Fry their brains!

Okay, so my badass new BE game features three, count them three (3) (tres!) Psychologists. Two are PCFoNs: the planet’s grand Inquisitor, and the Cotar Fomas (former Circle of 10,000, codebreaker, and now a secret heretic within the Mundus Humanitas). One is a GMFoN: an Anvil Lady (also former Circle of 10,000, now just a bitch).

Given this staggering amount of power floating around, it’s got me thinking about the limits and uses of Psychology in the game. I’ve got questions.

  • What’s the timing to Psychology tests? I know they happen “instantly” and will pre-empt a Firefight!, but what about multiple Psychology tests? Let’s say three guys jump the Inquisitor – will he have time to engage in three DoWs, force connections on all of them, and then lock 'em? That’s more conflicts than the humans have in the first place, obviously, so what’s a poor Inquisitor to do, should he be jumped?

  • How, precisely, does one’s brains get fried via Psychology? There’s no direct-damage effect. You can Lock or Hinder someone but they need a connection die with you. You can force them into a PsiDoW and (re)write a Belief/Instinct/CT as your objective. Are there any other effects I’m overlooking?

  • When you’re using Psychology to read them (hidden mood, character trait, past lifepath, etc,) I assume this is intended to bridge the player knowledge/character knowledge gap, yes? Because my understanding is that players know everything about other players but characters know only what the characters have found out so far.

  • Are there any restrictions, beyond the social contract of not being a dick, to the Beliefs/Instincts one may be given as a result of losing a PsiDoW? Because being handed a Belief of “I must kill my brother” and then just saying “meh, rewrite that” at the end of a maneuver kind of undermines the power of Psychology.

I think that’s about it for now.


About just ditching Beliefs you get from psychology.

I’m fairly sure the rules mention that you can’t shake a Belief simply to avoid the way it will come into play, and the GM can delay such attempts at rewriting. Basically, if you’re rewriting it because it is boring or no longer relevant to the game, or both, that’s kosher.

Which, I think gives the rules for imposing Beliefs. They’ve got to be interesting and relevant, otherwise it is totally legit to ditch them ASAP.

So, “I must kill my brother” is crap, but, “My brother is an unwitting pawn of the Valyen, he must be stopped at all costs” is a lot cooler and more plausible for a psychologist to drop on someone. Now there’s going to be all sorts of fucked up shit, with the mind-raped dude interpreting all sorts of stuff as signs of his brother’s treachery, messing with his brother’s plans, and eventually getting into a deadly conflict with his brother.

For extra fun, after you drop that little bomb in someone’s brain you arrange for the brother to vanish into an unobservable area for a little while and come back with no good explanation of where he went (or too good an explanation…).


Number thy questions

As I typed them I think I more-or-less answered my own questions. I went back and tried to number them but in my self-ruminative way I didn’t see any specific WTF?s left to answer.

Okay…yes, yes I have a real question:

  1. On the timing of Psychological attacks, I understand you can pre-empt a Firefight! if you have an Instinct to that effect. How many times can a Psychologist pre-empt with a brain-frying prior to a Firefight!? Two, assuming he uses up all his side’s conflicts for the maneuver? Once for everyone in the scene? Just once, before the guns start blazing?




Hey, sorry.

Let’s see. Considering that second conflicts are optional, we only allow one shot at a conflict to preempt a conflict. Both sides should get their conflicts before you move into the optional conflicts.


Thank you!

It looks like the only way to take down the Inquisitor is with a gang. Excellent.


I don’t know, there are ways around it, and if you constantly wait for them to act against you so that you will be able to pre-emp them will get you in trouble.

I think after doing that once or twice, some one will come up with the Instinct:

When the Bright Mark flares, shoot the bastard.

So they come to enter a conflict, you engage a Psy Duel, and then they pre-emp with a Corner … and Stab in the Face action.

Yeah…that conversation has already come up. The psychic duel will always pre-empt the firefight. The only question I had was, how many times can you pull that off?

A cunning psychologist will of course rewrite the main character’s Belief(s) into something like “Protect the Psychologist at all costs!” Then it’s on.


Target the Sergeant, and re-write a belief to something like “The Forged/Anvil Lord/Captain/Me dear old Granny is in danger, I must take my squad and save her!”

Then he hauls his squad off and you’re safe.

So how it actually played out is, the Psychologist targeted the 2iC and handily won a “My Anvil Lord (the GMFON) must be removed from power by any means necessary.” We couldn’t piece together how to divvy up the fight into “even” sides via a mini-FF so I had the GMFON put a Lock on her old 2iC at the start of the FF, then try and do her own re-engineering of his Beliefs in a future scene. She had to re-Lock him, but failed to do so, so I had him pull a gun on her. She blew him away on the spot, costing me a VERY valuable 2iC (she’s badly castrated without his help dice in FFs).

I think my Psychologist players are feeling like they can trust their psi-attacks will actually get results, rather than all of us being dicks to each other with, “Meh, I’m not going to bother with that Belief right now…maybe later.”