News for March 2010
A Purposeful Mind 13
A look at Ascended Psychic Powers for Ascension
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.

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Comments (13)

Published: 3/12/2010 8:01:52 AM

Nojo, it might... by giving comparable deity powers to the other characters'...

Published: 3/11/2010 6:51:57 PM

I love DH, but if I had to say what the biggest problem the game has, it would be the god-like powers of the psyker compared to the powers of all other characters at the higher ranks. 

I was hoping  Ascension would address this, but I guess not. 

Published: 3/11/2010 12:11:17 PM

Nice! If this is half as awesome as your chapter in Rogue Trader (and it looks like it will be more than that) then I cannot wait to use it. Aw, who am I kidding. I cannot wait to use it, period. Very excited for Ascension.

Published: 3/11/2010 12:11:05 PM

Uber Munchkin. From the moment the book goes to print there is very little any publishing company can do to expedite it. These spoilers aren't delaying the book's release date at all. If you check the Upcoming page you'll see that Ascension is now shipping. So figure 1-2 weeks for it to be in stores.

Published: 3/11/2010 4:19:03 AM

Actually, I am total PRO SPOILER! since we while we have to waid (anyway!) we can as well get feed some samples.  In addition "not giving us spoilers" will NOT speed up the process of production & delivery :0)

This looks neat. I am very eager about the new system. Perhaps the "Fettered; Unfettered; Pushed" can be yanked away for "Pre-Ascension" Game as well. All this "a 9 = hell breaks loose" is a little stressfull to my psykers". Changed it to "two dice with same numbers = all hell breaks loose!"

Published: 3/11/2010 3:44:36 AM

 I've tried to avoid saying this before as I'm sure you are all fed up of hearing it but can we please stop with the spoilers and just publish the book!  I am so fed up with the constant teasing 'oh you can do this really cool thing here, but you can't do it yet and we're not telling you when'.

It's not like we've been waiting for months beyond the initial supposed publication date is it.

Published: 3/10/2010 7:35:31 PM

 I wonder if trading in Discipline powers will take away an already-established Discipline Mastery?  As an example, consider a Rank 8 Telekine and his Force Barrage - Lightning Arc is basically the same, but MORE.  If he exchanged Force Barrage to reduce the xp cost for Lightning Arc, would that take away that reduction of 5 from Telekine thresholds?

The Hobo Hunter
Published: 3/10/2010 5:56:17 PM

I'm not sure what the general power level of Ascension characters is meant to be, but I can't find anything as full of raw power as Lightning Arc that comes anywhere near as low a threshold of 16 at Acolyte level.

Also, while I liked the idea of levels of fettering powers in RT (though I hated the change of mechanics), couldn't one argue that the idea of fettering one's powers is already represented by the ability to roll less than full Psy Rating during a manifestation? That already reduces the chances of Bad Things Happening, and even when they do happen it's not usually all that bad unless you get a LOLDAEMONHOST, which I personally feel doesn't happen much as it is.

Just some food for thought, as always.

Published: 3/10/2010 4:10:42 PM

 Ok, I get it, the book is awesome. Can we buy it already!

Published: 3/10/2010 3:11:24 PM

Trading in older powers sounds great, things can get cluttered enough even before the heights of Ascension

Published: 3/10/2010 2:20:43 PM

 I like the idea of being able to reign in your powers so as not to chance a warp event.  Great idea and I'm looking forward to this book!

Published: 3/10/2010 2:13:58 PM

some great ideas there. can't wait to get the book and read it for my self. need more updates please, one an hour? if your not busy, cheers :)

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