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.
[5 of 5 Stars!]