"Let's start a fire."
Psionics is a tabletop RPG that is played with six-sided dice, paper, pencils, and your imagination. In various incarnations, it has been in the making by one person for over a decade. Inspired initially by the PS1 game Galerians with an eye towards everything that inspired it, a half dozen comprehensive rewrites and unpublished reboots later,this game follows in the footsteps of films and novels like Akira, Carrie, Firestarter, and Scanners.
Psionics is set in the real world, in the present day, or 20 minutes into the future (if you like). The players take on the role of troubled teenagers and young adults who have just had an enormous power hidden inside them - psionic talents - unlocked by external tampering.
The PCs - called Espers - will gain the ability to solve the mundane problems in their lives with the superhuman abilities available to them; they will also be confronted with questions about the costs of their powers, from using telekinesis or pyrokinesis to get revenge on the bullies that tormented them, or using mind control to convince their crush to give them a chance.
Moreover, while the talents that Espers can access give them awesome problem-solving tools to play with, overusing their talents and pushing things too far can result in a catastrophic meltdown that is spectacularly fatal for everyone around them.
Meanwhile, the PCs are hunted by a multitude of shadowy Conspiracies. These competing Conspiracies are seeking to control and manipulate the PCs into advancing their sinister agendas, and have enormous resources at their disposal.
So the story becomes: how do you buck the system and defy these groups seeking to capture and indoctrinate you, while coming to grips with your psionic talents?
As a "typical" Esper, you're a ticking time bomb of teenage angst, with enormous psychic powers; the Man, in various incarnations, is constantly shadowing you and trying to screw with you, taking away your agency and making you a foot-soldier in their cause. What could possibly go wrong?
Psionics uses the DicePunk System, a very streamlined and flexible rules set with only four character attributes - Strength, Speed, Wits, and Will - and with player-defined skills augmenting the set list of skills. The DicePunk System is also used in our fangame, Phantasm (2010), which was nominated for an Ennie award for Best Free RPG in 2013.
On top of the basic DicePunk chassis of Attributes, Skills, and Combat Techniques, we're going to overlay an in-depth set of rules for psionic talents. These will range from the "bread and butter" psionic powers like telekinesis (moving things with your mind, all the way from being able to levitate a coin to being able to throw or crush a city bus), pyrokinesis (starting fires with your will alone), and psychokinesis (mind-reading and mind-control) to exotic psi talents like magnekinesis (weather control), somakinesis (manipulating your body to enable superhuman physical feats), technokinesis (psionically 'hacking' mechanical systems), and necrokinesis (causing a cardiac arrest with a thought). The result is a tabletop RPG that will look and play out a lot like recent movies Push (2009) and Chronicle (2012).
Psionics Core Rulebook Hardcopy - $40 - This is the same core rulebook that everyone else will get, only at its final retail price. You might notice that its price is a bit higher than the one that backers get; this is because, as the book will be in full color, we will need to sell it for a bit more than we'd initially priced out at retail. Those of you who've backed us at the $25+ levels get a bit of a discount for being part of the campaign.
Phantasm (2010) Fangame Hardcopy - $25 - Our ENnie Nominated Dicepunk System game, Phantasm (2010), in dead tree format, printed in softcover at 8 1/2" x 11".
Psionics Comic Book Hardcopy - $10 - All our backers receive a PDF copy of the comic book for free, but we are also offering it as an add-on in its dead tree format. It will be softcover with glossy, high quality full color interior.
Any one set of Psionics dice (2d6) - $10 - Each set of dice comes with two matching six-sided dice featuring your choice of three symbols (seen below).
Psionics Poster - $5 - This will be your choice of one of three poster designs, featuring the lush color art you've seen. One is the Fireball image by Ian Llamas, one is the Sweet Tamales image by Claudia SG, and one is the cover art image by Jake Bullock.
Psionics Sticker - $3 - This will be a Die-Cut sticker with the Psionics logo or one of the three Dice Design images.
ABOUT THE PUBLISHER
We are End Transmission Games and this is not our first rodeo, although it is our first Kickstarter! Publisher of fine tabletop roleplaying games since 2012 and enormous gaming geeks since forever, here are some of our already published games and game lines:
Anathema - In this storygame for two to six players, you play a Shroud. Once human, you are now an angel of death tasked with the culling of millions of human lives. To do so, you will use the powers of war, pestilence, famine, misfortune, atrophy, and despair at your fingertips to kill men, women, and children indiscriminately. This horrible act is nothing less than necessary, to decrease the surplus population of Earth in order to save the entire human race from extinction. A Winner of the Feb. 2011 Ronnies. Currently holds a Five Star Rating on DriveThruRPG.com.
"This RPG was written in 24 hours by one person, so I did not expect much from it. Boy was I wrong. The author packs more creativity in a scant 27 pages than most would-be RPG designers do in hundreds." -Jose F., Customer Review
S|P|L|I|N|T|E|R - The Weirdest RPG You've Never Played, Yet.
Earth, 2471 AD. The only thing that matters is The Game. Whether you’re a trained Professional — part actor, part athlete — or an Amateur, a conscripted gladiator, you are a Player. With an audience of millions watching, you enter The Splinter, a VR mega-dungeon. The Splinter is an ever-changing megastructure that takes the form of a labyrinthine series of dungeon levels. At any time, any part of any level of the Splinter can transform, move, or disappear entirely. The denizens of the Splinter, taken on by Players as their Avatars, are equally strange; powerful shapeshifters who can "tune": alter reality through will alone. ON EARTH, only the rich and famous can afford freedom. The only way to get famous is to put on the best show you can… or die trying. Will you become a star, or a smear on someone else's highlight reel? Currently holds a Five Star rating on DriveThruRPG.com
Phantasm(2010) - A DicePunk System Game. The definitive roleplaying game of grindhouse cinematic horror. Nominated for the Best Free RPG Ennie in 2013. Currently holds a 4.5 Star Average Rating on DriveThruRPG.com
"Let me start by saying that I can't believe this is a free game. The production quality is outstanding! I've had games I've paid for which weren't half as beautifully laid out and produced. I wish all game makers made product as lovely as this is. ... Character creation is fairly quick and easy, using a point buy system for both attributes and skills. And I like the fact that the level of Badassery of the characters is customizable from Joe Normal to Samuel Jackson on a good day. I also like the system, which seems to be fast for play and simple to remember. It's a set of rules that you can teach anyone quickly, and not have them always asking 'what do I roll now?'" -Mark M., Customer Review
- The Singularity System - Our newest release, the Singularity System is a setting neutral science fiction roleplaying game. Our largest and most robust product line with four supplements and counting. Check out the demos we'll be running at GenCon, if you'll be in the neighborhood.
Much of the writing is actually already done. Devon Oratz, the author, is not going to be paid up front for writing this book, and Mikaela Barree, the other half of End Transmission Games, is not going to be paid up front for laying it out. Either out of the Kickstarter funds or at all. Instead the money we've come to Kickstarter to raise will be used for two things.
a) Paying freelance artists for interior illustrations, to ensure the best possible production values.
b) Paying for the actual production costs of publishing the book. Namely, printing and, where necessary, shipping. This is where the bulk of the money will go.
We will also be releasing custom dice made for Psionics. Here are the designs we've come up with:
We are also looking forward to publishing the first adventure book for this game; if we reach $10,000, we'll be able to release it sooner than later.
Psionics is set in the real world, either around now, or about twenty minutes in the future. Now of course in several secret ways it actually differs from the real world as we know it. But PCs aren't aware of those secret differences when the game starts. Only the GM is. So every way in which the world of Psionics secretly differs from the world we live in is in fact a minor spoiler. This may seem strange, but probably shouldn't. The World of Darkness, Unknown Armies, and Call of Cthulhu all use the same conceit, to one degree or another. Anyway, it doesn't mean that we can't hint at how Psionics differs from the real world... and how the lens of the Psionics game sees the real world.
People in the nice parts of North America and Western Europe have it pretty darn good, but complain endlessly on their blogs and social media about their first world problems. People in third world and developing countries don't have it so good, and are often beset by sectarian and ethnic violence, famine, and drought, but they tend to whine less on the Internet, and take less selfies. Increasingly heated arguments about gun control and birth control and religious and sexual freedom rage throughout the civilized world, an endless spectacle that grinds on with neither entrenched side gaining a millimeter of traction, as the major political parties preach increasingly irreconcilable differences, while practicing increasingly identical policies.
At least... that's what everyone in the world thinks, with the blinders over their eyes firmly in place. When those blinders get cut away, things start to look mighty different. The secret history of the world that hides in the shadows of the world we know begins to come into focus. The world's superpowers have been locked in a paranormal arms race that dates back to the end of the Second World War and Operation Paperclip. During the early cold war, the U.S. government secretly conducted mind control experiments to compete with those of the burgeoning U.S.S.R.. We could not, gentlemen, allow there to be a mind control gap.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, the psychic think tanks of the great powers have balkanized, splintered, and gone rogue. Gone underground, and gotten smarter. People think that the coldhearted barbarity of Operation MKUltra was the disastrous end to the government's mind control research. In reality, it was the glorious beginning.
Throughout the world, in developed countries, reports are suppressed of individuals that are more than human. People who can move objects or fire guns with their minds. People who start fires. People who can give you a brain aneurysm with a word, a look, or just a thought. In the war-torn chaos of Africa, Mexico, South America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, these Espers hide in plain sight, vanishing into myth, legends and ghost stories from the world's perpetual battlefields and constantly shifting battle lines. No one - at least no one with your best interests in the forefront of their mind - has noticed that the numbers of reports, and the number of legends, are steadily increasing.
The world approaches a turning point - a tipping point foretold by seers whose prophecies have since been [REDACTED]. A new dominant species is emerging, day by day, faster and faster. A great storm is on the horizon that will change the world forever, and most of us will not survive. That sound you hear out your window is the thunder.
Psionics is a DicePunk System game. If you haven't heard of the DicePunk System, no one holds it against you. Not a lot of people have, and while we're working round the clock to change that, it's an uphill battle. What hasn't helped is that the DicePunk System is the THIRD name of the DicePunk System. The first two names we had picked out were less... distinctive... and also already in use by other, completely unrelated game systems. This has lead to much confusion and sorrow.
To avoid further confusion, please know that End Transmission publishes many fine products that AREN'T DicePunk System games. Right now, there is only one other DicePunk System game on the market. It is called Phantasm(2010). It's a full color, high quality 210 page PDF. It costs only "Pay What You Want" dollars. This has tended to make people think we're crazy, but there's a reason for it. Phantasm refers to a specific movie IP that we don't at all own. In other words, Phantasm is purely a "fangame," in the same way that some works are fan art or fan fiction. It's a labor of love, and that's why it's given away for pennies or less. To use a software analogy, it's "postcardware" or "beerware." The reason it's got (2010) on the end is a) to distinguish it internally from numerous earlier unpublished versions, and b) to distinguish it from Phantasm (1979), the same way you would with a movie. If you want to know a bit more about the DicePunk System, feel free to check it out.
In the meantime, let me tell you a little bit about the DicePunk System. Compared to something like Shadowrun, Dungeons & Dragons (any edition) or the HERO System, I would tend to describe the DicePunk System as rules-lite. When put next to something like Fiasco or FATE, not so much. So let's call it "Rules-Medium" for now. You can find tons of stuff that's more complex, and some stuff that's even simpler.
If you've read this far, well first off, congratulations. I know that was a lot of text. Secondly, you're probably all "YEAH, YEAH, FINE, BUT WHAT CAN I BEEEEEEEEE?" by now. Well...good question!
There are three primary "trees" of psionic talent: Telekinesis, Pyrokinesis, and Psychokinesis. In turn, each of these "primary" talents branches out into an array of more exotic secondary talents. Espers can divide their ration of psionic power between multiple talents, but you must have a good grasp of a primary talent to pursue any of its linked secondaries.
Telekinesis is the ability to move, manipulate, or hurl macrosopic objects through sheer will alone, and is arguably the most basic and "coarse" Primary Talent. More "advanced" talents work on the same principal, but a finer scale. Pyrokinesis manipulates molecular activity to increase or decrease temperature, while Psychokinesis manipulates neurons and brain waves to alter brain activity.
However, as gross and obvious as its effects may be, the raw effectiveness of Telekinesis cannot be denied. A fledgling telekinetic can manipulate (at line of sight range) objects of no more than ten pounds in weight with a fair degree of precision, and can telekinetically throw or strike with these objects.
An intermediate telekinetic can manipulate objects weighing as much as a hundred pounds, telekinetically pull objects out of enemy's hands, telekinetically aim and shoot a firearm (for a total of three guns used, with one in each hand and a third levitating), shove people back a half dozen feet by battering them with telekinetic force, and use a telekinetic "force field" to deflect incoming attacks.
A powerful telekinetic can do all of the above, move and throw objects weighing up to four hundred pounds, grab other characters with telekinesis and throw them, "squeeze" them, choke them, or rip them apart limb from limb like a very meaty wishbone. They can also levitate themselves and fly.
A master telekinetic can move and throw around objects weighing up to ten tons (somewhere between an 18-wheeler tractor trailer with cab and cargo and a 747 jet), grab and instantly crush or tear apart two people at once, or splatter numerous people standing in one area with a blast of force.
Pyrokinesis is a Primary Talent that grants the ability to modify matter and energy by accelerating or decelerating molecular activity. Speeding up molecule movement increases temperature; slowing it down decreases it. This translates to the ability to make air and people spontaneously combust into flames, to melt a solid metal door to slag, or to boil someone in their own skin. Pyrokinesis is the most purely destructive of all of the Primary Talents, and one of the most feared (and most lusted after).
A fledgling pyrokinetic can manifest a flame about the size of a closed fist, or - by concentrating - increase a person's body temperature at a rate of about 7° Celsius every ten seconds. (Health tip: bringing someone's body temperature to 100° is very bad for them. Because they boil inside their own skin, and die.) Even fledgling pyrokinetics also gain "resistance" to fire damage by instinctively lowering the temperature around their body.
An intermediate pyrokinetic can manifest a fireball the size of a small campfire, and can melt incoming bullets in the air before they make impact. This turns the bullets' damage into fire damage, which is then reduced by their heat shield.
A powerful pyrokinetic gets better at all the above, can manifest a bonfire-sized flame, and can ignite several people within a fifteen foot radius with a thrown fireball. They can also increase a person's body temperature by 35° Celsius or more in about ten seconds, or increase the temperature of an inanimate object by about 1750° Celsius in the same amount of time (the melting point of steel is around 1370° Celsius).
A master pyrokinetic is a rolling holocaust of fiery destruction, continuously incinerating everything within a 30 foot radius from any point within line of sight. Anything that survives the initial blast of flames will almost certainly be set on fire from that point onward. A master pyrokinetic is effectively immune to all but the most extreme damage from fire and heat.
While some well-meaning science fiction authors and game designers confuse psychokinesis and telekinesis, for our purposes psychokinesis is defined as the Primary Talent to read and manipulate human minds. It works on the same principle as telekinesis, but a finer scale, adjusting neurons and brainwaves. However, that doesn't mean that the practitioner is consciously twiddling around individual neural signals. The Talent itself in many cases translates intent to results. Psychokinesis works only on human minds. Most traditional examples of psychic power and extrasensory perception fall under the purview of Psychokinesis; of course, most historical examples of those powers are still the work of con men. Ironically and recursively, many of history's best con men subconsciously leveraged psychokinesis to sway their marks. At higher levels, psychokinesis can push and trick weak minds; at its highest levels, the Talent can dominate weak minds utterly. For this reason, many consider it the most insidious and dangerous Talent of all.
A fledgling psychokinetic can telepathically communicate with anyone they know from anywhere, or anyone they don't know who's in line of sight. They can also read surface thoughts from a human mind within line of sight. All psychokinetics are immune to the mental tampering of weaker psychokinetics.
An intermediate psychokinetic can read memories and deep thoughts, and are capable of two-way "telempathic" communication (which can include images and feelings, and isn't restricted to words). They can also unleash a psychic scream that disorients, deafens, and distracts a target.
A powerful psychokinetic can read and access any thoughts and memories. They can "push" the weak-minded, either forcing them to obey a brief (and non suicidal) command, or tricking their senses with a psychic "illusion" (i.e. someone would see a gun in your hand when there was none, see no gun when one was there, or see a $1.00 bill as a $100.00 bill). Finally, a powerful psychokinetic can remove or alter memories that a target formed in the past 24 hours.
A master psychokinetic can do all of the above, and much more. They can dominate the mind completely, turning anyone into a willing slave: they say "put your gun in your mouth and pull the trigger" and you do just that. They can also force someone's mind out of their body entirely, and "remote control" that body like an helpless puppet. Telempathy is effortless for them, and psychic surgery allows them to alter, remove, and add memories from any point in a victim's life, completely reprogramming a human mind with post-hypnotic triggers. This is obviously not a kind thing to do to a friend.
These powers are enormous, but they aren't limitless. There are limits, and they aren't just of the "run out of mana points and can't cast spells" variety. You can run out of Psi Power, of course, and need to rest. If you push things too hard, you can take actual damage from straining your own powers - nose bleeds, seizures, even unconsciousness. But REALLY push things, and you may just overload.
An Esper who Overloads is in serious trouble, nearly as much as everyone around him. The first thing that happens is that the player loses control of the character, who spends the Overload period lurching around, clutching his head in blinding, mind-obliterating agony; they are no longer functionally a person, they are ground zero.
The Esper in Overload suffers lethal damage every turn they Overload, and their filled Overflow gauge depletes every turn. The Overload doesn't end until the Overflow gauge is emptied or the Overloading Esper is dead.
The spectacular manner in which an Overloading Esper kills everyone around them (and perhaps themselves) depends on their strongest Primary Talent.
Telekinetics emit gravitic pulsar waves which rend, smash, crush and implode their surroundings. Pyrokinetics incinerate everything around them in a maelstrom of nuclear flames. Psychokinetics emit excruciating psychic vibrations that cause heads in their vicinity to explode.
Telekinetics who perish to an Overload burst, Pyrokinetics burn up, and Psychokinetics' heads explode.
Music by maoudamashii.jokersounds.com.
"Galerians" belongs to Polygon Magic, ASCII Entertainment, and Crave Entertainment
"Akira" belongs to Katsuhiro Otomo and Tokyo Movie Shinsa/Pioneer-Geneon
Risks and challenges
End Transmission Games has produced eight RPG books so far, so we are fairly practiced at writing, testing, editing, illustrating, and laying out RPGs at this point.
However, we are only a two-person company; contrary to our best efforts, sometimes we need to take a little more time to make a quality game, which could delay a release by a few months after our projected timeline. We hope that you will agree that a great game is worth waiting a little longer for, but if we do need to delay a release, it won't be for long!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (45 days)