Author Topic: The psychic powers - using the Emperors Tarot  (Read 69 times)

Offline Dullmohawk

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The psychic powers - using the Emperors Tarot
« on: March 14, 2019, 07:09:36 PM »
Hi all,
I was sitting around nosing through the rulebook when I spotted the deck of John Blanche Dark Millennium cards on my workstation. I bought the cards when they came out, but never rally found any use for them in any of the games I play, but with my return to Inquisitor recently I might have an idea for a thematic (if somewhat slow and over-done) way to integrate them in my game. I'll post it below for you all to heap scorn upon or use with your own deck at your leisure.

The system is pretty simplistic in that all the cards are given values corresponding to what it says on the card (ie 1's to 10) and the jacks, Kings and queens and aces are each worth 10.

To use a psychic power, a character must then beat the difficulty of the power by drawing cards until they have a high enough value.

A character can draw an equal amount of cards corresponding to how many actions she/he has available.

Drawing a joker means an automatic fail and loss of 2D10 willpower.

If a character draws three or more face-cards, they suffer from psychic overload, losing D10 from their willpower characteristic.

Nullification of powers is done by a short mini-game, where the two psykers draw cards corresponding to the tens of their willpower characteristic (so Eisenhorn would draw 9 as his wp is 92 and so on). The winning psyker either nullifies or upholds power. If either psyker draws more face-cards than pip-cards, they suffer from psychic overload.

Persistent abilities must be upheld in subsequent turns by using one action, in which the psyker draws a card if he wishes to uphold the ability. If that card is a joker, the ability ceases to function.

I'm sure there's something in there I've missed, but feel free to comment or change anything if you feel that it fits.
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Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: The psychic powers - using the Emperors Tarot
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2019, 09:12:34 PM »
While I can see the appeal of a Emperor's Tarot psychic system, these rules would severely penalise and disadvantage psykers compared to the normal system.

For an example, let's imagine a moderately, but not unthinkably, difficult power - Difficulty 30.

In your rules as I read them, not so much.

Ignoring jokers for a second, the average value of a card in a deck is slightly over 6.5 (Cards from 1 to 10, plus three face cards at 10 means a suit has a total value of 85, divided by 13 cards per suit), meaning that a Diff 30 power would, if equalling the difficulty is sufficient, on average require 4.58 cards to be drawn , and CANNOT succeed in fewer than three actions. (However, with your original wording of *beat* the difficulty, 4.74 actions, and a bare minimum of 4 actions, as even with the flukiest luck, you can't draw 31 on three cards).

As such, such a power will almost always require two turns to cast, and that's a significant proportion of a game.

That's bad enough for characters who have other options (because they'll probably do those instead), but it's really bad for characters who don't.

A character like my Maya Avens frequently relies on being able to use multiple difficult powers in a turn in order to actually be a viable character.
She's amazing at psychic powers*, but other than that, all she's got is a reasonable Sagacity and a poor BS laspistol

* She's a revision of an earlier character where I did a complete overhaul because I decided I'd written yet another "renaissance psyker" who was reasonably at everything, because they needed to have something to fall back onto because their psychic powers weren't good enough to rely on.
Hence why she's now got Wp 85, a psychic hood, Heroic for the purposes of calculating psychic overloads, a special rule to ignore standard combined action penalties on psychic tests and about 30 different powers, because that's ALL she does, and with the way the rules work, you need to stack a lot of buffs to get away with a character being a dedicated psychic warrior.
She's still somewhat inconsistent - if she can stack powers fast enough, she can deal with nearly anything; if she gets caught flat-footed, she's not very useful - but she's certainly very interesting to play as a character.


As far as other criticisms:
- It's impossible to cause standard overload on powers of Difficulty 20 or less (as having drawn two face cards would already be a pass, hence no need for a third).
- Also, even for higher difficulty powers, a psyker would likely quit as soon as they could after the second face card, making it an unlikely outcome.
- Losing an action a turn to maintaining powers would also be crippling, as characters often only get one action!
- And here, the power of a psyker for everything other than nullification seems to be entirely down to their speed.

~~~~~

If you want cards, I'd start with Dark Heresy's system here.

Dark Heresy has psykers decide how much of their Psy Rating to use, and they then roll an appropriate number of D10s and add their Wp bonus in order to try to beat the power's rating. (And there are often benefits to exceeding the required power by a reasonable margin).
However, rolling 9s on the dice causes Psychic Phenomena or, worse, Perils of the Warp.

Swap out D10s for card draws and you might have a workable system. If you want to cast, draw X cards, turn them all over, hope they beat the necessary power, cause nasty results on double face cards or jokers - or something like that.

You'd need to add Psy Ratings (but I've done that already for the Inquisitor Revised Edition, as even though I've tried to keep many of the fundamentals of the old system, I still think it's interesting to separate a psyker's level of power and level of control), and find a way to modify Difficulty into power ratings somehow, but it would make for a system where psykers could still cast quickly if they need to.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2019, 03:49:46 AM by MarcoSkoll »
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Offline Dullmohawk

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Re: The psychic powers - using the Emperors Tarot
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2019, 07:54:37 AM »
Thank you for the lengthy and thorough reply to my brain-fart. I realized, after posting, that the frail, old and slow psykers would be totally handicapped if the cards replaced the percentage roll.
Oh well.

I've never played Dark Heresy, so I can't really comment on whether or not the system would be viable with cards, but I'll just take your word for it.

As for characters losing actions, I don't think it would be so crippling as stated if using your own 3+ rules for activation rolls.

So back in the bin with all of this. Although I might keep the nullification mini game.
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Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: The psychic powers - using the Emperors Tarot
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2019, 02:51:24 PM »
So back in the bin with all of this. Although I might keep the nullification mini game.
No, I think the core idea of a card-draw based psychic system has merit, it's just that the specific execution you first proposed would make psychic powers hard enough that there wouldn't be much opportunity to use what has the potential to be quite a cool idea.

I'd also love to see a viable campaign system that can include Tarot draws - I'm sort of trialling something similar with "Fracture" next month, in that characters will be receiving astropathic messages from the future, but that's a pre-scripted tree that won't have the same randomness of a card draw - still, if I can make that work, I hope to expand it with a proper Tarot system.

Quote
I've never played Dark Heresy, so I can't really comment on whether or not the system would be viable with cards, but I'll just take your word for it.
It certainly has the potential to work. Obviously, cards have a spread that is more skewed towards 10s than a D10, but it's still in the same range, so it would still give an reasonable ballpark for defining the rating of powers.

Quote
As for characters losing actions, I don't think it would be so crippling as stated if using your own 3+ rules for activation rolls.
Neither version of my 3+ rules would really help here.

The version I use with the current LRB automatically defaults back to 4+ rolls once combat starts in order to maintain the balance of the game; the 3+ is just used to faster get through the early parts of the game where characters are positioning and planning and it doesn't matter too much if a character gets loads of actions before anyone gets to respond.

The version for IRE does apply constantly, but this is because characters are frequently saving actions to use as reactions; as such, the shift to slowing down when combat occurs now happens dynamically depending on how cautious an individual character wants to be - a character can either choose keep reactions back to potentially react to incoming attacks, or be completely gung-ho and hope to inflict enough damage first. In practice though, a Speed 4 character usually drops to three action dice a turn when threats are around (unless they're completely nuts or really desperate), as having a reaction to dive out of the way of incoming fire or snap off a shot at a new threat is very useful. As such, they still average about the same number of successful actions per turn, so losing one is still significant.
S.Sgt Silva Birgen: "Good evening, we're here from the Adeptus Defenestratus."
Captain L. Rollin: "Nonsense. Never heard of it."
Birgen: "Pick a window. I'll demonstrate".

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