As I mentioned in the “Perfect System” post, I’d like a psionics system akin to that found in the Star Wars Saga Edition game. It wasn’t really my intention to actually try it out, but the idea rooted itself in my mind and wouldn’t let go. So here are my rough rules for a new psionics system for Stars Without Number using powers found in both SWN and SWSE.
These rules refer to “Psicraft.” In order for these rules to work, Psicraft is a skill added to the skills list that all Psychic characters must take at least to Level 0.
Psionic powers are special abilities available only to those belonging to the Psion class. They allow characters to do astonishing things like play tricks with the minds of others, move heavy objects, see into the future and even blast foes with arcs of bio-electricity.
Learning Psionic Powers
A Psion automatically gains a number of psionic powers equal to 1 + either his Wisdom of Charisma modifier, whichever is higher. Characters can attempt to learn new psionic powers each odd-numbered level by making a Psicraft check against DC 7 + 1 for each power in the character’s suite exceeding the higher of either his or her Wisdom of Charisma bonus. A successful check allows the character to select an additional psionic power. Character can also gain a new psionic power by increasing either their Wisdom or Charisma modifier permanently (momentary increases do not allow a psion to select a new psionic power).
For example, a 3rd level psion makes a Psicraft check to see if he can learn a new power. He has a Wisdom modifier of +2 (no modifier to Charisma) and already has 3 powers. He must roll at least a 13 to be able to learn a new power. If the roll succeeds, he can choose a new psionic power to add to his pool. Then once he reaches level 5 he can attempt the roll again, but with a DC of 14 this time. However, if in the time leading up to level 5, his Wisdom or Charisma has increased to a point that his modifier is now +3, the DC stays at 12 to learn a new power at level 5, but will increase at level 7 if he successfully learns a new power. Failure on this check means the character must wait until he reaches the next odd-numbered level.
Using Psionic Powers
When your character uses a psionic power, make a Psicraft check. The check result determines the power’s effect.
Some powers have all-or-nothing effects. Other powers have multi-tiered effects, and your Psicraft check determines the maximum effect your can achieve, although you can always choose a lesser effect. If your Psicraft check is too low to activate the power’s baseline effect, nothing happens and the action is wasted. Additionally, some powers will add to the target’s or the psion’s own System Strain total.
Using a Psionic power removes it from your active “suite” of powers, regardless of whether the Psicraft check succeeds or fails.
You can select psionic powers multiple times to have more uses of it in your power suite.
Your Psionic Power Suite: Your character’s psionic powers effectively form a suite. When your character uses a power, it’s like playing a card and putting it into the discard pile. The power takes effect and it is no longer available to the character…at least for a while.
Regaining Psionic Powers: You have different ways to regain spent psionic powers so that you can use them again:
When combat is over and you can rest for at least 1 minute, you regain use of all of your psionic powers.
If you roll a natural 12 on a Psicraft check, you regain all spent psionic powers at the end of your turn.
The psion may attempt to tap into is neural reserves to use psionic powers that have already be used, but doing so can lead to what psions call “burn out,” which can lead to insanity or even death.
Using Psionic powers that have a “Time” other than Free Action or Reaction, opens up the psion to attacks from adjacent foes that he can’t use his Dexterity to defend against.
Those desperate psions who run out of powers in their suite may draw directly on their neural reserves to fuel a psychic power. “Burning Out”, as this technique is called, causes inevitable and permanent damage to the psion, though it can fuel any already spent psionic power. Each round that a psion burns out, he must roll 1d10. On a result of 1-4, he permanently loses one point of Constitution. A result of 5-8 causes the permanent loss of a point of Wisdom, and a result of 9 or 10 means the energy discharge did no lasting harm to his neural tissues. If Constitution drops below 3, he dies, and if Wisdom drops below 3, he becomes incurably and dangerously insane. There is no known treatment for damage caused by torching. Insane characters become NPCs under the control of the GM.
Those psions who succumb to insanity may use their psionic powers freely with no further risk of degradation. The MES energies have already burnt a pathway through their mind, and no further damage is possible. These “ferals” can use any power in their suite as much as they’d like, can gain additional psychic powers with time, and can be extremely dangerous to anyone unlucky enough to encounter them. A very few can maintain a seemingly coherent facade, but beneath it all they invariably suffer from uncontrollably violent urges, hallucinations, and compulsions.
Psionic Power Descriptions
Some psionic powers are solely mind-affecting, so they come with the Mind-Affecting tag under the power’s title.
Mind-Affecting: A psionic power with the Mind-Affecting tag has no effect on creatures that are mindless (that is, creatures with no Intelligence) or immune to mind-affecting effects.
Psionic Power Descriptions
The following psionic powers are available to all psions. Each psionic power includes the following information:
Psionic Power Name
If the psionic power has a tag, it appears underneath the power’s name. The name of the power is followed by a brief description of the power’s effect. Time: the type of action needed to activate this power. Target: the targets affected by this psionic power.
Make a Psicraft check: The results of the Psicraft check are detailed here.
Special: Some powers have special rules, which are covered here.
The psion boosts the physical capabilities of a target within line of sight. Time: Standard action. Target: One living creature within line of sight.
Make a Psicraft check: The DC of this power is 10. For five minutes, the subject gains either +1 to their
Dexterity modifier or their Strength modifier. This power can be used up to twice on a single target, either adding +1 to both modifiers or +2 to one. Each activation of this power increases the target’s System Strain by 1 point.
You use your psionic power to enhance your battle prowess. Time: Free Action. Target: You.
Make a Psicraft check: The result of the check determines the effect, if any:
DC 7: Gain a +1 Psionic bonus to your next attack roll and deal an additional 1d6 points of damage if it hits.
DC 10: As DC 7, except you deal an additional 2d6 damage.
DC 13: As DC 7, except you deal an additional 3d6 damage.
The biopsionic can maintain the vital life processes of a mortally wounded teammate with a touch. Time: Full-round action. Target: One dead or dying target you can touch.
Make a Psicraft check: The biopsionic may restore to life a creature he is touching that has been dead for no more than six rounds. There is a 100% chance of success if this power is used within three rounds of death, with the chance decreasing by 25% for each round afterwards. The creature is set to zero hit points and remains unconscious until it receives medical attention. It will die if it does not receive such attention within 24 hours. This power does not function on creatures that have been torn apart or otherwise mangled beyond conventional surgical repair, nor those dead of poison, disease, or old age. This power adds 2 System Strain points to the target if successful.
You can use your psionic power to crush or choke your enemy. Time: Standard action. Target: One target within 30 feet and in line of sight.
Make a Psicraft check: The result of the check determines the effect, if any:
DC 7: the target takes 1d6 points of damage. Target must make a Physical Effect Save. If the target fails the save, he can only take free actions or move 5 feet at most on his next turn.
DC 10: As DC 7, except the target takes 2d6 points of damage.
DC 13: As DC 7, except the target takes 3d6 points of damage.
Special: You can maintain your concentration on the targeted creature to continue damaging it from round to round. Maintaining Crush is a standard action, and you must make a new Psicraft check each round.
You disarm an opponent by using telekinesis to pull the weapon from his grasp. Time: Standard action. Target: One creature within 30 feet and in line of sight.
Make a Psicraft check: Use this check in place of your attack roll when attempting to disarm the target (see Disarming in the Combat chapter). If your disarm attack succeeds, you may choose to let the weapon fall to the ground in the target’s fighting space or have the item fly into your hand (in which case, you need to have a free hand to catch it).
You gain a vague, momentary impression of event happening around a particular being in some distant place. Time: Full-round action. Target: One creature you know or have met before.
Make a Psicraft check: At the same time, the target 2d6 and add his Wisdom modifier to the roll. If your check result is less that your target’s roll, you gain no information (including if the target is alive or dead) and cannot use this power against the same target again for 24 hours. If your check result equals or exceeds your target’s roll, you can sense if the target is alive or dead and gain a vague sense of his immediate surroundings, what it’s currently doing, and any strong emotions it is presently feeling. Using this power on a dead target has a DC of 13 for the purposes of this power.
Activation of this power on a target allows the subject to continue acting even when their hit points have been lowered below zero. Time: Free action. Target: One target that is below 0 hit points and within 60’.
Make a Psicraft check: The DC for this power is 10. The effect lasts only to the end of the psychic’s next turn, and the subject will die regardless if brought to -30 hit points. If the target is at negative hit points when the power ends they must make a Physical Effect saving throw or die on the spot. If successful, they live with 1 hit point. Each round of this effect adds 1 System Strain point to the target.
You blast your enemy with deadly arcs of bio-electric energy. Time: Standard action. Target: One target within 30 feet and in line of sight.
Make a Psicraft check: The target rolls 2d6 and adds his Dexterity modifier to the roll. If your roll is higher, the target takes 3d6 points of electricity damage. If your roll is lower, the target only takes half damage from the attack.
The psion changes their physical appearance to that of any creature of the same species. Time: Standard action. Target: Self
Make a Psicraft check: The DC for this power is 10. A specific other creature can only be mimicked if it is within line of sight. Unlike most psionic powers, this functions even if the “original” is unwilling. This alteration does not change the psychic’s statistics, and lasts for up to one hour. Activating this power increases the psion’s System Strain by 1 point.
You use your psionic power to alter a target’s perceptions or plant a suggestion in its mind. Time: Standard action. Target: One sentient creature within 60 feet and in line of sight.
Make a Psicraft Check: Your target rolls 2d6 and add his Wisdom modifier to the roll. If you equal or exceed the target’s roll, you can choose one of the following effects:
You create a fleeting illusion that distracts the target and allows you to use the Stealth skill even if the target is aware of you.
You perform a feint so that the next attack you make against the target ignores its Dexterity bonus to AC (if any).
You make an otherwise impalpable suggestion seem completely reasonable to the target. You must be able to communicate with the target, and the suggestion can’t obviously threaten the target’s life. The target won’t realize later that what he did is unacceptable.
You fill the target with terror, causing it to flee from you at top speed for 1 minute. The affected creature stops fleeing if wounded. The effect is negated if the target’s level is equal to or higher than your character’s. This is a fear effect.
You telekinetically move an object up to 30 feet in any direction using the powers of your mind. Time: Standard Action. Target: One character or object within 30 feet and in your line of sight.
Make a Psicraft check: The result of the check determines the maximum size of the object you can lift (if any). If the target is a creature that resists your attempt, your Psicraft check must also exceed the target’s 2d6 + Wisdom modifier roll. You can hurl the object at (or drop it on) another target in range by rolling a successful attack roll (Wisdom or Charisma modifier is used on the roll, whichever is higher) against the target. Both targets take damage based on your Psicraft check result:
DC 7: Move object up to Medium size (deals 2d6 points of damage).
DC 10: Move object up to Large size (deals 3d6 points of damage).
DC 13: Move object up to Huge size (deals 5d6 points of damage).
DC 15: Move object up to Gargantuan size (deals 7d6 points of damage).
DC 17: Move object up to Colossal size (deals 9d6 points of damage).
Special: You may maintain concentration on the targeted object to continue to move it from round to round. Maintaining the move object power is a standard action.
If you use move object on a hovering or flying target (such as a speeder or starship), the target can opposed your Psicraft check with a 2d6 + Strength modifier roll as a reaction. If the target wins the opposed check, you cannot move the object.
You spontaneously negate one attack that deals energy weapon damage, such as a blaster or a beam sword. Time: Reaction. Target: One attack against you that deal energy weapon damage.
Make a Psicraft check: If the result of your check equals or exceeds the damage dealt by the attack, the attack is negated and you take no damage. If your check is less than the damage dealt, you take damage as normal.
Special: You must be aware of the attack (and not surprised) to negate it.
The psionic banishes stress, fatigue, and wounds with a touch. Time: Standard action. Target: One target the psion can touch.
Make a Psicraft check: The DC for this power is 7. A successful use of this power heals 1d8 hit points in the target, plus the target’s Constitution modifier. A minimum of 1 hit point is always healed, and the psion cannot give a subject more hit points than their normal maximum. Use of this power adds 1 System Strain point to the target.
The psychic can force the elimination of a disease or poison from a target. Time: Full-round action. Target: One afflicted target the psion can touch.
Make a Psicraft check: The DC for this power is 7. If successfully used, this power allows the target to make an additional Physical Effect saving throw against the illness or poison at a +2 bonus, plus the target’s Constitution modifier. If the target died due to a poison or disease within the last three rounds, a successful save restores them to life at 1 hit point. This power does not function against genetic illnesses or conditions present from birth. Use of this power adds 1 System Strain point to the target.
You harness your rage to fuel your prowess in battle. Time: Free Action. Target: You.
Make a Psicraft check: the result of the check determines the effect, if any:
DC 7: You gain a +2 rage bonus on melee attack rolls and melee attack damage until the end of your turn.
DC 10: As DC 7, except the rage bonuses increase to +4.
DC 13: As DC 7, except the rage bonuses increase to +6.
Special: While you are consumed with rage, you cannot use skills or perform tasks that require concentration.
You harmlessly absorb or deflect one psionic power used against you, perhaps even turning it against its creator. Time: Reaction. Target: One psionic power directed at you.
Make a Psicraft check: If you check result equals or exceeds the Psicraft check result of the power directed at you, you harmlessly redirect it away from you and suffer no ill effects. If your Psicraft check exceeds the opposing check by 3 or more, you may choose to turn the psionic power against its creator, who suffers the effect.
Special: If you turn a psionic power back onto its creator, he may be able to rebuke it as well. If he reflects if back again, both you and the creator suffer the effects of the power.
You can block another psion’s access to his psionic power, making it difficult for him to use any psionic powers in his suite. Time: Standard action. Target: One psion within 60 feet and in line of sight.
Make a Psicraft check: Your target also makes a Psicraft check. If your Psicraft check equals or exceeds the target’s Psicraft check, the effect (if any) is determined by your check result:
DC 13: The target suffers a -3 penalty to its Psicraft checks for 1d6 hours.
DC 15: As DC 13, and the target immediately become stunned (see the Combat chapter) after using a psionic power.
DC 17: As DC 13, and the target must roll for Burn Out after using a psionic power, even if the power used had not already been spent from the psion’s suite.
You pound one or more creatures with concussive force. Time: Standard action. Target: All targets within a 30 foot cone and within line of sight.
Make a Psicraft check: Make one roll and compare the result to each target’s roll of 2d6 + Constitution modifier. If the result equals or exceeds a target’s roll, it takes 2d6 points of Concussive damage and is knocked prone. If the result does not equal or exceed the target’s roll, it takes half damage and is not knocked prone.
You can use your psionic power to overload an enemy’s senses, potentially stunning it. Time: Standard action. Target: One creature within 30 feet and in line of sight.
Make a Psicraft check: compare the result to your target’s 2d6 + Wisdom modifier roll. If the check equals or exceeds the target’s roll, he is stunned for one round (see the Combat chapter for information about the Stun effect). A failed check results in no effect. For every 3 points that a Psicraft check exceeds the target’s roll, the target is stunned for another round.
The psion channels his power into his own body, allowing him to jump great heights and distances as well as move quickly. Time: Free Action. Target: You.
Make a Psicraft check: The result of the check determines the effect, if any:
DC 7: You gain a +5 Psionic bonus on any Athletic checks made to Jump and your speed increases by 10 feet until the start of your next turn. The Psionic bonus to the Athletic (jump) check includes the adjustment for increased speed.
DC 10: As DC 7 except the Psionic bonus increases to +7 and speed increases by 20 feet.
DC 13: As DC 7 except the Psionic bonus increases to +10 and speed by 30 feet.
You use your willpower to push a target away from you. Time: Standard action. Target: One object or character within 60 feet and in line of sight.
Make a Psicraft check: The target rolls 2d6 + Strength modifier. If you beat the target’s roll, you push it back 5 feet plus an additional 5 feet for every 3 points that you Psicraft check beats the target’s roll. If you push the target into a larger object, the target takes 1d6 points of damage, plus an additional 1d6 points of damage for every 5 feet that it would have been pushed beyond the object. If pushed into another creature, both the target and the creature it hits take 1d6 points of damage and both are pushed the rest of the distance with a reduction of -5 feet from the original distance.
The target adds the following size modifiers to their rolls: Colossal: +10, Gargantuan: +7, Huge: +3, Large: +1, Medium: +0, Small: -3, Tiny: -6, Diminutive: -10, Fine: -13. In addition, the target gains an additional +5 bonus to its roll if it has 4 legs or is otherwise exceptionally stable.
You use your own life force to heal another living creature, using your psionic power as a conduit. Time: Standard action. Target: One creature touched.
Make a Psicraft check: The result of the check determines the result, if any:
DC 7: The target is healed of hit points equal to 2 x character level.
DC 10: The target is healed of hit points equal to 3 x character level.
DC 13: The target is healed of hit points equal to 4 x character level.
Each Time you use Vital Transfer, you suffer half as many hit points as you heal (round down).
Like I said, these rules are a rough draft and so far remain totally untested. The DC's are likely off and need to be adjusted. Plus, this system may need to be tweaked more dramatically as this system mmay prove far too powerful by even my very loose definition of "balance."