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TEKUMEL®: Empire of the Petal Throne (TSR) $14.00 $8.95
Average Rating:3.9 / 5
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TEKUMEL®:  Empire of the Petal Throne (TSR)
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TEKUMEL®: Empire of the Petal Throne (TSR)
Publisher: M.A.R Barker's World of Tekumel
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/03/2017 05:50:29

Sad to say, but this another useless and underwhelming release from the Tékumel Foundation; a redux of the Tékumel Sourcebook unsatisfactory re-issue if you will.

What is the point of this Empire of the Petal Throne re-release? If it is to make the Foundation feel good about itself, it's a success; I say this in light of the Foundation's excited blog posts about it. But if it is to attract new players to the world of Tékumel, it fails, spectacularly. We're talking about a scan (not even a full re-write) of a game that was published 42 years ago, warts and all. Ah, yes, it's interesting to read the introductions that G. Gygax and D. Arneson penned upon the releases of The Empire of the Petal Throne. But then, so what? And what about the old-fashioned system, which is quite clunky if you ask me. Outside of a handful of collectors, hardcore OSR gamers, and long time fans of the world, no players in their right mind would be tempted to dive in. Moreover, to get to that charming-because-obsolete-? 42 year old system, one has to deal with the utterly awful, 1975 page design and font choice. But that's what you get from scans of the original game! Once again, outside of a handful of hardcore collectors and Petal-heads, no significant number of players is going to acquire this game, let alone play it.

This re-issue was first announced on the Tékumel Foundation blog in January 2016. It's now Fall 2017 and we finally have it, as a print-on-demand book and as a PDF. I won't discuss the quality of the print-on-demand version, as I don't own it (nor do I plan to order it), but I do own the PDF and I have one question: why is the PDF not searchable, after over a year of work of this re-issue, from a scan? This is utterly unforgivable, as it makes the PDF pretty much useless. Should we expect a searchable PDF in another year, for an obsolete game that no one is going to play? What is the point of all this useless, glacially-paced, laughably amateurish activity? Who is this game supposed to reach? None of the vaguely curious players I know, for sure.

(I'll note here that on the day of its release, the PDF actually contained a mistake, quickly fixed by the Foundation: missing pages! So yes, after over a year of work, after a few blog posts trumpeting its imminent release, the Foundation had managed to release a truncated PDF of the Empire of the Petal Throne.)

Per its mission statement, the Tékumel Foundation is "to encourage, support and protect the literary works and all related products and activities surrounding Professor M.A.R. Barker’s world of Tékumel and the Empire of the Petal Throne". This sub-par, uninspiring new release proves, once again, that the Foundation is incapable of fulfilling its mission. The Foundation protects the Tekumel IP alright, to the point of sabotaging pro-game designers' attempts to instill new life into its dried up carcass, but forget about encouraging or supporting. More like discouraging and undermining, as this re-issue proves. As a result, Professor Barker's creation has never been so irrelevant, which is quite an accomplishment considering how poorly the Tékumel IP was managed during Professor Barker's lifetime.

I urge the people of the Foundation to take the responsible step of stepping aside and let actual game creators and writers take over the reigns of what's left of Professor Barker's dwindling legacy. One cannot improvise oneself game designer or publisher. It's as simple as that. The world of Tékumel needs to be presented in a new and exciting way to a new audience, which can't be too hard as we're dealing with one of the most colorful, detailed, and creative fantasy worlds ever created, full of telepaths, weird creatures, forgotten technology, exotic social mores, far out history, and endless mega-dungeons. And this re-issue of a scan of the 42 year old Empire of the Petal Throne is definitely not it.

Please, let established companies and/or game-designers/publishers, with the know-how and energy to save Professor Barker's legacy, take over.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
TEKUMEL®: Empire of the Petal Throne (TSR)
Publisher: M.A.R Barker's World of Tekumel
by Brit B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/16/2017 20:31:59

I’m coming at the Empire of the Petal Throne (EotPT) setting for the Tekumel system as a GM of a little over a decade, so my referee experiences have largely been with modern high-fantasty systems with a heavy dose of homebrew. The Old-School revival interests me not just in a mechanical sense, but I also enjoy getting a feel for the history and the concepts. Many thanks to my gaming groups' patience as I learn and tinker.

EotPT takes sci-fi, buries it in history, and uses it as fertilizer for a wild and wondrous fantasy setting. Iron is rare and chitinous monstrosities are the primary sources of armor. Referees coming to this world with no previous exposure may benefit from keeping a note sheet to keep tabs on vocabulary and interesting details. This is a unique world with very little bearing to the tropes I was familiar with (a lovely challenge). The language sections are fascinating to read on their own, but I would strongly suggest that prospective referees start with sections 2800-2840 for a brief overview of what to expect.

The duplicate page mentioned in an older review of the .pdf has been addressed in the updated .pdf and the print edition. The softcover physical copy is an 8.5x11” soft cover with a glossy cardstock cover. Mine is already a little dinged up in the corners, but I am known for being rather tough on my things. The spine seems like it can take a fair bit of abuse. Text is clean and consistent throughout. Accent marks on many of the letters look hand-written but those marks don’t affect readability, instead they remind me of how much work went into creating this language and all its intricacies. I’m excited to get my players up to a level high enough where they can become citizens so I can present them with a citizenship document included and have them recite it.

Simple but striking black & white illustrations are frequent, which is good since I’m pretty sure you don’t know what a Pé Chói is, but you will soon. Each monster has about a paragraph of description for inspiration and a basic stat block. There’s a hex map of the main country along with ungridded maps of the main city, Jakálla, and the five empires to get you started. It is old school in my favorite sense, they give you the basics and let you run with it.

Character creation has some of the same flavor as found in EotPT's mid-70s contemporaries in that you aren’t always going to get what you want. Percentile-based character creation means there are equal chances for an incredibly brilliant or jarringly flawed character, which can be upsetting for players used to the bell curve characters that “4d6 minus lowest” can generate. There are 3 core classes but ample room for personal flavor, but you may need to roll up a couple different options just in case the dice aren’t on your side.

Overall, I’d say this isn’t something you could pick up and play in an evening. Getting the flavor and pronunciation and background just so takes time but it pays dividends.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
TEKUMEL®: Empire of the Petal Throne (TSR)
Publisher: M.A.R Barker's World of Tekumel
by Hagen K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/16/2017 18:11:13

I've known Victor Raymond for 22 years as we were friends on ISCABBS in the RPG forum where he was the forum moderator and he asked if I would be interested in writing a review of this reissue of the Empire of the Petal Throne book. I pointed out that I have zero experience with his writings or earlier game products. He thought it was a good idea to have some reviews from people with no past experience as well.

So there is my upfront disclaimer. I thought I would just go through the book by section and then just give an overall review at the end.

Part 1 - 100 Introduction: Foreword by Gary Gygax and Intros by Dave Arneson and MAR Barker do a good job of setting expectations. Gary and Dave in establishing MAR's credentials and Dave and MAR start getting your senses ready for the experience of the Petal Throne.

200 The World of Tékumel: Here we have the history of the world. MAR is clearly in love w/the accent mark, and I'm not sure if there is an external history book that all the bibliographical references spread throughout reference or not. For those with deep knowledge of the world, this might be kind of cool. For me it was honestly just a bit much, but whatever, it's fine. The history itself is interesting, as Tékumel is a world that was once high technology, but then it fell back into barbarism. The eventual decision of keeping the emperor completely sealed away from everyone is definitely a different method of ruling.

300 Character Types: Compared to many RPGs you are going to see a simplified character system. You are looking at Warriors, Priests and Magicians as character classes. Alignments are Good and Evil and they clarify that even evil never attack people within their own party, solving some issues that sometimes arise frompeople deciding to play evil characters and then wanting to kill literally everyone. Nice touch. There is a section of nonhuman alignment and how they relate to man and it mentions their characteristics are given later (startinng page 48).

400 Determination of Character: Character traits in Tékumel are Strength, Intelligence, Constitution, Psychic Ability, Dexterity, and Comeliness, recorded in percentile. You roll percentile and refer to the table for the bonuses or minuses. You are discouraged from just rerolling one, they want you to keep the set and if you don't like it, throw the whole thing back and re-roll it all. When you level, you have an opportunity to raise stats, which is cool. This section also covers original skills you had prior to becoming an adventurer and you can also gain more of those as you level.

Profession skills are covered in this section as well. Warriors, of course, learn many fighting skills. Priests can gain things like Telepathy or Cure Light Wounds or Remove Curse. Magic Users learn things like Telekinesis, Illusion, Necromancy, and The Grey Hand, which is an instant death power. Definitely something that conjures imagery in your head. Spells are typically usable once or twice a day and reset at 6AM. Yeah, roosters crow, spells reset. I dunno. There is also a chart with chances of a spell not working.

500 Bonus Spells: There is a chart for Priests and Magic Users to get extra spells possibly when they gain a level. The spells that show up on this list are in different groups and are different spells than from the spells found in the previous section. I did find it interesting that there is no separation between Priest and Magic User in this section and things that might normally feel like Priest spells in D&D could get picked up by Magic Users here. Interesting sounding spells like The Vapour of Death, The Demon, The Hands of Kra the Mighty are all found in this section.

600 Experience Levels & Points: Unlike early D&D, there is 1 experience point table that is shared. If a character has their primary stat at 81-95 (Strength for Warrior, Intelligence for Priest, Psychic Ability for Magic User), they gain a 5% XP bonus. If their primary stat is at 96-100, they gain a 10% bonus. If their Constitution is 96-100, they gain a 5% XP bonus. As you increase in levels you gain less XP to simulate the decreased pace.

700 Hit Dice, Combat & Damage: All characters are d6 hit dice based, and hit dice are completely re-rolled each level. You can't have less than you had the prior level of course, so you gain at least the minimum extra over your previous level. This is definitely different than what I am used to, as every other game with hit dice has been keep what you have and add. I could easily imagine gaining a level and having had several levels of bad rolls and then have one level with an amazing roll and all of a sudden have SO many more hit points. So, that wouldn't suck.

There are a couple of charts for men attacking men, and nonhumans and animals attacking men. Discussion about weapon types, damage (mostly d6), missile fire, battle order, the combat round, damage dice, double damage, instant death, and morale are all covered in here as well. I'm not entirely clear how initiative is determined for combat, altho there is a convoluted method given for capturing a surprised opponent.

800 The 'Hitilakte" Arenas: There are fighting arenas in Tékumel and there is a table given for wagers based on the fighter's level. This is another small section of the book that adds a nice touch of character to the world

Part 2 - 900 Starting the Game: "You all arrive in a small boat at the great Tsolyáni port city of Jakalla". I'm missing a couple of accent marks, but that's basically how the section starts. You have a bit of money and here we have the beginning of what many players really love, equipment lists and encumbrances.

1000 Nonplayer Characters: Nonplayer characters (including slave costs), hired henchmen, salaries, and NPC reactions are covered here.

1100 Encounters: Encounters in Jakalla, on the Sakbe Roads (the raised fortified highways that connect the empire), various other encounter tables. This is the section where we finally get to the non-human race descriptions mentioned in the character generation section earlier.

1200 The Underworld: Scattered around Tékumel are forgotten ruins dating back to prehuman ages. some of them are entrances to the "Underworld". Descriptions of the Underworld, encounters and some of the beings you will encounter here are included here. There is also a cheatsheet table of all the nonhumans and creatures of Tékumel found in this section.

Part 3 -

1300 The "Eyes": These are old high tech items that are usually discovered in the Underworld beneath the older cities. There are many abilities available on the eyes and some discussion of availability and price. Some of these are very interesting.

1400-1900 Magic Items: This is a pretty usual section for anyone who has ever bought a D&D book. Lots of magic items and prices.

2000 Saving Throws: Saving Throws are divided into Poison, Spells, Paralysis/Hypnosis, Eyes. Pretty straight forward.

2100 The Gods, Cohorts & Divine Intervention: There are 5 Good, and 5 Evil Gods in Tékumel. Each god is served by a cohort. Once per week there is a chance for Divine Intervention, via a percentile roll on a table. Chances are increased by making offerings. The Good gods accept magic items, but the evil ones accept human sacrifice.

2200 Treasure: When you adventure, you gotta get loot! Tables help determine how much

2300 Support, Salaries, Jobs, Fiefs, & Taxes: If you ever wondered how big the hexes on your map were and how much your fiefdom would generate, this is the section for you.

2400 Erecting & Buying Buildings: Goes along with the previous section. Once you start having piles of money and you want to spend it on building a castle or mansion, go here.

2500 Advertising: You need to advertise to sell your goods, here are some ideas to help you do that.

2600 Relatives & Requests: Discussion of wills, marriages, etc. Assuming this is for very long running campaigns or people running generational games.

2700 Time: General information about the passage of time in Tékumel, as well as the current year, 2354 AS (After the Seal of the Imperium).

2800 To Respective Referees: Just a quick aside to the someone thinking of running the setting, letting them know it's ok that things aren't like everything else and to enjoy the differences. There's also some guidance given for developing an Underworld and an example of a nicely detailed sample Underworld. Discussion of devloping a scenario, NPCs and other regions and cities are included as well.

2900 Appendix A: Pronunciation: Pretty straightforward.

3000 Appendix B: The Tsolyáni Script: Explanation of the written language of Tékumel, how things look in English and how they look in Tsolyáni, as well as a couple of sample documents.

3100 Appendix C: Key to the Map of Jakalla: What you expect a map key to be, explaining all the locations on a map

After the map you have a list of tables from earlier in the book as well as a couple of ads at the very back of the book. Overall you definitely have an old school gaming book that provides you with that feel. The art, the tables, some of the minutae, all definitely reminded me of the earlier days of gaming. The history section at the beginning of the book was interesting and I'm curious for more, but I don't know if any of my local friends have read any of the Petal Throne books. I may have to find some. If you are looking for something different in your old school gaming, I can give this a thumbs up.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
TEKUMEL®: Empire of the Petal Throne (TSR)
Publisher: M.A.R Barker's World of Tekumel
by Steven H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/16/2017 17:53:45

One of the first generation of Vintage Games from TSR is back in print, but it may not be the one you expected. Pre-dating and influencing the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons first edition is Empire of the Petal Throne, one of the earliest games to move away from European fantasy tropes and introduce genuinely exotic concepts into fantasy role playing. Relatively popular at the time, it had since faded into near obscurity until a re-print in 1987 piqued interest, which was later followed by a re-working of the game in 2005 by Guardians of Order using a varation of their own internal game engine, supported by the publishing of several supplements to the game. This is a re-print of the original rules as presented in 1975, and should be at the top of the list for any fans of the early games, but especially those who are still playing those versions.

The physical book itself is perfect bound, and the colour printing on the cover is well done, with no bleed in the colours and all the details highly visible. The text on the internal pages is crisp and precisely aligned on all pages. Care was clarely taken to make sure the copy used for the images was very clean, as there are no random splotches or missing text anywhere. The line drawings are very clear, with fine lines as visible as heavier ones, meaning the contrast was carefully tuned to make sure the printing process did not over print details as sometimes happens with print-on-demand products. The pages are very secure, and the spine is solid with no glue evident between the internal sheets. The covers are fairly heavy weight, so laying the book open anywhere but the middle isn't happening, but that is an issue with perfect bound in any case.

The rules are exactly as the 1975 edition laid them out, which means it is more of a tool kit than modern gamers may be used to. Endless lists of skills, feats, spells and equipment would not appear in games for another decade, but like the Original Dungons and Dragons, new items are very easy to add if desired, as there are not dozens of intertwined mechanics to account for when creating something new for the game. Combat is very much simpler and faster, as was the design aesthetic for Vintage Games, leaving more time to explore and interact with the world and its inhabitants. Combat is also more lethal in many cases, so deciding which enemies to fight becomes a greater part of gameplay, as not every opponent is meant to be vanquished through force of arms. Additionally, large portions of the world are essentially left to the referee to flesh out as they see fit, providing the opportunity to make the campaign conform to their own vision, although the kingdoms shown in the book are more than enough material for years of adventure.

If you are a Vintage Gamer tired of scouring every online nook and cranny for the original Empire of the Petal Throne, look no further. This edition is everything you need and more, with additional supplements soon to be published. Modern gamers interested in retro-gaming looking for a less complicated set of rules with an exotic feel can do no better than this printing of Empire of the Petal Throne. Everything you need is contained within this book, and players will need nothing more than their character sheets and their imaginations to enjoy conquering their foes and rising to dizzying levels of power!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
TEKUMEL®: Empire of the Petal Throne (TSR)
Publisher: M.A.R Barker's World of Tekumel
by Brook C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/09/2011 22:15:37

I purchased this RPG because it was a very early RPG (an antique), but I find the Mesoamerican style setting to be very interesting.

The system seems fairly straightforward, but the power curve seems different than I'm used to; Priests and Magic Users seem to be exceedingly limited in their abilities, both in quantity and power of spells. A lot of spells are once per day, ten minutes tops, and you don't seem to get very many spells, even at higher levels.

The scales (from its wargaming roots, I assume) can get confusing sometimes, especially for the spells, when they switch between dungeon and and actual measurements; it took me a while to figure out the three inch light spell had a thirty foot range.

It's definitely very combat focused, and full of random encounter/treasure/event tables, which seems to have been common back then. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it does seem to make it fairly focused on dungeon crawling. I find the descriptions for some of the random events and artifacts to be rather interesting, but perhaps that's just me.

The foreward by Gary Gygax, and the TSR catalog (Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set; $10!) in the back made me very nostalgic for a time that before I was born.

Overall, I don't know that I have much opportunity to play this, but it's an interesting setting and it was an interesting read. I'm happy I bought it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
TEKUMEL®: Empire of the Petal Throne (TSR)
Publisher: M.A.R Barker's World of Tekumel
by Robert L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/02/2009 01:26:15

This is the first game system (~1975) published for Empire of the Petal Throne, set in M.A.R. Barker's world of Tekumel. The game system is old school, like its contemporary, the original Dungeons and Dragons. Younger gamers who have grown up with rule systems that run into many volumes for a single game may feel that this system is too thin in details. However, this is a strength, not a weakness, allowing the game master and players to spend more time playing and less time looking up some obscure table eventually found on page 87 of the 5th volume of rules.

Everything needed to play is included in this volume, which includes all the game mechanics, a 'monster manual' section detailing the creatures of Tekumel, magical and technological items, spells, and background. The two sets of maps for Empire of the Petal Throne, also available on this site (maps for EPT, Jakalla-City half as old as the world) were included in the original boxed set, and are recommended (especially Jakalla), but not required.

The greatest feature of the game is the game setting itself - no review could possibly do it justice. Tekumel is an unbelievably gorgeous setting providing wheels within wheels for adventures in a society with highly developed religious and political structures, entirely original non-human races, a mixture of arcane technology and magic. Several fantasy/science fiction novels have been written by Professor Barker and are well worth reading to obtain greater detail of the world of Tekumel. A fair amount of information is available online, most easily found through the link for M.A.R. Barker's World of Tekumel Homepage at the bottom of the Publisher Info box above.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
TEKUMEL®: Empire of the Petal Throne (TSR)
Publisher: M.A.R Barker's World of Tekumel
by Scott N. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/21/2009 09:36:55

Ok, were do I start, the thing about this PDF is you can see the entire game is a scan of an original type set document, very bland pictures inside for those that are there. The creature section is very bland with not allot of descriptions or hardly any pictures to get the feel for the creature presented. I know its a very old RPG so for nostalgic sake I wont be too picky on that. Character creation is quite different from what I'm use too and is not old D&D at all, it has some of the same feel in a way but its system is quite different, my biggest complaint is they did not include the maps, these you have to download seperate, also there are only 3 classes, Warrior, Priest & Magic User, no thief or rogue class to speak of this I find disturbing in a way. It also is very long on background and history which is ok but the language and pronunciation of words can become down right unbearable at times, also there should have been some type of name generator for player characters to give more of a feel to the cultures and world the players are expected to grow up in.

Overall I would not recomend this to a new player, the world is very detailed almost to the point of too much detail, hardly any room was left for the GM to add to, for those looking for a very detailed world to play in, its a great read, although the game system is a bit dated, I know GOO (Guardians of Order) did a new game thats suppose to be quite pretty and well updated at this writting, but I am not a fan of the Tri-Stat system for which it was made for, so have not sunk my money into that tome.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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