TSoY in space: The inhuman

22 October, 2009 at 9:27 pm (Solar system) (, , , , , )

This post contains thoughts about the inhuman elements of the game world: psionics, aliens, robots and androids, cyborgs and whatnot.

My experience in balancing secrets and keys is not great, so all commentary is gladly accepted. Few of the secrets are intentionally powerful; steel and wires, in particular.


Everyone knows psionics exist. Very few have met anybody capable of manifesting them or controlling their power. There are rumours of gifted children simply disappearing and of secret government programs and corporate assassins and so on. Rumours, nothing more.

Secret of psionics: The character can contact others with her mind. This requires a successful psionics (instinct) test, possibly resisted with resist or psionics. Using a skill through the psionic contact is taxing and costs 1 instinct. Other secrets in this chapter require the secret of psionics. Only those with the secret can take the psionics skill.

Secret of disciplined psionicist: Psionics (reason), not (instinct). Using skills through the connection has no extra cost. The character has been trained by some facility dedicated for this purpose, and is almost certain to either be an employee or a very hunted rogue operative.

Secret of [freaky exotic psionic ability]: The character can use [freaky exotic psionic ability], which may cost reason or instinct, in addition to requiring dice to be rolled. Telekinesis, making the heads of people explode, invisibility, illusions, that sort of stuff.

Secret of the electromancer: Psionics affects androids.

Secret of psionic storm: Pay up to six points from insinct or reason, whichever governs the psionics ability. Roll psionics. On failure, take reason harm equal to the resource spent. On success, deal that much harm to all characters in the great area affected by the power and take half that in reason damage. Named characters get to resist; others die, are in pain, or whatever was at stake. This ability is not fast to use and any psions in the affected area may resist, hence making this a risky proposition. Still utterly powerful.

The following keys, aside from the first one, only make sense for characters with (latent) psionic ability.

Key of shattered mind: Some psionicist has violently invaded the character’s mind. 1 experience for being hostile to such vile mind-rapers, 3 for losing control in public when something important is happening (and sobbing incoherently or going berserk, say). Buy-off: Forgive and accept.

Key of the empath: The character can sense the emotions, particularly strong emotions and pain, of others. 1 xp for revealing this in play, 3 for suffering due to the talent. Buy-off: Silence the pain by becoming inured to the suffering of others.

Key of the wilder: The character has uncontrolled or poorly controlled psionic ability. It manifests at inopportunate times, particularly when the character is stressed. 1 xp for uncontrolled manifestations, 3 for major destruction or set-back by wild psionics. (Note: this could manifest whenever the character fails a roll, particularly psionics roll, or when the story guide or players feel like it. Up to group negotiation.) Buy-off: Characters gets rid of unintended psionic effects (by iron will or removing the ability).

Steel and wires

Our game has thus far not seen detailed robotic player characters. We do know that proper robots and androids are (almost) immune to psionics.

Secret of steel among the flesh: Character can accomplish deeds requiring superhuman strength or endurance. One point of vigour gives 2 bonus dice to such and makes them possible.

Secrets of wires in the head: Character can compute and analyse with great speed. One point of reason gives 2 bonus dice for analysis (not limited to epsilon-delta proofs) and calculations.

Fancy cybernetic gadgets are also secrets. Heat-vision, cleverly hidden needle guns, hidden containers, armoured skin, things out of Cyberpunk books.

Key of programmed mind: Those who built or fixed the character added some unwanted orders. 1 xp when the character acts upon the programmed orders, 3 xp when he does so against his will. Buy-off: Remove the programming.

Key of lost humanity: Some go mad when great parts of their body are replaced with inorganic materials. 1 xp for showing the cold, aloof and cruel nature that is now character’s; 3 xp for murdering or slaughter of humans in cold blood. Buy-off: Become completely human or completely machine.

Key of malfunctioning component: Some component of character is constantly malfunctioning and in need of repair. 1 xp for maintaining it, 3xp for getting in trouble when it breaks anyways. Buy-off: Fix or replace it.

The hive cluster

Just recently there have been aliens discovered. Inspirations are the zerg of Starcraft and the aliens in series of movies with alien in the name. They are not public knowledge, and whether they will ever be is up to gaming. They have a hive mind; all are connected to the collective consciousness and it commands them all, much like a player in an RTS game. The aliens encountered thus far have been somewhat insectile in appearance.

Skill: Hive mind (instinct): The character is in contact with the hive mind, willingly or not. The skill can be used to communicate and command other aliens, but they can also command back. It works by telepathy. The collective has 4 skill, takes penalty dice for distance (1 for orbit, 2 for solar system, 3 for galaxy, 4 for outside it) and can command the character; resist with hive mind, telepathy or resist. The collective can also lend its knowledge and help for the character, in which case the character gets to help almost any skill roll with the hive mind skill, though failure at the roll inflicts a penalty die. Other keys and secrets of this chapter require this skill.

Key of slave to the brood: The character is unwilling servant of the swarm, yet has little power against it. 1 experience for obeying its orders, 3 for doing so in spite of one’s will. Buy-off: Be rid of the influence.

Key of corrupted monster: Requires some visible mutations. The character looks horrible and inhuman. 1 experience for being shunned and despised for it, 3 when someone’s actively hunting the character for such taint. Buy-off: Mask your true nature.

Secret of contaminated talent: Requires hive mind and psionics. Whenever character touches the mind of another, the brood widens its influence. Pay one instinct to inflict the slave to the brood-key upon any contacted via psionics. Upon first contact they also learn hive mind at skill level mediocre.

Secret of vast knowledge: The character can scan the collective memory for information pertaining to whatever subject; pay as much instinct as desired to get bonus dice for any attempt already aided by hive mind skill, 1 die per point of instinct. This is an awfully big deal.

Secret of regeneration: At the start of a session, or when significat time in the fiction is glossed over, roll endure are heal on level of vigour harm, up to the endure result. Further, given sufficient time, the character can heal from the most severe of wounds.

Secret of [random mutation]: Character has [random mutation]. Claws like knives! Acid spit! Tentacles! Using it may or may not cost vigour. Spitting acid does, for the record.


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