Dark Heresy only focuses on one type of Psyker as a PC option – the Imperial Psyker. There are other types, but it will become obvious as you read the description that they are poorly suited for PCs.
Other Types of Psykers
- Astropath – Members of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica are the faster-than-light communication systems of the Imperium. They are blind and devoted to the service of the Imperium of Mankind by sending messages from one planet to another at the speed of thought.
- Navigator – The families and bloodlines of the Navis Nobilite are vital for space travel. The Navigators have “the third eye” that sees into the Immaterium and allow ships to navigate the Warp and space quickly and efficiently. Most (if not all) are snatched up into the Navy where they serve 1 (or more) per great ship of the Imperium.
- Sacrifice – The Inquisition maintains “The Black Ships” which travel from world to world, seeking out weak willed or mentally damaged psykers who will eventually fall to the corrupting influence of Chaos. These poor souls are passed into the “care” of the Adeptus Astronomica where they serve the Empire of Mankind by providing their very souls and psychic life force to power the Astronomican. The Astronomican is a white pillar of energy that pierces the Warp and provides the ships of the empire with a beacon and a guide by which they can navigate when travelling faster-than-light. Without the Astronomican, intragalactic travel would come to a near crashing halt. The sacrifices of the Adeptus Astronomica (it is said a thousand souls a day) are vital to the survival of the Imperium.
- Latents – Those with psychic abilities that have no yet learned to control their powers. To be a latent psychic can either be a blessing or a curse; how can one tell if they’ll be swept up into the Black Ships of the Inquisition, burned as a witch, or be trained by the Scholastica Psykana? Since tens of thousands of latent Psykers go to be sacrificed or burned, and only a handful are kept on as something else… most latents consider it a matter of common sense to keep their latent psychic abilities secret.
- Witch (Sorcerer) – Psykers that have gone over to Chaos and fallen to the lure of Daemonic powers. No only are they often cruel and vicious (having sold their souls via dark pacts for more power) but they are often the very gateways by which Daemons enter realspace.
- Untouchables – Psykers that have an aura of nullification. They dampen or even cancel psychic energy all around them. The also manifests amongst common folk as a strange “wrongness” to them and none feel comfortable in their presence. The rarest of all psykers, the Untouchables are often outcasts, pariahs, or in other ways rejected by society. The Inquisition; however, has been known to make the greatest use of these specially gifted individuals.
When a psyker is found (usually via the Inquisition’s Black Ships) that is powerful enough to be of use to the Imperium; as well as be resistant or immune to the corrupting influence of Chaos, they may be taken to a facility of the Scholastica Psykana. In such a facility they are trained to be an Imperial Psyker (assuming they aren’t going to be more useful as a Navigator or Astropath) and dispatched to the various organizations that have need of them (perhaps to serve with an Imperial Guard regiment or back to the Inquisition as a Witch Hunter, etc.).
The Inquisition Black Ships and Scholastica Psykana rate an individual’s Psychic ability with a rating system.
- Upsilon – Minimal psychic energy or power. Generally a candidate for the Adeptus Astronomica and rarely passed on to the Scholastica Psykana.
- Omicron – Omicrons are the lowest level of “useful” psyker. They generally have many latent abilities or uncontrolled powers. Those that have weak wills or are mentally unstable are sent to the Adeptus Astronomica, the strong are trained.
- Iota – Iotas have several useful mental powers and have shown the ability to control most if not all of their gifts.
- Epsilon – Epsilons are powerful psykers with abilities that are beyond the comprehension of most mortals. They are truly powerful individuals able to change the very world around them.
- Alpha – These are amongst the most powerful living Psykers in the galaxy. They are living saints (demi-gods and daemon-spawn depending on your point of view) that walk in the footsteps of the Emperor of Mankind.
- Alpha-Omega – Were it not heresy to suggest that such an individual rivals the power of the Emperor… Regardless, an Alpha-Omega is often beyond the ability for the Adeptus Scholastica to measure their psychic power and potential. Some of the most ancient and oldest of the Librarians of the Space Marines who have the ability to change the scope of entire battles with their minds are rated Alpha-Omega.
PC Psykers and GURPS
There are two X-Factor systems built into GURPS. Magic and Psionics. Psykers in the 40K universe are actually a bit of both. So how do we handle that?
Any PC can have some basic Psy power. They might be latents or what have you. In fact, some basic Psychic ability makes a lot of sense for why the character came to the attention of the Inquisition in the first place! Psi Advantages do not necessarily require the character to have been trained by the Scholastica Psykana (though it’s very likely).
All advantages have the following modifier to point costs.
- -25% – Psychic Phenomena and Perils of the Warp – While it may be attractive to play a Psyker, it’s quite dangerous. Every time you use a Psychic Power, there’s a manifestation in the physical world (people can tell when a Psyker is around) and there’s a chance those powers actually drive the Psyker insane or damages them (or worse). Every time a Psy power is used, either the player’s roll is used or the GM rolls 3d6. If the Player and/or GM rolls a 14 or higher, he rolls against the Psychic Phenomena Table.
- Regardless of the result of the roll, the air immeditely around the Psyker grows noticeably cold (Sense Check Touch or Vision depending on conditions). Psykers may mask this cold effect by purchasing the Low Signature or No Signature enhancements (Basic Set pg. 106).