Psi-Watch grew out of dissatisfaction with the D20 Modern psionic rules, which I felt were complex without being compelling, overly technical without being overly interesting. Worse, the existing psionics system didn’t accurately model comic book psionics: fearsome and nearly unstoppable if they’re clever. Instead of focused competence and overwhelming, unique powers, you have unfocused classes like the Battlemind who is forced to choose a variety of random abilities each level. Since the Psionics system is modeled on the D20 magic system, not psis as they appear in comics and sci-fi, it doesn’t model psychic warriors with any particularly passion or depth.
When I first began producing psi-war classes for Skortched Urf Studio’s D7ACU line, I dealt with the problem by producing psions built around a single tightly focused theme. Comic book inspired heroes like the Gravity Slinger and Cold Bringer, not to mention the new classes in Psi-Watch, are built around a logical progression of linked abilities, not wide (but unrelated) powerlists. To me, that’s closer to the ‘reality’ of psychics in comics and sci-fi.
While nothing prevents Psi-Watch psions from multiclassing, for the most part, pyrokinetics stay pyros, time travelers focus on improving their time talents, and nano-sculptors focus on improving their cellular engines.
In addition to selecting psionic classes, players in a Psi-Watch campaign can choose psionic feats which grant powerful natural mutations and mental talents. Designer mutations, alien heritage and random mutation can produce a whole campaign filled with powerful psi-soldiers.
Psi-Watch presents a slick, stylish new way of looking at psionics, not to mention modern espionage and supers gaming. The campaign setting owes a major debt to my life-long love of comics, and is inspired by my generation’s comic book renaissance.
When Image Comics debuted in 1992, it was a hyper-violent, vibrantly colored underworld of government conspiracies, cybernetically enhanced mercs, psionic super soldiers, covert corporate strike teams and subtle alien invasions. While all too many of the early Image issues were crudely written and amateurishly plotted, their passion and intensity and vibrant imagination drew me in. Comics like WildC.A.T.s, Cyberforce, Stormwatch and Younglood drew on the best in comics, military fiction and cyberpunk to create an entirely new genre of comics. Innovations in art and storytelling fed back into the industry, spurring creative revolutions at both Marvel and DC. Many of the best artists working in comics today got their start aping the beloved styles of superstars like Lee, Liefeld and McFarlane. The design tropes and political savvy of the best Image comics inspired later ‘mainstream works’. “Image style” costumes revolutionized the look of everyone from the Legion of Superheroes to Batman to the Avengers, and a thousand more. Mark Millar’s Ultimates and Civil War are thematic outgrowths of Jim Lee and Warren Ellis’s early image storylines.
Psi-watch is designed to emulate the thrill of those early Image comics, to allow players and gamemasters alike to bring some of their sleek style and overwhelming firepower to the gaming table. Psi-Watch is designed with the player in mind, presenting an assortment of new powers, advanced classes, weapons, power armor and vehicles….
New tactics for a new kind of war game.