This week Wizards of the Coast released their first complete preview class from the forthcoming PHB3 through DDI and the Character Builder – The Psion. This is the first of many new classes relying on the new psionic power source, a useless and altogether unnecessary addition to 4e D&D. To put it bluntly: psionics suck.
I’ve been playing D&D for 25 years and I’ve never played a psionic character, I’ve never played at a gaming table where anyone else has played a psionic character and I’ve never had a DM use monsters with psionic powers against me. Dungeons & Dragons is all about swords and sorcery. A Wizard who can create a fireball or summon a demon is an acceptable and expected part of the game. A Fighter in shining plate armor, brandishing a glowing magic sword is another typical character you’d expect to find in D&D. But an opponent who can read my mind and move objects with the slightest thought falls way outside of the parameters I expect to find in a fantasy role playing game.
In all my years of playing D&D I’ve never felt that the absence of psionics has hurt the game or my gaming experiences. Monsters like the Illithid, Githyanki and Githzerai are certainly less powerful without their psionic enhancements, but on the few occasions when my DM has used them he’s either swapped their psionics for something magical or he’s just made them weaker. Previous versions of the Monster Manual and Fiend Folio have even presented these monsters with both psionic and non-psionic stat blocks. Wizards isn’t dumb, they know that psionics really have no useful place in D&D.
I’m not saying that playing characters with psionics is all-together a bad thing, but if you want to experience psionics then you should play a superhero role playing game and not D&D. I grew up playing both D&D and Marvel Super Heroes. When I wanted to play a psionic character I played Professor X, Psylocke, Phoenix or any one of the other mind-bending characters from the Marvel Universe. When I wanted to play a Wizard or a Paladin I returned to D&D. I never felt that either game was missing the elements the other game offered.
One game can’t possibly meet everybody’s needs. The addition of psionics to D&D is Wizard of the Coast’s feeble attempt to appease those vocal few who love D&D and won’t switch to a different RPG to satisfy their need for a psionic fix. I for one won’t play the Psion class.
Where do you stand on the topic of psionics? Do you think they have a place in D&D or should they be reserved for different RPGs?