Tuesday, December 2, 2014

James Mal Returns with "The Excellent Travelling Volume", an Empire of the Petal Throne Fanzine

A quick check of Grognardia shows that December 11th, 2012 was the last post at the blog. Nearly 2 years. In that time, the Dwimmermount drama came and went (I got my print copies last week). Now, James Mal is back in the fold of old school fandom with his new zine, The Excellent Travelling Volume, an Empire of the Petal Throne zine set in the world of Tekumel.

There have been numerous RPGs set in Tekumel - heck, Jeff Dee just recently released one himself. This zine tho uses the first ruleset set in Tekumel, and the RPG has been out of print for over 30 years.

I'm intrigued by James' latest project. Tekumel is not a light setting. From what I've read of Empire of the Petal Throne (I own the boxed set), it is closely derived from OD&D but the setting is dense and it's fans are fairly rabid. James hasn't chosen an easy path.

The Excellent Travelling Volume is print only - 10 bucks shipped to North America, 12 bucks to the rest of the world. Coming in at 28 pages in digest size, that may seem a little steep. I'll be interested in any reviews or feedback from those that grab a copy to see if they get a fair shake for the prices.

Tekumel certainly seems to be a hot commodity recently.


  1. I've talked with James about this, and the cost is largely about shipping (he's in Canada). He also is using really nice physical materials, and has great art in the product. I mean, shit, Jason Sholtis' cover of the first issue is really nice. Those things ain't cheap either. I think it's a fair price.

  2. Oooh, I like that cover. Hmm, might need to suggest this for my Christmas stocking.

  3. Tita's House of Games does have an authorized reprint of the classic rules.


  4. The original EPT rules are also available on RPGnow:

    Empire of the Petal Throne

    Even if you aren't interested in the setting, it's worth it for looking at the alternate takes on the original D&D rules. Plus a gazillion new monsters for OD&D.

  5. No interest whatsoever in Tekumel or this 'zine, but it's good to see he didn't let the Dwimmermount debacle destroy him or his interest in (as he put it time and again) "the hobby."

    I'm still wading through old Grognardia entries. Very hit or miss but some interesting reading. Too bad he abandoned it completely.

  6. I'm wishing him luck on this, but the price is a bit too steep for something I won't end up using. It looks pretty, though, and Tekumel is always interesting to read about.

  7. I'm late to this party, having been away since Ozzy had Jake E. Lee playing guitar, but I wanted to toss-in here that when I came back to the game and culture earlier this year, Grog was the first place I found when I searched-out The Secret of Bone Hill.

    James was entirely welcoming and that was a great way to reinsert into this culture. We've all been that new guy in the pool hall or guitar shop or gym where you think they judge how much you bench or if your arpeggio lines are clean. . . it's easy to be a dick and turn someone off forever from an entire atmosphere.

    Grog sent me to the Tavern and this is clearly a more active community, and equally welcoming to the Lapsers and Rooks alike. I have no idea what Dwimmermount is (sounds like Smurfette's loose sister at the truck stop to me) but in fairness it seems like the man took a beating and is dusting himself off.

    I can't speak for Canada, but in America, that sounds like the beginning of redemption.


    1. ^^ That. ^^
      And it is the same here in Canada.

    2. I couldn't agree more. It's good to see him trying to put the kickstarter fiasco behind him.
      Here's hoping that all goes well for him with this new project. From the tone and specifics of the introduction he posted, he sounds aware of potential problems - which is a good first step toward avoiding them altogether.

    3. One further thought: I've not played EPT, and so have limited interest in supplements aimed directly at it, but the zine looks very handsomely designed; well worth the price he's set for item and shipping. I wouldn't expect the cost would be the primary barrier to entry for potential readers.


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