Sunday, January 19, 2014

Magic Items in Empire of the Petal Throne

Any sufficiently advanced technology
is indistinguishable from magic.

Clarke's Third Law                    

When Tékumel entered the dimensional plane it occupies in the Empire of the Petal Throne setting, a series of cataclysms called the “Time of Darkness” occurred.
Old machines took on a divine aura, and as they failed, men lost the knowledge to repair them...Natural resources had been carelessly depleted...The wheels of technology require many types of natural resources and deprived of them, they slowly ground to a stop.
Articles of “ancient” technology are treated as magic items in EotPT.  Yet there is a great deal of 'magic' that is not technological per se.  Magic is explained as an interaction between psychic ability and extraplanar energies – and said energies are often associated with beings such as demons and gods.  Either the magic of Tékumel's plane conveniently meshes with old universe technology or the nature of technology has somehow been altered in Tékumel's current plane (or, perhaps, a measure of both).  What results is a mélange of science and sorcery à la Thundarr the Barbarian, not that the scholars of Tékumel would perceive any incongruity.

Among the miscellaneous 'magical' items described in EotPT, there are:
The Chariot of the Gods:  This is a flying vehicle, actually an ancient air car.
The Lightning Bringer:  This is actually a piece of ancient artillery.
The Little House of Tranquil Dwelling...This device was originally found on a planet far from Tékumel in the crater of some long burned out atomic explosion.
Additionally, there is “The Alluring Maiden of Ngá.”  This 'item' is an android with “the ebon hair and paper-white skin common to all androids of the ancients.”  This android operates as an assassin (6 Hit Dice; Armour Class 1).  However, “she is totally mindless” and “because of her lack of individual will she cannot speak or interact socially, and she cannot be assigned other tasks.”  I suppose she is “alluring” so as to have a better chance of approaching her victim.  What was the nature of the civilization of the ancients if they manufactured such technology?  Anyway, whenever her owner gives her a mission, there is a 35% chance she will attack her owner, “symbolising the breakdown of her ancient circuits.”  Of course, an android is an “automaton resembling a human being,” but there are other intelligent races on Tékumel.  One would suppose there would be “android” equivalents of Pé Chói or Tinalíya or other space-faring species friendly to man.  Perhaps such races are opposed to the idea of automatons that mimic them.

In contrast to the 'alluring maiden', there are Underworld beings called Yéleth or Angels of Doom.  These are androids (3 Hit Dice; Armour Class 6) and, like all androids, “They have paper-white skin and hair the colour of polished ebony.”  Unlike 'the maiden', they seem to have independent will and are encountered in groups of 1–4 (or 2–12 in their lair).  There is an item that allows evil Magic Users to create 1–6 Yéleth that will “serve their master loyally and permanently.”  This item is the Du'on Duqala Toruuna (or 'The Scroll of Bringing Forth the Unnamed') and the “text is written in flickering blue flame upon pages of brass.”  The same scroll permits evil Priests to create a similar group of undead beings called Mrúr.  “The construction of either of these beings requires the sacrifice of an equal number of human characters to Ksárul.”  (Ksárul is one of the Tlokiriqáluyal – the 'evil' gods of Tékumel; after the scroll is used once, “Ksárul sends his Black Angel to retrieve it.”)  So the scroll – property of an evil god – allows for the creation of undead or androids, depending upon the user.  In either case, human sacrifices are necessary; sacrifices of other intelligent beings are not sufficient.  This is a peculiar intersection of technology and magic.

A few other miscellaneous magical items are:
The Magical Chest of the Topaz Godlike a Bag of Holding, except it's a box.
The Mighty Wall of Thúmiscreates a wall of bronze for two turns.
The Jade Bowl of the God-King of Purdánimcan be used to exchange minds with a member of the same species for 24 hours.
The Trumpet of Metállja – “can summon any android or automaton within a 6 inch radius to do the bidding of the user for two turns.”


  1. just occurred to me that Alluring Maiden of Ngá and Yeleth might be part of a larger android "race". Not all member of the race would be sentient. I think that is how I will go with my Tekumel..

    Now to figure out how to introduce one.. (I must assume the androids were originally made white skinned so they would never be mistaken for humans, and the assassins were made to look like the Yeleth, so as to get them close to a target..

    1. Dude, what's up with 'Intelligences and Innuendo on the Sakbe Roads'?