Thread: Complete Psionic
Friday, 2nd March, 2007, 01:49 PM #1
Lama (Lvl 13)
Written by Bruce R. Cordell and Christopher Linsdsay
Published by Wizards of the Coast
160 full color pages
The Complete Psionic is the one of the only expansion devoted to psionic powers from Wizards of the Coast. Written by the author of the Expanded Psionics Handbook, as well as some Malhavok support items, Complete Psionic boasts the usual benefits of being a WoTC book.
First among these is the full color art. Fan favorites like Wayne England, David Griffith, William OíConnon and Ron Spencer among others lend their talents to the book. The book also boasts the usual high-quality layout with clear indicators of what chapter youíre on, easy to spot page numbers in circle gem form, and tabs at the outer page to let you know what section youíre on. While there is no index, the three column table of contents is fairly complete.
The book is competitively priced with other companies at 160 full color pages in hardcover format. Even counting the front page, which is a title page, and the second page, which is a list of credits page, and the last three pages, which are all ads, the book is no more expensive than say a similar sized Atlas or Goodman Games product, but with the benefit of better layout and artwork.
Complete Psionic is broken down into six chapters as follows:
Chapter One: Classes. Three new classes are introduced to the game. Each class comes with some description of what the class is, how to make the class, what ability scores are useful to have high, how to play the class, and a starting package as well as starting gold.
It starts with the ardent. Itís a difficult class to sum up as it relies on following philosophies, similar to how a cleric would follow a deity. They gain psionic mantles in addition to having power points and psionic powers.
Mantles are like domains for cleric. The book includes a generous expansion of which deities have access to which mantle, and includes those from the Playerís Handbook, Expanded Psionicís Handbook, Forgotten Realms, and Eberron. Ardentís have medium bab, d6 hit dice, good will saves and 2 skill points a level. An interesting concept of trying to combine divine with psionic and could fill a role similar to a cleric since they have all armor proficiencies and only simple weapons.
Taking the whole divine link further, instead of trying to focus game mechanics, the book comes right out with the divine mind. With a medium bab, d10 hit twice, good fort and will saves and a lower progression of psionic powers, the divine mind relies on mantles and special abilities to make up the difference. Well, that and knowing how to use all simple and martial weapons along with all armors save tower shields. They start off gaining a wild talent at first level and move into their first special abilities like psychic aura as they gain levels.
The psychic aura can be attack, defense, or perception. Their mantles add options to their auras. They can only chose one aura at a time and itís benefits effect a radius area that grow as they gain levels.
The lurk, the last of the classes, is a rogue using psionic based character. Starting off with a d6 hit dice, reduced sneak attack, thatís psionic in nature, fairly good power points and maximum power levels, mid level bab, and good ref and will saves.
I myself havenít play tested any of the classes. None of them reached out and grabbed me.
Chapter Two: Prestige Classes. There are eight PrCs in the book. Each PrC starts with a quote, some details on what the PrC is, how to enter the PrC, including background and game mechanics, playing the PrC, how the PrC fits into the world, including knowledge checks, as well as a sample character. The good news is that it provides a lot of details to those who are new to the game or low on ideas. The bad news is that each PrC takes up about four to six pages. This includes PrCs that are only five levels that have previously been described as being ďa side pathĒ.
PrCs included as follows: Anarchic Initiate, Ebon Saint, Ectopic Adept, Flayerspawn Psychic, Illumine Soul, Soulbow, Storm Disciple, Zerth Cenotibe. Iíve yet to make one as a player, but as a GM, Iím intrigued by a few of them.
The Soulbow, is a Soulknife that focuses itís energies into mastering long range attacks. Itís a good example of how an ability or power can be shaped into something that shares the same concept of psionic energy as a physical damaging weapon, and takes it into another venue.
The Illumine Soul is another example, but this one focused on destroying the undead. Itís a five level PrC that gains abilities upon its blade that include Undead Bane or launching a ray of positive energy from the Mind Blade. Good examples of how a short class can be focused in a particular area and perfect for undead heavy campaigns.
The other PrCs I thought had some specific places in a campaign, but not in anyone Iím currently running now.
Chapter Three: Feats. Feats are broken up into a few fields and most people should find something to augment their character. The table starts off with psionic feats, then psionic racial feats, then general feats, host feats, illithid heritage feats, and metapsionic feats. I felt that for a general book on psionics, that there was a little too much space on various things like racial feats and illithid heritage feats that couldíve been put elsewhere to get more general bang for the buck. A Races of the Mind perhaps?
Anyway, it looks like those with psychic strike get a boost. This ranges from expanded your psionic focus for an extra +1d8 points of damage, to shaping your mind blade into exotic weapons. Unfortunately, it seems that the authors couldnít just say, ďExotic Mind BladeĒ, but rather, had to put several different feats in the book to convey the idea that with a feat, you can shape your mind blade into a different weapon.
Some of the feats seem borrowed from other sources. For example, fighting with dual dorje seems pretty similar to say, dual wand wielding.
Chapter Four: Powers, Mantles, and Items. The section breaks down the powers into class and level. It starts off with 1st level lurk powers and ends with 6th level psychic warrior powers. Some might feel that the book borrows a little too much from the old Playerís Handbook. I donít think adding the word ďpsionicĒ to a spell with a page reference oto the PH should be used in an expansion book. Seeing stuff like Endure Elements, Psionic, and Earthquake, Psionic, is simply lazy design to me. Heck, if necessary recap how to turn spells into psionic abilities and move on.
Some people might feel the book veers a little into the Complete Arcane in that its new classes have some exclusive powers but many of the powers belong to multiple areas. For example, Distracting Shout belongs to Chaos as a second level power, but also to the psychic warrior list. Each power includes itís field, level, display, manifesting time, range, area, duration, saving throw, power resistance, power points, italicized description, game effects, and where appropriate, augment notes.
Between the Ďpsionicí version of spells though and the unique powers, the core psionic classes donít get the expansions that they might otherwise.
Also included are psionic items. These include weapons, psicrowns, masks, skins, stacked psionatrixes, bands, and universal items. Items include background, description, activation, effect, aura/manifester level, construction, weight, and price. Items include unique weapons like the Soul in Iron, a greatsword that functions as an undead bane in addition to other abilities such as commanding light to shine in a 30-foot radius.
Some of my favorite items are the psychoactive skins. Included is skin of the celestial, which allows you to gain the celestial template as well as the skin of ectoplastic armor, which provides a +8 armor bonus. I was disappointed, again, that the authors went the lazy route and instead of describing how a skin could simulate a template, and include not only the celestial, but also the celestial embrace (half-celestial template), fiend (fiendish template), and fiendish embrace (half-fiend template).
One thing I was surprised to see was the use of psionic locations as treasure. These locations provide special abilities to the users who manage to active the powers within them. Each has an ability value that is supposed to be counted as treasure against the playerís levels.
Included are the crystal node and the psigate. The former provides the user with a +1 level adjustment when manifesting powers with the fire descriptor and the latter to plane shift once within twenty-four hours.
Chapter Five: Constructs and Creatures. My experiences here probably differ from others. For one, the few times my players do use psionic characters, they rarely bother to create constructs. From my experience, while itís a very effective method of winning combat, it also slows down combat on both the playerís side, giving them more things to keep track of, and the DMís side, giving them more things to keep track of in terms of how the new combatants effect the battlefield.
The good news is that by providing preconstructed astral constructs, it takes a lot of weight off players and GMs. The bad news is that it goes well beyond the basics by also including things that can only be made with things like the feat, Entropic Form.
Chapter Six: Character Options. What else is there? A new psionic race, the Synad make their revised update here. The section starts off with synads are aberrations with darkvision and are naturally psionic in addition to having a few other small abilities.
Originally in the Dragon magazine article, Mind Lords of Talaron, is changed into something really off with ĎThe Six Hidden Housesí describing different backgrounds for humans whose psionic abilities come naturally. Each house is given a symbol, fully illustrated, a crystal, and characteristics. Unlike normal humans, those who take this path must use their free bonus feat to select a specific Wild Talent, unique to each house. For example, House Celare members have the psionic subtype, gaining a reserve of 1 power point and qualifying for psionic feats. They can also use burst once a day with the level equal to half the number of psionic class levels they have plus one.
More interesting to me, were the psionic racial classes. Duergar, githyanki, githzerai, half-giant, and thri-kreen, are detailed from 1st to 20th level showing their racial class on one side and their class level on the other side. This includes a breakdown of the races special abilities and how that combines with the standard progression of feat and ability score increases.
One of the things changed from the old Mind Lords was that the old Diamond Knights were a type of warrior caste for the old Ďhousesí. Here theyíre a psionic guild. This section includes general benefits, as well as benefits from having the favored in guild feat benefits. Also included is the Lodge Luminous.
A few miscellaneous things are crouched together at the end. A variant of the erudite with a full redone appearance including new class tables and notes appears. Information on epic psionic characters is brief, including a few feats, and basic epic advancement information for the classes here.
Overall, I was bored with the book. Itís like Bruce took his A game to Malhavok and brought the rest for this book. Iíve used Hyperconscious more than this book. Iíve used the old Mind Lords article more than this book. It just seemed that with the new standard format, that the best that could be done is filling in a few of the blanks and making generic feats stretch into multiple feats and putting the word psionic on spells to pad out the powers list.
Hopefully weíll see something that gives psionic characters more options but for now, this is the only official game in town whose sole focus is on expanding the psionic options in a campaign.
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