the early Dragon Magazine's beating us over the head with it in a not so obvious ploy at subliminal marketing.. But I never knew anyone who actually played it and the setting bever blew my skirt up.

  10. Very first RPG I ever played - and I only got to play it once. I'm very jealous.
    Just remember - don't drink and eBay, the results are not pretty.

  11. The box is going for around $200 on eBay, so kudos if you got a deal on it.

    To answer Daleus; yes, yes, and sorta. It's an incredibly detailed setting, created by someone who was a professor of languages (like Tolkien), with huge amounts of detail on language, dress, customs, etc. There are also a number of adventure modules set in the world itself, as well as novels, spin-off games, miniatures rules, etc.

    The original game has its own game system, which is very tightly integrated into the setting itself, but it can theoretically be played using any system, because it's the world and its incredibly detailed background that's the "star". I'm sure many of the rules in EPT could be ported into a more conventional D&D game, as they are of a common place and time in gaming history (the upper Midwest in the early 1970's).

    Erik, for your unboxing, I'd love to see a comparison between the EPT rules and the LBB's. Probably enough there for several posts.

  12. Tekumel is as big as Middle Earth, tons of detail. Instead of the typical medieval fantasy setting based on European mythology, Tékumel is based on the mythologies of India, the Middle East, and Mesoamerica. It features large political empires that have existed for millennia, similar to Ancient Rome or China, numerous non-human races, horrific creatures, active gods, powerful magic, intrigue inside of intrigue, rigid social strata, and ancient advanced technology.

    Four systems (or three and a half, depending on how you count) have been published for it, so you can take your pick of the one you like, or apprise yourself of the numerous conversions to other systems (GURPS, TFT, BRP, d20, d6, FUDGE, etc.).

    For the old school crowd, Empire of the Petal Throne, the original, is your best bet. It is a complete game, with history, current politics, chargen, combat, magic, bestiary, alien races, and miscellaneous magic items.

    I've been engrossed in the setting for 38 years. I never tire of it. 

  13. I ran it for awhile in high school, in between D&D runs. We had some fun with it but it was a bit too far off the beaten path for me to feel very comfortable trying to build on it at the time. I'd probably do better with it now, with more knowledge of the cultures it is built on to draw upon. Still have it in a box of old stuff somewhere, along with a couple of early add-on bits. Barker's novels help a lot in understanding the world. I didn't keep up with collecting later material, since I liked the world but wasn't actually playing it.

    One of my most memorable gaming moments happened in EPT. A friend rolled up one of those insanely good characters right in front of me, that I would never believe if he'd brought it pre-rolled. Percentiles if I remember right, multiple 100s on stats, a 99, a 97, low roll was something like 91. And his brother shot him in the back with a heavy crossbow and killed him on the way to the first dungeon complex just to spite him.

  14. There is a current line of Tekumel miniatures, if minis are your thing:




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