Unearthed Arcana WotC Surveys: Implementation vs. Interest

Status
Not open for further replies.
I have never understood what the interest in a "psion" is, nor even what a "psion" is. Nor do I feel that the people who desperately want a "psion" have ever been able to explain what one is to me adequately. So I totally sympathize with any designer who, attempting to create a "psion" finds that there is no coherent definition of what a "psion" is, how it adds to gameplay, or even how it is different than a sorcerer or wizard.

Fundamentally, "psionics" in D&D have never been defined by anything but variant mechanics. And really, not since 1e AD&D has that variation had a clear and compelling reason.

In 1e AD&D a "psionic" character was one that had innate magical talent that was largely independent of the level of the character. This concept of innate magical talent that a person was just born with was tied by flavor to the attempts of mystics to reconcile their beliefs in magic with rational world of science, and as such it used a lot of modern language to describe very old superstitions in an attempt to clothe them in pseudo-scientific language. Of course, D&D got the language wrong, as for example the word "psionic" is a cognate of the word "bionic" and is meant to refer to a machine that grants abilities to the mind - a concept we'd now mostly think of in the context of cyberpunk such as installing modems in the brain to allow mind/machine interfaces. Still, at least it had some sort of coherent concept that made it different that a "Magic User" and anyone of any class could be a "psion".

Furthermore, psionic powers were novel mechanically in that they used mana points rather than spell slots. This incidental detail would be basically the sole defining trait of psions for the next two iterations. Psions were basically sorcerers with a slightly different spell list but critically using mana points rather than spell slots. It was as janky as heck, and I don't think really anyone could explain in this period what psionics were. Often a rather large percentage of the text was devoted to discussing what psionics might be without ever reaching any sort of definitive solution. Where they magic? Where they not magic? If they weren't magic, what were they? No one really seemed to know but there seemed to be pretty wide recognition that different tables had adopted different explanations or more often non-explanations.

Most of the attraction that I observed seemed to be focused on the mechanical difference. Some people really hated spell slots and really like mana points, and that was that.

So as an amateur rulesmith, I have no envy for the job of any designer that is supposed to create 5e "psionics". I recognize that there is a ton of interest, but the fact that no implementation makes a majority happy is not at all surprising. In prior discussions about psionics, I've only been convinced that psionics were always a bad idea with questionable implementations, however much they excited the imagination of a few.
Angry gith and kalashtar noises
 

log in or register to remove this ad

This is such an awful attitude. They're always going to be optional. There are tons of subclasses and races I wouldn't want in my game or setting, but I am always honest about the quality in UA, even of options I don't want, because they're just that, options. I could understand this if WotC were going to force you to include all classes at gunpoint but...
But it worked against the Warlord.
 


Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I ask you to follow your logic one step further.

From the number of different attempts as psionic characters, including multiple revisions of a full class, and player interest, the developers will be attempting to work on psionics. So future development time will be put towards it.

There are already sunk costs in what they have developed. Considering that they will be working on a psion, the short path to completion is one where they have already done work, instead of one they are starting yet again from scratch.

So with the reasonable assumption that the concept of psion will stay on the developer's plate, the rational option would be to rate it high so they have the least amount of work to complete, leaving more time for other projects. Sinking the current implementation will cause more future developer time to be spent on the concept as they start again from scratch.
Sunk cost fallacy is a thing for a reason. It's still a rational ask to try to kill further expenditure of development on unwanted material.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Oh definitely, and it worked against the Mystic, and I daresay it'll work against any Psion-type class, and as long as WotC listen to Angry Internetians we'll be stuck with only the very most anodyne and mediocre of mechanical content. Hell, they'll probably manage to get most of the recent class improvements nixed!
That other people have different likes than you and that D&D occasionally caters to those people must be a deeply abrasive irritant to you.
 

That other people have different likes than you and that D&D occasionally caters to those people must be a deeply abrasive irritant to you.

No. That's literally the exact opposite of what I am saying.

The exact opposite.

I'm saying that if I don't like something or see the need for it, but it's optional, rather than, say, a change to an existing class, I don't "vote it down" just because I don't see the need for it. I'm disappointed that people do. So you actually agree with my position.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
No. That's literally the exact opposite of what I am saying.

The exact opposite.

I'm saying that if I don't like something or see the need for it, but it's optional, rather than, say, a change to an existing class, I don't "vote it down" just because I don't see the need for it. I'm disappointed that people do. So you actually agree with my position.
I do not, irritating as that may be. I think it's perfectly rational to vote down things you don't want, as each is one less thing you might like that is created. If WotC stops making something you (or me) would like because enough people vote it down, then that means that thing shouldn't be made because it's a poor allocation of development efforts.
 

I do not, irritating as that may be. I think it's perfectly rational to vote down things you don't want, as each is one less thing you might like that is created. If WotC stops making something you (or me) would like because enough people vote it down, then that means that thing shouldn't be made because it's a poor allocation of development efforts.

It seems like you're proving my point here re: exact opposite. You're saying preventing stuff that irritates you from being made is a good thing. Whereas I was speaking against it. Curious that.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
It seems like you're proving my point here re: exact opposite. You're saying preventing stuff that irritates you from being made is a good thing. Whereas I was speaking against it. Curious that.
Well, it seems that your point is malleable enoigh that I'm either agreeing with it or proving it no matter what. I'll leave you to your success.
 

Well, it seems that your point is malleable enoigh that I'm either agreeing with it or proving it no matter what. I'll leave you to your success.

You actually raised a separate issue which is more interesting. That being whether by voting something down that you dislike, you're creating an opportunity for something that you like. You suggest it does but I'm not sure that's the case.

Further this relates back to the thread topic - we're not being asked about interest or whether we like something, at least, not directly. The questions are about specific rules and their implementation.

To put it another way, by downvoting stuff because one doesn't like it conceptually, rather than because the rules are wonky or the like, one is treating this as a popularity-based reality show, when it's actually meant to be more like a properly conducted job interview where one actually assesses people on their skills and suitability, not just whether we think they're cool.

Also evidence contradicts the idea that downvoting a concept causes it to be ditched and replaced by something you might like. The specific example here is Psionics. I was responding to someone who said they would always downvote Psionics, because they don't want it in the game, even as an option.

But that's not how it works. Psionic approaches have been repeatedly shouted down via UAs, but WotC keeps trying. Instead of ditching the concept, they actually put more and more effort into it. As such, if one is really concerned about getting different stuff they might like into the game, it may actually be perverse to downvoted stuff you dislike for conceptual reasons.

As such I think it would be useful for Wotc to actually do some more intentionally popularity-oriented polls.
 

Oofta

Legend
Personally I've never seen a need for psionicists. What is psionics anyway other than a different source of magic? What does it add the game?

As @Celebrim stated: for those who want a psion, why? What would be different other than perhaps using a variation of mana or spell points?

Because based on other threads, there's not even any agreement on what it should be. Maybe it's only popular because people fill in their ideas of what the psion would be if they developed it?
 

Personally I've never seen a need for psionicists. What is psionics anyway other than a different source of magic? What does it add the game?
In Dark Sun, it was used to represent weird mutations caused by living in a post-apocalyptic environment. It's worth noting that at the time Dark Sun was written the sorcerer class did not exist, and the optional psionics from 1st edition DMG where quite weird and whacky.

For Mind Flayers, Gith and Kalashtar, it represents alienness. Not for them all this chanting and wand waving that those primitive lesser races get up too.
 

Oofta

Legend
In Dark Sun, it was used to represent weird mutations caused by living in a post-apocalyptic environment. It's worth noting that at the time Dark Sun was written the sorcerer class did not exist, and the optional psionics from 1st edition DMG where quite weird and whacky.

For Mind Flayers, Gith and Kalashtar, it represents alienness. Not for them all this chanting and wand waving that those primitive lesser races get up too.
But then it's just magic with different fluff. Or I'm missing something and always have.

Isn't it just changing the labels used for sorcerers? Or just a different way of representing warlocks that get their power from the far realms?

Everyone has their preference, but a label change doesn't seem like enough to support a new subsystem.
 

But then it's just magic with different fluff. Or I'm missing something and always have.

Isn't it just changing the labels used for sorcerers? Or just a different way of representing warlocks that get their power from the far realms?

Everyone has their preference, but a label change doesn't seem like enough to support a new subsystem.
You need to get rid of certain mechanics as well. Mind Flayers (and those who gained their powers from them) have no need for wands and magic words. I.e. the most important thing for something to be psionic (IMO) is it doesn't have v, s & m components.

There is also the science fantasy crossover element. A psionicist should be able to walk from a D&D setting into Babylon 5 or Star Wars without changes.

As for Dark Sun, IMO you could replace psionics with a Gamma World style random mutation table for a similar effect, but that would offend purists.
 


Aldarc

Legend
What is psionics anyway other than a different source of magic? What does it add the game?
You answer your own second question here. For a number of fans of psionics, what that alternate source of magic represents is appealing because it has a different set of thematics and aesthetics than fireball-slinging wizards wielding cosmic powers, pious clerics drawing upon their gods, primal druids wielding nature, and bards singing their magic.
 


Oofta

Legend
You need to get rid of certain mechanics as well. Mind Flayers (and those who gained their powers from them) have no need for wands and magic words. I.e. the most important thing for something to be psionic (IMO) is it doesn't have v, s & m components.

There is also the science fantasy crossover element. A psionicist should be able to walk from a D&D setting into Babylon 5 or Star Wars without changes.

As for Dark Sun, IMO you could replace psionics with a Gamma World style random mutation table for a similar effect, but that would offend purists.
But then you need to modify other things to balance it out.

I get it, but no game can be everything to everyone.
 



Status
Not open for further replies.

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top