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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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Empire of the Petal Throne (Original Manuscript)
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/20/2012 01:01:01
Empire of the Petal Throne is a manuscript which anyone interested in old-school gaming, or simply has a desire to revisit older RPGs must have. The fact that this has been able to be replicated (after an original print run of only fifty confidential copies) is fantastic.

Tekumel (the world of EotPT), is clearly a product inspired by the sources of its’ time. On the surface, this seems like a foolish statement; until you use it as a mental guide when reading the manuscript. Tekumel is the result of a utter collapse of an advanced star-faring society, who used science-fiction level technology to terraform the planet, subdue the native races and trade with interstellar partners. The ‘Time of Darkness’ destroyed this testament to progress and over the next few thousand years, humanity regressed technologically until this knowledge was revered myth . Meanwhile, the oppressed and endangered non-human races rose in number and prominence. Slowly, a new regime was established, with the current dynasty ruling from the Petal Throne for over two thousand years.

The writing style is very straightforward, but the history is not onerous to read. Imagined references presented in-text make the work seem like a monastic document rescued from a faraway time and lends some further tools which the reader can use to aid in immersion.

The rules as presented are inspired by the original version of Dungeons and Dragons, and there is a certain unflinching brutality in the manner of their presentation, which anyone familiar with Gygax’s style of writing will find recognisable. Interestingly, Barker makes comments about the superficiality of the alignment system (a discussion continued today), and includes basic stats, rules for hirelings, encounters per hex on the world map, psychic powers (which are the explanation of wizard and cleric spells) and only three classes (Warrior, Wizard and Priest). The in-built Monster Manual shows how much Barker adhered to an idea of internal consistency, with all of the creatures given either a short history, as well as some ecological information. For most creatures, relationships with other monsters are suggested. These suggestions could then be used by the DM to build multi-layered encounters.

Part Two of the manuscript introduces the idea of the Underworld (i.e. Dungeons) and provides rationale for their existence by urban renewal and the idea of rediscovering buildings and civilisations lost to the ‘Time of Darkness’. Creatures native to the Underworld are also presented here and they do range from the annoying to the truly and imaginatively lethal (there are more of the latter than the former). I’d love to export a lot of these creatures into my D&D game to shake up the players who think they ‘have seen it all’. Most are evocatively named, like the ‘Eater of Swords’, the ‘Demon of Bronze’ and the ‘Serpent-Headed One’. To me, a lot of the flavour text felt like a romp through the classic Howard-esque era of fantasy novels.

The spells are easily recognisable to anyone who has played D&D before, but Barker draws in technological devices known as ‘The Eyes’. These are gems left by a previous age which have innate powers (such as the ‘Excellent Ruby Eye’ which freezes people, or the ‘Eye of Advancing Through Portals’ which opens doors or blasts walls to create doors). In a previous note, the authors warns that any creature slain by an Eye generate no experience points for the party – so they can use these super-items to slay their way across the countryside, but won’t get a mechanical benefit for doing so. The merits of this system could be debated for hours. In total there are thirty-three potential Eyes a PC could lay hands on – another excellent part of the book which could be transported into almost any other system with ease. Other magical items certainly exists and are detailed over the next six pages.

The rest of this book is given to advice on running games, as well as linguistic advice and an in-depth examination of the political structures within which PCs should be expected to operate.

The actual layout is very well done, with the text presented in two concurrent pages. On the left of the document, you’ll see the original yellowed and fading scanned manuscript, on the right, a clean typed version (which has used the same font as the original). I simply resized my screen so that I could only see the clean version. Reading the other was enjoyable (and added to the immersion of this experience), but in some parts the text has become too faded to clearly read, or is smudged. I would imagine that this would be the rationale behind providing a clean copy as well.

In comparison to ‘modern’ games, EotPT may not have a streamlined play style, but this is indicative of the game which inspired it. In my opinion, this is part of its’ charm, and I am heartily glad that this game is now coming to light to be appreciated by a wider audience. The amount of setting information and dense detail which has been included in this manuscript is impressive, and one can tell that Professor Barker had a true passion in the design of this world. The only addition to this game which I would like are some detailed maps, but the book clearly points the reader to the Tekumel website (which I will be dedicating some serious leisure time to investigating soon). The fact that the website exists is great, as we may be seeing more material for this wonderful setting.

This was an excellent nostalgic trip through the type of product which littered my youth and my initial foray into RPGs, and for that alone I am grateful. Beyond that, the manuscript does present a world which is engaging and interesting, and whilst inspired by the original D&D already shows points of divergence. I would relish the opportunity to actually play this game, and firmly believe that anyone with an interest in the ‘old school’ should support Professor Barker and pick up a copy of ‘Empire of the Petal Throne’.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Empire of the Petal Throne (Original Manuscript)
by Berin K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/01/2012 16:38:02
If you're an "Old School" gamer, you need this. If you're a collector of roleplaying games, you need this. Tekumel is the first published RPG setting. As richly detailed as Tolkien's Middle Earth, Tekumel is based on non-European cultures. It is an inspired piece of worldbuilding.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Empire of the Petal Throne (Original Manuscript)
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/26/2012 12:35:54
A rare and ancient artefact!
If you have a mental entry-point to the world named "Tekumel" or "EPT" then you may get rather excited about this document which was originally released prior to TSR's 1975 release of this D&D based game. What is delightful about this manuscript is that it is both a facsimile and an e-text book. The odd numbered pages reminded me of the pre-photocopy spirit duplicated worksheets we had in primary school - rendered readable by the digital text on the even pages. This is an artefact from gaming history, so very close to the genesis of the tabletop role-playing game. Dedicated EPT fans will possibly be very charmed by this, the earliest of the editions and will possibly not think twice about the $15 price tag.
If you're already a player or fan of EPT then you may want to take a long educated browse through the Original Manuscript; if you're researching a genre or looking for the quintessential old-school gaming experience, but are still very new to EPT, then you're probably better off downloading the TSR1975 rulebook and maps first. :)
-Billiam B.
http://bit.ly/rpgblog

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Empire of the Petal Throne (Original Manuscript)
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/20/2012 19:49:25
If you are like me, you've heard of M.A.R. Barker's Empire of the Petal Throne but have never actually come across it. As far as I can tell, this was the first setting / house rule publication based of the grand daddy of all RPG - The Original Boxed Set of Dungeons & Dragons.

This is a copy (included is both a scan of the original pages and a newly produced and cleaned up via computer pages) of the original 1974 manuscript, of which only 50 copies are known to have been produced. TSR's version was published in 1975. To tell the truth, I always thought the TSR edition was the first edition, so this is very interesting news to me (and a nice piece of history.)

Both the scan of the original pages, and the cleaned up computer versions are shown side by side. They have even included a sweet option to only print out the cleaned up pages if you were to print this out.

This PDF is nicely bookmarked, and a breeze to navigate.

As I poke through this, I see that there are Original Skills tables. I wonder if this is where AD&D got the idea for secondary professions. Stats aren't 3d6 but d100. Wow.

Lots for me to dig through. It's like being given a piece of gaming history. Doubt I'd ever run this, but I'm pretty impressed at the depth of a game written and produced in 1974.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Publisher Reply:
Just to be clear - the TSR version was the first PUBLISHED edition. This version was not intended for publication, but was rather a set of "playtest" rules that were intended to be kept confidential. As you say, "It's like being given a piece of gaming history" - that is exactly what we intended. Thank you!
Empire of the Petal Throne
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!]
Empire of the Petal Throne
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The Temple of Lord Hnalla
by Bryan I. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/07/2011 12:16:54
Tekumel has been a setting that has interested me for a very long time. Ever since I discovered an adventure for the first published RPG to deal with the creation of Prf. Barker. Consequently I’m always pleased to see the setting being supported.

This product is a 9 and a half page document with very basic layout that details the deity Lord Hnalla and is written as if by a priest of the deity. This is an excellent choice as it emerges the reader in the setting and the mindset of the people of Tekumel from the very first sentence. Like other products in he range there are no game mechanics here, so the product is equally as useful for Tekumel players using the GOO version of the rules or the original “Empire of the Petal Throne” or any system the user chooses.

Again, a determined Tekumel fan could probably garner most of this information from other sources with a few hours browsing time but it is a delight to have it gathered here in the form of this labor of love. Certainly I already had most of the information but didn’t need to think twice to know this product was one I was going to purchase as well.

Now if you are of the school that wants your PDFs laden with art work you will be disappointed, as the only art inthe product are a few stylized frames on the opening pages. However, if what you are looking for is good game content, full of flavor and which will spark your love of one of the most detailed and interesting RPG settings out there, then you could do far worse than adding this to your cart and hitting that check out button.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Temple of Lord Hnalla
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The Temple of Lady Avanthe
by Bryan I. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/07/2011 11:51:27
As a long standing fan of the Tekumel setting it is great to see that it is being supported here on rpgnow. This 8 page (well, technically 7 and a half) product is a fairly in-depth look at one of the deities in the Tekumel pantheon. although the layout lacks the flourish and sophistication that I’m sure a true denizen of the Empire of the Petal Throne would expect, the material itself certainly doesn’t. It gives a good understanding of Lady Avanthe, her aspects, and how her followers venerate her.

I’m certain some people will point out that there is little here you couldn’t find out by asking on the various Tekumel yahoo groups and lists, but it is nice to have it all in one place for easy printing out and binding. Art is minimal, but then as an old-school RPGer I rather prefer minimalist art in products as it takes me back to how the hobby used to be. Besides which, I’m not certain that a great deal more art would have added anything genuinely useful to the product.

It is a shame more RPG products don’t pay as much attention detail as Tekumel products tend to do, and I would heartily recommend this product and it’s companions to anyone wishing to create a religion for their games to get an idea of how to add depth and colour. That said, if you are looking for game mechanics you won’t find them here. whilst some may be disappointed by this, I’m certainly not. With numerous system out there for running Tekumel games - and with my preference for using one of my own, mechanics aren’t what I’m interested - setting material is. I suspect most fans of Tekumel will be of a similar mind.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Temple of Lady Avanthe
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Empire of the Petal Throne
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!]
Empire of the Petal Throne
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Maps for Empire of the Petal Throne
by Robert L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/28/2009 09:39:43
Gorgeous color reproductions of the originals, sized to print on 11x17 paper, as in the old days (if memory serves). Lays out all the lands of the five empires, cities and travel routes.
Recommended for those interested in gaming in the authentic setting of Tekumel.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Maps for Empire of the Petal Throne
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Empire of the Petal Throne
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!]
Empire of the Petal Throne
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Tekumel Journal #2
by Anthony F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/04/2007 15:56:49
I like all Tekumel products very much. I am fascinated with the lavish detail and color of this role playing game, not so much because I am actively involved in role playing games, but because the world depicted is a genuine literary creation in it's own right from a science fantasy perspective.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tekumel Journal #2
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Create a Religion
by Frank M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/23/2006 06:07:04
Twenty-five years ago Professor Barker criticized the typical D&D handling of gods and religion, a criticism that is still valid today. Beyond that, though, he describes how real-world religions arise and evolve (using Egypt as one example), and how GMs can make more "realistic" religions for their games. His essay meanders a bit, with some typos and one malformed sentence (noted by the editors), but otherwise is a fascinating and enlightening look at the art of world-building.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Create a Religion
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The Ever-Glorious Empire: Engsvan hla Ganga
by Joe P. Date Added: 02/10/2005 13:30:48
One of my two favorite net-books/supplements. A fun read for anyone interested in the back-story of Tekumel and the nation of Tsolyanu. Must reading for a GM who wants to feel more rooted in the history of the Five Empires, and to get a handle on the religous/temple framework as it exists currently. Fun reading about the rise of the 'new religion' and the upstart Stability Gods, the cyclical rise and fall of empire, the quirks and some details of a large number of rulers...nice meaty reading for fans of Tekumel. Very helpful for getting into the mindset of the past required to get a handle on creating the atmosphere in the current game. Highly recommended.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Ever-Glorious Empire: Engsvan hla Ganga
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