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Old 05-15-2019, 08:35 AM   #1
Prince Charon
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Default [Banestorm] Yrth as a Psionic setting

I've occasionally seen threads discussing alternative magic systems for Yrth, and while one might debate whether Psionics counts, it can be described as a pretty detailed, worked example of a Magic As Powers system, and I think the exercise could be interesting. If you want to ask 'Why bother?' that's why... that and the small but non-zero chance that someone may want to run a Yrth or Yrth-like fantasy game with Psionics rules (though they may be less inclined to after reading this thread).

A note on terminology: I use the term 'Meta-Psi' a few times below, including as a power modifier ('Meta-Psi, -10%'). This is a houserule power that is basically 'psi abilities that modify other psi abilities,' sort of like the College of Meta-Spells for psionics. So, it covers all Anti-Psi abilities, all abilities that enhance psi in some way (e.g. Modular Abilities limited to Affliction of Talents, or Affliction of higher levels of existing psi abilities), and all abilities that otherwise modify it in some way. Steal Power (Psionic Powers p52) is thusly both a Psychic Vampirism ability and a Meta-Psi ability. Psi Sense and related abilities could also arguably fall under both ESP (or whatever power they're in, like Telepathy or Teleportation) and Meta-Psi.

Also, you might want to look at the 'Old-Time Psi' text box on page 5 of GURPS Psionic Campaigns, as well as the simplified Psi rules from GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 14: Psi, pp4-22 - in fact DF14 as a whole is useful for playing and running Psi in fantasy games (and horror games, due to the Elder Things), despite focusing on the traditional dungeon crawl niche. Psionic Campaigns, of course, is just plain good for its subject.

* I'll start with an easy (to my mind) conversion: Alchemy and Herb-Lore. Psi drugs (GURPS Psi-Tech pp33-35, as well as Concoctions from GURPS DF 14 pp24-25) are a very close parallel of Elixirs (GURPS Magic pp213-219) - most of the elixirs on that list would be specific forms of Psi Booster (Psi-Tech p34, and the text box on GURPS DF14 pp25). You can either insert '(Psi)' into the line for the appropriate skill (e. g. 'Alchemy/TL3^ (Psi)' or 'Herb-Lore (Psi)/TL3^'), or if you don't mind the base skill being less difficult, translate Alchemy/TL3^ to Pharmacy (Synthetic)/TL3^, and Herb-Lore/TL3^ to Pharmacy (Herbal)/TL3^, possibly with an optional specialization in psi drugs. Of course, Pharmacy (Synthetic) normally doesn't exist at TL3, but TL^ settings aren't normal; alternatively, they could both be Pharmacy (Herbal)/TL3^ or Pharmacy (Psi)/TL3^, with the difference being that one is done in a kitchen, by a campfire, or other such location, and the other is in a laboratory with expensive equipment, allowing greater precision and reliability, but slower and at a higher cost. See also 'Psychobotanics' in the 'Old-Time Psi' text box on page 5 of GURPS Psionic Campaigns.

The times to brew specific elixirs from the list in GURPS Magic might be reduced, but on the other hand, working with primitive equipment does require compromises. Really, it depends on how the GM feels it should work. In a later post or posts, I might go through the list of elixirs and describe how they might work in this setting, or at least what power each uses, though some are pretty obvious (Magic Resistance (p216) becomes Psionic Resistance, for example, and the ones that grant a Talent bonus are most likely based on ESP or Probability Alteration). I'm currently thinking that Hybridization, Lichdom, Reanimation (all on p217) and Resurrection (p218) should either be forbidden, or altered to better fit a psi-based system.

* Races, Creatures, and Mystics are another easy conversion: Any trait with the 'Magic, -10%' limitation, or that looks like it should have it, gets an appropriate Psi Power limitation. If there's an existing psi ability with a close-enough cost and capabilities, I suggest using that, unless the GM objects. Mystics retain their Pact limitation in addition to the psi power limitation. The 'Dependency (Mana)' disadvantage might need replacing, depending on how the GM handles replacing mana levels (see below; it might be simplest to say it's replaced by the Psi Power limitations that various abilites will now have). Likewise, what the Magery advantage might be replaced with, if anything, depends on how the 'wizard' niche is being filled. See also 'Psionic Monsters,' GURPS DF14 pp41-44 for things you might want to use or adapt.

Familiars translate to Catalyst Creatures, from Kenneth Peters's article 'The Edge of Psience,' in Pyramid Vol 3 #29, pp19-24 (though the section on creatures stops on page 22; I believe they were also mentioned in GURPS Psionics Second Edition). To very briefly summarize, they're almost literally familiars, just with psi abilities instead of magic, and the unusual ability to awaken latent psi abilities in those they bond with.

Some of the more fantastic creatures might work best as astral entities (spirits), able to project a 'body' into the physical world, assemble one out of existing material, or possess an existing creature or object. This works well for werecreatures and other shapeshifters, for example, though making Alternate Form or Morph a slow biokinetic ability, a projection, or a disguise combining photokinesis and psychokinesis (for tactile effects), might also work, as long as the mass remains the same. Dragons turning into humans likely work best as spirits or projections, though, as do demons in general.

I might do some conversions in another post, and maybe others will, as well.

To try to avoid hitting the character limit, my thoughts on converting magic items, mana levels, and wizards are in later posts.
Warning, I have the Distractible and Imaginative quirks in real life.

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Five Earths, All in a Row. Updated 12/17/2022: Apocrypha: Bridges out of Time, Part I has been posted.
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banestorm, psionics, worldbuilding, yrth

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