D&D General truly strange psionic races trend

I have noted that a surprising amount psionic races that are either part human or psionically evolved humans.
any idea why as it seems like a strange idea for one race let alone three.
any even know what the appeal of it is as they seem to not be sufficient departure to be cool and lack most of the fitting analogies of say tieflings or most other half races.
any idea why this could be are they based on something or what the appeal of the idea is?
 

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jgsugden

Legend
Almost all heritages are "mix some X into a human" if you think about it. What you're mixing in may not be clear, but very few of the heritages we have in D&D are not just 'mix X into a human'. Most of the ones that are not clearly that are actually our oldest heritages: Elf, gnome, halfling, dwarf, etc...

D&D looks at heritage, background and class to define PCs. There are other systems out there that look at more factors. In those systems, you can have 'dragon blood, or devil blood, or celestial blood' on top of a base of dwarf, elf, human, halfling, or something else.
 

HammerMan

Legend
I have noted that a surprising amount psionic races that are either part human or psionically evolved humans.
any idea why as it seems like a strange idea for one race let alone three.
any even know what the appeal of it is as they seem to not be sufficient departure to be cool and lack most of the fitting analogies of say tieflings or most other half races.
any idea why this could be are they based on something or what the appeal of the idea is?
I assume the elan and the Maynard are two of them. Is there a 3rd?
 

Dromites are insectoid, they might be their own race or some sort of Halfling offshoot.

Duergar are Dwarves, Derro might be Dwarves.

Thri-Kreen are another insectoid race.

The Gith races of Githyanki and Githzerai might be descended from Humans or might not be, that's something that changed across editions. I think in 5e they aren't related to Humans.

The Maenad might be based on Humans

The Kalashtar do come from Humans. So do the shells of the Inspired.

Changelings might be partially Human, or they just might be "lesser" Doppelgangers.

The Elan originally came from Humans, but 4e I think said they can come from any Humanoid race.

Blues are a Goblin subrace.

Half-Giants were magical crossbreeds of Humans and Giants on Athas.

The Synad might come from Humans, but nothing has said they do.

Fraal (aka Greys) from Alternity (but presented as a D&D race towards the end of 2e) are certainly their own race.

So it's only like maybe half of them that are Human offshoots.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
any idea why this could be are they based on something or what the appeal of the idea is?
The sci-fi trope around psionics from the early days of sci-fi is that humans will eventually progress via "evolvution"[*] into super-powerful psionic weilders. Often with giant brains. It's basically the same trope that eventually gave us the X-men as well - human evolution leading to a new "race" of beings with fantastic powers. I strongly suspect that creators who are thinking about psionics and trying to brainstorm ideas for how to write for it end up in that literary rut consciously or unconsciously - consciously because the whole design of D&D often leans on existing tropes that "everyone" already knows and understands, unconsciously because we're all influenced by whatever we read when we were in our personal golden age of 10-14 whether we like that fact or not...

[*] No that isn't how evolution works, but it's how the trope works. Especially in old sci-fi where the writers understood evolution and natural selection less than present day writers do.
 


SkidAce

Legend
Supporter
Changelings might be partially Human, or they just might be "lesser" Doppelgangers.
why-not-both.jpg
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Almost all heritages are "mix some X into a human" if you think about it. What you're mixing in may not be clear, but very few of the heritages we have in D&D are not just 'mix X into a human'. Most of the ones that are not clearly that are actually our oldest heritages: Elf, gnome, halfling, dwarf, etc...
Those oldest heritages come from Tolkien, and his elves were absolutely “mix some immortality into a human.” Hobbits we’re mostly stand-ins for his idealized agrarian class, and dwarves we’re stand-ins for diaspora; still more or less “humans, BUT” though. Gnomes are a little weirder, they kind of filled the niche elves used to in western fantasy before Tolkien redefined them.
 

I have noted that a surprising amount psionic races that are either part human or psionically evolved humans.
any idea why as it seems like a strange idea for one race let alone three.
any even know what the appeal of it is as they seem to not be sufficient departure to be cool and lack most of the fitting analogies of say tieflings or most other half races.
any idea why this could be are they based on something or what the appeal of the idea is?
Could be due to the influence of Slan, since the D&D elan are straight-up slan with the serial numbers filed off.
 

I assume the elan and the Maynard are two of them. Is there a 3rd?
yep
Could be due to the influence of Slan, since the D&D elan are straight-up slan with the serial numbers filed off.
what is a slan?
The sci-fi trope around psionics from the early days of sci-fi is that humans will eventually progress via "evolvution"[*] into super-powerful psionic weilders. Often with giant brains. It's basically the same trope that eventually gave us the X-men as well - human evolution leading to a new "race" of beings with fantastic powers. I strongly suspect that creators who are thinking about psionics and trying to brainstorm ideas for how to write for it end up in that literary rut consciously or unconsciously - consciously because the whole design of D&D often leans on existing tropes that "everyone" already knows and understands, unconsciously because we're all influenced by whatever we read when we were in our personal golden age of 10-14 whether we like that fact or not...

[*] No that isn't how evolution works, but it's how the trope works. Especially in old sci-fi where the writers understood evolution and natural selection less than present day writers do.
I am familiar with the trope and although it is a misunderstanding it can work but not in a dnd race as those need well a lot more going on to really hit it off.
Dromites are insectoid, they might be their own race or some sort of Halfling offshoot.

Duergar are Dwarves, Derro might be Dwarves.

Thri-Kreen are another insectoid race.

The Gith races of Githyanki and Githzerai might be descended from Humans or might not be, that's something that changed across editions. I think in 5e they aren't related to Humans.

The Maenad might be based on Humans

The Kalashtar do come from Humans. So do the shells of the Inspired.

Changelings might be partially Human, or they just might be "lesser" Doppelgangers.

The Elan originally came from Humans, but 4e I think said they can come from any Humanoid race.

Blues are a Goblin subrace.

Half-Giants were magical crossbreeds of Humans and Giants on Athas.

The Synad might come from Humans, but nothing has said they do.

Fraal (aka Greys) from Alternity (but presented as a D&D race towards the end of 2e) are certainly their own race.

So it's only like maybe half of them that are Human offshoots.
three more or less guaranteed and never half depending on who is saying what this edition.
still odd as most people stop after the first.
 



jgsugden

Legend
Those oldest heritages come from Tolkien, and his elves were absolutely “mix some immortality into a human.”...
We recognize that there is a difference between elves relationship to humans and most of the other D&D heritages, right? Tabaxi, Aarakocra, Tortles, Lizardfolk, etc... are half animal people. Tiefling, Aasimar, Changeling, Genesai, Goliaths, Dragonborn, etc... are half monster/fairy tale people. Those two classifications cover most of the fantasy heritages - mix some animal or monster into a human and 'boom' - new heritage.

There are only a few instances where we took one of the other D&D heritages, like dwarf, elf, and halfling, and then used them as a base for combining something else in. That is what I was pointing out ... most of the heritages we see in D&D are either Tolkien, animal people or monster people.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
We recognize that there is a difference between elves relationship to humans and most of the other D&D heritages, right? Tabaxi, Aarakocra, Tortles, Lizardfolk, etc... are half animal people. Tiefling, Aasimar, Changeling, Genesai, Goliaths, Dragonborn, etc... are half monster/fairy tale people. Those two classifications cover most of the fantasy heritages - mix some animal or monster into a human and 'boom' - new heritage.

There are only a few instances where we took one of the other D&D heritages, like dwarf, elf, and halfling, and then used them as a base for combining something else in. That is what I was pointing out ... most of the heritages we see in D&D are either Tolkien, animal people or monster people.
Well yeah, because most writers are humans, they draw from a base of human experience and imagine exceptions to it. All scifi and fantasy races are ultimately “human, but…” Tabaxi are “human but like a cat.” Tortles are “human but like a turtle.” Likewise, elves are “human but they live forever.”
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
So... the reason why is very simple: Psionics aren't Magic.

I mean they are, in the sense of it being an unexplainable phenomenon that at least bears the appearance of supernatural capability.

But culturally, in reality, it isn't "Magic". It's "Weird Science". It's Paranormal weirdness that in stories often appears as a quasi-evolutionary trait in humans. Whether that's Neil Patrick Harris sending a ferret up his mom's pant leg with a psychic suggestion or Carrie setting fire to a school gym with her anger and rage.

Even the names of psychic powers follow a greco-roman melange naming convention in an attempt to be pseudoscientific.

And so rather than slapping Psionic Elves (Brain Elves?) into a game, most developers try to make it as human as possible while also catering to their particular interpretation of what psionics are or should be.

Elan: Human evolution and higher thought. (Starship Troopers)
Maenad: Human evolution and stronger emotion. (Carrie)
Kalashtar: Aberrations ride your brainmeats. (Lovecraftian)
 



We recognize that there is a difference between elves relationship to humans and most of the other D&D heritages, right? Tabaxi, Aarakocra, Tortles, Lizardfolk, etc... are half animal people. Tiefling, Aasimar, Changeling, Genesai, Goliaths, Dragonborn, etc... are half monster/fairy tale people. Those two classifications cover most of the fantasy heritages - mix some animal or monster into a human and 'boom' - new heritage.

There are only a few instances where we took one of the other D&D heritages, like dwarf, elf, and halfling, and then used them as a base for combining something else in. That is what I was pointing out ... most of the heritages we see in D&D are either Tolkien, animal people or monster people.
Well yeah, because most writers are humans, they draw from a base of human experience and imagine exceptions to it. All scifi and fantasy races are ultimately “human, but…” Tabaxi are “human but like a cat.” Tortles are “human but like a turtle.” Likewise, elves are “human but they live forever.”
but the races with the longest appel in fantasy games don't just have one thing like cat people but say long lived graceful, magic people.
So... the reason why is very simple: Psionics aren't Magic.

I mean they are, in the sense of it being an unexplainable phenomenon that at least bears the appearance of supernatural capability.

But culturally, in reality, it isn't "Magic". It's "Weird Science". It's Paranormal weirdness that in stories often appears as a quasi-evolutionary trait in humans. Whether that's Neil Patrick Harris sending a ferret up his mom's pant leg with a psychic suggestion or Carrie setting fire to a school gym with her anger and rage.

Even the names of psychic powers follow a greco-roman melange naming convention in an attempt to be pseudoscientific.

And so rather than slapping Psionic Elves (Brain Elves?) into a game, most developers try to make it as human as possible while also catering to their particular interpretation of what psionics are or should be.

Elan: Human evolution and higher thought. (Starship Troopers)
Maenad: Human evolution and stronger emotion. (Carrie)
Kalashtar: Aberrations ride your brainmeats. (Lovecraftian)
the problem with that is why not just play a human with the psion class then? as that is equal the human but with cool abilities.
this I why I think dnd never really got around to making a proper psionic race as they would have multiple reasons to play them.
Would love to see the Shardmind return from 4e.
Yeah, the shardmind was a cool idea that didn't have enough time in the sun.
hard to fit in most worlds but for say planescape or spelljammer they would do well, maybe they need a bit more time in the oven.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
the problem with that is why not just play a human with the psion class then? as that is equal the human but with cool abilities.
this I why I think dnd never really got around to making a proper psionic race as they would have multiple reasons to play them.
Most people do. Or an Elf. Or a Dwarf. Or whatever.

But mechanically speaking D&D races are designed to be "Good" at specific classes. Dwarves as fighters and clerics, Half-Orcs as Barbarians and Fighters. Elves as Rogues and Wizards.

So they try and make a "Near Human" that is explicitly, specifically, good at being a Psionic character.

Problem with the core system design itself.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
but the races with the longest appel in fantasy games don't just have one thing like cat people but say long lived graceful, magic people.
I mean, if you think cat people is just one thing, you don’t know enough about cats. There’s a lot more to them than fur, pointy ears and tails. I also strongly disagree that elves have longer lasting appeal than anthropomorphic animals.
 

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