The Unblinking Eye
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Urge is the morality attribute of a Psychic character. It replaces Piety, and a psychic character need not concern himself with the attitudes of the Church. This is not to say that Psychic characters are depraved, but rather that their mystic nature shields them from the dangers of Antinomy and disconnects them from the benefits of faith. Psychic characters can be as pious or blasphemous as they wish without supernatural consequences.
However, there are dangers associated with the over-use and misuse of power. Psychic phenomena are not tame, safe abilities that are completely explored. There are hidden and dark corners to even the most benign seeming powers. Powers of the mind loose mystic energy within the mind, and if that power is not used up, or used carefully, it will work on it’s own.
Psychics who are careless with their power develop a dark Urge, a chaotic force inside them that works their unspent power for vicious purposes. The Urge connects to the darkest and most primitive sectors of the psychic’s mind, making his base desires and impulses manifest.
Urge works differently than Piety. It begins at 1, and grows as the psychic carelessly allows it to flourish. As it grows it has more and more power to affect things.
The Mechanics of Urge
Urge has no ladder of sins. Careless use of power is always dangerous, though some carelessness is more dangerous than other acts. What follows is a list of acts that may increase Urge, and how many levels those acts have the potential to feed into the urge. So if a character succumbs to an act that can boost Urge by 2, the character’s urge will increase by 2 points.
To resist gaining Urge, the character rolls Resolve + Composure. Early in a psychic’s career, it’s easy enough to avoid getting a lot of Urge. However, as Psi increases, the psychic’s own raw power makes resisting Urge gain more difficult. Starting at Psi of 4, successes are subtracted from the Resolve + Composure roll. One success is subtracted at Psi of 4, and each even numbered point of Psi reduces the successes by one more. So at 10, 4 successes are subtracted, requiring the Psychic to get 5 successes to avoid gaining Urge.
Acts that Increase Urge:
|Urge Generating Act:||Urge Gain:||Notes:|
|Use of 3 or more powers in a single scene||1||1 less penalty success from high Psi|
|Using powers every round in a combat||1-2|
|Spending 5 or more Wyrd in a single scene||1||1 less penalty success from high Psi|
|Signing a Demonic Pact||2-4||2 additional penalty successes|
|Psychic contact with a dying mind||2||1 additional penalty success|
|Suffering Inquisitorial Torture||1|
|Exposure to another’s Urge||1||1 less penalty success from high Psi|
|Exposure to an evil artifact||1-3|
|Exposure to alien mysticism||1-2|
|Rebellion against one’s organization||1|
The Effects of Urge
As Urge increases, it gains new powers, and more ability to use the psychic’s powers for ill. It begins to drain Wyrd from the psychic, and can eventually twist even the active effects the psychic brings to bear.
The exact effects are unpredictable, but in the worst case scenario, Urge can generate a whole second mind inside the psychic.
It’s not easy or painless to reduce one’s Urge. It requires dedication, discipline, and some time. There are a few ‘quick fixes’ but they are rare and not certain to work. As with most things, the right way to handle one’s out of control Urge is to take the path of hard work.
Abstaining from Psychic Power: One of the most important ways to reduce Urge is to drastically cut back on psychic power use, or cut it out entirely. Obviously many psychics cannot afford to stop using powers entirely, but the less power they can use, the better off they are.
In the first place, using too much power carries the risk of actually increasing Urge, which is the opposite direction the psychic wants to go. For the second, the Urge grows off the power inside the psychic, and it can most easily access the ‘residue’ that is left from using strong powers. Starving the Urge is a great way to reduce it.
- If the Psychic can abstain from using more than 1 power per scene and no more than 2-3 powers per day, the Urge begins to starve. It will likely lash out more, which only makes its power situation worse.
- Each week that this kind of starvation goes on, the Psychic can make a Resolve + Composure roll, with successes reduced by high Psi, just as if he were trying to avoid gaining urge. 1 success is enough to reduce a weak Urge of 2-4 points by 1 point. 2 successes are needed to drop a middling Urge of 5-7 points by 1 points. 3 successes are required to drop a powerful urge of 8-10 by 1 point.
- If the Psychic can abstain from using psychic power entirely the Urge is really starving. It will start stealing Wyrd from the psychic directly, but can’t do so quickly and actually has to spend so much energy on the transaction that it gains little. Meanwhile, the Psychic isn’t using Wyrd much, and thus will be topped off despite the theft.
- The psychic may make a roll as described above, but the roll can be made every 3 days instead of each week, and the Psychic gains +2 dice on the roll.
- If the psychic can find a way to keep himself empty of Wyrd during this time without using powers, the rolls to reduce Urge gain a +5 bonus and on 5 or more successes 2 points of Urge are removed. Constantly purging one’s own natural Wyrd without using powers is quite difficult to do, however.
Inner Struggle: The Psychic can turn inward, and confront his Urge directly. This is dangerous, as it can backfire and actually strengthen the Urge. The Psychic requires at least 3 hours of uninterrupted meditation to conduct the battle. Some battles may take even longer, especially if the Urge is very strong.
The psychic has two choices. Try to burn his Urge out, or try to pull it apart. Both have their benefits and risks.
- Burning Urge: A psychic that tries to burn his Urge out rolls Psi directly against the Urge in a contested roll. Wyrd can be spent to gain +3 dice to this roll but doing so is dangerous. The idea here is to do JUST enough damage to burn out some of the Urge without hurting anything else. Too weak a performance can just feed the Urge directly with Energy though.
- If the Urge wins, it immediately gains 1 level, 2 if Wyrd was spent on the Psyche roll.
- If the Urge wins by 3 or more successes, it ‘captures’ one level of one of the Psychic’s paths. The psychic will now have to bribe the Urge with 1 Wyrd to activate that power, in addition to any normal costs.
- If the Psychic wins the contest, the Urge is reduced by 1 point.
- If the Psychic wins with 5 or more net successes, he reduces the Urge by 2 but damages himself, reducing one of his attributes by 1. The attribute damage ‘heals’ after a month, or within 2 weeks if the psychic is attended by a healer who understands psychic phenomena.
- Unweaving Urge: A psychic that tries to carefully pick his Urge apart faces a tough mental battle as he must come to grips with dark parts of himself that he would prefer not to face. There is much danger that the Urge will learn something from the process and become more sophisticated. There’s much less risk with this method overall, as the Psychic has no chance of damaging himself.
- The psychic chooses either Intelligence or Wits + either Manipulation or Composure. This forms the dice-pool to be rolled against the Urge in a contested roll. Wyrd cannot be spent to improve this roll, and if the Urge has the ability to steal Wyrd from the psychic, it may do so to increase it’s own roll in this circumstance.
- If the Urge wins the roll it immediately learns a new power, but does not gain in strength.
- If the Urge wins by at least 3 net successes, it learns a new power and also gains 1 point.
- If the Psychic wins the contest the Urge is reduced by 1.
- If the Psychic wins the contest with at least 3 net successes, the Urge is reduced by 1 and loses one of it’s powers. Depending on the strength of the Urge he defeated, the Psychic may also learn a new twist to one of his own powers.
Artifacts and Holy Places: Some sites and artifacts have the power to soothe or reduce Urge. This is never certain, and a particular artifact or site can only ever help a character once in this way.
A much more reliable use for these artifacts is using them along with one of the above methods of reducing Urge. The presence of a Holy or Spiritually Positive artifact or site grants a bonus to rolls against the Urge of +1 – +3, depending on the power of the item or place.
Some artifacts also allow the Psychic to purge his Wyrd into the item. The Wyrd is lost, it cannot be gotten out of the artifact later, even with Viscraft, but the benefits of completely starving the Urge are gained.