Psionics in Mystara?

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Psionics in Mystara?

Post by BlU_sKrEEm » Sat Mar 07, 2009 9:11 pm

I'm sure this has been covered before, but why isn't psionics more prevalent in Mystara? With aliens, advanced lost technologies, and alternate dimensions being so prevalent in the setting why is this sci-fi trope absent. (excuse me if I am forgetting something.)
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Re: Psionics in Mystara?

Post by agathokles » Sat Mar 07, 2009 9:31 pm

There's an in universe reason, at least in AD&D. According to the MMCA, psionics make it easy to detect some types of shapechangers, like Mujina, so these creatures take great care to remove as many psionicists as possible. It is notable that the Savage Coast is the only region where psionics are said to exist, and shapechangers are quite rare there.
It is also possible that the powers of the Seers of Yavdlom are indeed psionic.

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Re: Psionics in Mystara?

Post by Havard » Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:15 pm

The main reason psionics arent common on Mystara is that BECMI D&D didn't have any rules for handling them. Since most of the material written for Mystara is for that ruleset, information about psionic characters and such were not mentioned.

There is some reference that would indicate that the crewmembers of the FSS Beagle were aware of the existance of psionics and tried to explain the magic they encountered in Blackmoor as such a phenomenon. Ofcourse, they were not natives to Mystara. GP mentions Yavdlom as one nation where psionics may exist. Sind, Ochalea, Emerond and the Glantrian Alps may be other regions where psionics could reasonably be found. IMO Psionoc characters would be considered "spellcasters" in terms of social class in Alphatia.

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Re: Psionics in Mystara?

Post by Eric Anondson » Sun Mar 08, 2009 4:36 am

agathokles wrote:It is notable that the Savage Coast is the only region where psionics are said to exist, and shapechangers are quite rare there.
I don't know if they're that rare. After all there is the nation of Herath and all the aranea throughout the rest of the Savage Coast. ;)
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Re: Psionics in Mystara?

Post by agathokles » Sun Mar 08, 2009 2:20 pm

Eric Anondson wrote:
agathokles wrote:It is notable that the Savage Coast is the only region where psionics are said to exist, and shapechangers are quite rare there.
I don't know if they're that rare. After all there is the nation of Herath and all the aranea throughout the rest of the Savage Coast. ;)
Aranea are a special case, as they are not detectable in any way as shapechangers (not even by mind reading).

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Re: Psionics in Mystara?

Post by Giorgio » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:17 pm

Havard wrote:The main reason psionics aren't common on Mystara is that BECMI D&D didn't have any rules for handling them. Since most of the material written for Mystara is for that ruleset, information about psionic characters and such were not mentioned.
I didn't know this information. So unlike other settings it is not "banned" by the original authors and as you wrote can possibly exist in other places... Thus if a DM wants to include psionics in his game it shouldn't be to hard to do so.

Found a few psionic related threads here, once I finish I will post some more.

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Re: Psionics in Mystara?

Post by Cthulhudrew » Wed Apr 21, 2010 4:41 am

Back in the day, when working on some Nightmare Dimension stuff with Geoff Gander and Giulio Caroletti (particularly the latter's Psikrows), I recall speculating that perhaps Psionics were more prevalent in the Nightmare Dimension than they are on Mystara (where magic is more prevalent), as a method of both distinguishing the two realms a bit more from one another, as well as the concept of Psionics going along with the idea of Nightmares/Dreams, etc.

Now that I think of it, the old Gold Box Immortals' set had it that Normal (ie, Prime Material Planar) magic didn't work on Diaboli, while Diaboli magic didn't work on Normals. If one goes with the Psionics/Magics Are Different explanation from various Psionics rules, that could be the explanation right there (ie, Diaboli are Psionicists, Normals are Magic-Users).

In any event, I kind of dig psionics myself, particularly in their 3.5 incarnation in the Expanded Psionics Handbook, and tend to go along with the notion of Psionics/Serpent Peninsula.
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Re: Psionics in Mystara?

Post by hyrieus » Wed Apr 21, 2010 11:44 am

I'm sure there's a simple explanation for the lack of psionics in Mystara. Maybe the Old Ones recruit potential psions to create hypernoetic art to illuminate the Vortex. Or prehaps the Outer Beings dispatch Neh Thalggu on collection missions. Personally I suspect something to do with the Oards. or Oberon and Titania.

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Re: Psionics in Mystara?

Post by Havard » Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:56 pm

hyrieus wrote:I'm sure there's a simple explanation for the lack of psionics in Mystara. Maybe the Old Ones recruit potential psions to create hypernoetic art to illuminate the Vortex. Or prehaps the Outer Beings dispatch Neh Thalggu on collection missions. Personally I suspect something to do with the Oards. or Oberon and Titania.
In the Burrower Wars thread, OldDawg suggested:
Another thought I've had is the nature of the power that the Burrowers possess. By and large they (and the kopru) are really psionic forces. What if the reason there are no notable psionics in Mystara today is because the immobilizing of the Burrowers was an "ESP-bomb" or Magneto-styled telepathy blocker that stripped the potential from all but the rarest of individuals even into the present? [The Time artifact in the Serpent Peninsula that grants precog abilities to the Yavi counteracts this effect?]
I like this idea. I'm not sure the artifact makes it impossible to use psionics, but perhaps make them less widespread. Proximity to the Serpent Peninsula makes psionics more common, which allows us to have psionics as the thematic special effect of the Serpent Peninsula/Sind region, like the Red Curse to the Savage Coast?

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Re: Psionics in Mystara?

Post by Cthulhudrew » Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:40 pm

Speaking of Kopru and psionics, I had an idea a long time ago of creating something akin to the Eternal/Deviant "Brain mines" (from Marvel comics) out of the mummified heads of kopru. It would basically create a psionic backlash to those who are psi-sensitive.

Also, I always kind of thought the Hypnos Magen would make for good psionic constructs, rather than simple "charm person" constructs as they currently exist.
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Re: Psionics in Mystara?

Post by OldDawg » Thu Apr 22, 2010 3:17 am

Havard wrote:
In the Burrower Wars thread, OldDawg suggested:

[snipped]

I like this idea. I'm not sure the artifact makes it impossible to use psionics, but perhaps make them less widespread. Proximity to the Serpent Peninsula makes psionics more common, which allows us to have psionics as the thematic special effect of the Serpent Peninsula/Sind region, like the Red Curse to the Savage Coast?
I like the idea of a regional thematic element. It makes things a bit more distinct. I doubt I would extent it into the Black Mountains, but Sind/SP? yes.

From a Watchmen perspective, a Time artifact or effect would be very appropriate as a psi-blocker. How did Ozmandius prevent Dr. Manhattan from forseeing his actions? Tachyons. And what are tachyons theorized to do? move so fast they time-travel.

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Re: Psionics in Mystara?

Post by Havard » Thu Apr 22, 2010 10:20 am

Cthulhudrew wrote:Speaking of Kopru and psionics, I had an idea a long time ago of creating something akin to the Eternal/Deviant "Brain mines" (from Marvel comics) out of the mummified heads of kopru. It would basically create a psionic backlash to those who are psi-sensitive.
Creepy!
Also, I always kind of thought the Hypnos Magen would make for good psionic constructs, rather than simple "charm person" constructs as they currently exist.

I like this. The Magen are generally in need of some revision/expansion IMO..

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Re: Psionics in Mystara?

Post by Havard » Thu Apr 22, 2010 10:40 am

OldDawg wrote:
Havard wrote:
In the Burrower Wars thread, OldDawg suggested:

[snipped]

I like this idea. I'm not sure the artifact makes it impossible to use psionics, but perhaps make them less widespread. Proximity to the Serpent Peninsula makes psionics more common, which allows us to have psionics as the thematic special effect of the Serpent Peninsula/Sind region, like the Red Curse to the Savage Coast?
I like the idea of a regional thematic element. It makes things a bit more distinct. I doubt I would extent it into the Black Mountains, but Sind/SP? yes.
I am mostly interested in connecting it to the Sind Desert and Sind itself, personally. I think it fits well with the various western myths about India, which would be appropriate for Sind. And with the Sind desert, we get to steal more stuff from Dark Sun... :twisted:

From a Watchmen perspective, a Time artifact or effect would be very appropriate as a psi-blocker. How did Ozmandius prevent Dr. Manhattan from forseeing his actions? Tachyons. And what are tachyons theorized to do? move so fast they time-travel.
Interesting. I have always linked Psionics to the Sphere of Thought. But since the abilities of the Yavi are linked to precognition, Time does fit very well. This also leads to speculations about the Burrower Wars. What kind of magic did put the Burrowers into their stasis?

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Re: Psionics in Mystara?

Post by Gawain_VIII » Fri Apr 23, 2010 1:24 am

Psionics? BOOO! Hissss!

Oh wait, this is an opinion... my bad, lol

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Gnostic Psionics in Mystara?

Post by Gecko » Sat Apr 24, 2010 11:47 am

I've long wanted to incorporate gnostic psionics into mystara, but could never quite figure out how to make its backstory fit.

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Re: Psionics in Mystara?

Post by Havard » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:58 am

What I would do is say that psionic potential is suppressed outside the Sind/SP region, but once learned the powers would work anywhere. I also like the idea of allowing psionics on Ochalea for various reasons.


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Re: Psionics in Mystara?

Post by ortega76 » Wed Nov 17, 2010 11:17 am

I have toyed with adding psionics to the culture of the Shadow Elves, with the idea that the Soul Crystals are psionic and that Rafiel's alien nature/interest in building the reactor are catalysts for psionic activity.

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Re: Psionics in Mystara?

Post by Hugin » Wed Nov 17, 2010 2:23 pm

ortega76 wrote:I have toyed with adding psionics to the culture of the Shadow Elves, with the idea that the Soul Crystals are psionic and that Rafiel's alien nature/interest in building the reactor are catalysts for psionic activity.
Personally, I am not a fan of psionics at all. However, if someone was to use them in Mystara I think this may be one of the best places to use it in.

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Re: Psionics in Mystara?

Post by Chimpman » Wed Nov 17, 2010 3:33 pm

I'd also consider using the Modrigswerg as a source of psionics. If Shadow Elves and Mordrigswerg both have psionic legacies, then perhaps you could tie those powers in with Blackmoorian technomancy at some point.

If you want an in-game reason as to why psionics is not so prevalent anymore, look no further than the kopru :twisted: They've had (secret) control over most parts of the Mystaran world at various points in time and they would have been very concerned about suppressing psionic talents in their thralls (so as not to compete with their own abilities).
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Re: Psionics in Mystara?

Post by Bonetti » Wed Nov 17, 2010 6:37 pm

ortega76 wrote:I have toyed with adding psionics to the culture of the Shadow Elves, with the idea that the Soul Crystals are psionic and that Rafiel's alien nature/interest in building the reactor are catalysts for psionic activity.
Tying the crystals to psionics could also tie them to the Living Gate from 4e cosmology (and thus to shardminds).
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Re: Psionics in Mystara?

Post by Birchbeer » Wed Nov 17, 2010 7:51 pm

I'm not for adding more to the alien nature of the shadow elves (I kind of like them as radiance magic using elves), but I think the idea of more artifacts that enable psionic potential sounds interesting.

What is the origin of the artifact that Yav ultimately fixed? Is the creator known, or suspected?

As for what blocks psionics, maybe it's a side effect of the spell of preservation that is affecting the whole planet? Granted it could be a different immortal spell, but the end result is, psionics are rare to prevent the burrowers from ever regaining their strength. The kopru weren't even the intended target (they just got disabled along with the burrowers). Though, were this the case, if there are burrowers around SP/Sind then would they be kind of waking up?

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Re: Psionics in Mystara?

Post by ortega76 » Wed Nov 17, 2010 11:59 pm

I was also looking for a lazy way to make Radiance magic and effects different and balanced, so using psionics as Radiance was something else I was toying with.

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Psionics Unleashed (PFRPG)

Post by Giorgio » Sun Mar 13, 2011 1:03 pm

For those of you interested in adding psionics to your Mystara 3E games, take a look at the Pathfinder compatible psionics book:

http://paizo.com/store/byCompany/d/drea ... hfinderRPG

I know I will be getting the Book/PDF bundle as soon as my budget alllows. :D

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Re: Psionics in Mystara?

Post by Planefarer » Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:09 am

Gawain is not alone.

The thing about psionics is that, well, they suck rather badly.

Lots of people argue a great deal that psionics are not magic, but how do you define the difference?

After all, psionics are basically mental powers that allow the user to manipulate surroundings in a way that is inexplicable by the generally accepted laws of physics. That sounds like magic to me. Because the term "magic" tends to be this convenient little box or category where we put all the stuff we can't explain.

If you say something is inexplicable, then you call it magic. Or supernatural. Because then explanations become moot. But when you try to take the next step and explain it logically, then you can't call it magic anymore, because magic always defy logic by its very nature. So you call it something else. Like psionics or mental powers. Or paranormal.

What's the difference between the words "supernatural" and "paranormal"? To the me that is analogous to the difference between "magic" and "psionic" respectively.

You can say they are totally different, but that claim has merit only if you can define both terms and then points out the differences. But since magic - as I said before - defy definition by its very nature, doing so is impossible. Which essentially means that you can claim psionics are not magic, but not that magic is not psionics.

Of course, all of the above means nothing to the game of D&D. It's easy to argue that D&D magic flows from the study of either arcane or divine lore that manifests itself in memorized spells, whereas psionics are innately mental powers that have nothing to do with the study of magic in whatever form. On the other hand, in D&D 3e the sorcerer does not study magic and instead casts spells purely on a basis of his innate nature, but he still uses the same spells as the wizard. Why isn't the sorcerer's spells psionic? After all, they are not studied, just like psionics are not...

And if we take a broader scope, it's only in D&D that magic is defined as labourously studied spells that must be memorized only to be forgotten the moment they are cast, requiring restudy the next day. Magic is common in fantasy, but D&D is pretty unique in insisting that magic follows the Vancian perspective on magic. In most other RPGs magic works very differently. Many systems use spell point systems (like Call of Cthulhu) or just allow the users to try to cast whatever they like whenever - at great risks, but without any cumbersome spellbooks or timeconsuming study (like in Ars Magica).

So to me the whole discussion of what psionics are or are not is a pretty moot topic, because magic is so diverse and inexplicable by definition. And that leaves the only meaningful discussion I see as the one about how it all functions in the game. I used to look mostly at the psionics rules in 2e AD&D and just say no. Magic was a carefully balanced system with lots of checks and counterchecks, and suddenly someone wrote this book of powers that defied the whole system and came in totally out of the blue and under the radar by simply declaring itself to be "not magic". Heck, IIRC you could even have a 3rd level psionicist (or was it 5th...) cast "Disintegrate" in AD&D 2e... without giving particular saves against it or letting protective spells work, because it wasn't magic. That's what I call a game-hoser. No way it was going to play in my campaign. It completely unbalanced the rules by undercutting the most basic principles the game was founded on.

Besides, psionics don't seem right for Mystara. The world has a lot of special creatures, but most of the classic psionic-using monsters don't seem to exist there. I can recall only one instance of a Mind Flayer on Mystara (Mark of Amber, which has a clear planar/dimensional theme). And I've never seen examples of other psionic creatures like brain moles or gith on Mystara. Those are perhaps uncommon, but the illithid are rather classic, and yet they practically seem not to exist on Mystara. So I prefer to just ban psionics on Mystara.

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Re: Psionics in Mystara?

Post by Cthulhudrew » Mon Mar 14, 2011 5:07 am

Planefarer wrote:Lots of people argue a great deal that psionics are not magic, but how do you define the difference?
I can certainly understand the indifference or dislike of psionics, and definitely agree that definitions are difficult- where does one separate itself from the other?

On the other hand, is there much more of a difference between differentiating psionics from magic than there is differentiating wizardly magic from clerical magic?

That said, I've always been a bit partial to psionics, myself. I kind of like the concept- as vaguely separated from magic as it is- because it can be applied in different contexts. Chi, for example, could be considered psionics.

I think 3E is the first system that really handled the mechanics of it well; it was very overpowered in 2E (and just, as you point out, mechanically too different from the basically similar magic system); it was also a bit of an odd man out in 1E. 3E (especially 3.5) really tamped it down, ironed out the differences, and still made similar yet different from magic, mechanics-wise, so that it was pretty fun. From what I've seen Dreamscarred Press' version is basically just what Pathfinder did- used the OGL psionics rules and tweaked them. (Although I didn't really care for the way they tweaked them in the playtest documents they had, so I will probably pass on this one myself.)
Besides, psionics don't seem right for Mystara. The world has a lot of special creatures, but most of the classic psionic-using monsters don't seem to exist there. I can recall only one instance of a Mind Flayer on Mystara (Mark of Amber, which has a clear planar/dimensional theme). And I've never seen examples of other psionic creatures like brain moles or gith on Mystara. Those are perhaps uncommon, but the illithid are rather classic, and yet they practically seem not to exist on Mystara. So I prefer to just ban psionics on Mystara.
There are some places that I would and could see psionics being used in and on Mystara myself. Creatures such as the Brain Collector and Kopru are just begging for a psionics treatment, IMO. The Yavdlom Divinarchy already seems to be psionics ready, and I could also see areas such as Sind and Ochalea (using the aforementioned Chi concept) as having psionicists of various flavors. I once proposed that psionics might be the "magical" equivalent in the Nightmare Dimension as well (and still am rather keen on that idea, though I never developed it beyond that). For that matter, according to DA1, the crew of the Beagle at first mistook Mystaran magic for psionics (a concept they were familiar with), so there's even some canon support for the concept, if someone wanted to run with it.

You're perfectly entitled to your opinion, though, of course. That's the great thing about Mystara, is that it can potentially encompass so many different concepts.
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