Aedolis divides all known psionics into four tiers for the purpose of classification, with the most common abilities and those useless to the military falling under tier one, and the rarest and most useful being in tier four.
In Aedolis, but rarely anywhere else, psychics are referred to by their highest tier number. For example, a Pilot with an ability from tier four would be called a fourth tier psychic. Tiers have no bearing on promotion or rank among the Pilots and are only used for classification purposes, though they can affect candidates as those with rarer and more useful abilities will be pushed harder to pass the training.
Psychics typically excel in only one family of psionics. The families are telepathy, telekinesis, cognition, and electrogenesis.
There is a strength-based cutoff point for candidates. Those who are too weak or who do not have abilities of sufficient applicability will not be allowed into the Pilot candidate program, but might instead be drafted for other military positions or find work in the private sector.
- 1 Tier One
- 2 Tier Two
- 3 Tier Three
- 4 Tier Four
This tier contains both telepathy and telekinesis, two basic abilities from which many other specializations and skills spring. Most Pilots will have both of those abilities to some degree, and telepathy is required to even enter the candidacy. Also in this tier are those abilities that may be uncommon, but are also not useful for Pilots to have.
- The most common of all psychic abilities. Telepathy is a blanket term referring to any interaction between the psychic's thoughts and the thoughts of another. This includes things like speaking to another with thought, "overhearing" the surface thoughts of others (often called passive telepathy), reading a person's deeper thoughts, reading memories, and planting suggestions. Telepathy is required to be a Pilot, though it is so commonplace among psychics that this has rarely been an issue. Psychics who excel in the telepathic family of abilities are typically inferior within the telekinetic field.
- A specialization of telepathy that allows one to communicate with animals. Once highly common, it has fallen out of use and is declining in frequency among the population.
- Also a specialization of telepathy, this ability allows communication with plants. Similar to faunapathy in that it was once common and is now disappearing from the population.
- The ability to manipulate physical matter with one's mind. Like telepathy, telekinesis is common among psychics. It also has many specializations (identifiable suffix -kinesis), so many that when applied to a psychic itself, the term telekinesis generally refers only to an ability to manipulate solid, visible objects. Usually the strength of telekinesis is roughly equivalent to the person's physical strength, though instances of it being considerably stronger do regularly occur. Telekinetic abilities also tend to have a much shorter range than telepathic ones. Psychics who excel in the telekinetic family of abilities are typically inferior within the telepathic field.
- Mordecaism is an involuntary ability that works on the minds of mages to repress their thaumaturgy. While occurring only in a small percentage of the Aedolian population, mordecaism holds little to no use for the military, hence it's classification as tier one. Generally occurs alone, with no other psychic abilities.
- Believed to be related to mordecaism, reflectivism is also an involuntary ability. It prevents the psychic's mind from being read or otherwise influenced by other psychics. Attempts to do so result in a sensation of the thoughts bouncing back, or reflecting, hence the name. However, reflectivism precludes all other psionics in that same person. A reflectivist will never be capable of any other psychic ability. They cannot become Pilots and have no other use within the military. Reflectivism is rare, but tends to pop up occasionally in families with a long history of producing psychics, leading some to believe that it is a mutation or anomaly within the genetic line.
This tier contains the more complicated and powerful specializations of telepathy and telekinesis. Many are suitable as weapons and a few are quite dangerous if left untrained.
- Involves the manipulation of liquids. Important to note is that hydrokinetics can control liquids, but cannot generate them to a significant degree. A hydrokinetic, depending on their specific capabilities, might be able to draw the moisture in the air together to collect a small amount of water, but they cannot create liquid out of nothing. (That would be hydromancy.) It is the most common specialization of telekinesis.
- Involves the generation and manipulation of heat and fire. Pyrokinesis is seen as one of the deadliest psionic weapons for close combat. A fairly common specialization of telekinesis. It often manifests with cryokinesis, as the techniques are the same, simply reversed.
- Involves the generation of cold and the capability to freeze objects. It is seen as the sister ability to pyrokinesis, and the two often occur together. Like pyrokinesis, it is a weapon of combat.
- Far more rare than the three specializations above, electrokinesis is the generation and manipulation of electricity. It has uses for both combat and other field work, though it is notoriously difficult to master and control. Electrokinetic Pilot candidates spend a disproportionate amount of time in Stage 4, learning to rein in this frenzied power.
- Empathy refers to both the ability to perceive the emotions of others and to project emotions onto them. Empathic Pilots never lack for options, as their talents have a myriad of uses both in combat, on the field, or as mentors, counselors, and inquisition officers. It is a specialization of telepathy.
Tier three psionics are separated from tier two mostly by their rarity. These abilities are less common than those in tier two, while still having applicable military uses. Candidates with these abilities will often find themselves with only one or two Pilots capable of properly training them.
- Though currently rare, technopathy is quickly rising in frequency and is expected to become a common occurrence within the next century. It allows one to communicate telepathically with computer systems and AIs. Two variations exist: direct technopathy, in which the psychic must be touching a bare wire or port that connects to the system they are trying to access, and teletechnopathy, the much more uncommon form that requires no direct physical contact.
- A further specialization of hydrokinesis. It refers specifically to the manipulation of blood. Not all hydrokinetics can work with the unique organic properties of blood, and hemokinesis is among the rarest kinetic abilities.
- The manipulation of light. Of all telekinetic specializations, this is the most uncommon, though Aedolis hopes to see its frequency among the population increase. Light being the source of all color and images, illumokinetics hold the potential to create illusions and control what others see. Still a new and imperfect discipline due to the lack of psychics with this ability, illumokinesis is still in its early stages of research.
Without exception, all tier four psionics are rarely seen within any population, even Aedolis. Most of them are sought after for the higher levels of military intelligence. Psychics with these abilities will often be weak in all others. They also overlap sometimes, creating new and useful subabilities, such as psychometry and telesthesia combining to locate a specific person through one of their possessions.
- Psychometrics can hold an object or enter an area and perceive the emotions, images, dialogue, and thoughts of whoever possessed the object or passed through the location. The longer a person stayed in one place and the more they handled the object, the greater their imprint will be upon it. Differs from retrocognition in that psychometrics read lingering pieces of information that cling to specific physical places and objects.
- Sometimes seen as a skill, sometimes as a specialization of psychometry, imprinting allows a psychometric to embed words, thoughts, feelings, and images into an object. Of course, it takes another psychometric to read the messages.
- The ability to see events that happened in the past. Differs from psychometry in that retrocogs pick up whole events and situations regarding whatever subject matter is presented to them. The ability is triggered by presenting the retrocog with stimulation—a person, a place, an incident, etc.—but the ability itself is involuntary. Retrocognition never occurs with precognition in the same person. Accuracy in retrocogs also tends to land higher than for precogs.
- Among the rarest of all psionics, precognition provides visions of the future. There is a lot of pressure to ensure that precog candidates graduate to full Pilots. So coveted is this ability that it is not unheard of for the Aedolis military to keep dissident, criminal, and foreign precogs imprisoned to make use of them. It is also one of the easier abilities to hide. Draft officers looking for candidates can only try and catch the physical side effects of precognition, as there are currently no tests to identify it. The visions precogs see are always random and involuntary; they are impossible to direct toward one subject or another. The accuracy rate for precogs varies wildly. To qualify for candidacy, precogs will need to have around 80% accuracy in predicting future events. Due to the subjective nature of the visions and the effect of random probability and human interference, no precog will be right 100% of the time. The most successful would be around 90%.
Telesthesia or Telecognition
- On a level with precognition in its rarity, telesthesia grants the ability to perceive distant events that are happening at that moment. The physical distance seems to matter little, as most telesthetics can see events in a different room or on a different planet with equal frequency. A fickle power, its accuracy skews lower than with precognition, and even among the best telesthetics the ability can be unreliable.
- While most other tier four psionics have been documented for several centuries, electrogenesis is a new phenomenon, only see within the last few decades. In contrast to electrokinesis, which allows the manipulation of electric current in a psychic's external environment, electrogenesis generates an electromagnetic field within the psychic's brain. Less than half a dozen electrogenesis cases have ever been found, so there is a lack of solid research and understanding of the ability. Thus far it has proven troublesome, the uncontrollable EMP field resulting in interference with electrical and digital equipment and affecting other psychics, but as time goes on Aedolis hopes to find more cases and begin to harness the ability for use.