Tabletop Game / Psionics: The Next Stage in Human Evolution

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Psionics: The Next Stage In Human Evolution is a tabletop RPG by End Transmission Games. Funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2014, it was released on June 2nd 2015 and debuted at Origins Game Fair 2015. In addition to the setting and rules of the game, Psionics contains several short stories, written by the creators and some of the play testers. Tomorrow’s Starlight, New World Water, Broken Things, The Kids From Yesterday, and Captured illustrate the realities faced by new and seasoned espers (humans with psychic powers), particularly members of The Zodiac Order. Set in the modern day, the in-game universe is superficially identical to our own. Underneath the veneer, however, things look very different. Pharmacological tampering by the US government, starting with Project MKUltra and advancing in the shadows ever since, has resulted in the creation of drugs that awaken psychic powers in the rare individuals that have the genetic potential for it. The children of these individuals also have a chance of developing psionic powers naturally. They can start fires, read minds, move objects, effect probability, stop hearts, see the future, and do a wide variety of other feats just by concentrating. What’s more, they’re physically and mentally superior to normal humans. These “espers” are the next stage in human evolution.

The overwhelming majority of people don’t know that espers exist and for good reason. A number of massive, shadowy, conspiracies work behind the scenes to cover up their existence, and they will stop at nothing to manipulate, indoctrinate, and control espers to further their own goals. All of these conspiracies have their own agendas and see each other as competition that needs to be destroyed. As a newly awakened esper, you’ll be conscripted into a war that you never knew was happening. The life you knew is gone. Your present is confusing. Your future is uncertain. Your friends and loved ones are far away from you.

Now, shut up and keep running.

The tropes below may include unmarked spoilers from the GM's Section.

Psionics contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Girl:
    • The Pusher archetype is depicted firing an automatic weapon while using psychokinesis in the middle of a firefight.
    • The Scream in Tomorrow’s Starlight is a necrokinetic martial artist that mixes both skill sets. She charges head on into hand to hand combat with Shop agents, despite being seemingly outgunned and at a physical disadvantage, and is highly capable with her telekinesis.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Harry does the type 2 variety in Broken Things very frequently, usually in response to the prospect of seeing the nurses or to try and avoid punishment.
  • A.K.A.-47: Averted. The game not only lists real guns, it gives you a brief history of each one.
  • All or Nothing:
    • The Talent Unlock Burst mechanic. Either an esper gets enough C.A.P.s (Color Advancement Points) to gain a new talent level or they get no C.A.P.s at all.
    • The area of effect talent Conflagration, which makes enemies around the target of Ignite take damage, only works if you hit the primary target.
  • Alpha Bitch: Callie in Tomorrow's Starlight. She was one of the most popular and desired girls at the Bridgewater Four's old high school and often mocked and humiliated people that she didn't like, including brutally humiliating Tim. In the events of the story, she's shown to be a manipulative gold digger.
  • Altum Videtur: The Eternal Storm is also referred to as "Aeturnius Procella".
  • Alternate History: Psionics is set in a universe where Project MKUltra was successful, leading to the formal discovery of espers, the creation of drugs that unlock psi-potential, and the various conspiracies. (The divergence point may go back even further, since it's strongly implied that many myths, legends, and religions throughout history were actually inspired by ancient espers.)
  • And Your Reward Is Edible: The head doctor in Broken Things offers Harry sweets as a reward for good behavior, but it comes off as incredibly condescending and creepy.
  • Angst Nuke: Bursts of intense negative emotions can cause espers to “overload” (lose control of their powers in a way that’s spectacularly dangerous) AKA "popping". Depending on their strongest talent, this will result in heads exploding, a massive fire, or everything around them being torn to shreds.
  • Anti-Grinding: In order to keep players from exploiting the sheer destructive power of overloads, kills racked up from overloading do not grant XP.
  • Antimagical Faction: Eschaton is a faction that believes that all espers are evil and must be destroyed. This includes its own esper soldiers, who are expected to fall on their swords once the rest of the world's espers have been killed.
  • Apocalypse Cult: The Zodiac Order is a cult dedicated to ushering in an event called the Eternal Storm. The details are vague, but what's certain is that it will result in massive depopulation, after which espers will be able to rule over what's left of humanity and enslave any surviving non-psionic humans.
    • Averted with Eschaton, which has many of the trappings of an apocalypse cult (including their name), but is actually trying to prevent the apocalypse the Zodiac Order is trying to cause.
  • Apocalypse How: The Zodiac Order's goal is to cause a Class 2.
  • Arc Words: Shut up and keep running.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Things that Callie is upset about: Being the only non-esper in the group, being kidnapped, not being able to contact her family, having to live in a drug den, and having to hang out with Rose.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • In Tomorrow’s Starlight Chad is hospitalized after bullying Ian, Sande is pushed off the top of a stage by Lucky, Bob is burned to death by Leona, and Callie dies from taking a Green.
    • The Shop staff in Broken Things. Especially the head doctor. It involved a great deal of exploding heads.
    • An unnamed woman in Captured is maimed by Rose after telling her that her friends are dead.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority:
    • Jeremy Bright, the leader of The Zodiac Order, is an exceptionally powerful esper with an unparalleled mastery of scrying.
    • The more powerful and experienced at using their powers an esper is, generally the more respect and power they'll have in their conspiracy and/or cell.
  • Aura Vision:
    • The Power Vision talent allows espers with osmoses to see if a person has power points and, if so, roughly how many.
    • Scryers with the Psychometry talent will see a glow around objects and locations that were part of distinctly emotionally charged events.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname:
    • Espers in The Zodiac Order tend to have these. Examples include Mama Bear, Chris Riven, The Scream, and Lucky Wacker. Ian actually lampshades it in Tomorrow’s Starlight.
    • Some of the kickstarter backers and play testers credited in the book have them as well.
  • Bad Date: Tim and Callie go on one. He's an awkward nerd who is intimidated by her and she's not even slightly into him, but can't avoid him. Also, he ruined her life and she knows it, so... It improves before it end, but only due to liberal application of mind reading and expensive gifts.
  • Badass Bookworm:
    • Starting talent levels are based off of your Wits score, so a smart esper is a powerful esper.
    • Peregrine in New World Water is highly intelligent, a competitive swimmer and an esper.
    • The Prism archetype also qualifies, as it's specified that he's a former med student, in addition to having psionic powers.
    • Somakinetics are the king of this, as the number of psi powers one gets are based on one's wits score... and more levels in somakinesis translate directly into higher physical stats.
  • Bag of Spilling: Justified. Espers are almost constantly on the run and have to move quickly, so you're expected to lose all of your gear, or have it taken from you, on a regular basis. If an esper isn't a fugitive, it's expected that most of what they have is standard issue from their superiors and must be returned at some point.
  • Barrier Warrior:
    • Telekinetics of level 3 and higher can raise their defense by using TK Barrier and Improved TK Barrier. These talents can deflect any physical attack, if it raises your defense sufficiently.
    • Gust Shield allows a magnekinetic to create gusts of wind that function like TK Barrier, as long as the overall wind speed is at least 20 mph. Improved Gust Shield mimics the effects of Improved TK Barrier, but overall wind speed has to be at least 60 mph.
  • Battleaxe Nurse: Based on how Harry reacts to the prospect of seeing the nurses, it's strongly implied that they fit this trope.
  • The Beautiful Elite: Abraxis espers tend to be fit, well-dressed, and rich, in addition to having formal training in psi-talents and combat.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Do not confront Tim about using his powers unethically or remind him that Callie set him up for a cruel public rejection just for the fun of it.
    • Especially do not tell Mama Bear that her friends are dead. She won’t believe you anyway.
  • Big Applesauce: The bulk of Tomorrow’s Starlight is set in New York City.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: The conspiracies, especially The Shop, are experts at sniffing out espers. If you’ve manifested psionic talents, you’ll most likely be found sooner or later, and probably the former.
  • Biopunk:
    • Drugs that unlock, suppress, improve and even remove psionic powers are a major part of the game.
    • Abraxis is secretly working on gene hacking via pharmaceuticals to reliably and safely awaken psi-potential.
  • Bizarre Baby Boom: At a greater rate than ever before (which is still highly rare) people are manifesting psionic talents naturally in a world where psionic powers are not supposed to exist.
  • Black and Gray Morality: There are no unambiguously good guys in this universe. Whether any or all of the conspiracies could be considered unambiguously evil is a matter of perspective.
    • The Zodiac Order are genocidal esper supremacists that want to set espers up as the new master race and do not care about how many people have to die for that to happen. Their ultimate goal is the massive depopulation and subsequent enslavement of mundane humanity. They also synthesize highly dangerous and addictive drugs that have "accidentally" been leaked into the general public.
    • The Shop regularly kidnaps US citizens, conducts horrific experiments on normal humans and espers, and forcibly indoctrinates prisoners through torture, all in order to further their goal of global domination. Even the espers who are loyal to them are treated as permanent conscripts, and they make a point of isolating their espers from one another to prevent them from developing a shared identity. They're also not above purging any witnesses who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, though they prefer to erase civilians' memories using psychokinesis and/or amnestic drugs when possible.
    • Abraxis also kidnaps people en masse and conducts horrific experiments on them, and they have absolutely no qualms about killing civilians, police officers, and anyone else who happens to get in their way. The company is managed by a board of directors that is completely profit driven to the point of being totally amoral, and their end goal is to reshape the course of human evolution in their own image. As if all that wasn't bad enough, the most influential of these directors is a violent and narcissistic psychopath that frequently has entire families killed for the sake of convenience or simply for amusement.
    • The Red Orchestra is basically the psionic KGB. They want to restore Russia's status as the dominant global superpower and establish a totalitarian one world government under their control, and they will happily use torture, mind control, coercion, blackmail, political corruption, and every other dirty trick in the book to do it.
    • Aleph is a cutthroat secret society fronted by several Asian corporations. They want to increase their economic and technological power, no matter what the cost. They're similar to Abraxis in terms of their methods and goals, though more subtle and arguably more pragmatic.
    • Eschaton is straight up committing genocide against espers whenever they can, in the deluded belief that psionic powers are the result of demonic possession and that killing all espers is the only way to prevent the destruction and damnation of mankind. (It's worth noting that they're the only conspiracy who's beliefs are stated by the book to be objectively false.) Eschaton has also managed to convince all of its espers (all of whom are devoutly religious) that they need to kill themselves for the good of humanity once all the other espers in the world are dead.
  • Blasting It out of Their Hands:
    • The Trick Shot and Bull’s Eye techniques allow you to do this with firearms and thrown weapons, respectively.
    • The TK Disarm talent allows you to grab weapons from your enemy's hands with telekinesis.
  • Blinded by the Light: Getting hit with a flashbang grenade grants severe penalties to checks, tests, and defense, as it both deafens and blinds the target.
  • Blow You Away: Sufficiently powerful magnekinetics can generate high winds to knock away opponents and incoming attacks, summon tornadoes, and fly on the wind.
  • Bodybag Trick: In Tomorrow’s Starlight The Shop posed as a team of exterminators and removed tranquilized espers from Mama Bear’s apartment by smuggling them in equipment bags.
  • Boom, Headshot: A technique of the same name allows you to target the head for an attack penalty but does double damage if it hits.
  • Boring, but Practical: The Dodge technique isn't as flashy as a lot of the others, but it automatically succeeds against attempted TK Grabs (which, if they succeed, set the victim up for extraordinarily vicious attacks and penalize defense) and is useful against more mundane attacks as well.
  • Bouncer: There’s one at the White Hart in Tomorrow's Starlight. Both Tim and Lucky get past him with the Push, despite not having tickets to the gig there.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted. Every gun has an ammo capacity and firing on fully automatic (if possible) will empty your clip in one round.
  • Brought Down to Badass:
    • Certain drugs will block espers from using their talents, but their baseline stats are still well above those of a normal human.
    • Even on P.P.I.C.s, Mama Bear still proves to be extremely tough in Captured.
  • Buffy Speak: Crops up a lot in the short stories. Justified, since the characters are discussing things that they didn't know existed until very recently and don't have actual names for.
  • Bullying a Dragon:
    • Being pushed around one too many times is listed as an example of common ways for espers to initially manifest their talents.
    • This is how Ian first manifested his telekinesis. Chad assaulted Ian at school and ended up getting hit with a TK Push strong enough to hospitalize him.
    • Lucky is threatened by a liquor store clerk and chased by an entire angry mob. He can start fires with his mind.
    • Harry in Broken Things spends the bulk of the story being experimented on and tortured by Shop members who know that he's a powerful psychokinetic. See Asshole Victim to see how that works out for them.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Aaron Isreal appears to be a dirty, crazy, man who lives in a rat trap, but he has a doctorate and is employed as a math professor. Justified due to the fact that he's a former sniper who is also an esper.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Ian gets zero respect from the espers around him (whom he resents and dislikes anyway), was the victim of frequent bullying in school, and his one shining moment of being cool was followed by an attempted kidnapping by the government that turned into a kidnapping by terrorists.
    • Tim is bullied less often than Ian, but he's even less respected than him, suffered a humiliating rejection from a girl that he can't bring himself to stop liking, and receives an embarrassing, but justified, call out from Leona. He also gets his crush killed.
  • Cap: Stats for normal humans are capped at 6. Stats for Hollywood Humans and espers are capped at 10. Somakinetics, however, can bust this cap and raise their physical stats permanently up to a maximum of 14 and a temporary maximum of 18. To put this in perspective, a somakinetic with maxed out Speed can run three times as fast as the fastest human who ever lived.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • The US government has found a way to release psionic powers in some individuals and now there's a massive, worldwide shadow war between several factions that want to exploit them to their own ends. Also, the media, which is constantly being monitored for signs of psionic activity, is completely controlled by some of these conspiracies and they're experimenting on the general population with prenatal tampering and releasing strange chemicals into the water. You try getting your average person to believe that.
    • Ian and his friend, Chance, put up a youtube video of them using their telekinesis. It gets very few views and no one thinks it's real, aside from The Shop.
  • Cast from Hit Points:
    • With the exception of Biofeedback, using psitalents inflicts nonlethal damage on the user.
    • If an esper is out of power points, they can pay the difference in extra nonlethal damage to use their psitalents.
  • Catch and Return: Telekinetics can use their powers to grab projectiles and throw them back at people. Depending on how strong they are, this can be used on something as small as a kitchen knife or as large as a school bus.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Aaron Isreal's sniping.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Lucky Wacker has this. It makes Ian distinctly uncomfortable.
  • Child Soldier: Psionic powers often manifest in adolescence and young adulthood, but can occur in childhood. Just because you’re 7, it doesn’t mean you’re too young to join, be press-ganged, or sold into a conspiracy.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • P.P.E.C.s and P.P.I.C.s are color coded based on what psionic powers they affect. Red is pyrokinesis, blue is telekinesis, and green is psychokinesis.
    • Additionally, P.P.E.C.s are bright colors, whereas P.P.I.C.s are dark colors.
    • Abyss, which affects all psionic talents, is black.
    • All of the medical and psionically active drugs fall into this trope. If the play remembers their color combinations and shades, they'll be able to identify them consistently.
    • The book itself switches off between red, blue, and green color schemes, but the sections on pisonic talents are color-coded to the talent trees. (ex. The biofeedback section is blue, the entropy section is red, etc.)
  • Combat Clairvoyance: Master level scryers get a passive bonus to their defense because they can innately sense incoming attacks.
  • Combat Pragmatist: The book is expecting you to be this, to some extent. It stats damage from such things as bar stools, broken bottles, telekinetically thrown manhole covers, exploding cars, and being pistol whipped.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: This is the first line in Broken Things. The speaker immediately admits that he just always wanted to say that.
  • Commonality Connection: It’s blatantly obvious that several characters in the book’s short stories would never have hung out with each other if not for the whole “esper on the run from the government” thing.
  • Con Man:
    • Tim uses psychokinesis to get things for free, such as expensive meals and gifts, mostly to impress Callie.
    • Psychokinetics are amazing at this. In game, clever use of the Push to get mundane things, like cars and money, makes party survival much easier.
  • Concert Climax: The second part of Tomorrow’s Starlight ends at a show by the titular band. version A.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Played with. Pyrokinetics instinctively lower the temperature around their bodies, making them extremely resistant to being damaged by heat.
  • Cornered Rattle Snake:
    • Rose in Captured. After being detained, put on constant P.P.I.C.s, and subjected to cruel experiments and indoctrination attempts by the Shop for at least six weeks, an agent tells her that her friends were killed in an escape attempt. She snaps and mangles the agent in question. Details are left out but she notes that the agent isn't pretty anymore and may not ever walk again. She doesn't even know what she did or how she did it.
    • Harry in Broken Things. Kept in a position similar to Rose's, although seemingly even crueler, he eventually gains enough power to overcome his captors and goes on a rampage throughout the facility. When his rescuers show up, they find him killing the nurses and doctors that tortured him.
    • Ian TK Pushes Chad after being assaulted by him and his bully friends, yet again.
  • Covert Group with Mundane Front:
    • The Shop disguises itself as the police, CIA, DEA, etc. In Tomorrow’s Starlight a Shop raid is disguised as a team of exterminators.
    • The band Tomorrow’s Starlight and new religion Ayn Sof are fronts for The Zodiac Order.
    • Abraxis doesn't officially exist, but its shareholders control several of the world's leading biotech interests.
    • Eschaton hides within the Jesuits and religious Zionist movements.
    • Aleph is fronted by several Asian corporations.
    • The Red Orchestra is just Russian special forces on paper.
  • The Cracker:
    • The Phreak archetype was a professional hacker, even before developing technokinesis.
    • Psionic Hacking allows espers to bypass security on computers and other electronics with their minds. This includes objects that only have a few simple electronic components.
  • Critical Failure: Rolling a 12 on a skill or talent check is an automatic failure.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • Telekinetics can crush people to death or rip them to shreds.
    • Temper,Temper, Temperature can be used to boil someone in their own skin by rapidly raising their body temperature.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: Rose Klein (AKA Mama Bear) gets one in Tomorrow’s Starlight. It’s never explained what the “Albuquerque Incident” was, but it was apparently enough to get her a maximum threat rating from The Shop.
  • Cyberpunk: Not as prominent as the biopunk elements, but they're there.
    • Cybernetic implants, while restricted to high ranking Shop officials, exist in game and grant a wide variety of bonuses at the expense of the recipient's will.
    • Technokinetics can directly interface with technology via psionic powers.
    • The population is ruled in secret by government conspiracies with highly advanced technology.
  • Damage Typing: Damage is divided into melee, ranged, heat, lethal, and nonlethal subtypes.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: The book states that there is a correlation between manifestation of psionic talent and childhood trauma, although no causal link has been established.
  • Deadly Nosebleed:
    • Espers who overuse their powers often get these. It’s also depicted in some of the book’s artwork.
    • Callie's corpse has a substantial amount of blood leaking from her nose and eyes.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: A successful attack always deals at least one damage, so heavily armored opponents can suffer this.
  • Defiant to the End: Mama Bear, twice.
    • When she's first detained, she's openly disrespectful towards her captors, flipping a therapist off with both hands before using her telekinesis to slap him in the face with a clipboard. She does this knowing that she can't get away yet and with a full understanding that she'll be punished for it.
    • When a woman tries to break her spirit by sympathetically telling her that her friends were killed during a rescue attempt, she snaps and horribly injures her. This also strengthens her resolve to keep resisting and it's made clear that her contempt and hostility for the Shop are just as strong, if not stronger, than in the beginning of the story.
  • Deflector Shields:
    • The TK Barrier talent works like this. It's basically a force field.
    • Same with Gust Shield, except it's an insanely strong gust of wind instead of a force field.
    • Espers with Powerful Magnetic Field can set it to repel metallic objects, granting them extra protection against certain physical attacks.
  • Delinquents: The Zodiac Order is basically made of delinquents. Their M.O. is making and dealing drugs, crashing parties, and making as much trouble for the authorities as possible. Artwork in the book depicts them as punks and hippies.
  • Delinquent Hair:
    • Members of The Zodiac Order often have this. Take a third of a shot every time you see an example in the book's artwork or short stories because taking a full shot will probably kill you.
    • Mama Bear has green hair.
    • Chris Riven had dreadlocks.
    • Leo has a mohawk.
  • Demonic Possession: Eschaton interprets psionic powers as demonic influence.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: This is one of Harry's punishments in Broken Things.
  • Developers' Foresight: The book includes information on things players of other Tabletop Games would not expect, such as information about obtaining illicit drugs (and their effects on the characters), addiction thresholds and rules about overdosing and addiction, role playing cues for intoxicated characters, running someone over with a car, taking damage from an exploding car, and receiving damage from a tlekinetically thrown car. There's also information on the melting points for different metals in case players want to melt a metal door in their way.
  • Disintegrator Ray:
    • Well, disintegrator touch or stare, really. Espers with entropy talents can make most materials decay to dust extremely quickly.
    • Masters of entropy can atomize living beings.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • If you turn down a recruitment offer from The Shop, Abraxis, Aleph, or The Red Orchestra, they will either kill you, forcibly abduct you, or ruin your life until you have no other choice but to change your mind.
    • Harry's punishments in Broken Things are extremely harsh and are handed out for doing things like talking out of turn, requesting to be called by his name instead of subject number, and not answering questions quickly enough while under extreme duress.
    • Rose is rude to her captors in the beginning of Captured. They respond by sedating her, shaving her head, taking away her piercings, and doing laser removal on her tattoos.
  • Distress Call: Mama Bear sends one of the warning beacon variety out in Tomorrow’s Starlight when the Shop raids her safe house.
  • Dodge the Bullet: The Dodge technique allows you to attempt this.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Harry in Broken Things. He spends the bulk of the story cowering like an abused dog and drugged up on P.P.I.C.s, but when he finally gets the chance he goes on a murderous rampage through the facility where he was detained, slowly making people's head's explode.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: The Precognition talent will occasionally grant an esper prophetic dreams.
  • Driven to Suicide: Harry uses psychokinesis to make a nurse kill himself.
  • Drugs Are Bad:
    • Becoming addicted to a drug or overdosing has nasty (and potentially fatal) side effects.
    • Recreational drugs make you gain overflow and take stat penalties.
    • P.P.E.C.s unlock psipotential, but they pose a risk of overloading or killing the user.
    • P.P.I.C.s suppress psionic talents and inflict nasty side effects on the user.
    • Abyss suppresses all psionic talents, has very negative side effects, carries the risk of permanently damaging the victim's psionic powers, and markedly increases the risk of developing brain cancer.
    • Extreme pleasure under the influence of drugs risks Superpower Meltdown.
  • Drugs Are Good:
    • Caffeine restores power points.
    • Alcohol removes overflow and damage from drain.
    • Weed restores power points and removes overflow.
    • Narcotic stimulants restore power points and give the user a temporary strength bonus.
    • Non-narcotic stimulants restore power points and give the user a temporary bonus to wits and speed.
    • Opiates remove overflow and allow the user to ignore the stat penalties of being wounded.
    • Entactogens gradually restore power points and reduce overflow.
    • Hallucinogens give you and an extra C.A.P. whenever you use a talent and you can't get addicted to them.
    • The Zodiac Order also has this outlook on drugs in general.
    • Breaks in the book’s text often have little pictures of pills in them.
    • In addition to unlocking psipotential, P.P.E.C.s also improve an awakened esper's affinity with psionic talents.
  • Duel to the Death: Two telekinetics or two psychokinetics with near-to-equal talent levels and a bone to pick can initiate psychic duels. They are highly dangerous for both parties and anyone else nearby since these duels can result in overloading.
  • Dual Wielding: The Ambidexterity technique allows you to do this, if you have the blades or clubs skill at expert or higher.
  • Dump Stat: Speed is the only stat that doesn't affect an esper's psionic talents. The Strength stat determines a character's Health and the Will stat determines their Power Points and Overflow Gauge, all of which limit an esper's ability to use psi-talents; the Wits stat directly affects the efficacy of those talents, as well as determining how many talents an esper starts with.
  • 11th Hour Superpower: In addition to overflow, it is possible, if rare, for intense negative emotions to grant an esper a large amount of caps, which can result in a new level of psitalents being unlocked, temporarily or permanently, and a number of powerpoints being automatically restored. The example given in the book details a restrained telekinetic spontaneously developing necrokinesis in response to her girlfriend's life being threatened.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: The lead singer of Tomorrow's Starlight is incredibly attractive. Leona mentions how hot she is.
  • Evilutionary Biologist:
    • The Shop doctors in Broken Things do horrible things to Harry in order to improve his abilities, whether he wants them to or not. It works a little too well.
    • Abraxis employs these by the score. They conduct horrific experiments on espers to try to unlock the secrets and test the limits of their powers.
  • Exposition Beam: Telempathy can be used this way since it can be used to share memories and sensory input.
  • Fainting: Peregrine suffers one after awakening. Probably a combination of the emotional and exhaustion types.
  • Fake Band: Tomorrow’s Starlight is not a real band. Every single other band mentioned in the book is real. This includes a band called Bedpan Fight.
  • Fake Memories: The Memory Alteration, Improved Memory Alteration, and Psychic Surgery talents allow you to add, remove, and alter memories.
  • Fantastic Drug:
    • Nairlophine,Taramine, and Adrinol are all dangerous and highly addictive combat drugs that remove varying amounts of damage.
    • Damatrol removes all overflow.
    • Pretarine prevents an esper from taking overflow.
    • Hyper waives the power point cost of using talents and gives the user hallucinations and a sense of invulnerability.
    • Light prevents the user from taking drain when using psitalents and gives the user hallucinations and a strong psychedelic experience.
  • Femme Fatale:
    • Colette in New World Water definitely has shades of this. She's extremely attractive and uses her looks, money, and power to easily get what she wants out of people.
    • The Heartstopper archetype is described as this.
  • Fiery Redhead: Leona. Literally and figuratively. She's a spirited and strong-willed pyrokinetic. The Firestarter archetype is even paired with a picture of her.
  • First-Person Smartass: Mama Bear, Ian, Lucky, Leona, Chance, and the author of the book at times.
  • Flash Back Echo: In Broken Things, hearing "That's enough" causes Chance to have a brief, but intense flashback to his time in a Shop facility, because a nurse said the same thing to him as an anesthetic was kicking in.
  • Flight: Sufficiently powerful telekinetics and magnekinetics can fly by picking themselves up or by riding wind currents, respectively.
  • Flipping the Bird:
    • The page's image (which is also the book's back cover image) depicts Chris Riven flipping the bird while using pyrokinesis.
    • Mama Bear flips double birds at a Shop agent.
    • The singer of Tomorrow's Starlight is depicted flipping off a crowd with both hands.
    • Lucky gets flipped off by Scott while trying to escape an angry mob.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes:
    • Mama Bear is rude and short-tempered towards pretty much everyone she speaks to, lives in a drug den and keeps the Bridgewater Four on a short leash, which does very little to endear her to them. Ian, Tim, and Callie only associate with her out of proximity, necessity, and probably fear.
    • Callie qualifies as well. Everyone except Tim is very tepid towards her, as she has a long history of being an Alpha Bitch. The nicest thing that anyone says about her is that they're glad she isn't dead.
  • Functional Magic: Psionic powers are similar to the inherent gift variety. The potential to be an esper is genetic.
  • The Fundamentalist: Members of Eschaton. They’re deeply religious and rabidly devoted to eradicating espers.
  • Gallows Humor:
    • Even when faced with imminent grievous bodily harm, Lucky refuses to stop quipping about his pursuers.
    • Mama Bear makes light of PTSD, citing that it’s very common in The Zodiac Order.
  • Gaslighting: The doctor attempts to do this in Broken Things by altering the lights in the facility to throw off Harry' perception of time, but he figures it out. The doctor is not pleased.
  • Genius Bruiser:
    • The amount of psionic talents you start with is based on your wits score. Additionally, an esper of average intelligence would be considered just shy of being a genius by the standards of normal humans.
    • Tony, whose picture is used to demonstrate the Bruiser archetype, is extremely intelligent and physically powerful.
  • Genre-Busting: Discussed in the intro. Psionics is not quite science fiction (it's set 20 Minutes into the Future and is very soft sci-fi to begin with), it's not quite horror (because horror is about powerlessness, and a central conceit of the game is that you are pretty damn powerful and can fight back), it's no more of an action game than any other RPG, and it's emphatically not a superheroes game. Instead, the designer calls it "Psychopunk."
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom:
    • Ian reports that Leona has these while raising Lucky's temperature, and she's depicted with them in the Firestarter image.
    • Several images in the book depict espers having glowing eyes while using their talents.
  • Good Luck Charm: Well, good luck person. Espers with a high enough level of synchronicity can extend their good luck to others.
  • Government Conspiracy: The Institute, colloquially known as the Shop. They abduct and indoctrinate espers, have absolute authority in the US, and control the government and media, with the goal of ensuring that America stays the world’s only superpower.
  • Gravity Master: Somakinetics subtly and unconsciously affect gravity around them to exercise their muscles without moving and boost their strength and speed at will.
  • Great Detective: The Seer archetype is this, using his scrying, telekinesis, and psychokinesis to solve whatever mysteries or problems that come his way.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: When Leona calls him out for using psychokinesis to get Callie to like him, Tim goes on a jealous rant over how everyone else gets to find love and be the object of affection but him. It's more than a tad disturbing, given the circumstances.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: You can use glass bottles and broken bottles as weapons. The latter does more damage.
  • Guns Akimbo:
    • The John Wu Special technique allows players to wield two guns at the same time.
    • The TK Gunslinger talent allows you to hold, fire, and reload extra guns with telekinesis.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Averted so very, very hard. All but the toughest espers are lucky to survive being hit by more than a few shots. There's a reason why so many abilities deflect bullets.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Somakinetics have super strength and speed, even if they don't work out or train. Also, even the most well-trained human can never master certain special combat techniques that require somakinesis.
  • Healing Factor:
    • Espers with the biofeedback power can heal themselves from life-threatening wounds in seconds with the Regeneration talent.
    • Espers with a high enough strength score can heal from grievous bodily harm in a matter of days.
  • Healing Hands:
    • At the Game Master's discretion, espers with at least two levels of biofeedback and one level of psychokinesis may be able to use biofeedback on others.
    • The Painkiller archetype is depicted using this on an esper with a stomach wound.
  • Herd-Hitting Attack:
    • TK Blast deals a massive amount of damage to everyone caught in it.
    • The Conflagration talent makes fireballs hit people around the target of Ignite.
    • Improved Psychic Scream affects everyone in a cone emanating away from the user, instead of one individual target.
    • Wave of Death allows you to use necrokinesis or Systemic Paralysis on up to ten people within line of sight.
    • Legendary Weather Control allows you to summon massive hailstones that do continuous damage to anyone and anything exposed to them.
    • Consumptive Field allows you to drain power points from up to four people in line of sight at once.
  • Heroic Build: This is basically a side effect of somakinesis, since it passively works out and preserves your muscles.
  • Hide Your Lesbians:
    • Averted. Mama Bear and Sasha are openly in a gay relationship.
    • The Talent Unlock Burst mechanic is demonstrated with a female esper saving her girlfriend.
  • Higher Understanding Through Drugs:
    • A select few of the normal humans with psypotential gain access to their talents through P.P.E.C.s.
    • An esper that doesn’t have any natural ability for a talent tree can gain access to it by taking the appropriate P.P.E.C. They can also increase a character’s affinity for an existing talent tree.
  • Human Resources: Osmoses talents allow espers to replenish power points by draining them from dead bodies or other espsers.
  • Hypnotic Eyes: Espers with level 4 psychokinesis or higher can use the Push to alter the victim's perceptions or make them perform a simple task, but they have to make eye contact with them.
  • I Always Wanted to Say That: Patrick says this in Broken Things. Right on the heels of "Come with me if you want to live" too.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Averted. It's harder than normal, but you can force a Dominated person to commit suicide.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Callie pulls this on Tim because she wants to get dessert instead of responding to a distress signal. It works.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Tim tries to distance himself from the other “freaks”, as he calls them, so that Callie will like him.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Even though she thinks of espers as freaks, Callie is jealous of the rest of the gang’s powers. It ends up getting her killed.
  • I Love Nuclear Power: Entropists can tear apart molecular bonds and split atoms to decay matter, irradiate opponents, and even atomize people.
  • I See Dead People: Lucky Wacker’s dead friend, Scott, is his constant companion in Tomorrow’s Starlight.
  • An Ice Person: Pyrokinetics can choose to lower temperature instead of raise it. Under the right conditions and at a high enough level, it’s possible to freeze people and objects.
  • Immune to Drugs:
    • The Detox ability allows you to delay the effects of poisons or toxins and temporarily purge the effects of drugs.
    • Advanced Detox permanently purges poisons, toxins, and drugs.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Several techniques allow the player and enemies to have this. A character with Trick Shot and Long Shot can shoot a gun out of an opponent's hands at 500 yards, if they're using a rifle to attack. It doesn't even have to be a sniper rifle.
  • Instant Sedation: Injected drugs kick in immediately.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: The Prism archetype has some basic ability with telekinesis, pyrokinesis, and psychokinesis and decent stats and skills, but doesn’t excel or lag in any particular area.
  • Jedi Mind Trick:
    • The Pusher archetype specializes in doing this.
    • The psychokinetic ability Push allows you to pull this off.
  • Jerkass with a Heart of Gold:
    • Lucky spends most of Tomorrow's Starlight being obnoxious to everyone, but sticks his neck out to push Sande off of the top of a stage to save the others, even though he's outgunned and not much of a fighter.
    • Mama Bear is a jerk to the Bridgewater Four, but does her best to make sure that they're safe from the Shop and expresses a surprising amount of remorse, vulnerability, loyalty, and affection for members of The Zodiac Order at various points in Captured. For her, anyway.
  • Jerk Jock:
    • Chad Hutchins and his football team friends are violent, racist, bullies who made Ian's life a living hell for being Filipino and unpopular. Ian even opines that people like them have no business existing, except as antagonists in high school movies.
    • They’re also a type of low-level enemy in the game.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: A katana is a highly-expensive sword that gives you improved attack rolls and does damage based on Speed, not Strength. It's also the strongest bladed weapon.
  • Knee-capping: The Kneecapper technique allows you to do this to an opponent. It reduced the victim's movement speed to 1 if it hits.
  • Knockback: Being hit with TK Push or TK Blast sends the victim flying.
  • La Résistance: The Zodiac Order and they play this image up to new recruits and hangers-on. They're an underground organization of disenfranchised espers (primarily young espers) living on the fringes of society that actively fight against the government to bring in a new world where they'll be free.
  • Lethal Harmless Powers:
    • Technokinetics can make technology short out with EMP Blast. That’s annoying, but not so fatal, what with there being fail safes and dead switches and so on, right? Oh, if they have Penetration, it also works on cranial cybernetic implants…which explode when they short.
    • Chaff Storm disrupts all communications for an area up to 40 miles around the user, which is useful for keeping enemies for calling in backup. Now, think about how much collateral damage that might cause in a residential area, since the user is also blocking calls to 911, hospitals, poison control,etc.
  • Lovable Jock: Tony in Broken Things is friendly, considerate, and helpful, in addition to being a star athlete and somakinetic.
  • Love Makes You Dumb:
    • In Tomorrow’s Starlight Tim uses psychokinesis to get a Green from Mama Bear, which he gives to Callie. Keep in mind, he doesn’t know about the drug’s potential side effects, doesn’t bother to check to see if there are any, and doesn’t take the hint that if Mama Bear, a drug dealer, won’t part with it without the use of powerful psychokinetic talents then maybe it’s kind of a dangerous drug.
    • Earlier in the story, Tim uses his powers to make The Zodiac Order abduct Callie with the rest of them, even though she herself was not in danger. Leona calls him out on this.
  • Ludicrous Gibs:
    • Espers with Brain Drain can make other esper's heads explode.
    • Overloading psychokinetics make people’s heads explode.
    • Overloading telekinetics will involuntarily rip apart anyone and anything too close to them.
      • Sufficiently powerful telekinetics can also rip people and objects apart voluntarily.
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: The synchronicity talents are all about this.
    • Lucky Break allow you to reroll failed checks.
    • Improved Lucky Break allows you to let your allies reroll failed checks.
    • Twist Fate forces enemies to reroll successful checks.
    • The Good Luck ability allows you to just have things go your way in general.
  • Mad Scientist: The head doctor in Broken Things certainly counts. The details of what he does are left up the the reader's imagination, but Harry's reactions certainly show that it's horrific and traumatizing for him and that the doctor doesn't care.
  • Magnetism Manipulation:
    • The effects of magnekinetic and technokinetic talents are both caused by espers consciously manipulating electromagnetic fields to affect weather systems and electronics, respectively.
    • The Magnetic Field talent allows technokinetics to manipulate nearby metallic objects in a way that mimics telekinesis.
  • Malicious Slander:
    • This tends to happen to espers who turn down or resist a recruitment offer. Did you refuse an offer from The Shop and manage to escape from their agents? In the process, did some of their stray bullets hit passers-by? Now your face, name, and whereabouts are plastered all over the news and you’re wanted by the FBI in connection with a terrorist attack.
    • Every conspiracy will maliciously slander espers from other conspiracies.
    • Eschaton paints all espers as demon-possessed abominations. Their own espers are no exception.
  • Mama Bear: Rose is this to her friends, hence the nickname. A Shop agent in Captured learns this the hard way. This is made extra scary by the fact that, if you pay attention, Captured reveals that Rose is at least a level two somakinetic and master of telekinesis.
  • Mana Meter: Using psionic talents consumes "power points", making the mechanic similar to casting spells from a mana pool.
  • Man on Fire: If a person is hit with Ignite, Conflagration, or Inferno, they have to succeed a speed check or they'll catch fire.
  • Master of Illusion:
    • The Push allows you to briefly alter people's perceptions.
    • Masters of psychokinesis can use Mass Push to do this to up to 10 people at once.
  • Master of Your Domain:
    • Biofeedback (which is one of the page's alternate titles) grants espers conscious control over their own bodies, for the purpose of healing damage, purging toxins, and surviving without food and water for much longer than a normal human when necessary.
    • Somakinesis also applies. It grants espers that ability to consciously increase their strength and speed for short periods of time, as well as preserving muscle tissue.
      • Somakinetics can also just decide to have their unarmed attacks deal lethal damage or add extra dice to their unarmed damage rolls if they feel like it.
    • The book describes scrying as the act of turning your psychokinesis inwards to expand your own consciousness.
  • Masquerade:
    • Most of the conspiracies avoid revealing psi power to the public to maintain their own power. There's no unified organization policing this, however; smart independent espers keep a low profile because if they don't, they reveal their own existence to the conspiracies.
    • The Zodiac Order goes out of its way to reveal psi powers to the public, but while they have plenty of true believers, the public as a whole considers the whole thing to be fake. Part of this is because they mostly reveal their powers through a band and a religious organization for the purpose of attracting useful cannon fodder, rather than trying to disseminate scientific evidence of the existence of psi. ("Science" is something The Man does, anyway.)
    • Attempting to break the Masquerade by demonstrating your powers on YouTube is shown to be a fatal rookie mistake. First off, the comments section is going to be filled with "FAKE" repeated over and over, and the masses won't believe you. Second, you'll get a midnight visit from The Men in Black.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Rose has a very thorny personality. Her code name is Mama Bear. Both Tomorrow’s Starlight and Captured establish that she’s highly dangerous and capable of being extremely violent, especially if she feels that her friends are being threatened.
      • Also, Ian mentions that she identifies as a bear shaman and is apparently not shy about it.
    • Lucky Wacker is a fortuitous jerkass.
    • To rive something is to split, crack, or tear something violently. Chris Riven is a very damaged individual who is capable of easily inflicting grievous harm on others.
    • Chance is probably the luckiest character in the entire book.
  • Mega Corp.: Abraxis Biotech is a subversion. It's a secret investment group of corporate shareholders with interlocking boards of directors, and doesn't function as a corporation at all; its involvement in the psionics game is a result of a side project by its leader. Basically, the conspiracy draws on Mega Corp. tropes and aesthetics in a setting where an actual corporate entity wouldn't make any sense.
  • Meat Puppet: High level psychokinetics can hijack people’s bodies and remotely control them.
  • The Men in Black:
    • Agents of The Shop fit this image to a T, probably intentionally. Ian even notes that they looked exactly like the ones he'd seen in movies and on tv.
    • Agent Sande. Makes sense, considering that he's a Shop esper.
  • Mercy Invincibility: Overloading pyrokinetics automatically use Melt Aura on any incoming firearm attacks.
  • Mind over Matter: Teleknetics and, to a lesser extent, technokinetics. The more powerful they are, the more weight and objects they can manipulate.
  • Mind Rape:
    • Powerful psychokinetics are capable of using Psychic Surgery to add, remove, and alter memories, alter personalities, and implant post-hypnotic triggers. Given enough time and power, you can use it to make people into your loyal slaves and look into every memory they've got.
    • Telempathy can be used to send memories and feelings, so you could force someone to relive the negative experiences of others or their own. Even experiences they'd buried or forgotten.
    • The Mindf*cker archetype is a bit of an expert at this.
    • Harry does this to some poor schmuck. Made worse by the fact that they may have been there to try and free him, for all we know.
  • Molotov Cocktail: They make an appearance as a throwing weapon and cause lingering fire damage in addition to the initial explosion.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • You can use the Remote Manipulation ability to use keypads, pick locks, and basically do anything else that could be accomplished with hands. Enormously powerful, heat-proof, intangible hands, but still.
    • Temper, Temper, Temperature can be used to melt locks and metal doors, pop car tires, boil water, and the like.
    • Ignite can be used to light cigarettes and build campfires.
    • One piece of the book’s artwork depicts Rose levitating a beer to herself.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless:
    • Even if an esper and a human have the exact same physique, the esper can still be markedly stronger than they are, because espers have a higher stat cap. Naturally, this goes double for somakinetics, since their powers come from gravity manipulation. Additionally, because not everyone has a body type that will bulk up with exercise, they can be relatively small and super-humanly strong.
    • There's a picture in the book of Rose (who is both quite muscular AND a somakinetic) winning an arm wresting match against a man twice her size.
    • There's also a picture of an out-of-shape looking man lifting a car above his head.
  • My Blood Runs Hot:
    • The pyrokinetic ability Temper, Temper, Temperature can be used to raise the body temperature of living things. Raise it enough and they'll die from boiling in their own skin.
    • Leona does this to Lucky. Not fatally, just enough to get him to leave her alone when he makes her feel uncomfortable.
  • Mystical White Hair: The esper representing the Stormbringer archetype has this. It is probably not a coincidence that magnekinesis is highly symbolically important to The Zodiac Order and that summoning weather is a common type of ritual magic worldwide.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Mama Bear, The Scream, The Shop, Witch Hunter, Mindf*cker, and Mindbender.
  • Nerd:
    • Ian, Tim, and Chance were unpopular, uncool, and frequently bullied before being awakened. They still are, to varying degrees.
      • Tim is definitely the most straight example of the three. Everything about him, from his clothing to his haircut to his taste in music to the way he carries himself, is painfully awkward and uncool. He even has coke bottle glasses.
    • The Juggernaut and Wizard archetypes are both described as this. The Wizard is even depicted levitating a set of dice. It’s worth mentioning that Ian is the esper in the Juggernaut’s picture.
  • Never My Fault: Tim uses his powers to manipulate people for his own personal gain from the word go and always has a justification for it.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • In Tomorrow’s Starlight, the only reason Callie is even there is because Tim convinced Cyrus to bring her along.
    • And then Tim follows up by thoughtlessly giving Callie a dangerous drug without taking any precautions, just because he wants to please her, leading to her painful, and probably terrifying, death.
  • No Body Left Behind:
    • The Atomize talent leaves no trace of the victim.
    • Pyrokinetics that die from overloading burn up.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: If you are a fan of The World/Inferno Friendship Society, you'll probably notice that Lucky Wacker is basically psionic Jack Terricloth.
  • No-Sell:
    • Telekinetics that are Levitating are immune to being Grabbed or Pushed by other telekinetics of equal or lesser power levels.
    • Dodging automatically succeeds against grapples, TK Grab, and Improved TK Grab.
    • Master Heat Shield makes you immune to having your temperature altered against your will, even by other master level pyrokinetics.
    • Psychokinesis does not work on animals, mindless creatures, or other non-human minds.
    • Espers with a high enough level of biofeedback are immune to necrokinesis.
    • Undying makes you immune to the necrokinetic talents of espers with a lower or equal level of necrokinesis.
    • If you can Atomize an opponent, you are immune to someone else trying it on you.
  • No Such Agency:
    • The Shop does not officially exist.
    • Neither does the Red Orchestra.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: You get knocked out when you hit 10 - Will hit points. You don't actually start bleeding out until you hit zero hit points.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • In Captured, Mama Bear expresses remorse for an incident in Germany. She doesn’t go into detail, but says that she “didn’t mean to hurt all those people” and wonders if she's been abandoned for it.
    • The incident where Callie publicly humiliated Tim isn't elaborated on and bringing it up is one of Tim's berserk buttons.
  • Not So Invincible After All:
    • Heat Shield converts damage from tranquilizer darts into heat damage, but it doesn't nullify the effects of the drugs inside of them.
    • Even the most powerful espers don't have unlimited power points, so bullets and other weapons never stop being deadly threats.
  • Not So Omniscient After All:
    • The Psychometry talent can give you a perfect understanding of an event that happened in the past as thought the you were an omniscient, neutral observer, but you're more likely to get random thoughts or glimpses of what was witnessed by people who were there. It gets more likely that you'll get the omniscient perspective as you gain levels in scrying, but you're never guaranteed to get the best result.
    • Precognition can give you prophetic dreams, but (if you fail a secret will check the GM makes and they feel like jerking you around a bit) sometimes it will give you dream with false information instead.
    • You need to have telepathically communicated with someone in the past to use Mind Scan to locate them and it doesn't work outside of your clairsentience range.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Tony, who is legitimately a genius, pretended to be less intelligent in school because being too smart was considered a negative quality where he lived.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse:
    • Often how espers join a conspiracy.
    • Happens to someone in New World Water.
    • Ian is on the receiving end of one before the Zodiac Order steps in, and it's not exactly like he can just walk away from them either.
  • Oh, Crap!: Tony, Patrick, and Aaron get one in Broken Things as Chance starts to overload.
  • The Omniscient: Masters of scrying can remotely view locations up to 4000 miles away, use Read Surface Thoughts on anyone within their Clairsentience range, track up to ten people with the accuracy of a GPS, use any and all psychokinetic talents at their disposal on a person that they're tracking, have prophetic dreams, see the past of objects and locations, and receive a passive bonus to defense because they innately sense the attacks coming a split second before they do.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: Aleph is controlled by a council of twelve individuals who don't even know each other's identities.
  • One-Hit Kill: Most psitalents can accomplish this at maximum level, due to the sheer damage they can potentially do, but Atomize and several necrokinesis talents will do this if the target fails a stat check.
  • One Hit Poly Kill:
    • Several max level psitalents can do this, either because they target an area or multiple individual targets.
    • Overloading can easily do this.
    • Gaze of Death can instantly kill up to ten people at once.
  • The Paralyzer:
    • Necrokinetics can choose to paralyze people instead of killing them.
    • Psychokinetics can make people fall asleep or stop moving.
    • Being hit with Improved Seize totally immobilizes the target, as long as they’re the only person grabbed.
    • An esper that's hit with Brain Drain is only capable of moving if they succeed a hard will check.
  • Path of Inspiration: The Zodiac Order has engineered the Ayn Sof religion as a tool to draw millions of hipsterish youth into supporting their goals and hoping to unlock their hidden powers. It's made clear that Devotees are essentially useful idiots for the Esper-supremacist Order.
  • Person of Mass Destruction:
    • Popping espers are a deadly threat to everyone in their overload radius. Chance and Leona for example.
    • Masters of telekinesis can summon massive blasts of telekinetic force with TK Blast. This attack is strong enough to throw tanks and affects a circle with a radius between 1 and 10 yards long, depending on the user’s will score.
    • Masters of pyrokinesis can summon massive fires that effect an area similar to that of TK Blast, .
    • Master level magnekinetics take the cake. They can summon any extreme weather conditions (including tornadoes, hurricanes, and hailstorms) that they want, anywhere within 100 miles of their location. The event lasts for up to 24 hours, and only takes one minute to manifest.
  • Pet the Dog: Mama Bear gets a few.
    • In Tomorrow’s Starlight, she makes a point of getting medication to help Leona cope with the emotional trauma of her awakening and prioritizes saving the main characters over escaping a Shop raid.
    • In Captured she expresses hope that the kids from Tomorrow’s Starlight escaped, implying that she does care about them.
  • Pineapple Surprise: Sufficiently powerful telekinetics can yank small objects off of another person, including the pins of any grenades that they may be holding or wearing.
  • Playing Possum: Biofeedback Trance allows you to mimic being dead to a highly realistic degree.
  • Playing with Fire: Pyrokinetics can conjure fireballs, raise ambient temperature, are heat resistant and can melt incoming projectiles.
  • Point Build System:
    • Players allocate a set number of points into strength, speed, wits, and will.
    • Starting skills are also bought with "picks" that are based on the player's wits score.
  • Poor Communication Kills: People who are being Pushed or Dominated by a psychokinetic can find wiggle room in their commands if the psychokinetic in question didn’t use specific enough wording and they have the presence of mind to come up with loopholes. Example: “Drop your weapon” could result in a Dominated soldier dropping their gun from one hand, catching it with the other and shooting the psychokinetic in the head.
  • Power Incontinence:
    • Espers suffer this during an overload.
    • An esper’s first manifestation of their talents is often accidental and the result of a surge of emotion. For example, Ian inadvertently TK Pushes bullies that are about the beat him up.
    • Peregrine is overwhelmed by voices when his psychokinesis manifests.
    • An esper will suffer this if given anteronar, if the ensuing heart attack doesn't outright kill them.
  • Power Limiter:
    • Espers have an internal one. You always have fewer max overflow boxes than max power points, but using psitalents costs and equal amount of both (with the exception of Osmoses talents, which cost no power points), unless you're using certain drugs, so you can't just go in throwing everything you have all at once or you risk an overload.
    • Works the other way too. An overload ends when the overflow gauge empties or the esper dies, so they aren't as fatal and destructive as they could be.
  • Psychic Block Defense:
    • It's not easy, but it is possible to block a psychokinetic from reading your thoughts if you succeed the proper check and are aware of what they're trying to do.
    • At level two, psychokinetics become immune to the talents of psychokinetics that are a lower level, with the exception of Psychic Scream.
    • Espers can attempt to resist being Pushed and all humans can attempt to resist being Dominated.
  • Psychic Nosebleed:
    • Depicted in some of the book’s artwork. Damage incurred from using psitalents often manifests as bleeding from the nose, eyes, or ears, and headaches.
    • Ick, poor Chance. The books artwork depicts him with a wicked nosebleed and he overloads, he bleeds from the tear ducts, nose, and ears.
  • Psychic Powers: Duh. Specifically:
    • Telekinesis is your iconic Mind over Matter power-set. Its sub-powers are Biofeedback (manipulating one's biology on a cellular level for healing, poison/disease purgation, and surviving in extreme conditions), Necrokinesis (a psychic Touch of Death based on disrupting the part of the brain controlling the heart) and Somakinesis (manipulating cellular biology and gravity for Super Strength).
    • Pyrokinesis is based on manipulating molecular activity. Its primary use is to increase and decrease the temperature. Its subpowers are Entropy (tearing apart molecular bonds, allowing for disintegration and the generation of radioactive energies), Magnakinesis (control of electromagnetic fields to manipulate the weather) and Synchronicity (manipulation of probability).
    • Psychokinesis is basically Telepathy justified as "adjusting neurons and brainwaves through subtle telekinesis". It sub-powers are Osmoses (draining psychic energy from living beings), Scrying (ESP) and Technokinesis (Selective Magnetism and manipulation of electronics).
  • Psychic Static: The Psychic Scream ability uses this offensively. The target takes penalties as their mind is overloaded with nonsensical sensory data.
  • Psychic Strangle: Telekinetics can do this with Choke talent to render an opponent unconscious.
  • Psychic Surgery:
    • Subverted. The power by the same name doesn’t heal physical damage, it allows the user to add, alter, and remove memories from someone else’s mind or even reprogram their personality.
    • An optional rule states that an esper with biofeedback and at least one point of psychokinesis can use the Regeneration talent on others.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Mama Bear displays some shades of this in Captured, displaying extremely violent thoughts and behaviors, but that might be due to the fact that she’s being detained and tortured by The Shop.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Tim is an immature, entitled, nerdy, virgin with really strong psychokinesis. He throws a tantrum when Leona tries to talk to him about him misusing his powers.
  • Punk Punk: The game dubs itself as "Psychopunk," adopts a self-consciously "punk" aesthetic, and the "good guy" organization is expressly tailored In-Universe to appeal to Millenial punks through a punk-rock band and a hipsterish new religion.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: Sex and gender have no bearing on a character’s build or available talents.
  • Raging Stiffie: Peregrine gets one upon seeing Colette. Made extra inconvenient by the fact that he’s only wearing a speedo.
  • Random Number God: It IS a tabletop RPG.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Even if the Talent Unlock Burst gives you the power to save the day, you still might overload.
    • Using Telepathy or Telempathy on a person who isn't aware that psychokinesis exists may result in the target thinking that they're going crazy.
    • Read Surface Thoughts and Telepathy do not translate the other person's thoughts into your language, so language barriers can occur. You can around this with Telempathy and Read Memories though.
    • Clairsentience allows you to remotely view or hear distant locations, but any data you gather is based entirely on what your own senses can pick up and what you personally can understand.
    • Psionic Hacking allows you to quickly bypass electronic security systems but, if you want to do something fancy once you're in, you'd better have some time.
    • You can use bar stools in combat but they will break and become less effective soon enough.
    • You can use heavy weapons, like shoulder mounted rocket launchers and so on, but you need to have a strength score of at least 5 to do so.
      • Also, good luck finding someone to buy that from, unless you have a black market contact and a ton of money or belong to The Shop.
    • Many drugs are great for restoring power points, healing damage, reducing overflow, improving psitalents, or just having fun, but overdosing or becoming addicted have severe consequences.
  • Regenerating Mana:
    • Power points will replenish naturally if an esper rests for a while
    • Espers with the Regenerative Trance talent recover power points more quickly.
  • Required Secondary Powers:
    • Heat Shield passively makes pyrokinetics resistant to heat damage.
    • The Stormbound talent makes magnekinetics immune to the negative effects of weather conditions, including the effects of their own hail storms and tornadoes.
  • The Resenter:
    • Ian (who is also the Juggernaut archetype) is highly resentful and bitter towards several people in Tomorrow's Starlight. Targets of his ire include his foster parents, his high school bullies, his current situation, Lucky, Mama Bear, having to go to Williamsburg, and himself. The bulk of his internal monologue is either complaining or insulting people.
    • Despite knowing that it isn't fair and trying not to be resentful, Chance just plain doesn't like Tony because he's athletic and good looking. He also resents that Tony's love of fantasy football was acceptable while his own love of tabletop Role Playing Games was nerdy.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized:
    • The Eternal Storm will finally allow espers to live freely and openly, but will also result in massive depopulation and espers being instated as the master race.
    • The Zodiac Order's methods of fighting against oppression tend to fall somewhere between negligent homicide and truly outstanding acts of terrorism.
  • Sanity Meter: The overflow gauge functions a bit like one. It fills as you use your powers, but extreme emotional stress and traumatic events can cause it to fill substantially. Overflow has to be carefully monitored. This is balanced by the fact that the overflow gauge empties relatively rapidly.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Mind Scan allows masters of scrying to track people with the accuracy of a GPS.
  • Scary Black Man: The bouncer outside of the White Hart in Tomorrow’s Starlight.
  • Scrapbook Story: Broken Things has this within itself. At times, the story breaks from the action with the main characters to show the reader transcribed audio logs of interviews between Harry and the head doctor.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!:
    • Abraxis pretty much runs on this.
    • Colette in New World Water cancels a swim team’s practice by informing them that she has purchased the lease on the building.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!:
    • The Shop acts with absolute authority in the United States, so they don’t have to worry about things like the constitutional rights or personal freedoms of espers they detain.
    • The Red Orchestra acts similarly in Russia.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!:
    • Espers in general tend to fall into this trope, but members of The Zodiac Order have really run with this one.
    • Tim knows that stealing is wrong, but he's a high level psychokinetic, so it's not like anyone can stop him from forcing people to give him things.
    • A picture in the book depicts a psychokinetic getting a salesman to give him a car for free.
  • Seeing Through Another's Eyes: Telempathy can be used to share current sensory input over great distances, as well as personal memories.
  • Seers:
    • Scrying talents grant you abilities that let you see the past, future, and distant locations.
    • There is a Seer archetype.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Leona
  • Shockand Awe: Magenekinetics can summon and direct lightning strikes.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Downplayed. At very short range, a shotgun blast is effectively a slug, while at medium range, shot disperses and makes it harder to dodge. Shotguns don't exactly go to the same max range as sniper rifles, but that's expected.
  • Shown Their Work: Stand in awe of the section on firearms.
  • Splash Damage: The damage a grenade does is based on how close the target is to it when it goes off, with the exception of gas grenades.
  • Status Ailment:
    • Irradiate and Improved Irradiation inflict severe radiation poisoning on the victim, resulting in massive penalties to almost everything for between 1 and 4 hours.
    • Psychic Scream and Improved Psychic Scream inflict stat penalties as the victim is overwhelmed with nonsensical sensory data.
    • Being hit with a flashbang grenade penalizes checks, tests, and defense for five turns.
    • Being caught in the radius of a gas grenade will inflict status penalties on the the target, based on what was loaded into it.
  • The Stoner: Mama Bear is constantly high in Tomorrow's Starlight.
  • Superhero: Defied. The game's intro says that if your characters are wearing costumes and/or fighting crime, you're doing it wrong.
  • Superpower Lottery: Psionic talents can vary widely in scope, function, and power between espers. This is especially true of Zodiac Order espers.
  • Super-Power Meltdown: Overloading. In the case of pyrokinetics, the meltdown can be literal.
  • Super Reflexes: Defense is based on wits, so smart espers are almost impossible to hit unless you're really, really good with whatever weapon you're using.
  • Super Serum: PPE Cs awaken psionic talents in people with psypotential and strengthen them in people who are already espers.
  • Super Soldier:
    • Shop espers are highly trained special forces members.
    • The Red Orchestra is essentially the KGB with psionic talents.
  • Super Strength:
    • It's not the most insane example on the market, but a normal esper can have a strength score that's undeniably superhuman. Again, this can apply even more so to somakinetics.
    • The guy in the book that's lifting a car over his head qualifies.
  • Take a Third Option: Or in this case, take a seventh option. The Stormbringer archetype is described as rejecting and fighting against all of the conspiracies.
  • Taking You with Me: This can easily be the result of an overload. Keep in mind, you can intentionally overload to invoke this trope.
  • Tattooed Crook: Leona's stepfather, Frank who molested her.
  • Technicolor Death: A victim of the Atomize talent is ripped apart at the atomic level, resulting in a rather brilliant and flashy display. The book even literally compares their atoms being pulled apart and spinning away into the air to fireworks.
  • Tech Tree:
    • Each primary talent has three subtalents. You need a certain level in a primary talent before you can unlock subtalents. Each time you advance a psionic talent; you also gain new skills and/or improve existing ones.
    • Telekinesis allows you to access the biofeedback, somakinesis, and necrokinesis talent trees.
    • Pyrokinesis allows you to access the synchronicity, entropy, and magnekinesis talent trees.
    • Psychokinesis allows you to access the technokinesis, scrying, and osmoses talent trees.
  • Technopath: Technokinetics can hack into any and all electronics, just by touching them and concentrating.
  • Teens Are Monsters:
    • Callie was unnecessarily cruel to Tim upon finding out that he had a crush on her and is generally unplesant throught Tomorrow's Starlight.
    • Chad is a violent, racist, bully who constantly antagonized Ian for no reason at all.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Ian does not enjoy working with Mama Bear or Lucky and boy does his internal monologue show it.
  • Telepathy:
    • Even the weakest psychokinetics are capable of using Telepathy.
    • Read Surface Thoughts and Read Memories allows you to do exactly what you'd expect.
      • Tim uses this on Callie to figure out how to make her like him.
      • Lucky uses this on a liquor store clerk to screw with his head.
    • Telemphathy allows you to share thoughts, feelings, images, and memories telepathically.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Oddly enough, this applies to some of the bad guys more than the good guys. The Shop's preference list for dealing with non-Institute espers that their agents come across is Capture, Ignore, or Kill in that order. An agent who kills an esper who might be useful later will be in trouble unless it was absolutely necessary to protect Institute interests. Aleph and Abraxis Biotech's Private Military Contractors operate much the same way, but are far happier to break out the firepower against cops or witnesses.
  • Touch of Death:
    • Necrokinetics can stop people’s hearts by touching them.
    • The osmoses talent Brain Drain drains power points from espers and can be used as a touch attack. If an esper is drained of all of their remaining power points their head explodes.
  • The Trickster: Lucky Wacker. From Tomorrow's Starlight: "I feel absolutely naked unless I'm doing something illicit."
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The game is set either here or in present day, at the GM's discretion.
  • Unusual Euphemism:
    • The proper names for P.P.I.C.s are character strings and the drugs themselves aren't supposed to exist, so they're referred to as Speak No Evil (blocks telekinesis), See No Evil (blocks pyrokinesis), and Hear No Evil (blocks psychokinesis).
    • I10013, a drug that blocks all psitalents, can makes espers lose talent levels, and causes excruciating pain for between 2 and 12 hours is more commonly called "Abyss".
    • Overloading, an event that can horrifically kill an esper and everyone around them, has the cutesy nickname "popping".
    • In keeping with their sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll theme, members of The Zodiac Order refer to their missions as gigs.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Most of the Zodiac Order's devotees are spiritual new age hippies and anti-establishment punks who are completely unaware of the Order's genocidal true goals. They've also been led to believe that they're destined to become espers themselves, when in reality the vast majority of them don't have psi-potential and taking PPE Cs will harm or kill them. These devotees are seen as "useful idiots" by the esper supremacists controlling the group.
    • To a lesser extent, this applies to some of the Zodiac Order's espers too: A lot of espers join the Order because they're on the run from the other conspiracies and have nowhere else to go, despite either not knowing about or not supporting the Order's long-term goals.
  • Villain Has a Point: No matter which conspiracy acts as your primary enemy in a given campaign, most of them aren't completely immoral or wrong.
    • The Zodiac Order genuinely wants to protect espers from all the other conspiracies trying to capture, dissect, enslave, or kill them. They want to create a world where espers live openly and freely; unfortunately, they believe that the only way to accomplish that is by killing off most of humanity and enslaving the rest.
    • The Shop is trying to maintain the current status quo, preserving normalcy from the threat posed by espers and protecting modern civilization from all the other conspiracies trying to destroy it or take it over. Despite all of their crimes, they also seem to have at least some minimal semblance of concern for civilian lives (certainly more than Abraxas or the Zodiac Order, at any rate).
    • Aleph isn't described as doing anything particularly horrible, especially compared to the other conspiracies. Their extremely subtle and discrete methods tend to result in far fewer buildings blowing up and far fewer innocent people being kidnapped, tortured, or killed.
    • Eschaton is the only conspiracy that's not trying to take over the world; in fact, they're actively trying to prevent anyone from taking over the world. They also seem to genuinely care about protecting normal citizens from espers... and in fairness, espers do have an unfortunate tendency to abuse their powers and cause injury, death, and destruction on a massive scale, both intentionally and during spontaneous emotional breakdowns.
  • Walking Techbane: Technokinetics can be this on purpose with the following talents:
    • White Noise, Improved White Noise, Passive Jamming, and Chaff Storm all allow espers to disrupt communication devices to varying degrees.
    • EMP Blast and Penetration allow them to fry electronic devices.
    • Technokinetics can also create magnetic fields centered on themselves, which can be disruptive to technology around them.
  • Wall Slump: Chad does a wall slump after being hit with TK Push.
  • Weather Manipulation: Magnekinetics. The degree to which they can manipulate the weather and how long it takes are dependent on their talent level. At the highest level they can summon tornadoes in a minute.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Every single conspiracy has these in them, but Eschaton stands out. Members of Eschaton genuinely believe that, by committing genocide against espers, they’re saving humanity and bringing about the second coming.
  • Wham Line: Harry gets one in Broken Things. The scene starts off with the head doctor mentioning that they've adjusted his meds again, so Harry's uncharacteristic nonchalance will likely be chalked up to him just being high, until: "No. I changed my mind. You should call me sir. And you should probably beg, too.”
  • Whatever Mancy: A psionics variant applies, in that all the disciplines, and most of the talents, are named "something-kinesis".
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Leona calls Tim out for using his psychokinesis to con his way out of paying for things and to manipulate others for his personal gain. He doesn't take it well.
  • What the Hell, Player?: The statblock for Emergency Services NPCs (EMTs and firefighters, not police) includes an XP bounty for killing them. You get 20 XP "and the progressively increasing certainty [that] you’re not a very good person."
  • Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell: The Red Orchestra are the old Soviet psi program, who now secretly control the government of The New Russia and the Russian sphere of influence and are dedicated to restoring the old hammer-and-sickle. Ideologically, however, they're driven by extreme Russian nationalism rather than communism.
  • Winds of Destiny, Change:
    • The synchronicity talents allow espers to affect luck.
    • The Wizard archetype can do this.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Popping is excruciatingly painful and is always brought on by intense negative emotions, overexertion, or through using certain drugs and can easily kill the esper popping and everyone around them. As destructive as it is, it’s hard to not feel sorry for an esper that’s popped.
  • Wreathed in Flames:
    • Pyrokinetics can manifest fire on their body and are resistant to heat damage, so they can choose to invoke this trope.
    • The Melt Aura ability allows pyrokinetics to melt incoming firearm projectiles by manifesting intense blasts of fire around the user.
    • During an overload, a pyrokinetic will be at the center of a massive fireball.
    • This happens to Patrick a lot in Broken Things but he's a pyrokinetic, so that's really more of a problem for everyone else.
  • You Are Number 6: The doctor calls Harry subject Seventeen-Alpha.
  • Your Head A-Splode:
    • If an esper’s remaining power points are completely drained by Brain Drain, this happens to them.
    • Overloading psychokinetics do this to others and, if they’re killed by the overload, themselves.
    • If a cybernetic implant shorts or explodes, this will likely happen.
    • With the right technique, you can also accomplish this with guns.
    • A somakinetic is depicted kicking a guy's head apart in the book.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The Zodiac Order. They’re the only conspiracy with the goal of espers living openly and freely, but their methods involve an awful lot of collateral damage, kidnapping, drug trafficking, and murdered cops.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/TabletopGame/PsionicsTheNextStageInHumanEvolution