A big question that I keep getting on Terah is “What’s the technology like?” As I mentioned in another blog post, two of the races in Terah come from much more advanced civiliazations. Both lived in a society only slightly more advanced than ours. They were further ahead in space travel, but about the same in polution and ecology. In the case of the high elves, they based their civilization around technology. The dark elves based theirs around magic.

When they were forced to leave their world, they lost a lot of what they had. Not only in friends, relatives, homes, property, pets, and comforts, they both lost some of their advancements as well.

For the high elves, this was due to the fact that in their hurry to leave, they were unable to bring an infrastructure that as capable of continuing production of what they needed. Sure you have the computer, but 1) where do you plug it in? and 2) how do you produce the chips and boards to replace it? Where are the resources you need to do that and how do you mine them when the only equipment you brought is war machines?

The dark elves had a different problem. While physics and science remained the same on both worlds, magic did not. Some spells worked fine, mostly spells that relied on the divine, but many of the spells that made their society what it was, the advanced spells that required a heavy reliance on the arcane, were non-functioning.

This required both sides to give up their pre-occupation with either just technology or just magic and make deals with the locals. The result is what defines technology in Terah today. The locals jumped ahead a bit and the elves were able to be a little more comfortable. The result is a technology that mixes steam, magic, and clockwork.

Here’s a bit of a summary of where things are at:

Information technology–about the late fifties and early sixties. There are computers, but they are huge behemoths. Magic gives them more personality than what you’d expect. In terah, they are steam driven engines that use gears for their counting and programming. Software doesn’t really exist. Programs are run from bronze cast boxes of gears. Each computer uses a different sized box, so its programs must be custom written for it.

Communication: Very short range, steam powered radio. Most homes have a radio, but like our swamp coolers, and small air conditioning devices, the radio must have a good portion of itself outside the home.

Power grids and utilities: Most homes have electricity, but not a lot of it. Power plants are (you guessed right) steam driven, and use turbines the size of a city block. The vast majority of this goes to power industry and production. Homes and residences that need more than what it takes to power lightbulbs and a personal radio are for the very rich. Most homes use natural gas for cooking and heating. Natural gas is so plentiful in terah, that it’s even used in some places in place of coal in the power plants. A home that uses no electricity and only natural gas is not uncommon. Then again, neither are cabon monoxide related deaths, especially in dwarven cities.

Transportation–the horseless carriage and some commerical haulers. All powered by steam and natural gas.

Weapons–I plan on doing a whole post on these, but pretty much, you can place it at about the Victorian Age from our world as far as possible damage goes. Steamtech has produced quite a wide range of interesting and bizarre projectile weapons. Black powder is so last century.

The first adventure path centers around lost dwarven steamtech and gives GMs and players a taste of the history and technology that is Terah.

“Spark” is (c) 2000-2010 by Phil and Kaja Foglio. Used with permission. Visit to see one of the works that inspired Terah.

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