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D&D 3E
Psionics Question 
9th-Sep-2005 10:32 pm
According to WoTC, players love the new"ish" psionics rules and now they've come out with incarnum.

Do players and DM's really care for all of these new rules? Honestly, I've played with a few DM's and briefly DM'd myself and not only were psionics not used, but they were discouraged.

I know the most likely answer is that WoTC is just introducing new content to sell books, but I'd like to know what the players and DM's really think.

My opinion is that incarnum is just complicating things more than is necessary and that to add it in to a world like the Forgotten Realms is just silly. Hell, I don't think it was even included in the brand new Eberron setting (I haven't bought any of those books so I may be wrong).
10th-Sep-2005 02:51 am (UTC)
incarnum is a really lame idea.... i like psionics but its broken
i buy alot of supplemental material but a list of some that are kinda lame are:
Lords of Madness
those books describing npcs like mialee etc.
most packaged adventures are distant
i used to think the stormwrack book and sandstorm etc. were crap but i like them now
Weapons of legacy
14th-Sep-2005 08:52 am (UTC)
I actually thought Lords of Madness was interesting, in that it goes into detail that frankly doesn't matter within the game. Ditto for Draconomicon. Anything that fleshes the game out instead of just going "Yays presteig clases four u" is a win in my opinion.

Along those lines, Sandstorm et al. are fairly awful in my opinion. "Here. Let's a take a theme, make up a couple of races for it, make a couple of prestige classes relating vaguely to it, throw in some spells that might or might not really have too much to do with it, introduce some new equipment, add some monsters relating to the theme, and call it a book. Teh yays!"

The same goes, of course, for all the Races Of books, for example. The Complete X books are kinda shit as well.
14th-Sep-2005 02:53 pm (UTC) - nooo!

lords of madness is shit it describes the basic aberrations like what is an elderbrain do all day adn tehir plots and how they grow and develop. but thats really lame. its the dm's job to make up what the monsters are thinking.... and the idea that mindflayers are creatures from the future is totally lame!!!
all thsoe books are is the ideas of old gamers and standard plots that are pseudo science fiction (which is stupid to mix with fantasy) put into a "tome" so that new dms dont have any creative work to do.... they make gods and other stupid things that you should make specific to your campaign.....

same with draconomicon it presents these ideas on dragons that are based in the d&d stereotypic plot that puts the dragon as the ultimate monster or challenge and the goal is for adventurers to loot their treasure... if you want to play a game where all you do is go after dragon treasure or fight all the other stereotyped monsters in books like that then fine.... but what i want in a campaign is

a place unique where challenges are intellectual moral and actual ROLE playing not treasure hunting...
the books on the different wildernesses provide rules on certain environmental efects and provides spells that would be more common in those areas. this makes sense because if you want to play an interesting campaign you cant just be in the woods with the elves or in the dungeon fighting a lich or in a cave fighting a beholder or dragon... with teh environment books youcan see how different societies usually react to living in desserts and use spells more useful to those locations....
the races books provide some of the problems i described above... for instance how there are these new lame races that have poor concepts like "illumian" and "goliaths" and present obnoxious and cheasy gods with these horrible animatins of "holy symbols" but they also provide more rules like new spells new prestige classes, feats and magic items which enhance play not because of their raw power or for redmaging but so the players dont get bored of always finding bracers of armor or an orb of storms.... the rules let play become more enjoyable and ROLEPLAYABLE when you can customize your character with feats spells and prestige classes and have real differences between the hundreds of npcs that your characters meet...

so unlike you i like to think of the cultures myself and make them unique and non-cliche... and i like to have interesting game play!
14th-Sep-2005 09:08 pm (UTC) - Re: nooo!
You've got me figured all wrong, actually. Most of the time I spend world-building is used for culture creation; which, as a would-be anthropologist, is something I quite enjoy. If anything, I think that the environment-oriented books and soforth step too far into my domain in that regard, telling me what things exist in my world and how people respond to them. So you think I've got this bunch of people running around with this prestige class because they live in the desert, huh? Think again. Not in my world, damnit. That's not how I see my world existing.

As far as Lords of Madness and Draconomicon go, I'll admit to not owning either and not having read either in-depth. I give them points because while skimming them I found in the former a section on beholder anatomy, and in the latter a section on dragon anatomy- a level of detail which, though probably useless in game terms, just pushes some deep-seated button for me.

As to my uses of standard fantasy concepts, I'll often recast races in other roles (though perhaps not in any particularly inspired ones). I like my gnomes as inventors rather than pranksters; I like my dwarves more beer-loving and less grouchy. I like my elves taller than humans, the way they're supposed to be. I once half-built a world in which there was an old-West-type region wherein the miners- essentially half-orc and half-elf slaves- had rebelled and, finding themselves political bedfellows, founded a free state and even began interbreeding. One of my best story-arcs concerned a dragon who had been exiled to a fairly standard plane for, essentially, dereliction of duty (he was one of the neutral ones, but leaned toward good, and had aided some good-aligned dragons at one point); and then, following that, installed himself (at great length) as protector and ultimately deity of the world in question.

Believe me, I'm not one to seek wisdom in books; when I refer to sourcebooks, it is for mechanical reasons or, occasionally, inspiration which I can further develop into my own unique things. (The exception to this rule being that I'm considering running a Ravenloft game... But that's neither here nor there.)
15th-Sep-2005 03:20 am (UTC) - forcefieldmaker didnt feel like logging in...
i also make elves taller than humans... its cooler
10th-Sep-2005 02:53 am (UTC)
I have an unnatural prejudice towards psionics because Second Edition psionics sucked. A lot.

WoTC has put out a least a book a month for D&D for a while now. Some of it has been simply excellent and some crap. I've wanted to have a campaign set in a world that's about 95% water. I think I might pickup Stormwreck if I manage to do it.

New rules are all fine and good as long as you take the time to look them over and see if they are appropriate for your campaign.
10th-Sep-2005 03:12 am (UTC)
See, most DM's I know (you being one of them) do not favor psionics.

Personally, I'd love a water/island campaign - much more so than the world's largest dungeon. That's my personal taste though and we've had this discussion. Although I am weird in that I don't care for dungeons, and I think dragons are rarely played to their full power by DM's.

Now, if you made a west end games style D6 world based on Firefly...

Man, that just sends chills up my spine.
10th-Sep-2005 03:58 am (UTC)
Well, when I finally get around to running that campaign there will be a spot at the table for ya. But I plonked down a good chunk of change for the WLD so I'm gonna run it for a while :)
10th-Sep-2005 03:27 am (UTC)
I list the books that I allow in my house rules. Since I use mostly 3E, many of the newer rulebooks require permission. Some of the new material isn't bad and I'm not averse to including it, but some is either overpowered or illogical.

Retconning new rules into existing settings is nothing new. It happened in 2nd Edition with Spelljamming and (IIRC) psionics. But, it's better than saying "X doesn't exist in the campaign world, you just wasted $30." (Better for whom may be a good follow-up question :)
10th-Sep-2005 03:47 am (UTC)
I got the psionics book for 2e because I was interested in the concept. Of course that system was incredibly broken, so I kinda gave up on that eventually. I've looked through the new psionics books and they don't seem too broken, but it's a level of complication that I'm not interested in adding to my campaign. Anything psionics can do can be done just as well with the normal magic rules (especially if you introduce a spell-point variant). I'm kinda intrigued by the incarnum stuff, only because it sounds like you get free (but weak) magic items. The art looks good too. I'll probably flip through the book, and then decide it's not worth the money.

I'm not a big fan of introducing totally alternate mechanics into the game, especially if they're only going to be a side aspect that maybe one player (if that) will encounter. Now I wouldn't be against playing a Psionic campaign or an Incarnum campaign, but I don't think that's going to happen. I like that d20 rules are pretty flexible (you want someone to do something, make a skill check against some DC. Works for everything), and extra stuff isn't really necessary.

So in short, I don't really care about these new rules because I'm happy with the current system. Basically we're just paying for "flavor," which isn't worth the money.

...Though I will admit I'm looking forward to Wizard's next book which is going to deal with True Name magic. I've always liked that concept ;p But will I want to spend money on it? I doubt it.
10th-Sep-2005 06:25 pm (UTC)
There's some True Name magic-type stuff in Monty Cook's Arcana Unearthed.
10th-Sep-2005 03:45 pm (UTC)
Psionics (3.5) is not broken.

That being said I find things to use in many books, although I now find Unearthed Arcana useless to me in my game.

Draconomicon, the undead book (can't remember it's name), and Lords of Madness all have somethings useful. The Mini's handbook has some neat monsters, the Races of Books have little to offer (you have to dig), and I haven't looked at the environment books yet.

The Races of books are all being reprinted into one big book. This is the problem with WotC right now. There is no need to capture Races of Wild/Stone/Destiny into one book when these books came out not too long ago.

What we need is more source material for Greyhawk. Anything worthwhile is from the old TSR days.
10th-Sep-2005 03:56 pm (UTC)
I think it's actually that they're just releasing a box set of the Races books, not reprinting them in a single volume.
10th-Sep-2005 04:07 pm (UTC)
Just double checked...you're right. But still where is the need for the Races of Books to be packaged together like this?

Are people saying "If I could save $10 and buy them together that would be great! I'd buy them for sure!!!"

I hope not.

The core books I can understand, but this?

What we need is Greyhawk 3.5.
11th-Sep-2005 06:13 pm (UTC)
"The Undead Book" = Ghostwalk? Or something else?
11th-Sep-2005 07:40 pm (UTC)
"The Undead Book" = Ghostwalk? Or something else?

Either that or Libris Mortis. I have both. I like LM. GW is interesting, but is more of a setting and philosophy change.

A lot of people don't like 3.5E psionics because 2E was broken. So sad. 3.0E psionics were a good improvement, but were still a bit "off". The latest incarnation is quite good. Some people may not like it and that is fine. I find it to work out quite well. Most campaigns I run or are in now have psionics in some fashion. I've played with both "psionics and magic are different" and that they are the same. It definitely changes the feel of things between the two, but both work reasonably well. You can also make it "they are mostly the same". So SR is 3/4 PR (and vice versa) or Spellcraft/Psicraft DCs are 5-10 points different but mostly interchangable.
14th-Sep-2005 02:55 pm (UTC)
I agree with you about gw and lm
12th-Sep-2005 03:53 pm (UTC)
I've played in a campaign or two that was themed around psionics, and it was relatively fun. But in a typical campaign setting psionics just seem out of place. Maybe it's because I've always associated psionics with Sci-fi rather than fantasy.

It doesn't feel right to me when I imagine a party of adventurers containing one axe wielding barbarian, an arrow lobbing elf, a fireball flinging wizard, and a guy who can bend spoons.
14th-Sep-2005 09:01 am (UTC) - My two cp.
As a player, I really enjoy psionics- they reproduce the flexibility of the MP systems that I grew to know and love in my youth. I'll also admit to enjoy the raw destruction that psionics are capable of tossing around, as well as the more subtle effects (I can partition my mind to keep one power active all the time? sweet!).

As a DM, I don't really care for psionics. I don't think they really fit well into the game as I'd like to create it: i.e. with more of a high/classical fantasy bent, playing with those particular forms and doing different and ideally interesting things with that set of conventions. Psionics are interesting, and mechanically I really enjoy them, but they just don't fit into the sort of setting embodied by Tolkien, Jordan, Goodkind, etc.- they're very much a round peg in a square hole. At best, I could restructure a world somewhat to make a place for them, but first off that requires more effort than I really want to put in, and secondly it sort of waters down the flavor I would've created. I think they could work really well in a world designed with them in mind, but that's not what I'm looking for (and I don't think it's what my players are looking for, either).
14th-Sep-2005 10:19 am (UTC) - +1 cp
Wait: come to think of it, as a player I like psionics; as a player I love expanded psionics (which I've just reviewed). The cerebremancer? Are you kidding me? While losing the last ten levels of one spellcasting class to gain the first ten of another is madness, dropping the last three of an arcane class for the first seventeen of a psionic class- and vice-versa- seems like a pretty damn fair trade to me! Especially considering that you'd get access to both 9th-level spells and 9th-level powers...

Consider that a 3/3/14 mix of wizard, psion, and cerebremancer with an Int of a mere 18 is able to to use the following (daily):
16 9th-level powers, with 12 points left over. (OR, as will be elaborated upon, 21 7th-level powers, with 11 points left over.)
4 0th-level spells.
5 spells each of 1st through 4th levels
4 spells each of 5th and 6th levels
3 7th-level spells
2 8th-level spells
1 9th-level spell

In raw damage terms (as, I'll admit, I tend to see casters as heavy artillery), here's how I'd translate this:
21 ultrablasts: 21(13d6) to a 15-foot radius (avg. 955 damage/target)
Plus 11 points' augmentation: 11d6 extra damage (avg. 38 dmg/target)
Assuming saving for half, this totals to 497 damage each to targets affected.
1 maximized chain lightning: 119 to a single target; 48 each to up to 17 additional targets.
Assuming saving for half, this equals 58 damage to one target and 24 each to all secondaries.
2 maximized cones of cold: 102 damage to each target within the cone
Assuming saving for half, this totals, of course, to 102 damage per target for the two spells.
3 empowered cones of cold: avg. 89.25 damage to any in the cone
Total damage on average of 267.5 to each target.
4 maximized fireballs: 102 damage each to targets in the blast radius
Total damage with saves of 204 to each target
4 empowered fireballs: 89.25 damage on average to targets in blast radius
I.e. 178.5 damage on average in total with saves
5 heightened fireballs: 63 damage on average
Thus 157.5 damage in general with saves for half
5 plain old fireballs: 59.5 damage each
148.75 damage in total

Total psion damage per day, on average: 497, assuming all saves are made successfully and only one target is affected.
Total wizard damage per day, on average: 1202, assuming the same.
The wizard levels allow you to unleash much more damage, but more slowly than you're able to do with psionics: if it's a big nasty enemy you want dead, you'll want to psionicize it to death, but if you're trying to knock down an enemy fortress, your wizard levels will come in real handy.

(Compare to a 20th-level wizard, who gains three max. chain lightnings, two max. cones of cold, and a single emp. cone of cold, for a total increase in damage of 320. That's not as much as 497, it doesn't come as quickly, and it allows (I'd say) a hell of a lot less flexibility.)

This is, of course, totally failing to consider that said character is sitting here with an int of a mere 18.

Who are these people saying that psionics isn't broken? Have they failed to do the math?
14th-Sep-2005 10:22 am (UTC) - Re: +1 cp
Oops- subtract 134 from the empowered cones and from the total (dropping it to 1068! Aw, damn!).
14th-Sep-2005 10:36 am (UTC) - Re: +1 cp
Correction #2: Who wants to use plain old ultrablasts when they can be maximized ultrablasts?
Instead of dealing 21(13d6)=955 damage, one can deal 16(13(6))=1248, with a save resulting in 624 damage. Of course, this slows you down a bit- you need to acquire a focus each time, but still. On the other other hand, I see nothing putting a cap on the number of power points you can spend to augment a power: why the hell not just augment up to whatever you need all at once, if you know your first ultrablast isn't going to do the job? You could take two turns to basically guarantee a kill on everything in a fifteen foot radius; it would work particularly well if you knew beforehand about how much HP said things had. (And, you know, of course, the first turn could be spent way before the manifestation of the power...)

Now the psion levels are easily beating the hell out of the wizard levels, in terms of power, flexibility, and speed. I'd almost say the hell with it and go with a straight psion to begin with- but those extra spells known would add adaptability to the character. If nothing else, you could use the wizard spells to make sure your character could charge into a horde of enemies and survive long enough to get the ultrablast off...

Holy shit is this broken.
14th-Sep-2005 10:47 am (UTC) - I can't believe you don't shut up!
Having the extra three levels of Psion would get you 629 extra points of ultrablast damage. Not nearly as good as 17 levels of Wizard.

(Sorcerer might be a better choice than Wizard, but I'm not up to doing the rest of the math; I chose Wizard because going with a Sorcerer results in you needing to take an extra level of the class and, ultimately, being denied 9th-level spells (as well as an extra psion level's worth of power points). Given that the 9th-level spell proved not that great, extra spells per day might be more effective in the long run- but they might not, given the additional loss of those power points.)
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