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D&D 5E Psionics in a sci-fi D&D

How would you do it?

  • Reskin magic

    Votes: 44 35.8%
  • Totally new system

    Votes: 79 64.2%

  • Total voters
    123

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Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
I firmly feel that only by making psionics feel different can you do them justice.

If it's just magic, then what's the point of having psionics be it's own thing rather than just having a sorcerer class on a starship? Why roll up a Psion if you've got Wizard and Warlock right there, if the only difference is in how things are described?

It needs some depth. Some unique elements to make it different than just playing a mind-wizard. Otherwise just make a mind-wizard subclass for wizards and save yourself the time and effort, y'know?
 

Jack Daniel

OD&D Referee
In a setting where arcane magic explicitly doesn't exist but psionic power does, you can use whatever mechanics you please—including reskinned Vancian magic, which works just fine. If both need to coexist, I personally prefer that the mechanics be distinct in some way—at least as distinct as 3rd edition's slot-based magic vs. point-based psionics. Drifting further away from that model (such as AD&D psionics, or letting 3e D&D magic exist alongside some version of d20 System Jedi powers) improves the "feel" but becomes considerably harder to balance…
 

darjr

I crit!
I'd prefer psionics to fit into the Physics of the world as best as possible. Not be some kind of magic.

does that make sense?

Maybe still unexplained how it works at a fundamental level, but it works by manipulation of real world physics. More like Traveller then like Call of Cthulhu.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
(Not interested in “D&D doesn’t fit sci-fi responses)

Assuming you accept the premise, would you prefer psionics to be magic reskinned or a totally new system?

Is it electromagnetic/brain wave/science or is it spirits/far realms/mysterious?

The former feels worth a new system. (Does a metal hairnet block it? Does it interact with magnetic fields? What does an fMRI show of the user/target?).

The later feels like a type of magic to me.
 
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DND_Reborn

Legend
I would want a completely non-magic system. Psionics, as NOT spells, could not be countered or dispelled, etc.

Powers would not be "spells", and I would strive to keep them as far in effect from magic as possible.

Finally, I would remove many spells that IMO really should be iconic psionic powers.

I know many people might not like that idea, but oh well. :)
 



Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
Is it electromagnetic/brain wave/science or is it spirits/far realms/mysterious?

The former feels worth a new system. (Does a metal hairnet block it? does it interact with magnetic fields? What does an fMRI show of the user/target?).

The later feels like a type of magic to me.
This. If it is something like Rolemaster's realm of mentalism or PF1e occult classes, then it is a type of magic, but if it is pseudo-scientific like psionics in AD&D 1e, then I prefer a specific rule system.
 



I would want a completely non-magic system. Psionics, as NOT spells, could not be countered or dispelled, etc.

Powers would not be "spells", and I would strive to keep them as far in effect from magic as possible.

Finally, I would remove many spells that IMO really should be iconic psionic powers.

I know many people might not like that idea, but oh well. :)
no no on this we more or less agree.

but I would take the other option as existence means more to me than all other criteria.
Psi is a choice of themes. Not a choice of mechanics.

Reskin normal magic.

The Warlock has the best mechanics for psi: mostly at-wills that are powerful, some things that take effort and rest, and an occasional daily nova.
I have considered using the dice mechanic from the psi quarter casters for some kind of caster rage mechanic?
 

Composer99

Adventurer
I'd have to say that it depends.

If psionics is going to be its own thing in the game, with no magic as such, it's simpler to just re-skin magic - using the warlock chassis as suggested by @Yaarel.

If, on the other hand, psionics would be co-existing with magic, then having it be its own thing is the way to go. - cribbing individual powers from magic spells such as telekinesis and whatnot, but its own thing all the same.

I'm going to assume the former case and cast my vote accordingly, but that might be a good thing to clarify.
 

If the idea is to have "D&D, except it is scifi" then you actually want to retain significant amount of the recognisable mechanics. And magic mechanics are significant part of the D&D mechanics. Replacing spell mechanics because in this setting altering the reality with the power of your mind is called 'psionics' instead of 'magic' would be like replacing the combat mechanics because in this setting they use power swords and laser guns instead of axes and bows.
 

You also have to assume these psionic rules wouldn't just be used with a sci-fi setting, but would be a new option for more tradition fantasy gaming (I assume this is in reference to a forthcoming announced Level Up supplement). That being the case, having it be different from magic is the way to go.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Because of the limitless expansion of spell and spellcasting, I firmly believe there is not point in psionics as spells. Separate system.

And if it is inly aSciFi setting, there is more reason to separate spells for Psionics.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
I voted reskin magic but don't feel strongly either way with some caveats

Back in 2e when psionics were viscerally different so was magic. There was pretty strict vancian spellcasting where a caster prepared each slot. 2e is a bit distant for more than vague memories on the schools themselves but at least in 3.5 that magic/psi split was further influenced by the fact that spell schools made a huge impact on what certain classes could learn & at what cost.

In 5e spell schools are almost vestigial & it doesn't really use anything approaching vancian casting anymore. I think that the important part for some is that it feel different on some mechanical level beyond just spell selection & levelup does a great job of doing that between the various classes
 
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MGibster

Legend
Assuming you accept the premise, would you prefer psionics to be magic reskinned or a totally new system?
I accept the premise and would prefer psionics to be a totally new system versus reskinned magic. If psionics were to be magic in all appearance and effects, why bother with it at all? Do something new an exciting with it.
 

Hussar

Legend
Because of the limitless expansion of spell and spellcasting, I firmly believe there is not point in psionics as spells. Separate system.

And if it is inly aSciFi setting, there is more reason to separate spells for Psionics.
Heh. I look at that premise and come to the opposite conclusion. If spells and spell casting can cover everything, then what's the point of having a separate system for psionics? Just use the existing spell system, bit of reskinning and add in some limitations to differentiate different types of psionics.

Path of least resistance for me.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Heh. I look at that premise and come to the opposite conclusion. If spells and spell casting can cover everything, then what's the point of having a separate system for psionics? Just use the existing spell system, bit of reskinning and add in some limitations to differentiate different types of psionics.

Path of least resistance for me.

What is there to reskin if spells do everything already? There's no where to go.

If you are determined to have psionics, you have to build off boundaries and capabilities of spells. Unless the goal is to let spell get more versatile and power? Especially if you used 5e where spells can be obtained by characters in a very "liberal" fashion.
 

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