Psionics

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Psionics

Post by Havard » Sun Aug 20, 2017 12:02 pm

Do you use Psionics in your AD&D 2nd Edition Campaigns? We used the Complete Psionics Handbook in a couple of campaigns. One thing I remember us talking about was that some of the offensive abilities did not allow for a saving throw which we felt was a little inconsistent with the basic principles of D&D/AD&D. Of course, in most situations there is only one die roll, either for attack or saving throw. Not both. So if changed to a saving throw then the Psionicist should probably not have to roll to see if his character succeeds at using the ability.

What do you guys think about Psionics?

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Re: Psionics

Post by agathokles » Sun Aug 20, 2017 12:11 pm

I think they are a key element in Dark Sun. Otherwise, they are not so useful. The CPH has some basic problems in balancing -- e.g., unless everybody has some degree of psionic power, Telepaths are very strong. The Dark Sun CRPGs solved this by allowing everyone a minimum psionic defense.

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Re: Psionics

Post by Blackleaf » Sun Aug 20, 2017 8:54 pm

I think this is a great book and a huge improvement on the 1e psionics rules. I agree that there could be balance issues but I'm not a stickler on balance. Dark Sun's tweaks in The Will and the Way make some improvements, obviously that setting is ideal for psionics.

I think if you're going to introduce psionics I think it has to be really integrated into the setting not the weird appendage it was in 1e. This book borrows heavily from the science fantasy novels of Julian Mays which I recommend to anyone interested in having psionics in a fantasy setting.

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Re: Psionics

Post by Big Mac » Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:24 pm

If I recall correctly, my Dark Sun Boxed Set included a sheet of paper with errata for PHBR5 The Complete Psionics Handbook. I don't recall if that did anything about the attack and defence modes.
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Re: Psionics

Post by willpell » Mon Aug 21, 2017 8:40 pm

Havard wrote:What do you guys think about Psionics?
I can't speak to 2E, but just in general, I like psionics a lot; I don't like the "it's magic but it's not magic" conceit, but the abilities themselves are a ton of fun, and frankly I like "magic" without the arcane gestures and thaumaturgalogical incantifications a lot better than with them.

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Re: Psionics

Post by Blackleaf » Tue Aug 22, 2017 10:48 am

As I recall in 2e and Dark Sun psionics was distinctly not magic. I think that was more of a development in 3e. Or it is possible that the 2e book gives the psionics is a different way to access magic as an optional approach (I don't have the book at hand), like so much of 2e a lot was presented as optional, not that everyone approached it that way.

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Re: Psionics

Post by Havard » Tue Aug 22, 2017 3:18 pm

Blackleaf wrote:As I recall in 2e and Dark Sun psionics was distinctly not magic. I think that was more of a development in 3e. Or it is possible that the 2e book gives the psionics is a different way to access magic as an optional approach (I don't have the book at hand), like so much of 2e a lot was presented as optional, not that everyone approached it that way.
Yeah, I think 2nd edition is the edition that makes the strongest distinction between Psionics and Magic. In 1st Ed these were abilities that powerful mages could access, so that is closer to 3E, but 2nd Edition was specific about certain spells not being able to affect Psionics etc. I don't know how I feel about this today, but at least 2nd Edition did really make Psionics feel unique.

The game balance issue was something that bothered people in my group and also I think not getting saving throws against attack powers was something that they felt went against the spirit of AD&D. We never used the Will and the Way (Dark Sun) or the Skills & Powers verison of Psionics (which I think is based on Will and the Way), but I heard that these greatly improve what is written in the Complete Psionics Handbook?

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Re: Psionics

Post by Boneguard » Tue Aug 22, 2017 3:59 pm

Psionic was definitely not for every campaign as it had potential for disruption, which is why Dark Sun was great...everyone and their dogs had, at least, a Wild-Talent.
Havard wrote: The game balance issue was something that bothered people in my group and also I think not getting saving throws against attack powers was something that they felt went against the spirit of AD&D. We never used the Will and the Way (Dark Sun) or the Skills & Powers verison of Psionics (which I think is based on Will and the Way), but I heard that these greatly improve what is written in the Complete Psionics Handbook?

-Havard
It simplified it yes with every (most) skill getting a MTHAC0 and MAC, and made the power more streamlined but it never felt like an improvement to me. The system under 1st ed (Wild-Talents that some exceptional heroes/villains developped being the only type available) and the original 2nd Ed system was clunky in cases, but it had character and uniqueness which I felt was lost with the Skill & Power version.

And, unfortunately, 3rd edition onward, could not properly support that uniqueness and them psionic power was, in essence, just another magical path available to all.
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Re: Psionics

Post by Lord Torath » Tue Aug 22, 2017 4:53 pm

Havard wrote:[ We never used the Will and the Way (Dark Sun) or the Skills & Powers verison of Psionics (which I think is based on Will and the Way), but I heard that these greatly improve what is written in the Complete Psionics Handbook?
The Will and the Way is the same system as the Complete Book of Psionics, just adds new powers, and new ways to improve or modify powers (meditation). It also clarifies some existing powers, and re-states the errata from CPHB. The Skills and Powers version is based off the rules in the Revised Dark Sun boxed set.

I've always liked the CPHB rules (once I figured them out), and have never been bothered by the "Balance" issues.

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Re: Psionics

Post by GMWestermeyer » Tue Aug 22, 2017 8:07 pm

Havard wrote: In 1st Ed these were abilities that powerful mages could access, so that is closer to 3E, but 2nd Edition was specific about certain spells not being able to affect Psionics etc. I don't know how I feel about this today, but at least 2nd Edition did really make Psionics feel unique.
Huh???? Psionics was not the same as magic in 1e.

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Re: Psionics

Post by Havard » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:11 pm

GMWestermeyer wrote:
Havard wrote: In 1st Ed these were abilities that powerful mages could access, so that is closer to 3E, but 2nd Edition was specific about certain spells not being able to affect Psionics etc. I don't know how I feel about this today, but at least 2nd Edition did really make Psionics feel unique.
Huh???? Psionics was not the same as magic in 1e.
I thought it was mainly Wizards with high Int who could get those abilities? I am not an expert on 1e though. It is the only edition I never really got to play in any serious manner.

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Re: Psionics

Post by Boneguard » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:36 pm

Havard wrote:
GMWestermeyer wrote:
Havard wrote: In 1st Ed these were abilities that powerful mages could access, so that is closer to 3E, but 2nd Edition was specific about certain spells not being able to affect Psionics etc. I don't know how I feel about this today, but at least 2nd Edition did really make Psionics feel unique.
Huh???? Psionics was not the same as magic in 1e.
I thought it was mainly Wizards with high Int who could get those abilities? I am not an expert on 1e though. It is the only edition I never really got to play in any serious manner.

-Havard
It was a function of high Constitution, Intelligence and Windom (same as wild-talent in 2nd edition) which gave you a base percentage chance of having such power. So fighters and vlericwho were as likely to get them as Magic-User. In fact Ranger and Monk are the 2 most likely candidate IIRC.
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Re: Psionics

Post by willpell » Wed Aug 23, 2017 6:02 pm

If it's true what you guys are saying about 2E having enforced Psionics is Different (not saying I doubt you, only that I haven't personally verified it), then it's kind of sad that 3E got rid of that...but it's a small enough sin in terms of how incredibly well the XPH system works on its own merits. I still think it is possibly the single best book Wotco has ever written, in terms of the functionality of the mechanics (fluff is of course a completely different axis).

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Re: Psionics

Post by AuldDragon » Wed Aug 23, 2017 11:33 pm

willpell wrote:If it's true what you guys are saying about 2E having enforced Psionics is Different (not saying I doubt you, only that I haven't personally verified it), then it's kind of sad that 3E got rid of that...but it's a small enough sin in terms of how incredibly well the XPH system works on its own merits. I still think it is possibly the single best book Wotco has ever written, in terms of the functionality of the mechanics (fluff is of course a completely different axis).
Mechanically, the original Psionic system in 2nd Edition are more akin to Proficiencies. You have a number of slots you can use to learn them, you can learn them multiple times to improve your chances of success, and the chances they work are an ability score plus a modifier. Your power points just determine how often you can use and maintain them.

The Player's Option system eliminated that in favor of having them all function as attack rolls against armor classes.

Of course, within the game world, your average farmer can't distinguish between a spell and a psionic power, other than the spellcaster probably had to wave his arms about and mutter some words and the psionicist probably didn't.

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Re: Psionics

Post by genghisdon » Mon Aug 28, 2017 9:58 pm

Havard wrote:
GMWestermeyer wrote:
Havard wrote: In 1st Ed these were abilities that powerful mages could access, so that is closer to 3E, but 2nd Edition was specific about certain spells not being able to affect Psionics etc. I don't know how I feel about this today, but at least 2nd Edition did really make Psionics feel unique.
Huh???? Psionics was not the same as magic in 1e.
I thought it was mainly Wizards with high Int who could get those abilities? I am not an expert on 1e though. It is the only edition I never really got to play in any serious manner.

-Havard
nope, it was anyone with INT, WIS &/or CHR of 16+. MU, illusionists, clerics, druids, monks, bards & paladins (& multiclass, of course) were the most common classes to have psionics, but not by THAT much.

1e psi feels really unique too!

I wanted to like & use 2e psi more, but they were generally a minor part of our games. the PO version was truly awful (although I gave it a solid playtest time too). It was very much part of the darksun campaign setting, and those books are helpful for fleshing them out (ie yes, read the Will and the Way & use some or even most of it). To this day, I like them (2e psi) more than they ever saw use & every so often want to play a psi heavy campaign to rectify that (not the PO/2.5e version though!).

I'm not sure what you guys mean about saving throws...psi powers in 2e are extremely unreliable (comparable to wild magic, or worse), and most have saves even after an ability check, or require TIME & concentration (plus checks), or a check & a to hit roll. Much of the offensive powers in the standard book are too weak to be of any real value, but some others are very potent. Defensive powers are often very strong. The extra rolling slows things down a bit, especially for noobs to the system. Gaining early access (compared to casters) to certain powers bothers some DMs, but I found it to be a key component of them not being utter rubbish.

While they too have issues, the lack of kits (outside darksun ones) is remedied in dragon magazine (although they need tweaks iIMHO). Issues 191, 200, 194(DS), 225(indian), & especially 255 (late 2e era kits).

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Re: Psionics

Post by AuldDragon » Tue Aug 29, 2017 3:12 am

genghisdon wrote:While they too have issues, the lack of kits (outside darksun ones) is remedied in dragon magazine (although they need tweaks iIMHO). Issues 191, 200, 194(DS), 225(indian), & especially 255 (late 2e era kits).
To an extent, I don't think kits are all that necessary for the psionicist, sort of like how they don't really do much for priests, at least if you use specialty priests. What I'd have liked to see is more concrete specialization type bonuses depending on your first/primary field of psionics, to make psychometabolists feel a bit more different from, say, telepaths.

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Re: Psionics

Post by genghisdon » Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:44 pm

well, kits can do exactly that. 255's specialist immediately comes to mind

high sciences from the will & the way help with that

the power gamer's delight proficiency Power Manipulation (the will & the way again)helps with that

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Re: Psionics

Post by Yaztromo » Wed Aug 30, 2017 5:13 am

willpell wrote:
Havard wrote:What do you guys think about Psionics?
I can't speak to 2E, but just in general, I like psionics a lot; I don't like the "it's magic but it's not magic" conceit, but the abilities themselves are a ton of fun, and frankly I like "magic" without the arcane gestures and thaumaturgalogical incantifications a lot better than with them.
Especially in a sci-fi setting! :)
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Re: Psionics

Post by Digitalelf » Sun Nov 11, 2018 2:09 am

Thread Necromancy...

One of the best instances of using and introducing Psionics to my 2nd edition campaigns, was towards the end 1991 (September/October), when I ran the adventure "Beyond the Glittering Veil" by Steven Kurtz from issue #31 of Dungeon Adventures (Magazine). The adventure had: "...been designed as an introduction for player's and DMs alike to the AD&D 2nd Edition psionics rules..."

We had a great time with it! :D
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Re: Psionics

Post by Illuminatus » Mon Nov 12, 2018 5:15 pm

Discussions about psionics usually focus on the player experience, game balance, or the sci-fi “flavor,” but for my two cents the biggest issue with 1e/2e psionics is on the DM’s experience. Psionics are INCREDIBLY book-keeping intensive.

When I ran “Into the Silver Realm,” (Dungeon 43) where the PCs face a bunch of psionicist Githyanki, it turned into a defacto accounting course. Consider a group of Githyanki:

Round 1: All try to prepare themselves by activating a power. Some make the roll, some don’t. Some pay one psp cost, some another. Now you have two pools of Githyanki burning psps at different rates and with different active powers and current psp totals.

Round 2: Pool A deducts a maintenance cost from their psps, Pool B does not. They all try to activate a second power. Some of them make the roll and deduct a specified amount of psps. Some fail and deduct a different amount. Now you have FOUR distinct pools of Githyanki with psp totals that you have to keep track of round-to-round.

Round 3: Faced with the horror of geometric progression, DM puts head in oven.

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Re: Psionics

Post by Sturm » Mon Nov 12, 2018 8:20 pm

Indeed it is so true :)

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Re: Psionics

Post by Digitalelf » Tue Nov 13, 2018 6:20 am

Illuminatus wrote:
Mon Nov 12, 2018 5:15 pm
Psionics are INCREDIBLY book-keeping intensive.
I get what you're saying, but just like all of the other "book-keeping" aspects of running a 1st or 2nd edition AD&D game, the more you utilize the rule or rules in question, the better you get at it... Thus, the easier using/utilizing said rule(s) becomes.

Granted, one might try something, and then find it not to their particular liking, but that is different than trying something once or twice, and declaring it "too hard" and giving up on it entirely.

I'm not saying or suggesting that you did this however, but I see it happen a lot (and not just in gaming), and it's unfortunate.
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Re: Psionics

Post by Cromstar » Tue Nov 13, 2018 8:08 pm

One of the things we did to slim down the paperwork a little bit was simplify direct psionic combat. Basically, we threw out the 3-tangent rule for contact and contact itself more generally, which helps eliminate some math, and treated it like any other psionic combat (ie, if both psionicists were trying to animate or move the same object). Attacking ability vs. whichever of the five defenses the defender had up at the time. Seemed more reasonable to me that way.

Other than that, tracking PSPs and on-going psionic abilities isn't that much more difficult than tracking hit points and, say, spell effects.

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