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D&D 3E
Mindcraft - A new take on Psionics 
16th-Jul-2005 08:00 pm
If you've been in the same forum as me for more than about a month, you've probably heard me shill for Mindcraft -- my own take on how Psionics should have been. Well, this week I finally got the good news that the product is done, on (electronic) shelves, and ready to buy. It's avalible for $7 at RPGNow, DriveThruRPG (no DRM), and, if you're in Europe, 5.79EUR at Arima.

The guys at Alea Publishing Group did a bang-up job, and I couldn't be happier with the work.

Mindcraft began life as "The Craft of the Mind" way back in 2001. After seeing the exact same skill-and-feat mechanic show up in at least three different products, I decided to go back to the drawing board and star with something that (1) fits into the way characters are actually created in D&D (i.e., maxing out a few skills instead of buying all of them), (2) reflects "psionics" as something different than magic, in keeping with how it's always been in my home campaign, and (3) is a fun system to play.

The 64-page book contains two new core and prestige classes, with epic, reputation, and "defense" rules included, the necessary mental skills and feats, over 80 mental powers, four new types of "magical" item that are distinct (including one never-before-seen effect that's a great flavorful alternative to an Item of Ability Score Enhancement +6), and a short selection of monsters and sample NPCs. A secretive organization is included, that lets you drop Mindcraft in for a session to try out without needing to re-write your campaign's whole setting.

All that's part for the course in a cap-system, however. The best reason to pick up Mindcraft (in my obviously biased opinion) is the rules. Mental powers aren't the outer-planes magic that the D&D Psionics system is, and it isn't the Force redux that some other "psionics" systems are. The use of any power is an opposed roll using one of three mental skills, with a simple modifier listed right in the power's description. One a character has a mental power, they can try and use that power however many times they want -- although each use imposes some fatigue, which when pushed too far is taken as non-lethal damage.

If there's anything else you'd like to know about Mindcraft, please ask away.
17th-Jul-2005 06:41 am (UTC)
Being an avid psionics fan (owned the AD&D psionicist's book, the 3.0 and 3.5, as well as the Malhavoc expansions) I'll have to give this a look.

Does it keep with the spirit of Bruce Cordell's product in that there are no 10 level full progression manifester Prestige Classes?
17th-Jul-2005 03:52 pm (UTC)
Yes and no.

Yes, neither of the two PrCs goes 10 levels with all the benefits of the Mindwalker.

No, because it's a very different system. Mental Level is a flat advancement for all classes, and is only used to keep some powers from showing up at too low a character level. (More important are skill ranks in the three mental skills, fatigue resistance, and the number of mental slots.)

I'd say it's closer to the old 2nd edition Psionics than 3e Psionics. Mindcraft is very much not based on magic.
17th-Jul-2005 04:04 pm (UTC)
1. How does this system avoid creating superpowered titans? If I can use my powers as often as I want, and all it does is subdual damage, and I'm buddies with a cleric, I could lay waste to countless legions of people... or take over the minds of entire castles assuming I made all of my ability checks/skill checks. How does it balance basically?

2. Are all of the power mentally based, or can you do mind over matter things as well?
17th-Jul-2005 04:33 pm (UTC)
1: By not having any of the powers turn you into a superpowered titian. Yes, you could take over a whole castle by dominating everybody one by one and then using your Lock Power feat to seal the deed, but then you'd be walking around with a pool of subdual damage you can't release until you let go of the castle. (And a wizard with a few Dominate scrolls could do the same thing, although not quite as well.)

As for laying waste to countless legions of people--well, not any more than a fighter or wizard of the same level. And you'll be turning to the cleric a lot more often, presuming that you haven't filled up his role in the party as "healer."

2: Yes, you can do mind-over-matter things. A 1st level Mindwalker stars with Mindspeak, letting them talk telepathically to anyone they have contact with, Control Form, which lets them change their shape and resist aging, and Mental Hand, which has minor telekinesis on the scale of the wizardly spell mage hand. With your two other mental slots, you could grab Telekinetic Attack and Telekinetic Wave and toss around kobolds who yap at your heels.

At each level a mindwalker or mental warrior gains mental slots to pick up new powers, with about an even split between mind-only, mind-over-self, and mind-over-body throughout.
19th-Jul-2005 09:50 pm (UTC) - Clarification
Worth noting, while you're considering balance issues, is that the nonlethal damage ("fatigue") caused by Mindcraft is exempted from healing due to Regeneration, Fast Healing, and Cure spells.

So a mindwalker with a cleric friend who has a bundle of restoration scrolls can use their strongest abilities all day for every encounter--but the cleric can't just swap out a prayer for a cure light wounds to toughen up the Mindwalker.
18th-Jul-2005 10:44 pm (UTC)
At high levels would a stronger telekinesis be available?
19th-Jul-2005 01:01 am (UTC)

Not only does mental hand increase in power as your character levels up, but other telekinetic powers are far more effective in specific instances.

I'm running a science fantasy d20 game at the moment, using Mindcraft with a few small alerations for flavor. Paul, one of my players, is playing a mental warrior with a focus on telekinetic powers.

Last session the party was in the housing wing of a corporate space behemoth that had conscripted them as workers. While escaping from the prison-turned-workers barracks, without any weapons or gear to speak of, Paul used Hurl Object on the security droid who was attacking them. He not only rolled high enough to hurl the droid, but he struck a critical hit against the wall he "attacked" with the droid.

(Keen Mind, the skill that governs Telekinesis, is also used for the higher-level-only Energy Control powers.)

19th-Jul-2005 08:09 pm (UTC)
Hi Im new... :D ... I was just reading up on the who Mindcraft, and I dont know how much you mentioned this but how does psionics cause damage to the user. I know it's Subdual but that, in a game like D&D, could have NASTY consequences.
19th-Jul-2005 09:46 pm (UTC)
First off, welcome to dnd3e!

That said, the potential nonlethal damage from each power is expressed as fatigue. A character with a wild talent who uses a power suffers the full fatigue of every mental power they use as nonlethal damage. If that same character gains levels in one of the four classes included in the book, or picks up the Mental Bastion feat, they have fatigue restistance.

Fatigue Resistance works exactly like Resistance to Energy. Each time the character uses a mental power that costs them fatigue, they subtract their fatigue resistance from the total of all such fatiuge they take in a round.
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