Saturday, July 5, 2014

Playing a Psychic in RIFTS, Part 3: Not All Psychics Are Equal

Last week I talked about the importance of getting into your man's head. This week I'm going to expand on that by showing a very basic application of that concept.

RIFTS assumes that there are three grades of psychics: minor, major, and master. Master psychics are those whose powers are strong enough to become Occupations in their own right (Burster, Mind Melter, et al). Major psychics possess notable power in depth or breadth, but not both; many of them blend their powers with a suite of mundane professional skills and acumen and thus become strong through a form of hybrid vigor, as their powers allow them to fill gaps that mundane capability cannot fill (stronger Cyber-Knights, Operators, etc.). Minor psychics use their powers as augmentations to an otherwise ordinary professional training; they lack depth and breadth, but what powers they do possess often allow them to operate better at their professions than would be the case otherwise.

In the lived experience of these characters, how they experience their powers and how they incorporate their powers into the rest of their lives will inevitably result in a very different perception of what their place in the world is and how they relate to it.
  • A minor psychic's few and shallow powers means that they will see psychic abilities, by and large, as an adjunct to everyday life that they are privileged to possess and enjoy. It is unlikely that their powers will allow them to so dominate their surroundings that they cease to see non-psychics as not that different (and certainly capable of beating them, should they wish to be a threat); this is the way that even highly-skilled soldiers and security experts see themselves with regard to others and the world in general, if they are honest with themselves- they have a distinct edge, and that can (and does) make a significant difference, but nothing more, so don't disrespect others lest you find that edge negated when you need it.
  • A major psychic's powers can possess enough breadth or depth to, at the least, put them well past what competent ordinary folk can do with the same training; they have to possess augmentation of some sort to keep up. Major psychics routinely create a very distinct perception of themselves and their place in the world through their hybridization of their powers and their professions; being a grunt with Sixth Sense is just another grunt with a useful trick that can be overwhelmed like any other, but a Cyber-Knight is an elite warrior whose powers--blended with his martial training--put him on par with Crazies, Juicers, and Full Conversion Cyborgs. He's special, a clear step up from the norm, and he knows it.
  • A master psychic is someone whose entire identity stems from their powers. They self-identify as, and perceive life through the status being, a psychic. They see that they are not ordinary folk, and their powers easily put them on par with powerful magicians or highly-augmented soldiers despite no need for formal training or external apparati. God Complexes are not uncommon for a lot of such figures, especially if they did not grow up in a psychic community or come under the mentorship of an equal in psychic ability, and once that takes hold it is often self-reinforcing (and therefore difficult to break); it is a very clear mark of a well-disciplined, well-trained, and mature personality who resists such narsistic and egotistical tendencies in favor of maintaining the true view of individuals as just that regardless of a lack of powers.
Next week, I'll begin breaking down the psychic into a set of archetypes (as I did with magic-users), with these power categories as guidelines.

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