In the Firmament, true psionic aptitude is so rare that it’s considered no more than an urban legend by most groups - those who believe in the existence of psions, like the Order of Psi, are generally regarded as cults and fringe groups. Nonetheless, latent psionic ability does in fact reside within every human being, though a “natural talent” is so incredibly rare as to be unheard of. More commonly, psionic ability is unlocked by shady experimentation, exposure to strange alien life, or uniquely traumatic experiences. Once the door is opened, though, there’s no going back.
Because of how rare the psionic talent is, most campaigns should include at most one character with the Arcane Background (Psionics) Edge. Psionics in the Firmament are strictly telepathic - no telekinesis or other manipulation of the physical world is possible, which is part of why their very existence remains mysterious. As a result, the powers available to a psion are strictly limited.
Arcane Background (Psionics)
Arcane Skill: Psionics (Smarts)
Starting Powers: 2
Power Points: 10
Extraversion: Psions do not suffer Backlash when they roll a Critical Failure; instead, they will begin to manifest symptoms of Extraversion Syndrome, a loss of their brain’s ability to filter and process the psionic impulses they are constantly receiving from the world around them. A Critical Failure gives a psion the Bad Eyes (Minor) or Hard of Hearing (Minor) Hindrances for one week as they begin to see and hear things that aren’t there. If the psion already had these Hindrances, or if they make multiple Critical Failures, these are upgraded to a Major Hindrance. After one week has passed since the last Critical Failure, Extraversion Syndrome fades and the psion regains their faculties.
Many of the powers in Savage Worlds have their own trappings when used through psionics, and some change significantly. The following Novice powers are available to a psion:
- Arcane Protection: Mental barriers and neural safeguards that require deep concentration, designed to repel psionic attack or hostile psychic energies. Usually just referred to as a “wall” or “block” by psions. It is possible to “block” a non-psion.
- Beast Friend: Known as mindtouching, the psion learns to reach out empathically to soothe, communicate with and even command any beast with animal intelligence. Unnatural, alien and “modified” creatures may impose a penalty.
- Confusion: A brute force telepathic assault that leaves the victim temporarily disoriented, similar to a panic attack. Victims are aware that something is wrong, but may not realise the nature of the attack.
- Empathy: In addition to the usual effects, forming an empathic connection with a person allows you to detect when they are lying, as their emotions do not match their words.
- Fear: A psionic “scream” that triggers an overwhelming fight-or-flight response. Those affected are immediately aware their minds have been touched by something preternatural.
- Mind Link: Known as mindspeech, the psion is able to communicate with words in the mind of another. Communications received through mindspeech sound like your own thoughts in your own internal voice, which can confuse and scare the uninitiated. It is impossible to lie with mindspeech. The untrained are always considered to be “willing subjects” unless they are specifically trying to resist.
- Mind Reading: Known as mindprobing; unlike mindspeech, this is an invasive and violating process that leaves the victim fully aware of what has happened and even what was asked, unless succeeded with a raise.
The following powers are available at Seasoned Rank:
- Farsight: This is a form of limited telepathic clairvoyance. As long as you can physically see a living creature of at least animal intelligence up to a mile distance, you can look through their eyes with this power; they are considered “willing” unless trained in psionics or specifically trying to resist, in which case they resist with Smarts. You can continue to maintain the power even if they pass out of sight.
- Slumber: A delicate act of psychic surgery that floods the mind with weariness and fatigue. Unless they successfully resist, targets usually don’t realise the nature of the attack.
The following powers are available at Veteran Rank:
- Drain Power Points: Known as a mind siphon, this power’s trapping works changes how it works. Instead of simply draining power points, it has a duration of 5; as long as the siphon remains in place, the user can draw on the power points of any connected psions, instead of or in addition to their own. It’s most commonly used willingly by elite black ops units or certain secret fraternities of psions.
- Mind Wipe: Known as mindrazing, this is one of the most taboo powers for a psion to wield, and a popular subject of urban legends about shadowy psions. Over longer sessions that span hours or even days, it’s possible for a group of psions to “raze” years of someone’s life from their memory. It is quite possible to erase the memory of having your memory wiped itself, as well, leaving the subject unsure of what happened to them.
- Puppet: Known as mindseizing, this ability is also a popular subject of psionic horror stories. It manifests in the form of irresistible psionic commands spoken in the subject’s own mental voice, nearly impossible to disobey.
Finally, at Heroic Rank:
- Divination: One of the most powerful and subtle psionic disciplines, this power is known as “foretelling”. It is a form of telepathy aimed not at the individual but at the collective unconscious, the sum total of the psychic energies of all nearby living beings. When used, you can ask questions of the collective minds of anyone in the local area - for example, anyone in the same town or anyone on the same space station. Answers come in the form of impressionistic flashes, snatches of chaotic thoughts, and bursts of uncontrollable emotion. You don’t know which individual any answer comes from, nor can you ask questions that no one nearby knows the answer to. The fewer people who know the answer to your question, the more vague and chaotic it will be. This power is dangerous to use, and any failure results in Extraversion, even if it’s not a Critical Failure.