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burning brains

Ever wondered how the mi-go do so much, even though McKinney says they’re not all that smart?

They use their (stolen) brains. Herewith, a shell of a psionics system, from the original psionic men:

Brains are useless until you get them wired into a case: 100gp for a “wet case” (glass jar full of evil-smelling liquid: fragile and sloppy), 400gp for a nice hard “dry” ultrametal case that looks like a film can, 800gp for a rotating 5-brain changer with hotswapping.

Getting a brain into a case takes a d20 skill roll – over 10 for a human, over 13 for a demi-human, over 15 for a monster, over 7 for a Carcosan (the manuals and fittings are all adapted for Carcosan brains is why) unless it’s a bone man brain in which case over 11 (transparent = fiddly). The mi-go gets a bonus on this roll of half its HD/level. Brains are rated by the higher of their INT or WIS: they automatically lose 1d6 on transfer into a case unless the lucky mi-go/sorcerer rolls 20+ (modified). A cased brain is good for:

1. Tanks For The Memory: can play back donor’s memories as instructional videos on special mi-go feely-monitors (requires head-cilia to operate): provides the donor’s skills at penalty -1 (-10%) per point of INT/WIS lost, as long as the mi-go has unlimited time. If time is limited (eg during combat) it’s -5 (-50%).

2. Fill’r Up: brains can be used to store data like a computer but to access it you have to mind-meld with them and explore their memory theatre – like a dream-dungeon-inside-the-brain, governed by associations of the donor when alive.  In multi-brain changers the form of the dungeon is determined by the highest CHA donor (hah! remember when I said just INT and WIS mattered?).

3. What’s This Button Do? Stored spells can be tickled into firing, select randomly from any the donor might have had. Vancian one use per spell only.

4. Wisdom of Crowds. Brains can be networked together into reasoning-enhancers, but the user has to be hooked into the network too. Every 10 points of INT/WIS networked can boost the user’s INT by 1, but for every 10 minutes spent networked the user must save vs spells or get stuck permanently in the loop (and become a candidate for encasing). And every +1 to INT/WIS gives a corresponding penalty of 1 on the roll.

5. Neuroincendry. Every point of INT/WIS burned up  allows the user one of the following psionic gifts:
1 turn of telepathic communication with any being on the same plane. Targeting that being is the hard part: it takes a save vs magic, if you fail you can try again, but every turn spent targeting also costs a point. Line of sight = automatic, within 100 yards = +2, farther than a mile = -2, don’t know the target = -3, never even seen the target = -5. Or you can just grab anyone randomly = no bonus/penalty.
1 turn of telekinetic control of an object/person, like a poltergeist. A single point controls 10lbs of stuff. Weight controlled doubles for every extra point spent, so to lift a 200lb man (+up to 120lbs of his equipment) you’d have to burn 6 points.
teleport costs the same as telekinesis by weight multiplied by distance: multiplier of 1 allows up to 1 foot displacement, 2 = up to 1 yard, 3 = up to 1 fathom (6′), 4 = up to 1 shackle (90′), 5 = up to 1 cable (608′), 6 = up to 1 nautical mile (6080′), 7 = up to 60 nautical miles OR one degree of latitude or longitude (turns out psionic displacement is latitude-dependent, maybe because of the constraining influence of the Van Allen belts), 8 = global, 9 = inter-dimensional/outerspacical, 10 = outer planes/intergalactic. So if you wanted to teleport your 200lb adventurer dude plus his 80lb sidekick and 40lbs of expensive brandy to Fomalhaut it would cost you 6 x 9 = 54 INT/WIS. Moving the same gang 500 yards out to sea for a prank = 6 x 6 = 36 INT/WIS.

Possible “fun” complications:
Every time you burn INT/WIS there’s a chance of the whole apparatus catching fire. Roll over 4 on d20 to save vs combustion, -1 for every 10 points of INT/WIS burned at once, or part thereof.
You don’t know how much INT/WIS a brain contains – although you do know when a brain is all used up, because it shrivels into a grey walnut. Any time you’re burning brains, your own brain is hooked into the system, and if you ask more than the system can give, it takes from you, WIS first. And what do you save vs. to detect this happening? WIS, of course. So keep careful records of where those brains came from and what you’ve already used them for. And, y’know, be careful using second hand brains.

Glass jar hat tip to +Claytonian JP for the source idea.

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