Psychic (5e Background)

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This background has been protected as an example for the 5e Background Design Guide. Please discuss any changes you would like to make on the discussion page.  --Kydo (talk) 13:10, 6 September 2016 (MDT)

Psychic

evoker.jpg
An average male psychic, [Source]

At a young age, likely sometime during adolescence, you began to develop unusual capabilities- abilities no one else has, but aren't magic. They're just something you can "do". You are a psychic. For some people, these powers are wildly out of control, being more of a nuisance or disruption than a useful tool, some can only access their powers through intense concentration or while under the effects of a powerful emotion, while others use their powers as naturally as they would their own hands. A few psychics may have multiple powers, but most only have one. Regardless the nature of you powers, they changed your entire life. Simpler, uneducated folk fear and misunderstand psychic powers as a form of foul witch craft, the effects of a curse, or some other thing- much as they may fear magic they do not understand. If it became known that you have these powers, it is very likely that you were shunned, exiled, or possibly even arrested or assaulted. Did you hide your powers, and if so, did anyone ever find out? Were you open with your abilities? Were you treated differently, or did people accept you? Have you ever faced intolerance or fear because of your powers? What do you think of your powers- are they natural and a part of who you are, or are they some unnatural burden foisted upon you by fate? Did you have any mentors or teachers who helped you come to terms with or gain control over your powers? How did you use your powers in your day-to-day life or to make a living?

Skill Proficiencies: Perception, Insight.

Tool Proficiencies: One gaming set.

Languages: One language.

Equipment: A single trinket with psychic connection, (medallion, necklace, or ring) a set of traveler's clothes, a scholar's robe, a gaming set, and bag filled with 10 gp.

Cantrips: Prestidigitation, Mage Hand.

Special Powers

As a psychic, you are endowed with a special power. These powers have no mechanical influence, but do change how the character's actions or experiences may be described, thus having a strong influence on descriptive roleplay. Keep in mind that all of these powers are purely cosmetic variations of things you can already do, or just a slight adjustment to the way the DM describes things to you. The limits are the same as though you did not have the special ability. Telekinesis, for example, has a range limit equal to the length of your arms. Telepathy only works on creatures who could hear you speak normally anyways. The only one with a real mechanical change would be pyrokinesis, which allows you to start fires without a tinderbox- which can be abused by irresponsible players. Hence the note.

Feature: Psychic Awe

Use of your powers can shock and awe those who are unfamiliar with such things, and even aged wizards can be astounded by such non-magical supernatural feats! This can be used to impress, terrify, confuse, or mislead others, depending on the power used and your intentions. (IE: Most people can't convince others that they're a powerful mage by saying "hello", but a Telepath sure can!) You may practice arcane or divine magics through the sheer power of your mind. Whenever you cast a spell, you may alter its appearance and style to suit your psychic nature. This does not change the way the spell works or how it is shaped, only the way it appears. Because your workings appear so distinct, other magi may have difficulty identifying what spell you have cast and what type of mage you are.

Suggested Characteristics

1d8 Specialization
1 Clairvoyance. You can see the auras of those around you by reading their attitudes. The size, radiance, and color of the aura all mean something, and you describe peoples' intentions by describing their auras.
2 Astral Projection. When sleeping, you may observe the dreams of others who are sleeping near you, if they have no reason to resist your presence. Even if someone does not know you, if they do not desire another in their dreams, you cannot access them. This is, effectively, the same as just having another character describe their dreams to you, or having the DM describe a dream to multiple players.
3 Precognition. You have brief foresight into the immediate future. When you concentrate on seeing the future, the DM may describe the most likely result of whatever check is about to be made. If no check is to be made, the DM can feel free to make up whatever hogwash they desire!
4 Telepathy. Any time you are speaking, you may describe your words as forming within the minds of those who would be able to clearly hear you regardless.
5 Levitation. You may describe your movement as floating up to one foot above the floor, with or without any leg movement.
6 Channeling. You are a medium. Any time the DM wishes for the dead or undead to speak, they may describe them doing so through you, using your body. This channeling happens entirely on the medium's terms. You may prevent a spirit from doing anything through you by simply stating you resist it. For instance, a spirit may try to strangle someone with your hands, but all you have to do to stop it, is say "no".
7 Telekinesis. Anything which you may do with your hands, you may describe as being done with your mind instead.
d8 Personality Trait
1 My powers are growing day by day, and with each day I feel more at peace with them.
2 I know nothing of what is happening to me, but I know it is not natural.
3 I care not for how or why I have powers, I want them gone.
4 I sometimes have dreams of strange things that hold no relevance to anything.
5 I like using my powers to do tricks, pranks and funny jokes.
6 I'll do anything to find out more about my powers, no matter the cost.
7 Particular stimuli, such as a specific color or loud noises, make me go crazy.
8 I am fascinated by things of a supernatural nature.
d6 Ideal
1 Order. I must keep my powers in check, only using them to help, never to harm. (Lawful)
2 Peace. The world doesn't need another tyrant, it needs a savior. (Good)
3 Destruction. I will use my powers to crush all that would threaten me. (Chaotic)
4 Power. The power that I have is only a means to an end. That end is acquiring more power. (Evil)
5 Balance. Like everything else, I exist for a reason and a cause, and mine is to keep the harmony and balance of our world. (Neutral)
6 Loneliness. No one would listen, no one cared, so why should I. (Any)
d6 Bond
1 I knew a guy who had the same powers as me. Guess what? he's dead.
2 My parents left me at an orphanage when I was just a child.
3 I harmed the ones I cared for using my powers, I can't do it again.
4 There was a wise teacher who taught me everything I know, for that I am grateful.
5 Once I ran with a circus as one of the carnies.
6 A group of unreasonable individuals are hunting me all over the world.
d6 Flaw
1 Powers rarely ever work the way you want or need them to, especially mine.
2 Sometimes I forget what I am doing or why i'm doing it, so I try to ..... what was I talking about?
3 My powers can sometimes activate by themselves, oops ..... just like that.
4 Voices speak to me and tell me ways to hurt other people. Yeah, they're doing it right now.
5 I am a compulsive liar about anything and everything.
6 I can never get a date using my powers.

Note

Think of this background as a sort of "imagination paint brush". It effectively unbinds the aesthetics of the game from their normal assumptions. (You hold things with your hands, your feet touch the ground, words are carried by air, etc.) The greatest use of this background is creative styles of storytelling through description rather than dialogue, both by the PC and DM. Inspiration should be awarded for creative and immersive use of the descriptive freedom granted by this background. DMs should use this background to deliver narrative through the PC if the opportunity appears.


See Also: Simple Psychic (5e Variant Rule), Unearthed Arcana: Psionics

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