Saturday, August 4, 2018

ACKS: psychic build

Psionics. Ever since I first watched Babylon 5 in the mid-late 1990's, I was fascinated by them - by the powers of the mind. I wrote some rules for them for the Cepheus Engine, not being satisfied with how it treats psionics in its core rules. However, in fantasy, things are a little different. For what are psionics, but science-fiction magic? So I was, in the past, on the fence about their inclusion in fantasy settings. However, in more "gonzo" quasi-science-fantasy settings such as my (published) Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu (BCK), or my prospective Blighted Lands post-apocalyptic setting for ACKS, they should fit well.

So, like the sorcerer, I used the magic type creation rules from Axioms I to create psionics as a custom type of "magic". Yes, you read me right - "magic". I find the ACKS spellcasting rules to be robust, more robust than, say the old AD&D Psionics Handbooks rules, or even the ACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook's spellsinging rules. So I am taking a similar road to the one I took with BCK's visitor hybrid: my psionics use a variant, custom type of "spellcasting", designed per Axioms I as noted above, rather than the traditional AD&D (or my beloved Traveller) psi-point system.

You can find the psychic magic type design sheet HERE.

Psychics have "inherited" magic with standard (mage-like) progression. Unlike sorcerers, they lack a code of behavior and do not have to fear Corruption, and cannot turn or control undead. They have mage-type saving throws (i.e., the worst) and both INT and CHA as prime requisites. They may use magic items accessible to mages.

Psychics have no access to "sorcerous" spells such as Blast, Summoning, Transmogrification, or Wall spells. However, they receive powerful Detection and Enchantment spells very early and have good illusion and movement spells (as a mage) - all befitting the masters of the mind.

A "full" psychic is at 2 build points and 950 XP, which I may yet round to 1000 XP for convenience sake. "Half" progression is that 450 XP; 133% psionics are at 1900 xp; and 150% psionics are at 3800 XP, which seems a bit excessive.

I have in mind (so to speak!) two psionic classes:

The psychic is the master of the mind - yet skilled in survival in blighted lands and barbaric jungles alike. Men fear him (or her!) - as his mysterious mental might can dominate the will of others and penetrate even the deepest, most private thoughts of a hapless "mundane". Unlike mages or clerics, the psychic needs neither spellbooks nor holy symbols; his very presence provides him with power over the minds of others. Playing a psychic means mastering the mind - that of the character himself, and that of his enemies.

Class build would be Psychic 2, Fighting 1b (as thief), and Hit Dice 1 (1d6 per level). This grants full access to psionic powers (with full mage-style progression), as well as decent fighting capabilities. This costs 1950 XP to rise to level 2; I'll round it to 2000 XP (as a fighter) to make the higher level XP values more convenient.

Psionic Knight
Some men (and women!) master not only their minds, as a psychic does, but also the blade and the shield. A keen mind, powerful enough to rob opponents of their most intimate thoughts and bend them to the psionic knight's will, augments a steady sword-arm. If the psionic knight survives long enough to become a mind lord - a psionic warlord - his psychic skills grant him a strategic advantage against his "mundane" opponents, granting military intelligence and providing strategic capabilities beyond the ken of ordinary men.

Class build would be Psychic 1, Fighting 2 (as fighter), and Hit Dice 1 (1d6 per level). This grants half of a psychic's power progression, together with great martial prowess. This also costs 1950 XP to rise to level 2; I'll round it to 2000 XP (as a fighter) to make the higher level XP values more convenient.

I also wanted to add a savant class with Psionics 4 but 3,800 XP to get to level 2 seem like an excessive price for 150% spells.

Next, I will design the psionic "spell" list based on the magic type design I have linked above.

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