So here's the power in question. Being forced to pull out my book, look it up, and make a ruling at the table, while I was trying to juggle a 20 character combat was not fun, let me tell you. I learned a long time ago that if a player tells you what their power does, there's a strong chance it doesn't work the way they think it does, lol.
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So the power states it works on plants, inanimate objects, and animated undead (skeletons and zombies). You'll note it's area of effect is "one item" and also "8 cubic feet", but the power states it does 1d10 damage to all
vulnerable objects the psionicist chooses to attack within 10 feet
, with a save vs. breath weapon for half damage ("all" is apparently no more than 8 cubic feet). Now if you roll a 20 when initiating the power, it says that "everyone" within 10 feet of you is attacked, which seems to imply that detonate has the power to damage people, but my reading of the power is that otherwise it never states it does damage to anything other than an object, plant, or undead.
The player argued, of course, that it made no sense that all these exploding items wouldn't deal damage like the shrapnel of a grenade. I certainly could see it, but that's not what the power says it does (again, by my reading). I honestly don't remember what I said at the time, but I was pretty annoyed (pro tip
: do not
try to run a game for 20 players!) at this point, so I probably told him to detonate sand.
I'm curious how other people would rule, and if my reading was incorrect, though at this point it's largely moot- I don't see anyone begging me to run a 2e game, let alone wanting to be psionic (more's the pity; as wacky and unbalanced as 2e was, I have nostalgia for those days).