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A First Look At ... Frostbyte Books' M-Space, Part 6


Alex Greene

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Greetings, Cosmonauts, and welcome to the next part of my look at M-Space by Frostbyte Books.

This week, we take a look at two disparate chapters - Circles, and Psionics.

Circles

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Circles are the M-Space equivalent of the factions of Mythras- its Guilds, Orders, Sodalities, Cults, and so on. Circles can take on the form of extended family, political pressure groups, terrorist organisations, political parties, corporations, and so on.

Circles are defined here by characteristics - their Ideas (ideologies, etc); their types (Organization, Ideology, Corporation, Location), their Influence (INF), Size (SIZ), and Resources (RES), which are measured on a non-linear scale of 1-20; and Attributes, which determine how the Circles get things done, such as Ahimsa (non-violence), Black Ops, Functional Stupidity, Memes, and so on.

Traits for the Circles include Ranks, Benefits )such as tech, psionics etc). The chapter continues with a look at further traits such as the Circle's age, entry and exit conditions, and so on. These few pages, which include a Circle stat sheet, are everything you need to create a Circle as small as a found family of misfit explorers, a ship's crew from a random passing freighter, or a globe-spanning organised crime ring.

Circles and Odd Soot

The Circles presented here are universally considered to be positive. Membership in those Circles means that the Circle accepts the character, and the character accepts the Circle's ethos and ideologies.

Odd Soot, also from Frostbyte Books, looks at the concept of negative Circles - Circles whose presence is a detriment to the character, and which shaped the character's outlook with dark memories and painful events in their past. Circles in Odd Soot are structured differently to those featured here - for one thing, they are rated 1% - 100% just like Skills and Passions - and they influence the character as much as they influence third parties.

Example Circle

The Polidori Society

Ideas: A collective of psychic (energy) vampires, exploring their identity and culture.

Type: Organisation (Occult)

Characteristics: INF (9, Counterculture, Vampyre Identity, LGBTQIA+), SIZ (6), RES (17)

Attributes: Ahimsa, Cellular, Connected, Dedicated Followers, Secrecy, Spread, Welfare.

Traits: Shelter, Library, Psionic Training, Healing

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Psionics

Every science fiction roleplating game since Traveller has included rules for psionics in their core rulebooks. M-Space is no exception. From telepaths to telekinetics, clairvoyants to teleporters, science fiction has included the occasional psychic mutant to throw the scientists a curve ball.

Psychic powers are frequently held as a thorn in the side of the more rational, logical breed of science fiction writers who prefer their stories to revolve around real science, rather than the "rules" of psionics and what they term "woo." But this is science fiction, and for every Expanse there is a Star Trek; for every rationalist Asimov character, there is a Deanna Troi or Telzey Amberdon.

For every Han Solo, there is an Obi-Wan or baby Yoda. And this is the last time I will ever refer to Star Wars in this blog.

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How do the M-Space rules approach psionics, then?

The rules are pretty basic. Your psion has access to three streams of psi - Sense, Mind, and Matter. Sense is your ESP, clairvoyance type strand, with other applications such as Meditation and Battle Meditation. Mind covers empathy, telepathy, mind control, and so on. And Matter covers the interaction of psi with the physical world - telekinesis, but also physical healing, illusions, martial flow, and ultimately Life Giver - which restores the very recently dead to life.

For the most part, these abilities require a check against Sense, Mind, or Matter - which are independently rated from 1% - 100% like Skills and Passions - and success draws upon Power Points, which are like Magic Points from Mythras or Prana Points from Luther Arkwright: Roleplaying Across The Parallels. All Power Points are restored with a good night's sleep or, with the use of the Meditation power, one hour.

Curiously enough, this iteration of the psionics rules does not include teleportation, translocation (jumping between parallels) or other powers found in the pages of, for instance, Worlds UnitedAfter The Vampire Wars or, indeed, Luther Arkwright: Roleplaying Across The Parallels. To give yourself a richer psionic experience, consider poaching some of the powers from those books.

Consider how your space-based compaign would be affected if one of your characters could Spacejaunt - teleport over vast distances, even between solar systems thousands of light years apart (as Gully Foyle did in the final chapter of Alfred Bester's The Stars, My Destination) or between universes (such as Luther Arkwright (from The Adventures of Luther Arkwright), Princess Victoria (from Heart of Empire), and Proteus (from The Legend of Luther Arkwright)).

Some psions' abilities break the rules listed in M-Space. Break those rules, if you have to. Create a psion character who can use all of the Mind Talents, ignoring the requirements for "first, second, and third arc." Drop the need for power points. Replace them with fatigue points, and only accumulate them the same way one accumulated fatigue in physical combat. Low POW, low-skill psions might be able to send and receive psychic messages over short distances and even touch range only, whereas high-POW, highly-skilled or even alien psions might be able to reach with their minds and senses to connect with other minds in solar systems sectors away.

And some wanderers might skip from one M-Class, Terra-Prime garden world to another, not needing a ship to take them anywhere - just teleporting from world to world, as you and I might change channels on the TV.

And that's the review of Circles and Psionics in M-Space. Next week, it's the turn of Vehicles and Technology.

Edited by Alex Greene

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