Volume 1 Issue 31 – Psionics

Volume 1 Issue 31 – Psionics

EpicWords.com creator Jonathan Cruz joins us this week as we talk about everyone’s favorite option from the DMG – psionics!

We discuss the when, where, why and how of this love it or hate it system, and encounter a surprise in the Creature Feature Theater.

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT THE FREE LAPTOP SLEEVES: The free laptop sleeve offer (with $40 purchase) is valid, but there won’t be any RFI design on the sleeve. We submitted our design to Spreadshirt, who rejected it on the grounds of being too complex for their machines to handle. Sorry about the problems, we’re upset about it too.

Show notes:

RFI / Spreadsheet Promotion 0:00:00
RFI SHirt http://rollforinitiative.spreadshirt.com/
Use the Coupon Code: Free Sleeve with any order of $40 or more and get a free laptop sleeve

Intro 1:36.194
RFI Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/RFIpodcast

Sage Advice 16:20.960
RFI Forums http://rfipodcast.com/show/forum/

Guest Spotlight – Jonathan Cruz from Epic Words 25:09.345
Epic Words www.epicwords.com

Table Manners 44:56.725
Geoffrey’s Psionics DragonsFoot.org thread http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=15962&hilit=psionics+gamma+world

Creature Feature Theatre 1:27:33.131

Poll of the Week / Outro 2:03:35.860
LowTechCon http://lowtechcon.com/

BONUS – here is the psionics worksheet mentioned on the show: Psionics Worksheet PDF


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  1. DM_Kade

    Alright a new show!

  2. Death Metal Nightmare

    loved the episode. EpicWords rocks. im pro psionics. why not?

    a) “sci-fi” doesnt hold any ownership to the concept of psionics or “paranormal” powers. thats only pop culture imbuing the stereotype of “Star Wars and Dune are psionics” on you. fantasy games and literature have more in common with mythology than pop culture. not to mention, a lot of nerds would argue with you that Star Wars is Space Fantasy (as Harrison Ford refered to it). lets face it, both domains are fantasy.

    b) for magic-users of whatever anthropomorphic species (“race”) in the game, the whole concept of magic is based on ‘brain power’. you have to read symbolic text, memorize it and then use your “mind” to regurgitate those symbolic elements (with material or somatic [which could be argued are part of the mind, as the mind leaks through senses and the entire body] expressions) to cast the Spell. “to spell is to spell” as its said, which means spelling/writing was no small task back when most of the world was illiterate and only the trained elite were allowed (and some people didnt want to learn). so, both domains are based on the mind in my perspective. i get the division for game purposes but more accurately theyre not as far apart as people imagine. one organism harnesses WITH the mind, as a spellcaster, the energies from outer planes, while the psionic uses his mind to engage the prime material plane through the sensory mind. ones called magic, ones called psionics : theyre both fantasies.

    (note: this is also why id like to some sort of non-literate magic (or in the anthropological realm: witchcraft/sorcery) system for non-literate settings/people to enhance role playing where deities arent the main source of power.). maybe its based more on material/verbal components and level and spell limitations. its not a big deal, just something to think about. maybe its covered somewhere in DRAGON.

    i say psionic it up, WHEN applicable. everything should be open when it enhances roleplaying or the overall story the DM is trying to build with the characters together.

    mad props for the shout out. all Repulsion and Sepultura is welcome.

  3. Tom

    Hey guys. Someone mentioned the 2nd edition psionics handbook as an alternative system, and it reminded me of another option. This is “The way of the Psionicist” which is a thin 31page booklet from one of the dark sun box sets. It is a slightly more streamlined system, and uses mThac0, or Mental Thac0, to determine combat attacks. It’s worth looking at, if you can find a copy, if just for the added variety.

  4. PC Gnewt

    I’m with Vince on Psionics. It just doesn’t feel right for the fantasy setting that I envision. Plus the mechanics are so different they feel like somebody tried to bolt the wings of the space shuttle onto the back of a classic jalopy. Psionic combat at 1 segment intervals takes forever, while regular players are just standing around waiting for the next round to start. Finally if used by the book, the chances of any PC actually having psionic abilities are so low, characters that have them are few and far between and it just doesn’t make it worth the headache.

    The rationality for psionics just seems to violate the logic of how magic works in AD&D. The DMG states that the power to do magic comes from the planes and that if a magic-user had to draw upon personal energy to power a spell, first level spells would leave them utterly weak and shaking, while third level spells would probably kill them. Yet we’re supposed to believe that psionic individuals have the mental power to perform the equivalent of what could probably be considered at least third level spells if not higher. It just feels inconsistent at best, sloppy at worst.

  5. Now see, I told you that you would have a new slant on psionics after reading issue #78 of Dragon:) I particularly liked the way the ecology of the Mind Flayer is handled in that issue, having a githyanki knight relate the ways of the illithid race to a party who are foolishly thinking to confront a mind flayer stronghold.

    Psionics are not everyone’s cup of tea, but under the right circumstances it can be quite fun in a game. Again, I would point out the Deryni and Camber books by Katherine Kurtz as an example of how psionics could work very well in a fantasy setting. And, of course, issue #78 gives suggested stats on Deryni as a player race–which fits nicely for those wishing to improve on the whole more human then human thing. Another angle, which I have been considering for a one off tournament scenario might be having the party assume the role of a githyanki war party raiding an illithid or githzerai stronghold.

    You could even go with a 1st edition AD&D rules, Planescape set campaign, in which the use of psionics over more traditional Vancian magic is the norm. Any traditional spell could be worked into a discipline. Call such a character a Mystic or some such if Psionicist disagrees with your ideas of fantasy. It may be that beyond the Prime, Vancian magic is seen as crude and inefficient and for this reason beings such as mind flayers, gith and aboleth show such disdain for prime material sorcery. In such a seting I would likely use the Deryni template provided in issue #78 as a “evolved” human template for humanity that inhabits the outer planes with these other beings.

    In the end, the important thing to remember, as Frank states in your earlier interview, is to make the game your own. Do not become bound by the syntax. The beauty of 1st edition was in it’s embracing of an open imagination. Later on, with the subsequent editions, we saw the game become more narrowly defined by what was written in the “rules”. Old School is making the game fit “your” game. Not the other way around.

    Great show by the way guys:)


    “Bring out yer dead games!”

  6. LC Peter

    I’m thinking of incorporating psionics in my campaign as a sort of idiot savant thing. Instead of giving characters with really high ability scores an additional power it would give characters with low ability scores a power. I would give people a chance to get psionics for points below 12 and then just invert the rest of the psionics rules the same way. Of course psionic powers do correct themselves in the game as psionic characters become prime targets of psionic creatures (sort of like psychers in 40K).

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