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Breaking free of Mind Control (pulp vs psi)

Posted: Sun Jul 21, 2019 11:01 am
by pkitty
I'm writing a summary of the differences between the pulp power and the psionic power of Mind Control (for my players). And for the most part, the psi power is clearly better, which makes sense as it has much higher prereqs that make it practically off-limits to starting characters.

But there's one difference that seems to be so huge that it overwhelms every advantage that the psi power has (especially its superior duration), so I wanted to make sure I'm getting it right.

Breaking Free

Pulp Power: Once controlled, the target cannot attempt to break free unless you order him to do something against his nature. If you do, he rolls, possibly at a bonus.

Psi Power: Once controlled, the target may spend every single turn (once every 10 seconds out of combat) attempting to break free until he succeeds.

Am I reading that right?

Let's say I get an Outstanding success to control a Kanawa guard, so I have him for the whole scene either way, and I order him to walk back into the building, grab the keycard I need, and walk back out.

Pulp Power: He gets no roll to break free the entire time -- or maybe a single roll when he grabs the keycard if he actually cares about his job.

Psi Power: He rolls every 10 seconds to break free. Yes, he's at -2 (thanks to the Outstanding success), but eventually I'm going to get unlucky and the odds of him making it back out are slim to none.

Re: Breaking free of Mind Control (pulp vs psi)

Posted: Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:07 pm
by vaminion
Strictly reading the two, Nile MC also isn't subject to ending via Concentration checks or the use of the Clarity power.

Re: Breaking free of Mind Control (pulp vs psi)

Posted: Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:22 pm
by utsukushi
They work very differently. The Nile version is much subtler -- you're strongly encouraged to find things for your puppets to do that won't trigger resistance rolls. Note that the resistance check on that is not an opposed test - it's just a test. That means the DN is only 10 (or, in effect, 12, if you have the Power Enhancement), and there's nothing more you can do about that. And in almost all cases where they will get a resistance test, they will probably get a bonus to it. So even a base Mind 8 mook with no Willpower will throw that off in a round or two if you have them shooting their allies. After you went to all the trouble to secure your Outstanding Success, that's a big risk.

But, yes, they will gladly go pick up a key for you, or pass on a cryptic message, or whatever, and that's what it's for. As I read the Nile power, I'm not sure it's necessarily even clear to the victim that they've been controlled, especially if you use the Charisma Enhancement.

The Telepath's control is much more physical and much more brutal. You lock them in the back of their head and take over their body. They'll be struggling every round, but it doesn't matter if they like what you're telling them to do or not. They'll shoot their own foot if you make them. And the target for them to resist - which they don't get to do on your turn so again, if you have them, they'll do anything you make them do - is your Telepathy, which we already know is at least a 16, and, well, anything that adds to your Telepathy (ie, skill points or, ultimately, Charisma, though if you're playing a telepath that's probably already 13) will make it even harder. Good place for Mastery, if you ask me.

(Also note that the Telepath can keep trying if they fail to take over the first time. The Pulp version only gets one shot - another reason you're encouraged to really go for it when you do use it, likely spending a Possibility, and won't want to waste that by giving them an immediate chance to resist.)

Re: Breaking free of Mind Control (pulp vs psi)

Posted: Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:28 pm
by pkitty
vaminion wrote:Strictly reading the two, Nile MC also isn't subject to ending via Concentration checks or the use of the Clarity power.

There are several differences between the two. But this thread isn't for listing those differences. All I'm asking here is whether I have the rules right as they regard the victim breaking free of control on his own.

Re: Breaking free of Mind Control (pulp vs psi)

Posted: Mon Jul 22, 2019 10:50 am
by TorgHacker
pkitty wrote:
vaminion wrote:Strictly reading the two, Nile MC also isn't subject to ending via Concentration checks or the use of the Clarity power.

There are several differences between the two. But this thread isn't for listing those differences. All I'm asking here is whether I have the rules right as they regard the victim breaking free of control on his own.


Oh, I thought you were debating what was more powerful than the other, which was why I was staying silent.

Yes, you have the rules of breaking free correct.

Re: Breaking free of Mind Control (pulp vs psi)

Posted: Tue Jul 23, 2019 7:23 am
by Wotan
pkitty wrote:I'm writing a summary of the differences between the pulp power and the psionic power of Mind Control (for my players). And for the most part, the psi power is clearly better, which makes sense as it has much higher prereqs that make it practically off-limits to starting characters.

But there's one difference that seems to be so huge that it overwhelms every advantage that the psi power has (especially its superior duration), so I wanted to make sure I'm getting it right.

Breaking Free

Pulp Power: Once controlled, the target cannot attempt to break free unless you order him to do something against his nature. If you do, he rolls, possibly at a bonus.

Psi Power: Once controlled, the target may spend every single turn (once every 10 seconds out of combat) attempting to break free until he succeeds.

Am I reading that right?

Let's say I get an Outstanding success to control a Kanawa guard, so I have him for the whole scene either way, and I order him to walk back into the building, grab the keycard I need, and walk back out.

Pulp Power: He gets no roll to break free the entire time -- or maybe a single roll when he grabs the keycard if he actually cares about his job.

Psi Power: He rolls every 10 seconds to break free. Yes, he's at -2 (thanks to the Outstanding success), but eventually I'm going to get unlucky and the odds of him making it back out are slim to none.

With the Psi power that Kanawa guard is probably looking at needing a dice total in the region of at least 31+ to break free. So, yeah, they'll break free eventually but you've probably got a few minutes, of having them as your own personal meat puppet, beforehand.
Another factor relevant to comparative balance is the cost, the Pulp power is a full Perk, maybe several. The Psi power can be picked up for a third of a Perk.

Generally, if you're looking to lock someone down for a short period (e.g. a combat) the Psi power is far more effective IMHO. The Pulp power is subtler, as Utsukushi said. I like that the two versions of essentially the same power have very different (realm appropriate) feels reflected through their mechanics. *shrug*
/tuppence

Re: Breaking free of Mind Control (pulp vs psi)

Posted: Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:33 am
by pkitty
Thanks Deanna et al, both for the answer and for ideas on other differences between the two. Since the thread topic got stretched a bit, I'll just go ahead and share my summary. If anyone thinks it's off, let me know.

Pulp Power                                    Psionic Power
Think "supernaturally persuasive" Think "mental domination"
Range 10m Range 50m
Uses willpower, at -4 if hostile Uses telepathy
Duration 10s, 1m, or scene Duration scene
Roll to break free if tasked against Roll to break free as an action*, possibly at a penalty,
- their nature, possibly at a bonus - and can be ended early via clarity power

Note: Though the reason why differs, in practice both are contradictions outside of their cosm.

* In combat, this is once per turn. Out of combat, the GM decides how often these rolls take place.

Re: Breaking free of Mind Control (pulp vs psi)

Posted: Tue Jul 23, 2019 10:07 am
by vaminion
pkitty wrote:
Pulp Power                                    Psionic Power
Think "supernaturally persuasive" Think "mental domination"
Costs a Perk Costs 1/3 of a Perk but requires telepathy-16
Range 10m Range 50m
Uses willpower, at -4 if hostile Uses telepathy
Duration 10s, 1m, or scene Duration scene
Roll to break free if tasked against Roll to break free each turn, possibly at a penalty,
- their nature, possibly at a bonus - and can be ended early via clarity power

Note 1: Though the reason why differs, in practice both are contradictions outside of their cosm.
Note 2: For the psi power, the GM will rule on what "each turn" means out of combat.


I don't think saying Psi-MC is 1/3 of a perk vs. Pulp being 1 is entirely fair. You need 11 charisma+5 adds in Telepathy to hit the skill requirement for Psi-MC. That's non-trivial. Pulp is a full perk, but it uses Willpower as the attack roll. Willpower is also a defense against all kinds of nastiness including a ton of psionic powers. I think the better comparison is that Psi comes as-is, while Pulp can be modified via enhancements and drawbacks.

Both of these points are assuming the Pulp MC user has rolled at least a Good success.
  • Psi requires concentration. Pulp does not. So LoS+Concentration rules can dispel Psi MC but not Pulp.
  • Psi requires the controller to use their actions to control the target. Pulp does not.

Re: Breaking free of Mind Control (pulp vs psi)

Posted: Tue Jul 23, 2019 10:14 am
by Greymarch2000
It's only 1/3 of a perk if you take it in your initial allotment, after that it's a full perk.

Re: Breaking free of Mind Control (pulp vs psi)

Posted: Tue Jul 23, 2019 3:02 pm
by Blightcrawler
pkitty wrote:Note 1: Though the reason why differs, in practice both are contradictions outside of their cosm.
Note 2: For the psi power, the GM will rule on what "each turn" means out of combat.[/pre]


Note 2: Is not really correct? Turns last 10 seconds, and the description makes clear this holds out of combat. That's not a GM call. Maybe you meant it's up to the GM to track and resolve that out of combat, since out of combat is pretty tedious to keep track of time in 10 second chunks without any other tension. Although, arguably, having a mind controlled enemy is still a tense situation.

Personally, if the victim is an unimportant nameless combatant, I'd probably ignore the resistance rolls unless the psi is doing something tricky or complex, and consider them effectively defeated.

For times where we want to track it, like making the victim take a long walk off a short pier, no GM ruling what "'each turn' means" is required. Movement establishes how far they get every turn (10 seconds). Resistance establishes whether or not the victim shakes off control as they progress towards the end of the pier. We have a couple of entire chapters on what can get done in a turn. The GM just makes normal calls, like if there's a pier nearby, or other similar cases, such as if going back into the building breaks line-of-sight and concentration hold.