Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Nature of Magic in Tékumel

Before engaging upon today's topic, I would like to point out that, today, several blogs are participating in the Obsolete Simulations Roundup, a worthy idea presented by Tim Snider.  Why am I not participating?
  1. Apparently, I wasn't paying attention.  I blame the holidays.
  2. This is pretty much the raison d'être of my blog anyway but what I normally stretch out over a couple of months, I would need to encapsulate in one post.
Still, I would be remiss if I did not mention it for the edification of the dozens of people who might view this page.  Enjoy!

Emblem of the Temple of Wurú The Unnameable, He Who Appears Where
Evil Dwells, the Many-Legged Serpent of Gloom, and Cohort of Hrű'ű

As mentioned previously, the Tékumel solar system left 'our' universe.  It then became a 'Plane' unto itself.  The “multi-dimensional space-time continuum” is “formless energy” that encompasses the various Planes (including Tékumel's).  On page 14 of The World of the Petal Throne, Book 2, M.A.R. Barker writes...
The “skin of reality” which separates one Plane from another is rather thin over much of the planet and it is much easier on Tékumel to “reach through” and tap this inchoate, primal power than elsewhere in the cosmos.
This “inchoate, primal power” (or “formless energy”) acts as the fuel for magic.  If the multi-dimensional space-time continuum is analogous to an ocean, then Tékumel's Plane is analogous to a bubble.  Just as there are many bubbles in the ocean, so do numerous Planes abound in the continuum.  “Nexus Points” are connections between Planes which may be used for inter-Planar travel.  Page 16 informs us that...
A skilled mage can sometimes open...a Nexus Point...A few of these Nexus Points are relatively stable and always give access to the same other-dimensional world...Most Nexus Points are impermanent and perilous to use.
Denizens of these other Planes are called Sharétlkoi (i.e., “Demons”).  There are many Demon races representing a range of power from “semi-intelligent beings, animals, or even lower forms of life” all the way to “beings of such inconceivable power that they approach the 'Gods'...”

On Tékumel, there are two forms of magic:  ritual and psychic.  “Ritual mostly powered by the forces of the Planes Beyond.”  Correct performance of ritual magic produces a consistent effect.  “Psychic magic relies mainly upon the talents of the user himself.”  Since entering their current Plane, the humans of Tékumel have had thousands of years to increase their once vestigial psychic powers.  Such aptitude is represented in a character's Psychic Ability talent.  The two forms of magic are not mutually exclusive.  “In order to work...a psychic spell still requires a little power from the Planes Beyond as a sort of 'catalytic booster.'”  Likewise, “a ritual spell...requires a spark of psychic energy as a catalyst.”

A caster of either form of magic must be able to contain significant amounts of magical power.  This reservoir is called Pedhétl and is one of the five “selves” which compose every living entity.  Each self “has a separate identity and a certain degree of independence from the rest.”  The selves are:
  • Bákte – “the physical body”
  • Chusétl – “the Shadow-Self”  This is the self that exists in dreams and as an astral projection.  When the Bákte dies, so does the Chusétl.
  • Hlákme – “the conscious mind”  After the Bákte dies, “the Hlákme remains in the tomb, hovering near its bodily shell forever in a dreamless sleep unless returned to the corpse by necromancy.”
  • Báletl – “the Spirit-Soul”  In the afterlife, the Báletl “sheds its burden of identity and memory in order to be born anew upon ever more distant planes of consciousness.”
  • Penhétl – “the Enemy...the source of all emotion and passion and the motivating energy behind all action and ambition.”  After death, Pedhétl returns to the extra-Planar “sea” of energy.
Baker writes of “idiot savant[s]” with vast Penhétl but with limited intelligence and psychic ability.  These people are used by temples as “batteries.”  Barker also tells of “anti-psychic individuals” who automatically prevent spellcasting within a 1.5 meter radius.  Also, devices that use other-Planar energy do not work well (if at all) in proximity to such persons.

Humanity is not the only race to produce these “psychic dampeners.”  One-in-fifty Swamp Folk specimens are dampeners and the rest of that race “are genetically incapable of using sorcery of any kind.”  Also, “the Ahoggyá are generally poor magicians and one in every ten is a 'psychic dampener.'”  On the other hand, “Pé Chói and the Tinalíya are exceptionally good at sorcery.”

The energies of the Planes Beyond is more accessible at some locations and not others.  Regions where “spells work easily” are considered magically “fertile.”  Many cities – ruined or current – occupy such fertile areas.  In magically “barren” regions, “No spell operates...and even ancient technological devices work only once” and will not work again until removed from the area.  Aside from this more-or-less stable 'magic geography,' there are mobile “Nexus Points” that travel randomly over the world.

1 comment:

  1. Nice article, good overview of things. Glad you liked my Wuru emblem. I did a few revisions of the old emblems I did for the Sourcebook. Might have to post some of those one of these days.