Psionics Suck!

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on July 10, 2009

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?

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nick July 10, 2009 at 10:00 am

For me, I think what psionics fulfill in the D&D game is a weird, other-worldly power. In most settings, the intelligent races have mastered magic–it has almost become the technology of many campaign settings. Psionics offers a strange, rare, non-magical power source.

In a home-brew 2ed game, after I purchased the Complete Psionicist, I had a spaceship crash on the planet. I described it as a “massive metal mountain that fell from the sky.” From this ship Illithids launched an invasion on the good kingdoms of the world. I also introduced an NPC who was an escaped slave that had psionic powers. It was a refreshing twist to that campaign.

And let us not forget Dark Sun! Psionics is what made that world such an strange and interesting place to game.
.-= Nick´s last blog ..A Fresh Take on 4ed Skill Challenges =-.

2 Dyson Logos July 10, 2009 at 10:07 am

Psionics appear so often in fantasy literature that I come to expect it in a fantasy RPG. The “magics” of the Farseer trilogy (both the Wit and the Skill) by Robin Hobbs are perfect examples of psionics in fantasy, not in a superhero or sci-fi setting.
.-= Dyson Logos´s last blog ..[Friday Map] Fortress on the Ironflow – A 1 Page Dungeon =-.

3 Mike July 10, 2009 at 10:34 am

what about monks? they don’t uses swords, or sorcery? i put psions in the same boat as monks and find it perfectly acceptable to be used in D&D, specifically in 4e were the rules seem solid. in all other previous editions psionics were something else i had to learn, now its a simple rule that makes sense.

If you don’t like psions then that’s fine don’t use em, but your don’t exactly say why it sucks.

An interesting story arc, is if you dislike them so much, then have them outlawed in your campaign. Anyone caught using them, is captured, sent to a jail, or killed if to powerful. put the players in a position where a psion is asking for their help not to get caught, what do the lawful players do?
.-= Mike´s last blog ..How to use party initiative =-.

4 Sean Holland July 10, 2009 at 11:46 am

I always end up going back to the origins of psionics: they were created to allow “magic” in science fiction by having pseudoscientific psychic powers. We are playing a fantasy game! We do not need ersatz magic, we have the real thing!

That being said, I have used the 3.5 psionic mechanics for the occasional variant spell weilder, since that is what it is, a variant magic system dressed up in “mental powers” dress.
.-= Sean Holland´s last blog ..Dark Star Dominion – the Evil Empire =-.

5 Patriarch917 July 10, 2009 at 11:50 am

I think Psionics absolutely belong in D&D. I would agree that they might not fit every setting, but one think I love about D&D is the ability to grab stuff from a huge amount of material and play just the game you want. Psionics might not fit certain settings, but they work great in my Spelljammer, Planescape, and Dark Sun. Illithids are by far my favorite monsters, and the struggle between Gith and Illithid is my favorite thing about D&D.

Just because you don’t enjoy something doesn’t mean that it sucks, and shouldn’t exist. I find no enjoyment in Giant Robots/Mecha, but don’t mind that there are games out there that use them, and I even don’t mind that there are D&D games that use them.

6 Ameron July 10, 2009 at 11:55 am

@Nick
If you’re interested in adding that element of the unexpected to your campaign I can see why psionics might be appealing. But I do find it interesting that in the novels where psionics are used the characters are often referred to as mind-mage. I guess that’s how the inhabitants of the world come to grips with the strange and unexpected power source.

Having psionics stem from a crashed spaceship is a great way to introduce something as different as psionics. I never played in the world of Dark Sun.

@Dyson Logos
I’m sure there is cross-pollination of psionics in fantasy literature. However, the stuff I read and enjoy tends not to have psionics in it. It’s just my personal preference. Thanks for the comment.

@Mike
I’m glad you brought up Monks. I don’t think Monks were correctly categorized as a psionic class. They seem much more suited towards the martial power source. I think that Wizards of the Coast grouped Monks in the psionic category to give it (psionic powers) credibility. I’d even argue that Monks have closer ties to divine power than psychic.

My statement that psionics suck is targeted specifically at psionics in D&D. When it comes to psionics in other RPGs I’m all for it. Everything has its place and in my opinion psionics have no place in D&D. I like your suggestion of making psionics outlawed. That could certainly explain why they don’t appear in my campaigns yet allow my players to play a Psion or any other psionic class if they want to. I’d never outlaw a class and limit character creation choices, but knowing my core group I don’t think we’ll see any of the psionic classes appear at the game table any time soon.

I know my stance on this topic is likely unpopular and I welcome the chance to discuss it with our readers. Thanks, Mike.

@Sean Holland
I like your take on this; why use something that’s like magic when you actually have magic. Good call.

@Patriarch917
You make a valid point. Some settings were built with psionics as an integral part of them. So for those who enjoy those settings and feel that psionics work then this obviously will appeal to you.

You’re right to call me out when I say that psionics suck. As I mentioned in my reply to Mike above I don’t feel that psionics suck all together, just that I don’t like them in D&D. If I played in the settings you’ve mentioned that rely on psionics I’d probably have a very different opinion on the subject.

I suppose my real beef is that psionics up until now have been a fringe part of D&D which I could easily ignore. By including them in the forthcoming PHB3 core book I feel like Wizards of the Coast is forcing them upon me. So I guess I’m left with a few choices. Do I buy the PHB3 and do I use psionics in my game? Since I’m a DDI subscriber I don’t think I’m going to need a hard copy of the PHB3 and although I’m not interested in using psionics I won’t hinder my friends from using them.

Thanks for the comment. Let the discussion continue.

7 Spenser July 10, 2009 at 11:58 am

“…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.”

You mean like with the spells detect thoughts or telekinesis (or mage hand for that matter)?

Just sayin…

8 Ameron July 10, 2009 at 12:11 pm

@Spenser
Touché. I guess saying “way outside of the parameters” was a bit too strong. But your comment sort of supports my point that psionics are unnecessary if there are magic spells that can accomplish the same results.

9 Spenser July 10, 2009 at 12:17 pm

@Ameron
Well, with my group (speaking strictly of 3.5 here), it was more about the means than the ends. Many people in my group preferred the power point system over the spellcasting system. So yeah, the effects are largely redundant (which always sort of annoyed me), but all my players loved it anyway.

(Plus, how else are you going to get all those awesome psionic feats? :-P)

10 Mike July 10, 2009 at 12:23 pm

I disagree that Monks should be Divine or Martial.

Monks do not necessarily follow gods. Sure, the catholic monks of Earth history did, but what about Buddhist monks? Buddhism is not based on a deity. It is a “level of understanding” which fits in *really* well with the Psionic concept. If I look at them from that perspective, it makes perfect sense why WotC classified them as Psionic.

Divine monks wouldn’t be a very good class. Can you picture Friar Tuck with a longsword?

I don’t think that a martial monk really works as a concept either. “Brawler” is more martial in my mind, where a monk is above just a down-and-dirty brawl. (Although you probably could reflavor your monk as Martial and call it a brawler instead?)

11 DrOct July 10, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Really? Seriously? If you wanted to write an article about why you don’t personally want to use Psionics in your game, that’s fine, I even think you have a point that in the traditional core D&D game there’s no real need for psionics, but really you’re going to pull this sort of “I like to play this way, so it’s stupid for anyone else to play a different way” crap here?

Look, I like psionics. I think they’re a neat twist, and add an element of the weird. I also really like adding Lovcraftian horror elements to my fantasy games, and psionics fit in there quite nicely. But all of that being said, I don’t say that people who don’t use psionics in their games are doing something wrong. I don’t tell them they should be playing some other game. Hell when I wanted to add a few levels of psion to my rogue in my 3.5 game, I checked with my DM first to see if he wanted to add psionics to the game. If he hadn’t wanted to, that would have been fine with me, I don’t get hung up on playing things “my way.”

Ebberon is a pretty unusual fantasy setting, with some interesting noir twists and all sorts of other non-traditional to fantasy settings elements thrown in, but I doubt you’d argue that anyone who plays in Ebberon should just go and play another game to get their fix of those things, and that anyone who doesn’t is just part of the “vocal few who love D&D and won’t switch to a different RPG to satisfy their need for a noir fix.”

If you don’t want to use psionics in your game, that’s perfectly fine, I think that’s a perfectly valid decision for the world you want to create and play in. But some people do like psionics in their fantasy world, and I don’t think it’s really fair for you to suggest that they’re doing something wrong by doing that.
.-= DrOct´s last blog ..Amnesiac RPG Characters =-.

12 DrOct July 10, 2009 at 12:40 pm

As a follow up, I apologize for the somewhat angry tone of that last post, I’ve just seen a few instances lately of people basically suggesting that their way of playing is the right one, and so this sort of got under my skin a bit.

As I said I think you have some good points, and I even think you could argue that Psionics are better left non-core (though to be honest I’ve been waiting for them to be a bit more integrated into the system for a long time), and thematically for a lot of settings and such psionics are a bit disruptive and unnecessary.

But the suggestion that people are doing something wrong by using psionics in their D&D game and that they should instead be playing a superhero game really rubbed me the wrong way today.
.-= DrOct´s last blog ..Amnesiac RPG Characters =-.

13 Groumy July 10, 2009 at 1:09 pm

Indeed, psionic may be seen as obsolete, since almost every main power a Psyonic can have, Wizards already have it but with a different source and a different name, but yeah it’s a different source, why should we bother with Divine source, it’s like magic, but from the god. Psionic is like magic but from the mind …

If we look at the core principle of the psionic class, the psionic is only a spell caster with more versatility than wizards, indeed back in 2e edition, the psionic class did not have to memorize spell. An the system of power point allowed psyonic to choses whether or not the spell need more juice or not.

In that matter i found the Psionic more useful and more justified that the presence of the Invoker !!! A never seen before class that suddenly to the same thing as wizards with a different power source !!! At least the psionic system is bringing something new.

14 Ameron July 10, 2009 at 3:37 pm

@Mike
I’m thinking back to previous editions of D&D where the monk was more closely related to the Cleric class (I think it was AD&D 2e). Including Monks in the divine power source would not be my first choice but I wouldn’t have any problems seeing them land there. Just because a class is divine doesn’t mean it has to use a particular weapon. I’d still restrict them to traditional Monk weapons or just unarmed attacks.

As for including the Monk in the martial power source, I think this would make them more like they were in 3.5e. You can still be a martial character and have class features that are magical (like the old wholeness of body or quivering palm). I just really have a difficult time envisioning them as Psionic.

DrOct

I don’t recall saying “I like to play this way, so it’s stupid for anyone else to play a different way.” In fact, I deliberately made a point of specifically not saying that. As with any article I post on this blog it’s going to be me sharing my opinion. Sometimes I’ll take something to the extreme just to see what the community has to say on the subject (as was the case here). The last thing I want to say is “I’m right, you’re wrong, do it my way and if you don’t screw you.” I appreciate that some people really like psionics in D&D and were ecstatic with the new Psion class. I’m not in that camp.

I too play in Eberron and realize that the Sarlona setting is utterly dependent on psionics. As such I’ve chosen not to use that part of the world (or the races that originated there) in my campaigns.

My reference to players who like psionics in D&D as “the vocal few” was based on my relatively limited exposure to gamers over the years. Perhaps in retrospect that was a little bit more derogatory than I expected it to be, my apologies for that.

I knew that this article was bound to push people’s buttons and that was partly by design, but in the end I’m just trying to make the game that I love better by giving the community a place to debate ideas. I’m actually quite happy to see all the comments in support of psionics. It’s made me a lot more curious to see where psionic powered characters are going to go with PHB3. Thanks for your feedback.

@Groumy
I like your take on this. It’s the familiar (spells) just with a different power source (psionic rather than arcane or divine). I suppose it really demonstrate the versatility of the 4e system that you can have similar classes use different power sources. So from that point of view I suppose I can’t say that psionics are all bad.

15 DrOct July 10, 2009 at 3:51 pm

As I said, I’m sorry if I came off as a bit angrier than was probably reasonable.

I know you didn’t specifically say the words “I like to play this way, so it’s stupid for anyone else to play a different way.” But when you say things like “Psionics suck,” “Wizards isn’t dumb, they know that psionics really have no useful place in D&D,” or (and this was really the one that set me off) “…if you want to experience psionics then you should play a superhero role playing game and not D&D” (emphasis mine in all quotes above) I hope you can see how there’s at least a hint of telling people that your way is how other people should be playing.

That being said, in retrospect it’s clear you were being a little over the top on this to encourage discussion, and I have enjoyed reading the discussion that has resulted so in that way I’m glad you did!

PS – I actually don’t, nor have I ever, played in Ebberon, (though I am considering getting started soon) so I didn’t even know that psionics was a part of it! That being said, I have read about it enough to know that it’s a pretty unique fantasy setting that incorporates elements from many other genres, (such as mystery, film noir, pulp, etc) and really my point in using it as an example was to point out that even though there are other games that focus more on those elements, no one would (I hope) say that you shouldn’t play in that setting and should instead be playing another game entirely, because those elements don’t fit into D&D as they see it.
.-= DrOct´s last blog ..Amnesiac RPG Characters =-.

16 Dave T. Game July 10, 2009 at 4:41 pm

“Monsters like the Illithid, Githyanki and Githzerai are certainly less powerful without their psionic enhancements…”

Mind Blast seems quintessentially psionic to me, and at the same time, I couldn’t imagine fighting an Illithid that didn’t have it!
.-= Dave T. Game´s last blog ..Product Tie-in Video Games 101: A Lesson in Love and Paychecks =-.

17 andy July 10, 2009 at 5:38 pm

Remember that power sources is mostly fluff. There may be a couple feats that key off it, but they are easily reworked to match any fluff changes. Replace the word ‘psionic’ with ‘arcane’ and you have a magical mind reader which isn’t outside the genre that you are equating DnD with. If the PH3 had an arcane controller that focused on mental powers or force powers (such as the Mindmage or Force Adept from 3.5e) it would be the same class (as psion) just with a different power source. Note that they did not create a new psionic knowledge skill as they did in 3.5e even further making the matter one of fluff.

18 Suddry July 10, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Hmmm. I’ve never played a character or even in a campaign that used psionics. However – in my limited experience – I see psionics as basically spellcasters that simply use their minds instead of having to gather up some spider guts and chicken feet, and say weird words in order to produce magic.

Maybe I’ll try a psionic next time I roll a character.

Are there any other reasons you think they suck aside from the opinion that they don’t fit in the fantasy world of swords and sorcery?

19 Toldain July 10, 2009 at 6:57 pm

I’m very old school. I recall in a First Edition game I played in, maybe 25 years ago, psionics completely broke some encounters. Once we walked into a room, in which there was a type VI demon at the other end, with two type IV’s for company, and a host of chaff in front of them. It was a boss battle for one of the artifacts we were seeking.

One of the other players, who happened to roll the 3 percent chance to be psionic at character creation said to the DM, “Ok, I do a Psychic Crush on the big demon”. Ok, that calculated out to about a 4% chance of working, of killing the demon outright, and that’s what happened. A lucky She wiped out one of the type 4′s, too. And since psionic combat took place much faster than normal combat, it all happened before we could even draw a breath. Psionics were broken, that was for sure.

Didn’t really look at them in 2nd Ed. In 3rd, they seemed to be a lot more reasonable, and could provide characters with a different backstory, though they seemed a lot like sorcerors, really. Just a different spell list. So, not broken any more. And maybe some interesting story potential.

All the power sources, including psionics, have the potential for dramatizing locations, or enemies. That is, you could say, “this is a low magic zone, all arcane powers do half damage.” Psionic powers wouldn’t be affected. Or Primal, Divine, Martial, etc.

Or you could say, “This mob is wispy, all martial powers do half damage”, or even “This being exudes a psion-suppressing field, psionics deal half damage, or take a full round instead of a standard action”, and so on.

Just make sure that it seems predictable, and the players will understand you aren’t picking on them, its just a place or encounter that highlights some of their abilities.
.-= Toldain´s last blog ..Time is My Enemy =-.

20 Louis July 10, 2009 at 10:05 pm

“I’d never outlaw a class and limit character creation choices…”

Why not. I outlaw all the time. If something doesn’t work in my setting, then it doesn’t. I’m running a Dragonlance game, so guess what, no Tiefling, Half-Orc or Shifters. I’m running a different game, with a slightly altered history of the Gods, and because of that, No Invokers…

Actually, there are no Invokers in any of my games with a plot and backstory. Conceptually, Invokers are just plain retarded.

Oh, never played with a Psion, so, don’t really have an opinion. I’ll have to see how they work, but they don’t seem to be something I’m going to allow in my main game I’m running. They aren’t the right flavour.

21 The Last Rogue July 11, 2009 at 1:52 am

I do not mind Psionics in Eberron . . . but where they truly shine is Dark Sun.
.-= The Last Rogue´s last blog ..Paragon Path: Frost-Fire Adept =-.

22 Ameron July 11, 2009 at 9:01 am

@DrOct
Again, you’re right. I guess I was a little bit preachier in my editorial that I expected to be. You were right to call me on it. Perhaps I should have said something more along the lines of “if I want to experience psionics then I’m going to play a superhero role playing game and not D&D” thereby making it more in line with my feelings and opinions rather than suggest that people who don’t agree with me are wrong for not doing things the way I would.

@Dave T. Game
Agreed. Illithid are immensely more powerful with psionics than without. And since my group doesn’t use psionics, I suppose that’s one of the big reasons my gaming group hasn’t encountered them in years.

@Andy
You’re absolutely right. I guess changing the Monk or the Psion’s power source to something other than psionic would put them in a whole new light for me. A simple solution that I hadn’t considered. Thanks.

@Suddry
“Are there any other reasons you think they suck aside from the opinion that they don’t fit in the fantasy world of swords and sorcery?”

That’s certainly the main reason. I guess I’m concerned that the psionic mechanic (which I’m not a fan of) can very quickly and very easily become a resource for PCs and monsters that the rest of the “normal” classes won’t be adequately equipped to deal with. But if they end up being balanced then I’m open to some play-testing.

@Toldain
I think you’re example of “broken” mechanics from earlier editions reinforces my concerns mentioned above. If the game isn’t designed for psionics and then this new mechanic is added in a later supplement (or in this case core book) then I worry that the new element will break the existing harmony. Given how 4e works, I think this is less likely to happen with this edition, but from what I’ve been reading about the Psion class my fears may be warranted.

Your example of zones affecting power sources differently reminds me of the “Time of Troubles” in the Forgotten Realms. When “normal” magic stopped behaving as expect the mind-mages suddenly were in a position of extreme power. This is a neat idea that I’m going to try in a future adventure. Thanks.

@Louis
As a DM I suppose you have the power/freedom to do whatever you want in your game, including limiting or restriction classes, powers, feats, etc. However, I find that imposing these kinds of restrictions just angers the players. What I will do is ask them to come up with a really creative and interesting back-story if they want to play a class I don’t think would fit in my design. If they can’t then we talk about alternatives. I’m glad to hear that at least one other person out there won’t be using psionics.

@The Last Rogue
I think it might be time for me to dig up my Dark Sun campaign setting and give it another read. I’ve never played in this setting but it’s getting a lot of love these days.

23 GiacomoArt July 16, 2009 at 3:26 pm

I’m not much for psionics (or monks) in D&D, but everyone who defends their presence by saying how great they were in Dark Sun is not scoring the gimmick any points with me. Dark Sun may have had some good stuff in it, but its pointlessly inflated stats and “Faster, DM, Kill, Kill!” attitude turned me off so stone cold so you might as well be trying to convince me that Rob Schneider’s a great actor because of the amazing range he displayed in “Deuce Bigelow”.

Just saying.

24 Ian Argent July 20, 2009 at 10:54 pm

Belong. While perhaps Blue Rose would possibly be a better system for running a Valdemar-based campaign in; D&D certainly would work. (Given Blue Rose’s origin in OGL, I would hope so.) Amusingly enough the tititular kingdom has made psionics as close to a science as possible, but due to A Wizard Did It cannot comprehend magic for a large chunk of the main books’ timeline. The rest of the world boggles slightly at the fear Valdemarans have of magic.

As for monk being a Martial class – don’t we have enough people complaining about the Fighter being super-powered? In the monk’s case psionic == chi. They didn’t think they had enough material to do a whole chi powersource, so they folded it into psionic, where it more or less fits.

25 Ameron July 23, 2009 at 8:53 am

@GiacomoArt
You’re the first person I’ve heard (recently) not gush about how great Dark Sun is. Love the Rob Schneider analogy.

@Ian Argent
I think the Monk was going to be a really powerful class regardless of which power source he was associate with. I agree that the “chi” power does have more of a psionic flavour than martial. I suppose I was thinking more of the raw martial arts, hand-to-hand combat when I suggested the Monk could be a Martial class.

26 Ian Argent July 23, 2009 at 9:28 am

I would like to see an unarmed (martial) “brawler” class as well; but it wouldn’t have the trappings of the monk.

27 Moridin July 27, 2009 at 2:04 pm

@Ameron:
I have a question for you, that may perhaps help you further reflect upon your disdain for psionics. What is your opinion of a sorcerer? I qualify this by stating that I’ve only played 3-4e, but in 3 and 3.5, sorcerers’ spell slots worked much akin to a psionicist’s power points. The only real different mechanically is that you could spam them in different amounts and the psionicst’s ability to augment some powers. Simply put, if I were to describe to you the class without telling you it was a psion, while calling it a sorcerer, would you be able to tell right away in the playstyle that it was drastically different? I know there was a blog somewhere on the internet that had someone pull that on his DM, but I can’t recall where now.

As for the “broken” cries of 3-3.5 psionics, it really came down to the whole psionics/magic transparency issue. In each splat book that had psionic material in it, there was a sidebar reminding both players and DMs alike that there was a choice….completely separate [probably what most people did and called broken] and melding. The melding meant that SR = PR, Dispel Magic == Dispel Psionics, Anti-Magic Field = Anti-Psionics Field, Catapsi hits Spellcasters too, etc. In my play experiences, this made things easier on DMs, players, and preserved the game better. This problem appears to be resolved in 4e, because there’s no attempt to differentiate it. Psionic powers get the keyword, but there is no mention of them being different. I’ve read some fluff that even refers to it as “psionic magic” — an inane term if I’ve heard it — but I believe that it is WotC’s attempt to bridge the gap.

My personal reasons that I liked the 3-3.5 psionics and played them over arcane/divine casters typically are twofold. One, I enjoyed the mechanics as I liked options. Versitility is always key, and not having to directly conform to the archetypical spell slots and having the ability to augment makes things more interesting for me. The second is the same reason I enjoyed monks. Self-sufficiency. All casters depend on something. Wizards upon their spellbooks, components, and depending on the campaign, the Weave or its equal. Clerics depend upon their deity. Druids upon their alignment and nature itself. Paladins upon their alignment and deity. The only ones break this to an extent are Sorcerers — provided the campaign doesn’t link them to a Weave-like plot device — and Psionicists.

As for monks, we must all remember that this is indeed referencing the eastern Monk, not the Western monk. Buddhist monks in particular, hence the quintessential reference to Quai Chang Kane from Kung Fu as an inspiration. Unforunately, monks don’t translate well to modern martial artists, but I doubt they ever truly well. After all, ever try to kneebar a griffon or put a dragon in a Thai Plum and knee its head? Not likely to happen easily. That’s why it’s Chi = Psionic, not Chi = Martial.

As for the Time of Troubles archetype, that would definitely raise psionicists to higher ranks. Always a plus to me, lol.

I do agree that reflavoring is always available, and switching the Psion’s power source to Arcane should eliminate the issue. Granted, it simply turns it into a controlling sorcerer, but to each his/her own, no?

28 Zek July 29, 2009 at 11:11 am

I have played psionic characters in every edition until 4th. I can tell you one of the main reasons I was livid when then announced 4e was its absence of psionic characters. In 1st edition Psionics was a “tagged on” idea. It was severely broken and the stories of dead demons in one round are more numerous than you think. In 2e they tried (unsuccessfully) to integrate the idea more – but still you had extreme levels of power and poor balance. When 3e came out and psionics was fully integrated into the system things got much better and I was tremendoulsy happy (although the variable DC of each power led to several odd outcomes). 3.5 was the pinnacle of what Psionics in D&D should be. Completely integrated into the system, powers were reliable in their application and perfectly matched with their arcane and divine counterparts (i.e. DC’s no longer varied and matched the other two power sources). I was distressed when lots of people started crying “broken” and “overpowered”. Most (if not all) of the complaints I heard personally stemmed from the “psionics is different” option. Which of course I reminded them was optional. If played in 3.5 as written they are wonderful characters.

Personally, I am disappointed in 4e (although I still play). They have reduced unique and interesting character types into WOW equivalents. The differences in two players with the same class are, in my opinion, minimal and the idea of roles cramps my style and limits what I might want to do with my character. One my key attractions to psionics is that each character was unique in power selection and attitude (something many like about sorcerers).

I have not yet seen a copy of the new Psionic rules, but if they compare to 3.5 then I will be happy.

29 Ameron July 30, 2009 at 1:15 pm

@Moridin
I don’t have any problems with the Sorcerer. The way they were presented in 3.5e is that they were pretty much Wizards who didn’t need to study, yet had access to the same powers. I agree that they are probably most akin to Psionic characters then any other. My disdain isn’t so much for the mechanics of psionic characters as much as it is about the types of powers (mental) that they generally have.

I’ve never played a psionic character in any edition of D&D. The concept just doesn’t appeal to me. I never said the mechanics of psionics were broken in previous editions (although that does seem to be the popular opinion) I said I think that psionic characters are better suited to other types of RPGs and I don’t think they belong in D&D.

I know that a lot of people like the versatility Psionic classes present and I leave that exploration to them.

@Zek
As much I as personally dislike Psionics in D&D it does seem that Wizards of the Coast has gone to great lengths to make them more inclusive and mainstream in 4e D&D. Although psionics are still different they should at least keep PCs on the same power level (more or less) and reduce the number of people crying “broken.”

30 Ian Argent August 1, 2009 at 10:36 am

I mentioned the Valdemar series upthread as an example of a fantasy world with integrated psionics alongside of magic. Another example is David Weber’s Bahzell series. The Magi are explicitly psionic and bitter opponents of magic-users.

I’m sure I could find some other examples of high fantasy series with psionics; those are just the first 2 that come to mind.

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