The GROGNARD Files

Table-top RPGs from back in the day and today.

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Looking buff … Cthulhu arrives at Fan Boy in Manchester

My favourite FLGS, host of GROGMEET eve, FanBoy Three has a small collection of vintage RPG stuff for sale in a discreet corner of the store. I often dip in to see what’s on offer, as it’s usually at a reasonable price and often some real treasure can surface. 

Normally, I can curtail my irrational impulses to buy things in a physical ‘bricks and mortar’ shop as I’m browsing with the default setting of “do I really need this” which usually short-curcuits my desire to buy things for the sake of it.

Last month was an exception. I went to Manchester with my good friend Judge Blythy and had a good old drink. After a few pints of Neck Oil we went to visit the vintage corner of FanBoy Three; It was like an analogue version of a Sunday late at night when I hit eBay after the bottle. The normal rules did not apply. I filled my real-life basket with old copies of White Dwarf, a couple of Citadel Companions with their covers missing, a dog-earred copy of Champions and, most interesting of them all PSI World.

There was something compelling about the title. “PSI World” sounds brilliant, doesn’t it?

Blythy kept repeating “are you sure” over and over; but he always does and the Neck Oil was drowning out his Jimothy Cricket advice.

The Armchair Adventurers are not collectors, we are players: if we get it, we play it. Them’s the rules. 

PSI World was released by Fantasy Games Unlimited in 1984, written by Del Carr and Cheron with artwork by Bill Willingham and Matt Wagner. It feels like this was their home game that has been transformed into a commercial publication. The main rule book doesn’t offer much about ‘setting’ focusing instead on the convoluted character creation and the barmy combat. The authors encourage you to create your own ‘near future Earth’ setting where there are people with PSI powers and the ‘norms’ who feel threatened by them.

It’s a shame that they didn’t have more confidence in their own setting which is given more detail in the ‘The PSI World Adventure’ included in the box set. It details the history of the emergence of the PSIS and how they have become persecuted in a stratified society. It’s possible to play characters from different sides. The same setting is used in some of the other supporting material that was published for the game; all currently available for download at drivethru.rpg.

The rules are not crunchy, they’re clunky, (there’s a skill for riding a bicycle for goodness sake) but there are elements in here that I like and with a bit of work, could be entertaining. 

I have an idea that has been insipired by Wild Wild Country, a documentary currently playing on Netflix about the Indian guru Bhagwan Shee Rajneesh (Osho) and his community of followers, that could work in PSI World. 

Maybe it will surface in 2019. Maybe it’s the Neck Oil talking.

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This is all you get for ‘rationale’ and setting in the core book. It suggests that there needs to be some conflict, but it’s up to you to determine what form it takes.

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Although PSI World is very laid-back about the setting, it’s very specific when it comes to the price of Mens’ Slacks

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The craziest Hit Point calculation ever? [(STR+WILL)/2 +END/2] = HPN then HPN x 1d3 = Hit Point Base THEN consult a couple of tables for additional STR, WILL and END modifiers.

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The adventure included in the box set provides the ‘play-test’ setting which is interesting. I like the idea that Player Character ‘norms’ can suddenly develop a PSI skill, mid-adventure, on the roll of a 1 on a D100

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Meet Elton McGuire, an Empath Cop: “Do you feel lucky punk? I’ve got a feeling that you don’t” 

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Norms can get more ‘education’ therefore access to more skills. Still a bit boring though. Decided to give Julie a cool ‘MagJet Pistol’ to compensate.

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Don’t browse drunk people

3 thoughts on “PSI World ScrapBook

  1. Alex Bardy says:

    OMG did this bring back memories – I”ve still got boxed copies of CoC and Dreamlands in the attic, as well as a copy of FASA’s original Dr Who RPG… loved playing Champions (and ironically had a psi-based superhero called Psi-Borg who had a glitchy generator attached to his back — a disadvantage you could take to have stronger powers if I recall)… wow! I think Psi World may have come out at a similar time to Marvel’s New Universe in which Psi Force and various others appeared, and there was also a comic series from Dark Horse called ESPers which appeared at a similar time of memory serves…?

  2. Nick Edwards says:

    I have a copy of Psi World hoovered up in my ‘collecting’ frenzy – it’s a classic of the FGU genre of ‘games that don’t really need to exist – why not just publish as a sourcebook for a superhero game’. Coincidentally I bought a secondhand copy several years ago but only gave it a proper look a few days ago.

    1. Malcolm says:

      ‘Normally, I can curtail my irrational impulses to buy things in a physical ‘bricks and mortar’ shop as I’m browsing with the default setting of “do I really need this” which usually short-circuits my desire to buy things for the sake of it.’

      Good gravy, man, what sort of gamer are you!? Surely the very raison d’etre of men of our vintage is to hose our hard earned pennies away on old rope precisely for the reason that we don’t need it 🙂 If my missus ever gets access to my DriveThruRPG account then divorce papers will be in the post…

      I must confess, one of the tiny ways I can stick it to the likes of A*azon is to always buy something in a games shop – even if it’s just a couple of dice. If they ain’t open, we can’t go in them for a browse and a chat…

      Keep up the good work!

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