psionics in the works

Over the last stretch of weeks, after contemplating the idea for most of last fall (I can be very slow), I’ve been putting together a set of psionic talents for pocketrpg stuff.

(I’m kind of thinking of tweaking the phrasing of a few of them and releasing a Creative Commons version of the talents themselves, like I did when I put out a hundred CC spells over the holidays)

And yeah, I basically used the tried-and-true thematic subdivisions, because

1) they work so why change it
2) they’ve existed through all branches of specfic as well as through sff rpgs
However! My end results have seven paths/schools/disciplines/whatever, instead of the “usual” (A)D&D six, for the following reasons and rambling train of thought to get to the end result:

1) I liked some of the ideas behind the Metapsionics discipline in 2e, but not all of them, and also the idea of locking stuff behind/into “the uber discipline” was and is annoying
2) similarly I really like the Metacreativity discipline in 3e, because making stuff is cool, manipulating ectoplasm — originally as much considering a psychic manifestation as a ~ghosty manifestation, thanks so much Ghostbusters *grumbles* — is cool, and why I never liked anything to do with crystal anythings why do you ask *shifty look*
3) if psionics is powered by your will, your “you”, your spirit/soul/insert-whatever-term, there should be spirit stuff in general
4) buuuut I hate the (often frankly creepy and not in a horror way) “occult” trappings that get slathered all over that end of things (a turnoff I have with Pathfinder’s approach to psionics, for example, because it lays it on thick)
5) I wanted to try to avoid the exoticizing/Orientalizing that keeps slinking into psionics stuff, from names to definitions

Also “telepathy” needed some tweaking, although in the end it really is about messing with people’s minds as much as talking to them and that’s annoying. I’ve avoided the worst mind control, though, I hope.

So in the end I have seven groups, labeled with one-word titles because frankly I think a good amount of the “psionics doesn’t belong in fantasy” crowd — aside from having missed whole branches of the fantasy genre in general for the many decades — are put off by the oft-deliberate pseudo-scientific name schemes in place.

To whit:

– Sight (“clairsentience”)
– Mind (“telepathy”)
– Body (“psychometabolism”)
– Forces (“psychokinetics”)
– Motion (“psychoportation”)
– Matter (3e “metacreativity”, tweaked just a smidge)
– Spirit (“metapsionics” 2e stripped down and recombined with spirit- and ghosty- and intangible stuff)

Twelve talents each, and I did my best to avoid jargon with the talent names also. (oh gawd I wrote another 80-odd thingers plz end me *lol*)


Hopefully I get some simple formatting done and these up by the end of the week or maybe next week. Definitely debating over a CC version also though.

And of course, nothing’s stopping anyone from using these, once they’re up, as just another pile of spells to add to a spell pool anyway; there’s nothing inherently different about them in the end. It’s all cool.

To setting or not to setting …

Or to system or not to system … That is the question, two questions in fact, when I have a notion rattling around in my head but not quite firming up quite yet —

There is an idea; it is most certainly a setting concept. I have my “pitch”, for lack of a better phrasing (lol), which would set the tone and also the thrust of, if not everything that a PC or several PCs would be doing, then certainly the flavour that would be overlaying what they did do a good deal of the time. But maybe “overlaying” would be a better plan in general? Instead of spinning out a whole new continent or part-of-continent again (though I do love making places), create a thing that could — at least in theory — be overlain over an existing location/setting/concept.

It’s a thought; a rather tempting thought. I could make up tables (tables ~!) to go with the broad strokes. Maaaaybe even a small community just as a jump-point, more easily insertable into an existing world.

But, oh, system. Wretched system.

Continue stubbornly pecking along using pocketrpg? Use Black Hack, or OSE, or Cairn, or another? (not Troika.) Give vague notations, hopefully easily parsed to a system of choice? Write up a new bespoke system, whether inspired by another or no? Or systemless, sort of like City Of Chains, which at the moment I think just might work.

I’d still need to decide just what I was making though, and I don’t think I’m quite there yet. Things are still percolating and firming up as the concept, and — just as important — I’m coming off a very rough spring and a miserable late spring, just in time to hit the start of summer and already breaking out in heat welts and tiny blood blisters for my pains. So things will probably still be slow, if they do start.

Maybe, if I get started, I could post it all on here. Maybe in chunks as I go; serialized setting bit-lets?

I haven’t forgotten my planar project, but I did burn out badly on it which is probably part the project itself (I need to dial back the sample planes to a drabble of words per plane, I think) and the lion’s share the above mess of the last few months. I have that other pocketmod of setting I’d like to revisit, also. And just write some more tables, and bits from prompts, and whatever else.

If I make it through the summer. Blegh.

why did I write an rpg: some navel-gazing

At some point over the weekend — said weekend was cold, raining, and generally gross, which made work a grind and my brain search for distraction but fail to have energy to do much constructively — I had a somewhat incoherent train of thought that went basically like this over a day and a half or so:

“There are other setting ideas kind of rattling around aside from the plane-hopping one, and hell I’m practically admitting that the plane-shopping supplement is also basically a setting; should I post up somewhere a ‘generic’ version of the rules I use for my pocketrpg?”

->

“If I posted up a generic version of the rules somewhere, wouldn’t it make sense to add a ‘feel free to use these to make stuff’ note or something along those lines in case someone would like it?”

->

“An ‘SRD’ or a make-stuff note is kind of extraneous isn’t it, there’s piles of games that people would rather use/would get more out of/already tinker with and oh gawd the brainweasels are closing in”

->

“But doing a Whole Thing every time I might want to post another minisetting or whatever also kind of feels presumptuous? Or ridiculous? Or something?”

->

“Oh gawd I need this weekend to be over, I can tell I’m doing terrible things to myself here”

… and from there (by this point I was trundling around on Sunday evening), I wisely chose to divert myself away by indulging in the recording of the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade and hauling several comforting textbooks on dynastic Egypt to work, which did help. It also had me ruminating on a different-but-related topic by the time last night rolled around:

Why did I write an rpg/these rpgs/these rules?

I mean, the first answer is also the simplest: because I wanted to. All of the various iterations have boiled down to “because I wanted to”; so will the ideas I’m still nibbling away at, because this is a hobby for me and I like to create, and rpg things are one of the things I like to create.

The actual path for this pocketrpg thing went basically like this:

-Two summers ago(ish) I was at work and had a moment of “I wonder if I can fit a tiny system+enough flavour for an implied setting into a pocketmod?”, and proceeded to peck at the notion for a bit. Nine Black Jewel Moons was the result, which I then promptly also reskinned into a cyberpunk-with-psionics version (Neon Burning Skies) because why not. A few folks liked this, which was reassuring.

-Not leaving well enough alone, I made a companion pocketmod for NBJM with some magic items and more setting snips and a few ideas for rules additions. (originally I was also going to do a companion for NBS and I still have the scribbles, but to this day it’s never actually materialized …)

-About the first time it looked like Fantasy Flight was about to kill off L5R *bitter laughter* I tried my first take on “here is a different type of setting, please see NBJM for the rules” and wrote Steel Blossom Dreams, my little pocketmod take on what I got after shaking my fist at a lot of L5R’s … L5R-ness and hauling textbooks to work. (said books are probably why SBD owes as much or more to Heian as to later eras.) At the same time, I was experimenting with a setting-with-map-in-a-pocketmod, and in the end tried to sort of thread the needle to make Six Swords Rising usable with or without SBD, though the two were (tenuously) connected.

(I am tempted to give SSR an overhaul and expansion, and maybe a different map, and probably lean even harder into being a fantasy setting not meant to emulate any specific thing, I freely admit. it would also make borrowing over the one thing I kept-ish from L5R, descriptive clan/family/whatever-you-like-in-your-setting names, both much easier and far less fraught.)

(… I also just really like pocketmods >.>;;)

-Hilariously, expanding past pocketmod-size was entirely prompted by my being thoroughly annoyed by several years’ development in a completely different arena — the Fire Emblem srpg franchise — and throwing up my hands and yelling fine I’ll make my own, then! … And then I did, if by “made my own” I mean “emulated the tropes common to FE characters with traits and equipment and then wrote another small setting from scratch while including a few nods to FE plot tropes here and there”. I’d use my mini rules (+ the companion bits) as a base and expand a tiny wee bit, and add a wee gazetteer, etc. And so, Lost Emblem Saga. Which also had a few folks like it, which was also reassuring.

Equally hilariously is this is where I actually started calling these things my “pocketrpg” because — this is 100% true — since what I wanted to do would never fit on one sheet, I would make something that once printed out, would be the size of the quarter-page handmade notebooks I make. Which conveniently fit snugly in the back pocket of my work pants.

Yes these are literally pocketrpgs and I am not even sorry.

*ahem*

-Some time shortly after LES, I started thinking I’d like to use its expanded rules (I’d elaborated on magic a little, among other bits), originally from NBJM/Jewel Moons, to actually expand out Jewel Moons itself into a similar pocketrpg. This was not so much prompted as a sort of “I think I’d like to do that …” and then I started tinkering. Oops?

What eventually because Wandering Jewel Moons took a lot longer to pull together, but there were more hurdles (even more pandemic brain; other ideas, like what became Wilusa, City Of Chains, itself spinning from my first ideas of the “mini-not!Planescape”; etc) to get past to do it. But I did. And a few folks like that also.

This is a lot of rambling to basically still say, at the end, I did it because I wanted to …

There are and were other games I’ve done. The Blue Lotus Hack (which is out there on the interwebs) is a flavour tweaking of The Black Hack 1e with a setting/bestiary/magic items selection attached, and I also used TBH 1e for a conversion of Final Fantasy (yes, the original; no, this one’s not out there on the interwebs) including the whole bestiary. Some day I might finish the “space hack”; sometimes I muse on seeing if I can switch it over to pocketrpg or pull what system it has out altogether.

But, it was nice to make a little game framework of my own? Even if, in my personal opinion, there are plenty of folks who do much better — and yes I can name quite a few without batting an eyelash — I wanted to make it, and it made me happy, and I can use it to be that framework for other things I write. I just need to keep taking a newspaper to the brainweasels over it.

I still want to make more things for the pocketrpg (which if I ever do pull up my britches and post a generic version, for folks to use or otherwise, probably needs some kind of name). I need to also keep on telling myself that that’s fine. This is a hobby, after all. I like to make things, and I like to make little notes about little worlds.

This has been a lot of babbling and if you’ve made it this far, congrats *lol* There’s no grand conclusion, alas, not to the babbling and not to the questions that kicked it all off. But sometimes, it’s like that –?