Serpents and Sewers: Psionics

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Contents

Foreword

I actually think that the psionics system of traditional D&D is more enjoyable than the Vancian magic – which is exactly the reason why many of the elements of it were used for Magic in Serpents and Sewers, although in a simpler and slightly more mystical way.

This leads to a problem, as through this change magic tramples all over the niche psionics had occupied – the flavour of psionics is shaky at best in a fantasy game, and perhaps a bit too much Science Fiction for such a setting, but the rules were way superior to the Vancian magic rules.

Serpents and Sewers includes psionics for two reasons – at first for the idea of a complete conversion, at least one of the alternative supernatural power systems should be implemented as well, and also for the planned implementation of the Dark Sun setting for the Serpents and Sewers conversion. It is somewhat difficult to include a setting ripe with psionics into the rules if the rules for one of the significant elements are missing.

Psionic powers in Serpents and Sewers

Psionics are not "spell-based" powers like magic, but a feat based system that most of the time offer a nigh permanent bonus or abilities to the character’s options, and offer somewhat new ones. Generally, psionics are not as powerful as magic, but since they are useable at will and with less limitations, they still have their place in the world. The powers are not meant to be the mighty powers of "psionics" in science-fiction which operates like high-level spells but more like subtle, innate gifts, from oracles and seers to uncontrolled pyromancers and telekinetic warriors.

There are no "power points" or "spell points" in this psionic system. Most psychic powers are usable at will, any number of times per day, and some don’t even require a successful skill check. Since mot of the powers are based on feats, most of them work like feats as well. Nonetheless, as a supernatural power, characters require the Psionic Gift Background Trait.

Generally, psychic powers in Serpents and Sewers are considered to be magical, and generally won't work in an Anti-Magic Field or null-magic area, can be countered with counterspells or cancelled with ‘’Dispel Magic’’ etc. However, continually operating powers like most of the psychic feats are nigh permanent and are only interrupted by most abjuration spells. Psychic powers are also very "low-key" and can operate below the threshold of most magical detection. Inactive Powers, for example cannot be detected until they become active – a character’s Fast Healing for example can be detected only while it is actively healing damage but if the character is at full health – or actively suppressing the power, it stays hidden. Generally, only obvious powers active for a limited duration (like a spell) can be readily detected. Though not spells, offensive powers resemble spells closely enough for defensive spells to work against them (they qualify as "spell-like abilities").

Some powers are based on the character's level. In such cases, overall character level is used, including level adjustments.

Creatures described as naturally psychic ( like various "psionic" monsters or Athasian characters) receive The Gift background trait for free. Their listed abilities don't require any additional feats, but they may still take such feats to gain additional powers. References to the "Psion" and "Psychic Warrior" classes may be replaced by "Sorcerer" and "Fighter" respectively.

Psionic Characters

A character with the psionic background trait must decide which form of psionics he or she has access to - other forms are available through feats, but most psychic characters only have access to one of the four psionic schools - Biokinesis, Clairvoyance, Telekinesis or Telepathy. This one school is called the primary school and psionic characters gain additional traits based on their primary school at character creation. A character can gain powerss from other schools as well, but the majority of his powers must come from his primary school.

A psionic character purchases his or her powers through feats from the list below. A psychic feat can be taken every time when the character gains a new feat, even when this is a class-based bonus feat that is freely chosable - the bonus feats of Men-at-arms or Wizards can only be used for the limited selection as usual.

A character with both the Psionic Gift and Magic Gift can learn Psionics paralell to his or her magical abilities without problems.

The exact power of the different psychic feats are given below in the feats' descriptions.

Psionic Powers

Biokinesis

Biokinesis is very powerful, but also very straightforward for a psychic power. On its highest level, this power almost grants immortality. Biokinetical powers focus on living tissue and the manipulation of it. This includes physical boosts, healing powers, and physical changes. While Biokinesis is most of the time focused on the character himself, powerful biokinetics can also use their powers on other people - both to heal and to harm.

Characters who chose Biokinesis as their primary school, gain a +1 bonus to fortitude saves and the Endurance feat for free.


Biokinesis Powers

Damage Reduction

Prerequisite: Physical Boost

Benefit: The character may harden his bones and reduce any bloodloss almost immedeately, granting him a Natural Damage Reduction of 2/- that stacks with any other Damage Reduction from any other source.


Healing Hands

Prerequisite: None

Benefit: The Biokineticist can use this power to heal himself or others or to inflict pain and harm through a mere touch. Three times per day, she can either heal one light injury with a tough of her hand. Using Healing Hands is a standard action. The psychic can also spend all three of her daily uses at once to heal one full-blown wound, but this requires a succesful Concentration (DC 15) check and takes two full-round actions; during this time, the contact between the healer and his patient may not be interrupted.

Alternatively, the character can use any or all of this healing power to deal damage to living creatures, but not unliving constructs, undeads and so on. Using the power in this way requires a successful melee touch attack and doesn’t provoke an attack of opportunity. If the power is used this way, it deals 1d8 + the highes mental ability bones points of damage per usage.

Fast Healing

Prerequisite: Healing Hands, Vitality

Benefit: The Character gains Fast Healing 1.


Immortality

Prerequisites: Metabolical Cleansing, Vitality

Benefits: You are immune to poisons and diseases. Furthermore, your power continually purges your body of the harmful physical effects of age. You do not physically age beyond the mid-point of the "adult" age category for your race (halfway between reaching adulthood and the onset of middle age: for humans, this corresponds to an age of 25 years). You are immune against all forms of unnatural aging effects and powers.


Incredible Fortitude

Prerequisite: Great Fortitude

Benefit: The Character gains an additional +2 bonus to Fortitude Saves. Whenever the character makes a successful fortitude save against an attack or effect that normally would have a lesser effect (such as any spell with a saving throw entry of fortitude partial) she instead completely negates the effect.


Metabolical Cleansing

Prerequisite: Healing Hands

Benefits: This power purges a subject's body of harmful substances, including poisons and pathogens. This requires touching the subject and a Heal skill check (DC 15, or DC 20 when used on a different target than yourself), and acts as the equivalent of a remove disease and a neutralize poison spell. Using this power is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity, except when touching another.


Physical Boost

Prerequisite: None

Benefit: You may use this power on yourself, or on another creature you touch. On a successful Heal check (DC 20, or 25 when used on a different target than yourself), it bestows a +4 Enhancement bonus on the subject's Strength, Dexterity and Constitution scores (as if under the influence of the bull's strength, cat's grace and bear's endurance spells), for a duration of one minute per level of the psychic. However, when the duration expires, the subject will be exhausted for a period equal to twice this duration. Using this power is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity, except when touching another.


Vitality

Prerequisite: at least two other biokinesis powers.

Benefit: The character increases his Constitution permantly by +2 points, as if he had used a Tome.


Clairvoyance

Characters with Clairvoyance can "see" things they should not be able to recognize. Distance, Barriers, even time may be overcome with clairvoyant powers. Often, these visions are triggered through intense emotions and extreme circumstances, but it is also possible to willingly use these powers.

A Character whose primary school is Clairvoyance gains a "Sixth Sense" which gives a +1 bonus to Reflex Saves, Initiative and Search, Spot and Listen checks.


Clairvoyance Powers

Blindsight

Prerequisite: Harmonized Senses

Benefit: The Character gains Blindsight 30'.


Clarity of Vision

Prerequisite: None

Benefit: You have a good chance of spotting invisible creatures and objects, and seeing through illusions. You gain an immediate Spot check (DC = 10 plus spell level of the illusion x2) to see through the illusion. This also works against naturally transparent creatures such as Invisible Stalkers (DC = 10 plus the creature's CR, or the listed Spot DC minus 10, whichever is lower). If you fail, you get another check 5-8 minutes later, then another 1-4 hours later, then every 1-4 days.


Combat Sense

Prerequisite: Combat Reflexes

Benefit: You have a form of precognition that helps you react appropriately to dangerous situations. This continuous power gives you an Insight bonus equal to your Wisdom bonus (if any) +1 to Defense, Reflex saves and initiative checks. Also, you retain your Dexterity bonus when flat-footed and can react to attacks from any direction (i.e. you cannot be flanked).


Deep Vision

Prerequisite: Harmonized Senses

Benefit: After one round of concentration, you can attune your vision to see up to one foot beneath the surface of opaque objects within 10 feet, for as long as you maintain concentration. Search checks to find secret doors and covered pits within that range will automatically succeed. Search checks for other forms of mechanical trap get a +10 bonus (if the mechanism is normally obscured by something: there is no bonus for spotting a tripwire). You cannot see more than one foot beyond the surface, even if no other obstacles are present: thus, you can see through to the far side of a closed door or thin wall, but not more than a few inches into the room beyond. If you also have the Psychokinesis ability, you can see and manipulate the tumblers of a lock or the mechanism of a trap without tools, and without the usual +5 to the DC for using this power: instead, you get a -5 DC reduction.


Find Weakness

Prerequisite: Combat Sense

Benefit: You can spot weak chinks in the enemie's armors, openings in their defensive posture and similar weak spots. This continous power grants an Insight Bonus to Attack Rolls and Damage equal to the character's Wisdom bonus (if any) +1.


Harmonized Senses

Prerequisiste: None

Benefit: The character can use his psychic abilities to sharpen his senses to an inhuman degree by focusing the whole perception on one specific aspect. By using this power, the character gains one of the following abilities or bonuses, which can be switched as a Standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity: Blind Sense 30', Darkvision 60', Scent 30', or a +10 bonus to Perception. If the character already has one of these abilities, they can add the range to their existing sense (A psychic dwarf could expand his Darkvision to 120', for example).

Precognition

Prerequisite: None

Benefit: You have a limited ability to predict the future. This ability is limited to predicting which of two possibilities is more likely, and will not work if the outcome depends on many unforeseeable actions by those who receive the prediction. Thus, you can predict whether or not a party hunting a murderous troll will find it if they enter a suspicious cave, but you cannot predict if they will defeat it. Success is determined by a Spot check: a result of less than 10 indicates a random response, 10-19 indicates no response, 20 or more indicates success. Repeated attempts by the same psychic will merely give the same result as before: furthermore, multiple attempts to use this power in the same day (even for different predictions) will reduce the result by 5 per attempt. Using this power is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity.


Prophecy

Prerequisite: Precognition

Benefit: You can make significant and far-reaching predictions of future events. The power's parameters are highly variable, and it is up to the referee to interpret this power as he or she sees fit. Prophecies can be clear or obscure: they can consist of glowing images (visible only to you), spoken phrases, or apparently natural events which serve as omens to those with the skill and understanding to interpret them. A peculiarity of this power is that it can be triggered spontaneously, without the character's bidding: in practical terms, this means that characters with this power are unusually prone to prophetic visions and dreams, and are therefore likely to become aware of imminent wars, natural disasters and other major events. Prophecies can also provide life-saving clues regarding the nature of monsters, traps and other hazards in future adventures. A successful Spot check is required (DC 30), but it's possible to "take 20" given sufficient time, so this is not usually a problem.

This power can also be used to gain visions of the past, if you are at the location where the past event occurred, or if you are touching an item which featured in the event (e.g. a murder weapon).


Remote Sensing

Prerequisite: None

Benefit: On a successful Spot or Listen check (DC 15), you can view an area that's normally out of sight, as if using a clairaudience/clairvoyance spell (with a caster level equal to your overall character level). To hear sounds, you must make a DC 10 Listen check: success means you can hear, even if the Spot check fails and you can't see. Using this power is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity.


Scrying

Prerequisite: Remote Sensing

Benefit: By meditating for one hour and then passing a Search check (DC 20), you can duplicate the effect of a Scrying spell.


Telekinesis

Telekinesis is the power to move objects through the mind alone, and to alter and change unliving matter. Telekinesis is the most offensive power school and can easily be used to hurt and attack. Telekinetics does not only include the movemnt of objects, but also powers that change other physical effects - like the dreaded pyrokinesis.

As a primary school, Telekinesis grants the ability to use Mage Hand as a spell-like ability at will and grants a +1 deflection bonus to the character's defense.


Telekinesis Powers

Controled Fall

Prerequisites: None

Benefits: You may cast Featherfall as a spell-like ability at will, but doing so requires a Concentration (DC 15) check.


Energy Blast

Prerequisites: None

Benefits: As a full round action, the character can make a ranged touch attack with a telekinetic energy blast that deals 2d6 points of damage to the target, plus the highest mental ability bonus the character has. When using this power, the character chooses which kind of energy - cold, electricity, fire, or sonic - he uses. This determines the Energy Blast's type of damage.


Greater Mindblade

Prerequisites: Mindblade, BAB 6+

Benefits: The character's mindblade is treated in every regard as a +2 wepaon and gains a quality of a magical weapon orth a +1 bonus. This quality is chosen by the character when he takes this feat and cannot be changed afterwards.


Kinetic Shield

Prerequisite: None

Benefit: On a successful Concentration check (DC 15), you can manifest a shielding force that hovers in front of you. The force screen provides a +4 shield bonus to your Defense (which applies against incorporeal touch attacks, since the force screen is a force effect). Since it hovers in front of you, the effect has no armor check penalty associated with it. This can be wielded without proficiency and does not cause encumbrance. Alternatively, you can reinforce an actual shield or a Shield spell, adding +2 to its shield bonus. It persists for one round per character level. Using this power is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity.


Levitation

Prerequisite: Controlled Fall

Benefit: You can rise vertically into the air, as if under the influence of a Levitate spell, if a DC 20 Concentration check is successful. The spell allow also slow horizontal movement of 10', but requires continued Concentration checks to be maintained: if you fail, you can still make a Controlled Fall check. Activating this power is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity. Under this effect, the character must constantly concentrate, which increases the DC of any other Concentration check by 10.


Mindblade

Prerequisite: Constitution 13+

Benefit: The character can weave his psychic energy into weaponry. It takes a free action to create a mindblade, but a character cannot create more than one blade per turn. The Mind Blade can be used for attacks, but as it is not a material blade, all attacks with the blade are made as touch attacks. A Mind blade can take almost every form, but always deal 1d8 points of damage with a critical range of 19-20, x2. A character can gain the weapon focus fets for his mind blade. The mindblade can be used with the Weapon Finesse feat and the highest mental stat bonus is added to the blade's damage. Mindblade damage ignores the Damage Reduction of worn armor, but not of any other sources.

Mindblade Throw

Prerequisite: Mindblade

Benefit: As the mindblade above, but the attacks can be made as ranged touch attacks with a reach of 30'.


Poltergeist

Propulsion

Prerequisite: Int 13, Levitation.

Benefit: This power is used to boost your movement. Your land speed is faster than the norm for your race by +10 feet. This benefit applies only when you are wearing no armor or light armor, and not carrying a medium or heavy load. Apply this bonus before modifying your speed because of any load carried or armor worn. Your swim speed is +5 feet greater and flying speed is +10 feet greater. Your flying bonus allows you to move horizontally while under a levitation spell or ability. You also gain a +10 bonus on Jump checks and a +5 bonus on the following skills: Balance, Climb, Swim, Tumble. Your height no longer limits your maximum jump distance. You also gain +5 on Ride checks to avoid falling from your steed.

Pyrokinetics

Prerequisites: Energy Blast

Benefit: As a standard action, the character may use the spells Produce Flame and Pyrotechnics as spell-like abilities at will, if the character succeeds in a Concentration check (DC 20). In addition the character gains an Energy resistance against fire equal to the bonus of his highest mental stat.

Telekinetic Blast

Prerequisites: Energy Blast

Benefit: A Telekinetic Blast is a direct and violent use of the telekinetic powers to hurt and hinder a target. As a full round action, the power deals 4d6 of bludgeoning damage as a ranged touch attack to the target, which is also treated as if it was the target of a bullrush by medium creature with a strength equal to the psychic character's highest mental ability.

Telekinetic Manipulation

Prerequisites: Int 13+, At least 3 additional Telekinetic powers

Benefit: As a full-round action, the character may use Telekinesis as a spell-like ability if he succeeds in a Concentration check (DC 30). This power can be used at will. In addition, the character may use the Mage Hand spell at will without making a Concentration check.

Telepathy

Telepathy is the ability to read and alter the minds of sentient beings. A telepath may use his powers for communication, spionage and manipulation or even domination. Telepaths are probably the most subtle psychic characters and are often able to hide their arts very well.

Characters who chose Telepathy as their primary school gain a +2 bonus to will saves as well as Bluff and Sense Motive checks.


Telepath Powers

Assess Opponent

Prerequisites: None

Benefits: If the character has a clear line of sight to a creature within 60 feet, he or she may make a Gather Information skill check with a DC equal to 10 plus the creature's CR. A success grants a special insight regarding that creature's nature: the character recognizes the creature's type, (including, for instance, whether or not it's a lycanthrope or other shapechanger), and what its main character class is (though not its level). You also gain a +2 Favored Enemy bonus (as the ranger ability) specific to that individual, and this stacks with any actual bonus for the individual's creature type. Failure means you can't try again on that individual until your Gather Information skill improves. The power will not work on mindless creatures, or those whose minds cannot be read. Using this power is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity.


Cloak the Mind

Prerequisite: Willpower Boost, Iron WIll

Beenfits: The mind of the psychic cannot be read by normal means: his or her mental privacy is protected by the equivalent of a Mind Blank spell (though this power, unlike the spell, protects only against mental divinations, not magical location or mental attacks). Furthermore, you can create a smoke screen which masks your alignment and surface thoughts, giving false information: this requires a Bluff check opposed by the Sense Motive ability of anyone attempting to read your alignment, magically detect lies, read surface thoughts etc. If your opponent wins this check, his/her mental divination attempt will simply fail, rather than report false information; your mind is still screened.


Command

Prerequisites: Telepathic Manipulation

Benefit: As a full-round action, the character may use Dominate Person as a spell-like ability if he succeeds in a Diplomacy check (DC 35). This is a mind-affecting ability. The DC of the victim's will save is equal to the result of the character's concentration check result, plus his or her charisma bonus.


Genius

Prerequisites: At least three other Telepathic powers.

Benefit: The character increases his Intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma permantly by +2 points, as if he had used a Tome.


Induce Fear

Prerequisites: None

Benefits': As a full-round action, the character may use Fear as a spell-like ability if he succeeds in a Intimidation check (DC 25). This is a mind-affecting ability. The DC of the victim's will save is equal to the result of the character's concentration check result, plus his or her charisma bonus.


Mental Boost

Prerequisite: None

Benefit: You may use this power on yourself, or on another creature you touch. On a successful Concentration check (DC 20, or 25 when used on a different target than yourself), it bestows a +4 Enhancement bonus on the subject's Inteligence, Wisdom and Charisma scores (as if under the influence of the fox's cunning, owl's wisdom and eagle's splendor spells), for a duration of one minute per level of the psychic. However, when the duration expires, the subject will be exhausted for a period equal to twice this duration. Using this power is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity, except when touching another.


Read Thoughts

Prerequisites: Wisdom 13+

Benefit: The character can know what a subject is thinking, at a range of up to 60 feet. On a successful Sense Motive check (DC 15), he or she can duplicate the effect of the Detect Thoughts spell. On a check result of 20 or better, subjects are not entitled to a Will save unless they are somehow aware that you are trying to read their minds. On a result of 30 or better, if you're concentrating on one subject, that subject will be unable to block you without magical or similar protections (i.e. no Will save even if they're aware), and you can delve below their surface thoughts to find out what they know about any topic of your choice. Against magical protections, this power is considered equivalent to a 2nd level spell with a caster level equal to the psychic's overall character level. Using this power is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity.


Telepathic Communication

Prerequisites: Read Thoughts

Benefits: The Character can communicate telepathically with others. He or she must have a line of sight to each subject, unless you've communicated telepathically with that individual before and are thus familiar with his/her "mental signature". A Diplomacy check result is then used to determine the effective range, and the communication attempt succeeds if the subject is within that range:

check result range
5 or less failed
6-10 touch
11-15 10 yards
16-20 100 yards
21-25 1 mile
26-30 10 miles
31-35 100 miles
36+ Unlimited range


Multiple attempts are permitted, and given sufficient time, it is possible to "take 20" on this check. If successful, the communication link allows two-way verbal communication while both parties maintain concentration. Adding others to a multi-way conference requires a new check for all existing links when each new one is added, with a cumulative -5 penalty (no "take 20" here, as failure causes the existing link to be dropped). Pictorial information (mental diagrams and actual views through each other's eyes) can be exchanged if the check result was at least 10 points higher than required for verbal communication at that range. Against magical protections, this power is considered equivalent to a 5th level spell with a caster level equal to the psychic's overall character level. Using this power is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity.


Telepathic Manipulation

Prerequisites: Induce Fear

Benefit: As a full-round action, the character may use Suggestion as a spell-like ability if he succeeds in a Diplomacy check (DC 30). This is a mind-affecting ability. The DC of the victim's will save is equal to the result of the character's concentration check result, plus his or her charisma bonus.


Willpower Boost

Prerequisites: Wisdom 13+

Benefit: the Character gains a +2 bonus to his or her will saves which is doubled against against all mind-affecting spells, powers, or effects.

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