Continuum II – Specters and the Empyrean Plane

   Here’s another segment of the Continuum II rules – in this case, the rules for psychic entities.

   The bizarre Empyrean Plane is the interface between a physical dimension and the astral plane – the realm where the bioenergy fields generated by living things interact with concepts. It is the domain of dreams, ideas, imagination, myths, and the psyche, and serves as the medium for psychic powers and invocation magic. Unlike most places, it’s “landscape” is perfectly free to be contradictory – and many of it’s “residents” are basically a part of that landscape, psychic constructs rather than living spirits.

   Psychic constructs are just that; more or less elaborate structures of “programmed” psychic energy. In effect, they’re robots. Constructs do whatever’s within their nature, subject only to the limits of their energies. Some (such as Apparitions, Haunts, Poltergeists, and Phantoms) are generated more-or-less accidently. More potent and complex constructs (such as Sendings, Tulpa, and Guardians) are usually intentionally generated by mages or psychics. The most potent constructs (Anima, Numina, Philosophic and Conceptual Spirits) are psychic nexi – created by the massed belief and psychic energy of many thousands or millions of people.

   Spirits have souls. They’re actually alive, and come in two major varieties; Ghosts (spirits who have “lost” their bodies – whether physical or arcane – and haven’t yet reincarnated) and Incarna (souls which have managed to either take over a pre-existing psychic construct, or to create one by pure percipient will). Ghosts, and the roughly-equivalent, “Minor” Incarna are by far the most common kind of spirits. Major Incarna are those which have embedded themselves in Anima or some other truly powerful construct, image, or racial memory – and Transcendent Incarna or “Celestials”, are those that have managed to embody themselves in a primary conceptual nexus – Death, War, Mercy, Motherhood, Justice, or some such. While fabulously potent, such Incarna are also fabulously rare. Such nexi are virtually always being drawn on by dozens of powerful beings rather then being under the dominion of one.

   There is a fundamental fragility to the constructs and entities of the empyrean plane; they have no bodies to stabilize and energize their psychic patterns. If something should damage, distort, or alter them, they require external aid to recover at a reasonable rate. Worse, while they can store psychic energy, they have no innate source of it – and they need some energy to remain active. To get it they may:

  • Settle for absorbing whatever ambient energy happens to be compatible with their personalities, at a base rate of (24 points divided by the local Empyrean Transfer Impedance per day, multiplied by anything from 0.5 to 3.0 depending on the area’s population density.
  • Actively seek situations where compatible energies are being emitted. Sadly, even in their most wildly excited emotional states, normal people rarely dissipate more then six psychic strength points per HOUR – and only a fraction of that is usable. Worse, drawing on a large group means that much of that energy will be radiated to become Aura.
  • Find a reliable energy source (Q.V.; Revitalization).

   On the other hand, empyrean spirits are utterly immaterial, and thus immune to most forms of injury. Of course, they can’t touch things either. They can see, and examine, both psychic forces, and other spirits (including those with bodies) just as a human might see an object – but lack physical senses. Their forms are somewhat subjective, they don’t age, and they only “die” by being dispersed beyond their ability to reform themselves – or by starting a new incarnation. Of course, they can suffer unimaginably. This doesn’t really matter to constructs; constructs do what they do – and are either repaired by whatever created them, or fall apart. Spirits must actually develop skills, and have personalities far too individual to tap into the surging tides of aura that sustain major constructs.

   Ghosts automatically receive the Web attribute – as well as access to the Empyrean Skills given below. While many will only have a few of the general skills – as they no longer age, most get the +5 general skill bonus for “longevity” – those which are exceptionally talented, determined enough to acquire a vocation, or who have no-longer-relevant major and minor skills to gradually replace, may acquire minor and major skills from the list. Professional -level ghosts receive an additional minor skill at level three and an additional major skill at level seven.

   Minor Incarna automatically receive the skills of Revitalization and Office of the Powers, as well as the +5 bonus to general skills for longevity, but do not gain the Web attribute. Professional -level minor incarna also receive an additional minor skill at level three and an additional major skill at level seven, just as ghosts do.

   More powerful Ghosts and Incarna should simply spend their talent points to buy additional skills and powers.

Minor Empyrean Skills:

 

The Spirit’s Ways

Walking The Planes

Chilling Touch

Eyes Of The Dead

Kineticism

Free Passage

Metamorphosis

Office of the Powers

Possession

Realm Gate

Thoughtforging

Sanctum

Web Mastery

The Sight Beyond

 

Major Empyrean Skills:

 

Empyrean Mastery

Directing The Flow

Dream Mastery

Call The Lost

Manefestation

Evocatiom (1)

Mindscaping

Foreseeing

Residue Manipulation

Minor Magic (1)

Scrying

Reconstruction

Spirit Binding

Spirit Minions

   

The Light Within

General Empyrean Skills

Iron Will

Mindspeech

Minor C’hi (2)

Realm Lore

Minor Psionics

Psychic Analysis

Revitalization

Transference

Unbinding

Local Mastery

Walk The Racemind

Psychic Development

  1. Empyrean Magic and/or Invocation Only. No Gramayre.
  2. Introspection is common, but actual C’hi is very, very, rare. Most of it requires a body.

   Apparitions are “cast” by individuals with notable psychic potentials when they’re under stress. They’re usually simply images, often so weak that it takes an extremely sensitive observer to spot them, weaker psychics usually just get vague “feelings”. Still, shaman, powerful adepts, and those with potent psychic talents sometimes create apparitions strong enough to make real trouble. Apparitions usually appear to potential rescuers, close friends and family – or to whoever caused the stress in the first place. They’re basically equvilent to an involuntary, temporary, use of the “Shadow Casting” discipline.

   Haunts are basically just apparitions that were “cast” those now dead – usually unexpectedly so – although they may simply appear around items, or in places, which happen to have “soaked up” enough of someone’s psychic energy to manifest later. Unlike ordinary apparitions, haunts are often complex enough to absorb extra power from those they interact with. Some even “learn” from, or are capable of being modified by, nearby minds. Carried to an extreme, this process can slowly transform a haunt into a guardian or tulpa – changing a restless memory in the racial mind into a dangerous and powerful force. Some haunts retain a tenuous link with their original soul – an effect which results in a desperate feeling of entrapment. Haunts which still possess their original souls are known as “ghosts”, and are covered below.

   “Poltergeists” are straightforward enough; they’re focused (or “Crystallized”) accumulations of emotional psychic energy. Such constructs may have substantial reserves of power available, but rarely behave in any sensible fashion. Children and adolescents are prime sources for destructive poltergeists born of anger or frustration, lethal ones may be born of a long-nursed adult hatred – and more benign, if less commonly noted, variants may be created by love, humor, pleasure – or some persistent joy. In any case, the creation of a poltergeist is a long-term thing, unless someone just happens to have an incredible load of psychic power and an extremely emotional nature – a set of circumstances that can not only generate Poltergeists but may upgrade them to Sendings.

   “Phantoms” involve intellectual, as well as purely emotional, psychic energies – but are otherwise quite closely related to poltergeists. Classical phantoms include “invisible friends”, alternate personalities, spectral children (often created by parents who’ve lost children and cannot handle it), various kinds of companions and “supernatural guides” (these generally offer rationalizations / orders for their creators to do whatever demented thing enters their heads) – and so on. Powerful psychics occasionally call up weak, but quick, phantoms (“Thought-Forms”) as tools and examples – or create truly powerful ones as companions/allies. Phantoms can be dangerous to their creators; they are often imbued with a strong survival “drive” – and may recognize that their shaper is their only real source of power/”life”. Such a phantom can suck it’s creator dry, or express hidden drives and desires. In any case, phantoms are generally extremely complex “programs” – with motives, priorities, various skills, and sometimes even assorted powers.

   “Sendings” are constructs that embody a portion of their creator’s essence and powers. While they tend to be a bit monomanical, they have purpose, can heal, resist external influences, and are always capable of recovering their power on their own. They may not be very intelligent – but they are invariably capable of learning and are almost always sapient. Most sendings are based on intentionally-constructed phantoms – but occasional haunts, tulpa, poltergeists, and guardians can be found in this catagory.

   Tulpa are essentially identical to phantoms – with one exception; they’re created from aura, rather then forged from an individual’s personal psychic strength. While this makes them far, far, more powerful then ordinary phantoms, it also means that they have a lot of other peoples ideas mixed in. Tulpa invariably have strong personalities, ideas and abilities of their own – and can often draw a certain amount of psychic power from the empyrean plane without their shaper’s assistance.

   Guardians may resemble almost any other construct, but are subject to one critical difference – they are anchored to some physical object – or area. Guardians tend to accumulate power, and may build up an immense reserve of it within their physical “bodies”. Most tend to be protective of their foci, but they vary wildly otherwise. The spirit of the pool of prophecy bears little resemblance to the malevolence of a marsh-spirit that devours the spirits of whoever comes near… The most common type of guardian – a vaguely benevolent spirit which protects, and cares for, the “little people” in it’s charge – is called into being by the Wards Major spell (QV; Grey Empyrean Magic). Item-based guardians without interactive “personalities” are commonly called “Empyrean Artifacts”.

   Anima are the generic constructs of massed belief; entities defined by being members of a class – rather then as true individuals. Examples include a variety of “Nightmare Horrors” (vague and nasty creatures that incarnate the fears of darkness, abandonment, and the unknown), “Spirits Of Light”, grave-guardians, UFO’s, those ubiquitous “Men In Black”, and so on. Of course, such anima rarely show much personality.

   Numina and Archetypes are powerful images, classic types and roles, or racial memories. They tend to be highly individual. Examples include the Wise Old Man, the Wendigo (cannibalism incarnate), “Attila The Hun” (a being based on a near-mythic individual) – and Santa Claus. Unlike anima, such beings tend to be fairly specific individuals, with their better focus tending to make up for having less total power. Archetypes and numina tend to attract would-be incarna, thus quite a few of them tend to fall into that category.

   Philosophic Spirits are essentially abstract; they rarely have any comprehensible “form” at all – and tend to be more-or-less infinitely sub-divisible. Most are simply constructs – while even those which have souls tend to be fairly “mechanistic”. Ensouled philosophic spirits simply resist being warped or contaminated by other psychic energies better then their unensouled brethren. Such “spirits” tend to impose their own nature on whoever and whatever is the area when they’re summoned. Examples of such spirits include Spirits of; Calm, Anger, Mathematics, Logic, Peace, Cooperation, Christmas, Halloween – and Stoicism. Perhaps fortunately, most people will never encounter anything more then a microscopic “fragment” of such a spirit, something which can be overcome, or even transformed, with enough alien psychic energy. Those dealing with a powerful fragment may find the nature it imposes nearly impossible to overcome.

   Conceptual Spirits are simply major concepts which people tend to think of as anthropomorphic entities, rather then abstractions. The most powerful beings of this order predate sentience; entities such as Death, Mother-The-Protector, and Terror, draw their power from both sapient and pre-sapient minds. More sophisticated ideas, such as War, Mercy, Justice, Good, Evil, Destiny, and so on, give birth to more sophisticated constructs. In any case, such conceptual spirits are usually “creatures” of utterly appalling power. Worse, many or most such spirits or psychic nexi are closely linked with various gods.

   Ghosts appear when someone’s psyche manages to get through the “death” of their body more-or-less intact (traumatic amnesia and various mental problems are all too common), and remains active and aware, rather then getting itself reincarnated locally (that is, in the same solar system) or “dissipating” to be reborn elsewhere in the multiverse. Many or most ghosts get caught up in the “afterlives” offered by various faiths, myths, or philosophies – especially those which offer aid in making the transition – but others simply hang around their old haunts, or wander freely thru the empyrean.

   As a note, some few individuals manage to “become” ghosts without actually dying, making the transition thorugh the use of psychic disciplines such as “Transition” and “Empyrean Projection”, via strange devices or weird drugs, or simply because their body is an a deep coma and they were strong enough to “go for a walk” in the meantime.

   Minor Incarna include entities based on the lesser Numina, Archetypes, and Anima. Essentially similar to ghosts in terms of raw power (or at least their skill in using it), minor incarna do get one advantage that ghosts don’t; they automatically have a power source. Minor incarna regain psychic strength, “heal”, and so on, just as a normal, incarnate, creature does. They are, however limited to their powers which suit their theme. Unlike ghosts, they are not free to develop some outre’ skill/talent simply because they have an interest in it. It has to fit in with their nature. Some possibly minor incarna include popular images and characters (Sherlock Holmes, Conan the Barbarian, or The Terminator. Note that the popular Attila the Hun construct is entirely separate from the ghost of the “real” Attila the Hun!), lesser “Angels”, assorted “Nightmares”, the “Easter Bunny” – and the “Crooked Politician”.

   Sadly, while “mass-mind” CONSTRUCTS are pretty much immortal, and will simply reform if “killed”, this does NOT mean that INCARNA are indestructible! Such an occurrence is almost certain to break the link between the soul and the construct it occupied. It’s back to “robot” status for the construct, while the soul goes on to another incarnation.

   Major Incarna are based on more potent constructs, giving their manifestations the equivalent of the Combat Armor major skill – and providing them with an extra minor and major skill (Usually an appropriate skill of Empyrean Magic and something else relevant). Possible major incarna include various “Archangels”, Santa Claus, Nergal The Perfector and the Wendigo (QV), Father Time and “Mother Nature”, Dreamlords, classical oriental “Dragons” – and various “Avatars”.

   Celestials are each unique. In general, unless the individuals involved possess incredible powers (being a major divinity, planetary archmage, or whatever) or have some way of altering the “rules” (true illusion, dimensional travel, wreaking, aid from another entity of the same order, or mass propaganda), they normally must be “gotten around” rather then confronted. They generally make poor – or unplayable – characters, but some very odd campaigns – for example, a game based on Piers Anthony’s “Incarnations Of Immortality” series – may allow them.

   Shades are technically “minor incarna”, since they are souls which have incarnated in psychic constructs – but the constructs in question are the “creations” of individuals. While poltergeists, phantoms, and tulpa, can all be possessed in this fashion, most shades are members of psychically based species – entities which reproduce on the empyrean level. This requires quite a lot of power – and the only power sources available on the empyrean are sentient minds, or the nexi which they create. Since an entire species cannot draw on a single nexus, shades are generally parasitic. They infect, and devour, sapient minds. While some may approach symbiotic status, most devour their host, or parts thereof, in relatively short order. Fortunately for everyone, since “growing up” generally requires a soul, and few souls choose to incarnate in such beings, shades reproduce slowly – and so are relatively rare. That’s also why the world isn’t overrun with the disembodied offspring of ghostly lovers.

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