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Old Jan 8th, 2017, 11:58 AM
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What's the big deal Psionics?

So almost every DM I've talked to has straight up said "No Psionics" period no discussion, no answers, nothing. Which is odd because all of them was willing to at least discuss if not compromise on pretty much everything else but psionics. I've also seen alot of negativity towards psionics online as well as support for it.

So my main question is: why are psionics so polarizing? It seems like a really cool idea that seem to get allot of hate.

PS. Mostly all of my experience is in 5e but I'm asking for all editions.
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Old Jan 8th, 2017, 12:45 PM
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For all Editions?

Well, in the first couple Editions, psionics were horrible. The first time they were trotted out, the rules didn't blend in with the rest of the action, and they had roughly ten or twenty actions and counter-actions in a single round.. meaning that the player suddenly doing something psionic meant that everyone else at the table could go take a walk or something, while he and the DM did a half hour of their own thing. then you could come back, roll to hit something, and then go away again. Basically, it slowed the game down, hugely.

In 3.5, they aren't horrible (at least, most actions were tied into the standard action economy, so a psion got one standard action, one movement, etc..). Like most things 3.5, however, there are a few poorly thought through items/powers, that are spammable/abusable, that lead to many DM's not wanting to deal with it. I don't think it's worse than any other splat book in 3.5, just another one.

I don't think there's anything inherently wrong about psionics... since 3rd edition, at least, I really don't see why there's still hate for them. I think, in most cases, they are just a different version of magic:

In one world, a person studies magic, uses words to unlock powers, and casts spells. That's a wizard.

In another, a person has some odd connection to magic, and can create magic with his very being. That's a sorcerer.

If you have a connection to magic, and use your mind to do it, you are psionic.

If you do the same things by making a pact with an outsider, you are a warlock.

If you do it by making a pact with a god, you are a cleric...
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Old Jan 8th, 2017, 01:07 PM
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Judging from that I'm thinking he had experience with the earlier editions of DnD. When the unearthed arcana came out with it, he pretty much said I don't have to look at it to tell you it's broken. Something along the lines that they do to much too well but from what I understood a well organized wizard in previous editions were the exact same way. I might bring it up to him later for clarification for his why.
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Old Jan 9th, 2017, 03:02 AM
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There is nothing wrong with Psionics. And I don't think there's anything wrong with the DM for banning it from his game, just as some games ban magic altogether. Maybe in his game, power cannot stem directly from the mind, and must stem from a manipulation of the arcane energies in the world.

There's a complexity to using Psionics, especially since 5E is making it distinct again from the Arcane (e.g. Dispel Magic doesn't work on Psionics). Maybe your DM just doesn't want to deal with all that jazz. Can't fault him for that.
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Old Jan 9th, 2017, 08:01 PM
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"What's the deal with psionics? Do people sigh when they use them, or sigh when they get used?

Do you have to be wearing something made of onyx to use them? What if your hair is the color of onyx? Your hair's real close to your mind, do you get a bonus for proximity for having dark hair? Or would that be unfair? Is that why light colored hair is called fair haired? Because it's not unfair?"

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My real answer? They got a bad rap since 2nd edition Wild Talents could be game breaking at low levels. Disallowing them's just been something people do ever since.

Source? If I am remembering campaigns from way back when correctly, it was having a 2nd level character with a high enough CON to regenerate, and the Detonate Talent, wiping out an entire low level arena and then going off to take a nap.
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Old Jan 9th, 2017, 08:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zevonian View Post
~~~~
My real answer? They got a bad rap since 2nd edition Wild Talents could be game breaking at low levels. Disallowing them's just been something people do ever since.

Source? If I am remembering campaigns from way back when correctly, it was having a 2nd level character with a high enough CON to regenerate, and the Detonate Talent, wiping out an entire low level arena and then going off to take a nap.
I agree with you, Zev... and push it off further back in history, to first edition. They were slow, and cumbersome, and delayed the game tremendously... twelve or twenty actions in a single round, if I remember through the musty cobwebs.

It was the wild talents you mention that made them not only cumbersome, but game altering, by adding power and abilities, without balance.

It's amazing how something that long ago still impacts people's perceptions... through edition after edition.

Maybe they should stop calling it psionics, and call it anything else. People might be fine with it then.

Just like you can't name a baby Adolph, without getting "that look"...
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Old Jan 10th, 2017, 01:54 AM
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So I checked with my friend, apparently he started with 2nd edition. He admitted most of it I was just residual hate leftover from when he first started out. He said it was a nightmare for everyone.
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Old Jan 10th, 2017, 11:47 AM
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tell him it's much improved, and to give it a read.
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Old Jan 10th, 2017, 01:20 PM
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As a DM, I was once a hater of psionics, and it was outright banned in all of my games, though it was indeed a holdover from my 2nd edition days. I haven't really dealt with it in 5e all that much, but I've allowed it in my 3.5e games under the one wonderful rule: transparency, specifically magic/psionic transparency. I treat it as another form of magic, subject to the same rules and capabilities as the other magic forms, such as those presented in Magic of Incarnum. Antimagic fields go a long way with that rule, just saying...
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Old Jan 10th, 2017, 03:29 PM
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@Sleepsalot: Ask your friend how he feels about spells in 5e that do Psychic damage. Or any spells that require Wisdom, Intelligence, or Charisma saves that affect the mind, such as Cause Fear.

If he's cool with them, then perhaps you've got advantage on approaching him in regards to the Mystic based archetypes and classes to come.
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Old Jan 10th, 2017, 03:46 PM
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I've tried psionics in every version and it was broken until 4e, where it was just like all the classes.
I tried the PathFinder "Official 3rd Party", and while I like the flavor the player who used it outdid everyone else in the part in every situation...better damage, better defense, better saves, better solutions. This happened several times, and none of the psionics players were ever weak.
In theory it shouldn't happen, but in practice it did...which is sad because I really like to alternate base classes.

I did a playtest with the alternate base classes by removing their ability to cast psionic powers and just leaving the class abilities and it worked out pretty well. They were pretty close to the other classes.

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Old Jan 10th, 2017, 07:59 PM
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Sometimes I feel psionics is one thing too many. There are already so many flavours of magic, adding an entire structure like psionics on top of everything else is a chore.

However, I do love the soulknife.
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Old Jan 10th, 2017, 11:02 PM
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I always hated psionics and never even considered allowing them.

First reason is in 1st Edition, the rules were unusable. Not just that, but they appeared to have been deliberately made unusable, like some kind of weird game designer joke or something. Or maybe one of the TSR guys' girlfriend or wife came up with it and they threw it in to make her happy. Seriously, these rules were a bloody trainwreck.

Second reason is that psychic powers have a place in science fiction, and also in horror. Psionics is unique and potentially a neat device in these milieus. In a fantasy world where magic exists, I find them redundant and weirdly out of place.

Third reason is that in the 1970s there was a huge fad in the USA of new age types who believed (or pretended to believe) that this stuff was actually real. I remember being a kid staying up late at a party my parents threw and my parents' friend's girlfriend telling my mom she could "see her aura." For me, this stuff is a relic of that era best left in that era, along with the plaid pants and the Dorothy Hamill unisex haircut. I just tend to associate it with things like crystals and astrology.

Fourth, harkening back to reason one, ANY character could be psionic. Making them essentially dual classed without the extra XP requirements. It was the first grossly overpowered character type.

Fifth, ugh, I just can't stand the concept. I re-wrote the Mind Flayer and other monsters just to ignore those stupid rules.

EDIT: Looking at some of the other responses, I think it's nice that they have fixed psionics in later editions to make them more playable (even though it seems they still make a PC overpowered). Just because I would never use them, I'm glad people who want to can. However, I would still never consider innate mind powers in a D&D campaign because I find the core concept just uninteresting and out of place in that milieu.

Last edited by ruffdove; Jan 10th, 2017 at 11:15 PM.
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Old Jan 10th, 2017, 11:34 PM
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just curious, Ruffdove, how do you differentiate between psionics and warlocks, for an example?
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Old Jan 11th, 2017, 01:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dirkoth View Post
just curious, Ruffdove, how do you differentiate between psionics and warlocks, for an example?
Not sure, exactly. I never played "Dungeons & Dragons" post-1st Edition. I left the game at around the time of that enormous disappointment that was the 2nd Edition and when I got back into it, I just continued playing 1st Ed until someone clued me into Pathfinder. I like, and play, PF, but I have not seen a "Warlock" class associated with it.

But the bottom line, and perhaps this will answer your question, is that I fundamentally differentiate magic from psychic powers. They're two distinct things to me. Magic is something that exists in a fantasy realm with or without someone to harness it. Psychic powers are something that come from within an individual permitted by either some evolutionary abnormality or mental discipline. That might sound a little like a sorcerer, but the source of a sorcerer's magic is not in their mind.

But getting back to the fork-bending charlatan fad of the 70s, I guess I could boil it down to this: Magic is a physical property of the fantasy universe; psychic powers are a fantasy property of the physical universe.

There's just no place for it in my concept of D&D. And I think if you just consider it another form of magic then you've basically altered what it is and in that case... why bother?
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