Tag Archive | psionics

Gods of Terra Primer | The Assumptions of Psionics

Vanakkam. Here, I give the basic ideas that go into the use of supernormal mental powers, or psionics, for the setting. Psionics are powers of the brain, and are utterly physicalistic in how they operate, having nothing to do with anything spiritual or nonmaterial in nature. There is no such thing here as astral or spiritual travel abilities, as the soul as a nonphysical entity does not exist in this setting. The mind here is not some homunculus loosely connected to the brain operating it like a puppet, but rather a thing that the brain does in its normal operation. Minds are an emergent property of the brain, not something separable from it. But psionics are still powerful, and those who use them are capable of demonstrable feats that any stage conjuror or performing mentalist in the real world would be hard-pressed to duplicate. Psionics here are on the level of comic book and pulp SF super-powers. This will offend alleged psychics, mediums, and intuitives in the real world, and their supporters, but think X-Men, or better still, E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensmen, not the late Sylvia Browne or the extant John Edward. Gods of Terra psis don’t mess around with mere tricks or stage illusions, and that’s because they don’t need to. 

So, here are the basic principles governing the functioning of such powers and abilities:

  • There is no such thing as a uniquely psionic energy or force-carrying wave-particle generated by the mind for psionic effects. Psionic abilities employ only the fundamental forces of real-world modern physics: the electroweak force, the strong force, and gravity. Psionics may be partly understood from the standpoint of a more mature, future theory of quantum gravity, possibly descended from current Loop Quantum Gravity or M-Theory. There is an element of psionics that is still poorly understood in the setting, and that is its ability to bend natural laws and physical constants locally, using portions of certain physical laws to seemingly violate major portions of other laws. It may be the emerging and still young discipline of Axiomatic physics that leads to a better understanding of how hypershards, and the brains of Stage Three wavetouched, achieve this.
  • Psionic potential is software in the brains of psis that needs additional hardware to power and operate effects. That hardware is usually an active hypershard, or the central prefrontal lobes of Stage Three wavetouched. The brain provides the instructions, the hardware provides the energy source and the means to produce the effect. The signal strength possible for unaugmented human brainwaves is far too weak, and attenuates far too quickly from brain, skull, and flesh to be of use.
  • Psionics obeys conservation of energy and momentum. It needs a power source that can tap, generate, and transmit greater amounts of energy than the ordinary human brain alone can possibly generate and emit at range. While there appears to be some bending of physical laws by psionicists in the use of their powers, fundamental conservation laws cannot be violated or overturned, even locally or temporarily.
  • Psionic effects are non-local, using shortcuts through hyperspace, with range from the body for that nonlocality limited by the strength of the psionicist. Weaker psis generate effects nearer to the body, stronger psis further away. The strongest psis’ nonlocality can ignore physical barriers, except psionic screens and Kurtz-Dunar fields, which can block them. Psionic effects do not radiate through and out of the brain, through skull and flesh or other body tissues, to produce effects in the world. All psi-effects are generated at a focal point in a hypershard or specialized neuronal tissue in Stage Three wavetouched, and appear at the target location without travelling across the intervening space. This allows some stronger psis to generate effects using nuclear forces, despite the rapid decay rates and extreme range-limits of the force-carrying particles involved, by cutting the actual space crossed to less than the diameter of a proton. Weaker psis often generate effects microscopically close to the skin, and must touch the target to affect it.
  • Psionics obeys Special Relativity in the speed of transmission of energy and information from point to point in conventional spacetime, limited primarily by the level of hyperspace accessible by the psionicist. Higher levels of hyperspace, more difficult to access, give more rapid relative transmission time. Such transfer of energy/information is never instantaneous for macroscopic objects, as there is always a lag time from sender to target, or from origin to destination for physical teleports. Teleportation here does not rely on quantum-level information, as it is not a mass-transference of particles in which the exact position and quantum state of each must be known. I’m talking subjectively rapid travel through warps in spacetime, closer to stargates, tesseracts, or wormholes than Star Trek transporters. No “Heisenberg compensators” need apply. Relativistic time-dilation occurs with teleportation over interstellar distances. 

With these five principles in mind, we can then take a look at the powers themselves and how they operate in greater detail. Next time, we examine the power-level classifications of psionicists according to military and law-enforcement organizations in the setting, while after that we’ll do a deep dive into the specifics of the powers themselves and their sub-abilities.

I’ll see you then!

Tf. Tk. Tts.


Gods of Terra Primer | Basic Assumptions

Vanakkam. Gods of Terra is science fiction, more akin to space opera than hard SF, and includes a few elements borrowed from the super-heroics of comic books as well as the nameless horrors of weird tale fiction. There are some elements that seem supernatural, like beings such as the Nine Who are One, and I’ll distinguish that from rubber science paranormal elements like psionic powers and abilities.

  • Major assumption: Conventional and cutting edge real-world physics and biology generally apply to but do not dictate the possibilities of the setting. There is no supernatural world as anything existing outside, apart from, or above the natural world, beyond simply more nature to be found “out there” beyond the boundaries of the observable universe.

There are a couple of plot devices that make use of this: namely the Kurtz-Dunar effect, and the bizarre science of Axiomatic physics, which studies the meta-laws underlying all of the physical laws of the universe, both known and currently unknown, the “whys” as well as the “hows” of the rules of reality.  

Psionics is a biological, brain-based means of exploiting Axiomatic tweaks in local physical laws, altering, bending them, yet without violating or suspending them outright.  It is possible to exploit such abilities by chemical means, like psi-drugs, as well as mental practices and techniques.

Psionics is generally limited to certain effects, primarily in that the mind is what the brain does. As a family of non-dualistic capacities, there are no astral travel abilities, nor anything involving spiritual or extra-physical travel. There are beings that might appear to be made of stabilized energy, or seemingly incorporeal, but they are still purely physical as physicists understand the term, even if not tangible.  

Another major exception is the existence of hyperdimensional beings, those physical entities whose existence extends into higher dimensions of space-time, as suggested in certain versions of superstring theory or concepts of possible multiverses involving many dimensions orthogonal to each other. Such beings can seem to those existing only in conventional four-dimensional space-time to be akin to gods. Gods of Terra postulates that our four-dimensional universe is embedded in a vast multiverse of eleven space-time dimensions and infinite universes. 

  • Major assumption: Supernormal powers exist, and can be quite formidable, but have their limits. It is possible to weaponize humans and other beings to possess the powers of demigods, and some have inborn powers.

But even superhumans have the limits of mortal beings in their biological needs and the fact that anything, and I mean anything, can be killed, even hyperdimensional beings and so-called space-gods.  

I limit supernormal abilities to the following: 

  1. Biological psionics (Bio-Psi): this includes such powers as teleportation, telepathy, biokinesis, quantakinesis, psychokinesis, and clairsapience
  2. Hypershards (Techno-Psi) (self-replicating alien relics that can make stronger or more varied use of Axiomatic physics than Bio-Psi)
  3. Conventional technology: This includes robotics, cybernetic implants, nanotech, femto-tech, genetic engineering, and biotech organ grafts, and may involve some overlap between any of these. It is possible to use nanotech or femto-tech to alter a being biologically, or to build bionic implants or organ grafts into the body that will not be rejected by the body or require immunosuppressant drugs.
  • Major assumption: Humanity in all its forms is special.

Humanity is the main thread binding everything together, and the driving force behind most of what goes on in the Local Galaxy of it and its neighbors. Though not individually powerful, or even the most advanced species, humans are many, and spread across the stars, virtually extinction-proof by any one event save something like the death of the universe itself. Humans are nearly ubiquitous.

Humans, with the drive to explore and the curiosity to question, drive the politics and economies of the Local Galaxy. Humans in this setting are, at least in this part of the universe, perhaps the greatest force for both good and evil, for both justice and injustice, for both astonishing kindness and terrible cruelty.  

These humans of the future are not us, not exactly, but have more of our strengths and fewer of the weaknesses of present-day humans. Humanity by this time, even without utopian aspirations, has grown up. Humanity exists in many species and hails from equally many adopted homeworlds. Humans are the driving force for change in the universe, anticipated even billions of years before multicellular life evolved on Terra, the home of the Tellusine, our own far future descendants. 

  • Minor assumption: aliens and alien worlds must make logical, physical, cultural, and biological sense, or at least must be given a nod to these.

Alien species exist, and simply put, biological evolution on physically possible worlds in a universe dominated by natural laws applies. Alien species are what they are, and evolve as they do, on worlds that they are uniquely adapted to survive and propagate on.  

While not holding to any naive hyper-adaptationist view of evolution, any biological, psychological, cultural, and chemical makeup of an alien must at least be plausible on first face if not strictly realistic, and aliens, unless given good reasons otherwise, must be the products of their worlds in both their world’s chemical composition and environments.  

Gods of Terra got its start as a role-playing universe, so some sensibility in the creatures within it was necessary for use in any reasonably well-designed set of tabletop RPG rules, at least to make the numbers and game-mechanics mesh with some play-balance. 

  • Minor assumption: Time-travel is possible, but generally limited by predestination paradoxes. Not recommended for most RPG use.

This is a minor assumption because it’s so rare and limited in its role in the setting. It requires superscience technology, usually Relic-level artifacts like one of the original four Prime hypershards, which I’ll post on later in this series. It’s also a minor assumption because it’s mostly useful in the context of written fiction where compatibilist notions of free will square well with a deterministic universe and don’t conflict with the writer’s narrative.  

Time travel here uses the block-universe model of General Relativity, in which all of space-time, past, present, and future, and all spatial points of the universe from the Big Bang to the ultimate end of the universe exist simultaneously, with the flow of time from past to future being mainly an illusion perceived by three-dimensional entities embedded within space-time.   

All of it is predestined, with the past and future being fixed, with journeys to the past and future, and any events resulting being already embedded within the fabric of history. Its implied set history makes inconsistency paradoxes impossible, thus preserving the past and future. 

The only possible exception to this is something I’ll write more on at some point in this series, the Paradox engine, an alien relic that can alter the logical structure of reality, scramble the rules of cause and effect, and rewrite the fabric of history. 

So it’s not so useful in the context of a role-playing game where events unforeseen by the participants and game master are not only possible but typical. For role-playing purposes, I recommend disallowing time travel as an element of the setting altogether.  

These are the setting’s fundamental assumptions. In future installments, I’ll write on the technologies of Gods of Terra, the species, particular worlds, empires, and many other aspects of the setting. Next up, I’ll write on the prerequisites of any starfaring civilization, the minimal technology needed by any species to get out into the Local Galaxy and make its mark.

I’ll see you then!

And in abbreviated Soruggon…

…Tf. Tk. Tts.