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!
[5 of 5 Stars!]