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Old 01-23-2023, 01:45 PM   #1
Prince Charon
 
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Default [Psionics/Infinite Worlds] The Psion skerry

(Expanded from this post.)

Psion-1 and Psion-2 are a pair of very similar worldlines (indeed, the date and time on each is nearly the same, save that Psion-2 is pi seconds ahead of Psion-1), that appear to have been historical echoes until local 1981, when people on both worlds who were born after the Trinity detonation in 1945 began to develop psi abilities (and various people on each began effective research into psi-tech). Often these were the same people on each world, and generally with similar powers to start with, if not the same ones (though they didn't necessarily activate in the same way). However, the way they deal with them is quite different:

On Psion-1 (local year 2019, discoverd by Infinity in local-2007), the vast majority of psis feel a strong compulsion to keep psi a secret from the public, mostly justifying it as a fear of persecution, though others do so out of a desire for power, wanting to become the secret masters of the world. This worldline has a number of conspiracies, both government and corporate, some hunting psis to control or destroy them, and some helping them hide, and/or fight the other conspiracies. There are many rumours of powers and conspiracies on this world, more than on most other parallels in the same era (which is how Infinity knew to send some of their own psis to check), but the public generally doesn't take them too seriously, despite the occasional blatantly weird event.

Knowledge of the paranormal community is covered by Hidden Lore (mainly 'Astral,' 'Paranormal,' or 'Conspiracies'). (Most psis on this Earth will have Compulsive Secrecy (Psi) or Vow (keep powers secret), as well as 'Secret (Psi) [-20]' and sometimes Paranoia. Psychic animals exist, but are very rare; psychic plants and fungi are even less common.)

Though psi is scientifically studied on this Earth, the need for secrecy limits how it can be applied. Psi-tech and related sciences are less advanced on Psion-1 than on Psion-2, and nearly all psychotronics should be treated as Experimental. None are mass-produced, apart from the P-Web and psychotronic Mind Shield devices (hats and hoods are more fashionable on this Earth than on Homeline in 2019). A few of the more well-funded conspiracies have experimented with the creation of Drones or Psiborgs; if discovered, the less-immoral psionic conspiracies tend to respond quite violently; drones are somewhat more common than psiborgs, being both easier (though slower) to create, and less obvious if witnessed. Psi-drugs exist, but are not mass-produced unless they have a useful mundane effect to justify it (e.g. Mind Hype is the street name for an experimental 'nootropic' drug developed by the Swiss conspiracy company Biotech Chulan; drug dealers near college campuses tend to stock up, and jack up the price, around exam time, though not all exams would benefit from it - often, the first thing the IQ bonus does is cause the user to think 'I really should have studied harder'); all are Experimental.


The psis of Psion-2 (local year 2019, first reached by Infinity in local-2009), in contrast, feel compelled to use their powers in a fairly public manner, specifically acting like comic-book characters (often complete with secret identity). Generally, the ones with stronger criminal tendencies will tend to be compelled to villainy, while the ones with stronger heroic tendencies will feel compelled to heroism. Those without much of either may get one or the other at random, or based on those around them when their power first manifest; alternatively, they have the urge to become entertainers, or they may have no compulsion at all (especially if their powers are relatively weak for the area, or they have something else that prevents them from being an adventurer). Powers are not a secret on this world, and skeptics are fairly rare, but rumours of conspiracies do still exist - it's just that they cannot simply 'disappear' a well-known super, which makes them less of a direct threat. OTOH, supers do still tend to get themselves killed fairly often, which means that most of the same people are alive, or dead, on each world.

Knowledge of the paranormal community is covered by Current Affairs (mostly 'Supers,' 'Science & Technology,' or 'Headline News'). (Most psis on this Earth will have something like Compulsive Costumed Heroism or Compulsive Costumed Villainy, and often the Secret Identity disadvantage. Psychic animals and such are quite rare, though not so rare as on Psion-1.)

The open nature of psi has allowed psi-tech and psi-related sciences to develop faster on Psion-2 than on Psion-1. A number of psychotronic devices are being mass-produced (but think of the tech as Emerging rather than Mature), and a wider range of psi-drugs are available, though in most cases a prescription is required. Books on maximizing the utility of your psi abilities are quite common, and some are useful (hence there are a wider range of known psi techniques here than on Psion-1). Mad scientists occasionally experiment with Drones or Psiborgs, both of which are quite illegal (Legality Class 0, or LC1 in especially bad governments) in most of the world; animal-derived psiborgs are sometimes legal (LC3 in a few nations, but LC2 or worse in most others). Psi-drugs are common enough to be considered Emerging, but often require a prescription.

One worry for Infinity is that the existence of Psion-1 has been public knowledge on Psion-2, though not vice-versa, since an inter-dimensional teleportation incident in 1997 (which also strained secrecy on Psion-1); other worldlines are also somewhat known to the public. Such 'crossover events' are not frequent, as they are difficult to achieve (though oddly less difficult to reverse - getting there is a possible-but-rare result of a critical failure, while returning to one's native worldline while still within the skerry simply requires concentrating on something familiar from that worldline and taking extra time before initiating an autoteleport or exoteleporting a traveler to their home timeline - the latter may require telepathy or retrocognition), save through the use of astral projection, which generally does not endanger the secrecy of psi on Psion-1.
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Old 01-23-2023, 01:46 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Psionics/Infinite Worlds] The Psion skerry

There are an uncertain number of other worldlines in the Psion skerry, though all of them are accessible through teleportation accidents from other worldlines of the same skerry (or techniques defaulting to skill-10, specific to each Earth), or more easily though the Inner Astral Plane, and all have the same span of time between the local present and the apparent PoD. Infinity is aware of three others through research on the first two:

Psion-3 is unusual in that the dates did not match Psion-1 or 2 (the PoD is 1972, present is 2010). Bruce Lee is still alive, and it seems like all psis on this worldline have studied martial arts in some way, though whether they need to be martial artists in order to awaken their powers, or psis feel compelled to study these arts, is uncertain. Also, it appears that all psis on this Earth have some form of Code of Honor, though the codes do not necessarily overlap between different styles, or even different individuals, which has lead to some martial psis becoming enemies who otherwise would not. Psi is publicly known to exist on this worldline, but is generally believed to be less impressive than it actually is (partly due to 'flashy' powers being less common, at least at higher levels).

Knowledge of the paranormal community is generally covered by Current Affairs (Martial Arts) or Hidden Lore ('Psis' or 'Astral'). (The Code of Honor may be anywhere from a quirk to something very restrictive at -15, or it could be a related disad, like a Vow that the GM agrees is 'close enough in effect' to a CoH. A few psis have 'mystical' or otherwise 'spooky' limitations on their psi abilities, often accompanied by an occult-related Delusion. Psychics with similar issues can be found on the other Psion worldlines, but are much less common, save for on Psion-5, where they are the majority. Psychic animals and such are uncommon.)

Psychotronics exist, but are rare and Experimental; psi drugs are far more often found as herbal concoctions of variable quality than as anything coming out of a lab, though that has been changing recently.


Psion-4 has the same PoD and present, and counterparts of most of the same people, as 1 and 2. Their history seems to have been identical to Psion-1 from 1981 to 1985, when a group of psychic comicbook nerds attacked a white supremacist rally that was getting an unusual amount of news coverage (they were actually trying to embarrass the leaders of the rally without getting noticed, but things went wrong, not helped by some of the racists in attendance being psychic themselves). With so many witnesses (some of them credible) and cameras, covering it up was not an option, and certainly not for the still quite new conspiracies in this Earth. Their unfortunate introduction to the public, combined with their reflexive secrecy and various corporations and politicians spinning the news for various reasons, has lead natural psis to often be hunted, or at least viewed with suspicion. In much of the Western world, the Social Stigmas they face tend to be minor, while in much of the former Communist Bloc, any psi that isn't in government service is generally considered a criminal; in Russia specifically, non-government psis are hunted by the 'Genetic Security Police' (often translated as 'Eugenic Security Police' in English, both for the pun and because the reporter who originated it wanted to create an association in the readers' minds between the Russian government and the Nazis); a significant fraction of independent psis in Russia and the Eastern Bloc are members of the Phoenix Project, a highly optimistic movement to create world peace by joining all psis together into a 'benevolent world-mind.' Many who've heard of it and don't need the group's protection are highly dubious about the idea.

Knowledge of the paranormal community is covered by Hidden Lore (mainly 'Paranormal' or 'Conspiracies'), or Current Affairs ('Science & Technology,' or 'Regional' for local well-known psis). (Natural Psis on this worldline tend to have Compulsive Secrecy (Psi) or Vow (keep powers secret), and either 'Secret (Psi) [-20]' or some form of Social Stigma, varying by location, and some consequence of failing the Vow or making part of the Compulsion impossible. Psychic animals and such are quite rare, though not so rare as on Psion-1.)

Psychotronics and psi-drugs are Emerging and widely available, even more than on Psion-2. Psis with catalyzed powers, or who gained their abilities from psi boosters or exposure to experimental psi-tech, are not reflexively secretive, and may face less prejudice in some nations (though the more repressive nations still require them to be in government service); the same is largely true for other psitech-users.


Psion-5 is wildly divergent from the other known Psion worldlines, being a quite steampunk worldline with an apparent PoD of 1831, and the present being 1869. Further, nearly all natural psis on this worldline are animals that instinctively bond with other creatures (often including humans), cataylzing or otherwise granting psi abilities to them. These powers are seen as magic, and few have any reason to think otherwise (though some prefer to see their abilities as divine gifts). The fact that the psychic animals might bond with anyone created far greater stresses on the system of chattel slavery that the economy of the US southern states was so wrapped up in, triggering the US Civil War, which lasted from 1843-1849. The Dutch Empire, meanwhile, sought to embrace change by bringing the more obviously powerful toverdokters and duivelbanners into the upper classes, and the elites were effectively replaced by them (though partly by political marriages, so the old bloodlines survive, to the relief of those who care about them). Similar things occurred in many nations to various degrees, while many others persecuted the 'witches' harshly.

Knowledge of the paranormal community is covered by Current Affairs ('Magic'); Hidden Lore (Spirits) covers the Astral Planes. (Most human psis are catalyzed by their pets, have powers with the Granted by Familiar limitation, or otherwise have their abilities from an outside source. Many also have 'mystical' or otherwise 'spooky' limitations on their psi abilities, and complementary skills like Occultism or Religious Ritual that help them concentrate; see also the Old-Time Psi text box in GURPS Psionic Campaigns p5. Some psis, especially those who believe that their powers are divine, have Disciplines of Faith, Fanaticism, or Higher Purpose. Psychic animals tends to have Sense of Duty, Reprogrammable, Fanaticism, or other loyalty-related disadvantage relating to the creature they bond with.)

Technologically, this worldline is broadly TL(5+1)^, though they have quite advance analytical engines (mechanical and electromechanical), effectively bringing computation and electrostatics to TL(5+2)^. Psychotronics exist, but are rare, Experimental, bulky, & based largely on electrostatics. Even more than on Psion-3, psi drugs are most often available as herbal concoctions, rather than coming out of a pharmacist's laboratory.


Thoughts?
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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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Old 01-23-2023, 02:28 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Psionics/Infinite Worlds] The Psion skerry

The only things I can come up with are:

Psion-6 is like Psion-2, except all psions are something other than human. Something like DC's League of Super-pets is only the pets had powers.

Psion-7 is like Psion-1, but with the same limitation on who/what gets psi powers as Psion-5. Think of any animated animal show where the humans never find out.
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Old 01-23-2023, 07:23 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Psionics/Infinite Worlds] The Psion skerry

Quote:
Originally Posted by SilvercatMoonpaw View Post
The only things I can come up with are:

Psion-4 is like Psion-2, except all psions are something other than human. Something like DC's League of Super-pets is only the pets had powers.
OK, that's so far off from my intentions that I feel like I made a very large mistake while typing up Psion-4, and I'm not sure where.
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Old 01-23-2023, 07:32 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Psionics/Infinite Worlds] The Psion skerry

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Originally Posted by Prince Charon View Post
OK, that's so far off from my intentions that I feel like I made a very large mistake while typing up Psion-4, and I'm not sure where.
Oh, sorry! I meant those to be additonal Psion worldlines, but didn't pay attention to the numbers.

They should be Psion-6 and Psion-7.
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Old 01-24-2023, 09:25 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by SilvercatMoonpaw View Post
Oh, sorry! I meant those to be additonal Psion worldlines, but didn't pay attention to the numbers.

They should be Psion-6 and Psion-7.
OK, then those could be interesting.


In case anyone was confused by Psion-4, it was an attempt to make an X-Men reference that makes sense: rather than Marvel's Voodoo Sharking an explanation after decades of using them as a metaphor for Every Minority Ever, their problem is that they're reflexively secretive (and often paranoid) people with strange powers, which makes just enough people suspicious and afraid to cause problems, which makes for a feedback loop. Meanwhile, the ones who get their powers through other means mostly don't act like creepy weirdos, so people make a distinction between them and the natural psis (which can add to the feedback loop).
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Old 01-24-2023, 12:30 PM   #7
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OK, then those could be interesting.
It's one of my minor peeves that in any setting that supposes an origin for superheroes that shouldn't logically affect only humans, still manages to mostly or totally affect only humans.

That's not criticism of your settings, Prince Cheron.
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Old 01-24-2023, 01:14 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Psionics/Infinite Worlds] The Psion skerry

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Originally Posted by SilvercatMoonpaw View Post
It's one of my minor peeves that in any setting that supposes an origin for superheroes that shouldn't logically affect only humans, still manages to mostly or totally affect only humans.

That's not criticism of your settings, Prince Cheron.
Imagine the effect of a chimpanzee with TK Bullet. That could happen in these settings. I probably did make psychic animals too rare in most of the Psion settings, though (since things like 'need to deal with trouble caused by a hydrokinetic elephant with a toothache' are plausible adventure seeds). Mind you, the number in Psion 1 and 4 is hard to determine, since they instinctively hide their powers.
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-- Tacitus

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Old 01-24-2023, 07:42 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Psionics/Infinite Worlds] The Psion skerry

Quote:
Originally Posted by SilvercatMoonpaw View Post
It's one of my minor peeves that in any setting that supposes an origin for superheroes that shouldn't logically affect only humans, still manages to mostly or totally affect only humans.

That's not criticism of your settings, Prince Cheron.
It might make more sense for psionics than for some other fictional superpowers, since it seems plausible to claim that a particular part of the brain is used for the psionic powers and that it just so happens to be one that's much more developed in humans than in most other species.

But it doesn't have to be. (Or it could even be the other way around, leading to things like 5, 6 and 7).

If it did work that way in a particular setting, then logically you might expect that other species that have the nearest to human-like types of intelligence would be more likely to show at least low-level psychic powers. So, among others, primates, parrots, corvids, pigeons (those two might be particularly disruptive, being small, numerous in urban areas, and able to fly), and, to the confusion of any storyline that's trying to be serious, yes, elephants.


(You might still have a typo in your other posting, SilvercatMoonpaw - possibly that's meant to be "as Psion-5", rather than "as Psion-4").
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Old 01-25-2023, 03:22 AM   #10
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It might make more sense for psionics than for some other fictional superpowers, since it seems plausible to claim that a particular part of the brain is used for the psionic powers and that it just so happens to be one that's much more developed in humans than in most other species.
Oh, most definitely. The important thing is not to invoke human exceptionalism without a supernatural explanation; in your example it's the brain construction that's exceptional, not some concept of "human". The implication is that you could give a non-human animal psionics if you could alter its brain the right way.
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(You might still have a typo in your other posting, SilvercatMoonpaw - possibly that's meant to be "as Psion-5", rather than "as Psion-4").
Yeah, you're right.
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