Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Five Sides of Space Chi

The Five Chi Elements
Bill Stoddard gave us an entire supplement dealing with Elemental Chi Powers, which tracks pretty closely to my understanding of Daoist elements from my time running/playing Weapons of the Gods and Legends of the Wulin. Having discussed yin and yang in our first post, let us instead focus on the five elements of Daoism.

Unlike Western Elements which stand in contrast to one another (“Fire is the opposite of Water”), Daoist elements flow into one another. Wood promotes Fire (Fire burns wood), Fire promotes Earth (fire burns down to ashes), Earth promotes Metal (Metal can be extracted from Earth), Metal promotes Water (Metal melts down into water) and Water promotes Wood (Water nourishes Wood).

We also have counter-positions, where elements defeat or control other elements. Wood consumes Earth, Fire melts Metal, Earth dams Water, Water extinguishes flame, and Metal cuts Wood. The elements also have Yin and Yang associations: Wood is lesser Yang, Fire greater Yang, Metal lesser Yin, Water greater Yin, and Earth is balanced.

This means that all elements interact with other elements in more than one way. This principle of fives and trying to create balance still exists in China (for example, five spice powder, and how Chinese cuisine tries to balance “Yang” flavors like heat and sour with “Yin” flavors like sweet and savory).


Chi Elements in Star Wars

How do these elements interact with Star Wars? Chinese Elemental Powers implies that different worlds have their own chi. We can also connect those worlds to the five elements without too much trouble:
  • Tattoine, being a desert, is strongly aspected towards Earth.
  • Urban worlds, like Coruscant, or artificial worlds, like the Death Star, are aspected towards Metal.
  • Water worlds, or ice worlds like Hoth, are aspected towards Water.
  • Lush worlds like Dagobah are aspected towards Wood.
  • Lava worlds, like Mustafar, are aspected towards Fire.
Five Elemental Planets
Fascinatingly, you can draw parallels between the flow of elements and the narrative structure of Star Wars. Luke begins on Tattooine, Earth and neither Light nor Dark. He then descends, while wearing white (yang), into the Metal (yin) world of the Death Star to rescue Leia. When we next see him, he's dying on Hoth (Water) (yin), where the Rebels lose to the Empire. Then, he sheds the White for the Grey and goes to Dagobah (Wood) (yang) to train, and then faces his greatest trial on the Fiery world of... Bespin. Alright, the last is a stretch, but given that Cloud City is an industrial city floating atop the clouds of a gas giant (with considerable “red” imagery), and that Fire is associated with Red, Joy (the happiness of meeting Lando) and lighter-than-air things, it kinda works. Incidentally, the next time we see Luke, he's on Tattooine again, in black (yin, or the "black belt" of martial arts), having completed his cycle.

Anakin, broadly speaking, goes through a similar cycle: From the Earth of Tatooine to the Metal of Coruscant to the Water of Naboo to the Wood of Geonosis to the Fire of Mustafar, where he completes his cycle by metaphorically dying (both Anakin and Luke face their final choice for Light or Dark-Side on Fire worlds, suggesting their Trial by Fire).  The next time that Anakin makes a major appearance, it's on a starship over Tatooine as Darth Vader in a New Hope.

Chi Elements in Psi Wars

The above depiction works, but mostly in an abstract fashion. In practice, if you flip through the Elemental Powers, you'll note most of them are highly inappropriate. Jedi don't typically breath flames, or exude metal, or shoot blasts of water at people. Instead, they control lightning and the minds of animals or they short out technology. In short, the day-to-day elements of a Jedi is different than the day-to-day elements of a wuxia warrior.

We can analyze the structure of Chi Elements all day and propose alternates, but I propose the following as simple replacements.


Wood becomes Life and governs primal nature, such as beasts, diseases, trees and other plants and so on.

Fire becomes Energy and governs plasma, heat, lightning and power. It represents stars, storms, thunderbolts and the plasma coursing through ships.

Earth becomes Worlds and governs planetary atmospheres, asteroids, mountains, sands, and gravity: The things found on worlds.

Metal becomes Technology and governs machinery and technique. It represents civilization, urbanization, robots and sophistication.


Water becomes Void and governs darkness, secrets and death. It represents the vast expanses of emptiness between the stars, or the stark desolation after the end of time. It also represents the vanishing of stars into black holes.





We can even leave them in place, but then weird things start to pop out. Energy gives rise to Worlds (I suppose that makes sense: The Sun “gave birth” to the Earth), Worlds give rise to Technology (I suppose technology is built from things hewn out of the Earth), Technology gives rise to Void (I suppose technology leads to Death?), Void gives rise to Life (???) and Life gives rise to Energy (...I guess we carry light in our hearts?)

So we could re-arrange the elements, I spent a few days doing so, and you can honestly justify a lot of configurations. Here's what I came up with, mostly based on actually working the powers out.
Energy gives rise to the Void (Supernovas clear out space). Void gives rise to worlds (Void gives worlds space to form). Worlds give rise to Life (self-explanatory, I think), Life gives rise to Technology (also self-explanatory), and Technology gives rise to Energy (it generates Energy). This also means that Energy controls (burns?) Worlds, that Void controls (destroys) Life, that Worlds control (Ruins) Technology, Technology controls Void (gives one the capacity to bridge that distance), and Life controls (consumes) Energy.

It's not a perfect fit, but it worked out pretty well when designing powers.

Designing New Chi Powers

I know I said I didn't want to design powers, but what I meant was that I didn't want to design a new framework. I don't mind designing new powers within a framework, and Chi Elemental Powers provides that framework.

It does so in more ways than just the Chi Elements and the Cycle through which they flow. It also discusses the consequences of the Chi modifier, the rules behind Extra-Effort, and the effects of a Crippled Power, all of which we can port in.

Furthermore, it provides a structure for how individual Chi powers work. Namely, it breaks them down into Internal and External Powers, similar to our Cinematic Skills, and then directly connects the Elements to Cinematic Skills by associating Elemental Talents with Cinematic Skills. It doesn't allow those talents to add to Cinematic Skills, but for this first draft, I'm going to waive that and allow Elemental Talents to add to associated Cinematic Skills and I'm also going to allow Inner Balance and Forceful Chi to add to Chi Powers, the former to Internal Powers and the latter to External Powers. This creates a hard connection between the Cinematic Skills of yesterday's post, and the Chi Elements of today's post.

Finally, it discusses how Internal and External powers work. I'm going to modify them a little to more closely fit our expectations of Jedi powers:

Internal Powers
  • Adapt to the environment
  • Self-Empower/Take on Qualities
  • Attack/Control/Neutralize another element
  • Create/Nourish another Element
  • Senses its element
External Powers
  • Command Own Element
  • Attack with Element
  • Storm
Given these, what might our Chi Powers look like?

Psi Wars Elemental Powers

Below is a modest selection of powers meant to give one an idea of what a more fully fleshed out version of this might look like.

Void

This void controls light and creates worlds (but is defeated by worlds in return). It defeats life and is defeated by Tech.

Associated Cinematic Skills: Flying Leap, Invisibility Art, Blind Fighting

Internal Powers

Lighten Body: Super Jump 1 (Chi -10%, Lighter-than-Air -10%) [8]

Void Walker: Does Not Breath (Chi -10%, Accessibility: while conscious -5%, link +10%), Vacuum Support (Chi -10%, Link+10%) + Flight (Space Flight Only -25%, Chi -10%) [50] for total of [50]

Dark-Sight: Dark Vision (Chi -10%) [23]

External Powers

Empty Lungs: Innate Attack (1 fatigue) [3] (+100% malediction, Hazard (Suffocating) +0%, No Signature +20%, Cyclic (Resistable, Persuade the Jedi to relent or kill him, 20 cycles, once per second) +1000%, Resistable (HT-5) -5%, Chi -10%, costs 1 fatigue -5%) [36]

Veil of Darkness: Obscure (Vision) 5 (Chi -10%, Extended +20%) [13]

Singularity: Crushing Attack 1d+2 (Chi -10%, Elemental Storm +190%, No Wounding -50%, Double Knock-Back +20%) [20]

World

World empowers Life (and is drawn on by life). It is empowered by Void, defeats Tech and is defeated by Energy.

Associated Cinematic Skills: Immovable Stance, Sensitivity, Breaking Blow

Internal Powers

Mass Perception: Detect Matter (Chi -10%) [27]

Mountain Stance: Resist Knockback +3 (Common; Chi -10%, Accessibly, only while Conscious -5%) [4]

Sense Tremors: Vibration Sense (Universal +50%, Accessibly, only while conscious -5%, Chi -10%) [14]

External Powers

Earthquake (Shake the Ground, TCEP 28) [54]

Summoning Fog:  (TCEP 33) [17]

Storm of Rain:  (TCEP 33)[21 points]

Ruin: Innate Attack Corrosion 1d (Machines only -20%, Malediction +100%, Chi -10%, costs 1 fatigue -5%, Resistable HT-2 -15%) [19]

Life

This represents animals, disease, plants, etc. It is defeated by Technology and draws sustenance from/defeats Worlds. It defeats Energy. It nourishes Tech.

Associated Cinematic Skills: Body Control, Hypnotism, Breath Control

Internal Powers

Absorb Energy: DR 2 (Energy Only -20%, Absorb, heals FP +40%, Chi -10%, Accessibly, only while conscious -5%) [10]

Draw Life: Regeneration (Regular; Chi -10%, Accessibility, only while conscious -5%, only in natural environment -20%) [17]

Forest-Walking: (TCEP page 22) [14]

Sense Life: Sense Life (Chi -10%) [27]

External Powers

Command Beasts: Mind Control (Animals only -20%, Chi -10%, Suggestion Only -40%) [15]

Adaption of Form: Injury Tolerance (Environmental Adaption; Terrestrial Only -50%, Chi -10%, Accessibility, only while conscious -5%) [35]

Give Life: Healing (Chi -10%, Contact-Agent -30%, Immediate Preparation Required, 1 Minute -40%, Xenohealing, Familiar Galactic Life +60%) [24]

Technology

This Technology powers Energy and defeats void and Life and is defeated by Earth

Associated Cinematic Skills: Precognitive Parry, Mental Strength, Autohypnosis

Internal Powers

Tireless: Idefatigable 10 (Chi -10%, Accessibility, only while conscious -5%, Temporary Disadvantage, Electrical -20%) [20]

Flesh of Iron: Immunity to Metabolic Hazards (Chi -10%, Accessibility, only while conscious -5%, Temporary Disadvantage, Electrical -20%) [20]

Sense Technology: Detect (Technology) (Chi -10%) [27]

Digital Eyes: Scanning Sense (Active Radar) (Chi -10%) [18]

External Powers

Control Technology: Mind Control (Cybernetic Only +0%, Chi -10%, Puppet -40%) [25]

Digital Ghost: Invisibility (Machines Only -50%, Chi -10%, Accessibility, only while conscious -5%) [14]

Sanitize: 1d toxic (Chi -10%, Elemental Storm +190%, Resistible (HT+1) -30%) [10]
Generate Energy (perk?)

Energy

This energy defeats technology and also draws power from it, and is controlled by Void and is defeated by Life (consumed, I suppose)

Associated Cinematic Skills: Power-Blow, Meditation, Dreaming

Internal Powers

Bright Vision: Protected Vision (Chi -10%, Accessibility, only while conscious -5% link +10%) [4.5], Hyperspectral Vision (Chi -10%, Accessibility, only while conscious -5%, link +10%) [27]

Light-Speed Vision: Enhanced Time Sense (Chi -10%, Costs 1 fatigue per second -10%) [36]

Detect Energy: Detect (Energy) (Chi -10%) [27]

External Powers

Lightning Surge: Burning 1d (Surge, Arcing +100%, Side-Effect, Stunning +50%, Chi -10%, Costs 1 fatigue -5%, increased range x2 (½ only) +5%) [12]

Lightning Storm: BurningAttack 1d (Chi -10%, Elemental Storm +190%, Surge, Arcing +100%, Side-Effect, Stunning +50%, Elemental, Requires power/energy or a storm -10%) [21]

Draw Power: Leech (Mechanical) 1 (Chi -10%, Hazard, Starvation +40%, Heals FP only +0%) [33]

Building Chi-Powered Space Knights

This process becomes a bit more complicated. We have the External vs Internal dimension, both with skills and with Chi powers, and we have to consider the elements we're using, thus things can get very dynamic. A Void Space Knight might look something like this:

The Shadow Knight

Void Talent +1 [5]
Forceful Chi +1 [15]
Lighten Body [8]
Veil of Shadows [13]
Invisibility Art (H) IQ* [1]-12
Blind Fighting (VH) Per+2* [8]-14

This gives us a Space Knight who makes an excellent assassin, able to vanish or, failing that, draw starry-shadows down around her, leap high into the air and fight very well in darkness. She can further expand into both External Chi skills (like Power-Blow) and Void Powers (like Empty Lungs, which is almost ideal for her).

We can also make Space Knights with a focus on multiple Chi Elements, especially ones that work well together:

The Weather Knight

World Talent +1 [5]
Energy Talent +1 [5]
Storm of Rain [21]
Storm of Lightning [21]
Mountain Stance [4]
Meditation (H) Will+1 [4]-13

This gives us a quietly contemplative character who is unmoved, and once a day can create a massive storm of rain or a massive storm of electricity, or both given that the storm of rain facilitates the storm of lightning. Not exactly the best representation of the relationship, but good enough.
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