Psifos: The Magic of the Mind

Knacks: Aegis, Mindburn, Psychometry, Telekinesis, Telepathy

Apprentice Degree: Mind Speaker
Adept Degree: Mind Reader
Master Degree: Mind Flayer

In the days before mankind came to rule Terra (and indeed, before mankind even came to exist on Terra), there were the Syrneth. Some of these races are well known to Théan archaeologists and scholars: the Thalusians, the Sidhe, the Drachen, and others. Some minor races, like the Slarecians, are known only to specialized and highly-secretive groups, who have come across their ruins and claimed the secrets therein for themselves. Among all these mighty races, the Dome once stood out as the most peaceful of the minor Syrneth powers.

Dome ruins have been discovered deep beneath the surface of Terra, explorers have found evidence of a man-sized race of beings, with six-fingered hands and a peculiar anatomy that seemed to be equal parts flesh and crystal. They have been described as peaceful among themselves but brutal to their enemies; however, Excavating their deepest (and, as yet, uncovered) ruins would reveal a society with great appreciation for art and learning, contained in musty tomes filled with series after series of six striated lines, each alternately solid or broken and reminiscent of the trigrams used by practitioners of Zhouyi. They would also find defunct crystal matrices that, once deciphered and reactivated, could reprogram a willing mind to grant the Sorcery of Psifos.

Practitioners of Psifos (a word meaning “Mind Light” or “Soul Light” in the bizarre Domae language) manifested remarkable mental powers, allowing them to move objects with the power of their minds, read and transmit thoughts, and even mentally attack other beings (or defend against attack themselves). Those gifted with this Sorcery were called Psions, another ancient Domae term, but one that would be passed on to anyone who untangled a crystal matrix sufficiently to gain this Sorcery himself. Anyone who manifests Psifos is called “awakened.”

While using his mental abilities, a Psion’s eyes glow with an intense white light; even if his eyes are closed, the light will be leak out through the edges of his eyelids. This light is not sufficient for another character to see by, but in the dark, it provides enough illumination for an enemy to ignore any penalties for fighting in darkness if he or she is willing to attempt a Called Shot to the Psion’s head. Because Psifos is not a Bargainer’s Sorcery, many of its abilities require a Drama Die to be activated.

Apprentice Degree
A Psion’s power level is generally distinguished by the types of actions he may perform with his Telekinesis and Telepathy Knacks. As an Apprentice, a Psion may move small, inanimate objects and transmit short messages to others.

Adept Degree
An Adept Psion may move larger objects using Telekinesis, and may read the surface thoughts of other sentient creatures.

Master Degree
A Master Psion may use Telekinesis to perform fine movements with the items he controls, including levitation, and may detect even deeply hidden thoughts of other sentient creatures.

Sorcerous Knacks

Aegis. This is a defensive Knack used by Psions to resist the Mindburn power of their adversaries. After being successfully attacked by another creature using the Mindburn Knack, a Psion may spend a Drama Die to make an “Active Defense” by rolling Resolve + Aegis, with a TN equal to the opponent’s roll on his Mindburn attack. If the Psion’s roll is successful, the opponent’s Mindburn attack is negated.

Mindburn. By spending a Drama Die, a Psion may launch a mental attack against another creature. This mental attack is made using Wits + Mindburn against a TN equal to five plus five for every Rank the target has in Wits. If the attack is successful, the Psion rolls damage dice equal to his Rank in this Knack, keeping his Mastery Level in Psifos. Raises may be taken on the Attack Roll to add Unkept Dice to the Damage Roll as usual.

A successful Mindburn attack overloads a target’s synapses with electrical energy, which feels like searing fire scorching a victim’s brain. To resist this damage, the victim must make a Wound Check using his Wits instead of his Brawn. He does not gain the benefit of the Toughness Advantage on this roll (if he has it); however, a victim with the Legendary Wits Advantage may add one Kept Die (+1k1) to his Wound Check. If the Wound Check is successful, the victim’s Flesh Wound total increases as if it were a normal attack. If the Wound Check is failed, the victim suffers a Dramatic Wound, plus one additional Dramatic Wound for every twenty points by which he failed the Wound Check.

Psychometry. By spending a Drama Die to activate this Knack, a Psion may determine information about an inanimate object simply by holding it or touching its surface. A Psion may roll Wits + Telepathy to make a single Lore Check against one inanimate object. The Game Master can determine the TN for success using the following examples as guidelines:

ObscurityTNSample Question
Elementary10What is the item’s basic function?
Slightly Obscure15Where did the item come from?
Unusual20How does the item work?
Esoteric25Who made the item?
Very Obscure30For what purpose was the item most recently used?
Almost Unknown35Who was the last person to use the item?

Only one question may be asked per Action, but only a single Drama Die is required to detect other information about the object with future Actions. A new die roll is needed for each piece of information obtained, and if one of the Psion’s “Lore Checks” fails, the connection is slammed shut and the Psion can never use this power on the same object again.

Telekinesis. By spending a Drama Die to activate this Knack, a Psion may move an object (even a living creature, if the Psion is sufficiently powerful) with his mind. As an Apprentice, a Psion’s control is limited to gross movements, and he can only affect Handheld or Small inanimate items, such as a rock, a knife, etc. This allows him to make a physical attack with an object by rolling Wits + Telekinesis against a target’s standard Passive Defense. If the attack is successful, it inflicts damage as if the Psion had made a successful Improvised Weapon attack with the object; however, the Damage Roll is increased by the Psion’s Wits instead of his Brawn. A Psion may also use this ability to simply levitate a small, inanimate object in place, rolling Wits + Telekinesis against a TN equal to the object’s weight in pounds. Activating the Knack in this way does not require the expenditure of a Drama Die. A Psion must have a clear line of sight to an object to affect it using either application of this ability.

As an Adept, the Psion may spend a Drama Die to affect larger objects, such as a table or chair. The Damage Rating for attacks using larger items increases according to the item used (e.g., a table would have a Damage Rating of 3k1). Penalties to the Psion’s attack roll apply as normal for Man-Sized or Large Improvised Weapons. In addition, the Psion may spend a Drama Die to directly affect a living creature, sending him sprawling to the ground. This is similar to a Corps-á-Corps attack, except that it may be made at any range, so long as the Psion has a direct line of sight to the target. An attack roll is made using Wits + Telekinesis against the target’s standard Passive Defense (this attack may not be parried). Success means the victim suffers a 0k1 attack, increased by the Psion’s Wits instead of his Brawn, and is knocked prone. For every two Raises taken on the Attack Roll, a Psion may fling his target an additional ten feet; this increases the Damage Rating of the attack by one Kept Die (+1k1) for every ten feet the target is moved. Psions may use this ability to fling one opponent into another; the second opponent must make a Finesse + Balance check to avoid being knocked prone himself (though he takes no damage, even if he is knocked off his feet). Creatures larger than a Large human may not be knocked prone using Telekinesis.

As a Master, the Psion has full control over his Telekinetic powers, and may make fine movements with the items (or creatures) he controls. By spending a Drama Die, the Psion may manipulate an object in his line of sight however he wishes; for example, he may use a key to open a locked door or make a standard weapon attack using a controlled weapon, inflicting its normal base damage (e.g., 2k2 for a rapier), increased as usual by the Psion’s Wits. He may also activate this power (spending a Drama Die, as usual) to levitate himself or another living creature (but not both), raising the target out of range of melee attacks, preventing the target from suffering falling damage, or some similar feat. Combining this action with an Apprentice or Adept action (e.g., raising a person five feet into the air, then flinging him at another opponent) only requires the expenditure of a single Action and Drama Die. Levitating an unwilling creature requires a contested roll of the Psion’s Wits + Telekinesis vs. the opponent’s Brawn. The Psion receives two free Raises if attempting to levitate a Tiny creature, or one free Raise if attempting to levitate a Small creature. A Large creature receives one free Raise to resist this ability. Creatures larger than a large human (e.g., a drachen) may not be levitated using Telekinesis.

Telepathy. Telepathy is the power to read minds and transmit thoughts to sentient creatures. By spending a Drama Die to activate this power, a Psion may make a roll of Wits + Telepathy against a TN of five to transmit a simple, one-word thought to a single person within his line of sight. For every Raise taken on this roll, the Psion may add an additional word to the message, or transmit the message to another person. For example, transmitting the warning “Run away now!” to three friends would require a Wits + Telepathy roll against a TN of twenty-five. Two additional Raises are required if the Psion and a target do not share fluency in at least one language.

As an Adept, the Psion may spend a Drama Die to read the surface thoughts of another sentient creature within his line of sight. Surface thoughts are those ideas and images that are least closely-guarded by the target. Some examples: a target’s general state of health or injury, a target’s current mood, a target’s Arcana (unless it is concealed in some way), or any thoughts the target is intentionally wanting the Psion to read. Only one piece of information may be obtained per Action, but only a single Drama Die is required to read the same creature’s other surface thoughts with future Actions. If a target is attempting to “project” inaccurate surface thoughts (for example, if he is pretending to be someone or something he is not), the Psion may make a contested roll of his Wits + Telepathy vs. the target’s Wits + Acting to detect the falsehood, but not the target’s true thoughts. In addition, an Adept receives two free Raises when using his Apprentice ability.

As a Master, a Psion may attempt to discern a sentient creature’s deeper thoughts, including those which are being deliberately obscured. By spending an Action and a Drama Die, a Psion may roll Wits + Telepathy to make a single Lore Check against one target, willing or not. The Game Master can determine the TN for success using the following examples as guidelines:

ObscurityTNSample Question
Elementary10What is the target’s name?
Slightly Obscure15Is the target a Sorcerer or Swordsman (or both)?
Unusual20Who does the target love most?
Esoteric25What does the target’s family think of him?
Very Obscure30Where did the target spend his childhood?
Almost Unknown35What is the target trying to hide?

Only one question may be asked per Action, but only a single Drama Die is required to read the same creature’s other thoughts with future Actions. A new die roll is needed for each piece of information obtained, and if one of the Psion’s “Lore Checks” fails, the connection is slammed shut and the Psion can obtain no more information about the target for twenty-four hours. In addition, the Master receives two additional free Raises (for a total of four) when using his Apprentice ability.

Game Master’s Secrets
In aeons past, the Domae were enslaved by the Thalusian Empire. Eager to cast off their yoke of slavery, the Domae rebelled against their masters and betrayed the other Syrneth races by helping the Sidhe, the Djinn, the Dragons, and other singularly powerful entities to erect the Barrier, using the crystal matrices found throughout their underground cities as a foundation for the supernatural structure.

What the Domae did not realize is that every crystal matrix sapped a portion of their unique Sorcery (a gift from their Thalusian masters to make them better spies) to power the Barrier. Eventually, the Domae were stripped of their powers completely, and they soon perished, having become utterly dependent on their Psifos abilities for protection as well as everyday life.

Each time a crystal matrix is drained to empower a willing creature with Psifos, the Barrier weakens. Should every matrix be drained, creating an army of Psions, the Barrier would come unraveled, and it would only be a matter of time before it collapsed completely unless a massive host of Glamour Mages, Sha’iri, and similar magic-using entities could find a way to use their powers to replenish it.

Conversely, a Psion could voluntarily strip himself of his powers to replenish a crystal matrix. There is no die roll or sacrifice of Drama Dice needed to do this; however, the task requires one uninterrupted hour for every Rank the Psion has in a Psifos Knack (thus, a Master of Psifos will require twenty-five uninterrupted hours). During this time, the Psion will be completely vulnerable, so he will need allies to protect him from any forces who may be aware of his action and wish to prevent it.

Special thanks go to Diane Hocking for her assistance in creating this Sorcery.