Thursday, October 24, 2019

Garden- Psychic Rules

Some people have a special extrasensory awareness, towards the lies others tell or to events that happened far in the past. Others have claimed to see the future, or to move objects with their minds. Psychics are the name for these people. Something about a nocturnal lifestyle brings out the psychic potential in people. In Garden, you'd find about one person in a crowded diner with psionic abilities. While the number isn't huge, it's still miles away more common then on their original worlds, where psychic abilities are either extremely rare scientific curiosities or a shadowy fiction not thought of to be real. Garden has psychics in every level of society, from highly paid, telepathic bodyguards to homeless beggars leeching power off the grid to boil some snow to drink.

Some psychic powers generate stress. Psychic stress has no effect until it reaches 7 points or more. Whenever you gain stress when you have 7 points or more, roll 2d6. If you roll under your stress, your are knocked unconscious. Rolling over lets you resist this time. You are knocked out for a number of turns equal to your stress, reducing your stress by -1 each turn until back to zero.

The following powers are available to all Psychics-
Psychic Attack- Concentrate on someone you can see within throwing distance. You send negative emotions and thoughts at them, dealing 1d6 stress minus their psychic resistance. If two Psychics lock eyes and perform this attack on each other at the same time, the lower of the two rolls takes the stress from both rolls combined; the energy is redirected back at them.

Psychic Defense- Creating a “shield” of psychic energy around a person, place, or thing. This power gives its user 3 stress. Roll 3d6 die and mark the result. Whenever another Psychic wants to use a power on this thing, they must roll a d20 equal to or over this number in order to access it. If they fail, they must wait a turn to try again. Some psychic phenomena, such as psychic beings, could be blocked out of entering a location in this way. Once this barrier is broken by a successful roll, the shield disappears permanently. Additionally, when the shield is created, extra psychics can take 1 stress and add another +1d6 to the shield roll, where as the best 3 dice of all in the pool are used.

Mind-Reading- Psychics can focus their power on the minds of another being to sense one layer deeper then what is physically apparent. Using this power gives its user 1 stress. Using this on a neutral looking person will tell you what emotion or major desire is right under the surface. Using this on a clearly angry person will give you a hint at what or who their anger is directed towards and so on. This power can also work on special objects or a rare psionic nexus, but things this powerful and infused with psychic energy can be felt by any especially “sensitive” person.

These powers are what the most basic, common psychic has access to- but there are more powerful Psychics. In Garden, characters don't get experience points, so most advancement is based on wealth and political power. Psychics can advance by spending $2000 on cultivating their Psychic abilities. This includes things like money lost (trying) to use your powers to cheat at cards, buying focusing crystals or psycho-reactive drugs, purchasing strange items found in the lockers beneath the city, and so on. Psychics who spend this money learn a trick.

Psychic Tricks- Each Psychic trick can be used at the cost of 1 stress. These are “hints” of the Psychics blossoming power; whatever trick they have will determine what psychic power they can eventually develop. Tricks lack most practical benefits, but are the most overt and obvious signs of psychic power. Roll once on the trick table to determine your trick, you don't get any more.

Psychic Trick Table - 1d10
[1] You can create an electric shock strong enough to jumpstart a car or deal 1 damage to someone you're touching. It's stopped by rubber soles. (Electrokinesis)
[2] You can now light a candle in a second, just grabbing the wick with two fingers. You gain the ability to make heat in your cupped hands, similar to oven temperatures. (Pyrokinesis)
[3] You can now “touch” things up to two inches deep within a surface, physically sensing things buried within walls or in shallow pools of water. (Dowsing)
[4] You can now tell the last card that was drawn from a deck when you're blindfolded. You can only know things that happened within the past 5-10 seconds, and information is limited to a single short phrase or three digit number, not a sequence of words or events. (Retrocognition)
[5] Guess heads or tails from a coin flip. You have a 4 in 6 chance to be right. (Precognition)
[6] You can spin small objects, flip pages in a book, or gently pull or push things along a flat, smooth surface that weigh less then one pound. (Telekinesis)
[7] You can make a small object disappear from your hand and reappear in your pocket, or vice versa. The object must be a single bullet or smaller in size. (Apportion)
[8] You can heal a 1 hit point wound by touching the area and concentrating energy on it. This only works on wounds exactly 1 hit point or less, has no effect on larger damage. (Biokinesis)
[9] You can touch someone's hand to send them a blurry mental image or voice. You cannot have a conversation, just send a blurb. (Telepathy)
[10] You passively have a constant Psychic Defense around your mind equal to 3 points, or 15% chance to stop an enemy psychic attack. Your mind is like cloudy 'pea soup' to casual psychics. (Blanking)

After developing this trick, the Psychic may be spurred on by their newfound power. By investing another $5000 in their psychic development, they can finally gain a fully fledged Psychic Power. The Psychic Power they get is the advanced form of the trick- costing at least one psychic stress to perform their power but being able perform their old trick without it costing them any stress from now on. At this stage, the Psychic also now uses a 1d8 die for Psychic attacks and gain an extra point of Psychic resistance as their mental power has increased considerably.

Psychic powers beyond these in both power and scope begin to fall into the range of the infamous reality warpers. Psychics in Garden with a fully developed power are considered at the height of their “safe” power, and very few go beyond this. Rarely, a psychic may develop a second trick. This trick and second power only increases their strength, as Psychic powers add together to become stronger. The telekinetic with the powers of telepathy could move objects they can't even see, assaulting people in their homes without even having to step inside. The dowser with precognition could see a real 3 dimensional outline of where someone or something will be in the near future, letting them set up the ultimate heist or an unfortunate accident. Needless to say, Psychics who become this powerful are very feared and are on the path to full Psionic madness.

Psychic Powers-
[1] Electrokinesis- The power to create and control electricity. You can launch a bolt of electricity that deals 1d4 damage in short range, but prefers to hit metal targets. Treat rubber shoes, gloves, and so on as -1 damage to your electricity. You can also shock people by touching them that deals 1d6 damage OR stun someone with a melee hit. With your powers of electricity you can also influence machines; hotwire a car by touch, turn off or on a machine within the same room, or power a machine with your own mental energy- each turn of power requires 1 mental stress- Flying cars require 3 stress per turn to power due to their intense energy requirements.

[2] Pyrokinesis- You can control and conjure fire. You can launch of jet of flame at very short range or light something very flammable and dry on fire for 1d6 damage- water and normal skin is too flame retardant for you to be a killing machine. You can however detonate explosive ordnance within your sight- anyone carrying or immediately next to the explosive gets a save to toss it away or duck for cover before it fully explodes. Finally, you can turn up the heat around your body to intense levels, causing 1 psychic stress to you per round but dealing 1 damage to enemies in melee range.

[3] Dowsing- Allows to feel things remotely. Sensing objects by hovering your hand over them, and feeling things like psychic energy, heat, radiation, electricity, and even abstracted 'life force'. It is the advanced form of psychic intuition and extrasensory power. You can sense minor things buried up to 6 feet deep, and large objects like pipes or underground aquifers buried far beneath you. You can feel hidden compartments in walls, depending on the size of the space. You can also feel parasites or cancers growing in a person, as long as they have reached a significant stage in the disease.

[4] Retrocognition- The ability to see into the past. By touching an object, you can feel the psychic energies of what the object's owner imbued it with. You can tell if a knife was used to kill someone for example, but any more details will be too hard to tell. Retrocog can also give you psychic feedback on extremely tumultuous items or strange items from the lockers in the service tunnels. This feedback deals 1d6 stress damage, but most items that have this will be spooky enough in appearance and location as to give you warning- this is a risk you have inherently by opening yourself up to the past.

Additionally, you can investigate locations. By giving yourself 1d3 Stress, You can focus on a location to see up to the same number of days in the past. During this time, you can see rough forms moving and muffled talking, but very sudden or loud bursts of energy and noise (heightened emotions leave a stronger psychic stain) will be more clear. This period of focus is like a security camera, stuck at one location and every mundane moment must also be watched over. It takes an exploration turn of focus per day you want to search, in which case you will get only a few clues on the true happenings of what happened. Individuals are hard to identify, small items are blurry, and certain events are abstracted.

[5] Precognition- The ability to see into the future. The most sought after Psychic power. Almost all psychics with precog develop a “totem” or mental handicap that requires use to actually use this ability. The totem tends to be something they had or idolized as a child, or something they had on hand the first time their psychic powers awoke. This totem is not a single object but rather an action performed with an object. Examples include throwing “lucky” dice on the ground, drawing tarot cards, illustrating pictures with crayons, or hearing voices in a radio static. The few lucky precognates with the power to see into the future without a handicap make up about 1 in 4 telepaths; which is the chance you have to develop the purest form of precognition.

If you're intentionally peering into the future, it takes 1 exploration turn to divine your totem or to close your eyes and focus on the future. Otherwise, psychic visions come at you directly and immediately. Getting a vision or peering into the future always deals 1d4 Psychic stress to you, and you can only do it once per adventure/night.

Precognition allows the user to either retroactively avoid doing something that causes them harm immediately after it happened, (since you can't actually tell the future while playing a roleplaying game) in the form of a vision OR get a clue to the location or intent of a character. You can also use this power to know where a character will be in up to a day's time (and therefore, always meet them), but due to the chaos of the universe and unsure nature of psychic fortune telling, extreme circumstances might throw off your estimate.

[6] Telekinesis- Your powers of telekinesis have increased. You are now capable of “wrestling” with people at a distance, requiring their full strength to shove off. This is a “human” level of strength regardless of you or the enemy's alien racial origin, which could be much stronger. You can also levitate your body at a slow walking pace, allowing you to float or slow your fall. You can move objects equal to what a human could pick up or carry of an average level with a similar level of speed; heavy creates will slowly float up where as lightweight objects can be flung or levitated quickly. Finally, you can throw objects with enough force to deal up to 1d6 damage- this happens if you throw something like a knife or a pile of glass shards at a foe or a rock at someone's head. Softer or lighter objects will deal naturally less damage.

[7] Apportion- The power to instantly move or teleport matter. You can now disappear small objects even when they are observed, such as warping a gun out of your hand and into a nearby trash can to conceal it. You can't teleport objects that you couldn't physically grab or move, and any object that you couldn't conceal under your coat is too large to teleport. You can also apporate objects into your possession from through a single wall or barrier (such as inside a chest with you in the same room, or through a wall while you are outside) if you know of its exact location, but this costs 2 points of stress instead of one. Finally, you can teleport yourself up to a distance you can clearly see, or through a simple barrier if you've been on the other side before and know it well. Teleporting yourself costs 3 stress and if you fail a stress roll while doing it you disappear forever.

[8] Biokinesis- Your powers let you control the flow of blood and life. You can manipulate people's bodies, letting you cause temporary paralysis or unconsciousness on a successful melee hit. Aliens with a biology too strange for you may be able to ignore this effect. You can also heal people for 1d4 hit points at an equal cost of psychic stress. You can control a dead corpse as long as it isn't too degraded and you continue touching it, causing muscles to fire or the mouth to move and speak, requiring a point of stress every turn you control a body this way. People with Biokinetic powers can also manipulate their own bodies slowly over time. You can change your hormones, appearance, height, weight, and other factors- taking months to make significant changes similar to an endless puberty. You cannot change species or gain significant advantages, but regrowth of severed body parts or healing over permanent scars or other afflictions are possible.

[9] Telepathy- You can now send mental messages to someone you can see. These messages can include words, images, sounds, smells, or any other abstract “thoughts” that one could think. You can send knowledge this way, though anything too complex will be forgotten after an exploration turn. Beyond sending messages, you can also subtly manipulate the minds of others by sending them thoughts in secret, and if they do not know that a telepath is messing with them they may be thinking these thoughts at their own. This can include hallucinations for more skilled telepaths. If you grant a person an object of great personal importance you can send them messages at a longer distances; this costs 2 points of stress for long range thoughts.

[10] Blanking- The Anti-Psychic Psychic. The powers of a blanker disrupt the psychic fields and energies of other psyhic users or psychic manifestations. Blanks keep their basic Psychic abilities but their mind is simply too strange to develop a more traditional psychic power. The Blank becomes immune to any kind of mind reading or psychic attack, and become invisible to psychic sensing and scrying. They do not gain any special immunity or resistance against the powers of psychic that deal real, physical harm such as the fiery blast of a Pyromancer or a levitated object thrown at them.


  1. This is good set of rules.
    Question: if a psychic wants to teleport, say, a tiny shard of glass into another person's heart (thus causing heart failure in some near future), would it be impossible at all or psychic can break other person's defenses first?

    1. I'd say you CAN teleport things in places where you can't see, as per the rules, but probably can't teleport it into something that already has matter present. While technically there could be enough empty space in a body to do that kind of thing, it's also a bit cheap and powerful I would say, so maybe give a similar power to really strong Apportionists only. Or just reality warpers, who break the rules anyway.

  2. This is a fantastic psychic reference with some seriously useful bits. Thank you for sharing!

    Did you reference any game systems while coming up with these rules?
    It seems like the high level advancement is a bit blurry right now - high level powers seem difficult to effectively challenge.

    Precognition - i notice it lets you avoid bad stuff, but what about making good outcomes happen instead of neutral (winning a bet, etc)?

    Biokinesis - at what point can you rapidly manipulate/puppet a person's mental/emotional state?

    i like the idea of high-power npc blankers being like a black hole of psi energy that could blank whole rooms or building complexes, maybe even more or less when they are sleeping or awake.

    1. Wow, that's a lot of questions! I'd say that precognition is written the way it is mostly because you can't actually predict the future when running the campaign, but having minor coincidences help you out would be a use of it, but the reason I didn't include that originally is because it feels more like luck manipulation then actually seeing the future.

      Biokinesis was also specifically meant to be about people's bodies, where as Telepathy or Psychic Attacks are more the sort of direct mind control thing. I didn't want you to be able to double dip, more or less.

      Anyway, it's not a totally complete ruleset so it would take a good GM to work it out. I don't expect it to cover every scenario and it wasn't really written like a textbook. Hopefully you understand my GMing style better, or can come up with your own rulings if you see any further issues with the rules.

    2. Sorry, I didn't mean for it to sound like I was grilling you! I like it, so I'm just wondering out loud about the bits I don't understand.

      Limiting Biokinesis seems like a good choice. Apportion seems like the hardest power to keep in balance if I was giving these to player characters.

      Something about this whole thing reminds me of Ars Magicka's lovely flexible spellcasting, but that might just be me.