How does magic and psionics work in your world?


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  1. #1
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    How does magic and psionics work in your world?

    I'm wondering because I'm revamping my world setting. In mine, there's only one type of magic(like Arcana Unearthed); there's no divide between arcane and divine, there's just magic, although it get channelled in different ways.

    Psionics, on the other hand, are innate abilities that in theory anybody who's taught to use them can get; I'm gonna modify Ken Hood's Psionics System for this purpose, but I'm giving all character classes a few extra skill points so that you can have a nice balance between your psionic skills and your non-psionics, although you could load up either end if you want.

    Magic is rare, but powerful. "True" mages probably number somewhere in the low hundreds for the entire world, but some are capable of devastating entire countries with their magics; all "true" mages have at least a handful of spells unique to themselves. Almost all "true" mages are incredibly ruthless and evil; you can't have much of a conscience if you're making deals with fiends and devastating the landscape in battles against other mages.

    Other mages include the ranks of the battlemages, apothecaries, hedge mages, and the like; while their magic can be powerful, they can't match the sheer power wielded by the handful of "true" mages in the world.

    So, how does it work in your world? I'm especially interested in the dynamic between Magic and Psionics.
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    I tend to view magic and psionics as related forces. Working up the background for my next campaign, (since we'll be doing a reboot soon) I view magic as an energy created by the existence of living things, a thought-field (if you've read about Sheldrake's Morphic Resonance or the Implicate Order theory, I admit to cribbing from that) that is created by the process of life and becomes ever more sophisticated as life does. Thinking beings, when they came into being, began creating concepts which gave rise to conceptual entities, egregores that are almost personifications of the concept they embody. As these grow more sophisticated they become what we call 'gods' and 'spirits.' These beings can grant magical abilities to those who follow or serve them (your Cleric, your Druid, your Shaman, etc) or one can choose instead to try and come to terms with the vast energies throughout existence either through a gift in the blood (inherent magics like a Sorceror) which allows one to directly tap the energy without the assistance of a conceptual entity, or through rigorous training to alter the mind so that it is capable of harmonizing itself with the eddies of the thought-field, creating a tap through which those powers can be directed (Wizards and other learned mages).

    Psions and psychic warriors, on the other hand, don't directly interact with the thought field as those who use magic do. Because the field is generated by the existence of living beings, especially those who can think, it is in effect like a pool created by run-off, the field composed of shed thought-force from all those component individual thoughts and lives. Psions and psychic warriors learn or are born with the ability to in effect dam up their individual thought energies, so as to make use of the reserve of their own power (thus the point expenditures to activate a psionic power) like a private internal hydroelectric dam. They can access the thought field (which could in D&D terms be considered equal to the Astral Plane, a place of pure thought) to create Astral Constructs and so on, but they initially use their own inner energy to do so.

    As related concepts, the two (in this version) are considered the same for purposes of interaction, as is suggested in the Psionics Handbook.

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    ° Ignore der_kluge
    Psionics - blech! No psionics in my world.

    Divine Magic and Arcane magic work as described in the core books.
    Curtis__________________

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    ° Ignore Gothmog
    My communities:

    No psionics in my game. I don't want to have to deal with them, and they have the wrong feel for my world (gemstones, crystals, etc).

    I have made some pretty heavy alterations in the structure of the remaining magic though- none of it is exactly like in the PHB.

    It is unknown exactly what the energy source for arcane magic is. What is known is that arcane magic requires enormous amounts of study to understand and master (meaning no sorcerers as in PHB). There are distinct traditions of arcane magic, each focusing on a speciality, and with their own spell lists.

    The alchemist is an item creation specialist, and the costs for him to make items are much less. He also is good at temporarily modifying the characteristics or abilities of existing items or substances.

    The cabalist is a ritual caster, taking 2-10 times longer to complete a spell, but his DCs and effective caster level are higher than any other caster. Also, he is the only caster capable of using circle magic- basically modified summonings and protections with long durations.

    The classiscalist is as close to a magic scientist as you'll find. They try to understand the whys and hows of magic more than others, and have the greatest access to metamagic feats.

    Mediums are another arcane traditions that focuses on divinations, illusions, enchantments, and trickery. Taught only to full-blooded Romari (gypsies), mediumship involves frequent contact with ghosts, curses, and the pacification and removal of these things. They are also accomplished liars and decievers, in order to avoid persecution.

    The sorcerer is a caster who focuses on necromancy, mental domination, and destructive magics. Their abilities are tied to their own lifeforce, and they can sacrifice Con for extra spell slots per day. While they are the best "boom" spellcasters, the evil supernatural forces they deal with often cost them their souls.

    Divine power is drawn from the gods themselves- there are no godless clerics IMC. The gods rather distant from the world though- there are no avatars, though their servants can be summoned by high-level clerics. Divine power depends upon two things- the power supplied by the god, and the faith of the priest. I came up with a new stat that all clerics possess- Faith. Faith is earned by service to the deity and his tenants by actions the cleric takes. Basically, for every Faith point the cleric has, he can cast divine spells of a level equal to his Faith (for example, a priest with 4 Faith could cast up to 4th level prayers). All priests are also spontaneous casters- whenever a spell is requested, the priest must make a roll using his Faith, Wis mod, and 1/2 caster level to determine if it succeeds against a DC of 10 + 2(spell level +1). Priests are limited to a total number of levels of spells they can channel per day, so it is in the cleric's interest not to shoot the big guns too early. Divine and arcane magic also don't always mix very well. Whenever an arcane and divine power are in effect at the same time, an interaction roll is made- which can result in nothing, or some rather unusual effects.

    A subtype of divine magic is Runic Magic, a gift given only to loyal followers of the god Odjurik (basically an Odin-like figure of the Northmen). Odrens (the favored of Odjurik) don't get spells, but can use their runes to produce various effects- although the runes must be scribed in some substance. It is rumored the most powerful Odren may even scribe a symbol in the air and have it take effect.

    Next is spiritual magic, a type of power supplied by spirits. Spirits are natural entities tied to both the mortal and ethereal (or spirit) world. Spirits often are local in nature, and embody some aspect of the natural world. So there are storm spirits, wood spirits, winter spirits, wolf spirits, oak spirits, etc. These spirits supply power to their followers- the witches. Witches acts as the spirit's will in the material world and carry out their wishes in return for power, long life, and a greater purpose. Spiritual magic is somewhere between arcane and divine in nature, and is not as innately unstable.

    Finally, there is infernal power, granted by the demonic patrons to their followers, the diabolists. Diabolists are universally a completely amoral, selfish, and evil bunch looking only for power over others and furthering their own ends. They take the easy path to power by promising service and their souls to infernal powers. Diabolists are the strongest practictioners of magic, but also suffer the most from mishaps and the fickle natures of their masters.

    Thats basically it in a nutshell.
    Gothmog

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    ° Ignore Dark Psion
    I use a four power set up, Arcane opposes Nature and Divine opposes Psionics.

    Nature and Arcane draw on the same sources; Elemental energies, Ley lines, Mystic Weaves....call it what you will. The key difference is that Natural casters are working with Nature and Arcane casters are controlling it Arcane casters force the energies to take the shape they will it to be, while natural casters are becoming part of nature, taking it's shapes upon themselves

    Divine and Psionic are also working with the same type of energy, but Divine casters are drawing from beyond themselves and Psionic manifesters are drawing from within themselves, both tapping into the infinite power of the soul. Many churches in my campaign consider Psionics "stealing from the gods what is rightfully theirs" and view psions as "trying to be gods".

    As you might guess, Psions are not very religious people and tend to avoid churches, especially those that have pyres at the ready.
    Psionica Exotica: Additional Augmentations

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    ° Ignore Azure Trance
    Dark Psion, I was just about to post "Someone posted a while ago an idea of Arcane versus Nature and Divine versus Psionics ..." Glad you beat me to it

  7. #7
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    Cool stuff Gothmog; a bit involved(or maybe it just seems that way to me, it might seem easier if I saw the rules) but it looks cool. Thanks to everybody who's posted so far.

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    In my homebrew, magic is still (to the populace) a mysterious force that is dangerous and spectacular to manipulate.

    It was originally thought that arcane magic was the result of using the proper gestures, incantations, and ritual in conjunction with willpower and innate (genetic?) ability to impose one's will on reality in specific ways. Waving hands in circles plus crushing a rose petal plus chanting the special words, coupled with the force of the wizard's will, voila! The duck changes into a frog!

    Divine magic, on the other hand, came from a totally different source, wherein the caster was channeling the very will of the gods, and they were just the lens. Sure, they used similar words and gestures, but no way were the two magics related.

    Then came a war, and as wars tend to produce innovation, a discovery was made about magic. Specifically, metamagics. That somehow the very structure of magic could be manipulated in different ways. And these ways worked for both arcane AND divine magic. This, of course, drove both the scholars and the clerics mad with fervent argument over whose power derived from whose.

    In reality, it's not too far off. Arcane magic comes from innate ability, focused through ritual and precision. Certain steps can be eliminated if the caster has studied how (ie, you don't have to use your hands for spells metamagicked with the Still Spell feat) - but they take more willpower to cast (higher level). Some learn the rituals from books, others seem to have an instinctual knowledge of them (wizards v. sorcerors).

    Divine magic, on the other hand, has similar effects but through a different route. The caster calls upon a source of power outside themselves (either their god or, in the case of druids & rangers, the force of nature) and channels that power through whatever means (casting a spell, channeling positive energy, turning undead).

    Psionics are relatively unknown, but bear no connection to magic. They're simply mental abilities that are overdeveloped in a small percentage of the population. Somewhere else. That the adventuring party isn't headed towards.

    ~M.

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    ° Ignore Plane Sailing
    My communities:

    In my campaign the psionics rules are used for a form of magic known as "magery", so I've got various mages alongside sorcerers and wizards.

    Basically I use the psihb to provide rules for a point-based magic system, ditch the mental combat entirely and use it like that.

    So IMC psionics is nothing to do with mental powers, it is merely another form of magic.

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  10. #10
    my campaign uses a homebrew system but I use psionics, divine power and arcane magic.

    The arcane powers result from a merger of the powers of the slain goddess of the earth and the broken stone of Kai Khara.

    The stone was a gift from the creator (of the gods) for the gods who created the world and the whole universe. It enabled them to manifest themselves and their powers on the world without any power reduction and rewrite natzre┤s laws on a large scale.
    After the sundering the gods had to retreat and magic was free. The gods could work big projects only on a long timescale or manifest localized effects like earthquakes, tidal waves and stuff lkike this.

    But mortals were now able to manipulate reality on a small scale.
    This is called magic. Magic is a force in the universe, able to interact with the elements, the mortal mind and body, animals, plants, other planes etc.
    There are wizards and druids as the main users of arcane magic. The wizards are emphasizing the aspects of the stone like dimensional manipulation, metamagic etc, the druids are manipulating animals, plants, nature. Both groups are able to manipulate the elements, wizards are more into fire and air, the druids more into water and earth.
    There are white wizards, able to heal, protect and defend and black wizards, really good at summoning demons, creating undead and hurting people.

    There are also limited magic users. They have different kinds of magic. There is the magic of the smith, the magic of the fighter, of the tribal warrior, the thief and the ranger.

    Divine magic is granted by the gods. The priests have miracles, granted by the god for normal use. These miracles need formal liturgies and prayer. There is also the possibility to directly send a calling to heaven. These only have a limited chance of success and the priest has to use up a lot of power.

    Last but not least is psionics. Psionics is only available to certain species and is the power of the mortal mind. This power was already there before the Rise of Magic but was limited due to his nature. There was telepathy, ESP and other intangible powers only influencing minds or the human body. After magic was freed, psionics were able to influence the material world with telekinesis, pyrokinesis and stuf like this because of the more malleable form of reality. They are not using magic but magic reshaped reality and psi was able to expand its area of influence. But PSI is still a power coming from the mortal being itself, magic is an outside force that some mortals are able to gather and store within themselves.

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