The Role of Psionics in the Mixed Client States
This article originally appeared on the author’s blog, TheMixedClientStates.wordpress.com, in August 2014, and was reprinted in the September/October 2022 issue of Freelance Traveller.
The State of Psionic Affairs in The Mixed Client States
While the role of Psionics relative to the knowledge of the public is generally forbidden under penalty of imprisonment or even death (depending upon the star system), the truth of the matter is quite the opposite.
The Psionic Suppression of the Third Imperium took on quite a different face within the frontier of the Mixed Client States. It was the vast diversity in race, philosophy, and practicality that drove Psionics in an entirely different direction within the Mixed Client States. Here, practicality combined with political savvy and a fair amount of greed resulted in those “Gifted” with Psionics going underground in various forms. Psionic powers are generally denied throughout the region. Rather than the overt use of Psionics and labeling it so, many “Gifted” with Psionics turned to various religious denominations and reclusive monasteries where their abilities might be passed off as a blessing or miracle. Others found themselves recruited by the very corporations, military services, or governments which swore “There’s no such thing as Psionics, or magic mind-powers …” all the while these same organizations having established fully funded arms of their organization dedicated to the use and exploitation of Psionics, under the guise of “Research & Development,” or “Special Projects;” corporate and military organizations often receiving much of their funding through government grants or special considerations.
Whatever the individual case may be, most will be completely unaware that any form of Psionic evaluation even took place prior to their respective enlistment. While in the Mixed Client States, all characters will roll for Psionic Potential prior to any Enlistment Roll. Those who display Psionic potential find themselves highly sought after, which is reflected in an across-the-board +4 DM to any Enlistment Roll, and a +2 DM for all Commission and Promotion rolls. Furthermore, their respective Psionic Talents will be fully developed by the end of their first term of service, and this should be noted on the character sheet during character creation.
The reason for early testing and training is obvious: early training and identification is an investment in the future of whatever corporate body (secular or religious), government, or mercenary corps may be recruiting the potential Psion merely by preventing unnecessary deterioration of a potential Asset. Additionally, by being involved in the training and development of the Asset in question, a relationship may be continued even after the Asset and the Agency in question have parted ways. It is known, but of course never said, that those with Psionics never retire. Since Psionics are diminished only through deterioration of one’s mental faculties, one can be very aged, and still possess tremendous Psionic Strength and devastating Psionic Potential.
Keep in mind, while those with Psionics will obviously know the truth, the anti-Psionic campaigns have been tremendously effective in keeping Psionic power something on the order of a fictional super-power, and not something that anyone can do in reality. Anyone actually manifesting what could be considered a Psionic power, like reading surface thoughts, or demonstrating great strength often can be assumed to be possess of great insight and empathy (relative to Telepathy), or even something as mundane as a “Surge of Adrenaline” to explain away the extraordinary occurrence. The truth is, most people would rather believe in a convenient lie, than be faced with the truth that there are people out there with vast power, who are fully supported (in secret) by the very governments and organizations which claim they know nothing of Psionics or are superficially, and sometimes actively, opposed to claims that Psionics exist, or who actively pursue supposed “Renegade Psions,” and keep them safely locked away.
It seems like an apparent contradiction, saying something doesn’t exist, while pursing it, but then this is the waltz that every government and power has engaged upon throughout human history in their endless pursuit of power and security.
Role-playing with Psionics
When a character with Psionics interacts with others who are not Psionic, they should treat the exposure of their ability as something terribly detrimental. Most non-Psionic people will react with fear and genuine disbelief in the presence of someone with Psionics, depending upon the nature and expression of the Psionic powers in question. Powers like Clairvoyance and Awareness are far less threatening than the potential devastation that can be wrought by a Telepath in the wrong setting, or a Telekinetic, or greater still, the power of a Psion with Teleportation … how is such a person to be contained? Then there are the hundreds of Special Psionic powers that have yet to be categorized. Pyrokinetics, Cyberkinetics, Cryokinetics, and the list goes on and on …
To admit to this — the existence of Psionics or that you may possess them — may be something that, on the surface, could be cool, but ultimately could be tremendously damaging to a relationship, should their Psionic secret ever be revealed. Fortunately for those “Gifted” with Psionics, no particular physical manifestation will be made with the use of their powers that would be apparent to an untrained observer. Even teleportation leaves only an audible “Pop” as the person exits or enters from the displacement of the air as the vacate or enter an area. Only the use of “Special” powers involve the use of a talisman or foci which most might see as a religious totem. This is yet another reason that public does not believe in actual Psionic powers because they have been exposed to powers needing or having a visible manifestation like glowing eyes or a vibrant aura through movies and hyper media. All of this has worked to create a public mythology regarding people with “Special powers” and that they just don’t exist; and if they did, the people who had them would be obvious, and those possessing them [Psionic powers] would be very dangerous, not to be trusted!
|Table 1: Psionic Reaction Modifier Table|
|UWP LAW||DM||UWP GOV||DM||Time of
|A (10) +||+2||A (10) +||+2||10+||+2|
Many players will balk at the suggestion that they would react a certain way automatically but this is exactly what we do as human beings, and what is worse, this aspect of our character is intensified in groups calling to the surface learned prejudices. To reflect this, each character upon their first encounter with someone with Psionics (generally in game play this will be the characters first exposure, to the other player) must roll an 9+ to avoid an immediate negative reaction. DMs (as shown on Table 1) are relative to the Government and Law Level of their home world, as well as the length of time the individuals in question have known each other. After all, one cannot understate the influence of their childhood as a formative influence upon all future prejudice.
A successful roll means that the Player may choose how they wish to respond, but their response will be governed by reason and good role-playing rather than a knee-jerk reaction based upon a preconceived stereotype or prejudice. Failure is measured by degrees. Table 2 is a guideline for the direction of game play upon first encountering someone with Psionics. All future reactions will be based upon this experience and the player’s judgment. It is only here, where the initial reaction might be something unexpected. After all, when people are startled or frightened they can do any number of things!
|Table 2: Reactions to Psionics|
|Degree of Failure||General Reaction|
|+1||Shock, Fear, or Amazement. This will not immobilize the character, but the potential for this reaction to escalate will increase by a +1 DM per round where the Psion in question fails to address the character’s mounting fears, or where the Psion’s behavior is obviously harmful or dangerous. Re-roll in 1D+2 rounds using the accumulating DMs as a means of reflecting the increasingly deteriorating condition between the character and the Psion in question.|
|+2||Definite negative reaction. If a weapon is available, the character will draw it in their defense, or the defense of any near them. Open hostility is still avoidable, with a +1 DM per round where the Psion in question fails to address the character’s mounting fears, or where the Psion’s behavior is obviously harmful or dangerous. Re-roll in 1D rounds using the accumulating DMs as a means of reflecting the increasingly deteriorating condition between the character and the Psion in question.|
|+3||Openly hostile and fearful of the Psion in question. “What else has this person been hiding from us?!?” is the first thing that comes to mind following the drawing of a weapon and the readying of oneself for imminent combat! Open hostility is still avoidable, with a +2 DM per round where the Psion in question fails to address the character’s mounting fears, or where the Psion’s behavior is obviously harmful or dangerous. Re-roll in 1D-1 rounds using the accumulating DMs as a means of reflecting the increasingly deteriorating condition between the character and the Psion in question.|
|+4||Shoot first, ask questions later! Someone you thought you knew just showed you that they are a “Freak of Nature” and obviously dangerous! Better to start this discussion on a strong foot, and having your foot on their throat seems like a great idea to you at the moment. The Psion in question may flee and attempt contact with their associates at a later time when they are less freaked out, or they can try and calm them down while avoiding being killed on accident by a panicked co-worker or associate.|
Psionics and Making a Living
Those “Blessed” with the Psionic “Gift” will soon discover its dark side. One’s training and support does not come from free and generally implies a relationship — for good or ill — between the character with Psionics and the agency, organization, body, or institution which trained them which will continue until the death of the character. This relationship extends beyond the standard boundaries of retirement, and someone with Psionics may be called upon — at a moment’s notice — to once again work for their patron organization out of debt, duty, or threat of detention (after all, the parent which bore you into the world can also leave you exposed to whatever buffetings may be waiting, should you be a disobedient child).
Of course, this relationship goes both way, and the Psionic asset may call upon their old boss for help or support as often as they are called upon to do things for the corporation, agency, or whatever has called upon them. This give and take relationship has proven more than adequate for most, as the alternatives of being disavowed, alone, and exposed are far too frightening. It’s a nasty galaxy out there with plenty of predators out there who would happily scoop up a lone Psion and enslave them to their purposes, or merely lobotomize them for their own R & D division.
For this, and reasons mentioned earlier, most Psions prefer to work alone, for no other reason than they might wind up getting their friends involved in something that could get them killed in the end. Sadly for most Psions, the galaxy is just filled with people, and so being able to work exclusively alone is generally not possible. When partnerships among known Psions is possible, they will work together under whatever guidelines established by their sponsor. If working alone, they have the choice of letting their sponsor know with whom they are working (this assumes they aren’t watching you all the time, which they likely are anyway), but it is generally advisable to keep your boss in the know; it prevents problems arising later on. If a Psion is working among non-Psionic associates, each associate is required to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with the Sponsoring agency. Violating such NDAs usually involves lengthy prison time, confiscation of all properties and titles, and banishment.
Of course, once a non-Psionic is known to be favorable to a Psionic operative or Asset, the Sponsoring agency in question will keep that in mind, and it is very likely the same people will be gathered together again for agency or corporate purposes in support of said Psionic Asset. This could be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending upon the ultimate goals of the Sponsoring body and the morals and ethics of the individuals in question.
Always keeping in mind that publically the existence of Psionics is generally denied or suppressed, there isn’t a significant government, corporate entity, military arm, or ecclesiastical body that does not in some way exploit, explore, or incorporate the use of Psionics in their highest offices and research centers. The fact is, they would be foolish to not do so. This does not mean that open use of Psionics is tolerated, and punishments are often severe for those who fail to maintain digression in the face of the execution of their contract or duty. Of course, there will be times where use of Psionics may be necessary for the safety or security of others, and exposure is inevitable. In such cases, the Sponsor will work in behalf of the Psion in question to conceal or cover-up the event and secure the safety of their agent.
What follows is a brief list of some of the Sponsors a Psion may expect to find themselves serving within the Mixed Client States, specifically The Domain of Gateway.
- The Free & Holy Federation of Amil (Vandir & Outrun Subsector, Crucis Margin Sector)
- The Church of Siriso
- The Syhthpen Sisterhood
- Lords of Thunder (3101 Fenho, Chin Shan Subsector, Crucis Margin Sector)
- The Oytrip of Tubroyllufotyusk (2623 Tubroyllufotyusk, No Return Subsector, Crucis Margin Sector)
- The Karoe Dominate (New Sun Subsector, Crucis Margin Sector)
- Mische Conglomerate (Ostermann & Vandir Subsector, Crucis Margin Sector)
- Mercantile Concord (Chin Shan & Peril’s Edge Subsector, Crucis Margin Sector)
- Corporate Republic of Kobe (Kobe Subsector, Crucis Margin Sector)
- Katowice Conquest (Old Worlds Subsector, Crucis Margin Sector)
- Raidermarch (Raidermarch Subsector, Crucis Margin Sector)
- The Old Worlds (New Sun, Old Worlds, Bright Heavens, and Reach Subsector, Crucis Margin Sector)
- Syzlin Republic (Kobe, Bright Heavens, Syzlin, and Taitin Subsector, Crucis Margin Sector)
- Greater Osaka (Kobe Subsector, Crucis Margin Sector)
- The Reach (Reach & No Return Subsector, Crucis Margin Sector)
- The Karhyr Worlds (Syzlin Subsector, Crucis Margin Sector)
- The Empire of Olduvai (Kixum Subsector, Crucis Margin Sector)
A Final Word On Psionics
Psionics are supposed to be fun, but most importantly, they are supposed to be unique, rare, and above all else, balanced in game play. Since the only real limitation to the use of Psionics, relative to game play, is one’s imagination and available PSR (Psionic Strength Rating), the real balance comes from the world at large. Consider, for a moment: what would be the general reaction to someone who could Telepathically Assault another person? How would people respond to someone who could Telekinetically throw a car? What would be the general reaction of someone exposed to a person who can Teleport, or bend light to become Invisible, or set fires? Truth be told, there are very few people who wouldn’t be scared out of their minds, at least for a few minutes. These are powers and abilities that are outside of the realm of ordinary experience, even in the Far Future of the Traveller Universe (especially in the Far Future of the Traveller Universe).
So keep that in mind as you play your Psionically “Gifted” character, and realize that if you were to use your powers openly, you could expect the same reaction in-game as you might receive should you start using your powers publically anywhere on good ol’ planet Earth today.