Thursday, January 31, 2008

Amber Mentalism Power

A common character concept for Amberites PCs is "The Psychic". While Psyche can accomplish some of what said players are looking for, I've found they often want more. For game balance issues (Psyche's buff enough as-is) I've found it best to make a separate power available to cover such abilities.

Mentalism: 15 Points
Mentalism is a form of Magic that closely mirrors depictions of psychic/psionic powers in a variety of modern earth media, from the X-Files to Star Wars. It is NOT a “natural outgrowth of a high psyche”, but instead a codified version of magic that, like Power Words or Sorcery, must be learned and studied. Acquisition of this Power more closely resembles Power Words than other forms of magic, however, as a student learns more from introspection and meditation than from the study of arcane tomes.

The effects of Mentalism fall into a few primary categories. These are Awareness, Suggestion, Telepathy and Telekinesis. The strengths and weaknesses of these effects are detailed below.

Awareness: The Mentalist has honed thier mind to be more accutely aware of their surroundings, and in particular the ebb and flow of shadow and magic about them. By taking a moment to concentrate, the Mentalist can discern any of the following:
How well Magic (or any other familiar Power) functions in the current shadow environment.
The buildup or use of other Powers or magical energies.
The likely immediate Destiny of the Shadow they are currently in.
The location of nearby Shadow Paths or recent Trails/Wakes through Shadow.
The presence and emotional state of nearby Shadow Folk or Creatures.
In all these cases, solid reality is defense against the Mentalist’s Powers. For example, you can read a Shadowling’s mind, but not a Chaos Lord’s. You can determine the Destiny of a Shadow-World, but not the fate of Amber itself. Further, a shadow-being with Psychic Barrier, Psychic Neutral or a Psyche Rank higher than your own may well be undetectable by this aspect of Mentalism.

Suggestion: The weak-willed beings amongst Shadow are easy for you to manipulate. By merely meeting concentrating upon a nearby shadowling, you may bend their desires to match your own or give them temporary instructions.
This aspect of the Power works only upon the unreal, any Amberite or true Lord of Chaos will be quite resistant to it.
Also, any adversarial shadowling will require a psychic struggle to affect. The trick here is to use this power on them when they are calm or unsuspecting, not when they are pointing a gun at you.

Telepathy: You may broadcast thoughts to Shadowlings you know well. This is purely a one-way transmission, your Mentalism does not grant them the ability to respond in any way. However, it is an effective way to send silent communication, summons, or even suggestions.
This telepathy is limited in range based upon your own Psyche, and is unable to extend more than a few worlds away for even the First-Ranked character.
As with suggestion, this Telepathy is a form of shadow-manipulation, and any “real” person will be unaffected and unreachable by this method.

Telekinesis: You may reach out to have physical effects upon the shadows. With only partial focus, you may cause slow deliberate motion in smaller inanimate objects, defying gravity or other weak opposition. Stronger concentration will allow you to increase the speed of motion or the mass moved.
You may even target specific portions of a target, causing stress fractures or collapsing internal organs.
Telekinesis may be resisted with Strength. In general, to affect someone you will need a higher Psyche ranking than their Strength ranking.
Again, as with the other aspects of Mentalism, this Magic is very difficult to perform against anyone of reality. You probably won’t be able to gift yourself with Flight or crush Corwin’s trachea, but with some cleverness, you’ll find ways to use your surroundings as tools or weapons.

Mentalism & Attributes:
Psyche is the most important attribute for most Mentalism tricks, as it determines the extent of your Awareness, the power of your Suggestions, the range of your Telepathy and the mass you can lift with your Telekinesis. Many applications of Telekinesis will also employ Warfare for targeting, locating vital organs or maintaining balance. If you want to hurl people around in combat, you’ll need Psyche and Warfare.
Mentalism is not a high-energy-drain Power, so Endurance is somewhat less vital than with most other Powers. That said, if you intend to use your Mentalism while fatigued or wounded, you’ll need a bit of Endurance.

Mentalism vs other Powers:
Mentalism is very good at detecting other Powers, but not so great at resisting or battling them. This Power will allow you to detect and track your enemies through shadow, but not travel freely on your own.
Pattern is much stronger at shadow manipulation, but suffers from time constraints. Mentalism is faster than Pattern, but given time to wear you down the Pattern Initiate will eventually undo your work and twist your worlds against you.
Trump connections (particularly when matched with a strong Psyche bid) are much more effective and powerful than Mentalism’s Telepathy. Again, however, Mentalism’s advantage is speed. You can do suggestions upon anyone you meet, whereas the TrumpArtist would need to study and paint them first.
Sorcery is more open-ended and ultimately more flexible than Mentalism, but also requires much more prep time and maintainance. When time is precious or the current events couldn’t be prepared for, Mentalism will prove itself more useful. When facing a sorceror in combat, try to predict thier actions. Mentalism will strike home more often than sorcery, but when sorcery does connect it’s terribly powerful.
PowerWords are faster than Mentalism, but not as flexible in the moment. Should the two powers come into direct conflict, Attributes will determine the winner.

Combining Mentalism with other Powers:
In general, Mentalism combos nicely with Pattern, Mentalism handling the short-term immediate changes, and Pattern working for the long-term and large-scale transformations. A similar relationship exists between Mentalism and Sorcery, where each Power covers the other’s weaknesses. In addition, several specific instances and combos are noted below...
Awareness: Helps Sorcerors determine the local laws of magic, tuning their spells to the local environment.
Awareness: Enhances the “Pattern Lens” ability of Advanced Pattern, enabling truly powerful scrying.
Awareness: Speed’s shadow-movement via Entropy.
Suggestions: Can be made permenant by application of Pattern or Conjuration.
Suggestions: May be delivered at greater range via Trump.
Suggestions: Application of Entropy can lower a target’s resistance to Mentalism and vice versa.
Telekinesis: Can be Invoked as a Micro-Spell, allowing Telekinesis to aim or fuel Sorcery.

Advanced Mentalism?
So many Powers in Amber have an Advanced Version, and fiction is rife with examples of high-end psychic powers. Throw some extra points this way at character advancement, and you might well end up any manner of other psionic/jedi powers. This is uncharted territory, so there’s no telling what you’ll get. Feel free to make suggestions to the GMs, but ultimately it’s their call as to what exactly you get.

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