Magic Monday: Psionic Combat

I spent quite a few days looking at the Divlantia system, but I couldn't write up something useful in a week. The system would require quite a bit of work, so it may appear later.

In its place is the completion of a psionic combat system to use with Swords & Wizardry. This system assumes that psionic characters and creatures have a pool of Power Points used to produce psionic powers. When the Power Points are reduced to zero, the psionic creature can no longer use psionic powers or initiate psionic combat. This system also assumes that all psionically aware creatures have a power level. For monsters, the power level is the same as their Challenge Level.

In short, Psionic Combat is resolved in five steps:

  1. Choose attack and defense options.
  2. Determine if the attack was successful.
  3. Determine the adjustment to the attacker's psionic combat roll.
  4. Each side rolls 2d6 and applies adjustments.
  5. The loser sheds a number of power points determined by the winner's level.

paper, rock, scissors...Psionic combat begins when a player or creature attempts to use a psionic power on another psionic. The one initiating combat is considered the attacker, while the other combatant is considered the defender.

When psionic combat begins, each combatant uses their own copy of the Psionic Combat Chart  simultaneously places one or more tokens on the Combat Chart shown on the left. (In testing, coins work best with the attacker marking his/her choices with the "heads" side of the coin and the defender using the "tales side of the coin.) When the choices are revealed, any tokens on the same choice are removed. If there are no tokens left, the psionic attack was successfully blocked and the attacker loses 1d6 points.

If tokens remain, use the chart to determine the adjustment to the attacker's combat roll. Arrows pointing from the attacker's token to the defender's token increase the attacker's roll, arrows pointing towards the attacker's token reduce the attacker's combat roll. White arrows are a +3/-3 adjustment while black arrows are a +1/-1 adjustment.

For example, if the attacker chooses Water and the defender chooses Fire, the attacker gains a +3 adjustment to his roll because a white arrow points toward the defender's token. If the attacker had chosen Wood and the defender chosen Metal, the attacker would have a -3 adjustment to their psionic combat roll.

Once the adjustment is determined, both sides roll and the lowest roll has points deducted from their power points. In other words, even if the attacker rolls the lowest result, the attacker will lose power points.

The amount of power points lost is determined by the power level of the creature with the highest combat roll. At level 1, 1d6 points of damage are done. This increases by 1d6 for every three level thereafter. (2d6 at 4th level, 3d6 at 7th level, etc.)

So let's have a couple of examples. I found that the system is pretty quick, but it takes a bit to get used to it. I found it similar to teaching someone a two player card game.

Erin, a 1st level psionicist with 8 power points is attacking a Brain Mole with 6 power points. The brain mole has a Challenge Level of 1, so its power level is 1.

Erin attacks choosing Fire. The GM (playing the brain mole) also chooses Fire. Since that both chose the same option, Erin loses power points. He rolls a 2, so he now has 6 power points. The brain mole attacks choosing the Water option. Erin (unable to see the brain mole's choice) chooses Wood. Looking at the chart, a black arrow points from the brain mole to Erin, so the brain mole gets a +1 adjustment to its psionic combat roll. Each side rolls 2d6 and the brain mole rolls higher. Since it has a power level of 1, it does 1d6 power point damage. Rolling 1d6 to determine damage, it rolls a 5. Erin is now down to 1 power point.

Deciding not to push his luck, Erin attempts a physical attack with a sling and misses. The brain mole psionically attacks choosing Metal. Erin defends choosing Fire. Looking at the chart, a white arrow points towards the attacking brain mole. His psionic attack roll is adjusted by a -3 penalty. Each side rolls 2d6 with Erin rolling the highest score. Even though Erin did not initiate the psionic attack, he still rolls to do damage to the brain mole because he rolled the highest psionic combat attack roll. Erin rolls a 6 (lucky!) and reduced the brain mole's power points to zero. The brain mole cannot initiate psionic combat until it has 8 hours of rest.

At higher levels, psionic combatants can choose more than one option on the chart. At 7th level, a psionic creature can make two choices on either psionic attack or psionic defense, but not both. This choice is permanent and cannot be switched back and forth. At 13th level, a psionic creature can make two choices on both psionic attacks and psionic defense. At 19th level, a psionic creature can make three choices on either psionic attack or psionic defense. At 26th level, a psionic creature can make three choices on both.

Here's an example where one combatant uses only one token while the only uses two tokens on psionic attacks only.

Zoth, a 6th level psionicist with 48 power points is attacking a Phthisic with 56 power points. The phthisic has a Challenge Level of 7, so it will operate with a power level of 7. It has chosen to use two choices on psionic attacks and not psionic defenses.

Zoth imitates a psionic attack and chooses Wood. The phthsic chooses Fire. Since the phthsic did not initiate the attack, it only makes one choice. Looking at the chart, Zoth gains a +1 adjustment to his attack roll. Zoth rolls high and rolls 2d6 to determine damage. He rolls 8, taking the phthsic down to 48 power points. The phthsic fights back psionically, choosing Metal and Earth. Zoth chooses Water. Looking at the chart, there is a white arrow and a black arrow both pointing at Zoth. This gives the phthsic a +4 adjustment to its psionic combat roll. The phthsic rolls high and uses 3d6 to determine damage. It rolls 10, taking Zoth down to 38 power points.

Zoth attacks choosing Wood. The phthsic also chooses Wood, so the attack is blunted and Zoth rolls 1d6 to determine power point loss. The result is a 2, so he is now down to 36 points. The phthsic attacks choosing Fire and Earth. Zoth chooses Fire. Looking at the chart, the two Fires cancel each other out. With one token left, the phthsic gains no adjustment to its combat roll. Despite choosing Fire, Zoth only partially defends the attack. Psionic combat rolls are made and Zoth rolls higher. He does 6 point of damage to the phthsic, taking it down to 42 points. The battle continues.

If you look at the chart, it is possible for the phthsic to get a -4 penalty to its psionic combat roll, despite using two choices in psionic attacks.

Let me know what you think of the system. Discussion can be had here.