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D&D 3E
Because I'm a huge psionics nut... 
31st-Oct-2004 10:21 pm
I've been a psionics nut since I first saw it in AD&D 2nd Ed with Sciences, Disciplines, PSPs, and the like. Since then, I've always had at least one psionic character with every system. I even had one with the horribly underpowered / overpowered version of 3.0 Psionics (if you don't know what I mean, consider yourself lucky).

However, since the publication of the Expanded Psionics Handbook, I've been one of its biggest proponents on the WotC boards, as I feel it is a very well balanced system. Moreso than Complete Warrior / Divine, the 3.0 splatbooks and the like. To this end, today when I was bored at work, I wrote this post up and figured I'd bring it over here to the LJ community I belong to, as well. Keep in mind this was the second draft as the first one was lost when the application crashed... But I still think it came out pretty good.

If the D&D Psionics system doesn't interest you, it's probably not worth the read. But if you're one of the folks who thinks it's broken, overpowered, in need of nerfing, etc and don't allow it in your campaigns or know people who don't for that reason, I'd suggest reading it. I tried to cover the few points that are commonly viewed as the "overpowered" / "abusable" aspects of the XPH and even gave some examples of how to curb those possible abuses if you deem them necessary.

Myth: The XPH is overpowered

Constructive feedback always welcome. If you don't like XPH, then that's not your cup of tea and no hard feelings, but don't bring the hate here. Thanks :)
31st-Oct-2004 08:48 pm (UTC)
i'm glad you posted this. i just agreed to let one of my players multiclass into a psion. i'm shaky on the psionics rules so i can use any insight i can get.
31st-Oct-2004 09:01 pm (UTC) - Pointers
1. You can only spend as many PPs on any one power as you have manifester levels in that class. There are only [b]two[/b] ways around this cap - being a Wilder (so no problem for your guy there) and taking the Overchannel feat - and that only ever allows you to go up by 3 power points - at the cost of 1d8 / 3d8 / 5d8 damage.
The damage can be avoided by another feat - Talented, which uses psionic focus
2. Psionic focus is VERY important to understand. At time of creation, you can only get psionic focus by making a DC 20 Concentration check that takes a full round and provokes Attacks of Opportunity. The ONLY way around this full round action is Psionic Meditation feat, which reduces it to a move action to regain focus. 9 out of 10 psionic feats require expending psionic focus and you can only use ONE feat per focus. The exception that rule is Epic characters.
3. Every metapsionic feat requires expending focus - no exceptions.
4. Energy Missile is one of the stronger powers - and argued as a broken power. I'd recommend reading how it works to develop tactics to counter it if your player goes Kineticist.
5. Discipline-restricted powers are only available by Psions of that discipline or via the Expanded Knowledge feat - read that feat if your player decides to use it - they may not.
6. Psicrystals can hold a second focus so you can use two focus expending feats in one round. This allows for some pretty powerful combinations, but requires 5 feats to pull off. Overall, it's balanced.
31st-Oct-2004 09:02 pm (UTC)
Since you seem to have intelligent, well-thought out answers...

What do you say to the argument that psionics is basically another spell-casting system, and really isn't all that different from magic as stated in the core books? That a wizard can basically do anything a psionicist can do, so why a different system?

I don't really have an opinion either way... I used psionics in 2e, which was really quite different from wizard magic (which was also vastly different from cleric magic--not so much in 3e). I've flipped through the books from 3e, but haven't look at them in depth.

You obviously enjoy psionics, but how do you feel they add to a game as a whole? Feel free to touch upon other alternate rule systems for anything (such as UA stuff).
1st-Nov-2004 05:50 am (UTC)
Most fantasy-literature magic is much more akin to psionics than it is to the Vancian fire-and-forget system that D&D uses for magic. Is that not reason enough?
1st-Nov-2004 04:56 pm (UTC)
i.e. David Eddings' Belgariad and Malloread series, as well as the powers of Anne Rice's vampires.
1st-Nov-2004 07:14 am (UTC)
IMO, while the mechanics have been converted to a point based spell system, the flavor is always the difference.

Sure, it may operate almost identically to magic, and it even interacts with magic as if it was magic, by default, but the subtle differences are the big things:

Instead of components, you have displays... Sound / smell / visual / physical... Instead of watching me wave my arms around, you smell something oddly familiar, hear a buzzing noise, see a rainbow flash of colors, etc

OR, you can manifest the power without any display at all - with a successful concentration check. This means five guys are walking through a dungeon. A party of ogres wanders up. An energy ball ignites in the middle of them... but nobody knows who did it! Great for keeping yourself out of harm's way.

Wizards and Psions really CAN'T do all the same things, albeit about 80% of their spells / powers are similar. There's no Wizard version of Psychic Reformation, or Psychic Chirurgery, Hustle, etc...

While they may boil down to similar classes, and I readily admit to that, the psion is a different class entirely. His versatility is greater than the Sorceror's due to how he manifests powers, but his power progression follows a Wizard's spell progression. Having to know fewer powers due to augmentation makes it easier to keep on reusing the same 1st-2nd level powers efficiently.

And in a pinch, the psion can dump out all his power points in 10-15 rounds to get the party out of a really hairy situation - but then they're useless for the rest of the day.

Part of it is RP, part of it is mechanics, but added up, I would never want to play a Wizard or Sorceror again if a Psion or Psychic Warrior were an option.
1st-Nov-2004 11:08 am (UTC)
The last line suggests they may well be overpowered.
I've not had much to do with the psionics stuff, but we do have one psionic warrior/monk in a campaign and unless you include other psionic things they're a bit of a fish out of water really. As a whole I think they probably work out ok; but I've never really come across any major balance issues with any of the books. My current game was designed around potential destructive testing of the rules from all over and is proving "interesting".
1st-Nov-2004 12:43 pm (UTC)
Actually, it's not so much their power as I like being able to determine what I'm going to do at the time it's needed, not at the start of the day. That's one of the big things I don't like about Wiz / Druids / Clerics. Sorceror would be the only class I would think about playing as a "casting" class and, by and large, they're viewed as one of the most underpowered casters.

The Psion, imo, gives you the best of both worlds with the potential to be abused, but at the cost of being worthless if you have 3-4 fights in a day. You can either be a constant good source of damage, or you can be an insance source of damage for one-two fights, burning out like a piece of flashpaper.

In an environment where you have the number of encounters the DMG expects you to have, a Psionic character is actually very well balanced and has to meticulously spend his power points. It's a lot harder than it sounds, but I would rather worry about running out of power points (which I did for quite a few sessions after converting to the XPH) than worry about having 15 spells that serve no purpose in the encounters we come up against.
1st-Nov-2004 03:24 pm (UTC)
Actually, it's not so much their power as I like being able to determine what I'm going to do at the time it's needed, not at the start of the day.

i totally agree with you. i think it's lame that every other spellcaster has to decide at the beginning of the day OR wait a day and go back with the proper spells. i think deciding on the spot is more realistic than preparing potentially useful spells in advance anyway.

1st-Nov-2004 04:17 pm (UTC)
I think the unbalancing issue probably does come from people trying to run something other than hack and slash games, 4 fights a day would be a lot in a more political type game; but that's not really what D+D is designed for. I think I can see why someone might want to limit psionics in a less fighty game, if that is how they're designed.
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