I hope you have had an enjoyable Christmas holiday (however you may have celebrated it), for my final blog post of the year, I’m going to take a look at Stellagama’s latest release ‘Variant Psionics for the Cepheus Engine’. It is available from Drivethru RPG for $3.49 and contains 32 pages in a watermarked PDF.
The book aims to bring a more straightforward system for the use of psionics, based on the Cepheus Engine (CE) system. Having not read the CE set of psionics rules before – I’ll admit I’m not really a fan of psionics in SFRPG’s, I had an open mind when approaching VP for CE. It should be noted that the book can be used with other OSR / 2D6 SFRPG systems and not just Cepheus Engine.
The product starts with an introduction about the book, a few links to reference documents and some notes about the authors. The next section goes into ‘Psionics in a Cepheus Engine Setting’ and how common psionics are, dependent on what TL your world setting is. There is an interesting piece on how psionics are viewed in society; not all societies view such abilities with an open, receptive mind. Some low TL worlds may be openly hostile, even viewing such abilities as witchcraft (and all the subsequent consequences).
The next four pages go into psionics specifically in the Stellagama CE-compatible setting ‘These Stars Are Ours’ and how such characters are viewed in the Terran Republic and the secret societies that employ such individuals.
You are then presented with the rules for the development of psionic strength and training which is covered in a page. Psionic talents follow, broken down into five abilities; Awareness, Clairvoyance, Telekinesis, Telepathy and Teleportation. This is bulk of the book as you are presented with the various powers that you can wield, depending on your strength level. There are quite a few abilities presented here so there is plenty of value to be gained from the book.
Just like magic items in a fantasy realm, there are ways to enhance psionic abilities through technology or drugs. The section ‘Psionic Technology and Mastery’ looks into ways that psions can enhance their abilities and some of the pitfalls that can come with the use of such technology. There is some nice tech here; favourite has got to be the ‘Improved Teleportation Suit’ which enhances your ability to teleport great distances… if you’ve got the cash of course!
The last five pages of the book describe the psion career and character generation process. There are a number of optional rules and there is plenty of guidance on how to generate a psion’s characteristics.
Not being familiar with the Cepheus Engine Psion rules, I set both the CE PDF up and the Stellagama variant rules side by side in my iPad to work through. Because a certain amount of content is Open Game License, there is some text which is repeated from the original CE rules set. I did start to wonder if this was simply a reprint of the CE rule set? However the Stellagama text expands, clarifies and where necessary simplifies the rules. I found the Stellagama text much easier to read through and quicker to pick up. Some of the book is geared towards their house background ‘These Stars Are Ours’ (which is to be expected) but the open game license material is clearly indictaed and the variant rules presented help to make psion character generation a lot easier.
The book is nicely laid out, has a number of monochrome and colour illustrations dotted through the book and has been edited to Stellagama’s usual high standards. Is the product worth $3.49? Despite some initial concerns about the use of some repeated text, I feel that what the authors have met their aim in taking the original CE psion rules and enhanced them in such a way that you have a complete, easy-to-use rules set for creating characters with psionic abilities. Definitely worth considering if you want to run psion characters in your games, or using the TSAO background. I’d like to thank Omer Golan-Joel for very kindly sending me a copy to review.
As this is the last blog post of the year, I would like to wish all my visitors (thanks for all the links and comments!) to this blog a very happy and safe New Year! I would also like to thank the publishers who have continued to send me their fantastic products for me to look at and review (especially John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games, Omer Golan-Joel of Stellagama Publishing and Paul Elliott of Zozer Games) – I hope what you find to read on this blog useful and enjoyable!
Best wishes for 2018, Steve
For no other reason because I want to, here is a photo of my greyhound Millie enjoying some of her Christmas presents!