History of Psionics
Coined by the biologist Bertold P. Wiesner, “psi” was originally an umbrella term used to describe a number of so-called “psychic” abilities and other speculative paranormal phenomena such as telepathy and extra-sensory perception. While the term was used extensively in the field of parapsychology and pop culture in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, the study of psi was largely considered a pseudoscience with flawed methodologies and gradually lost funding and support. However, repeated rumors and accounts of unexplained phenomenon drew the attention of scientists, military leaders, and singularity seekers alike over the ages.
It wasn’t until the first Sidoci was born around 35 years ago that solid reliable proof of Psionic abilities was gathered among humanity. A decade after that contact with the Be’Rul showed that their upper caste showed similar abilities. This lead scientists to do even more research on the concept of Psionic abilities. This research has shown low rates of it among Nec/Nevk clans, a overall rate by population of around 0.001%, or about 1000 current examples exist. It’s common among Be’Rul to the tune of around 5% of total population. Only the Case lacked potential for Psionic abilities and in fact were completely unaffected by sensing PSI. In humanity the percent is lower than the Nec/Nevk naturally hovering at no more than 100 within the original decade. This is still around 5 years before the formation of the TSA.
Some coined the human government response the ‘Psionic Cold War’. We realized we lacked Psionic potential compared to other races and so went about trying to develop means of enhancing are numbers of Psionically active people. However this meet another road block in that most people didn’t trust “PSI’s” fearing that these people would read their thoughts or control their minds. So we developed means of increasing psionically active individuals, while watching them for any signs of ‘misconduct’. Technological means was found and used to boost the number of human Psionics to around 10,000 people including Sidoci which all seem to be psionically active.
Their are 3 main types, and several ‘lesser’ types of psionics that research has so far identified. The main types are:
The number of individuals with each types however scales rather dramatically, with 66% being PSI. The remaining 3 major types break down as folllows: Electrokinesis at 25% and Telekinesis 5%. ‘Other’ forms make up the remaining 4% in total! It should be noted as well that the forms of Psionics seem to be exclusive, so if you have PSI you will not also have EK.
The most exotic types have occurred due to experimentation and may not even be found naturally. At least one company also had some success with ‘booster implants’ in telekinetics allowing impressive feats. Sadly they treated their test subjects very poorly and so those test subjects went on a rampage destroying the facility, killing the staff, and ultimately offing themselves.
The Nature of Psinics
So far Careful analysis of psionically active subjects discovered that their altered synapses generate a modulated brainwave pattern that is extremely difficult to detect. Those “in-the-know” have come to refer to these asynchronous brainwaves as “psi waves,” fitting with the Greek letter designation of other brainwaves (alpha, beta, delta, gamma, theta). Likewise, affected individuals are known as “asyncs.”
Exploration of the explicit causal factors behind psi waves remains stymied. Theories regarding extraordinary mental processes with the ability to change quantum states have been explored but remain frustratingly inconclusive. Neuroimaging and mapping have enabled scientists to pinpoint structures within the brain, neural activity, and perturbations in the brain’s bioelectric field that are associated with psi processes, but attempts to duplicate these features in other brains have resulted in failure or worse. Attempts to identify asyncs by psi brainwave patterns are not even assured of success. Numerous dead ends have prompted many researchers to postulate that the mechanics underlying psi are simply too strange and too far beyond transhumanity’s understanding of physical sciences.
One leading speculation is that the changes wrought in the mind by infection actually entangle some of the neural sub-systems, enable some sort of quantum field within the brain, or possibly create Bose-Einstein condensates within the brain, allowing for quantum computation or perhaps hypercomputation. This enhances the async’s mental capabilities to the level provided by modern implants and neuro-mods—and sometimes beyond. This does not explain the capabilities of other asyncs, however, especially those used to read or affect other biological minds. These abilities seem to involve reading brain waves from a short range or affecting another’s mind via direct physical contact with the target’s bio-electric fields.
The initiation and use of psi talents is generally understood to take place on a subconscious level, meaning that the async is not actively aware of the fundamental processes that fuel the psi-waves. Training in certain skills, however, allows an async to focus on certain tasks and psi abilities. These are called “sleights:” mnemonic or cognitive algorithms of psi use rooted in the async’s ego.
- An unfortunate side effect to this change is that asyncs acquire a vulnerability to mental stress. Reduce the async’s Trauma Threshold by 1.
- The mental instability that accompanies psi infection also tends to unhinge the character’s mind. Asyncs acquires mental disorders much easier than normal. Each level in a Psionic trait adds a -10 to a persons ability to resist contracting long term mental disorders.
- Psionically active characters also have high risks of mental damage from brain trauma, attempts to alter brain biochemistry, and similar experiences. Their chance at coming out unscathed is reduce by 20.
- Critical failures when using psionics tend to stress the async’s mind. Each time a critical failure is rolled when making a sleight-related test, the async suffers a temporary brain seizure. They suffer a –30 modifier and are incapable of acting until the end of the next Action Turn. They must also succeed in a WIL + COG Test or fall down.
Known forms of Psionic Abilities