The Greater Siddhi

Along the path to enlightenment, a mystic realizes just how much of what we call reality is an illusion. Things we think are impossible turn out to be matters of perspective, easily manipulated by the enlightened mind.

In western media, "psychic powers" are usually portrayed as one person's will being imposed on an objective reality. When reality itself is an illusion, things look different. It's not the psychic who has special powers, it's everyone else who's held back by their ignorance.

This article provides some advice for putting a stranger spin on your siddhi and preventing them from becoming a westernized grab bag of kewl powerz.

Illusions of Mass

Several figures in Indian folklore have been able to make themselves either very light or very heavy. In Occult India, this power is also used for high-flying wire-fu and making one's self bulletproof. All are simple matters of mass.

This siddhi is not about force at a distance, it's not free telekinesis. You can't use it to move objects, fly, or float in mid-air. Just ask yourself this: How easy am I to move?

When light, a mystic can support themselves on one finger, scurry up the side of a building, skip over a still pond, or float to the ground like a leaf on the wind.

When heavy, a mystic is the proverbial immovable object. Bullets bounce off their skin. Hitting them is like hitting a mountain. They won't crash through the floor or sink your boat, though. This is about inertia, not weight.

The real fun starts when you transition rapidly between extremes. Make yourself light enough to leap across a busy street, then heavy enough to kick a guy with the force of a sledgehammer.

Illusions of Scale

Just as a distorted lens can make objects appear larger or smaller, closer or further away, distorted minds give the universe its sense of scale. The enlightened know that all size is simply a matter of perspective.

A mystic with this Greater Siddhi can distort space-time to change the apparent size of things. They can slap you with a hand the size of a buick or shrink themselves small enough to hitch a ride behind your ear.

Don't think of it as a "stretchy" power, though. It's not the shape of the mystic that changes, it's the space around them. Someone who increases their size while indoors won't come smashing through the walls; the building will seem to stretch around them.

Yes, this can create situations that would appear impossible to an objective, outside observer. The whole of this siddhi is that such an observer does not exist.

Access to All Places

Yes, this is a teleportation power. No two ways about it. Putting a new spin on it is a matter of philosophy. When a mystic appears in a new location, it should seem to others that they've actually been there all along. When they vanish, even if it's right before your eyes, you'll soon feel as if you'd imagined their presence in the first place.

The mystic can bring other people and objects with them, but only what they can touch all at once. This siddhi is about the illusion of separation; you can't teleport something that's already at a distance.

Finally, the mystic must have first-hand knowledge of their destination. If you can see it or remember it, you can be there in a blink. You can't just wish yourself to "someplace safe" or "where ever my brother's being held prisoner." Photographs and video feeds don't do dick.

Absolute Lordship

The first and most potent illusion is the separate between souls. This siddhi lies on the edge of nirvana and is obtained by only the most advanced mystics. It is also the most dangerous one of all.

The ability to alter people's minds is a game-breaker, so use with caution. Players will have only one defense, the lesser siddhi, but even that only entitles a character to resist Absolute Lordship. No one is immune.

Another limitation: This siddhi works through the throat chakra, it works through the voice. The mystic must be able to speak their commands. The targets need to be within earshot, but they don't need to understand the mystic's language or even be able to hear. Earplugs are no protection.

Once altered, any change to the victim's thoughts or memories is permanent. There are only two "cures:" unlock the lesser siddhi or have someone else with Absolute Lordship reverse the first command.

Limitless Wealth

A mystic with this siddhi can create anything they can imagine, but it's not as simple as it sounds. They have to imagine it down to the most minute detail, so vividly that even the universe can't tell the difference.

The most obvious application is also the least interesting: making money and all the things money can buy. Only the rare monk with more talent than character is so easily lured off the path.

Since the 1990s, a new breed of guru has been using this siddhi to create tulpas that represent various aspects of their own psyche. Reintegrating these tulpas accelerates their progress by refining flaws in their character. Or so goes the theory.

Finally, this siddhi is a blanket excuse to incorporate any kind of supernatural artifact into a game. The vedas are full of inspiration, from flying chariots to weaponized thunderbolts, but don't stop there. Look to "The Lost Room" or "Warehouse 13" for modern magical items.

Created objects, including tulpas, may or may not survive the death of their creator. And sometimes the creators lose control of their creations. It depends on a thousand factors, which means make it up as you go along.

Turning Back the Wheel

Stories of monks with supernatural grace or who can foresee the future are all based on this potent siddhi. Through mindful awareness of the present, the mystic gains an ability to predict future events.

There are two ways to use this power in a game. The first is as an excuse to pull off improbable feats like walking across a busy freeway or blocking a bullet with a frying pan. This conveys no mechanic advantage, it just gives players permission to narrate such stunts.

The second method works more like a premonition. Any time something goes really poorly for the protagonists, a player with this siddhi can ask to "rewind" the narrative to an earlier point, as if the intervening events had been a vision. Then, play it all again with new choices and new dice rolls.

Be warned: Things may not happen exactly the same way; this siddhi is only a prediction of the future.

Transmutation of Matter

The subtle states of matter are as illusory as anything else: liquid or solid, hard or brittle, living or decomposed. An enlightened mind can turn lead into gold or sunshine into darkness. Some can even transmute anger into love or sorrow into joy.

The object or person being transmuted always remains what it is, it just changes state. This is distinguishes transmutation from the siddhi of Limitless Wealth.

The subject must be in the mystic's physical presence, but the changes are permanent. They are also extremely rapid, which can make certain transmutations disturbing to watch. Others are miraculous: transmutation can cure disease and restore limbs.

Transmigration of the Soul

Even on the streets of Occult India, no one really knows what happens when we die, but the transmigration of the soul is a reality for certain, powerful mystics.

Most of the time, this siddhi is just an object lesson in the illusion of separation. It allows the mystic to hijack another person or animal's sense and "ride along" in their body. While this is happening, the mystic is in deep meditation and nearly impossible to wake.

When a mystic with this siddhi dies, things get more interesting. Their mind is cut loose, like a ghost, and they can actually take possession of another body. The body's previous owner is snuffed out, their mind overwritten with the mystic's memories.

Whether this is really a way to cheat death, or just a way to make convincing a copy of yourself, is a matter of much debate in certain circles.

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Written by Daniel Bayn