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Tekumel: Empire of the Petal Throne Role-Playing Game Hardcover – 3 Feb 2005

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Guardians of Order (3 Feb. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1894525310
  • ISBN-13: 978-1894525312
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 2.5 x 27.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,635,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gizmo23 on 24 July 2006
Format: Hardcover
For those who may have missed this phenomenon, Tékumel is a world created by Professor M.A.R. Barker, originally realised as a role-playing game in 1975. One of the countries in that fantastical world is Tsolyánu, The Empire of the Petal Throne and this book is a set of rules for adventuring in the Empire. There have been several role-playing rule systems that Tékumel has been converted to over the years and this 240-page hardback is the latest of them.

Where this differs from previous attempts though, is in the fact that everything one needs to run a Tékumel game is contained in this single volume. The text is well laid out, each page looking like a fragment of scroll with appropriate chapter title at the bottom of the page. This artistic layout means that most of the text is printed in black on grey, and as the body text is a small typeface it may prove a bit difficult for the older gamer (who remembers the original publication) to read in dim light.

The content is very well ordered, starting with the essential process of character creation. This immediately immerses you in the culture of Tsolyánu by providing names and clans. The process continues with religion (very important on Tékumel), character Stats Attributes and Defects, Career, Skills and finally Resources. Just going through this process gives the player some idea of the flavour of a Tékumel game which is unlike "ordinary" fantasy games.

The rest of the book deals with the other things necessary to round out the world: Non-humans, equipment and money. It is only when you get to Chapter 5 that the actual game mechanics are introduced.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Lavish Production, Content Wanting 25 Feb. 2014
By Stephen Mann - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The Empire of the Petal Throne is a curse to game companies. It seems that every one that tries to bring an EPT/Tekumel RPG to market suffers by it. TSR almost went broke selling the original by some accounts. Gamescience only ever published two of the three parts it intended to before letting the idea (and the license) drop. I've not seen the TOME version but TOME no longer exists. And now, neither do Guardians of Order, the publishers of this rather nice book.

This time around the system used to create player characters is a variant of the Tristat System first seen (I believe) in Big Eyes, Small Mouth, an anime RPG. The system is a points-driven thing similar in nature to that used in GURPS and Savage Worlds, with players allocating disadvantages to gain more build points if they want. I found it a rather cumbersome system to make characters with, but I am assured by people who are more versed in Tristat mechanics that once familiar with the build process it is much quicker and straightforward.

This would echo my experience with just about every other game system I've tried since White Box D&D.

The combat system can be quite detailed (read: complex) but once everyone has a couple of fights under their belt I guess it should sort itself out nicely. It looks to be about the same complexity as D20 Conan, maybe a bit more so. I am of course talking about fights using the combat maneuvers, not simple swing, hit, damage fighting.

Lets talk about the book.

This hardback is about the same size as the old 3.5 ed D&D books, printed in black and white on semi-gloss paper. The binding is strong and should last years in normal use. There's a map, a rather nice full color one, mounted to the back cover, which depicts the world of Tekumel. The map does not feature a hex grid, and only covers about half the world as depicted in the Swords and Glory maps. It is enough to game in though, probably for years. Tita's House of Games used to stock replicas of the S&G maps for those who want more.

The contents are split between the character generation process, a gazeteer of life in Tsolyanu and the surrounding nations, a history timeline and a small bestiary missing some of the lesser (but prominent) races/animals from earlier versions. If I had to guess I'd say that this was intended as the first in an extensive library of Tekumel source books, since the bestiary is light and the gazeteer is brief in places. I can envision the books that might have followed "Tekumel: Empire of the Petal Throne" into print had Guardians of Order not gone to the wall in the financial crises of the oughties.

In my opinion a new-to-EPT GM could run games set on Tekumel from this book with no problems, but the more experienced GM will find him-or herself sourcing stuff from his/her other versions in order to fill out the world. I'll own to being a might disappointed at what wasn't between the covers of this book, even more so now that the chance of ever seeing that library I speculated about have sunk south of "nil", but of course more content means higher price and Tekumel is a niche within an niche to start with.

With the sad passing of professor Barker it is anyone's guess whether any more versions of EPT will be made, or whether a license to reprint will ever be granted. Which is a pity because there are darn few settings as richly detailed as Tekumel, which has a canon stretching back more than 40 years and a unity of vision not seen in more modern products.

Of all the Tekumel products made, I think this one is probably the one a modern gamer would want to play, and the book is a fine thing in and of itself. Whether it is worth the price some are asking for it only you can say. A new copy used to sell for something around $40 in its day.

For my part, I'm thinking that I may very well do a personal port of the original EPT combined with the newer thoughts in this book to another system entirely and try and scare up a few players. Neither old-school D&D not Tristat fire the imaginations of the people I game with unfortunately.

Anything to get interest in the world of Tekumel going again.

Resources:

Tita's House of Games. Find them with Google.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Tekumel empire of the petal throne is cool, just keep an open mind... 16 Feb. 2010
By Eric - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Tekumel; Empire of The Petal Throne is its own kind of game system, and campaign setting (based on Egyptian, Moghul India, and Aztec cultures). It has several books based off it (written by M.A.R. Barker), and there are lots of cool (but not necessary for enjoyment) accessory books. In all, TEP ( abbreviation for Tekumel; Empire of The Petal Throne) is probably one of the coolest nonstandard roleplaying games I have ever played; it only requires two kinds of dice!
Tekumel Lives. 28 Mar. 2014
By Patrick Arakel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is good to see that the Empire of the Petal Throne will survive Professor Barker. This is a nice hard cover edition.
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