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The Tekumel Sourcebook - Swords & Glory Vol. 1
by Philip W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/31/2020 22:12:46

A good overviewoftheworld ofTekumel. Itis very information dense dense and represents good value in that sense.

This appears to be a scan of the original document. There were criticisims of clarity of the scanning. This looks like that issue has been resolved. It is still only a scan, and could benefit from being remastered at some time in the future.

The typography and layout this product is it's major drawback. The small font size and dense layout makes it difficult to read. That is why the the product badly needs to be remastered.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Tekumel Sourcebook - Swords & Glory Vol. 1
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Maps for Empire of the Petal Throne
by Stephen M M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/20/2020 21:48:11

The map that was included in the Empire of the Petal Throne boxed RPG.

Huge area of terrain depicted in color. The original was printed on some sort of plasticized linen-like material, very hard-wearing.

The detail is pretty basic, but this is a vital resource for the Tékumel GM nontheless.

My copy can be zoomed to 300% before blurring becomes an issue. That is a window of 12 hexes wide by 7 hexes high. At 100% my window is 34 hexes wide (the full map) by 20.5 hexes high

Recommended.

Also recommended: The Kurt Hills Atlas, specifically for the Bethorm edition of Tékumel gaming but useful for EPT, GOO's Tékumel and, if you are mad enough to be running them, Swords and Glory and Gardásiyal (said with love).

What a shame the humongous expanded maps from Swords and Glory are not available as pdfs.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Maps for Empire of the Petal Throne
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TEKUMEL®: Empire of the Petal Throne (TSR)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/27/2020 12:31:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review of sorts

This book clocks in at 140 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial, 2 pages ToC, 3 pages of advertisements, 4 pages left intentionally blank, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 127 pages of content.

I own both the hardcover, and the pdf-version. The hardcover sports the name on the spine, and the pdf can be properly searched, but only sports a very rudimentary 3 bookmarks, making navigation pretty much a chore – I strongly recommend getting print if you plan on spending time with this book. Layout is a two-column b/w-standard, with a couple of b/w-artworks, and LOTS of densely-packed text and tables. In modern days, this’d probably be twice its size.

So, to make this abundantly clear – this is NOT the usual review I write for products. It is more of an examination of why I like Empire of the Petal Throne, and why you may or may not feel the same.

Why no regular review?

Because I, as a person, as opposed to me in my capacity as a reviewer, love Tékumel.

This love, however, is highly subjective and, to a degree, based on my own non-gaming related interests, and less on a neutral assessment of objective quality. At the same time, I think that the reasons why I love this may well be the reason why others will absolutely despise it. So this format it is.

Why now? Well, it turns out that the book is now available as a PoD, and I, too young to ever get my hands on the boxed set (which released in 1975, one year after a self-published iteration), couldn’t resist.

Let’s start with perhaps the reason why you may not enjoy Tékumel: Originally released 1975, the book is, formally, brutally archaic to modern sensibilities. This extends to information design, an incredible density of information in massive textblocks, and a rules-presentation that, while functional, is clearly a product of its time. The most charming instance for this, in some ways, would be the suggestion to make custom dice via painting over numbers on a d20 – which makes sense, there simply were no weirdo dice like the ones we use in DCC etc. On the plus-side, navigating this tome is actually easier than I expected, more structured and certainly easier to reference than many comparable books. If you’re particularly prude, I should also mention that there are exposed boobs in some artworks – while these never struck me as sexualized, I’m also a European, so if you have an issue with that, consider yourself warned.

All of this notwithstanding, there is plenty of material in the rules that can be adapted rather easily to “modern” OSR-games. (Now that sounds oxymoronic, I know, but you get my drift.) We have HD etc., a custom spellcasting engine with limitations, level-titles, and more. If you are familiar with contemporary OSR-games, a lot will be familiar to you here. There are essentially three core classes, and the book uses percentile-based character creation, which can result in hugely swingy characters. This is still relatively easy to adjust for if you are e.g. assuming the power-level of Swords & Wizardry, though. Character creation, even if you are not familiar with the game, is pretty swift and can be done in less than 10 minutes.

In case you’re one of the people who were not even aware of Tékumel, I can give you a brief run-down, which MIGHT be construed to be SPOILERS for players.

Players should best skip ahead to the end of the SPOILERS. Seriously, Tékumel, as a player, is best experienced without prior knowledge.

… .. .

Okay, only referees around? All right! Picture a super high-tech civilization spanning the stars, a true interstellar empire. They found this world, and it’s poisonous and strange – red jungles, poisonous plants, hostile local civilizations. Undaunted, they start terraforming the place and wage war; humanity not only radically annihilates essentially the planet’s previous flora and fauna and introduces their own, they also best the local civilizations and force them to retreat, beaten and battered. It is essentially an extreme form of colonialism that subjects the very nature of the planet to the whims of the colonizers.

Then, something happened, and Tékumel was cast into the void – the stars vanished, and only sun, moons, etc. remain – otherwise, the sky is DARK. This, predictably, collapsed the stellar colonialist empire – particularly since the planet has next to no iron, making it vastly more valuable than gold. So far, so common, right? Well, fast forward around 25,000 years.

In many ways, magic items are ill-understood old super-tech, buried beneath the earth; creatures and their strange niches are explained as beings either suited to a different eco-system, or just brought in by the colonists….but nobody in the world truly knows this. Since then, ancient empires have risen and fallen, and a series of unique civilizations have risen from the ashes.

Magic items, primarily in the guises of “eyes” are thus found under the earth, and are essentially super-science considered to be magic by everybody. Still, it should be noted that this is NOT science-fantasy. This entire angle is obscure, very obscure indeed, and players will probably never notice unless you want them to, but the referee should know about it.

/SPOILERS,

And I mean “unique” when I call the civilizations discussed herein thus. They are NOT just mash-ups of civilizations we have on earth; they are weird, interesting and novel, and present a truly holistic vision of a fantasy unlike any we’ve read. While Arneson and Gygax providing the introduction certainly establishes credits here, it bears mentioning that the comparison to Tolkien is suitable, it also is inaccurate, as Tolkien heavily drew on concepts established in Germanic myths and elaborated, while Tékumel is obviously a setting that presents a vision starkly distinct from even most modern (indie) games.

This originality is, ultimately, based on a rigorous intellectual conceptualization of the campaign setting: Tékumel has basically no four-legged animals; 6 are common, but we have no horses, no cows, no cats, etc. – instead, we have a distinct and strange, often wondrous fauna that is well-represented in the bestiary-section. But that’s not the draw for me: What made me smile here, is that the author genuinely thought about the implications of the lack of e.g. horses. No cavalry, and as a result, highways are crafted differently (raised and fortified, with three tracks depending on status) – and other things change as well. There is a thorough consistency here that truly renders the setting plausible.

The book also is, in some ways, ahead of its time: While it does pay lip-service to the notions of good and evil, particularly with the gods and their cohorts (there are 5 good and 5 evil gods, plus their cohorts), the book also remarks that they’re inscrutable and not THAT different from each other; the “evil” gods do engage in some “evil” behavior, of course, but considering the monolithic simplifications the alignment system still imposes on many games, I found it rewarding to find an acknowledgement of relativity, no matter how subdued. When it e.g. comes to detect spells, they discern hostile intent, which is imho much more interesting than the more common implementations. Did I mention the rules for beseeching them for divine intervention? These are level-based, and rather neat – almost like a very early proto-DCC Invoke Patron.

But I digress. Don’t get me wrong: The majority of this book is devoted to rules that are, to modern sensibilities, archaic; not bad or badly-presented, mind you, but not something I’d go out of my way to play.

And yet, I positively adore this book, and the reason for that lies in the lore. To be more specific, the consistency and detail provided for Tékumel has truly captured my imagination – while numerology (!!) etc. are their own supplements, the overview of the campaign setting provided here has set my mind ablaze: From politics between factions to bloodsports to the wiles of deities, there is an internal logic to everything; this is a fantasy unlike any I’ve read before or since, and its emphasis on clans, obligations, etc. over regular currency and the like puts a very different emphasis on what’s happening.

One of the reasons for that would be Tsolyáni. What’s that? Well, it’s the language assumed as a default, and it comes with its own glyphs and unique way of writing it – and yes, you can learn the script with this book! As an aside: Other languages are covered in their own files, but this first exposure to Tsolyáni? It really excites me in a profound way. Scripts with English translations, pronunciation guides, and its sheer alien aesthetics…I love it. I really do. And oddly, this fascination has exceeded the one I have for similar invented languages.

…I know, I’m a weirdo, but one can really see that M.A.R. Barker’s professions were linguistics and anthropology in his writing. For context: I’m one of the guys who read Frazer’s “The Golden Bough” (not the abridged version) and actually had fun with it. Tsolyáni is genuinely fun to me. Learning to write the glyphs? Yeah, I’m actually getting into that. I’m not even kidding you.

This language, however, also might well be a reason for plenty of people to look at this, and turn their backs on the setting. Memorizing the names of people and places is already not too simple, for the setting’s overview is provided in one of the most densely-packed pieces of wall-of-text I’ve ever encountered in a roleplaying supplement, and once you add to that Tsolyáni names, you arrive at a setting overview that is nigh-impossible to just quickly gloss over. This requires prolonged concentration and immersion, perhaps something that some people might consider to be strenuous in this digital age.

It’s imho worth it. The setting overview of its empires and politics, of the wealth of adventuring potential, of the customs, etc., is simply inspiring in the truest sense of the word. However, it is not handed to you in a convenient manner and requires perhaps more dedication to get into than many will deign to grant it. Even if you disregard the rules herein, Tékumel is not a setting you briefly skim over and then play. It requires that you pour yourself your beverage of choice and calmly settle into this new world. Wills, testaments, marriages – all provided, and before you ask, women can declare themselves as equals to men and thus enjoy full rights, but also the corresponding responsibilities. In many ways, this setting is surprisingly progressive without feeling like it’s pandering or censoring itself. (Like e.g. those sucky horror settings that try super-hard to avoid offending anyone…)

Speaking of which: This sheer unfamiliarity and novelty (and yes, I am aware of the irony of ascribing this moniker to a world that’s 45 years old…what does that say about contemporary fantasy?) exuded by Tékumel is also represented in the equipment. Barring copious amounts of iron, the hide of certain animals is alchemically-treated and used for armor, and the strangeness, the novelty of the setting, also extends to cultural norms regarding citizenship, slavery, etc. – some of these components become evident between the lines, in the equipment and encumbrance lists, in the lore regarding the fauna…and the book knows this, as the default start for adventuring is to have the PCs simply arrive in Jakalla (fully mapped), a port city, as newcomers to the Tsolyáni empire, essentially strangers in a strange land.

So, why am not (yet) talking about the two Swords & Glory books that go into much more detail than this one? That don’t spend as much time with rules you (probably) aren’t going to use in their entirety, and which I’ve been pretty vocal about not being impressed by?

Simple: Because this book here, while densely packed with information (in fact, I considered the lore on my first read-through to be more exerting to process than the rules), is a great way to check out Tékumel, to see whether it’s for you, whether you and your players can handle/enjoy the setting – it imposes an above-average cognitive load upon you, but it never does so self-indulgently; it acknowledges this fact freely, encourages the reader, etc. – it is written from the position of an assumption of competence, which is indeed refreshing to observe.

To make that abundantly clear: The book consists primarily of rules used for play in Tékumel, and I ignore most of them and only use them as a guideline to translate them into a more common OSR-game. This is possible due to them being here; the rules are entwined with the setting, and they are archaic enough to warrant even a conversion to more mainstream old school systems. It’s not bad, mind you – it’s just clunky, but considering its age, it has retained its viability remarkably well. Still, it’d be rather easy to poke holes into this and criticize it, but that would also not exactly be fair; in fact, it’d be a disservice to the vision. That being said, if I were to rate this book solely on the basis of its mechanical virtues in comparison to other contemporary old-school roleplaying supplements, it’d, at best, score 3 stars.

However, it is somewhat weird, but the lore and world itself, including the mechanical representation of it, are a great indicator of whether you and yours want to embark on a journey to Tékumel.

So yeah, if you never heard of Tékumel, this is the book I’d recommend checking out. It has all the stuff you need to play; its rules are easy to adjust to old-school systems, and it will change how you play the game; the rules imply realities that are very different from that of e.g. Greyhawk or Mystara, and are interwoven with the lore to generate a tapestry both wondrous and profound, of a culture that never was, of a fantasy that is radically different from any other setting I’ve read.

If the strength and consistency of the vision strikes a chord with you, you’ll love it and forevermore be under the spell of Tékumel. If it didn’t, then you’ll probably come away from this hating it – but at least have a book that is a window towards the start of the hobby we all love and enjoy.

Tékumel requires time and patience to get a feel for, and is pretty much the antithesis of “yet another setting inspired by xyz-culture/mashup of X cultures”; if most fantasy worlds are intellectual fast food, easy to contextualize and grasp, then this is obscure slow food that is very much an acquired taste, that takes time and effort to consume and properly digest.

This book, like the setting, is one that feels like it fell out of place and time, orbiting now its very own sphere, under a starless sky. It is timeless and odd, and I certainly don’t begrudge anyone hating it – in many ways, this may be one of the most polarizing things I’ve ever covered.

If that sounds interesting to you, then this most assuredly is a great way to take a look at this often-forgotten gem of a world. For me, as a person, this is a 5-star file, and I think you’ll either love it, or hate it – not due to some metrics or guidelines, but because its strikes a chord with you…or not.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
TEKUMEL®:  Empire of the Petal Throne (TSR)
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TEKUMEL®: Empire of the Petal Throne (TSR)
by Jeff C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/23/2018 21:59:41

So pleased this is being reprinted at a price we can all afford. The hardcover book is decent quality and a good value. My only concern is that the maps are not spread out very well along the pages and they are in black and white. Not very helpful for your players at the table. You'll need to download the maps separately if you want to use them at your table. Other than that, this is a great product.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
TEKUMEL®: Empire of the Petal Throne (TSR)
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)
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)
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!]
The Tekumel Sourcebook - Swords & Glory Vol. 1
by Zygmunt L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/23/2017 09:43:39

I ordered both the hardback print-on-demand and the PDF here in the UK. I'll review the content separately from the presentation.

If you want to run a Tekumel campaign, this is the one book you must have. It is a stunning piece of creative work, and more than anything else helps you understand the mystique that has grown up around Tekumel and The Empire of the Petal Throne. The author, Professor M.A.R. Barker, was a teacher of linguistics who travelled extensively in Asia and who has created a completely alien world. It is wonderful. Tekumel is very different to anything in the western fantasy tradition because its influences are South Asia, Southeast Asia and Latin America.

The Tekumel Sourcebook describes the 50,000 year history of the planet Tekumel, the civilization, cultures and customs of the Five Empires, and especially Tsolyanu (The Empire of the Petal Throne). How do people dress and speak. How the armies and 20 temples are organized. Then there are all the non-human species (8-limbed Ahoggya, flying Hlaka, dragon-like Shen etc.), the inimical races (beware of the scent of musty cinnamon from the Ssu), magic and the 20 otherplanar entities - the "gods" of Tekumel.

The hardback is very good quality. I'd wondered if it was worth going for hardback over paperback, and I'm pleased I did. The 158 pages are perfect bound, and the boards are covered with a glossy print. The cover art is a very nice stylized piece of art from Tekumel, and deserves a close look.

The book is a scan and reprint of the original Gamescience edition from 1983. I think someone once described that book as a crime against typography - the text was set in 2 columns in something around 8 pt or smaller. It is difficult to read. To put that in context, each page would expand to about 3 pages if it was printed normally. Having said that, it is far better to have a reprint now, rather than waiting for some ideal edition in the future.

My recommendation. If you want to run a Tekumel campaign, get The Tekumel Sourcebook as both print-on-demand and a PDF, and also get the EPT maps (also available as PDFs). You will also need a set of rules. If you want an old-school game, the original 1975 EPT rules are available in print-on-demand. If you want a modern rule set, try Bethorm or Tirikelu. There are also various home-brew systems around.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Tekumel Sourcebook - Swords & Glory Vol. 1
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Maps for Empire of the Petal Throne
by Niall T. S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/14/2017 16:20:35

Only buy these maps if you want to support the Tekumel Foundation, or if you want to complete a collection of old school material. They're not very nice to look at, the print and labels are hard to read, and there are only two maps. The Eastern half of the continent described in Swords and Glory Vol. 1 is not included (most of Salarvya). Honestly, you could just download the preview, which includes both maps!



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Maps for Empire of the Petal Throne
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The Tekumel Sourcebook - Swords & Glory Vol. 1
by Scott M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/12/2016 17:29:31

I purchased the hardcover - physical quality is excellent, and the text itself is sharp and readable throughout. For sheer amount of information, this is still THE one stop source for Tekumel; the Sourcebook is also a good read since it's well written and entertaining. While I have all the previous editions, I'm happy to have picked up this latest version, and that this title is back in print for gamers to enjoy.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Tekumel Sourcebook - Swords & Glory Vol. 1
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The Tekumel Sourcebook - Swords & Glory Vol. 1
by David B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/05/2015 08:35:11

I am a long time fan of Tekumel and was very excited to see this volume available again. BUT the quality of the pdf is not good. It looks like a low-res scan of the book. When you zoom in to read the text it is almost impossible to see. Someone really needs to fix this issue. The text is unreadable and it cost $20! Fans want this material and people new to Tekumel should not think that this is the typical product of the folks that made this setting great. Really, if it wasn't Tekumel I would have given only one star.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
It\'s actually a 600dpi scan of the original text, with a lot of work done to clean it up. But we appreciate the feedback - we just wanted to make sure that the original was back in print. This is encouragement for our plans to make a much more readable version available when we have the chance - hopefully soon!
Maps for Empire of the Petal Throne
by Mikael T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/21/2014 11:36:21

The map itself is quite good-looking and the scan is of high quality, reproducing the colours very well. What troubles me here is the low resolution of the scan. With 100% zoom you cannot see hex numbers or most names written on the map. In other words the map is pretty useless unless you zoom in a lot, when it becomes pixellated and does not look good anymore. Such a shame.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Maps for Empire of the Petal Throne
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Notes from the Thursday Night Group
by Robert H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/21/2014 18:10:59

This is a great short product. In one sense it's just what you can read on lots of boards - a report of play. Except it's a report of playing in Tekumel that is entertaining and will likely inspire a GM as (per its description) it's about some "background, life around you" intensive sessions.

It's also hilarious at times. For though this is Tekumel, the high art of RPGs, these are also clearly "gamers", and very creative ones.

I only don't give a 5 because it's the only one and you so want to learn more of these character's lives and fates!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Notes from the Thursday Night Group
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Demonic Powers
by Noah S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/08/2013 22:46:51

A list of compelling and sometimes horrible adjectives, suitable for stage-dressing any document or frabulancerie you might make, kill, or illumniate

Hey, it's loosely connected to the Most Horrible Gaming Book Ever Made, so you could do worse than to get your awfulness revved up this way.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Demonic Powers
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Empire of the Petal Throne (Original Manuscript)
by Thomas L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/02/2013 13:46:25

I found this old classic by chance and quite enjoyed it. One of our hobby's handful of great feats of world building, though less known these days.

In contrast with some reviewers, however, I found the delivered interleaved format awkward on my Mac, and would have preferred to have the scans and the typed-out rules in separate pdfs. Any chance to add these to an update (that way everyone is happy)?



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Empire of the Petal Throne (Original Manuscript)
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