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Old 09-21-2020, 05:15 AM   #11
dataweaver
 
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Default Re: Psionic Sorcery (and psionics questions)

I've got a house ruled variation on Realm Magic that attempts to bring back 3e's style of Psionics in a 4e context: for those not familiar with 3e Psionics, each kind of psi had a core advantage that determined how powerful you are (so Telepathy 3 is more powerful than Telepathy 1) and a series of skills that determined what you can do with it (so skill in Telesend let you use your Telepathy to send messages into other peoples' heads and skill in Telereceive let you read someone else's mind).

For my house rule, I take the basic framework for Realm Magic, but instead of breaking the Realm up into levels based on what you can do with it, I treat the levels as straight additions to the intensity, range, area, or duration of a given effect. You determine which effects you can attempt based on which skills you have, and you price the Advantage the same way you would price a Talent: usually, a Realm costs 10/level; but if it has an exceptionally narrow set of associated skills, it's 5/level, and if it has an exceptionally broad set of skills, it's 15/level. For more flexibility, you can assign defaults to the psi skills: traditionally, the Danger Sense skill for ESP and the Empathy skill for Telepathy have IQ-based defaults; but there's also the possibility of some psionic skills defaulting to other ones, forming “default trees” analogous to standard Magic's prerequisite trees.

Something like this could be used as the core advantages of a Sorcery-like variation on 4e's Psionic Powers. Note that using the Realm Magic rules for creating an effect tend to be slower and more energy-intensive than using the powers found in Psionic Powers; so there would still be a benefit to buying the Psionic Abilities. But with this Realm Magic variant as the core advantages of the various Psionic Powers, you'd be able to learn and use each ability's Skill before investing character points in the ability's Advantage.
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Old 09-21-2020, 11:00 AM   #12
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Default Re: Psionic Sorcery (and psionics questions)

Sorcery has mostly Fire and Forget spells (via Affliction for non-instant effects). Sorcerers have the benefit of being able to initiate an ongoing effect, then switch out and initiate a different one the next turn while the first is still going. That doesn't fit the feel of psionic abilities very well - Psis aren't Afflicting themselves with Flight or Temperature Control, they'll be keeping those in their one slot, unable to do anything else.

They'll also lose a lot of the functionality of the very common "Compartmentalized Minds limited to psi powers only" structure. Each compartment can still only use the one ability that's slotted.

Since Improvised minor psi abilities are also arguably less in-genre (if only because everything but Psi Perks will cost too much, and those Perks in my opinion don't "feel" like things that can be continually switched out - YMMV), I might at the very least drop the Modular Abilities base structure and simply have those points represent the highest cost psi ability. This means a Psi will save 1/5th of the base cost compared to a Sorcerer, because he won't have to buy his first ability as an alternate ability. I don't know if that makes up for the other comparative weaknesses though.
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Old 09-21-2020, 12:11 PM   #13
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Default Re: Psionic Sorcery (and psionics questions)

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Originally Posted by transmetahuman View Post
I might at the very least drop the Modular Abilities base structure and simply have those points represent the highest cost psi ability. This means a Psi will save 1/5th of the base cost compared to a Sorcerer, because he won't have to buy his first ability as an alternate ability. I don't know if that makes up for the other comparative weaknesses though.
It's worth noting that dropping the modular abilities will make the Hardcore Improvisation option much more difficult.

Using Abilities at Default has a few things you need to keep in mind:
  • It has to be a plausible variation of your existing ability. For Sorcerous Empowerment, that's easy--since the modular ability can be any spell, you can swap in any spell. If you don't have a modular ability and only have, say, Telekinesis and Mind Control, though, you have to choose something that's a plausible variation of telekinesis or mind control, so, e.g. Warp is probably just off-limits.
  • The penalty is -2 per 25% of the cost of the ability you're substituting from. If your most expensive ability is Modular Abilities, that's simple; that can be anything, so you can always use a proportion of the full point value. If you just have a collection of psi powers, though, improvisation will have to be based on the power you're varying: if you have telekinesis and mind control and you want to do a telekinetic improvisation, you need to use -2 per 25% of the cost of telekinesis, even if you have significantly more points in Mind Control.
  • There's an extra -2 penalty if the ability you're improvising is a significantly different 'type' than the one you're basing it on. Once again, with Sorcery this can be ignored because the modular abilities build can be any type of ability. On the other hand, if you want to improv 'Detect Minds' from 'Mind Control', that's enough of a difference in ability type to probably require the extra -2.

I know some people aren't fans of the modular ability thing in Sorcery because it's an expensive ability that doesn't seem to do much, but aside from the low-cost spells it lets sorcerers cast, it's doing a lot of heavy lifting behind the scenes in terms of simplifying the improvisation rules.
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Old 09-21-2020, 12:30 PM   #14
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Default Re: Psionic Sorcery (and psionics questions)

Note also that Using Abilities At Default is already in use in Psionic Powers: at least one of the Power Techniques used it instead of the Enhancements stunt.

You might also want to consider multiple Psionic Empowerments, one per power: Telepathic Empowerment, ESP Empowerment, etc. If so, they'll be more like Chi Investment (from the Chi Sorcery article), each with a Limitation reflecting the, err, limited selection of abilities available.
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Old 09-21-2020, 12:38 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Not another shrubbery View Post
TK Grab - Usually you need to pick up an object with a Ready Maneuver before you can use another maneuver with it.
There is that Reduced Time option which rather than ignoring the Concentrate needed to activate TK instead ignores a Ready to lift things with it.

RT to remove the concentrate to initiate is probably only an option if you first buy duration and then buy Indepdendent.
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Old 09-21-2020, 02:59 PM   #16
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Default Re: Psionic Sorcery (and psionics questions)

One major limitation of Sorcery is that all spells are alternate abilities of the Sorcerous Empowerment advantage. Only one spell can be active at any time, unless one buys up the highest cost spell to equal the cost of the SE advantage.
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Old 09-21-2020, 03:25 PM   #17
transmetahuman
 
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Default Re: Psionic Sorcery (and psionics questions)

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Originally Posted by Ejidoth View Post
It's worth noting that dropping the modular abilities will make the Hardcore Improvisation option much more difficult.

Using Abilities at Default has a few things you need to keep in mind:
  • It has to be a plausible variation of your existing ability. For Sorcerous Empowerment, that's easy--since the modular ability can be any spell, you can swap in any spell. If you don't have a modular ability and only have, say, Telekinesis and Mind Control, though, you have to choose something that's a plausible variation of telekinesis or mind control, so, e.g. Warp is probably just off-limits.
  • The penalty is -2 per 25% of the cost of the ability you're substituting from. If your most expensive ability is Modular Abilities, that's simple; that can be anything, so you can always use a proportion of the full point value. If you just have a collection of psi powers, though, improvisation will have to be based on the power you're varying: if you have telekinesis and mind control and you want to do a telekinetic improvisation, you need to use -2 per 25% of the cost of telekinesis, even if you have significantly more points in Mind Control.
  • There's an extra -2 penalty if the ability you're improvising is a significantly different 'type' than the one you're basing it on. Once again, with Sorcery this can be ignored because the modular abilities build can be any type of ability. On the other hand, if you want to improv 'Detect Minds' from 'Mind Control', that's enough of a difference in ability type to probably require the extra -2.

I know some people aren't fans of the modular ability thing in Sorcery because it's an expensive ability that doesn't seem to do much, but aside from the low-cost spells it lets sorcerers cast, it's doing a lot of heavy lifting behind the scenes in terms of simplifying the improvisation rules.
Those are all excellent points that I didn't think of. I stand corrected.

I'll instead suggest that Psis should at least make use of the ability to pay for the second most powerful ability at full price, and maybe the third as well, so that they can have two or three abilities operating simultaneously to make up for the lack of Sorcery's fire and forget structure. It'll also give those Compartmentalized Minds something to do besides extra uses of the main slotted ability.
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Old 09-21-2020, 03:34 PM   #18
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Default Re: Psionic Sorcery (and psionics questions)

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Originally Posted by dataweaver View Post
Note also that Using Abilities At Default is already in use in Psionic Powers: at least one of the Power Techniques used it instead of the Enhancements stunt.

You might also want to consider multiple Psionic Empowerments, one per power: Telepathic Empowerment, ESP Empowerment, etc. If so, they'll be more like Chi Investment (from the Chi Sorcery article), each with a Limitation reflecting the, err, limited selection of abilities available.
That is exactly what I'm trying to avoid. I don't like the way normal psionics works in which you have to buy a talent for each power.

Quote:
I know some people aren't fans of the modular ability thing in Sorcery because it's an expensive ability that doesn't seem to do much, but aside from the low-cost spells it lets sorcerers cast, it's doing a lot of heavy lifting behind the scenes in terms of simplifying the improvisation rules.
I didn't even remembered that Sorcery was a modular ability. To be honest, I haven't thought too much about improvisation, I didn't even consider hardcore improvisation.

I am willing to just eyeball Sorcery Empowerment into an advantage that cuts down the price of abilities to 1/5, limits how powerful they can be and can't to hardcore improvisation. In fact, the only improvisation possible would be perks, so you have to roll to do some minor effect you didn't pay for. As for balance, psi will be more dangerous, I'll use a critical failure table similar to the one for spells and I debating about using the Corruption rules for Horror, which looks like a lot of fun!

I'm not trying to keep things strictly by the rules, I went down that rabbit hole once or twice and it took me so long that I just straight up lost interest in the campaign I was planning. I just don't want to break this too much.
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Old 09-21-2020, 04:16 PM   #19
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Default Re: Psionic Sorcery (and psionics questions)

Why not just go with a straight “buy your most expensive ability (or two or three) at full price, and everything else as alternate abilities”?
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Old 09-21-2020, 04:57 PM   #20
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Default Re: Psionic Sorcery (and psionics questions)

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Originally Posted by dataweaver View Post
Why not just go with a straight “buy your most expensive ability (or two or three) at full price, and everything else as alternate abilities”?
Yeah, if you don't want improvisation (the quirk stuff would be regular improv using the small Modular Abilities pool, not hardcore improv which uses all the points, by the way) then just buy it like dataweaver said. Every Psi doesn't have conditional access to all psi powers, just what they've bought. If it's the different Talents that are bugging you, just make Psi Talent a ten or fifteen point one.
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