Psi Revamped

11 posts / 0 new
Last post
Limited Reagent Limited Reagent's picture
Psi Revamped

Might as well post this up now. It's not getting any better sitting on the cloud.


Keep psi thematically the same — just cognitive informatics (for chi), and brainwave manipulation (for gamma). I.e. no telekenesis or stuff like that. That is left for psi-epsilon.


I'm going to assume that psi as a whole balances its general benefit (being able to use it in any biomorph right away) with its general drawbacks (morph acclimatization and ever, lowered trauma threshold, automatic disorder, vulnerability to exsurgent virus infection). The sleights themselves are generally balanced against High cost mods (as they cost the same CP/Rez), with a caveat that modifier stacking can be extremely good and is worth quite a bit. All in all, I'm not worrying terribly about balance (which is why some helpful comments would be nice). I simply want the sleights to seem worth their cost.

One specific thing I wanted to accomplish is making the psi-specific sleights (those that only affect other psi effects) generally more useful, especially adding in some non-psi capabilities.

Note the changes are made with a houserule my group uses in mind: Speed is capped at 2. Therefore, a sleight like Unconscious Lead has to be able to hold its own because its ability to stack Speed (it's best benefit normally) is gone. If you want to use these with the normal Speed rules, you'll probably want to change Unconscious Lead and maybe Time Sense.

General Changes

Psi Assault is merged into Control, leaving just two Psi Skills.

Close range as WIL ÷ 5 meters is replaced with a variable range per sleight, generally longer, like WIL meters.

Temporary duration is WIL ÷ 5 turns/minutes is replaced with a variable duration, generally longer, like WIL minutes or WIL ÷ 5 hours.

Sustained durations can impose some other penalty than –10 to all actions — specifically, sustained sleights that already have drawbacks often don't have any other penalty.

Strain is still generally 1d10 ÷ 2 (round up) + modifier, but it sometimes is SV instead of DV, generally for combat sleights.

Psi-Chi Sleight Changes

Ambience Sense: unchanged

Cognitive Boost: Merged into Qualia.

Downtime: Technically the sustained downside is now the fugue-state, no penalty. Not that it matters.

Emotion Control: Now explicitly gives some of the same bonuses as emotional dampers, that being a +20 to Deception Tests.

Enhanced Creativity: Also grants +10 bonus to tests for having an idea.

Filter: unchanged

Grok: unchanged

High Pain Threshold: unchanged

Hyperthymesia: Specifically is as good as eidetic memory, now plus the ability to recall details only glanced at like a mnemonic aug can do.

Instinct: unchanged

Multitasking: Now grants two extra complex actions to match with the cyberware.

Pattern Recognition: unchanged

Predictive Boost: unchanged

Qualia: Had Cognitive Boost merged into it, so it can be activated to grant +5 to COG or INT, or both if activated twice. Duration now Temp WIL ÷ 5 hours.

Savant Calculation: unchanged

Sensory Boost: Duration now WIL minutes.

Superior Kinesics: Has an active mode with 1d10 ÷ 5 – 2 DV strain, duration WIL minutes, Quick action, which grants a +30 to Kinesics.

Time Sense: Now works like a mental speed augmentation and can be sustained indefinitely with no additional penalty. Can also slow down sense of time for minor benefits like going without sleep or boredom, or staying very still for long periods of time. Finally has a passive benefit of gaining a perfect perception of time.

Unconscious Lead: Now sustained with the downside of overriding the conscious mind. Now deals SV strain. Now grants not only +1 Speed, but +10 REF and +1 Initiative.

Psi-Gamma Sleight Changes

Alienation: Renamed Disrupt Proprioception to avoid confusion with resleeving alienation. Skills is now Control since Psi Assault is gone. Duration is Temp WIL × 2 minutes. Excellent Success now explicitly doubles duration and a crit doubles penalty.

Charisma: Duration now Temp WIL × 2 minutes.

Cloud Memory: Duration now WIL minutes. XP recordings now explicitly clouded as well.

Deep Scan: unchanged

Drive Emotion: Duration now WIL minutes

Ego Sense: Range now WIL meters. Duration now Temp WIL × 2 minutes or Sustained at choice.

Empathic Scan: Raneg now WIL ÷ 2 meters. Duration now Temp WIL minutes or Sustained at choice.

Implant Memory: Can explicitly grant circumstantial bonuses where the implanted memory would help.

Implant Skill: Duration now Temp WIL ÷ 5 hours.

Mimic: unchanged

Mindlink: Duration now Temp WIL × 2 minutes or Sustained at choice. Can now temporarily change a target's mind so that they can communicate up to WIL meters distant, though it causes 1d10 ÷ 2 DV strain to the target. This effect lasts WIL × 2 minutes.

Omni Awareness: Range now WIL × 2 meters. Duration now Temp WIL ÷ 5 hours.

Penetration: Now Automatic action. Now grants 3 AP and –10 to target defense per +1 DV. Max is now based on Control since Psi Assault is gone.

Psi Shield: Renamed Mental Bulwark to better reflect changes. Now grants +10 to all unwanted mental manipulations including coercion, torture, and psi. Still grants the psi armor. Finally, the sleight can be learned twice, stacking the effects.

Psychic Stab: Strain is now SV instead of DV. Skill is now Control since Psi Assault is gone. Base damage is now 2d10 instead of 1d10 and the target is shocked (no armor included in shock calculation). Now explicit that MoS of 60+ grants +10 damage, just like normal attack.

Scramble: Merged with Static.

Sense Block: Duration now Temp WIL minutes. Skill is now Control since Psi Assault is gone. Now can add in more sense to affect, each extra being +1 strain. Crit explicitly shuts off sense entirely.

Static: Has passive and active mode. Passive is Scramble but it also applies a –30 penalty to brain scans etc and a –10 to all psi rolls against the async. The active effect is the original Static but also adds another –10 penalty to all psi rolls and grants WIL ÷ 5 psi armor to the async. Finally, when active, whenever the async's mind is digitized the copy is hopelessly corrupted.

Subliminal: unchanged

Thought Browse: Nwo, after touching the target, the sleight can still be used to browse thoughts up to WIL meters away. Now the opposed test must be made only every action turn, not for every item.

Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
I've been throwing this at my

I've been throwing this at my group and telling them to look at it. It's a brilliant rewrite and every game should have it. It makes Psi simultaneously useful (there is no useless sleight with this), thematically fitting, and actually accessible without pouring ridiculous amounts of Rez into it for very limited returns. That you made Psychic Stab into something actually viable is particularly impressive.

I tip my hat to you, friend.

[@-rep +1, f-rep +2]

Zsander Zsander's picture

I'll have to hold on to this revamp for my own use in games; the streamlining of Psi DEFINITELY makes it easier and more accessible for player and GM alike.

"There is the world of light and the world of darkness. And some in the world of light prefer the darkness."
— Loren Eiseley, 'The Night Country'

Solar Solar's picture
Fantastic set of tweaks there

Fantastic set of tweaks there LR, I'm just about to start running a game and when I do I'll definitely be using your updated selection of psi-abilities. As Axel said I particularly like that Psi-Stab is now actually useful and dangerous, as opposed to being a bit underpowered. You'll still be better off with a big ol' gun of course, but it does open up options.

Limited Reagent Limited Reagent's picture
Thanks for all the positive

Thanks for all the positive feedback. I actually haven't had a chance to playtest any of this since my current EP game is on hold. I'm really curious how well it works out, so anyone using it please do tell me how it goes.

Oh, and for convenience's sake, here's a googledoc of a full write-up of the revamped psi.

Joe Joe's picture
Devil's Advocate

Looks like you got some good positive feedback so...

I have one big concern:
It's very difficult for a non-psi to defend against psi except to get out of range or kill the psi. Thus:
1) What happens if the character has a Wil of 40? Lots of the abilities blow up into some serious breakage in the character's favor, especially in the confines of a space habitat.
2) What happens when an exsurgent Psi has a Wil of 40, and the GM is playing it smart? TPK: The exsurgent can kill or influence all non-psi characters into doing what it wants in order to disrupt/kill the party, then infect any Psi-characters remaining, all while retaining full cover so that the party can't affect it back. (I'm a psi-psychotic maniac within 40 meters of you in a jungle and know everything you're doing as you do it. Come find me! Tee-hee, tee-hee-hee!)

I think that these changes have their place, and that if you want to have a Psi centric campaign where the characters cooperate to walk all over non-psi NPC's, this would be very cool. Or if you want to make the exsurgents super bad. But to me, this pushes the game into a D&D / Shadowrun type world where Psi (magic) is a well researched and well understood alternative to technology, and is the focus of the character(s) concept and their interaction with others (which is basically playing as the exsurgents), instead of something which is in its infancy, and which is widely feared, reviled, and unknown.


Limited Reagent Limited Reagent's picture
Can you point out any

Can you point out any particular problem, Joe? Because I'm personally not seeing anything more problematic than what can be done with tech. All I can see is that psi can now actually be a reasonable choice in comparison to technological solutions (the point of the revamp, in fact). So I can't answer (1) or (2) until I have a better idea of what you see what would cause a TPK, any more than a particularly smart NPC could use tech to do so.

As for your final point, that it changes the mood of psi in the game, I'm not seeing it at all. In fact, greater capability for something in its infancy (which it still would be, since I've changed no fluff) would make it even more feared and reviled.

Joe Joe's picture
2x scenarios

Limited Reagent wrote:
Can you point out any particular problem, Joe?

Disclaimer: For non-GM's, this includes SPOILER material.

The key is the exsurgent being able to affect the characters without exposing itself. Some of this might be done with only a 5m range, but it'd be really hard.

Direct Offense: Combine Ego Sense (and optionally Omni-Awareness), with any of the offensive Psi-Epsilon powers, which are implied to be ranged and to do massive damage. The exsurgent knows where you are through walls, floors, ceilings, and other cover, and can affect you. You have no idea where the exsurgent is, so cannot effectively run away to get out of range, and cannot attack it either. Exsurgents with Psi III don't take strain, so they can go all day, and can hit multiple targets per action per the standard psi rule with no real penalties. Thus, even if the psi is only doing 2d10+4 damage (equivalent to the new Psi-Stab) which would bypass armor, it can hit everyone on every pass within a 40m radius with no penalty.

Lets assume the exsurgent is hunting the party in a space hab and the exsurgent is smart so it has maneuvered itself one story "up" or "down" from the characters, so ~3m away. The exsurgent starts with a surprise attack, and the characters don't know where it's coming from. Since most characters have a standard run of 20m/turn, even going in a straight line it will take them 2 full turns to exit the zone of influence, assuming the exsurgent doesn't follow them, and hasn't placed any obstacles in their way (locked doors, non-straight exits, half rate because they're in microgravity, etc). With the exsurgent speed artificially capped at 2, that's an initial strike plus a minimum of 3-4 more hits before they're out of range, or ~(8-10)d10+(16-20) point of damage. But the exsurgent isn't stupid, and follows, or telekeneticly puts more objects in their way, or blocks doors, or whatever, anything to keep the party from getting out of range. Not that they'd last that long: 8d10+16 = an average of 60 points of damage. TPK.

Want to make the damage an opposed test? Fine, the entire party minus any asyncs now took at least 1/2 the above damage, or ~30 points, but haven't accomplished anything except run away. Chances are the exsurgent can sneak up on them at least once more before they can leave the hab for good, which will probably finish them off. If they do get away, they've accomplished nothing more than identified that there is an exsurgent "somewhere" in that there hab (and can theoretically "nuke it from orbit"). They can try to do some recon with remote drones or synth morphs...

Best defense is an async using static, which will probably cut the damage in half again, but then the exsurgent just disappears as soon as the static goes up and comes back as soon as it drops again, meaning the async is damaging him/herself, and only as a short term delaying tactic.

Puppet Master: The exsurgent is able to get its hands on or really just start the infection of a few non-character biomorphs. First thing that happens with most infection is that they gain psi. The exsurgent can now use touch psi at range with his barely infected NPC's, making them puppets that can pass for normals. The puppets easily blend in with a crowd, and with mindlink, the exsurgent can target synths and robots with its epsilon powers. But that's not as important as one of those puppets hitting on one or more of the party members and innocuously infecting them. The party doesn't know they're being attacked, and they are all potentially infected, or even puppets. As soon as a character gains psi I and is in range of the exsurgent, "subliminal: go take a nap" and then it puppets the character, finds out where the character's backups are, and has the character have them erased. Then has the character infect the rest of the party. Oh, and you're part of Firewall? "Nothing to see here Mr. Firewall Proxy, move along. And oh, by the way, I quit!" Repeat. Permanent TPK.


OneTrikPony OneTrikPony's picture
I havn't looked at psi since

I havn't looked at psi since I first cracked the book, (not because I didn't like the rules but because I don't like magic in my science)

My impression was; "definitely not over powered but they're supremely concealable and buy-once gear which is important when you're ego casting and switching morphs all the time.

What is the value of psi slights being inherent qualities that transfer to new morphs, cannot be detected by any technical means, and stay with the ego where ever he goes?

there's also the point that being an Asynch doesn't stop you from having all the tech goodies you can get your hands on. Many systems wall off Majic from tech.

I've noticed that you kept the "Buffs" that actually turn out to be point cheaper than buying skills. And also those that have no tech equivalents. (at least not in the core book)

I like that Psi is a bit weaker (and also more nuanced) than it's technical equivalent (When there is a technical equivalent available). I thought the only thing that made psi less popular is that there arn't as many "Buff Spells" as there is in other game systems. That's pretty much offset by the fact that there's nothing stopping you (besides CP) from being a fighter/Mage or a hacker/sourcerer, In shadowrun terms, you gets to have your Mojo and your Cyberware too.

All that being said. I don't think this new system is a bad thing at all. I'm wishing you would post some ideas for new Slights please.

Mea Culpa: My mode of speech can make others feel uninvited to argue or participate. This is the EXACT opposite of what I intend when I post.

Limited Reagent Limited Reagent's picture
Joe: You're throwing in

Joe: You're throwing in Epsilon sleights. I thought you were talking about exsurgents with just Chi and Gamma. Epsilon sleights supposed to be crazy, and are essentially plot powers. Changing Chi and Gamma have no real bearing on how potent an exsurgent with Epsilon is going to be. One could even make up Epsilon equivalents or upgrades to Gamma powers with increased range in the original psi system. They're that expansive in capability and effect. If you're going to TPK a group via someone with Epsilon powers, my psi revamp is not going to make a difference.

I didn't include Epsilon sleights in the revamp for a reason, because they are plot powers. If I were, I'd probably keep the offensive ones to the WIL ÷ 5 meter range, or whatever they normally are in the corebook.

You do bring up a good point, though, in the puppetmaster scenario: Close range sleights are pretty damn potent at WIL meter range vs. other psi users, and should probably default to WIL ÷ 5 meters instead. I'll change that, thanks.

OneTrikPony wrote:
What is the value of psi slights being inherent qualities that transfer to new morphs, cannot be detected by any technical means, and stay with the ego where ever he goes?
Well, if you look at the OP, I defined that is "the cost of all the bad stuff you get along with your psi powers."

OneTrikPony wrote:
I've noticed that you kept the "Buffs" that actually turn out to be point cheaper than buying skills. And also those that have no tech equivalents. (at least not in the core book)
There are actually (if you're talking about the COG and INT buffs) --- drugs.

OneTrikPony wrote:
I like that Psi is a bit weaker (and also more nuanced) than it's technical equivalent (When there is a technical equivalent available).
I like that when there is a way to make them more nuanced. When a psi power does exactly the same thing as a tech equivalent (like multitasking), but is worse in all ways, what exactly do you do to make it more nuanced? Seriously, I was at a loss --- if you have ideas I'd love to hear them.

OneTrikPony wrote:
All that being said. I don't think this new system is a bad thing at all. I'm wishing you would post some ideas for new Slights please.
If you look in the google doc, there's a few extra sleights that I added, once that I had previously posted in the homebrew forum (plus one that someone else gave me the idea for): Siphon, Psi Efficiency, Induce Placebo, Glossolalia, and Erase Self.
Solar Solar's picture
Joe, I can see a lot of what

Joe, I can see a lot of what you are saying. But I think the revamps here work anyway, and here is why.

1) The Strain issue. Your hypothetical team kill does work, sure, but only with a character that has PSI III. A character with that does not need to roll with psi-stab through walls to wipe out a party, because they basically have plot powers anyway. Someone with that level of capability can obliterate the group in various fashions and can do it right in front of their faces if they are not careful as well. if they are PSI II then Strain becomes a factor and let's be honest, someone spamming Strain like that is going to go absolutely mental after a couple of turns, becoming mostly just a gibbering wreck on the floor.

2) Even if they didn't, any group who can be easily disabled by an enemy being on a floor above or below them isn't thinking hard enough. Whenever I run or play in EP, the group makes sure they can deal with threats like these. Hack the building's surveillance systems so you can see what is happening on every levels, and make sure your muse is scanning all the feeds for problems. Take weapons that can blast throughfloors like plasma guns and seeker launchers, now if you get blindsided like that, a quick HEAP round followed by a thermobaric will clear out any troublesome a-syncs on the floor above. If that's not cool because of friendlies getting caught in the blast, then a plasma burst will take out a small floor portion, then stick a kinetic weapon through, lock on to the target using the building's mesh feed, and homing ammo him dead. If you don't have weaponry like that, hack the hab systems and vent the chamber into space. There are lots of options.

There are many ways the Epsilon can deal with that, of course. But again, Epsilon. PSI III enemies are some of the deadliest a proxy team can fight, mind blasts from through the walls are the least of the groups problem if they are hunting down an Epsilon.