Author Topic: Psyker levels.  (Read 8450 times)

Offline Torquemada

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Psyker levels.
« on: September 27, 2009, 12:44:20 PM »
Firstly, nice to see the Conclave back up and running.

Can some one help me by providing info on the levels of psyker, and maybe an idea of what level some of the psyker characters in the 40k universe are, such as the librarians like Tigurius, Njal or Mephiston, or from other races, like Ahriman or Eldrad Ulthran. I know there was a great thread on the old site, but I can't see anything on here so far.

Thanks in advance.
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Offline Tullio

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Re: Psyker levels.
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2009, 02:36:09 PM »
Ahh, this old chestnut. And I'm in first, muahahaha.

In summary of what's gone on before -

1 - The practical power of a psyker depends as much upon his personal concentration and control of his  powers as much as his own raw potential - arguably more.

2 - The Greco-numeric system that is often used to grade psykers is really too simplistic in to grade them properly. It's a measure of potential, not skill. Many Conclavers dislike it on this basis. It's also worth bearing in mind that there are lots of systems for grading psykers, not just the well-known Greco-numeric.

3 - Having said that, that system runs thus - the average psychic ability of a normal human is about Mu or Nu on the table. Anything above that tends to fall into the realms of weak psykers rising in potential right up to the Alpha grade. Just below Nu are the blunts with no psychic potential (Like Tau) and below that are the Untouchables, and eventually the Omicron grade Pariahs.

4 - Insofar as the famous psykers of 40K are concerned, it's fairly pointless to grade them this way. Eldar are all rather more psychic than humans and use a completely different form of training and so don't really bear comparison to humans. Likewise, Space Marine Librarians are all as exceptional psychically (In terms of skill, not power) as a Battle-Brother is to a Stormtrooper.


That covers the basics, in my opnion. Much of the rest is really niggling over details - notoriously tricky when dealing with something most closely addressed in Dan Abnett books (And we all know how his depiction of psykers has matured from Gaunts Ghosts onwards)

Tullio

Offline Swarbie

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Re: Psyker levels.
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2009, 01:40:30 AM »
What he said. But if you're just looking for a way to show a psyker's really powerful, just stick "Alpha-Level Psyker" in front of his name. It may only be a sign of potential, but potential always comes first. Skill is learnt through training, but a person's psychic potential tends to be inbuilt. 
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Offline TheNephew

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Re: Psyker levels.
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2009, 01:49:35 AM »
If you're just looking for a way to show a psyker's really powerful, just stick "Alpha-Level Psyker" in front of his name.
Actually, don't.
Really, don't.
Alpha-level is the kind of power that should be used in momentous background that at no point comes near the tabletop or immediate character background except by six or more degrees of separation.
I would suggest that a more suitable way is found, if one is needed, to show a character's power - such as a feat of great psychic prowess.

Offline Ynek

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Re: Psyker levels.
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2009, 02:16:55 AM »
I can remember someone on the old conclave suggesting a far more fitting system which was a series of numbers relating to particular facets or areas of psychic talent.

If I recall correctly, the first number related to an individual's raw psychic power - essentially how much energy they were capable of drawing out of the warp. A psyker who could open a warp rift that engulfs an entire continent, for example, would have a very high "power" number, whilst a fellow whose most impressive trick is blowing out candles with his mind would have one considerably lower.

The second number related to the amount of control and skill that the psyker had over the power he was channeling. For example, an individual who caused fire to gout out of his hands in all directions in a seemingly random manner would have a far lower 'control' number than an individual who could simply put the fire where it's needed, such as in a fireplace, or in an enemy's underpants.

The third number related to the psyker's ability to resist the perils of the warp and to be able to remain sane whilst using his powers, essentially, this number related to how safe it was for the psyker to use his powers. So a sanctioned, brainwashed psyker fresh from the black ships would probably have a higher 'safety' number than a rogue psyker who was perpetually possessed by warp entities.

So, for example, an individual whose psychic potential is 910 would have a silly-terrifying amount of psychic power, but no control over it, and it would be very dangerous for them to channel their abilities. Or, a psyker with 199 might only be able to do very small-scale psychic powers, but their control would be impeccable and they could probably use them with little risk of problems.

I can't remember for the life of me who originally came up with this system, but I always thought that it was a much better system than the old Alpha-Omega scale. Come to think of it, I think there were more than just these three numbers, but these were the ones that stuck in my mind.
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Offline Tullio

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Re: Psyker levels.
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2009, 10:54:28 AM »
I've got a feeling it was Precinct, as it happens.

It is a better system than the Greco-Numeric scale, though I prefer to use Greco-Numeric decimalised ratings since it's familiar and a bit more archaic - thus Gamma.25 is a quarter of the way through Gamma and Beta. In any background I write none of it will be written as gospel, unlike the Abnett system where if someone says X is an Alpha-Grade psyker, X is an Alpha-Grade with all that entails (Yes, I mean YOU, Ravenor)

Tullio

Simeon Blackstar

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Re: Psyker levels.
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2009, 01:09:57 PM »
if you're just looking for a way to show a psyker's really powerful, just stick "Alpha-Level Psyker" in front of his name

As Nephew said, bad idea.  Alpha levels are the kind of psykers who can control the minds of armies, throw cities at people, summon firestorms to engulf countries etc.  You don't want them anywhere near the table, or everyone else on it is going to be killed in horrible ways, quite possibly involving the table scenery being picked up and dropped on them.

Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: Psyker levels.
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2009, 04:41:51 PM »
I can't remember for the life of me who originally came up with this system, but I always thought that it was a much better system than the old Alpha-Omega scale. Come to think of it, I think there were more than just these three numbers, but these were the ones that stuck in my mind.
It was Precinct Omega who came up with it. As far as I recall, there were only those three numbers.

Personally, I ran with the idea a bit, and came up with a blend of that and the Greconumeric system. So you have something like Epsilon-3B, where Epsilon is power potential, the number control/skill and the final letter their "safety". Low numbers and letters being better in this case.

Nothing really new - just a way of working PO's superior system (compared to the official GW one) so that it's a bit more characterful than just a handful of numbers.

As I've said before, sometimes a simple system is too simple. Some of you may remember my "Alignment" (or as I tend to call it, "Character Motivation system") that I talked about briefly on the last 'Clave, which was done in a similar vein to inject some more depth into D&D's rather limited alignments.
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Offline Dosdamt

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Re: Psyker levels.
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2009, 05:09:51 PM »
In a move that may surprise our wolf avatar-ed colleague, :P I fully support and indeed endorse Marco's approach. I think it's sensible, characterful and gives enough description regarding the relative power of a psyker.

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Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: Psyker levels.
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2009, 06:20:06 PM »
I think it's sensible, characterful and gives enough description regarding the relative power of a psyker.
I do like to think of it as something that the Imperium actually uses - but much of the time, people just shorten it down to the Greek letter, because it's the most important factor to most of the people who need to know it.

To explain, the amount of damage they're likely to do is linked pretty well with it.
If they're powerful, but in control, they can do a lot of calculated damage. If they're powerful, but not in control, then they'll do a lot of damage because they're not in control (or worse, because they get possessed).
If they're not very powerful, they're easier to contain, whether or not they're in control or not, and are less likely to attract the attention of a powerful daemon.

So a Gamma level psyker is almost certainly a greater threat than an Eta level psyker, regardless of the control of either.

Hence, how controlled or "protected" the psyker is not likely to be the greatest concern to whoever is unlucky enough to have to bring them under control. It also fits with the fact you seldom hear the "rating" of a psyker who isn't/ hasn't been causing the Imperium trouble.
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Offline Kaled

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Re: Psyker levels.
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2009, 05:56:58 PM »
And for anyone who hasn't read it - The Inquisition encyclopedia contains a description of the Greco-numeric system which I've paraphrased below;

The psychic strength and ability range that runs from Alpha to Omega is called 'The Assignment'.  The 'standard' range of psychic activity runs omega, psi, chi, phi, upsilon, tau, sigma, rho, pi, omicron, xi, nu, mu, lambda, kappa, iota, theta, eta, zeta, epsilon, delta, gamma, beta, alpha.
'Normal' human psychic ability is rho or pi. Ratings of omicron to kappa indicate low level residual psychic activity that the subject will probably not be aware of and is very hard to detect. Subjects with a rating of iota and up will manifest some psychic ability. Ratings of zeta and higher indicate a very powerful psychic talant. The top four ratings are found in only about one in a billion humans.

The Inquisition and Blackships are supposed to catch anyone with a rating of omicron or above, but in practise only kappa and higher are usually identified. Anyone rated iota must be immediately confined or executed. It is reckoned that human minds cannot manage any rating higher than beta and still remain sane.

That covers psykers, below the rating of pi we're into the region of blunts, individuals who are oblivious to psychic activity or probing. Their ability is graded too, for example an individual with a rating of upsilon might just be affected by a severe psychic approach but is otherwise inert. Omega rating indicates the far extreme, the so called untouchables who are so 'blunt' as to have a measurable anti-psychic effect.

The entry then goes on to talk about the 'alpha plus' ratings, which run alpha plus, beta plus, gamma plus etc. No rating higher than gamma plus has ever been measured and it is theorised that beyond zeta plus the mind would become a non-corporeal entity.
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Offline Serge

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Re: Psyker levels.
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2009, 04:52:44 PM »
What greco-numeric level would a navigator have?
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Offline Koval

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Re: Psyker levels.
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2009, 05:02:24 PM »
Personally, I really love the PO system.

I used to have a system with just a decimal value, |x| < 1, but that would just have dealt with straight power levels and not with all the other chicanery involved. So I now adopt the PO system.

I'd probably add another number dealing with potential, though, so a 2468 would therefore be "currently a 2, can be trained as far as a 4, has 6 degrees of control, has 8 degrees of safety". In other words, a generic (if fairly weak) Savant Militant.

I'd probably run it into hexadecimal, though, because a straight 1-10 scale is boring.



Not to say I don't approve of Alpha Psykers being Alpha Psykers (although I despise the rest of the Abnett-o-meter) -- my approach changes, though, as they'd most likely be around AC97 on "my" scale, but retain the Alpha name purely because, like with a pack of wolves, the Alpha is dominant. We all know that the Imperium treats Psykers as a sort of subhuman race, so being as an Alpha can chop a Titan in half with a rude gesture, why not take it a bit further?
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EDIT: Navigator power levels vary wildly. The eye itself is probably a Delta or above, if you want to use that scale, but the human bit of the Navigator might manifest very strong psychic ability, or none at all. Googol from Draco didn't seen to have much going for him, but Petrov in the next book was psychic (or at least, we can infer as much from something that would probably spoil the plot of Harlequin if I mentioned it...) and we know that Gabriella Belisarius was psychic. Whether Petrov and Belisarius' talents were to do with the eye or not is probably open to interpretation and/or the dubious nature of Lexicanium's entries.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2009, 05:13:16 PM by Koval »

Offline Ynek

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Re: Psyker levels.
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2009, 04:38:40 AM »
If they're not very powerful, they're easier to contain, whether or not they're in control or not,

I don't think I agree with the above statement. A psyker who has extremely good control over his abilities wouldn't need much power to be dangerous and deadly.

A powerful psyker with little control would open a warp rift the size of a small building to kill a percieved threat, but a low-powered psyker with extremely good control would simply open a warp rift the size of a walnut in the heart or brain of his target. Sure, the lower-powered psyker causes less damage, but he's no less dangerous.
A low level psyker with good control would probably be able to open several warp rifts at once, or one at a time in machine-gun-like succession, all within the hearts or brains of his enemies. Sure, it's got less of the OMGWTFBBQ?!?!?! factor, but it's every bit as dangerous as the high-powered psyker with less control who simply opens a massive warp rift and sucks everyone in.

P.S. I really liked your earlier hybridisation of PO's numerical system with the offical greek letter system. It keeps the archaic feel of the GW system, but also adds the other two significant characteristics in a way that makes it a bit less airy-fairy.
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Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: Psyker levels.
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2009, 04:27:12 PM »
I don't think I agree with the above statement. A psyker who has extremely good control over his abilities wouldn't need much power to be dangerous and deadly.
When I say contain, I'm not talking about just throwing nothing but military might at the psyker. If you're containing a psyker, nullification and wards are not to be overlooked, and while a powerful psyker would have the power necessary to blow through such things, a weak one, even if controlled, wouldn't.

With that in mind, I continue to stand my my initial statement.
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