Friday, July 26, 2013

Psionic Musings

Art By Wayne Reynolds
When it comes to Dungeons & Dragons and its cousin Pathfinder, Psionics (or psyhic magic, whichever floats your boat) has always seemed to be one of those "hot button" topics. Some people seem to hate them with every fiber of their being, and others love them more than life itself.

Personally, I have always found myself lurking somewhere in the middle of this debate. I like the idea of psionics and I feel like they do have a place in D&D/Pathfinder. However, I have never been the biggest fan of the "power point" system that psionics used in 3rd Edition and 3.5. I know a lot of people who really love psionics also love the power point system, and I that's perfectly fine. I'm just not a big fan of point-based power systems in tabletop games. It's a weird quirk of mine. 

Recently, I've been thinking some of the things that I'd like to see in Pathfinder at sometime in the future and psionics keeps popping up. However, since I've made it pretty clear I don't want a system similar to the one found in the Expanded Psionics Handbook, I've been trying to think of a different way to handle psionics. After thinking long and hard about it, I think I've narrowed it down to one of two different methods. 

The first method, I will admit, would be something of a compromise for those psionics fans who really enjoy the power point system. This method would pretty much utilize the ki pool of the monk and ninja classes. At 1st level, the psion would gain access to a ki pool based on his Intelligence modifier and would use their ki points to manifest a small number of powers based on their chosen discipline and a few "universal" powers that would probably resemble some of the more mystical ninja tricks in design. I think this would be a nice compromise since it allows those who like the power point system to have a point-based magic system, but it wouldn't require the designers to make a whole new subsystem. It would also match some of the fluff surrounding the land of Vudra, the region in the Pathfinder Campaign Setting where psionics is supposed to be the most common. 

The second method, which would probably anger some fans of psionics, is to make the psionics work exactly like magic does. The psion, in my mind, would probably work a lot like the sorcerer and be able to "spontaneously manifest" his powers. However, instead of having magical bloodlines, the psion would have mental disciplines that grant him certain abilities and powers. If this method was used, you could easily add psionics into any published adventure or supplement since you wouldn't have to add the new subsystem as well because it would work just like magic. Sadly, like I've already said, most fans of psionics would probably reject this method. 

 Now, if I had to be honest, I think I'd prefer the second method over the first. While it would pretty much eliminate the "Psionics Are Different Than Magic" option from the game, I think it would make things a lot easier and would allow psionics to actually be used more often than it would be if it had its own, separate subsystem. However, I know some fans of the concept would hate this method and that's fine. If they want a power point system, they could always use the material that Dreamscarred Press has been making. As I've said before, I'm not the biggest fan of the power point system, but the designers at Dreamscarred Press have done a good job at converting the system to Pathfinder and fans of the Expanded Psionics Handbook should enjoy it.