Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Mystic Powers Part 4 - Choosing Abilities Continued

Today we continue our delve into assigning abilities to powers. Last time, we built out Body Mastery, Projection, and Perception powers. Today, we will finish up with Dream Mastery, Fate Mastery, Telepathy, and Soul Mastery.

If you’re new to this series or just want a refresher, check out the Mystic Powers Index.

Today, we will continue using GURPS PowersGURPS Power-Ups 2 – Perks, and GURPS Psionic Powers. Other books and series are mentioned, but not necessary to this discussion.

Dream Mastery

Where Projection is just about visiting other planes of existence, Dream Mastery focuses on altered mental states, visiting other entities through their dreams, and shaping the Dreamlands directly. This allows the user to do everything from creating and controlling the dreams of sleeping entities to outright attacks or communication.

This power probably is the least useful to dungeon delvers, but for completeness, I’ll flesh it out here. Who knows? Maybe it will end up more powerful and interesting than I expect!

Attack Abilities

Dream Mastery attacks typically involve fatigue attacks with Missed Sleep. Afflictions are more broad. They should be able to inflict sleep-related traits via Advantage, Disadvantage, Negated Advantage, and Negated Disadvantage. They should also be able to put people to sleep via Sleep, Unconsciousness, and Coma, put people in a hypnogogic state via Paralysis, or cause daydreams via Hallucination.

On top of these direct attacks, Dream Mastery also includes the ability to Create and Control dreams directly – these are broad categories.

Defensive Abilities

Defensive abilities generally don’t include Damage Resistance, since it really doesn’t fit the power’s focus. It does include a number of other defenses, however: Doesn’t Sleep makes the user immune to sleep spells and the like, Mind Shield (Limited, Dream Attacks Only, -40%) defends against psychic sleep attacks, and Fearlessness or Unfazeable protect against fear attacks.

Movement Abilities

Jumper (Spirit) with Limited Access, Dreamlands (-20%) certainly fits and will often carry Projection, as well. Similarly, Snatcher with Creation and Only in the Dreamlands (-20%) is also appropriate for being able to create objects out of dreamstuff. Otherwise, movement abilities don’t really fit.

Mental Abilities

I feel like the bulk of this power’s abilities should be mental. Communication offers up Channeling while sleeping and Telesend with Only on Sleeping Targets (-20%). Influence abilities are diverse but focused only on those already asleep: Animal Empathy, Charisma, Empathy, Mind Control with Conditioning Only or Suggestion for Inception-style action, and Terror for nightmares. All of these carry the Accessibility, Only on Sleeping Targets (-20%). Information abilities are similarly broad while only working on those whose minds have wandered to the Dreamlands: Mind Reading, Mind Probe, and Oracle. The latter requires that the mystic sleeps rather than the target sleeps. Sensorial abilities can only add new supernatural senses: Detect Dreamers or Dreams, and Clairsentience with World Spanning, Dreamlands Only (+0%).

Transformative Abilities

Mystics generally cannot change their forms or substance through this power.

Power Perks

Beginning with Power-Ups 2 – Perks, we have the following: Autotrance and Rule of 15. Autotrance on its own doesn’t really scream power, but it would be fitting for a dreamwalker to be able to induce a trance in others, too. This might make it a worthy perk, so let’s rename it Dream Trance. The mystic makes all rolls and can induce the trance in himself or another whom he must touch. Rule of 15 is relatively mundane, but it is useful.

Next, Psionic Powers offers up the following: Ping (p. 63), Projection Clock (p. 29), and Visions (Aspected Dream) (p. 42). Projection Clock usually applies to projecting in general, but here it applies to sleeping or dreaming. We’ll call it Alarm Clock. We will restrict Ping to sleeping people. Finally, Visions (Aspected Dream) already appears as a power perk for Perception, so I’m wary of including it here, even if it is fitting. Let’s see if we can’t avoid it; if not, we’ll use Dream Visions as it appears in Perception.

Combining all of these, I’m still one perk shy of six, and that includes the one I don’t really want to duplicate. I have an idea for a perk-level Pitiable that results in you being the last one to get targeted in your sleep and anyone who does try to harm you will hesitate – which might let your friends intervene. I like this idea, since it makes you that little bit safer while camping – not a bad thing at all. I’ll call it Sleeping Beauty.

This gives us Alarm Clock, Dream Trance, Dream Visions, Ping, Rule of 15, Sleeping Beauty. If I come up with any ideas for another perk, I’ll substitute it for Dream Visions.

Dream Mastery Abilities

Traits marked with an asterisk (*) also have Accessibility, Only on sleeping targets, -20%.

Animal Empathy*; Channeling, with Accessibility, Only While Sleeping (-20%); Charisma*; Clairsentience, with World-Spanning, Dreamlands Only (+0); Detect for dreams, sleeping people, etc.; Doesn’t Sleep; Fearlessness; Jumper (Spirit), with Limited Access, Dreamlands (-20%); Less Sleep; Mind Control, with Conditioning Only or Suggestion; Mind Probe*; Mind Reading*; Mind Shield (Limited, Dream Attacks Only, -40%); Oracle; Snatcher, with Creation and Accessibility, Only in the Dreamlands (-20%); Telesend*; Terror*; and Unfazeable.

Attacks are primarily built on Affliction with any of Coma, Disadvantage (Delusions, Flashbacks, Phantom Voices, Nightmare, etc.), Hallucinating (for daydreams or altered mental states), Paralysis (for sleep paralysis), Sleep, or Unconsciousness. Fatigue Attacks with Missed Sleep are equally appropriate, however. All should have Malediction.

Power Perks: Alarm Clock; Dream Trance; Dream Visions; Ping; Rule of 15; and Sleeping Beauty.


This power blurs into Telepathy a bit, but in a limited way. I’m not sure if I’m okay with that or not, but those aspects do seem fitting. Metaphysically, this power is very closely related to Telepathy and often leads to that power. I like that despite being a sleep-oriented power, it still provides some useful offensive capabilities and defensive benefits, and it has flavor. I don’t know that most players will be clamoring to build a Dream-based mystic, but anyone who does should produce a very interesting PC.

Fate Mastery

This is the power to shape destiny by exerting your will on the world through Ananta. This causes subtle changes in the world – a distracting breeze here, a fortuitous twig snap there – that subtly stack the odds in your favor. This lets you bless and curse people, cheat at cards, find lost change, get in a lucky parry, etc.

Fate Mastery makes for a powerful supplement to just about any role. Fighters hit more and get hit less; thieves fall or trip traps less; agents have better luck dealing with other people; and wizards are better able to cast spells and avoid unwanted consequences. Basically, those with this power tend to more defined by their core activity is rather than being defined by the power itself. Sorry Domino fans!

Attack Abilities

Afflictions that bless or curse others definitely fit. These should have one of Advantage, Disadvantage, Negated Advantage, or Negated Disadvantage. These should only affect Cursed, Destiny, Luck, Serendipity, Super Luck, or Unluckiness. Note that the GM still decides what actually happens. For a player to do so would require Cosmic (+300%). Fate afflictions must also have No Signature, and one of Malediction, Melee Attack, or Sense-Based.

Defensive Abilities

Defensive abilities tend to represent lucky breaks defending (Enhanced Defenses), fortuitous attention in the face of surprise attacks (Combat Reflexes), and the power’s own resilience (Protected Power). Some applications of Luck – especially with Defensive – can fit here, but I’m putting Luck and related traits under Mental Abilities, in general.

Movement Abilities

One possible movement-related ability might be Terrain Adaptation, with Active. This would represent lucky footing or other breaks that reduce the hampering nature of many terrains. Other than this, movement abilities don’t really fit a fate-oriented power. Of course, Luck, Serendipity, et. al. can help speed travel, but those are ultimately mental abilities.

Mental Abilities

Mental abilities include the ability to shape the fate of yourself and those around you. for the most part, these are Gizmo (lucky I packed that!), Luck with Wishing, Serendipity with Wishing, Super Luck with Alter Reality and Wishing, Visualization with Blessing or Cursing, and Wild Talent. It’s worth noting that Serendipity, Super Luck, and Wild Talent can have any number of levels, so we should consider a reasonable cap. I think half your Power Talent level feels about right for Serendipity and Wild Talent. Super Luck may be as low as one level ever, but possibly 1 level per three levels in your Power Talent.

It also makes sense for this power to be able to detect alterations to reality or fate. This could include anything from blessed or cursed items, to reality-warping powers, to wishes. Naturally, this would be based on Detect. And the ability to accurately guess a good decision seems fitting as well, so let’s include Intuition, too.

Transformative Abilities

Finally, fate doesn’t really call for restorative or transformative abilities. So this will be left blank, too.

Power Perks

Beginning with Power-Ups 2 – Perks, we have the following: Doodad and Sartorial Integrity. As a quirk-level Gizmo, Doodad definitely fits this power, even if it isn’t particularly flashy or amazing. Similarly, Sartorial Integrity means your clothing somehow never gets dirty or torn in combat and your hair never gets mussed – call it luck. While this is flashier for sure, it really doesn’t provide much mechanical benefit. For that reason alone, I’m not including it here. I’d rather not mislead players into taking something that likely won’t be a good buy in the long term.

Next, Psionic Powers offers up the following: Good Neighbor (p. 44), Karma Bank (p. 44), Loaded Dice (p. 44), Moneyclip Magnet (p. 44), and Shopper’s Blessing (p. 44). Good Neighbor applies to hirelings and vendors you frequent regularly. Karma Bank seems like it’d be a fun perk in play, but I’m a little worried about having one more thing to track. This can be foisted on the player, though, so it’ll be his pet – he took it, now he gets to care for it. Loaded Dice and Shopper’s Blessing both seem just fine as is.

Moneyclip Magnet concerns me only because it suggests a way for a PC to not need to dive down holes full of monsters. In more traditional fantasy games, this might work, but for our purposes, it needs some work. Perhaps, if we change it to produce an average of $150 spread over up to 7 daily rolls – if the PC chooses to work all seven days – this could work. This brings it more in line with Scoring Extra Cash (GURPSDungeon Fantasy 2 – Dungeons, p. 4), but we will need to incorporate some dice rolling to maintain the feel of this section. Let’s make it work thus: Each day you make use of Money Clip Magnet, you find 3d x $2 that day in change, trinkets, etc. This averages to $147 per week, which on the face of it, is less than other means of Scoring Extra Cash, but note that you cannot buy up this roll the way you can with skills.

This leaves us with our six perks: Doodad; Good Neighbor; Karma Bank; Loaded Dice; Moneyclip Magnet; and Shopper’s Blessing. As always, I’m open to expanding this number, but I’d like to keep the number of power perks relatively close among powers.

Fate Mastery Abiltiies

Abilities marked with an asterisk (*) are open-ended. The GM should set a limit for each, but reasonable caps are Oddsmaker / 2.

Combat Reflexes; Detect, for blessed or cursed items, reality-warping, wishes, etc.; Enhanced Defenses; Gizmo; Intuition; Luck, with Wishing; Protected Power; Serendipity*, with Wishing; Super Luck*, with Alter Reality and Wishing; Terrain Adaptation, with Active; Visualization, with Blessing or Cursing; and Wild Talent*.

Afflictions that bless or curse others can also fit. These have one of Advantage, Disadvantage, Negated Advantage, or Negated Disadvantage and only affect Cursed, Destiny, Luck, Serendipity, Super Luck, or Unluckiness. Additionally, these must also have No Signature and one of Malediction, Melee Attack, or Sense-Based. While the player is free to state what he would like to see happen, the GM ultimately decides the outcome. Abilities that allow the player to decide carry an additional Cosmic, +300%.

Power Perks: Doodad; Good Neighbor; Karma Bank; Loaded Dice; Moneyclip Magnet; and Shopper’s Blessing.


As one might expect, Fate Mastery is a very heavy on mental abilities and pretty open-ended in terms of actual capability. In a way, this power is only limited by the player’s imagination, since it is all about making the unlikely come to pass. As we’ve seen before, it does fall pretty close to its counterpart in Powers, but there are still differences and additions: Combat Reflexes, Intuition, and Terrain Adaptation to name three.

We are also starting to see some minor overlaps between powers: Perception and Fate Mastery both offer Enhanced Defenses and Intuition; Dream Mastery and Telepathy (will) share Mind Reading, Mind Probe, and Mind Control. I don’t think this is necessarily bad, but I don’t want it to get out of hand. The current level of overlap provides multiple paths to some abilities, which is generally good.


As the name suggests, this is the power to affect other people’s minds with your own mind. I won’t get into how this is accomplished here, since I’ve already covered that, but I will say that its capabilities really aren’t any different than what you’d expect. I suppose, as these powers go, this is probably the most blatantly “psychic” of all of them.

Attack Abilities

Telepathic attacks are a staple in fiction, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t exist in a dungeon-delving game, too. Such attacks will have a one restriction, however: They won’t inflict actual damage. At most, they can inflict a little bit of mental fatigue, but no Scanners-style head explosions. That’s just too flashy for mystical powers. Instead, they will largely rely on Affliction to impose Incapacitating or Irritating Conditions, with Malediction or Based On Will and one of Melee Attack and Sense-Based.

Defensive Abilities

Defenses will naturally include Mind Shield, but it will also include Enhanced Defenses (any), limited to a single target. Other than this, Telepathy tends to be more offensive or mental than defensive.

Movement Abilities

Telepathy isn’t conducive to movement abilities, since it deals with invading and affecting minds.

Mental Abilities

As one might expect, mental abilities abound.

Communication abilities include Medium, Modular Abilities 3 with Limited, Only for Languages (for borrowing a common language), Speak with Animals, Speak with Plants (for plant spirits), and Telesend. The most important aspect of Telepathy is its ability to influence others. Such abilities include Animal Empathy, Empathy, Illusion with Mental, Mind Control, Mind Probe, Mind Reading, Plant Empathy, Possession, Rapier Wit, Spirit Empathy, and Terror. Considering Telepathy, it really doesn’t have what GURPS Powers calls Information Abilities – those almost exclusively belong to Perception. Similarly, Telepathy is weak on sensory abilities and can only justify Detect for minds, thoughts, etc. Not mentioned yet but also suitable is Mindlink. This lets a mystic automatically contact those he has previously linked with. This is a great ability for allies to share!

Note that Charisma is specifically excluded. Mystics that focus in Telepathy typically have Charisma as a side effect of their power, not as a gift from their power.

Transformative Abilities

Physical transformations just don’t fit a purely mental power like Telepathy, so we won’t be including any of these.

Power Perks

Beginning with Power-Ups 2 – Perks, we have the following: Call of the Wild is a must for your typical Crocodile Dundee-type animal taming tricks. Otherwise, most of the perks suitable for Telepathy are relatively mundane in nature. If any fit, it’d be Influence Schticks, but I think there are more interesting perks in Psionic Powers.

Next, Psionic Powers offers up the following: Avatar (p. 63), Gaze into the Abyss (p. 24), I Know What You Mean (p. 63), Ping (p. 63), Soothing Touch (p. 48), and Tactical Reading (p. 63). Of these, I think I can safely say that Gaze into the Abyss, I Know What You Mean, and Soothing Touch are definitely suitable. My hesitation over Avatar is merely that mysticism is but one source of power in the setting, so I’m not sure if telepathic abilities would be common enough for this to be more than a way for a PC to be a little cooler. Mind you, being cool in itself may be worth it, and upon a little consideration, other power sources do offer telepathic abilities. All of this should justify Avatar as an option. Tactical Reading addresses one specific ability in Psionic Powers, so, I also hesitate to include that one. For that reason, I’m going to tentatively remove it from the list until after I make individual abilities. Lastly, Ping appears in Dream Mastery, but it also suits this power rather well. I’d rather include it here for completeness than leave it out.

This gives us Avatar, Call of the Wild, Gaze into the Abyss, I Know What You Mean, Ping, and Soothing Touch for our six power perks. This should work out well, and after abilities are made, I’ll consider going back and adding more to the powers. I do want to be sure that these perks feel special, though, so I’m not sure I’ll ever include Influence Schticks.

Telepathy Abilities

Animal Empathy; Detect sentient minds, sapient minds, etc.; Empathy; Enhanced Defenses (any) with Accessibility, One Target at a Time (-20%); Illusion with Mental; Medium; Mind Control; Mind Probe; Mind Reading; Mind Shield; Mindlink; Modular Abilities 3 (Cosmic) with Limited, Languages Only (-50%); Plant Empathy; Possession; Rapier Wit; Speak with Animals; Speak with Plants; Spirit Empathy; Telesend; and Terror.

Attacks are also possible. These are primarily based on Affliction with one of Incapacitating or Irritating Condition, but Advantage, Disadvantage, Negated Advantage, or Negated Disadvantage are also possible for traits like Absent-Mindedness, Confused, Versatile, etc. Fatigue Attack is also possible with Cannot Reduce Fatigue below Zero, (-10%). All options above must also have Malediction, Melee Attack, or Sense-Based, and if a resistance roll is allowed, be modified as necessary to be resisted by Will.

Power Perks: Avatar; Call of the Wild; Gaze into the Abyss; I Know What You Mean; Ping; and Soothing Touch.


As predicted at the start of our exploration of this power, its abilities didn’t fall too far from the original in Powers. This one does include speaking and empathy traits for animals, plants, and spirits for two reasons: (1) it adheres to the fluff that says you contact entities through their spirits and (2) there aren’t other powers in mysticism that do this. Telepathy is the most suitable home for these, so here they are. Otherwise, I don’t think there’s really much to say here. It’s got offense, some defense, and a whole lot of mental abilities, as one might expect.

Soul Mastery

What does it mean to “manipulate a person’s soul” mechanically? This is a question we will have to answer before we move on to the ability shopping spree. We know this can inflict or heal spiritual wounds, remove corruption – something that will get addressed in greater detail real soon –, and siphon away a person’s life force – a very vampiric ability. But those just describe affectations of Soul Mastery without actually defining it directly (thank you,Socrates).

A person’s soul is his essence, his being, and his connection to Ananta. This suggests a few things about manipulating souls. Harming a soul harms the person in a very direct way, healing a soul should heal a person equally directly, and that connection to Ananta may or may not be vulnerable. Up until now, a spirit’s connection to Ananta has been sacred, so I’m not sure if I want a power to be able to attack that, and effectively serve as an anti-power. Of course, if any power should, Soul Mastery is the one. The other two capabilities speak to healing and harming – probably with a side of vampirism. These are where we will spend most of our efforts.

Attack Abilities

Innate Attacks that inflict burning, corrosion, or toxic damage are suitable for scorching, unmaking, or poisoning a person’s soul, so long as they have Malediction. Afflictions might include those that inflict Nausea, Retching, Unconsciousness, or Coma, and again, should have Malediction. Other attack abilities don’t seem particularly appropriate unless we dive anti-power traits, which we aren’t at this point.

This is also where we get to mention Leech. This power definitely fits the more nefarious abilities we will make, so let’s mention it now.

Defensive Abilities

Defensive abilities largely center around defending against these powers and corrupt attacks. Damage Resistance with Limited, Soul Mastery (-40%) or Corrupt (-60%); Resistant or Immune to Soul Attacks; and Protected Power do most of the heavy lifting here. Some others might make sense under special circumstances but aren’t worth mentioning explicitly at this point.

Movement Abilities

Affecting souls really doesn’t equate to movement, so these powers really don’t have a place here.

Mental Abilities

The only communication ability that strikes me as inherently appropriate is Special Rapport with Transferable, and True Faith with Cosmic could make for a good influence ability. The Cosmic should either remove the dice roll or allow it to affect any entity native to the world. I kind of like the latter, although that would be extremely powerful; we’ll see how it works out when we make individual abilities.

Communication abilities are generally not a great fit, but Detect seems appropriate for finding souls – or the lack thereof, detecting corruption, identifying diseases or sickness, etc. That plays well into the healing aspects of this power.

Transformative Abilities

Most transformative abilities don’t really fit well. Affecting one’s soul isn’t going to let you shapeshift, sprout wings, or turn mud into gold. It will let you heal people, though, so Healing and Regeneration are in. Furthermore, we might consider Afflictions with Advantage that grant Rapid Healing, Regeneration, and Recovery.

Power Perks

Beginning with Power-Ups 2 – Perks, we have the following: Efficient Esoteric Medicine (p. 15) and Efficient Surgery (p. 15). These are both particularly fitting for a power that includes healing; they effectively cut the time needed to perform lengthy medical tasks by 20%. I’m going to list both of them, since they are just specialties of the same perk.

Next, Psionic Powers offers up the following: Controllable Lifebane (p. 51), Healing Bond (p. 48), Life Support (p. 48), Natural Doctor (p. 48), and Personal Awareness (p. 24). All five of these seem perfectly fitting for this power. They give a nice blend of healing and soul-blasting perkiness for our power. Not really much more to say here.

This gives us Controllable Lifebane, Efficient Esoteric Medicine, Efficient Surgery, Healing Bond, Life Support, Natural Doctor, and Personal Awareness. That’s seven, but two of them are just different specialties of the same perk, so I’m okay with that for now. I expect to expand the power perks lists in the future, anyway.

Soul Mastery Abilities

Damage Resistance with Limited, Soul Mastery (-40%) or Corrupt (-60%); Healing; Protected Power; Regeneration; Resistant or Immune for soul attacks; Special Rapport with Transferable; and True Faith, with Cosmic.

Afflictions that either represent sickness – e.g., Attribute Penalties, Nausea, Coma, Retching, etc. – or can result in healing – e.g., Ecstasy, Sleep, Advantage with Rapid Healing, Regeneration, or Recovery, etc. – are appropriate. Burning, Corrosion, or Toxic Attacks are appropriate as long as they represent burning, annihilating, or poisoning the target’s soul. Lastly, Leech in its many forms is also appropriate. In all cases, attacks should have Malediction.

Power Perks: Controllable Lifebane; Efficient Esoteric Medicine; Efficient Surgery; Healing Bond; Life Support; Natural Doctor; Personal Awareness.


This power is still a bit ill-defined and thin on abilities. It definitely has strong offensive capabilities and provides healing outside of divine magic, but it isn’t terribly fleshed out just yet. I think I’ll be taking a lengthy look at Psychic Healing and Psychic Vampirism in Psionic Powers before really solidifying this power’s abilities. Still, for a first pass, we have some good ideas floating around, so it’s a starting point. 

Next Time...

...I will take a little break from mysticism while I scrape together a more formalized summary of what we have so far. In the meantime, I’ll tackle another topic that sets Starfall apart from standard GURPSDungeon Fantasy: the corrupting influence of the Maelstrom.

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