Rather than engaging in combat with their physical bodies, psychics may engage each other in a purely mental battle using skills and powers gained through mental training. This struggle occurs in a psychic sub-dimension, comparable to the astral plane, consisting of a representation of the character's mind. Psychics can learn to pull others onto this plane, joining the individual representations into a somewhat-segmented whole. Confrontations typically begin in an area between the two, but can spill into one "home field" or the other. Rather than one over-reaching psychic plane for all sentient beings, these sub-dimensions should be thought of as local mental networks. Psychic combatants don't leave their bodies, as in astral projection, so much as connect their minds to another.
Some powers that affect characters on the physical plane also take effect on the psychic plane. Empathy, Empathic Transmission, and Mental Illusion can read and alter the appearance of a person's mental representation, Mind Block can erect near-impenetrable mental barriers represented by fortresses and walls while Group Mind Block can envelop others within a fortress, and Mind Bond can merge individual representations into a cohesive whole. Some new powers will be most valuable to characters spending a great deal of time in psi-combat, which will be presented below.
Psychic representations of a character provide a framework for human minds to interact in familiar terms, which most often includes a representation of a physical body. This mental image may or may not resemble the character's actual physical appearance, but witnesses (especially those sensitive to auras) will often recognize a familiar presence despite any differences. Likewise, the attributes and abilities of a psychic representation have very little to do with that character's physical attributes. The Psi-Body will have base "physical" attributes provided by the character's mental attributes. Muscle in the physical plane has little to do with strength in a mental battle....
In its most basic form, combatants on a psi-plane will have psychic bodies with effective attributes, and will use those attributes in keeping with the standard Palladium rules of hand-to-hand combat. Punches and kicks won't carry physical momentum, as they are actually mental representations of basic psychic attacks. Defensive maneuvers are representations of mental defenses rather than actual movements on the physical plane. Combat skills translate very roughly between the physical and psychic planes, but characters may find themselves ill-suited for combat with an entirely new set of attributes and bonuses.
The base attributes of a Psi-Body are as follows; all of these psi-attributes can be increased through mental exercise reflected in game terms by special psi-skill selections:
It should be noted at this point that the mental attributes of a psychic representation are equivalent to the characters normal mental attributes. The psi-body gets combat bonuses following the standard attribute bonuses; for example, Psi-Strength gives a psychic damage bonus as though it were physical strength, Psi-Prowess gives bonuses to strike, parry, and dodge psychic attacks, etc. Other attributes of the psi-body are:
Psi-Attributes and Psychic Character Classes
Because of their natural mental power, the Psi-Attributes of characters with Psychic Character Classes are greatly enhanced. Their Psi-Bodies exhibit powers equivalent to existing, normally physical Super Abilities. The bonuses granted by these powers apply only to their Psychic Combat abilities and Psi-Attributes, having absolutely no effect on their Physical Combat abilities or standard Attributes. A physically gifted SPB can easily find the odds hopelessly stacked against him when drawn into a mental battle with a psychically gifted opponent.
Information passes across mental interactions much more quickly than physical, especially over connections created by powerful psychics. Characters communicating through mental projections will perceive the passage of time to be much slower than normal; divide the number of melees spent in a mental projection by the experience level of the highest level psychic involved to find the actual amount of time that passes externally.
Interacting with someone of greater experience than yourself is mentally taxing. The rules for physical exhaustion should be applied to characters using their Psi-Endurance attribute as an analog to their Physical Endurance, combined with the internal time spent mentally combating multiplied by their opponent's level of experience and divided by their own level.
For example, if Chris (6th level psi-combatant) faced off against Carl (8th level psi-combatant) for 12 internal melee rounds, the external time elapsed is equal to the internal time divided by 8, Carl's level of experience. After 1½ melees of real time, Carl emerges feeling as though he has just spent 9 rounds fighting (12 divided by 8, times 6). Chris, on the other hand, feels as though he fought for 16 rounds (12 divided by 6, times 8).
After engaging in psychic combat a character is likely to have lost some or all of his Psychic Damage Capacity (Psi-DC) and Psychic Hit Points (Psi-HP). Psi-DC regenerates naturally at a rate of the character's Psi-E attribute per 24 hours, and have little effect on the physical body. Psi-HP regenerates at half that rate (Psi-E per 48 hours), and have direct physical consequences. Characters lose one physical hit point for every two psychic hit points lost in a mental conflict. These physical Hit Points must be healed independently of lost Psi-HP. Further, the loss of Psi-HP will affect a character's concentration and skill performance according to the following penalties:
If significant Psi-HP are lost beyond 100%, the character must roll to Save vs Knockout, using ME bonuses only. A failed roll means that the Psi-Body will dissipate leaving the mental link to this character's opponent is left open and undefended, allowing that opponent unfettered access to his victim's mind. This access manifests itself in an additional -5 for the victim to save vs psionic attacks from that opponent. Every 25% of Psi-HP damage the character takes past their full amount will apply a -10% modifier to their roll for long-term Psychic Damage, another -1 to all psychic combat and save rolls, and must save again vs Knockout. This will usually only happen when a Psi-Body is voluntarily maintained by a character after their defeat.
When the possibility of psychic combat is made clear to a character he can learn to perform some related skills. It should be stressed that these are skills, not powers to count against the character's psychic power selections. These skills allow the character to project his psi-body and perform basic offensive and defensive actions, which will be augmented by power selections. Note that these skills are available as a Scholastic Skill program to anyone with a Psychic Character Class or individually as Secondary Skill selections to any character with access to a willing teacher.
Natural / Master Psychic: +30% to base skill percentage,
Triple standard leveled skill bonuses
Latent / Major Psychic: +20% to base skill percentage, Double standard leveled skill bonuses
Minor Psychic: +10% to base skill percentage
Psychic Combat Scholastic Skill Program
Mental Combat (choose one style)
Psychic Combat Secondary Skills- Any of the above
Mental Energy Weapon Proficiency
Mental Combat: This is the basic psychic combat skill, allowing character's to visualize their psychic attacks and defenses as analogs to physical combat. The player must choose one of three separate styles: aggressive, balanced, or defensive. Combat bonuses increase with experience as characters learn to expand the limits of their Psi-Bodies and the psychic landscape they're a part of. All characters trained in psychic combat start with two actions per melee, while characters without this skill (even those with combat skills in the physical plane) have only one. Note that this skill is nearly useless without a Psi-Body to manipulate.
+1 Attack per Melee, Initiative, Strike per level of experience
+2 Damage per level of experience
+1 Parry, Roll per even level of experience
+1 Dodge, Pull per third level of experience
Critical Strike on roll of 18 or higher, -1 per third level of experience
+1 Attack per Melee, Parry, Damage per level of experience
+1 Strike, Dodge, Initiative, Pull, Roll per even level of experience
Critical Strike on roll of 19 or higher, -1 per third level of experience
+1 Attack per Melee, Parry, Dodge, Roll per level of experience
+1 Pull, Damage per even level of experience
+1 Initiative, Strike per third level of experience
Critical Strike on roll of 20 or higher, -1 per third level of experience
Mental Defense: This skill provides a technique
capable of bolstering the mind's natural defenses. A character can absorb a number of
psychic damage points equal to his Psi-Endurance attribute; this requires that the
character spend an attack and roll successfully. If a character commits to a full melee
round of defense (no other actions possible), he can absorb damage for each of his melee
attacks while rolling just once for the full round. Failed rolls should be treated as a
standard, failed parry. Base Skill: 40% + 5% per level of experience
Mental Energy Weapon Proficiency: This skill allows a character to apply his Psychic Combat bonuses to the manipulation of a Mental Energy Weapon. The appearance of the weapon (sword, mace, spear, etc) is not important because it is more the representation of psychic focus than an actual weapon. The Mental Energy Weapon power can be selected more than once, but this proficiency applies to all weapons generated by the character.
Mental Link: The character can reach out to another mind, building a connection. Breaking an established link uses the same skill percentage; without additional powers range is limited to touch. A willing participant increases grants a 20% bonus to the skill performance but unwilling participants get a standard Save vs Psychic Attack; see the Powers Telepathy and Empathy for more skill bonuses. Base Skill: 10% + 5% per level of experience
Psi-Body Projection: This skill allows a character to project a mental image of himself, representing physical attributes using his mental attributes. The Psi-Body exists entirely within the domain of the character's own mind unless a link is opened to another mind. A successful percentile roll reflects that the body has been activated with full attributes and capability; a failed roll means that the character may be aware of other Psi-Bodies present in a given connection, but his own projection is without psychic substance. Base Skill: 40% + 5% per level of experience
Psi-Body Augmentation: Exercise for the mind; this skill represents the mental exercise needed to enhance any one Psi-Attribute. This exercise does not increase the attributes of a character's physical form. For example, exercising your Psi-Endurance attribute does not increase your Mental Endurance attribute. These attributes apply only to psychic projections. Provides a one-time bonus of 1D6 to any one attribute; this skill may be selected multiple times, but no one Psi-Attribute may be increased three times until all have been increased at least once (with the exception of Psi-Beauty).
Many powers effective on the physical plane also have value on the psychic plane. The durations and ISP costs are the same as normal, but time is measured in terms of effective internal time, not external time (see above), giving an enhanced advantage to higher level psychics.
On the psychic plane this power offers shapechanging abilities, comparable to the Major Super Ability Shapechanger. The normal benefits of this power also take effect; blatantly using power not available to an assumed aura/psi-shape will allow opponents to Save vs Psi and see through the disguise.
This power helps prevent others from establishing a mental link in the first place (-50% modifier to Mental Link skill), but also has effect if activated while an existing link is open. The power creates a powerful barrier around the character's mind, offering a bonus of +10 to Save vs Psionics against an opponent already linked (the equivalent of a retreat). the defending character cannot strike back at his assailants using his Psi-Body while behind a Mind Block. This barrier is often envisioned as fortress wall lined with pitfalls and traps, but can take any form desired. Unfortunately, even the fortress created by a Mind Block is assailable to an opponent with an open Mental Link. Add the defender's Psi-Strength and Psi-Prowess attributes to a D20 roll, compared to the assailant's Psi-Strength and Psi-Prowess. The difference between the two rolls is the number of melees of full concentration it will take for the assailant to worm his way through the mental defenses. Interrupting the process will expell him from the defender's mind, requiring a new roll.
The normal effects still take effect, but can only stave off fatigue for effective internal time (see above), not the time passing in the physical plane. This power could prove invaluable when facing an opponent of much greater experience.
This power has no additional effect in the psychic plane. It does allow characters to travel astrally to the location of their opponent, within the range of Telepathy where they can establish a Mental Link. Careful use of multiple powers allows characters to engage in psi-combat while their physical bodies are left safely at home.
The general emotional state, and therefore the general appearance of an opponent's private mental landscape, can be measured. This power could be used in conjunction with other power (below) to trick opponents into a false sense of security, where they think they are safely established in their own mind. Use of this ability grants a +15% bonus towards establishing a Mental Link.
This ability works as usual, but across a mental link allows a character to estimate any two Psi-Attributes within 1D4 points.
The character can accurately sense how much time has passed in the physical plane since engaging a mental link. This time is often much less than the time that seems to have passed internally, and can be used to gauge the level of one's opponent.
Mental links allow character's to communicate as though they are conversing without expenditure of ISP, but telepathic communication may be useful when more than two minds are linked together. While connected by a mental link this power also allows characters to probe for deeper thoughts than normally possible, limited to small specific pieces of information (the combination to a lock, mother's maiden name, etc). Victims are +4 to Save vs Psi for deeply or intentionally held secrets. More direct usage applies when establishing a Mental Link, extending the range to that of Telepathy (140 feet) and granting a +25% bonus to the skill performance.
Cure Insanity, Hypnotic Suggestion, Insert Memory, Invisible Haze, Mentally
Possess Others, Mind Wipe
These powers can work normally in the psi-plane, but while engaged in an active mental link victims are -5 to Save vs Psi against this power (unless they have a Psi-Body to defend themselves). Using this ability, however, leaves a character unable to attack or defend with his Psi-Body for a full internal melee round.
Advanced Trance State
Use of this power provides a bonus of +25% to all psychic skills (above).
The general landscape and atmosphere of an opponents mind will be altered along with his emotional state. Like the power Empathy, this might be used to manipulate and deceive an opponent. This power can be thought of as a weak (no damage possible) version of the Control Elemental Force powers,
Group Mind Block
This power functions like the lesser Mind Block, but allows a character to include others within his mental defenses. In addition to the defensive benefits this can be used to trap an opponent within your mind, preventing them from severing a mental connection.
The images created by this power have substance on a psi-plane. These objects and people can be used as diversions or even to launch attacks, but they draw their power from the psychic. These images use the character's melee attacks, ISP, and Psi-DC. Illusions can only be granted 2 Psi-DC per level of experience and Psi-Attributes can never be greater than their creator.
This ability is very powerful on a psi-plane, merging two separate minds into a single construct for a duration of one minute per level of experience. In addition to the usual effects, the character's psi-bodies are combined into one body. The body has Psi-Attributes determined by adding the attributes of the two bodies; ISP, Psi-HP, and Psi-DC are also combined. The experience level of the character is determined by adding the two character's experience points, usually equal to one or two levels above that of the highest-level participant. This raised level only applies to skills and powers that both characters posess; other skills and powers are used at their normal level. After separation characters split any spent ISP or Psi-DC equally; this means that the merging of a weak mind with a stronger ally could put the weak mind in serious danger.
These powers have little effect outside a Psi-Plane, but are more powerful than their physical counterparts to make up for it. Like standard Psychic Powers they come in Minor and Super subgroups, and count towards a character's total during power selection.
Range: Self or Others
Duration: 2 internal minutes per level of experience
ISP: 10 + 1 per 5 Psi-DC
The character can create a powerful mental defense, manifesting itself as a suit of body armor. The Psi-DC of the armor can be increased as far as the character's ISP allows, but like a standard physical suit of armor this defense has an effective Armor Rating of 12. This rating increases by one point at every even level of experience. Existing armor can be "repaired" by creating a new defense, adding any leftover Psi-DC to that of the new armor.
Mental Energy Expulsion
Range: Line of Sight (Mental)
Duration: Instant / One Melee
Damage: 2D6 + 1D6 per level of experience
ISP: 5 for single bolt, 15 for full Melee Round (maximum of one bolt per attack)
The character can expel energy bolts from his Psi-Body, punishing his opponent from a distance. Firing a bolt requires one melee attack, striking at +3 +1 per even level of experience.
Mental Energy Weapon
Duration: 2 internal minutes per level of experience
ISP: 20 + 5 per 1D6 damage bonus
The character can augment his natural psychic attacks by creating a psychic weapon to act as a focus. The maximum damage of the weapon is the character's normal combat damage plus 1D6 per level of experience; all characters with this power can scale the damage bonus between 1D6 and their maximum. If a character wishes, he may use paired weapons but the second will cost double ISP. The weapon's duration can be extended by an additional 2 minutes per level by expending another 5 ISP per 1D6 damage. Psi-PP bonuses apply to the use of this weapon, but other Psychic Combat bonuses apply only if the character is trained in the Mental Energy Weapon Proficiency (see skill selections, above). Finally, at each level of experience (including first) the character must choose to add bonus of +1 to either strike or parry with his weapon. This choice is permanent; selecting this power twice does allow the character to keep multiple weapon types in his arsenal.
Resistance to Mental Energy
Duration: 2 minutes per level of experience
This power reduces the damage taken from mental energy attacks and weapons. The character can absorb and ignore mental energy equal to his remaining Psi-HP each melee; damage past that amount is reduced by half.
Super Mental Energy Expulsion
Range: Line of Sight (Mental)
Duration: Instant / One Melee
Damage: 1D6x10 + 2 per level of experience
ISP: 20 for single bolt, 50 for full Melee Round (maximum of one bolt per attack)
The character can expel incredibly powerful energy attacks from his Psi-Body, punishing his opponents from a distance. Firing a bolt requires one melee attack, striking at +4 +1 per even level of experience.