Technology On Therafim

Archived Technology Rules

These rules are not current, but are preserved for potential use elsewhere.


Therafim is a massive and diverse world, filled with all manner of possibilities. Its peoples are every bit as developed in culture as those of Modern Earth, and in many cases even more, thanks to the additional diversity of races, and the powers of magic. A native of Earth in the modern day would probably not feel too terribly out of place among one of Therafim's societies of similar population to that which the Earthling left. The presence of magic, however, would soon prove to be a significant point of difference.

It is the presence of magic on Therafim that changes things. Technology and magic, for reasons not completely understood, are at odds with each other and, on Therafim at least, magic trumps the powers of technology. This is part of the Laws of Magic, the rules that determine what can and cannot happen on Therafim. it is most apparent in an alteration to the normal laws of physics and chemical reactions, as the rules for combustion are such that chemical compounds, such as gunpowder and similar substances, just don't work, or only have limited utility.

When humans first arrived on Therafim, they had immense technological might available to them. However, after less than a century, the Laws of Magic stripped the human technology of its power and left it lifeless, never to work again. Later experimentation into bending the Laws of Magic might produce new possibilities to break these restrictions, but until then, higher technology is impossible on Therafim.

Technology Among the Races

Abberations and Abominations

Many of the abberant races, such as the beholders, the kaorti and the illithids are known to have access to technology forgotten by most. This technology is usually made up of a liberal mixture of magical experimentation as well as strange, alien technology so advanced that it might as well be magical. Facing against these twisted, often mad or madness-inducing races in their lairs is an exercise in the most extreme danger, because it is almost impossible to know what to expect. Despite this possibility of running into some truly twisted experiences, however, a great many more aberrations, like aboleths and spellweavers, might have access to great stores of knowledge, but seldom make use of it, preferring magic and their natural abilities instead, while others, like the grell, are too bestial to make use of technology in general.

Among the outcast races, such as the anti-magical sarkreth or the lurking skulks, technology is what can be found and adapted. Sarkreth are known to make extensive use of clockwork, steam power, and a variety of machine-powered weapons for their defenses, their antimagical natures making some truly strange and advanced forms of technology available to them where they are not to other races, including some things left over from the days of the humans' first invasion of Therafim. Skulks, on the other hand, make use of just about anything that other races throw away, and turn them to their own devices. It is possible to run into drow hand crossbows, illithid mind bombs, sarkreth smoke, gnomish clockwork traps, and dwarven steam-powered death pistons among the skulks.


Most beastfolk living outside of major cities do not deal in much technology. These tribal folk generally do not have access to steel, and are lucky to have iron. The secret of steel, therefore, is carefully guarded by those who know how to make it, and has been honed to a very refined art form among the tribal beastfolk, with most steel items being made from meteroitic metal. Especially clever beastfolk, such as foxkin, mouselings, and racoonfolk, can learn to make use of things such as clockwork, water power, and the occasional steam-powered device, and sometimes do so.

City-based beastfolk tend to be slightly less technologically advanced than other races, with the secret of steel and other hard metals still quite rare and shrouded in mystery. These city beastfolk, however, tend to be quite skilled in the use of stone, engineering, and the softer metals, such as bronze.


As befits a race of shapeshifters, changelings adapt themselves to whatever society in which they are to be found. In general, however, changelings like to be on the cutting edge of technology, especially in things that might prove useful to them as bartering tools or defensive measures. Because of this, it is not at all uncommon for changeling lairs to be loaded with a variety of intricate mechanical traps, and changelings themselves are known to have their persons loaded with more than a few clockwork spring-loaded traps and devices.


Dwarves make full use of steam power in their larger cities to accomplish tasks that would be otherwise too strenuous or time-consuming for normal labor. Not trusting magic nearly as much as elves, dwarves vastly prefer to have machines at their beck and call. Crossbows, catapults, and other mechanical weapons are well-known for use in dwarven defenses, and their great drills for mining make excellent tools of destruction in a pinch. Dwarves are experts in all metallurgy and stonecrafting, and are known to be among the few races that regularly is able to work adamantine.


The reality of elven technology is that they are not interested in such things as noisy machines or moving parts. They are deeply interested, however, in the artistic side of technology. The working of metals and wood are of deep interest to them, these materials having the flow of nature in their subtle, deadly curves, especially such precious, subtle materials as mithral and darkwood. For the most part, however, elves prefer to use magic whenever possible to simplify and beautify their lives and ways of living.


As a surprise to nobody, the fey are almost completely devoid of technology. In general, the vast majority of the fey have nothing to do with the working of any materials, except at whim or because it is a part of their natures. Thus, while brownies and leprechauns might produce some truly amazing works, they are exceptions rather than the rule. When the fey need such items as weapons or armor, and cannot simply use magic to accomplish their ends, they will simply take the material from which they intend to make their implements, and then use ritual fey magic known only to their kind to shape the material to their desires and whims. Magic and the flow of nature are the very substances from which the fey are made, and they respond to their least commands in ways that other races can only dream of, and even gnomes can only barely touch upon these powers with their skills in illusions.


The sheer size of giants requires them generally to rely upon their own devices, or upon the devices of any slaves or servants that they might acquire from other races, to produce any objects that they intend to use. Because of this, giants are left largely to their own devices, technology-wise, unable to rely much on the works of or trade with other races. Because of this, the low- or average-intelligence giant races, such as ettins, hill giants, minotaurs, ogres, stone giants, and trolls have only minimal technology on average, limited to the most basic stone, bone, and wood tools and weapons, and the hides of animals as a source of armor, when they even bother with such things in the first place. Some of the more intelligent among these giant races, such as minotaurs, might produce their own metal weapons, though axes are preferred in this case, because they require only minimal amounts of metal and time to craft. Other giants of Large size can often loot various items from other races that are sufficient to suit their bodies, with some modiification. On the other end of the spectrum, such vastly intelligent beings as cloud and storm giants or titans quite frequently produce their own weapons and armor, even being able to work adamantine and mithral, so advanced is their metallurgy. However, these more intelligent giants generally prefer to use magic to accomplish their many ends, rather than relying on crafting items that take up so much space and time in their creation.


In their cities, gnomes are known for using steam power for more functional tasks, such as transportation. However, gnomes are vastly more fascinated by the tiny moving parts of clockwork, and this is the principle focus of their attentions in the realms of technology. Gnomes are generally known to be on the cutting edge, as the makers of such wonders as the repeating crossbow, the telescope, the magnifying glass, and other miracles of metal, machinery, and glass. Magic and technology are, to a gnome, almost one and the same, and they see nothing wrong with using both in equal and liberal measure.


To the many goblinoid races, technology is just another means to an end, that end being the acquisition of power over others. Because of this, goblin warrens are noted for being riddled with sometimes immensely complicated and deadly mechanical traps, and hobgoblin metallurgy and siege weaponry and engineering is the rival of the best that any other race can produce. However, because of this extreme focus, goblinoids seldom form truly new innovations, but only variations on themes they stole from people that they conquered, and they seldom have the patience for any sort of work that cannot be at least partially mass-produced.


For the most part, halflings stop their technological development at the use of the stirrup and basic ironmongering. This small folk have little need for most metalwork, and fill their basic needs for things such as pots, pans, kettles, and so forth through tinkering, recycling the castoffs of others into things that they need. It should be noted that halflings are experts at making use of these castoffs, however, and adapting whatever they might find for their own purposes, sometimes even improving upon the designs of other races. Advanced metallurgy, however, is quite beyond halflings as a culture, thanks to their usually nomadic way of life, and sedentary halflings generally detest the fumes that come from such workshops. However, halflings are experts at working with leather and wood, their small, nimble hands and clever, agile minds giving them an advantage in these regards. Perhaps the best leathercrafters on Therafim are halflings.


Befitting their status as one of the more mentally adaptable races of Therafim, humans are also the most diverse in terms of levels of technology. Having started at a high level of knowledge, humans have fallen a great deal. Because of this all humans might be said to be degenerated from what they once were, and are only aspiring to regain that which they have lost. In this situation, humans are constantly plagued with such sayings, when they accomplish some truly magnificent piece of work, that what they did was "as good as" some other race's work. The most accomplished humans can regularly create machinery "as good as" any gnome's, leatherwork "as good as" a halfling's, bows and swords "as good as" any elf's, and mining "as good as" that of the dwarves. Yet these other races have the advantage of time that humans simply lack, and under these circumstances, the accomplishments of humans in being as good as they are is truly astounding.


Like beastfolk and most of the other monstrous humanoids, orcs and related species tend to stick to the basics of hunting and gathering. However, orcish raiding tendencies mean that they often gain access to a number of interesting items that more peaceful races might not have. Because of this, orcs have grown quite adept at adapting (other races would call it perverting) the technology and items of other peoples. Thus, while an orc might don a dwarfmade coat of mail and use a bow once crafted by elves, neither of these works will bear any resemblence to their former selves by the time an orc crafter has had his way with them. They will be made in orc items, great in quality and value, but desirable only by orcs. While orcs are not terrifically good at innovation, they are also adept at mimicry, and once they have acquired an item from another group, and have had time to study it, they will frequently work to mass-produce such items wholesale for their own use. This often causes a great reduction in quality, but orcs, fecund as they are, are far more interested in quantity.

Serpentine Races

Coatls, nagas, and yuan-ti are the major serpentine races of Therafim. Coatls and nagas are quite civilized and advanced in their use of magic, though they tend to lack limbs with which to manipulate objects on their own. However, through the servants or slaves (depending on the nature of the being in question), these limbless races are able to demonstrate their great knowledge of the finer points of crafting stone, wood, metal, and more. Many of these great serpent beings are repositories of knowledge long lost and forgotten, and their minds are treasure-troves of ancient lore. The yuan-ti, meanwhile, are largely like other monstrous humanoid races or beastfolk in their abilities to use technology. However, unlike those others, the yuan-ti are masters of the secret of steel, which makes them incredibly dangerous on the battlefield, even without their use of magic and psionic abilities.

Undersea Races

Beneath the waves, technology in any form is at a premium, because of the corrosive nature of sea water. Thus, the vast majority of objects made under the waves must be both flexible and durable. This keeps the vast majority of creatuers that live underwater at the basic hunter/gatherer level of technology, relying on basic tools and weapons made of natural materials, and on their own (often considerable) natural abilities. The rare exceptions to this rule is found in the cities of the aquatic elves and the merfolk, usually grown out of coral, burrowed into living rock on the ocean floor, or shaped out of ice or crystal through the use of magic. In such places there is a measure of stability otherwise lacking beneath the waves, and in these places aquatic elves are able to fashion strangely fluid objects of mithral with the use of undersea volcanoes, and merfolk might adopt some surface stuff, provided that it can last long beneath the water.


In the eyes of other races, the warforged are a product of technology and magic combined, and hence might be seen as the ultimate expression of technology on Therafim. As far as anyone else knows, there have been no great warforged inventors, no grand innovators among their race. While this might change in the future, for the time being, the warforged are simply the users of technology, able to to so with incredible skill at times simply because it is their function.

Other Monstrous Races

Most of the other monstrous races of Therafim tend to live at a tribal level. Armands, centaurs, lizardfolk and others generally are able to produce what they need for survival, and can be considered about equal to tribal beastfolk in technology. The secret of steel is the highest degree of technology that these races aspire to, though they often can produce some marvels through the use of magic.