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Playing Psi-punk

Contents

Rolling the Dice

Most role-playing games use dice to help players and GMs determine the outcome of in-game actions. In Psi-punk, dice are used in the same way. When characters need to know whether or not they successfully performed an action – such as maneuvering a speeding vehicle down a narrow street while being chased, slugging it out with another combatant, or influencing a bouncer to let them into the night club without ID – dice are rolled.

There is no need to roll the dice when a character performs an action that is so easy as to be automatic. Likewise, an action so difficult that it has no chance to succeed requires no roll — it simply can’t be done. Dice are used solely in the middle ground where the outcome of an action is uncertain.

The GM is encouraged to keep die-rolling to a minimum. Do not make the players roll the dice when their characters do mundane things. There is no need to make a roll to see if someone can cook lunch properly, or pick an item from a shelf, or climb a ladder, and so on. Don’t even make them roll to climb a cliff unless it’s a difficult cliff or the situation is stressful, such as if the character is being chased.

For any action the player character wishes to perform in which the outcome is uncertain, the GM must determine which trait is tested (this will usually be a skill or a power). If the action is unopposed, the GM also determines the difficulty level — usually Fair.

Psi-punk uses “Fudge dice” for all rolls.

Fudge dice are six-sided dice with two sides marked “+” (representing +1), two sides marked “–“ (representing -1), and two blank sides (representing a 0 value). To use Fudge dice, simply roll four of them (sometimes called “4dF”) and total the amount. Since a +1 and a –1 cancel each other, you can remove a +1 and –1 from the table, and the remaining two dice are easy to read no matter what they are. If there is no opposing pair of +1 and –1 dice, remove any blank dice, and the remaining dice are again easy to read.

The result of a die roll is a number between –4 and +4. On the character sheet, there should be a simple chart of the ability levels, such as the one below. To determine the result of an action, simply put your finger on your trait level, then move it up (for plus results) or down (for minus results).

Table 4.1: Trait Ladder

Astonishing +7

Extraordinary +6

Phenomenal +5

Wonderful +4

Superb +3

Great +2

Good +1

Fair 0

Mediocre -1

Poor -2

Abysmal -3

For example, Ron, who has a Good (+1) Ranged Combat skill, is shooting in a rifle contest. The player rolls 4dF, using the procedure described above. If he rolls a 0, he gets a result equal to his skill: Good, in this case. If he rolls a +1, however, he gets a Great result, since Great is one level higher than his Good Ranged Combat skill. If he rolls a –3, unlucky Ron has just made a Poor shot.

It is not always necessary to figure the exact rolled degree. If you only need to know whether or not a character succeeded at something, it is usually sufficient for the player simply to announce the appropriate trait level and the die roll result. The game goes much faster this way.

For example, Sven is trying to out-maneuver his pursuers and needs to squeeze his speeding car in to a tight alleyway. The GM sets the difficulty to Great since this is a pretty difficult task, but luckily for Sven he has a Great Vehicles skill. He rolls the dice and gets a total of +2. He simply announces “Great +2” and zips in to the alleyway without so much as knocking over a garbage can along the way.

Of course, there are many times when you want to know exactly how well the character did, even if it’s not a matter of being close. If the character is writing an article for the local paper, for example, and his Language skill is Fair, you will want to figure out what “Fair +2” means. In this case, he just wrote a Great article! There are many other instances where degrees of success are more important than merely knowing success or failure.

Degree of Success

As we mentioned before, it is often important to know by how much you succeeded on a given check, especially during combat or when making other opposed actions (see below for more details on both of these rolls).

To determine your degree of success, simply roll the dice and compare your total result (after all modifiers have been applied) to the difficulty level of the check.

For opposed actions, the difficulty level is always the total result of the opponent’s check. Your final result is known as your degree of success.

Degree of Success = Your Check Result – Difficulty

For example, Brad is trying to use mind control to force his will upon Matt, who doesn’t want any part of such things. Brad has Great Focus and rolls +2 on the dice, for a total initial result of Wonderful (+4).

However, Matt attempts to resist by rolling a Mind check, which he has at a level of +1.

He only rolls +1 on the dice, for a total initial result of Great (+2).

Brad and Matt compare their respective check results and find that Brad’s degree of success was Great (Wonderful – Great = Great, or 4 – 2 = 2). Brad consults Chapter 5: Psionics and Magic to determine what he can do with a Great degree of success on a mind control attempt.

Natural Rolls

Sometimes this book will reference natural rolls. Natural rolls represent the exact values listed on the dice, not including any positive or negative modifiers to the dice.

For example, if Ron were to roll one + and three blank dice, he would have a natural roll of +1. Other times, the exact die results are observed. For example, it may be important that three of the dice were blank, regardless of whether or not the overall value of the dice is +1. Natural rolls are observed before any rerolls (see below) are made.

Initial Result

The result of a check before it is matched with the difficulty to determine a degree of success. This is different from a Natural Roll in that the Initial Result includes all applicable modifiers, whereas a Natural Roll observes only the dice.

Rerolls

Occasionally you will be given the opportunity to reroll one or more dice. When you do so, simply choose the dice you wish to reroll and give them another throw! You must keep the second result even if it is worse than the original (so think carefully about which dice you wish to reroll when the opportunity presents itself).

You may be given the option to reroll one or more dice by spending a Luck Point (see Chapter 2: Character Creation for more about Luck Points) or you may be given the option to do so when using certain powers, specialized skills, abilities or equipment.

When an ability grants the use of a reroll, the number of dice you are allowed to reroll will be listed in the ability’s description.

For example, the ocular integration weapon Gift (see Chapter 3: Equipment) reads “When using a weapon with this gift, the wielder gains a 1dF reroll.” This means that any time a character uses a weapon with ocular integration, he may reroll one of the four dice he used to make the initial check.

Certain abilities or gear may also impose reroll penalties. Any time you receive a -1dF or greater penalty, you must select a die with a + and reroll that die. If no + result was rolled for a check involving such a penalty, no reroll is made.

Re-roll penalties cancel any positive reroll bonuses you may have. For example, if you gain +1dF re-roll from a Skill Specialization and a -1dF penalty from a faulty piece of cyberware, the two cancel each other out and no re-roll is made.

Action Modifiers

There may be modifiers for any given action, which can affect the rolls referred to in the preceding section. Modifiers temporarily improve or reduce a character’s traits.

For example, Ron, who is Good with his rifle, is Hurt (–1 to all actions). He is thus only Fair with his gun until he’s healed.

Sven has a Good Vehicles skill, but a Gift called Getaway Driver gives him a +2 bonus to Vehicles skill checks when fleeing a scene or being chased.

Other conditions may grant a +/–1 to any trait. In Psi-punk +/–2 is a large modifier — +/–3 is the maximum that should ever be granted except under extreme conditions.

Unopposed Actions

For each unopposed action, the GM sets a difficulty level (Fair is the most common) and announces which trait should be rolled against. For example, climbing an average vertical cliff face, even one with lots of handholds, is not an easy obstacle (Fair difficulty level). For a very hard cliff, the GM may set the difficulty level at Great, which means that the player must make a rolled degree of Great or higher to climb the cliff successfully.

The player then rolls against the character’s trait level and tries to match or surpass the difficulty level set by the GM. In cases where there are degrees of success, the better the roll, the better the character did; the worse the roll, the worse the character did. Remember that the players may not even need to roll unless the characters are under pressure or the task is well above their skill level.

Occasionally, the GM may choose to roll in secret for the PC, such as when even a failed roll would give the player knowledge he wouldn’t otherwise have. These are usually information rolls. For example, if the GM asks the player to make a roll against an Awareness skill and the player fails, the character doesn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.

But the player now knows that there is something out of the ordinary that his character didn’t notice. For some styles of play, it’s better for the GM to make the roll in secret and only mention it on a successful result.

Success Rates When setting difficulty levels, it may help to keep the statistical results of rolling four Fudge dice in mind.

Table 4.2: Success Rates

Target Odds of rolling exactly on 4dF Odds of rolling target or higher +4 1.2% 1.2% +3 4.9% 6.2% +2 12.3% 18.5% +1 19.8% 38.3% 0 23.5% 61.7% –1 19.8% 81.5% –2 12.3% 93.8% –3 4.9% 98.8% –4 1.2% 100.0%

Thus, if your trait is Fair, and the GM says you need a Good result or better to succeed, you need to roll +1 or better, which gives you a 38.3% chance of success. That means you’ll do this slightly less than two times out of five, on the average.

Opposed Actions

To resolve an opposed action between two characters, each side rolls dice against the appropriate trait and announces the result.

The traits rolled against are not necessarily the same: for example, a coercion attempt would be rolled against a character’s manipulation skill for the active participant and against the Persona attribute for the resisting participant. There may be modifiers: someone with a Vow of Loyalty Gift might get a bonus of +2 to his self-discipline, while someone with a Craven fault might have a penalty — or not even try to resist.

The GM compares the rolled degrees to determine a degree of success. For example, Yvonne is in disguise and trying to trick Seth into thinking she’s from the government.

She rolls a Great result. This is not automatic success, however. If Seth also rolls a Great result to avoid being duped, then the degree of success is 0; the status quo is maintained.

In this case, Seth remains unconvinced that Yvonne is legitimate. If Seth rolled a Superb result, Yvonne’s Great result would have actually earned her a degree of success of -1 and Seth is not going to be fooled during this scene; he’ll probably even have a bad reaction to Yvonne.

The opposed action mechanism can be used to resolve almost any conflict between two characters. Are two people both grabbing the same item at the same time? This is an opposed action based on the Dexterity attribute — the winner gets the item. Is one character trying to shove another one down? Roll Strength for each of them to see who goes down, and add any appropriate skills, Gifts, or Faults that might be in your favor (or disfavor). Someone trying to hide from a search party? Use the Covert skill versus a Notice skill, and so forth.

Some opposed actions have a minimum level needed for success. For example, an online fight through a video game might require at least a Fair result. If the player only gets a Mediocre result, it doesn’t matter if the intended opponent rolls a Poor resistance: the player couldn’t survive the various dangers of the video game level and the attempt fails. Most combat falls into this category.

An opposed action can also be handled as an unopposed action. When a PC is opposing an NPC, have only the player roll, and simply let the NPC’s trait level be the difficulty level. This method assumes the NPC will always roll a 0. This emphasizes the PC’s performance and reduces the possibility of an NPC’s lucky roll deciding the game. As a slight variation, the GM can roll 1dF or 2dF when rolling for an NPC in an opposed action. This allows some variation in the NPC’s ability, but still puts the emphasis on the PC’s actions.

Lifting Objects

A character’s Strength attribute determines how much weight he can lift. Here are some sample weights that can be lifted at various levels of Strength.

The maximum weight listed below indicates how much a person can lift or carry and still maintain some degree of mobility.

Olympic records indicate that the upper limits of human strength are much higher than those listed here, but world weightlifting records are not set while running, jumping, crawling, or walking about. Generally speaking, a character who is trying to simply lift as much weight as possible will be able to lift about three times the listed figure, but only for a limited duration and with severe impairments to his mobility.

Table 4.3: Lifting Capacity

Level Maximum Weight

Abysmal 20 lbs.

Poor 33 lbs.

Mediocre 43 lbs.

Fair 58 lbs.

Good 76 lbs.

Great 114 lbs.

Superb 171 lbs.

Wonderful* 256 lbs.

Phenomenal* 385 lbs.

Extraordinary* 578 lbs.

Astonishing* 867 lbs.

*Note: Normally, you may not have a Strength attribute above Superb. However, certain Gifts and cybernetic enhancements may improve your Lifting capacity to levels of Wonderful, Phenomenal and beyond.

When lifting twice the listed weight, characters suffer a -2 penalty on all physical actions they perform. When lifting three times the listed weight, characters suffer a -3 penalty instead. No character may lift more than three times the listed weight for their given strength level unless he possesses a Gift which increases his lifting capacity.

Encumbrance

Many games use a trait called “encumbrance” to show how weighted-down a character is by his gear. We feel that this detracts from the game and adds an unnecessary (and often ignored) level of complexity.

The above Lifting rules are provided as a guideline for answering the question: “Can I lift that object?” They are not intended to determine how slow your character moves now that he has picked up a new gun.

You will notice that this book does not reference the weight of any particular piece of equipment or gear. This is by design; we don’t want players and GMs to feel that they need to micromanage these things. Don’t worry about counting up every piece of equipment you have and the possible weight of each; simply assume that the equipment you carry is right for you or you have made the appropriate modifications or accommodations.

Use these Lifting guidelines only when attempting to lift heavy objects that you wouldn’t normally carry on your person.

Material Value

Sometimes the strength of an object will come into play. In such instances, use the following table as a point of reference for various material values.

Reference this table whenever you need to know the relative strength or toughness of an object. You may need this information if you are trying to damage something using physical force or if you are trying to damage someone by hurling such an object at them.

Table 4.4: Material Value

Material value Example Material Abysmal Dust Poor Plastic Mediocre Aluminum Fair Wood Good Brick Great Concrete Superb Iron Wonderful Steel Phenomenal Diamond Extraordinary Titanium Astonishing Grapheme

Repute

Sometimes a non-player character has a set reaction to the PCs. Perhaps she’s automatically their enemy or perhaps the heroes have rescued her and earned her gratitude.

But there will be many NPCs that don’t have a set reaction. When the PCs request information or aid, it might go smoothly or it might not go well at all. Negotiation with a stranger is always an unknown quantity to the players — it may be so for the GM, too. When in doubt, the GM should secretly make a Repute roll.

The Repute roll can be modified up or down by circumstances: bribes, the NPC’s suspicious or friendly nature, proximity of the NPC’s boss, observed PC behavior, and so on. Here are some guidelines:

The higher the Repute rolled degree, the better the reaction. On a Fair result, for example, the NPC will be mildly helpful, but only if it’s not too much effort. She won’t be helpful at all on Mediocre or worse results, but will react well on a Good result or better.

Table 4.5: Repute Modifiers

Situation Modifier

The target benefits +2

The target is friendly to the PC – a close friend or relative, or a listed contact +1

The target is unfriendly to the PC – a total stranger, or a character the PC has offended -1

The target is hostile to the PC – actively opposing his goals or a sworn enemy -2

The target is placed in danger -3

The item being asked for is valuable -1 to -3, depending on value The PC has a rank skill with the same organization as the NPC +1 (if equal to or lower than the NPC’s rank) or +1 per rank above the NPC’s rank

The PC has a rank skill with an organization the NPC opposes -1 per rank

The PC successfully bribes the NPC +1

The PC attempts to bribe the NPC but fails (doesn’t offer enough, offends the NPC, etc.) -1

The PC has some outward or known quality that the NPC admires (Fame, Infamy, etc.) +1

The PC has some outward or known quality that the NPC hates (Cowardly, Slovenly, etc.) -1

The PC offers a favor in return +1 to +3 depending on the favor offered Repute rolls are used only when dealing with NPCs (whether by players or other NPCs). A Repute roll is never used against the players to force them to perform actions against their will (after all, that’s what mind control is for!)Characters that possess fame, reputation, or similar skills may add their level in that skill to this check, unless they are famous or renowned for something the NPC dislikes, in which case they subtract their level instead.

For example, Sven is a world-renowned weightlifter and has a Superb reputation skill for having won the Mister Galaxy contest.

One NPC may admire him for this and the GM would add +3 to the Repute check, while another NPC might think Sven is just a dumb meathead and subtract -3 instead.

The Repute check is always Unopposed with a difficulty of Fair. Using modifiers and the degree of success guidelines as outlined above will help you to determine the outcome of the check and the attitude of the NPC.

Wealth

Psi-punk uses a system of wealth that avoids complex resource-management and is designed to keep the game simple and fun. Wealth is a trait that is separate from other skills and attributes. This trait represents the purchasing power of an individual, regardless of how he acquired it. A high Wealth trait could mean the character has a lot of cash in the bank or simply has a great credit score and is able to charge everything to his account (assuming he can pay for it later). A high Wealth trait could also mean that the character has a lot of connections – friends in high (or low) places that can get him what he wants, when he wants it.

Most characters have the ability to purchase mundane items, such as food, clothing, and other daily living supplies, without the need to worry about how much each of them costs. For more expensive items, such as weapons, high-end computers, cyberware, or magic devices, a character needs to spend Wealth. Each item listed in Chapter 3: Equipment has an associated Cost which represents how much Wealth a character needs in order to purchase that specific type of equipment. If a character can’t afford it with his current Wealth Level, he’ll either need to save up or borrow money.

Wealth by the Numbers

It may be helpful to think of Wealth as a numeric value; after all, that’s how we view wealth in the real world. Rather than assigning individual dollar values to items and keeping track of your character’s current finances, you may employ the following abstract numeric system. It is less granular than a purely numeric system and uses simpler math that won’t slow down game play.

Wealth Chart

Use the following chart to help you determine a numeric value for your Wealth score. This value will help you add and subtract the costs associated with Gear without reducing your ability to also look at Wealth from the perspective of the Trait Ladder.

Table 4.6: Wealth Chart

Value Trait Level

0 Abysmal

1 Poor

2 Mediocre

4 Fair

8 Good

16 Great

32 Superb

64 Wonderful

128 Phenomenal

256 Extraordinary

512 Astonishing

If your Wealth Value falls within a certain range, your Wealth Level is easy to determine.

For example, if you have greater than 4 Wealth but less than 8, your Wealth Level is Fair. If you acquire a Good amount of Wealth (+8) your value would increase to 12, which puts you within range of having a Good Wealth Level.

Gear can be priced numerically using this system. Cybernetic Legs with a Superb Cost (32) may have a Fault that reduces their Cost by a Good amount (8). That would make their total Cost equal 24. Subtract 24 from your Wealth Value when you purchase these legs, then determine your new Wealth Level.

Keep track of your Wealth Value and Wealth Level separately. Your Wealth Value is similar to cash in the real world – it’s the numeric value that is used to determine exactly how much you have in liquid assets.

Your Wealth Level is more a measure of your status; it can be added to dice rolls made to bribe, impress, and otherwise manipulate people who are concerned with worldly matters.

Wealth in the Game

See Chapter 2: Character Creation for details about how to determine a character’s starting Wealth. After play starts, a character’s Wealth Level can continue to represent buying power in any way which best suits them. Wealth simply represents the ability for characters to get the things they want. A high Wealth Level can be used to bribe people, buy new equipment, work their way into fancy nightclubs without an invitation (or reservation), etc.

One doesn’t always need to spend his Wealth to do any of these things; rather, characters may simply roll a Wealth check as if it were any other skill. The difference between using Wealth to bribe someone and using a social skill like Impress is that Wealth isn’t tied to any other attribute, so players may not benefit from Luck Point rerolls in the same way they would if they were using a skill.

If a Wealth check fails to, for example, bribe a security guard, characters may decrease their Wealth Value and try the check again; this represents “upping the ante” so to speak, by increasing the amount of the bribe to sweeten the deal. GMs may consider giving the character a bonus on his next Wealth check if he spent enough to really catch the guard’s attention.

Wealth can also, of course, be used to purchase additional equipment whenever the opportunity is available.

Acquiring Wealth

Unlike other traits, Wealth is more fluid and can be increased or decreased far more easily. Characters acquire new Wealth for any number of reasons; they may sell equipment they find or don’t need anymore, take out a loan from a bank (or a loan shark) or get paid for a job.

Getting Paid

The most common method of acquiring Wealth is getting paid to do a job. This can mean either performing a task for a superior officer, pulling off a bank heist (and not getting caught or killed in the process), or completing a mercenary job for a seedy character in a grungy bar. GMs should feel free to work with their players to determine the types of jobs or missions that are best suited to their talents and character concepts.

Regardless of the type of job, characters should get paid upon its completion. They may know what their compensation will be before they start the task or they may make off with an unknown sum of money and agree to split the loot later. In any case, when the job’s done the bread’s won. GMs should reward players by determining how much Wealth the task was worth and tell the players to increase their Wealth Values accordingly.

For example, if the characters are working for a paramilitary organization and are sent on a job to protect a high-ranking civilian, they may be told that their efforts will be rewarded with a Good [8] amount of cash. Once the mission has successfully been completed, characters are given 8 Wealth (a Good amount) to add to their Wealth Value. If this would increase their Wealth Level to a higher range, their Wealth Level increases as well.

Selling Wares

Players can choose to sell some of their existing equipment to improve their Wealth score. Generally speaking, equipment is sold at one level lower than what it could be purchased for, so a Good [8] gun would fetch a Fair [4] price. Characters with the Haggle skill may be able to talk a buyer into giving them a better price by making a successful check (at a GM-determined difficulty).

In such a case, perhaps the Good gun would fetch a Fair price and the buyer would throw in some Mediocre [2] Pocket Change.

It may be difficult to find a buyer for some equipment. Restricted or illegal items cannot be traded on the open market; you can’t just walk into the local Stuff Shack and sell them your illicitly-acquired assault rifle. To find buyers for such items, characters should make an Urban (or similar) skill check with a difficulty equal to the item’s Rank (see Chapter 3: Equipment for Rank scores). Success means the player can find a fence given enough time. Higher degrees of success mean the player can either find a buyer in a shorter amount of time or find a more trustworthy fence. Remember: many shady characters are not above selling out their contacts if it means avoiding a run-in with authorities or the promise of a quick buck.

Taking Out a Loan

Some equipment is just too important to a job, or too coveted, to pass up. If a character really wants or needs an item he can’t afford, he can attempt to take out a loan.

Loans must be paid back within a timeframe specified under the loan agreement (generally one month) and almost always carry some amount of interest. Loans can, of course, be obtained from a variety of sources.

The most common methods of acquiring loans are through banks or street brokers.

Getting a loan through a bank usually comes with lower interest rates but characters may be subject to criminal background checks, credit checks, and other scrutiny that certain types of characters may not wish to make public. Street brokers, on the other hand, don’t ask questions about why you want the money or whether or not you can repay them; they simply send heavily armed thugs to rip off your cyber-limbs and hock them for the cash you owe. Street brokers also tend to require more interest than banks.

In game terms, a bank will always require the character to pay back as much money as he borrows plus an amount of extra Wealth equal to one level lower than the borrowed amount. For example, if Roy borrows a Great [16] amount from the bank, he will need to repay it in full with a Good [8] amount of interest. Street brokers, on the other hand, require characters to match the amount of money they borrow; with Great loans come Great amounts of interest.

For simplicity, banks and street brokers both require that the loan be paid back within one month of the date the funds were borrowed. Failure to pay on time results in late payment fees worth a Wealth Level 2 levels lower than the original amount borrowed, so following the above example the fee would be a Fair [4] amount.

Failure to pay again means the entire amount is owed in one additional month and it means the bank is free to hire a Collection Agency to retrieve the money. Collection Agencies are masters of tracking down people who fail to pay their debts and they are legally allowed to physically knock down doors and drag people, kicking and screaming if necessary, to jail. The sentence for defaulting on a loan is one month per Wealth level borrowed (minimum one month).

Street brokers, on the other hand, aren’t as nice. They, too, have collectors who are masters of hunting down bad debtors. Unlike Collection Agencies, street broker enforcers don’t give the debtor an extra month to come up with the cash; either they fork it over now or they wake up in a trash bin in a back alley with some of their spare parts missing.

Combat

In a setting where nearly everything and everyone is used to daily conflict, combat is almost inevitable. Though combat is certainly an optional part of the game, most characters will find themselves in a combat situation at some point – if not frequently – in their careers. The remainder of this chapter will detail some of the combat terms and mechanics used in Psi-punk.

Combat Terms

Combat Round (Round)

An indeterminate length of time set by the GM. Because it is simple to split one minute in to 10 “rounds” of 6 seconds that is the assumed length for any given combat round. The length of time can be altered by a GM to suit his needs, but generally when each character involved has made an action, a given round is over.

Defensive Damage Factors (DDFs)

Those traits, attributes, gifts, faults, etc. which contribute to reducing the severity of a received blow, including armor, and any applicable attributes (such as body versus physical attacks or mind versus mental attacks).

Initiative

The order in which characters act in a given combat round.

Maximum Effective Range

The furthest distance at which a given attack is capable of striking a target and dealing damage.

Melee

Any combat that involves striking the opponent with a fist or hand-held weapon.

Minimum Required to Hit

The lowest result one needs to achieve on an attack roll in order to successfully strike a target, regardless of the target’s DDFs.

Offensive Damage Factors (ODFs)

Those traits, attributes, Gifts, Faults, etc. which contribute to damaging an opponent, including a character’s skill with a weapon, the weapon’s damage bonus, etc.

Damage

The attacker’s offensive damage factors minus the defender’s defensive damage factors.

Wound Level

A term used to describe the severity of the wound a character has taken. For example, “one Hurt physical wound,” or “two Scratched mental wounds.”

Combat Rounds

In Psi-punk, combat is resolved in rounds.

Each round totals about 6 seconds, to make it easy to calculate how many rounds are in a minute and to give an idea of the relative amount of time it takes to perform certain actions. In general, if an action can be performed in 6 seconds, it can be performed in a combat round.

Determining Who Acts First (Initiative)

Characters in combat alternate attacking and defending based on their initiative.

Initiative is an opposed action that is modified by the character’s Dexterity or Focus attribute (whichever is higher), plus any applicable Gifts (such as Combat Reflexes, Danger Sense, or Quickness). Play continues in the order of initiative from the highest rolled to the lowest, with each character taking a turn during their initiative. Initiative can be rolled once each round to keep combat more fluid and cinematic or it can be rolled once only at the beginning of combat to keep the game moving quickly – the choice is up to the GM, and she may choose to alter it during a given session depending on the needs of the combat.

A variety of modifiers can be applied to initiative. Characters who are caught unaware may receive up to a -3 penalty (depending on how unaware they were at the time they were attacked; were they sleeping, or just distracted?). If a character has poor footing, such as a slippery or narrow surface, he may take a -1 penalty to his initiative because he is constantly needing to focus some of his attention on remaining stable. If a character has a positional advantage he may receive a +1 bonus.

These are just some examples of initiative modifiers; feel free to look for your own as the circumstances allow. Note that two opposing characters should not both receive modifiers for the same circumstance; for example, a surprised character may take a -1 on his initiative or his attacker may gain a +1 for getting the drop, but not both.

If two or more characters receive the same initiative result, they act simultaneously that round. GMs may choose to call for the player’s action first or may choose to resolve the NPC’s actions first, depending on their style and whatever is easiest for them to manage. However, once all actions are resolved they should be compared as if they had happened at the same time; in this way, it is possible for two shooters to wound (and possibly kill) each other, rather than one shooter killing the other before he has a chance to act.

Taking Action

Once initiative is determined, the GM should note the order in which each player and NPC will act, in order of highest initiative to lowest. Characters may perform any action they are capable of doing in about a six-second combat round, which may include movement, negotiations, attacks, or activating special powers such as psionics or magic. The GM may rule that certain actions a character wishes to perform would take longer than a combat round and thus, the character may need to spend more than one round performing the action.

Using psionics or magic in combat as either a melee or ranged attack takes one round (six seconds) unless otherwise noted or required by the GM. Most of these types of attacks are represented by a quick discharge of power rather than sustained use.

The following table is a list of common actions and a generalization of how much time each action takes to perform. Characters can take as many of these actions in a round as time permits, unless the GM rules that the actions they are trying to take together are not feasible. Extraordinary gifts may allow for characters to perform these actions faster, thereby granting them a greater number of actions per round.

This list is not intended to be inclusive, but can be used to provide players with a guideline for basic action times.

Holding Initiative

Sometimes a character may wish to “hold” his action, choosing to delay taking his turn to wait and see what might happen.

On his initiative, a character may declare that he is holding his action and choose to do nothing. At any point before the end of the round he may choose to re-join the initiative and take his action.

A character particularly gifted in acting swiftly (such as one with a Combat Reflexes, Table 4.7: Action Times Action Time Crawl 5 feet, walk 15 feet, or hustle 30 feet 3 seconds

Attack with a weapon 6 seconds, can be done with movement Climb 15 feet or swim 20 feet 6 seconds Use psionics or magic 6 seconds Speak or shout a command or relay minor details No time required; part of another action Attempt to negotiate with the enemy 6 seconds Grapple/wrestle an opponent 6 seconds Quick Reflexes, or similar Gift) may opt to interrupt the actions of another character.

This means they are allowed to see what another character chooses to do before taking their own action and may use their turn to block, distract, or otherwise interrupt the actions of their opponent. When doing so, treat the two characters as acting simultaneously, as if acting on a tied initiative.

Combat Options

Characters have a variety of options to choose from beyond just whether or not they wish to move or attack. In addition to maneuvering around the environment and shooting at an enemy, characters may choose to activate psionic abilities, use magic devices, actively defend against incoming attacks, and even talk down or attempt to demoralize their foes.

Following is a list of options, and any associated rules clarifications, available to characters who are participating in a combat round. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list; feel free to be creative. Just because there aren’t any rules listed for employing specific skills in combat doesn’t mean you have to ignore them, it simply means that they don’t need any specific rules associated with them. Remember, your imagination is the only true limiting factor when it comes to role-playing.

Attacking

You may find yourself in a situation that requires you to attack another character.

You may do so at your discretion, bearing the following in mind:

Attacking a target that is unaware of your presence is an unopposed action with a difficulty based on the range to the target. The GM declares the Range Difficulty (see Table 4.8: Range Difficulty, below) and the character uses the most relevant weapon skill to attack [such as Combat (Melee) or Combat (Ranged)]. Because this is an unopposed action, the target does not get a chance to defend – he does not get to roll any dice to signify that he is trying to “dodge” the attack.

Simply make your attack roll and compare it to the Range Difficulty to determine success or failure.

The Range Difficulty assumes a roughly human sized target that is not moving. To hit a character a few feet away would be Poor difficulty while the same target at the end of a football field is Great difficulty. Modifiers to the attack roll for such things as speed and size can be found in the Modifiers section, below. If the target attempts to defend itself (a wise choice), combat becomes opposed (see Defending, below).Phenomenal difficulty attacks can only be made with certain powers that allow a character to reach across planes of existence.

Characters with Psionics the astral projection ability may be able to project their powers across a plane of existence (to or from the Astral Plane) but the minimum roll required to hit a target is Phenomenal. Likewise, a character with electrokinesis and the cyberpsi gift may be able to attack a person through the ‘Net, but the difficulty is Phenomenal at worst.

Table 4.8: Range Difficulty Range Difficulty

Distance Examples Abysmal Next to you Hand-to-hand, Boxing Poor Across a table Melee weapons (swords, clubs) Mediocre Across a room Thrown object not designed to be thrown Fair Across a street Weapon designed to be thrown Good Down a block or football field Grenade Great Several city blocks Grenade launcher Superb As far as you can see a man Rocket launcher Wonderful To the horizon (and farther) Missile Phenomenal Across a Plane (Material to Astral or ‘Net and vice versa)

Defending

Most characters will not stand idle while being attacked (most will dodge or run for cover). When a character defends, combat becomes Opposed. Each combatant makes an Opposed action roll against an appropriate weapon skill or defense (such as Body for dodging). If the defending character wins, he successfully thwarted the attack. If the attacker wins, the defending character is struck by the attack.

Minimum Required to Hit

Hitting an opponent in Opposed combat requires a minimum result of at least Poor to hit. The minimum required to hit is equal to the range difficulty, so the farther away the target, the higher the minimum to hit.

For example, a character needs to score a Mediocre blow (and still win the Opposed Action) in order to hit another human sized opponent that is across the room.

Attempting to strike a dodging foe at a hundred yards is an opposed check, but the attacker will need to make at least a Good roll to strike at that distance.

Combat Modifiers

There are many factors that may affect the result of an action. The following situations will either increase or decrease the dice roll, depending on the value of the modifier.

Table 4.9: Combat Modifiers

Modifier Wounds -1 A fighter who is Hurt -2 A fighter who is Very Hurt Position -1 If one fighter has a positional advantage over the other, there may be a penalty to the fighter in the worse position. Examples include bad footing, lower elevation, light in his eyes, kneeling, etc.

Aiming +1 Increase skill by +1 for each full round spent aiming (max of +3) Movement 0 Target is moving on foot -1 Target is moving slowly (up 50 mph) -2 Target is moving quickly (up to 150 mph) -3 Target is moving very fast (>150 mph) Size -3 ¼ inch, dime, 5mm, wings on a fly -2 Softball -1 Basketball +1 Car +2 Bus, Small building +3 Large building, skyscraper Other -1 Rain, Underwater, Night, Fog, Partial cover -2 Shooting through a crowd, Target 50% covered -3 Target 75% covered For example, attempting to hit an object roughly the size of a basketball in the rain, will incur a penalty of -2. A character with Superb (+3) skill rolls a +1 on the dice.

Normally, this would result in a Rolled Degree of Wonderful (+4), but since there is a -2 penalty to the roll, the Rolled Degree is actually Great (+2) – Fudge roll of +1, plus Superb (+3) skill, minus penalty of 2.

Offensive/Defensive Tactics

This optional rule allows more tactical flavor to combat at a small expense of complexity.

Before each round, a fighter may choose to be in a normal posture, an offensive posture or defensive posture. An offensive or defensive stance increases combat skill in one aspect of combat (offense or defense), and decreases the same skill by an equal amount for the other aspect of combat.

Table 4.10: Tactical Options Tactical Option Offense Modifier Defense Modifier Total Offense (Aggressive) +2 -2 Partial Offense (Assertive) +1 -1 Neutral 0 0 Partial Defense (Cautious) -1 +1 Total Defense (Defensive) -2 +2 PCs vs. NPCs If a PC is fighting an NPC, the GM can treat combat as an Unopposed action by assuming the NPC will always get a result equal to his trait level. This option stresses the player character’s abilities by disallowing fluke rolls by NPCs. It also helps to speed up combat by reducing the total number of rolls and comparisons made by players and GMs.

Multiple Combatants in Melee

When more than one opponent attacks a single fighter they have, at least, a positional advantage. To reflect this, the lone fighter is at –1 to his skill for each additional foe beyond the first, up to a maximum of -3.

There’s a limit to the number of foes that can simultaneously attack a single opponent.

Six is about the maximum under ideal conditions (such as wolves, or spearwielders), while only three or four can attack if using weapons or martial arts that require a lot of maneuvering space. If the lone fighter is in a doorway, only one or two fighters can reach him.

Ranged Combat

Like melee combat, ranged combat is usually an Unopposed action. Targets are often unaware of their assailants, especially if they are being targeted by a character with a sniper rifle. In close-and-dirty firefights though, when characters are aware of each other, combat becomes an Opposed action.

Following are some key terms and concepts relating to ranged combat.

Maximum Effective Range

Each weapon has a maximum effective range: the furthest a character can shoot that weapon before its ammo begins to drop too rapidly to be useful. A weapon’s maximum effective range is shown on Table 3.1: Guns.

Note that the list is a simplification of real-world maximum range. Real weapons vary in their ability to hit targets at long range, and even weapons within the same category (such as handguns) have varying maximum ranges. However, for the sake of keeping things simple and fun, the chart is used for all weapons of the given category.

Equipment modifications are available which can increase a weapon’s maximum effective range. See Chapter 3: Equipment for more details on equipment Gifts.

Rate of Fire

Rate of Fire (ROF) denotes how quickly a firearm shoots projectiles each time the trigger is pulled. There are four basic rates of fire: Standard, Burst, Full Auto, and Rapid Fire.

A firearm may possess more than one rate of fire. In this case, the weapon is selective fire. Each round, the shooter may change the weapon’s rate of fire. For example, if an assault rifle possessed Standard and Burst rates of fire, the shooter could take a Standard shot in one round, and then switch to a Burst in the next. Unless noted in the weapon’s description, all automatic weapons possess selective fire.

To avoid complicated mechanics that try to determine how many bullets strike a target in a single attack, a simplified solution is presented here. When firing with an automatic weapon, simply increase the attack and offensive damage factors for that weapon.

It is possible to achieve a more realistic simulation by determining the number of bullets that hit a target based on the relative degree of success on the initial attack roll, but these mechanics can slow down gameplay.

Instead, each rate of fire description below has its own modifiers which are applied to a single roll.

Standard (S): The weapon fires only once when the shooter pulls the trigger. No special rules exist for this Rate of Fire. It permits the character to attack normally.

Burst (B): When the shooter pulls the trigger, the weapon automatically fires three shots in a short, controlled burst. Firing a weapon in burst mode grants the attacker a +1 bonus on his Offensive Damage Factors. The attacker may only direct burst fire at a single target.

Full Auto (FA): When the shooter pulls the trigger, the weapon automatically fires a score of shots in a long, rapid burst. The shooter may direct full auto fire at multiple targets. Firing a weapon Full Auto at a single target grants a +2 bonus to Offensive Damage Factors. The weapon may be fired at multiple targets in a single round; in this case, the attacker gains no bonus on the roll. When attacking multiple targets, roll only once and compare the result to each defender individually.

Rapid Fire (RF): When the shooter pulls the trigger, the weapon automatically fires at least fifty shots in a long, rapid burst. Gatling guns and several advanced technologies are capable of this fire rate. Directing RF at a single target grants a +4 bonus on ODFs, while directing the attack at multiple targets grants a +1 bonus. As with Full Auto, roll only once and check individually against each target’s DDFs. A weapon must always be reloaded after using this attack method.

Table 4.11: Rate of Fire Summary

Action Bonus (Single/Multiple Targets) Bullets Fired Max Targets Single 0 1 1 Burst +1 3 1 Full Auto +2/+0 10-25 3 Rapid +4/+1 50+ 8

This table summarizes the information outlined above. Note that this table also indicates the maximum number of targets that can be hit using a given RoF.

Reloading Firearms

Guns require ammunition and inevitably run out of bullets. Each type of firearm must be reloaded from time to time, lest the shooter find himself without an effective weapon.

Psi-punk’s intention is to focus on simple, fun game play and not necessarily on realism. Therefore, you will not find any references to the number of bullets a given gun has in a clip or how many times it can be fired before the weapon must be reloaded.

Instead, a more cinematic approach is utilized.

Characters may continue to fire their guns with no penalty until a natural roll of a certain number of blanks is made. When a player rolls, for example, 3 blank dice on 4dF, his gun runs out of ammunition and he must spend the next round (6 seconds) reloading before he can fire the weapon again. Characters may be able to reduce the amount of time it takes to reload a weapon with a Gift, such as “Fast Reload.” The number of rolled blanks required for a gun to run out of ammo is dependent upon the weapon’s selected Rate of Fire.

This information is summarized on Table 3.1: Guns.

Psionics in Combat

Many psionic powers have the ability to deal damage to targets at range. In most of these cases, that damage comes from hurled projectiles: fire bolts, ice darts, laser beams, and so forth. Any power which manifests a physical object or bolt of energy to be launched at a target is called a projectile attack. To make such an attack, characters must possess a psionic power to activate, and the check is rolled as if activating a psionic power normally (see Chapter 5:

Psionics and Magic) but is opposed by the target’s physical defenses.

Minimum Required to Hit

The minimum check result required to hit a target with a projectile attack is Fair.

This does not vary based on the type of attack; characters who fail to manifest their psionic attacks at a level of at least Fair are simply incapable of extending an attack beyond their maximum effective range.

Maximum Effective Range

The maximum effective range of a projectile attack is dependent upon the attacker’s initial check result. For every level of success above Fair, the attacker may hurl a projectile up to 30 feet. For example, if a cryokinetic attacks with an ice dart and rolls a Great (+2) result, he may hurl the ice dart 60 feet. A Fair result means that the character can only attack someone within melee range.

Damage

As normal, compare the attacker’s check result to the defender’s opposed check to determine damage. Attackers simply manifest their chosen power (such as pyrokinesis) and the defender rolls his Body attribute and adds any bonuses or penalties for armor, Gifts, Faults, and so forth. The attacker does not need to make an additional Combat (Melee) or Combat (Ranged) check.

Wounds and Healing

Inevitably, combat results in one or more opponents becoming injured, or wounded. In Psi-punk, we use an abstract method of documenting wounds called a Wound Track, described below. Wounded characters must either receive medical treatment or allow a certain amount of time to pass before their wounds can be healed or erased from their Wound Track. The following section describes how we put all of this together.

Damage to a character can be described as being at one of seven stages of severity:

  1. Undamaged: No wounds at all. The character is not necessarily healthy — he may be sick, for example. But he doesn’t have a combat wound that’s recent enough to be bothering him.
  2. Scratched: No real game effect, except to create tension. This may eventually lead to being Hurt if the character is hit enough times.
  3. Hurt: The character is wounded significantly, enough to slow him down: -1 to all traits which would logically be affected. This condition lasts until the character is healed (see Healing below).
  4. Very Hurt: The character is seriously hurt, possibly stumbling: -2 to all traits which would logically be affected. This lasts until the character is healed.
  5. Incapacitated: The character is so badly wounded as to be incapable of taking any action, except possibly dragging himself a few feet every now and then or gasping out an important message. A particularly tough hero (one with a Body of Great or better) may be able to open doors or slowly drag himself to safety, but he is incapable of performing any normal combat actions, including mental actions such as activating psionic powers. Characters with an appropriate gift such as “Hard to Kill” might be able to remain active even while they have an Incapacitated wound.
  6. Near Death: Not only is the character unconscious, he’ll die within hours without medical help.
  7. Dead: The character is no more; all you can do is go through his pockets and look for loose change.

Mental and Physical Damage

There are two types of damage: mental and physical. Mental damage results from psionic attacks that directly attack the mind. Physical damage results from bullets, knives, fire, electricity, psionic attacks that directly alter a creature’s form and anything else that could conceivably cause harm.

Mental and physical damage are tracked separately but have similar effects. The key difference is that when a person is at a mental wound level of Hurt, for example, he would take a -1 penalty to all abilities and actions that require thought (including using psionic abilities, reasoning skills, etc.). Characters at a physical wound level of Hurt would likewise take a -1 penalty to all physical skills (including physical combat, lifting objects, balancing, driving, etc.).

When in doubt, ask the GM which penalties apply in which circumstances.

Note that it is just as possible to become Incapacitated, Near Death, or Dead from mental damage as it is from physical damage; the mind can only take so much trauma and psionic attacks can be very deadly indeed. Tracking each ability separately means you can get a good idea of the character’s overall health; if he is physically Very Hurt but has no mental damage, he can still act responsibly and reason just as well as he could before he was hit by that last bullet. If a character is mentally Very Hurt but physically unharmed, he may be able to jump over the pit in front of him, but is it really a good idea? Characters who are both physically and mentally Very Hurt are likely to soon become Incapacitated.

Wound Factors

When determining how wounded a character is when hit in combat, take into consideration all of the following factors.

Offensive Damage Factors

Offensive Damage Factors (ODFs) are all applicable game statistics used to determine how well your character can deliver an attack. They are an indication of how offensively powerful he is. Total your regular ODFs and write them down on your character sheet for ease of reference, but remember that there are often other modifiers to these numbers, such as your attack roll, positional modifiers, range penalties, and so forth.

Your attack roll is one of the most important ODFs. The degree of success by which an attack succeeds is one factor — the better the hit, the greater likelihood of damage. A degree of success of +1 means you probably hit somewhere that isn’t life-threatening.

Scoring a hit with a +3 could mean you hit something vital. Add your attack’s degree of success to your other ODFs to determine your Total Damage Factor.

The weapon used is also a factor. For thrown objects, the Material Value adds to the damage – the harder the substance, the more it hurts when it hits. Otherwise, it’s relative to the nature of the weapon: a shotgun deals more damage than a pistol and a .38 usually does more damage than a .22. Example weapon Offensive Damage Factors can be found in Chapter 3: Equipment.

Weapon damage factors are usually “static,” meaning they do not change unless you change weapons. A weapon’s damage factor is an example of an ODF that can be added to your character sheet for quick reference.

It is important to point out that while many games add a character’s attributes to damage (such as Strength for melee weapons or Dexterity for ranged damage) this is not the case in Psi-punk. Instead, a character’s skill with a weapon helps determine how much damage he is able to deal with a given hit, and the weapon itself has its own damage rating to add to ODFs. Attributes are used to help determine how many dice may be rerolled when using Luck Points.

For more information on Luck Points, see Character Creation.

Defensive Damage Factors

Defensive Damage Factors (DDFs) are an indication of how well the character can avoid or absorb an attack. These factors may be mental or physical, so it may be important to note the differences between the two. Tally up your character’s DDFs and write them down on your character sheet for ease of reference.

Characters subtract their Body attribute value from any physical damage that they suffer. Note that this means characters with negative body values actually take more physical damage than normal; they’re especially fragile and easily hurt. Characters with a Gift that would make them more resistant to physical harm, such as Damage Resistant, may add a +1 to their defensive factors.

Similarly, use a character’s Mind attribute as a defensive factor against mental attacks.

Likewise, characters with a negative mind modifier may take extra damage from mental attacks; their weak will leaves them susceptible to psionic attacks. Characters may have Gifts, such as “Mental Resistance”, which also grant +1 to their defensive factor against mental attacks.

Armor, Force Fields, and other defensive powers add their level value to DDFs against physical damage. Example armor levels can be found in Equipment. Certain types of psionic abilities and psicraft armors may be used to add their level value to their Defensive Damage Factors against mental damage.

Finally, your defense roll is a DDF. When you are the victim of an attack that you are aware of (i.e., if the attack is Opposed), you get to roll 4dF and all other applicable DDFs to try to avoid being damaged.

Determining Wound Level

To determine how much damage is done in a given round, the following formula may be used:

Damage = attacker’s offensive damage factors – defender’s defensive damage factors

The damage is compared to a chart to determine what kind of wound is received.

The numbers above the wound levels represent the amount of damage needed in a single blow to inflict the wound listed under the number. For example, a blow of 3 or 4 points Hurts the character, while a blow of 5 or 6 points inflicts a Very Hurt wound.

If it’s zero or less, no Wounds result.

Recording Wounds

Once the final damage is determined, it is recorded on the wounded player’s character sheet. When a wound is received, mark off the appropriate box. A character can suffer up to three Scratched, one Hurt, one Very Hurt, one Incapacitated, and one Near Death result. If a character takes a level of damage that’s already checked off, it becomes one level higher. A character that has already suffered three Scratched results and suffers another Scratched result is Hurt instead.

Table 4.12: Determining Wound Level

Damage = winner’s offensive damage factors – loser’s defensive damage factors

Damage 0 1-2 3-4 5-6 7-8 9

Wound Level None Scratched Hurt Very Hurt Incapacitated Near Death

 

A Scratched result has no game effect; the character took some minor damage, but isn’t impaired in any way. A character who is Hurt is at -1 on all appropriate actions (mental or physical) for 1 round. A character who is Very Hurt is at -2 on all appropriate actions until healed. A character who is Incapacitated is incapable of taking any action except very minor ones and a character who is Near Death can do nothing unless someone offers them medical help.

Never add boxes for cannon-fodder NPCs (though you may wish to do so for major NPCs). In fact, NPC minions don’t even need the system above. A simple three stage system of Undamaged, Hurt, and Incapacitated is good enough for most of them.

Simply make a mark under an NPC’s name for Hurt, and cross out the name for Incapacitated.

Knockout and Pulling Punches

The GM may decide that a successful Good blow (or better) to the head knocks someone out instead of inflicting a wound.

In an opposed action, the Good blow would also have to win the combat.

Likewise, a player may choose to have his character do reduced damage in any given attack. This is known as “pulling your punch.” To pull your punch, simply announce the maximum wound level you will do if you are successful. A player can say he is going for a Scratch in order to deliver a warning to a villain, for example. In this case, even if he wins the opposed action by +8, the worst he can do is rough up his foe a little.

Healing

Wounds are healed through time, medical skills, or psionic powers. The amount of time it takes to recover varies based on the source of healing. Psionic powers tend to act much more quickly than medical science and characters who are left untreated to heal on their own may take longer still.

Medical Treatment

If a character receives medical treatment, he heals much more quickly than if he is left to heal on his own. Characters who are Near Death require trained assistance to heal; if left untreated, a Near Death character will die in a matter of minutes or hours (depending on the nature of the wound that caused him to reach Near Death status; the GM can determine how much time the character has to live.) Treating a character requires the use of a medical skill and appropriate tools. A field medic’s kit may be sufficient for stabilizing a Near Death character, but may not help him recover any wounds until he has been treated at a hospital with sufficient equipment.

However, the same field medic’s kit will help reduce all other wounds with an appropriate medical skill check. The difficulty for the check is equal to the level of the wound, with Hurt being level 1 (Good).

Table 4.13: Example of the Wound Track found on a character sheet.

Damage Dealt 1,2 3,4 5,6 7,8 9+ Wound Scratched Hurt (-1) Very Hurt (-2) Incapacitated Nr. Death O O O O O O O difficulty) and Near Death being level 4 (Wonderful difficulty).

A Scratch is too insignificant to require a roll. Scratches are usually erased after a battle, provided the characters have five or ten minutes to attend to them.

A Good degree result from use of a medical skill heals all wounds one level – one Hurt to one Scratch, Very Hurt to one Hurt, and so on. A Great result heals all wounds two levels, and a Superb result heals three levels. Scratches do not count as a level for healing purposes.

Note that it is possible to botch a healing roll and further wound a character. Any result of Mediocre or less has the opposite effect (wounds are added by 1, 2, 3 levels, etc.) This does mean that, at the GM’s option, an Abysmal healing check could kill the character (I hope you have malpractice insurance!).

A result of Fair on a healing check means that the character’s health does not improve, but he is not harmed either. A new check may be attempted provided there is sufficient time to do so.

Treating a character’s wounds takes a number of minutes equal to 10 times the highest wound level that character possesses, with Hurt being level 1 and Near Death being level 4. As long as emergency first aid treatment has begun on a Near Death character before he dies, the treatment may be allowed to continue for the full duration (40 minutes).

Medical Treatment

Example Kathy, Frank, and Nolan just barely survived a tough firefight. Kathy sustained a Very Hurt wound, but Nolan is Near Death due to having sustained several bullet wounds and Frank, the medical expert, needs to tend to him right away.

The GM determines that Nolan has about four minutes to live without treatment, so Frank wastes no time getting out his tools and going to work. He knows Kathy is in a lot of pain, but she’ll just have to wait.

Frank’s Superb skill is going to be tested.

He rolls a total of +2 on the dice and gets a Phenomenal result or a Good degree of success (since the difficulty for a level 4 wound is Wonderful). It’s going to take 40 minutes to stop the bleeding and ensure Nolan’s survival, but because he got started right away Frank was able to save Nolan’s life. None of Nolan’s other wounds can be healed, however, until he receives medical treatment with more advanced equipment than that found in a field medic’s kit; he may go to a hospital or be dragged to some back-alley street doc, but either way he’s probably going to need an operating table.

A medic’s job is never done. Any Scratches that Kathy may have sustained have gone away by now, but she’s still Very Hurt.

Frank spends the next 20 minutes (10 minutes times a level 2 wound) and rolls a medical skill check. Knowing that the difficulty is Great for a level 2 wound, he knows he needs to get at least a Superb result to heal her by even one wound level.

Frank rolls a total of -1 on the dice and adds +3 for his Superb skill, which only gives him a level of Great. That’s not enough to hurt Kathy, but it doesn’t help her either.

Trying again, he gets a +2 on the dice for a Phenomenal result, or a total degree of success of Superb (+3).

With renewed dedication, Frank manages to fix up Kathy’s Very Hurt wound and reduce it to just a Hurt wound. However, because he was able to heal up to three wound levels with this result, he also clears up that Hurt wound and now she’s feeling good as new.

Time Heals All Things

All wounds are healed between missions.

If natural healing during a mission is a concern, wounds heal on their own at one wound level per week of rest. That is, after a week of rest, a Very Hurt character becomes Hurt, and so on. The GM may also require a successful roll against his Body attribute:

Fair difficulty level for Hurt, Good difficulty level for Very Hurt, and Great difficulty level for Incapacitated. Failing this roll slows the healing process, but a result at least two steps higher than the target can speed up the healing process (one wound level healed per four days of rest, for example).

Having a Gift such as “Fast Healer” might grant the character a +2 bonus on such checks.

Healing Mental Damage

Healing mental damage is harder to quantify, since a scalpel and suture won’t repair damage to a character’s psyche.

Psionic powers or magic devices may be required to heal a character’s mental damage (see individual powers for examples), but a character who is brought to Near Death from mental damage is not in immediate danger of dying (since he is not “bleeding out”). Mental damage heals naturally over time in the same manner as physical damage.

Many hospitals are equipped with the appropriate medical technology to treat mental trauma, usually through the aid of magic devices. Note that magic devices have a high rate of failure when used on mentals (people with psionic abilities) and therefore very few doctors will agree to operate on psionicists with mental trauma. Using a magical device to heal mental damage on a psionicist imposes a -3 penalty on the healing check.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Psi-punk Copyright 2012, Accessible Games; Author Jacob Wood