D&D General What’s The Big Deal About Psionics?

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
They're not creating from zero here, folks. Making a balanced psionics system - even one that does not operate like spells do - would/will be based upon the mechanics of D&D. They know what appropriate damage is at a given character level, and they know how to balance abilities. The trickiest part of making a psionic power source work is not the mechanics - it is the lore side of it. They have to find lore that gets wide acceptance in an audience with people that resist psionics, and dozens of cults that each have a different idea of what psionics should be.
You might want to research what a cult is before accusing people of being in them.
 

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James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
They're not creating from zero here, folks. Making a balanced psionics system - even one that does not operate like spells do - would/will be based upon the mechanics of D&D. They know what appropriate damage is at a given character level, and they know how to balance abilities. The trickiest part of making a psionic power source work is not the mechanics - it is the lore side of it. They have to find lore that gets wide acceptance in an audience with people that resist psionics, and dozens of cults that each have a different idea of what psionics should be.
Despite this knowledge about the game, someone at WotC made the Mystic, and got a lot of those things wrong, sadly.
 


James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
3e did that. There were other ways to detect psionics happening. You can also have the result be some sort of magic as well, so it doesn't get around anti-magic zones. Anyone who is claiming that psionics are "just a way to end-run things like counterspell and anti-magic zones" is being disingenuous. There might be the odd person saying that, but by and large our side doesn't have those things as a goal or even desire.

It's no more niche that monks, bards or warlocks.

It was niche in 1e and 2e, true. It was MUCH more prevalent in 3e, and I don't know about 4e.

You don't need a fancy shmancy scientific explanation. If a table wants it, they can come up with it.
4e Psionics had some neat ideas but they didn't stick the landing very well. The Monk was Psionic in name only, with an interesting mechanic that rewarded you for using two specific at-will powers in the same turn. You didn't need to, but there was a bonus effect if you did.

The Ardent was a hot mess, the Battlemind lacked a viable basic melee attack, being Constitution-based. The Psion, on the other hand, while not as robust as the Wizard, had some neat abilities. Their main thing was you had a bunch of At-Will Powers, and a limited pool of Psionic points you could use each encounter. You could use these points to Augment an At-Will to make it stronger. So it still followed the AEDU structure, but you had more leeway with how much power you brought to bear during a single encounter; you could spend all your points to have the same 3 encounter powers as everyone else, or you could spread the power out with weaker effects over the course of the battle. All that having been said, I saw one Psion played ever, because it required more resource management than I think most people cared for.
 

They're not creating from zero here, folks. Making a balanced psionics system - even one that does not operate like spells do - would/will be based upon the mechanics of D&D. They know what appropriate damage is at a given character level, and they know how to balance abilities. The trickiest part of making a psionic power source work is not the mechanics - it is the lore side of it. They have to find lore that gets wide acceptance in an audience with people that resist psionics, and dozens of cults that each have a different idea of what psionics should be.
any idea what the sides are?
 




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In the restaurants not everybody asks the same plate, in the pubs not everybody asks the same drink, in the fashion shops not everybody buys the same clothing. Always there is a player who wants her player to be different.

Other point about the psionic powers is the great flexibility. In the morning most of spellcasters have to choose the list of spells they are going to use in the rest of the day. The psionics don't need worry about that. This could be useful for new players who don't know enough strategy.

Maybe mystic class needs a lot work but I would rather better before sooner.
 

"I'll have commonly used rhetoric against implementing any sort of change for 500, Alex."
I would love for there to actually be psionic rules. I am simply saying the reason why we haven't actually gotten any; this isn't a normative argument, it's a descriptive one. WotC's...shall we say, imperfect data-collection methods make it impossible for them to actually know enough about anything to make a new product that won't be instantly rejected by a significant number of fans.

Personally, I just want psionic rules that aren't spellcasting. As long as it's not spellcasting (well, and actually effective), I wouldn't care one whit how it was implemented. Power points! Wild talents! Freeform! Whatever.

5e is the "don't rock the boat" edition. Always has been. The "One D&D" playtest might change that, but I wouldn't bet on it. So long as 5e is focused on not rocking the boat, and WotC continues to use their...questionable data-gathering/survey design/statistical analysis, I suspect psionics will remain in enternal limbo, constantly desired but never provided.

They have to be willing to make some people mad. Since they aren't, we're stuck in neutral.
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
I could live with psionics taking a softer more flexible approach with psi-power points and specialisations, each branch of psionic specialisation granting a conceptual focus for what your abilities can be used for rather than a hard codified set of powers, as well as ‘you can replicate the effects of XYZ spells but they don’t require V/S/M components’, each specialisation provides a scale of examples of what can approximately be achieved by each focus and how many points it would require to achieve that.

Like say the transformation specialisation is described as ‘you can manipulate your own bodily form’, you can replicate effects of these spells on yourself: primal savagery, disguise self, jump, cure wounds, enhance ability, stoneskin, enlarge/reduce, polymorph, regenerate, ect..., but you aren’t limited to just those effects so maybe you could use some psi-points to stretch your arms out and reach up to a high window or give yourself claws for climbing.

Given my own understanding of psionics i think id separate the focuses into:
-telekinesis: move and apply physical force to things in your environment with your mind
-telepathy: connect to, observe and influence the minds of others for better or worse
-transformation: control, manipulate and change your own bodily form
-energy manipulation: create and manipulate energy in the forms of fire, ice and electricity
-sensory: expand your ability to detect, observe, seek and divine the world outside your own body
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
I think a major issue with psionics is, in fact, the issue with magic in general: there's simply too much crossover. Too many spells are available to too many classes. There's not enough to make each class/archetype distinct.

If psions were the only ones who could read and alter minds, and no other class had access to spells like detect thoughts and charm person, but psions couldn't throw fireballs, then there would be a clear division here. Except... wizards are well-known to have mind-control powers, and psionics has always included psychokinesis.
 


If we are having these troubles with the psionic powers, then I don't want to imagine the day when they dared the step for the martia adepts (3.5 Tome of Battle: Book of the Nine Swords).

The counterspells can't work in the same way with the psionic powers. If neither somatic nor verbal components are necessary this means a psion even being bound and gagged the psion could still be a serious menace.

If the wizards are an allegory about the sciences maybe the psion could be inspired in the philosophy of the martial arts about discipline, self-control and search of the perfection.

The psionic powers also can be used as a hook for the superheros-comic fandom.

* Some psionic powers might not need spending of power points, but using a reloading system like the (ki) martial maneuvers.

* I like the idea of Athanatism, the psionic art of manipulating souls and spirits (idea by Dreamscarred Press).

* Any suggestion? Psionic powers to be designed for an easy adaptation from spell to psi-power.


 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I think a major issue with psionics is, in fact, the issue with magic in general: there's simply too much crossover. Too many spells are available to too many classes. There's not enough to make each class/archetype distinct.

If psions were the only ones who could read and alter minds, and no other class had access to spells like detect thoughts and charm person, but psions couldn't throw fireballs, then there would be a clear division here. Except... wizards are well-known to have mind-control powers, and psionics has always included psychokinesis.
Yep. But that's why the mechanics have to be distinctly different. HOW each class goes about use of their power affects the feel. Divine classes get to choose from every divine spell every day. Wizards have to learn them from books and don't have access to all spells. The other arcane classes are also limited, but in different ways. Psions need to be different.
 

Aldarc

Legend
If psions were the only ones who could read and alter minds, and no other class had access to spells like detect thoughts and charm person, but psions couldn't throw fireballs, then there would be a clear division here. Except... wizards are well-known to have mind-control powers, and psionics has always included psychokinesis.
This is where I would sequester some things to subclass.
 

Incenjucar

Legend
One of the nice things about the 2E psionicist was that their powers were weaker than actual spellcasters, and so they had stats more in line with rogues. Magic altered reality, while psionics was mostly just expanding the "natural" abilities of an individual to bend reality a little. A person could throw a punch, while a psionicist could throw a punch, while a spellcaster summoned an angel to punch.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
One of the nice things about 2E psionicist was that their powers were weaker than actual spellcasters, and so they had stats more in line with rogues. Magic altered reality, while psionics was mostly just expanding the "natural" abilities of an individual to bend reality a little. A person could throw a punch, while a psionicist could throw a punch, while a spellcaster summoned an angel to punch.
I liked 2e's concepts of critical successes for powers and fumbles for powers.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
The big deal is, many (perhaps most) people want it, and almost none of them agree on even the smallest details of how it should work.

I think it's morre than none of the fans agree with WOTC's ideas for it. Mostly because they either tried to shove it into another class OR shove all of psionics into one class. AKA the easy cheap route.

Much like the artificer, if WOTC designs a psioincs class with a clear idea and concept most fans would be okay with it even if it isn't perfectly how they want it.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Telling people what their opinion must be is out of bounds. You can decide what you believe. But you can't tell others what to think and then deride them if they do not obey your demands.

In general a lot of the content around here makes unproven claims what other people want and why they want it. Almost invariably in an unflattering way.
 

Incenjucar

Legend
While I've always been baffled about the habit of avoiding just making a rules-only updated version of the 2e Psionicist and expanding from there if it takes off, I've found plenty to enjoy in the various incarnations of psionics. At the end of the day, I'd rather have something I'm only 80% on board with than nothing.
 

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