Empire of the Petal Throne

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For the game produced by Guardians of Order, see Tékumel: Empire of the Petal Throne.

Empire of the Petal Throne is a fantasy role-playing game designed by M. A. R. Barker, based on his Tékumel fictional universe, and first published in 1975 by TSR, Inc.


In 1975, Tactical Studies Rules, Inc., the publishers of Dungeons & Dragons, published M. A. R. Barker's roleplaying game and setting as a standalone game under the title of The Empire of the Petal Throne (a synonym for the Tsolyáni Empire), rather than as a "supplement" to the original D&D rules.[1] Bringing a level of detail and quality to the concept of a campaign setting which had previously been unknown in the nascent RPG industry's publications it could be considered a qualitative reimagining, less heavily entrenched in the tactical mass-combat, wargaming roots of D&D. The game was the subject of articles in early issues of Dragon Magazine, but factors including inconsistent support from TSR led to its decline in popularity. Over the subsequent thirty years several new games based on the Tékumel setting were published, but to date none have met with commercial success. While published as fantasy, the game is sometimes classified as science fantasy or, debatably, as science fiction.

TSR was locked into a deal that made the financial end of the game unpalatable to them. They had agreed to pay a "finders fee" on sales in addition to royalties as well as to certain expensive overrides. As a result, the product was more expensive and thus less profitable. In addition, Barker was perceived as having a very strong ego. (Note that when DAW published his first book he was able to obtain the "Superstar" imprint for it, resulting in other authors - many who had more than one Hugo - requesting the same and a great deal of discontent). Whether the perception is fair or not, it would later plague Barker's acceptance and reputation.

Empire of the Petal Throne was first published in 1975 as a boxed set by TSR, Inc. and reprinted later as a single book by Different Worlds Publications in 1987.[2]


  1. ^ "The History of TSR". Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 2008-10-04. Retrieved 2005-08-20. 
  2. ^ "Tékumel - The World of the Petal Throne". Tekumel.com. Retrieved 2012-03-16.