Sunday, March 19, 2017

Impulse Control in Psi Wars

In Pyramid #3/100, Christopher R. Rice of Ravens N' Pennies wrote the excellent Impulse Control article, which expands on the concept of Impulse Buys from Power-Ups 5 and extends it to other narrative-influencing traits like Luck and Serendipity. This is an excellent system to use in a cinematic game, where the power of plot favors the characters except at those dramatic moments where it turns against them.

As a highly cinematic game, Impulse Control is a natural fit for Psi Wars, especially since it already features Destiny points. In fact, you could just rename Destiny to Impulse Points, use Impulse Control as written, and call it a day. But Impulse Control has so much more to offer than that, so let’s run down the options that fit in a Psi Wars game.

Using Impulse Points

Both Impulse Points and Villainous Points fit, since while the former represents the advantage that heroes have, the latter represent bad luck and dramatic twists against the player characters. Enhanced Refresh for both IP and VP are appropriate, as is the optional rule for faster refresh rates on page 5. Game time refresh rates are not, given the genre’s tendency to gloss over travel time, down time, and other intervening gaps.

For Gaining Points, dramatic in-character actions, staying in-character and in-genre, and trading IP for VP are all appropriate, since they encourage players to do cool, in-genre stuff and offer a chance to succeed at something now that they’ll pay for later. Likewise, Losing Points is all valid. Use the table on page 7 to guide IP awards and penalties.

Since Psi Wars uses the Action framework, including BAD, Really Bad Impulses is quite suitable. Better watch out when accumulating karmic debt, or things may get a lot worse for a while!

For Spending Points, use the rules on page 6 as is. Appropriate expenditures of points include:

  • Big Entrance/Exit (Pyr. 3/100 p. 8)
  • Buying Failure (Power-Ups 2 p. 4)
  • Buying Success (Power-Ups 2 p. 4)
  • Cursing Mooks(Power-Ups 2 p. 6)
  • Deflecting Disadvantages (Power-Ups 2 p. 10)
  • Dooming Foes (Power-Ups 2 p. 5)
  • Favors in Play (Power-Ups 2 p. 8)
  • Flesh Wounds (Power-Ups 2 p. 10)
  • Lucky Break (Pyr. 3/100 p. 8)
  • Perking Things Up: Buying Success (Power-Ups 2 p. 6)
  • Player Guidance (Power-Ups 2 p. 7)
  • Power Boosting  (Pyr. 3/100 p. 8)
  • Roll Bonus (Pyr. 3/100 p. 9)
  • Trading Points for Money (10% of starting funds) (Power-Ups 2 p. 8)

Divine Intervention (Power-Ups 2 p. 9) is also appropriate, but it can only be used by player characters with Communion and uses the rules for influencing Communion rolls given in Psi Wars - Heroes.

Modifying Templates

Using The Buck Stops Here (Pyr. 3/100 p. 8), any Destiny, Luck, Serendipity, or similar traits are converted to the appropriate form of Impulse Points. While Daredevil is included in this list, I suggest leaving it unmodified.

All non-psionic templates have Luck, which becomes either IP 3 (Aspected, rerolls only, -20%) [12]. Add 3 points to be spent on optional advantages. The options to upgrade Luck become Remove Aspected for 3 points, Enhanced IP Refresh (Per Session) 2 or 3 [10 or 20], and Enhanced IP Refresh 1 (Per Hour) [20].

For all templates, Serendipity 1-2 becomes IP 1-4 (Aspected, Player Guidance Only, -20%)  [4/level].

In Disadvantages, add Villainous Points 1-3 [-5/level] to the list of options.

For the Con Artist, the prerequisites for Fool’s Luck become IP 3 and Enhanced Refresh 1 (Per Hour). Improve Extreme Luck to Ridiculous Luck becomes Improve IP 3 to IP 5 [25] for 10 points and improve Enhanced IP Refresh 1 (Per Hour) Enhanced IP Refresh 1 (Per 30 minutes) [40] for 20 points. Destiny 1 (“The Price of Fortune”) becomes Villainous Points 1 [-5].

For the Mystic, Psi-Hunter, and Space Knight, Destiny and Luck become IP [5/level] and Enhanced IP Refresh 2 (Per Session) [10].

For the Heroic Lens, Destiny 3 becomes 15 points spent on additional levels of IP [5/level] and Enhanced IP Refresh (Per Session) [10/level]. Alternatively, remove 5 points from the list of advantages and spend 20 points on Enhanced IP Refresh (Per Hour) [20/level].

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