|Dark Heresy | Published 10 March 2010|
+++Incoming Astropathic Transmission+++
Hello, Dark Heresy fans! This is Sam Stewart here: Ross asked me if I wouldn’t mind taking a few minutes to talk about one of the sections I wrote for Ascension, Ascended Psychic Powers.
Psychic Powers are an iconic part of Warhammer 40K, and frankly, a really cool part as well. Whether it is a Primaris Psyker blasting his enemies with Lightning Arc (or a Farseer augmenting his troops with Fortune and Guide) on the tabletop, or characters accomplishing nigh-impossible heroic tasks in 40K’s books, psychic powers are are awe-inspiring, intimidating...and risky. That’s the feeling I wanted to give Ascended Psychic Powers in Ascension.
First, however, I should reassure you that Ascension’s psychic rules use the same basic mechanics as Dark Heresy, and are completely compatible. Ascended Psychic Powers do not replace the Major and Minor Powers from Dark Heresy—they are the next tier of powers.
That being said, we did augment the rules with some improvements. One of them is introducing a modified form of the Fettered, Unfettered, Push system from Rogue Trader. We felt it was somewhat unreasonable that a psyker lifting an autoquill has a 1 in 10 chance of rolling on the Psychic Phenomena Table, and thus even a conservative psyker has a very short life-span. On the same note, a psyker burning down a city block should have something awful happen. Fettered, Unfettered, and Push allow this, giving a psyker the opportunity to deliberately ‘reign in’ his powers and avoid risks, or opening himself wide to the warp, accomplishing impressive psychic prowesses...and suffering the inevitable consequences.
Ascended Psychic Powers are also organized differently from the powers in Dark Heresy. Instead of the Disciplines of Biomancy, Pryomancy, and the like, each Ascended Psychic Power is actually three separate powers linked by a common theme. When a Throne Agent purchases a new Psychic Power, he is actually buying the first rank of that Power, which he can use immediately. The other two ranks each have an XP cost, and as soon as the Throne Agent gains enough XP, he can purchase the second rank power, then the third rank power, independent of his Career Advance charts. This represents the Throne Agent mastering a certain aspect of psychic powers, such as a deamonhunter mastering the ability to affect the deamonic or a psychokinetic mastering his skills in moving objects with his mind.
As an example, let’s take a look at the Stormwroth Ascended Psychic Power. The first rank is Lightning Arc, a solid power that allows the psyker to hurl bolts of warp lightning at his foes, an effective but one-dimensional display of power. If a Throne Agent purchases the second rank, he is also able to manifest a Lightning Field around his body, shrouding himself in crackling electricity and making attacks against him a risky proposition. Finally at rank three, the Throne Agent can summon a Lightning Storm, blasting every foe around him. Of course, the psyker will likely have to Push to manifest it, but what’s a reward without a little risk?
One other detail I’d like to touch on briefly is the cost of Ascended Psychic Powers. Their XP cost is high, however Throne Agents have the ability to “trade in” Major and Minor Powers, discarding them to reduce the cost. This is in keeping with Ascension’s goal of simplifying high-level characters—giving players the option to discard extraneous powers and simplifying their abilities.
Dark Heresy is a roleplaying game set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, the grim darkness of the far future. Players take on the roles of Acolytes serving the Inquisition, rooting out heresy and corruption from within the galaxy-spanning Imperium of Man.
Sounds brilliant to me Sam, can't wait to get hold of the book!