Psychic ability in The Chronicles of Ceteri use the rules from GURPS Psionic Powers with a few tweaks (because of course I did). But why? Well, first, I love the Victorian idea of psychic ability. Not everything was about spirits and contacting them. There were some interesting ideas about animal magnetism, telepathy, and other abilities that just have neat spins on them. One of the first books I ever read on psychic ability was “The Spirits Book” by Allan Kardec during my wandering summers up and down the east coast. It was eye-opening. (That and “Mysteries of the Unknown” by Time Life Books really influenced my ideas of the supernatural, mock that book series all you want, it was GOOD collection of occult data from multiple places!)
Anyways, one of the things I did right off was dump Antipsi. Not much in spiritism about power negating other powers and if I really needed something I could always use the Jam technique (Psionic Powers, p. 31). I also removed psychotronics as a part of the countermeasures of the power. In short, I removed the base Power Modifier that all psi powers relied on. This was intentional. At first I was going to build a universal Power Modifier for all psionic powers and go from there. But as I was working through the first draft I realized a couple of things. One, each power could have it’s own Power Modifier. Nothing in the rules said I couldn’t do it and being able to forge Power Modifiers to suit the power had a lot of appeal. Two, if I was baking drawbacks I could just as easily bake in benefits (See the Designer’s Notes for GURPS Powers for more information on that.) Finally, I could really tie in the other aspects of the campaign setting into the power itself since I was building it from the ground up. Thus many powers talk about ley lines ratings (how powerful they are), interactions between magic and it, and so on.
I made Astral Projection and ESP the most common abilities (which the real world supposes anyways. Psychic Healing, Psychic Vampirism, Psychokinesis, and Telepathy uncommon. For the latter I charged a 10-point UB, for the former anyone could have them without additional requirements. Ergokinesis, Teleportation, and any other power not mentioned here is unavailable. They just didn’t fit my vision of how things should function
Here is an example of the new Power Modifiers I created for Ceteri:
Power Modifier: ESP (-10%)
ESP abilities are a blessing and a curse. Those with them can see, hear, feel things that no one else can, but they must open themselves to it. When they open themselves, they also put themselves in danger to mind control, possession, and other influences from nearby entities. While they have themselves “closed” to the supernatural, they suffer a -3 on all activation rolls for their ESP abilities and Talent does not add. When they open themselves up to the supernatural, they are at a -1 to all rolls to resist mental influence from demons, spirits, etc. Psis may open themselves further to get a bonus to their skill rolls (up to +5), but suffer an additional equal penalty to resist mental influence.
Because of this, spiritual beings are drawn to those with ESP powers. Every time a character opens himself to the supernatural, roll 3d. On a 6 or less the psi has attracted something that’s interested in him. Make a special reaction roll, but add the psis’ Talent as a penalty to this roll. On a Neutral or less reaction it’s hostile and will attack or seek to influence him somehow. On a Good or Very Good reaction, it’s curious or may want the psi to do something for it. On an Excellent reaction, it’s helpful in some immediately useful way. Being on a ley line or ley line nexus adds its Magnitude rating /2 to this roll. Bad Places (p. 00) inflict a -3 on the reaction roll because most spirits will not be helpful.
Picking Over the Bones
I have used psychic powers in a lot of my campaigns. It’s one of my favorite books. I don’t think I’ve ever used them “as is” though – which is kind of odd now that I think about that. (I got to playtest the book but didn’t get a credit and that’s one of the things that I regret so far in my career in GURPS so far.) I intentionally left Teleportation out of the setting itself, not just Psionic Powers – teleporting is something the dead can do, but not the living. The living must rely on magically created gates or a mystical path called the Autumn Road. Probability Alteration was left out because I wanted fewer options to mess with luck and chance. Essentially, divine gifts and magic were pretty much it. That’s not to say I couldn’t introduce it later on, but it just doesn’t feel right and I probably won’t.
Overall, the chapter on psychic abilities turned out rather nice and I’m pretty proud of how it works – especially the Power Modifier for ESP. That came out just perfect.