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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Savage World of Athas part 3: Wild Talents

Now, the final step to complete the conversion: Dark Sun's rather unique take on standard magic systems. Before we get to that though let's talk about wild talents. The original setting allowed you to get just about any psionic ability if you were lucky but later versions, due to very valid balance concerns, limit wild talents to minor 0-level effects. Trying to find a happy balance between the original, game-breaking insanity and the bland, minor talents that replaced it I've come up with the following ideas. 

The first thing you've got to do is decide how you want to distribute wild talents among players. Essentially there are three ways to do it.

First, in the spirit of the old school, there's good old random chance. Each character rolls a d20 to determine exactly what their wild talent is. Characters with AB (Psionics) should not roll, instead they receive an additional Power known when they take the AB Edge. Likewise if a character with a Wild Talent takes the Edge then they lose their Talent but start with an additional Power.

1: No Talent: You have no psionic ability. However you do receive the Psionic Resistance Edge for free.
2-3: Psychokinetic Talent
4-5: Pyrokinetic Talent
6-7: Biofeedback Talent
8-9: Healing Talent
10-11: Mindscream Talent
12-13: Psychocognition Talent
14-15: Telepathic Talent
16-17: Psychoportive Talent
18: Exceptional Talent: Roll again, you have a +2 bonus to Spirit rolls to activate your talent. 
19: Broad Talent: Roll twice, you have two talents but suffer a -2 penalty to Spirit rolls to activate the talent.
20: Mad With Power!: Roll three times, you have three talents but every time you activate a talent roll on the Fear table.

The second option is to give everyone a single Wild Talent of their choice (only for results from 2-17).

Finally, the more sane option is to make a Background Edge: Wild Talent (no prerequisites) which grants either a Talent of the player's choice or a roll on the table.

So, how do wild talents work? Essentially when you want to activate a Wild Talent you spend a Benny and make a Spirit roll. A normal failure results in no effect. the results of snake eyes, a success or a raise are detailed below. You can always choose to take the results of a lesser success if it is preferred. If the roll is failed then you can keep the Benny (this doesn't count if you spend another benny to reroll and suceed, and if you reroll and fail then you don't get back the extra benny spent).

Psychokinetic Talent:
  • Snake Eyes: Small objects are ripped up and hurled about wildly and randomly. You and everyone within 2" takes 1d6 damage. 
  • Success: You may hurl an object or opponent. Treat this as the Telekinesis power except that you may only make a single attack or move your opponent only once and you add twice the number of dice to your Spirit as normal for damage (Spirit +2d6 to slam someone into a wall for instance).
  • Raise: You may choose a single unattended object of 20 pounds or less within 10" and cause it to detonate explosively. This inflicts 2d10 damage in a Small Burst Template around the object. Objects made of particularly soft material (fruit for instance) are harmless when detonated and anything harder than stone cannot be detonated.  Each additional raise lets you detonate an additional object.
Pyrokinetic Talent:
  • Snake Eyes: You catch on fire. 
  • Success: A character of your choice within 10" catches on fire. If you choose spend an action to concentrate then the opponent must beat your opposed Spirit roll to attempt to douse the flame. 
  • Raise: You may enlarge and animate any single existing fire source within 10" as a Fire Elemental. The elemental exists only as long as you spend an action to concentrate each round. This is not an actual elemental (it's merely psionically animated fire) so magic specifically designed to affect elemental or extraplanar creatures will fail. Each additional raise increases the elemental's Size by +1 and Strength by a die type. 
 Biofeedback Talent
  • Snake Eyes: Your skin and body deforms horribly. You suffer a point of Fatigue and -2 Charisma. These effects recover in 1d6 hours. 
  • Success: Your armor increases by +1 and you ignore all wound penalties for 6 rounds.
  • Raise: Your Strength, Vigor, and Agility increases by one die type and you gain the Hardy ability. This effect lasts for 3 rounds. Each additional raise increases the duration by 3 rounds. 
Healing Talent:
  • Snake Eyes: Blood spurts from any existing wounds. You take 1d6 damage per Wound level you're suffering from. 
  • Success: You may make a natural Healing roll immediately. 
  • Raise: You gain Fast Regeneration for 2 rounds. Each additional raise increases the duration by 1 round. 
 Mindscream Talent
  • Snake Eyes: You are Shaken for 1d4 rounds. 
  • Success: A single target within 10" must make a Spirit roll at -2 or be Shaken for 1d4 rounds. Mindless or unliving targets are immune. 
  • Raise: Place a large burst template centered on yourself. Everyone within the template (other than you) suffers 2d6 damage from your mental scream. This damage ignores armor, cover, and any other physical barriers. Each additional raise increases the damage by 1d6.
Hypercognition Talent
  • Snake Eyes: You suffer a -4 penalty to any Smarts rolls or skills linked to Smarts for 10 minutes. 
  • Success: Your Smarts increases by one die type and the world seems to slow down, you may draw an additional card for initiative. This lasts for 6 rounds
  • Raise: Your Smarts and Spirit increases by one die type and you may take an additional action without suffering a multi-action penalty. This lasts 3 rounds but each raise increases the duration by 3 rounds.
Telepathic Talent
  •  Snake Eyes: You are overwhelmed by the unintelligible thoughts and feelings of others. You suffer a -1 penalty to all trait rolls for each intelligent creature within 10" of you.
  • Success: You may scan an intelligent beings surface thoughts, allowing you to determine if it's lying and you may make an opposed Spirit roll to learn specific facts close to the surface. This lasts so long as you can concentrate and the victim remains within 2".
  • Raise: You can delve deeply into a victim's thoughts. The target must be within 2" and may make an opposed Spirit roll to resist your probing. You may ask up to 3 questions (each requiring an opposed roll) which the GM must answer based on the target's knowledge. Each additional raise grants an additional 2 questions.
Psychoportive Talent
  • Snake Eyes: Your body flickers in and out of reality briefly and you become Shaken.
  • Success: You may teleport yourself up to 10" 
  • Raise: You may teleport an object or creature within 20" up to 10" from their original location. Living targets receive an opposed Spirit roll to resist the effect. Each additional Raise allows you to teleport an additional target.


  1. Great stuff. I dislike 4ed D&D and am getting nostalgic for some Dark Sun, but don't want to break out the 2ed books. I may give this system a try if you don't mind!

  2. Absolutely. Let me know if you notice any glaring flaws.