Psionics (Action Greyhawk)
That which is called psionic power in Greyhawk comes from the Chi origin rather from Psi. Psi is too modern, too new age, too science-fiction for Greyhawk. This is confusing, but can't be helped since these powers are called psionics in the source material and I want to stay true to that continuity
Psychic powers come from the mind; developed by ambitious individuals and orders. Somehow the mind has freed itself from the shackles of physical reality and is now able to affect the world directly trough mental discipline instead of physical interaction. Related to the far Realm and often regarded with suspicion outside Backlunish lands. The monk and all psionic classes in Dungeons and Dragons belong to this tradition.
Action Traditions in Greyhawk
Traditions in Action are similar but broader than classes in Dungeons & Dragons; each tradition incorporates several similar classes. There is a bit of wiggle room within each tradition, but in general each has a specified origin, at least one mandatory method, and a list of recommended and prohibited forms and skills.
Some psychics train much like wizards or clerics, others discover their gifts in the manner of sorcerers and favored souls. The former are called trained psychics, the later are called wild psychics.
Psychic powers vary wildly, but there are some trends. Trained psychic powers often deal with the higher Forms, such as the essences. These abstract powers work well for the mind trained to manipulate reality. Wild psychics tend to be more base in nature, using powers from the elements and manifestations.
Chi. Psionics in Greyhawk is an outward manifestation of the mastery of self.
Your power draws attention. Your powers have side effects; they either have distinct and visible physical side effects or send shivers down the spines of people all around.
Whenever you use your power, it is obvious to everyone within ten meters times the sum of your and their Mind attribute that something odd is happening. This does not spoil illusion or invisibility; people can tell something is happening, but not exactly what or where. It is likely to make them more wary, however. Characters of your origin can sense your power ten times as far away. For those related to you, this sense can extend all the way across the world.
Trigger Action (Focus)
When others are watching you do power and their auras resonate with yours, your power increases. Whenever there are a dozen or more spectators who can see you use powers you can focus. Spectators are those who are not involved in the action - either because they were unaware of your presence before your power called their attention, or because they are bystanders.
There is something that stops you from using your powers. Whether this is psychological or an actual power drain is immaterial; in the presence of your bane, your powers fail. Some banes are common, others rare; this is balanced because the limitation and focus condition are so tightly tied. It is secret what your bane is; guard this secret well. Iron Susceptibility is similar to a bane, but well known and much less severe.
- Holy symbols.
- Some metal (e.g. silver, gold, cold steel).
- Specific flowers or herbs (wolvesbane, garlic).
- Types of wood (ash, yew).
- Certain books (Bible, Koran, Torah, pulp novels).
- Certain weapons.
- Specific words.
- Any memento of an old love.
- The bones of a former victim.
- Direct sunlight.
- Running water.
- Dogs with angel eyes (dark circles around the iris).
When directly exposed to your bane you cannot use your powers. It must be within ten meters and there should be no significant barriers; it it is kept in a container or behind a wall your bane does not trigger.
Trigger Action (Focus)
In any scene where you encountered your bane and survived, you can focus. You cannot focus when under the effects of the bane, but if the bane is somehow taken out of the action, the stress gives you focus.
You are the linchpin of all your power; when you cease to concentrate your power dissipates. You cannot create power effects that continue to work when you are not paying attention to them.
If you relax, fall asleep, or become unconscious all your power effects lapse. This includes any Inherent powers you have. Power effects end when a stance would normally end, such as when you are prevented from taking actions.
Trigger Action (Focus)
Whenever you are not using any powers, including stances, you can focus.
This is very common among psychics and enhances the feel of mental powers.
Contagion is the magical theorem of like attracts like. By manipulating a symbol, you can affect the real thing. You use this principle in all your power. Generally, it is sufficient to have rough substitutes; a person is symbolized with a small doll, a rock with his name on it or a rough image.
You need your props in order to work power. These props are simple and easily improvised. You must also have some kind of link to your target; you usually arrange this by putting a name or symbol on a blank prop you are carrying. This takes no extra time, but requires that you have such a prop and an exact visual description of the target.
You can use a Limit Break on those you have you have a personal object or former body part from; others are unaffected. Any such items you have against the target are consumed in use.
Psychics do not use effigies, but they can use traces of DNA of parts of an object to create a mental link. Their props are commonly crystals, crystal balls, incense and other imagination-enhancers.
You have a special look you wear to work your power. This is distinctive, and marks you as odd; people in the know can learn things about your Tradition from it. It need not be a specific outfit, rather it is a range of outfits with some common and identifiable characteristic. The exact details vary, but specific colors, long robes, pointy hats, or embroidered signs and glyphs are standard. Variant costumes include extensive tattoos, nudity, a certain style of jewelry or accessories, or a very funky hairdo. If your costume includes a type of armor, you must wear that type of armor to count as being in costume, If it does not, you cannot wear armor while in costume.
If your costume is damage and worn, burned or otherwise mishandled it still works and is still recognizable.
You must be in costume to work powers. Donning your costume is a basic action. It is possible to use powers while wearing the costume under other clothes, but this counts as a Disguise stunt.
You can always focus at any time when in costume, but it costs you a Fortune point to do so.
Psionic costumes emphasize the head; it is often worn bare or even shaved, embellished with jewelry or devices.
Your powers derive from an secret innernature shocking to common sensibilities. As you use your powers, your power origin becomes shockingly obvious, making people shun and dread you. Typical examples are necromancers and demonologists turning into the monstrosities they control, androids losing their skin to expose the machinery below, or energies bleeding out in a frightening display.
Degeneration is measured in points; each time you take a Hit, roll a snake eyes or boxcars, use a Finisher, or use a Limit Break result when using a power, you gain one degeneration point. All Charm checks (but not defense values) suffer a penalty equal to the number of degeneration points you have. When you have degeneration points equal to your Mind, you are no longer recognizably human (or whatever creature you normally look like); sensible people will run from you. In more tolerant settings, your degeneration becomes more disgusting so that they still break the mold of "normal" sufficiently to have you ostracized.
This is a side effect of your powers; it never prevents you from using your powers, except that powers cannot hide your degeneration and Charm powers suffer the penalties mentioned.
Degeneration points reset to zero each game session. Full degeneration can be overcome/adapted to given time and care; this usually only happens between stories or when you take a time out from adventuring, not at the end of each session.
Trigger Action (Focus)
You can focus at will as your current degeneration points are less than your Mind. Doing so gives you a degeneration point.
Echoes add chance to your powers, and this does not stop at the effects you produce consciously. This can be because your powers affects the world in a very fundamental way, a form of backlash, a result of your rampant subconscious, or simply the workings of blind chance.
Your powers are subject to chance and strange effects occur around you constantly. What these side effects are can vary from time to time or have a set theme, as decided when you take the limitation. They are often origin-based. Echoes manifest spontaneously and outside your control. They are noticeable, and can give people in the know information they would not otherwise have. Technological powers cause technological side effects, such as brownouts or glitches. Mystic powers have effects similar to the ones you produce yourself. Echoes are generally funny, in a sadistic kind of way; they never obstruct the story, but can create setbacks and hindrances for you and (rarely) your friends. They are a great plot device for the GM to use when you are taking too much camera time or are using your power for tasks that should be role-played.
You can suggest echoes, or your game master can invent them. If you invent funny and annoying echoes, the game master will probably go easy on you with his own. In either case, it is the game master that has the final word on what happens.
Echoes makes small odd things occur around you, but this is mostly flavor, tough they can sometimes provide clues to enemies or distractions to you. When you use your powers in obvious ways, they manifest more strongly; on a Snakeyes roll when using obvious powers you suffer a Setback from your echoes. This Setback often mimics the power you were using, escalating or reversing it, or changing targets. As setbacks go, this is usually pretty mild.
If you invent a creative echo, you can focus. Alternatively, you can ask the GM for an echo, in which case it might be slightly more severe for making him think one up on his feet. In either case, it is an unusually mild Setback and usually manifests at the end of the round - after you've had a chance to use a Limit Break.
Loss of Control
You are channeling powers beyond your control: sometimes these powers take you over and force you to go wild. You must specify the nature of the power you are connecting to, as this will influence how you focus and what happens when you lose control. In general, this amounts to a specific vice; focusing means tickling this vice, loss of control is when you are overwhelmed.
The actions you do when you lose control can be nonsensical or even destructive. You lose sight of your normal goals and live out your vice in an immediate and direct way. Such actions can indirectly benefit your normal cause, but you pursue them beyond what is reasonable and productive.
You risk losing control in certain situations, especially when doing things somehow relevant to the nature or source of your powers. When you roll Snakeyes on any task, the GM proposes an action your powers tries to force you to do. The GM can also make one such proposition of his own per scene. You can agree, and behave as suggested. In extreme cases, the GM might even take temporary control of your character. If you resist, you lose access to your powers for the rest of the scene.
When doing the type of actions you do when you lose control, you can focus. This can either be because because you gave in to the GMs suggestion or because you came up with a course of action the GM agrees is in accordance with your vice. When you are taking the initiative and choose to skirt the danger, you have to continue to act out your vice until it plays itself out, or risk losing your powers.
Hi-Mi-Tsu! - Xellos, the Mysterious priest, Slayers
You have some secret that must not become known. A magical secret can be almost anything. A technological secret is a wavelength, passcode or other sensitive data that is easily used. It can be nonsense, such as a particular number or the name of some higher being or your own secret name. It can be some fact about you, such as that you are a woman, your exact age or that you are the descendant of Zeus. It cannot be something people would ordinarily say; people will not accidentally blurt out your secret unless the GM is using this as a plot device.
It is possible to find your secret through research or investigation, but this is always an important story development and should have its own dangers and drama. You might intuitively feel when someone is close to discovering your secret, which often leads to dramatic confrontations at the point of discovery.
Anyone who finds out your secret can use it to blackmail you and to gain dominance over you, as you cannot effectively use your powers against them. If your secret ever becomes common knowledge, you are doomed. But this should never happen if you play your cards right; the GM can invoke this as a plot device, but as long as you play along, no villain would waste the hook he has on you by publishing your secret.
Anyone stating this secret in your presence negates your powers for the rest of the scene.
Whenever your secret is in immediate danger of being discovered or used, you can focus. This means that an involving secret is much more useful than an obtuse one.
Your powers give hints about you. Anyone who sees or even describes your powers can recognize them, but this might not be connected to you unless you are publicly known as a power user. Maybe your fireballs have your personal rune emblazoned on them or your electronic remote-control signals are poorly shielded. This can be very dangerous in combination with methods like Astrology, Power Secret, or Naming.
The information contained in your power signature for enemies to learn must be fairly important, and the GM decides exactly what it is. If you or they use secrets or information in methods, such information is a good pick. Other possible secrets include embarrassing facts that give large bonuses on interactions stunts, blackmail material, codes that give access to your telephone, bank, or internet accounts, personal information about loved ones that can be kidnapped, or your True Name.
Anyone who knows your style can recognize your powers by sight. Know stunts made against you by someone who has seen your powers or their results have a difficulty equal to your Mind or Know, whichever is lower. You never suffer power loss from this limitation, but might clue others in on how to give you Power Loss.
You can focus anytime, but when you do all enemies get to do an immediate Analyze Weakness stunt without spending any shots.
You are dependent on an external supply of energy to work your powers. This could be an electric grid, the universal web of power, the stars being right, the mystic field of force that connects all life, or the attention and good will of a supernatural entity or god. This method tends to be universal; either everyone of a tradition uses it, or no-one does. This makes the method suitable for campaigns where mysterious and remote events dwarf the efforts of the heroes.
When you are out of contact or favor with your power supply, your powers don't work. There might be means for others to disrupt this flow of power, but mostly its something between you and your supplier. Unlike similar methods, this supply is either turned on or off at a remote location; it is not something you can carry an inventory of and use as needed, though there might be ways of getting around it.
Whenever you have been out of supply, your focus sharpens and you have an easier time focusing as your powers come back to you. This free focus lasts for about as long as the power interruption, measured in real-world time; if you were out of power for half a session, you can automatically focus for the remainder of the session.
This is commonly not a machine or natural phenomenon, but instead a network of minds.
You have a reserve of inner power, called mana for supernatural powers and by some technical term such as battery or capacitors for technology. You can use this reserve to fuel your power, but when you have done so you become weak and need to restore your power reserve afterward.
When you have used your power intensely, such as in a fight, you grow tired at the end of the scene. Once the fight is over, you cannot use powers until you have replenished your power; a short ritual taking about 15 minutes. Exactly what you do to recover power reserve depends on your power tradition; eating, meditation, prayer, reading, recharging capacitors or connecting to a power outlet are all examples. If there is a condition placed on your recovery that is out of your control, such as sunlight, use of a power outlet, or high wind, your recovery varies - it becomes 5 minutes with access to this recovery aid, 1 hour without the aid.
You can focus at any time. The first use is safe. Roll 1d6 when you focus this way. If the result is lower than the number of times you used this method to focus this session, the power limitation of Power Reserve kicks in immediately.
Physical activity can hinder mystical ability; energies that could have been channeled into the mystical are used for base physical body needs. By applying restraint, the distractions of the physical body are eliminated, which frees your power. For technological origins, the same can apply; nerves and brain capacity are re-routed from body control to power control.
You must be physically restrained in some way or your powers become weaker. You cannot use Limit Break powers when not bound. Being bound involves at least one of the conditions below. You must be restrained in such a way that you cannot quickly free yourself; it should take at least 15 minutes for you to get free on your own, someone else can free you with a stunt. Note that it is possible, even encouraged, to use powers to overcome the handicap of restraints.
When you use your powers, there is a risk you will become further restrained; on a Snakeyes roll when using powers you must accept Power Loss or roll 1d6 for a random restraint, adding +1 for each previous restraint.Restraints last at least a scene, and often for the rest of the session. Physical restraint in Action does not completely prevent a hero from action, they impose handicaps to be overcome.
- Gagging prevents mundane speech. Stymies all Charm and Impress checks.
- Handcuffing is when your hands are tied in front of you, but not so tightly as to make them completely unusable; you can still use one hand effectively, such as using weapons or tools of Small size or smaller.
- Hobbling indicates restrained legs, but not fixed to each other. It means you cannot move as part of a normal Basic Action, and can only move your normal move when you do a Full Move action or otherwise do an action that grants extra movement..
- Immobilized, stuck to something, alternatively on a short leash which prevents movement beyond one or two meters. If you are stuck to a creature whose Body is greater than yours, you are forced along as it moves, otherwise you are both immobilized unless you two cooperate.
- Bound Legs you fall prone and cannot stand unsupported, which prevents and hinders many actions as determined by the situation and stunt description. Your Move is reduced to 1. Swimming and flying creatures are entangled, with similar effects.
- Bound Arms prevent most physical manipulation and the use of weapons and implements. You can still use tackles and head butts for (Body +0) damage or a Tiny Ranged Weapon, but limited to Close range.
- Blinded restricts your awareness, giving you only a rough estimate of objects and creatures in a diameter equal to your Mind; you are insensitive to things beyond this range. Everyone has enough concealment to Sneak on you, and against creatures beyond your perception range, you have to use Reflexes rather than Recon for defense against Recon stunts.
- (or more) Hogtie A hogtied character cannot act physically and can only move one meter as a standard action; no movement is otherwise allowed. This also prevents all Defense actions.
You can focus when bound, but if you are not fully restrained, there is a chance the process will backfire. Roll 1d6 when you use this power. If you currently lack the type of restraint indicated by the roll, you are either thus restrained, or the focus fails. Which of these happens can vary depending on tradition, outlook, availability of restrains and even sometimes personal choice. If the focus fails, you cannot try again until the enxt round.
Pyrotesse has hands and legs bound uses this power. Since she lacks some kinds of restraint, she rolls 1d6, rolling a 5, adding +2 for her two current restraints for a total of 7, which indicates blindfolding, which she lacks. Since she has no blindfold and it just doesn't make sense for the scene, she is not blindfolded and focusing fails. She cannot try to use this method to focus again for the current round.
Restraint and disability can help psionic powers in that they remove bodily distractions.
You have some unique item you must have to work your power. Talismans are reasonably large and obvious, like a staff, diadem, dowsing pin, special hat, gizmo or whatever. Without it, you are powerless. Unlike props, this is one specific item. Your talisman is a signature item; it will not disappear unless there is some plot-driven reason for it to disappear, and customs officials and other bystanders will generally ignore it. But its function is always apparent to others of your tradition and to everyone once you start using it for obvious effects. Those in the know might try to take it away from you.
This focus can be either destructible or indestructible. If it is indestructible, it cannot be replaced; you MUST get your unique item back. If it is destructible, it is still tough and hard to destroy, but it can be damaged, and you can replace it.
You suffer power loss when you are without your focus item.
Trigger Action (Focus, Combo)
When your focus item is directly involved in a successful use of your power, such as if you strike with your staff or throw your power diadem, you can focus. You can even do this as a combo with your Limit Break if the Limit Break itself fulfills the condition. This involves a bit of risk; you call attention to your talisman and could potentially lose it.
Your power is fueled by sexuality, both your own and that of your targets.
You must have regular sex to replenish your power. You must engage is some sexual activity each day (even if it is as modest as masturbation or sexual fantasies), and you must have a full-fleshed sexual encounter with a partner at least once a week.
Whenever you manage to create sexual tension you can focus. If this is with a friend, it must be a sexual act or a noteworthy development in your relationship. If it is with an opponent, a successful sexually-themed stunt involving Charm or Presence is sufficient.
Your powers work best when you are in a trance, and you are aware even when asleep.
When you use your powers, you enter a trance until your next shot comes up. You cannot use Trigger Actions while in this trance. You do not sleep. Instead you trance as above, and you can still act in this trance.
You enter into a trance (as above) for the rest of the scene. You can break out of the trance trough conscious effort - a Basic Action.
You have taken an oath, and your power only works while you maintain this oath. Stricter vows are likely to interfere much more with your power, but also to grant many more opportunities to focus.
- Vow against killing
- Vow against violence
- Vow of abstinence (from drugs, eating meat, or similar)
- Vow of celibacy
- Vow of fasting
- Vow of forthrightness (no sneaking, approach problems head on)
- Vow of poverty (entrust your upkeep to others, handle no valuables)
- Vow of silence
- Vow of truth (no lying or deliberate deception; silence is acceptable)
You can stand by and watch others breaking the vow with no consequences for you, but in this case you cannot use your adherence to the vow to focus (see below) unless there was some personal stake or advantage you gave up.
You must not have broken your vow recently to practice power. Willfully breaking the vow negates your power for a session, or longer for plot reasons. Breaking it because of coercion or necessity (and this might be frequent in case of such things as fasting) means you cannot use your powers for a scene.
When your vow makes you behave in a way that is irrational or causes a loss in the long or short term, you can focus. This applies even if just one of these three conditions are met; taking a short-term disadvantage might well work out to a long-term advantage, but it still allows you to focus.