State of the Commonwealth - Psionics and Some New Advantages for KMotC's BASH Edition!

Clint Staples

Of late, in the limited time I am getting to write over the summer months, I am hard at work on Knights-Marshal of the Commonwealth, alternating between writing system stuff that fine-tunes the awesome BASH- Sci Fi rules for KMotC, and setting pieces like The Shard, Part 1, that I posted on d-Infinity a couple of weeks ago. Currently, I am working with some new Advantages available to PC and NPC alike, and I thought I would write a bit about how a good Advantage usually is derived from solid background.

Advantages in BASH - Sci Fi are new abilities or enhancements of abilities, even access to unique items like a personal starship, that a player can take to customize her character. Mechanically, they are offset by an equal number of Disadvantages that must be taken in character creation. Some Advantages must be taken to grant access to a particular power list. For example, you need to take an Advantage that grants Psionics in order to purchase powers form the Psionics list. And some Advantages re 'hard-wired' into a species Template, as an ability that helps define that species.

In Knights-Marshal, there are a number of ways of doing that, depending on how much psionics a player is looking for, and whether they are playing a human or not. In KmotC, each alien race accesses the powers of the mind in a different way. Humans [or any species really], by way of example, can be 'slightly' psychic by taking the Advantage Natural Psycher [see below]. But if they want to take more than a single psychic power, you need to take the Advantage Psyche, which gives you full access to the psychic disciplines. But Psyche must unlock psionic powers in a prescribed series of disciplines, dependent on the type of Psyche in question. So a mistress of the Red Arts, otherwise known as a Red-Shifter, must have more points invested in Bio-Manipulation psionic powers than in any other discipline, whereas a White Arts practitioner must 'major' in Telekinetic powers.

Other species gain psionics in their own unique ways. Among the Shard, only the highly suspect Obsidian Shard can access psionics [termed Obsidian Sorcery by the Shard], and they must take the advantage of that name to do so. Obsidian sorcery allows Obsidian Shard to choose two Disciplines and spend freely within them, But sorcerers may not study more than two disciplines, so they are simultaneously more and less limited than human Psyche.

The Ran-Keld ['The Minds of Keld'] are naturally psionic, in a limited way. Any Ran-Keld is able to project its own thoughts for purposes of communication, which is fortunate, since they lack conventional organs to allow speech. Being oviparous, Ran-Keld females lay leathery egg-cases rather than give live birth. Over the ages, the practice has arisen to lay eggs in clutches with other trusted females, the offspring of which are referred to as a 'Brood'. All those born of the same Brood are fully telepathic with each other - able to share, and receive the thoughts of their Broodmates. This leads to a deep bond that has come to dominate much of Ran-Keld existence.


Anyway, on to some Advantages, as promised.

Natural Psycher – you have manifested a single psionic talent, even though your species normally is incapable if such a thing. So a normal human, a shard who is not obsidian, etc. By taking this advantage you gain level 1 in a single psychic ability/ You may purchase further levels in that ability with Experience Points in play, but may never develop other psychic powers. 

Obsidian Sorcery – A strange and feared psionic art, Obsidian Sorcery is practiced by Obsidian Shard. Obsidian Sorcerers do not specialize as human psyche do. Instead, they may choose two Disciplines, and purchase powers from them freely. They may never purchase powers from any of the other disciplines. Obsidian Sorcerers gain +1 Dice Bonus on all Sorcery rolls.

Ran-Keld Telepathy - [Racial Advantage] Ran-Keld are naturally manifesting projecting telepaths, which is to say that they can send their thoughts to others for purposes of communication.  These thoughts can be understood by nearly any thinking creature. However, Ran-Keld are not normally able to perceive the thoughts of others. The exception to this is between Broodmates, Ran-Keld that were lain and clutched together, where they form a special bond.

Shaman of the Keld – You are able to tap into the brood-memory of the Keld, which grants you certain abilities. First you may only purchase powers from the ‘Empathic’ Discipline. As long as you possess one power from that list you may temporarily access a single power from ANY other discipline. You must spend and entire Page, pay a Hero Point and make a Mind or Psycher check. Your roll, divided by 10, determines the level of the power available to you at the moment. So if you wish to tap the Brood-Mind for Damage Aura, and your roll is 30-39, you can access Damage Aura 3. You can retain the use of the power for the current scene, or until you tap the Brood-Mind again for another power. You must make Fatigue checks as normal for any powers used.


Why did I make Ran-Keld Telepathy an advantage, an not just an integral racial ability. Well, because this way, it is easy for a player to create a Ran-Keld who is psychically mute, for example, just by stripping out the Advantage. And since they did so, the GM could allow them a differently Advantage in its place - thus creating a truly individual Ran-Keld [ in more ways than one]. Or what if a human child were raised in close proximity to a Ran-Keld clutch. A PC based on that concept, could be allowed to take Ran-Keld Telepathy as an Advantage. The final Advantage, Shaman of the Keld, I included to give you another taste of how psionics will differ from species to species. The Shaman cannot normally have powers that are not from the empathic discipline. However, by tapping into the racial brood-memory of her people, she can manifest powers otherwise unknown among her kind. This in turn allows us to speculate on a Ran-Keld afterlife where such powers become accessible, or even whether the Ran-Keld are on an evolutionary psychic cusp that will unlock all the disciplines of the mind.