Mind over Matter - Chapter 6

Copyright Phillip A. Ellis © 2013

Edited by Terence Wynne for The Guild Companion

"The psionic power completely short circuits your nervous system."

Chapter Six: Psionic Combat

Psionics has a part to play in combat, just as magic does. In many ways the two are treated similarly, following the same basics. Like magic, only one psionic power may be activated at a time, for example. The guidelines that follow deal with offensive (basic psionic attacks) and defensive psionic powers. It covers combat between users of psionics, rather than using psionics to protect from or otherwise affect melee, missile, or spell-based combat. Notes on those situations will occur in the next chapter.

6.1: The Basics

Basic psionic attacks are resolved on the Basic Attack Table T-6.1.1. All psionic failures are resolved on the Psionic Attack Failure Table T-6.1.2.

Basic psionic attacks include all powers which are used to directly attack another being. There are no equivalents to elemental attack spells. Usually a basic psionic attack is directed at a target that is either a creature or an unusual object that gets to attempt a resistance roll in order to avoid or mitigate the effects of the psionic power.

There are two basic results of a basic psionic attack. Either the power fails outright (denoted by an 'F') or a modifier is listed; this modifier is applied to the target's resistance roll (see Section 6.2). If the target fails his resistance roll, he is affected by the psionic power.

The Target

The column of the Basic Attack Table used for a basic psionic attack is determined by using the target being's similarity to the attacker. There are three such columns: Same Species, Similar Species, and Other.

The Same Species column applies when both the attacker and the caster are essentially the same. A Common Man would use this column when casting a basic psionic attack against another Common Man or Mixed Man. Depending upon the GM, the same column may be used against a High Man, reflecting, for that GM's campaign, that humans are humans, and the differences between High Men and Common Men is one of a subspecies rather than a species. Similarly, a Wood Elf may or may not use this column when attacking a High Elf, and would certainly do so when attacking another Wood Elf.

The Similar Species column is used when there are similarities between different species. As noted above, a GM may rule that that High Men and Common Men are related species, or that the same relationship exists between Wood Elves and High Elves. A GM may also rule that it applies to broader groups of races. An elf may consider all Faerie Races as similar for these purposes. Likewise, a Dwarf may treat a Halfling as similar, even if, for the GM's game, the races are not genetically linked. A generous GM may ever consider all races as similar, just as the GM may rule that all monsters are similar for the purposes of basic psionic attacks.

The other column applies when there are very few or no similarities between the species of the caster and target. A dragon using psionics would treat a human, elf or dwarf target as other, for example, just as a High Man or Common Man would do likewise for a dragon target. Usually, a being casting a basic attack psion at a relevant target will use this table; the GM, though, may rule that intelligent objects are not Similar Species: Depending on the species of the object's creator, the item may use the same species or similar species column.

Example: The Holy Handaxe of Bulmoth is Dwarven-made intelligent item capable of casting psionics. When attempting to affect another Dwarf, it uses the same species column. If it attempts to affect a Halfling it uses the Similar Species column, and if it attempts to affect an Orc it uses the other column.

As a rule of thumb, if two or more columns are applicable, use the column that is most advantageous to the target.

Defensive Bonus

The defensive bonus of a target is the sum of all applicable bonuses and penalties which affect his susceptibility to the attacker's basic psionic attack roll (DB, see RMFRP Section 8.4). It is subtracted from the attacker's basic psionic attack roll. The Basic Attack Table T-6.1.1 summarizes the primary modifiers to the target's DB.

Defensive Bonus for Basic Psionic Attacks = Special Item Bonuses + Position and Cover Bonuses

Offensive Bonus

The offensive bonus (OB) of a caster is added to his basic psionic attack roll during the resolution of a given attack. The Basic Attack Table T-6.1.1 summarizes the primary modifiers of the caster's OB.

Offensive Bonus for Basic Psionic Attacks = Skill Rank with the psionic power's list + Special Item Bonuses ± Status Bonuses/Penalties ± Range Modifications (on attack table)

T-6.1.1: Basic Attack Table

Same Species Similar Species Other
UM 100 -125 -115 -105
UM 98-99 -100 -90 -80
UM 96-97 -75 -65 -55
93-95 -55 -45 -35
89-92 -50 -40 -30
85-88 -45 -35 -25
81-84 -40 -30 -20
77-80 -35 -25 -15
73-76 -30 -20 -10
69-72 -25 -15 -5
65-68 -20 -10 -5
61-64 -15 -5 +0
57-60 -10 -5 +0
53-56 -5 +0 +5
49-52 +0 +0 +10
45-48 +0 +5 +15
41-44 +5 +10 +20
37-40 +15 +15 +25
33-36 +20 +20 +30
29-32 +25 +30 +35
25-28 +30 +35 +45
21-24 +35 +45 F
17-20 +40 +50 F
13-16 +45 +60 F
09-12 +65 F F
05-08 +70 F F
03-04 F F F
UM 01-02 F F F

F – The psionic power fails; roll on Table T-6.1.2.
UM – Unmodified roll.

DB Modifiers:
Special Bonus due to items: varies
Full "Soft" or "Hard" cover: -20
Half "Soft" or "Hard" cover: -10

OB Modifiers:
Caster's skill rank for the psionic power's list: varies
Special bonus due to items or the psionic power: varies
If target is static: +10
Caster has taken 26-50% of his hits: -5
Caster has taken 51-75% of his hits: -10
Caster has taken 76%+ of his hits: -15
Caster has used 26-50% of his exhaustion points: -5
Caster has used 51-75% of his exhaustion points: -10
Caster has used 76-90% of his exhaustion points: -15
Caster has used 91-99% of his exhaustion points: -20
Caster has used 100%+ of his exhaustion points: -30

Touch: +30
0'–10': +10
11'–50': +0
51'–100': -10
101'–300': -20
301'+: -30

T-6.1.2: Psionic Attack Failure Table

01-20 Your target's grace distracts you. You lose both the psionic power and one power point.
21-30 You remember a childhood incident that was traumatizing. You lose the psionic power, but not the power points. Operate at -10 for five rounds.
31-40 The strain blurs your vision. You lose the psionic power and half the number of power points (rounded down). You are stunned for one round.
41-60 You must start over. Your psionic power has absolutely no effect, and you lose the power points.
61-75 Your target must be blessed! Your psionic power has no effect and you lose double the normal number of power points.
76-90 Power backlash! The psionic power fails entirely. You are stunned for eight rounds.
91-95 The target's will is stronger than yours! You collapse on the ground (taking d10 hits) and are stunned for nine rounds.
96-100 The psionic power internalizes. You take 4d10 hits and are knocked unconscious for twelve hours.
101-125 The psionic power affects a random target to the right of the intended target. You are stunned for one round and take d10 hits from the mental strain.
126-150 You lose control and the psionic power hits a target to the left of the intended target. Make another attack against a random target within range.
151-175 The psionic power targets a random victim that can be anywhere with 500'. The power backlash short circuits your brain. You take 25 hits and are unable to function for d10 hours.
176-185 The psionic power lodges in your head. You suffer brain damage; you operate at a -75 modification for d10 months (or until your brain is repaired). You lose all ability to cast any psionic powers for one week).
186-191 The psionic power misfires and internalizes inside your head. Take 35 hits. You lose the ability to cast psionic powers for d10 weeks. There is a 40% chance of falling into a coma for d10 days.
192-195 You suffer a massive stroke! Take 10d10 hits and fall into a month-long coma. At the end of the coma, you will seem fine; but will die d10 hours later.
196-200 The psionic power completely short circuits your nervous system. You are paralyzed from the waist down.
201-250 The psionic power completely internalizes. You lose all ability to cast any psionic powers for d10 weeks and will be in a coma for d10 weeks. Take 8d10 hits.
251-300 A severe nervous disorder causes you to lose all your psionic power casting ability for d10 months.
301+ There is a massive internalization of psionic power. Say hello to instant brain death.

6.2: Resistance Rolls

Certain psionic powers will require a character to make a resistance roll to determine whether the power affects that character. The attack's level is equal to the caster level, and it is cross-indexed with the target's level on the Resistance Roll Table (RMFRP T-3.4) to obtain a single number. In order to successfully resist the power, the resistance roll must be equal to or greater than this number.

Resistance rolls are affected by a number of factors. Such factors usually consist of attack bonuses (see 6.1 and the Basic Attack Table T-6.1.1), stat bonuses, any item bonuses, and race bonuses. These factors are listed below, in the Resistance Roll Modifier Table (T-6.2.1).

6.2.1: Resistance Roll Modifier Table

Basic Psionic Attack Roll modifications varies (-125 to +70)
Special bonuses due to items or the power varies
Bonus due to the target's race varies
Willing target -50
Target has access to psionic powers +15
3x target's stat bonus* varies

* Depending upon the option chosen by the GM, the relevant stat bonus is usually either Pr (reflecting that psionics is a matter of the use of the being's raw force of will) or SD (reflecting that it is more the mental discipline of practitioners that allows the development of psionic power.

Race Bonuses

A being's race will have some effects on how hard or how easily psionics will affect them. This is indicated by a bonus or penalty that is directly applied to that being's attempt to resist a psionic power.

There are a number of options for handling this bonus. The three basic options are as follows:

Option One: The easiest way to simulate the effects of psionic powers if the GM does not have access to Races and Cultures is to use the resistance roll modifier for Mentalism. This can said to be reflective of the similarities in the ways that Mentalism and Psionics affect a being.

Option Two: A more complicated way is to develop a separate bonus or penalty. A rule of thumb may be to take the modifiers for the resistance rolls against Essence, Channeling, and Mentalism and, taking the first two and doubling that for Mentalism, adding the modifiers and dividing by four (and rounding off to the nearest multiple of five).

Example: A Dwarven character has the following racial RR modifiers: Essence: +40; Channeling: +0; Mentalism: +40. Taking the first two modifiers, doubling that of Mentalism and adding the three, the combined modifier is +120 (+40 plus +0 plus +80 (+40 doubled)). This is divided by four to gain +30.

Option Three: If Races and Cultures is available to the GM, then it can be noted that each race has a racial modifier listed in each race's Racial Information table. Use this modifier.

6.3: Notes on Specific Psionic Lists

What follows are some notes on specific lists from chapters two through five. These are presented alphabetically by list. Those psionic powers noted are usually either attack psionics or defensive psionics; the rules for casting non-attack psionic powers are covered in the next chapter, chapter seven: Psionic Rules.

Body Discipline
Some of the psionic powers in this list are defensive inasmuch as they affect melee and missile attacks. They are not, however, effective against psionic attacks.
The powers on this list are neither offensive nor defensive for purposes of psionic combat.
The psionic powers on this list are almost uniformly defensive, in the sense that they affect their caster's chances of being detected or attacked in a combat situation. They have less effect on basic psionic attacks once they have been detected.
The powers on this list are not defensive, however they can be used to heal damage caused by attack psionics.
The relevant psions on this list that have an effect in combat do so usually to either melee or missile attacks. They are defensive psions in that way, rather than by directly affecting another being or object's mind.
Metabolic Control
While, properly speaking, these psionic powers are not defensive, they do become triggered by physical damage to the caster. By their nature, they tend to be unwilled, operating via the subconscious mind rather than the conscious mind, until all relevant damage has been healed. This means, usually that either they are cast on the round after the damage has been taken or, if the GM deems it appropriate, on the same round, but after the damage has been taken (for example, if the caster would have normally acted after the attacker).
Mind Assault
This is one of the basic lists for offensive psions. Each power is relatively self-explanatory.
Mind Detection
Although not attack powers, the powers of this list are often the only means of locating a potential target.
Mind Discipline
These psionic powers are, usually, not defensive. If, however, as a result of their casting the attacker would not otherwise detect the caster, they can be considered defensive in that they prevent the caster from basic attacks.
Mind in the Past
The powers on this list are neither attack psions nor defensive psions.
Mind Over Matter
These psionic powers are considered basic attacks against items rather than beings. As a rule of thumb, each object attacked by such a power uses a level equal to either that of its maker (if known) or else, as a rule of thumb, equal to that of the highest level spell used to create it. The use of these psions to affect the environment does not count as an attack, as the psion is not used directly against a target being or object's mind.
Mind's Defense
This is the primary list for defensive psionic powers. As such, the descriptions of the powers tend to be self-explanatory. If the caster is aware of an attacker using psionics, and he can cast any of the relevant powers from this list, and if he would normally act before his attacker, then it is likely (depending on the GM) that he can cast one such power and have it take effect against any attack in the same round.
Mind's Eye
This list contains neither any attack powers nor defensive powers. The Forewarning powers are alerted by attack psions, though.
Mind's Truth
This list contains neither attack nor defensive powers.
The principal attack psions on this list are both Mind Slayer and Mind Slayer True. The various Transferral powers, when used in a combat situation, are considered as attack psions; a GM may also rule that their use against an unwilling target outside of combat is also an attack, for combat purposes.
The psions on this list that have an effect in combat usually do so only against either melee or missile attacks.
While, properly speaking, the psionic powers of this list are neither defensive nor offensive, they affect communication, which always has a bearing in combat situations. A GM may consider their use to distract or enrage another being or object, thereby creating a relevant modifier (such as goading an opponent into making a rash, snap action).
The psionic powers on this list are neither defensive nor offensive against psionic attacks. They do, however, have defensive capabilities against melee, missile, and many spells.
Thought Into Pain
This is another basic list for attack psions. Again, each power is relatively self-explanatory.
Thought Master
There are a number of powers on this list that can be used as forms of attack psions, depending upon the circumstances and the GM's rulings. Such psions include Confusion, Lapse, and Mind Blank. Refer to both the individual power's description and the GM for guidelines.
The use of many of these psions in a combat situation can lead to them being considered as attack psions. Usually, as a rule of thumb, consider them as such when the target is likely to resist the caster (subject to the GM's final rulings). Remember that the caster must usually know the target's language.