Character Generation: the Making of the Psi
The psi is similar in many ways to the sorcerer; both wield many unbelievable and fantastic powers while being simple, normal humans (physically, at least). With this in mind, the psi will roll for his Ftg, Agy, Str, End, Res, and Pop on table A, and his Rsn, Int, and Psc scores on table D of the rank generation tables. These (and all of the other tables discussed from here on) are presented in the PsCGI (or, the Psionic Character Generation Insert), which is situated at the very end of the Manual of the Psi.
With your initial primary ability ranks generated, go ahead and gamble on two of them; just make sure that your new psi's ability scores remain within traditional human limits. The gambling tables are (of course) situated right after the rank rolling tables. To finish, split up your stats as desired, and determine your Hpts, NH, MH, Kpts, and (if the character will belong to one) his Karma pool total.
Schools of Study
After all that initial information has been determined, it is time for the player to decide the manner in which he will be learning his psionic powers. While the player should choose the school he will be utilizing to acquire power, table 1 is provided for the random element, if it is desired. There are three basic schools of thought concerning psionic training. While the end result of each will be the same (the character acquires psionic powers via all three), the means with which this is done can vary wildly from psi to psi. The key to these differing processes is the flexibility with which powers are gained, which is explained in the definition of all three methods of power acquisition.
* Traditional Study: the least flexible and most regimented of the three types of psionic learning, traditional studies are nonetheless preferable to most players who see themselves investing lots of time (and karma) into their character. In effect, traditional study requires that a psi student choose one discipline to begin with, and not begin the study of another until he has mastered that first one. Once this has been done, he may learn additional powers from it at his leisure, as well as beginning his studies in the next discipline of his choosing.
While this severely limits the range of powers the psi has to choose from at first, the traditional school of psionics does indeed have several plusses that balance out this limitation. First off, the intensive study of specific disciplines makes the psi assimilate powers more easily, reducing the karma cost for newer powers. Secondly, as the psi must master a discipline before starting up another one, he gains the benefits of doing so. Finally, the traditional student can eventually overmind in a discipline if he studies it long enough, an ability casual and intermediate psis lack outright. For details on disciplinary mastery and psionic overminding, read the character advancement section.
* Intermediate Study: though a little bit more regimented than casual methods of psionic training, this school is still more flexible than the traditional vein of psionic studies. This is because the intermediate psi is allowed to change disciplines after learning three powers in said discipline (if he so desires), as opposed to having to master it first. The end result of this is that, while a bit more restrictive than casual study, the intermediate power acquisition method is structured enough to allow the psi to potentially learn all of the available powers in a discipline, unlike the casual psi (who is restricted in exactly what he can be taught).
The greatest advantage of intermediate schooling over casual study is that the student can eventually master psionic disciplines like a traditional psi, but this may end up taking longer (since the temptation to shift to other disciplines for a time can often be quite strong). The disadvantage of this school is that an intermediate student will never have the potential to overmind in a discipline as can a traditional psi. Furthermore, intermediate schooling requires that the student pay more karma for his powers as he learns them (but still less than a casual psi would have to).
* Casual Study: the psi participating in casual study will have a madly variant selection of powers, as he's not bound by the prevailing theories of psionic mastery. When selecting his powers, the casual psi can draw from a different discipline each and every time he rolls, whether during character generation or while purchasing powers at a later date. This is much more convenient than the other, stricter schools of power acquisition, as the psi will have access to a range of powers that an opponent normally couldn't match.
This wild flexibility does have its costs, however. First, psi powers cost more karma, as the lack of rigid structure in training requires more effort from the psi to master his powers. Secondly, as the casual psi holds no truck with that disciplinary mastery business, he can't ever master any of the disciplines, and can never receive the benefits of doing so. Finally, many of the most powerful psionic abilities are just unavailable to casual psis, since their unconventional minds simply aren't organized enough to use them. Determining Beginning Discipline(s)
Once you have chosen the schooling that fits for this particular psi, you need to determine what his initial discipline of power is. While table 2 is provided for those who don't wish to choose, every psi is allowed to pick the first discipline he will be rolling his powers from. Of course, what this means to each psi will depend on the schooling he follows.
Traditional psis are kind of stuck with their first discipline, as they must study the powers within until they master it; in other words, they need to learn nine powers in their first discipline before they can choose to train in another. Unlike psis who are of intermediate or casual schooling, traditional students do not have to deal with acquiring another discipline during the entire character generation process. So, since you'll be stuck with that first one for quite some time, you'd better be really sure that you like the powers within.
Intermediate psis aren't so bad off, as they can change disciplines with higher frequency. After rolling up their first three powers (see below), they must roll on table 2 for another discipline, unless they are sticking with the one they started with. Further changes are available to the intermediate every time he has acquired a number of powers equal to a multiple of three (3, 6, 9, etc..).. A generous GM may even let an intermediate psi pick his next discipline instead of having him roll it up randomly...
Now, for the casual psi, this discipline will be where he gets his first power from. After this has been determined (as described in the next section), he will roll randomly for his next discipline on table 2 and then acquire another power. This process will continue until he is all out of powers. Often, if the game Judge is willing (and a nice guy), he'll let the casual psi choose the next discipline he will roll from; this is the Judge's discretion, however.
I can assure you that they're often nice in this area, most of the time...
Rolling for Initial Powers and Power Ranks
Before rolling up the powers your psi will be wielding, it is important to know that this must be done in a specific sequence. A psi will always roll for powers in the order of art, talent, and skill within a given discipline. In effect, each time the psi encounters a new discipline when rolling for powers, the resulting power that is picked up will be an art. The second time he rolls from a discipline, the power gained will be a talent. The third time he rolls from a discipline, the psi will roll for skills, and so on. Now, this only tends to cause headaches for casual psis, who are constantly shifting disciplines.
Furthermore, it is important to note that each psionic discipline has a signature ability, one power within the discipline that lays the mental groundwork for all the others. These special powers are absolutely vital to true mastery of the discipline, so the traditional psi must learn them first, before studying any other power in that discipline. An intermediate psi need not learn the signature ability first, but will not master a discipline until it is studied. As usual, casual psis fly in the face of tradition, so they don't need to study signature abilities at all, and can learn psi powers within a discipline unhampered by their lack of knowledge. Signature powers are marked with an asterisk (*) in the PsCGI.
With all that understood and settled, it is time to actually roll up your psionic powers. To start with, roll the number of initial powers your psi will possess on table 3. Having determined that, go ahead and use tables 4 through 57 to determine your powers. Note that two tables exist for each level of power within each discipline, one for the casual psi and one for the intermediate and traditional students. A player can pick or roll for his powers, depending on the disposition of the Judge, though I personally recommend a mixture of both; this helps to generate a psi that is both what the player wants and is refreshingly new each time. At any rate, don't forget to get your powers (by whatever means) in the proper order.
It is important to note that a few psionic abilities have a prerequisite power; that is, they cannot be learned before the prerequisite power has been. Powers that require a prerequisite are noted with a capital 'p' in their power listings, and those powers that don't require a prerequisite aren't. If a power you've rolled requires a prerequisite to be learned first, and you don't yet have that power, you have several means of handling this.
First, you can discard this power and try for one where the prerequisites are not a problem. However, you have the option of selecting this power and the prerequisite(s), if you still have enough power slots of the same power class still available. If room is still a problem and you really, really want to have this power, you can opt to discard some of the powers you've already rolled up to make the space, if it is that important.
Once all of your initial powers have been sorted out, it is time to return to page one of the PsCGI. to roll ranks for them. Do this on table D. Once this has been done, you may gamble on your psionic power ranks once if you have up to four powers, or twice if you have up to seven powers. As always, the tables used to gamble (and the risk taken) is up to the player.
The talents your sparkling new psi will start out with can be determined as per any other character type, starting by rolling for his number of initial talents on table 58. Then, roll for the category each talent will belong to on table 59. To finish up, roll for individual talents using tables 60 through 65, one table for each category of talents.
However, the actual talents a character has should be determined by his origin. Keeping this in mind, the Judge might opt to let a player choose the talents his psi will have, allowing him more creativity in the next three sections.
Also presented in the PsCGI for your convenience is that table used to detail the initial number of contacts a new character will have; it is present as table 66 here. Table 67 lists the types of contacts a psionicist may have upon the start his career, if any ideas are needed.
Again, for your convenience, the tables for determining quirks for a character are provided. Quirk type is shown on table 68, and the individual quirk tables run from 69-74. Again, though, quirks are something that shouldn't be rolled up randomly; the charts just make for a convenient form of list.
Filling in the Blanks
Once all the basic details concerning your psi have been ascertained, it is time to 'fill in the blanks', or to detail all of the N/PC's personal information and background. Who is he? What does he look like? Where is he from? What is he like? Why has he spent the time to learn the mental arts? Who trained him how to access his inner abilities? Why?
With the sole exception of your psionic master (who the Judge must generate, with maybe the exception of a name), all other character information must be determined by the player to make it truly his character, and to really 'flesh him out'. This is often the most difficult part of the character generation process, the part where many tend to fail.
However, with a little effort and some serious consideration, the answers to these questions can make that simple little piece of paper with all the funny words on it really come alive!!!!!
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