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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: Fear of Psionics and its Impact over 5 Editions in D&D

    As far as it goes, my perception of the problem with psionics is that its always come down to "we already have magic, how can we make it meaningfully different, and is it worth doing?" with developers generally answering no to the last question. They have a system for magic already. Adding in a second overlapping system doubles with work without doubling the gains. Thats going to be a pretty hard sell for what amounts to a flavor change a lot of the time. If you want a science fantasy setting, just call wizardry psionics and call it a day. Cut the material and somatic components or refluff why you need them and boom, you have a working system, at least for 5e spellcasting. Heck, make it a feat if you want to have both. "psionic spellcaster: You can ignore somatic components and material components without a gold piece cost when you cast a spell." There are a lot of easier ways to just nudge the existing system into place than to try and bolt on something fairly niche thats the same but also completely different.
    “Evil is evil. Lesser, greater, middling, it's all the same. Proportions are negotiated, boundaries blurred. I'm not a pious hermit, I haven't done only good in my life. But if I'm to choose between one evil and another, then I prefer not to choose at all.”

  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Default Re: Fear of Psionics and its Impact over 5 Editions in D&D

    You know, I was just about to create a thread to post a realization I'd just had, when I saw this thread, and realized that it would fit here perfectly.

    The realization? In 2e, magic item drops were random. Fighters (and everyone, really) were completely dependent on random rolls to see what they were going to be able to do, magic-wise. Same with Wizard spells: you got 0 spells you leveled - it was only a matter of loot that determined your abilities.

    Enter the Psionicist, who got to choose their powers they leveled up. (Sure, the Cleric got all their spells, too, but who cares - they were just considered a walking box of bandaids).

    Now, random loot was random - a 1st level character could end up with a Vorpal sword, +5 armor and shield, and a Ring of 3 Wishes. But *personal* magic - that of Wizards and Clerics - was strictly bounded by your level¹.

    Enter the Psionicist, who got to choose their most powerful powers² starting at level 1.

    Personal magic was also bounded by 8 hours of continuous rest, prayer, study. Or was that just Wizards? But a Psionicist would gradually regain power from resting… or even during light activity.

    2e psionics didn't really "fit".

    ¹ unless you were an NPC in a module like Halls of the High King…
    ² with a few exceptions, mostly in the "metamagics" category


    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    I think the main problem with psionics is that it has frequently been an utter mess.

    *1e psionics was broken in so many stupid ways. 1e is hostile architecture, but for game design.

    *2e had two psionics systems... one of which made it terribly hard to improve as a psionicist (aside from gaining more powers), and the other of which had completely broken psychic combat as a centerpiece (it cost more, on average, to attack psychically, than you would do in PSP damage).

    *3e had a pretty lackluster system, that was replaced by a pretty good system. But, IMO, while the system was mechanically good, it had, IMO, a vocabulary problem.

    *4e was very different, but a lot like the rest of 4e.

    I'm not familiar with 5e psionics.

    But a lot of the problem with psionics in D&D is it's often sucked.
    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Could you elaborate on the vocabulary problem, please?
    I'll second that desire - and not just for 2e.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Torath View Post
    2nd Edition Revised was awful. The first 2nd Edition version was much better, and all it needed was a rule to let you improve power scores as you level up.

    The Revised psionics system is busted. It failed at both of its stated aims of being less confusing and easier to use.
    - First off, you need to determine an MTHAC0 for every psionicist or wild talent. It's not trivial, and I've lost count of the number of people I've had to help figure theirs out.
    - Next you need to calculate a MAC for absolutely every living thing a psioncist could conceivably want to use a power on. Yes, even that. This is also not a trivial calculation. It's not hard, but it's not simple, either. And it adds a substantial load on the DM when stating out encounters. Again, I've had to help multiple people figure theirs out.
    - The Revised psionics stripped out the Power Score and Natural 20 results, which removed a lot of flavor to the psionic powers, and removed the drawbacks from powers like disintegrate.
    - Then there are psychic contests. In Core psionics, these are trivial to resolve. It's a pair of adjusted ability checks, and the highest successful roll wins. In Revised, to resolve a contest between two psionicists, the lowest successful roll wins. Fine. But between a psionicist and a non-psionicist - say, in a telekinetics attempt to wrest a weapon from the grip of a warrior - the psionicist wants the lowest successful roll, but the guy trying not to lose their spear wants the highest successful roll. If both rolls are successful, determining the winner is *not* trivial. Again, it's not really hard, but it's time-consuming to determine the winner, and it's not immediately apparent just from looking at the die rolls.
    - The real problem is psychic combat. In Core 2nd Edition, it's a series of adjusted ability score checks (like the psychic contest mentioned above) and you need to win three of these with your attack mode to establish contact. In revised, you establish contact by running your opponent completely out of PSPs. But every attack costs more PSPs than the average damage it inflicts on your target. You know what? Seika said it better than I can.
    - And since Contact has been changed from something that connects you to another's mind to a NWP that gives you access to telepathic psionic attack modes, the only way to open a mind is to ask nicely, or to psionically attack it. You cannot connect to someone's mind without their knowledge, which makes powers like Invisibility, False Sensory Input, ESP, and several others effectively useless. Plus, anyone who's mind you have opened can kick you out pretty easily. Telepathy has been hamstrung.
    - After removing the Contact power, Revised still provided MACs and PSP costs for the powers that make using Contact on other species easier. But since Contact has been removed, Reptile Mind, Plant Mind, and Insect Mind have no purpose.
    - Both the PO:S&P and Revised Dark Sun books still require you to purchase The Complete Psionics Handbook, Dragon Kings, and The Will and the Way to get full descriptions of all the psionic powers. Except now you've got 4 (or 5) books, plus a Dragon Annual to flip through to find precisely what you're looking for.
    Your post was so thought-provoking, I'm currently at way with myself. Kudos!

    On the one hand, this (plus the changes to the skill system) were the predecessors to the 3e "d20” system, which undeniably *was* less confusing and easier to use than 2e. So I can't fault giving every power a MAC (DC), and giving the Psionicist a single MTHAC0 (bonus) as being anything but easier than the previous system of powers having unique bonuses, and keying off different stats.

    On the other hand, having to flip through multiple books to understand your power is more complex than the previous incarnation… so, by trying to save the customers money by not reprinting everything in one book, they inherently failed at their goals.

    On the one hand, powers did not improve, and that paralleled skills not improving, either - there was no need for such a mechanic.

    On the other hand, the revised Skills and Powers stuff *did* have skills, save DCs, and power scores all improving.

  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Default Re: Fear of Psionics and its Impact over 5 Editions in D&D

    Psionics has had more or fewer differences from other subsystems depending on edition. 1e, it used a “mana point” system (PSP) and was entirely random whether you had it. You got a random chance of minor or major powers, and if you got them, it was pure boon. 2E brought the brown splat book with the psionicist class. Still used PSP, but had a feat-tree-like progression as you leveled to pick your powers.

    3.0 made it more similar to spellcasting, with powers known and levels like spell levels, but kept the “mana point” resource as “pp.” It introduced the unique experiment of making each Discipline use its own stat. Or maybe it brought that from 2E; I forget. Either way, that was considered less than great. 3.5 made it more like magic yet again with class-based manifesting stats. The introduction of feats you could commit pp to, later made into the psionic focus mechanic, was a further bit of uniqueness. As was the augmentation concept rather than direct ML-based power increases.

    I don’t know 4e’s psionics well enough to comment, and 5e hasn’t been able to settle on a subsystem it likes.

    3.5 had a lot of experimental magic subsystems. Incarnum used a point pool that rarely was spent, but was invested and shifted around, coupled with a limited number of “slots” for unique powers to invest them in. Binders used a modular suite of powers you could grab that got better with levels. Tome of Battle brought us a half-way point between feats and spells, with maneuver levels, maneuvers known, and the encounter-power “readied” mechanic.

    Most of those subsystems were brought to PF by DSP. Though PF itself gave us a number of classes using a subsystem where each class had a unique pool of points very closely related to the number of levels in that class to fuel class features. Magus arcana, investigator inspiration, occultist mental focus... somehow, they also kept these feeling somewhat “fresh” and like differing mechanics between the classes with small differences in how they’re used.

    Any new subsystem needs its own mechanic that can unify its effects and give it a distinct feel. That’s what 5e psionics design has struggled with: coming up with that system. The sorcerer’s SP seem to get in the way of simply using a 3e-like power point system. As does upcasting as a concept get in the way of augmentation being something special.

    Personally, I’d like to see a combination of incarnum and psi, where power points are invested into powers for ongoing effects and then spent for big effects.

  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: Fear of Psionics and its Impact over 5 Editions in D&D

    There are a number of inaccuracies in here that should be addressed.There are a number of inaccuracies in here that should be addressed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Same with Wizard spells: you got 0 spells you leveled - it was only a matter of loot that determined your abilities.
    Not BtB. Specialists always got a spell, and the DMG said that all wizards should gain a spell upon attaining a new spell level (old cover DMG, p. 41, "Acquisition of Spells Beyond 1st Level", under "Going Up in Levels"). It's nowhere near as generous as the 3.x version, but it's been there since the get-go in 2e (to say nothing of stuff like PO).

    Enter the Psionicist, who got to choose their most powerful powers² starting at level 1.
    Also not true, due to the restrictions on power choice.

    For example, the most powerful ability of a Psychokineticist (leaving aside the High Sciences introduced in Will and the Way) is probably Disintegrate (Create Object and Detonate are also powerful, but still). To get Disintegrate, you had to have Telekinesis as your first science (at level 1). Telekinesis as written is horrible, but to get Telekinesis, you need to have two Devotions that don't require it... from which you get to pick Animate Shadow, Control Light, Control Sound, Molecular Agitation, or Soften. You wouldn't be able to get Disintegrate until level 3, with your second science. Telepathy was likewise heavily dependent upon a single prerequisite, but it really needed 2... without Mindlink (science) and Contact (devotion), you weren't going much of anywhere in Telepathy.

    Disintegrate at level 3 is still a lot more free than you see in Wizardry, of course... but it also had two points of failure (power score and saving throw), and had a 5% chance of targeting you, no matter how skilled you were.

    ETA: Related: I did a rework of 2e psionics to include some material from both CPH and S&P
    Last edited by Mark Hall; 2020-12-29 at 03:30 PM.
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  5. - Top - End - #35
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    Default Re: Fear of Psionics and its Impact over 5 Editions in D&D

    The way I like to explain Psionics ties in with the way I define magic, which makes things a little neater for me. Everyone knows the Weave, right? It's the source of magic. Wizards and Sorcerers tap it to create effects. Magic itself is just an energy, like heat. It can exist naturally in nature (where druids get it from), it can be tapped from the Weave (Sorcerers being born knowing how, wizards learning to do it through analysis), it can be channeled into oneself by an outside entity (A god or patron), or it can "come from within" as psionics puts it. What does this "comes from within" mean? Well, simply put, monk is to psionic as fighter is to wizard. The fighter and the wizard both practice in order to increase their physical or mental grasp of outside forces (weapons, or the weave). The monk and the psionic practice in order to increase their psychical or mental grasp of inside forces (innate physical capabilities of the body and mind).

    Essentially, through rigorous training and mental focus, the psionic creates their own personal Weave inside their mind, which they then tap for power. Of course, this personal Weave begins completely blank (Think of traditional spells like Fireball as programs or scripts contained within the code of the Weave), and one must work with the energy through the lens of their own mind and body, making things like enhancing the mind, senses, soul, and body far easier, but things like throwing Fireballs a bit more complex, though still achievable to some extent.

    As for whether or not magic and psionics interact, I have no idea, that's a game balance nightmare. Flavorwise I like them being alien to each other and unable to affect each other, but balancewise whoof.
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    Default Re: Fear of Psionics and its Impact over 5 Editions in D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by Phhase View Post
    Essentially, through rigorous training and mental focus, the psionic creates their own personal Weave inside their mind, which they then tap for power.
    I am a big fan of the personal weave, and I have further headcanon about it:
    • The average Joe unknowingly has an aura of abjuration, essential to their survival in a magical world.
    • An arcane spellcaster has an aura like a coat of weaving needles, for the manipulation of ambient magic.
    • A divine spellcaster has an aura that acts as a channel for their deity, deities or other guiding principle.
    • A monk has an aura like a second body, made most obvious by followers of the Way of the Astral Self.
    • A psion has an aura that tries to be a world unto itself, autonomously rearranging matter and space.

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    Default Re: Fear of Psionics and its Impact over 5 Editions in D&D

    Would 3.5's Autohypnosis skill cover some examples of "non-magical psionics"? My impression is that "psionics" isn't really used as a term for stuff like that, but exclusively for magical superpowers like mind-reading and telekinesis. In which case, well... of course psionics is magic. It may be magic more likely to be found in "science fiction", where it typically won't be called "magic", but an elven wizard in a magical fantasy world who sees a psionicist levitating and blasting stuff with force lightning isn't going to think that that "isn't magic". Psionics is a different type of magic than spellcasting, but there's plenty of that, like a druid's wild shape and magic items and so on, and stuff that interacts with magic in general and not with spells in particular will obviously interact with psionics, what with psionics totally being magic and all.
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    Default Re: Fear of Psionics and its Impact over 5 Editions in D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    I

    I've been trying to work on a Psychic class for 5e, going in a very different direction tot he official version of psionics. Psionics is related to ki, but instead of training your body you train your senses, eventually developing to first limited telepathic ability, thank a limited increase to skills, and then finally developing into either a Clairvoyant or full blown Telepath (at the moment, might add more later). Unlike mages a psychic cannot have powers from all over the place, they must specialise in one area which brings with it a specific set of powers,

    I find this works for me. Other psionics fans might disagree. Other people might just not want psionics at all.

    Of course, it's not going well because I'd much rather run other systems that tend to have psionics either built-in or easily creatable with the existing rules.
    Would you make Psionics a kind of magic for "[effect] magic", allow there to be spells of "[effect] Psionics" or have psionics be a rare effect that has as an advantage the limited counters?
    Or something else to address this question?
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    Default Re: Fear of Psionics and its Impact over 5 Editions in D&D

    Personally I'd meld Psionics into Sorcerer and treat them as the ultimate Innate Magic class, free from Old Vancian and silly VSM components (getting other restrictions to counterbalance that, I'm fine with). This idea probably stems from my home language (Korean), which traditionally does not linguistically distinguish "psionics" from other innate "superpowers".
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    Default Re: Fear of Psionics and its Impact over 5 Editions in D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    I did quite like how 4e tied psionics in, but that could be YMMV.

    As a side note, a lot of the issue with psionics is that they either tread on the toes of the Sorcerer (if inborn) or the Monk (if Englightenment based). I personally don't have a problem with it, I like my psychics and the limitations psychic powers can bring to the table.

    This really got me thinking. Psionics can be theoretically powerful (Carrie, Firestarter, Akira, End-game Spock from Heroes, etc.) but most of the time they are implemented as weird, weirdly broken, or weak.

    That's not my argument, that's just something most of you have probably experienced. Psionics were quirky in ways they didn't have to be to try to inject balance in all the wrong places. (Poor Vancian wizards went through this rite of passage with crappy weapons and low hp)

    So instead, I would like to Mention some core weaknesses of psionics.

    1. if you are drunk, muddle headed, or suffering from a concussion, your dizziness, cloudy headed-ness, and general lack of coherent THOUGHT makes your psionics CRAP FU.

    That's right, you get promoted to CRAP-FU. Your accuracy would suck because of vertigo, and since psionics traditionally is all about control, concentration, and focus, losing focus could mean your THAC0 sucks, the complexity of your mental images is weak or deranged, or you simply can't form a coherent anything - much less a mental projection or complex pattern.

    Generally, a priest's god can choose to respond whether or not their follower is drugged or knocked senseless. If benevolent or protective, the god would likely grant spells AS A CONSEQUENCE of their follower being mentally abused.

    2. Complexity of Patterns and Formulas isn't using an exterior pattern or intelligence. It's all on you, or your subconscious. For example, try imagining you have the power to form objects from thin air. Now imagine you have to pull off the Dr. Manhattan hat Trick of doing it one molecule at a time, and know where all the little bits go. Making something like a wall of diamond would actually be easier than making an apple. Making a blurry storm of wind and trash would be way easier than forming an ice sculpture of a swan.

    A wizard conjures or summons things mostly intact, in accordance with the pattern of the spell, but a psionicist can't rely on Theurgy or the intelligence of the magic to "just figure it out".

    3. Targets: A magic missile automatically hits because that's what magic can do - the magic is doing the thinking. A Psionicist could be fooled by poorly guessing distance, being unable to track and focus (like waving your hand over a flame to not get burned) long enough to get a good effect.

    A psionicist is weird in the subconscious range too.

    A sleeping psionicist should still be manifesting powers, while if blacked out, possibly manifesting no powers except psychometabolic type reflexive stuff (Carapace from Darksun for example).

    A wizard should not be sleep casting unless they are sleep walking or sleep talking with verbal components. Meanwhile, a Cleric should have full access to their deity even while having a nightmare, and in some cases, their dreams would be literal encounters with their god or its messengers.


    Mutant vs. Enlightenment
    Mutant is the reflexive biological DNA/Ancestor Psychic. This is much like many sorcerer archetypes that talk about bloodlines. Aliens, Spelljammer Races, Githzerai, etc. These types of powers might be completely functional drunk or disoriented. Some might even trigger that way. On the flip side, such innate powers might gain little or nothing from sobriety, clear headedness or lack of emotions. Some powers may be emotion fueled (like the 3.5 wilder) and spending tons of time on a mountain top meditating might yield zero benefits.

    Enlightenment Can be either an Ethical angle, or an intellectual/occult knowledge level. Sometimes both. Wizardry is usually some branch of this. You study arcane sigils and components and formulas to learn the rules of repeatable reliable empirical special effects. Thus everybody's fireball is 20ft radius and has d6s for damage. All the apprentices learn something like Shield or Magic Missile. It's Formulaic. But whether or not you skinned Arcamore's familiar or helped an old lady across a mud puddle last night has zero impact on the success of your formulas.


    This kind of knowledge based psionics can exist. There's plenty of fan fic about super-brain people who learned hidden solutions to philosophy. Schopenhauer or even Crowley: Will=Manifest type stuff. Mental Giants. Alien civilizations that are just so much more Clear on the dimensional space that they Grock how things work, and if we thought like they did, we could do it too, and hopefully not disintegrate our neighbors by accidentally pushing them away in the 4th dimension.

    But far less Strange than these ideas of Super Intelligence/Hidden knowledge/perception, is the notion of Ethical/Taboo based psychic ability. There's stories about yogis with siddhi(psychic powers) who after lifetimes of obedience to principles later abuse them by doing harm or being egotistical, then lose some or all of their powers, or suffer some kind of curse, karmic backlash, or retaliation. A girl in a Wushu movie who abuses the illusional face power to steal identities of beautiful maidens might later end up with a horribly scarred ugly face and near blindness.

    Quid Pro Quo, or in some cases, accumulated reincarnation penalties for instance.

    Hybrids of mystery knowledge + ethical codes are even more common than pure versions of big brain vs. saintly super powers. Monastic Saints in both the East and West have both males and females with typical Psychic abilities including communication with animals, telepathy, and levitation.

    But the important thing about these categories, is that they come with their own flaws.


    A moral powered hero can always be exploited through their dependents or locals. Heroic Paladin superman will always try to save louis lane, or even kittens from trees. That makes them busy and not meddling in the affairs of the evil Lich Luthor in his skyscraper Castle of Doom.


    Super Brain guy requires high mental attributes. No beating around that bush, FEAR of ALL FEARS: Stat minimums. It's not so bad as a flaw though, because if you are given pools for stats, point buy, or roll + arrange to taste,

    a stat requirement always means some other stat has to be sacrificed. Maybe you want a con of 16 for better hit points, but that Big Brain requirement says 16 has to go into Intelligence.


    Generally, Wisdom is your Ethos stat, and Intelligence is your Big Brain stat. Since Mystics of history are often hybrids of ethics and hidden knowledge, that means you have 2 Prerequisites, i.e., 2 less dump stats.
    Last edited by anthon; 2020-12-30 at 05:10 AM.

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    Default Re: Fear of Psionics and its Impact over 5 Editions in D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by Keltest View Post
    As far as it goes, my perception of the problem with psionics is that its always come down to "we already have magic, how can we make it meaningfully different, and is it worth doing?" with developers generally answering no to the last question. They have a system for magic already. Adding in a second overlapping system doubles with work without doubling the gains. Thats going to be a pretty hard sell for what amounts to a flavor change a lot of the time. If you want a science fantasy setting, just call wizardry psionics and call it a day. Cut the material and somatic components or refluff why you need them and boom, you have a working system, at least for 5e spellcasting. Heck, make it a feat if you want to have both. "psionic spellcaster: You can ignore somatic components and material components without a gold piece cost when you cast a spell." There are a lot of easier ways to just nudge the existing system into place than to try and bolt on something fairly niche thats the same but also completely different.

    I think this bolded sentence right here strikes at the heart of the problem.

    We should first ask this question regarding other power sources. Watch how irritating this gets:

    we already have magic, how can we make ki meaningfully different, and is ki worth doing?

    we already have magic, how can we make cleric powers meaningfully different, and is cleric magic worth doing?

    we already have magic, how can we make bards meaningfully different, and is song magic worth doing?

    we already have magic, how can we make illusionists meaningfully different, and is illusion magic worth doing?

    we already have magic, how can we make shadow mages meaningfully different, and is shadow magic worth doing?

    we already have mages, how can we make steampunk meaningfully different, and is technology worth doing?

    we already have mages, how can we make druids meaningfully different, and is nature magic worth doing?


    Ad Nauseum.

    First of all, some of you may have noticed that Magic Resistance, Spell Resistance, and Dead Zones, or the rules of the Weave will not apply at all to the some members of the above list. In some cases, the Weave is only partially influenced, such as the case of Shadowfell. Sometimes not at all, such as mechanical clockwork devices made of brass and powered by steam. Some campaigns don't even have a Weave. I never used the Weave theory in Dark Sun nor Dragonlance. It wasn't a thing for me in Planescape either. Greyhawk - doesn't ring a bell. Forgotten Realms doesn't get to dictate reality for game settings outside itself. That's the height of cosmological narcissism.

    Should a Fighter's strength be reduced from 18 to 9 because he enters a dead zone?

    Should a Wizard's intelligence be reduced from 18 to 9 because you cast Antimagic Shell on him?

    Should a Lich's centuries of knowledge be erased from memory because he enters the dispel magic aura of a Holy Avenger?

    ...

    These questions seem absurd, but you never give the same defense against the absurd for psionics. For some interpretations of psionics, it's like exercising a muscle or studying hard. Do their muscles deflate in these seals? Does their brain go smooth and become a tabula rasa like feeble mind? Until we can embrace the concept of psionics possibly being "natural" the idea that it would be resistant to anti-supernatural special effects doesn't click.
    ...

    One of the biggest tragedies in metaphysical understanding of Game design was when S. Williams decided his inspiration for Spells and Magic would be the Force from Star Wars. To most sensible human beings (and a lot of other-kin), that statement completely omits the most obvious: That the Force is Psionics. How did this book on making mages more magical get away with data-mining and plagiarizing such a fundamental cultural hero to Psionics as star wars?

    Should fans of psionics really put up with this?

    Note that the illusionist used to be an independent class. Then they were erased and sucked into the mage.
    Then the psionicist was largely shelved but you got the Sorcerer. Then you got the warlock.

    Now you even have monk wizards and wizard fighters with fireball.... you have this giant circus of stuff.

    But no Psionics? I feel like Psionics are being bullied. And so are their fans.
    Last edited by anthon; 2020-12-30 at 11:38 PM.

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    Default Re: Fear of Psionics and its Impact over 5 Editions in D&D

    Illusionist got "sucked into" wizard because it really is just one school of magic, and always was kind-of weird to be the only one with its own special subclass. Druid got further removed form Cleric because it really was its own class. Illusionist was, in a lot of ways, the proto-sorcerer; the big allure of the Illusionist was early and sometimes exclusive access to the Shadow Evocation/Conjuration line of spells, which let them "prepare" multiple spells in one slot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by anthon View Post
    I think this bolded sentence right here strikes at the heart of the problem.

    We should first ask this question regarding other power sources. Watch how irritating this gets:
    The answer to the majority of what you're asking turns out to be: no, we don't really need different subsystems for all those things. They're mostly just aspects of magic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by anthon View Post
    I think this bolded sentence right here strikes at the heart of the problem.

    We should first ask this question regarding other power sources. Watch how irritating this gets:

    we already have magic, how can we make ki meaningfully different, and is ki worth doing?

    we already have magic, how can we make cleric powers meaningfully different, and is cleric magic worth doing?

    we already have magic, how can we make bards meaningfully different, and is song magic worth doing?

    we already have magic, how can we make illusionists meaningfully different, and is illusion magic worth doing?

    we already have magic, how can we make shadow mages meaningfully different, and is shadow magic worth doing?

    we already have mages, how can we make steampunk meaningfully different, and is technology worth doing?

    we already have mages, how can we make druids meaningfully different, and is nature magic worth doing?


    Ad Nauseum.
    Clerics, bards, illusionists, shadow mages, and druids all use the same magic system: spell slots. It's not the magic system that makes the classes unique (except ki).

    I don't know what steampunk's doing on that list. It's a genre, not a character option.

    Quote Originally Posted by anthon View Post
    Should a Fighter's strength be reduced from 18 to 9 because he enters a dead zone?

    Should a Wizard's intelligence be reduced from 18 to 9 because you cast Antimagic Shell on him?

    Should a Lich's centuries of knowledge be erased from memory because he enters the dispel magic aura of a Holy Avenger?
    Memory and stat increases don't come from magic, so no.

    Quote Originally Posted by anthon View Post
    These questions seem absurd, but you never give the same defense against the absurd for psionics. For some interpretations of psionics, it's like exercising a muscle or studying hard. Do their muscles deflate in these seals? Does their brain go smooth and become a tabula rasa like feeble mind? Until we can embrace the concept of psionics possibly being "natural" the idea that it would be resistant to anti-supernatural special effects doesn't click.
    And therein lies the problem: psionics are, by definition, supernatural. There's a reason it mainly shows up in sci-fi and fantasy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mjp1050 View Post
    And therein lies the problem: psionics are, by definition, supernatural. There's a reason it mainly shows up in sci-fi and fantasy.
    And my view basically boils down to 'it's all supernatural power gubbins, why arbitrarily ban one variety of gubbins'.

    Now at the end of the day if a GM bans psionics in their world I'll be annoyed but don't with it. It's the players who get annoyed at me using it out saying this type of mystic gubbins shouldn't be in the game that cause me problems. Yes there are orders of telekinetic warriors, so what it's my world, and no you can't play a druid, the class's redundancy with the Nature Cleric means there's no place for it in my world.

    Also, if you try to pull Angry GM's trick of banning anybody who asks to play a psychic you've outed yourself as a bad GM. You're obviously not working with your players, instead you're offering an option, and then when a player takes that option you're making assumptions about them and throwing them out of the group.

    Now I am all for D&D possibly shaking up the system it uses for psionics, and all for them being defeated by anti-magic defences if that's what's needed for game balance. But my favourite Sorcerer subclass is the Aberrant Mind, so even if they work exactly like magic I'd still like to play a psychic.
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    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
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    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    And my view basically boils down to 'it's all supernatural power gubbins, why arbitrarily ban one variety of gubbins'.
    This is totally one branch of psionics. As this guy says:
    And therein lies the problem: psionics are, by definition, supernatural. There's a reason it mainly shows up in sci-fi and fantasy.
    And I think that's part of the apparatus of fear game designers are fleeing from. So far, who has acknowledged the crux of the magic/no magic problem? The default answer is to assume its always magic/supernatural and that makes it easier, but then the same argument is used to dismiss psionics. The same argument used to dismiss psionics however, is also capable of dismantling 3/4ths of all classes into oblivion.

    Mage flavor of the week.
    ...

    But what if we focus on a new idea, the idea that what we think is reality isn't relevant - D&D doesn't take place in our universe or obey our universe rules - we have no weave of Mystra or inner elemental planes for instance. So why can't psionics be perfectly natural in a multiverse where stuff like inner planes and 150ft Roc birds exist?

    Better still, is what we think of as reality, in fact, reality?

    sage journals/Measuring Intuition: Nonconscious Emotional Information Boosts Decision Accuracy and Confidence
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    The long-held popular notion of intuition has garnered much attention both academically and popularly. Although most people agree that there is such a phenomenon as intuition, involving emotionally charged, rapid, unconscious processes, little compelling evidence supports this notion. Here, we introduce a technique in which subliminal emotional information is presented to subjects while they make fully conscious sensory decisions. Our behavioral and physiological data, along with evidence-accumulator models, show that nonconscious emotional information can boost accuracy and confidence in a concurrent emotion-free decision task, while also speeding up response times. Moreover, these effects were contingent on the specific predictive arrangement of the nonconscious emotional valence and motion direction in the decisional stimulus. A model that simultaneously accumulates evidence from both physiological skin conductance and conscious decisional information provides an accurate description of the data. These findings support the notion that nonconscious emotions can bias concurrent nonemotional behavior—a process of intuition.


    Wired magazine/Mind Over Matter Princeton University human minds influence machines study
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    Dunne, a developmental psychologist, is far from the mad scientist type. But she is doggedly determined to prove what most physicists have never thought possible: that the human mind can change the performance characteristics of machines. Mind over matter, as it were. Sound crazy? The work at the PEAR lab has consistently shown that "normal" volunteers - not people who purport to have any psychic powers - can indeed influence the behavior of micro-electronic equipment with their minds, with their consciousness. This is done without the benefit of electrodes and wires - and without anyone being permitted to give the machine a good whack. Nearly a hundred volunteers have conducted 212 million REG trials during the 15 years of the lab's existence, and the research shows a tiny but statistically significant result that is not attributable to chance. The volunteers didn't even have to sweet-talk the machine into its deviations the way Dunne has just done. Some of the "operators" merely stare broodingly at the display, focusing their minds to beat the silicon into submission. Others let their thoughts wander or read a book. Two-thirds of the volunteers have been able to affect the REG in the direction they had intended (to select more high or more low numbers), while only half of them would have produced those results by chance. A few of them have gotten results that, when expressed in a graph, are so distinct the PEAR scientists can recognize these volunteers' patterns at a glance. Dunne refers to such patterns as "signatures."

    The effects that the volunteers accomplish are very small, but amazing. "The operators are roughly altering one bit in 1,000," explains Michael Ibison, a British mathematical physicist who has come to work for a year at PEAR after stints at Siemens, IBM, and Agfa. "That means if you had a coin toss, psychokinesis could affect one of those coin tosses if you tossed a thousand times."


    The question isn't whether these studies were found to be empirical, irrelevant, or debunked. The question is whether we can accept a universe in which the unaided non-ritual, non-theurgical, non-mystical and yes, non-magical ability to have Extra Senses (ESP), or Action at a Distance (Telekinesis).

    Can a universe exist where these things are ordinary, or if not ordinary, natural?

    There's nothing ordinary about a Tardigrade, a creature that can survive 99.9% absolute Zero or the Vacuum of space, but it's not magical. Turritopsis dohrnii is an effectively immortal jellyfish capable of reversing its stages in life under stress, but it's real. Henrietta Lacks had cancerous blood cells later known as the immortalized human cell line.
    Dean Karnazes was a human being who once ran non stop for over 80 consecutive hours. The man ran 350 miles non-stop. He didn't use Expeditious Retreat nor drink Constitution potions. He wasn't on any drugs. There were no glowy god beings in the clouds waving magical fans at his back.

    Throughout history, you might find some human beings who have impossible strength (like Louis Cyr of Canada), can perform monstrous mathematical equations like a living calculator, or can perfectly copy in photographic detail an image glanced once. People do Awesome things on those compilation videos with bikes, high dives, or Parkour jumps.

    Sometimes an astounding ability seems like its genetic, a Mutation of a Mutant;

    and other times, like the Speed Rubiks Cube kids, it's from intensive training. People have had dreams for thousands of years in every continent with precognitive properties on par with high level spells, but they didn't cast any spells. The DIA and CIA dumped a lot of money into Stargate for people claiming to have Astral Projection abilities to spy during the cold war with mixed, but not negative results.

    There's millions of people who think some of all of this is pseudo science,

    but there's also millions of people who think some or all of this is fact.

    But if it is fact, then it means ordinary people can have special abilities with no magical causality whatsoever. Being completely natural, special effects which require the "magical" flag to interact, instead have no hold, and vice versa: these unique abilities might have no positive amalgamation synergy at all:

    a Psychic Tossed into a Circle of Wizards or Priests trying to do a group metamagic spell might provide Zero bonus, and their lack of "magical circuits" might actually disrupt, rather than amplify the spell.

    So I think it's important to see the possibility that some "Subclasses" of Psionicist exist which simply are not magical, and do not participate in the benefits or penalties of being thus acquainted with those circles.

    Sorcerers and Spell points have been around for decades. Modern Edition Cantrips have infinite cast. Calling Anti Psionic Theory purely a Vancian issue of game balance is not sincere.

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    Quote Originally Posted by anthon View Post
    There's nothing ordinary about a Tardigrade, a creature that can survive 99.9% absolute Zero or the Vacuum of space, but it's not magical. Turritopsis dohrnii is an effectively immortal jellyfish capable of reversing its stages in life under stress, but it's real. Henrietta Lacks had cancerous blood cells later known as the immortalized human cell line.
    Dean Karnazes was a human being who once ran non stop for over 80 consecutive hours. The man ran 350 miles non-stop. He didn't use Expeditious Retreat nor drink Constitution potions. He wasn't on any drugs. There were no glowy god beings in the clouds waving magical fans at his back.

    Throughout history, you might find some human beings who have impossible strength (like Louis Cyr of Canada), can perform monstrous mathematical equations like a living calculator, or can perfectly copy in photographic detail an image glanced once. People do Awesome things on those compilation videos with bikes, high dives, or Parkour jumps.

    Sometimes an astounding ability seems like its genetic, a Mutation of a Mutant;


    and other times, like the Speed Rubiks Cube kids, it's from intensive training. People have had dreams for thousands of years in every continent with precognitive properties on par with high level spells, but they didn't cast any spells.
    I think a lot of people, particularly those who are tired of wizards being able to reshape the game playing-field, but fighters are regularly limited to a designer's conception of what a IRL person could do (often well below accomplishments like Karnazes'), would suggest that the term for such a character ought to be 'fighter' or 'rogue,' and not some breed of psionicist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    And my view basically boils down to 'it's all supernatural power gubbins, why arbitrarily ban one variety of gubbins'.

    Now at the end of the day if a GM bans psionics in their world I'll be annoyed but don't with it. It's the players who get annoyed at me using it out saying this type of mystic gubbins shouldn't be in the game that cause me problems. Yes there are orders of telekinetic warriors, so what it's my world, and no you can't play a druid, the class's redundancy with the Nature Cleric means there's no place for it in my world.

    Also, if you try to pull Angry GM's trick of banning anybody who asks to play a psychic you've outed yourself as a bad GM. You're obviously not working with your players, instead you're offering an option, and then when a player takes that option you're making assumptions about them and throwing them out of the group.

    Now I am all for D&D possibly shaking up the system it uses for psionics, and all for them being defeated by anti-magic defences if that's what's needed for game balance. But my favourite Sorcerer subclass is the Aberrant Mind, so even if they work exactly like magic I'd still like to play a psychic.
    "Angry GM" should probably rename his page "Petty Spiteful GM".

    You have the right approach -- basing what mechanical bits are available on your actual setting -- but I've run into more than a few players who get TICKED that they can't play this or that class or subclass in a particular game, something about "but it's in the rules, why can't I?"
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    The answer to the majority of what you're asking turns out to be: no, we don't really need different subsystems for all those things. They're mostly just aspects of magic.
    Why doesn't - or shouldn't - ki use spell slots, too?

    What makes psionics "psionic" as opposed to "wizardry" or "divine spellcasting?" The obvious bits are, perhaps, a lack of verbal and material components. The Force suggests somatic components might yet be a thing, though those seem more dramatic than necessary. Is that it, though? Or is psionics more characterized by a greater reliability, perhaps? That's not exquisitely represented in earlier editions, but the use of power points rather than spell slots at least makes things a little smoother, since you can't "run out" of high-level spell slots until you're low on juice in general.

    3e experimented with a number of subsystems, as I went over in a previous post. I think more subsystems can make things more interesting, though I do think some of 3e's efforts were more "subsystems for subsystems' sake" rather than really trying to capture something specific.

    So, the question comes back to: what should psionics be, that it is psionics and not "just magic?" Should it use spell slots, or does it, like ki, need its own subsystem?

    I think DSP's update to 3.5's psionics for PF is actually really, really good, myself, but I don't know that it works directly converted to 5e.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    "Angry GM" should probably rename his page "Petty Spiteful GM".
    I do still wonder why so many people praise his half-baked, self-important ideas as the best thing since slice bread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    So, the question comes back to: what should psionics be, that it is psionics and not "just magic?" Should it use spell slots, or does it, like ki, need its own subsystem?

    I think DSP's update to 3.5's psionics for PF is actually really, really good, myself, but I don't know that it works directly converted to 5e.
    For me, at least, psionics has always thematically felt like a poor fit with vancian casting. The components, the implied rituals, and the reliance on specific, individual spells are a poor fit for how that kind of supernatural power is typically imagined.

    I personally prefer an approach like 5e's Mystic, or the psionics from Stars without Number. It's more about certain disciplines and broad powers that the psychic has, and then grows more powerful and versatile within. Note that this can be slotted into a more generic magic system, but D&D's spellcasting in particular does not get the same feel across.
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    You don't win people over by beating them with facts until they surrender; at best all you've got is a conversion under duress, and at worst you've actively made an enemy of your position.

    You don't convince by proving someone wrong. You convince by showing them a better way to be right. The difference may seem subtle or semantic, but I assure you it matters a lot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    So, the question comes back to: what should psionics be, that it is psionics and not "just magic?"
    Psionics is magic for science fantasy. So to be not "just magic" you use it in a science fantasy setting. Or use it to bring science fantasy flavor to your medieval fantasy setting, in which case it's another kind of magic.

    If you want it in D&D you just need to figure out what you personally consider thematically appropriate magic powers, and use those aspects of the Magic system. Edit: for example a subtle casting sorcerer focusing on enchantments, divination, and telekinetic spells, using the spell point variant, would check a lot of the common boxes desired.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Psionics is magic for science fantasy. So to be not "just magic" you use it in a science fantasy setting. Or use it to bring science fantasy flavor to your medieval fantasy setting, in which case it's another kind of magic.

    If you want it in D&D you just need to figure out what you personally consider thematically appropriate magic powers, and use those aspects of the Magic system. Edit: for example a subtle casting sorcerer focusing on enchantments, divination, and telekinetic spells, using the spell point variant, would check a lot of the common boxes desired.
    So vancian casting in a science fantasy setting would be “psionics?”

    To me, the aberrant mind sorcerer only brushes adjacent, the same way the psychic mage archetype in DSP’s product does. It’s a way to have a psi-flavored mage, but it isn’t really psionic.

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    Default Re: Fear of Psionics and its Impact over 5 Editions in D&D

    Personally, I like differentiating magic types by mechanics... it's part of why I'm not a huge fan of AD&D's Wizard/Cleric split because, aside from spell acquisition, they have very much the same mechanics... prepare a list of spells for today, and that's what you can cast, and how many times.

    Compare this, for example, to my Savage Worlds Shadowrun, where I use the same basic ruleset, but have four or five different ways to pick up powers (Physads are different than Cybernetics are different from Sorcery are different from Conjuring are different from Decking... all using the same basic suite of powers). Or Mages and Clerics in Hackmaster... mages use spell points, with 1 spell per spell level that they can cast at normal cost, but can otherwise cast anything they know, spending more spell points, and spending spell points on anything they cast to improve the spell. Clerics know all the spells of their priesthood for every level they have achieved, but they mostly only memorize 1 spell per day per level. Mages have spell fatigue, clerics do not. The different mechanics help create the sense of difference in the magic, making them feel distinct.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    "Angry GM" should probably rename his page "Petty Spiteful GM".
    You forgot 'prescriptive', whenever I've read his 'advice' it's always smelt of 'one true way'ism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    So, the question comes back to: what should psionics be, that it is psionics and not "just magic?" Should it use spell slots, or does it, like ki, need its own subsystem?

    I think DSP's update to 3.5's psionics for PF is actually really, really good, myself, but I don't know that it works directly converted to 5e.
    Honestly, if it wasn't for 5e's Fatigue being sosevere I'd say psionics should be fatigue-limited. But that would be incredibly hard to balance, you'd likely be saving against fatigue every round, and only want a level every few combats at mosr)/
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Why doesn't - or shouldn't - ki use spell slots, too?

    What makes psionics "psionic" as opposed to "wizardry" or "divine spellcasting?" The obvious bits are, perhaps, a lack of verbal and material components. The Force suggests somatic components might yet be a thing, though those seem more dramatic than necessary. Is that it, though? Or is psionics more characterized by a greater reliability, perhaps? That's not exquisitely represented in earlier editions, but the use of power points rather than spell slots at least makes things a little smoother, since you can't "run out" of high-level spell slots until you're low on juice in general.

    3e experimented with a number of subsystems, as I went over in a previous post. I think more subsystems can make things more interesting, though I do think some of 3e's efforts were more "subsystems for subsystems' sake" rather than really trying to capture something specific.

    So, the question comes back to: what should psionics be, that it is psionics and not "just magic?" Should it use spell slots, or does it, like ki, need its own subsystem?

    I think DSP's update to 3.5's psionics for PF is actually really, really good, myself, but I don't know that it works directly converted to 5e.
    At some point in the last year or whatever, I was trying to model a small group of characters into 5e, to see if it could be done. It turned out that the character given power by his god was better modeled using the UA Mystic mechanics, while the character who had inborn innate power was better modeled with Monk-Rogue-etc mechanics.

    Linking power source to mechanics to aesthetics can create a mess, and it shows up again in Psionics, but maybe in the form of "what's the power source?" and "what's the character's technique of mastering it?"
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by anthon View Post
    Generally, a priest's god can choose to respond whether or not their follower is drugged or knocked senseless. If benevolent or protective, the god would likely grant spells AS A CONSEQUENCE of their follower being mentally abused.

    Meanwhile, a Cleric should have full access to their deity even while having a nightmare, and in some cases, their dreams would be literal encounters with their god or its messengers.
    You know, it would be nice if 6e structured itself such that having a deity was viewed as an *advantage* of being a Cleric.

    Quote Originally Posted by Theoboldi View Post
    I do still wonder why so many people praise his half-baked, self-important ideas as the best thing since slice bread.
    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    You forgot 'prescriptive', whenever I've read his 'advice' it's always smelt of 'one true way'ism.
    Angry feels like he has the answers. That is very attractive to some people.

    IMO, Angry has an all but unparalleled intellect for deducing the correct questions to ask. *What* he talks about is utterly brilliant.

    Unfortunately, his answers to those questions are all but invariably wrong.

    If you go to Angry's site, read everything, and respond to it all with, "you're wrong, it should be…", that is one of the best RPG educations one could get. Because no one else will make you evaluate the important questions like Angry.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2020-12-31 at 08:15 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Why doesn't - or shouldn't - ki use spell slots, too?

    What makes psionics "psionic" as opposed to "wizardry" or "divine spellcasting?"
    i made a collage of ideas, with one row for wizards and one row for psionics

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    With Psionics, you see patterns like:

    Teleport
    Telekinesis
    Telepathy
    Force Fields
    Levitation
    Pyrokinesis
    Astral Projection
    Mind Control
    Phasing
    Precognition
    Aura Perception

    And various meditation type stuff like surviving extreme climates, walking on fire or water, and fasting for weeks without starving or dying of thirst. Some of these people can focus their will into things like pushing heavy objects, bending metal objects like spoons, or taking a kick from a horse, etc.

    Healing touch, or transferring an injury or illness from a victim to one's self also seems pretty common. Longevity as a result of all that meditation/austerity/dieting seems pretty common too.

    I do not disagree that one branch of what Psionics is, seems to be extreme Martial/Fighter abilities.

    Many psionicists seem to be bald, hermit headed with beards, or look like Wudang Mountain types.

    They are almost always seen in a Lotus position or similar with some kind of meditation deal. Otherwise, they look just like everyone else. Sometimes their eyes glow. Once in a while they have Aura powers, or even visible auras.

    * Their powers seem to perpetually have skill checks, not just when they are learning them.

    * They don't normally have contingency effects.

    * Their effects immediately shut off without their concentration

    * their effects don't normally have an "off switch" so if they turned their allies into sludge, that doesnt mean their allies can be brought back with dispel magic.

    * if they lost control of their powers, they could accidentally turn themselves into sludge, again with no reversal spell to remove the undesired effects. All powers are a One way wood chipper, for better or worse.

    * nose bleed/migraine/caughing up blood to use powers trope. Basically, their hit points are inevitably tied to their powers whenever they use powers higher than their skill level...

    and like i said, their base skill level is peanut, not bag of peanuts.

  28. - Top - End - #58
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    Default Re: Fear of Psionics and its Impact over 5 Editions in D&D

    Here are my (non-mechanica, rough draftl) thoughts about psionics (which I do want to include, but haven't yet):

    Terminology
    * Fantastic == supernatural from the point of view of real life Earth. Dragons, rogues evading point-blank fireballs, barbarians getting harder to hurt when they're angry, talking animals, etc.
    * Magic == supernatural from the point of view of the fantasy world. All magic is fantastic, but not all fantastic things are magical. Spells, magic items, mostly. Coherent effects that require special forces. Resonant effects that impose an altered reality on the surrounding world and go away when the input is stopped (generally); tied to an effect creator (caster, etc).

    Magic things are vulnerable to antimagic (counterspell, dispell, etc) because they're structured, resonant effects that can be disrupted. Baseline fantastic things cannot be so disrupted. This means that antimagic fields don't actually destroy all "magic" (ie fantastic nature), but simply decohere any artificial impositions on the (already fantastic) nature.

    Enhancer vs Invoker
    I consider there being a spectrum here, between those who manipulate internal energy to change their own body's response to things within the framework of the world (enhancers) and those who mostly use internal energy to provoke external effects. Basically affects only self <--------> affects only others. Most actual psionic people are somewhere in between.

    Enhancer-style is fantastic, not magical. It works with existing things, making them better and covering for their flaws. It's mostly about "going with the flow" of the world and using leverage to direct it toward desired outcomes, rather than directly imposing an artificial framework on top of reality. It probably should use Wisdom as its "casting stat" to denote the connection between self and world and making them move in harmony.

    5e monks (especially Way of the Open Hand) and Shadowrun physads both fit comfortably toward this end of the spectrum, with Four Element monks being more toward the center.

    Invoker-style is mostly magical. You use your internal energy to provoke EFFECTS on the outside world, leaving yourself mostly unchanged. Even when you do change yourself, it's much more outside of nature--you change your shape, not just redirect your ki to hit faster. Direct, flashy energy manipulation, telekinesis, telepathy, etc are hallmarks of the Invoker style. This could either be Charisma (force of will/force of self) based or Intelligence (knowledge and academic learning) based.

    You could make a passable "pure invoker" by giving an Aberrant Mind sorcerer spell points instead of slots and by mutating around their spell list a bit.

    Psionics vs "Vancian" magic
    One big difference, for me, is that psionics feel like they should use some form of a "mana" system. Ki, spell points, whatever. Those toward the enhancer end give up deep pools for no-cost effects/capabilities and not being vulnerable to counter-magic, while those at the invoker end get deeper pools in exchange for being more fragile and less physical and more vulnerable to counter-magic.

    Avenues I see myself creating
    * A real "psionic" sorcerer subclass. Almost a pure invoker, focused on kinetics, telepathy, and energy blasts.
    * A psionic fighter/mindblade. Hybrid, invoking a blade of energy but also enhancing physical capabilities.
    * A psionic rogue/mindblade. Can invoke blades, but more about manipulating luck. Maybe throws energy blades, a la Gambit's cards? Dunno.
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  29. - Top - End - #59
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    Default Re: Fear of Psionics and its Impact over 5 Editions in D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post

    Enhancer vs Invoker
    I consider there being a spectrum here, between those who manipulate internal energy to change their own body's response to things within the framework of the world (enhancers) and those who mostly use internal energy to provoke external effects. Basically affects only self <--------> affects only others. Most actual psionic people are somewhere in between.



    Psionics vs "Vancian" magic
    One big difference, for me, is that psionics feel like they should use some form of a "mana" system. Ki, spell points, whatever. Those toward the enhancer end give up deep pools for no-cost effects/capabilities and not being vulnerable to counter-magic, while those at the invoker end get deeper pools in exchange for being more fragile and less physical and more vulnerable to counter-magic.
    i like these two concepts.

    i agree self sourced power: Self FX
    and self sourced power: External FX

    sounds about right.

    As to mana, some systems of psionics seem mana based, and others seem skill based (or nosebleed based O.o). In wushu movies with immortals and taoists flying around, they often talk about spending thousands of years of essence to achieve some super special effect, or blocking some energy beam, then do a token coughing blood scene.

    The psionic equivalent of this is the Nose-Bleed. Side effects of pushing far include migraines, dizziness, and unconsciousness. This is actually really similar to the Channeler Mechanic in Spells & Magic from 2e AD&D.

    I loved the channeler, most of my wizards ended up going that path instead of vancian, even though you have to be about level 12-16 before it pays off (not so useful in low level campaigns). Sure, you could die casting a spell, but you had more "on your terms" magic.

    But the question then, is whether this is a good definition of Psionics? After all, it comes with:
    • Nosebleeds
    • Migraines
    • Pushing limits
    • Spell Shaping
    • Spell Points
    • Possible death


    The answer is no. It didn't feel like psionics. Using spell points and nose bleeds to cast magic missile, is still casting magic missile.

    When I look at the images in my psionics/wizards collage, what I notice is an intensity of focus, and the eyes. Perception.

    Perception and Meditation seem heavily ingrained in psionics.

    Equipment stereotypes are a bit different too.

    A wizard's robes tend to be elaborate and covered in sigils, a psionicist's robes are usually simple or weirdly sci-fi
    A wizard probably has a magical wand, amulet, staff, and spell book;
    A psionicist probably has a crystal, simbiot, vajra (weird tibetan doodad), or something from another world

    like, there's certain themes.

    Wizards tend to be Scheherazade and Camelot/Grimms inspired,
    Psionicists tend to be Atlantis and Pyramid inspired.

    In Cindi Lauper/Jeff Goldbloom's Adventure "Vibes" there was this big glowing psionic pyramid. There's a similar theme in the crystal skulls of Indiana Jones.

    Both of these settings speak to fantasy time periods with stuff like armor, spears, and swords, but the flavor of fantasy is different. P.F. Hamilton's Neutronium Alchemist has humans split into Adamists and Edenists, the latter being telepathic connected to living ships.

    Living ships, tree ships, and organic versions of technology seem like a big trope for psionics, akin to the armies of undead or rotting black towers and crypts for a necromancer, or spiders and web themes for Drow.


    I wish i could get this tip of the tongue issue about Perception/Intense Focus for Psychics. I think you all know what i mean though - staring intently at something always makes me think of psionics.

    Maybe have VARIABLE initiative for Psionics? Stare longer at stuff = better?

    that would definitely be a unique mechanic.
    Last edited by anthon; 2021-01-01 at 11:17 PM.

  30. - Top - End - #60
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    Default Re: Fear of Psionics and its Impact over 5 Editions in D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by anthon View Post
    Maybe have VARIABLE initiative for Psionics? Stare longer at stuff = better?

    that would definitely be a unique mechanic.
    The trouble with such a mechanic lies in how long combats last in both RL time and game-mechanic rounds (not to mention in-game time). In most games I've played in, combats that run for hours of RL time take 1 to 7 rounds to play out, depending on the system and the medium of play and the experience of the players. But 3 rounds is often the case in 5e, in my experience. "Stare at it longer" could translate into "don't actually do anything in the combat," or "wait until the last round to do something," etc.

    Now, you mention initiative, so having it be once per round but it knocks your init down is a possibility...but it also is not much of a cost at that point. Initiative is useful, but not something that can't be given up easily enough (and sometimes is advantageous to).

    One possibility that might work in 5e would be to simply crib the general mechanic of Incarnum/Veilweaving/Akashic essence from 3.5 and DSP's work in PF. But instead of shaping soulmelds, the psionic character knows certain powers, and can move his psychic focus between them. I still like the idea of also having an "expend the power points" option, but that's potentially not adding enough to be worth it. I think Mystic did something similar, but tried to do too much in one class, which is why it flopped. The devs wanted a single class to playtest the mechanic, but the mechanic probably needs multiple subclasses for other existing classes as well as 1-2 full classes with their own subclasses to really test out.

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