Veterans of the Psychic Wars

Two questions always get asked about 3:16: “how do I convert it to fantasy,” and “where are the psychics?” As a followup to my 3:16 campaign retrospective, I answer the latter question.

3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars

20 seconds. You explode.

Ever wonder why the strategy boys name planets after artists? Goya, Degas, all that? Started in SIGINT. In the first Terran campaign, the 1:1 was deployed to planet E-348.3. Three days after the drop, the comm officers were calling it Planet Munch. Because all they heard on the radio were screams.

The 1:1 was the vanguard of the Expeditionary Forces, the First Earth Battalion. They sallied forth into the universe, confident they’d be home in a few years, having made the cosmos safe for Terracracy. They were the most highly trained and expensively equipped troops ever deployed by a human military. They were the poster boys for Terra’s invincible armada. And they were not ready.

The 1:1 lost their hypercarrier, the Omnicariximus, while entering orbit. A thousand survivors in overcrowded drop pods made it to the surface, where they were mercilessly destroyed by an entirely different civilization from the one they had been sent to engage. They fought desperately on the surface for more than a year before extraction.

There are as many accounts of what happened next as there were survivors. Which is to say, about a hundred. What is known: all of the veterans came back scarred, and a few came back changed. They felt anger, fear, hatred… and when they felt those things, people died. Sometime tens. Sometimes hundreds.

The 1:1 were neurologically cleansed, and reassigned as raw Troopers under new identities. Their operational specialty is listed as “psychological warfare.” The Admiralty is hoping that they can serve out their lives quietly. Failing that, it would like to know what makes the 1:1 tick. And how to make them go off.

The fate of the 1:1 was not reported publicly to the Expeditionary Force, or on Terra.

Their pictures are still on the posters.

System

A player may choose to play a psychic at character creation.

Catharsis

A psychic’s greatest weapon is Catharsis, a replacement use for Strengths. The difference is that the psychic character is actually having a flashback right there on the battlefield… and it’s generally not a happy one. The raw trauma of his past is simply capable of blowing entire armies to pieces.

Rather than the standard Strength effects, Catharsis acts much like a Paradise Bomb. Every PC in the encounter takes a kill, including the psychic. Armor cannot negate this damage.

For each PC that takes a kill, remove one threat token. Each PC rolls d100 kills — while the psychic inflicts many of those kills, the brass don’t want the 3:16 at large to know about the deployment of psychic Troopers, and redistribute kill credits accordingly. Needless to say, this creates some tension, especially among squads who have to wander the battlefields putting the final bullets into helpless, mindless enemies.

Peace Pills

Psychics must take regular doses of memory blocking drugs, and each is given an emergency supply before the drop. While a single pill simply prevents a Trooper from annihilating his camp site during a bad dream, the whole lot can be taken at once to create a brief and all-pervading sense of clarity and calm. The Trooper forgets everything but the task at hand, allowing a single NFA check per mission to be re-rolled.

Because of their volatile nature, psychics are issued sugar water in place of combat drugs.

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