Any creature with psionic potential can participate in combat of the minds, though those with training rather quickly outstrip untrained opponents. While this may be done with the intention of the combat itself causing damage, on its own it is a slow and tedious way to destroy an opponent. Rather, the goal of psionic combat tends to be either to sap a powerful opponent of his reserves or to open a victim’s mind to telepathic manipulation.
Basic Psionic Combat
Psionic combat starts with a trained psionic making contact with their opponent’s mind – if physical combat is happening simultaneously, this is a Minor action similar to engaging. To attack, the assailant rolls Command + Psionics with a difficulty equal to the target’s remaining psionic potential; on a successful roll, the victim takes a single level of psionic damage.
Attack and Defense Modes
The attack described above is the most simple and weakest way to lash out at a target’s mind, the mental equivalent of a brutal slap in the face. Those who come to the fight armed, however, are going to do much better indeed; what weapons are to the gladiator, attack modes are to the psionic. There are five well-known attack modes, each with its own peculiarities; characters learn these by gaining the Psionic Attack advantage. Characters may use any attack mode they know while on the offensive; changing from one to another during combat is a Minor action. The attack modes are:
- Ego Whip: Roll Sense + Psionics to attack. Width + 1 psionic damage. Target regains 1 potential if failed.
- Id Insinuation: Roll Command + Psionics to attack. Width psionic damage
- Mind Thrust: Roll Sense + Psionics to attack. Width psionic damage
- Psionic Blast: Roll Body + Psionics to attack. Width psionic damage
- Psychic Crush: Roll Command + Psionics to attack. Width + 2 psionic damage to target, Waste Dice in psionic damage to attacker.
Similarly, the trained psionic mind learns several ways to defend itself more skillfully against attackers; these are defense modes, and are learned similarly to attack modes, with the Psionic Defense advantage; switching between defense modes in combat is also a Minor action.
Unlike attack modes, defense modes are used passively; once chosen, a defense mode alters the difficulty of an attacker’s roll and is not rolled on its own. Each defense provides an armor rating against attacks, though each mode varies in effectiveness depending on the attack. Defenses tend to be strong against two attacks (providing AR 3), weak against one (providing no AR at all) and of middling effectiveness against two others (providing AR of 1). Because of this, combat between skilled psionics is a matter of using initial attacks to feel out weaknesses, then changing tactics to exploit them. The five defense modes are:
- Intellect Fortress: AR 0 vs. psionic blast, AR 1 vs mind thrust and psychic crush, AR 3 vs. ego whip and id insinuation
- Mind Blank: AR 0 vs. mind thrust psionic blast, AR 1 vs and psychic crush, AR 3 vs. ego whip and id insinuation
- Mental Barrier: AR 0 vs. psionic blast, AR 1 vs mind thrust and psychic crush, AR 3 vs. ego whip and id insinuation
- Thought Shield: AR 0 vs. psionic blast, AR 1 vs mind thrust and psychic crush, AR 3 vs. ego whip and id insinuation
- Tower of Iron Will: AR 0 vs. psionic blast, AR 1 vs mind thrust and psychic crush, AR 3 vs. ego whip and id insinuation
Untrained Psionic Combat
Needless to say, characters who have not developed their psionic potential tend to be very outclassed in psionic combat by those who have (of course, they don’t have quite as much to lose). Characters without the Psionics skill may attack in psionic combat, but they can’t initiate it (and of course, without the skill, they can only roll their Command stat). They can’t learn psionic attack or defense modes, and tend to have far lower potential and ability to sustain psionic damage in the first place.