History of the Empire of the Petal Throne RPG
M.A.R. Barker is a former professor of linguistics and South Asian Studies at the University of Minnesota. He invented Tékumel as a child in the '30s and '40s after reading the Arabian Nights, pulp science fiction, books on Egyptology and the Mayans, ancient and mediaeval history, etc.. Empire of the Petal Throne (EPT) was first published in 1975 by Tactical Studies Rules (TSR), shortly after D&D. Ral Partha made a set of miniatures for Tékumel, including legion figures and priests. After a few years, TSR stopped publishing EPT.
Players in Barker's semiweekly game sessions published several incarnations of fanzines and other wonderful small press publications devoted to Tékumel through the mid-80s, including a Tsolyáni language book, demonology text, miniatures rules, etc. In 1983, Gamescience reprinted the original EPT and published the first volume of Swords and Glory, The Tékumel Sourcebook, a complete description of the world with no rules. Volume II was the Player's Handbook, giving the character generation, combat and magic rules (completely new mechanics, plus an 8-page character sheet). Volume III was going to be the Referee's Handbook, but Hurricane Hugo took the galleys and all remaining warehouse copies of Volume II out into the Gulf for a swim. This ended Gamescience's excursion into the world of tekumel.
In 1993, Theater of the Mind Enterprises (TOME), better known for boardgames, published the Adventures on Tékumel series, including Tékumel Bestiary, character generation, three solitaire adventure books (a total of 10 scenarios, I think), and Gardásiyal, the rest of the game rules. This is the first time since EPT that Tékumel has a complete set of game rules in print.
In 2005, Guardians of Order, publishers of Big Eyes, Small Mouth, published Tékumel: The Empire of the Petal Throne. This roleplaying game is based on the Tri-Stat system of BESM. It is a complete game in one book, a first since the original EPT.There is still room for supplements, since many creatures, Temple spells, non-human races, and nation details for nations other than Tsolyanu were left out for space considerations.
A recent chapter in the Tékumel saga is net-publishing. Several netbooks from the Blue Room site have been made available on DriveThruRPG.com. Several language treatises, Deeds of the Ever-Glorious, a history of Engsván hla Gánga, and several other titles have been published in this manner, as well as T:EPT.