With three new two hundred page books and all existing books revised to Savage Worlds Adventure Edition, surely now we have enough content that former Rifts® players will never need to ask for a custom race or framework again, right? Wrong.
There is always going to be a need to dig into those old Palladium Books and bring something into Savage Worlds. Whether those things should be brought to the light of day is another question entirely and I leave that for each GM to decide. On savagerifts.com, some of our more persistent (insistent?) players still ask for the True Atlantean and the Psi-Slayer. Since Atlantis may be on the horizon soon (I hope), that leaves us with the Psi-Slayer as the last itch to scratch…for now.
Making its appearance in Rifts® World Book 12: Psyscape the Psi-Slayer has always been a story of fearsome flavour with flawed mechanics. The book describes them as naturally predatory psychics trained from an early age by secretive guilds to be deadly assassins and bounty hunters. Slayers are said to be as feared as Mind Melters or Archmages. Their ability to hunt, track, and kill their prey is unparalleled even by the vaunted Sunaj Assassins of Atlantis. Perhaps one of the coolest features of the Psi-Slayer is their Psi-Dagger, a shortened low power Psi-Sword used for killing up close and personal. And getting close for the kill is a necessity as, like Psi-Stalkers, these psychics consume P.P.E. to survive. Sounds awesome right?
Unfortunately, the mechanics of this Racial Character Class (R.C.C.) didn’t always translate. The Psi-Dagger was not powerful enough to penetrate most body armor in the setting and while they possessed vast psychic powers the original powers system couldn’t always keep pace with technology based weapons.
In Savage Worlds, however, the fearsome flavour is all we need to make a respectable translation of this dangerous psionic race.
Let’s start off by saying there is an easy way to do this without any extra work for the GM. Simply take the Psi-Stalker Race combined with the Mind Melter Iconic Framework. Use Hindrances, Edges, and Power Selections to mould an excellent translation of a Psi-Slayer. This approach works well, captures the feel, and has great synergy between the race and the Iconic Framework.
There are a few rough edges: Psi-Slayers didn’t have the psychic sense of Psi-Stalkers, while the Animal Empathy and enmity with the Simvan don’t really fit the original flavour either. Hardly deal breakers for the casual fan. Yet, this approach is unlikely to satisfy the most hard core fans of the original.
The second method is the patented “SavageRifts.com Way” – be super accurate but stay savage (or make things more complicated depending on your perspective). In our approach, we thought the Psi-Slayer should be a psychic race that excels at tracking and has a psi-blade. This approach fits with what we see for the Psi-Ghost in Arcana and Mysticism where a powerful psychic with a unique ability is made into a race rather than just saying, “be a human psychic with the intangibility power”.
For our racial build we deconstructed the Psi-Slayer’s cousin, the Psi-Stalker, and replaced and rebuilt where needed.
Deconstruct the Psi-Stalker
|Count as a Predator||0||A wash. Animals like you, predators don’t.|
|Riding d6||2||Per Savage Worlds|
|Fast||2||Per Savage Worlds|
|Ambidextrous||2||Add an Edge|
|Psychic Sense||2||Add an Edge|
|PPE Vampire||-2||Based on Dependency from Savage Worlds|
|Mutant||-1||Per Tomorrow Legion Player’s Guide|
|Racial Enemy||-1||Per Savage Worlds|
|Restricted path||-1||Per Tomorrow Legion Player’s Guide|
|Net||+3||Race should balance to +2 but this is close enough|
Build the Psi-Slayer
With our breakdown in hand we set out to create a Psi-Slayer. Our goal was to land at the standard +2 points for a Savage Worlds race.
Positive Racial Abilities
Looking at the original text for the Psi-Slayer we wanted to capture being expert trackers so we replaced Riding with Survival. Note that above we valued Animal Empathy at zero as while it grants the benefit of animals liking Psi-Stalkers it also means trouble when dealing with predators. Seems like they balance out. As merciless killers these psychic assassins gained the No Mercy Edge instead of the Fast racial ability. One big difference between the two races is that Psi-Slayers do not have the psychic sense ability; instead they are capable psychics. So, we replaced Psychic Sense with Arcane Background (Psionics) but required smite as one of the starting powers. Requiring a starting power is common in other psychic races (refer to Simvan or Fennodi) in the Tomorrow Legion Player’s Guide, and so we also followed the same rules for taking an Iconic Framework that includes Arcane Background (Psionics). Ambidextrous is very much unique to Psi-Stalkers and we dropped that in favour of starting with the Psi-Blade Edge – adding an extra point to the cost per the race creation rules as it is a Seasoned edge. While Psi-Blade usually requires Master Psionics, there are cases (Cyberknight and Psi-Warrior) where it is granted without that prerequisite. This situation seems to fit the pattern.
Negative Racial Abilities
Like Psi-Stalkers, Slayers are psychic human mutants, so we kept Mutant (Minor) even though it is not clear from the original if there are any telltale physical signs that Psi-Slayers are mutants (Psi-Stalkers stand out because they are albinos, for example). Being a P.P.E. vampire is a key racial trait for the Slayer and we kept it as is and valued it like the Dependency negative trait in Savage Worlds. Restricted Path is a little bit of a gimme since they already have AB Psionics but this does preclude them being Mystics or from taking AB Magic or Miracles at some point so for one point it still works. In Psyscape it is very clear that Psi-Slayers are bad news, anyone who learns what they are is afraid, treats them badly, and otherwise despises them (even the ones who try to be good), therefore we replaced Racial Enemy with Bad Reputation. That felt like a really good fit. Finally, to really capture the predatory instincts of even the most controlled Psi-Slayer – the original write up says “ even good Psi-Slayers must fight the urge to hunt and kill, especially when provoked or a situation screams for vengeance” – we added the Bloodthirsty Hindrance.
|Survival d6||2||Replaces Riding from Psi-Stalker|
|No Mercy||2||Replaces Fast from Psi-Stalker|
|AB Psionics||2||Replaces Psychic Sense from Psi-Stalker|
|Psi-Dagger||3||Replaces Ambidextrous from Psi-Stalker (+1 for a Seasoned edge)|
|Mutant (Minor)||-1||Per Psi-Stalker|
|PPE Vampire||-2||Per Psi-Stalker|
|Restricted Path||-1||Per Psi-Stalker|
|Bad Reputation||-1||Replaces Racial Enemy from Psi-Stalker|
This racial build really looks like a Psi-Slayer. The points are consistent with a Psi-Stalker (9 positive, 7 negative) and not particularly over the top. This leaves lots of room for good synergy with a variety of Iconic Frameworks focused on tracking and subduing, like the Bounty Hunter, Wilderness Scout, or Psi-Slinger, but would also make a terrifying Mind Melter. They don’t seem like a good narrative fit to be Cyberknights or Psi-Warriors, but a Psi-Slayer as one of those Frameworks probably wouldn’t break the game, either.
Naturally predatory psychics trained from an early age by secretive guilds to be deadly assassins and bounty hunters. Slayers are said to be as feared as Mind Melters or Archmages. Their ability to hunt, track, and kill their prey is unparalleled even by the vaunted Sunaj Assassins of Atlantis. Perhaps one of the coolest features of the Psi-Slayer is their Psi-Dagger, a shorted low power Psi-Sword used for killing up close and personal. And getting close for the kill is a necessity as, like Psi-Stalkers, these psychics consume P.P.E. to survive.
- Trained Hunters: These potent psychics are recruited at a young age by secretive Psi-Slayer Guilds to train as killers, assassins, and trackers. They begin play with a d6 in Survival and the No Mercy Edge.
- Natural Psionics: Psi-Slayers begin with Arcane Background (Psionics) beginning with smite (self only) and two powers chosen from the standard psionic list. If a Psi-Slayer chooses a framework providing Arcane Background (Psionics), he starts with smite as one of his starting powers and adds two powers to his starting total.
- Mutant (Minor): Even when their reputation as trained killers is not known these mutants are treated with distrust in human supremacist communities.
- Psi-Dagger: Draining PPE from their victims requires getting up close and personal. Psi-Slayers have the Psi-Blade Edge.
- Psychic Vampires: Per Psi-Stalker see Tomorrow Legion Player’s Guide
- Restricted Paths: Psi-Slayers cannot take any Arcane Background or Iconic Framework using PPE.
- Ruthless Killers: Even the best intentioned Psi-Slayers have trouble controlling their animal instinct to hunt and kill, and that reputation precedes them wherever they go. Reactions start at Unfriendly (see Reactions in Savage Worlds) with anyone who knows the reputation of a Psi-Slayer and Psi-Slayers suffer from the Bloodthirsty Hindrance for no additional benefit.
Overall, we felt pretty good about this approach. It seems true to the original, fits the patterns of other Savage Rifts® races, and balances out nicely. To see if it works in practice we made a few Novice characters using different Iconic Frameworks. They are available for download below.
Does it work? Heck yeah it works and would be a great bad guy too!
Feel free to comment on our Forums with your thoughts or results from using this at the table.
Bonus: Download Stat Blocks for our test builds (just a plain PDF with stat blocks, nothing fancy).