PSIONICS: The Next Stage of Human Evolution by Hostile V
Post 1Original SA post
writing a thing on Leviathan: The Tempest up until I got a mixture of burnout and way too damn busy at work. And because work is constantly boring for me, I loaded up my phone with a buttload of nWoD gamebooks and spent a good part of July and this month reading them. I like Promethean a lot, and I got to read some of the other books that give you scenarios, plot hooks, etc.
I ain't here to review none of them, honestly. It was a good idea on paper but it burnt me the fuck out on nWoD for now, let alone one spread across multiple articles on a RPGnet wiki page. So Leviathan is on hold for now. Anyone wants to pick up where I left off, fine, but I might return to it. Who knows?
Instead, I'm going to talk about a relatively new game I found this year that immediately piqued my interest the moment I saw what inspired it.
This is a banner from the End Transmission Games website and I am unabashedly borrowing it because it's neat and saves me five minutes of work.
PSIONICS: The Next Stage of Human Evolution is a game about teenage psychics on the run from authorities. It was made in 2015 (and apparently Kickstarted) and it was made by End Transmission Games (who brought gamers the incredibly high concept game of S.P.L.I.N.T.E.R. and I mean high concept to mean "a striking and easily communicable idea").
It's set in a world that's ostensibly the same as the one we live in, and it has some rad art that tends to sum up the attitude of the game. Also, the fact that the beginning of this book has a snippet from My Chemical Romance's 'Teenagers' and a snippet of a final hearing review on MKULTRA.
This book has fluff and it's neat fluff and I will not be sharing it or delving too much into it because I feel like this game is worth buying so I'm not gonna share you the fluff. But the overarching story is that there are a group of teens from Bridgewater, NJ who display psychic powers and do the reasonable thing: they make a Youtube video. Which only gets a couple thousand views and most people think it's fake. Unfortunately, the video results in the federal government coming to get them...until most of the agents are killed by a group of cell members belonging to the Zodiac Order, a group of rogue Espers hell-bent on fighting anyone who would exploit fellow Espers. The myriad stories in the book follow the fallout of the rescue and relocation of these teens: the kids living in New York at a drug dealer's crash pad, the one teen who didn't get saved and was taken by the government, other members of the Zodiac Order the teens come in contact with, and a band called Tomorrow's Starlight playing a gig in NYC.
So what is Psionics like?
The introductory section (minus the 'what is a RPG?' bit) lays out the inspirations of the game's genre and what it is and what it isn't. And honestly I'm gonna let the game speak for itself here because the book has a voice and it's a pretty good voice. Or, at least, I like it, and it's good (in my opinion) when a book drops its clinical documentary/expository tone and just shoots straight for you.
So, in addition to those shitty teens you know in high school, your hormones, stuff just sucking and the world being an unjust place, The Man has decided that it's your turn to serve your country and they're not willing to take no for an answer. You have two choices: roll over and accept, or fight back, shut up and keep running.
You should seriously consider doing the latter.
The game doesn't really have a good name for its genre. It considers something along the lines of "psychopunk" (punk rebellion and psychic abilities) but doesn't really like the name. But, there are four clear inspirations and the inspirations should give you a very good idea what kind of game this is.
Firestarter : Both the book and the movie. Firestarter is about a young, powerful pyrokinetic who got her abilities from her parents who got their abilities from a government drug test involving hallucinogens. Her dad keeps on the run with her until they both get captured and things reach a boiling point under the care of The Shop, a CIA-run group dedicated to experimenting and exploring psychic powers.
What the game takes from Firestarter: the idea that psychic powers have a physical toll on the body of the users and your ability is limited by biological brakes, the idea that the three main umbrella of powers should be Pyrokinesis (fire and ice control), Psychokinesis (mind control) and Telekinesis (moving shit with your brain), you can get your powers through heredity or drugs, and the idea that the government is out to get, control and experiment on Espers.
Scanners : Everyone knows Scanners. Heads explode in Scanners. A mentally unstable psychic battles another psychic who is making more of the drug that makes psychics so he can create an army of loyal child psychics. People get shot, heads explode, eyes bleed and there's a business conspiracy to boot.
What the game takes from Scanners: technokinesis, people's heads exploding from psychic powers, business conspiracy to enforce government conspiracy.
Akira : Tetsuo and Kaneda are street thugs in a biker gang in Neo Tokyo 30 years after World War III. Tetsuo gets his psychic abilities unlocked from a government program when they realize he has similar potential to the person responsible for the destruction of Tokyo: Akira. Kaneda tries to spring Tetsuo with the help of anti-gov rebels. All hell breaks loose.
What the game takes from Akira: the actual punk part of psychopunk. Kaneda and Tetsuo are teens and they have teenage emotions and feelings. They rebel, they have grudges, they run with a gang and Tetsuo isn't a stable kid before he gets his powers. It also takes the fact that Espers are transhuman, something much more than a normal man even if they're beholden to the same emotions and thought processes, just with new abilities. It also makes an interesting mention of the fact that the people responsible for the government program may not be the best people...but they're honorable, they're flawed, they're human. Just because the government is after you doesn't mean that they're not still people paid to taze and bag you.
Galerians : Rion wakes up in a hospital with psychic powers. He has been part of a program to create superhumans and they don't want him to leave. But he's not the only kid, and he doesn't have the willpower to keep himself totally in check. Rion needs drugs, and lots of them, to use his abilities and also keep himself from melting down with catastrophic results.
What the game takes from Galerians: Galerians was a videogame and that's pretty important because it put the opportunity to be Charlie McGee from Firestarter, Tetsuo from Akira or Cameron Vale from Scanners in the hands of the player. The nature of the game and ability to play these psychics inspired the developers to make Psionics, period. Also, like Rion, Espers are exposed to a lot of drugs and need drugs. Rion may have superpowers, but they turn him into a junkie to use his powers or stay stable. A lot of Espers end up as junkies too, whether it's caffeine to keep their power up or injecting themselves with stolen government serums to increase their power. Finally, Galerians had what happens when a psychic loses absolute control: they become a walking weapon of death whose powers spiral out of control and kill absolutely everyone around them (and eventually Rion if he doesn't have a drug that stops it). This is triggered by extreme emotional stress and taking too much damage. And there's mechanics for it in Psionics.
Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy
Push (the movie not based on the book)
Chronicle (the found-footage style movie)
So what does 'Psychopunk' fall into genre-wise?
Science Fiction: absolutely. Science made you this way, and it's not fully explained why. You need More Science to increase your power, and people want to Do Science to you.
But it isn't full Science Fiction because: it's set in the present day (ish) and it's focused more on how these abilities affect our world (which, technically, would fall under Asimov's definition of social science fiction, something he was quite fond of).
Horror/Thriller: Ohhh yeah. Your powers can do some scary shit. There are the remnants of old experiments lurking in decommissioned facilities. And, of course, the government is after you.
But it isn't full Horror/Thriller because: you can fight back. You can get away. And you can try and save other people with what you can ddo.
Action: cars will explode, people will die, shit will get thrown, SWAT teams will burst through skylights.
But it isn't full Action because: Action is always just a sub-genre, full action would be...weird.
Superheroes: you're not too far off from the X-Men or other heroes on the run from the forces of evil. You're transhumans gifted with abilities beyond normal human grasp.
But it isn't full Superheroes because: running around in a mask and cape will just lure the Feds to you. And it's the 'real' world. You know that joke that the Harry Potter series would be faster and done earlier if the SAS knew about Voldemort? Well, bullets can lay you low, your actions have heavy repercussions, and the world isn't just. Nothing is black and white and your enemies are big, faceless fronts whose (relatively) normal, flawed, human agents you'll come up against. There's rules and stats for fighting a paramedic, doctor or hospital orderly as much as there is for a black-ops mercenary or psychic bear (not a joke).
So, NEXT TIME , let's get into the meat and potatoes of the system. It's not that hard, it's a d6 system, but the sooner we finish that and making characters, the sooner Fabulous Secret Powers will be revealed when we hold aloft that machete your dad bought from home depot to cut up vines and creepers in the back yard and say
(yes this is a teenage boy with a neckbeard and longcoat lifting a car with his mind to throw it at the cops. I like to think that the developers both A: have a sense of humor and B: understand teenagers/their audience, to some extent. Also where else am I gonna fit this picture in the review)
Post 2Original SA post
STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES , or How to Use the Dicepunk System
Psionics uses End Transmission's engine called Dicepunk. It's up for free on their website, but here's a quick primer:
1: everything is d6.
2: roll the dice if there's stuff you wanna do.
3: most of the time you're rolling 2d6.
4: you either succeed or fail. Any margin of overlap between the two is up to the GM or the roleplayers.
An Attribute Check is when you want to do something that doesn't require a skill and isn't an attack. Roll 2d6 and if the result is less than the Attribute it applies to, it succeeds. Snake eyes automatically succeed, natural 12 always fails.
A Skill Test is when a non-combat skill is used. Skills have 5 levels: untrained, trained, apprentice, expert, master. You take the relevant Attribute linked to the skill and modify it depending on what your experience in the skill is (-2 to Attribute, +0, +1, +2, +4). Then you roll 2d6 and try to get under the modified Attribute. Again, snakes succeed always, 12 always fails. You also can't just keep doing Skill Tests to try and accomplish something. In a situation balanced in your favor, ideally you would just be able to try picking a lock for hours on end or hit a door with a bat. Eventually you'll succeed. The GM is encouraged to not let those ideal situations happen, but there are some psychic abilities that can grant you a reroll or if you can change the situation substantially, you can get another shot. If you can't break the door down, but you find a crowbar, that warrants a reroll.
An Attack uses a combat skill. There is no linked Attribute necessary, you roll 2d6 and add the bonuses from your rank in that skill to roll higher than the opponent's defense (Defense is calculated by your Attributes and other relevant modifiers). Natural 12s automatically hit. Damage is calculated by rolling d6s according to the weapon, and it can't be reduced past at least 1 damage. You got hit by something. There's gonna be a little scratch, at least.
Contests between two people are generally 1d6+Attribute+applicable Skill bonus. Whoever rolls higher wins.
Using your Psychic Powers requires a test in that relevant power. It's a Skill check that uses the Wits/Will attribute and adds the level of the relevant power to the Attribute. Roll below the result of bust out your mind powers. To attack, you add the level of the power you're using to 2d6, nothing more.
There are some more rules for Psychic Powers and taking damage and such but they come up later.
TEST SUBJECTS: Character Creation
Start with a concept and a name, pick a jumping off point to make your character. You get 30 points to split between the 4 stats: Strength, Speed, Wits and Will.
Strength: strength and toughness, helps determine health and how much of a beating you can take before you pass out.
Speed: Agility, dexterity and movement speed. Would be the killer stat to level up in most games because it's linked to a lot of different skills and combat skills, but. That would be...
Wits: intelligence, memory, defense and how many psionic powers you can know. Equally handy is...
Will: Courage and willpower, also your psionic use limits and how strong your powers can be.
Not tracked, you can determine this on your own: attractiveness/charisma, wisdom.
One of the paths of powers you can take can actually use your powers to increase your Strength and Speed, permanently and temporarily. It's kinda funny to see those Attributes be the less important ones. By all means, they're not dump stats, they just don't need to be high , but a soldier with an assault rifle can easily cut down your min-maxed psychic ubermensch who can't get out of their wheelchair. Let me explain how Attributes scale in Psionics:
You really start off with 26 points to spread around because you need a minimum of 1 in a stat. Real human beings are considered on a scale like you'd see in nWoD: your Attributes can be 1-6, 1 is disabled/handicapped/impaired and 6 is the real human peak of potential, a 3 is average. It's impossible to go higher. Psionics operates with what they call the Hollywood Human Attribute Scale, which is 1-10 . 1 is still impaired, 10 is superhuman, 4 is average, 5 is good. If you're playing Kimmy Average, All-American Psychic Teenager, unless you're playing sports you really don't need a Strength score much higher than 4 or 5. Appropriately, you have more free points to allocate towards your Wits and Will scores because no matter how you came by your powers, having good stats in those allowed you to survive their manifestation.
You also have Derived Attributes, determined by your main Attributes.
Health is Strength x 6.
Knockout Threshold (the point at which you pass out from sustained damage) is 10-Will.
Death Threshold is 0-Strength.
Defense is 3+Wits.
Initiative is 2d6 rolled every time+(Speed x 2).
Your Power Points to fuel your powers are Will x 6.
Your Overflow Gauge, which determines how much you can use your powers before everything goes horribly wrong, is Will x 5.
Smart players might notice that you have more Power Points than you have notches in your Overflow Gauge. This will be explained later.
New characters start play with Skill Picks which let them get skills at an Apprentice level, at least. You get Wits x 2 Skill Picks. It takes 1 pick to get an Apprentice Skill, 3 for an Expert and 5 for a Master. You're teenagers, you shouldn't know everything. You also get Basic Training in Skills equal to your Wits. These are skills you're trained in, but not to the level of Apprentice. Use this to get common sense skills, like Drive or Swimming or Spanish at a high school level, which means you can use these with no negative modifiers but no positive modifiers. The following are sample skills. GMs should allow players to come up with Skills and Linked Attributes but not combat skills.
Players also start off with one Technique for free. They don't get more because again they're just teens. You can buy more Techniques as you play, and it's kind of suggested you do, because some of them are damn handy and it also reflects how you're learning. (Get Dodge when you can. Especially if you're a Telekinetic. Dodge is ridiculously handy and it also makes you immune to Grapples.)
There are more techniques to learn that can only be learned when you have certain powers or the experience to buy them. These are just the beginner/free options.
Finally, the powers. New PCs start off with 2+(Wits/2 (round down)) points to spend on their Psionic Talents. A high Wits means you can start off quite powerful! There are some rules and restrictions to your selections.
First, a Primary Talent can only go up to 6. The Primary Talents are Psychokinesis, Pyrokinesis and Telekinesis.
Second, a Secondary Talent can only go to 4. Each Primary Talent has three Secondaries.
Third, you can only take a Secondary Talent if the parent Primary has 3 Ranks.
Fourth, you can only start with Rank 5 in one Primary Talent or 3 in a Secondary.
Fifth, if you don't start with at least 1 Rank in a Primary Talent, then you can't ever develop that Talent naturally. Emphasis on naturally. You can give up knowing Telekinesis in exchange for being very good at Psychokinesis and Pyrokinesis, but if you ever want to know Telekinesis you have to procure the right drugs.
So, Angelina Normalgal has a Wits of 8. She's got 6 points she can spend. It's up to her player if they want to be good at everything, or really good at a few things. Full honesty? If you start off with a Rank 5 Primary Talent, you can already do some pretty wild shit and you're just giving yourself a powerful option to fall back on reliably. There's more of a challenge for doing okay at everything because it's gonna take a while to get up to Rank 6 for that one power and it's not that hard to build up power for your Rank 1/2/3 Talents.
Finally, Equipment. Players start with 100x(Wits)d6 in cash. They also get a certain amount of Equipment Picks depending on ranks you have in your skills. Equipment picks means that because you're good at this thing, you naturally have some of this thing, be it guns, throwing knives or improvised explosives. Use your picks to get the weapons and gear you want and use money for the odds and ends or the things you really want but don't have the picks for.
Some sample characters are in the book, but if anyone's interested in throwing me a character concept, I can whip up something before moving on to the deeper rules for Psionic Talents and the powers themselves.
NEXT TIME : You don't get any experience for people you killed while having a power meltdown. Seriously. It's a smart move because now you can't just limit break your way to Munchinkinland.
Post 3Original SA post
Robert "Berty" Swangler. 16 years old, reformed pyromaniac from Logan County, Oklahoma. Accidentally burned down a barn at a fair when he was 11, parents got a plea deal for him to not to go juvie. Instead, Berty was sent to Guiding Outreach Juvenile Wilderness Program for a year. If anyone doesn't know what a wilderness program is, they basically take your ass out the desert and make you hike, exercise and live outside for as long as you're required to. Berty came back at the ripe age of 12, a lot less full of piss and vinegar, a lot bigger and stronger and a lot more troubled. He tried to escape. Other kids tried to. Berty knows he's never going back to that camp and he's been trying to keep his nose clean for the last three years.
That was until he found out he could start fires with his mind. One day a bunch of men with sunglasses and a van came and told him that he had a choice: he could go to a new camp quietly or they could have his parents sign the paperwork to make him go. And that was the last his family, or the government, saw of him, stealing off into the night.
Berty is a good kid, but he wears his scars openly with a soft voice and a tendency to flinch for such a big teen. The camp did teach him how to survive in the wilderness, so now he roams the Southwestern US getting honest menial work where he can and keeping a step ahead of the suits who want to bag him and take him to a facility. It doesn't help that police and rangers have posters in their stations saying that he did things he didn't do and there's a big reward from the FBI for his detainment. No credit cards, no ID, only cash, only what he can take.
But there's a strong temptation burning deep inside of Berty telling him that maybe he wouldn't have such a problem if he let the fire out to stop the people chasing him.
Robert 'Berty' Swangler:
Health: 36 (knocked out at 4, dead at -6)
Power Points: 48
Overflow Gauge: 40
Skills: Awareness Expert (+2), Survival Expert (+2), Stealth Expert (+2), Rifles Expert (+2), Pistols Apprentice (+1), Security Apprentice (+1), Spanish Apprentice (+1), First Aid Apprentice (+1).
Basic Training: Negotiation, Cooking, Locksmith, Drive, Swim, Brawling, Blades, Subterfuge.
Remington Model 30 at +2 (5d6 damage)
Glock 17 at +1 (2d6 damage)
Combat Knife at +0 (1d6+4 damage)
Fireball at +4 (4d6 damage, 4d6 per turn if target is ignited until flame is stopped)
Psionic Talents: Pyrokinesis 4 (Entropy 1), Telekinesis 1.
Equipment: Remington Model 30, Glock 17, Combat Knife, Crowbar, 80 .30-06 bullets, 100 9mm bullets, 3 spare clips for Glock, Flashlight, First Aid Kit, duffel bag, tank tops, hiking boots, beat sneakers, old Salvation army jeans, denim jacket, rain jacket, bedroll, rugged wristwatch, 6 bottles of Party All Nite Energy Shooters, four joints, 6 cans of food, 5 MREs, water purification tablets, $2900 in scavenged cash.
Post 4Original SA post
Hmm. All American patriot and a middle-aged lady with a minigun? I think I could do that. Let's do the second first.
Viktoriya Gusev: Ex-Red Orchestra Killing Machine
The West has The Institute. But Russia has the Red Orchestra, the remnants of a secret division of the Soviet government that had as much power as the Institute before the Berlin Wall fell. The KGB and GRU had no patience for waiting for Espers to be born, so most of their soldiers were children and teenagers of families sent to gulags who were given experimental injections.
Viktoriya remembers the Cold War and doesn't miss it. She complied with their orders, fought in Afghanistan, killed Chinese spies by tearing them apart with her mind. And once the Cold War was over and her organization stumbled to find its footing in the new order, she killed her handler and ran.
Time doesn't need to be kind to Viktoriya. Her powers are keeping her fit and healthy thanks to having the ability of somakinesis. She looks 35, has the musculature of a 25 year old athelete, but is pushing 55. But her particular set of skills are on the dangerously obvious side and she has no interest in marching into war again. She would rather live a low key existence with her grandchildren in Kiev. She'll train people who want to fight back, but it would take a damn good reason for her to fight again.
Strength: 7 (9, +2 from Somakinesis)
Speed: 4 (6, +2 from Somakinesis)
Health: 54 (knocked out at 1, dead at -9)
Power Points: 48
Overflow Gauge: 40
Skills: Heavy Weapons Master (+4), Demolitions Expert (+2), Brawling Expert (+2), Electronics Apprentice (+1), Leadership Apprentice (+1), Intimidation Apprentice (+1), Pistols Apprentice (+1).
Basic Training: Negotiation, Locksmith, Brawling, Pilot, Security, First Aid, Chemistry.
RPD +4 (3d6+3)
RPG-7 +4 (10d6)
Walther PPK +1 (1d6+3)
Hand-to-hand: 1d6+9 Nonlethal
Psionic Talents: Telekinesis 3 (Somakinesis 2)
Inventory: RPD,RPG-7, Walther PPK, 300 rounds of 7.62x39mm, 50 .32 ACP, 3 spare clips, 3 spare drums, 1 85mm HE Rocket Propelled Grenade, Type 1 Body Armor (Melee Damage Cut:2, Ranged Damage Cut: 6), 3 ampules Red Panic amphetamines, 5 bottles of rotgut vodka, cell phone, casual clothes, pictures of grandchildren, $24 because god damn this shit gets expensive.
Brianna Birch: Institute Tracker
Brianna used to run with a bad crowd in San Francisco, tagging buildings and breaking windows, occasionally robbing cars. She always hoped there would be more to life than havoc and fun, but a bad home life and a long list of juvenile crimes and bad grades kept picking at her chances to do anything worthwhile. This changed when a briefcase containing a bunch of unmarked needles ended up in the hands of her crew and she woke up the next day alive while everyone else was dead.
The Institute came knocking for their missing drugs and walked away with an Esper willing to cut a deal to make up for the theft. There was mandatory processing, but she played ball when they promised her a shot at college and higher education at a good school. Soon Agent Birch began to put her powers towards finding and monitoring rogue Espers the Institute wanted to bring in alive.
It's a hard job. There's a lot of kidnapping, a lot of midnight raids, a lot of running, a lot of nights spent wondering if she can look herself in the mirror the next morning. But, hell, everyone's gotta do what they gotta for themselves, right? Rich kids fake it until they make it, poor kids drive it like they stole it. Brianna is just looking out for herself, but it's a lot of weight to put on a 19 year old girl.
Health: 30 (knocked out at 5, dead at -5)
Power Points: 42
Overflow Gauge: 35
Skills: Pistols Expert (+2) Rifles Expert (+2), Drive Expert (+2), Security Expert (+2), Stealth Expert (+2), Negotiation Apprentice (+1).
Basic Training: Electronics, Hacking, Climbing, Spanish, French, Pilot, Locksmith, Awareness.
Tranq Rifle +2 (1 damage)
Tranq Pistol +2 (1 damage)
Psionic Talents: Psychokinesis 5, Telekinesis 1
Inventory: Tranq pistol, tranq rifle, unmarked black federal sedan, false licenses, 100 tranq rounds, Type 1 Body Armor, 17 caffeine pills, zipties, handcuffs, 6 vials of sodium pentathol, interrogation kit, black-ops cell phone, federal badge, snazzy and fashionable black suits, sunglasses, $1065 in cash.
Post 5Original SA post
Carrie White, Daughter of Walter and a Hack the Power type? Alright, these two are the ones I’m gonna stop with. Next time we’ll look at the actual psychic powers and abilities.
Carrie White on Breaking Bad: Better Start, Same Story
For reasons best not worried about to make this premise work, Walter White ends up marrying Margaret Brigham. Walter gives up his share in the company he helps found in order to get money to help support Margaret after she gets pregnant out of wedlock and they later marry.
The marriage is a terrible shitshow; Margaret is still a bent fundamentalist and Walter often wonders why the hell he married her as a man of science. They both agree that they don’t like each other, but they’re willing to put aside their differences when their only daughter, Carrie, is born. Walt tempers Carrie’s upbringing with science and rationality and helps reign in his wife’s mania, and she ends up going to public school instead of being homeschooled. Carrie knows her parents fight and she buries herself in books and her father helps encourage his daughter’s curiosity.
She also ends up getting proper sex ed when he comes home and Margaret has locked Carrie in the closet after her first period. Walt takes her to a proper doctor who sets Carrie straight on her body and her desires.
None of this stops Walt from cooking meth with Jessie when he gets cancer, though his motivations change. Margaret can go hang for all he cares, but he wants Carrie to have money to continue her education.
Then things kinda derail when Margaret finds out. Unlike Skyler, Margaret calls the feds and Walter is hauled off to jail. Margaret is briefly pleased she’s finally gotten rid of him and Carrie gets to see her mom like she would’ve in the book. And on top of that, with her dad no longer working at the high school anymore, Carrie starts getting bullied. All of the misery getting piled on a young, introverted girl at once gives Carrie the catalyst to experience her powers for the first time. But she doesn’t get even. She runs instead to find her father and see if he can tell her why she is the way she is. She’s still running and searching, and she has reason to believe her father might be working with the Institute now in exchange for not being in federal prison. A man of Walter White’s talents is better on a leash, but we know how that goes on the show.
Health: 18 (Knocked out at 1, dead at -3)
Power Points: 54
Overflow Gauge: 45
Skills: Chemistry Expert (+2), Demolitions Expert (+2), Subterfuge Expert (+2), Negotiation Expert (+2), Electronics Expert (+1), Hacking Apprentice (+1).
Basic Training: Drive, Cooking, Theology, Locksmith, Awareness, Bike, First Aid, Climbing.
TK Throw +5 (damage depends on item/distance person is thrown)
TK Push +5 (5d6)
TK Crush/Rend +5 (5d6+18)
TK Choke/Squeeze +5 (5d6 nonlethal)
Pyro Flame +1 (1d6, 1d6 per turn if ignited until doused)
Psionic Talents: Telekinesis 5, Pyrokinesis 1
Equipment: cellphone, casual clothes, laptop, science books, moderately okay sedan, case of Hand Green-Aid Energy Drinks, bottle of ibuprofen for when power strain gets to her, blankets for sleeping in sedan, hot plate, $1500 cash.
Carrie is not a girl who knows a lot about fighting with weapons or guns. The noise of firearms also scares her a good deal. What she can do, though, is use her powers and use them very well. Carrie is a good example of just how dangerous a properly statted Esper can be with a high level power. The price, of course, is the strain her powers put on her body.
Grant Kirkland, In Way Over His Head And Kind Of A Dick About It.
Grant Kirkland’s parents buy him t-shirts with edgy sayings from Target. He claims he wears them ironically. You know, the kind that say “Silence is Golden, Duct Tape is Silver”. He mods consoles for fun and dabbles in Ubuntu and Gentoo. He has a ‘mustache’ he has yet to grow out or shave off. He has a print-out of the Anarchist’s Cookbook, Steal This Book and the Unabomber Manifesto (and ignores the parts regarding technology in that one). He believes that the government is out to get him and that FEMA really is planning to put people like him in internment camps. He has picked up some truly unfortunate beliefs from some Subreddits he frequents and he’s always trying to put new content on Imgur. He has said ethnic slurs with the purpose of being edgy or hurtful.
Everyone knows a guy or girl like Grant Kirkland. Nobody likes hanging out with them. But they do need someone to set them straight about certain things. A therapist could do Grant a world of good, or a counselor, or maybe a group of friends he could confide his secrets and fears in. Unfortunately for Grant this isn’t one of those stories that ends with understanding and forgiveness.
It started with trolling the Dark Net for illicit chemical substances because he was doing research on how to use certain drugs to gain an advantage in online gaming (along with a variety of cheats and hacks). Grant found a man who was desperate to offload a package for a bunch of gift cards to Amazon and various companies and he immediately jumped at the opportunity to get this mystery package that the government wanted back. He got three vials, red and blue and green, read the instructions on how to administer them, and waited until his parents went away with the weekend to inject them.
Fabulous psychic powers were revealed to Grant that day. He went to school the next week and when Aaron Burnside told him to move over and give up his table, Grant threatened him with his newfound powers.
Grant got suspended for inciting a fight in the cafeteria and that was when Aaron made him a personal target.
Yes, the Institute is after Grant for injecting himself with a stolen package. That’s not why Grant ran away from home. Grant ran away because of the bullying and the fact that he wasn’t nearly as strong and powerful as he thought he was.
But he’s seen a lot of anime and read a lot about fitness and training online. He knows if he works at this and sticks to the shadows, he can truly come into his own and do some amazing things to bring down the people who tormented him. So for now he does freelance black hat stuff through Craigslist, basing himself wherever he can crash in Nevada thanks to his internet friends.
Health: 24 (Knocked out at 4, dead at -4)
Power Points: 36
Overflow Gauge: 30
Skills: Awareness Master (+4), Hacking Master (+4), Electronics Expert (+2), Calculus Expert (+2), Throwing Weapons Apprentice (+1), Pistols Apprentice (+1), Blades Apprentice (+1), Running Apprentice (+1).
Basic Training: Drive, Tabletop Games, Persuasion, Automotive Repair, Economics, First Aid, Security, Internet Culture, Locksmith, Swimming.
Throwing Knife +1 (1d6+4)
Katana +1 (3d6+5)
Glock 19 +1 AKA fuck fighting honorably I don't want to die (2d6)
Psionic Talents: Telekinesis 3, Pyrokinesis 2, Psychokinesis 2
Equipment: Glock 19, Katana, 9 Throwing Knives, ammo, clips, laptop, backup laptop, third laptop, burner laptop, PT Cruiser, smartphone, burner phone, bag of what might be amphetamines or wet Pop Rocks, 9 tabs of ecstasy, 15 bottles of CRANK IT UP POWER DRINK, 3 ounces of pot, nauseau-relief tablets, 'hilarious' shirts, baggy cargo shorts, flip flops, socks for flip flops, backpack covered in anime patches and con stickers, printed copies of manifestos and handbooks, poster of the HANG IN THERE kitty.
Post 6Original SA post Special Projects: Wild Talents
Psychic powers ain’t free. It’s sad but true. But there wouldn’t be much of a challenge to using them if they didn’t have a price. Here are the three hard, generally unavoidable rules of using psionic talents:
1: You spend Power Points to use them.
2: You must withstand a proportional amount of Drain.
3: Your Overflow Gauge must fill by a proportional amount to the power used.
Unless specified, the Power Point cost of using a psionic talent is generally equal to the level of the talent used. Gonna start fires with your mind and have Pyrokinesis 3? 3 points a pop. For every hour of rest an Esper takes, and that’s complete rest (sleep is a good example but so is vegging out on the couch or relaxing in a holding cell), an Esper regains a flat 10 points per hour.
Drain is nonlethal damage equal to half of the power’s level, rounded down. Drain is at least 1 point. If it would knock you out, you can still fire off the power if you have enough PP then you’ll immediately take a nap. Drain can’t kill you, it can only knock you unconscious. Drain isn’t pleasant, though. It’s fatigue and stress put on your body; nosebleeds, headaches, aches and pains and feeling tired.
Strain is what happens when you don’t have enough PP to use a power. Strain is dangerous. First, it adds onto the Drain cost at the cost of 1 point per every missing PP. Second, it adds to your Overflow Gauge at the rate of total Drain taken+1 . Straining is a last ditch effort for when you’re out of drugs or really need to use that power now.
So what is Overflow? Overflow is what makes Espers more than living weapons; Overflow makes Espers living time bombs. Here is how Overflow and its Gauge work:
1: use a power and a proportional amount of Overflow is added to the Gauge. 1 point in the Gauge for every PP spent.
2: when it fills, you Overload.
3: Every turn in combat where you don’t use a power, your Gauge goes down 1 point. Every minute spent out of combat, your Gauge goes down 6. It would take Player Character Carrie White 7.5 minutes to go from near meltdown to safe.
4: high emotions, some circumstances and certain drugs can add to your Overflow Gauge and that’s actually more dangerous than Overloading from using your powers too much too fast.
When you Overflow, your Esper is no longer in your control. Well, they can make 1 movement a turn to stumble around, but that’s it. An Overflowing Esper takes -3 defense while Overflowing and won’t stop until their Gauge is empty or they’re dead. Overflowing is a complete meltdown of control over psychic power and it’s massively dangerous to every living being around.
1: The Gauge depletes by Will points every round. Concretely, an Esper pretty much always takes 5 rounds to Overflow.
2: Any being within Will yard of the Esper takes Omega damage. Omega damage is (2xWill)d6 damage every turn .
3: Any being 2xWill yards away from the Esper takes (Will)d6 damage a round.
4: Run the fuck away as fast as you can from any Esper Overflowing because their power doesn’t choose between friend and foe. Everything dies.
5: The Esper receives 1d6 lethal damage for every round, not reducible.
6: You don’t get any XP for things killed while Overflowing.
What does it look like when you Overflow? Well, it depends on your highest Psychic talent, or a mix if you’ve got multiples. Telekinetics rip and tear and crush everything around them, Pyrokinetics freeze or burn everything alive and coat the area in flames or ice and Psychokinetics cause heads to explode.
Example time: Carrie White has 9 Will and she’s pushed herself too hard and can’t hold back any longer. Everything within 9 yards of her gets dealt 18d6 damage a round. Everything 18 yards away gets dealt 9d6 damage a round. Carrie herself feels 5d6 for all 5 rounds until she’s empty, but in the meantime her Telekinesis unleashes fresh hell on everything around her.
Or maybe it was emotions that set Carrie off. Emotions are important to an Esper. Rules on emotions are something a GM should play by ear, but they’re not optional. When beholden to extremely intense emotional situations , two things happen to an Esper. First, this can trigger an Overflow faster than using way too much power. Second, this can actually advance their powers. However, these situations shouldn’t happen enough to be common and they should also be natural from the roleplaying and gameplay. What this means is that you can’t just subject Espers to traumatic situations to make them better at using their powers. These aren’t positive emotions either, and mixing drugs and high emotions can result in some real bad shit happening, even if they’re Overflow suppression drugs.
So how exactly does this make them better at using their powers? Well, psionic talents use what’s called the CAPs System. You track how far along you with your power and limits by keeping track of how many little points (called CAPs) you accumulate. High emotions not only cause an Esper to gain a lot of Overflow points at once, but they can also gain multiple CAPs at once! This is called Talent Unlock Burst, and it’s simple:
If the CAPs earned from this ordeal cause an Esper to reach the next threshold of their powers, they get another level! If not, then they don’t get any CAPs at all .
It’s like a bonus scratch box on the bottom of a lottery ticket. You either get something or you don’t. On the plus side, this burst can be used to get levels in Secondary Talents. You also get back PP equal to your Will plus 2 points for every 6 rolled on the Talent Unlock Burst dice. The drawbacks depend on your GM. The boost can be permanent or it can be temporary, and this is a rule your GM should establish at the beginning and stick to. Maybe make it so you can roll or spend something to make it permanent. The other drawback is that the player doesn’t get to pick what levels up, the GM does. They can choose to give you a 1st level in a new Secondary Talent or increase another Talent that would give you a leg up in this situation.
But this is less a drawback when the new power you get from being driven to the brink of sanity is the ability to kill with a touch because your GM thinks it’s appropriate.
NEXT TIME we will go into the three main Talents themselves: Telekinesis, Pyrokinesis and Psychokinesis.
Burn it, move it, think it!Original SA post PSIONIC TALENTS AND YOU: Burn it, move it, think it!
Every talent has a level, and every level adds another power or expands on a further one. You can overcome previous restrictions the more power you get. You can also choose to use a power at a lower level and the previous standards will need to be enforced.
Remote Manipulation: Lift something within line of sight that weights a pound or less. You can use items lifted to do specific things, like knock something off a counter with a lifted glass or try and pick a lock. If it requires a skill to do, make a Skill test. If it doesn't have a specific skill, it's a Telekinesis test. Held items can't be thrown at enough force to hurt people. After the first turn, it costs 1 PP a turn to maintain the hold. You can't take held items also.
Remote Manipulation: You can lift up to 2 items at once and each item can be up to 10 pounds. This costs an attack action to do. Now you can fling stuff as an attack roll; swinging it while held is an attack, throwing it is a movement roll. If it's a weapon, normal damage applies. If it isn't, the GM is encouraged to come up with stats and hazards following a later chart with sample thrown items.
Remote Manipulation: Lift up to 3 items with a max of 100 pounds each. This doesn't include people. You can also fling up to 3 items at once now.
Telekinetic Disarm: Using a Telekinetic attack roll and a Will vs. Strength contest if it hits, you can use your telekinesis to take stuff people are holding or wielding. You can also take jewelry and backpacks but not clothes. Yet.
TK Gunslinger: You can hold a gun with your mind, giving you 3 weapons max if you're dual-wielding. This lets you make an extra Firearm attack per turn at the cost of 1 PP per shot. Reloading all held weapons (either with hands or TK) can be done with TK at the cost of 1 PP.
TK Push: Use your mind powers to deal TK Leveld6 damage per strike and push the target yards equal to half damage rounded down. The push may cause environmental damage to result from hitting walls, objects or the ground.
TK Barrier: Spend 2 points to reflexively increase your Defense by 2 against one attack.
Remote Manipulation: Lift up to 4 objects, 400 pounds each including people.
TK Grab: Hit someone with a TK attack to grab them and stop them from moving. They can still act, so it's dangerous if they have a ranged weapon, but you're holding them in the air off the ground. Dodge is important because declaring Dodge in response makes the grab automatically fail.
You can do some real nasty stuff to a person held with a Grab. Specifically:
Throw: Fling them Willd6 in a direction of your choice. Damage depends on what they hit at the end of their flight, going through weak obstacles without stopping along the way. But at the end of the throw, they're no longer grabbed.
Crush/Rend: Willd6+(Willx2) damage. Target is still held.
And the last is Choke/Squeeze: Willd6 nonlethal damage.
Levitation: Use your powers to pick yourself up and fly up to Willx4 yards per turn. Costs a move action to activate, but every turn maintained after is 2 PP regardless of TK level. You count as one of your held things when you fly and can't be TK Grabbed by another Esper whose level is less than or equal to your own.
Remote Manipulation: Hold up to 5 things at a max of weight of 2000 pounds each.
TK Gunslinger: Hold 2 guns with your mind now, but each shot still costs 1 PP.
Improved TK Barrier: spent up to 4 PP to raise your Defense by up to 4 extra points to reflexively defend against an attack.
Remote Manipulation: Hold up to 6 things that can weigh up to 20,000 pounds each. You can easily use this power to destroy buildings.
TK Blast: Directed AoE TK Push that deals Willd6 damage to everything in Will radius. Calculate the same knockback damage as Push but in a random direction.
Improved Crush/Rend: Up the damage to (Will x2)d6+Willx2.
Improved Seize: Grab can now grab two people as per normal Grab or grab one person and they can't act at all.
Just a reminder: this all also applies to cooling down as much as heating up. The game treats Pyrokinesis as a form of offensive temperature control and elemental manipulation. Whenever I say fire you can just sub in ice with no real problem.
Ignite: make a flame the size a lighter would produce in the palm of your hand or line of sight. It doesn't need a source to manifest and doesn't hurt you. It hits a target for 1d6 damage, and all future variations on Ignite has a rule for extra damage. If the target fails a Speed check, they are set aflame and deals 1d6 per round until they spend a move action to put themselves out with another Speed check. How does it work with ice? Well, I have to imagine that it splatters and sticks to the skin and they're wiping the ice and snow off to get circulation going.
Ignite: 2d6 damage and creates a source of fire the size of a fist. If they catch, it deals 2d6 a turn.
Temp, Temper, Temperature: the Esper can start to manipulate the temperature of people and inanimate things within line of sight but can only be focused on one thing at a time. Succeed a Pyrokinesis test and you can change their temperature Pyrod6 Celsius degrees for every turn spent concentrating. It costs an Attack Action to begin, but maintaining is a move that costs 2 PP each time.
Now, this says it directly affects the temperature of the subject. But frankly that's kinda nonsense; you could easily give people fatal fevers as a result. Here's how I'd spin it: you're upping the temperature of the air or area around the target, making it hot and sweaty or cold and uncomfortable.
For people, every 3 degrees above/below 37 deals 5 damage that can't be reduced by environmental protection armor. When the power stops, they return to normal 1 point a turn. Raise their temperature to 100 degrees and the target instantly dies. Lower it to 0 and for every single point of environmental change below the target takes 5 damage.
For inanimate objects, roll Pyro Leveld6 as per normal and then multiply the result by 50 because otherwise it would take forever to melt metal. The lowest an object can be chilled is -100 Celsius because Psionic Talents can't reduce any temperature below -100.
Heat Shield: the Esper now automatically reduces all heat/cold damage by 10 points to a minimum of 0 and automatically ignores the first 10 degrees of temperature changed inflicted on you each turn.
Ignite: 3d6 hits and 3d6 if ignites and the fire is now a small campfire.
Melt Aura: Spend 2 PP to convert any incoming bullets and projectiles into fire damage by melting the bullets/projectiles. The damage is automatically reduced by your Heat Shield. This power is automatically on when Overloading. Plus, if Pyrokinesis is your highest Talent, this works against all [attacks that hit you when Overloading. This is not an effective power against tranq darts or injection bolts . They either hit the skin and still deliver their payload before melting or the payload ends up becoming aerosolized and inhaled. No matter what, if you're shot with a drug bolt, you still feel the full effect. You could try to do the same thing with ice but...well, it doesn't do anything, I suppose.
Ignite: Sling a 4d6/4d6 bon-fire sized fireball.
Conflagration: Fireballs now have an AoE explosion of Pyro Level yards. Make an attack against a person. If it hits, the ball explodes and anyone around them needs to make a Speed check to avoid getting hit too. If they fail that test, they make a second test to avoid catching fire/getting deep chills and sustaining continued damage.
Improved Heat Shield: It now reduces 20 points of fire damage and resists 20 points of change per turn.
Ignite: A 5d6/5d6 inferno of flames or blizzard of ice.
(In)flammable: The speed check for the primary person targeted by a fireball to put themselves out or not catch fire is upped to a Hard Speed Check.
Temp, Temper, Temperature: After rolling the initial Pyro Leveld6, multiply the total result by 2 to double the amount of degrees of change you can control.
Ignite: Deal 6d6/6d6 per giant flaming hell ball/giant frozen ices of hell ball.
Inferno: Radius of exploding fireballs increases to Will yards for hitting secondary targets. Secondary targets now must succeed a Hard Speed Check to not catch fire or put themselves out.
Master Heat Shield: Reduces 30 points of fire damage. You can't have your temperature altered against your will.
Psychokinesis has one big limitation: it can't affect animal minds, alien minds or inhuman minds. But that's fine, tricking and changing people is the important part.
Read Surface Thoughts: Concentrate as a move action, spend 1 PP and make a PK test to read the surface thoughts of people in line of sight. Requires 1 PP per extra minute of use but doesn't need further tests. Blocking thoughts requires the target to be aware of Psychokinesis and make a Hard Will Check every turn. Thoughts are blocked by language barriers and also are just surface thoughts, memories and emotions are off limits.
Telepathy: You can talk to any person you intimately know anywhere they are, or with any person in line of sight. This is a free action that costs 1 PP per message. If they don't have any Psychokinesis, this is a one way conversation that is also limited by the language barrier. Multiple conversations can be maintained at the cost of 1 PP per channel.
Read Memories: Limited to the last 24 hours. This costs a test and PP per each piece of info you read and what defines a piece of info is up to you and the GM to discuss.
Telepathy: Thoughts, feelings, senses and memories can be shared with a willing subject. The language barrier is gone. The cost is still just 1 PP per message and is one way if they don't have any ranks in Psychokinesis.
Psychokinetic Immunity: you're immune to the Talent if it's used against you by someone with a power level less than or equal to yours. This doesn't apply to the Psychic Scream power.
Read Deep Thoughts: Make tests to find information in their brain up to 1 year ago. You can also dig up parts of their personality, principals, deep thoughts and buried memories.
Improved Telepathy: Now it's two-way.
Psychic Scream: Fuck with a target by broadcasting psychic static at them by making a Psychokinetic attack against their defense. If you succeed, they suffer a negative difficulty modifier equal to your Psychokinetic Level-1 for PL turns. It also increases their Overflow Gauge by 3d6 points.
Master Thought Reading: nowhere is off limits to you now in someone's brain. Difficulty modifiers depend on how old/buried that bit of info is.
The Push: Trick or Command.
A Trick fools a person's eyes if that person is in line of sight, giving them a mental illusion to alter their perception. For example: make a stick of gum look and feel like a flash drive, spin a revolver's chamber and make them see that only one chamber is loaded.
A Command is a sentence that is short and has no permanent consequences. 'Don't shoot' or 'wave your hands in the air like you just don't care' are sample Commands.
The Push can only be used on people you're making eye contact with and who can understand what you're saying. For a normal person, it has a normal cost and is just a Psychokinetic attack. Against other Espers, it's a Will vs. Will contest.
Memory Alteration: Remove, change or add memories to the last 24 hours. This requires 1 minute of unbroken line of sight with unfettered access. Every change requires a Psychokinetic test but doesn't have a cost beyond the activation cost. The target can make a Will check that depends on the plausibility of the change per each change to disbelieve or remember the real memory.
Dominate: Push but meaner. Make a Psychokinetic attack against a normal person's defense. Then make a Will vs. Will contest. Win and they're dominated. A dominated target must do everything the Esper says until line of sight is broken or either party passes out. The complexity of commands can either require Free, Move or Attack actions on the part of the Espers.
Dominated targets get a Hard Will check for every command against their nature or harmful to them. If it's a suicidal/dangerous command or one that would hurt their loved ones, the Will check might be Regular or Easy. But you can absolutely tell a Dominated target to kill themselves.
Remote Control: Pop out of your body, subjugate the mind of a target and pilot them while you take a nap. Requires an Attack followed by a Will vs. Will contest. Each turn in combat costs 2 PP to maintain control or it's 2 PP every minute out of combat. Giving up the target returns you to your body, your target is knocked out or your target is killed. However, if your target is killed, you receive 5d6 nonlethal damage and 5d6 Overflow.
Improved Memory Alteration: Works the same as normal alteration but requires a hour of access to alter in a span of time up to a year.
Improved Psychic Scream: Shoots your scream out in a cone from you that extends Will yards and is PL wide at the edges.
Effortless Telepathy: There is no longer a cost or strain on your body to use telepathy.
Improved Remote Control: You control your body and your target at the same time but everything has a -2 DM and you both have -2 Defense.
Mass Push: Push can now be used on Wits people within line of sight to give them all a single trick or single command. Make 1 roll and compare to each target's defense, costs 1 extra PP, Drain and Overflow.
Psychic Surgery: Change any memory, add or remove any in a victim's life. You can also use this power to brainwash people, alter their moral code and beliefs, implant triggers and commands or create dependant slaves. Psychic surgery has a high possibility of abuse! It can also be used to get the same effects as Dominate that won't wear off when the victim sleeps or leaves your sight. Psychic Surgery requires 1+ hours to use.
So, every Primary Psionic Talent has 3 Secondary Talents. They are:
Telekinesis: Biofeedback, Somakinesis, Necrokinesis.
Pyrokinesis: Entropy, Synchronicity, Magnekinesis.
Psychokinesis: Osmoses, Scrying, Technokinesis.
NEXT TIME : Pick a Secondary Talent Group and I'll review it.
PSIONIC TALENTS CONTINUEDOriginal SA post PSIONICS: PSIONIC TALENTS CONTINUED
So here are some cool facts about the Secondary Psionic Talents. First, they only go up to Rank 4 and you can only start taking levels in them when you’re at least Rank 3 in their parent Talent. On the plus side, once you reach TK/PK/Pyro 3, you can choose to focus on your Secondary Talents as much as you want. Second, they’re very specific in their uses but equally good at what they do. Each group is definitely built to compliment their Primary Talent by, generally, offering you a buff, a utility ability and an offensive ability. This is a pretty big generalization, though; Psychokinesis’ Secondary Talents are a lot more buffing/utility and honestly Pyrokinesis’ feel like a bunch of powers found in the back of a closet.
There is also the question of “just how rare is a Talent”? Well, the main reason that PK, TK and Pyro are considered primary is because they’re the three most common talents. Excluding those and in order from common to rare, the ranking is Osmoses, Scrying, Biofeedback, Somakinesis, Technokinesis, Synchronicity, Entropy, Magnekinesis and finally Necrokinesis. Should this affect your choices of giving them to PCs or availability? Well, honestly, no. For starters, they’re the Player Characters; they’re supposed to be special psychic chosen ones capable of manifesting power greater than their Esper equals. Second, doing that might not really be as fun as giving the players a whole mess of tools and tricks to wield. Talk it over with your players but know that statistics ain’t shit when you’re the GM.
We’ll start with the three Secondary Talents that are well-rounded and pretty handy across the board: the Telekinesis Talents of Biofeedback, Necrokinesis and Somakinesis.
Biofeedback is control over your own body. You are master of your own domain. This gives you healing abilities and some very nice passive buffs. An important thing about Biofeedback: talk to your GM about whether or not you can heal other people with it and if being able to do so would make things less dangerous for the other characters.
Regeneration: Make a Bio skill check as an attack action and if you succeed, you regain 2d6 health.
Life Support: The human body generally can’t go longer than 3 days without water or 3 weeks without food. This power is passive and changes the duration to 3+Bio Level days for water and 3+Bio level weeks for food. Doesn’t sound that hot, but consider how often an Esper is on the run and how often a conspiracy’s secret testing facility is in the middle of fucking nowhere.
Regeneration: Still costs an action but regenerates 4d6.
Detox: You can make a Bio test as a full turn action to delay the effects of poisons, drugs, toxins, alcohol, sickness, etc. for Biod6 minutes.
Fast Regeneration: 5d6 but as a move action now.
Biofeedback Trance: fake your death by controlling your heart and breath. A Biofeedback test can trick an observer but it requires a Bio vs. Wits test in case that observer is a doctor or a mortician really looking at you.
This sounds like a pretty useless ability, but it carries a very handy side effect. Because you can control your heartbeat, you are completely immune to the effects of Necrokinesis.
Ultimate Regeneration: Regain 6d6 as a free action with a test or spend a full turn to regenerate with no test.
Advanced Detox: As an attack action with a Bio test, you can completely purge the effects of things from your body on a success.
Restorative Trance: Regain extra Power Points when you sleep equal to your Bio Level and lose Overflow points per minute of rest equal to your Bio Level. This is a passive ability.
Necrokinesis is the ability to kill with a touch or a look. It’s a deceptive, subtle power. The Esper uses their psychic powers to simply tell a heart to stop beating and it takes effect immediately. Granted, there are certain people immune to this power: other Necrokinetics and Espers with Biofeedback 3 for starters, but I would think anyone with a Pacemaker would also be immune unless a Technokinetic told their Pacemaker to stop working (which I would argue is the same thing). Necrokinesis is the holy grail of offensive power to some Espers and conspiracies, but it does have a drawback: all Drain and Strain sustained by the Esper is lethal damage, not nonlethal.
Touch of Death: For the cost of 6 PP (3 Drain, 6 Overflow) the Esper can make a brawling attack within melee range to touch the target. Because it requires as little as a poke, the target takes -2 defense. Should this hit, the Esper makes an Esper’s Will vs. their Strength contest roll. If the Esper succeeds, the target is instantly killed and drops dead immediately.
Systemic Paralysis: Instead of telling the heart to stop beating, the Esper can tell the brain to lock the target’s muscles to paralyze them for Will turns. This can be used for any Necrokinetic attack at no extra cost as a ‘nonlethal’ option. This isn’t a completely nonlethal one, though. A paralyzed subject can fall to their death or what if they’re driving a vehicle or in a bathtub or myriad other things that their body can do to them from being paralyzed.
Undying: You are immune to the Necrokinesis of other Espers whose level is not greater than yours. This scales and is passive.
Improved Touch of Death: The Esper can add their Necro Level to their Will vs. Strength rolls at the cost of making the power cost 10 PP (5 Drain, 10 Overflow).
Gaze of Death: kill anyone within line of sight, but only one person. Power functions like Improved Touch of Death otherwise for 15 PP (7 Drain, 15 Overflow).
Wave of Death: Target up to Will targets in line of sight at the cost of 8 PP (4 Drain, 8 Overflow) per target. Doesn’t need an attack roll to bypass defense but requires a separate Will vs. Strength test for each target. You can’t add your Necro Level if you’re targeting multiple people.
Somakinesis is the act of using your Telekinesis passively on your own body to increase gravity on your muscles and tissues to keep them toned and fit. You can also alter gravity minutely around your body to give you bursts of speed and strength. A Somakinetic could exist in a 0 G environment indefinitely with no muscle decay or be in perfect bodily health and never get off the couch. You should still eat right, though. Proper nutrition is important.
Muscle Growth: Add your Soma Level to your Strength and Speed. This is a passive ability that scales with levels, can increase your physical abilities up to and beyond the Hollywood Human threshold, and you recalculate your derived attributes every time (increase health, initiative, KO threshold, etc).
Special: the Somakinetic can buy the Bullet Time, Matrix and Too Damn Fast Advanced Techniques.
Power Boost: As an attack action, the Somakinetic can make a test and increase either their Speed or Strength by 2. The power costs 2 PP to activate and requires 1 PP per turn after to maintain, and you can boost one stat then the other next turn, but can’t double down on the same attribute. This can be used to boost your Speed and Strength beyond human limits.
Killing Hands: Your punches can inflict lethal damage if you want. Normally this is passive, on it if you want it to be, but if you’re boosting Strength or adding extra damage from another ability (Lethal Strikes) the damage is automatically lethal.
Improved Power Boost: Boosting is now a Move action as a test, but can only be done on one attribute at a time.
Lethal Strikes: add +1d6 damage per unarmed attack at the cost of 1 PP per attack and the damage automatically being lethal.
Special: the Somakinetic can purchase the Blade Dancer, Impaler and Neck Snapper Advanced Techniques.
Master Power Boost: boosting now ups Strength and Speed at the same time at the cost of 2 PP per round maintained.
Improved Lethal Strikes: Add another +1d6 of damage to your unarmed attacks for 1 extra PP per attack.
Dipping into a little bit of everything if you’ve got high enough Telekinesis makes for a pretty rewarding experience, giving your Esper some well-rounded buffs and benefits complimenting their ability to throw shit with their mind. It really feels like it’s the most square of the Secondary Groups but is also stable and does nothing but add easily accessible benefits to an Esper’s retinue of powers.
Next up , we’ll take a look at the tools of a Psychokinetic because people want to see heads explode more often.
Post 9Original SA post PSIONICS: POWERS CONTINUED
Psychokinetic Secondary Talents
Osmoses is the ability to drain. Specifically, an Esper can drain the power and strength of other human beings and Espers, taking their mental energy and Power Points for your own. Osmoses is notable in that none of the following abilities require a PP cost to drain people but there's still a Drain and Overflow cost.
Power Scavenging: you can devour the lingering mental energy of a recently deceased body as long as it's O-Level hours fresh. An Esper can only get O-Leveld6 points from the corpse before it's empty and nobody else can tap into that body. It's a bit of a gross power and you're probably asking 'why the hell is this a power?'. Well, let's be honest: people are going to die in this game and it's on par with a FPS protagonist chowing down on a whole sandwich left in a trashcan in Rapture.
Power Vision: making a Wits test as a free action will let you see what people around you have PP and roughly how charged they are.
Brain Drain: Make a melee attack (0 PP, 2 Drain, 5 Overflow) against another Esper and you can attempt to grab them and take their PP for your own use. Unless they're unaware, the target gets +2 to their Defense. If you succeed, the target is helpless unless they succeed a free Hard Will check at the beginning of their turn to break free.
The first round of success gives the attacker O-Leveld6 PP and drains the target of that proportional amount. Every round after doesn't require another attack to continue; the attacker can continue until the target is empty of Power Points. However, every round maintained delivers 2 Drain and 5 Overflow to the attacker. Maintaining a Brain Drain longer than you need to can pretty easily result in the Esper Overflowing if they keep rolling low.
If you drain an Esper to 0 PP, their head explodes. The whole process looks pretty much like that picture of Big Boss eating Carrot Top's energy.
Distance Absorption: You can now Brain Drain a single target up to Will yards away. The target no longer gets a Defense bonus because it's just a ranged Osmoses Attack, but the Drain the attacker suffers is doubled to 4 as long as it's sustained.
Consumptive Field: Your draining powers can now effect up to O-Level targets within range. You have to roll to beat each of their Defenses separately, but you only suffer 4 Drain and 5 Overflow each turn maintained no matter how many targets are being drained.
Scrying is a grab-bag of powers like clairvoyance, psychometry and remote viewing. Instead of reaching into other brains, scrying is reaching into your own brain and tuning and adjusting it to view things.
Clairsentience: You can choose to scry on a location you have already visited as long as you're Will miles nearby. Sight or sound alone costs 1 PP (1 Drain, 1 Overflow) per minute to maintain. Both senses cost double that. It takes a Scrying (Wits) Test to view the location and initiating it is a full round action. Awareness can be used to spot specific things while viewing, but accuracy and acuity relies on your own sensory limitations and ability to understand what you're seeing or hearing.
Psychometry: Sometimes when objects are at ground zero for an event, they pick up residual energy from strong emotions making intangible impressions. Espers with Scrying 2 can automatically see the auras of items that carry these impressions and they can view these auras to see what they are recordings of. Touch the item or part of the location you want to get a playback from and make a Scrying (Wits) Test. Then roll Scryingd6 and consult the following chart to find out what you see.
Improved Clairsentience: You now can see a place you visited at a maximum distance of Wits x Scrying Level miles away. You can also use Telepathy or Thought Reading on targets you see or hear while viewing.
Precognition: Whenever you sleep, the GM will make a Hard Scrying test for you. If you succeed, you get vague visions of things to come that may or may not make sense. If you fail, no visions or maybe you might get misleading visions (but not regularly; an outright omission of visions is less annoying to the players than fake information every time). This power is passive and costs nothing and will happen whether you want it to or not.
Epic Clairsentience: You can now view a place you've visited at a maximum range of (Scrying Level x Wits)x 100 miles away.
Mind Scan: You can either find any mind you've previously communicated with telepathically/read the thoughts of, or you read the thoughts of anyone within Clairsentience range. This requires a Hard Scrying (Wits) test and a minute to complete. If successful, you can pin-point the location of this mind or attempt to use Psychokinetic powers on them. You can passively track and locate up to Wits minds within range at the same time.
Prescient Dodge: +1 Defense to any attack of any kind because you've got a permanent spider sense giving you a gut feeling. A handy passive ability.
Technokinesis is the ability to use your mind to interface with machines and technology. This ability can target any electrical system network or computer of significant complexity. If you're after a network, you need to touch something connected physically or wirelessly to the network, like a computer or a router. In addition to using your brain's electrical impulses to manipulate electric signals and machinery, you are also Magneto.
White Noise: with an attack action and a Techno (Wits) Test, an Esper can jam all unshielded communication devices within Will yards for Techno Level+1 rounds. You can keep maintaining this jam for the activation cost for each round past the first.
Magnetic Field: make a Techno (Wits) Test and an attack action, the Esper can create a magnetic field that attracts, repels and manipulates metallic objects up to 1 pound, as per TK Level 1. This lasts Will turns.
Improved White Noise: Jamming now affects all relevant items within line of sight and lasts Techno Level minutes. You have to pay the activation cost as upkeep for each minute after the first.
Improved Magnetic Field: Field now extents to line of sight for 10 pound items. Behaves like TK Level 2.
Psionic Hacking: You can use your mind to hack certain electronic things as long as you're in contact with it. Examples include smart phones, computers, scanners, electronic locks, air conditioners, televisions. Even partially mechanical things like a payphone can be hacked as long as it has electronic components. Succeeding a Techno (Wits) Check against the device's security and spending an attack action lets you break the security to get inside, but telling it what you want it to do might take longer depending on what you want.
Passive Jamming: Jamming is now a move action that extends up to Techno Level miles around the Esper. It lasts for Techno Level hours unless dismissed early and you have to pay for each hour past the first it's maintained.
Powerful Magnetic Field: Manipulate metallic things around you like TK Level 3 but now it's a move action to activate. If you set the field to repel, gain +Techno Level points in defense against physical projectile attacks that involve metal (throwing knives, ninja stars, bullets).
EMP Blast: With a Techno Attack vs. a target's defense, the Esper can permanently fry any one unshielded electronic device that target has. This doesn't apply to cybernetic implants.
Chaff Storm: Jamming field now extends up to (Techno Level x 10) miles.
Master Magnetic Field: You can now manipulate up to 100 pounds of metal items like TK Level 4.
Remote Hacking: You can now Psionic Hack any electronic device in line of sight.
Penetration: Your EMP Blast and jamming now affect shielded items. This includes cybernetic implants. Fun fact: EMP Blasting cybernetic implants will cause a failsafe to activate and they'll explode for 5d6 damage inside of their host.
Osmoses is a pretty good way to keep yourself topped up without having to nap all the time or use drugs, but it's also a good way to Overflow. Scrying is great for bypassing clue-hunting and getting the straight dope faster. Technokinesis is great for being Magneto and the greatest hacker alive. Do they add a heck of a lot to Psychokinesis? Sort of. They add a lot more versatility to find out information and control things, and Osmoses is handy as a defense power, but really part of me hoped for a straight-up Epidiromancer type powerset to inflict some psychic body horror on people. But they're still handy abilities nevertheless.
NEXT TIME: the oddball assortment of Pyrokinesis' Secondary Talents.
Post 10Original SA post PSIONICS: SECONDARY TALENTS FINISHED
Pyrokinesis by itself is the manipulation of temperature by speeding up and slowing down molecules to bring heat or cold. Entropy is the logical extension of that power by using psionic abilities to force molecules to destabilize and break apart. An Esper with Entropy is a dangerous force, capable of manipulating controlled radioactive decay, radiation and systematic destruction. All Entropy powers inflict lethal Drain and Strain when used.
Dust to Dust: An Esper can destroy anything they touch by making an Entropy Test. If they succeed, the object's durability is reduced by 1 Durability per turn the touch maintained at the cost of 1 PP to maintain the decay. They can also cut it off early to leave the object brittle and fragile to break the old fashioned way with a Strength test. Dust to Dust can affect up to 1 Entropy Level cubic foot of material and if the durability is reduced to 0, it crumbles and falls to pieces. With enough time and power, an Esper can destroy nearly anything unless the object is something that doesn't naturally decay or just takes a while to decay (gold, plastic, glass, styrofoam). However, use your head: you've still got your Pyrokinetic powers to fall back on if the government traps you in a room made of plastic, just don't breathe the fumes.
Irradiate: an Esper can use an attack action to use an Entropy attack. If they succeed, the target has to make a Hard Strength test to avoid being irradiated. Irradiation debuffs the target's Strength and Speed by Entropy Level for a hour, changing their health and other derived stats and penalizing any non-psionic attack or skill rolls. The target gets blisters, headaches, singed skin, nerve damage, temporary blindness just like real radiation poisoning, but if they make it a hour the symptoms will fade and there won't be any long term effects.
Improved Disintegration: Dust to Dust is now anything in line of sight, up to Entropy Level cubic yards. Everything else is the same.
Improved Irradiation: the test to resist for the target is now Crushingly Hard.
Atomize: for the cost of 20 PP (10 Drain, 20 Overflow), the Esper can make a ranged Entropy attack against a living person. If that succeeds, they can make an Entropy test. If that succeeds, the target has to make a Crushingly Hard Strength check. If that fails, the target is dealt Entropy Level x 100 damage and is atomized instantly into an ashy smear, residual molecules flying off like smoke in the wind. It's quite spectacular, like a firework, but incredibly obvious.
Also, if you're capable of Atomizing someone, you can't be Atomized. You know how to hold yourself together.
Magnekinesis is using your powers to control electromagnetic fields...but you're not Magneto. That's Technokinesis. No, Magnekinesis is the ability to control the ambient fields around everyone and everything to change pressure fronts and temperature.
It's weather control. Why is this here under Pyrokinesis and under that name? I have no answer. But hey, weather control, fun for the whole family and supervillains too.
Minor Weather Control: 4 PP (2 Drain, 4 Overflow) can let you lightly adjust the weather in a mile around you for 10 minutes with a Mag Test. Raise or lower temperature by 5 degrees Celsius, increase/decrease wind speed by 10 MPH, choose wind direction, make drizzles, flurries, nothing major. It takes a minute to happen.
Weather Control: 6 PP (3 Drain, 6 Overflow) ups the control to 4 miles for a hour. 10 degrees of temperature change, wind by 20 MPH, create or disperse moderate precipitation like fog or snow or mist. It takes 30 seconds to change.
Acute Wind Control: Magnekinesis is all about abilities that can be complimented or enhanced by plain weather control. When an Esper is outside and the wind speed is 20 MPH, you can control gusts of wind precisely up to 60 MPH. This is a move action and costs 2 PP (1, 2) per gust. People targeted by the wind can make an Easy Strength test to stay on their feet or hold onto what's in their hands. Unattended stuff might go flying, period.
Gust Shield: When the wind is 20 MPH hour, you can use the wind as per TK Barrier with a normal activation cost to protect you from physical attacks.
Greater Weather Control: 10 PP (5, 10) for control up to 25 miles for 6 hours. 20 degrees of temperature change, alter the ambient wind up to 50 degrees faster or slower, create violent storms or weather conditions like pouring rain or a blizzard. Takes 10 seconds to manifest.
Gust Control: Works just like Acute Wind Control but the Strength check to oppose gusts is now a normal test.
St. Elmo's Fire: When the Esper is outside in a storm they created, they can paint targets for lightning to hit. To call down lightning, it costs 5 PP (2, 5) and requires a Mag Attack. If it hits, the target is knocked prone, they drop everything and get dealt 10d6 damage from getting struck by lightning .
Windrider: Fly the winds when you make a storm. You can move Will x 4 yards per move action. Every move action costs 2 PP (1, 2).
Stormbound: The Esper no longer suffers penalties from Weather Conditions.
Legendary Weather Control: 15 PP (7, 15) for 24 hours of created weather within 100 miles of your creation. Change the weather by 40 degrees, make winds up to 100 MPH or reduce them, do whatever the fuck you want. Hell, create hail that hurts your enemies. This degree of weather control can destroy buildings, bury towns in floods or snow, kill people from environmental exposure you're immune to. It starts to get the ball rolling the moment you succeed a Mag test but fully manifests after a minute.
Improved Gust Shield: Use Improved TK Barrier with the wind when the wind is 60 MPH.
Ride the Lightning: summon a goddamn tornado when you're in a storm you made as long as winds are higher than 75 MPH. Costs an attack action and a Mag test to make the tornado and can be controlled and moved as a move action. The tornado lasts Will turns and anyone near it has to make a Crushingly Hard Speed or Strength check to not get sucked in. People in a tornado are held and unable to do anything for 1 round before they're ejected 10d6 yards in a random direction. Damage falls on the TK Fling chart and tornados can also fling vehicles. You can also fly around in your own tornado with full control.
So. We had weather control and the ability to force things to decay to powder. How about the ability to control fate, that kinda...makes sense too, right? At least the book fully admits that Synchronicity doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense as a Pyrokinesis talent but who knows, maybe it's because the Esper is using their power to influence and destabilize a system too. Sync can't reroll Psionic Attacks or Tests or any damage unless the power says otherwise.
Synchronicity doesn't have a picture. Frankly the power feels like a last minute addition.
Good Luck: With a Sync (Wits) Test, the Esper can cause a minor random or pseudo random thing to resolve in your favor if it's in line of sight. Whatever it is, it's small , like a car stopping for you or a light holding for longer or someone stepping in the way of the people chasing you. It can't save your life, save the day, hurt people or do anything remarkable or amazing.
Probability Sense: the Esper can, as a Free Action to make a Wits Test with no PP cost, know the exact probability of any given event. The GM can calculate an answer for you or just give you an indication if it works but you have to be able to directly or indirectly observe some of the determining factors for the event's resolution.
Lucky Break: as a Non Action, the Esper can make a Sync (Will) Test. If they succeed, they can reroll one test, check or attack that missed. You can only reroll one per turn and only reroll one thing once, ever.
Improved Lucky Break: You can now use your Lucky Break on allies as a non-action and cause an amount of rerolls up to your Sync Level per turn, but any test can only be rerolled once.
Master of Chance: You don't need to make a test to reroll any of your failed rolls, just pay the PP cost to reroll.
Twist Fate: as a Non Action, the Esper can use Lucky Break on an enemy...but to make them reroll a successful test, attack or check. This eats into the same pool of rerolls for you and your allies. If an enemy fails the reroll, some wild, contrived coincidence causes them to fail. An enemy can only reroll one given roll once.
So destruction, destruction...and rerolls. Not a very even bunch of Secondary Talents, compared to the flexibility of the other groups and the investment cost into Pyrokinesis. But they're far from useless. Even normal weather control can be used to help put the environment in between you and your enemies by controlling the playing field.
And, of course, atomizing people is rad as hell.
NEXT TIME: the equipment chapter. Or, more specifically, I will be ignoring pretty much most of the mundane equipment and focusing on all the drugs. So get your rasta hats and your Sum 41 mix CDs because everyone must get stoned.
Post 11Original SA post PSIONICS: THE NEXT STAGE OF HUMAN EVOLUTION
"The Armory: Weapons, Drugs and Equipment" or "On the memo line, it says 'For Drugs, Yo' and it's signed 'John Travolta'."
The equipment section is divvied up into melee weapons, ranged weapons by type, throwing weapons, explosives, gun accessories, body armor and of course drugs. There's a brief history of the different types of weapons, and interestingly it uses real world guns like Glocks and UMPs and proper ammo types. It also plays a little on the realistic side; guns have different rates of fire, you need clips to hold bullets for guns, so you have to buy them and that's basically how many reloads you have at the ready etc. Aside from that, it's really not that remarkable. A lot of stuff isn't included simply because players are allowed to pick things that a character would realistically have. So clothes, cell phones, laptops don't have any prices and don't require a purchase, you just write it down on your equipment. Keep in mind that Espers are often on the run and stuff like that is fleeting and may not be kept for long past character creation.
Armor is simple: leather jackets, flak jackets, 4 types of body armor, helmets, riot armor. Armor does not add to defense and has speed restrictions when worn. All armor does is flatly reduce damage for melee or ranged down to 1 point of minimum damage and may only cover certain areas. Espers don't necessarily need to have armor at all from the get-go because they're ostensibly relatively normal people.
Finally, getting stuff. Weapons have two prices: Picks or Price. Price is just a flat money cost, but Picks are only available from having ranks in certain skills. Having those ranks gives you the opportunity to have certain weapons or amounts of weapons that reflect your level of ability. Apprentices get 1 pick, Experts get 2, Masters get 4. So an Apprentice of Blades can start with 1 Small Knife. An Expert can start with a Fire Axe, a Combat Knife or two Small Knives. A Master can begin with a Katana, two Fire Axes, two Combat Knives, Four Small Knives, etc.
But the drugs and medicines are the most important part of this whole chapter because Espers are extra sensitive to drugs. The effects a drug has on an Esper's brain also affects their abilities and powers, and a lot of Espers self-medicate or partake to keep themselves going or mellow themselves out. Drugs are divided into Real World Drugs and Medical/Psionically Active Drugs.
Let it not be said that they didn't do their research because each category of real world drug carries the physical effects and long term effects of drug use. This is mostly for roleplayers so they can know how these drugs affect people, but they're also there to remind you that long term drug use may not be good, may not be bad, may or may not be necessary but what's definite is that drugs can have long-term consequences . They're enhancements but you're playing a bunch of desperate teens and this may seem like a good idea at the time, but if your Esper survives to middle age there could be consequences.
However, let's put aside the whole drug talk aspect and focus on the mechanics. I'm not totally sold on the system they have in place. Drugs can give PP or remove Overflow, or add Overflow, or they can have other effects. Maybe they work best for popping them in the middle of battle, or after the Espers have had a long day but need to keep going, but remember: Overflow empties completely if you have a few minutes to cool off. Some of them work as they are (Narcotics do, definitely, to me) but Marijuana doesn't really do much besides be Better Caffeine that is illegal and harder to get. My advice? Modify and change the effects of some of these, homebrew it a little. I personally think Marijuana would be better if instead of removing 3d6 Overflow, it just insulates against the accumulation of the next 3d6 points of Overflow. That offers a much better temptation to the players for me: be able to use your powers more and get some points back to do that at the cost of being high and all that entails.
I'm not about to sit here and explain what every damn drug is, but here is some clarification. Non Narcotic Stimulants are drugs like khat, cold medication, nicotine, edible bath salts, edible meth. Opiates are drugs like heroin, opium, oxycodone and other painkillers. Entactogens are basically ecstasy.
Now we're getting into the fake drugs! I wasn't able to be an insurance salesman in real life (long story, but never be an insurance salesman) but I sure as hell can be a pharma rep for a tabletop RPG. Also, all of these drugs are not available for public sale or might even be tricky to find through a dealer. Some of these you'll only find in buildings or labs associated with the conspiracies.
Nairlophine is a non-narcotic anti-inflammatory painkiller. It reacts with the body like a toned-down amphetamine that causes sweating, an increase in pulse and light blood pressure increase.
Taramine is issued to police and the military by prescription in certain kits. It's an anti-inflammatory and a synthetic opioid. It's addictive and it causes dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision and nausea.
Adrinol is incredibly dangerous and it's not outside most development labs. It's the combat drug equivalent of PCP, stupidly addictive and removes the pain of the user's wounds while installing a feeling of invulnerability and inability to feel pain. It also causes increased aggression, psychotic breaks and disassociation.
Dametrol is developed by Abraxis Biotechnology (a major conspiracy). It's
addictive and they distribute it to their Espers for their use, never for public use. Short term effects are seizures, debilitating headaches, nosebleeds, bruising, anemia and tremors. Long term use might lead to brain cancer.
Pretarine is another Abraxis drug. It's also not for public use. This one causes headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting and muted emotions.
Hyper is a street drug developed by the Zodiac Order. It's dangerously addictive and normal people like it as much as Esper. And they've intentionally leaked it for users. Hyper is like ecstasy on ecstasy, bringing sensory hallucinations and feelings of invulnerability along with sweating, enhanced libido, increased body temperature, nosebleed, increase in energy and aggression.
Light is another Zodiac drug that is available to normal people. It's a psychedelic that causes the user to feel like pure energy free from their mortal form. It also causes wakefulness, tremors, decreased appetite, nausea, insomnia and long term use can cause brain damage and neurological disorders that behave like dementia, schizophrenia and loss of brain function.
Epinephrine is adrenaline! For real! Jamming that in the leg of an Esper is a good idea! Remember Crank? Yeah, that stuff. You can also easily find it in an Epi-Pen. It's handy stuff, but remember, it can have an adverse reaction. This can include palpitations, panic attacks, tremors, headaches, anxiety and irregular heartbeat.
Pentamerol is good for when you need it. When you don't? It's a hellish nightmare. Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, constipation or diarrhea or both, dehydration and headaches are par for the course. The only thing worse than the feds taking you down with drugs is shitting yourself because of it and having to sit in it while you're bagged and tagged.
Taramine is liquid taramine. It has the same side effects.
Dametrol is the same thing as pill-form dametrol.
Ephemerol is a good idea on paper but it requires the Overloading Esper to get injected with it. So, y'know, good luck entering the Omega Zone to do that or shooting them with it. It messes with the inner ear and causes dizziness, slurring, impaired hearing, auditory hallucinations, wobbly balance and impaired hearing.
Anteronar is a dick move in liquid form like someone managed to bottle Necrokinesis cut with an Overflow. It causes teeth grinding, altered blood pressure, elevated pulse, irritability and aggression. And that's just the short term effects that
"Overload immediately and possibly have a heart attack from it". This is ostensibly used by Espers as an OH SHIT tool but I can easily see some incredibly callous suits using it to immediately ruin a bunch of Espers at once and maybe get some innocents killed in the process.
Now, PPECs and PPID. PPECs are the drugs that are used to give normal people psionic powers. Both come in injection form (PPIDs can be distributed by aerosol): PPECs are translucent and colored by name, PPIDs are dark liquids with faint sheens of color. They are guarded by the conspiracies that need them or want to reverse engineer them. An Esper can use any PPEC to get a level in a power they didn't have any access to or to get more CAPs to grow in power, but the Overflow is a definite danger. For normal people, they have to make a Hard Wits or Hard Will depending on what's lower. If they fail, they can never be an Esper and these drugs have dangerous side effects for normal people.
BLUE causes muscle spasms, nausea and aching along with involuntary Telekinesis for 1d6+1 hours. RED causes fever, sexual arousal, perspiration, salivation and involuntary Pyrokinesis for 1d6+1 hours. GREEN causes nosebleeds, headaches, synesthesia, hallucinations and involuntary mind reading for 1d6+1 hours. Put the strain of these side effects on a normal person, and death may not be likely but suffering and long term side effects may be.
"Speak No Evil" SPNE901 causes muscle weakness, fatigue, drowsiness, numbness and dizziness along with inhibition of Telekinesis. "See No Evil" SEENE902 causes a fugue state with numbed emotion up to feeling no emotion in addition to inhibiting Pyrokinesis. "Hear No Evil" HNE903 drugs the subject into incoherency and impaired mental capabilities while suppressing Psychokinesis. Finally, "Abyss" I10013 causes excruciating headaches, partial/complete blindness or deafness, dysphoria, nausea and intense vertigo. Worth noting is that for SPNE, SEENE and HNE is that the player gets to decide what gets inhibited if they have multiple talents under one tree and that inhibiting the parent talent doesn't affect the secondary if the Esper has them. PPIDs are almost exclusively used by the conspiracies to incapacitate psionic talents and keep Espers in control while they have them in containment, but here is something very important to remember: PPIDs cannot inhibit or prevent Overflows from happening should they happen. An Esper in captivity may lose hope, may be worn down and rebuilt as a tool for a conspiracy, but all it takes is one really bad, traumatic, shitty day to give the Esper the chance to break out, fight back and escape their captors.
Which. Uh. Happens a lot. It should happen to your players too if they get caught. Unfortunately sometimes the conspiracies are too cruel for their own good and they forget just what they're dealing with.
NEXT TIME: uggggggggh combat rules my faaaaaaavorite. Alright, at least this chapter has art. Here, have some art to make up for the equipment chapter not having any.
Post 12Original SA post PSIONICS: THE NEXT STAGE OF HUMAN EVOLUTION
Incident Report: Combat Rules
Ugh. Rules. Lame, am I right? What say we turn our baseball caps backwards and do this the fun way?
More seriously this is a pretty standard d6 system and a lot of rules were established earlier with the different checks, so. I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this.
Combat is divided into rounds that last 10 seconds each round. 6 rounds is a minute.
Initiative is 2d6+Speed. Ties mean that the people who tied do their stuff simultaneously; even if one dies from the other's mind powers, the dead character's gun will still go off. You can only change your initiative by using and having the Reposition Technique, which lets you alter your initiative per round if you want.
If you have the element of surprise, or get jumped, whoever has the element of surprise gets a free turn without enemy intervention.
By default, characters who want to act must take a move action and an attack in that order or give up one of them. This is why the Blitzkrieg Technique is kinda damn important: with it you can attack THEN move or double-move. You get free actions within reason.
Movement: You can move up to your speed in yards. Characters with blitz can move double that but not attack. Tracking movement really isn't important to the authors and recommend using movement for narrative flavor; position is more important to them. If you want to use a hex mat, go ahead, but they're not demanding you do that. I did that for a while when I played Pathfinder Society. It was annoying.
Attack: Attack. The Frenzy technique can used to be a double-attack at a -2 penalty for each one.
Some other things that cost a movement action and or an attack action:
And finally, reactions are different. They happen outside of turn progression and if you have the technique that lets you bust out a reaction, you can choose to.
Dodge is very, very handy.
Now, outside of these basic combat rules, things get much more complicated. Are the rules optional? Kinda, yes. There's rules for doing less damage when you're outnumbered and where grenades are scattered but I'll be honest: the game kinda encourages you to play fast and loose with what feels right. If you want to go for a cinematic style, then just do what feels right and let some of these rules fall by the wayside. I will not be listing stuff like weather effects or the other more in-depth rules, but! Here is the list of melting points and object health to get an idea of what I'm talking about.
Let's talk about one big problem I have with this game: healf.
When a character is at or less than half health, they take -2 to Strength and Speed until they recover. Dying characters are at 0 health, lose 1 health per round until they die or are stabilized, can only attack or move per turn and can still act as long as they're not Unconscious. You can't enter a dying state from nonlethal damage, it just reduces you to 1. Unconscious characters fell below their Knockout Threshold and take a nap for 10-Strength hours (min 1) and wake up with +1d6 health regained. The GM should play fast and loose for waking up from naps because there's a good chance that the enemy of Espers will be fighting to knock them out or sedate them. Dead is dead. Taking more than Strength x 4 damage in one blow causes the recipient to miss their next turn.
To heal, rest for 8 hours without doing anything to regain 2d6 health. Taking an entire day off and relaxing will net you 6d6 health for the day. Biofeedback is clearly a faster way to get healthy.
So here is my problem with the health system: nonlethal damage is pretty much the same as regular damage except you pass out from nosebleeds and headaches until you pick yourself back up. Now, look, I'm used to nWoD's bashing/lethal damage system and I played Pathfinder for a few months and that had different tracks for nonlethal damage and lethal. But these seem to pretty much be the same, and they regain at the same rate. What this means is that whenever you use your powers in combat, you're casting from hitpoints and they're a pretty big commodity. And on top of that, there is functionally no difference between Drain and Strain. If I was to run this, I'd definitely track them separately and let them recoup from nonlethal faster but not...super fast. Maybe 3d6 for every 8 hours of chilling, or maybe I'd just make it so over the counter drugs can undo or suppress nonlethal damage or smoking a blunt or popping pain pills can help you feel better. I mean, if using drugs is such an important part of the themes of this game, then I kinda really need a reason for my Esper to do more drugs!
Anyway. Advanced Psionics Rules:
Telekinetics can catch thrown objects by paying the normal cost to pick up the item and then beat a Hard Speed TK Test. If they succeed, they grab the item and become the new holder. Fail and cost is spent and the item hits you, but subtract your TK level from the damage because you slowed it down a little.
And here's a little something called a TK Showdown or Mental Combat. This takes place between two Psychokinetics of any level, or two Telekinetics within 2 levels of each other trying to grab each other. Whoever initiates starts the clash and the recipient can choose to accept it and confirm the clash. This doesn't apply to Pyrokinetics because they're all immune to temperature control to a certain extent.
Each participant writes down their Breaking Point, which is a number between Will and Will x 10. If you win the competition, you take damage equal to half this number if you win, bidding the minimum damage you'll receive.
The initiator Builds Up by rolling dice equal to their PK/TK level. This costs PP and Overflow equal to the amount of dice rolled. If they're out of PP, there's no backing out. They either have to pay 1 health per missing point of PP or take 1 Overflow, their choice. The initiator then shows the receiver how much Build Up they've generated.
The receiver Builds Up and responds.
Whoever has their Breaking Point exceeded first takes damage equal to the
amount of accumulated Build Up their enemy generated. The winner takes half their Breaking Point damage.
[R]Evolution: Character Advancement
There are two ways to enhance an Esper's ability: CAPs and Experience Points. EXP is that stuff a GM flings at you when you kill a man, do a thing, win a fight, eat a computer, drive a carton of milk, etc. Do I really need to explain this? No I do not. Here are some charts.
The following Techniques can only be bought once the game is in motion. You can also use Technique Picks to get beginner Techniques. Which you should. Go get Dodge.
CAPs are only available naturally (outside of drugs) through two ways. The GM should pick which one applies at the beginning of the game, or both:
1: Every time the Esper uses any power, they get a CAP of the appropriate color.
2: Every time the Esper uses any power in a MEANINGFUL WAY, they get a CAP of the appropriate color. A meaningful use is to take a risk, further a goal, do something they wouldn't normally or to advance the story.
Using a Telekinesis power nets you a Blue CAP, a Pyrokinesis power gets you a Red CAP and Psychokinesis gets you a Green CAP. Whenever you reach a threshold amount of CAPs determined by your highest level Psionic Talent in that field, you can immediately increase any Talent a level up to its max level or learn a new Secondary Talent as long as the Primary is Level 3. Then you erase the CAP total and start collecting again.
This is why using a bunch of PPECs to enhance your CAP totals or experiencing heightened emotions that cause turmoil can be incredibly helpful but incredibly dangerous. The same way to increase your power is to exercise and get better over time, but there's always crossfit and steroids to get that kick you REALLY need.
There's also an alternate advancement system for CAPs that I like quite a bit because it's a touch more predictable and your Red Bull-fueled nightmare breakdown may not have given you enough CAPs to enhance everything, but hey, you can use that to learn the first level of Somakinesis.
And a friendly reminder: you can never naturally learn or unlock anything related to a Primary Talent you don't have naturally. That requires a PPEC to jump-start it.
NEXT TIME: Enemies! Enemies everywhere! Trust nobody! Nothing is true, everything is permitted!
Post 13Original SA post PSIONICS: THE NEXT STAGE IN HUMAN EVOLUTION
The Eternal Storm: Setting and Conspiracies
Okay. So. I think this section really should have come before the example enemy/statted NPC section because it has information on the conspiracies and the setting. This is all GM-only hush hush stuff, but it's relevant stuff.
There are six conspiracies main conspiracies, from most to least powerful.
The Institute: an American-run conspiracy of scientists and federal agents who operate America's secret pro-Esper shadow government.
Abraxis Biotech: an amoral international investment group producing drugs for Espers and attempting to control the global market on psionic drugs and transhuman enhancements.
Zodiac Order: a free-wheeling Esper-supremacy group made up of independent cells working together to take down the people who want to oppress and exploit Espers.
Red Orchesta: an ultranationalist underground Russian organization formed after the Cold War dedicated to dominating the West and making Russia great again.
Aleph: an Asian business conglomeration trying to steal the secrets of psionic drugs from other parties.
Eschaton: a loose bunch of extremists and zealots tied together by various Abrahamic religious organizations who are attempting to kill all Espers.
The Russians developed the first effective serums for bestowing psychic powers back in the 1930s. America discovered this in the 1940s immediately after World War II and put together a think-tank of German scientists, American scientists, federal employees and propagandists to beat the Russians at their own game. By the 1970s, America's scientists had succeeded in two things: creating power-enabling drugs through MKULTRA and Project Stargate, and making both projects look absolutely incompetent and abusive to throw the public and the rest of the government off of their trail. Soon the Soviet Union fell and America had the upper hand in the Esper business.
And then the campaigns of misinformation backfired when a decision by the federal government shut down Stargate and got rid of the funding after MKULTRA's files were disseminated to the public. It would have ended there but the leaders of what would become the Institute weren't too happy about that.
The heads of the Institute, at the time, were used to Cold War politics and were firm believers that controlling psychic technology would allow America to have an unparalleled edge on the global stage. So they went rogue and went underground, like Majestic 12 would in comparison to Delta Green. The Institute operates out of CIA-C, ConTech, DARPA, DIA and the NSA (with their headquarters "centered" in Fairfax county, VA) and they claim to be the puppeteers with the real power behind the White House and US government. They have access to the depths of the military industrial complex and intelligence community, operating out of connected cells. The Institute nudges foreign policy to their advantage, marks rogue Espers as threats for the FBI to capture and tap phones and medical records. They're incredibly powerful.
In America, they use police, FBI and private security contractors as their dupes when they can't use a cybernetically-enhanced super agent. In America, their best operatives can flash a DEA, DHS or ATF badge to go anywhere. In America, they have secret testing compounds in Wyoming or occupy temporary residence in land seized by eminent domain. But the rest of the world has its own secrets and plans, and they desperately want the Institute's drugs, especially after the Institute started reverse-engineering Abraxis' drugs and made them better. An American Esper should either try to leave, or get ready to fight to for their freedom.
ABRAXIS BIOTECH, aka The Company
Alex Devareux is a clinically diagnosed narcissistic, sadistic sociopath. He discarded the test results with a sardonic laugh and had the doctors who ran the test killed, had their families killed and had the results buried. He is also the man behind many powerful decision makers who work for most pharmaceutical companies, MI6 and Germany's BND. He helped put them in power with his business savvy, familial connections and money and his vision for a future. Alex wants to see a megacorporation rise to power where it can sell a transhuman revolution to anyone who can afford it, to make a company that can make people sick and dependent and sell them the cure.
If the man doesn't already have an island mansion he owns, and the island on it, I'd be very surprised. It's stated his dream is to have immortality and an army of loyal clones.
So when he discovered the drugs that the Institute had created and some leftover notes from Russia, he started the Yggdrasil Program. The Yggdrasil Program's intent is to explore the limits of biotechnology and psionic capability with the help of human test subjects, willing and unwilling. The ultimate goal of the project is for the science to be 100% safe for Alex to try himself. And it would work too; he has psi-potential.
Abraxis' role in the world is to be the pushers and multinational alternative to the Institute. The Institute is discrete, professional. While Abraxis doesn't really exist as a corporation (it's more of a group or conglomerate), they have advertising and marketing departments to make themselves look good. Sleek angles, black SUVs, shiny body armor and clean white labs are all part of the Abraxis brand. The company uses private military grunts for defense and their Yggdrasil graduates for top operations and protection. The company's money is more than good enough to keep anyone from considering going anywhere else, from a pudgy rent-a-cop in a security booth to a newborn Esper being approached by an Abraxis representative.
On top of all that, Abraxis successfully reverse-engineered the Institute's Lot-19 to make RED, BLUE, GREEN, PPECs, PPIDs and other fun drugs. However, Lot-19 just gives any levels in any power (translation: 1d6+1 points to put in anything). Abraxis' equivalent...doesn't do that well. It gives +1 rank in Telekinesis and Psychokinesis (and the bases are later covered with RED, BLUE and GREEN shots). However, anyone who injects Melatropine (code-named PURPLE) to check for psi-potential must make a Strength test. Succeed and the Esper suffers from permanent transitive delusions and hallucinations that come and go from neurological damage inflicted by PURPLE's neurotoxic components. Fail and, uh, heart attack is the least dangerous side effect. PCs created by PURPLE are assumed to have succeeded and have mild pseudo-schizophrenia.
ZODIAC ORDER, aka The Cult
The Zodiac Order is an American organization that hates anyone who would abuse or exploit Espers. Their complaints are legitimate, they have a pretty good cause, but the fact of the matter is that they don't have nearly the same manpower or resources of their enemies. So the Zodiac Order uses guerilla warfare, drug sales and the media to gain supporters and use raids to get resources and Espers to help them. The Zodiac Order are sexy punks, hipsters and rebels who have a good reason to fight. And they have their dark side.
Jeremy Bright, their leader, is an enormously powerful Esper and force of charisma. The Institute has a bunch of project leaders and politicians, Abraxis has the dreams and business savvy of Alex Devareux. They don't really compare to Bright. Bright created the Zodiac Order as a force of Esper supremacy, fully believing that Espers are meant to inherit the Earth on the backs of dead humans and collapsed society. He's turned his personality, his experience and his apocalyptic visions into a resistance group The front of the Order (besides the band Tomorrow's Starlight) is the Ayn Sof religion, a youth-oriented neo-Kabbalistic religion mixed with the business strategy of Scientology. It's a hipster targeted towards disaffected white kids and rebels with the purpose of bringing them in and testing them for psi-potential. Anyone who can become an Esper is inducted into the Order proper and is given training in guerilla combat and their growing powers from whatever teachers they have at their beck and call. Anyone who can't is kept in Ayn Sof as a useful idiot or fodder and they keep regurgitating the lies of the religion to them, promising power and enlightenment and fully planning to use them as dupes.
The Zodiac Order operates by keeping Espers together in cells in America. Cells organize Ayn Sof events, concerts, get-togethers as distractions and uses them as smokescreens for their real goals. On top of that, they have underground chemists enhancing certain street drugs to bankroll their goals, in addition to reverse-engineering Institute and Abraxis drugs from the small amounts they have stolen. Independent Espers are most likely to be approached by the Zodiac Order casually or in a liberation raid. They'd love for Espers to join them, but know it's not guaranteed and just don't want them to work for the other groups.
Abraxis, the Institute and the Zodiac are the three main players. The book recommends not playing them as out-right evil, which is kinda hard! I mean, I know I sure didn't do a good job making them sound even remotely good, but GMs are encouraged to try to make them some shade of dark grey.
The Institute has resources, reach and vision but it needs more people with stronger moral convictions in charge and to stop treating its test subjects the way they do. It needs to be more lawful than evil.
Abraxis plays things generally pragmatically and wouldn't hoard their biotech, but they're not going to give it out for free and while they're innovative their alternative drugs have side effects and the safe stuff is for Devareux.
The Zodiac Order is presented as pretty good in the fluff stories and I like the fact that they're the Brotherhood of Mutants with a net presence and the Cult of Magneto and drug-dealers to make them less unambiguously good.
The other three groups are either much more decentralized than the top conspiracies, or incredibly focused on one area or field. They shouldn't be underestimated, though. Except Eschaton. I would completely underestimate them by way of replacing them with a better conspiracy, they're the absolute worst and weakest and a pretty big misstep in this game.
THE RED ORCHESTRA, aka Matryoshka
Russia did its big works in the field of psionic technology and medicine back in the 1930s up until Stalin slashed funding and made research in parapsychology forbidden. The ban was lifted in the 1960s, but American spies and the passage of time put the Red Orchestra behind its western counterpart. The Nomenklatura were desperate to catch up and after the fall of the Soviet Union the Red Orchestra went underground. If you think the Institute is ham-handed in wanting to protect American freedom through Esper dominance, well they don't have anything on a spiteful Russian organization. Their goal is to rebuild the Soviet Union on the back of an Esper army, reclaim the lost land and get revenge on the west for winning the Cold War and stealing their research.
Red Orchestra acts as an international spy ring with headquarters centered in Moscow. The officials, top agents and moles in the FSB, GRU, Acron Group and Eurochem operate in Russia and Eastern Europe. The rest of their main agents are called Receivers scattered in countries all over the world. Receivers are sleeper agents who operate in single member cells to monitor and track Esper activity. Receivers are conditioned to be paranoid and watchful and to act on coded messages sent from Moscow. Many of them have been in cover so long they don't know that Red Orchestra is a rogue organization. Beyond that, Red Orchestra will gladly hire mercenaries, use GRU agents or funnel guns to the Russian mafia and tell them to do them a favor.
Red Orchestra has become justifiably secretive of their chemicals, but they're all on par with the Institute in addition to mind control chemicals and drugs that inhibit the subject's ability to think for themselves.
ALEPH, aka The Megacorp
Aleph is a secretive group that operates out of Qingdao Pharma Group, China's Ministry of State Security and Japan's National Diet. They operate on the same level as Abraxis and compete directly against them in the Asian market, making them bitter enemies to a group that doesn't really know much or care about them. Aleph has very good control in Asia and the Pacific, but the other continents have minimal Aleph penetration thanks to the paranoia of Red Orchestra, Abraxis and the Institute.
Aleph values infiltration, social manipulation and anonymity in their operations. The group is run by 12 anonymous directors on a board who use modulators and silhouettes on video screens to communicate. One director doesn't know the identity of any of the others. Their employees are either hired muscle from Triad or Yakuza who have been recruited and reconditioned, or quiet, polite people with backgrounds in espionage and medicine who get hired into groups to work from within.
What are their goals? It's hard to say, but it really seems to just be "make money". They're making good progress and are roughly on par with Abraxis when it comes to chemicals and compounds, but there's no overarching goal for Aleph besides dominance in the international market. But then again, every director likely has their own goal or interest they're working for, and one director doesn't speak for all of Aleph.
ESCHATON, aka The Inquisition
All of the other groups either want to free or control Espers. Eschaton wants to kill them. Their big goal is to avert the apocalypse the Zodiac Order (or, well, Jeremy Bright) is working towards, protecting mankind from extinction. Unless an Esper is willing to commit 100% to that mission and join them, they'll kill them. Eschaton works out of the Catholic Church with help from the Jesuits, religious Zionists and Mossad.
Eschaton is different inasmuch as they don't really have much in the way of resources. Occasionally they can nudge a group of religious extremists or fundamentalist zealots one way or another. All Eschaton can really do is pick someone, train them and let them loose. And because Eschaton was not founded by the church, just a few people inside the Catholic church work with it, if one of their hunters get pinched they're often written up as someone with delusions of religious conspiracies and left to rot.
That's, uh. That's really it for Eschaton. No major power or resources to speak of, just some people they gave guns to and told to watch the news for signs of the Devil's work.
NEXT TIME: actual enemies and more powerful enemies that work for the various conspiracies.
Post 14Original SA post
If they wanted to have shades of gray, they shouldn't have made the Abraxis guy such a sociopath. That's like Saddam territory. Why not just make him Steve Jobs like everyone else does.
For better or for worse, with all that entails. Not everyone survives the shots...
PSIONICS: THE NEXT STAGE IN HUMAN EVOLUTION
The Eternal Storm: Setting and Conspiracies
The roster of enemy NPCs is pretty short and sweet, giving a handful of law enforcement types, regular folks and a few sample conspiracy enemies. I won't be listing many of the stats for these guys, so I'll just give you impressions.
Police Cop: General 4-5 in attributes, good at clubbing, pistols and punching. Cops come with Blitzkrieg, Point Blank and Dodge. They come with a Glock, a night stick and a cruiser with a shotgun and maybe body armor. The Police Cop NPC nets 20 XP and represent troopers, deputies and your average rank and file lawman. They're not fancy but they come in numbers.
Veteran Cop: Way more likely to use unnecessary force than a regular cop, the Vet has a 4-5 stat spread (6 in Wits) and comes with specialties in intimidation, rifles and pistols, even packing a 1911 with hollowpoint ammo, shotgun and body armor. They come with Boom! Headshot, Kneecapper and Point Blank, built to be more offensive than a normal cop. The Veteran Cop is either a hot-shot detective or an experienced cop who is ready to be a hero, the lieutenant mooks that net 30 XP each.
SWAT Officer: Packing 5-6 in stats, heavy hardware and body armor, Apprentice in all weapons and plenty of flashbangs, teargas, beanbag rounds and other big guns, the SWAT Officer is ready for battle. SWAT Officers come in squads and each officer has a different weapon, but packs the skills to pick up a fallen weapon and use it. Boom! Headshot, Dodge and Blitzkrieg round them out for techniques. They're very dangerous for an Esper simply because they still have some human limitations and SWAT Officers know how to take people down hard and fast. Espers do have an edge in their powers, though; at the end of the day, they have no defenses against their more dangerous powers and net 50 XP.
Elite Police Sniper: Snipers are very, very dangerous and are built around the one shot one kill idea. They're Masters with rifles, have Boom! Headshot, Longshot and Sniper. They may operate alone, but getting to them is a problem. Even if you can, their 7s in Will means that it's gonna take some real work to get them to turn their lethal abilities against other officers; you're better off just taking them down however you can. Police snipers are big threats because ingame they're designed to be dangerous and should be used lightly against players. On the other hand, that 75 XP bonus is mighty tempting...
Federal Agents: Not as combat-oriented as the rest of the police, they're built to investigate. They have a lot of tools to get through locked doors, track and follow Espers and keep on the heels of the PCs. When all else fails, they're good with their pistols, bringing Dodge and Point Blank to the party. They carry a 40 XP bounty and the knowledge that you just killed a government employee and all that entails.
PEOPLE YOU'RE LIKELY TO MEET IN AN INSTITUTE LAB
Emergency Services: Well, okay, they're not working directly for them. But ES technicians are someone you're going to run across and them taking you to a hospital for treatment is just one step closer to captivity in a cell. They can also be reskinned to be firemen. They don't come with much combat ability besides Clubs, Brawling, Blitzkrieg, Dodge and Batter Up. Fighting or killing them might be a necessary evil, or it might just be a cruel thing you have to do. They only carry 20 XP.
Orderly: Orderlies know how to wrestle and grapple, which is a problem in addition to their 6 Strength. Aside from that, they carry sleepy night-night drugs and know how to throw a punch well but only know Counterattack. They can be bullies or they can just be following orders, but an Esper is definitely going to end up fighting an orderly at one point or another. Orderlies are worth 20 XP.
Doctor/Scientist: Probably the people you're going to want to fight. Smart types have 8 Wits and 5 Speed and everything else is ehhhh. They have Blitzkrieg and Dodge but they don't have many fighting options besides grappling and using sedatives. But these jerks are going to be experimenting on you a lot, and they're worth 30 XP each.
Security Guard: The rent-a-cop type with okay attributes, Critical Attack, Point Blank and no lethal weapons most of the time and a baton. They carry a 20 XP price and they're really just there to patrol, tazer people or guard a door.
ASSORTED CRIMINALS AND OTHER PEOPLE
Gangsta Thug: Some punk in some gang packing a Saturday Night Special, a knife, a good right hook and maybe an uzi. Strong and quick but not smart, 20 XP and kind of a pushover compared to your average Esper but never alone. What makes them dangerous is that they come with Blitzkrieg and Frenzy, attacking often (albeit with reduced accuracy).
B&E Specialist: a hacker/cracker criminal type who used to boost stolen appliances but has since gotten a better education under a corporation or group. They're good at getting in and out, cleaning up loose ends and taking what they shouldn't, bringing Blitzkrieg, Dodge, a good skill and stat spread and lots of toys to the party for 25 XP a pop.
Highschool/College Students: They come in four delicious flavors and net 20 XP each: Frat/Jock, Studious/Academic, Stoner/Slacker, Juvie Offender/Punk. There's not much to them.
Institute Agent: a slick government agent with a black suit, type 4 body armor, tranq gun, silenced pistol and suppressed H&K UMP, inhibiting and healing drugs and plenty of toys to tie someone up and transport them. They come with 8 Wits and good stats in everything else, Blitzkrieg, Boom! Headshot, Point Blank, Kneecapper and Dodge. The Institute sends these agents (coming from any division of the government) to collect Espers and bring them in peacefully or by force. Some of them even have cybernetic implants to help them. They would prefer to use the tranquilizers, but if they sign the right papers the gloves can come off and they can shoot to kill. Institute Agents generally operate alone but alone doesn't mean reinforcements aren't far off. They net 130 XP.
Abraxis Mercenary Squad: A lot of Abraxis footsoldiers are ex-PMC who got a way better offer from Abraxis. The money keeps flowing if they do what they're told. They come in squads in three flavors, each with a good spread of training: pointman, rifleman and sniper. They're as well equipped as a SWAT team, they come with good stats and skills, Blitzkrieg, Critical Attack, Dodge and Point Blank. Everyone packs a taser, but only the sniper has a tranq weapon. Everyone else is loaded for bear and not afraid to kill cops if a job goes south. Everyone in a mercenary squad comes with a 80 XP bounty and operate in squads of 4-12 with the possibility of one of them having extra training to be a commander.
Zodiac Order Disciple: Coming hot off the CIA spooks and megacorp boots for asses is...a normal person who has been lied to. Disciples have no psi-potential and are given a gun and a knife and told what to do. The promise of getting a PPEC shot is a hell of a drug in itself and they come with average stats, Blitzkrieg and Frenzy. Really they're just an upgrade to the Gangsta Thug in equipment but that's it, they only get you 20 XP.
Red Orchestra "Receiver": Receivers are bad news and good at hiding and hunting. They've undergone conditioning by a handler and receive updates from encrypted messages and telepathic messages, reporting what they know and waiting for the order to act. When the time is right, the Receiver plans out an attack and executes it with pragmatic efficiency. They come armed to the teeth and trained in a lot of skills, Ambidexterity, Boom! Headshot, Counter Attack and packing paralytic drugs and the means to get around with a subdued Esper. They only operate alone and carry a XP bounty of 125.
Aleph "Sleeper": A Sleeper is a corporate chameleon. They're invariably demure, polite, quiet men or women from China who keep their head down and help diligently. Sleepers are sponges who absorb everything around them and bring the information back to Aleph and meticulously observe and filch what they can. They're not the best at fighting (Blitzkrieg, Dodge, silenced M9, good pistol skills) and would rather lie or act their way out of a dangerous situation so they can call in an Aleph mercenary team in to tie up loose ends. Aleph mercenaries are the same as Abraxis mercenaries, stat-wise. You want to nip a Sleeper in the bud fast and net that 55 XP bounty. They act alone, maybe with another Sleeper seeded in another department they can fall back on.
Eschaton Witchfinder: ugggggggggggh. 90 XP bounty, armed with a sword, shotgun and molotov cocktails along with Blitzkrieg, Dodge, Boom! Headshot and Frenzy. Nasty pieces of work who monitor for Esper activity. Then wind them up and watch them go after Espers in a berserk frenzy.
Institute Psi-Operative: Take a well-trained operative and give them good training in all fields along with good stats and Dodge, Kneecapper and John Wu Special. Then give them Pyrokinesis 2 and Telekinesis 4 (or lose Pyrokinesis and give them Psychokinesis). The Institute Psi-Operative excels with using multiple guns at once and being damn good at being a force of destruction for their controllers. Most Psi-Operatives are used for top-secret, deniable jobs, espionage and assassination. If they're called in to go after a rogue Esper then they're not fucking around. Taking down a Psi-Operative gives 140 XP.
Yggdrasil Program Prodigy: The YPP took to the high-flying mercenary life like a fish to water after they were offered a very generous deal by Abraxis. The drugs gave them TK 3, Biofeedback 1, Soma 1, Psycho 3 and Osmosis 1. Their training (and Somakinesis) gives them very nice stats, very good training in throwing weapons, automatic weapons and blade fighting along with Blitzkrieg, Bulls Eye and In The Face. YPPs don't go to America just in case the Institute pinches their wunderkind, so mostly what they do is bomb around Europe and the rest of the world being troubleshooters who make mad bank. YPPs dish out 190 XP.
Zodiac Order Acolyte: These are the guys with the psychic powers and they're not subtle. Acolytes are packing good stats, Batter Up, Blitzkrieg baseball bats, Remington 1100s and Uzis along with Pyro 4 and Psycho 2. Acolytes are nomads and outlaws who trawl parties and concerts for people with psi-potential and give them hits to see how they react. If they survive and manifest power, cool, new friend. Alternately, they're who the Order calls in when they can confirm that a conspiracy is trying to extract or take an Esper into custody. Acolytes come in small numbers and are generally lead by a more experienced lieutenant, their cells working alone and worth 120 XP per Acolyte.
Red Orchestra Mindbender: A Mindbender is very bad news, packing 9 Wits and Will. They're incredibly dangerous; TK 2, Psychokinesis 5, Scrying 3. Mindbenders recruit and train Espers in Moscow and rarely leave Moscow. They're utterly loyal to the Red Orchestra and their entire job is to systematically break down and rebuild recruits with Psychokinesis. Besides that, they've very good with guns and drugs and torture and worth 200 XP.
Aleph Reality Hacker: Reality Hackers are very smart and possess a talent most Espers don't. They come with Psychokinesis 3 and Technokinesis 4. A Reality Hacker is a nightmare to their enemies, a skilled mind-hacker and tech-hacker that lays low to do their business and supports mercenaries. They hit hard and ride off into the sunset with all the secrets they can carry. In a fight, they kinda suck with just Blitzkrieg, Dodge, MP7 and Speed 5 for running away. They carry 120 XP to payout to whoever takes them down.
NEXT TIME: the inhuman enemies resulting from experiments. And soon, the end of the book! It's almost over, but it's been fun.