Esper abilities-- or as they are properly known in the world of Silent Möbius, "Ylper powers" (derived from ylem perception)—represent the awesome powers of the human mind unleashed. Unlike sorcery, esper abilities don't draw on outside forces and thus a different dynamic exists for their use. Like many anime espers, those in SM seem prone to mental instability and violent episodes of megalomania, often growing worse as the esper grows more powerful.
In the game, Esper powers are derived from the Mind attribute, more specifically from a new sub-attributte called Ylem. A description follows here.
This subattribute is derived from Mind and only those characters with a positive Ylem can develop esper powers. Unless noted specially, all existing characters have a Ylem of 0 regardless of their Mind attribute. Like Magic, Ylem can be expended, typically during Desperate Efforts. All expended Ylem points return at the beginning of the next session.
The use of esper abilities is governed with a new skill which functions very much like Sorcery.
Only esper characters may possess this skill.
Physical Ability: You can trigger and control your innate esper powers. You can also perceive ylem manifestations for what they are. You can perceive astral presences and entities even when they aren't yet manifest in the physical plane. The difficulty for this is 8. You automatically recognize when you are targeted with esper abilities.
Knowledge: You are aware of the Esper Underground and know something of the YLEM project and its goals. You know the nature of the Astral Plane if you have access to it through your powers and you know how to maneuver through it and find what you seek. You can recognize astral entities and know something of their habits and motivation.
Contacts: You know other espers, esper wannabes and scientists who study ylem phenomena. You know a few astral creatures personally and even a few higher beings you can consult with occasionally.
Using Ylper Powers
To employ a esper power typically requires a Ylper Powers skill check with a difficulty which varies based on the effect you wish to generate. Effects which target a victim-- such as most direst combat abilities-- face a difficulty equal to your opponent's Dodge. Those powers which effect the mind or will usually use Mind, Will or Ylem whichever is higher. Other ability-specific difficulty modifiers may apply and some powers have a fixed difficulty.
The use of esper powers is a Complex action and thus requires 3 shots to complete, though this may be shaved in a snap shot though not without risks. A certain measure of concentration is required to wield esper powers, but not so much that you can't passively dodge without penalty, though to actively dodge adds 1 to the shot cost of all your esper actions.
Esper Power and Stunts
You can use your Ylem powers to perform stunts such as attacking multiple targets (-1 AV per additional opponent), make called shots and gain ancillary effects (standard -2 AV penalty) such as using your TK blast to knock a mook into a control panel, wrecking both.
Dodging with Ylper Powers
If you possess Blast, Movement or Clairvoyance you can use your Ylper Powers as your Dodge AV by deflecting attacks with a psychokinetic barrier, a rippling heat-field or by simply foreseeing the attacks before they are delivered.
When desperate you can expend points from your Ylem secondary attribute to temporarily boost your Ylper Powers AV. For every point you spend, you may add 1 to your Ylper Powers AV for your next check, after which you subtract the expended points from your Ylem for the remainder of the game session.
When you stretch your body past its limits, you can tear muscles, rip tendons and burst blood vessels. In a similar vein, abuse of your esper talents can cause some serious side effects. If you fumble and fail any Ylper Powers check, you suffer immediate Brain Burn and gain a burn point. If you roll boxcars when shaving the shot cost of a esper action or using desperate efforts, you automatically gain a burn point regardless of whether or not you succeed.
Your burn point total represents how mentally unstable you are becoming from disruptive Ylem patterns in your brain and nervous system. Each point acts as a point of Impairment but only effects your social interactions and perceptions. You must subtract your total burn points from any AV based on Charisma or Perception. In addition, you begin to display symptoms similar to paranoid schizophrenia with a severity based on your total number of points.
Burn Point Total Side Effects 1-3 Mild Paranoia 4-6 Mild Auditory Hallucinations 7-8 Mild Visual Hallucinations 9-10 Dangerous Paranoia & Megalomania 11+ Inability to Separate Hallucination from reality
At the end of any session in which you have burn points, you may make a straight Ylem check with your total number of burn points as the difficulty. You may then subtract the Outcome from your total of burn points. Any points which remain must be carried over to the next session. If you fail this check altogether, your esper dissonance has overwhelmed your rational mind, and the next time you succeed with a Ylper Powers check with an outcome of 5 or more, your powers run wild for a number of sequences equal to the last outcome. You smash things, warp minds and generally cause horrible damage unless taken down fast. The only good thing about this sort of episode is that you get to make a Ylem check when its over reduce your total number of burn points, just before you pass out.
Esper Power Difficulty
The listed difficulty for a given esper power can vary based on circumstance. Use the following table as a guide for modifying difficulty.
Ylper Powers Difficulty Modifiers
Nature of Desired Effect Modifier Completely Derails Plot automatic failure Helps Move Plot Along -3 Is Boring or Expected use of Power **+1 Is Especially Entertaining -2 Slows Down the Story +5 Is Necessary to Advance the Plot automatic success ** doing damage to an opponent is never considered boring or expected
Espers can combine their powers to create greater effects, A group of espers in close proximity can focus their power to boost the effect of a single member of the group. The lead esper acquires a number of free Ylem points to use in boosting a single AV. These additional Ylem are only available while the espers are linked in Gestalt but when they are spent it doesn't reduce the Ylem secondary attribute of the lead esper. The danger of Gestalt is that of the lead esper fumbles his Ylper Powers check, everyone in the group gains Burn points
Esper Gestalt Bonus
Number of Extra Espers Bonus Ylem Points 1 1 5 3 10 5 15 10 20 15
each additional esper beyond 20 adds 1 bonus Ylem point.
Here are some new schticks for espers and some modifications for existing sorcery schticks. Some difficulties listed below require you to divide. Always round fractions up for difficulty.
Modified Sorcery Schticks:
Some sorcery schticks translate well into Ylper terms, others have little relevance. Divination, Fertility, and Summoning don't fit the esper mojo very well, and Weather only does so with a stretch.
Blast: Most self-respecting espers possess this schtick. Below are a few possible ylper special effects. Like sorcerers espers can create Force Walls and the base blast damage is Ylem plus 2.
Disruption: shatter the molecular structure of matter telekinetically. Living things suffer massive, deep bruising, internal bleeding and pulverized bones. Ridged matter is especially vulnerable to Disruption. Against inanimate matter this power inflicts 2 more damage or requires 2 less Outcome to smash it.
Pyro Blast: You use your psychokinesis to accelerate molecular motion creating a rush of burning air and blistering heat. Makes a nice cup of coffee.
Cryo Blast: Slow molecular motion to freeze a target. Cold blooded creatures suffer triple impairment from such injuries. Also good for cooling drinks.
Psychokinetic Slash: Create a narrow blade of telekinetic force to slash your opponents to ribbons. If you spend a point of Ylem when you use this, it slashes through mundane armor like butter.
TK Bolt: A basic telekinetic attack to smash people and break things.
TK Blast: This attack does not direct damage, but targets successfully hit with it are blown back a number of meters equal to your Ylem rating plus your outcome. If they strike a solid object, they then suffer normal Blast damage (Ylem + 2). Good if your fighting on a roof.
Mind Stab: A purely mental attack that is resisted with Willpower rather than Toughness. By spending a Ylem point you can mind stab everyone in a radius equal to you normal Ylem rating in meters.
B> Neural Disruption: Lock into an opponent's nervous system and scramble it. Target suffers 1 point of impairment for every 2 points of outcome (rounded down) for the remainder of the fight.
Psi Scream: Blast your opponent's mind with telepathic noise. They take a penalty to their AV during their next shot equal to your outcome.
This schtick is essential unchanged but a few new effects are available to espers.
Telepathy: You can read the mind of a target or project your thoughts into their mind in a form of mental communication which spans the language barrier. Mental contact with entities is not recommended for those espers who like being sane, but contact with other espers is easy and pleasurable. Once you establish a mental link you can use your other esper powers on the subject regardless of their location with only a +3 difficulty to that power. A subject resisting your mental contact may add their Willpower to your difficulty. The distance separating you from your subject and your knowledge of them both figure into the difficulty of this effect.
Circumstance Difficulty Can see target base 5 Distance up to 1 km base 10 In same City base 15 In same Region base 20 Anywhere on Earth base 25 Know Well -5 Met Once 0 Don't Know add 5Movement
Gross Movement: An order of magnitude beyond Chucking Things About is this special effect. It allows espers to perform truly awesome telekinetic feats, but with no real finesse or dexterity. The esper digs in his heels and throws his will against some truly huge mass, and with enough force can lift it, jerk it roughly about and move it a number of meters per sequence as he has points of Outcome. This effect has a tolerance judged in meters, and it can't be made more accurate than that. This ability only lasts while the esper concentrates, and thus requires even more effort then a continuous action, adding 2 to all shot costs while it is maintained. This effect can be used to support collapsing structures, and considering the Collateral Damage plug-in, its a good thing.
Mass Difficulty Big (car) 10 Huge (Truck) 15 Enormous (Jumbo jet) 20 Vast (Ocean Liner) 25
Teleportation: With the special effect you can use psychokinetic force to warp yourself from one place to another, traveling almost instantly. The shot cost for all teleportation is 8 and you don't vanish until the last shot of that, so its not terrible practical in combat. You can transport yourself to any location in the world you have been, can an make a shot at traveling to places you have only heard about or seen pictures of. The difficulty of the teleport spell is as follows:
Location is Difficulty Within Sight 5 Within 1 km 10 Within the City 15 Within the Region 20 Anywhere in the World 25 Well Known (your own home or office) -2 Known (a bar you frequent) +0 Casually Known (a place you saw on TV) +5 Barely Known (someone told you about it) +10
You can bring others along with you for the cost of 1 Ylem point per person. You automatically carry your personal belongings with you when you 'port, but can carry an additional 10kg for each +1 to the difficulty. This effect creates an powerful psychic shockwave which any esper within a radius of kilometers equal to the 'port's difficulty.
Biokinesis is the esper manipulation of living things. It allows you to shift your shape, close your wounds and manipulate other living things. When you suffer brain burn from fumbled Biokinesis you usually suffer all-over crawling sensations like insects beneath the skin or you forget what you look like, becoming obsessed with your own reflection and identity. Unless otherwise noted, these effects last for a number of minutes equal to the outcome of the check. If you spend a point of Ylem when rolling the effect, it will last for a number of hours equal to the outcome instead. You can automatically affect yourself, but much touch others to effect them.
Augment Body: You make a Ylper Powers check against a difficulty of 15. You may then divide the Outcome among whichever secondary attributes you desire other than Ylem or those derived from Chi. You can add up to 4 to any single subattribute. This can also be used in reverse, to weaken an enemies form. The difficulty for this is their dodge value or 15 whichever is greater, and you must touch them (typically using Martial Arts) to put the whammy on.
Adapt: You can shift your body to adapt to a natural but hostile environment. You can grow gills, webbed hands and a protective fatty layer for swimming in cold water or thick skin and heat-radiating fins for a desert. You can use this on anyone you can touch. This effect lasts for your Outcome in hours and varies in difficulty based on the following table.
Environment is Difficulty Uncomfortable (Desert) 10 Dangerous (Arctic) 15 Lethal (Deep Sea) 20 Certain death (Outer Space) 25
Shape Shift: You can shift the shape of yourself or another you can touch. If your subject doesn't resist, this is no more difficult than shifting your own shape, but if they resist they may add their Mind, Willpower of Ylem to your difficulty. The base difficulty is based on the degree of the change. A simple change (sex) would have a difficulty of only 10, while a vary complex change involving an increase or decrease in mass could have a difficulty as high as 25 (changing into a woolly mammoth). You will gain certain benefits from your new form and certain limitations, but you can't acquire new schticks from alternate forms.
Chameleon: You can change your shape into an identical form to anyone you can touch. This has a fixed difficulty of 15, but your body will resemble your subject exactly, right down to fingerprints and retinal prints. Your voice will be basically the same as theirs, but without skill in deception you won't be able to convince anyone who knows the subject well. The difficulty for someone to see through your disguise is your Ylem plus your Outcome on this check. If someone knows your subject this is reduced by 2 and if they know your subject well by 5. Skills such as Detective are appropriate for seeing through such a disguise.
Regeneration: You can use your ylem energy to boost your own or another's metabolism and cause tissues to weave together. You make a Ylper Powers check with a difficulty of your current wound point total and subtract the Outcome from your wounds. You can also use this power to purge yourself of poison or diseases. The difficulty varies based on how potent the disease or toxin, ranging from 10-20. Success frees your body of poison of cures your illness. To use this on another requires skin to skin contact. Regardless of how it is used, this effect always costs a Ylem point.
This power involves heightened perception, projecting your senses across great distances and into the past and future. Clairvoyance burn points often cause particularly realistic hallucinations as your senses slip uncontrollably into other places and times.
Visions: A clairvoyant esper acts as a receiver for all manor of strange transmissions. He experiences flashes of insight about situations and people, and is rarely caught completely flat-footed in new situations. With a esper powers check against a difficulty of 12 you can gain some useful bit of information about your current situation. You are also subject to plot-advancing visions of the future or trouble in the making at the GM's whim.
Danger Sense: By taking a moment to attune yourself to your surroundings, you can gain a split second of forewarning to impending dangers. Make a esper powers check against a secret difficulty. The GM then adds this to your initiative during the first sequence of combat if you are surprised. This also prevents you from being ambushed, allowing you to react normally during a fight, and it will allow you to make any normal checks to avoid natural hazards and booby traps. This effect lasts for the entire current scene.
Farsense: You can project your senses across great distances and observe events. While farsensing your body is senseless and immobile. The difficulty varies based upon the distances you wish to bridge and your familiarity with the location. The number of senses you wish to employ also increases the difficulty. The following table describes the relevant difficulties:
Circumstance Difficulty Distance up to 1 km base 10 In same City base 15 In same Juncture base 20 Different Juncture base 25 Each sense beyond the first add 1 Familiar With Area -2 Very Familiar With Area -5
Precognition: You can sense things which happened in your immediate area which happened in the past or will happen in the future. The past is usually very clear, especially when strong emotions burned an event into the esper landscape. The future is always hazy and uncertain and prophecy is dangerous business (just ask any ancient Greek playwright). The difficulty for this is 5 per decade past or day in the future. If you expend a Ylem point, this increases to a century past and a year in the future. Events with strong emotional content are much easier to interpret than those without.
Psychometry: with a simple esper powers check against a difficulty of 10, you can read esper impressions off any object you touch. The information you gain from this will reveal who last held it, who held it and used it longest and any strong emotions attached to the object. You can also get a sense for an unfamiliar device's functions. If you expend a Ylem point and make a difficulty 15 check while touching an object which has been used by a skilled operator you can, for a number of minutes equal to the check's outcome, use the object with that person's skill AV or your own Ylper Powers AV, which ever is lower.
For example: Jack Cross, a esper detective, is cornered by members of an assassin cult in a museum and his magnum is knocked from his hand. In desperation he snatches up an ancient Katana from a display case next to him. Jack has virtually no martial arts training (Martial Arts AV 6), but he is a powerful esper (Ylper Powers 15). He spends a point of ylem and performs an advanced reading on the object, finding it was wielded by a Ronin samurai in 1665 named Tokamia Shima famous in his own time for his Seven Drunken Fairies style. The GM rules Shima's martial arts AV was 14. Jack makes his check with an Outcome of 3. For the next three minutes, Jack can use the sword against his foes with an AV of 14. He feels his hands moving of their own accord, and words in Japanese-- a language he doesn't speech-- rise in his throat, snarling: "who is this dog meat which challenges me?"
This schtick allows you to control the rate of molecular motion around you, shifting temperature. As a side effect, you are always comfortable in normal conditions as you unconsciously shift the temperature as many a 5 degrees Celsius .
Temp Shift: You can raise or lower the temperature in your area. The difficulty is the area you wish to effect in meters and you can raise or lower the temperature by 5 degrees for each point of outcome. With extreme shifts, this can cause fluids to freeze and over periods longer then combat it can cause exposure or heat stroke.
Heat Shield: You create a swirling aura of burning air and fire to which you are immune, but which will ignite flammable material and burn anyone who gets within a meter of you, including anyone who tries to attack you in hand to hand combat. Make a Ylper Powers check against a difficulty of 10. The effect lasts for a number of sequences equal to your outcome and it inflicts damage equal to your Ylem subattribute. Unnamed attackers must make a Constitution against a difficulty equal to your Ylem or they go down.
Phase Change: You can cause matter to shift phase, condensing gases to liquids and freezing liquids to solids and back again. A separate roll is required for each phase change. The difficulty is 1 per 10kg of mass that you effect plus a modifier based on the substances melting point.
Substance Melting Point Oxygen +5 Water +5 Plastic +3 Lead +8 Glass +10 Steel +13
Adapt: You can make yourself virtually immune to heat or cold (choose one). The difficulty is based on the heat you have to resist, starting at 10 for desert or arctic temperatures up to 20 for total immunity. The effect lasts for the outcome in minutes or for hours if you spend a Ylem point.
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