Could someone show an example of how psychic powers work in Deathwatch? I am confused because I am used to how they worked in Dark Heresy which is different, the individual powers don't have thresholds anymore, it simply appears to be a willpower test now.


3 Answers 3


There's been some important errata to how psy powers work, which is good, because the book's rules are actually somewhere between "unclear" and "contradictory" in several areas.

The most important thing to know is that the example is wrong, wrong, wrong, and should be wholesale disregarded.

The other important thing to know is that all Focus Power tests are made at a difficulty of Challenging (+0).

Also, note that you get +5 to your Focus Power test per point of effective Psy Rating - "effective" meaning "including modifiers for Fettered or Push". (Push provides +3 Psy Rating, and thus +15 to your check.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Having looked at my Rogue Trader book for an unrelated project, it turns out that this system is apparently identical to the mechanics for psy powers that Astropaths use - and that section has a sidebar about how Dark Heresy psy rules (such as things that affect threshold) interact with Rogue Trader psy rules. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 7, 2010 at 23:52

It is fairly different, but not too complex. In short,

1) Choose a power level (fettered, unfettered or push) - this determines how powerful the effect will be and what the chances of a warp event will be

2) Make a focus power test (straight willpower test against the adjusted psy rating [modified by the power level adjustment added to the Psyker's base Psy rating])

3) Apply effects (basically do damage, roll on the psychic phenomena table, etc).

The book example is fairly basic: a librarian (Psy 4) decides to take out an orc with Smite. He chooses to push (power level) giving a modified Psy rating of 7 (push grants a +3). Our librarian makes an Challenging (+0) test against his willpower to hit (per the power's description). If successful, he uses the Psy rating of 7 for all power effects and will make a roll on the psychic phenomena chart and handle fatigue (due to pushing).

  • \$\begingroup\$ khm... 5*7=35 so you would actually test against 80 in the push level example :) \$\endgroup\$
    – user8491
    Commented Jun 11, 2013 at 16:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ In that example, what determines that it is a Challenging (+0) test? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 25, 2013 at 20:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Challenging is the default difficulty level for Focus power tests. \$\endgroup\$
    – rjstreet
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 13:17

Example: You librarian has a PSY score of 4. A Willpower score of 45.

For every point of psy rating, you get +5 to your Focus Power test.

Unfetterd PSY = 4, WP=45 Focus Power test=45 +(4*5)=65.

If you fetter the power you half your psy rating (round up) so PSY=2, WP=45 therefore FP=45+10=55

If you push you add +3 to your Psy modifier to your psy rating, therefore WP=45 PSY=4+3=7 so FP test = 45 + (5*7) 30= 75 but you roll on psychic phenomena table, if you get a double ie 66 you also get 1 point of fatigue . A FP roll of 91-100 still fails, regardless of wether your Focus Power bonus is greater.

Note: You can use Invocation (full action) to clear your mind an increase the psy rating of a fettered attack by 1, effectively removing the risk of psychic phenomena. A force staff gives +15 to a Invocation test.


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