During the twentieth century (and even before) the existence of mental powers was greatly debated. The term psionics eventually emerged to cover all aspects of mental powers, both inwardly and outwardly manifested. In 2028 the existence of psionic powers was undeniably demonstrated when Israeli astronaut Elazar Ben-David manifested pyrokinetics in the vacuum of space whilst repairing the international space station’s exterior grappling arms. Elazar barely survived the experience and suffered lasting brain damage as a result of the decompression his space suit experienced. The entire incident was broadcast on a live feed by the International Aeronautics Corporation. Upon Elazar’s return to Earth a battery of test were able to coax the talent into a state of conscious remanifestation.
While many countries vied for the rights to choose what happened next with Elazar’s abilities, an international panel opted to give Elazar the chance to live his life unfettered by the national claims over his unusual talents. Tragically Elazar was assassinated two years later in the streets of New York by an extremist organization that rose up in fear of his potential. By that point however, several nations around the globe had discovered an infinitesimally small number of individuals who could, through sheer force of will, perform talents not unlike Elazar Ben-David. An estimated .001% of the population was found to be truly and actually psionically active. No one ever fully proved a reason for the sudden emergence of psionics at that time, but one thing was clearly evident, the era of psionics had begun.
Schools and privately funded organizations were established overnight in an effort to train these individuals for the gain of both private industry and nation. Anti-psionic movements grew in fear and resentment of the talents that not everyone was lucky enough to possess. Eventually drastic legal reform blanketed the world forcing psionic-power registration, outlawing psionic individuals from profiting from their talents and enforcing overly severe punishment for manifesting violent actions with psionic abilities. While they were not entirely second-class citizens, the psionically gifted were definitely targets of unfair persecution.
In 2124 everything changed for humans with psionic talents in a way unexpected to everyone; first contact with the fraal occurred. As a race the fraal are highly psionically sensitive. As much as 20% of the Fraal population is born with the gift to harness psionic talents humans had never dreamed of, and a dizzying 97% are born with the ability to telepathically communicate. Within the first six months of peaceful negotiations between the fraal and humanity, a polite invitation was extended to humanity’s psionic population – all are welcome to Europa to train with the fraal for the purpose or furthering their psionic talents and to escape undue persecution.
Many accepted, causing the first recorded cross-species incidents of violence to occur. The fraal however did not budge in their offer, and made no attempt at retaliation against those who wished them harm. Over the following two decades Earth’s attitude on psionics became more accepting, and many of the harsh laws against psions were repealed or scaled back in severity. Eventually as decades passed into centuries, Earth too became a place for both psionic humans and fraal alike to find refuge.
As both humanity and the fraal set out across the Milky Way psionic abilities unfortunately continued to create schisms in the galaxy. Three hundred fifty years later, and still their are groups who fear and hate psions for their “unnatural” gifts. To this day the Rigunmor Star Consortium requires psions to carry special permits and unconcealed identification with them at all times. Still others came together in celebrations and established beliefs based on the powers of the mind. The Orlamu Theocracy’s population jointly agreed to manipulate their own genetics for a greater propensity with psionic talents. Meanwhile, the Hattire community, who avoid technology because of a Luddite fundamentalism, have been recognized as the most powerful mindknights and psiguards in the galaxy.
Playing a Psionic Character
Psionics are allowed for all biological species. The rules for running a psion are available in the D20 Modern Future Handbook. A list of psionic abilities can be accessed here.