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D&D General [Poll] How do you prefer psionics to work?

What is your preferred approach to psionics?

  • Point based (similar to spell points). Powers based on levels like spells are

    Votes: 16 17.8%
  • Point based. Powers are not broken down into levels, but spell point investment power effects

    Votes: 41 45.6%
  • Inherent skills to be used more often, but you only get fewer of them in total, recovery is per hour

    Votes: 6 6.7%
  • Inherent powers, fewer in total, and cast them like Vancian magic (per day)

    Votes: 13 14.4%
  • Exhaustion based. Many powers don't raise exhaustion, but more powerful ones do

    Votes: 8 8.9%
  • Specialize at 1st level, those options grow as you level but you don't get more choices

    Votes: 6 6.7%

  • Total voters
    90

Sacrosanct

Legend
This is a tough poll, as I suspect if I included an "other" option, that would be pretty much everyone lol. So I'm going to limit it to a handful of very generic options, and select the one that best fits, and then a comment about how you'd change it to fit what you want (if applicable).

A note on the exhaustion option: Powers are broken down into a few levels of power. Based on your PC level, the levels of power would either not increase exhaustion at all, or they would raise by one category. The trade off is you get access to more powerful powers before a traditional mage would. For example, you could cast the equivalent of a 3rd level spell at 4th level, but it would raise your exhaustion by one.

Note on specialization: choose either object manipulation, or mind manipulation. OM is like telekinesis, levitation, cell repair, etc. MM is charm, fear, control, etc. Powers are like skill trees, with prerequisites. So before you can learn fly, you have to first learn levitate. And before teleport, you have to learn fly.

*Edit further clarification on specialization
 
Last edited:

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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I used to be a psionics advocate - but these days I only want psionics if it baked into the setting and mostly replaces magic as it currently exists - so Dark Sun, or a variation on D&D set in a Gamma World setting, and the like.

I do want it to be point based or exhaustion based - anything other than just becoming just another spell slot system (which is part of why I want it separate - in my experience every time I have tried to incorporate psionics into standard D&D it has become a set of clunky rules that are hard to remember in comparison to the system everything else uses - since I want psionics to be "different" I'd rather it be the only or dominant thing - thus baked into the setting).
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
I don't really care about the specific implemention, provided it is done well. I think all of the options you've listed have at least the potential to work. It should feel like psionics (which has more to do with the abilities themselves than the resource mechanics) and be reasonably balanced (which is something that I think D&D has struggled with in previous editions).
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
I used to be a psionics advocate - but these days I only want psionics if it baked into the setting and mostly replaces magic as it currently exists - so Dark Sun, or a variation on D&D set in a Gamma World setting, and the like.

I do want it to be point based or exhaustion based - anything other than just becoming just another spell slot system (which is part of why I want it separate - in my experience every time I have tried to incorporate psionics into standard D&D it has become a set of clunky rules that are hard to remember in comparison to the system everything else uses - since I want psionics to be "different" I'd rather it be the only or dominant thing - thus baked into the setting).
Yeah. The tough thing is to make them feel different than spells. How does that work? That's the question.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Yeah. The tough thing is to make them feel different than spells. How does that work? That's the question.
There are various ways, but for D&D I think the best way is to simply define how psionics is different than magic.

For example, maybe psionics is generally weaker but offers more nuanced control, since the energy for it is internal rather than external. Kind of like how a bazooka and a sniper rifle can both kill someone, but they're very different in application. So maybe magical telekinesis offers a higher weight limit, whereas psionic telekinesis offers very fine "motor control" (being able to telekinetically manipulate the tumblers inside a lock). A psychic "fireball" (pyrokinesis) might be weaker or smaller but could allow you very fine control over what it targeted.

Another option would be simply to not have spells than duplicate psychic effects, but that ship has sailed (barring a new edition).
 

Yeah. The tough thing is to make them feel different than spells. How does that work? That's the question.
The biggest thing, I think, is to change the core mechanics. For one thing, that means they cannot use spell slots, because that's how spellcasting works.

Beyond that: psionics is usually portrayed in fiction as a matter of concentrating - you focus, and the thing happens. Anything you do beyond concentration (hand gestures, furrowed brows) is just an aid to doing so (ie it's easier to focus on a point in space if you look at it and/or point at it) but these would never be required.

It's also usually portrayed as draining or even damaging to the brain: within the context of 5e rules exhaustion is the closest existing mechanic for that, although power points or something all new could work instead. I do like the idea of being able to hurt yourself by trying too hard, though.

I first voted for specialization, but I wouldn't want all characters locked in to one specialization with no way to expand beyond: ie if I choose to specialize in telekinesis, I should still be able to learn telepathy. I'm just not as good at it. Also I'm apparently one of about three people who liked to concept of different key abilities for different disciplines in the 3.0e Psionics Handbook, but in the simpler context of 5e I think it could work.
 

MarkB

Legend
I voted for the last option because it's closest to what I'd want to see, which is that any individual character only has a very small selection of actual powers, but each power is flexible and can be deployed in a variety of ways, becoming moreso as you level up. Think superheroes, or Bending powers from The Last Airbender.

There would be some form of expendable resource for more powerful or specialised usage of powers, but their more common means of usage would be always-on, like a selection of themed cantrips.
 


Sacrosanct

Legend
So something like this (very rough idea).


tree.jpg
 




Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I used to be a psionics advocate - but these days I only want psionics if it baked into the setting and mostly replaces magic as it currently exists - so Dark Sun, or a variation on D&D set in a Gamma World setting, and the like.
This equals general psionics since you can just plug it into literally any setting you want. I'd be good with this. I don't care where I get it, so long as it comes.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I would run psionics on ki, and each psionic class would have it's own ki abilities baked in, and there would be feats that just give you ki and some ki features, as well as subclasses boosting base ki features or giving you new ones. Most ki classes wouldn't have spell level type stuff, but instead be level gated like most monk features. You get access at a given level, it has a certain cost, it does a specific thing, that's it.

A Mind Mage or Psion or whatever would have telepathy, some telekenetic abilities like an invisible mage hand and the ability to throw stuff, etc, and those abilities would get more powerful as you level, eg "starting at X level, when you use the Move Object ki feature, you can move an object of up to huge size, and your telekenetic damage die increases to 1d8." Such abilities would be fairly open ended, playing more like a Jedi than like a wizard.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I would run psionics on ki, and each psionic class would have it's own ki abilities baked in, and there would be feats that just give you ki and some ki features, as well as subclasses boosting base ki features or giving you new ones. Most ki classes wouldn't have spell level type stuff, but instead be level gated like most monk features. You get access at a given level, it has a certain cost, it does a specific thing, that's it.

A Mind Mage or Psion or whatever would have telepathy, some telekenetic abilities like an invisible mage hand and the ability to throw stuff, etc, and those abilities would get more powerful as you level, eg "starting at X level, when you use the Move Object ki feature, you can move an object of up to huge size, and your telekenetic damage die increases to 1d8." Such abilities would be fairly open ended, playing more like a Jedi than like a wizard.
I wouldn't buy that. If there's not a full caster version, they aren't getting money from me for it.
 


Redwizard007

Explorer
The biggest thing, I think, is to change the core mechanics. For one thing, that means they cannot use spell slots, because that's how spellcasting works.

Beyond that: psionics is usually portrayed in fiction as a matter of concentrating - you focus, and the thing happens. Anything you do beyond concentration (hand gestures, furrowed brows) is just an aid to doing so (ie it's easier to focus on a point in space if you look at it and/or point at it) but these would never be required.

It's also usually portrayed as draining or even damaging to the brain: within the context of 5e rules exhaustion is the closest existing mechanic for that, although power points or something all new could work instead. I do like the idea of being able to hurt yourself by trying too hard, though.

I first voted for specialization, but I wouldn't want all characters locked in to one specialization with no way to expand beyond: ie if I choose to specialize in telekinesis, I should still be able to learn telepathy. I'm just not as good at it. Also I'm apparently one of about three people who liked to concept of different key abilities for different disciplines in the 3.0e Psionics Handbook, but in the simpler context of 5e I think it could work.


I like this.

Ultimately I'd like to see broad categories of psionic disciplines to chose from. Probably 2 to start, then another at each tier of play. Each discipline would grant 2 spamable cantrips as well as access to a number of powers that required "psi-points" to use. Using more psi-points per round than your proficiency bonus could result in exhaustion and another brief status like stunned. Then tack on a mechanic to remove levels of exhaustion during a short rest as a class feature. I'd probably look for powers to be easily scalable in damage and effects.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
OK, first off, sorry for the large size. These are just examples of the Mental discipline (object manipulation are on another tab, but you can get the idea).

In a nutshell, as you level, you gain more abilities and unlock greater tiers. You have a pool of points (TBD) to fuel your powers, and you can overcharge an ability 1 tier up that you haven't unlocked yet, if you're willing to take the hit for it (TBD, probably exhaustion). I.e., a 4th level psionist who has unlocked level 2 tier can spend 3 points to upcharge a power to tier 3, but then suffer exhaustion.

You also get some passive or at will abilities depending on your specialization (the upper right of the image)

abilities.jpg
 

Inchoroi

Adventurer
What is magic? If it arcane formulae and ritual, then what are divine miracles, like like a cleric's healing powers? Magic is not limited to those blessed by the Gods or those who painstakingly memorize arcane sigils. There are those who wield magic that defies the normal rules that others follow. It is these individuals that are called mystics.

If one were to question a mystic, however, that mystic is just as likely to reveal that there is no secret. They perform magic with solely the power of the mind, creating magic from nothing at all save thought. A mystic is an odd one among other magic users. They memorize no spells; instead, each mystic develops a series of thought exercises which, when held perfectly within their mind, create magical effects. If a mystic cannot hold these multiple streams of thought together simultaneously, the magic collapses.

Here's some fluff I had previously worked out. Never did anything with it.
 

jgsugden

Legend
I used to be a psionics advocate - but these days I only want psionics if it baked into the setting and mostly replaces magic as it currently exists - so Dark Sun, or a variation on D&D set in a Gamma World setting, and the like...
There are those of us with a persistent Homebrew campaign world that have, for decades, used psionics. While there has been a period in every edition where we had to wing it, the 5E lack of psionics has been a huge pain for me as a DM. I have my own psionic rules that I am using, but I will want to use the official psionic rules if they are released, and we've seemed to be 6 to 10 months away from that for the past 4 years. Releasing a psionics rule set is not just fir Dark Sun or Gamma World - it is a way to service long time members of the D&D community.
 

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