by Gary Astleford
For those of you who wish to use such "powers" in your games, you should consider this as an option. It by no means indicates that such powers actually exist. However, the existence of ESP, telepathy, psychokinesis, and the myriad of other questionable abilities in popular culture should be kept in mind. There are many movies and novels, both non-fiction and fiction, which can be used as a resource for this sort of phenomenon (the movie Scanners comes to mind, as does Stephen King's novel Firestarter).
These rules were originally devised as a "hard and fast" way to categorize psychic abilities for a scenario I ran. There is no reason that they cannot be modified to fit personal tastes or experiences. Use your best judgment.
In the game I ran, the three NPCs who possessed these remarkable powers were escapees from the CNS facilities in Germany. [Mockery's Note: CNS is the Center for Neurological Studies, a subsidiary of Genetic Designs International.] I felt that I couldn't properly reflect on their abilities without inventing some new statistics for them to utilize. These are explained in detail below.
This statistic measured how early a subject had been introduced into the experiments. All first generation subjects were clinical failures - they displayed no psychic activity, though many were prone to satyriasis and nymphomania as a result; most subjects were released. Starting with the second generation of experimentation, the processes started to show results. By the fifth generation (the last battery of experimentation, assumed to be the apex of ability, ended in late 2019), subjects began to show disquieting abilities, which eventually caused the experiments to be suspended.
Generation is typically a number between 1 and 5. It represents the power available to a chemically altered subject - the higher the generation, the more psychic potential the subject will display. As far as game mechanics are concerned, assume that the highest skill level in any psychic talent is equal to the psychic's Generation stat times two.
Power, for all intents and purposes, is the "tenth attribute." It starts out at the subject's unmodified Generation statistic, but can be raised like a skill with an IP multiplier of 4. If the subject wishes to employ a psychic talent, he adds his Power to his score in that talent as well as the results of a 1d10 roll and compares it to a difficulty number. If the result is equal to or higher than the difficulty, the effect is successful.
These are the skills a psychic uses to do his tricks. They are all rated as normal skills, with a rating between 1 and 10. Levels of skill in Psychic Talents is restricted depending on a character's Generation. There are five documented talents: Cryokinesis/Pyrokinesis, Read/Block, Precognition, Telekinesis, and Injure/Kill. They are detailed below.
This is the ability to manipulate temperatures. The base difficulty is modified by range and area of effect.
EFFECT Base Difficulty Drop/Raise Temperature by 1-10 Degrees Fahrenheit 5 Drop/Raise Temperature by 11-25 Degrees Fahrenheit 10 Drop/Raise Temperature by 26-50 Degrees Fahrenheit 15 Drop/Raise Temperature by 51-100 Degrees Fahrenheit 20 Drop/Raise Temperature by 101-250 Degrees Fahrenheit 25 Drop/Raise Temperature by 250-??? Degrees Fahrenheit 30+
Note that psychics adept at Cryo- and Pyrokinesis aren't immune to their own powers.
This is the ability to read (or scan) someone's thoughts, as well as preventing your own thoughts from being scanned. The base difficulty to read someone is the target's COOL attribute times 2.5 (round up), modified by range. The total for this ability is also added to his own COOL times 2.5 when resisting a scan. Example : Liza wishes to keep Fred from scanning her thoughts. Her Cool time 2.5 is 18. Her Read/Block talent is rated at +4. Fred will have to roll over 22 (18 + 4) in order to read her thoughts.
A sixth sense, which grants those skilled in its use a glimpse of things that may or may not occur. Results from the use of this talent are usually fuzzy at best, but they can give the psychic an edge in some situations. Generally, the psychic chooses a target - a person, place, or object. He then decides how far into the future he wishes to search for information on that person, place, or thing. Modify the base difficulty by the range of the person, place, or object.
EFFECT Base Difficulty Predict Person/Place/Object's next 1-30 seconds 5 Predict Person/Place/Object's next 31-60 seconds 10 Predict Person/Place/Object's next 1-10 minutes 15 Predict Person/Place/Object's next 11-30 minutes 20 Predict Person/Place/Object's next 31-60 minutes 25 Predict Person/Place/Object's next 2-10 hours 30+
Such predictions must be very specific. The psychic can query, "Which card will be drawn from the deck next?" or "Where will this man be in twenty minutes?" Of course, answers can be as clear or as fuzzy as the GM wishes them to be. The future is never set in stone, and the psychic can choose to interfere with the outcome of his prediction if he so wishes. Psychics with exceptional talent in Precognition are excellent gamblers who rarely, if ever, lose.
This is the ability to move objects with one's mind. The base difficulty is modified by range and area of effect. An object can be thrown a distance in meters equal to the Telekinesis Talent's level, but a to-hit roll must be made using a second POWER+Telekinesis roll. Figure any damage based on the object's size and weight.
EFFECT Base Difficulty Lift/Move Something that Weighs 1 kg. or less 5 Lift/Move Something that Weighs 2-10 kg. 10 Lift/Move Something that Weighs 11-25 kg. 15 Lift/Move Something that Weighs 26-50 kg. 20 Lift/Move Something that Weighs 51-100 kg. 25 Lift/Move Something that Weighs 101-250 kg. 30+
A specialized form of Telekinesis, it is used to alter the structures of living things. With this Talent, a psychic can pinch nerves, cause strokes, collapse lungs, burst organs, rupture blood vessels, or cause cuts and scratches. Of course, the more invasive the attack, the harder it is to accomplish.
The base difficulty is modified by range to target. The Injure/Kill talent can never be higher than a psychic's Telekinesis talent.
EFFECT Base Difficulty Pain - No damage, but causes a stun/shock roll at -1 5 1d6 Damage - Cuts, Bruises 10 2d6 Damage - Deep Lacerations, Minor Internal Damage 15 3d6 Damage - Severe Internal Damage and Bleeding 20 4d6 Damage - Major Internal Damage 25 5d6 Damage, Stat Reduction - Heart Attacks, Strokes 30+
Use of Psychic Talents
It is important to note that using a Psychic Talent takes a lot of concentration. A character using a Talent can do nothing else, and must concentrate on his task. What's more, by spending more time concentrating than normal, a psychic can reduce the difficulty of a Talent by -1 per turn spent concentrating, up to a ceiling of -5 to the difficulty number. The power will not manifest until the psychic is satisfied that he has concentrated long enough. The psychic is unable to perform any task other than concentrate, and is extremely vulnerable. Also note that standard difficulty modifiers apply (see CP2020 pg. 42).
Concentration is difficult to maintain, and even a slight disturbance will break it. If something occurs that might cause a psychic to lose his concentration, he must roll a save against his COOL. The GM should decide the save's difficulty depending on the circumstances. If he fails, his concentration is broken and the power does not manifest. Sample incidents that may call for a roll are listed below.
INCIDENT DIFFICULTY Sudden loud noise, gunfire Difficult Explosion Very Difficult Psychic hit, nudged, or pushed (no damage) Easy Psychic takes light wound Average Psychic takes serious wound Difficult Psychic takes critical wound Very Difficult Psychic takes mortal wound Impossible PCs are arguing/kibitzing (if psychic is a PC) Average
Range and Area of Effect
Use of these powers is limited by range and, occasionally, by area of effect. The closer a psychic is to his target, the easier it is to perform the selected task.
RANGE DIFFICULTY MODIFIER Touching - 1m. -5 2m. - 10m. 0 11m. - 25m. +5 26m. - 50m. +10 51m. - 100m. +15 101m. - 250m. +20 251m. - 500m. +25 501m. - 1000m. +30
Area of effect for Talents that may require one (ie, Cryo- and Pyrokinesis) is equal to a one meter diameter area. For every extra meter of diameter, add 2 to the total difficulty. For example, if Liza wants to cause a 5 meter area, centered on her, to drop in temperature by 20 degrees, she must roll above a 13 (10 Difficulty Base - 5 for range, +8 for expanded area of effect). Voila! Instant air conditioning.
Starting Psychic Talents
Characters who are newly enhanced begin at whatever Generation the GM sees fit, depending on the power level of the game he wishes to run. Starting Power is equal to the character's initial Generation, and can be raised with attribute points (if the character is being generated from scratch), or raised with experience with an IP multiplier of 4. Psychic Talents all begin at +2. These can be raised with freebie points (if the character is being generated from scratch), or raised with experience with an IP multiplier of 2.
In the original scenario where this system appeared, each of the psychics in question was deficient in a particular Talent. It was impossible for them to gain any skill whatsoever in that particular Talent. The psychic NPCs each had different strengths and weaknesses, which made their individual strategies different, and gave the pursuing PCs something new to react to each time. It's the GM's prerogative whether or not to place any restrictions on Psychic Talents.
These rules are designed to be simple and easy to use. There is much more that can be accomplished with them than what I've done. Psychic powers are not a normal occurrence in my games. They've only ever occurred once, and it was one hell of a surprise to all the players involved. It was a very good game, though, filled with lots of suspense and action.
My suggestion for those of you wishing to use these rules is to remember that there are no rules when it comes to unexplained phenomena. There's no reason someone couldn't be born naturally with such powers. The restrictions and rules in this file are based solely on the GDI-sponsored research conducted by the CNS.
Make them your own.