Branj Dilgaadin – Seneschal, or Zhodani mole?

In Traveller’s Classic Era, rare rumors circulate stating Duke Norris’ Seneschal, Branj Dilgaadin, is a closet psionicist, and a powerful telepath. This is eventually confirmed after the Regency is formed; Branj Dilgaadin is named as the new head of a Regency organization for psionics.

This brings to mind several questions, and possibilities.

First off, do the Zhodani know this? If they do, they are wasting a perfect opportunity to destabilize the power and effectiveness of an Imperial leader (Duke Norris)? Exposing Dilgaadin’s psionics use would bring Norris’ leadership capabilities into question. (“The Duke relies on a psion?! What other laws is he breaking?”)

Second, if the Zhodani don’t realize this, they aren’t very good at spycraft, and deserve to lose!

This brings up another possibility: is Branj Dilgaadin a Zhodani mole?

In the Traveller wiki, it states Branj’s origins are ‘mysterious’ and unknown. Based on this tidbit alone he could be considered by some as Zhodani plant. This would make a degree of sense, unless you consider Zhodani performance in the 5FW. If Branj was feeding information to the Consulate (however slowly), they would have known of the eventual arrival of the Corridor Fleets, and prepared accordingly. Thus it seems unlikely he was a mole based on this. But the possibility cannot be completely discounted, as there are many factors involved, most significantly the well-known time lag when sending interstellar messages via jump space.

I’m relatively certain there are other possibilities to consider regarding the Seneschal’s psionics use (criminal influences; other, less-reliable Imperial Nobility; Megacorporations). Any of these possibilities may be of use to referees when planning their campaigns.

[Note: I meant to publish this a week or two ago, but the weather and related injuries caused a significant delay. I hope to keep ‘on track’ with a post every week or so in the future.]

Advertisements

Everyday Psions in Traveller

Or, “what about the regular people”?

Many Traveller campaigns and settings have touched on the subject of psionics. Indeed, psionics are a favorite subject for many players and referees, and may form the basis of a campaign or setting. As an example, some referees have built settings where psionic talents are necessary for FTL travel, or navigation, and this is also prominent in several science fiction stories. Any number of player groups have sought psionic training as a path to greater survivability – and power – whether for good, or selfish, purposes.

Psionics provide greater advantages for player characters – and for their rivals. They improve capabilities, survivability, and effectiveness. Psionic adversaries (Zhodani or otherwise) are a difficult challenge for most adventuring groups. Run properly, they can be used to give player characters fits – or nightmares.

But what about the common psionic? The mother of three with an administrative job? The small business owner? The factory worker? Psionic talents can provide the common citizen with significant advantages – provided they can keep their abilities hidden.

Any player worth their salt can easily use psionics for advantage. Their use in adventuring situations is rather obvious. But what about ‘real life’. This can also be ‘obvious’, but is infrequently considered. Let examine some possibilities.

[I won’t go into each talent’s capabilities, as I assume readers of this blog have knowledge of Traveller’s rules and official setting.]

AWARENESS TALENT

The ability to heal small cuts and injuries ‘on the fly’ is extremely valuable, especially if the psion works in a ‘dirty’ job or environment (trash collection, factory, farm, plumber, etc). Healing small cuts immediately can great reduce the risk of infection.

And who wouldn’t love to increase their strength at need? This would prove useful, or even valuable, when working in a warehouse, factory, or search and rescue, as examples.

CLAIRVOYANCE

Imagine the pesky customs officer, the one who seems to always find the expertly-hidden contraband, who always knows where to search. Is she merely lucky? Experienced? Or is she using Clairvoyance to make detailed searches?

Mechanics are ALWAYS dropping lug nuts, connectors, and tools in the most inconvenient of spaces. High technology will never correct this! Having the ability to locate the dropped item quickly is invaluable. Even if the item ends up being inaccessible, at least he knows where it is, and that’s half the battle.

Diagnostics of equipment is improved. Is the connector broken, or merely loose? Which part is broken? With Clairvoyance a psionic can speed up this process, saving valuable time.

In Search And Rescue operations, Clairvoyance is extremely valuable. Searches for survivors are conducted much more quickly and efficiently, without the risk of equipment [sensor] interference or malfunctions, and saving lives.

TELEKINESIS

Telekinesis may be THE most useful psionic talent for every day use.

The mechanic who dropped that lug nut can easily retrieve it, once he locates it. He can even use the talent to feel around for the dropped item, without risk of injury.

A plumber can use this talent to clear plugged pipes, safely and quickly, with little or no risk of damage to the pipes. Of course he can’t do anything about it if the pipe is already damaged; he’ll still have to replace the pipe.

A pest removal expert using Telekinesis can remove many pests safely and quickly. Why use traps and poisons when you can grab the critter with your ability? This can be especially helpful when dealing with skunks or their equivalent, squirrels, and small rodents hiding in the walls. You can also removed small corpses, which may be creating quite a stench.

TELEPATHY

The uses of Telepathy in everyday life are many and varied – and can get the psionic into trouble very quickly, if its use is not carefully considered.

Students can cheat on tests. Employees can literally read the boss’ mind. A retail security officer could read a suspected thief’s mind, whether for guilt ot intent. A criminal can read the mind of an investigator, so he knows what to say – or not say. A person could find out EXACTLY what his companion thinks of him/her. (This can of course backfire quickly! There are questions you may not want answered.)

An individual on a date could use the empathic abilities of telepathy to give their companion false emotions towards themselves (unethical and likely evil, but very possible). [This could make for an interesting mystery for a PC investigator, actually…]

TELEPORTATION

Using Teleportation is (literally) dangerous. If you attempt to jump too far, or change relative elevation too quickly, you could die; overheat, say, or splat into a wall. Not a desired outcome.

That being said, Teleportation is useful. Who needs a car? Teleport to work! It saves fuel and time, and thus credits. Just make darned sure no one sees you doing it. This can become increasingly difficult as a society’s technology (or level of paranoia) increases.

Forget something you needed at home? Take a restroom break, teleport home to get it, then back. (This assumes you have enough PSI available, of course!)

IN CONCLUSION

Psionics aren’t just for adventurers! The majority of psionics aren’t (yet?) travellers and adventurers, and are merely going about their lives and daily routines. Properly considered and run, they can be a source of irritation, information, or even adventure for many adventuring groups.

I hope you’ve found this an interesting read, and most of all HAVE FUN!