Psychic Powers in the 'Verse

A Fan Supplement for the Serenity Role-Playing Game

This is a fairly quick and dirty guide to psychic powers in the 'Verse. Like some other Serenity rules, this will require some GM calls at times, but GM calls should cover most of what I don't (not to mention that a Psion's power should vary based on the GM's preferences). For more structured guidelines that fit the Serenity system well, check out White Wolf's Trinity or WEG's d6 games. Alternately, buy lots of Serenity books and encourage MWP to put out supplements. 8^)

Okay, enough excuse-makin'. Here goes.

First off, there's already a few psychic 'powers' among the Traits. Reader is the obvious one, but these rules posit that most folks who have Nose For Trouble (NFT) and Trustworthy Gut (TG) are actually untrained psychics themselves. The thing is, all three Traits are examples of what you get when a psychic hasn't been trained to harness their abilities. Thing is, there aren't a lot of places to get trained even if you have said abilities. Suffice to say that if you're character has one or more of the following Traits, your life is probably pretty interesting.

Mal: "Define 'interesting.'"

There are five known, quantified psychic Assets out in the 'Verse (at least according to this model, which is based on a combination of classic psychic ability and watching River kick Reaver butt). There are fancy schmancy scientific terms for these Traits, but out in the black they've got simpler terms for 'em, and that's what we'll use. For you Core types and those folk as study this sort'a thing, though, we'll make mention of them five credit words as well. All five Talents are Major Assets, and are as follows, from most common to rarest:

The Untrained version of Healer goes something like this:

Trait (Asset): Healer (Minor/Major)

You have a natural ability to understand wounds, and powerful Healers can patch folk up with naught save their own gumption.

Benefit: As a Minor Asset, Healers gain a +2 step bonus to Medical Expertise and the First Aid specialty of Survival; as a Major Asset, a Healer can also spend one Plot Point or one Stun to heal one Wound. This can be the Healer's own or another's, but the Healer must be able to touch the subject and any donors.

Trained Assets are a whole other level of ability. They have the advantage of not needing Plot Points to use. On the other hand, all the Assets in question are Major, have Discipline @ d6 as a prerequisite, and risk failure and worse with each use. Without the bumblebee principle at work (the natural psychic just does what needs doin'), trained psions have to work at controlling their powers instead of just using them. On the other hand, whenever it's appropriate, physical contact (aka touching) grants the psychic a +1 step bonus to Trait use. That definitely includes all uses of Reader and Healer, by the by. Starting characters get a number of skill points to be used for listed Asset specialties only, based on their starting power level. Greenhorns get 2, Veterans get 6, and Big Damn Heroes get 10.

Oh, a suggestion on botching: don't. Tryin' to make the 'Verse do what you want is a bad thing to mess up. When you botch, you take 1d4 Stun, and your Asset does something...weird. It won't hurt someone you care about (like crew), but it can bring down some awful unpleasantness on you and yours. An' you'll be bleedin' out your nose (Remember? The Stun?), at the very least, which makes you a nice big target for suit-wearin' types with a fetish for blue gloves.

Each of the five Traits and its attendant specialties (listed instead of Benefits, because, well, they are the benefits) is in the links above. Obviously, if you don't want Readers and suchlike runnin' around in your campaign, these rules ain't for you. For the's not exactly the Big Book of Blue Hands, sure, but I don't exactly get a cut o' this. Let me do the math here, nuthin' into nuthin', carry the nuthin'...

Enjoy! May your heads never explode. ;^)

(Note: This fan supplement first appeared on the now-defunct Serenity RPG forum on