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5E In your Years of Gaming, How many Psionic Characters did you See played

When I play/run D&D in any edition, I see psionic characters

  • All the time. At least one per group.

    Votes: 3 1.2%
  • Pretty frequently. It wasn't rare in our games.

    Votes: 42 17.3%
  • Not much and certainly less common than PHB classes.

    Votes: 62 25.5%
  • Almost never.

    Votes: 91 37.4%
  • Nope. Didn't use psionics at all in my D&D.

    Votes: 39 16.0%
  • Lemony curry goodness.

    Votes: 6 2.5%

  • Total voters
    243

Aldarc

Legend
I could get on board with that, (it also tracks nicely with the 4E idea of psionics as "nature's immune response to an unnatural presence") if psionic use wasn't so integrated into the populace as a whole and used so frequently in the city-states. Like if psionics was something of the "outside" (reinforcing the safer but subjugated aspect of the city-states versus the dangerous but free aspect of the wilds), and if you spent enough time out there, you might also develop those kinds of powers.
As it turns out, people are creatures who live on Athas too.

I'd also like psionics better if that was the power being nurtured by the Veiled Alliance in opposition to the arcane power of the sorcerer-kings. I guess I'd just like it to be integrated into the thematic conflicts of the setting, somehow. To me, it feels like a sort of background story in the setting, and it isn't really reinforcing anything.
Not sure if I would call it "backdrop" when it's as ubiquitous in use as it is on Athas, as you even suggest earlier. I think that it reinforces that Athas feels alien and other, that other powers developed as a response to the dangers of arcane magic.
 

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TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
As it turns out, people are creatures who live on Athas too.
Well, yes, that's true. :) But I was thinking more of it using to reinforce a "Civilization versus Nature" thematic. Like, say, elves and thri-kreen and other races more associated with the wilds than with the city-states are generally much more competent with psionics. Maybe the essence of plants that grow in the deep desert can grant psionic ability, which makes them valuable commodities in the city-states.

Hmm...maybe since arcane power damages nature, maybe it also suppresses psionics (which are a natural phenomenon). Psionic use in the city-states is much more erratic and rare to arise because the arcane aura of the sorcerer-kings keeps it from growing. And maybe the Veiled Alliance is about using careful arcane techniques to suppress that arcane aura (preserving as a sort of "counter-magic", focused on abjuration) that allow psionics to grow.

Not sure if I would call it "backdrop" when it's as ubiquitous in use as it is on Athas, as you even suggest earlier. I think that it reinforces that Athas feels alien and other, that other powers developed as a response to the dangers of arcane magic.
Sure. I just want to emphasize that I'm not trying to argue what I think Dark Sun was previously, or even what I think Dark Sun should be published as (any Dark Sun book should obviously use psionics); I'm just interested in some recontextualization that would make the setting emphasize what I view as its central conceits more strongly for my own head canon.
 


Almost never had psionics in my games. I saw maybe 3 or 4 characters with them in 1ed. We did a one shot campaign in DS back in the days and it convinced me that psionics were not for me. We tried it again in 3.xed and it confirmed again that I hated psionics. Did not even bothered to buy the PHG with the psionics in it.

But I do get the feeling that they will try again to sell us a psionics themed book for 5ed. I'll have to check it if it is done to my taste but I seriously doubt this will be the case. If a player wants to play a psionic character I will certainly give it a shot but it will be a cautious move.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Not sure if I would call it "backdrop" when it's as ubiquitous in use as it is on Athas, as you even suggest earlier. I think that it reinforces that Athas feels alien and other, that other powers developed as a response to the dangers of arcane magic.
Athas is a scorched planet with a red sun. I always took the prevalence of psionics to be the result of increased solar radiation or something. Someone made the analogy of Dark Sun being the fantasy equivalent of Gamma World and I think that is accurate. Post apocalyptic, but an apocalypse of a different sort with different kinds of "mutations."
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
Athas is a scorched planet with a red sun. I always took the prevalence of psionics to be the result of increased solar radiation or something. Someone made the analogy of Dark Sun being the fantasy equivalent of Gamma World and I think that is accurate. Post apocalyptic, but an apocalypse of a different sort with different kinds of "mutations."
That does make sense, Dark Sun is almost certainly TSR's take on the planetary romance genre, and science-fantasy aspects like psychic powers and mutations are definitely apropos. It's just, personally, the aspect of Dark Sun I find the least interesting. I much prefer the idea of Dark Sun as "darkest timeline D&D" as 4e presented it as.
 


Hussar

Legend
/snip
You will never get a reasonable conversation from a man who has already set their mind against being reasoned with.
LOL. Dude, that's pretty uncool.

Ok, let's slap things side by side. You've already just admitted that Dark Sun and psionics are pretty much Gnome Effect territory. Like gnomes, they aren't very popular, aren't actually used all that much, but, because there is a really vocal, albeit really small, number of fans, they should be catered to, just like gnome fans.

However, unlike gnome fans, who got, what, a couple of pages in the PHB, you want an entire setting, complete with a new ruleset, new classes, and new mechanics. And, you figure that this is a good idea because a small number of people actually will use any of it?

And the evidence for this is that Dark Sun, according to your own polls, is almost as popular as a couple of other settings, and a totally biased poll where the only question is, "Would you buy this if it was available"? Never minding that you could reword that poll to say ANYTHING and get the exact same results. It's not that 75% of En Worlders would buy Dark Sun, it's that you could get a poll on En World to say that 75% of En Worlders would buy just about anything.

But, I'm the one being totally unreasonable? Your strongest argument is that we should have psionics because... reasons? That has apparently morphed into we should have Dark Sun which needs psionics. Again, because... reasons?

Well, they're about to announce a new series of books in a couple of weeks. Anyone want to bet that it is Dark Sun and/or psionics rules? I mean, if Dark Sun and psionics are such a slam dunk, then you should be confident that we'll see the rules this year, right?

Oh, but, I'm the one being unreasonable. :erm:
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
LOL. Dude, that's pretty uncool.

Ok, let's slap things side by side. You've already just admitted that Dark Sun and psionics are pretty much Gnome Effect territory. Like gnomes, they aren't very popular, aren't actually used all that much, but, because there is a really vocal, albeit really small, number of fans, they should be catered to, just like gnome fans.

However, unlike gnome fans, who got, what, a couple of pages in the PHB, you want an entire setting, complete with a new ruleset, new classes, and new mechanics. And, you figure that this is a good idea because a small number of people actually will use any of it?

And the evidence for this is that Dark Sun, according to your own polls, is almost as popular as a couple of other settings, and a totally biased poll where the only question is, "Would you buy this if it was available"? Never minding that you could reword that poll to say ANYTHING and get the exact same results. It's not that 75% of En Worlders would buy Dark Sun, it's that you could get a poll on En World to say that 75% of En Worlders would buy just about anything.

But, I'm the one being totally unreasonable? Your strongest argument is that we should have psionics because... reasons? That has apparently morphed into we should have Dark Sun which needs psionics. Again, because... reasons?

Well, they're about to announce a new series of books in a couple of weeks. Anyone want to bet that it is Dark Sun and/or psionics rules? I mean, if Dark Sun and psionics are such a slam dunk, then you should be confident that we'll see the rules this year, right?

Oh, but, I'm the one being unreasonable. :erm:
I've seen several times more psionic characters than gnomes.
 

Hussar

Legend
I've seen several times more psionic characters than gnomes.
Sigh.

Dude, it's NOT ABOUT YOUR TABLE. It really, really isn't. Like I said, I would buy a Darksun adventure path style 5e book in a heartbeat. Would be so cool. Excellent setting, tons of flavor, cool monsters. What's not to like? I'm most certainly part of that 75% that would buy the book. Not a huge fan of psionics, but, it does fit nicely with the setting, so, groovy. Fantastic.

BUT, and here's the kicker, I don't pretend that my personal preferences matter one whit. What I want and what's going to come down the pipe are two totally different things. Because, frankly, what I like, and what sells are very much not the same thing. I don't pretend that my personal preferences are any sort of sign of quality or attractiveness to potential buyers.

Which is why I put up this poll. Half of the respondents have either never or almost never seen psionics used in the game and 75% would range from 0 to about 8%. Most definitely in gnome country. And, instead of saying that this proves anything, I pointed out that this information dovetails with the history of the game where there are exceptionally few psionic adventures (and, while, yes there are a few for Dark Sun, name 3 psionic adventures outside of that setting without going to Google :D ), none of the settings (again outside of Dark Sun) particularly lean on psionics and, frankly, psionics has been a very small niche at best in published material.

So, it's no surprise to me that very few people see psionics at their table. I'd be shocked if it were otherwise. And, because so few people actually see psionics at their tables, I'd be somewhat surprised if WotC decided to cater to those that did see psionics ahead of other potential options like planar travel.

But, again, time will tell. Maybe I'm totally wrong and WotC's priming the pump with the Unearthed Arcana articles. Could possibly be.
 

humble minion

Adventurer
I've never seen or used a psionic character in my games (other than the odd mind flayer or similar that's never used the full psionics rules). But that's (imho) because i've always played in relatively 'conventional' D&D settings like FR or similar homebrews, and psionics fit less well there in my opinion. I owned the 3e psionics handbook, but that's more because i was a compulsive completionist than for any other reason. It just seemed like yet another subsystem to learn in an already rules-heavy game.

Having said that, however, I have an enormous love for the Dark Sun setting, and would love to play in it (and would probably play a psionicist if i did). Psionics are just built more into the DNA of Dark Sun from the foundation of the setting, and are a much better thematic fit there.

My (completely evidence-free) speculation is that WotC's various surveys are showing what the enworld surveys are showing. Loads of love for Dark Sun as a setting (among those who remember it at least, I have no idea what the Critical Role generation think!) but a very low take-up of psionics as a ruleset in general. I speculate that WotC will react to this by making psionics a Dark Sun Thing - putting any psionic PC options in a Dark Sun book, and if people want psionics in other settings they can just port the rules over. And they'll probably try to make psionic PC options subclasses of existing base classes rather than creating a whole new system, for the same reason - saving page count, and avoiding putting too much effort into a system that few people use. Maybe they'll get duplicated into a Xanathar's 2 down the track.
 
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My longest chronicle for the 3.5 era took place in the Forgotten Realms (beginning in Sembia). The chronicle ran from level 1 through 17 and lasted for five game years. The overall storyline involved an attempt to awaken the lost Jhaamdathan god Auppensor by retrieving psionic orbs he had constructed for his followers during the height of Jhaamdath. Destroying them with the correct ritual would cause a power surge to awaken the god.

In my own version of the Realms, Auppensor had tried to consume the power of the Seldarine to ascend to even higher levels of power. A backlash caused him to enter the divine equivalent of a coma. His divine realm was sealed from within and the orbs were necessary to find it and enter it.

My wife had sculpted a fat mindflayer figure because of an off-handed remark I'd made about never seeing an overweight mindflayer, so I wrote it up as an NPC. It had started the plot to find the Lost Halls of Auppensor, acting as a behind the scenes patron to the party at first to help them find the orbs, all because he was a bit of a gourmand and wanted to taste the mind of a god.

When they gathered the orbs and gave them to their patron, he took off with them. In the battle, before he got away, they saw his true form. They had to follow his trail to the god's domain and save him from the mindflayer. They managed to awaken the god and defeat the mind flayer.

In that version of the Realms, Auppensor returned as the psionic version of Mystra, and the PCs were all awarded for their deeds before retiring.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Sigh.

Dude, it's NOT ABOUT YOUR TABLE. It really, really isn't.
You made the claim that they are like gnomes, with really no cause to do so other than @Aldarc's comment or basically HIS TABLE. If you can make claims based on a table, then so can I.


Which is why I put up this poll. Half of the respondents have either never or almost never seen psionics used in the game and 75% would range from 0 to about 8%. Most definitely in gnome country. And, instead of saying that this proves anything, I pointed out that this information dovetails with the history of the game where there are exceptionally few psionic adventures (and, while, yes there are a few for Dark Sun, name 3 psionic adventures outside of that setting without going to Google :D ), none of the settings (again outside of Dark Sun) particularly lean on psionics and, frankly, psionics has been a very small niche at best in published material.
I love how you put "less than PHB classes" at 8% max. Less than PHB can still be common, since all of the PHB classes are common. So it's not 75% are at 0-8%, but more accurately 44% a fair amount and up. And just how many "nopes" are people who started with 5e and had no other option? This poll is more highly flawed than the ones you have been complaining about.
 

I wonder what the same poll would be like with "Paladins" instead of "psionic characters". I'm guessing there would be only slightly more paladins than psionic characters.
 

Hussar

Legend
I wonder what the same poll would be like with "Paladins" instead of "psionic characters". I'm guessing there would be only slightly more paladins than psionic characters.
Oh, quite possibly. And, there are still folks who question the inclusion of paladins as a separate class. Fair enough.

I'm not terribly interested though, in rehashing history. What's done is done. Paladins got put into the PHB. That's a fact and there's nothing we can really do about that.

You made the claim that they are like gnomes, with really no cause to do so other than @Aldarc's comment or basically HIS TABLE. If you can make claims based on a table, then so can I.
Umm, no? I made the claim based on the fact that only about 20% of respondents commonly see psionics at their table.

What evidence do you have that psionics are more popular than that? That psionics were played more commonly in any edition?

I love how you put "less than PHB classes" at 8% max. Less than PHB can still be common, since all of the PHB classes are common. So it's not 75% are at 0-8%, but more accurately 44% a fair amount and up. And just how many "nopes" are people who started with 5e and had no other option? This poll is more highly flawed than the ones you have been complaining about.
Umm, nope. PHB classes, outside of fighter, cleric, wizard and thief, all hover around the 8% mark on every single polling I've ever seen, including the D&D Beyond stats. Why would you think all of the PHB classes are common? Where have you ever seen any evidence for that?

Again, I'm not basing my opinion on the poll or the numbers. I'm pointing out that the poll dovetails with everything else we've seen or heard for the past thirty or forty years.

Or, are you seriously suggesting that 44% of tables regularly see psionics being played? That psionic characters are more common that fighters in any edition?
 

Aldarc

Legend
LOL. Dude, that's pretty uncool.
Your behavior in this thread has been anything but cool.

Ok, let's slap things side by side. You've already just admitted that Dark Sun and psionics are pretty much Gnome Effect territory. Like gnomes, they aren't very popular, aren't actually used all that much, but, because there is a really vocal, albeit really small, number of fans, they should be catered to, just like gnome fans.

However, unlike gnome fans, who got, what, a couple of pages in the PHB, you want an entire setting, complete with a new ruleset, new classes, and new mechanics. And, you figure that this is a good idea because a small number of people actually will use any of it?
I mention the gnomes, because it was something that WotC discovered when people were upset about the lack of gnomes in the 4E PHB1. Of course, those people only had to wait just a year to get gnomes in PHB2. I did not say that Dark Sun is in this territory. This is either your inability to read what I wrote or your desire to shove false arguments in my mouth. I only said that psionics is similar to gnomes in that tables who did like them are effected. But we could also make a comparison to Artificers as well. Artificers are niche too. Artificers were regarded as nigh necessary for running Eberron since they are an integral part of the setting. WotC published an Artificer which is in a similar territory as psionics. Should WotC not have made the Artificer? How many people will use the Artificer compared to psionics? Or is your dislike of psionics flavoring your sense of perspective here? Given how you behaved yourself in this thread and other threads regarding psionics, I doubt your earnest desire to discuss psionics in good faith. Maybe this is the lesson that you truly learned from the anti-warlord crowd about how to argue against a class: don't argue against it in good faith.

But, I'm the one being totally unreasonable? Your strongest argument is that we should have psionics because... reasons? That has apparently morphed into we should have Dark Sun which needs psionics. Again, because... reasons?
Give the alternative is a lack of reasons, I'm at least glad that you agree that the pro-psionics side has reasons.

Oh, but, I'm the one being unreasonable. :erm:
In regards to psionics, sorry, but yeah. You kinda have a repetitive habit of being unreasonable. You're an otherwise fairly cool person in other topics, but not when it comes to psionics territory.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I wonder what the same poll would be like with "Paladins" instead of "psionic characters". I'm guessing there would be only slightly more paladins than psionic characters.
Not round here.

In games that have had both Paladins* and psionics** available the psionics outnumber the Paladins about 30 to 12, with one very noteworthy tie: in an older campaign of mine one Paladin was also a significantly powerful psionic.

* - Paladins have been banned in the game I play in for a long time.
** - I've removed psionics as being PC-accessible in my current campaign.
 

Hussar

Legend
/snip

But we could also make a comparison to Artificers as well. Artificers are niche too. Artificers were regarded as nigh necessary for running Eberron since they are an integral part of the setting. WotC published an Artificer which is in a similar territory as psionics. Should WotC not have made the Artificer? /snip
Ok, let's compare the artificer shall we?

Now, AIR, the artificer took a couple of passes in the Unearthed Arcana. The final version they did was pretty much universally accepted. There might have been some quibbles, but, overall, it was vetted by the fandom as something that would work. Adding the Artificer into the game, took a single class and three (? I think it's three, correct me if I'm wrong) subclasses and no actual new mechanics. They modified existing mechanics, but, nothing in the Artificer is new. Artificers cast spells just like every other caster. They don't need any "special" rules to make them stand out.

And, they banged out the Eberron book - a complete campaign in a box with tons of setting goodies, a couple of pages of which were the artificer. Again, if they did the same thing for Dark Sun? Fantastic. Sign me up.

But, and this is where the comparison runs into problems. WotC's tried four passes at psionics so far? Five? None of them have been particularly popular and all of them have been very problematic. Note, personally, I LIKED the jedi fighter subclass. I thought that was pretty cool. But, again, the fandom has spoken and WotC's going back to the drawing board AGAIN to try to come up with rules that everyone can get on board with.

And, we're not going to get WotC psionic rules until such time as a majority of people are on board with the rules, just like anything else they've added to the game. That magic 70% number that I've seen floated around a few times. Do YOU think they've reached that threshold with the current psionic rules?

You keep talking about how I'm being unreasonable, but, I'm sorry, I don't see it that way. I can point to the history of psionics in the game - never really more than a small niche, point to current development - none of the UA attempts have been successful at bringing a majority of people on board and the fact that psionic play, according this poll and various other sources as well, has never really been all that important to the general population of D&D gamers. In response, I get called unreasonable, get pointed to polls that are, frankly, a joke and no actual historical or anecdotal evidence to the contrary.

Show me where psionics is this hugely popular thing. I'm more than willing to admit I'm wrong. But, so far, all people can do is play dueling anecdotes about their home game. Which, well, doesn't prove anything. What evidence do you have that psionics aren't languishing in the same development Hell as rangers?
 

Mecheon

Adventurer
Show me where psionics is this hugely popular thing. I'm more than willing to admit I'm wrong
Neverwinter Nights modding

Psionics was like, the first class they modded into the game there

(Also popular in 5E homebrew given there's like, 5 different versions I know of to start with)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Show me where psionics is this hugely popular thing. I'm more than willing to admit I'm wrong. But, so far, all people can do is play dueling anecdotes about their home game. Which, well, doesn't prove anything. What evidence do you have that psionics aren't languishing in the same development Hell as rangers?
Maybe they are.

One thing to keep in mind perhaps is that with 5e they intentionally tried to bring back things that had been present in older editions (as in, pre-3e), and psionics has been in the game - but not always working that well - since 1e. That might give it a bit more push than some other elements.

Personally I'm not concerned either way - if they push out a book on psionics, fine; if they don't, fine - but if they're going to someday do Dark Sun anyway* as a ful setting, that'd be the obvious place to throw a bone to thems as wants their 5e psionics.

* - and here's a stray thought: if they ever do another M:tG setting I wonder if it'll be Dark Sun, as a tie-in.....
 

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