Vikayra – The Transformative Art

This is post 250, a Paper Pill about a psionic ability.

One of the things that can be tricky with psionics is the dreaded table in the 1e PHB that determined one-off psionic talents. I keep thinking that there should be one-off talents available that are not listed as powers for a psion. I also think that there should be a similar table for the freak ability to be able to cast a cantrip or 1st level spell (not Magic Missile).

One of the psionic abilities included in the one-off talent table is Vikayra. Vikayra represents the ability to morph one object into another. The rules governing this ability are pretty straight-forward:

  • The target cannot have flesh.
  • The target object cannot be worn by a living or undead creature.
  • This ability cannot be used to create something that the wielder has never seen.
  • This ability cannot be used to create a construct (though it can be used to destroy one)
  • This ability cannot be used to create a living thing, except for non-magical plants.
  • This ability cannot be used to create complex objects like armor, weapons or machinery.

Basically, the wielder could use this power to turn lead into gold, a sword into bread or an unworn set of armor into a small stand of trees.

What prevents the wielder from becoming their own private factory or personal mint is that the transformation requires some value to be lost. When using Vikayra, the resulting object is always of less value than the original object.

In game terms this means that an object worth 100gp can be transformed into another object with a value of less than 100gp. At the first level of ability, the new object would be 5gp value max. At higher levels, the value climbs to a peak of about 95 gp.

Another limiting factor of Vikayra is the range of effect. When the power first manifests, the wielder can only affect an object that he or she can touch. As the wielder grows in their ability, he or she can affect objects at some distance away. To affect object at a distance, though, the wielder must be looking at the object he or she is attempting to transform.

Lastly, while practitioners of the transformative art grow in their craft, they can train to reduce the amount of value lost *or* train to affect objects at a distance.

Any other ideas are totally welcome. I'm hoping to hammer this out into something more detailed and useful.

Paper Pill – Astral and Pranic Travel

Traditionally, D&D mentions the silver cord in regards to Astral travel. The cord allows the traveler to find his/her body again. If the cord is severed, the traveler will never find the host body again.

Although the notion of a silver cord has many sources, one notable source, especially for the Western world, comes from Ecclesiastes 12:6. In this verse, the author also mentions a golden bowl. This sparked an idea that generated this post.

In the modern world, the term Astral travel is used to describe travel to other dimensions as well as out-of-body experiences. Just for the sake of argument, let's give separate names to each distinct experience. Some call out-of-body experiences etheric travel or etheric projection. Since the cosmology of my game has no ethereal plane, I'll choose something different. (I couldn't find the adjective form of prana, so I coined the word pranic.) So we have astral travel to describe travel to other planes of existence and pranic travel for out-of-body-but-still-on-Earth travel.

Where does this fit with Eccl 12:6? The silver cord is a description of Astral travel. How would a golden bowl fit with Pranic travel?

I've read a lot of Bible commentators mention that the Golden bowl speaks about the head as the container of the mind. Other philosophies, based on my incomplete research, seem to bear this out. Now I don't want to call this a golden helmet. After all, there is only one Golden Helmet. Still, the idea appeals on several levels.

I like the idea of traveling in the Prime Material Plane, but leaving the body behind. Sure, there are some dangers in doing this, but it is faster and relatively more safe to travel this way. Although mages would undoubtedly use this method of travel or reconnaissance from time to time, this feels more appropriate for a psionic character.

Maybe the pranic traveler sees the bowl resting in the hands of the body. Maybe the traveler can always see the golden bowl, regardless of distance from the body. In this case, the bowl would also show the direction of the body.

Another idea would be that the traveler see's the body's skull as shining in golden light. This ties into ideas of the golden bowl being the vessel for the mind. I also like the idea of seeing a golden skull.

Although it doesn't feel as creative, there could also be a golden cord that attaches to the back of the head, instead of a silver cord that attaches to the middle of the back. Thinking of it in terms of two cords makes me think of this as an insurance policy for the astral traveler - if one is cut, the other will still lead back to the body.

How would you visualize the golden bowl?

More Om Magike for M200

Those that practice Miracles were mentioned in the previous post. This post provides a bit more detail. I also include a bit of rationale for the magic system as a whole.

In Microlite20, every spell as a DC target. This makes both Clerics and Magi skill-based spell casters. In earlier D&D there are no skill-based spell casters in the standard rules. Adding one to Andras or any retro-clone has a much different effect than doing it in Microlite20.

The same is true for any Mana based system. It doesn't exist in earlier D&D, but all spell casters in Microlite20 use their hit points as a mana pool. Varying how the mana is used doesn't do much in Microlite20. In fact, it looks like a record keeping nightmare. (Am I going to cast this as a 6th level Thaumaturge or save a point and cast it as a 4th level one?)

The classes themselves, however, offer an intended tradeoff. This is the element I want to keep. Over time, a Thaumaturge has to pay more to cast the same spell as a Wizard. At 15th level, a Thaumaturge will pay 9 points for a full Magic Missile while the Wizard will pay only 3. The gap closes as spell reach higher levels. At 21st Level, both the Thaumaturge and the Wizard pay 19 points for a 9th level spell. Yet, even at this high level, the cost for the Thaumaturge will continue to increase.

I also want to keep the feel of miracle magic. In other words, Shamans have strange and fearsome powers and Psions are regarded as atheists by the Priests. I like the idea that Psion create an issue of faith for a priest. This is further enhanced by the other changes that will make psionic ability much more similar to Priest spells.

Many telepathic abilities are similar to divination. A psion can determine a person's thoughts, discover the history of a place or item, travel astrally to be in a place far away in order to gather information and much more. Psions can heal. Psions can create things in a similar fashion as the gods (though not nearly as powerful as the gods). There's more, but you get the idea. Many abilities are already similar, so tweak the rest of the Priest spells to fit for psions.

Lastly, just like Priests can have various domains (or spheres in 2nd Edition), I have changed the Psionic disciplines from six to many. Just like 2e had Priests of Specific Mythoi, the framework is in place for GMs to create Psions of a Specific Path. This makes individual psions different based upon which school they attend. This is optional, just like the Specific Mythoi rules, but for a flavorful campaign, it feels a lot more fun.

Shamans are intended to be fun for the GM. I've almost ported over the D6 Fantasy Spell Building system to D&D. Since that spell building system has options for group casting, big effects, day-long rituals, etc, it becomes easier to build spells that just don't fit into the Vancian system.

For example, to create a spell that places a wall of force around an entire village isn't effectively possible. The spell caster would have to be a triple digit level spell caster to get a diameter that large. Using the spell builder, however, longing casting time and community help can make it possible. Not only that, it can provide a good measure of the appropriate level of this kind of spell.

Work continues on. Hopefully the next post will provide the new disciplines for psions and detailed examples of shaman spells.