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Psychics

Psychics are otherwise normal people who manifest one or more psionic abilities.

By default, the Here There Be Monsters setting assumes that psychics are very rare. The majority of people with psionic potential never become "active", meaning the manifestation of one or more psionic abilities. Perhaps 1 in 10,000 people have some latent psychic potential, and perhaps 1 in a million are psychically active.

Of active psionics, some first manifest when very young (sometimes even while still in the womb), and a few manifest late in life, but the majority tend to manifest while going through puberty (or at least before reaching full maturity).

Some active psychics are not consciously aware of their abilities, using them instinctively or subconsciously. Others struggle to control or to activate them at will, but the most advanced active psychics are aware of the nature of their abilities and with time and practice can figure out how to make maximum use of them.

The most common kinds of psionic abilities found in the Here There Be Monsters setting are described below:

  • Extra Sensory Perception
    • Cognizance (superhuman knowledge or awareness of one or more things)
    • Empathy (sensing the emotions of others)
    • Mono-directional Telepathy (receiving the thoughts of others)
    • Clairsentience (perceiving things at great distances)
    • Tempuscogniton
      • Precognition (perceiving possible future events)
      • Postcognition (perceiving past events)
        • Psychometry (perceiving past events via contact with objects)
  • Psionically Enhanced Capabilities
    • Savantism (psionically enhanced skills)
    • Sensitivity (psionically enhanced senses)
    • Vitruviology (psionically enhanced physical abilities)
  • Mental Projection / Manipulation
    • Bi-directional Telepathy (direct mental communication, reading and sending thoughts)
    • Mental Possession (direct piloting of other living beings)
    • Mental Domination (control over mental states and / or behavior)
    • Mental Invisibility (invisibility acheived by blocking living minds from perceiving)
    • Mental Assault (psychogenic projection; directly attacking minds)
    • Empathic Domination (control over emotional states and / or behavior)
  • Astral Interaction
    • Astral Medium (interaction with entities residing in the Astral Plane)
    • Astral Vessel (ability to allow self-possession by an entity residing in the Astral Plane)
    • Astral Influence (control over entities residing in the Astral Plane)
    • Astral Projection (out of body experience)
  • Cosmic Manipulation
    • Probability Manipulation (alteration of statistical outcomes; luck)
    • Spatial Manipulation (teleportation and non-linear spatial phenomenon)
    • Time Manipulation (alteration of temporal phenomenon)
    • Suppression (psionically suppressing other supernatural abilities)
  • Kinesis
    • Telekinesis (control over physical systems)
    • Cyberkinesis (control over electronic systems)
    • Biokinesis (control over biological systems)
      • Psychic Surgery (altering organic tissue at the cellular level)
      • Cellular Destruction (destroying organic tissue at the cellular level)
    • Ergokinesis (control of dynamic forces)
      • Psychokinesis (force projection and / or control)
      • Pyrokinesis (heat emission and / or control)
      • Cyrokinesis (cold emission and / or control)
      • Electrokinesis (electricity emission and / or control)
      • Lumenkinesis (light emission and / or control)
      • Magnekinesis (magnetic emission and / or control)
      • Plasmakinesis (plasma emission and / or control)

While stronger psychics often manifest more than one psionic ability, most psychics have a single "shtick" so to speak, though it might be modeled with more than one Ability Trait. For instance a pyrokinetic is able to generate heat and flames with their mind and this could be modeled simply via the Ranged Ability Trait and a SFX or two, or via Ranged plus a limited version of the Fire Ability Trait.

Normal Ability Sets and Traits

Psychics often have a mix of mundane capabilities and one or more capabilities justified as being psionic in nature. A Psychic character's non-psionic abilities follow the same restrictions as those of a Normal character; in fact when writing up a new Psychic character it will often make sense to start by making a lower Tiered Normal character and then layering the character's psionic capabilities on top of that base.

Generally speaking, a Psychic character's unenhanced normal capabilities should be kept in a separate Ability Set from their psionic capabilities to avoid confusion when practical. However in some cases, such as if a character's Psionic abilities are represented as one or more SFX that allow the character to augment their otherwise normal capabilities (such as Dorothy's psionically augmented kickboxing), it might make more sense to use a single Ability Set.

Psionic Ability Sets and Traits

Psionic capabilities can be represented using nearly any Innate or Standard Ability Trait with sufficient justification.

All of the Ability Traits in the Psychic Ability Trait Category are (obviously) available to psychic characters.

Ability Traits in the Mystical Category are not available to psychic characters; except Warding which is available to virtually all characters (up to a d8 step) via the Defensive Ability Trait Category.

Most of the Ability Traits in the Special Ability Traits Category are available to psychic characters, but those traits that are also in the Mystical Category require (such as Conjuration, Summoning, or Polymorph) require very strong justification and the application of various SFX and / or Limits to dial in an appropriate "psionic" feel. For instance a psychic spirit medium might summon "ghosts" from the Astral Plane, or a psychic with apportation abilities might conjure small objects via teleportation, and a psychic surgeon might use Polymorph to alter someone's anatomy. For psychic characters that want abilities such as these, it might be better to make a custom Ability Trait tweaked and refined to properly model the desired effect. The Spells Ability Trait (and variants such as Necromancy) should not be permitted for psionic characters to avoid blurring the intended distinction between mystical and psychic phenomena.

Psionic Abilities And SFX

Psionic abilities are generally Psyche based, and manifested by either instinctive intent or as an act of willpower. As such it is common for the intensity of psionics to vary based upon the current mental state of the psychic; SFX such as the following are common (but not required) for psychic Ability Sets.

SFX: Boost: You may step up one of this Ability Set's traits for one action or reaction. If you do, shut down this SFX; activate an opportunity to recover this SFX.
SFX: Escalation: You may add a d8 to the doom pool to step up and double one of this Ability Set's traits for your next action or reaction.
SFX: Push [trait-name]: Step up and double [trait-name] for one action, then step back [trait-name] trait until you are able to recover it by activating an opportunity or during a Transition Scene.
SFX: Surge: In a dice pool including one of this Ability Set's traits you may remove two dice of equal steps from the dice pool; if you do you may step up one of the removed dice and put it back into your dice pool.
SFX: Unleashed: You may step up or double one of this Ability Set's traits for one action. If the action fails, add a die to the doom pool equal to the normal die rating of that Ability trait.

Psionic Abilities And Limits

Psychics generally have a supernatural aura, thus it is typical for an Ability Set with one or more psionic Traits or SFX to include the Supernatural Aura Limit or a variation of it. Those with advanced supernatural awareness (d8 and higher) can perceive the difference between psionic, mystical, and other types of supernatural auras.

Limit: Supernatural Aura: You have a supernatural aura that is detectable by those with special senses. Gain one (1) Plot Point when this becomes a Complication for you.

Psionic abilities are not spells and usage of them does not require spell-like flourishes such as material components, incantations, gestures, pentagrams, or similar "mumbo jumbo". However some psychics require intense concentration or effort, or can become too fatigued to use some or all of their abilities, or can suffer mental strain from using their abilities in stressful situations, and similar drawbacks. Thus Limits such as the following are common (but not required) for psychic Ability Sets.

Limit: Burnout: You may step up and double all of this Ability Set's traits for one Panel, and then shut down this Ability Set. You may attempt to recover this Ability Set during a Transition Scene if it was shut down in this way.
Limit: Conscious Activation: Shut down this Ability Set if stressed out, asleep, or unconscious. Recover this Ability Set when stress is recovered or you awake. If Ego Trauma is taken, shut down this Ability Set until trauma is recovered.
Limit: Destabilizing: To use one of this Ability Set's traits or SFX on an action or reaction you must either spend one (1) Plot Point, or take a die from the doom pool and include it in your dice pool. If you take a die from the doom pool, after the action or reaction is resolved step up that die and return it to the doom pool.
Limit: Exhausted: Shut down any Ability Trait in this Ability Set to gain one (1) Plot Point. Recover Ability Traits shut down in this way by activating an opportunity or during a Transition Scene.
Limit: Non-Combat: When using one of this Ability Set's traits or SFX during a combat situation, a failed action is considered to be an opportunity.
Limit: Sensitive: You are sometimes affected by sensory overload; this Ability Set's Senses trait becomes a Complication and you gain one (1) Plot Point when this happens.
Limit: Wrung Out: You suffer d4 Ego Stress whenever you spend your last Plot Point.

Extradimensional Interaction

Unlike mystics and believers who (knowingly or not) tap into or manipulate extradimensional energies to achieve supernatural effects, psychics manifest their abilities via the power of their own minds.

However, some psychics have the ability to perceive or cross into other dimensions. For instance, though it is a very rare ability some psychics are able to teleport, typically by connecting two points in their dimension by intersecting with some other non-adjacent dimension. Similarly, many espers (psychics with extra sensory perceptions) can perceive into nearby dimensions or dimensional focal points or detect traces of extradimensional energy being channeled into their own dimension.

The Astral Plane

Additionally, some psychics have an affinity with a closely adjacent dimension referred to variably as the "Astral Plane", or "Umbral Realm", or the "Ether" and several other terms. Many disposesed spirits who fail to pass on to further flung dimensions remain stuck in this dimension, and psychic mediums can communicate or interact with (some of) these spirits. Some psychics can project their consciousness into this dimension and use it to spy upon the prime dimension at potentially great distances from their physical body, or to interact with other consciousnesses present in the dimension. It is rumored that a few very powerful psychics can further utilize the Astral Plane for other bizarre or insidious purposes, but documentation is spotty.

Regardless of the specific manifestation however, in all cases a psychic's interaction with or usage of the Astral Plane is powered by their own mind and life force. This is in stark contrast to a mystic or believer accomplishing similar feats by channeling extradimensional energies, and with different pros and cons. On the plus side, while mystics and believers interacting with the Astral Plane can have their effects dispelled or terminated by interfering with their connection to their power source, a psychic is not subject to such a restriction as they themselves are the power source. On the con side, most psychics will eventually become fatigued and also risk damage to their psyche.