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PsiKnight: A Story Engine of Psionic Knights and Knightly Honor
Creating Your PsiKnight
Your knight begins life with a name, 0 Honor Points, 0 Prestige Points, and six skills: Lance, Ride, Observe, Shield, Dodge, and Sword. Three of the six skills--your choice which--start at 40%, while the others start at 30%.
Your knight will also select one, two, or three psi-skills. You have 40 percentiles to divide between your psi-skills; points must be allocated in increments of 10%, and at least 10 percentiles must be placed in each selected psi-skill. The skills are:
- Apportation: moving things with the mind
- CPK: self-healing through cell manipulation
- Hypercognition: flashes of insight into the present
- Mesmerism: the power of suggestion
- Telepathy: mind-to-mind communication
- Catapsi: psychic static to disrupt psi powers
- Negapsi: ability to reverse psi energies
The checklists for fighting use two common shorthand phrases.
"Roll X": This means rolling a set of percentile dice, giving results from 1 to 100. In a CompuServe Conference room, the command is /roll 100; on Genie or Delphi, it is /rol 1d100. On IRC, you'll need a script to handle die rolls. Compare the number you roll to your "X" skill. If your roll was equal to or less than the value of your "X" skill, you succeed. Otherwise, you fail.
"Bonus": Whenever you earn a Bonus, there are three times you may use it to improve your lot:
- You may add the Bonus to your Lance or Sword skill for your next attack.
- You may add the Bonus to your applicable skill to defend against your opponent's next attack, if you are hit.
- You may subtract the Bonus from your opponent's skills for defense against your next attack, if you hit. This use is assumed unless you make a contrary announcement.
The World of PsiKnight
In PsiKnight, all participants take up the role of an elite fighter very much like the knights of our own past (or at least the idealized versions of fiction). However, in this world all who are so trained and knighted also have mental gifts beyond the norm, several of which aid them in becoming superior warriors. Both male and female PsiKnights are known.
PsiKnights may fight out interactive stories on a number of levels.
First of all, friendly jousts may be arranged between PsiKnights at any time in the conference areas. A friendly joust involves up to three passes using the Joust checklist, and may continue by agreement with Swordplay regardless of the Joust results. Only one practice fight with a given opponent may be recorded on any given day.
Tournaments will be scheduled once per month, with one of the three monarchs or another noble sponsor as host. A tournament involves two parts: Lists and Melee.
Lists are a formal one-on-one elimination contest. Knights are paired at random, with the exception that no knight will sit out more than one round as the "odd man out". Paired combatants fight up to three Joust passes, or until one knight is unhorsed. If both remain mounted after the third pass, they dismount and fight Swordplay until one knight is "killed". Losing knights are not paired in later rounds. Eventually only one knight will remain unbeaten--the champion.
Melee follows the lists. It is a chaotic free-for-all between two parties of knights. Pairings are made ad hoc between willing knights, one pass at a time. Knights fight only from horseback in a melee, using the Joust Checklist. An unhorsed knight is eliminated. (In some smaller melees one remount per knight may be allowed.) The fighting continues until the time limit is reached or knights from only one team remain mounted.
There are also rules for warfare, including battles, unfriendly jousts, and ransom. A player knight only faces death in warfare; practice combats and tournaments use rebated weapons, and do not risk death.
All PsiKnights owe initial allegiance to one of three monarchs: King Llewellyn (Gorllewin), King Ragnar (Vegland), or Queen Seonaid (Beanntan). Knights may additionally acquire allegiance to lesser nobles by accepting a land grant from them. Detailed rules for allegiances will accompany the rules for nobility.
PsiKnights may devote all of their earned Honor Points to improving fighting and psi-skills, if they wish. Or they may instead commit some of their gains to acquiring and ruling lands, becoming landed knights, Barons, Viscounts, Earls, and even Dukes. Rulers will not be as proficient at fighting as others of equal experience.
NOTE: Each fighter may use one psi-skill at any appropriate time during each Jousting pass.
1. Both fighters roll Observe. A> If both fail, no Bonus is earned. B> If both succeed, the low roller (if any) earns +10 Bonus. C> If one succeeds and one fails, the success earns +30 Bonus. 2. Both fighters roll Ride, as they charge. A> If one succeeds and one fails, the success earns +15 Bonus. B> Otherwise, there is no effect. 3. If each fighter earned a Bonus in steps 1 and 2, cancel the smaller Bonus and reduce the larger one by the amount of the smaller. Thus, only one fighter will have a Bonus. 4. The fighter who rolled the higher Ride roll in step 2 announces a sweep attack, if desired. 5. The other fighter may now announce a sweep if desired. 6. Determine first strike: A> If one fighter sweeps, the other gets first strike. B> If neither (or both!) sweeps, the fighter with a Bonus gets first strike. C> If A and B do not decide, the fighter with the highest unmodified Lance or Ride skill goes first. D> If C is also tied, either fighter may roll first, but both will get to attack and it is possible for both to be unhorsed. 7. First strike declares a High or Low attack, and rolls Lance. A> Lance skill is temporarily increased by 25 if sweeping. B> If Lance hits, second strike rolls Shield or Ride to defend. B1> Against High, Shield skill is limited. B2> Against Low, Ride skill is limited. B3> "Limited" skills above are considered to be no higher than the number rolled for the Lance hit. They may, of course, be lower. C> If Shield/Ride failed, defender is unhorsed, and Joust ends unless rule 6D applied. 8. Repeat the process of step 7, switching fighters. 9. The joust ends after three unsuccessful passes through steps 1-8, or when a fighter is unhorsed and loses. (If a fallen fighter rolled 96-97 for defense, the weapon arm is injured; 98-99, the shield arm; 100, major injuries remove that fighter from further fights this day.) 10. A Joust is followed by Swordplay in a lists when no decision is reached in three passes. It is usually followed by Swordplay in practice, but is an end in itself in a melee.
NOTE: Each fighter may attempt two uses of psi-skills at the appropriate times during a single match using Swordplay.
1. Determine first player: A> If one fighter was just unhorsed in Joust, that fighter goes first. B> If one fighter was just challenged (when there was no Joust), that fighter goes first. C> Otherwise, both fighters roll, low roll going first. 2. First player's turn: A> Declare action, and roll: Attack: Roll Sword. Observe: Roll Observe. Press: Roll Sword, adding 25 to skill for this roll. If this action roll fails, the turn is over; skip to 3. B> If the action succeeded, defender picks a counter and rolls: Block: Roll Shield. Dodge: Roll Dodge. Parry: Roll Sword, subtracting 20 from skill for this roll. Luck: If defender Pressed last turn, roll Luck in place of the usual options. Luck is 10%. C> Results--Observe: If defender failed, attacker earns +30 Bonus. If defender succeeded, but rolled higher than the attacker's Observe roll, attacker earns +10 Bonus. Otherwise, no Bonus is earned. D> Results--Attack/Press: If defender succeeded, the turn is over; skip to 3. If defender failed, attacker rolls Damage (on this table): 01-22 KILL--the defender loses. 23-30 WEAPON ARM--defender may not Block and halves Sword skill (drop fractions) for the rest of the fight. 31-33 SHIELD ARM--defender may not Block for the rest of the fight. 34-50 LEGS--defender falls down and may not Dodge for the rest of the fight. 51-00 Armor protected the defender. No damage. NOTE: A second arm hit of any kind counts as a Kill. 3. The other player now takes a turn, following the sequence outlined in step 2. Repeat alternating turns until one fighter loses.
Aportation--the ability to move objects mentally. When do I roll it?: Just before your own Lance, Sword, or Shield roll. What happens if I succeed?: Add 25% to your Lance, Shield, or Sword skill for this upcoming roll. CPK--the ability to adjust cells mentally; useful in healing. When do I roll it?: Just after you suffer an injury. What happens if I succeed?: Ignore the injury. Hypercognition--flashes of insight into the present. When do I roll it?: Just before your own Observe or Dodge roll. What happens if I succeed?: Your follow-up Observe roll will be considered a success, no matter what number you roll. Or, add 25% to your Dodge skill for this upcoming roll. Mesmerism--the power to plant suggestions or illusions in other minds. When do I roll it?: In a Joust, at the time you would declare a Sweep, when the opponent has a pending Bonus. In Swordplay, just before your action roll on your turn, when the opponent has a pending Bonus. What happens if I succeed?: The opposing Bonus is canceled. Telepathy--the power of mind-to-mind communication. When do I roll it?: In Joust, just before your own Ride roll. What happens if I succeed?: Add 25% to your Ride skill for this upcoming roll. Catapsi--generating psychic static to drown out psi activity. When do I roll it?: Just after your opponent's psi roll succeeds. What happens if I succeed?: The opposing psi effect is canceled. Negapsi--a talent for inverting the expected results of psi. When do I roll it? Just after your opponent's psi roll succeeds. Special Note: Unlike all other skills, a Negapsi roll must also be lower than the roll it proposes to reverse, as well as equal to/lower than the skill value, in order to succeed. What happens if I succeed?: Reverse the psi effect. +25 turns into -25. Automatic success becomes automatic failure. Double your Bonus instead of losing it. Or re-open the almost-healed injury.
Reminder: Each fighter may attempt one psi roll per pass during a Joust. Each fighter may attempt two psi rolls during the entire fight in Swordplay. A CPK roll after a Joust is not subject to this limit.
The Rewards of Honor
Knights receive Honor Points (HP) and possibly Prestige Points (PP) for their achievements on the field. Earned HP can be used to improve knightly skills or to enhance one's lands and fame.
Honor Point Awards ================== 1 HP for each match fought in a tournament lists 1 HP for each tournament melee as a participant 1 HP for each time you unhorse an opponent in a tournament 1 HP for a top three (including ties) finish in a lists 1 HP for being on the winning side in a melee 1 HP for winning the first prize in lists or melee 1 HP for winning a practice fight (limit 4 practice HP per month) How to Spend HP =============== Earned Honor Points may be spent as follows: 2 HP buys a 10% increase in one skill now below 50% 5 HP buys a 10% increase in one skill, 50% to 60% 10 HP buys a 10% increase in one skill, 60% to 70% 12 HP may be exchanged for a grant of lands (see below) 15 HP buys a 10% increase in one skill, 70% to 80%
Knights may after a time opt to devote some of their efforts to ruling as opposed to war. A knight may begin this process by accepting a grant of land. This gives the knight 5 Prestige Points (PP), and may be achieved in two different ways: 1. By expending 12 Honor Points, which will result in a grant of land from a non-player monarch. 2. By receiving 5 PP as a grant from a player noble (Baron, Viscount, Earl, or Duke), who will subtract those PP from their personal total.
A knight with lands will subsequently divide all future HP awards, with half counting as HP and the other half as PP.
A knight who attains 20 or more PP may be named a Baron by their monarch. This is the lowest rank of nobility, and permits that knight to make land grants and acquire vassals. For details, see the Nobility and Allegiance sheet.
A Note on Gender
Both male and female knightly personas are encouraged, despite the past practices of history. This is still a pastime, not a simulation. Female knights are styled Dame; female nobles are Baroness, Viscountess, Countess, and Duchess as appropriate.
Nobility and Allegiance
PsiKnights may become nobles, or advance in noble rank, provided:
- The PsiKnight has a certain number of Prestige Points.
- The PsiKnight holds a grant of lands.
- A PsiKnight owing direct allegiance to a player noble may only be promoted to the same rank as that noble if the candidate also has at least as many personal PP as the lord.
The first noble rank is Baron, requiring at least 20 PP. Barons may become Viscounts upon attaining 80 PP. Viscounts may become Earls with 320 PP. Earls may become Dukes with 1,440 PP. Nobles seeking higher titles may, in addition to personal PP, count the PP of all vassals, of all vassals of their vassals, and 2 more PP per unlanded vassal, only for the purpose of advancement.
Barons and higher nobles may grant lands to worthy PsiKnights. The granting noble subtracts 5 PP, which are given to the recipient. If this change would bring the noble's PP to less than 5 times the new number of vassals of that noble, the grant is not allowed.
Making and Breaking Allegiance
A land grant binds the granting noble (lord) and the recipient (vassal) by the ties of allegiance. Nobles may also accept offers of allegiance from unlanded knights. Specifically:
- Allegiance requires the vassal to always fight on the same side as the lord (granter) in any combat where both are present. Exceptions: practice jousts and lists pairings.
- Allegiance requires the landed vassals to ransom the lord once if the lord be captured. A vassal may not be required to raise the ransom for the lord a second time.
- Allegiance requires that the vassal not declare hostility against others without the lord's approval; this also applies to acts by the vassal's vassals.
- Allegiance requires the lord to ransom an unlanded vassal who is captured. (A landed vassal's ransom is guaranteed by the lands granted instead.)
Allegiance may be broken in four ways:
- By mutual consent, without penalty;
- By either player declaring hostility against the other and forfeiting half their PP for oathbreaking;
- By the lord, if the vassal refuses to perform the duties commanded by allegiance--this costs the ex-vassal half PP;
- By the vassal, if the lord breaks allegiance with a higher lord or fails in the duty to ransom, without penalty.
In all cases save mutual consent this will create a state of hostility between the former lord and vassal until both declare it ended.
The Art of War
A state of hostility may be declared between two player nobles or landed knights at any time, by either player. Such a state also generally comes into existence when an allegiance is broken.
Hostility once begun is extinguished only by assent of both players.
Effects of hostility:
- Any "practice" jousts between hostiles--including any of their vassals or subvassals--are fought for ransom.
- If a "practice" joust would be for ransom, a joust pass in a tournament melee is also for ransom.
- Battles may be arranged between hostile parties, under the usual rules for tournament melees, with all losers being captured and subject to ransom.
The loser of a joust for ransom may not fight again until released by the victor. This is normally through payment of ransom. The victor may also elect to kill the loser, to refuse ransom, to accept less than the usual ransom, or even to free the loser with no ransom at all! The customary ransoms for captured knights are:
Unlanded Knight: 2 PP Landed Knight: 3 PP Baron: 10 PP Viscount: 20 PP Count: 40 PP Duke: 80 PP
These ransoms when accepted are subtracted from the payer(s) and added to the victor's PP total. Receiving PP from ransom does not make an unlanded knight landed, or eligible for nobility, or subject to halving of earned Honor Points.
A non-noble vassal is considered to have met the requirement of allegiance if at least 4 PP are offered toward an applicable ransom, even if the noble thereby pays some PP out of pocket toward release.
Any player with PP may pay all or part of anyone's ransom.
Note that the only way for a character to be killed in PsiKnight, at
present, is to die after being captured in a fight under hostilities.
PsiKnight is Copyright © 1994 by Glenn E. Overby II.
Story Engine is a trademark owned by Randall Stukey.