Thursday, August 21, 2014

GURPS101: How to build a Technopath

By the RAW, the way you create technopath in GURPS is by taking some powers from Machine Telepathy (see GURPS Powers, p. 130) or Cyberpsi (see GURPS Psionic Powers, p. 30) - but what if you want more? Inspired by this recent thread (the second one to pop up in as many months) I weighed in I decided to talk about it here.

What Is Technopathy?
The Superpower wiki (a awesome site - I use it a lot for my supers games) defines it as  "[A] User can manipulate technology and technological constructs, computers, robots, hardware and other devices that can be termed as "technology". Manifested as a special form of electrical/telekinetic manipulation, a special form of "morphing" which allows physical interaction with machines, or even a psychic ability that allows mental interface with computer data." That's as precise a description as I've ever seen. Technopathy is the love child of telekinesis, telepathy, and ESP with a dash of electricity control thrown in. Users typically have the ability to diagnose and fix any broken piece of technology (often without touching it!) and can bond to it with their mind. It often involves the animation and powering of said technology as well, making a technopath a walking bastion of civilization.

Technopathy, In GURPS Terms

Sources: Divine, Magic, Psionic, Super, or Technological.
Focus: Technology and machines

This is the power to control, communicate, repair, or enhance technology - any man made device that is at least TL1. It shares some similarities with Machine Telepathy, but is less focused on Digital Minds and more focused on technology itself. It might be a gift from artificer gods or firebringers (Divine), technomancy (Magic), a variation of Cyberpsi (Psionics), or direct control over machines and technology itself (Super). It only affects machines - never living beings.

Technopathy Talent
5 points/level
Technopathy Abilities
Control (Technology), with Vital Manipulation; Detect, for technology, specific machine types, etc.; Gadgeteer; Gizmos; Healing, with Mechanical only (+0%); High TL; Invisibility, with Machines Only;  Leech, with Mechanical only (+0%); Medium (Digital); Mind Control, with Cybernetic Only; Mind Probe, with Cybernetic Only; Mind Reading, with Cybernetic Only; Mindlink, with Cybernetic Only; Possession, with "Accessibility, Machines only (-10%); Psychometry, with Accessibility, Machines only (-10%); Protected Power; Resistant, to any technological threat (e.g., plutonium 101, nanomachines, etc.); Special Rapport, with Transferable, Digital Mind; and Telekinesis, with Animation.
         Afflictions and Innate Attacks are permitted, but must have Accessibility, Only on Electrical (-20%) or Accessibility, Machines Only (-10%). GMs may optionally allow Talents like Artificer to have the Technopathy power modifier - but with a caveat. Power Talent never adds to rolls for the skills it covers, it just gives a cost break.

Power Modifier: Technopathy. The advantage belongs to the Technopathy power. This modifier is usually Divine (-10%), Magic (-10%), Psionic (-10%), Super (-10%), or Technological (-20%).

New Modifiers

p. B35
The following new modifier is available for Afflictions used on machines.

Malfunction: You can temporarily increase the Malfunction number of a piece of equipment by 1. If it doesn't normally have a Malfunction, treat it as having a 19. For firearms and other weapons this has the usual results; for equipment that normally lacks a Malfunction statistic any roll of the dice that indicates a malfunction means it breaks down and requires a minor repair (p. B00) - a roll of three or more over it's Malfunction number means it requires a major repair instead! This costs ±10% per +1 Malfunction or +50% if you can increase or decrease the Malfunction number when you use your advantage. Write this as either Affliction 1 (Malfunction, -1, +10%) or Affliction Malfunction, ±1, +50%).

Control, Create
see GURPS Powers p. 90,92
As a highly optional category for Control, GMs may allow players to take "Control (Technology)" as either a Very Common (25/level) or God-like (30/level) form of Control. Along with the Vital Manipulation enhancement (see Pyramid #3/49: World-Hopping), this allows a character to manipulate technology like any other solid. Create (Machines) is at least as broad a category as Create (Inorganic) and requires a link to a appropriate speciality for Control.

p. B59
The GM may allow "Inanimate Only" as a +0% modifier if you can only repair inanimate objects - or +100% if you can also cure animate ones.

New Power Modifier

Your power makes use of the tangential energy that surrounds civilization and its trappings (e.g., technology). This energy exists even in a lone hamlet in the middle of nowhere, but nature and the wild interfere with it, acting as a  mundane insulator against your power (-10%). You’re at -1 to use your abilities in a large town or urbanized area such as suburbia, -3 in a small town, -5 in a hamlet, and -10 in a place where only the ruins of a city are choked with vines and nature.
Wildness and nature also impairs your power, it's essentially a mundane countermeasure (-10%). This bestows a penalty equal to the campaign's TL minus the TL of the least advanced manufactured item you're carrying, wearing, or riding on or in. This can never give a bonus. An ability that requires no die roll loses 10% of its effectiveness (bonus to reactions or skills, DR, etc.) per -1 instead. If the penalties total -10 or worse, you’re powerless.

Picking Over the Bones
Technopathic characters are not going to be cheaply created. They're the equivalent of a teke, telepath, and precog all rolled into one - they just focus on a specific thing: technology. The cheapest build would probably be a few levels of Technopathy Talent, a appropriate Talent like Artificer or Circuit Sense, five or so levels of TK with Animation, at least one Gizmo, and/or Gadgeteer. Powerful Technopaths are going to buy as much Control (Technology) as they can afford and maybe a linked Create (Machines). High-powered technopaths can do damn near anything given enough time and with the right gear.


  1. Informative! I'd never heard the term before, always hearing Technomancer (for the Magic power source) or PK's Cyberpsi subset of Ergokinesis.

    1. Thanks! I've seen it used a couple of times, most times as a subset of powers. For example, Marvel's Forge is a technopath who has Gadgeteer. He's got a intuitive understanding of machines that rivals Reed Richards.

  2. This is cool, Chris! I'm bookmarking it for next Sunday's Weekly Roundup on teh bloggy.

    1. Thanks! I think when we play our Supers campaign we'll need one. :-3