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Skip Navigation LinksHigh Fantasy HERO>Content>Psionics>System


Psionic System Psions Wild Talents Psionic Items
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GM Notes on Psi
Psionics (SIGH-ON-IX), practitioners of which are generally called Psions (SIGH-ons), is an alternate means of gaining superhuman abilities in some Fantasy settings.
Psions use their own internal energies and mental mastery over their own minds, bodies, and / or the world around them to will powerful effects into being rather than manipulate "mystic forces".
Usually in most settings either Magic or Psionics are available, but some FRPG's allow both in the same setting. Most notably, AD&D 1e introduced Psionics as an additional avenue of unusual abilities, and the concept has survived through several edition changes in various forms.
Psionic Powers
Psionic Powers are simply Power Constructs designed using the HERO System Powers rules, with Active Point caps applied and some required Limitations.
This Psionic System divides Psionic Powers into five Disciplines based upon their general effect or purpose, and a sixth "meta" Discipline that represents Powers that have elements of two or more Disciplines. 
The five basic Disciplines are called Psychometabolism, Psychoportation, Telepathy, Psychokinesis, and Clairsentience; the advanced Discipline that allows Powers combining elements of multiple Disciplines is called Metapsionics.
Each of the five basic Psionic Disciplines have a Knowledge Skill associated with them, which are generally used by Psions to both learn and create new Powers, and also to activate their Powers with via Required Skill Rolls.
Discipline Effects
Psychometabolism Powers that allow a Psion to manipulate and / or empower their own body.
Power Skill: Psychometabolism (CON)
Psychoportation Powers that allow a Psion to bend and / or travel through space and even possibly time.
Power Skill: Psychoportation (INT)
Telepathy Powers that allow a Psion to manipulate and interact with peoples minds.
Power Skill: Telepathy (EGO)
Psychokinesis Powers that allow a Psion to manipulate energies and forces through will alone.
Power Skill: Psychokinesis (EGO)
Clairsentience Powers that allow a Psion to attain extra sensory perceptions and heightened awareness of their surroundings and even possibly the multi-verse.
Power Skill: Clairsentience (INT)
Metapsionics Advanced / complex Powers that have elements of two or more other Disciplines.
As a Campaign Groundrule, to even learn a Metapsionic Power a Character must have at least a 15- roll with all of the Discipline Skills necessary to use the Metapsionic Power
Psionic Powers are divided into five Power Strata by Active Points. Each Strata represents a range of 30 Active Points more than the Strata before it. Thus Powers with 30 Active Points or less are called "Devotions" while Powers with 31 to 60 Active Points are called "Sciences", and so forth up to Powers with 121 to 150 Active Points called "Triumphs".
The Character Point Threshold indicates the Total Character Points (not including  points from "Independent" items) that a Character must have in order to have a Psionic Power in that Active Point Range.
EXAMPLE: Yani the Psion has 199 Character Points. He cannot yet have a Psionic Power with more than 60 Active Points. Once Yani gains more Experience and passes the 200 Character Point Threshold he may learn Psionic Powers with up to 90 Active Points.
Psionic Powers have very broad Special Effects. In addition to any specific SFX that a particular Power might have such Electricity for a Bio-Electricity Power or Fire for a Pyrokinesis Power, all Psionic Powers also automatically have the additional SFX of Psionic, and the Discipline of the Power. These mandatory SFX cannot be altered by any means, including Variable Special Effects.
For instance, a Psychometabolic Power is always Psionic, and always Psychometabolic. It can be detected and affected by abilities that pertain to either type of Power.
NOTE: In settings that have both Psionics and Magic, Psionics are typically treated as a completely separate SFX from Magic. Powers that affect Magic do not affect Psionics and vice versa.
Some restrictions apply to the design and configuration of Psionic Powers.
    • Psionic Powers can not take Reduced END (0 END)
    • Psionic Powers can not require Incantations
    • Psionic Powers can not require Gestures
    • Psionic Powers can not require an Expendable Focus
    • Psionic Powers can not take Charges
    • Psionic Powers can not take No Conscious Control at the -2 level (but the lesser -1 NCC version for Random Effects is possible at the GM's discretion)
    • If a Multipower is used for Psionic Powers:
      • Only Psionic Powers may be taken in the Multipower
      • Each Psionic Power must Require a Skill Roll using the appropriate Psionic Discipline Power Skill
      • Each Power must run off of a Psionic END Reserve, which can only be used for Psionic Powers
      • Each Psionic Power must be an Ultra Slot
    • If an Elemental Control is used for Psionic Powers:
      • Only Psionic Powers may be taken in the Elemental Control
      • Each Power must have an Activation Roll of at least 15-
    • If a Variable Power Pool is used for Psionic Powers:
      • Only Psionic Powers may be taken in the Variable Power Pool
      • Rather than having a separate Skill to change Power allocation in the Pool, a Character must instead use the appropriate Discipline Skill to bring in Powers; if allocating multiple Powers from different Disciplines at the same time the Character must make a separate Roll for each Discipline modified by the Active Points relevant to the Powers in each Discipline.
        • The No Skill Roll Required Advantage can be taken to negate the need to make such Skill rolls.
Without some basic limit on the number of times a Psionicist can use their Powers and maintain constant effects this system becomes too powerful for most Fantasy campaigns. Thus, it is mandatory that Psionic Powers cost at least a little END to use.
Costs END Only To Activate is usable however to make Powers that don't tax a Character so severely once they are running.
The benefits / side effects of Charges do not mesh well with the intent of this system and are thus disallowed.
Psionic Powers don't normally require Incantations or Gestures, and thus should not take these Limitations.
The main intent of this restriction is to ensure that Psionic Powers do not "feel" like Magic Spells, with "ABRA CADABRA" type word-of-power Incantations and mystic hand passes. However, an individual GM should use their discretion regarding the spirit of the restriction against Incantations and Gestures if a player has an idea for an unusual Psionic Power.
Some Mental Powers built on Telepathy or Mind Control or similar might be defined as "Advance Hypnosis" or the equivalent, and logically be built to require Extra Time, Gestures, and Incantations to reflect lulling the target into a trance with a pendulum and soothing talk. The Gestures and Incantations involved are not "Spell-like", and have a different "feel" than a Magic Spell, and thus a GM might allow it.
Psionic Powers don't normally use "Material Components" per se, and thus should not require Expendable Foci. However some GM's might allow the use of reusable Foci, such as Crystals if it seems appropriate to the general "feel" of Psionics.
Psionic Powers are at some level under the control of the Psionicists, so full NCC is not an appropriate Limitation.
However, some exceptions may occur for Powers whose exact outcome is not under the manifester's control, such as a Mind Control Power that directs a target to "Protect Me", but does not have the ability to dictate how that command is obeyed, or many precognitive abilities that can be turned on at will but not actually directed. In such cases and at the GM's discretion the lesser -1 version of NCC can be used.
A popular choice to model many Psionic Powers, as a Campaign Groundrule Psionic Powers bought BOECV are for all intents and purposes Mental Powers and are only visible to the Mental Group without need for the Invisible Power Effects Advantage. They also automatically Affect Desolid without need for the Affects Desolid Advantage.
NOTE: The Active Point limits enforced to keep Psionicists in check make designing powers with BOECV that are appropriately modeled to reflect their "Mental Power" status impossible or unfairly limiting otherwise. This is a specific deviation from the standard HERO System Rules.
Knowledge of Psionic Powers is represented by Psionic Discipline Skills. Any Character may learn any Psionic Discipline Skill, even if they are not themselves Psionicists. In addition to their usage to learn and create Psionic Powers, or by some Psions to activate their Psionic Powers, Discipline Skills also represent general knowledge of the principles of, what is and is not possible, and to recognize uses of a particular Discipline.
At the most general level Psionic Discipline Skill Rolls may be made to determine information about the effects of Psionic Powers, to identify what Power a Psionicist is manifesting (if that Power has some recognizable signature), to identify the effects of a certain Power or type of Power, as a complementary Skill roll to PER checks or other Skills where appropriate, or for any purpose where knowledge and understanding of Psionic Powers of that Discipline might glean some benefit for a given Character.
Example: Yani encounters a mob of people acting strangely; making a PowS: Telepathy Roll (with modifiers determined by the GM) he reaches the conclusion that they are being Telepathically controlled!
At the GM's discretion very powerful Psionic effects may impose a penalty or grant a bonus to detect them or discern their nature. As a rule of thumb, Powers that are fairly simple or straightforward (such as effects that deal direct damage) should be easier to figure out while more subtle or complex effects should be more difficult. In some cases both a bonus and a penalty might be appropriate.
For example, a Character might get a bonus to detect a high Active Point Power because it has a strong aura, but a penalty to discern its purpose because of its complexity and / or subtlety.
Of course, Powers with completely Invisible Power Effects (or Invisible to all the senses available to a given Character) should not be detectable in this fashion.
In general, if a Character themselves have a particular Power or a very similar one, they should not suffer a penalty to recognize or detect that Power themselves and in some cases may benefit from a bonus to their Skill roll as it is unlikely that a Character wouldn't recognize a Power or the effects of a Power that they themselves have. Similarly if a Character has been exposed to such a Power previously or have some direct experience with it, they should have an easier time recognizing it.
On the other hand it is important to keep in mind that a single Power Construct, while mechanically the same, is not necessarily universally identical in its usage by different Characters. Variations could exist between instructors, as well as eccentricities of individual manifestors.
Using standard HERO System rules a single +1/4 Advantage allows Dispel and similar Adjustment Powers such as Suppress or Drain to affect all Psionic Powers one at a time. However, for purposes of this system of Psionic Powers that can be a little too powerful.
It is recommended that in a campaign using this Psionic System that such Powers will instead affect all Psionic Powers of a specific Discipline one at a time at the base level, and shift up from there. Thus a +1/4 Advantage could be used to make Dispel Psionic Powers (Psychokinesis) or Dispel Psionic Powers (Telepathy). To affect all Psionic Powers of any Discipline one at a time is a +1/2 Advantage, and All Psionic Powers All At Once would be a +2 1/4 Advantage.
Literally "Reverse Psi" or "Anti-Psi". For purposes of this website's content, the term "Apopsi" or "Apopsi Field" refers to any AoE Continuous Uncontrolled Suppress bought to affect All Psionic Powers Simultaneously (+2 1/4). Apopsi effects fall into the Metapsionics Discipline and require expert knowledge of any three Psionic Discipline Skills to learn or use.
In addition to the standard effect of such a Suppress, an Apopsi Field also has several additional effects as summarized below.
  • All Continuous Psionic Powers automatically turn off when contacting an Apopsi Field with an Active Point total equal to or greater than its own Active Points.
  • Psionic Powers that are based on ECV cannot affect a person inside of an Apopsi field that has equal or greater Active Points.
  • Ranged Psionic Powers that intersect an Apopsi Field with twice as many Active Points or more are automatically nullified.
  • While in an Apopsi Field Characters cannot activate Psionic Powers with Active Points equal to or less than half the Apopsi Field's Active Points.
EXAMPLE: Yani enters an Apopsi Field that has 60 Active Points. All of Yani's Constant Psionic Powers with 60 Active Points or less automatically deactivate. Further Yani cannot activate any Power with 30 or less Active Points while in the Apopsi Field. Yani can activate Powers with  31 or more Active Points while in the Apopsi Field, but the normal effect of the Apopsi Field's Suppress is applied to those Powers.
If Yani did not enter the Apopsi Field and instead attempted to use an Attack based on ECV, if it had less that the Active Points in the Apopsi Field the Attack would automatically fail. If Yani attempted to use a ranged attack (such as a Pyrokinetic blast of fire), if it had half or less as many Active Points as the Apopsi Field the Attack would automatically fail.