Thoughts on SciFi Psi in AGE

Okay, as some of you may know, Green Ronin, the publishing company that created the rules behind the Dragon Age Roleplaying Game, is working on an original Fantasy property using the same rules engine. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know I really like AGE, especially with how flexible it is given how simple it truly is. Heck, I wouldn’t spend months designing anything for it, let alone an entire Modern Era Horror Game, if I didn’t think it had legs.

So some questions were asked about whether or not Green Ronin is working on a Sci-Fi game. At this time, the answer is non-committal, but as always we on the forums tend to speculate about what might be possible. So the conversation rolled around to something I was keeping close to my chest, primarily because I don’t think I’m going to develop the idea any further, and that was my own take on Sci-Fi using AGE.

To make this work, in the vein I had envisioned it, you need a certain type of Psionic Power available to the players. So, I’m going to post the rules I came up with for that and you all can take it and run with it. The effect I was going for was primarily telepathy based, so there weren’t any seer-like or object moving powers. Secondly, I was going from a standpoint of it’s hard to perform Psi abilities because of the concentration involved in using them, and fatigue really isn’t a factor.

The basic use of a Psi power for an active Psion is to declare intent, and to use all of their actions during that round in order to perform the Psi power test. If they need to move more than a few steps, i.e. they need to make a Minor action, the GM can allow them to by penalizing their Psi test by -2. Then the player uses the appropriate Psi Action associated with their power. I’ve pasted in the Telepathy actions I came up with. These are not individual powers, any character who is an active Psi with the Telepathy Focus (and thus power) can perform any of these 3 actions on another character. Duration, if any, is usually limited to concentration or GM fiat. As far as sensing Psi powers being used on you, if a character looks at the furrowed brow and intense concentration on the face of a Psion, they can roll if they even guess they are a target. All Psions, even latent ones, automatically can tell when a Psionic Power is used on them, period.

Thought Link
TN: 10 plus Target’s Willpower.
Resistance: Willpower (Self-Discipline) vs user’s Psi test.
You can create a link between your mind and the mind of another. This allows you to share thoughts as if you were speaking to one another. It also allows the transmission of images and other sensory stimuli, and even memories if offered. This power cannot forcibly retrieve memories from others. However, this power can receive any conscious thought made. So, if someone is asked a question to which they know the answer, often they will think of the answer even when refusing to answer the question. Unless the telepath chooses to send information, there is often no clue that the link has even been established. There are also benefits to skin to skin contact, or touch in establishing contact. Great distance is also a negative factor, while your relationship to the subject affects the ease of connection as well.

+3 Skin to Skin contact
+2 Touch contact
+1 Direct Line of Sight
-1 More than 20 kilometers away
-2 More than 200 kilometers away
-3 More than 2000 kilometers away
-5 More than 4000 kilometers away
+1 Close Relationship
-1 Distant Relationship
-2 Enemies

The subject always has the option to resist this power if they notice it happening. This takes a full round action on their part and requires them to roll their Willpower (Self-Discipline) versus your Psi test. If they win the contest of wills, you are thrown out of their mind. If the target has the ability to use active Psi powers, they may roll Psi (Telepathy) instead in an attempt to shut you out and keep you out.

Telepathic Influence
TN: 12 plus Target’s Willpower.
Resistance: Willpower (Self-Discipline) vs user’s Psi test.
You have the ability to insert thoughts deep into the subconscious mind of your targets. This allows you to gain a sense of control over them. You can influence their action, hypnotize them, affect their dreams, or just cause them to feel familiarity with people or situations they should not feel. This creates a sense of knowing someone well, when it is the first meeting.

In addition to the standard modifiers for Thought Link, the following also apply:

-1 to insert welcome commands or a basic sense of familiarity.
-2 to insert unwelcome commands, or a strong sense of familiarity.
-2 to alter a subject’s natural reaction to stimulus
-3 to alter a subject’s natural reaction to an idea
-1 to slightly alter the subject’s dreams
-2 to majorly alter the subject’s dreams
-3 to write a dream for the subject to experience

The subject always has the option to resist this power if they notice it happening. This takes a full round action on their part and requires them to roll their Willpower (Self-Discipline) versus your Psi test. If they win the contest of wills, the effects of your influence do not manifest. If the target has the ability to use active Psi powers, they may roll Psi (Telepathy) instead in an attempt to shut you out and keep you out.

Mental Control
TN: 14 plus Target’s Willpower.
Resistance: Willpower (Self-Discipline) vs user’s Psi test.
You have the ability to control what people actually think. Instead of feeding thoughts to the subject’s subconscious, this power is the ability to override the thoughts running through the conscious mind of others and to insert your own choices. In its most simple form, it results in illusory images flashing into the minds of others, the duration of which is dependent upon the strength of the telepath. The ultimate level of control however is the ability to control the movements of others, forcing them to perform your bidding, even when unwilling.

In addition to the standard modifiers for Thought Link, the following also apply:

-1 to insert a non-threatening illusion.
-2 to change the perceptions of the subject in a non-threatening way.
-3 to cause distress or damage to the subject via illusion.
-3 to control another with sloppy, rote actions.
-4 to control another with practiced actions.

The subject always has the option to resist this power if they notice it happening. This takes a full round action on their part and requires them to roll their Willpower (Self-Discipline) versus your Psi test. If they win the contest of wills, the effects of your control are fleeting and then they break. If the target has the ability to use active Psi powers, they may roll Psi (Telepathy) instead in an attempt to shut you out and keep you out.

Becoming an Active Psion is meant to be a simple contract with the GM, but it might come from a species package, or the Telepath Talent, so that not only could a player seek the powers, but there were decent benefits for continuing on. Without getting into Extra Effort as a mechanic, you only really need to know that  characters in the game can sacrifice Health points for Stunt Points, and the Master ability in the Talent below limits that sacrifice for a fully developed Psion with the ability.

Telempath
Classes: Expert, Scoundrel, Technician, Warrior
Requirements: You must have Psi 1 or higher, and Special permission from the GM.
You are an example of a psion, either through genetics, experimentation, exposure to some alien artifact or cosmic effect, long training, or some combination of all of the above.
Novice: You have active psionic talents. You should swap your Psi Ability for one of your Primary Abilities. That Ability becomes a Secondary Ability instead. You also gain one Psi Focus of your choice, and can learn new Psi focuses whenever you have the opportunity to gain a Primary Ability focus.
Professional: You have learned how to use your powers with less concentration. Now, instead of using a full round action to enact a Psionic Power, you need only use a Major action.
Master: You have unlocked the vast potential of your own mind. You can now use a psionic power on two or more targets at once with a single test (taking a -1 penalty to the test for each additional target). You can also ignore up to your Psi in Health when converting Health to Stunt Points via Extra Effort when using Psionic Powers. The minimum Health you must expend is 2 Health, regardless of how high your Psi Ability is.

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About Byron D. Molix

I am an information technology professional in Missouri. I've been an avid fan of fantasy and science fiction novels, comic books, pen and paper role-playing games, computer games and console video games for the last two decades. My dream would be to one day make a comfortable living while having the time to pursue writing (novels, rpgs, etc.) as a full-time hobby.

Posted on February 22, 2012, in AGE, Gaming. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Yeah, you know what this smells like? The Force. Easily convertible as the basis for that elusive grail a few are struggling with.

  2. I was aiming more in Bab5/Star Trek’s direction, but you could certainly adapt it. Anybody really wanting to adapt The Force should look at True20 for inspiration.

  3. Weren’t there some oddball rules circa AD&D about characters picking up wild psionic talents? I’m aware of more modern iterations, but the older mechanics I’m thinking about worked more like what you have here. If you managed to pick up one of these powers then you had a little trick you could do with an ability check–sometimes it was more significant than just a trick. I’m not sure if I’m remembering that right, but that’s the first thing I thought of when I read this. It felt less…what’s the word? Organized. Less institutionalized, maybe. Anyway, this is an interesting adaptation to think about, even if you had no intention of going with it where I went. Nice job.

  4. Well, sort of. Pre-3E psionics for wild talents was sort of like pick a power, you can do that one power. I think it still followed whatever cost mechanism was in place however.

  5. If I had million$ i would give it all to see Warhammer 40k using AGE. Alas….

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