Saturday, January 8, 2022

2022 Character Challenge 08) Psi-World

 For day 8 of the #CharacterCreationChallenge we rocket 10-50 years into the future!

I've always loved the _concept_ of this game and it's one that I think could do very well with a contemporary kickstarted reboot that really had the space to explore the world. If you're not familiar, Psi-world takes places 10-50 years in the future, and the adventures start in your city/town/community at that point, to make it easier for the GM to transition players in as they are well familiar with the geography. In that 10-50 years 1) humans have developed some space/moon bases and 2) psi-powers have started emerging to the fear and consternation the general populace. 

Yes, the theory that we were one generation away from, if not commonplace, than at least routine space work, is very much in keeping with the early 80's when the game was designed, although the dream was dying even then. And this book kind of recognizes that for while your character can have the Spacer background package the game never mentions it again, and I don't think any of the supplements touched on it. 

Players can be Normal People dealing with the threat of the psionic menace in their communities, using high tech devices and military training to deal with the Psi menace that could take over the world… or be beleaguered Psionics trying to escape persecution and form safe communities in the face of Normal fear and oppression. Again, the game as presented does next to nothing with the first option – there's no chrome for special training, cool gadgets, anything that might make the idea of bravely saving humanity from the legitimate threat of psionic powers seem cool or fun. This is because, and let's be real here, the game is about being someone with nifty psionic powers being hunted by dumbass humans. That's how it's played

So I built one such psion. The initial stat rolls for physical abilities were all below average, but since I already built the 'explain away poor physicals with being young' for Doctor Who, I wanted to do the reverse here. Unfortunately, the game has rules for starting, and it looks like PC would cap out in his early 20s. Hmmm. Anyway, his mental stats all ended up above average, and hey, Psi-World, not complaining. 

Skills have an interesting table where you roll 1d100 and add half your intelligence stat, and another +30% if you're human. The number you roll determines what skill tables you can buy off of – anyone can get General but you have to roll right to get Technical, Military, Advanced Degree, or Spacer. Norms have a much better chance of more educational opportunities due to that +30%. Not sure anyone would design like that today, but it does start simulating the world. I ended up rolling very well (94%+7%= 101%) and slipped into an Advanced Degree. I nearly made it into Spacer, but since the game never actually defines anything about that this probably works in my favor. 

You roll 4d10 for your number of skill points, and here I blew it out of the water with a 35. That means an extra 7 years on the base 16+1d4 age to learn those skills and I end up being 24. Not really what I wanted… BUT… It turns out (If I'm reading this right) that taking Advanced Education skills means long predetermined courses of study. Which I think is supposed to add to your age. 

Skills are either Non-Level (in which case a single skill point gets them) or Leveled (where you buy in 10% blocks). It doesn't look like there are any adds from stats. With 35 skill points my character is crazy skilled to start, so something formed in my head of a Doctor and Lawyer focusing on the medical ethics of psi powers. That let me drop 10 points in Physician, 9 points in Lawyer, 4 points in Chemistry, which added a total of 18 years to his age. Now he's 42, a skilled doctor, practicing lawyer, who dual majored in Chemistry in college, though his skills have slipped a bit. For game play sake I'm adding that he's also taken Tai Chi for health reasons, and is an avid dancer, gambler and swimmer. He's not above making use of human greed (Bribery 40%) either, mostly because the Bribery skill was there. 

Fortunately, the town I live in now is a wildly affluent suburb of NY City, so having the character I want – a child of wealth and privilege who became a doctor and lawyer and uses his Psi powers to protect other Psis – fits in very well around these parts. And the game doesn't seem to have any rules about starting wealth or social status, so this PC has gobs of what Call of Cthulu would call Credit Rating. Abbott Chesterfield IV (or the Ridgefield, CT Chesterfields) is his name. 

Now onto the Psi Powers. Psi Powers are run with a pool of Psionic Power Points, which are equal to double your Psi stat. Abbott's 16 here serves him well, with 32 starting points. You recover Psi Power Points with 8 hours of sleep, and there are rules for how much you get back if you aren't getting that much sleep. 

My options are rolling randomly (which might give you more powers), picking one major power (things like Telepathy or Teleportation, which have a variety of sub-powers under them) or two minor powers (which might be a single permanent ability that reduces your overall Psi score because it's always running). My current favorite Psi Power is Astral Projection, which is under the Minor Powers list, so that clarifies my options. I go with two Minor Powers and take Astral Projection (which takes 15 Psi per hour, so he can conceivably do 4 hours a day) as well as Null-Psi, which you can use to either make it impossible to detect psi power use or shut down other people's psi powers, both inside a small radius. This sounds great for the idea of someone who can use his position and privilege to assist other Psis and then use his psi powers to protect them from discovery. He's forming very much into the avuncular protective figure for a group of younger Psis more in line with the games default ages. 

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