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Psychic Phenomena

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When a Psyker uses one of their powers, they invariably draw from the essense of the Warp, to manifest fantastic abilities that would be otherwise impossible to perform. However, using psychic powers sometimes yields unexpected and unpleasant results, because the energies of the Warp are unpredictable, and the Warp is filled with daemons who are drawn to psykers.

Tabletop game

Every time a unit with psychic abilities uses a power, he/she must make a Psychic Test by rolling two dice. If the result is either a double 1 or a double 6 (a 1 in 18 chance) they will suffer Perils of the Warp. This means it suffers 1 Wound, no save allowed.

Roleplaying game

The roleplaying games set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe (Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, etc.) use a more sophisticated set of rules and a more diverse range of peculiar mishaps than the tabletop game.

When a psyker uses a power, she runs the risk of incurring psychic phenomena, proportional to the amount of power she chooses to expend; more powerful effects are thus riskier. Most psychic phenomena do little harm, but there is a slim chance that she may suffer Perils of the Warp, a category of phenomena that are very harmful indeed.

Known Psychic Phenomena

The potential psychic phenomena have been been identified and catalogued by Imperial Inquisitors.[1]

  • Dark Foreboding — A faint breeze surrounds the area, giving nearby individuals an unsettling feeling.
  • Warp Echo — For a short period, any sounds cause strange echoes.
  • Ethereal Stench — The air around the psyker becomes either pleasant or noxious.
  • Mounting Paranoia — The psyker gets an itchy back, as if there is someone behind them.
  • Grave Chill — The area around the psyker becomes cold and frost covered out for several metres.
  • Unnatural Aura — Any nearby animals become frightened and attempt to get away.
  • Memory Worm — Anyone in the vicinity of the psyker forgets something minor.
  • Spoilage — Any perishable goods within several metres become stale and useless.
  • Haunting Breeze — Winds surround the psyker strong enough to move around small objects.
  • Veil of Darkness — The area becomes devoid of natural light for a few feconds.
  • Distorted Reflection — Any reflective surfaces nearby break or distort.
  • Breath Leech — The air in nearby individuals lungs becomes lost, causing them to pause.
  • Daemonic Mask — The psyker channels a daemon for an instant, causing them to take on a frightful appearance for a moment, but corrupting their body permanently.
  • Unnatural Decay — All plants in the area wither.
  • Spectral Gale — Very strong winds envelop the area, knocking people to the ground.
  • Bloody Tears — Images or statues appear to weep blood. Chipped wood appears to ooze blood rather than sap.
  • The Earth Protests — The ground shakes violently, causing a local earthquake.
  • Psy Discharge — Static electriciy fills the area, causing the psyker to float for a short period.
  • Warp Ghosts — Howling ethereal apparitions fill the area, flying around unnerving the living and potentially causing insanity.
  • Falling Upwards — Gravity reverses for a few seconds.
  • Banshee Howl — A very loud screech fills the area out to almost a kilometre, causing people to be deafened.
  • The Furies — The psyker is assaulted by an invisible force, causing himself and nearby objects to be thrown around viciously.
  • Shadow of the Warp(not to be confused with the Tyranid ability) The world changes appearance, causing people to glimpse the warp for an instant. Potentially destroying minds.
  • Tech Scorn — All tech devices and weapons nearby malfunction or jam.
  • Warp Madness — A psychic backlash of emotion fills the area, causing nearby individuals to become frenzied and mad. Potentially causing further emotional harm.

The Perils of the Warp

The most dangerous psychic phenomena are referred to as the Perils of the Warp and are the most undesirable effects of using psychic abilities. It is for this reason that Psykers are considered to be a considerable threat to the Imperium, as the effects can be potentially catastrophic; allowing daemonic forces to enter the materium, or manifesting abilities beyond the control of the psyker. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that psykers be properly trained in the responsible use of their abilities and why such resources are used to capture unsanctioned and nascent psykers.

While the perils of the warp are as wild and unpredictable as any other psychic phenomena, some races such as the Eldar have managed to mitigate their effects using technological devices, (such as a Ghosthelm). However, the Imperium has yet to master their understanding of these technologies, and so the common policy with dealing with Psykers who suffer the Perils of the Warp is to provide the Emperor's mercy (execution) to them as soon as their powers become out of hand; referred to as the Ultimate Sanction[3]

Even if a psyker survives an attack from the warp, their souls are permanently marked by the close contact with the warp, becoming more susceptible to the forces of the warp in future.

The different phenomena of the Perils of the Warp have also been identified and catalogued by the Inquisition:[1]

  • The Gibbering — Uncontrolled warp energy surges through the psykers mind, burning out their minds and driving them insane.
  • Warp Burn — The energies of the warp manifest, striking the psykers mind and stunning him temporarily.
  • Psychic Concussion — The violent energies knock the psyker unconsious and cascade outwards, also stunning those nearby.
  • Psy-Blast — There is a sudden explosion, casting the psyker several metres into the air.
  • Soul Sear — The psykers soul is overpowered by warp energy, scarring their spirit and preventing them from using their powers.
  • Locked In — The excess energy remains in the psykers mind, locking them into a coma until it is overcome by sheer willpower.
  • Chronological Incontinence — The psyker vanishes as time bends around them, they reappear a few moments later.
  • Psychic Mirror — The psychic power targets the psyker himself.
  • Warp Whispers — The voices of daemons fill the area, speaking into the minds of others and corrupting their souls.
  • Vice Versa — The soul of the psyker is cast out and swaps bodies with a nearby being for a short period of time, if there is no nearby other, the soul wanders the warp for the same period and returns slightly less sane.
  • Dark Summoning — A lesser daemon physically manifests for a short period.
  • Ethereal Storm — The excess psychic energy lashes the minds of nearby sentient creatures.
  • Blood Rain — A cloud of psychic energy envelops the area, causing storm winds and rain of blood. While this storm is in effect, any psychic powers in the area always cause perils of the warp
  • Cataclysmic Blast — The psyker is immolated with psychic energy, burning their possessions, equipment and the area around them for a few metres.
  • Mass Possession — Daemons reach into the minds of all living creatures over a large area for a period. Sentient individuals must spend their time mentally combating the daemonic influence or they fall to corruption.
  • The Surly Bonds of Earth — much like the Falling Upwards phenomena, however gravity is reversed over a much larger area for much longer. Lifting objects much higher into the air.
  • Daemonhost — One of the most dangerous perils; the psyker is possessed by a daemon, becoming an unbound daemonhost.
  • Warp Feast — The uncontrolled psychic energies rip a whole in reality, centering on the psyker; sucking him into the warp to be consumed forever.