Psi World presents two methods for determining a character's psionic disciplines. Under the 'design' method, “The player may select either one Major or two Minor disciplines of his/her choice.” This is method is ideal when attempting to create a psionically balanced party; however, the 'random roll' method allows “hopes of gaining additional abilities.” With the 'random roll' method, the player chooses to roll once on the Major discipline table or roll two or three times (1d2+1) on the Minor discipline table.
The rule book describes seven Major disciplines: Precog, Telepath, Teleport, Telekinetic, Self-Aware, Healer, and Empath. The Major discipline table gives a 13% chance for each discipline. There is also a 7% chance of obtaining a “Roll 1 Major and 1 Minor” result and a 2% chance of obtaining a “Roll 2 Majors” result.
Extra-Sensory Perception would have been a better name than “Precog” since that discipline includes such talents as clairvoyance, detect life, and 360° vision. The “Precog” augury ability is interesting; it “allows the precog to ask any question to which a one word answer may be given...[that] will be accurate and truthful.” No equivocation, no chance for error. Contrast the 'cosmic awareness' power from Villains & Vigilantes or the 'augury' spell in D&D; in these instances a player cannot be absolutely certain of accuracy – there is some wiggle room for the game master. In Psi World, the referee may need to think quickly in order to provide a viable answer and not spoil the adventure. Wimpy referees may need to apply some sort of limiting house rule to make their lives easier.
The Teleport discipline is largely self-explanatory. “No two objects may occupy or attempt to occupy the same space.” However, one of the Teleport abilities is 'out of phase,' which allows a psi “to shift the physical substance of his/her body...into a non-material state” and move through obstacles. Stealth is difficult in conjunction with teleportation because the displacement of air causes “a loud popping sound.”
Telekinesis is misspelled 'Telekenisis' on page 17. I listed some of the abilities of the discipline in the last paragraph of this earlier post.
Self-Awareness is a 'mind over matter' discipline that includes abilities such as feign death, resist pain, heal self, etc. One quirky ability is 'alter mass,' allowing a psi to raise or lower his or her mass, but not weight. The description of the ability says its power cost is “one point per each inch the character becomes taller/shorter.” However, the Self-Awareness table on page 18 says the cost is one point per five pounds.
Healer is another self-explanatory discipline; however, within the discipline, the healing abilities have reverse versions, such as 'cure disease' and 'cause disease' as well as 'restore' (i.e., regeneration) and 'wither.' A Healer can “restore a slain character to life” at a cost of forty power points (plus ten points for every day since death). Characters resurrected more than a day after their demise lose all post-starting power points they had accumulated, lose a point of Endurance, and each skill has a chance of reduced effectiveness “due to memory loss.” 'Return Life' doesn't work on characters who have been dead for more than five days.
The Telepath discipline includes abilities one might expect: locate mind, communication, and mind probe. Also included are mental attack, mind shield, illusion, and mind transfer. Most of these abilities allow a target to resist with a successful WIL AST (Will Attribute Saving Throw). The 'nightmare' ability is interesting and formidable – the target's subconscious is unlocked, “bringing to the surface all the hidden fears, aggressions, and secrets.” With a failed saving throw, the target is “in shock and unable to act for 1d10 minutes.” With a second failed saving throw, the target becomes insane; either permanently or until after a long-term application of psychiatric treatment. For the edification of my cherished readers, I reproduce the insanity table from page 17.
Actually, many gamers I have encountered could be categorized among this range of behaviors.
Abilities in the Empath discipline involve detecting, establishing, and intensifying emotions. An Empath can heal others by assuming their injuries; the Empath can also transfer his or her own injuries to others. Additionally, an Empath can instill a catatonic state in a target via 'emotional overload.'
The Hammer Shall Strike adventure/supplement provides details about an eighth Major discipline: Animalism. With this discipline, a psi can detect animals as well as heal them, communicate telepathically with them, and 'suggest' behavior. There is no provision for including Animalism in the 'random roll' method of determining abilities.