Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape by Alien Rope Burn
"The resulting manuscript was one I didn't think 'said' Psyscape, so I canned it and decided to write Psyscape myself after all."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape posted:
Violence and the Supernatural.
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape posted:
Violence and the Supernatural
The fictional world of Rifts is full of magic, demons, something something... um... and the supernatural? Evil creatures also known as demons kill and murder and do other rad stuff.
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape posted:
The fictional world of Rifts® is violent, deadly, and filled with supernatural monsters and strange powers. Other dimensional beings, often referred to as "demons", torment, stalk and prey on humans. Other alien life forms, monsters, gods and demigod, as well as magic, psychic powers, insanity, and war are all elements in the game.
Some parents may find the something inappropriate for younger players something about parental discretion.
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape posted:
Some parents may find the violence, magic and supernatural elements of the game inappropriate for young readers/players. We suggest parental discretion.
Palladium Books does not promote or condone the use of drugs, the occult, or something it's only fictional?
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape posted:
Please note that none of us at Palladium Books® condone or encourage the occult, the practice of magic, the use of drugs, or violence.
I guess I don't have it memorized yet.
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape, Part 1: "The resulting manuscript was one I didn't think 'said' Psyscape, so I canned it and decided to write Psyscape myself after all."
"And she donned the final rainment of the psychic warrior, the battle towel."
So, braced for boring. Psychic powers are quite often the water cracker of superhuman powers. Often short on SFX, they're unseen, tasteless, generic effects, often bereft of mythology, thematics, or even any particular origin. For example, the psychic powers of Rifts often supposedly come from mutation, even though any other mutation seems to be so rare as to be not worth mentioning. There's no table to roll on for six fingers or heterochromia, after all. Many creatures have psychic powers tacked on, often with little regard to how they work. You'd think telekinesis would have a major impact on a creature's activities and evolution, but in Rifts it's just a side order of otherworldliness.
Now, to be fair, there are some psychic classes with more robust flavor. The Cyber-Knights are psychics-as-Jedi, and the Dog Boys and Psi-Stalkers introduce other angles. And who can deny the appeal of the Null Psyborg? But at the same time, there's not even that much of an origin story like magic has in the setting. They just are, because the magic came back, only they're not magic, except when it's convenient for them to act like magic... well. It was in Appendix I of AD&D, so Palladium had to have it in the Palladium Fantasy RPG, and so it got passed down to the place we're at now, without much thought to their existence or impact other than "well, it's a mystery".
Speaking of routine schtick, though, this book is late. Even later than you'd think. If you're wondering why I did World Books 13-16 before getting to 12, since I do them in chronological order, that's how late this was. Kevin originally got another author (presumably Chris Kornmann, who previously worked on New West) to work on it, but he wasn't happy with the script he got, so... he turned back in to Kornmann with some feedback on what he needed to change, and he and Kornmann worked out a draft that Siembieda was happy with and could publish.
I kid. Siembieda apparently mined Kornmann's draft, rewrote much of it, and relegated Kornmann to a "contributing author". This is essentially the same song and dance as he did with New West (only cutting out Kornmann's credit almost entirely this time), and it's impossible not to just call it out. Other authors have attested that Siembieda does not think authors listen to feedback or can edit their own work, and seeing this pattern repeat over and over is honestly pretty wearying. It's some Lucy-with-the-football shit. Mind, originally this book was supposed to be written by CJ Carella, but he left the company. Still, a number of ads from the period cite the version Carella was working on, including a number of new psychic classes not included in the final version.
Enough of the narrative around these books, time for the actual metaplot...
The contents of this image do not appear in this book.
From the writings of Erin Tarn
So, we get a description from Ms. Tarn of a mythical locale that "can only be found by those who want it so badly they can taste it". Mmm, taste the Psyscape. Supposedly it's a psychic utopia defended by extremely bored psychic warriors, as hardly anybody can find it anyway. Seriously, it even says "their muscle is not needed". So I stand by my assumption of boredom. Tarn gives us a lot of that shows she believes that it did exist once in the past due to psi-stalker tribal legends about it, and that Psyscape once defended the region from demonic invasions. There are rumors that:
- A) They fought some terrible evil and chased after it to another dimension.
- B) The gods of light lifted them up as their personal warriors.
- C) That they just went into seclusion to perserve their utopian society from the wicked outside world.
"If you didn't want to be psi-stalked, you wouldn't ley line walk that way!"
Then some figure appears in her sleep and is like "SUP I'M FROM PSYSCAPE WE'LL BE BACK, PEACE OUT". And Erin Tarn is like "Well, must've been just a dream!" because Tarn is unusually thick at times.
Seriously, lady, some folks have a vision in Lazlo and you're like "Gosh what if it's true?!", but when you have one, you're like "Man, no more eating beans 'n beetles before I sleep!"
Next: Dehumanize and face to bloodshed.
"Not only does this make all Harvesters evil villains, but it also makes most of them sadistic insane monsters."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape, Part 2: "Not only does this make all Harvesters evil villains, but it also makes most of them sadistic insane monsters."
"What, no, we just walk around dark forests patrolling, that makes sense."
By Christopher R. Kornmann & Kevin Siembieda
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape posted:
Note: The following section deals with the supernatural, horrific blood rituals, and that intangible "quality" or "essence" humans call the Soul. We do not wish to offend the sensitivities or beliefs of any of our players. If the G.M. or any of his or her players feel uncomfortable with any of the material in this section involving stealing Souls, either don't play it or modify the material as you deem appropriate. None of the magic, people, monsters or concepts presented in this section are real. This is a work of fiction.
My eyes are like, in the tightest squint. Hasn't this kind of thing been in numerous previous books? Hell, they had humans being used as human cattle in the first world book, and soul-eating weapons and body horror in the second world book, the third world book had blood sacrifice by blood druids... and now you're getting skittish, Palladium? Now?
So, we start out with a fiction bit about "Specter Company", a group of Coalition scouts who are the "best of the best" wandering around a forest. And if that's true, the Coalition is fucked, because most of them are turned into zombies, one commits suicide to avoid the same fate, and a surviving Coalition psychic uses his ESP and finds out they were claimed by "Nxla, the Harvester of Souls".
That's "nicks-law", we're told later.
Harvesters of Souls
So, it turns out the Kingdom of Dunscon has an eeevil neighbor known as Soulharvest. Subtle name, that. It's run by necromancers who raise the dead as slaves or draft animals, and generally exult in being bad people. Also, they predictably drain souls of the living they seek to use those souls to bring Nxla over, like you do. Somehow, Dunscon & Co. haven't noticed despite the community radiating a psychic aura of evil for a a radius of 200 miles. We're told they'd try and stop it otherwise, but I'm not 100% sure that's on-brand for Dunscon?
"Look, you can't just go out without facepaint and just harvest souls, that's just posing."
In any case, we get a Harvester O.C.C. that are "evil villains", "sadistic insane monsters", "very dangerous villain", etc. They're largely just NPC wizards, and have very "soft" undefined abilities to look into people's souls, communicate with souls and energy beings, but mainly their big thing is stealing souls through long rituals. Doing so mainly gives them useless hit point and strength bonuses, very minor skill bonuses (2% per soul, whee), and the only great benefit for soul-taking is getting some spells if the captured soul was a spellcaster The harvesters are servants of Nxla, whatever that is, and get the ability to command his "Soulless Zombies" or "Xombies". However, they're weak against psychic powers and can't steal the souls of psychics because that's what it says in the script.
If players were allowed to play them - and they're not - they'd only have a 9% chance of qualifying to be one. And so I ask "If an NPC fails to qualify for an attribute requirement in the GM folder, do they make a sound?" If anybody's enlightened by that, let me know.
"Hey! I was a zombie before it was cool."
Next, we get the Soulless Xombies because Nxla is big on branding. If enough harvesters do a huge ritual, they can bridge the gap between Nxla and our world, and he sends some black energy tentacles through to nom on souls of victims put before him, replacing the soul with a piece of himself (I guess the big evil energy pillar is gendered). They're pretty damn tough (about two or three times as tough as a mega-damage armored human) but only have high strength, punches, and a variety of immunities backing them up otherwise. They're weak against psionics because... this is a book featuring psionics, okay?
The cheerily waving tower of flesh.
Lastly we get stats for Nxla himself, and I was going to pick on the use of the word "he", given he's a 200 story pillar covered with tentacles and limbs, he seems sufficiently phallic to justify a "he". A supernatural intelligence like the Splugorth or the "vampire, it's rumored he's the weakest of the "Old Ones". Now, the "Old Ones" are actually a plot point from Palladium Fantasy RPG, and are supposedly creatures so ancient and powerful they put even the diet-Lovecraft supernatural intelligences to shame. Sometimes a Rifts book will bring them up, because they presume you read this whole other game line. Whether or not Nxla is or isn't an Old One isn't terribly relevant, but given he has 200K to potentially over a half million M.D.C., he may as well be one of the toughest cookies in the game (no doubt with evil raisins of the soul).
Granted, here we finally get a justification why anybody might follow Nxla, and that's the fact that Harvesters will be gifted with agelessness upon his arrival in this dimension. Mind, he then proceeds to devour a world's souls at an exponential rate, so you'd best get along with your soul-taking coworkers, because you've got an eternity with him and them and nobody else. In any case, once he gets a foothold in the dimension, it's going to take a lot to kick him out, and it doesn't seem like PCs are intended to fight this skyscraper-sized psuedopenis. If you do, he can float around slowly, has a ridiculous number of immunities, has access to nearly all magic, necromancy, psionics, can raise hundreds of dead and summon dozens of demons, etc. While he's massively vulnerable to psionic attack, getting to do ten times damage is academic given A) the low values of damage from psionic attacks and B) his massive M.D.C. number. Even if you're doing 350 average damage with your psi-sword (presuming a high-level psionic), it's still going to take 1,037 swings to defeat his average M.D.C. value of 363,000. Also he has "10 physical attacks per 200 foot section of his body", which means he gets 40 attacks, in case you want a villain that takes a literal half-hour to resolve a single combat round with.
Ultimately, all that aside, the Harvesters and Nxla have to be the dullest, one-note major villains the setting has produced, and that's saying something. They're just a bunch of evil cultists promised immortality, and there's no personality or depth to them. Worse yet, there's only a handful of stories to tell - one is where they steal somebody's soul (hopefully not a PC, since it wouldn't be very fun to be a spiritual invalid) and the PCs have to rescue that soul back from Nxla. That's about the most interesting thing, because the only real alternative is Destroy All Harvesters, which is the logical thing to do. The even more logical thing would be to inform the Coalition or "True Federation" and just let them wipe out the Harvesters, since they both have the capability and the motivation... but I guess Psyscape is supposed to do it because... this is a book about Psyscape?
It's metaplot time!
Speaking of which, apparently Nxla is the reason for Psyscape reemerging from a self-imposed exile. They seek to annihilate the Harvesters, even though they know it'll likely bring them into conflict with Alistair Dunscon and his faction of the Federation. I mean, they could try and discuss things with Alistair and his flunkies instead of just going ham on the Harvesters and causing a misunderstanding, but, you know...
I mean, it even says later on they'll accept the help of evildoers (in case the PCs are evil, presumably) in their crusade, which makes their willingness to just bluntly anger the Federation doubly puzzling. I guess this is just because Siembieda wants Psyscape to be the good guys of the Magic Zone and the Federation of Magic to be the bad guys and to just mash his action figures together irregardless of the actual situation. It's essentially presumed that Psyscape will enlist the PCs and together they'll delay Nxla's ressurrection and free trapped souls, but it turns out he Harvesters have backup cults elsewhere that will try and rebuild. However, the Coalition will hear about this situation automatically and step up their plans for war against Tolkeen and the Federation of Magic because the metaplot demands it. Naturally, the Coalition will be no more tolerant of Psyscape than other supernatural forces, as if you had to ask. Well, Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape had to ask.
Next: Xanadu, your neon lights will shine for you, Xanadu.
"The old Tibetan sages of Pre-Rifts India referred to something they called The Third Eye."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape, Part 3: "The old Tibetan sages of Pre-Rifts India referred to something they called The Third Eye."
"Mouth-trees, this must be Ohio."
The Secrets of Psyscape™
By Kevin Siembieda & Patrick Nowak
So, before we even talk about Psyscape, we get into the Psynex Entity / Psychic Nexus / Psynex. It's a friendly, bodiless creature of pure psychic force that attached itself to a ley line nexus in the Ohio Valley, and it drew psychics to it in order to gain allies. It stabilizes the nexus and can prevent rifts and magic storms, which is handy. It also senses everything happening around its ley lines and can use its psychic powers there, but it remains a detached fence-sitter more often than not, and only occasionally decides to warn or defend those in trouble. Since it can create rifts, they used its cooperation to create a rift to the astral plane where Psyscape was built, and also as a means to return to Earth. Does it matter much beyond this? Not really! It's just a big ball of sentient plot justification.
The City of the Mind's Eye
Yep, the ™ keeps coming up. Just in case you forgot it from the last page.
So, Psyscape is presented as a psychic utopia where ESP has taught them enhanced empathy and appreciation of natural beauty. As such, they've become super good people that fight demons and evil at every opportunity except for their whole self-imposed exile which doesn't quite square with that, but whatever. In any case, the city supposedly straddles both the real world and the astral plane, and only psychics can see it - others only see mist and can only stumble into it by forcibly traveling int othe mist, though likely the local defenders will try to drive them away first. It's all misty and Greco-Roman and sparkly and generally
Psi-stalkers make up 2% of the population here. This is one of them.
In any case, it's mostly poularly human and d-bee psychics, though the implications of being non-psychic in a society where psychic powers are so highly valued isn't really explored at all. We then get a listing of special powers only Psyscape-trained psychics get. And if you think, "Well, I can't wait for my old psychic character to go there and train with Psyscape's masters!", get ready to wait, because it'll take decades to open up one's "Third Eye" and get the extra Psyscape powers. And yes, Psyscape psychics are just plain better at psychicing than regular old psychics. Oh, my old friend power creep, sup? So, they get the ability to radiate their emotions, and I guess this is supposed to be an advantage in that it makes them painfully sincere, it also just allows anybody around them to know what they're feeling. (Also, for some reason this ability gets well over a half-page describing what various feelings are.) They also can appear in people's dreams, meld with a ley line in stasis as an energy being, sense the supernatural like dog boys can, get double effect with certain psychic powers of their choice, and increased psychic power overall, bonuses on saves, etc.
Lastly, we get details on a variety of locations around Psyscape™. We get descriptions of government locales without any description of the government (it's implied to be democratic, but never clearly stated). There's a description of an embassy complex even though there are no apparent contact with other city-states that might have embassies. A psi-warrior complex trains psi-warriors in an "Oriental compound". There's a garden, zoo, bazaar, a cloud art, and a psychic academy. Somehow they build techno-wizardry items with psychic powers, even though there's no rules for such. In addition, there are credit costs for things, even though it seems exceedingly unlikely Psyscape could be hooked up to the whole Coalition-created credit system.
"I tried to wear this on the cover, but they said it looked way too comfortable."
In any case it's all pretty idyllic and though in theory it's nice to have another unambiguous good faction, it's all as deep as a puddle and seems more like a painting than a place. There's no NPCs or names listed, no businesses listed, nothing that would add a real feeling that humans live here. Moreover, there's a lot you could do with the implications of a society where psychic powers are the norm, particularly in a setting where psychic powers are determined seemingly by birth, but the book doesn't have much time for Psyscape, despite it being the name on the cover. It gets a mere six pages of a one hundred and sixty page book. That's less than 4% of the book. And when they're eating up part of that space telling us what being "mean and or spiteful" is, as if we couldn't figure that out on our own-
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape posted:
Mean and/or Spiteful: The psychic is feeling mean and spiteful. This usually means he's in a nasty mood and either short-tempered or looking for a fight; verbal or physical. Wants to lash out and hurt somebody, so it's best to leave him alone and let him get over it, or try to reason with him and get him to snap out of it.
- well, it's kind of a disappointment, particularly when they've been teasing this location since the corebook. Moreover, there are no surprises, no twists, no real detail, just about 90% of what you'd expect from the rumors.
Next: Psychics Rethunk.
"Although all such damage is only in the mind of the psychic (no physical damage occurs in the real world), if he dies in the virtual world, he can die in the real world as well!"Original SA post
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape, Part 4: "Although all such damage is only in the mind of the psychic (no physical damage occurs in the real world), if he dies in the virtual world, he can die in the real world as well!"
Sometimes your disguise slips a little when having fun.
Psychics & Psionic Powers
Terms & Notes By Kevin Siembieda
We gets a lot of clarifications on psychic rules and terminology, much like Rifts World Book 16: Federation of Magic did for magic. And like that book, it does help... except where it hurts. Characters that make the 10% roll to become major psionics at start now lose out on a certain number of skills and get reduced skill percentages... but they now specify you don't have to roll for psionics if you don't want. Naturally, some of the rules are clunky; for example, trying to aim for a "particular target, person, or location" is a "called shot" and is done "as when using a modern weapon". Only there are no weapon proficiencies for psychic powers, so your attack bonus never improves. However, psionic powers at least have the advantage of using your normal number of attacks, and don't have any action economy issues like magic does.
"And now I call upon whatever the hell this is!"
We get some new psionic powers for characters to select from, but not too many new ones. As usual, I'll be covering some but not all.
- The Healing category doesn't get too much, but it does get suppress fear, which nullifies Horror Factor during its duration.
- Physical powers get ectoplasmic disguise, which lets you do a disguise using psychic slime but suffer from crippling penalties trying to maintain it, making it objectively worse than a regular disguise (presuming you have a materials for the latter). It also gets a variety of new specialized telekinetic powers (that create a big negative design gap for existing telekinetic powers) like telekinetic acceleration attack, telekinetic leap, telekinetic lift, and telekinetic punch. The most useful is telekinetic push, letting you stunlock a human-sized target for a buddy by constantly just pushing them on their ass.
- Sensitive psionic powers includes the dodgy combat booster intuitive combat, which gives you decent bonuses, but requires you to spend a full round just preparing your psychic zen state, so it won't be useful unless you're bushwhacking somebody. Machine ghost lets you project yourself into a electronic device, but if they have electronics defenses you have to get your cyberpunk on and engage in fisticuffs with a firewall (no stats provided for such, but if you die in the virtual world you die in real life, of course). Also you can get lost and just get knocked comatose or dead because you failed to find your exit port or whatever. Remote viewing seems like incredibly bad news for the Coalition, even with the need of a photo of the person or place to view. Sense time is good for those too cheap for a wristwatch, I suppose.
- Lately, we have the super psionics added. Psionic invisibility lets you cloud men's minds (and other genders too). Psychic body field gives M.D.C. protection, but not against lasers or fire, so cue the sad trombone. You get increased effect if you're evil when using radiate horror factor, one of the few reasons to ever worry about your alignment. Telemechanic mental operation, telemechanic paralysis, and telemechanic possession are all really bad news for glitter boys and other vehicle-dependent characters.
New art for the Burster and Mind Melter.
In addition, all the Mind Bleeder powers from Rifts World Book Four: Africa get reprinted, since that class will be as well. There's... a lot of reprinting up ahead.
Next: P.C.C.s aka R.C.C.s aka O.C.C.s-
"The Guild Leaders claim their Psi-Slayers are the ultimate evolution of the human predator: instinctual, fearless, shark-like killing machines whose nature demands they hunt and kill with the same ruthless determination as any supernatural monster from beyond the Rifts."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape, Part 5: "The Guild Leaders claim their Psi-Slayers are the ultimate evolution of the human predator: instinctual, fearless, shark-like killing machines whose nature demands they hunt and kill with the same ruthless determination as any supernatural monster from beyond the Rifts."
New Psychic Character Classes
By Kevin Siembieda & Patrick Nowak
So, first off, the Burster and the Mind Melter are reprinted from the corebook. Why? I guess so you don't have to flip back to the corebook when you're making your psychic... except you totally will anyway, since you still need to reference it for everything else a character needs, including psychic powers. Whups. Well, that's 7 pages covered in useless rehashing, bam. Also, we get the return of the Mind Bleeder, since some are in North America now. That's another 7 pages down. Hey, here's another 1/4 page reminding us that Psi-Stalkers and Dog Boys exist, but those have already been completely reprinted in Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star and even Palladium has its limits. Still, we have about 9% of the book just dedicated to reprinting old classes - over twice the space Psyscape gets, since I'm not letting that go.
"Like my ancient hero Hammer, I will not hurt them, if they say please."
"Time to slay some psi."
That all being said, we do get a lot of new psychic classes, so lets get to them. As before, the % by them is the chance of qualifying for a particular class. Traditionally, psychic classes don't have requirements at all, but some of these buck that trend anyway...
- Nega-Psychic (52%): Speaking of reprinted classes, this one is at least from another game, namely Beyond the Supernatural. Originally disbelievers and skeptics that used their powers to "disprove" magic by nullifying it with their own unconscious power, Rifts acknowledges that it's tough ignoring magic when you have dragons in the sky and a glowing blue line in your backyard. Instead, they become folks who are so strong willed they can defy magic, which is honestly kinda neat. Unfortunately, they have a weird kind of gambling mechanic where they have to guess the amount of energy a wizard or monster is using for a spell and match or beat it, inviting system mastery for their actual power usage. Other than that, they can't be detected by supernatural powers, and get a variety of "minor" psionic powers.
- Psi-Druid (100%): These are psychics that use their powers to commune with nature because... they do. But, given they get a variety of psychic powers involving nature, they're actually better at druiding than the druids in Rifts World Book Three: England. However, their powers lean more towards everyday utility - detecting the weather, dowsing, detecting and identifying flora and fauna, healing plants and animals (and yes, humans aren't animals), and befriending animals. They get some healing and ESP powers, but probably aren't a huge boon to a party - even within the whole magic hippie archetype, there are already a ton of O.C.C.s that do this sort of thing and kick ass on the side.
- Psi-Ghost (37%): Mutants with the power of intangibility; resist the temptation to name your character Kitty (or don't). This is a mutation that's emerged out of the Magic Zone, and the book goes to pains to emphasize their intangibility is a mutation and not psychic, and works through mysterious means. Apparently they were once all part of a community that was attacked by... somebody... and scattered, becoming sneaky wanderers loyal only to each other. They're skilled tactical stealth operatives, with the ability to concentrate and detect anybody around them as well as notice any surveillance tech actively run by a person, as well as the aforementioned intangibility. A variety of psionic powers round out their gimmick like psionic invisibility and telemechanics. For a class with a gimmick, they're at least really, really good at their particular gimmick-
Oh, hey, irrelevant statistics! I was wondering where you were hiding.
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape posted:
The gender division of this R.C.C. is roughly 43% males and 57% females.
- Psi-Nullifier R.C.C. (100%): So, this is like a Nega-Psychic, only they can nullify either psionics or magic... but are a lot better at the former, while the Nega-Psychic is much more efficient at cancelling magic. (Palladium: where this kind of notion justifies two whole classes.) These apparently are a psychic variant that has emerged from natural psionics or psi-stalkers, and the Coalition States have started to develop a program that's effective at training young psychics to become Nullifiers, at the small cost at turning nearly a little more than one in seven of them insane. But omelet, eggs, etc. Which doesn't really fit with their zero requirements to become one, but I'm not going to complain too much about a failure to gatekeep a class in this game.
- Psi-Slayer (14%): So, these are badass psychic killers trained by secret Psi-Slayer guilds (that will never be detailed, so I guess they're real, real secret). They're supposedly the second badassenest assassins (just after the Atlantean Sunaj). Also they like vengeance because they like avenging because it's like in that movie where they do wrong to the tough guy and he doesn't care it's that they run this town, he'll kill them all-
Ooof, this does go on and on about how hard and cool they are for another half-page. Anyway, they get a set of special powers only they can select, like forcing somebody to sleep or to sleepwalk, but it doesn't let you kill them while asleep, they automatically wake back up if you have "killing intent". It's mainly for framing or taking out guards. There's marking people psionically to track them later, walking on air (I can't believe that it's me), or psi-dagger (like a psi-sword, only lousier, but supposedly more... concealable... yes, that makes no sense). They also have to consume P.P.E. like psi-stalkers do, get a wide variety of minor psychic powers, and combat bonuses as they level up. They also get Mind Bleeder powers because they're special. Also they get a special fiction check tellings us, once again, that they are so clever and so tough.
Rifts World Book Twelve: Psyscape posted:
Dropping his laser rifle and IR binocs, Claude rushed to his brother. "Mon Dieu! What is wrong, Bud!? Are you OK?"
Oh no, what's gonna happen to Bud?! Read the book to find out!
- Psi-Tech R.C.C. (62%): "So, we had this idea for a psychic that interfaces with machines to fix them real good." "Didn't we do that in the corebook with the telemechanic Operator?" "Well, yes, but this is... more." So these psychics get telemechanics that can be used for free, can psychically diagnose machines and electronics, improve machines to operate marginally better, get bonuses when piloting robots and vehicles, and have the full swath of telemechanic and machine psychic powers. They can "improve speed and performance of computers" and "perform all mechanical and computer skills about two times faster", which are the kind of bonuses that rarely matter when we have no idea how quickly those things work in the first place. Their widely expanded psychic powers come at the cost of reduced skill bonuses, but given they can use their psychic powers to end-run around some of that, it's not a huge drawback. Seems like it would be a fun class to play, but is a sign of the line's general power creep to an extent.
- Psi-Warrior R.C.C. (100%): Though these are the elite
Jediwarriors of Psyscape, some left that community to form other training grounds around Ohio and keep the tradition of Ohioan psychic war alive. They have kind of the same psuedo-Zen Buddhist trappings Jedi do, and they're just shoved out into the world after their training like baby birds to fight supernatural threats to humanity. Seems like a flawed plan not to coordinate a little, but I guess it would ruin Siembieda's outright fetishization of the wandering knight traveling from locale to locale and solving their crises in one primetime hour before wandering off aimlessly again. Sometimes they go evil themselves!... but generally fight supernatural evil anyway because that's what they do. They get a long laundry list of psychic powers, but they're gated by level up to level 9, along with a variety of combat bonuses. They're pretty solid psychics... once they get to like, 3rd level. However, as "warriors", they're crippled by the generally poor damage and resilience of psychic combat powers, and don't get the more powerful psychic attack (bio-manipulation) until 8th level. They're not awful, but they're very... dull, being a sort of concept that Rifts has beaten into the ground with Cyber-Knights, Atlantean Vampire Slayers, Totem Warriors, etc. This is like those, except psychic!... wait, that's been done before with Cyber-Knights. Well, more psychic than Cyber-Knights, and not cyber.
- Zapper R.C.C. (100%): If Bursters are the pro pyrokinetics, these are pro electrokinetics / telekinetics. (I suspect Siembieda had one piece of art for telekinesis and another for electrokinesis and opted to mash them together in one class.) Not much else to say, other than that the Coalition uses them too. They can shoot lightning and absorb electricity, and get the full swath of telekinetic powers. No particular rules on whether or not they can drain the power from an E-clip or power armor, which is odd - you'd think that'd be the first thing you'd want to know. Also, they get some Mind-Bleeder powers relating to attacks against the nervous system, because being good at electricity and kinetic energy wasn't enough, I guess? They seem like they'd be pretty fun to play, just because of the open-ended shenanigans you get into with telekinesis, along with their side-plate of other powers. More utilitarian than "shoots more fire", anyway. But like most psychics, you'd want to use them for dirty tricks and not straightforward fights.
A traditional Ohioan psychic warrior.
When your ability to vamp becomes supernatural
We get some side notes that some Psi-Stalkers can make Nega-Psychic / Psi-Nullifier babies, and of course we get the "buy my book!" litany that you might want to buy every other Palladium book that has psychics so you can catch 'em all.
I mean, they probably won't actually enhance your game, you can only have so many psychics - and it's not like Heroes Unlimited adds much to to the psychic soup - but you know, you gotta catch 'em all.
Player characters that mess with other player characters' powers = comedy!
"4. It is the secret creation of the Coalition States designed to ruin and discredit psychics (unlikely since the CS has a fair respect for psychics and has a large number in their military and police force, including Psi-Stalkers and Psi-Hounds/Dog Boys, but then the Coalition tends to get blamed for just about everything)."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape, Part 6: "4. It is the secret creation of the Coalition States designed to ruin and discredit psychics (unlikely since the CS has a fair respect for psychics and has a large number in their military and police force, including Psi-Stalkers and Psi-Hounds/Dog Boys, but then the Coalition tends to get blamed for just about everything)."
By Julius Rosenstein & Kevin Siembieda
Yes, they did put a ™ on that one. Oh, Palladium.
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape posted:
WARNING: We would like to remind our readers that drug dependency, regardless of any perceived short-term benefit, is dangerous and destructive. None of us at Palladium, encourage or condone the use of drugs without proper medical supervision. Illegal drugs destroy people. Not just the user, but those who love him/her. Please, don't do it.
Caffeine isn't cool. Caffeine kills.
It may seem weird to dedicate an entire update to Psi-Cola, but it doesn't really fit in the class section or the monster section, and it's six pages dedicated to one drug. That's right, Psi-Cola gets roughly the same amount of space as Psyscape itself. Also, the warning that Palladium likes to add regarding druuugs always feels a bit odd. After all, 90% of the time, drug rules in games are the tabletop equivalent of Reefer Madness, punishing characters with a spiral of penalties any anti-drug movement would be delighted with.
So, what is Psi-Cola? Well, it's a North American drug (in cola form) that either instills temporary psychic powers on a non-psychic or enhances the powers of an actual psychic. It's of a mysterious origin, and we're given several different theories including it being a pre-Rifts drink, a creation of the Splugorth, created by rogue alchemists, or made by the Coalition to ruin psychics (which seems unlikely, given their widespread usage of psychics). It has a secret formula that's "aged" under exposure to a ley line, after which it's ready to serve.
"Taste the Inner Strength Points."
Psi-Cola & Psychics
Non-psychics hate the taste, but find it acts as a stimulant and regular usage can grant a minor psychic power while the person remains dosed up. They can become addicted to it, but it's rare because of its unpleasant taste.
Psychics, on the other hand, get an immediate recovery of power (2d6 Inner Strength Points), a delicious taste, and can get extra powers if they're regular users. Psi-Stalkers can use Psi-Cola in place of feeding on the magic power (Potential Psychic Energy) of others, but it makes them into "lazy gluttons", we're told. Dog Boys have their supernatural-sensing powers heightened. Nega-Psychics and Psi-Nullifiers gain increased immunity to psychic powers, but gain additional skill penalities when off of Psi-Cola due to becoming "totally insecure and uncertain".
Despite showing up several times in illustrations already, this species will not be described or statted until World Book 30.
Side Effects from Psi-Cola
So far, not bad. But this is Palladium and this is a druuug, so we've got the other shoe dropping. You can have one dose every 48 hours with no risk of addiction or side effects. More than that, and you have to make a save vs. poison for each dose, with a cumulative penalty for each dose taken in the past 48 hours. And if you're taking enough to get those bonus psi-powers (a six-pack), there is an over 98% chance of addiction, because of how the cumulative odds add up. Whether this is intentional or is a typical Palladium math fumble isn't clear. In addition, if you become addicted and then go clean, you then also get a another random (20% x bottles drunk in 48 hours) separate chance of relapsing. Whether this is in addition to the previous odds is unclear, of course.
In addition, we get a typical lovingly-crafted page-long table of side effects including amnesia, telekinetic poltergeists (even if you don't have telekinesis), gaining a hostile alter ego, accidental power usage, panic attacks, etc. Addicts get double the side effects, and as we know, anybody who downs enough to get the benefits is almost certainly going to be an addict. And that all sounds pretty terrible, but at least kicking the habit isn't as punishing as it is for Palladium drugs, and permanent debilitation doesn't happen (like it does for many of the Splugorth drugs) other than the higher risk of relapse.
Legal Status, Availability, and Cost
It's illegal in a lot of places but not that hard to find anyway and... do we want to go through each one? I bet I don't. Coalition, Dweomer, and Northern Gun make it illegal, (New) Lazlo restricts it to medical use only, Psyscape sells a watered-down version and enforces rehabilitation for addicts, etc. It's relatively cheap where it's available and can often be found underground even where it's banned. Also there's sometimes fake placebo versions sold. "These fakes sometimes make people sick, occasionally hurt or kill people, and add to the negative reputation of the notorious drink." Another angle of PC fuckery, no doubt.
Next: Monsters. "Psychic monsters?", you may ask. Kinda. Mostly just monsters, though.
"They once enjoyed a carefree life of swimming through the oceans eating sea plants, frolicking with other sea life, climbing onto land to sunbathe or explore, and occasionally piggybacking rides on the larger animals."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape, Part 7: "They once enjoyed a carefree life of swimming through the oceans eating sea plants, frolicking with other sea life, climbing onto land to sunbathe or explore, and occasionally piggybacking rides on the larger animals."
Monsters of the Magic Zone, Central & Eastern North America
I get the impression this book was probably initially hurting for page count or something, because that's the only real explanation as to why this book - ostensibly about Psyscape and psychics - includes 60 pages of monsters and D-Bees. Some relate to the psychic theme, but many don't. Still, all the same, let's get into them.
More like Vein... Hawk?
Blood Hawks are supernatural, rapacious... hawks. They have some minor psionics to detect other psionics and magic to avoid dangerous prey, but are otherwise aggressive mega-damage hawks. Not even that big, just megahawks. That's pretty much it.
"I know it's a little spartan. It's a fixer-upper."
The Dark Behemoth is a generic, truck-sized predator that burrows and tunnels and "often plays cat and mouse games", an oft-repeated phrase in these sections, but also says they "seldom use any finesse or tactics". Guh, make up your mind there. In any case, it takes a ridiculous amount of damage to fell it (average of 570 M.D.C.). It also has special face tentacles that can grapple, and a special bite attack when it dies where it does extra damage and then locks its jaw upon death. Because it's important to make sure your generic monster gets that one last "fuck you, PC".
The playable-despite-being-in-the-monster-section Darkhounds get a lot of mystery. This is despite their fact is that their almost-certain origin is is that they're dog boys magically corrupted by Alistair Dunscon to betray the Coalition. It didn't work out so well, since they retained some of their loyalty to humanity and busted loose. And so they're feral, mega-damage dog boys that have formed into wild tribes throughout the region. There are some timeline issues, since Alistair's reappearance 12 years ago doesn't seem long enough to breed corrupted dog boys like this. But I guess you can just blame magic. There's at least an interesting note that though official Coalition orders are to kill them, most actual Coalition soldiers on the ground consider them to be good luck omens and don't do so. They're kind of an neat alternative to the dog boy with a reason to skip the Coalition, so I'll give them a pass.
"Is that a monkey?" "He's got a gun!"
Siembieda loves creatures that are generic toadies / sidekicks for bigger bads, and the Dragon-Ape fills that role this time around. They're greedy, cunning, and sadistic - technically you can play one, but they make sure to throw tons of passive-aggressive shade on that notion instead of just saying "no". "If a rare unprincipled, good or aberrant Dragon-Ape, the character will be viewed by most people as a feared and hated monster not to be trusted, and as a wimp and a loser by fellow Dragon-Apes and similar miscreants." About 10' long, they're modestly tough (avg. 205 M.D.C.), can fly, regenerate, and get a variety of low-level spells to use.
What happens when you mix a cat with another cat.
Nowak's Dragon-Cat is a psuedo-reptilian large cat that are pretty nice guys because, hey, that's a twist or something? No reason given, mind. They sometimes befriend humanoids and forge telepathic bonds with them (complete with extra mechanical bonuses); be sure to petition your GM for one of these to be your rad sidekick, I suppose. They're tough-ish (avg 160 M.D.C.) and get a variety of sneaky spells and psionics. Also, they hate evil because they do! Justify why on your own time, I suppose.
Totally on land.
Though it's pictured in water and flies through the air, this next predatory monster is still called the Land Ray for some reason. It's like the third or so ray-based monster (and at least the second flying one), but the Perez art is still pretty rad. They're psychic psuedofish, and fly around telekinetically while protecting themselves with a psychic body field. However, since they're just S.D.C. creatures and their psychic force field doesn't protect against energy, you can just kill them with one shot of a mega-damage laser pointer. They have a variety of telekinetic and psychic attacks to use, though. A neat visual, but the mechanics don't seem well-thought out - it can't even eat other mega-damage creatures with its S.D.C. bite!
"Did you notice my new hat?"
Necrophim & Soul Snakes are- well, see, you have a soul snake, and it offers an eeevil union and symbosis with a mortal creature to grant them power, because it's evil. And don't worry about killing a creature they bonded with, because they totally knew what they were getting into! Totally!... somehow. Also:
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape posted:
The Necrophim is typically a female, for the Soul Snake uses guile and seduction as one of its favorite tools for manipulation, as well as a weapon of destruction.
yea dudes r not hot ok
So the snakes go around turning women into tentacle skull monsters like you do, and drive them to evil because that's the alignment it has on the sheet. Though it keeps comparing them to gods or deities, they're not quite godly at about 500 M.D.C. They have a "Lust for Blood" as they have to feed on the innards of humans and D-Bees (like pandas and bamboo, only for your intestines) and can metamorph into foxy ladies because soul snakes like seducing. That's biblical symbolism! The snake can cast evil magic spells (mostly curses and spells with "evil" SFX) while the necrophim gets to strangling people. Also they get all the mind bleeder and super psionic powers, the former because they got reprinted in this book. And I get to move the fuck on, because this monster is gross and dumb.
The potato of the sea.
"The Psymbiote (pronounced Sigh em be oat) is a small, greenish-brown, worm-like creature with a short, fat body from which branch dozens of tiny tentacles. Really, it looks like something from a bad, 1960s pre-Rifts science fiction movie." Way to throw some shade on your artists, Palladium, gosh. So, these creatures had a appallingly idyllic life, which is pretty much the stage cue for
They get a farcical amount of psychic powers, but are mostly just vulnerable otherwise as weak M.D.C. creatures. They can bond benevolently or take over people, and apparently hundreds of thousands of them live in Earth's seas now. Would've been nice to know in World Book 7: Underseas! It's kind of neat to have a well-meaning race of puppet masters fighting to free slaves from the Splugorth, even if their background is ridiculously maudlin.
And then, suddenly I looked up to see: monster dick.
Shadelings are black hovering humanoids that might be evil ghosts or aliens but all that really matters is that they float around doing evil stuff just 'cause. While they're not much tougher than an armored human, they're immaterial and can only take damage from energy and magic (no mention of psionics, work that out yourself!). They get the abilities of a random spellcaster type, some mental psionics, and the ability to bore readers to death with their creeping genericity.
"Look, any old fantasy art will do, the fans don't care if it's actually Rifts!"
The Lipoca / Sun Demon is an evil, manipulative supernatural creature that tries to set itself up as a god. And, y'know, the necrophim did too, and I have to wonder at what point we end up with a city that's just where a bunch of these types of cult-leading monsters (because there's got to be at least a dozen now) set up and it's all just competing monster cults trying to play useless, pointless four-dimensional chess against each other. (You'd think that'd what Atlantis would end up being, but apparently not.)
What about the Lipoca? Well, they pretend to be Tezcatlipoca or a relative thereof (even though we're nowhere near Toltec territory in this book). We get a ridiculous amount of space put over to how manipulative and clever they are - nearly a full page - and they have around 1500 M.D.C. and a ton of powers out their ass very vaguely involving sun and fire themes. It's a neat and creepy visual that's wrapped around what's now an extremely tired concept of the evil manipulative Satan-figure with the thinnest of gimmicks slapped on to pretend it's a new creature. What does it have to be manipulative for? It has 1500 M.D.C.! "Nature evolved me to be a immortal walking tank that shoots magical fire in all directions, but I decided to get into politics."
It's reused art, everybody run!
Vyarnect are generic demon-apes that are tailor-made thugs for your supernatural baddies. Granted, they have 200 M.D.C., so battles with groups of them as intended are generally going to slog down quite a bit. But I don't publish games, so what do I know? Lord Dunscon has a secret army of these guys, even though any human only has at best a 50% chance of communicating with them (usually like 25%), so I bet they're pro soldiers at taking orders. Also, everybody knows he's an evil wizard building up military might, why would they need to be secret? And where does he keep them? The basement? Aren't they unruly and bad at taking directions? Well, making sense is optional in the Megaverse.
"Hey, uh, I'm kind of stuck, a little help?"
Also we get notes on how Dunscon bred Spiny Ravagers (from Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign) to release into the wild in order to fuck with the Coalition, but no word on how he might keep them from just rampaging across his own land. And for some reason we get nearly a page on how and why dragons use their shapechanging abilities. Why? What does it have to do with psionics or Psyscape?
actually i'm guessing it's so siembieda can use another piece of dubisch art he had left over of a dragon and we've got a really late book to fill
We do get credits under each creature. The Blood Hawk, Darkhound, Dragon-Ape, Shadeling, and Vyarnect are listed as being done by "Peter Murphy & Kevin Siembieda". Patrick Nowak is credited with the Dragon-Cat. The Land Ray and Psymbiote are credited as "Patrick Nowak with Kevin Siembieda". The Necrophim, Soul Snakes, and Lipoca are "by Kevin Siembieda, inspired by the art of Mike Dubisch". Nobody's taking credit for the Dark Behemoth - presumably that' Siembieda. I have a feeling they threw a lot of leftover content from Federation of Magic in this book or something, it'd do a lot to explain why out of the ten creatures here, only about three are psionics-themed. I guess "Psyscape and Federation of Magic's Leftovers" wouldn't have been as punchy of a title. The assortment of authors also makes it feel like Siembieda rounded up some extra help in filling out the page count to get this extremely late book shoved out the door.
Next: D-Bee F-Iller.
"In fact, virtually all Yhabbayar are something of a cross between an Oriental Guru, child and Yoda!"Original SA post
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape, Part 8: "In fact, virtually all Yhabbayar are something of a cross between an Oriental Guru, child and Yoda!"
As detailed extensively above.
D-Bees of Note
Time for some more space-filling R.C.C.s. Granted, there's more of a psionic theme to these. There's effort. I don't know if I'd give it an A, but it's a start.
Finally, you can dual-class lamppost and cat.
- Amorph R.C.C.: Ectoplasmic beings from the Astral Plane that happened across Psyscape. They can shapeshift cosmetically, have an automatic dodge since they can shift out of the way of attacks, and some basic psionics. They're literally allergic to boredom, and are supposed to be played as naive and innocent, but the book insists on the most insufferable rendition of that. "Players should play these characters like the classic nosy, annoying, eternally curious, but well meaning child who finds everything new and fascinating and snaps photos of everything from rocks with fungus on them to a full-scale CS Military operation."
- Demon-Dragonmage R.C.C.: "Demons" that are basically dragon-themed humanoids, they have the special ability to ramp up their power ridiculously by beheading a dragon and attaching that head to their chest. Despite their description as demons, they don't seem particularly evil - well, aside from their dragon head removal rite of passage. Naturally, demon dragonmages and actual dragons don't exactly get along. They get the ability to spit fire, a variety of disconnected psychic powers (including Pyrokinesis), and get a wide variety of supernatural powers as they level up. Despite this being the R.C.C. section, they're "not advised" to play, and get the usual pass-agg "well you could play one we guess but good guys will hate you so much, you don't even know".
- Lanotaur Hunter R.C.C.: These are psychic Predators, like in the movie? Only they look more like humanoid hairless cats. Kind of. I mean, they use magic instead of technology but are pretty much one-note honorable hunters. They can sense the supernatural, get "psychic reflexes" that give them automatic dodge, can lower their body temperature and reduce their scent, and have a grab bag of psychic and magical powers, including multiple means of teleportation and invisibility, and they get buried in psionic powers. Not allowed as a PC, presumably just so they can have their laundry list of random Monster Manual-style powers, but they're not particularly tough for mega-damage creatures outside of their nohittums power.
- Power Leech R.C.C.: Remember Leech from X-Men comics? If not, he was a little green mutant child that could cancel out powers. These are like him (seriously, the art is spot-on only with a less bumpy head), only they can drain magic energy or batteries and eventually hulk out when they drain enough power. That's pretty much all there is to them, and they're the third R.C.C. in a row that players are warned away from. Despite that, as usual, they get all the rules you'd need to play them as PCs, complete with starting equipment and mention that "they can make a killing as a town champion, lawman, bounty hunter or mercenary". I have a feeling Nowak wrote them up as a PC option and then Siembieda just scribbled in a "no" instead or... something. They'll even have XP charts later. Make up your mind, Palladium!
- Psi-Goblins R.C.C.: These are goblins in their most negative stereotype, and there are rumors that Alistair Dunscon dragged them over to act as servants. Despite that, they seem to have scattered all over the region, and they naturally feed on Faerie Folk. Curiously, they have only modest magic resistance, so don't know how they manage not just getting hit with Faerie Dance when they try. However, they're inclined to feed on just about anybody they can get their teeth into. "... they hate anybody who is more attractive (which sometimes includes all tall people), wealthier, or more powerful." They have a variety of tricky magic and psychic powers, but are mostly low-tier mega-damage baddies. Ironically, you can play them as PCs, even though they're described in profoundly more negative and antisocial terms than something like the Lanotaur Hunters.
- Yhabbayar R.C.C.: "A teacher, philosopher, warrior and child all rolled into one." These are generically enlightened wizened D-Bees who can blow magical bubbles who just happened to get yanked by a rift onto Psyscape's doorstep. They get their whole own "bubble magic" system where they can place spells in a bubble that are released when they pop, and guide those bubble around psychically. They can also temporarily grant people their psychic powers by infusing them in bubbles and then popping them on the person. Doing anything with bubbles has a whole price list of I.S.P. costs, but they can use them to overcome some range limitations or send them around corners or the like. They can also sense the supernatural and life energy, get low-level spells, all sensitive and healing psychic powers, a variety of psionic powers as they level up, and automatically get all the Psyscape psychic buffs. It seems like it could be fun if you could do something a little more interesting than the guru / sifu stereotype, but I'm not sure why it's specifically a race rather than just a magical tradition. Speak backwards, optional presumably says Yhabbayar, yes.
- Zaayr Crystal Dragon R.C.C.: Extra-rare special snowflake crystal dragons that have retreated to the Astral Plane to hide from hunters. This is because the interdimensional Splugorth hunt them for their magical crystal bits, and naturally hold a bit of a grudge against
capitalismslavers as a result. However, they've come across Psyscape in their travel through the Astral Plane, and others live on Palladium World. In any case, they have light powers that can be used to turn invisible or to dazzle onlookers, radiate heat or breathe flame, and the variety of natural dragon powers (regenerate, teleport, shapechange, etc.). They get all "light" and all "darkness" spells, but it's not like those are keywords, and a variety of psychic powers leaning towards mind / healing / ESP stuff. Even for dragons, and even as dragon hatchling PCs, there's some definite power creep here.
- Zenith Moon Warpers: Sexy people with canine heads can that turn into sexy people with human heads. Evil ones eat people, but good ones are just puckish rogues. Given that their type of head isn't specified, prepare for a sexy mastiff! (This is how furries begin.) In any case, they're diet werewolves with some roguish spells and psionics, but without all of the full-scale damage immunity. They also get some buffs during the full moon. Palladium books are already overloaded with dog-themed character classes; here's one more, slightly more magical and tricky than most.
When Furries Attack.
The Amorph, Lanotaur Hunter, and Power Leech are listed as "Patrick Novak & Kevin Siembieda". The Demon-Dragonmage and Yhabbayar are "by Kevin Siembieda, inspired by the art of Mike Dubisch" again. The Psi-Goblin and Zaayr Crystal Dragon are uncredited. All the "inspired by" points to the "pull out a piece of unused art, do a writeup, instant page-count filler" method as detailed by later Palladium writers.
Next: Fascist Filler.
"As soldiers and official and honored defenders of humankind, they are expected to fight inhuman demons, monsters and madmen, and, thus, to use their 'god-given talents' to the best of their ability."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape, Part 9: "As soldiers and official and honored defenders of humankind, they are expected to fight inhuman demons, monsters and madmen, and, thus, to use their 'god-given talents' to the best of their ability."
"You can tell we're psionic!" "How?" "Because that's the book we're in!"
The CS & Psionics
By Patrick Nowak & Kevin Siembieda
Yep, because we can scarely have a book go by without involving the Coalition, it's time for some information on their psychic programs. And, frankly, most of this I've already covered in my review of Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign. This section is basically a cleaned up version of the Psi-Net section in that book; some paragraphs are just lifted entirely. Others have clearly just been rewritten but contain precisely the same information - exact statistics, dates, etc.
As such, I feel safe skipping most of it. Here are the major changes: nullifiers are incorporated into the Coalition psychic classification system as "reactors", which is also where they file healers. Incorporating material from this book, apparently they now have programs to train Psi-Slayers, Psi-Nullifiers, and Psi-Techs. Wait, didn't Psi-Slayers require secret training by a secret guild? Well, I guess the Coalition just gets to skip around that fact. And just in case you were worried Psyscape psychics get too much of an advantage, Coalition Psi-Battalion Training now gives a variety of new numerical bonuses, mainly a variety of bonuses on mental saves, attributes, and a sizable initiative bonus. Can't let the skull-sorts fall behind! No sir!
"This is totally about psionics somehow!"
We also get Military Information to give us lots of numbers and percentages to ignore. About the main notable points is that Psi-Battalion is surprisingly small compared to the overall size of the Coalition army (about 6000+ psychics). We get some guidelines on their operations, psychic prisons, etc. Apparently 10% of them are Mind Melters, despite Mind Melters being A) supposedly extremely rare and B) hunted for death by the Coalition in previous material. But hey, they make the Coalition more badass and they don't gotta explain shit.
Sigourney a la Siembieda.
Lastly, we get a writeup for Lieutenant Colonel Carol Black, the head of Psi-Battalion, who is now apparently set to get a promotion to Brigadier General in the near future. An 11th Level Special Forces Operative, she's generically pro-psychic, though her powers are mostly just modest sensitive powers. She's described in ridiculously glowing terms:
And every day is a Dog Boy puppy parade while she's around and she gets to push D-Bees into the mud and she has sundaes with the Proseks and everything is the best!
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape posted:
Cagey, clever, resourceful, honest and loyal. Carol Black is fanatically dedicated to protecting humans from nonhumans, monsters, magic and rogue psychics. Over the years she has proven to be an incredible administrator and organizer with innovative ideas and the ability to implement them. She is clever, experienced, confident, resourceful, imaginative, and has a good head for military strategy and tactics. She is loved by her troops and is a hero to all psychics in the CS military.
Also how does a Brigadier General with the Coalition get to have the fucking Scrupulous alignment, I ask you?
"Sometimes the transmission is arguably more positive, like 'Hot Momma,' 'Hubbahubba,' 'Hot damn,' 'I told him,' 'Sure, wise guy,' and so on."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape, Part 10: "Sometimes the transmission is arguably more positive, like 'Hot Momma,' 'Hubbahubba,' 'Hot damn,' 'I told him,' 'Sure, wise guy,' and so on."
Gonna use art from the rest of the book, because this is a largely art-free section.
Mashing action figures against each other.
By Kevin Siembieda
So, first we have an online of the differences between Potential Psychic Energy (P.P.E.), used for magic, and Inner Strength Points (I.S.P.). See, I.S.P. is like oil and P.P.E. is like gasoline, wait, no, I.S.P. is like vinegar and P.P.E. is like wine, or maybe the other way around. Look, we just have some rambling here, but the point is: they're related. The thing is, magic is more flexible and can be imbued into objects and rituals, while psionics requires a person's body and mind. However, "Mind Over Matter" (M.O.M.) brain implants can be used to try and awaken or enhance powers. And because it's the same technology used to make Crazies, you know it'll be free of troublesome side effects... okay, I kid. It'll fuck you up. And that's important. So important that we get two full pages of charts describing how it'll fuck you up. But before we get to that, I'm going to skip ahead to the actual-
Psionic Implants & Devices
So, the foremost people experimenting with implants designed to spark psionic powers are the Coalition. Mind, the emphasis is on "experimenting" - they're decades out from anything practical due to the aforementioned serious side effects. However, a Dr. Jacob Leninstol tried to get the Coalition to start experimenting on non-citizens from the 'Burbs. When his fellow researchers and superiors balked, he fled the Coalition States to parts unknown. Ever since then, Psi-Implants have started to show up on the open market, with the Coalition putting a 10 million credit price on his head. His designs are now available in Kingsdale, though there are knockoffs elsewhere that are less reliable. Ultimately, they're still not widely available.
We have the Psi-Blocker Implant that protects against psionics but causes nosebleeds. There's the Psionic Inhibitor Implant designed cripple psychics by "pulses of electromagnetism" to disrupt psionic usage (somehow), and makes powers much harder to use and less reliable. The Psionic Booster Implant and Psionic Actuator Implant grant extra I.S.P. and powers. The Actuator gives more powers while the Booster gives greater effect. The Sensitive Implant or Physical Reactor Implant give extra Sensitive or Physical/Healing powers, respectively, and can empower a nonpsionic. The Eruptor Implant does much the same to the Nth degree, and can make you a half-assed Burster, Zapper, or grant a number of Super psionics.... or empower a nonpsionic, but with I.Q. loss.
Every implant but the Psi-Blocker or Psionic Inhibitor requires a roll on the Psi-Implant table. If you've got a crappy knockoff implant, you get a bonus roll, and if you're a nonpsionic being upgraded to a psionic, you get another bonus roll.
Psi-Implant Side Effect Table
There are 15 possible results here. Possible results include Brain Fire, where you randomly go have massive fits of pain when under stress (GM's call, whee) that cripple your skills and bonuses, but boosts your psionic powers. You might have Telepathic Outbursts where your thoughts get projected to everybody around you-
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape posted:
Such transmissions are typically derogatory and contrary to the character's spoken words or actions, like: "Go to Hell," "Eat my shorts," "Kiss my ...," "Bastard!" "Pig," "Loser," "Coward," "Slimy punk," "Whatever," "Like I'd tell you," "Let's get it on punk," "Whatever you say," "I'd like to kick your..." and so on.
You could get up with a Supernatural Warning System where you get growing headaches the closer supernatural beings are (hope there's not one in your party). There's Uncontrolled Empathy where you absorb the emotions of those around you, giving us some good old Siembieda-penned overacting.
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape posted:
For example, if afraid he might plead with his fellow adventurers, "This is crazy. We're gonna die if we keep going. Come on, let's get out of here. It's not worth it." Or something like, "Don't you feel it? We're being watched. Watched by something ... something terrible. Evil! I know it! We should turn back (or wait, or hide, or attack and kill, or whatever); and so on.
I shouldn't be surprised that he just goes off on a tear to describe how to roleplay being afraid, given we had the description of what emotions were like in the Psyscape section. I guess it's useful for robots trying to roleplay humans. Back to the table, Uncontrolled Medium draws spirits and entities toward the character. Astral Avenger is an occasional berserker rage where you project an astral berserker form that's immune to non-supernatural attacks and can use all your psionic powers while your body crumples over. And there's all sorts of more boring fuckery like Blurred Vision, Dull Headache, Inner Voices, etc.
And just in case you think you can get the implant removed if you get a bad side effect, good luck, because we have the Implant Removal Side Effects table. And if you think "Well, I have a good doctor!", fuck your doctor, you have to roll anyway! You're looking at only a 10% chance of getting out without harm, otherwise you'll likely take damage to a mental attribute. Alternately, you could have one of those random personality changes Palladium loves so dearly, like becoming passive, aggressive, or gaining a bonus inferiority complex. Or maybe you just lose psychic powers permanently!
Psionic Devices & Techno-Wizard Machines
By Kevin Siembieda with suggestions from Julius Rosenstein and Patrick Nowak
The number of contributors definitely feels like it supports my notion that a lot of content was scrambled together to try and get this book out the door. Speaking of which, though, let's get this review out the door, since we're almost done. We have two types of items here: experimental Coalition psychic enhancement devices, and techno-wizard devices that interface with psionic energy.
So we get the CS Weapon Gauntlet, which lets you create a half-assed psi-sword or psi-shield, and shoot electrokinetic lightning. CS TK Artificial Limbs let telekinetics have teke-controlled bionic arms with average strength, though they grant a bonus attack because they act at the "speed of thought" (unlike normal arms that have that horrendous delay?). The CS Psi-Damper helmet gives bonuses against psionics, but a penalty on skills. Finally, the CS Psi-Scanner lets you detect psychics at a very close range (like a metal detector), but with an awful 50% success rate.
Techno-wizards can make a TW Psi-Blocker Helmet that gives immunity to mental attacks and some sensitive powers, but blocks any use of sensitive psionic powers by the user. The TW "Psi-Bloodhound" Psi-Tracker lets you detect psionics up to 400 feet at 74%, and is laughably better than its Coalition equivalent. There's the telekinetic / pyrokinetic-simulating Techno Wizard TK Pistol, Techno-Wizard TK Assault Rifle, and Techno-Wizard Flamethrower, all of which are horrendously overpriced for the trash damage they do. We have a Psychic Camera that lets you photograph the invisible, and telepaths can transcribe mental images onto film through it. Finally, we have a TW Thought Projectorthat lets you transform images from your mind into holograms and sound (more for presentations than deceptions).
Annnnd that's that. We get our usual XP tables, complete with a unusual variety of NPC-only classes that get XP tables for some reason, like the Lanotaur Hunter, Power Leech, or friggin' Lipoca. This is even though the latter is very, very clearly intended as an NPC.
You may foresee that the end has come now that we're at the end of the book. But I've got a bonus thought for you folks.
Next: Who riffs The Rifter?
"Writer 'Flat Fee' Payment: Roughly ten dollars ($10.00) per "printed" typeset page of text (that's roughly 2 to 2 1/2 single spaced computer pages at 10-11 point size; see, we're even too cheap and lazy to figure out a per word rate)."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape, Part 11: "Writer 'Flat Fee' Payment: Roughly ten dollars ($10.00) per "printed" typeset page of text (that's roughly 2 to 2 1/2 single spaced computer pages at 10-11 point size; see, we're even too cheap and lazy to figure out a per word rate)."
Okay, we're done with Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape, but there's one last thing I wanted to cover inside these pages, and that's the first advertisement for The Rifter, Palladium's house magazine they would launch shortly after the publication of this book. And I could quote the highlights of this ad, but I felt like that wasn't enough. This is pretty much Siembieda doing his best Midwestern Stan Lee, at his most grandiose and folksy, and left even me completely flabbergasted. So I decided to read it aloud. My reading is clumsy, no doubt, but hopefully that only helps demonstrate the clumsiness of the text itself. The music used is "No Rocking in the Jazzhands Zone" by Peter Gresser.
Download the Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape audio bonus here.
Also, just to round things out, here's the image included with the advertisement. It raises a number of its own questions, which I'll leave to you to ask.
And that's that! Finally, the missing gap in the World Book run is filled, but at a price. Much of this book is a grab bag as a result, and much of it feels like overflow from Rifts World Book 16: Federation of Magic. Seeing psychics get an O.C.C. expansion is welcome considering the short shrift they've generally gotten, but it makes the meandering monster and D-Bee section stand out all the more. As such, Psyscape is a bit forgotten, without any strong focus once it does its big class dump is over. It's not particularly bad or good, but mostly just feels like an uninspired gap filled in a publication schedule. Similarly, I'm not inspired to say that much more on it. That's that!