Technomancers of the Really Wild West 4: Telethurges

Not so long ago I noted on Facebook and Twitter that in the Really Wild West, the most common kinds of technomancers are CartogramancersEdisonades, Lovelacers, Telethurges, Teslics, and the Prophets of John Moses Browning.

I thought it might be fun to examine those ideas, and we’ve gotten to the Telethurges.

(Image by Phil)


While telethurges are very strongly associated with telegraph wires in the 1891 of the Really Wild West, their discipline is significantly older than that. The idea of ranged data transmission goes back almost as fat as the discovery of fire, and numerous ancient cultures used signal fires, smoke signals, and even lighthouses to send coded messages. The first “modern” telemancer, however, was British polymancer Robert Hooke, who combined a series of optical telegraph stations with specific theosophic principles on how to boost and encypher transmissions using that system.

However, the first widespread, successful use of optical telegraphs enhanced by theosophic principles was built by French engineer Charles Chappe during the French Revolution, and as a result numerous telethurge schools still teach in French. This was also adopted by naval “weather witches” who developed flag signals and eventually the large-flag system of wigwag, which proved its use during the American Civil War.

The development of the electric telegraph, followed quickly by Samuel Morse’s code for using it in 1838, turned telethurges to find theosophic ways to transmit and receive electric telegraph signals without the wires normally required. This allows access to such wonders as the Babbage-Bell Grid (a global cogitating and data storage system normally accessed through teletype machines in cities and major educational centers), global communication, and in recent years even telephone communication.

Telethurges are often see as “common folk” spellcasters, on par with linemen, polemen, and telegraph operators. In smaller towns, especially in the years just after the War of the Worlds, the local telethurge may be the most reliable method for getting news, sending important letters, and calling for help.

Technomancer Alternate Class Feature: Telethurge

Graphapathy (Su): A telethurge can access information from a telegraph, telephone, or other telecommunication wire without the normal equipment needed to do so. The wire or device must be within 400 feet +40 feet/level, and within line of sight and line of effect. The telethurge can use the communication system as if she was sitting at an appropriate device wired into it. The telethurge can even take a message from one wire or device, and move it to another (such as taking audio from a telephone line and transmitting it directly to a wax-cylinder recorder or Edisonade’s playback device).

A telethurge can extend the range of this ability by expending a spell slot. This allows the ability to function if there is a telecom wire or station within a range of 50 miles, +50 miles per level of the spell slot. Anything that would block a detect magic spell from detecting a source of magic at the same location as the telecom wire or station blocks the telethurge from being able to reach it. When messages are send or received in this way, they have a maximum of 10 words per caster level for each spell slot expended.

Additionally, when using telecom devices to send coded messages or trying to decipher coded messages, rather than Bluff or Sense Motive, the telethurge can use Mysticsm, and gains an insight bonus to their checks equal to 1/3 their class level.

A telethurge gains the following spells known as bonuses when they gain spells of the appropriate level — telepathic message (0-level), akkashic download (1st level), status (2nd-level), tongues (3rd-level), telepathic bond (4th-level), telepathy (5th level), telepathic jaunt (6th-level).

A telethurge has one fewer spells known at each spell level.

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About Owen K.C. Stephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is a full-time ttRPG Writer, designer, developer, publisher, and consultant. He's the publisher for Rogue Genius Games, and has served as the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the Editor-in-Chief for Evil Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps. He has a Pateon which supports his online work. You can find it at

Posted on November 23, 2020, in Game Design, Starfinder Development and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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