Tuesday, May 17, 2016

GURPS101: All-Seeing Eyes

The Clairsentience advantage is one of the most underused and overrated of the "information-gathering" traits GURPS has to offer. This is most likely due to it's high cost (50 points) and low range (starting range is a mere 10 yards).

Clairsentience as Pieces Parts"
So what does Clairsentience do and how does it do it?

  • Requires you Concentrate for one minute, pick a desired viewpoint within your range (which can also be inside of something), the facing of your viewpoint, and then make an IQ roll. You cannot split your senses.
  • If the roll is successful you can use your ranged senses (sight, hearing, and smell) within that area as if you were physically there. Failure by 1 or more results in your senses going somewhere of the GM's choosing, while a critical failure means your ability is crippled for 1d hours.
  • Regardless of native vision Clairsentience-based Vision rolls ignore darkness penalties. 
  • You cannot see through something - though, as noted above you can see into something. E.g., you could project your senses inside of a barrel, but you couldn't see outside of the barrel.
  • To return your displaced senses you must make another IQ roll and concentrate for a second.
  • Viewing the inside of a moving object such as a vehicle automatically moves your viewpoint as well without any extra rolls.
  • Base Range is 10 yards (which also affects vertical as well as horizontal range). This may be doubled temporarily by spending 2 FP.

Associated Penalties:
-5 if the viewpoint is out of sight (you must specify direction and distance).
All related penalties for Hearing, Vision, and Smell.

Rules as Written Clairsentience Special Modifiers
Here is a short list of modifiers for Clairsentience and where they can be found and a description of when you might need them. Reliable (GURPS Powers, p. 109) will be especially useful to get around some of the inherent penalties in the base ability or special modifiers and gives it's bonus to Sense rolls using the ability. Note that Increased Range (p. B06) is the only way to allow you to see further than the base 10 yards included in Clairsentience and 19 levels are required for a "global" range. Affects Others (GURPS Powers, p. 109) allows others to see what you see.

  • Aware (+50% Enhancement; GURPS Powers, p. 44): Lets you sense your body's viewpoint and the viewpoint of your Clairsentience projection.
  • Based on IQ/Perception (+20% Enhancement: GURPS Basic Set, p. 102): With this enhancement you can switch all IQ-activation rolls to Perception or make all Perception rolls used with this advantage IQ rolls instead. The latter allows for highly intelligent, but not so perceptive characters to still be able to use their ability usefully.
  • Clairaudience (-30% Limitation: GURPS Basic Set, p. 42): You can only hear from your viewpoint.
  • Clairosmia (-60% Limitation: GURPS Basic Set, p. 42): You can only smell from your viewpoint.
  • Clairvoyance (-10% Limitation: GURPS Basic Set, p. 42): You can only see from your viewpoint.
  • Fixed Range (-5% Limitation: GURPS Psionic Powers, p. 13): You can't spend FP to double your range.
  • Normal Sight (-20% Limitation: GURPS Psionic Powers, p. 13): You suffer darkness penalties normally.
  • Projection (+0% Enhancement; GURPS Powers, p. 44): You send out your entire consciousness from your body (which falls unconscious until you cease using your ability). This makes you vulnerable to supernatural abilities such as psi, spells, etc., but allows you to affect the insubstantial world (this may be the Etheric plane, Astral dimension, spirit world, etc.). If you have abilities that can effect people in the material world this becomes a +140% enhancement.
  • Second Nature (+70% Enhancement; GURPS Powers, p. 44): Lets you change your viewpoint and the viewpoint of your Clairsentience projection as a free action. Still requires an IQ-5 roll and a minute of concentration if your viewpoint is out of sight.
  • Time-Spanning (+0%, +50%,  or +100% Enhancement; GURPS Powers, p. 109): Allows you to use your ability in the past or future (or both). Being unable to use your ability in the present can reduce the price considerably. 
  • Visible (-10% Limitation: GURPS Basic Set, p. 42): Your senses visibly manifest.
  • World-Spanning (+50%  or +100%Enhancement; GURPS Powers, p. 109): Allows you to use your ability only in another world or dimension (+50%) or also in your current dimension.

New Modifiers for Clairsentience 
Some new modifiers I've posted on the forums or use in my own game:

  • 360º Viewpoint: Your viewpoint doesn't have a facing - you automatically see in all directions at once. This works exactly like 360º Vision (p. B34). +20%.
  • Blind: You don't take a -5 to your IQ roll to project out of sight. +20%.
  • Clairgustance: Your sense of taste is also projected. This costs +10%. If you can only project your sense of taste this becomes a -70% limitation.
  • Clairenunciation: You can speak from your abilities' viewpoint. This costs +20% and is incredibly useful for long range communication. If you can only project your voice this way this becomes a limitation worth -80%. If you can only speak and hear at a distance this is a -25% limitation.
  • Clairtangence: Your sense of touch is also projected. This costs +10%. If you can only project your sense of taste this becomes a -70% limitation.
  • No Strain: Your ability isn't vulnerable to crippling. +25%.
  • Scry: Your ability doesn't manifest internally. Instead, when you use it you can "project" the clairsentience viewpoint on a nearby surface. This window is typically a round shape, but any shape that the user can imagine is possible as long as it's no bigger than it would be. If you can change the shape to anything you want this costs an additional +10%. If you can choose to project or not add another +20%. There anyone can see, hear, and smell what your ranged senses could pick up. This costs +40% if you can create a projection whose diameter is equal to your IQ/2 in inches. Anyone in the area can view this projection and it lasts as long as your ability is being used. If the diameter is equal to IQ in inches this costs +80% instead. If you can have multiple viewpoints this requires the Split View enhancement (see below) and costs either +80% or +120%. Traditionally, this is a reflective surface of some kind (e.g., a mirror or pool of still water), but this is not required. If you must use a special surface this reduces the cost. Use the rules for Limited Enhancements (p. B110) and the modifiers for the Special Portal enhancement (see Jumper in GURPS Powers, p. 58). E.g., Scry that projects a surface equal to IQ/2 diameter in inches on reflective surfaces would be worth +32% (+40% x 0.8 = +36%).
  • Sensory: You require an animate being to use your ability. You can only sense what they can sense (usually hear, see, and smell), but you can switch to another being as easily as switching your viewpoint. If there is no roll to resist this is worth -20%, if they can resist with a Will roll then this costs -40% instead.
  • Split View: You can split your senses into multiple viewpoints as long as it's within your range. You're at -1 to all rolls per sense so split. This costs +50%. For +50% more you can have multiple viewpoints that use all your senses, but each viewpoint beyond the first inflicts penalties which are cumulative. For example, having two viewpoints would be -1 per sense projected or -3 on rolls to notice anything in either view. You can split up your senses anyway you wish and even change senses (which takes one second and an IQ roll per sense).
  • Takes Damage: Your viewpoint manifests in a noticeable way which can also be attacked! For the purposes of your power treat it as a creature with a Size Modifier equal to yours - 7 and with HP equal to your IQ/10. Destruction of your viewpoint causes you 1 point of injury and results in your ability being unusable for 1dx5 minutes. This includes Visible. -40%.
  • Takes Range Penalties: When rolling to initially pick a viewpoint you take Long-Distance Range Penalties (p. B241). This is worth -15%. If you take normal range penalties (p. B550) this is worth -30%. IF you take -1/yard this is worth -45%.
  • Warp-View: You must have Warp (p. B88) for this enhancement. You can teleport to any location your clairsentience viewpoint is at even if you've never been there. Combined with Scry and Warp with the Tunnel enhancement this allows you to fix on a location and then enter your scrying projection! +10%.

Example Build: Eye in the Sky

Eye in the Sky: Clairsentience (360º Viewpoint, +20%; Aware, +50%; Blind, +25%; Increased Range, x200,+70%; Reliable 5, +25%; Scry, Shapeable and Switchable, +70%) [180]. Allows you to project your ranged senses over a mile from your current location (over 2 miles for 2 FP). You must make an IQ+5 roll and concentrate for 1 minute. Success results in you being able to see, hear, and smell from that location as long as you concentrate. You can switch viewpoints with a 1 second of concentration, but the viewpoint you are not concentrating on takes a -4 penalty to any roll which requires your attention/senses. You can share your view with others by "projecting" what you sense on an area equal to IQ/2 diameter circle in inches.

Powering it Up:
  • For 25 points you can add Split View allowing you to concentrate on difference areas. For another 25 points you can fully sense multiple areas.
  • For 10 points your viewpoint can now speak.
  • For 5 points your viewpoint can now touch.
  • For 5 points your viewpoint can now taste.
  • For 13 points your ability cannot be crippled.
  • For 20 points your projected viewpoint's diameter is equal to your full IQ in inches.
  • For 35 points you can initiate, change viewpoints, or end your ability as a free action. 

Picking Over the Bones
Like my previous in depth looking at the mechanical construction of an ability, Clairsentience has a lot to give if you tweak it right. Information is always something that the players can use more of and someone who is a "diviner" is as useful as the guy who swings the sword. Unfortunately, in my campaigns I rarely have people take such abilities due to their less flashy nature. Eventually someone will come to me and say "Christopher, I want to play the guy who 'knows' stuff." and I will smile and say "Boy, do I have a build for you..." 


  1. This actually made me double take and go back and look at Clairvoyance from GURPS Psionic Powers. Fun fact! It actually has a limitation that removes its "Dark Vision" quality, and it has a technique that lets you activate it instantly.

    1. Yeah. I think I got all the modifiers from the books, but I could have missed some. :-)

  2. Proposed new modifier:

    Fixed Location: Once established, you cannot change your point of view without shutting down your power and starting again. (This is incompatible with Second Nature unless there is some other cost (such as FP) associated with using the ability.) -10%