Continuum II Psychic Powers Part III – Psychic Senses, Psychokinetic Effects, Telepathic Functions, and Will Force.

The Psychic Wheel arrangement, with its selection of opposing, near-opposing, related, and unrelated disciplines, was a fundamental part of Continuum II’s psychic ability systems – rather like AD&D’s, or d20’s, separation of spellcasting into Arcane (Wizard / Sorcerer, or, in AD&D Illusionist) and Divine (Cleric / Druid) fields, or the later introduction of things like Pact Magic, Incarnum, Shadow Magic, and Truename Magic. It meant that there were ten basic types of Psychic Adepts, each with their own capabilities and methods of solving problems. An adept would probably dabble a bit in related fields – those only one or two places removed on the Wheel – but would be entirely barred from the oppositional and near-oppositional disciplines. If you were a master of Psychokinetic Effects, then the disciplines of Heightened Talents, Life Energy Manipulation, and Natural Forces were beyond your reach. Did you also dabble a bit in Will Force? That would bar you from the Psychic Senses discipline as well. Combined with the choices between Psychomancy (with the option to dabble in C’hi and Introspection powers) and Psionics (and the option to dabble in Empyrean Magic), the net result was to offer several hundred variants on the “psychic” even before they started selecting and customizing their disciplines and other skills. A master of Heightened Talents who dabbled in Psychic Senses might breeze through an investigative scenario – but it would be his partner, a master of Dimensional Warps, who would allow him or her to follow a trail of clues across the solar system in a few hours.

Across the decades, and a hundred or so Psychic characters, the players never did come up with two who were much alike.

Psychic Senses are – at their most basic – powered-up Introspection effects, using psychic energy to modulate, amplify, and extend the user’s natural energy aura while analyzing the resulting interactions with the environment. “Passive” effects rely on picking up energy emanations, just as physical sight relies on picking up radiated photons, and can massively extend the sensitivity, range, and analytic functions of the user’s basic senses. Active abilities rely on extending the user’s energies to actually probe the universe directly – but in either case the Psychic Senses are amongst the most subtle and low-powered psychic abilities since they make no attempt to manipulate the world, but simply observe it. Active abilities cost a bit more, and may be detectable – but even with them it isn’t easy. Unfortunately, that same subtlety makes it easy for users to fool themselves – allowing their own preconceptions and desires to override the subtle cues of their discipline. Psychic Senses are thus incompatible with the Will Force abilities, which rely on throwing massive amounts of raw power into simply overwriting the structure of chunks of the universe, rather than accepting what’s there already. Psychic Senses are closely related to the subtle psychic-energy projection of the Telepathic Functions and to the still-subtle, if more active, manipulations of environmental energy fields employed by the Natural Forces discipline.

Psychokinetic Effects channel energy into the purely material realm, using it to move, re-arrange, and manipulate matter while suppressing the array of action-reaction and related conservation rules that would normally either make such remote-action and reactionless manipulations impossible or – at the least – turn the user’s brain into pulp. Like most natural law violations, this makes this discipline fairly expensive to use, with the energy cost scaling as a function of the mass involved and the degree of fine control required. It also makes Psychokinetic Effects fundamentally opposed to Heightened Talents, which focus on the subtle augmentation of the user’s personal abilities in accordance with the laws of nature instead. They are, however, closely related to the deeper law-negation of the Dimensional Warps discipline and to the blunt power-surges and energy redirection of the Energy Manipulation abilities.

Telepathic Functions rely on a complex array of mental effects, combining the subtle energy patterns of neurological fields and the purely mental conceptual patterns of the astral level to generate empyrean constructs – channeling subtle, nuanced, patterns of mental energy through the empyrean and into their target’s minds. The effective use of abilities in the Telepathic Functions category demands great concentration and precisely controlled thought patterns – although these talents often do not carry over into other activities. Operating primarily on the central nervous system and mind these abilities use comparatively little power. Overall, the fine control of energy patterns makes the Telepathic Functions closely related to the Energy Manipulation abilities, while the fine control of thought patterns and sensitivity to subtle energies are closely related to the psychic senses. However, concentrating on subtle mental effects make this list the “opposite” of Personal Control abilities which concentrate on the physical plane and body through continuous unconscious awareness of it.

Will Force abilities basically bludgeon reality into submission – hammering “What IS” with percipient will and raw psychic power until it gives way, reality breaks, and the user can substitute “What I Want It To Be” for whatever lost chunk of consensus reality used to be in his or her way. While this has all the subtlety of crushing houses with a wrecking ball, and is hideously expensive to boot, it is also versatile, fast, and (if backed by sufficient power) potentially extremely potent – and so Will Force is often a favored discipline for adventurers. Fairly obviously, it’s closely related to the law-negating effects of the Dimensional Warps discipline and to the willful denial of reality and the imposition of a desired pattern used by the Personal Control discipline. Also obviously, it’s utterly opposed to the Psychic Senses discipline, which focuses on subtly probing and exploiting what is rather than what you wish the universe to be. Accepting the universe as it is incapacitates Will Force abilities, while trying to make it what you want blocks psychic senses.

Psychic Senses, Minor Abilities:

01 Ability Classification
02 Alertness
03 Clairvoyance
04 Clairaudience
05 Compatibility Scan
06 Detect (Various)
07 Detection Screen
08 Dowsing
09 Lesser Divination
10 Lifesense
11 Magnetosense
12 Nightvision
13 Nymic Awareness
14 Pathfinder
15 Postcognition
16 Psychic Analysis
17 Psychic Scan
18 Psychic Tracking
19 Psychometry
20 Radar Sense
21 Second Sight
22 Signature Analysis
23 Social Perception
24 Spherical Awareness
25 Stress Perception
26 Surface Persona
27 Surveillance Detection
28 Timesensor
29 Truthsense

Psychic Senses, Major Abilities:

01 Ability Analysis
02 Aura Reading
03 Clairsentience
04 Cosmic Awareness
05 Danger Sense
06 Deepsight
07 Design Analysis
08 Electromagnetics
09 Elemental Sense
10 Falsification
11 Grab Bag
12 Greater Divination
13 Intuit Traps
14 Mystic Analysis
15 Perceptor
16 Precognition
17 Psychic Sensitive
18 Seekersense
19 Sensory Enhancement
20 Sensory Merge
21 Structural Probe
22 Systems Scan
23 Technic Analysis
24 Trigger Perception
25 Weakness Detection

Psychokinetic Effects, Minor Abilities:

01 Acrobatics
02 Armor Construction
03 Body Equilibrium
04 Camouflage
05 Clothing Shift
06 Containment Field
07 Detoxification
08 Dispersal
09 Fractionation
10 Fracturing
11 Gravity Compensation
12 Hindrance Field
13 Immovability
14 Kinetic Bolt
15 Levitation
16 Material Fusion
17 Mechanical Control
18 Mechanism Control
19 Missile Control
20 Muscle Override
21 Personal Force Field
22 Refining
23 Shockwave
24 Stabilize Material
25 Toughening
26 Ventriloquism

Psychokinetic Effects, Major Abilities:

01 Crystallization
02 Environment Control
03 Exokinetic Field
04 Filtration Field
05 Flight
06 Flow Patterning
07 Force Barriers
08 Gathering
09 Ice Creation
10 Inertial Damping
11 Internal Kinesis
12 Kinetic Charging
13 Material Control (Various)
14 Matrix Construction
15 Matter Simulation
16 Molding
17 Molecular Energetics
18 Molecular Patterning
19 Molecular Restructuring
20 Particle Manipulation
21 Plasma Manipulation
22 Poltergeist
23 Positional Lock
24 Reflection
25 Repulsion Fields
26 Solidification
27 Sonic Control
28 Stasis Field Projection
29 Telekinesis
30 Transmutation
31 Vibratory Powers

Telepathic Functions, Minor Abilities:

01 Ability Inhibition
02 Animal Telepathy
03 Attitude Sense
04 Calming
05 Charm
06 Decision Override
07 Domination
08 Dreamweaving
09 Emotion Boosting
10 Empathy
11 ESP
12 Hypnosis
13 Illusion Casting
14 Implant Memory
15 Invisibility
16 Mindlink
17 Mindlock
18 Mindshout
19 Mindwipe
20 Patterning
21 Phantom Slayer
22 Psychic Shield
23 Rapid Teaching
24 Sensory Tap
25 Skill Borrowing
26 Suggestion
27 Tongues
28 Truthsense
29 Vertigo Induction
30 Voicing

Telepathic Functions, Major Abilities:

01 Combat Scan
02 Compulsion Planting
03 Confusion
04 Deep Conditioning
05 Deep Probe
06 Emotion Projection
07 Gestalt Operations
08 Glamours
09 Group Manipulation
10 Inhibition Blocking
11 Insignificance
12 Mental Analysis
13 Mental Disguise
14 Mental Feedback
15 Mental Surgery
16 Mindhealing
17 Mindriding
18 Mindscan
19 Mindtoxin
20 Mindtraps
21 Overtone Analysis
22 Overworld Manipulation
23 Project Madness
24 Psychic Bolt
25 Psychic Bonding
26 Psychic Purging
27 Psychic Transfer
28 Skill Duplication
29 Subliminal Telepathy
30 Telepathy

Will Force, Minor Abilities:

01 Aspect Assumption
02 Characteristic Focus
03 Command
04 Compensation
05 Computer Emulation
06 Convulsion Projection
07 Emotional Control
08 Enhancer
09 Focused Strike
10 Great Shout
11 Intimidation
12 Lock Keying
13 Mental Barrier
14 Mindpool
15 Neural Support
16 Omnifocusing
17 Oratory
18 Override Control
19 Polarity Shield
20 Potential Conversion
21 Psychic Catalyst
22 Psychic Citadel
23 Psychic Damper
24 Resist Death
25 Sensory Overload
26 Task Focus
27 Temporal Fixator
28 Virtual Creation, En
29 Will Focus
30 Willcrystal
31 Willshield

Will Force, Major Abilities:

01 Absolute Command
02 Chaos Manipulation
03 Compression
04 Cure Insanity (Reversible)
05 Damage Transfer
06 Dimensional Fixiator
07 Free Movement
08 Function Disruption
09 Function Enhancement
10 Function Reversal
11 Great Presence
12 Hieronymus Device
13 Illusory Travel
14 Imprinting
15 Mystic Resistance
16 Order Imposition
17 Pattern Shift
18 Plasticizing
19 Probability Shifting
20 Psyche Theft
21 Psychic Enhancement
22 Reality Insertion
23 Selective Enhancement
24 Selfmerger
25 Sensory Manipulation
26 Shattering
27 Spell Holding
28 Subjugation
29 Trace Amplification
30 Virtual Creation

Continuum II Psychic Powers Part II – Heightened Talents, Life Energy Manipulation, Natural Forces, and Personal Control.

And today it’s a few more of the Continuum II Psionic Disciplines.

Heightened Talents disciplines use a complex array of positive (for ability amplification) and negative (to keep the user’s mind from burning out) feedback loops to anchor the idealized skills and concepts of the astral plane into the user’s physical body – allowing the user to temporarily achieve incredible levels of skill and ability within particular fields. While this is subject to the natural limits of the user’s body and mind, and to the fact that the ideal concepts of the astral plane tend to be “generic” enough to apply to many worlds and dimensions, it’s also rather low cost. After all, it is quite possible to become an expert engineer, brilliant tactician, or deductive genius without any psychic powers at all. Psychic powers just make it easier. It should come as no surprise that Heightened Talents are closely related to the subtle, self-balancing empyrean (the physical-astral interface) Life Energy Manipulation abilities and to the equally subtle – if external – field manipulations of Natural Forces abilities. Equally unsurprisingly, the rules-warping Psychokinetic Abilities – which rely on the distortion of the principles governing physical bodies – are utterly antithetical to Heightened Talents, since they grossly disrupt that controlling feedback, allowing the positive feedback loops to build into uncontrollable destructive oscillations.

Life Energy Manipulations operate primarily on the Empyrean Interface, where the Astral Plane intersects with the Material – the location of the “life-force”. While this allows the users to readily manipulate the energies of that realm to help or harm, it tends to focus their attention on the Empyrean and the subtle energy fields associated with life. After all, without that focus and concentration, the user’s own energy fields will interfere with anything they try to do. Still, once the user achieves the necessary level of control, the amount of power required to manipulate those subtle fields is relatively small – making Life Energy Manipulations one of the more efficient disciplines to use. Naturally enough, the field is fairly closely related to equally-internal, if far less finely-controlled and feedback-driven Personal Control abilities and to Life Energy Manipulations, as shown above. It is incompatible with the feedback-damping “hit it with raw power” effects of Energy Manipulation abilities, since those require blocking the subtle feedback that Life Energy Manipulations require.

Natural Forces abilities are focused on external feedback – channeling the user’s energies into tapping and manipulating the natural, environmental, energy fields of the world around the user. Thanks to the sheer scale of such forces, such manipulation usually focuses on subtle guidance rather than raw force – but there are plenty of available energy potentials in the natural world that are just waiting to be unleashed, making the personal power requirements of these abilities relatively moderate. Such fields include morphogenic fields (that help govern forms and their development), probability fields, the environmental fields of the earth, air, waters, and life, “ley lines” and magical nexi, and various planetary, stellar, and quantum fields – although few user’s attempt to interact with those since making a mistake while meddling with such forces can have disastrous effects. Unfortunately, while the Natural Forces disciplines often have broad applications and implications, the effects of these disciplines often tend to be relatively subtle and slow, and so only a few of them find much favor with adventurers. Obviously enough the Natural Forces discipline is directly opposed by the Dimensional Warps discipline, which focuses entirely on tearing apart and blowing holes in the subtle fields that Natural Forces abilities seek to manipulate. While they operate on a larger scale, Natural Forces abilities are fairly closely akin to the subtle feedback manipulations of Heightened Talents and to the Psychic Senses focus on gently probing reality without distorting it.

Personal Control abilities operate by channeling energy into the users body, using it to establish rigid control over the users personal molecules and energy fields. The discipline thus offers a powerful defensive suite; as long as you have enough power you can simply shrug off the effects of a wide variety of attacks and environmental effects, Even better, the intensely personal nature of the discipline keeps the costs relatively low compared to many other disciplines. Unfortunately, those same factors generally limit the discipline to personal-only powers and the offensive functions are quite limited. The emphasis on the brute-force channeling of energy through the Empyrean and into the user’s physical body makes Personal Control abilities the opposite of the Telepathic Functions, which focus on channeling subtle, nuanced, patterns of mental energy through the empyrean and into other people’s minds – one exercising fine control on the physical level and the other on the purely conceptual level. Personal Control is related to the Will Force disciplines, which focus on channeling raw power into an area to simply “overwrite” whatever is already there and “natural” results and to the Life Energy Manipulation abilities, which also focus on the empyrean interface with the physical body – if in a far more subtle fashion.

What I have here seems to be some older, shorter, discipline lists. If I turn up the longer lists, I’ll update these. There should be some full descriptions around for at least some of the powers too, but I haven’t found those up yet.

Heightened Talents, Minor Abilities:

01 Animal Friend
02 Artistic
03 Balance
04 Charismatic
05 Craftsman
06 Deduction
07 Economic
08 Eidetic Memory
09 Engineering
10 Leadership
11 Mathematics
12 Military
14 Operator
15 Perception
16 Performer
17 Persuasive
18 Precision
19 Programmer
20 Psychology
21 Recognizer
22 Residue Focusing
23 Science
24 Sensitive
25 Stealth
26 Thought Embedment
27 Timekeeper

Heightened Talents, Major Abilities:

01 Analogue Construction
02 Archetype Assumption
03 Artificer
04 Auric Repulsion
05 Combat Awareness
06 Cultural Adaption
07 Dreamsearch
08 Empathic Healer
09 Empathic Predictor
10 Intuitive Physician
11 Logician/Computer
12 Milieu Affinity
13 Multiple Tracking
14 Pattern Detection
15 Power Embedment
16 Probability Calculator
17 Psychic Reservoir
18 Racemind Tapping
19 Residue Shaping
20 Ritual Channeling
21 Role Assumption
22 Sensory Awareness
23 Sensory Interpretation
24 Translation
25 Voice
26 Weaponsmaster

Life Energy Manipulation, Minor Abilities:

01 Age Shift
02 Aura Stabilization
03 Biofield Perception
04 Cause (Various)
05 Characteristic Drain
06 Cure (Various)
07 Damage Control
08 Death Touch
09 Devitalization
10 Empathic Bond
11 Fatigue Banishing
12 Flesh Shaping
13 Healing Sleep
14 Induced Aging
15 Life Channeling
16 Life Support
17 Parasitic Link
18 Personality Imbuement
19 Potential Tapping
20 Repel Undead
21 Resist Life Energy Manipulation
22 Shadow Casting
23 Suspension
24 Vital Points

Life Energy Manipulation, Major Abilities:

01 Animation
02 Avatar Projection
03 Cellular Adjustment
04 Control Undead
05 Duplication
06 Ectoplasmic Control
07 Genetic Restructuring
08 Life Energy Restoration
09 Lifeform Analysis
10 Life Surge
11 Nerveblock
12 Neural Control
13 Physiological Regulator
14 Power Absorption
15 Power Bestowal
16 Power Drain
17 Regeneration Induction
18 Rejuvenation
19 Revival
20 Sending Creation
21 Simulacrum
22 Transition
23 Transplantation
24 Undead Creation
25 Vampirism

Natural Forces, Minor Abilities:

01 Animal Control
02 Animal Powers (Various)
03 Banishment
04 Biosphere Tapping
05 Catalysis
06 Entity Projection
07 Flame Manipulation
08 Hibernation
09 Inhibitor
10 Limited Adaption
11 Luck Manipulation
12 Milieu Empathy (Various)
13 Natural Weaponry
14 Plant Control
15 Plantspeech
16 Potence
17 Seachange
18 Skinchange
19 Worldscan

Natural Forces, Major Abilities:

01 Adhesion Control
02 Animal Imitation
03 Binding Field Manipulation
04 Bioform Expansion
05 De-evolution
06 Diffusion Control
07 Elemental Control (Various)
08 Entrophic Projection
09 Event Catalysis
10 Event Inhibition
11 Friction Manipulation
12 Full Adaption
13 Gravity Channeling
14 Probability Warping
15 Racial Memory
16 Schrodinger Collapse
17 Seamaster
18 Shapeshifter
19 Spirit Binding
20 Transformation
21 Weather Control
22 Worldshaping

Personal Control, Minor Abilities:

01 Adaptive Regulation
02 Anasensence
03 Biocybrenetic Link
04 Bioelectrics
05 Bouncing
06 Clinging
07 Damage Resistance
08 Desentization
09 Disguise Shapeshift
10 Endurance Enhancement
11 Focusing
12 Gaseous Form (Var)
13 Hasting
14 Life Suspension
15 Merging
16 Omnidigestion
17 Pheromone Manipulation
18 Pressure Hardening
19 Reflex Enhancement
20 Regeneration
21 Resist (Various)
22 Restorative Trance
23 Self Sustenance
24 Self Weaponry
25 Sensory Override
26 Specific Transform
27 Sprinting
28 Strength Enhancement
29 Symbiotic Adjustment
29 Sympathetic Projection

Personal Control, Major Abilities:

01 Absorption
02 Adaption
03 Adrenal Surge
04 Atmospheric Adaption
05 Attribute Shift
06 Biophysical Control
07 Density Increase
08 Elasticity
09 Elemental Merging
10 Energy Resistance
11 Extended Senses
12 Hypersenses
13 Hyperspeed
14 Immortality
15 Intangibility
16 Kinetic Resistance
17 Metabolic Control
18 Neural Surge
19 Non-corporeality
20 Pattern Lockout
21 Pattern Stabilization
22 Phase Shift
23 Self-Transmutation
24 Shapechanging
25 Shielded Focusing
26 Steelskin
27 Thermal Control
28 Tranceshield
29 Venom Generation

Continuum II – Psychic Ability Upgrades, Dimensional Warps, and Energy Manipulation

Continuum II Psionic Abilities were – once again – minor (2 Point) and Major (3 Points) skills – and could be built up or modified by spending more skill points on them, just like any other skill. Unlike more mundane skills, however, Psionic Abilities involved the channeling and manipulation of exotic energies – and so there were a lot more options available for spending skill points than the usual “take a die off the check to get better odds”.

Thus, if you had the Minor Energy Manipulation Ability “Energy Bolt” you could lob around bolts of energy. You wanted to train a stubborn dog by giving it a light electrical zap whenever it went insane with barking at guests again? That’s a “Trivial” application. Melting an ordinary lock or getting your campfire going with wet wood? That’s pretty “Basic”. Throw a bolt at a nearby enemy? That one is – fairly obviously for an offensive ability in a RPG – “Basic”. Extra damage or throwing in a stunning or knockback effect or explosive on that basic blast? That’s probably “normal”. Hit two targets who are standing fairly close together? That might be a bit “Tricky”. Send a bolt arcing through three hostage-holders without touching the hostage? That would probably be “Advanced” unless there were special circumstances involved. Hold your power output even enough to substitute for your ships burnt-out electrical generator? That’s definitely pretty “Complex”. Those things have fairly tight tolerances. Trigger just the circuit you need to get that sealed door open? That’s blatantly “Absurd” – and you’d be a LOT better off using a more appropriate power.

Common ways to upgrade a psionic ability with skill points included:

  • Reduced Cost: Shift one column to the right on the cost chart. You could get this more than once, but couldn’t get off the chart.
  • Specialties: Reduce the application level by one (for relatively broad specialties) or two (for very narrow specialties) ranks. Specialties could be virtually anything. Area Effects? Piercing Defenses? Multiple Strikes? Explosions? Buffering Defenses? Increased Range?
  • Warding: You were never harmfully affected by your own power – although indirect effects, such as bringing down the ceiling, will endanger you normally.

As an option, if you came up with some way to seriously limit your power that the game master felt was reasonable, you could apply a free upgrade. So if you were limited to “Fire” (or, more accurately, low-density plasma) instead of energy in general… you could get a free upgrade, albeit only one.

Now, as for a couple of the specific lists…

“Dimensional Warp” abilities suppress a portion of the local structure of a dimension – such as a natural law or two, the dimensions of space, the structure of time, or some other principle, leaving little in the place of the suppressed principle but the fundamentals of existence – Sequence, Separation, Will (or Life), and Transformation (or Death) – filling that void with the user’s will. As such… they pit the user’s power against the metaphysical inertia of the universe and the massed will of those who inhabit it. The only thing that lets Dimensional Warps operate at all is that the user is generally only attempting to affect a very small area (at least when compared to the universe). Even so, Dimensional Warp abilities tend to be extremely expensive to use. On the other hand, the difficulty tends to depend on the size of the thing affected – not on it’s mass or the amount of energy involved. If you really need to get rid of an unstable quantum singularity, this is the discipline for you.

Naturally enough, the principles of Dimensional Warps are closely related to the Will Force and Psychokinetic Disciplines (which function by related forms of distorting natural laws as opposed to negating them entirely) and oppose Natural Forces (which subtly enhance and guide the local natural laws), Psychic Senses (which rely on gently probing what exists rather than trying to redefine it), and Heightened Talents (which rely on subtle amplification of what is already present rather than on breaking it down).

Energy Manipulation abilities are pretty straightforward: you reach out with your mind and channel raw energy – forcing it to do what you want. Unfortunately, since you’re running a mental interface with that energy, the big trick is to not let enough of it backlash through that interface to destroy your brain. Worse, maintaining such rigid control is power-intensive in itself – and dissipating what waste energies do manage to leak through (there are invariably some) costs even more. There is a reason why so many energy manipulators tend to be obsessed with their specialities, or pay little attention to endangering others, or seem intoxicated by their own power, or are otherwise a bit crazy – and it’s gradually-accumulating brain damage. Masters of Energy Manipulation always have the option to pay a little less psychic strength or push their limits and accept the resulting backlash – but it’s not a good idea to do it very often.

As such, the Energy Manipulation abilities are the opposite of the subtle, internal, disciplines of Life Energy Manipulation, with it’s emphasis on negative feedback loops and self-balancing systems. It’s generally not compatible with the subtle feedback required by Heightened Talents (since it focuses on blocking out such feedback as much as possible) or with the deeply personalized and internal amplifications typical of the Personal Control disciplines. It is, however, related to the imposition of pattern on psychic energies that the Telepathic Functions require and to the similar, but larger-scale, manipulations of the Psychokinetic Effects.

Dimensional Warp, Minor Abilities:

01 Blink Teleport
02 Coordinate Lock
03 Corridor Creation
04 Defensive Shunt
05 Dimensional Adaption
06 Dimensional Awareness
07 Dimensional Navigator
08 Disassembly
09 Displacement
10 Far Traveling
11 Folding
12 Gas Shunting
13 Gate Keying
14 Growth
15 Image Projection
16 Inertial Focusing
17 Inertial Null
18 Kinetic Matching
19 Linking
20 Otherplane Touch
21 Pocket Warp
22 Psychic Surgery
23 Shrinking
24 Space Distortion
25 Stabilization
26 Thought Oscillation
27 Tramline Generation
28 Wards
29 Warp Probe
30 Warp Rebound
31 Warp Tapping
32 Warp Tracing

Dimensional Warps, Major Abilities:

01 Apportion
02 Aspect Shift
03 Astral Projection
04 Axis Reduction
05 Axis Rotation
06 Block Transfer
07 Conjuration
08 Dimensional Lock
09 Dodging
10 Doppelganger
11 Etherealness
12 Geodesic Distortion
13 Hypershunt
14 Internal Gateway
15 Kinetic Shunt
16 Law Suspension
17 Matter Projection
18 Partial Phase
19 Personal Limbo
20 Plane Shift
21 Portal Generation
22 Power Source Creation
23 Reality Bubble
24 Refraction
25 Scattering
26 Stardrive
27 Summoning
28 Teleportation
29 Temporal Fugue
30 Temporal Shift
31 Time Manipulation
32 Warp Anchor
33 Warp Manipulation

Energy Manipulation, Minor Abilities:

01 Attuned Field
02 Cloaking
03 Conduction Field
04 Corona
05 Cybrenetic Telepath
06 Disintegration
07 Disruption Touch
08 Energy Analysis
09 Energy Bolt
10 Energy Imbuement
11 Energy Stabilization
12 Energy Storage
13 Holographic Illusion
14 Illuminator
15 Insulating Field
16 Invisibility
17 Multibolt
18 Nonresistance
19 Personal Shield
20 Plasma Generation
21 Potential Binding
22 Psychic Ground
23 Psychic Source
24 Psychic Seal
25 Reflection
26 Shadow Generation
27 Solidification
28 Storage Field
29 Tachyon Manipulation
30 Weapon Focus

Energy Manipulation, Major Abilities:

01 Amplification
02 Damping Field
03 Electrokinesis
04 Energy Absorption
05 Energy Animation
06 Energy Barriers
07 Energy Channeling
08 Energy Conversion
09 Energy Dissipation
10 Energy Doppelganger
11 Energy Focusing
12 Energy Form
13 Energy Patterning
14 Energy Pulse
15 Energy Redirection
16 Energy Screens
17 Field Manipulation
18 Jamming Field
19 Kinetic Transfer
20 Magnetic Control
21 Minimization
22 Mystic round
23 Mystic Sourcing
24 Negative Energy Manipulation
25 Pattern Stabilization
26 Pattern Suspension
27 Photon Manipulation
28 Radiation Manipulation
29 Seeking Field
30 Sonic Manipulation
31 Technic Ground
32 Technic Sourcing

Continuum II, Basics of Psychomancy and Psionics

The “Psychic Wheel*” is a graphical representation of how Continuum II’s various psychic powers are interrelated and function:

*This version is a bit sloppy because the original was generated with a version of AutoCAD more than thirty years ago, and even if I could find the original file, I doubt that it would open properly in any modern application. Ergo, I slapped this version together in a basic graphics program by eye.

  • Your personal psychic power reserve – often known as your “Third Eye” or “Chakra” – occupies the center of the wheel. Having a fair reserve of psychic power is pretty much a requirement for the controlled use of psychic powers.
  • The triangle of internally-centered personal energy manipulation powers – Introspection, C’hi, and Mentalism – appears one level out. Their proximity to the various Disciplines shows what they can be used to do.
  • The ten primary disciplines of Psychomancy (fueled by purely personal power) and Psionics (fueled by using personal power to tap into external power sources) occupying the power wheel. Related disciplines are, of course, closer together, while opposing disciplines on the other side of the wheel are pretty much the opposite of their counterparts, and are generally incompatible. As a mnemonic, Psychomancy approaches those disciplines from the inside of the wheel while Psionics approaches them from the outside.
  • Finally, beyond the Wheel, we have the many disciplines of Empyrean Magic – powered by ambient psychic energies, popular images, memes, cultures, beliefs, and all the other detritus of the worlds’s minds. Unfortunately, this means that it’s unreliable and difficult to control. If you call upon the “Spirit Of Christmas” or “The Mother Of The Race”, or of a popular cliche or meme, you can never be sure of how much power there is in it or exactly what it’s going to do. It’s not uncommon for characters to dabble in Empyrean Magic despite those flaws since it’s pretty easy to learn and use.

Basic Psychic Strength Point Costs :

Attempted

Application:

Dimensional
Warps and
Will Force
Psychokinetics and Energy
Manipulation
Personal
Control and
Natural Forces
Life Energy
Manipulations
and Telepathy
Psychic Senses
and Heightened
Talents
Trivial 5 to 10 2 to 5 1 to 4 1 to 3 1 to 2
Basic 10 to 20 3 to 8 3 to 6 2 to 4 1 to 3
Normal 15 to 25 5 to 12 4 to 9 3 to 5 2 to 4
Tricky 20 to 35 8 to 20 6 to 12 4 to 6 3 to 5
Advanced 30 to 45 15 to 25 9 to 20 5 to 10 4 to 7
Complex 40 to 60 20 to 35 12 to 25 8 to 20 5 to 10
Absurd 50 to 120+ 30 to 60+ 20 to 40+ 12 to 30+ 8 to 12+
  • Dimensional Warps and Will Force abilities cost twice as much for psychomancers.
  • Psychokinetic and Energy-Manipulation abilites cost twice as much for psychomancers if they’re attempting a high-energy effect, but have a normal cost otherwise.
  • Mentalists attempting to use Psychic Senses and Heightened Talents use the “Dimensional Warps” column.
  • Mentalists attempting to use Life Energy Manipulations or Telepathic Functions use the “Psychokinetics” cost column.
  • The “Attempted Application” row to use is a judgement call. Throwing a lightning bolt at someone using “Energy Bolt” from the energy manipulation list is a “basic” use. Using it as a welding arc is “advanced”, and powering a delicate circuit with it is “absurd”. Electrokinesis offers considerably more flexibility and control – but using electrokinesis to generate that same lightning bolt is at least a “normal” task. Worse, attempting to use disciplines in “advanced” (Or higher) fashions often requires success rolls.

Empyrean Transfer Impedance is the primary limitation on the operation of psychic powers within a dimension. It measures the resistance to, and the quantity of waste energy generated by, moving energy through the empyrean.

  • At values of 6+ psychic abilities do not function in any way, including most of the subconscious feedback effects involved in social interactions. Few universes have such a base value, although zones are occasionally generated.
  • ETI Values of 5+ prohibit the development of disciplined psychic abilities save, perhaps, for the few characters with massive natural talents and many years to practice. Even they will be limited to introspective disciplines. Fortunately, the unconscious social aspects of introspection will operate – as will occasional flashes of C’hi powers (This phenomena is generally limited to occasions of extreme psychic stress and moments of complete focus. It’s responsible for things like “Hysterical Strength” – and is extremely hard on the user’s system).
  • Values of 4+ allow the practical development of Introspection (and C’hi, in the case of exceptional natural talents).
  • A value of 3+ allows the practical development of C’hi (and Psychomancy with an exceptional natural talent).
  • Values of 2+ allow the practical development of Psychomancy (and Psionics with an exceptional natural talents.
  • Values of 1+ allow the practical development of Psionics. If sufficient energy sources are available, and no other inhibiting factors are involved, psionics can accomplish remarkable things.
  • If the ETI value is less then one, those using psionics may multiply the cost of using their abilities by it. Sadly, very low ETI values are only typical of the most extreme comic-book-style worlds.

Special cases include Superstition (Making use of the energies which have been absorbed by individual objects. This requires an ETI value of 3 or less), Empyrean Magic (The use of ambient psychic energy. This requires an ETI value of 2 or less), Aura (Basically psionics drawing on the general population for power. This can get very odd, and requires an ETI value of 1 or less) – and Mentalism (Feeding external energies into the empyrean through the user’s psyche. This can be used at ETI values 4 or less – but the higher the value is, the greater the strain on the user. In general, a value of 3 is the the practical limit – and a value of 2 or less is strongly recommended).

GM’s may create dimensions with fractional ETI values if they so desire. Values between 4 and 5 permit limited Introspection. Those between 3 and 4 have similar effects on C’hi powers;

  • X.1) Powers may not be developed past the sixth level.
  • X.2) Powers may not be developed past the fifth level.
  • X.3) Abilities cost an extra skill point to develop.
  • X.4) Powers may not be developed past the fourth level.
  • X.5) Powers may not be developed past the third level.
  • X.6) Abilities cost two extra skill points to develop.
  • X.7) Powers may not be developed past the second level.
  • X.8) Powers may not be developed past the first level.
  • X.9) Abilities cost three extra skill points to develop and may not be developed past the first level.

Psychomancy and Psionics take less internal precision – but are limited by how much energy can be channeled into an effect, making some branches impossible to develop…

  • X.1) Prohibits Dimensional Warps disciplines.
  • X.2) Also prohibits Will Force disciplines.
  • X.3) Also prohibits Energy Manipulation disciplines.
  • X.4) Also prohibits Psychokinetic disciplines.
  • X.5) Also prohibits Natural Forces disciplines.
  • X.6) Also prohibits Personal Control disciplines.
  • X.7) Also prohibits Life Energy Manipulations.
  • X.8) Also prohibits Telepathic Functions.
  • X.9) Also prohibits Heightened Talents disciplines.

Other options are available… These include; raising the cost, rather then prohibiting fields and skill levels, “favoring” specific fields – and many other modifications. “Local” dimensional laws are highly variable...

Continuum II – Optional Attributes Conclusion, Attributes That Aren’t Recommended

First up, for the rest of the optional attributes list…

Grace measures a characters “talent” for dealing with social situations politely and diplomatically. It covers etiquette, manners, soothing conflicts – and acting as a member of the “upper class”. A high grace score helps a great deal when interacting with “sophisticated” people, while a low one may mark you as an uncouth barbarian. It is less effective with unsophisticated peoples – but the basic ability to handle social situations smoothly is of value almost anywhere, except around the occasional real “uncouth barbarian”.

Influence measures a characters ability to manipulate events on a large scale, whether through money, politics and intrigue, calling in favors, supplying wise council, mystic influences, through family or through some other means. Characters with high influence scores are rare – and often have “difficulties” with intrigue, people trying to use, replace, or discredit, them, anyone who wants something, requests for favors, and simply being watched. Being a V.I.P. can be nice, but it can also be a tremendous pain in the ass. Extreme cases should beware of assassins.

Intuition measures a characters psychic sensitivity and ability to detect occult disturbances – as well as his or her ability to guess correctly. High intuitions make characters difficult to surprise and allow them to extract far more information from any situation then is strictly reasonable, but also leave them open to various forms of psychic disturbances, inclined to weird premonitions – and subject to bizarre mood swings, headaches, and pains, as a result of events occurring somewhere or somewhen else. A high intuition score is also very useful in Powershaping and related magical fields.

Karma isn’t necessarily “good” or “bad”. It simply measures the likelihood of weird things happening to, or around, the character. Characters with high karma scores are marked by fate, whether for good or ill. Coincidence may preserve them at one moment simply to dump them into the middle of some unlikely disaster a moment later. It may be divine intervention, consequences of a past life, or simply luck, but it happens. On the other hand, those with low scores can plan ahead with far more confidence, and if fate is less likely to preserve them, it’s also a lot less likely to feed them to the meatgrinder. It is possible to get wholly “good” or “bad” karma via a Talent or disadvantage – but that is basically a form of Luck.

Learning Potential (AKA; “Potential“) is usually only needed when characters are getting a bit absurd. (Either by taking numerous skills at absurdly high (4+) ranks or by taking years off to gain an excessive number of skill points through study). Unfortunately for would-be powermongers, skills acquired through study tend to fade, and – no matter how much they study – many people simply are not capable of going beyond the master level. As a rule, a character may not gain more then (2/3 Potential) skill points via study and is limited to a maximum of 1/3 his or her score in skill rank. Neither limit applies on skill points acquired through level advancement.

Maneuver measures a character’s ability to move well; smoothly, gracefully, and with style. It’s important to acrobats, runners, swimmers, fliers, martial artists – and dancers. Maneuver rolls are generally required when the character wants to pull off some complex, high-speed, or otherwise difficult, stunt – a dive from a great height, stepping on the wall to corner at a full run, and so on – and have it look good as well as functional. As far as the martial arts go, high maneuver scores make the practacioner look good – and scores of 16+ allow the character to learn stylized forms without taking the associated penalty and to acquire time-consuming ones more quickly then usual.

Manipulation is a measure of a character’s ability to get other people to do what said character wants them to do through more-or-less peaceful means. Trickery, guile, phony emotional appeals, loaded wording, faulty logic, and similar social trickery are the essence of manipulation. While some degree of manipulation is a basic part of any social interaction, excessive manipulation is often very deeply resented. Trying to avoid manipulating people so as to avoid this is a form of manipulation in itself. As a rule a high manipulation score is a mixed blessing – and often leads to even your friends distrusting you.

Mental Coordination measures a character’s ability to handle complex or multiple simultaneous tasks. Examples range from the mundane (Answering a question while lifting weights and watching television reruns) to such more significant operations as using multiple psychic powers, using telekinesis in several differing ways at one time, maintaining some illusion while doing something else, or keeping a horse under control while fighting. Such tasks are normally assumed to be things that require a minimal level of concentration to perform. A task that requires more then that will count as two (or possibly even more) lesser tasks. By default, characters can normally handle three simple tasks at one time. As a side-benefit, those with high mental coordination scores receive a targeting bonus when employing psychically-based attacks. There is a small problem with having a high Mental Coordination score; it tends to give people the impression that you’re not really paying attention to them.

Morale is an attribute that generally only applies to NPC’s, although PC’s may use it if they so desire. It’s essentially a measurement of how much stress a character (or group) can handle before giving way. While this is most dramatic in battle, where a failure of morale means anything from a minimal-failure fighting retreat through a total-failure rout or surrender (whichever seems likely to result in survival), it can also mean taking a bribe, giving in to blackmail, deserting a post, stealing something from an employer, or simply refusing orders. While Morale generally assumes an external loyalty, characters who’s loyalty is only to themselves may also have morale scores, but in their case it represents self-confidence. Morale rolls vary a great deal. Retreat is less tempting if there’s someone standing behind you with a halberd. A wandering bum can be bribed far more easily then a well- paid executive – especially if said executive’s position is secure and has every prospect of remaining so. Despite claims, training and experience don’t raise morale. They simply change a character’s (or group’s) estimate of the situation and best course of action. Groups also learn the advantages of operating as a team – and gain confidence in the capabilities of the other group members. Discipline doesn’t raise morale either, but it does allow a group to lose morale in stages, rather then all at once. Undisciplined mobs tend to break, but a disciplined group tends to try to retreat or fall back while retaining organization. It requires several failures to cause a rout. Leader-types may make independent morale checks, modifying the troops roll by +/-1 for every 2 points by which they make their roll – but if such a leader is captured or slain another check must be made immediately with a similar penalty. Mere incapacitation calls for another check, but with no special penalty. Leaders who fail morale checks can be a considerable problem, since their followers automatically take a similar penalty. Morale rolls are also modified by emotional factors. Abandoning your wounded isn’t good for morale. Fanatic religious devotion or defending home and family bolsters it enormously. Being reinforced – or seeing allies winning – may nullify a recent failure. A character (or groups) initial morale varies depending on recruitment procedures and selectivity. Professional mercenaries tend to have high morale. Those who don’t get out of the profession. Conscript peasants usually have low morale. Volunteers vary. Morale rolls are usually required only when something in a situation changes for the worse – or when something is obviously a stupid idea.

Mysterium measures a characters skill at remaining an unknown. The higher the score, the harder it is for an investigator or normal acquaintance to find out anything about the character. What’s more, acquaintances often won’t notice that they know little or nothing about you. This sort of thing can be due to occult skills, inspired hacking, the fact that the courthouse burned down, simply being very, very, reticent and unobtrusive, be the work of some intelligence organization, or just the result of coincidence. Whatever the cause, a high mysterium score will start to drop if it’s possessor keeps giving out information. The disadvantage of “Mysterium” is that it affects everyone. Friends will have as much trouble finding you as enemies will. If you never appear on the news, you never get any credit. Allies can’t rely on your abilities when they’re unknown. Occasionally mysterium appears in conjunction with a “secret identity” – as in; “No one knows anything about the mysterious Professor Prometheus!”. While this keeps the required secrecy to one aspect of a characters life, it also means that losing that secret will utterly destroy all the mystery; “Look! It’s only Mr Hardshack!”

Power is a characters natural psychic strength potential, over and above the base accessible from his wisdom. It is important in Empyrean Magic (which taps it), during outbursts of “hysterical strength” and other instinctive uses of C’hi, resisting psychic attacks, and in enhancing other psychic powers. Sadly, Power generally cannot be tapped directly. It usually requires an emotional (or a stress- related) trigger to bring it out. As a side benefit such “triggers” bypass the usual point expenditure limits.

Protean is a rare trait among most races. It measures a character’s ability to accelerate and control his or her shapeshifting. Unfortunately, even a high Protean score doesn’t give a character shapeshfting powers. It simply indicates that he or she will be good at controlling any such abilities that he or she possesses or acquires. A high score does have a minor disadvantage for those with active shapeshifting powers; unless they maintain strict control they tend to give away a lot through unconscious shapeshfting (“I’m NOT Jealous of him!” “Then why are you growing fangs Michael?”) although this does depend a bit on the nature of the character’s shapeshifting abilities. Low scores may indicate difficulty in making use of such talents at all.

Recognition measures how famous and distinctive your character is. It does not measure how people will react to whatever a character is known for (That’s a matter of how the people who recognize you feel about what you do, and is a bit too complex for a simple score). A high score means that many of those you meet will “know” at least a bit about you – which can be both good and bad.

Sanity is a somewhat debatable attribute. It could be seen as a measure of how rational a person is, of how closely their mental “model” of the world corresponds to that of their culture, of how well they control bizarre/ antisocial drives – or simply of how willing they are to accept reality without filtering it through theories and preconceptions. Go far enough “out of bounds” on any of these and you’ll be considered crazy. Those who won’t or can’t realize that you must open the refrigerator before trying to put the milk in (failure of reason), believe that the earth is flat (failure of world-model), want to conquer the world and cannot restrain themselves (bizarre or antisocial desire), or refuse to accept that the car has a flat because they just put new tires on it (unwilling to accept reality), are insane by most standards. It doesn’t measure stability. It is perfectly possible to have a nice stable fixed delusion. In Continuum II, any character who has reasonable goals, goes about achieving them sensibly, and is willing to deal with reality as it is, is sane. Cultural expectations do not enter into it. Sanity is, however, a variable. When a character’s mental stability (QV; Wisdom) is overcome, his or her sanity will drop. When and if it hits zero. the character will usually “snap” temporarily – lapsing into shock, confusion, hysteria, or what-have-you. They then begin over again with their “basic” sanity score reduced by one point. The lower it goes, the odder they become. Sanity can be regained through time, meditation, therapy (the telepathic variety is usually best), defeating your personal fears – or simply facing (and winning out over) the things that bother you. Sanity can be increased in a similar fashion by collecting “extra” temporary points – but this is notoriously difficult. Optionally, each lost point of sanity may manifest as mental quirks, with more bothersome quirks being equated to two or more points. A character who’s “permanent” sanity score is reduced to 0 is effectively out of action unless drastic measures are taken – or considerable time passes. In real life, sanity is all too rare; a very high sanity score has its own, built-in, penalty. If you don’t play such a character accordingly the GM will probably reduce your experience point awards. If you do, you’ll miss out on a lot of things. The “sane” response is very often to stay out of whatever-it-is that’s going on…

Size is an extremely simple attribute; It’s how large a character is. As a rule, it’s pretty consistent within any one species. Really large characters can take more physical damage before going down, but are subject to innumerable major and minor problems, ranging from conspicuousness thru having to have custom-tailored clothing and armor, being unable to fit into compact cars, and being unable to find a horse that can carry you, up to occasionally falling through the floor. Extremely small characters are slightly more fragile and have trouble with things being oversized – but they do have an easier time sneaking around and getting out of the way. It’s important to shapeshifters if the game master is keeping track of details because most of them can only manage to take forms within two size points of their racial ranges (three if shapeshifting in water).

Standing measures a characters perceived status among some group. While said “group” is usually the population at large, others are certainly possible. Standing might also be used to measure military or organizational rank, how much of the underworld a character controls, whether a character is a white, black, or grey, mage (and whether various mystic beings will respond to your invocations), how much the other knights and nobles of the realm respect you (although even a standing three knight is far above the peasants), or simply how rich and influential you are. Of course, with high (or sometimes low, such as a “black mage”) standing comes high demands on your time.

Stun measures a character’s ability to stay conscious and functioning despite pain, shock, impact, and injury. Stun rolls are required at the game-masters option – but likely occasions include being sapped from behind, being hit by a stungun, or simply taking a major attack. While this makes it easier to knock the character out, it also means that such characters tend to aggravate wounds less then others do, hence their stun score is added to their base vitality. Minimal success or failure on a stun roll generally leaves the character more-or-less dazed. As a rule, bullets, blades, and beams allow easier stun rulls then less-focused (and usually less damaging) hands, blunt weapons, and blasts.

Trauma measures long-term physical, psychic, magical, or spiritual injury. Trauma is acquired when a character takes massive, potentially-lethal, injuries, and fails an Trauma roll. The difficulty of said roll depends on the magnitude and nature of the effect producing the injury. Each point of a character’s trauma score is reflected in the game as a penalty to some activity – what depends on the GM’s whim and what produced the injury. The severity depends on how often the penalty comes into play. Trauma points (and their associated penalties) can be removed, but this requires repairing the damage somehow. It’s better to avoid it in the first place. Competent care is a good place to start, since it provides a retroactive +2 to +7 (Depending on the skill and resources of the caregiver) on the characters trauma roll (“He would have lost the arm, but we got him to the surgeon in time”). “Trauma” can be intentionally inflicted, often as a punishment. There is no roll to resist this sort of thing. Getting branded (A penalty to some social rolls) or having a hand amputated (Several points worth of trauma) is hard to resist. Trauma penalties can include various physical limits, social annoyances, psychological problems, weird curses, magical difficulties, and psychic malfunctions. While it may not be strictly reasonable, already-battered characters are harder to inflict further trauma on. What are a few more scars on top of all the others?

Voice measures the quality of a character’s voice, at least as far as range, tonality, singing, and speaking are concerned. While less then vital unless you’re a singer, and possibly irrelevant even then, those with high voice scores are simply pleasant to listen too. Low scores may indicate speech impediments or atrocious accents, but it rarely matters that much. It might be a decisive element in a closely-matched talent competition though.

Wealth measures the extent of a character’s financial resources. Sadly, unlike the convenient funding and gear provided by the “Increased Resources” talents, Wealth is something that has to be maintained and managed. Depending on the score, this may mean anything from an hours daily scrounging on through a job, and up to spending most of your time on managing your financial empire. Extreme wealth scores draw attention, publicity, and crooks, in equal measure. It can be useful, but after a point it tends to become a career in itself. Extreme levels of wealth have a nasty habit of endangering your friends and family.

Web is one of the strangest optional characteristics. It’s a measure of the strength and number of a character’s psychic “anchors” and emotional supports. Such “anchors” are either living beings with powerful emotional ties to the character (children, lovers, hated enemies, etc), or are objects (items, places, or what-have-you) in which a character has invested a great deal of their personal psychic energy. Objects and places are mental foci, triggers for memories, and places in which the character can recover his mental balance. For clairvoyants, spirit travelers, and the like, such anchors are also easy to reach psychically – and can be used to help rebuild a scattered or damaged psyche. Living beings act in a somewhat similar fashion – however they also act as emotional bulwarks, helping the character to resist many psychic assaults. As psychic constructs, webs can absorb or yield psychic power – but overdoing this risks damage to them, reducing the web score by one. The disadvantage is that a webs anchors are links to the user as well.

Zeal measures both strength of commitment, and how much energy, a character is inclined to put into causes. This doesn’t necessarily indicate a sensible, or even stable, choice of causes (QV; Intellect and Wisdom) – but a high value does make the character a splendid activist, fund- raiser, and annoyance. While it also makes a character extremely difficult to convert directly, characters with low wisdoms are prone to sudden enthusiasms. High zeal scores are common among religious figures, but they are not necessarily of any real help in exercising religious powers.

Optional Attributes which are NOT recommended :

  • Acting: This is another “attribute” that’s hard to seperate from the players performance, and is usually best handled as a character skill, rather then as an attribute.
  • Charisma: Measures how “likable” a character is. This is usually best handled through role-playing.
  • Clearance: Measures how much a character is trusted by some organization. It tends to be volatile, and is more of an attribute of said organization then of the character.
  • Education. This measures the extent of the characters education. This is normally treated as a function of a characters intellect and skill choices. A bright kid who grows up on a farm learns just as much as one in a high-pressure advanced academy, he or she just learns different things.
  • Esteem: Measures how well some character’s reputation is perceived. Basically, do those who’ve heard of you think of you as a hero of a villian? The problem here is that reputations are complex things, and one number cannot do them justice.
  • Heritage: This measures the importance of what a character is in line to inherit – whether in the form of lands, cash, or power. This is usually better handled by the GM using the character’s class, background, talents, and family, in relationship to the setting, the plotline potential, and his or her whimsy.
  • Insight: Measures the characters ability to have bright ideas and pick out important clues. Unless the players constantly need hints – which usually indicates that the game master is over-complicating things – this sort of ability is generally only useful if you want to go back to rolling the combat dice quickly.
  • Luck: This is usually used as an excuse for GM’s, and players, who are at a loss. Gaming already involves luck – the dice handle that.
  • Retinue: This measures the size of a character’s entourage. This is usually better handled as a function of culture, character skills, and appropriate other attributes.
  • Sensuality: Measures both a characters sexual attributes and his or her talent for using them. Anyone who wants to include Sensuality and deal with the resulting nonsense is welcome to do so, but I do not recommend it. Situations where it might be used can normally be handled using the character description and some role-playing – if they come up at all
  • Traits: Such as piety, courage, honor, greed, carnality, and other such personality traits are normally best handled on the character quiz. Elevating them to attributes tends to be nothing but a way to take the decisions out of the hands of the player.

Now, obviously enough, a lot of these attributes have made it into d20 through Eclipse – although in many cases it’s as a power you might want to buy, instead of as an attribute. It’s really too bad in a way; the flexibility of optional / secondary attributes allowed a great deal of setting and character customization. After all, if the game master opted to require Discipline, Fatigue, and Trauma, the setting will become a great deal more grim-and-gritty, “unlimited use” abilities become a lot less “unlimited”, and avoiding fights becomes a lot more important. On the other hand, if he or she asked for Aura, some variant of Corruption, and Mysterium, then a “secret supernatural” game is probably in the offing. Trade out one of those for Sanity and you’re headed for Call Of Cthulhu. Is he or she asking for Essence, Recognition, and one of the player’s choice? That would work nicely for a Shadowrun style setting. On the other hand, Doom (Radiation Dosage), Trauma, and Corruption (Mutation) says either post-apocalyptic radioactive wasteland or perhaps an alien invasion setting. Free choice? A wide-open and likely multi-dimensional setting is coming up, with lots of second chances for characters to work on specialties that there base attributes don’t really support.

Unfortunately, that degree of freedom would be pretty hard to translate to most of the current popular rules sets; most of them are a lot more restrictive about what rolls are related to which attribute, so adding options for new attributes is a lot more complicated.

Continuum II – Optional Attributes: Basics and Partial List

Continuum II’s optional attributes can be required by the game master or be selected by the player to suit his or her character. As such, characters might not all have the same set of attributes – and this is fine. Given that the basic rules of the system mostly called for rolling against attributes, many of the optional attributes don’t need a lot of detail – just a description of where they apply, and so can rolled against. To use the first sample optional attribute as an example… a character might use Stealth and Adaptability to try and merge into a group or Interrogation and Adaptability to try and collect information about an exotic culture. Optional Attributes are often used as a “second chance” of sorts; if a character has a lousy score in some attribute that he or she needs, they can try for a better result with a secondary attribute more specific to what they want. Some of the possible optional attributes include:

Adaptability measures the characters ability to blend into differing situations. Unless there’s something very peculiar about the character, this is usually limited to social situations. A character with a high adaptability is something of a social chameleon, able to merge with a wide variety of cultures, situations, and settings. Sadly, this comes at the price of an annoying tendency to adapt too well – a problem reminiscent of multiple-personality disorders. It also means a tendency to “be” whatever the people around you expect you to be. Extremely low scores indicate an inability to adapt to new social situations, making the character prone to offending the locals, very likely to get entangled in legal problems, limiting his/ her social mobility, and otherwise making it hard to get along.

Affinity or “Animal Affinity” measures the character’s intuitive ability to get along with, understand, manage, and befriend, animals. It even extends to some extent to “animalistic” sentient beings. It’s useful in estimating how close it’s safe to come to a herd, when tracking and locating animals, taming or training them, and in trying to figure out what they’re excited about, amongst many other things. A character with a high Affinity score is often deeply attuned to his (or her) own instincts – which may cause minor difficulties socially. Extremely high scores often lead to prefering animals to people.

Appearance actually includes qualities such as voice, manner, and body parl as well as physical beauty – but the physical level generally takes priority. It measures how attractive other members of your characters species consider him or her to be. Extremely beautiful or repulsive characters may find it easy to charm or frighten people, but this comes at a price; characters with extremely low appearance scores suffer from social ostracism, children throwing rocks, and are extremely memorable, while those with extremely high scores are targets for propositions, groupies, and slavers.

Aptitude (Specify) measures a characters talent in a particular field of endeavor. Possible Aptitudes include magical, technical, mechanical, artistic, combative, psychic, and scientific, but others are certainly possible. Aptitudes are basically “second chances”, scores which can be used in place of other (presumably lower) scores when using a skill or ability covered by the aptitude. While this can be quite convenient, it makes attempting to improve such an ability very difficult, requiring twice as many skill points as usual. Unskilled attempts at anything which an aptitude might cover always use the aptitude score, even if another relevant ability is higher. A character with an aptitude for music would use that score to try and play a few unskilled notes on a flute, even if his far higher dexterity would normally be used.

Arcane measures a characters natural affinity for the manipulation of magical energy or “mana”, either defensively or offensively. Arcane provides extra skill points to expend on “magical skills” as if it were Intellect, but this is modified by the planetary mana level, from “almost nonexistent” (-8) to “incredibly abundant” (+3). A total of 0+ is required to study professional magic at all if Arcane is used. As always, having natural magical gifts can get you in lots and lots of trouble… and better gifts equal worse trouble.

Aura measures the emotional impact of a beings simple presence, regardless of the exact nature of said impact. While every living thing has a bio-energy aura, Aura is a result of becoming an unconscious focus for some type of empyrean energies. At low scores this simply results in an intuitive response from those around you, at moderate scores it results in instinctive emotional reactions – and at high scores it begins to manifest in physical reality around the character. Hence a character with an aura of fear might walk surrounded by mists and shadows. One with an aura of corruption might sour milk and twist plants and spread disease as he or she passes. One with an aura of peace might heal and comfort. Note that, while “Aura” also occurs in conjunction with empyrean magic and various psychic abilities, in that context it refers to consciously tapping and manipulating empyrean energies. Aura is related to “Aura Points”, but they are not the same. “Aura Points” are pure power – but “Aura” cannot be directly tapped – or readily shielded.

Avatar measures a character’s underlying strength of will – his or her ability to learn to bend the local laws of nature and surpass normal limits. In essence, “Avatar” measures how high a level a character can reach. It is especially important to Arcanists and True Illusionists, who defy reality directly (and so are limited to a maximum level equal to their Avatar score), but even professions that settle for “bending” reality a bit are limited to a maximum level equal to twice their avatar score. It also measures the capacity for “final strikes”, great efforts of will, sustaining pocket dimensions, wielding and/or regaining special powers in dimensions normally hostile to such effects (Characters in such settings may regain one “point” of some sort per day per point of Avatar rating. This includes; personal mana, psychic strength, vitality (over normal levels), and spell points, among others). As a rule, “professional” player-characters are presumed to have wills strong enough that other limitations predominate in most settings. Unlike most attributes, Avatar is almost impossible to modify. It can be increased through a willing fusion of souls, and decreased through extremely high level spells, greater blood magic, and powers such as wreaking – but such events are incredibly rare.

Blood measures the “purity” of a character’s lineage. Exactly what this means depends on exactly who (or what) said character is descended from. While purer blood may mean little save a social distinction (and corresponding expectations), it may also measure a relationship to the royal family, provide peculiar talents of it’s own, be a measure of a character’s potential power, or follow some rule of it’s own. Whether your blood carries power, potential, influence, or merely social rank, characters can be sure that whatever you’re related to has his, her, or it’s, own problems – and the “closer” you are to it, the closer they are to you.

Class is basically an indication of birth rank – what “social class” a character started with. While this has few direct effects, it makes quite a difference socially and may affect what professions a character may follow. It is difficult to raise your class, but not impossible. It can be accomplished through wealth, influence, trickery, marriage, or things like a “grant of nobility”. In many settings class will also help determine what equipment and cash a character starts out with, as well as inheritance and what influence can be exerted on his behalf. On the other hand, it’s difficult to live up to a high class, and there are always people watching what you do. The character’s family (if any) is usually of roughly the same social class as the character, however children who are not acknowledged by the family, are illegitamate by local standards, or whose parents have non-hereditary social honors, may have substantially lower class scores then their parent or parents do.

Communication measures the ability to effectively and clearly express emotions, thoughts, and ideas – whether in writing, orally, in art, or through some other means. It does not guarantee the worth of such material, it merely allows it to be accurately and persuasively conveyed. This can be something of a disadvantage when you’re trying to con someone – or if the ideas aren’t worth much to begin with.

Cool measures a character’s ability to remain calm in the face of disaster; (“My dear Sir! I have no idea how the murder weapon got into my pocket!”). It’s very handy when trying to stick to a story or when talking your way out of something. A high cool score tends to render the character impervious to panic, unlikely to fumble things under pressure, and unimpressed. It tends to help you take charge of chaotic situations – and makes you ready to take advantage of any opening. On the other hand, people will often have a hard time taking you seriously or believing it when you tell them that there’s an emergency. Unlike Wisdom, “Cool” is not sensible. Those with “high” (15+) scores tend to stay cool no matter what the emergency, and hence suffer a +1 modifier on their initiative checks.

Corruption (Or many other transhuman paths) measures how far a character has gone down dark pathways, acquiring dark lore, foul powers, and the favor of horrific (or at least profoundly lovecraftian), beings. A characters corruption score can be changed, but this is always a struggle. Those who wish to plumb new and greater depths of foulness must come up with ever-more creative acts of corruption, while any character wishing to struggle against his/her corruption must perform great acts of redemption and stand on guard against constant temptations to backslide. Similar paths explore the mysteries of attributes such as “Mysticism”, “Undeath”, “Beastmastery”, “Peacemaking” and “Honor”. Such attributes rarely start off above minimal scores, but do increase with time and effort. Any and all of these come with obvious physical and auric signs – as well as a set of increasing obligations with increasing scores. The simplest way to “handle” attributes like these is to simply assign various appropriate effects values, and then select a list with a total value equal to the users attribute score. Higher scores generally extend and expand the effects of the powers associated with lesser scores. In many or most settings, taking any of these attributes will cost one or more Talent Points.

Dweomer measures a character’s natural ability to tap into the energies of the empyrean plane. Sadly, being a natural focus for empyrean energies, beings, mythagos, and manifestations, has it’s drawback; they tend to show up. Worse, a fully-open tap into the empyrean will swamp any mortal mind. Effective use of Dweomer requires that the user restrict the tap to more specific functions. The user can handle a maximum of (Wis/10) such functions – and even so, they will have a massive influence on the users mind and are limited to one informational, one active, and one passive function. Such functions are notable for being nebulous, erratic, and vaguely defined. Typical functions include Channeling/Mediumism, Dreamweaving, simple Power Tapping (Provides Score/3 points of aura), Lore Mastery, Mythago Creation, Faith, Soulflight, involuntary Prophecy, Earth Witchery, Spirit Binding, Myndfire, the Sight, Elemental Fury, the energy-channeling Spiral Dance, Tale Spinning, and even the classic Evil Eye. Using Dweomer is normally quite fatiguing. Dweomer is normally most suited for settings in which more disciplined powers are unavailable. Like most vague PC abilities, care must be taken to ensure that Dweomer- Functions are not overused – or stretched to cover every imaginable situation. The more powerful a function, the more dangerous it is to use. To reinforce the erratic and unpredictable nature of Dweomer, no two PC’s should ever have identical functions even if they’re named that way. In most settings, taking this attribute counts as a two point Talent.

Discipline measures a characters determination, self- control, and focus. It is useful in studying, ignoring an injury or distraction, resisting interrogation, sticking your hand into a fire, persevering in the face of overwhelming obstacles, defying emotional effects, and being a party-pooper. It can also lead to lead to problems with using spontaneous and intuitive powers or overlooking things when you’re paying attention to something else – and it makes it very hard to change plans and habits. In many ways, a high discipline score makes its possessor extremely predictable.

Domain measures the extent of the “territory” which a character is mystically bound to, can sense, draws power from, and can influence somewhat. This usually applies more to spirits then it does to physical creatures – but there are examples of things like the “land-sense”. The nature of a Domain depends on the nature of the owner. A nature spirit might control a pond, a mountain, or whole forest. Empyrean beings might control emotions, types of madness, dreams, or philosophies. Demons control areas, items, and energies. Gods may control fields of activity, groups of people, or territories. Material creatures are usually linked to specific areas, types of creatures, or magical nexi. Any of these can lead to problems, as the link operates both ways. While a character with a domain has considerable adantages, they must protect and maintain said domain. The score is something of a combination of thr importance of a domain and the character’s degree of control over it – however the score is used directly for a variety of “domain-related” rolls. Hence more specific domains usually allow bonuses on any required rolls. Domain is rarely a required attribute unless the characters used are very, very, strange.

Doom measures how long the characters got left before something really nasty happens. Doom can represent the effects of accumulating radiation poisoning and/or toxins, the gradual corrosion of some inner curse or dark power, some incurable disease, slow physical or psychic burnout resulting from some experimental treatment, or whatever. As a rule the effects of Doom are gradual. The character doesn’t just fall over dead, turn to stone, or turn into a monster suddenly. There’s generally some sign of their slow deterioration as the Doom score inevitably drops. What causes it to drop varies. Another addictive dose? A bit more exposure? Simple aging? Depending on it’s form, the drop in Doom’s attribute score may be reflected in a drop in other attributes. Occasionally Doom comes with a benefit, transferring the points from the dropping score to other attributes or abilities; “As the atomic fires within slowly consume you, the power they give you will grow enormously”.

Eldritch Lore measures how far a character has delved into “things man was not meant to know!”, knowledge that may grant strange powers or allow the deciphering of odd riddles and mysteries – but which undermines the stability of any more-or-less “normal” mind. A character who’s Lore exceeds his or her Wisdom is always mad, but penalties on any stability rolls and symptoms of insanity (E’s a a bit cracked, you see?) will show up long before then. As a rule, Eldritch Lore only increases – although some forms of amnesia may temporarily or, with massive blanking, permanently, erase some of it. Note that Eldritch Lore is NOT related to the resonant mental links used by Clerics, although the mental effects are sometimes similar.

Empathy measures a characters ability to “read” other people – interpreting subtle social and behavioral cues, body language, and inflections. Secondarily, such “cues” also reveal physical and emotional states. Characters with high empathy scores tend to be keenly aware of how other people feel. Empathy allows a character to detect close emotional ties, gauge the truth of someone’s statements, and moderate his or her words to suit the audience. Very high empathy scores tend to carry their own problems. A highly empathic character commonly finds it difficult to turn down a genuine emotional appeal.

Essence measures “humanity”, how much of his (or her) original psychic matrix and human nature a character has managed to retain through some dehumanizing process. The loss may be due to extensive cyborging, becoming a werecreature, merging with some sort of spirit (EG – becoming a faerie or vampire), neural damage, sociopathic insanity, abuse, or the simple loss of innocence. Essence is difficult to regain and – obviously – tends to be lost as a character becomes less and less human. A character who’s essence has been reduced to zero is quite inhuman, generally insane, and unplayable. Even those who’s essence is simply very low are generally seriously disturbed.

Family measures the extent of a characters network of “kin”, those he or she considers “a part of the family”. While kinfolk can be supporting and helpful, they can also be a tremendous drain on your personal resources, real and emotional. As a rule, each point of the family score indictates the existence of someone a character considers a part of his / her immediate family and assorted more distant relatives. Higher (7-12) values usually indicate the presence of an “extended” family or small clan as well. Scores of 13-18 commonly indicate membership in a major clan or similar group, with hundreds of members. Scores of 19+ indicate progressively larger and more powerful families, usually possessing large-scale influence or considerable resources. While this is very useful, such a “family” will often take up virtually all of a characters time. In some settings it may be necessary to determine the character’s sibling status or birth order… This can be done by any means desired to fit the setting. Note that a characters effective “family” score can be modified by up to six points depending on whether the character is a family favorite or is “on the outs” with his or her relatives.

Fatigue measures a characters innate energy reserves, ability to “push” his/her limits, and capacity for short- term bursts of effort. It can be temporarily reduced by things like a chronic shortage of sleep, lingering overstrain, having recently fought a series of battles, or a poor diet. Recovering it requires correcting the problem and getting some rest – up to a week per point lost in the most extreme cases. Short-term exertions are limited by fatigue points, AKA “Stamina”. These are initially equal to the characters (Fatigue * Endurance) and are expended via various exertions – casting a spell, using some psychic ability, wielding some power or weapon, or simply carrying rocks. They’re recovered via rest and sleep or, in emergencies, through stimulants (magical, psychic, or technological). Stamina doesn’t usually trouble low-level characters, as they generally exhaust their other abilities long before physical exhaustion becomes a problem. It can even be an advantage, as characters may attempt a “fatigue roll” to pour extra power into an ability or make a great effort. While this isn’t very efficient, any edge can be helpful in an emergency. Higher-level characters tend to find it more annoying, sometimes finding themselves too tired to properly use the power they have so abundantly available to them. Optionally, game masters may allow characters to add their level to their fatigue score, giving those higher level characters a bit of a break – although this is only really typical of superheroic settings.

Ferocity measures a mental resource which most people try their best to ignore; primal animal fury. While only berserkers fully tap their ferocity, others may learn to do so – within limits. Unfortunately, reverting to pre- sentient behavior patterns can be tactically limiting… In any case, a high ferocity score results in a constant battle against violent impulses. Most people don’t have to consciously resist the urge to impale that clumsy oaf who just stepped on their toe, but those with a ferocity score may have to. Ferocity is actually a primitive way of tapping psychic strength (including Power, if any), and expressing it as some of the simpler C’hi powers. Common effects include Adrenal Surge, Amplification (Strength), Compensation (For injuries), Hastening, Iron Fist/Flesh, Psychic Purging, Psychic Shield, and Self Healing. While various Animalistic, Fascination and Will Shield abilities have been reported, they require special training. While obviously potent, such abilities are undependable and come at the price of increasingly animalistic behavior. Each point of psychic strength expended through ferocity reduces the character’s effective wisdom by one until he or she has an hour or two to calm down. If it’s reduced to zero the character will become completely animalistic, and usually goes into fight-or-flight mode. Even well above that point, a character will need to make rolls in order to use devices, sophisticated tactics and techniques, or otherwise behave sensibly. Having a ferocity score is a problem outside of combat. It tends to be a major social handicap when dealing with those without it. A tendency to growl at people will do that. This usually results in a 1D6 penalty on attempts to be pleasant and persuasive. Animals often have high ferocity scores. That’s a major reason why small animals can put up such a fight against humans ten times their size. Any character with a high ferocity score is probably best off avoiding embarrassment, frustration, and annoyance in any form.

Glory is a measure of a characters fame, renown, and militant reputation. Glory has little to do with social class, personal behavior, or why the character did something. It’s only concerned with how difficult it was and with well it was done. A character can be low-born scum and still have great glory. The point is that you slew a hundred men and took the castle – not whether you did it to destroy a nest of villainy and rescue hostages or had simply wanted to rape the owners wife and butcher her small-and-helpless children. A high glory score can be very handy if you want to intimidate or join someone. On the other hand, it tends to attract people who want to beat you.

Gnosis is a measure of a characters attunement to – and favor with – various “higher forces”. While such forces can supply power and aid, open up new possibilities, and warp reality to aid the character in many ways, there is always a price for the use of such power. Unlike most attributes, gnosis is commonly below it’s base score, as points are “spent” and “regained”. A high gnosis makes the character a prime target, open to occult influences, and a potential pawn of those same higher forces. Gnosis may be expended to; request a reroll, buy off half the damage from an attack, to briefly warp reality (allowing an unlikely escape or incredible heroic feat, getting something to work when it shouldn’t, boosting another score, or making an “unskilled” roll as a skilled one), to counter someone else’s use of gnosis, try to “run into” a friend or helpful event, or to invoke the higher power the user taps against a foe. Caution is advised, since such feats cost 1-3 points of gnosis, tend to attract agents of any opposing forces, and can have unexpected consequences. In any case, gnosis is usually only regained at a rate of 1 or 2 points an adventure, but those “higher forces” will go ahead and use you just as if it was at it’s maximum.

Continuum II – The Character Quiz

The Quiz is really the core of your character. The attributes, numbers, abilities, skills, and disciplines may describe what you’re good at, but the quiz defines who you are. What you want. How you’re going to put those abilities to use. There’s no need to go into exhaustive detail unless you want to – but most of the questions deserve at least a moments consideration. It’s also a good way to give the game master a handle on your character. The quiz can be filled out first or as you create the character. In either case, it’s common to think of more things to put on it later.

As a rule, characters should be able to answer the twelve “basic” questions, and at least three of the optional ones. If any of the basic questions just don’t apply to the character one of the optional questions should be substituted. Game master’s are encouraged to give an extra talent point to characters with excellent quizzes, to charge one for a lousy job, and to charge two for not bothering at all.

Both Game master’s and players should be flexible. It’s not at all unreasonable for it to take several sessions to get enough of a “feel” for your character to finish up the quiz. Better late then dull!

Basic Items :

1) What does/did your family/clan/whoever brought you up do? Are/were they especially noted for something ? Do you resemble them or not? Do you maintain ties with them? Were they your real parents?

2) Name, and provide a few notes on, three relatives; One you like, one you dislike – and one you just know. Characters without families may substitute members of whatever group played a similar role in their life. Other kids from the orphanage, some of the older mercenaries in the company, whoever.

3) Name three simple, ordinary, things or situations that you just can’t stand.

4) Name three simple, ordinary, things that you like, and would go out of your way for.

5) Select your hair and eye color, height and build, and general description.

6) Name three things you like to do for fun.

7) What would you say your occupation is ?

8)

a) Where were you born? Was anything odd about it? Were you legitimate?
b) Where were you raised? What was it like? Did you have any notable playmates or friends ? Did you behave? Were your parents intimate or distant ?
c) Where, if anywhere, do you live now?
d) Who, what, or where has a claim on your loyalty?
e) Where did you get your education? If it was from a specific teacher, who was he, she, or it?

9) Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = very low and 5 = very high) for; Bravery, Loyalty, Rationality, and any four additional traits. Possibilities include, but are not limited to; Piety, Altruism, Calm, Gullibility, Curiosity, Skepticism, Lust, Materialism, Honesty, Greed, Vengefulness, Romanticism, Egotism, Diplomacy, Sloth, Kindness, Thrift, Optimism, Pragmatism, Cultured, Introversion, Gregariousness, Honor, Patience, Enthusiasm, Emotionalism, Frivolity, Caution, Hedonism, Literal-mindedness, Ethics, Stoicism, Stubbornness, Morality, Organization, Loquaciousness, and their opposites. Characters may rate traits at “6” or “7” – but even a “6” indicates a major motivation – something central to a characters personality, which will intrude itself into everything which he or she does. A “7” indicates some sort of obsession – something which the character will hold more important then his or her life.

10) Name three additional minor quirks, behavior tags, traits, talents, hobbies, fears, old guilts, fetishes, or other distinguishing features.

11) What are your personal, long-term, goals? Is there something you have to finish? Some major interest? Are these overwhelming or obsessive goals?

12) Why are you hanging around with all of these weird people anyway? (Answering this question often has to wait for a bit).

AS A NOTE :

“I’m Playing In Character” is no excuse for being a perpetual pain in the rear. YOU’RE THE ONE WHO CAME UP WITH THE CHARACTER. Characters who can’t fit into the group, are endlessly obstructive, who are impossible to involve in scenarios, keep destroying vital clues, are terminally indecisive – or who are simply more trouble then they’re worth – will be, quite rightly, abandoned by the group, and by the Game master. There is no sign on your head saying; “I’m a player-character. You have to take me!”. If your character keeps interfering with other people’s ability to play the game, invent a reason for him to grow, change, and get along – OR TAKE HIM AWAY.

Optional Items :

1) Do you have any kids? Siblings? Surviving parents or grandparents? How did/do you get along with them?

2) Have you “gone adventuring”, or worked with anyone of significance, before? Who? Why did you leave?

3) Do you have a personal symbol, colors, or dress in a particular fashion? A nickname or “title” which you like to use? What are they?

4) Describe; a major turning point, tragedy, or event in your life which made a major impression on you.

5) Do you have a companion, students, mentor, spouse, lover, or other major involvement? If so, who? If not, did you? What happened?

6) Account for the origin of your major talent(s) and disadvantages. If inborn, when did you first discover it/them, and what was the reaction of those about you?

7) As a small child, did you lose something that was precious to you at the time? A pet? A favorite toy? A keepsake? What was it, how did you lose it, and why was it important to you?

8) Give three scenes from your personal history that you recall vividly due to shock, wonder, weirdness, or some strong, associated, emotion.

9) Describe a place where you spend a great deal of your time. Why do you spend it there?

10) How do other people see you? How do you see your- self? How do you try to make them see you?

11) Describe your personal apartments or home. How do you have them decorated? Do you have any heirlooms or personal souvenirs lying around? A view? How do you like the location and the surrounding area?

12) If you could have any kind of pet you wanted, what would it be? What it that you like about that type of creature? What qualities and traits does it represent to you? If it’s a practical creature, why don’t you have one? If you do, what’s it’s name and how long have you had it? Where did you get it?

13) What’s your religious background ? How strong are your beliefs, how do they affect your behavior, and what do you think of those who believe otherwise? What are people – and what is the universe? Does either or both have a destiny?

14) Sketch yourself. Is this how you usually look, the way you’d like to look, or was this a bad moment? (The terminally unartistic can select, or modify, a picture from another source).

15) What is your great secret? Why is it so important to you? How far will you go to keep it hidden?

16) Provide three typical, personal, quotes.

17) Name someone who has greatly influenced your life. How? Inspiration? Teaching? Example? Friendship? A casual contact you found deeply meaningful?

18) What notable organizations (Guilds / Faiths / Clubs / Cabals / Societies / Whatever) do you belong to? Why? How did you join? How deeply are you involved?

19) Provide a brief personal timeline for yourself. It might include military and underworld experience, travel (and why), imprisonment, and involvement in great events.

20) Do you have any impractical romantic ideals? What would you look for in a lover or spouse?

21) Name three easy ways that you can be roped into an adventure/subplot. How does your presence make things easier for the Game Master?

A free hint. This is a major survival mechanism here. Game master’s hate to kill off characters who’ve become integral to their plot.

22) What are your views on violence, and what would it take to change them? How have they worked out for you in the past? (For weird characters; Have you ever been killed? Was it interesting?)

23) Give a bit of your recent history. How did you get to where you will be entering the game?

24) Do you have a “Secret ID”? Which is the real you?

25) Name, and give a few provocative or descriptive bits about, some acquaintances. What makes them notable? Are they enemies, old allies, or simply people you know? Is there a significant figure you like and trust as well or one you dislike and distrust? Why?

These don’t have to be anyone important – but they ought to be interesting enough to make good NPC’s, and to act as potential plot hooks. The Game Master will love you.

26) What’s your status in your family and society? Have you been involved in any major events? What? Are you especially known for anything? Some trait or deed?

27) What is there about yourself that you really like? Don’t like? What are you trying to improve? How have you changed over the years? Have you learned any major lessons about life?

28) Is there anything notable, and known, about you? Some trait or deed? Were you involved in any recent historical event(s)? How?

29) What have you got in the way of personal ethics? How do you see people and the universe?

30) What’s your status in your home – or the local – society? Are you wanted or highly trusted? Been hailed as a hero or villain? Do you have a title or position? Are you popular or outcast? Do you have a record or a high security clearance? Would you be recognized? Why? Were you judged fairly or unfairly? Would you have some sort of legacy coming? Do you want it? Are you a recognized arbitrator, messenger, or other “neutral”?

This, of course, is the original Continuum II fantasy character quiz from more than thirty years ago – but versions of it have made their way through many of the tabletop games since. It’s become a bit less important for online gaming – the players who are inclined to provide details tend to put up blog posts and lengthy chunks of backstory and those who aren’t so inclined are difficult to persuade to come up with so much detail – but it’s still the heart of what makes a character  interesting, and more than a sheet full of numbers. I may put up a few examples, simply because – when it comes to having a really good game – this sort of thing really is a lot more important than optimizing your build.