The Primal Order

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The Primal Order
Primal Order First Edition Cover.jpg
First edition cover
Designer(s) Peter Adkison
Publisher(s) Wizards of the Coast
Publication date


1995 (revised edition)
Genre(s) Fantasy
System(s) Capsystem

The Primal Order, or "TPO", is a religion-based fantasy roleplaying game supplement".[1] Of particular note, TPO was the first work published by Wizards of the Coast and its president, Peter Adkison.[2] Through TPO, Wizards of the Coast introduced the "Capsystem" concept, enabling gamemasters to seamlessly integrate TPO and future Capsystem titles into other role-playing games.

The supplement covers high-powered gaming and the gods. TPO provides guidelines for gamemasters to develop individual gods of various power levels, to include entire pantheons, as well as the vast support network, both divine and mortal, required to maintain and increase godly status. These guidelines stem from the foundational concept of primal energy, its sources and impact, as well as its resource management.

TPO received very good reviews from various sources, including Pyramid Magazine[3] and RPGNet.[4]

As part of the sale of Wizards of the Coast to Hasbro in 2001, Adkison retained the rights to The Primal Order, his own original work.[5]

Published Supplements[edit]

Wizards quickly followed up the release of TPO with several supplements to help build on the system's foundation. These supplements included:

  • Pawns, The Opening Move. Written by Nigel Findley, TPO's first supplement serves as a bestiary created with the TPO ruleset in mind. It was published in 1992.
  • Knights, Strategies in Motion. Written by Nigel Findley, this supplement detail three fictional deities and their approaches to building their respective religions based on the TPO ruleset. It was published in 1993.
  • Chessboards, The Planes of Possibility. Written by Dave Howell, this supplement details planar design and management with respect to TPO ruleset. It was published in 1993. The first copies went on sale at GenCon 1993, but its release was overshadowed by another new product: Magic, the Gathering.


One of the driving forces behind the Capsystem concept was to provide gamemasters of various systems with conversion notes to port TPO into their respective games. As such, Wizards solicited conversions for various systems, and included the following conversions with TPO:

Kevin Siembieda, the owner of Palladium Books and Palladium FRPG copyright holder, sued Wizards for copyright infringement.[2] The parties settled the suit out of court, and Wizards released a revised edition of TPO that excluded Palladium. The revised edition also excluded AD&D, D&D and WarpWorld. However, Adkison took advantage of the revision to include these games:

The expanded coverage increased TPO's page count from 232 to 250 pages. It also included new cover art.

Planned Supplements[edit]

Wizards initially planned several supplements, of which two are known:

  • Bishops, The Eternal Crusade. This TPO supplement, to be written by Loren Miller,[4] was to focus on "Earthly" churches using the TPO ruleset. It was never completed, nor are there any notes or references available.
  • Rivals of Estedil. Written by Jonathan Tweet,[6] this was an adventure using the TPO ruleset. It was never completed, although Mr Tweet compiled copious notes and an outline.

In addition, the following Capsystem works are mentioned in the Legal Stuff section of both the original and revised editions:

  • The Military Order
  • The Economic Order
  • The Governmental Order
  • The Underworld Order

Yet, with the dramatic success of Magic: The Gathering, coupled with previous legal issues regarding their Capsystem approach, Wizards focused almost entirely on collectible card games and did not release any further Capsystem books.[2]

Other Conversions[edit]

Although TPO received no further official support beyond the 1995 revised edition, several folks have put forth other game system conversions for the system, to include:


  1. ^ Edelstein, David. "RPGNet Game Index". RPGNet Game Index. Retrieved 2011-07-04. 
  2. ^ a b c Appelcline, Shannon. "A Brief History of Game #1: Wizards of the Coast: 1990-Present". RPGNet. Retrieved 2011-07-04. 
  3. ^ Blankenship, Loyd. "Pyramid Pick: The Primal Order". Pyramid Magazine. Retrieved 2011-07-04. 
  4. ^ a b Edelstein, David. "Review: The Primal Order". RPGNet Review. Retrieved 2011-07-04. 
  5. ^ "Peter Adkison Talks About The Return Of The Primal Order". Dorkland. Retrieved 2014-06-17. 
  6. ^ Tweet, Jonathan. "Rivals of Estedil". Amazon Entry. Retrieved 2011-07-04. 
  7. ^ Wilson, Jefferson. "GURPS 4e and The Primal Order". Personal website. Archived from the original on August 24, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  8. ^ Morris, Rodney. "Conversion of The Primal Order to Mythus". Personal website. Retrieved 2011-07-04. 
  9. ^ Furtado, Fred. "The Primal Order Conversion Notes for Unisystem". Personal website. Retrieved 2011-07-04.