Wednesday, July 28, 2010

StarCluster 3 - PSI stuff

Last night I did some work with PSI. A couple Beta testers thought that unless you were making a PSI-oriented character - in which case you would want to push it high - PSI is a dump stat, so it's either high or zero. This is for a couple of reasons:

1: There are very few professions based on PSI. The only fairly widespread PSI skill is Transfer, the skill that enables Jump travel through the wormhole net, among other things.

2: There is no way to use PSI unskilled.

These two factors combined to severely limit the appeal of PSI for non-PSI-based characters.

Last night, I implemented a three step change:

1: I went through the professions and added appropriate PSI skills to a fair portion of them. For instance Detectives could use the PSI skills Interrogation and Telepathy, while doctors and such could certainly use the PSI skill Heal.

2: I cleared up the use of unskilled PSI. For some reason, despite the fact that other skills could be used unskilled, the testers assumed this didn't apply to PSI skills. The only difference really is that you need PSI to power PSI skills, so a character with PSI can use any PSI skill, whether skilled or not ,and a character without PSI cannot use any PSI skill, skilled or not. Unskilled PSI use is the same as unskilled use of any other skill otherwise. This has always been true, but it was not specifically stated in the rules, so now it is explicit.

3: I added Hunches. A character with PSI can use a LUCK point to get a Hunch about someone. To use a Hunch, the player needs to ask the GM (for NPCs) or other player (for PCs) a question concerning what that character is thinking or feeling about something specific. Since the player character used a LUCK point, the player is effectively paying for this information, so it needs an honest answer. For example:

Player: "What does Mr. Jones intend to do with us? I'm using a LUCK point here."
GM: "You have a Hunch he doesn't intend to leave any witnesses behind."


Player: "Why is Tabitha so vicious towards my character Roy? I'm going to use a Luck, Jean."
Other player: "You have a Hunch she's attracted to Roy, but doesn't want to be attracted to him because he can be such a jerk, so she takes it out of his hide."

What a Hunch does *not* do is tell a player which is the best option, or in any way make decisions for the player. Hunches do not work on things or places, just people.

I'm thinking these three points will make a small amount of PSI a useful option.



  1. I've always found Psi, or Psionics, a bit of a pain in Traveller and so never used the CT Rules. I do like what Mongoose have done with psionics in their version of Traveller and actually feel comfortable about introducing them into my game.

    I do like your "Hunches" concept, it's almost like a form of Empathy where the character is able to read another character or NPC just that little bit better than the average punter.

    Not being aware as to how easy it is to gain Luck Points, it's hard to judge whether firing off a Luck Point to gain a Hunch is good value for money or not, especially as in the two examples you give, the player could possibly have gained the information with a little roleplaying anyway.

    I do like the concept of encouraging PCs to have a little Psi, though, particularly if it makes them that little bit better as people readers or detectives.

  2. Hi Kobold!

    That is exactly what it is - a heightened form of Empathy. As for LUCK points, they refresh every session in StarCluster 3, and the character has 2 LUCK, 2 PSI, and a Middle Class Family Lifestyle as a default, though he can buy more of one by pulling down one and/or the other in Chargen. For example, he can boost LUCK by pulling down PSI, or boost Family Lifestyle by pulling down LUCK.


  3. I really like these changes to PSI - it makes sense to me that in a culture that could use it, there would be all manner of minor uses. What might also be useful is some minor PSi abilities that don't cost a PSI point to use.

    The other major limits I see to PSI is when you're out of PSI points, you're done for the session and characters don't have many PSI points. A few low level tricks - levitate small coins, light candles, known someone's current emotional state or state of health by touching them would IMHO really make psi using characters more appealing. To prevent abuse, I'd make all of these minor talents require concentration (so you can't use them while doing anything else), and I'd give maybe one minor talent for every psi ability like Heal or Pyrokinesis.

    -John Snead

  4. Oooh! I like those ideas, John! Very cool, and easy enough to implement!