Tahnaryn: The Black Magic of Kethira

Learned colleagues and fellow practitioners,

I do present to you at long last a summary of my findings on that obscure force I have narcissistically named Tahnaryn. It is my hope that you will finally accept that this basic and fundamental force of Kelestia does indeed exist, can be harnessed and deserves a comprehensive study by our organization. I cannot be reached through the normal means as certain members of the Morgathian church are interested in my whereabouts, but I will be present at the chantry for the winter’s solstice gathering. I will be demonstrating what mastery I have of these exciting forces for all.

Yours in service, Urbanal Tahnaryn

Morgat 14, TR 538

A while back I began developing another form of magic for use in the Hârn setting. The notion came about from me wondering just what “witchcraft”, as mentioned in the Law article, means. My definition of witchcraft usually involves evil magic and association with demons and the like. On Hârn that just means the divine servants of a banned god. I wanted magic, not religion or divinity and the convocations of the Shek-P’var didn’t really cover it.

Well, maybe witchcraft on Hârn doesn’t mean demon magic. Necromancy is another stereotypically evil magic form and it’s one that appeals to me. Yeah, I wanted necromancy, but Kethira already has it in the form of the Morgathian church and the morvra. I actually like the Hârnic take on undead, but I felt it could be expanded and here was the way to do it. The Morgathians might claim propriety over the undead, but that doesn’t mean it has to be so.

Now the trick was to fit my necromancy into the overall Hârn system, mechanically and philosophically. I really didn’t like the way CGI represented elven magic as simply a reorganizing of the Shek-P’var convocations. I wanted a new system. Likewise, I really do like the uniqueness of the Hârn setting and I wanted to fold this new magic into that setting as gently as possible.

What follows then is a set of design notes outlining the general concepts of the Hârnic necromantic discipline. While I have many more details written out, my intention is to complete the work, balance it out, and have it published in an upcoming Kelestia Productions rule book. Here’s hoping.



As the Principles of the Shek-P’var are described as the forces binding Kethira together, Anti-Principle is a force of entropy that tears it apart, that perverts the natural cycles of Kethira. It pulls at the very fabric of existence. Where it came from and where it exists natively is unknown. In the Kethiran planes of existence however, this force cannot exist unshielded. Direct contact between Principle and Anti-Principle is violently destructive.

Anti-Principle can exist on Kethira so long as it is shielded by an aura. It does however degrade the aura containing it over time.

Anti-Principle is the force behind Tahnaryn and is also the force behind the Shadow of Bukrai.


Bukrai is an entity that has an immensely powerful ego/aura. This aura is filled with Anti-Principle.

Bukrai has the ability to extend it’s aura into Kethira (generally through the use of artifacts and other beings) and infest other auras with it. This phenomena is known as the Shadow Of Bukrai.


Utilizing the power of Anti-Principle is the goal of the Tahnarist. To do so, he must either wrest a portion of the shadow away from Bukrai, or find a Jorum of the power. Either prospect is extremely difficult.

Once the power source has been acquired, the mage must absorb an amount of Anti-Principle into his aura and erect an internal barrier between it and the regular Principle already present. This barrier is difficult to maintain.

As Anti-Principle is not something freely available throughout Kethira, the process must be repeated on a regular basis. Otherwise, the actual manipulation of the force is very similar to the techniques employed by the Shek-P’var.

Tahnarism can accomplish many things: The animation of once living vessels (and projection one’s will upon them), disrupting active magics, utterly destroying objects and entities, and shielding oneself from other forms of magic are just a few.

3 comments on Tahnaryn: The Black Magic of Kethira

  1. I’ve had the pleasure of discussing Tahnaryn with Ken several times in the past. I’ll try to summarize my side of those conversations here. I won’t present much in the way of a conclusion, but hopefully it’ll be helpful at least as a thought-provoker.

    Paradoxically, I take a very scientific approach to magic. Many consider magic to be the opposite of science, but I consider all of Kelestia to be subject to the same natural laws and forces. Hence, we can apply concepts developed on Terra to Kethira and vice-versa. Furthermore these concepts can be integrated into a single understanding of the universe, though they may of course require some modification along the way. In other words, there is no need to have one set of rules for science and another for magic; they’re one and the same.

    Without going to the Nth degree or delving into M-theory, it’s helpful to review some of the basic components of Kelestia. Let’s start with the three main categories as we understand them on Terra:

    * Matter/Energy
    * Space/Time
    * Force (strong nuclear, weak nuclear, electromagnetism, and perhaps gravity)

    Everyone has a good (often intuitive) understanding of the relationships between these things. For example, in simple terms, energy can be used to exert force to accelerate matter through space.

    Now let’s add a couple that come to us from Kethira:

    * Principle
    * Aura

    What are these things in terms of the three Terran categories? Do they fit in somehow, or are they completely novel? Clearly, principle at least has some relationship. It often seems to manifest itself as force or energy. Since there is a relationship (which Terran physicists admit is poorly understood) between force and energy, is principle itself perhaps equivalent to energy just as matter is? Can we extend e=mc^2 to encompass principle?

    If so, it seems that aura is some sort of force. The “Terran” forces affect matter and energy just as aura seems to affect principle: shaping it, containing it, propelling it.

    Let’s accept that principle is another aspect of matter/energy and aura is a force. Then:

    * Matter/Energy/Principle
    * Space/Time
    * Force (strong nuclear, weak nuclear, electromagnetism, aura, and perhaps gravity)

    This gives us an interesting explanation for the parallel between the ancient Terran “fire/earth/air/water” tetrad and the Pvaric convocations: both attempt to explain matter/energy/principle — Pvarism is more extensive because Terrans know nothing (?) of principle.

    Ken now introduces with Tahnaryn the notion of anti-principle. We can relate this to antimatter, which is really just a perfectly normal aspect of matter. We understand antimatter to annihilate normal matter in a burst of energy, and principle and antiprinciple seem to react in the same way. Likewise, just as both matter and antimatter can be contained in an electromagnetic device, so both principle and antiprinciple can be contained in an aural device.

    All of this to say that Tahnaryn fits quite comfortably into my model, at least, of Kelestia and even helps to complete it.

  2. If I read correctly, the article suggests the ‘anti-principle’ might be the ‘chaos’ principle that powers the Bukrai.

    I’ve long been mildly annoyed that Harn’s main chaos God is purely evil, and that the main manifestation of pure chaos (the Bukrai) is also appearently deeply evil.

    This does not flow from any love of chaos. I’m hardcore law and order and view chaos as stupid/senseless/destructive,……. but NOT as ‘evil’ (although REAL chaos is usually bad, and can be very evil (well managed chaotic children are not chaotic, they just seem that way. UNMANAGED chaotic kids ARE chaotic, and you know the likely results….)

    The theory presented here has appeal for me, as it leaves the anti-principle (perhaps chaos) as dangerous/destructive, but NOT evil in and of itself.

    This would mean that the Bukrai is not the chaos from which the universe was spawned, but merely one aspect of that chaos. The chaos itself perhaps being utterly devoid of ethics good or bad, but very ‘corrosive’ to reality.

    A corrosive chaotic essense could also be used to justify non-bukrai undead that need to feed to avoid degeneration, but who are not subject to the bukrai or the Morgathian code of ethics. (The vampire who is actually a nice guy if you can get past the fact that he has to feed on human life force (or perhaps you might let him feed on animals…)).

    None of this seems to fit well with the flowering creativity type of chaos sometimes mentioned, but at least it opens the possibility that the primal chaos, as a whole, might not hate reality, but rather simply might not care, or even be self aware.

    As for the Bukrai itself, perhaps some its current flavor is from the mind of Morgath? If he was a hateful grim God to start with, and then had primal chaos dumped on his brain, that would explain the Bukrai’s attitude.

  3. Well, this brings up the whole debate about whether the Bukrai or Morgath is evil.

    To me; the Bukrai is an unpleasant truth that Morgath is the gatekeeper to; whose selective exposure to he uses to dominate his followers.

    IMHO, or perhaps more accurately in my minds eye; this truth is nothing more than the fact the massive forces that drive the univerese are indifferent to the actions of men. Now; this might not be horrific or supernatural enough for some; but for me; the horror of this when revealed to the mindset of the quasi medieval Harnian would be considerable.

    This ‘endarkenment’ would remove all the reasons for external checks on behaviour; with the result being highly indivdualistic, atheistic, apparrently purposeless behaviours. Chaotic even.

    This IMHO is where Morgath steps in; as grateful guardian to this unsettling revelation. Instead of whirling to some Utopian meritocratic commune after being shown the indifference of the universe and the possibilites of free will; Bukrai exposed individuals are led down the evil garden path by Morgath.

    IMHO he leaps onto the unfettered souls and minds of those just exposed to the bukrai; and replaces their recently shattered world view with a comforting; if evil; and IMHO false, conceit: Namely that doing his will staves off/ameliorates the descent into this moralistic void. In a sense he offers new salvation where old salvation has just been lost. Cheeky chappy. It would take a brave soul to turn around and say “Nah, I will take my chances with the void thank-you very much; I quite like the idea of being completely responsible for my actions and the destiny of my soul..”

    As such, I do not consider the Bukrai evil in any way; and tearing away a portion of it’s powerful,liberating, disturbing truth to power magics seems…a tidy conceit. It could also indicate that Tahnarists have a bit more insight to the nature of the universe itself; and perhaps one day will be able to refute the stranglehold the gods and religions have on the minds of men.

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