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Psyker powers: 'Broken' verus 'Wrong'


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#1 Karmatech

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 03:09 PM

[rant alert]

Okay, a lot has been said on this forum about the Psyker powers (Psyker Psadness, etc.) and there have been suggestions that they are 'broken' whatever that means.

In the past I have thought that the inevitability of the Perils of the Warp were a sufficient deterrent to ad hoc power use, and that if Players abused then their characters would suffer, although probably after achieving some outstanding successes before they fall. In this respect I don't think that the rules are broken - but are they wrong?
 
First of all there is the mix of gamer psychology and rules mechanics to consider. One of my favourite GM blogs talked about the nature of monty-haul games, and how they were created and sustained by the randomness in the rules. In a nutshell, characters that push their luck actually fair better statistically than characters who don’t (regardless of whether that Player is role-playing). Pile on top of this the fact that NPCs will inevitably push their luck all the time, especially the evil-doers who have sold their soul and have nothing to lose, and it isn't just statistically smart to push the odds, it's statistically suicide if you don’t! Who knows, maybe that statistical suicide is the 'dark' in the grimdark future?
 
Secondly, there is game style. I'm on my second reading of the Eisenhorn compendium, and a third for Ravenor, which are the things that got me hooked into Dark Heresy, and I've yet to see Eisenhorn or Ravenor invoke Perils (but I’ll keep reading just in case  Who knows - maybe they teach you a trick at Inquisitor School to avoid it, perhaps for Minor Powers - still it irks me that you can't actually play a game like the novels! Of course, from what I know of the tabletop game the Perils are common random occurances, so maybe this is a case of GW/FFG trying to be all things to all pople? Sure we can’t all be ubermensch, however, I’d trade off psyker power for more psyker flavour any day of the week.
 
If anyone else thinks that the Pskyer powers do what they are meant to do, but they are just wrong for the game, can I get an 'Emperor protects' from the choir?
 
[/rant alert] 

P.S. This isn't just an insane rant - I'm looking for alternatives...



#2 silenceindigo

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 03:17 PM

You've got the wrong forum I think, friend. Try DARK HERESY!



#3 Locque

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 04:53 PM

I won't let perils kill my players, they deserve better deaths, but everything short of killing them is fair game. generally perils are a minor annoyance, requiring me to pull up stats for demons or something similar, or derailing an adventure hopelessly, but they can compensate by bringing unbelievably epic moments to the story. particularly "scripted" perils. To summarise: Perils are great, I just think they should perhaps be a bit rarer. maybe once you acquire a certain psi rating that minor powers can be safely invoked,or even that certain discipline powers are just less likely to call upon the horrors within the warp.



#4 Brother Domis

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 05:43 PM

They deserve better deaths?  Hah!  They are the Inquisition's disposable tools, no more mourned in their passing than an expended bolter round.

My first character's a daemonhost now.  I doomed a planet, and I'm proud of it!



#5 Graver

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 07:22 PM

Locque said:

 

To summarise: Perils are great, I just think they should perhaps be a bit rarer. maybe once you acquire a certain psi rating that minor powers can be safely invoked,or even that certain discipline powers are just less likely to call upon the horrors within the warp.

 

 

This is already, sort of, in existence in the system as is -it's called Favored by the Warp.  Once a psyker gets that, the warp is a happy fun place for them, trust me.  "Yay, a 9!  I think this time I'm gonna make the statues cry blood instead of freaking out the rats!"

As for the perils tables, I actually think they do fall in line with 40k, or at least what I know of it which is admittedly a bit dated.

For the most part the phenomena and perils can be seen as two things, either Warp bleeding into real space to spooky effect (mirrors cracking, temperature dropping, Ravenor covers these I believe) or creatures in the Warp being attracted to the psyker by their screaming bright warp working soul and attempting to chow down on their mind (Furries, daemon Appearing, daemon Host, Warp Whispers...).  The latter flavor actually comes from the root of 40k, Rouge Trader. 

In the Rouge Trader days, the danger of psykers wasn't their heads exploding or what not, it was all the damned supper cool beasties that wanted to nom nom their nice shaven heads -wonderful creatures such as the Astral Hounds and Enslavers.  The things were able to hone in on a psyker using his or her power from light years away and zip right on over to have a nice little snack.  These guys always popping out to grab psykers and who ever else was around t eat their souls or build neat warp gates out of them is why psykers were kept in check.

Either way, both types of perils/phenomena seems to be in keeping with 40k, at least to my dated and limited view.



#6 Mawdrigen

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 09:58 PM

err Ravor causes phenomenon all the time.  In the fight in the engine room he drops the temperature drastically and in the hab doesn't he smash every window for a mile...

Plus.. He's an inquisitor, how many fate points do you think he has ? :D



#7 Headhanger

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 10:20 PM

Mawdrigen said:

err Ravor causes phenomenon all the time.  In the fight in the engine room he drops the temperature drastically and in the hab doesn't he smash every window for a mile...

Plus.. He's an inquisitor, how many fate points do you think he has ? :D

Very well said. I haven't read Ravenor but I am reading through Eisenhorn. I've read plenty of examples of psychic phenomena, mostly ice and low temperatures, but still - they're there. Fate Points are Dark Heresy's way of allowing your Acolyte psyker to avoid perils and phenomena.

Alternatively, the author may not want to have his character sucked into the warp just for using a minor suggestion power which he has grown comfortable with and proficient at using over the decades.



#8 RichH

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 10:32 PM

I wouldn't say the Psy rules where broken, the mechanics plainly work. Personally though they don’t fit my vision of the 40k universe, or the style of game I want to run, so at the moment I’m not using them.

I think all manner of changes and house rules have already been suggested, T.S.Luikart’s notes in particular are well worth a read, http://new.fantasyfl...id=3&efidt=2819



#9 Fideru

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 12:15 AM

I generally give my group psykers quite a few problems to deal with, because I view the powers as a wee bit strong, and nines are generally are not rolled here, so, I always assume they won't roll perils, because it has never happened.

Eversince the first psyker got corrupted by a Daemon weapon, the only surviving Acolyte of the group, is now the Prime. And he hates psykers.



#10 Snidesworth

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 01:12 AM

Perils of the Warp and Psychic Phenomena are not the only bad things that can happen to a psyker. Nightmares may plague him, he'll feel any disturbances in the warp (a violent enough one may render him unconscious), any warp-creatures in the area (both reality-side and in the immaterium) will single him out and so on. And that's before the social disadvantages come into play. Lucky is the sanctionate who has a brand he can conceal easily. Even those psykers sanctioned by the Inquisition are still, to the common man, untrustworthy and suspicious at best, and outright monstrous at worst. Anyone who has seen a psychic manifestation may be even more fearful, especially if it went horribly wrong. I'm sure any acolyte coming out of Illumination will harbour a measure of distrust for any psyker they meet.



#11 Luddite

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 01:39 AM

Are the psyker rules broken?

Well, no.  the system works fine.  Its clear that some of the powers are 'broken', and need a bit of clarification and fixing (as T.S.Luikart has posted - apparently much of what he wrote was 'edited' before publication, causing problems), but overall it works fine.

Are the psyker rules wrong?

Um.  Depends on your prespective i suppose.  For me they are wrong.  The DH psyker rules are actually magic rules 'ported over from WHFRP pretty much intant.  Psy level = magic level; powers = spells etc.

This, for me, is where its wrong.  Psykers are not wizards and the WHFRP magic system is not suited to modelling the psykers of 40k.

For me, the psyker system needed the following key aspects;

  1. Innate psyker power level, determined by genetics - not a scholarly power system where every psyker can 'learn and develop' their 'skills' up to the same level (6)
  2. Control, concentration, focus, 'channelling'.  The psyker should have control over their 'tapping' of the Warp.  A sanctioned psyker should have far more control than an unsanctioned and untrained psyker.  This addresses the key reason why sanctioning takes place - to make psykers 'safer'.  It also deals with the original (40k 1e: RT) element of the psyker as the next evolutionary step of humanity...And of course, control also implies the possibility of losing control...
  3. Temptation (and corruption).  Absolutely key bit missing from the rules.  The other side of the control coin...the psyker should be presented with the temptation to use more 'power' (tap more of the Warp energy) to achieve more, at an increased risk of corruption, or losing control of his power...

I REALLY don't like the 'Perils of the Warp'.  A cautious, conservative sanctioned psyker, that moderates his activities, has the same chance of a PotW result as a wild psyker who throws around his powers like confetti...its far too random and doesn't address the elements of innate power, control and temptation that in my opinion should be at the heart of a psyker system.   

 

 

 



#12 Karmatech

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 11:52 AM

There's a lot of Good Stuff ™ here, and I'm glad you all picked up on my distinction between 'broken' and 'wrong'.

I was toying with around with a few in-rules ideas that may also help (I like to bend the rules, not break them) and I came up with:

a)  Lucky, as in the Minor Power. I'm developing a psyker character (Regis, from that short story) who is based around luck and divination, and in doing so I realised that Lucky allows me to re-roll ANY roll in their next round. I could use Lucky (relatively easy, only requiring a single die roll, and them take a shot at a 4-dice power roll, and re-roll if I disliked the number of 9's that appear.

b) As per the discussion about Skills only being used "for any Action with dramatic consequences" I could argue that this might apply to power rolls as well. That way you could have all the cool psyker flavour in non-dramatic situations, again maybe for Minor Powers, and keep the current system for when there is an element of danger.

Also, I toyed around with using the DHGB system, but unless I'm mistaken the Phenomenon and Perils tables are linear, and then Id have to sort out where to roll what for what - and then explain it all to the players in the face of what the rulebook says! Also, with a Gausian based system the current Power requirements will get harder and harder to meet if they are not adjusted down.

?

 



#13 N0-1_H3r3

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 12:20 PM

Luddite said:

Innate psyker power level, determined by genetics - not a scholarly power system where every psyker can 'learn and develop' their 'skills' up to the same level (6)

  1. Control, concentration, focus, 'channelling'.  The psyker should have control over their 'tapping' of the Warp.  A sanctioned psyker should have far more control than an unsanctioned and untrained psyker.  This addresses the key reason why sanctioning takes place - to make psykers 'safer'.  It also deals with the original (40k 1e: RT) element of the psyker as the next evolutionary step of humanity...And of course, control also implies the possibility of losing control...
  2. Temptation (and corruption).  Absolutely key bit missing from the rules.  The other side of the control coin...the psyker should be presented with the temptation to use more 'power' (tap more of the Warp energy) to achieve more, at an increased risk of corruption, or losing control of his power...

Annoyingly, many of these elements were present in the original DH psychic power system (also by TS Luikart). It wasn't finished (we were missing the psychic phenomenon tables, and only had a single discipline of powers, but it was early days). I might, just for the sake of it, try to re-engineer those original rules to fit with the newer system...


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#14 fimarach

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 12:41 PM

Luddite said:

Are the psyker rules broken?

Well, no.  the system works fine.  Its clear that some of the powers are 'broken', and need a bit of clarification and fixing (as T.S.Luikart has posted - apparently much of what he wrote was 'edited' before publication, causing problems), but overall it works fine.

Are the psyker rules wrong?

Um.  Depends on your prespective i suppose.  For me they are wrong.  The DH psyker rules are actually magic rules 'ported over from WHFRP pretty much intant.  Psy level = magic level; powers = spells etc.

This, for me, is where its wrong.  Psykers are not wizards and the WHFRP magic system is not suited to modelling the psykers of 40k.

For me, the psyker system needed the following key aspects;

  1. Innate psyker power level, determined by genetics - not a scholarly power system where every psyker can 'learn and develop' their 'skills' up to the same level (6)
  2. Control, concentration, focus, 'channelling'.  The psyker should have control over their 'tapping' of the Warp.  A sanctioned psyker should have far more control than an unsanctioned and untrained psyker.  This addresses the key reason why sanctioning takes place - to make psykers 'safer'.  It also deals with the original (40k 1e: RT) element of the psyker as the next evolutionary step of humanity...And of course, control also implies the possibility of losing control...
  3. Temptation (and corruption).  Absolutely key bit missing from the rules.  The other side of the control coin...the psyker should be presented with the temptation to use more 'power' (tap more of the Warp energy) to achieve more, at an increased risk of corruption, or losing control of his power...

I REALLY don't like the 'Perils of the Warp'.  A cautious, conservative sanctioned psyker, that moderates his activities, has the same chance of a PotW result as a wild psyker who throws around his powers like confetti...its far too random and doesn't address the elements of innate power, control and temptation that in my opinion should be at the heart of a psyker system. 

Agreed Luddite!!  Especially in the temptation area - Psychic Phenomenon are often silly and not really worth having the in the game (how much grass did we just kill??) except perhaps for scaring the citizens.  PotW are are too common for "trained and sanctioned" psykers who are supposed to be bonded to the Emporer. 

In addition many PotW attacks afflict the party and involve Will checks which the Psyker is bound to be the most adept at making (whereas the Guardsmen will be extremely angry at the 10+ Corruption points they just gained for being in the same player group).  And yes I know this carries its own peer issues for the psyker player, it fundamentally means that no rational person would ever associate with a psyker no matter what the Inquisitor wants and they will frag the psyker the moment the Inquisitor is not in the same room.  That doesn't make for a conducive player group.

And that, I think, is the essence of the problem with the psyker (and to a lesser extent the WHFRP Wizards) that they ruin the essential group dynamic and the overall fun of playing the game for the psyker character.  In that regard the psykers are both "broken" (which by the way means far more powerful than the other players of the same experience level) and "wrong".



#15 Karmatech

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 04:38 PM

N0-1_H3r3 said:

Luddite said:

I might, just for the sake of it, try to re-engineer those original rules to fit with the newer system...

That sounds great, don't know what I can do but I'm volunteering if you want help?

 



#16 Darkshroud

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 01:39 AM

I for the most part like the rules as they are, and so do my players. Theres only 1 Psyker in the group and sessions can go by without a single thing going wrong and others where a 9 is rolled every power roll. Most of us like the added comedy/mad effects that pop up now and then it adds an interesting random element to it like my players getting attacked by mutants and finding all their guns have jammed - it can add that extra unexpected terror to the proceedings.

Don't get me wrong though I see where you're coming from and there is times when a perils rolls will really mess things up. To that end I added a house rule that if the Psyker stops and takes time to use a power (asin Psy-foci + Invocation ahoy) i'll modify any Perils roll by -20 to represent concentrating on not making anything going wrong which nicely prevents any daemon possesion.

Although I admit if No1Here could recreate a mock up of the original system i'd be mighty curious.



#17 Kage2020

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 07:51 AM

Luddite said:

  1. Temptation (and corruption).  Absolutely key bit missing from the rules.  The other side of the control coin...the psyker should be presented with the temptation to use more 'power' (tap more of the Warp energy) to achieve more, at an increased risk of corruption, or losing control of his power...

I REALLY don't like the 'Perils of the Warp'.  A cautious, conservative sanctioned psyker, that moderates his activities, has the same chance of a PotW result as a wild psyker who throws around his powers like confetti...its far too random and doesn't address the elements of innate power, control and temptation that in my opinion should be at the heart of a psyker system.   

These were also my main disappointment with the psyker rules.  One of the reasons that I specifically bought the rules, other than general support for "40k RPG" (which I feel is important), were to get some really good insight into how psykers "worked" so I could pilfer the ideas for my own conversion of 40k RPG into GURPS.  Yet I find myself working upon the same things mentioned by Luddite.  How does one introduce the concept of "temptation," which for me is a fundamental part of the process of possession, and not the idea of "head popping" or "You rolled a 00!?  Oh dear, that's possession for you.  Roll up a new character!"? (I realise that it doesn't quite go that way... )

How powerful do you make the various Grades so that temptation is always going to be there, or do you take the (arguably official) stance that you only have to do this up to beta, after which they're all loopy as bit-sh*t?

Is pyker Grade determined at birth and, if so, are all PC psykers potential Alphas based on the system present in Dark Heresy, etc.?  (The progressive model to psyker powers, rather than the fixed model...)

So many questions... 

Kage



#18 Luddite

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 08:05 AM

Kage2020 said:

So many questions... 

...and so few answers found in DH...

 

Ach...sorry everyone.  Here i go again, being all negative...



#19 Emperorswrath

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 12:07 PM

I have read a large portion of what the black library has put out and I understand psykers to be thus:

  • All psykers are born with an innate connection to the warp
  • This connection is not as strong for every psyker
  • The stronger the psyker the harder it is to resist the call of the warp and its denizens

To solve the issues that have arrisen from the current iteration of the rules I propose the following.

  1. All psyker characters have power levels.The number of dice you could role would be dependant on power level and training
  • Delta:1
  • Beta:2
  • Alpha:3
  • Alpha plus:4                 

       2.  That all beginning characters are automatically of delta grade

       3.  That at creation you can spend your starting XP to increase your power level (eg. 100XP per rank)[P.S. this XP spending does not count towards your career]

       4.  That to represent the "temptation" the first tiem in 12 hours a psyker uses power there is no chance that anything goes wrong the warp is just not         paying attention.  For each subsecuent use the warp is more likely to lash out and things are very likely to get hairy.  At first the psyker makes an easy (+20%) willpower test to resist the temptation of the warp, this is penalized by the level of the psyker (-5% Beta, -10% Alpha, -15% Alpha plus).  If the test is passed nothing goes wrong and the pskyer is free from interfirence for the moment, if the test is failed than the perils of the warp rules apply to that use of power; for every degree by which the test is failed increases the chance of a perils attack (eg. Two degrees of failure: 9's and 3's).  After the fifth power is used the test gets harder by 10% and continues on from there.

      5.  To represent the difficulty of being a psyker every day the when the character arrises or comes back from a fully relaxed state they must pass a willpower test to avoid gaining a corruption point fro every dgree of failure.  Again this test is penalized depending on the power level (beta -10%, Alpha -20%, Alpha plus -30%)

     6. By the same token a psykers power level allows certain benifits

  • Delta: No benefit all powers must be checked against rule 4
  • Beta: The first 10 minor powers of the day and the first discipline power do not count against rule 4
  • Alpha: The first 30 minor powers of the day and the first 3 discipline powers do not count against rule 4
  • Alpha plus: Minor powers do not count against rule 4 and the first 5 discipline powers of the day do not either

     7.  Powers need to be reworked and the number and availability (such as spontaneous manifestation) of discipline powers as well

This is the brief little idea I had



#20 Luddite

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 12:57 PM

Some interesting rules Emperorswrath.

Are you proposing them because you think the current rules are 'broken' or because you think they are 'wrong'?






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