Thursday, October 18, 2012

Telekenesis in Stars Without Number

It seems that when my players imagine psychics in Stars Without Number, they get visions of Jedis dancing in their heads.  What do I get?  I get Bester.  You know, Bester from Bablyon 5.  Yeah.  Chekov.  But not nice Chekov. BESTER - psy-cop and asshole extraordinaire.

Bester hearkens back to a sci fi tradition where psionics were more subtle and had to do with mental activity and perception and all that.  Actually, the original Star Wars trilogy was a lot like that too.  Old Ben didn't go around melting people's heads off, and the pinnacle of power, Yoda, could lift an X-wing - barely - but he certainly wasn't powerful enough to wield an X-Wing like a sword and carve his initials into an AT-AT.

The second Stars Wars trilogy RUINED all that, and apparently has tainted some of my players.  They moan and groan about how wimpy the psychics are and how all of their powers have been nerfed.  I don't really have a problem with it.  Given my druthers, I'd nerf them down a bit more.  But I'm playing them as written.  The problem is that some of the powers, as written, can be lawyered to death.  The key part I'm referring to is the Telekinesis Discipline Track.

So here are my thoughts and rulings on the first four levels of the Telekinesis Discipline:

Remote Manipulation (1) - You have a ghost hand that extends to your unaided line of sight.  It had pick things up and hit people with them.  STR 10, -2 attack.  

Telekinetic Press (2) - Your can pump more strength (STR 18) into your ghost hand, but at the cost of speed and control.  Mobile is the limiting word in the description.  Anything that can move can get out of the way easily, and anything that can be moved will just scoot instead of being damaged.  However, if something is fixed to the floor or a bulkhead, you can exert that 18 STR and cause actual damage.

Complex Manipulation (3) - You can use two ghost hands at the same time, and if you use them to smack somone, you get no negative to attack, and have an 18 STR.

Telekinetic Ram (4) - This is the stickler that confuses people.  You can smack things real hard with force of will alone, but the object struck must be immobile.  Okay, so it sounds like it should be fixed and incapable of movement.  But then, later in the paragraph, it describes the power being able to damage vehicles.  Huh?  Well, there are two definitions of immobile - one incapable of being moved, and one not moving.  The second definition seems to fit here.  The words mobile and immobile are not always exact opposites.  So, if something is currently not moving, you can smack it.  If it is moving that round, no - no smack for you.  Back of the line.  Why?  Getting your telekinetic ram on is REAL hard.  Okay, yeah, it prevents your dear character from wiping out the tank platoon bearing down on you with a mere thought - but sorry - suck it up.

Enough lawyering.  That's my take.  But if Kevin Crawford were to wander by and pitch in his two cents, I'd carefully listen. :)

So, to heck with Qui-Gon Jinn.  Bester is awesome.  He doesn't do 40 meter backwards somersaults while killing 50 armored troops with a laser sword - no.  But Bester shows up and ruins your day with his smile.  Now THAT is power.

- Ark

8 comments:

  1. rassumfrassum telekineticram pishposh

    nothing is ever not moving. We're on spinning planets in whirling orbits around suns that wing their way through a galaxy that is flying outwards from the beginning of the universe [/pedant]

    honestly the telepathy bothered me more than the telekinesis, I just whined about the telekinesis more (maybe?)

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    1. Please tell me when you find an rpg where you can throw planets at people with your mind and brain-lock everyone into doing everything you want so I can avoid it. :)

      Oh, and I'm on for Saturday. Dunno where Glacia is though. I may have eaten her during my illness this summer.

      - Ark

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    2. I think that might be World of Darkness :D

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    3. Actually, that explains a whole hell of a lot!

      - Ark

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  2. Ah, Bester - now he was one seriously eeeeevil villain. And of course he was convinced that he was doing good. Don't they all?

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    1. DG - Yep. He really disturbed me the first time through B5. I mean, Chekov was supposed to be NICE.

      - Ark

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  3. Yep- you've got the gist of its limits. TK can drop an enormous amount of force on something, but that something has to be holding still. Even loose objects can be smashed, but any target that's capable of motion will disrupt the focus necessary to squish it. The key distinction with TK is that it's not terribly useful as a direct offensive tool, or as a way to use huge objects as weapons. If a telekinetic can just start tearing up trees as effective mental clubs it becomes too easy to outdo the warrior at his martial specialty, so the channeling of enormous force comes along with enormous clumsiness with it.

    Aside from the specific perks of the higher levels, the ability to manipulate things at a distance without exposing oneself tends to be pretty handy. Grenades can be pitched around corners, doors can be frobbed closed or opened despite the gunmen in front of them, and stationary equipment can be operated despite the best efforts of the locals to stop the telekinetic from screwing with it. Moreover, as with all psionics, the effect is completely untraceable to the psychic. There's no way to tell who's doing it unless the psychic's the only one there staring at a podium that's collapsing under the Space Tyrant.

    The mention of being able to affect targets normally only harmed by Gunnery weapons is to underline the fact that an experienced telekinetic can smash heavy stationary objects with minimal fuss. Blowing holes in walls, crushing parked cars, knocking down barricades, et cetera. At 9th level, a master telekinetic can one-shot an entrenched gravtank if he gets a moderately good roll- and there is no hit roll involved in using psychic powers.

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    1. Sine - Thanks for the clarifications. I hope that the players read this and have a better idea of how to use their abilities. That reminds me - I need to get a Space Tyrant and a podium. :)

      - Ark

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