Psionics Mod [WIP]

Hello! This is my first time posting here, and my first time modding a game! Don’t worry though, I’m a programmer by trade, so this should be doable (famous last words…).

In recent years, I’ve taken a liking to the kinds of game-play rogue-likes and other systems-driven games provide. I found Cataclysm: DDA about a week ago, and have been progressively dying slower every game! :smiley:

I was particularly interested once I saw the unwilling experiment scenario in the game, and instantly thought of Akira and all the pseudo-military, experimental bio-weapon tropes in sci-fi shows, anime, and movies. And while mutations are a fairly big thing in the game, psionics are non-existent. So, I decided to add it. And after reading through all the psionics threads I could find on the forums, here’s some of my ideas:

#Background Info
There are Lovecraftian creatures in setting. As such, there are possibly elder-gods, and most likely, things the human mind was not meant to comprehend. IRL, there is a theoretical physics theory called Quantum Space Theory, which essentially asks the question: What if the “fabric” of space-time was not continuous like most theories suggest, but actually quantized. This has a number of interesting consequences, but for our purposes the important part is that there is a fundamental “unit” of space-time called quanta, which supposedly could be manipulated. Complicated background information aside, what does that mean for C:DDA?

#In Game Lore
Whether through the unknowable machinations of elder-beings, or the unchecked experiments of last-ditch scientific efforts, your mind has been altered. Rewired to better fit your creators whims, underlying physical forces of the universe are no longer silent to you. You can feel the cacophonous ebb and flow of reality. The tiniest quantum bits of the universe are now within your conscious perception. And while it may be possible to manipulate these quanta, sadly, it seems the human brain was not meant to function this way. Your head aches as your brain tries to process this constant stream of new information. Now that your masters are dead (or simply ignoring you), maybe you can find a way to use these new insights.

This is all a work in progress right now, but these are my thoughts so far:

Psionics will work mainly through manipulation of the player’s pain status. I don’t know if this is a viable route, but it seems most fitting with the theme I’m going for.

After gaining the Psionic trait, the player’s pain will have a constant, fairly high penalty (not sure how high though, this will need balance testing).

The Psionic trait grants the Focus skill, which increases as you use psionic powers, read books on meditation and mental self-control (probably not too many of these), or take damage (sort of the opposite of Dodge).

Raising the Focus skill lowers the pain penalty, and since psionic powers use pain as a “power pool” of sorts, this gradually makes the character “stronger” (less racked with pain). Much like crafting, Focus grants new powers as you level, representing the character’s growth of understanding the relationship between the quantum level of the universe and the Newtonian level, as well as their ability to ignore their headache and create their intended effect.


  • More explosive, “attack/defense” oriented powers are gained first. These are like the crushing bubbles and psychic nukes from Akira. They deal a massive amount of damage to creature, item, building, and player(!) alike, cause a huge (additional) spike in pain, and possibly cause the player to black-out for a bit. These are not “god among men” powers, these are “get out of jail, and hopefully don’t die from the fallout” powers.
  • More subtle, utility based powers are gained later. These are the balls of light by creating photons, and moving things with telekinesis powers. These may have a passive pain penalty (protective sphere so you don’t get wet, but can still breath), or increase pain each active turn (ever expanding energy/matter-wave to push creatures away from you).

##Gaining Psionics
Since I haven’t looked through all the source and data files yet, I haven’t decided exactly what to add, but a few ideas are:

  • An elder artifact of some kind which warps your brain.
  • A starting scenario or two similar to the mutant experiment ones.
  • Possibly, getting attacked with psionic powers by other-worldly creatures.

I don’t know if I’ll need to mess with the C++ code to implement any of this, but it’s my go-to programming language, and I’ve already forked, cloned, and branched the git repo if it does become necessary, so it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle if it is necessary. Anyway, this may just end up being my own personal version of C:DDA, but I figured I’d let everyone know in case some people wanted updates. Let me know what you think! And by all means, give suggestions. I may not use them, but they’re still welcome!


Sounds awesome to me. Good luck!

There are not enough games with psionics and I think it could work well in CDDA. The tie-in with the pain mechanic is a good idea, but you might want to rename focus since it is already used by the morale system.

Throwing around vehicles and other big objects with telekinesis is something I can imagine being fun!

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Burrowing deep in the code is the only way for a mod like this.

Also, you can read the first point from here:

Maybe. It looks like there’s actually a lot that can be done with the Lua bindings. It’s just the only documentation is the generated lua-binding code and the C++ code itself. I’ve already got the pain-vs-skill code working. My main issue at the moment, is figuring out how to create a menu I can get to in-game! :confused:

I read through that as well. From the various posts where some of the core devs reply, it seems like the main problem with psionics is the theme. Genetic mutants and pseudo-scientific, reanimated zombies are no less unbelievable than psychic powers, but I think the main difference is how they’re perceived by the player.

In most movies, if the protagonist has mutant abilities, they may gain (or already have) crazy mutant powers, but they also become an outcast. Either they lose their humanity in the mutation process, or they lose their social status and relations. It’s only a power-fantasy in the shallowest sense, they have more personal power. But there’s an equal if not greater cost in other parts of their lives.

Normally, that’s not the case with psychic powers. In a movie or show, if you have psychic powers, you still look human, you still act human, there’s not really a downside, it’s mostly a pure power-fantasy. And I think this is the kind of power that most people think of when they hear the word “psionics”. And I don’t think that’s really what this game is about.

C:DDA is more of a horror game in the sense that, even at your peak you’re only a single stupid decision away from death generally. So my goal with this mod is to add that cool psionic “flavor” to the game, by offering a new set of psychic “tools”. They may help you in certain situations, but they come at a steep cost, and they don’t solve everything. And I think in most cases, items that already exist would be more efficient.

There’s a really funny anime called “Mob Psycho 100” that weirdly fits what I’m going for. The main character is an incredibly powerful psychic, but he doesn’t really care. He’s a teenager. Being the most powerful person on the planet doesn’t make him any better at talking to girls, and he still can’t lift more than a 10-lb weight with one arm. He has severe personal deficiencies, and having psychic powers doesn’t fix that.

So yeah, weird philosophic rant over. This isn’t an attack at anybody. C:DDA is a really cool game, and I really appreciate the amount of time and effort it takes to maintain a game, so I have nothing but kudos and my thanks to the dev team! This is mostly a project for myself by myself. Just thought I would share.

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That all sounds good to me, and it seems like sound enough methodology. That said, Kevin himself said he doesn’t care what people do in mods, so there’s really no reason why you can’t do all this any way you please.

Whenever i think of psionics i think of XCOM or Mass Effect. Both deliver them in an excellent way.

Speaking of other games, the tabletop Only War has an interesting system where you roll a d100 to determine whether or not you succeed at using a power. There are various modifiers, but the drawback is that the more power you put into the power the higher the chance of having to roll on a special table that makes weird shit happen. Roll badly on that table and you get the dangerous shit table with things including being possessed by a greater demon or just outright exploding and wiping out everything in a 10 metre radius.

The LUA bindings let you do a lot, but they’re still on the chopping block to be removed. (It’s a lot of work to maintain them, and there’s nobody volunteering to do so, which is even harder to justify when they’re only used by a small handful of mods.)