Redoing Psionics

alex_greene

Cosmic Mongoose
A discussion thread started here asked what I could do if I could redesign Traveller from the ground up. I have had some ideas on that thread, but I really want to talk about what I'd do with the psionics rules as written.

1. Psionics - put that right in at the start of chargen, next to the regular chargen, not as an afterthought at the end. Its use is still optional; it just needs to be brought in with the others.

2. Stats in general, but Psi in particular - don't roll on 2d6; roll on 1d6+6 for all stats, including Psi. Psi can also be used, much like raw Str, raw Dex and so on, to represent a character's psionic intuition and resistance to psionic intrusion if a non-Telepathic psion.

3. Psionic Strength points are not the same as the Psi rating; when a psion spends Psi points, they don't come from the Psionic Strength rating, affecting the DM. Who in Crom's name thought up that stupid piece of legislation? The points dwindle; the DM stays the same.

4. Testing and training, and the "Dying Inside" cumulative negative penalties for aging. Out the window. How are you ever going to have 900 year old super psions otherwise?

5. Recovery times - at high Psi, recovery from Psionic Point expenditure could take minutes, rather than hours.

6. Testing and training again. Assume you go with the 1d6+6 rule above. Great. Now do something about the training bit, that could potentially leave the character with a 12 Psi and no Talents whatsoever due to a whole bunch of bad rolls when trying to acquire Talents.
Use a table instead that allows for at least ONE Talent, no matter what, e.g.
  • Roll 2d6 - Talent
    2 - Telepathy-0
    3 - Telepathy-1
    4 - Telepathy-1 + Clairvoyance-0
    5 - Telepathy-1 + Clairvoyance-1
    6 - Telepathy-1 + 1 Talent-0, player's choice
    7 - 2 Talents-1, player's choice
    8 - Telepathy-1 + 2 Talents-0, player's choice
    9 - 3 Talents-1, player's choice
    10 - Telepathy-2 + Awareness-1 + 2 other Talents-0, player's choice
    11 - 1 Talent-3 + 1 Talent-2 + 2 Talents-1, player's choice
    12 - Everything-2

Something like that.

7. Range costs. Unnecessary. Instead of range costs, a penalty DM - which one can either just take their chances with the die roll or offset with Psionic Strength points in a non-linear manner: 1 Psi offsets a range penalty up to Short, 2 Psi offsets the range penalty up to Long, 3 up to Distant, 4 Planetary, 5 allows interplanetary and interstellar communication and sensing (Telepathy and Clairvoyance only), 6 allows the same ranges for Teleportation, and includes the option for Telepathy and Clairvoyance through time / across dimensions, the same as for Teleportation.

8. Telepathy and Clairvoyance need a shakeup.

9. Rules for psionic combat - e.g. substituting Psi for Dexterity in a contest of psionic combat, using Telepathy rating as armour against Psi Assault, and different damage inflicted by Assault during telepathic combat. Rules for psionic combat against a non-telepath psion.

10. Microkinesis - needs rewriting, e.g. Dexterity rather than Strength, allow effect at range, allow manipulation at range, the equivalent of being able to use, say, Computers. Medic or Explosives remotely.

11. Flight rules - Gods, game designers SUCK when they come up with speeds for Flight spells, Flight psionics and all. The best they seem to manage is that the most powerful psion can barely manage a clumsy bobbing flight like a balloon.

12. Awareness - Psionically Enhanced (Characteristic) - not just Strength and Endurance, the psion can add his Psi DM (minimum of +1) to one characteristic DM, or raise it to the minimum level which can sustain a +1 DM if the characteristic is below 9. The psion can raise one characteristic per level of Awareness Talent he has, +1.

For instance, a Psion with Awareness-2, Psi-15 (I know, the Ozymandias of psionics) can add his +3 DM to each of any three characteristics at one time, so today he goes with Dex, Int and Edu, all of which gain his natural +3 DM or (if they are naturally below 5) are raised to the minimum characteristic which can sustain that DM - in this case, 15.

13. Teleportation. The limitations are crippling and ridiculous. Ditch all of them apart from the preknowledge of destination, and assume that the maximum Teleportation Talent DM that can be applied is capped by the size of the Clairvoyance Talent level, and add no further costs to the Teleportation. Or use a raw Psi roll and apply the range penalty DM to it, as described above.

14. Improving Psi and Talents. These need clarification and inclusion among the rest of the rules on character improvement and training.

It's things like these, just off the top of my head, which would make psionics more playable.

Thoughts?
 

AndrewW

Emperor Mongoose
alex_greene said:
2. Stats in general, but Psi in particular - don't roll on 2d6; roll on 1d6+6 for all stats, including Psi. Psi can also be used, much like raw Str, raw Dex and so on, to represent a character's psionic intuition and resistance to psionic intrusion if a non-Telepathic psion.

I have used exactly that for players rolling up characters.

alex_greene said:
3. Psionic Strength points are not the same as the Psi rating; when a psion spends Psi points, they don't come from the Psionic Strength rating, affecting the DM. Who in Crom's name thought up that stupid piece of legislation? The points dwindle; the DM stays the same.

4. Testing and training, and the "Dying Inside" cumulative negative penalties for aging. Out the window. How are you ever going to have 900 year old super psions otherwise?

5. Testing and training again. Assume you go with the 1d6+6 rule above. Great. Now do something about the training bit, that could potentially leave the character with a 12 Psi and no Talents whatsoever due to a whole bunch of bad rolls when trying to acquire Talents.
Use a table instead that allows for at least ONE Talent, no matter what, e.g.
  • Roll 2d6 - Talent
    2 - Telepathy-0
    3 - Telepathy-1
    4 - Telepathy-1 + Clairvoyance-0
    5 - Telepathy-1 + Clairvoyance-1
    6 - Telepathy-1 + 1 Talent-0, player's choice
    7 - 2 Talents-1, player's choice
    8 - Telepathy-1 + 2 Talents-0, player's choice
    9 - 3 Talents-1, player's choice
    10 - Telepathy-2 + Awareness-1 + 2 other Talents-0, player's choice
    11 - 1 Talent-3 + 1 Talent-2 + 2 Talents-1, player's choice
    12 - Everything-2

Something like that.

7. Telepathy and Clairvoyance need a shakeup.

8. Rules for psionic combat - e.g. substituting Psi for Dexterity in a contest of psionic combat, using Telepathy rating as armour against Psi Assault, and different damage inflicted by Assault during telepathic combat. Rules for psionic combat against a non-telepath psion.

Agreed.

Note don't really disagree with any of it but don't have a particular opinion one way or the other on the rest.
 

LegendaryJWP

Mongoose
Your ideas are going to lead to a much, much higher percentage of people being active psionicists, and even those that are not are going to be prepared better for dealing with same. If that's cool for your universe, I say go with it. In the Third Imperium, that would lead to entirely too many natural psis for a society that persecutes them.
 

alex_greene

Cosmic Mongoose
That's the problem. That 3I is like a black hole. Everything revolves around the setting, and everyone makes the assumption that the rules are going to have to be measured against the assumptions that govern the 3I setting and ONLY that metric. As if you could not come up with your own setting, or run Watchmen In Space or your own variations of Star Trek, Babylon 5, Doctor Who or some other sf show instead of being tied to the Imperium.

Not to mention the dismissive sneers and "In YTU, maybe; but in the OTU ..."

But Traveller is not exclusively for the 3I setting. The 3I runs with the Traveller rules engine, but the rules engine is not exclusive to the 3I. The revised psionics rules grant more power to psions, but look how much power still a FGMP-15 has against the most powerful human psion going, when the man wielding the fusion gun is sitting pretty behind a psi shield.

And having that much natural power vested in one man ... it's not that different from being tooled up with a variety of guns, Combat Armour, a grav belt and some sort of Ancient disintegrator pistol and charging into any combat like a superhero, all guns blazing.

This is why MgT 2nd, if they're doing it, has got to cut out the last vestigial ties that require if to be bound to the 3I setting. Put the psion rules in with the rest of chargen, perhaps as an option at the end of the chargen chapter, and explain the 3I setting briefly at the end of the book, where the psionics rules are now. Referees need better guidance in creating settings, scenarios and campaigns at the back, and that includes the possibility of creating a psi-heavy campaign that makes Secrets Of The Ancients look tame by comparison.
 

LegendaryJWP

Mongoose
alex_greene said:
That's the problem. That 3I is like a black hole. Everything revolves around the setting, and everyone makes the assumption that the rules are going to have to be measured against the assumptions that govern the 3I setting and ONLY that metric. As if you could not come up with your own setting, or run Watchmen In Space or your own variations of Star Trek, Babylon 5, Doctor Who or some other sf show instead of being tied to the Imperium.

I see where you're coming from, and would simply suggest that these alternate psionics rules be put in char gen, but in an "optional rules" box, much like hyperdrives are in the starship creation rules.

I, for one, do not welcome our new generic system overlords - not for Traveller at any rate. I love all manner of generic systems (GUPRS, HERO, BRP), but then, I started playing Trav in '82, so Traveller to me means the Third Imperium.
 

Hopeless

Mongoose
Based on details from the book I looked at the minimum that should be possible so for example Awareness +0 I figured she could enhance herself at some set task but because she didn't enough skill at this psionic ability it couldn't be as simple as enhancing a characteristic so improving a basic task by means of focusing on that task alone however rather than keeping it according to what Psionic points she has available I figured she would be able to use that ability a number of times before being fatigued or exhausted as if she had been running or pushing herself physically.

I kept to the rules as much as possible but expanded in areas where there wasn't sufficient information like Telepathy +0 meaning she has a mind shield allowing her to sense when someone was mentally attacking or for example trying to fool her mind with illusions for instance since I included the Psi characteristic as a form of Willpower ability score and also serve as a "dump stat" that wouldn't pose a problem for a player since psionics isn't that commonly used in the Traveller games I played in or ran (well I ran a Zhodani telepath in a Gurps game but thats the exception!)_

Apologies for my earlier reply I had intended to go into more detail but after my first message I found I had to wait until I got home before amending my first draft.

I hope this is much clearer!
 

Nathan Brazil

Banded Mongoose
Some of the times to perform a psionic action may take too long. Alter the time for effect and explain what happens campaign wise. Ditto on changing the Task Difficulties.
 
OP, didn't we all talk all this through on another thread recently?

Personally, I think the current chargen MgT system is fine, 1d6 + 6 for characteristics creates more superheors, if that works for YTU, fine, but the 2d6 is better for a baseline.

As regards psionics, your suggestion will just create a lot of magical wizard/jedi types. Fine, D &D covers that angle a lot better (isn't there a Star Wars game out there somewhere? How did that handle psionics?).

In regard to the CRB, the very fact that it tries to avoid super magical powers is a plus point, psionics have to be very careful when and how they use their powers. I use them in a 3I setting, initially with some reservations, but have found that a psion of psi 8 with two or three talents is not a game changer, and can sometimes be a liability if badly played. In a homebrew setting I would probably just ignore psionic entirely, and lump it together with the "Deception" skill. Playing down these powers, or ignoring them entirely, leads to a better game.

I like that Trav sets out to have a fairly hard and "realistic" game system, which pretty much rules out magical powers, the current psionics rule are a well balanced concession to the obsession some classic sci-fi authors mysterious powers.

So, as a baseline the current CRB is just fine, the Psion book adds some additions, and I suggest the OP looks at that.

Please, leave spooky powers to D & D or YTU, not the basic rules.

Egil
 

tneva82

Mongoose
alex_greene said:
2. Stats in general, but Psi in particular - don't roll on 2d6; roll on 1d6+6 for all stats, including Psi. Psi can also be used, much like raw Str, raw Dex and so on, to represent a character's psionic intuition and resistance to psionic intrusion if a non-Telepathic psion.

Why such a big boost to stats in general? Apart from minimum going from 2 to 7 you also boost average to 9.5 so average guys are running around with 4-6 +1 modifiers from stats alone...Suddenly every random guy is far above what would be considered average joe here. Guess that's nice if you are representing world where humans have managed to finetune their genes to lead into homo superiors but what if players want to have universum where humans are still more in line to what we are now?

4. Testing and training, and the "Dying Inside" cumulative negative penalties for aging. Out the window. How are you ever going to have 900 year old super psions otherwise?

By making some special rule to govern such unusual thing? I assume we are talking about generating humans who, funny that, die. If we are dealing some non-humans then of course char gens are to be changed. Last time I checked psionics doesn't turn automatically human into somebody who ain't dying out of old age.
 

alex_greene

Cosmic Mongoose
Egil Skallagrimsson said:
Please, leave spooky powers to D & D or YTU, not the basic rules.
In YTU, maybe, but they are IN the OTU.

And in a ton of other hard SF writers' books, too, curiously enough, along with other science-defying technologies such as grav plates and FTL.
 
alex_greene said:
Egil Skallagrimsson said:
Please, leave spooky powers to D & D or YTU, not the basic rules.
In YTU, maybe, but they are IN the OTU.

And in a ton of other hard SF writers' books, too, curiously enough, along with other science-defying technologies such as grav plates and FTL.

Yeah, careless use of English on my part, should have said "leave game changing super-magical powers to D& D or YTU, not the basic rules". I have found that the current rules provide enough spookyness for MTU.

Grav plates and FTL fall into the fiction side of science fiction, and the hope that one day such technologies will be developed through science. However, I see psionics as a fundamentally wistful attempt to reject progress. However, a lot of classic SF writers got rather carried away with mental "talents", and as a consequence limited psionic powers should be available in Trav to mirror this style of fiction. But once these powers get ramped up too far they will dominate the game to the exclusion of other activities and unbalance the game.

And this balance I think the current system achieves really well.

Egil
 

ShawnDriscoll

Cosmic Mongoose
alex_greene said:
Thoughts?

Traveller isn't Star Wars. Psionics is illegal in most of the Imperium. As you say, rebuild Traveller from the ground up. So do it. But don't call it Traveller.

Why not change/add all the characteristics while you're at it? Why change only the Psi part?
 

alex_greene

Cosmic Mongoose
I'd love it if they had a similar system for physical tasks, based on End rather than Psi. A few short jogs, in full kit, and the Marine is useless after a three hundred metre dash at half speed.

The psionics system is broken.
 
alex_greene said:
5. Testing and training again. Assume you go with the 1d6+6 rule above. Great. Now do something about the training bit, that could potentially leave the character with a 12 Psi and no Talents whatsoever due to a whole bunch of bad rolls when trying to acquire Talents.
Alex, I remember you posting about this being a problem a few months ago, and the answer remains the same, it is not likely, using your psi 12 character, he will have +2 on his talents roll, so, assuming going from easiest to learn to hardest;
Telepathy +4 +2 = +6, he can't roll any lower than a 2, so will get this.
Clairvoyance +3+2-1=+4, just needs a 4 to get this one.
Telekinese +2+2-2 = +2, needs a 6, odds still in favour.
Awareness +1+2-3= 0, needs a 8.
Teleportation 0+2-4=-2, will need a 10, so probably won't get this one.

He is only going to come away with no talent if he goes for the hardest talents to learn first, and them is very unlucky. If so, his choice, another psion of great potential fails the test.

Of course, you may allow later attempts to gain talents the character failed to get last time, perhaps after another period of study, or a 4 year term, or whatever. That seems to be implied in the various psion career paths in CRB.

Egil
 
alex_greene said:
I'd love it if they had a similar system for physical tasks, based on End rather than Psi. A few short jogs, in full kit, and the Marine is useless after a three hundred metre dash at half speed.

The psionics system is broken.

:lol: :lol: :lol:

Many people, tens of thousand, probably millions of people have, at some time in their lives, gone for a run in full kit, we have real world comparisons, we know, from experience or someone else's experience, what might be practical.

Psionics, like fairies and Santa Claus, is made up for story telling purposes, there are no real world examples, so the question is simply how much magic do you want in your game. Trav CRB down plays it, but does allow the possibility to fit with some classic sci-fi.

Egil
 

alex_greene

Cosmic Mongoose
Let's also unhouserule Encumbrance and make it a solid and inescapable part of the game, too, because you know, you really cannot escape those pesky laws of physics.

Also, while you're at it, FTL and grav will just have to go, and as for those FGMPs ...
 

alex_greene

Cosmic Mongoose
Egil Skallagrimsson said:
alex_greene said:
I'd love it if they had a similar system for physical tasks, based on End rather than Psi. A few short jogs, in full kit, and the Marine is useless after a three hundred metre dash at half speed.

The psionics system is broken.

:lol: :lol: :lol:

Egil Skallagrimsson said:
Many people, tens of thousand, probably millions of people have, at some time in their lives, gone for a run in full kit, we have real world comparisons, we know, from experience or someone else's experience, what might be practical.
But they never have to deduct End points for each physical effort, because the human body doesn't work like that.

Psionics, like FTL and GRAV, is made up for story telling purposes, there are no real world examples and by the laws of physics that we know there will NEVER BE, so the question is simply how much physics-breaking technobabble sf technology do you want in your game. Trav CRB down plays it, but does allow the possibility to fit with most classic sci-fi, even sci fi written by hardline rationalists such as Isaac Asimov.

Emphases and amendments mine.
 

alex_greene

Cosmic Mongoose
ShawnDriscoll said:
Traveller isn't Star Wars.
No, it really isn't. Men don't snog their sisters in Traveller, but I bet you all shot first.

My first experience of Traveller was in a non-OTU game. The OTU never came into it. I think it was based a little on Star Trek, made up on the spot, houseruled psionics. And the psionics worked, and the game was fun.

ShawnDriscoll said:
Psionics is illegal in most of the Imperium.
So what if the OTU has made psionics illegal in the Imperium? Since the thrust of the thread is focusing on the CRB rules, not on changing the role of psionics in the 3I, this is a bit of a non sequitur. Suddenly, it's not psionics, it's the X-Men: feared, hated, reviled, but saving the universe.

ShawnDriscoll said:
So do it. But don't call it Traveller.
Same goes for your version of the OTU.

ShawnDriscoll said:
Why not change/add all the characteristics while you're at it? Why change only the Psi part?
Because that's the bit that's an afterthought, that ought to be an integral part of chargen instead, right up there at the start, along with the Psion careers.

That part about "Referee's discretion" still applies, you know. And there are tons of mega-powered psions roaming about the OTU, such as Grandfather.

And faced with writing in a Mary Sue like Yaskoydray I'd rather enjoy giving the player characters a chance to be psionic Mary Sues of their own.

Of course, that means they can't go home. But neither could your characters if they've gone and murdered people as part of their adventures.
 
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