Friday, 11 April 2014

Simple Psionics: Wild Talents and the Psychic Class

The recently published The Complete Vivimancer contains an appendix which describes a simple system of psionic powers. I included these rules because several of the new vivimancer spells in the book grant the ability to use psionic powers, either temporarily or permanently. I didn't want to just assume that everyone using the book already has a set of psionics rules which they use (one of the goals of the book was, after all, that it should be complete in itself, without reference to other rule books), so I wanted to include a simple system which could be used in lieu of a full psionics system, should the referee desire it.

I've used this kind of system in games in the past, and its simplicity and speed at the table has been a pleasure, especially when compared to some of the more esoteric psionics systems which exist (AD& 1e anyone?).

The psionics appendix in The Complete Vivimancer is only referred to by a few spells, but it's the kind of appendix which can easily be used as the basis for a wider system of psionics. Here are some ideas.

Wild Talents
Some characters possess a natural talent for psionics, whether it be due to genetics, happenstance, mutation, or exposure to weird energies. Such characters, known as "wild talents", are not true psionicists, but have the ability to use a single psionic power.

Several methods can be used to determine whether a PC is a psionic wild talent:
  • Sum INT, WIS, and CHA.Roll under this value on d%.
  • Roll under highest mental attribute (INT, WIS, or CHA) on 1d20.
  • For particularly alien or gonzo campaigns: all PCs have a wild talent!

If a character possesses a wild talent, the player should randomly determine which power is known, rolling on the chart in Appendix I. A wild talent may be used once per day.

Option: for really wild wild talents, roll each morning to see which power the character may use that day.

True Psionicists
While wild talents have a knack for the psychic, other characters have trained this innate ability to a much higher degree, making it the focus of their adventuring careers. Here's one such class, statted up for Labyrinth Lord.

The Psychic

Requirements: None
Prime Requisite: INT and CHA
Hit Dice: 1d4
Maximum Level: None

Psychics are characters who have developed psionic abilities which can help them during adventures. Depending on the powers they use and the society they come from, psychics are sometimes known by names such as: seers, clairvoyants, telepaths, empaths, and so on. They are able to learn the full range of psionic powers, and devote most of their time to developing their psychic abilities. Some psychics are naturally gifted, while others may belong to a guild or academy where psionic powers are taught.

Due to their focus on perfecting the mind, psychics have limited combat ability. They use the magic-user saving throw and attack progression charts, and can only use leather armour and simple weapons: club, dagger, dart, hand axe, light crossbow, short sword, sling, quarterstaff.

A psychic with 13 or higher in both prime requisites gains a +5% experience bonus. An INT or CHA of 16 in one prime requisite grants the full 10% bonus. Note that, as psychics have CHA as a prime requisite, they are able to raise that score during character creation via point swapping.

Psionic Powers: A psychic knows a number of psionic powers dependant on his level. The player can choose which powers his character knows. The number of times a psychic's powers may be used each day also depends on his level.

Psychic Burn: In times of desperation, when he has used his psychic powers as many times as is allowed in one day, a psychic can draw from deep psycho-physical reserves in order to activate a psionic power. This is known as psychic burn. It can be performed by a psychic only once per day, and results in the immediate loss of 1d4 hit points. If only a single point of damage is inflicted by the psychic burn, a saving throw versus spells must also be made, with failure indicating that the psychic permanently loses one point of CON or WIS (50% chance of each).

Reaching 9th level: Upon reaching 9th level, a psychic may establish an academy where he teaches his skills to students. The psychic will attract 1d6 apprentices, who are of level 1d4.

Psychic Level Advancement Table
The table lists the experience points required for each level, along with the Hit Dice, known powers and uses per day. Uses per day is global, not per-power. So, for example, a 1st level psychic may know the telekinesis and psionic blast powers. She may choose to use either power once during the day.

  1. 0 XP, 1 HD, 2 known powers, 1 uses per day.
  2. 2,201 XP, 2 HD, 2 known powers, 2 uses per day.
  3. 4,401 XP, 3 HD, 3 known powers, 3 uses per day.
  4. 9,001 XP, 4 HD, 3 known powers, 4 uses per day.
  5. 18,001 XP, 5 HD, 4 known powers, 5 uses per day.
  6. 36,001 XP, 6 HD, 4 known powers, 6 uses per day.
  7. 72,001 XP, 7 HD, 5 known powers, 7 uses per day.
  8. 150,001 XP, 8 HD, 5 known powers, 8 uses per day.
  9. 300,001 XP, 9 HD, 6 known powers, 9 uses per day.
  10. 450,001 XP, +1 hp, 6 known powers, 10 uses per day.
  11. 600,001 XP, +1 hp, 7 known powers, 11 uses per day.
  12. 750,001 XP, +1 hp, 7 known powers, 12 uses per day.
  13. 900,001 XP, +1 hp, 7 known powers, 13 uses per day.
  14. 1,050,001 XP, +1 hp, 8 known powers, 14 uses per day.
  15. 1,200,001 XP, +1 hp, 8 known powers, 15 uses per day.
  16. 1,350,001 XP, +1 hp, 8 known powers, 16 uses per day.
  17. 1,500,001 XP, +1 hp, 9 known powers, 17 uses per day.
  18. 1,650,001 XP, +1 hp, 9 known powers, 18 uses per day.
  19. 1,800,001 XP, +1 hp, 9 known powers, 19 uses per day.
  20. 1,950,001 XP, +1 hp, 10 known powers, 20 uses per day.

Note: I'm going to compile this kind of extra bonus material, along with contributions from others on the subject of vivimantic magic, into a free PDF entitled "From the Vats" -- coming soon! If you have any ideas for a submission, please get in touch!

1 comment:

  1. Nice. I have been playing around with some revised psychics for my own games.


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