D&D 5E Psionics in a sci-fi D&D

How would you do it?

  • Reskin magic

    Votes: 46 35.1%
  • Totally new system

    Votes: 85 64.9%


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I'd appreciate if you did, because without it I'm struggling with your last post (and a quick Google didn't help).
"sub-": less than
"natural": existing in or derived from nature

Example sentence: "Subnatural is a made up word that means whatever I want it to."
 
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Tautologies are really getting out of hand, supernatural and paranormal are effectively synonyms. What's next, different rules for hand-to-hand combat and melee?
They aren't effectively synonyms within the context of comparing science fiction and fantasy.

As for "what's next," how about this. Nothing you say about magic, psychic abilities, definitions of paranormal and how it compares to definitions of supernatural or anything else will change the following:

Psionics in a sci-fi D&D​


Whatever you think about any of the above, this entire thread is about implementing psionics in a sci-fi setting of 5E, so for the purposes of this thread, psionics is sci-fi, not fantasy.
 

They aren't effectively synonyms within the context of comparing science fiction and fantasy.
How? Explain an actual functional metaphysical difference, not one that is merely circular semantics.

Whatever you think about any of the above, this entire thread is about implementing psionics in a sci-fi setting of 5E, so for the purposes of this thread, psionics is sci-fi, not fantasy.
I am glad someone remembers what the topic of the thread was. Most people seemed to instantly ignore it, and merely started talking about introducing psionics into fantasy D&D.

But in scifi context the answer is super easy: psionics is what you call magic in scifi. And as there is no actual magic in scifi, no separation is needed and there is no possibility of confusion.
 
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Hussar

Legend
The definition of what is and isn't science in fiction is entirely defined within the fiction itself. Their plausibility outside of fiction is irrelevant. It's why science fiction that falls outside of the narrow category of "hard sci-fi" is still called science fiction and not fantasy. Magic is magic because the fiction defines as so. When magic isn't magic, but just "sufficiently advanced science," again, it's because the fiction defines it so. If psionics is tapping into some "other," like the Force, then it could be plausibly compared to magic, but say if it's the result of using mechanical implants to harness and amplify unused portions of the brain, then it doesn't matter that the concept doesn't hold up under real world scientific scrutiny; pseudoscience is still within the purview of science in a fictional context, not magic.
No.

SF is defined by the themes of the story, not by the plausibility. Doctor Who is SF, not fantasy, because it deals with SF themes like what does it mean to be human, among other things, despite it's "science" being 100% magic, the lead character being a wizard with a magic wand. Doesn't matter - it's still SF because that's the themes. Shadowrun is fantasy, not SF, because it is pretty much D&D with a new coat of paint. You are dealing with issues, typically, revolving around good and evil. It might be evil vs bigger evil, but, it's not about the loss of humanity due to computerization.

SF and fantasy are not defined by "what is plausible".
 

Hussar

Legend
And, since we're in the topic of "Psionics in a Sci-Fi D&D", then the worry about wizards disappears. This isn't straight up D&D, so, wizards, presumably, wouldn't exist in the setting. So, why are we worried about wizards getting psionic spells?

IOW, we're apparently concerned about a purely hypothetical.
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
I normally use the term "scifi" to also include fantasy. So, Lord of the Rings is scifi. There are too many shows (that I like) that blur the genres: Star Wars, Dr Who, Star Trek, superheroes, and so on. Its all scifi.

Others trying to maintain some theoretical distinction, might use the broad term "speculative fiction", where I use scifi.



That said, for me, there is a difference between technology and magic. Technology is a "tool", and can be bought and sold.

Magic is something that requires a "relationship", is inherent, and allows for a mental intention to manifest directly as physical reality.

To the degree that psionics wills thoughts directly into existence, I consider it "magic", even if there is a scientific explanation for how it works.
 
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Minigiant

Legend
And, since we're in the topic of "Psionics in a Sci-Fi D&D", then the worry about wizards disappears. This isn't straight up D&D, so, wizards, presumably, wouldn't exist in the setting. So, why are we worried about wizards getting psionic spells?

IOW, we're apparently concerned about a purely hypothetical.

Wizards aren't banned in scifi. What matters in scifi is the focus on and/or basis of some element of science. Psionics is fantastical as welland the excuse science is almost lways a major stretch.

Science fantasy is a subgenre of science fiction afterall.
 


Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I normally use the term "scifi" to also include fantasy. So, Lord of the Rings is scifi. There are too many shows (that I like) that blur the genres: Star Wars, Dr Who, Star Trek, superheroes, and so on. Its all scifi.

Others trying to maintain some theoretical distinction, might use the broad term "speculative fiction", where I use scifi.



That said, for me, there is a difference between technology and magic. Technology is a "tool", and can be bought and sold.

Magic is something that requires a "relationship", is inherent, and allows for a mental intention to manifest directly as physical reality.

Potions and magic items are technology?
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
Potions and magic items are technology?
If the magic items are virtually identical to technology, and feel like one can by them in a store or make one in a lab, then yeah, it is technology.

If the magic item requires attunement and rapport, has a mindful presence in some way, furthers the mental intentions of its creator, and so on, then it starts to feel more like magic.

I guess the difference is like: magic behaves like a dream, versus, technology behaves like a chemistry book.
 

And, since we're in the topic of "Psionics in a Sci-Fi D&D", then the worry about wizards disappears. This isn't straight up D&D, so, wizards, presumably, wouldn't exist in the setting. So, why are we worried about wizards getting psionic spells?

IOW, we're apparently concerned about a purely hypothetical.
This is really the big question that the OP doesn't mention. I assume @Morrus has some project in mind, but it's not clear if it's straight up D&D in space (Spelljammer) with existing classes and magic, a reskin (Esper Genesis), or something in between (Starfinder).

The answer to the original question is very different depending on which.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
And, since we're in the topic of "Psionics in a Sci-Fi D&D", then the worry about wizards disappears. This isn't straight up D&D, so, wizards, presumably, wouldn't exist in the setting. So, why are we worried about wizards getting psionic spells?

IOW, we're apparently concerned about a purely hypothetical.
My gut feeling on this is we should presumably continue to account for wizards, etc. as if it were standard D&D from a design standpoint. If you do, it makes it easier to evaluate/playtest for balance (you have already-published reference poinrs) AND it increases compatibility with the original game and whatever other stuff might be out there.

I mean, I can’t be the ONLY gamer out there who bought products related by system to yoink for inclusion in other games.
 

And as there is no actual magic in scifi, no separation is needed and there is no possibility of confusion.
I feel the exact opposite on this. The reason separation is needed isn't because of possibility of confusion. My reasons are basically twofold:

  1. I don't feel that the mechanics that define the D&D wizard would do a sufficient job of capturing the feel of a science fiction user of psychic disciplines.
  2. The wizard class is already so comprehensive that patterning a psion after the wizard would essentially just be a wizard with a restricted spell list. You could literally do that yourself by curating the spell list in about an hour, and if we're assuming that this is supposed to lead to a product, I'd be highly unlikely to spend money on something I could do so easily myself.
Whether it's to use as intended in a sci-fi setting or to scavenge mechanics for use in a fantasy D&D campaign, there is just nothing really useable in a wizard-based psion that I couldn't already get from the PHB.
 

I feel the exact opposite on this. The reason separation is needed isn't because of possibility of confusion. My reasons are basically twofold:

  1. I don't feel that the mechanics that define the D&D wizard would do a sufficient job of capturing the feel of a science fiction user of psychic disciplines.
  2. The wizard class is already so comprehensive that patterning a psion after the wizard would essentially just be a wizard with a restricted spell list. You could literally do that yourself by curating the spell list in about an hour, and if we're assuming that this is supposed to lead to a product, I'd be highly unlikely to spend money on something I could do so easily myself.
Whether it's to use as intended in a sci-fi setting or to scavenge mechanics for use in a fantasy D&D campaign, there is just nothing really useable in a wizard-based psion that I couldn't already get from the PHB.
so clearly we need something rather different in at least a few ways?
 

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