Thursday, June 23, 2016

Ergokinesis in Action

Recommended Powers

  • Data Retrieval: If a character wants access to information buried deep in a system.
  • I/O Tap: An excellent method for psionically tapping systems.
  • Remote Control: See below.
  • Confuse: Excellent for Live Capture, especially with the Daze technique.
  • Dampen: An obvious extension of the ability to manipulate electricity.
  • EK Shield: While not inherently very powerful (4 points for 1 DR!) with the addition of God-Like Extra-Effort and Power-Block, and it might even be useful!
  • Electric Vision: See below.
  • Lightning: Very expensive for what it does, but again, with the addition of God-Like Extra-Effort, it has some potential.
  • Surge: An obvious extension of Lightning. Excellent for sabotage.

Other Suggested Abilities

  • Jam: Two ergokinetics can definitely interfere with one another.
  • Hide Signature: Consider using the "In a crowded mind" rules for two ergokinetics trying to control the same machine.
  • EVP: Nice and spooky... plus a way of contacting others when you're not able to talk.
  • Interface: A neat trick
  • Power Source: An obvious extension of the ability to control electricity.
  • Static Control: An obvious extension of the ability to control electricity.
  • Remote Control: A neat trick.
Power Packages
  • Ampere Regulator: 25 points, Psis 22.
  • System Control: 25 points, Psis 23
  • Spark Slinger: 50 points, Psis 33

Discouraged Powers Powers

  • Netrunning: Projecting one's mind into a computer provides far more detail for computers than is appropriate for Psi-Wars.
  • Radar Sense: While a completely reasonable power, it feels thematically inappropriate for Psi-Wars.
  • Hologram: Most photokinetic effects, while a sensible extension of electrical manipulations, don't feel thematically appropriate to Psi-Wars.
  • Photorefraction: Most photokinetic effects, while a sensible extension of electrical manipulations, don't feel thematically appropriate to Psi-Wars.

Remote Control in Action

Remote Control can manipulate any machine “controlled by a computer.” For Psi Wars, that means vehicles, electronic locks, surveillance cameras, and all other technological items that are not small enough to be hand-held, like communicators, blasters and force swords, or that have no meaningful controls, like armor (You can remote control their microclimate controls, perhaps). This applies a penalty equal to the complexity of the machine. Most “dumb” electronics will be -0, while IQ 10 robots are -8. In general, feel free to ignore the BAD PSI rule and simply apply BAD directly to Remote Control, as the sophistication/cost of the machine will almost certainly make an impact on how successful someone will be with Remote Control.
  • Locks (page 20): Remote Control can direct the lock to simply unlock. Most electronic locks are -0, though feel free to apply BAD. Biometric Locks usually involve more sophisticated electronics: Consider at least a -2. Mechanical locks are, of course, impervious to Remote Control.
  • High Tech Challenges (Page 13): Hacking isn't generally appropriate to Psi-Wars, but if anyone could do it, it would be an Ergokinetic. Allow the psion to replace all Computer Hacking rolls with Remote Control rolls.
  • Grand Theft Auto (page 23): Hotwiring a car isn't much different from simply opening an electronic lock. Apply the same rules as above, but consider increasing the difficulty, especially if the grav-car is on the expensive side.
  • Sabotage (page 25): Most large machines are sufficiently computer-controlled that Remote Control can direct them towards self-destruction. At the GM's discretion, Remote Control can be used as a Sabotage skill roll, reflecting self-destructive instructions. Slave Mentality machines (ie most dumb machines) won't have a roll to resist. Sapient, willful machines (Bots) certainly do, and follow the same rules for resisting suicidal imperatives that humans have.
  • Bomb Disposal (page 28): Sufficiently complex bombs can be defused with a simple command. If a command exists to defuse a bomb, allow Remote Control to do so. Most of the time, this is at -0.
  • Chases (Page 31): Sufficiently longed-range Remote Control can shut down a vehicle and end the chase (the same can be said for Surge and Dampen too).

Electrical Vision

Electrical Vision has some serious implications in a setting rich in gadgetry and electric flow like a sci-fi setting.
  • Subtlety (page 9): Gain +2 to Observation or Perception rolls if the targets carry any active electronic equipment.
  • Surveillance and Patrols (page 18) and Traps (page 22): Gain a +4 to find surveillance cameras and traps if they use electricity. This reflects both the fact that the electrical devices “light up” for the character, but that he can trace wiring. If the wiring is too deep in the wall, he'll need to use Deep Scan.
  • Sabotage (page 25): Being able to see the flow of electricity gives one an intuitive grasp of what's going on in a machine, making it easier to damage. +2 to all sabotage attempts.
  • Checkpoint Security and Electronic Security(page 29): Deep-Scan Electric Vision is virtually the same as what scanners will be doing anyway, and grants +4 to all attempts to find (active) electronics, such as bugs or contraband.
  • Bomb Disposal (page 28): When worried about “which wire to cut,” Electrical Vision can give one insights into how electricity is flowing through the device and how it functions. This grants a +2 to Explosives (EOD) rolls.

General Psychokinesis Concerns

Defeating Ergokinesis

In general, an Ergokinetic can do two things. He can afflict humans directly with Lightning, Confuse and Flash, or he can manipulate or destroy technology. Of the two, the latter is by far the most dangerous and powerful, as Lightning is certainly overpriced and Confuse/Flash situational.
Fellow Ergokinetics can just Jam their opponent's efforts, or contest one another over the same machine. If they want to trade lightning blasts, EK Shield will also serve as an effective countermeasure. For the Anti-Psi, there's little in the way of intrusion that the character need worry about (though Interrupt will cancel Remote Control or I/O Tap), making Screamers and the like more useful.

For non-Psis, against an anti-human Ergokinetic, a flash-protected visor is enough to stop Flash, a decent amount of armor will stop Lightning, so only Confuse remains a real risk, but solid HT will help the character, and Confuse doesn't last that long. Against anti-tech Ergokinetics, the answer is simple: Don't use tech. Remote Control won't work against blaster or force-swords, and even dampen and surge won't work against a staff, a spear, or a solid fist. Ergokinetics may dominate technology, but technology is strictly optional.

Robots face the greatest risk from ergokinetics. Remote Control has fewer of the inbuilt protects that Suggestion has, and they'll collapse in front of Dampenings, Surges and the like... but robots are secondary elements in the setting, usually “dumb” opponents. The truly clever, like the fully sapient droids, are at -8 for Remote Control to affect, and high HP can resist surge. Furthermore, as robots cannot be psionic, it makes a lot of sense for a group heavily invested in them to also invest in psychotronic technology that cancels psi. An anti-psi robot with high HP and a genius system is a nightmare for every psi, not just an ergokinetic (who is one of the few that might be able to do something about it!)

Improving Ergokinesis

Psychotronic Bodyshields (Psi-Tech p 25) can turn EK Shield from a joke into a real, solid option. Instead of doubling EK-shield's value, though, multiply it by 5, to allow it to keep up with all the weapons that have an armor divisor of five.

Niche Protection

Ergokinesis is to “sigint” what a telepath is to “humint.” Because an ergokinetic can listen in on all devices, hear signals, root out wire-taps, and hack into computers, he makes the Spy largely redundant in that field. But the same logic that applies to Telepathy applies to Ergokinesis: An ergokinetic must invest so many points into his abilities, he is necessarily a specialist, while a Spy can afford to be more of a generalist. To make both useful, make sure there's plenty of machines to hack, with useful information for the ergokinetic to find, but put the other half of the puzzle in human hands (and minds). Furthermore, spies typically have skills (like Intelligence Analysis and Politics) that let them put together the “big picture” and to know what to do with all of this intelligence.

The other character the ergokinetic threatens is the tech-savvy Scavenger. Both excel at manipulating machines, but ultimately the niche of the Scavenger is not sabotaging machines or breaking into locked doors, but cobbling together new machines and fixing up old ships. He's a repairman and gadgeteer, while the ergokinetic is a saboteur and hacker. If we had a Hacker character, then we might need to worry about niche protection... but we don't!
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