The Manual of the Psi
What is psionics?
Psionics is the practice of tapping into your inner potential, letting you perform feats with your mind, body, and soul that are normally thought to be impossible. All sentient beings have a psionic potential, for psionics is inherent to the very notion of thought itself. Actually developing one's psionic abilities requires intense dedication and training, however, qualities that most lack to some extent.
Those who do have the capability and opportunity to master the powers of the self are the subject of the Manual of the Psi.
The basic concept behind psionics is that, with deep meditation and intense training, sentient beings can look far enough inward that they unlock abilities fueled by the totality of their being. These are feats that almost any sentient being may wield if they simply bend their will towards doing so. In other words, psionics are not 'powers' of any sort, but in fact learned talents. This is an important distinction.
A psi appears to be perfectly normal when not using his or her special abilities, and may even seem that way while maintaining psionics. They register as 'normal' to any power or device that detects super human prowess inherent to an individual, and their psionic talents cannot be neutralized by conventional means of power control - though certainly, there are psionic means of detecting or blocking psi powers.
Psionics is a complete path of power, offering access to a range of abilities comparable to that provided by sorcery, high technology, or even existence as a posthuman being. Before one attempts to build a psi-active character, much less bring psionics into their game, there are several concepts underpinning this path of power they should understand first.
Psionics are divided into groups of related abilities known as disciplines. Each discipline of power represents a different flavor of psychic talent, capabilities revolving around one central, 'root' power. Psionic disciplines mean different things to different characters, depending on the form of psionic activation they experience. There are nine known disciplines of psionic powers.
Six of these disciplines are standard, common paths of power that anyone may study using the Manual of the Psi. However, there are three additional, optional disciplines, which a Judge may allow or forbid their use as he or she desires, depending on what they include in their campaign. Users of these disciplines are technically 'combination' characters, but they are included here to keep all psionics in one place.
The nine disciplines of psionic power include the following:
Empathic Powers: empathic powers are used to manipulate the life force of mortal entities, whether sentient or otherwise. This discipline of power involves an awareness of the threads of life woven throughout the multiverse, often known as the essence. A psi who can perceive the essence and their connection to it, then, can control the very forces of life and death.
Metapsionic Powers: metapsionic abilities are those with which a psi may control or manipulate their own body. Metapsi powers give one a definitive physical edge over other humans (or even super humans), granting exceptional durability, attack capability, or physical prowess. Metapsionic powers may manifest differently in non-human entities, since the 'meat' to manipulate is inherently different.
Psikinetic Powers: perhaps one of the most dramatic disciplines of power, psikinetics is the process of manipulating both energy and matter, in either an animate or inanimate state, without physical contact. True mind over matter (and energy), a psikinetic has the ability to alter, destroy, or even create (to a small extent) objects in their environment, as he or she sees fit.
Psimantic Powers: psimantic powers are essentially mind over magic, allowing their wielder to control the very forces of magic to produce various effects. This can involve manipulating the sorcery of others, inflicting direct damage to magical entities, and even the ability to cast spells on top of wielding psionics. A psychoturge can often stand toe to toe with the strongest of mages.
Psimotive Powers: this discipline of power involves controlling time and space themselves! A psimotive may use their abilities to easily move from one location to another, most often without crossing the physical spaces between them. More detailed uses of the psimotive discipline involve using characteristics of space and time against others, usually to devastating effect.
Psipathic Powers: what people most readily think of when pondering psionics, psipathy is the power of mind over mind. The psipathic discipline is used to achieve direct contact with another mind, and then to either communicate with or manipulate it in a variety of fashions. Psipathic powers can readily be used to destroy the consciousnesses of others - or simply to confound them for a good long time.
Superpsionic Powers: complementing all other disciplines of psionic power, superpsi abilities are used to manipulate your own psionic powers or those of another. This discipline can be very powerful when combined with any other path of power, but is nonetheless exceedingly useful in its own right, as superpsionics by themselves can make a mockery of an unprepared psionic opponent.
Technopsionic Powers: representing mind over machine, technopsionics is the art of controlling devices remotely, solely with the power of one's will. This discipline deals with all things technological, whether mechanical, electronic, or somewhere in between. Technopsi powers can be used to control or disrupt devices, or to even create or incorporate them into oneself when desired.
Theonic Powers: psionic abilities of this stripe deal with divinity itself. Theonics can be a path one takes to immortality, or simply a means by which one can communicate with or combat deific beings. Theonic powers involve interacting with the faith-based powers of immortal entities, or using the mimicked abilities of such against mere mortals, for good or ill.
Psionic Power Types
Each psionic, no matter which of the nine disciplines of power it belongs to, will come in one of three types. Each type denotes a level of magnitude the psionic ability may have compared to others in its discipline, as some are simply more useful (or dangerous) than others. All psionic powers can be described as either an art, a talent, or a skill, depending on their potency:
Arts: arts are the so-called 'big guns' of psionic powers. They often take the form of devastating attacks or capabilities, those which can quickly end lives or reshape the very nature of the surroundings. Arts normally begin play at a low level of power (being purchased at Feeble (2) rank), which demonstrates just how versatile they are - and the effort required to properly master them.
Talents: while not necessarily the most potent of psionics, talents do have many uses regardless. They often serve as defensive or supplemental abilities for a psi, and can mean the difference between life and death. Talents typically start at a slightly higher level than arts when purchased (Poor (4) rank), showcasing their mid-range utility, and can thus be advanced to greater heights somewhat faster.
Skills: often the most 'minor' of psionic powers, skills are nonetheless vital to the success of any psi. These powers take the form of sensory, utilitarian, or other highly focused (yet necessary) abilities. Skills always begin at a higher level when purchased (Typical (6)), reflecting their specialty, and thus can be advanced to greater levels of power much more quickly.
There are many means by which an individual may activate their inherent psionic potential. Most often, this occurs due to a character's intense training and meditation, his or her conscious mind peeling away the barriers that hold them back, and 'switching' their psychic capabilities on. However, there are several other methods by which a body might awaken their psionics (or, as it happens, see them activated).
The most reliable and consistent manner in which sentient beings can activate their psionic potential is with proper schooling to that effect. A character that has worked long and hard to awaken their inherent psi power is known as a trained psi. These characters usually study relentlessly in an intensive, highly structured fashion to awaken specific powers, of their own choice, as their experience with psionics grows.
These psis will excogitate in a regimented fashion regardless of their chosen manner. This regimen means that when acquiring psionics (either during character generation or later on, during character advancement), they will do so in the order of art, talent, and skill, before starting over again. This forces the trained psi to exercise vastly different portions of his or her self, ultimately leading to the mastery of their chosen goals.
Further complicating the matter, however, is the fact that one may be schooled in psionics in one of three different fashions. These three methods of psionic schooling each have their advantages and disadvantages, and the manner in which a character is schooled will determine the ultimate variety and potency of his or her psionics. The three methods of psionic schooling are traditional, intermediate, and casual study.
The least flexible and most regimented form of psionic learning, traditional studies are often preferable to players who see themselves investing a lot of time (and Karma) into their character. In effect, traditional study requires that a psi-active student choose one discipline of power to begin with, and not even contemplate the study of another until he or she has mastered their first.
Once he or she has achieved mastery of a discipline, a traditional psi may then continue their studies of the first, primary discipline, or instead begin work on another. The traditional psi may also do both at the same time, as they see fit, though he or she can only have one unmastered discipline at a time. This limits the range of powers a psi may choose from somewhat, but has several benefits.
The intensive focus of a traditional psi reduces the cost of purchasing new powers by twenty five percent, whether he or she has mastered a discipline or not. Secondly, as the psi must master a discipline before starting another, they gain the benefits of doing so. Finally, the traditional student may eventually overmind in a discipline of power if he or she studies it long enough, a benefit no other trained psi has access to.
While a bit more regimented than casual methods of psionic training, the intermediate mode of psi study is nonetheless more flexible than the traditional vein of psychic education. This is because the intermediately trained psi is allowed to change disciplines of study after learning only three powers within it if he or she so desires, instead of the nine required to master it with traditional schooling.
The end result of this is that, while a bit more flexible than traditional study, intermediate schooling is still structured enough to eventually allow mastery of a discipline, and even the eventual acquisition of every power within it. Also, an intermediate psi need not begin study of a discipline with its 'root' power if he or she chooses not to, as must a traditional psi, though they won't master a discipline until they do so.
Although the flexibility of intermediate study allows a psi to dip his or her toes into many disciplines of power at once, it does come with a price. Intermediate psis do not gain a discount when purchasing new psionics - though they suffer no penalty, either. Furthermore, their lack of a supreme focus prevents them from ever gaining the benefits of overminding in a discipline; they must learn all a discipline's powers the hard way.
The psi participating in a casual study of psionics powers (such as it is) will have a madly variant selection of powers, as they're not bound by most prevailing theories of psionic mastery. When selecting his or her powers, the casual psi can draw from a different discipline each and every time they choose a new power, whether during character generation or later on in their adventuring career.
This is much more convenient than either the traditional or intermediate modes of study, in that a casual psi will have a vastly diverse selection of powers to choose from. He or she might even start with one power from each of their available disciplines, if desired. Of course, this wild flexibility comes with several costs, though normally the benefits at least balance out the hassles in most cases.
For one thing, new powers cost casual psis twenty five percent more Karma, as they generally draw upon less complementary knowledge of themselves in relation to older powers. This lack of focus also hampers the mastery of disciplines down the line, but doesn't make it impossible. Finally, not only can a casual psi not overmind in a discipline, but there are some powers in each discipline that they simply cannot learn.
The flip side of the trained psi, a natural has acquired the use of psionic abilities without bothering with that whole 'study' thing - much less even trying, typically. As such, their powers don't really come about due to any coherent rhyme or reason, and the power set a natural psi possesses may in fact be (relatively) unique to them. Of course, this puts the natural psi at something of a disadvantage.
This is because, while the natural psi does not have to gain powers in the order a trained psi does (the art, talent, and skill progression) during character generation, he or she does not readily have the ability to acquire new psionics later on. Unless they find some way to study psionics with a mentor, it's possible the natural psi may never acquire additional powers at all - their power selection is considerably more finite.
The most dangerous of natural psis transform this seeming weakness into an impressive strength. You see, not splitting his or her focus amongst dozens of powers, a natural psi can concentrate on getting the most bang for their buck out of the limited abilities they do have access to. Thus, while more limited in power selection compared to a trained psi, a natural usually has the edge in the use of their specific powers.
Natural Psi Causation
A lot of the time, a natural psi will occur due to a moment of extreme stress in their lives. Perhaps they've been faced with a moment of mortal peril (or terror), and instead of folding when the chips were down, something 'clicked' in their heads somehow. Refusing to give in, the very mind of the character would not let itself be extinguished, and suddenly one or more psionics were activated to rectify the situation.
Another thing that can cause natural psi activation is exposure to like powers. Psi isn't a 'common' phenomenon, so it's not something most characters readily experience (depending on the campaign, of course). So when someone's mind is assaulted for the first time, it's quite possible that their own consciousness will reflexively defend itself, causing the manifestation of new powers 'out of the blue'.
Finally, some people just have a sort of natural tendency for psionic ability. Maybe their heads are wired a bit differently than other folks, or they just think in a way that doesn't really line up with their peers - or almost anyone else on earth, really. Often, edge cases like this can develop psionics instead of mere quirks to denote unusual abilities, being much more pronounced in nature.
Developing Natural Psionics
So something caused these strange abilities to manifest - what's next? A lot of the time, when something fantastic and unusual happens, a person will simply rationalize it away somehow. Sure, you were able to lift that car off of your ailing grandmother, but it must've been a weird fluke. People just can't do that sort of thing, can they? Never mind that you don't actually remember touching the car at all.
People who write off their brush with the fantastic often don't bother to develop their psionic potential - in fact, they may never use such powers again. Alternately, a person may very much wish to repeat the occurrence but simply doesn't know how. This sort of natural may attempt to repeat the chain of events that caused their psionic to momentarily switch on... often with positive results, but occasionally with lethal consequence.
But sometimes, just sometimes, a body who manifests psionics irregularly can get a handle on their use, and may develop them properly. These characters can't necessarily learn new powers like a trained psi, but they can easily work with what they've got to become quite effective in their own right. Their seemingly random powers, backed by a series of power stunts, can almost allow them to match a trained psi in overall capability.
Natural Psis with Added Study
And then there's the natural psi who, after finding someone to instruct him or her properly, might actually develop a set of trained powers as well as those they've managed to activate by dumb luck or chance. A psi of this variety will have natural psionics per the above, but will also back that up with 'official' training in one of the three standard methods. A character of this variety has considerable flexibility.
For one thing, their trained powers need not be from the same discipline(s) as his or her natural psionics, meaning that even a traditional psi might have some quirky powers that don't fit within their rigid educational structure. This can be a great boon to a student of the psionic arts, as one's natural psi powers are a convenient 'crutch' to lean on when the powers they're studying proper can't get the job done.
On the other hand, a student who does indeed study a discipline they have natural powers in can master it much faster, gaining the benefits of doing so (if he or she so chooses). This is often the path a mentor will adopt when 'growing' young epsilons, the idea being to build upon what they already know in order to hasten their education considerably. Either path is acceptable to the natural psi who seeks formal training.
Lying somewhere between the natural and trained psi, a believer is someone who is an ardent supporter of some philosophy, movement, or principle, who avouch it so absolutely that they manifest abilities reflecting this world view. This differs somewhat from faith, in that it is not a religious fervor (though ecclesiastic influence may be involved), but instead an imagined precept of how the multiverse functions.
This process works because a believer, due to the astounding strength of his or her ideology, actually manages to reorder the way their very mind functions. The believer will thus activate specific portions of their psi potential that reinforce this ideology, whether or not the believer is actually aware of these powers, much less their function. They 'just work', probably because the believer believes they are right.
Thus, a believer might be so absolute in his or her convictions that they may very well seem divorced from 'reality' as others see it - and may demonstrate a variety of psychological tics to represent this. Not all believers are criminally insane, though a few may well appear to be once you get to talking to them. But at the same time, seeing them demonstrate the power of their belief can make it hard to debunk their arguments.
In order for a believer to take shape, a character must first have something to believe in. The philosophy or ideology of a believer is what shapes their psionics, both in availability and overall intensity, and usually will differ from the prevailing attitudes in their society. Otherwise, everyone might have the same or similar psionic capabilities as a general matter of course.
This belief can be just about anything really, and can revolve around the nature of the universe, humanity in general, or just the specific character in question. It need not even make too much sense, depending on the believer involved, as long as it's a generally serious belief. The belief that everyone is energy might allow for energy manipulating abilities, while insisting the world is tapioca might just land one in the nuthouse.
The critical thing to keep in mind is that this belief will shape the character's every action. They eat, drink, and breathe in their beliefs, which is kind of the reason he or she developed special powers related to them in the first place. They need not expound on the merits of their beliefs every second of every day, but genuinely believe in the ideas behind them, and live only to further their aims and/or acceptance.
Conviction or Insanity?
Sometimes there is a fine line between a believer and a crazy person, and sometimes there isn't at all. There are facilities full of people with all kinds of kooky ideas about the world and how it works, usually with padded walls and straightjackets in a wide selection of sizes. The problem there is that most people in the madhouse don't have the focus or the conviction to become proper believers.
Even more, some people housed within mental health facilities just might have that conviction, but their beliefs are so off the wall that whatever abilities they do manifest might not be readily available to them, much less effective (or applicable) enough to attempt an escape - or living a normal life. Maybe they just subtly alter the moods of everyone in their vicinity, or perhaps they can see into other universes.
Worse still is the truly insane believer who can get it together enough to go his or her own way. One need only visit their local multiplex to see films showcasing such individuals, often maniacal monsters that possess seeming super human powers, who relentlessly pursue whatever mad agenda set them in motion to begin with. Slasher films in particular seem to love this brand of believer villain.
Belief and Followers
The thing about a believer, though, is that if he or she is charismatic and successful enough, they might be able to sufficiently demonstrate the merits of their beliefs such that they sway others to their line of thought. When a believer attracts followers, they are often inspired to greater heights of power. A believer with a flock (even if it's just one true devotee) gains a +1 CS on all believer power ranks.
Where this gets interesting is that such reinforcement works both ways. A believer's followers can see their inspiration made manifest in the form of the believer's special abilities, and often develop convictions powerful enough to awaken similar psi powers. Typically these will be lesser in rank or variety than the original believer's psionics, but can show just how devoted to one's belief structure he or she really is.
In fact, there may even be 'tiers' of believers working beneath the belief's founder, some with no special powers, some with one or two psionics, and still more with abilities approaching that of (or matching) the belief's originator. This lends itself to large philosophical or ideological movements, and such groups, once they put their minds to a specific task, may very well change the world with their convictions.
Believers with Added Study
On the other hand, some believers who realize the nature of their abilities - or perhaps just pursue psi powers as a separate end entirely - might seek out proper psionic schooling. They may do so as a way to supplement the power of their beliefs, perhaps as a means to reinforce them in the eyes of others, or often as an incidental adjunct to their path of power (instead of becoming a high tech hero or sorcerer, maybe).
A believer with trained psi ability generates each group of psionic powers they possess according to the normal rules for such. He or she will first set up their belief-based abilities, and then those that are derived from their psionic schooling, whether traditional, intermediate, or casual in nature. A believer with training has the same amount of starting powers as anyone else, just divided between the two sources.
A character following this path gains all the benefits that a natural psi with added schooling receives. If they pursue a discipline they already wield powers within, they'll master it that much faster (if applicable), or alternately can lean on their belief-based abilities when their trained psi powers fail them in a given situation. Other than the differing origins of their inherent powers, the two characters otherwise 'behave' the same.
Random (Dice Roll) Method
Despite their general laundry list of super-powers, psis are merely normal humans 'where it counts'. When rolling up ability scores for a psi, use table A to generate their Strength and Endurance, then table B for their Fighting and Agility. Finally, use table D for Reason, Intuition, and Psyche, as these are usually high in psi-active characters, above and beyond those scores seen in average people.
A psi may then roll on table A to determine his or her initial Resources rank. They also begin play with a Popularity score of zero. Add up his or her Health and Karma totals as normal, along with Negative and Mental Health scores. Psis do not have access to hyperexhaustive or hyperkinetic ability ranks.
Table 1: Rank Generation
|Table A||Table B||Table C||Table D||Table E||Table F||Table G||Table H||Table I||Rank
Once these rolls are complete, you may gamble on any two ability scores of your choice, potentially shoring up any areas you feel need some help. Keep in mind that once you are done, all your ability scores save for Reason and Psyche must remain within normal human maximums; while your character deals in inexplicable matters of the mind, they are still human for the most part.
If your other ability score(s) exceed normal human levels, simply drop them back down that point when you're done.
Table 2: Rank Modifiers (Gambling)
|(Shift X max.)||(Un 100 max.)||(Mn 75 max.)||(Am 50 max.)||(In 40 max.)||
Before any other steps may be taken, it must be decided what manner of psi-active character will be created - if this has not been determined already. Will you play a trained psi, of either the traditional, intermediate, or casual bent, a natural psi, a natural psi with psionic schooling, or even a believer of some sort? Table 3 is provided for random determination, but this facet of a character is entirely up to the player behind them.
Table 3: Psionic Activation Method
|01-14||Trained Psi - Traditional||15-28||Trained Psi - Intermediate||29-43||Trained Psi - Casual
|44-57||Natural Psi||58-72||Natural Psi with Training||73-86||Believer
|87-00||Believer with Training||
Next, one must determine what discipline(s) their psionic powers will issue forth from. For the most part, this is also something the player may decide without rolling randomly, though tables are provided for such a purpose if necessary - most often for the Judge's use when building random characters. This choice may be the sole discipline a character has access to, or the first of many.
Such is dependent on the nature of the character's psionic activation. A traditional psi, for instance, will only begin play with access to one discipline - he or she will not gain access to another until they master their first. Psis of intermediate training, on the other hand, can pick a new discipline every three powers, and a casually instructed psi may do so with every new ability.
Natural psis may actually have purely random disciplines (and powers), depending on the player's vision for the character. They may choose or roll randomly as they see fit, either for all of their powers or alternating as is desired. The same goes for natural psis with training, though their trained discipline(s) will behave per whatever form of psionic schooling they have undertaken.
A believer probably shouldn't roll random disciplines for their belief-based powers, however. The nature of their powers dictates that they reflect whatever powerful belief structure about the multiverse they bear, and thus should be chosen in a manner to reflect this. Unless, of course, the player is going to choose randomly and build unique convictions around their die rolls, which might be very interesting (or confusing), indeed.
Two versions of the psionic disciplines table are provided, one which does not include the three 'optional' disciplines and one which does.
Table 4a: Psionic Disciplines (Standard)
|01-17||Empathic Powers||18-33||Metapsi Powers||34-50||Psikinetic Powers
|51-67||Psimotive Powers||68-83||Psipathic Powers||84-00||Superpsi Powers
Table 4b: Psionic Disciplines (with Combination Character types)
|01-11||Empathic Powers||12-22||Metapsi Powers||23-33||Psikinetic Powers
|34-44||Psimantic Powers||45-55||Psimotive Powers||56-66||Psipathic Powers
|67-77||Superpsi Powers||78-88||Technopsi Powers||89-00||Theonic Powers
Initial Psi Powers
When determining a psi's starting powers, begin by figuring out exactly how many he or she will begin with. This can primarily be done by rolling randomly on table 5a, which will give characters anywhere between two and seven starting powers. Alternately, a natural psi or believer with extra psionic schooling will instead roll on table 5b, which has results that incorporate both their inherent and trained psionic abilities.
Table 5a: Initial Psi Powers (Standard)
|01-17||Two Powers||18-33||Three Powers||34-50||Four Powers
|51-67||Five Powers||68-83||Six Powers||84-00||Seven Powers
Table 5b: Initial Psi Powers (for Natural Psis or Believers with Psionic Schooling)
|01-04||1 Inherent, 1 Trained||05-09||1 Inherent, 2 Trained||10-14||1 Inherent, 3 Trained
|15-19||1 Inherent, 4 Trained||21-24||1 Inherent, 5 Trained||25-28||1 Inherent, 6 Trained
|29-33||2 Inherent, 1 Trained||34-38||2 Inherent, 2 Trained||39-43||2 Inherent, 3 Trained
|44-48||2 Inherent, 4 Trained||49-52||2 Inherent, 5 Trained||53-57||3 Inherent, 1 Trained
|58-62||3 Inherent, 2 Trained||63-67||3 Inherent, 3 Trained||68-72||3 Inherent, 4 Trained
||73-76||4 Inherent, 1 Trained||77-81||4 Inherent, 2 Trained||82-86||4 Inherent, 3 Trained
|87-91||5 Inherent, 1 Trained||92-96||5 Inherent, 2 Trained||97-00||6 Inherent, 1 Trained
Next, it's time to determine the individual psi powers a character wields. Tables 7 through 33 are provided for these, based on the discipline(s) determined earlier. Trained psis will always roll in an art / talent / skill sequence, and natural psis or believers with psionic schooling will do the same for the trained portions of their powers. For natural psis or believers rolling randomly, use table 6 for the psi power type first.
Typically, it is recommended that players be allowed to choose at least half of their abilities, in order to best steer them in a direction they would prefer, while giving them a few random powers that will help to avoid generating 'repeat' characters. This makes characters partly what a player would like, while keeping them refreshingly different each time - even if making multiple characters with the same discipline(s) of power.
Of course, random rolls are not always appropriate at all, depending on the character to be generated. A traditionally trained psi must take the 'root' power of a discipline (telekinesis for the psikinetic discipline, for instance) before all others, thus he or she will never roll for their first ability. Believers normally won't roll randomly for powers at all, while the natural abilities of natural psis may or may not be random.
Furthermore, there are two versions of each power selection table presented below, one for trained psis of the casual bent and another for all other psis. The 'main' tables are denoted as version A, while the casual power tables are indicated as version B.
Table 6: Psionic Power Type
|01-33||Psionic Arts||34-67||Psionic Talents||68-00||Psionic Skills
Table 7a: Empathic Arts (standard selection)
Table 7b: Empathic Arts (casual selection)
Table 8a: Empathic Talents (standard selection)
Table 8b: Empathic Talents (casual selection)
Table 9a: Empathic Skills (standard selection)
Table 9b: Empathic Skills (casual selection)
Table 10a: Metapsi Arts (standard selection)
Table 10b: Metapsi Arts (casual selection)
Table 11a: Metapsi Talents (standard selection)
Table 11b: Metapsi Talents (casual selection)
Table 12a: Metapsi Skills (standard selection)
Table 12b: Metapsi Skills (casual selection)
Table 13a: Psikinetic Arts (standard selection)
Table 13b: Psikinetic Arts (casual selection)
Table 14a: Psikinetic Talents (standard selection)
Table 14b: Psikinetic Talents (casual selection)
Table 15a: Psikinetic Skills (standard selection)
Table 15b: Psikinetic Skills (casual selection)
Table 16a: Psimantic Arts (standard selection)
Table 16b: Psimantic Arts (casual selection)
Table 17a: Psimantic Talents (standard selection)
Table 17b: Psimantic Talents (casual selection)
Table 18a: Psimantic Skills (standard selection)
Table 18b: Psimantic Skills (casual selection)
Table 19a: Psimotive Arts (standard selection)
Table 19b: Psimotive Arts (casual selection)
Table 20a: Psimotive Talents (standard selection)
Table 20b: Psimotive Talents (casual selection)
Table 21a: Psimotive Skills (standard selection)
Table 21b: Psimotive Skills (casual selection)
Table 22a: Psipathic Arts (standard selection)
Table 22b: Psipathic Arts (casual selection)
Table 23a: Psipathic Talents (standard selection)
Table 23b: Psipathic Talents (casual selection)
Table 24a: Psipathic Skills (standard selection)
Table 24b: Psipathic Skills (casual selection)
Table 25a: Superpsi Arts (standard selection)
Table 25b: Superpsi Arts (casual selection)
Table 26a: Superpsi Talents (standard selection)
Table 26b: Superpsi Talents (casual selection)
Table 27a: Superpsi Skills (standard selection)
Table 27b: Superpsi Skills (casual selection)
Table 28a: Technopsi Arts (standard selection)
Table 28b: Technopsi Arts (casual selection)
Table 29a: Technopsi Talents (standard selection)
Table 29b: Technopsi Talents (casual selection)
Table 30a: Technopsi Skills (standard selection)
Table 30b: Technopsi Skills (casual selection)
Table 31a: Theonic Arts (standard selection)
Table 31b: Theonic Arts (casual selection)
Table 32a: Theonic Talents (standard selection)
Table 32b: Theonic Talents (casual selection)
Table 33a: Theonic Skills (standard selection)
Table 33b: Theonic Skills (casual selection)
Determining Power Ranks
Finally, when each power is identified, one must determine how potent they will be. In order to do this, simply roll once on table D for each psionic the character possesses. Once you have done this, you may 'gamble' on one psionic rank of your choosing if your character has three or less psionic abilities, twice if he or she has from four to six psi powers, or thrice if the character has seven psychic abilities.
Character / Power Limitations
Often, a player may not be happy with the ranks they've rolled up for their new psi. Even after adjusting powers with gambling attempts, he or she is just not satisfied with what they've come up with. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as sometimes one has a specific vision in mind for their character; this is where limitations come in. A player may subject their psi to additional limitations in order to make them more powerful.
Limitations come in two distinct flavors: power limitations and character limitations. A power limitation is just that, an altering of how said psionic works to the detriment of the player (as compared to others who can use this ability). A power so limited may not affect certain objects or beings, can only be used during certain specific time periods, or may otherwise function in a manner others may find unusual or restrictive.
Character limitations, however, change the nature of every power a psi uses, not just one. A character limitation may simply be a power limitation that 'works' on every single power, or may instead be some other alteration to the basic working of psionics in general that hampers the character, such as the inability of a traditional psi to master disciplines (which wouldn't be quite so constricting on other psis).
At any rate, the severity of the limitation determines just how much of a power boost the character may receive. Limitations come in four flavors: weak, strong, very strong, and extreme. A weak limitation is just that, a minor crimp in an ability's effectiveness, and only offers a +1 CS. Each succeeding limitation offers another +1 CS to the power rank, but as their names imply, they become increasingly, well, limiting.
Alternately, a psi can take a limitation on a power to replace one that is already built in to it; some powers, like those involving time, have several such constraints already worked into them. With the Judge's permission, they can swap out one limitation for another, as long as the new limitation would be equally as inconvenient. This allows a player to better craft the character they imagine in their heads.
Character / Power Enhancements
Similarly, a player might have more than enough power, or simply wants more 'bang for their buck' out of his or her existing power roster. If this is the case, they may decide to empower their psionics with special enhancements. Like limitations, enhancements have four levels of power, including weak, strong, very strong, and extreme, each of which adds a subsequent -1 CS modifier to one's power ranks.
In exchange for suffering from the effects of this modifier, the character's ability will benefit from an improvement of some sort. Moving a power up one speed or range category is considered a strong enhancement, while two is an extreme enhancement. Other enhancements can come in the form of built-in limitations being stripped out of a power (time control and precognition have several, for instance).
Like limitations, enhancements are difficult to apply across an entire character, though this isn't impossible. While speeds and ranges vary from power to power, things like power maintenance caps apply to the whole character. Adding one maintainable power for one's Reason (mem) is a strong enhancement, while adding two is considered extreme in nature - but this sort of enhancement is definitely worth the costs.
These and the other qualities can readily be given enhancements, and the reduction in rank usually makes up the difference. This can make purchasing new powers more difficult down the line, though, particularly if a character enhancement is in effect; a new power to be affected by an enhancement must at least be bought at a rank high enough that, upon applying the negative CS, it will work at the adjusted value.
Slightly more palatable than limitations, quirks are relatively minor changes to a character that can either saddle him or her with a disadvantage, or possibly even enhance one of their traits. They can also be used to ultimately raise the rank one or more of a character's powers work at, if so desired. The quirks rules have more on this, but the quirk tables are presented here, for convenience.
Quirks are normally a voluntary affair - players may or may not use quirks, as they see fit. They are presented below in the format of random rolling tables for two reasons, however. The first is for the Judge's use, to quickly generate random characters when desired. Alternately, a player may roll randomly if he or she desires a quirk, and doesn't know what to pick. Not that they're bound by such a roll, of course.
Quirks are divided up into the beneficial and deleterious quirks of a physical, mental, and role play nature. Those quirks which cost (or grant) two quirk points are noted with a two in parenthesis (2), while those that can be taken at multiple levels are noted with an asterisk in parenthesis (*).
Table 34: Quirks Categories
|01-17||Physical (beneficial)||18-33||Physical (deleterious)||34-50||Mental (beneficial)
|51-67||Mental (deleterious)||68-83||Role Play (beneficial)||84-00||Role Play (deleterious)
Table 35: Physical Quirks (beneficial)
Table 36: Physical Quirks (deleterious)
Table 37: Mental Quirks (beneficial)
Table 38: Mental Quirks (deleterious)
Table 39: Role Play Quirks (beneficial)
Table 40: Role Play Quirks (deleterious)
The talents your sparkling new psi will start out with can be determined as per any other character type, beginning by rolling up the number of their initial talents on table 41. Then, roll for the category each talent will belong to on table 42. To finish up, roll for individual talents using tables 43 through 50, one table for each applicable category of talents.
However, the actual talents a character has really should be determined by his or her origin. Keeping this in mind, the Judge may very well opt to let a player choose some (or all of) the talents his or her psi will have, allowing them a lot more creative control over their character. Another thing to consider is that a talent can function at a higher 'level' than normal.
There are three 'tiers' of talents, each providing an increasing bonus to FEATs applicable to said talent. When generating these heightened skills however, keep in mind that they cost more; a level 2 talent counts as two talents, while a level 3 talent counts as four. This can get expensive fast, but is a great way to showcase what your character is really good at.
Also, some talents cost more than others (before levels of such are considered). A talent that has a number in parenthesis counts as that many talents during character generation; these are mostly background talents, but some others cost more. Similarly, the Student talent costs all of one's initial talent slots, for it by definition implies that a body does not have any other talents.
Table 41: Number of Talents
|01-17||Two talents||18-33||Three talents||34-50||Four talents
|51-67||Five talents||68-83||Six talents||84-00||Seven talents
Table 42: Talent Categories
Table 43: Background Talents
Table 44: Behavioral Talents
Table 45: Environmental Talents
Table 46: Fighting Talents
Table 47: Miscellaneous Talents
Table 48: Professional Talents
Table 49: Scientific Talents
Also presented for your convenience is the table used to detail the initial number of contacts a new character will have; it is available as table 51 in the Manual. Table 52, then, lists the types of contacts a psi may have upon the start his or her career, if the player needs any ideas; one does not need to roll up contact types randomly if they don't want to, however.
Like quirks or talents, contacts can be taken at one of three levels of importance; for example, a police contact might be a beat cop (level 1), an FBI operative (level 2), or even an Interpol agent (level 3). Similarly, contacts have an increase of cost in 'contact slots' depending on their level - a level 2 contact counts as two contacts, while a level 3 contact costs four contact 'slots'.
Table 51: Number of Starting Contacts
|01-17||Two contacts||18-33||Three contacts||34-50||Four contacts
|51-67||Five contacts||68-83||Six contacts||84-00||Seven contacts
On top of all of their inexplicable capabilities to impose their will on reality, psis also have their pick of conventional, mundane equipment. These devices won't be the kind that make or break a body in combat, for the most part, but they often fill in holes on a psionic character's roster when needed - or, at the very least, add a bit of style to their life.
Common equipment a character can possess depends on their Resources. One may automatically have any gear with a price equal to or less than his or her Resources rank, and may start out with materials of up to their Resources rank +2 CS with but a small explanation (the character has a plot of land that they inherited). Anything more exorbitant must be approved by the Judge, but isn't necessarily out of the question.
It's mostly just a matter of feasibility and availability at that point.
Systematic (Point Based) Method
Players begin with fifty (50) points with which to build their psi-active character. They may spend these points as they wish, only limited by a) the caps for most normal human ability scores, and b) the campaign's power level ceiling. For example, an earth-bound campaign may limit characters to Monstrous (75) or less on most ranks. Ask your Judge about his or her campaign limits!
To begin with, determine how far above (or below) the norm the character will be in each ability score; for our purposes, the 'norm' will be Typical (6) rank. For every +1 CS a player applies to each spend one point, and for each -1 CS applied to these values add one point. All but Reason and Psyche must remain within human maximums, all of which are detailed in the Core Rules.
A starting character is assumed to have Typical (6) Resources and a Popularity score of zero (0). One may alter his or her Resources as they can any other ability score, though at double the cost (Remarkable (30) ranked Resources would cost six points, for example). If one intends to purchase the Heir to Fortune background talent, they shouldn't alter this 'base' Resources score any. Health and Karma are determined normally.
An opposed Popularity score (negative for heroes, positive for villains) is worth two points, no matter how great it is.
Before purchasing his or her psi powers, one should determine the nature of their character's psionic activation, for this may limit one's power selection, either slightly or dramatically. When buying psi powers, each rank in each power costs one point, starting at Feeble (2) rank. The upper rank of each psionic ability is only limited by the campaign's power level ceiling (again, ask the Judge about this).
Costs can be controlled by adding limitations, which can apply to either one or all a character's powers. Whether applied to one psi power or globally to the character as a whole, weak limitations reduce the cost of an ability by one point, strong limitations by two points, very strong limitations by three points, and extreme limitations by four points. Consider the effect of such limitations before counting your point savings!
Remember that all psionics have a minimum cost of one (1) point, no matter how limited they may be.
Moving the other direction, a player may apply enhancements to one or more powers. A weak enhancement increases the cost by one point, strong enhancements add two points, very strong enhancements raise the cost by three points, and extreme enhancements add four points to a power's final cost. Such enhancements can come in handy, but tend to get very expensive, very fast.
Keep in mind that many powers cost more than the base value; precognition, for example, costs three points per rank. Psi powers with a heightened cost are so noted in the character generation tables listed above (those with numbers in parenthesis after the name). Limitations and enhancements are multiplied in value by this cost; for instance, a very strong limitation on precognition would reap a nine point discount.
If your Judge allows their use in his or her campaign, one thing to consider is the use of Hyperkinetic and Hyperexhaustive rank qualifiers. These can each be purchased in the point system if allowed, being treated as either an extreme enhancement (in the form of a Hyperkinetic psionic) or an extreme limitation (in the form of a Hyperexhaustive power). Both can be unbalancing in their own way, however, so bear this in mind.
Once a character's powers are determined, he or she may purchase talents and contacts as they see fit, each costing one point. If one would like heightened talents or contacts, they must pay two points for a level two talent or contact, or four points for a level three talent or contact. The Student background talent costs five points (and fits a new psi well), but cannot be purchased with any other talent (save for heir to fortune).
Next, a player may use leftover points to purchase beneficial quirks - or add a few points to pad weak areas with deleterious quirks. Most quirks give (or take) one point, but if purchased at a higher level, they function in much the same way as talents or contacts in this regard (two points for a level two quirk, four points for a level three quirk). Also, quirks without level but that count double cost (or give) two points.
Finally, determine the normal gear the character possesses. As is the case with randomly generated characters, psis built with the point based system may choose any standard gear that is readily available in the campaign, as long as it falls within a few CS of their Resources rank. If they want something more expensive, the player must give a good reason for such, though the Judge has veto power over improbable items.
Once the player is out of points, the Judge must look over what the player has wrought. Does the character's math add up? Does it fall within predetermined campaign limitations for power level? If nothing appears to be wrong, and the Judge likes what they see, he or she should approve what a player has created, and then allow them to complete the last portion of their character's creation.
Assuming they didn't actually start with such.
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 their personal and background information, the stuff you can't quantify with dice rolls or points. Who are they? What do they look like? Where are they from? What are they like? Why have they spent the time to learn the mental arts? Who trained them how to access their inner abilities? Why?
With the sole exception of a psionic mentor (who the Judge must generate, save for perhaps his, her, or its name), all other character information must be determined by the player in order to make it truly their own, and to really 'flesh them 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!
Psionic Role Play
So once you've got yourself a complete psi-active character, then what?
Does he just hang around all day at the local diner, watching the news and waiting for the latest criminal caper? Does she hold down a nine to five job, only wielding her powers when circumstances demand it? Does he cloister himself away in a secluded monastery and study the mental arts incessantly? Does she pursue an agenda designed to change the entire world, or perhaps just a small portion of it?
The short answer is that a psi can do just about anything he or she wants. Thanks to the nature of their powers, the mere possession of psionic abilities does not outwardly betray their presence. Sometimes, even wielding psionics directly has no visible or other cue to their use, which means one can often go about their business, using their psionic powers as they see fit in life - with no one the wiser.
An important thing to consider is how easily one's psionics can help out their job. Imagine the television repair person that has diagnosis, or the lawyer with lie detection. These psis could be frighteningly good at what they do, and make lots of money in the process. Is this entirely ethical? That's a very hard question to answer, but when the bills are due, it can be difficult to resist the temptation to 'cheat' with one's powers.
Obviously, most psis don't go about advertising their abilities - or else everyone would be aware of them. This allows the majority of psi-active individuals to do whatever it is they want with their powers. Some might hold down a secret identity when not fighting crime, some might well be the leaders of social movements dedicated to any number of goals, while still more might just focus on their psionic studies above all else.
Unlike sorcerers, a psi need not spend long periods of time researching lost knowledge to gain power. Unlike technologists, a psi doesn't have to perfect some piece of hardware before using it in the field. And unlike mutants and mishaps of science, there's nothing physical about a psi that readily broadcasts their nature. Thus, a psi can easily have a life apart from their powers, if they so choose.
While this ambiguity seems like it doesn't 'say' anything about the nature of a psi in general, the truth is their powers allow them much more flexibility than those following other paths of power in how they live their lives. And that's one of the true strengths of playing a psi - with less cultural 'baggage' holding them down, they're much more reliant on themselves and the possibilities their psionic powers afford them.
The following is a series of concerns that set the life of a student of psionics apart from other super human entities. Some involve their day to day life, some examine basic details about how certain facets of psionics function, and still more are optional details that can be used to add 'flavor' to one's psi-active character. Specifics on psionic character advancement are also included.
Learning Psionic Powers
While a psi need not dig deep into abandoned ruins and ancient dungeons to discover the secrets of power, the truth is that mastering psionics is in and of itself no summer picnic. Psis have to turn their mind's eye inward, seeking the knowledge about themselves that allows them to activate their abilities. And truly facing yourself down - both the good parts and the bad - is never an easy affair.
In order to become a trained psi, one must first discover how to awaken their psionic potential. While some dedicated individuals may very well meditate intently enough to determine how to do this on their own, a trained psi most often requires the assistance of a mentor to activate their psionic potential. Such an individual is called an upsilon, and typically instructs several different students, called epsilons, over their lifetime.
An upsilon will most often be a master of one or more disciplines of power, though there are a rare few mentors of a casual bent, who have never come into their own in any particular discipline but nonetheless have a staggering array of psionics they can help another unlock. These casual upsilons may mentor other epsilons of casual schooling, or instead mentor other psis who have lost their own instructors for some reason.
Once a trained psi is first activated, he or she need only engage in an hour or so of meditation per day to either advance their extant powers or to unlock all new ones. This is easiest with the aid of an upsilon, of course, but not all psis are so fortunate. Perhaps they lost an upsilon due to tragedy early on, or were instead cast out for aberrant behavior of some sort - these things do happen.
Maintaining Psionic Powers
Some psionics, such as a psi bolt, are of instantaneous effect; you invoke it, it fires, and that's it. Other psi powers are not quite so cut and dried, however. While many are 'fire and forget' in nature, many more require constant effort on the part of the psi in order to function properly. This is called power maintenance. A psi may invoke a new power with each action, but can only maintain so many simultaneously.
The number of psionics a character can maintain at once is dependent on his or her Reason (mem) score. If the psi has a Reason (mem) rank of Typical (6) or less, they can only maintain one psionic at a time. For each rank of Reason (mem) they hold above Typical (6), a psi can maintain an additional power concurrently. A psi with Remarkable (30) ranked Reason (mem), for instance, can maintain four psi powers at once.
Unless one is a novice epsilon, it's most likely a character cannot maintain all of his or her persistent powers at the same time - it's just too hard to spread one's concentration so thin. Most often, it's in the best interest of a psi to keep their most important ability (or abilities) 'on' constantly, possibly oscillating between a few if their memory isn't too impressive, in order to defend themselves under varying circumstances.
This can involve a lot of power juggling as is necessary, while keeping as many running as one's mind can reasonably focus on. Toggling powers may seem inconvenient - and it is, to an extent - but when one has about twenty of them to choose from, it's hard to feel too sorry for a body. Scientific misfits need not bother with such matters, but then they can't gain all new powers without devastating their very bodies, now, can they?
After undertaking many adventures, or simply vanquishing the forces of evil for a time, a psi may have gained new insight into the world and how it works; in other words, Karma. For the most part, psi-actives use Karma much like any other character type, spending just as much when purchasing new talents or contacts, or when enhancing a current ability or power rank; this is handled as is defined in Life and Death.
One facet of Karma use that is different for a psi is the acquisition of new powers.
Purchasing New Powers (Trained Psis)
Since psionic powers are defined as the equivalent of talents, as far as normal game mechanics go, a trained psi may learn new powers for the same cost - one thousand Karma points. Generally, new arts begin at Feeble (2) rank, talents at Poor (4) rank, and skills at Typical (6) rank. This allows a psi to quickly acquire a respectable roster of available powers, though work must be put into each to make them effective.
On the other hand, one may spend more Karma if he or she wishes to acquire higher ranked psionics. This can be done by paying one thousand Karma points for the 'base' power, plus one hundred times the final rank number. For example, say a psi wishes to buy a new art at Remarkable (30) rank. The cost would be 1,000 (base cost) plus 3,000 (the rank number of Remarkable times one hundred) for a grand total of 4,000 Karma.
This sounds like a lot of Karma to spend at one time, but a) grants a powerful new ability, and b) can actually be cheaper than raising an ability up the hard way; it's just a more 'front loaded' expenditure. However, if the price to raise an ability to the desired rank would be lower by doing it point by point (through, say, normal advancement), use that cost instead. This is occasionally the case with higher ranked skills.
All of the above assumes powers with a standard cost; in other words, a psionic that has a listed cost of one point per rank. If a power is listed as having a cost equal to 2 points per rank, double its total Karma cost, and so on. If a power is listed with a 'flat cost', the price (after the base fee) is only 250 Karma points per point; invulnerability, for instance, would cost 3,000 Karma.
Once the 'total' cost is determined for a new power, apply a modifier to that value based on the form of psionic schooling a character has. Traditional psis gain a twenty five percent discount, while casual psis suffer a twenty five percent increase in the cost of new powers. Even with such a penalty for some trained psis, it's relatively easy and fast for them to gain new abilities with proper study.
Purchasing New Powers (Other Psis)
A natural psi or a believer, on the other hand, has a much harder time acquiring new psionic powers. The whole idea with them is that happenstance or their beliefs unlocked their psionic abilities to begin with, so adding more is tricky. It's possible that additional powers can be explained as new aspects of that belief or incident which first awakened one's powers, but this gets more and more difficult over time.
Since their minds aren't primed for the acquisition of new powers due to proper training, a natural psi or a believer must pay a base cost of three thousand Karma instead of just one, though all the other rules above apply. As prohibitive as such costs may be (particularly when considering powers that cost more than one point per rank), it often behooves these individuals to pursue proper education as a trained psi for such purposes.
A character who attempts to awaken his or her own psi potential, or to study new powers before being ready to go it alone, does do at a distinct penalty. Learning new psionics, or advancing existing ones, costs twenty five percent more Karma without a mentor to aid in the endeavor. This penalty lasts until one masters their first discipline or has learned thirteen distinct psi powers (whichever of the two comes first).
This premium is on top of any others inflicted by their form of activation. A casual psi would suffer this atop their existing twenty five percent penalty, while natural psis and believers would have this penalty in addition to the higher base cost for purchasing new 'untrained' powers in the first place. This is why, if one intends to study psionics proper, it pays to work with a mentor of the mental arts, instead of doing it solo.
Over time, a psi may wish to work with a power in order to develop a new use for it, instead of simply meditating on a new one. Such new uses are called power stunts. Every attempt to create a psionic power stunt costs 50 Karma points per try, but they are otherwise governed by the same basic rules that exist for all other characters. So, if you have a new idea for the uses of a dusty old power, give it a shot, already!
A power stunt starts out at the same rank as its parent power, -1 CS for each additional point per rank it costs. While power stunts don't count as powers for the purposes of mastering a psionic discipline, they do allow one to develop their abilities at a discount compared to buying new ones outright. This is why natural and believer psis tend to lean on stunts, getting all they can out of their existing power roster.
Mastering Psionic Disciplines
One of the benefits of psionic schooling is the mastery of a discipline of power. Trained psis have the ability to do this, once a) they've learned the root power in a given discipline, and b) raised at least nine powers in said discipline to Excellent (20) or better rank. This makes one a master of said discipline, which offers a psi a few handy perks (on top of, you know, having nine powers).
For one thing, a +1 CS will apply to every power rank in a discipline a psi has mastered. This column shift applies immediately to powers a psi already knows in said discipline, as well as any other powers he or she picks up at a later date. This CS also applies to new powers after they are purchased, which gives one even more incentive to purchase a power at a higher than standard rank.
Overminding in Psionic Disciplines
A feat only a traditionally trained psi may pull off, psionic overminding is a situation that occurs sometime after a psi has learned more than half of the powers in said discipline. At a point determined by the Judge, usually between learning one half and two thirds of a given discipline's powers, a traditional psi will begin to overmind in it. What this does is apply yet another +1 CS to all their power ranks in said discipline.
Furthermore, the overlapping channels of power in his or her mind will allow them to spontaneously manifest all of the other abilities in that discipline they have not yet learned. They will only be extant at the standard beginning ranks +2 CS (one for mastery, one for overminding), but this means that the psi has learned everything he or she can in this discipline of power.
The only thing that remains is to develop the powers within as he or she sees fit - or to begin work mastering another discipline!
An omnimind is a character who has unlocked every single psionic power available - their mind is completely activated! An omnimind comes into being much like an overmind, though where the number of disciplines are concerned - not individual powers. If a psi lives long enough (often thanks to metapsi powers), overminding in five different disciplines, it's possible the other four will open themselves up to them soon afterwards.
If the psi who has five overminded disciplines begins to train with a sixth, he or she will become an omnimind sometime during that process, usually after they've mastered their latest discipline, but sometimes as late as when they've become an overmind in it. When this happens, every single psi power remaining will open itself up to the character, and they can quite literally do just about anything. Anything at all!
Though developing all those new powers will take sometime, the character definitely has that time to use.
Optional Psionics Concerns
Unlike those heroes who utilize powers of a biological nature (mutants, altered humans) or others that are based upon knowledge (sorcerers, technologists), a psi-active character wields power that is derived solely from the interaction of their mind, body, and spirit. In game play, this aspect of psionics can be simulated by adopting one or more of the following notions. To wit, the rules presented here are optional.
On the other hand, if a given rule is not in play in one's campaign, it can make for a great character limitation! Fatigue rules can really put a damper on a psi in a long-running battle, particularly against other super-powered foes who lack such a limitation. Initiative penalties can definitely shift the course of a battle, lending more weight to a psi's 'lesser' abilities. And so on.
Distraction: psionics require intense concentration in order to be invoked properly - they involve nigh-absolute focus in order to achieve effects of the mind or body that are typically impossible for 'normals'. This is why the number of powers a psi can maintain simultaneously depends on their Reason score - that statistic controls, among other things, the inner-looking, meditative eye that makes using psionics possible.
Thus, when someone successfully distracts a psi, they just might prevent them from using some - if not all - of their psionics. If the psi is suffering extreme pain (often defined as taking more damage than their Endurance rank in one attack) or someone they care for deeply is in immediate mortal peril, he or she must make a Reason FEAT roll in order to determine whether or not they lose their focus.
A white distraction FEAT indicates that the psi cannot use any of their powers at all. A green FEAT means any attempt to use a talent or art will fail, a yellow FEAT roll allows skills or talents to be used without failure, and a red FEAT roll means the psi, despite whatever prevailing conditions exist outside themselves, can still utilize any of his or her psionics. A psi may attempt to use an interrupted power again on their next action.
External Focus: while the whole idea of psionics is to look deep inside oneself in order to find the secrets that lie within, it's quite possible that a psi cannot externalize his or her powers without some sort of mental lens. This focus, an item outside of the psi themselves, allows them to wield their powers on the external world; any power that would affect anything outside of one's own body may well require a focus.
This focus can be anything, really. Perhaps a trinket from one's childhood, or just some lifeless hunk of crystal. This is technically a character limitation, and the boost it provides depends on how irreplaceable the focus is. One can find crystals and gems relatively easily, even if they're somewhat expensive, but an item from one's childhood (especially when their home burned down as a child) might be very hard to replace.
A somewhat common item provides a psi a +1 CS to his or her power ranks. Rare but by no means unique items should offer a +2 CS to psionics. Incredibly rare but not necessarily solitary items grant a +3 CS. A unique item that literally cannot be replaced would offer a psi a +4 CS to one's power ranks. Training oneself to use a new focus (particularly if theirs is lost) should be the subject of a special adventure for the psi.
Fatigue: psionics is difficult work, and it can rapidly tire a psi-active character who exhausts his or her energy too quickly. This is because psionics draw upon the whole self in order to function, being fueled by the character and the character alone. This can be easily represented by a fatigue intensity; normally at Shift 0 rank, this intensity is increased by invoking powers, some draining more energy than others.
Skills add 1 to a character's fatigue intensity, talents add 2, and arts add 3. Fatigue intensity only comes into play as it approaches the rank of a psi's Psyche; he or she can only wield a psionic power in a given round if they can first pass a Psyche FEAT roll against this fatigue intensity. If his or her fatigue exceeds their Psyche score by more than +1 CS, they cannot activate any psi powers at all.
How does one avoid this loss of power use, one asks? Quite simply, by not using psionics! A psi who refrains from using their powers in a given turn can reduce their fatigue by one point; they may not wield any psionics, but a power used previously that is still being maintained (like flight or body armor) will not hamper this loss of fatigue. Where fatigue is concerned, it is best to invoke powers in moderation (or to end a conflict quickly).
Initiative Modifiers: there are three types of psionic powers, each of them taking longer to actualize in a psi. A psionic skill possesses an initiative modifier of -1, while a talent has a -2 initiative modifier and an art suffers a -3 initiative modifier. This better reflects the effort necessary to muster such effects, and can radically alter a psi's battle strategy, leading him or her to use their 'weaker' abilities more in a scrap.
Of course, a psi should be allowed to reduce this modifier some as his or her prowess grows. Once they have become the master of a given discipline, a psi's initiative penalty for powers in said discipline should be reduced by one, while achieving the status of disciplinary overmind should reduce it by two - which, incidentally, will actually give him or her a net +1 modifier when using affected psionic skills.
Updates: this document showcases the many changes I have perpetrated on the Manual of the Psi to create this new version of my oldest rules guide (well, oldest save for the quirks thing, maybe). I have provided this reference in the event that you don't like everything I've done with the new version of the Manual, and wish to 'pick and choose' bits from the old and the new for your own game.
The Manual of the Psi - Version 3: this link will take you back to the 'original' Manual of the Psi - well, the original one that made it online, at any rate. It's been available since 1998 after all, so I figure if you prefer that to the current work, I'll be leaving it alive in perpetuity (as long as this site is still live, at any rate). The hope is that you'll like Version 4 better, but just in case...
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