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Psi World

Entry updated 3 April 2015. Tagged: Game.

Role Playing Game (1984). Fantasy Games Unlimited. Designed by Delbert Carr, Cheron.

Psi World is characteristic of many early RPGs in its brevity and emphasis on rules over setting. The basic scenario is the same as that seen in many sf novels dealing with Espers. On a planet that is, or is similar to, near future Earth part of the population is evolving into a separate species with Psionic powers, while the remaining "normals" have come to hate and fear their potential successors as a Pariah Elite. Psi World suggests that Gamemasters create their own milieu based on this concept, in which players adopt the roles of either oppressed Espers fighting a totalitarian government or "Psi Police" struggling to defend humanity against Psionic terrorists. The somewhat nuanced sample world included with the game offers both options on an alternate version of Earth where many of the first Psionically talented individuals to appear used their powers for crime or to gain political power, leading to the repression of all Espers; the flavour resembles a darker draft of Anne McCaffrey's Pegasus sequence. Interestingly, latent Psi Powers can manifest under stress in this milieu, meaning that "normal" human characters might find themselves unexpectedly switching sides. The game mechanics are uncomplicated and similar in spirit to those of many contemporary Role Playing Games, such as the early editions of Gamma World (1978). A wide range of Psi Powers are detailed, including such exotica as an ability which makes it impossible for strangers to remember that the character exists (see Amnesia; Invisibility). Psi World remains one of the few Games to deal with the classic sf trope of war between normal humanity and Psionically gifted homo superior; examples in other forms include many of the works of A E van Vogt and Theodore Sturgeon and, more recently, the television series Babylon 5 (1993-1998). [NT]

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