Game Prep: Psions in the Imperium

We’ve only got one psion in our group and he’s my character, so ultimately this isn’t all that relevant as it won’t really come into play that frequently, but knowing how this works in “my” Traveller universe is probably a good idea.



Based on everything I’ve read, it isn’t illegal to be a psion in the Imperium, it’s just illegal to use the powers. That said, the majority of psions in the Imperium would, by necessity, need to be “registered.” In GURPS terms, this would be Social Stigma (Psion). Since Social Stigma requires this information to be quickly determined but Traveller doesn’t have FTL communication, I decided that an implant of some sort would make the most sense. Therefore, when a registered psion enters an Imperium-run starport, this implant would alert local scanning devices of his or her status. Obviously, if someone wants to conceal this, they’re going to want to remove the implant which is easy enough, I suppose, but is most definitely a felony.

Something Babylon 5 introduced – and I really liked – was the concept of “sleepers” which are drugs taken by registered psions to inhibit their abilities – think of it as super Ritalin, I suppose. In B5, this was known to cause mental disassociation as well as severe and sometimes suicidal depression, so taking them is definitely not something appealing.

My thinking here is that the Imperium combines the two things above by having an implant that secretes the nano-drug to inhibit psionic abilities while simultaneously ensuring that the psion is able to be tracked by Imperium software so, FREX, upon stepping through customs at an Imperium highport with it immediately results in a specific alert (so that poor psion is always going to be pulled out of line by the TSA equiv!) The excellent show The Expanse has Holden (and Miller) receive implants that I think would be good equivalents.

In GURPS terms, I sort of envision the effects of the ‘sleepers’ to be similar to Chronic Depression, so it makes total sense that most psions would go out of their way to avoid being identified and given these implants. Since this is something that isn’t anywhere else in the canon, this is likely a new initiative.

Unrelated to the above, there is a line in GURPS Traveller: Psionic Institutes that confirmed one of my earlier thoughts: “Non-psionic nobles not shy about bending the rules secretly employ psions” – to me, this becomes all nobles. The way I’m approaching this is that it is an open secret among the nobility that all of them use psis in some capacity, they just don’t advertise it. And then, naturally, when a noble is actually brought down, one of the inevitable charges against him/her is the employment or use of psychics…