Friday, November 9, 2012

LL Class - Psychic Warrior

OK. Go and listen to Blue Oyster Cult's "Veteran of The Psychic Wars." You want to do something with psychic warriors now, right? If not, what is wrong with you?

Look, never mind. Just take a look at this class. It's a bit fiddly, moreso than I generally like my D&D classes to be. On the other hand, it doesn't have a giant spell list like clerics and wizards have, so I guess that evens out in terms of complexity and selection. This is just going to present the class, I'll make another post discussing how psychic warriors (or Awlad-i-Dimagh, Children of the Mind) are viewed in Sanctuary.

This is a pretty fiddly class, and it could definitely use some feedback, so please feel free to chime in on that score.
This is how they start out...

Oh yeah, FYI, somewhat gory image near the bottom of the writeup, in case that sort of thing bothers you.

Psychic Warrior

Psychic Warriors are fighters who have been enhanced using strange techniques. They can manifest energy blades from their fists (d6 damage, energy) and can access strange mental powers. As they become more accustomed to their powers they gain access to greater and greater powers, but run the risk of burning themselves out sooner rather than later.

At some point, though, they're going to burn out and die from their powers; even if they don't use them, the process is fatal within a few years.

"A candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and you have burned very brightly, Roy..." - Dr. Tyrell.

Requirements: Str 12, Con 12, Wis or Cha 15
Legacy of the Bieth-specific: do not roll on the backgrounds chart, you've got enough wackiness as it is.

* Cannot wear any armor, shields, or other protective devices/magic items
* Their normal AC improves 1 point per level, to a maximum of AC 0 [20]. If surprised, this bonus does not apply.
* Damage bonus of +1 per 2 levels as they can establish better control over their psychic blades
* They are a beacon for any psionically active creatures
* Any time they roll a 1 or a critical failure when a psi power is in use (including their psychic blades), the psychic warrior will get a burnout point.

Biofeedback - A psychic warrior may pour more energy into their physical actions, for example in combat situations or a chase or whatever. You can use this Called Shot mechanism but divide the bonus points up any way you like to physical stuff, so you can be boosting AC, damage, your to-hit roll, or your actual stats for a physical activity, lasting 1 round per level. Like your CON gets temporarily treated as 19 or 20 for the purposes of resisting that lightning bolt, but you don't get increased hit points. Of course, any time you roll a failure while using biofeedback, you get a burnout point, and take damage equal to the number of points you boosted by, for as long as your power would last.

Example: Yaqub is a 3rd level psychic warrior. He wants to avoid getting hit in combat, so he boosts his AC by 5 points. He can stay this way for 3 rounds, but every time he rolls an attack or does something requiring a d20 roll, he wants to avoid getting a 1-6. If he gets a 1 through 6 on the d20 roll, he will take 5 points of damage for 3 rounds and gain a burnout point - ouch!

Staving Off Burnout - There are ways to stave off burnout for a little while, but as you keep going, they become less and less effective. Each method will let you add a certain number of temporary burnout points to your register. They're not completely reliable, though - any time you would gain a burnout point, you must roll above your current total of points to use one of the temps instead of your regular track. You can have a pool of temporary burnout points equal to the highest of your Strength, Constitution, Wisdom, or Charisma modifiers (as per Labyrinth Lord rates), plus your level.

Example: Yaqub has 5 burnout points and 2 temporary burnout points when he rolls a 1 on an attack roll. He needs to roll a 6+ on a d20 in order to use one of the 2 temporary burnout points in his pool.

Psi-drugs - you can buy or synthesize a dose of drugs for 300 gp, that will provide 1 temporary burnout point; this point will disappear in 2 days, though, as the drugs leave your system. The components are hard to find.
Memory Sift - a psychic warrior can scan the mind of someone in REM sleep and steal away some of their memories in order to serve as a buffer for their own burnout pool, but the subject will realize upon waking that they have lost all memories of their mother during their teenage years, or something similar. This will gain d2 temporary burnout points, with no expiry point.
Spinal Tap - a psychic warrior may drink the cerebrospinal fluid (or equivalent) of a sapient being in order to gain d3 temporary burnout points, with no expiry point.
Cerebrovore - a psychic warrior may consume the brain of another sapient being in order to gain temporary burnout points; 1 temporary point per pound of brain consumed, with no expiry point.

Stronghold - At 9th level, a Psychic Warrior may cr...HAHAHA no.

A Psychic Warrior starts with d6 burnout points, 1 dose of psi-drugs, and a bronze straw that may be used for trepanning someone and removing cerebral matter. They also have 1d6+2 years to live before the procedures start catching up with them; at that point they gain 1 burnout point per day.

Burnout Track
1 Mind Shielding - +2 on saves against charms, compulsions, confusion spells, that sort of thing
2 Metabolic Control - Feign death for 1d6 x level turns
Battle Trance - when activated, have +1 AC and may dodge missile weapons on a Breath Weapon saving throw. Think bullet time.
Ineffective Medications - You can no longer gain temporary burnout points from use of psi-drugs.
Mind Block - reroll failed saves against charms, compulsions, confusion spells, that sort of thing
6 Frayed Nerves - At this point you can no longer get temporary burnout points through memory sifting. You do get to increase one of your stats by 1, though - your choice.
7 Disappear in Smoke - You can turn your body into a purple haze for a short duration as per gaseous form; use 1x/day, lasts for d4 rounds. Your energy blades still function while you're in purple haze mode.
8 The Shakes - everyone gets the shakes after picking up a burnout point, but anytime you use a psy power, or are placed in a stressful situation, save vs paralysis - fail, you get the shakes for 1d10 rounds and are incapacitated
Psychic Siphon - When you damage a sapient enemy with an energy blade, you gain 1 hp.
10 Thousand Yard Stare - immunity to charms, compulsions, fear and fear-based effects, but anytime that they'd trigger on you, save vs paralysis to avoid d4 rounds of shakes
11 This Chart Goes Up To 11 - you can no longer gain temporary burnout points from spinal taps.
12 Mind Crusher - Gain access to Zak's awesome psionic system, as described over here - with the exception that any time you gain feedback (not just a botch) from this, you gain a burnout point.
13 Stressed System - save vs paralysis or lose a point from a random ability (d6, 1: str, 2: dex, and so forth)
14 Irreparable Damage - You can no longer gain temporary burnout points.
15 Weakening Body - As Stressed System, above, but two saves.
16 Uncontrolled Powers - At their option, the GM may make you roll a save vs magic to avoid activating your powers in a stressful situation
17+ Morituri. You start glowing a bright purple all over; have a +10 to all rolls for 1d6 rounds, and ignore any 1s you roll, it's not like it matters now. At the end of those rounds, roll a d4 to see what happens:
1. Explode - chunks of you go everywhere, those adjacent take 2d6 damage (save for half).
2. Electrocute - you start twitching uncontrollably and arcs of psychic lightning go everywhere. 30' radius, all within take 3d6 damage (save for half), and treat as though a dispel magic spell were cast in that area as well.
3. Exsanguinate - You bleed out from all orifices; it's pretty damn gross. Takes d4 rounds, you're completely incapacitated (but can make dying declarations and all that)
4. Evaporate - your purple energy increases in intensity and you quickly get a snazzy teleporter like effect. Unfortunately there's no rematerialization.

...but this is how they often end up

LevelXPHPDmg BonusParalyzePoisonBreath WeaponMagical DeviceMagic
12+150,000/level+1+1/2 levels869710

Inspirations: Blue Oyster Cult's "Veteran of the Psychic Wars," Hawkwind's "Psychedelic Warlords," S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s Snork, RIFTS's Juicer, Psylocke, and Strikeforce: Morituri. 
Thanks to Robert, Richard, and Zak for their suggestions, comments, and stolen systems, and to Cole for helping me track down Strikeforce: Morituri. 


  1. I believe your XP levels are too small. This class seems like it should model elves progression more than fighters. I would think you'd want to peg level 2 at 3000XP and go from there.

    You might knock down the HD to 1d4 for balance.

    I might drop the Strength requirement. It takes willpower, stamina and moxy to be this kind of character. The strength is important for melee and this class seems a little more of a range attacker.

    Anyway, this a lot more interesting than the Psionist class. :-D

    1. Yeah, I had based them on the monk/RC Mystic initially - you can see that in the metabolic control and battle trance powers - but you may well be right about switching to an elf level, since they're fighters with weird abilities.

      The class is supposed to be primarily melee fighting, using their energy blades. Perhaps I should rewrite that to make it clearer?

      And thank you for the kind words!

    2. I dunno, I feel like this class should live fast and burn out dramatically - I think the XP progression is fine, but maybe the burnout should be connected to your level too?

      Sure, you keep getting stronger, but every bit of power is another step towards well...yeah.

    3. Good point. I'll see what I can do on that score in the revisions.

    4. I also like the idea of tying the burnout to the level. Like perhaps the level cap is randomized and gaining a level above that makes your mind melt down. You would need player buy-in, obviously, but the idea of a doomed super-soldier is pretty cool.

  2. I'm having a hard time understanding the burnout track. Do you just get the powers on the number you are on? Also, how do you lose non-temporary burnout points?

    Temporary burnout points are a bit difficult to understand at first, maybe some other term that implies how temp points works as a sort of resistance?

    1. Yeah, you get powers on the number you're on, and all the ones below. The idea was that as you advance, you unlock more and more powers, but you also slip closer and closer to Morituri.

      And you're right, the TBP phrase is a bit cumbersome. I'll try to brainstorm some other options (as well as incorporating these suggestions, and a few others from G+).