Tékumeláni Magic

In adapting a world that has a magic system to a generic system, one of the trickiest points is how much you adapt what already exists in the generic system, and how much you try to retain the flavor of the world. What follows is the method used by one of the authors. The other author felt that a system using the GURPS magic system for Ritual spells and the GURPS psionics system to model Psychic spells best represented magic on tekumel. Both systems work, but the latter takes more time and effort, and therefore was not presented in this article.

Magic on Tékumel is controlled by the temples. Being a priest gives you no magical powers (indeed, most priests are non-magical administrators, scholars and theologians), but the temples are the chief source and repository of magical learning.

Each of the ten gods has areas of interest that are reflected in their spell corpus. Listed below are the gods and their cohorts along with the areas they concentrate on:

God (Cohort) Areas of Interest
Hnálla (Drá) Light, stability, tranquillity
Karakán (Chegárra) War, courage, weapons
Thúmis (Keténgku) Knowledge, healing, communication
Avánthe (Dilinála) Nature, animals, plants
Belkhánu (Qón) Departed souls, the Planes Beyond
Hrü'ü (Wurú) Chaos, darkness, cold
Vimúhla (Chiténg) Fire, war, destruction
Ksárul (Grugánu) Knowledge, magic, ancient technology
Sárku (Durritlámish) Undead, tombs, the mind.
Dlamélish (Hriháyel) Hedonism, eroticism, demonology, the body.

All spells are divided into three categories based on how widely known they are: Universal, Generic, and Temple spells. Universal spells can be learned in any temple. Generic spells can only be learned by followers of some of the temples. Temple spells are only taught within a single temple. A few Generic and Temple spells are available in all temples, but they involve major variations in style (e.g. the Summon Demon temple spell is known to all temples, but specific demons associated with that deity are summoned).

The Temple spells are among the most tightly controlled secrets of the temple. Anyone caught teaching either Generic or Temple spells to those outside the temple will be tried by the Ecclesiastic Courts and severely punished, perhaps with impalement.

All spells are classified as either Psychic or Ritual, based on the mode of casting the spell. Psychic spells use only the power of the mind to form the effect, while Ritual spells require gestures, spoken phrases, incense and other components to aid in drawing power from the Planes Beyond. Ritual spells thus require more time and action, but also cost less energy to cast.

Ritual spells

Arms and legs must be free and empty, uncrippled. The magic user must not be stunned, mentally or physically. A maximum of Medium encumbrance and heavy leather armor or less. Ritual spells require the casting rituals given on p. M7 for "Skill 12 or below". Time Reduction for Skill is not allowed. Cost Reduction for Skill is allowed.

Psychic spells

The mind must be unaffected by wounding, disease, magic, or stunning. Any encumbrance or armor possible. If blindfolded, aimed spells can only be cast as a Wild Swing. Psychic spells require ritual as per "Skill 21 - 24" on p. M7, except time to cast is not halved. Time Reduction for skill is allowed. Cost Reduction for Skill is not allowed.

IQ and Magery Requirements

The requirements of casting each class of spells are slightly different. To cast Psychic spells, the character must have an IQ of 11 and Magery 1. To cast Ritual spells, the character must have IQ 12 and Magery 1. To cast both classes of spells, the character must have an IQ of 13 and Magery 2. A minimum IQ of 6 is needed to use ancient techno-magical devices, such as Eyes.

Mana Levels

On Tékumel, there are some slight changes in the Mana Level (p. M6) definitions. In High Mana, only mages can cast spells, but the cost to cast is halved. In Low Mana, the cost to cast spells is doubled. There is no reduction in skill in Low Mana areas. In No Mana areas, eyes and other techno-magical devices will work once and then will cease to function until returned to Low Mana or better. Very High Mana does not exist on tekumel. Tékumel is predominantly Normal Mana.


Mages can carry no more than 60 g (2 oz.; about 20 Káitars) of metal on their persons. Metal cannot be in anyway be directly connected to the mage, even metal being dragged on a rope. If a mage attempts to cast a spell under these conditions, automatically roll on the Metal Spell Failure Table below:


Metal Spell Failure Table
Roll Result
3-8 No effect.
9-12 HT-2 roll or take 4d damage.
13-18 All in 2 yard radius must make HT-2 roll or take 4d damage.

Spell Energy

Spell Energy is equal to ST + (2 x Magery) + IQ Bonus (see table below) + Extra Fatigue (Magic Use Only). For example, Tólekh hiDráskalu, a scholar-priest of Vimúhla, has ST 11, IQ 14 and Magery 3, giving him a Spell Energy of 18 (11 + 2x3 + 1).

IQ Bonus to Spell Energy Table
IQ 13-14 +1
IQ 15-17 +2
IQ 18+ +3

Powerstones are only available to advanced mages in the temple of Ksárul. Spell Energy is a separate attribute from normal fatigue. Every hour of sleep restores one energy point. After six hours of sleep, a successful HT roll will restore an additional 6 energy points. A critical success on this roll restores all remaining energy.