I see that there have been four major editions of Tekumel/Empire of the Petal Throne (via Wikipedia) and a pre-TSR edition is also now available. All known releases include the following:

  • "Green Cover," a.k.a. "mimeo," version: produced in the Spring of 1974 in a limited and confidential run of fifty copies.
  • Empire of the Petal Throne, published in 1975 as a boxed set by TSR, Inc. and reprinted later as a single book by Different Worlds Publications in 1987.
  • Swords & Glory, published in 1983/4 in two volumes by Gamescience.
  • Gardasiyal: Adventures in Tekumel, published in 1994 by Theater of the Mind Enterprises.
  • Tekumel: Empire of the Petal Throne, published in 2005 by Guardians of Order.

What are the major differences between each edition?

  • \$\begingroup\$ According to tekumel.com/gaming_rulesTEPT.html the 2005 Guardians of Order version uses "GOO’s Tri-Stat rules and a highly sophisticated character generation system". \$\endgroup\$
    – user2102
    Dec 29, 2011 at 18:46
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The original manuscript for Empire of the Petal Throne is now available, being released by the Tékumel Foundation (see bit.ly/ept-available). The press release notes: this version is a precursor to the game published shortly later by TSR, Inc. and contains a number of significant differences. However, it is in many ways is substantively similar to the later TSR publication, and is being produced more as a historical document than as a different product. That seems a bit contradictory, but a worthy purchase for those interested. \$\endgroup\$
    – javafueled
    Feb 20, 2012 at 21:50

2 Answers 2


I found the Rules and Game Systems - Official Rules section of the Tékumel Official Site and History of the Empire of the Petal Throne RPG, by Brett Slocum, useful in preparing the following. All quotes taken from History of the Empire of the Petal Throne RPG, except where noted.

1975 - Empire of the Petal Throne (EPT) has "a relatively simplistic rules set based on Dungeons & Dragons" - Official Rules - Empire of the Petal Throne

1983 - Gamescience reprints the original EPT and Swords and Glory Volume I: "a complete description of the world with no rules."

1984 - Gamescience prints Swords and Glory Volume II: "Player's Handbook, giving the character generation, combat and magic rules (completely new mechanics, plus an 8-page character sheet)." This edition was "incomplete" having no Referee's Handbook because in...

1989 - Gamescience gave up on ETP when "Hurricane Hugo [destroyed] the galleys [for Volume III: Referee's Handbook] and all remaining warehouse copies of Volume II."

1992-1994 - Theater of the Mind Enterprises published "the Adventures on Tékumel series, including Tékumel Bestiary, character generation... and Gardásiyal, the rest of the game rules". Disappointingly, "[t]he Adventures on Tékumel books [are] required for source material such as new characters." - Official Rules - Gardásiyal: Deeds of Glory

2005 - Guardians of Order publish a "a complete game in one book," "based on the Tri-Stat system of BESM." For more on the Tri-Stat dX see Wikipedia.

Brett Slocum also appears to have links to the majority of the rules at RPG Rules for Tékumel, where you may be able to pick out more detailed differences between the editions. Finally, both Brett and Rules and Game Systems - Unofficial Rules have alternate rules and links to conversions in other systems.


Empire of the Petal Throne (EPT) published by TSR is a D&D-derived system with hit dice and levels using d100. It's a simple system, and it takes about 10 minutes to create a character. This game contains a very good amount of the setting details in a pretty small number of pages.

Swords and Glory (S&G) published by Gamescience comes in two parts. The Tekumel Sourcebook is a setting book with no game rules. It reads like an anthropological text, but it is the most complete description of Tekumel in existence. The Player's Handbook contains all the rules needed to play. It's a very complex system with both random die rolls and point-buy skills and spells that has a modifier for everything. A Referee's Handbook was planned, but never produced.

Gardasiyal published by TOME is simplified version of the Swords and Glory system. It relies on the Adventures on Tekumel series of solitaire adventures for character generation and background. A comprehensive Tekumel Bestiary was also published during this time.

Tekumel: Empire of the Petal Throne (T:EPT) published by Guardians of Order is derived from the Tri-Stat dX system of the same company. It is a rules-heavy point-buy system. One of the drawbacks is that the bestiary is limited, only a few non-human races are detailed, and the spell list is incomplete. Future volumes that were never produced would have filled in the gaps.

There is one more official ruleset, Bethorm by Jeff Dee, published last fall after a Kickstarter campaign. It is a rules-light point-buy system about on the same range of complexity as GURPS Lite or BRP. Two of its features are drawings of nearly every creature, drawn by Jeff Dee, as well as translations of all of the spells from the game with the most complete spell corpus, Swords and Glory.

The five systems in order of complexity (lowest to highest): EPT, Bethorm, Gardasiyal, T:EPT, S&G.


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