Extra Sensory Perception within CoC
By "The Bristol Consortium"


ESP has oddly enough been a sadly neglected set of abilities with Call of Cthulhu. I suppose there are a number of reasons for this, the greatest being that Lovecraft himself did not write about the subject to any great detail and so is considered non-canon by many Lovecraftians. However the actual definitions of the abilities that make up the list of recognised ESP talents are nebulous in the extreme, and then how to handle them in a gaming environment provides the Keeper with certain challenges. This is my attempt at defining the various psychic abilities; there are others on the Internet so if you do not like mine please feel free to seek them out.
According to neuroscience, only about 10% of the human brain capacity is actually used which means there is a lot of spare capacity just sitting there. One theory is that psychic abilities are held somewhere within this unused area and that everyone has the potential to use these abilities, if only they knew how to access them. Another theory builds on this idea, and says that ESP is nothing more than an atrophied extra sense that was once necessary for survival, a bit like the sensory equivalent of the appendix.
There is a fair amount of research both within the government and private institutions to not only understand the physical processes that make up ESP, but also to harness it for their own ends. Current thinking seems to indicate that ESP is nothing more than the conscious control of the electromagnetic energy field that surrounds us. If this is the case then by simply altering this field you could quite easily cause objects to move [telekinesis] or even in extreme cases ignite [pyrokinesis]. Alternatively, if you could tune your brain to act as a passive receiver you could thereby pick up the thoughts that are broadcast by other people's minds [receptive telepathy]. Work carried out by Dr Alan Frey in the early 1960s showed that by using modulated electromagnetic energy waves he could project voices into people's minds, an effect the pentagon calls Synthetic Telepathy.


Any player who wishes to have a psychic investigator must declare their intention during character generation. The Keeper should then ask the player to roll a d100. If the roll is less than or equal to the investigator's POW then that character has a latent psychic ability. It is then up to the Keeper whether he lets the investigator have these psychic powers fully developed or whether they are lying dormant ready to be triggered by some as yet unforeseen event. The latter option is probably better since it allows for a greater depth and range of character, and can give an investigator a personal goal to pursue. If however the player rolls ¼ POW or less on a d100 then that character is said to be an active psychic.
Investigators who fail their POW roll may still be able to gain psychic powers, but the means may be more extreme than those who are proven psychics. Whereas a person with latent powers might develop his talents through merely touching some powerful Mythos object one without his mental powers so close to the surface might have to study for years. The psychic power that the investigator can have can either be rolled up randomly via the following table or the Keeper can chose the talent that best suits the investigator. In the case of NPCs, the Keeper should be careful to pick the most appropriate talent.
To chose the investigator's psychic ability roll 1d8 and consult the following table:









Remote Viewing



Psychic Abilities
  1. Precognition is the ability to foresee future events. These future events are often considered to be 'visions'. Precognition tends to be something of a doubled edged sword, since the possessor of such a skill rarely has control over what they see or when they see it. Those people who wish to ‘rend the veil’, so to speak, need to make a POW x 2 or less roll. A successful roll will allow a glimpse into their immediate future, be it an object a place or something more sinister, at the discretion of the Keeper. If the roll fails, then the seer will either see nothing or something entirely misleading. Whatever the roll, be it failure or success, the investigator will use 2 Magic Points. Since this ability is so powerful it needs to be used sparingly and the Keeper should be careful exactly what he reveals to the investigator.
  2. Telepathy is usually known as mind reading, and literally means distant feeling/perception.  It's generally considered to be an energy transference between sentient creatures. A telepath can try to read the surface thoughts of a target by rolling 2 x their POW versus the POW of the target on the resistance table. If they are successful then they will be able to pick up what the target is thinking. This costs the telepath 1 Magic Point per thought. This could be a very useful skill in a combat situation. To probe deeper into the target's mind to perceive deeper thoughts or memories than a straight POW versus POW resistance roll is required. This will cost the telepath 2 Magic Point per thought or memory. To implant thoughts or memories into a target's mind then a ½ x POW versus Target's POW resistance roll is required. This will cost the telepath 4 MP per memory or thought. To telepathically take control of a target requires a ¾ x POW versus Target's POW resistance roll to work. This will cost the telepath 8 Magic Points per five minutes of control. If the targeted individual has some paranormal ability or is indeed a latent psychic, or can successfully roll under their Occult or Cthulhu Mythos skill, then they may recognise the subtle prodding in their brain as some sort of psychic probe, assuming that the telepath either read their thoughts or unsuccessfully tried to broadcast a thought or action to them. If the psychic is totally successful at sending thoughts then there is nothing that the target can do since these thoughts or actions will appear to be totally natural to them. If the target is also a telepath then they can actively resist contact. To do so, simple double the target's POW scores on the resistance table. Finally telepathy costs one MP per kilometre or part thereof, whether successful or not; this range cost is added onto the total Magic Points used.
  3. Empathy is the ability to sense strong emotions from other people, animals and even from inanimate objects. No roll is required to merely detect that some strong emotion such as love or anger is present, but the investigator must make 2 x POW roll to determine what kind of emotion is present; this does not cost any Magic Points. An empath can also try to influence the emotions of other living things if they can make a successful POW versus POW resistance roll. This effect will last for one round per Magic Point used by the empath. However human emotions have little or no meaning to most Mythos entities and would therefore have little or no effect. Only one person can be targeted at a time with this skill. The empath's range is equal to the investigator's POW in metres e.g. an investigator with POW 10 could not receive or transmit emotions beyond 10 metres.
  4. Telekinesis or psychokinesis is mind over matter, and literally means distant motion.  This not only includes moving objects with the mind, but also disrupting or affecting the molecular composition of an object.  Levitation and spoon bending are common examples of what constitutes the category of telekinesis.   To lift or manipulate an object requires a successful 2 x POW roll. It costs a telekinetic 1 Magic Point to manipulate a 200-gram object or move the same object up to a metre. Telekinesis may be used to hurl objects as weapons. In such a case, the investigator's chances to hit are equal to their Throw roll. A hit will do normal impact damage for the object thrown minus 1d4. The telekinetic's range is equal to their POW in metres. For example, if a telekinetic wishes to spend 4 Magic Points, they could move an 800-gram object 1 metre or a 200-gram object four metres.
  5. Pyrokinesis is a sub-category of telekinesis, and is a trait or ability which allows the spontaneous combustion of objects (which may include other people) whether at the pyrokinetic's will, or not. To set fire to something, the object must be in full view of the pyrokinetic and a successful 2 x POW roll needs to be made. Each Magic Point used will increase the temperature of the target object by 20°C, if the roll fails it still costs 1 Magic Point. An object cannot be heated up too swiftly with this ability. A pyrokinetic may spend only 2 Magic Points per round so that the target material will heat up at a rate of 40°C / round. Only one roll is required, but if the pyrokinetic's concentration is broken then the process will be stopped.
  6. Clairvoyance is used to see from afar and literally means clear seeing.  If it was purely auditory, it would be called clairaudience, and the combination of the two may be called clairsentience.  This is not to be confused with telepathy, as clairvoyance is basically the same as an Out of Body Experience.  Some mediums and certain psychics consider this the means of communicating with the "other side," or the afterlife. To conduct a séance requires the psychic to do a successful 2 x POW roll to enter the 'spirit' world, and costs 5 Magic Points per hour long séance or part thereof. The contacted spirit will speak through the psychic who will not remember what was said. The spirit does not have control over the medium's body which will remain in a trance like status for the entire time. If the psychic fails the POW roll spectacularly then the psychic will contact either the wrong spirit or a malevolent spirit that will do its best to mislead the other investigators.
  7. Remote Sensing - A subset of Clairvoyance covering apparent information transmission as though it were the result of visual perception. The perception can appear externally - either replacing the normal visual scene (as in visions) or being incorporated into it (as could be the case with apparitions) - or internally, in the form of mental imagery and intuition. Remote sensing works by the psychic sending their mind to the location they want to look at, but before they can do this they will need to have some sort of foci to establish where it is they are going. Such foci could be a map of the area, a photograph, or even a soil or rock sample. Also the point needs to be within the psychic's range. Under normal circumstances this is POW x 200 kilometres. A successful 2 x POW roll and 4 Magic Points will allow the psychic a hazy view of the desired location, enough to gain important information but not enough to receive a clear picture. If the psychic manages to roll a standard critical, 98 or higher, then the Psychic's mind has become trapped on the astral plain. If this happens, the psychic must for each hour they spend being lost, roll less than their POW on a 1d100. If the roll fails, then the psychic will lose 1 point of POW permanently. If the roll succeeds then they are reunited with their body. Once the psychic's POW reaches 0 then the body will die. The psychic's body will remain in a catatonic state until the wandering mind returns to it, or the psychic's POW is reduced to 0 when it will start to decompose.
  8. Sensitive. A sensitive is a person who has no overt psychic abilities but can pick up 'vibrations' and feelings from people, places and things. Whenever a sensitive comes into contact with something charged with spiritual or emotional energy or when they enter an area where a very good, evil or violent act took place, they can try to roll 2 x POW or less on a 1d100. If the roll is made, then they will feel either an unnatural cold or warmth emanating from an object. In the case of an area where a good or bad action occurred they will either feel comfortable or uncomfortable. In areas where there is great good or evil then the sensitive will feel a feeling of love or hate for the area. If a spirit or entity haunts an area then the sensitive will probably get a collection of different feelings at the Keeper's discretion.




All the above powers can have their effect increased by outside sources such as:

  • A circle of power is formed when a number of people join their hands in a circle with a psychic. In this way, the psychic can draw on the Magic Points of the others in the circle. The psychic is however limited to taking 4 Magic Points from each member of the circle up to a maximum of 24 extra points per each psychic session. These donated points are regenerated in the normal fashion.
  • By the use of specialised psychic-enhancing drugs. Such drugs as 5MODMT raise not only the number of Magic Points but POW points available to the psychic. However this gain is not without its loss since the drugs work by refocusing the life force or intelligence of the user. Drugs can also be used to awaken the latent psychic abilities of investigators. Below are listed a number of psycho-enhancement drugs that could be used by investigators or NPCs in the course of a scenario.
    5-hydroxy-indolethylamine (5MODMT) - This is an extract of a rare Amazonian toad venom that has been collected for centuries by the shaman of certain tribes. The venom is extracted by gently squeezing the toad until a milky white fluid is expelled from the parotid neck glands. The active dosage is very low [between 20-30 milligrams]. 5MODMT should be taken orally and never injected, as this would prove to be a STR 35 poison.
    The effect of taking 5MODMT is to boost the taker's Magic Points by 2 and their POW by 4 but it temporarily lowers INT by 4. This lowering of INT lasts for 1d4 days. The other effect is to reduce the taker's SAN permanently by 3. Finally the drug is highly addictive with the users becoming hooked after 6 - 10 doses. Addiction means a spiral into imbecility where one point of INT is reduced every time the drug is taken until the user is left as a vegetable. 5MODMT was heavily researched and developed by the CIA during the 1980s. It is available on the black market in several countries including the UK where it costs upwards of £5000 per 250-mg phial. The street name for 5MODMT is Fray.
    CZ-alpha-bufoteniene (CZAR) - This is another traditional psycho-enhancer, which is traditionally prepared by the Evenk Nomads of Siberia. The active ingredient CZAR is contained in a species of mushroom sacred to the Evenks. CZAR is released by mixing it with urine since this allows it into solution. The refined drug is considerably more powerful than 5MODMT but has far more dangerous side effects, and is normally administered by injection.
    The active does is superficially larger than 5MODMT at 40-50 mg. The effect from taking CZAR is to increase the taker's Magic Points by 4 and their POW by 4, but once the drug wears off it will permanently remove 2 points of POW, 5 points of SAN and 1 point of STR. On the up side, CZAR is non-addictive. CZAR has been refined by the KGB's Special Department 8 and has recently come onto the market since the break-up of the USSR, and at £2000 dollars a 100-mg phial has started to be used in various research laboratories around the world.
    10-dimethyloxy-harmalate (DIME) - This drug is a more powerful analogue of the naturally occurring harmala alkaloid present in the pineal gland of both humans and several animals. 10-dimethyloxy-harmalate is a by product of the oxidation of adrenoglomerulotropine and malatonin, normally present in the pineal gland although in minute quantities. DIME was initially synthesised by the in-vitro incubation of serotonin in pineal tissue during the 1970s and has been used in a number of psychic research establishments around the world. DIME is an extremely powerful drug and is highly toxic if taken in doses larger than 250 mg where it should be treated as a STR 30 poison. While DIME normally comes as a yellow crystalline powder it is normally administered by mixing it with water to form a pale blue liquid. The effect DIME has on a psychic is wholly dependant on the dosage level, yet whatever the dosage taken the effects only last for 1-2 hours at a time.


    • At 50mg DIME increases the psychic's POW by 1, Magic Points by 2, and STR by 2 whilst reducing SAN by 1d4, Hit Points by 1d3, and permanently reducing CON by 1.
    • A 100mg dose increases the psychic's POW by 2, Magic Points by 4, and STR by 4 whilst reducing SAN by 1d6, Hit Points by 1d4, and permanently reducing CON by 2.
    • A 150mg dose increases the psychic's POW by 3, Magic Points by 6, and STR by 6 whilst reducing SAN by 1d8, Hit Points by 1d6, and permanently reducing CON by 3.
    • At 200mg DIME increases the psychic's POW by 4, Magic Points by 8, and STR by 8 whilst reducing SAN by 1d10, Hit Points by 1d8, and permanently reducing CON by 4.
    • A 250mg dose increases the psychic's POW by 5, Magic Points by 10, and STR by 10 whilst reducing SAN by 1d12, Hit Points by 1d10 and CON by 2d4 , and permanently reducing CON by 5.
    DIME is highly addictive, with users becoming hooked after 1d4 doses. Addiction means the user will rapidly degenerate into madness followed shortly by death. However, an addict gripped by DIME will be a very deadly opponent indeed. Finally, DIME is by far the cheapest of the active drugs available and costs around £150 per 100-mg phial.