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Archpaladin Zousha
2010-02-16, 07:06 PM
This topic has aspects of all editions, but I'm looking at it mostly from a 4e perspective because it's the edition I like the best, and because psionics are about to make their debut in the Player's Handbook 3.

One thing that keeps popping up in D&D that has always bugged me is psionics. As far as I've seen, psionics have been praised as one of the best things in 3.5. I personally am not sure of this, but I have no knowledge of game balance or mechanics, so what do I know?

What bugs me about psionics is the flavor. It isn't that I hate them, really. I struggle to comprehend them in the traditional D&D universe. Maybe it's because my first encounter with psionic powers was the evil gym leader Sabrina in the Pokemon TV show, but I've always viewed psionics as more "science fiction" than "fantasy," as a way to justify magic-like effects in a more futuristic setting. On the flipside, I imagine psionics would basically seem like magic in a medieval Europe based setting, so why differentiate between the two?

Soon psionics will finally arrive in 4e, with four new classes: the Ardent (defender), Battlemind (leader), Psion (controller), and Monk (striker). Again, I'm not upset about this so much as confused, since I have no idea how to look at psionics. I think part of the reason why this is the case is because most of the D&D classes (at least in 4e) are based off common fantasy archetypes that you see everywhere in fantasy literature, games and cinema. You can say "rogue," "mage," or "paladin," and most people will probably know what you're talking about. Say "ardent" or "battlemind," and you'll probably only be understood by people who played psionic characters in 3.5 D&D.

To re-emphasize, I don't think psionics are necessarily a bad thing. I'm just not sure what to make of them. Perhaps someone who has more insight into this may be able to help me understand, but it seems to me like psionics are more sci-fi, and thus don't mesh with D&D too well. Plus I'm not sure why they decided to make the monk psionic. Again, slapping the word "psionic" on something makes it seem like sci-fi, and the monk class is supposed to be reminiscent of eastern mysticism and wuxia movies, rather than sci-fi.

Anyone wanna offer some insight into this? :smallconfused:

lsfreak
2010-02-16, 07:10 PM
Cross out 'psionics' and write 'arcane magic.' There, nothing has changed and it fits in perfectly. :smalltongue: (In fact, I much much prefer psionics to the standard Vancian of 3.5, both power and mechanics-wise, and I know I'm far form the only one).

The biggest problem with psionics that many people don't like is the New Age-ish crystal stuff. Fluff that away (remove entirely, or turn into more fantasy-thematic 'gemstones'), and you have magic that's just the same as any other power source.

Boci
2010-02-16, 07:10 PM
You should see if you can pick up a Dark Sun novel. That might help you imagine a psionic character in a fantasy setting.

Kurald Galain
2010-02-16, 07:14 PM
Casters in earlier editions used vancian memorization, which is simply not how magic works in most fantasy novels (except those by Jack Vance, natch) nor how it works in most computer games (which tend to use spell points). Psionics was the answer to both, except for the silly bits about ectoplasm and sentient crystals.

Now that 4E no longer has vancian memorization anyway, psionics have no real reason for existing any more, other than "we've always had them". Of course, neither do sorcerers, and that hasn't stopped them. Essentially, a psion is simply another Standard Fantasy Wizard with slightly different powers.

Eldan
2010-02-16, 07:14 PM
Honestly, if it helps you, you can basically rename psionics to "mind magic", "mentalism", "Mysticism", "The Path of Zuoken", "The Discipline" or a other things.

What do psionicists do? They concentrate their minds to achieve effects. For this, they meditate and focus. And really, some of that fits quite well with eastern monks: they are, after, reported to do things like hover or be in two places at once, mostly due to their enlightenment, meditation and mental discipline.

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-02-16, 07:15 PM
Honestly, if it helps you, you can basically rename psionics to "mind magic", "mentalism", "Mysticism", "The Path of Zuoken", "The Discipline" or a other things.

What do psionicists do? They concentrate their minds to achieve effects. For this, they meditate and focus. And really, some of that fits quite well with eastern monks: they are, after, reported to do things like hover or be in two places at once, mostly due to their enlightenment, meditation and mental discipline.
Okay, so maybe the monk works better as a psionic class than I originally thought, but still, I've never really seen an archetype like this outside of D&D.

sonofzeal
2010-02-16, 07:20 PM
Okay, so maybe the monk works better as a psionic class than I originally thought, but still, I've never really seen an archetype like this outside of D&D.
I've seen it in a few places, though you're right that it's rare.

If I may ask a question - how do you feel about Mindflayers?

Draz74
2010-02-16, 07:21 PM
the Ardent (defender), Battlemind (leader), Psion (controller),

Strike that; reverse it.

The PHB3 is rumored to have some cool new fluff about how psionics are the Material Plane's adaptive way of defending itself against the encroachment of the Far Realms and their madness and aberrations.

But you're right that most settings don't really have both arcane magic and psionics as compatible pieces of their magic fluff.

Though, if you think about it, you might decide that some fantasy's magic fits better as "psionics" than as "arcane." Many non-D&D settings don't have magic controlled by some weird keywords in ancient languages, symbolic material components formed of dead critters, and gestures and chants and so on. The ones that do, usually portray magic as a sort of witchcraft -- which fits fine with the Warlock, but not so much with the Wizard/Sorcerer/Bard/Swordmage/Artificer. Meanwhile, magic-users who call out supernatural energies "by the force of their will" or "the power of their mind" or whatever are much more common. See the Belgariad or the Eragon series, for example. These settings arguably are more fluff-friendly to psionics than to arcane magic.

EDIT: the above is pretty much the biggest reason I'm not much of a fan of 4e Wizards, but on the other hand I'm pretty excited about the Psion.

Mando Knight
2010-02-16, 07:24 PM
Cross out 'psionics' and write 'arcane magic.' There, nothing has changed and it fits in perfectly. :smalltongue: (In fact, I much much prefer psionics to the standard Vancian of 3.5, both power and mechanics-wise, and I know I'm far form the only one).

Actually, in 4e, just replace it with "Ki." Psionics is a "Western" sci-fi term for the power of using your mental state to act beyond your physical capabilities. Ki is a "Far East" term for pretty much the same thing.

The 4e Monk and Battlemind focus their Psionic power/Ki/whatever primarily inward to enhance their physical bodies. Psions exert their will on the world through focusing the same power on an external target. Ardents do a lot of the same kind of things as the others, but mostly focus on boosting their allies and hindering their enemies by affecting the targets' mental and emotional state.

Prime32
2010-02-16, 07:28 PM
There was a famous thread on refluffing psionics years ago on WotC. (http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19537914/Truenaming_Psionics)

It spawned a similarly large thread where people statted Naruto characters using psionic classes - the rules could emulate the characters' powers and the way they interacted much better than arcane magic.

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-02-16, 07:28 PM
I've seen it in a few places, though you're right that it's rare.

If I may ask a question - how do you feel about Mindflayers?

They've always felt somewhat off to me. Like they're foreign, and not in the sense that they're interlopers from the Far Realm. I don't think they have a similar archetype in traditional fantasy either.

erikun
2010-02-16, 07:29 PM
Real-world connotations aside, the difference between Psionic and Magic in D&D has been an internal/external division. In D&D, Wizard make funny noises that sound like words, Bards make funny noises that sound like music, Clerics get direct channels to foreign intelligences called deities, Warlocks get direct channels to foreign intelligences not called deities. For the most part, all of the Arcane and Divine spellcasters use some form of outside influence to create mystical effects. Sorcerers and Invokers are exceptions to this rule in 4e, but it mostly holds.

Psionic classes use some form of internal meditation or discipline to create mystical effects. They either train their mind to use the same energies as magic, effective acting as wizards who can keep their mouths shut, or they train their body to becoming a source of power, somewhat like a cross between the 3.5e Sorcerer and the Monk. I'm usually confused over the bewilderment with psionics, as it is basically the same idea of eastern mysticism, western aesthetic monasteries, and incense-burning oracles. Dozens of "psychics" are found throughout myth and legends, so I'm not too surprised to see then in a fantasy game.

It also allows a different way to portray gaining mystical power. Wizard learn the powers of the universe, Clerics channel those powers, while Psions become those powers.

As for 4e Psionics, it looks like they're trying something new (Power Points). Personally, I like what I've seen, and think that it will likely feel somewhat different than Arcane classes in play.

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-02-16, 07:29 PM
Actually, in 4e, just replace it with "Ki." Psionics is a "Western" sci-fi term for the power of using your mental state to act beyond your physical capabilities. Ki is a "Far East" term for pretty much the same thing.

The 4e Monk and Battlemind focus their Psionic power/Ki/whatever primarily inward to enhance their physical bodies. Psions exert their will on the world through focusing the same power on an external target. Ardents do a lot of the same kind of things as the others, but mostly focus on boosting their allies and hindering their enemies by affecting the targets' mental and emotional state.

That's a good description of what they do, but again, are there examples of these things in traditional fantasy? If there are, where can I find them so I can eliminate this sense of "foreignness" that I get from psionics.

SaintRidley
2010-02-16, 07:30 PM
They've always felt somewhat off to me. Like they're foreign, and not in the sense that they're interlopers from the Far Realm. I don't think they have a similar archetype in traditional fantasy either.

Probably because their more recent fluff - being from the future - fits much better with Spelljammer than generic D&D.

The fact that they're directly inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos, too.

Prime32
2010-02-16, 07:32 PM
That's a good description of what they do, but again, are there examples of these things in traditional fantasy? If there are, where can I find them so I can eliminate this sense of "foreignness" that I get from psionics.It's a subtle thing - a matter of how magic works in the story, or it is left unmentioned. That Naruto builds thread? They statted Rock Lee with psionics, the Badass Normal martial artist with no special powers. It's a powerful system.

There are no major mechanical differences between psionics and magic - there are small things like memorisation, but how many stories have you read (other than those of Jack Vance) where spellcasters must memorise their spells rather than drawing on a pool of mana? The only difference is the names.

lsfreak
2010-02-16, 07:33 PM
I don't think they have a similar archetype in traditional fantasy either.

Well, in reality, most of what you except as 'traditional fantasy' has probably been warped by 40 years of D&D, and really has no place in pre-D&D fantasy.

The other thing is that a good chunk of D&D is far from typical fantasy. Take Eberron.

Draz74
2010-02-16, 07:34 PM
If there are, where can I find them so I can eliminate this sense of "foreignness" that I get from psionics.

I gave you two examples above.

erikun
2010-02-16, 07:37 PM
That's a good description of what they do, but again, are there examples of these things in traditional fantasy? If there are, where can I find them so I can eliminate this sense of "foreignness" that I get from psionics.
What, strictly, feels foreign? Is it the heavy crystal usage? The names of the powers? Using your mind to generate effects?

I (or someone) could probably direct you to appropriate fantasy works that would be less "foreign", but I honestly don't know what seems so strange to you. As I said earlier, psionics fits perfectly well with eastern mysticism and western oracles, in part because when the term "Mentalism" started becoming popular in was applied to these fields.

Noble Savant
2010-02-16, 07:44 PM
Well, if you want some examples of "psionics" in traditional fantasy, it isn't really hard to find, to one degree or another.

In the Farseer trilogy, by Robin Hobb, both the Skill and the Wit have more in common with psionics then arcane magic.

Channelers in the Wheel of time, with all their flashy effects, and their strong basis in meditation and mental focus, have a great deal in common with Psionics as seen in 3.5. Think of the different "elements" as different disciplines, and you've pretty much got DnD psionics. They even have Wilders!

If I really worked at it, I could probably find a lot more examples, but these two should be more then enough.

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-02-16, 07:51 PM
What, strictly, feels foreign? Using your mind to generate effects?
This. When I think of "using your mind to generate effects," I immediately think of bending spoons, cards with wierd symbols on them and turning people into dolls just because you can.

sonofzeal
2010-02-16, 07:56 PM
They've always felt somewhat off to me. Like they're foreign, and not in the sense that they're interlopers from the Far Realm. I don't think they have a similar archetype in traditional fantasy either.
Minor quibble - Mindflayers were never associated with the Far Realms, as far as I know. LoM doesn't play them that way, at least.



Hmm... I can see that, too, but I think it's appropriate. Telepathic abominations of nature that invade and control minds are pretty archetypal, though the details vary. Telepathic monsters in general tread pretty close to Psi, and if you can accept one then the other shouldn't be a major issue.

In any case, the fluff of Psi has never really been its strong point. There's potentially a lot of overlap with ki/chi, and various eastern ideas of mental focus producing semi-supernatural effects, but they don't really play with that much. It's not so much dynamic and interesting as it is fundamental and generic (much like Wizards and Sorcerers, really, which are also pretty generic in 3.5). The strength is its crunch - more balanced, more flexible, less bookkeeping. It's up to the player to make it interesting and believable in the game world.... but then again, it always is.

NeoVid
2010-02-16, 08:00 PM
That's a good description of what they do, but again, are there examples of these things in traditional fantasy? If there are, where can I find them so I can eliminate this sense of "foreignness" that I get from psionics.

I see D&D psychics as having more in common with mages from non-D&D settings than any D&D wizard does. Psionics mean you think hard and magic happens. D&D Arcane magic generally requires a small song-and-dance routine while throwing bat crap around.

Starbuck_II
2010-02-16, 08:13 PM
This. When I think of "using your mind to generate effects," I immediately think of bending spoons, cards with wierd symbols on them and turning people into dolls just because you can.

That sounds more like arcane magic. telekinesis, symbol spell, and Polymorph any object in that order.

Really, reverse every thing you think about with arcane with psionics: it really fits better (and vice versa).

Gandalf fits better as a Psion archetype than a wizard (he doesn't carry a book for spells, doesn't have memorize them, just cast when he feels like).

erikun
2010-02-16, 08:17 PM
This. When I think of "using your mind to generate effects," I immediately think of bending spoons, cards with wierd symbols on them and turning people into dolls just because you can.
I could list a bunch of titles, but honestly, it's more a point of view than anything expressly stated. Xanth has everyone possessing unique inate "powers" which they can use, Shannara has druids channeling their lifeforce into mystic fire, and Earthsea has spellcasters who control their magic completely through force of will. A Wizard of Earthsea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Wizard_of_Earthsea) is probably the best example of the three, as it features (if I recall) the main character magically holding a boat together for three days, nearly exahusting himself - something that doesn't make a bit of sense with spell slots and magic that maintains itself.

I will admit, my rationale is a bit tied to the older versions of D&D. Arcane casting was based on memorization, divine casting was based on prayer, and psionics were based on personal power. This changed a bit in 3rd edition, especially 3.5, which had the Sorcerer and several other spontaneous casters. A lot of the characters above could be considered Sorcerers just as well as Psions.

Then again, the whole "casting magic until exahusted" makes more sense with Psions than with Sorcerers. So do mages who cast one spell over and over as needed - something far more common in fantasy than "I've ran out of Fireballs, so I have to resort to my Force Missiles."

ClockShock
2010-02-16, 08:31 PM
Try watching some kung-fu movies. Non-Sci-Fi Psionics.

randomhero00
2010-02-16, 08:33 PM
I actually see psionics as far more widespread than just about anything else. See psychics, jedi, anything with telekinesis, warhammer 40k, etc. Psionics in D&D was just expanded upon to include more options like the wizard. Flavor wise though its pretty much the same and quite widespread in fiction. I love their fluff; psions are so bad@$$ they warp reality just by thinking it so.

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-02-16, 08:37 PM
That sounds more like arcane magic. telekinesis, symbol spell, and Polymorph any object in that order.

When I say cards with weird symbols, I'm talking about using psychic powers to figure out what the symbol is without looking at it. I'm referencing my first encounter with psionic-seeming abilities, namely in the episodes of the Pokemon anime featuring Sabrina, the psychic gym leader. In her gym, there were people attempting the spoon-bending and card-guessing things, and Sabrina liked to turn people into dolls if they lost to her in battle. And that's what I envision when I think of psionics. The minute someone says "psychic" anything, those episodes replay in my head. I've found it impossible to divorce my concept of "psychic" stuff from Pokemon.

Prime32
2010-02-16, 08:38 PM
When I say cards with weird symbols, I'm talking about using psychic powers to figure out what the symbol is without looking at it. I'm referencing my first encounter with psionic-seeming abilities, namely in the episodes of the Pokemon anime featuring Sabrina, the psychic gym leader. In her gym, there were people attempting the spoon-bending and card-guessing things, and Sabrina liked to turn people into dolls if they lost to her in battle. And that's what I envision when I think of psionics. The minute someone says "psychic" anything, those episodes replay in my head. I've found it impossible to divorce my concept of "psychic" stuff from Pokemon.Wizards can do all of those things. In fact, they can do them more easily than psions.

Roderick_BR
2010-02-16, 08:40 PM
Wait, monk is psyonic now? In this case, you could just call it mind-power, ki, or whatever. People with with some sort of magic power that doesn't come from the gods, nor come from arcane formulas, but from inner power through special training.

Noble Savant
2010-02-16, 08:43 PM
I've found it impossible to divorce my concept of "psychic" stuff from Pokemon.

That's my excuse for almost everything ever.

In any case, if the fluff bothers you that much, as it seems to bother most people. Just call it Mind Magic and be done with it. Personally, I like the whole crystal bit and the other pieces of fluff. Even Ectoplasm. I think it gives it a very otherworldly feel to the whole business, as if, through meditation, you have tapped into a universal source that other people can't even comprehend.

The Vorpal Tribble
2010-02-16, 08:44 PM
Well, the thing about psionics being foreign is that, really western and new world stuff do go more towards the arcane and druidish.

Southeastern asia and australian aboriginal lore goes along much better with mentalism, 'mind magic' and powers of the dream world.

I've been big on psionics since 2nd ed and always loved the concept. In my worlds psionics is something completely internal. At first it is the discipline of the mind and body, where you can control everything from blood flow to force an eidetic memory. You grow in finesse until your will begins to effect even that which is outside your body or deeper within as it were. Psychokinesis is those who effect that without, and telepathy so far within that you begin to tap a universal cosnciousness that all creatures with even the simplest mind are a part of. Go that direction far enough and you may use these mental paths to effect other's bodies and the like. Go far enough and you reach the Mindfields, the realm of dreams where thought and fancy and reality combine so that near anything can happen.

Starbuck_II
2010-02-16, 08:47 PM
Wow, it is Vorpal Tribble! Been some time since I last saw you post here.

Oracle_Hunter
2010-02-16, 08:47 PM
N.B. Psionics have been around in D&D since 1976. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psionics_%28Dungeons_&_Dragons%29#OD.26D)

The reason they seem "sci-fi" is because soft Sci-Fi that wants to have magic almost always calls it "psychic powers." It serves the same function as magic does in Fantasy novels, which can make it seem redundant now. However, it has always been treated as distinct from magic, primarily by being something that comes from within rather than from without.

The 3E Sorcerer muddies this distinction a bit, but even in 3E it was so.

Zaq
2010-02-16, 08:49 PM
When I say cards with weird symbols, I'm talking about using psychic powers to figure out what the symbol is without looking at it. I'm referencing my first encounter with psionic-seeming abilities, namely in the episodes of the Pokemon anime featuring Sabrina, the psychic gym leader. In her gym, there were people attempting the spoon-bending and card-guessing things, and Sabrina liked to turn people into dolls if they lost to her in battle. And that's what I envision when I think of psionics. The minute someone says "psychic" anything, those episodes replay in my head. I've found it impossible to divorce my concept of "psychic" stuff from Pokemon.

Nonsense. Psionics isn't any more effective against poison than anything else, and it can affect dark things just fine.
Kidding, kidding. Seriously though, how about Earthbound? Ness et al. are psionic, except for Jeff. It's just Another Kind Of Magic.

Innis Cabal
2010-02-16, 08:53 PM
I actually see psionics as far more widespread than just about anything else. See psychics, jedi, anything with telekinesis, warhammer 40k, etc.

Those are all Sci-Fi, and really don't help to prove it works in a fantasy setting. Which is what the OP is asking for.

The Rose Dragon
2010-02-16, 08:55 PM
Those are all Sci-Fi, and really don't help to prove it works in a fantasy setting. Which is what the OP is asking for.

...Star Wars isn't sci-fi.

Honestly, neither are psychics or telekinesis.

Innis Cabal
2010-02-16, 08:58 PM
I think if you asked most people on the streets what they thought Star Wars was classified as, they'd tell you its Sci-Fi. Its put under that catagory in most DVD stores. Not only that, but Space Opera (which is what its supposedly classified as) is a subgenre of Science Fiction. So. Ya, its Sci-Fi.

Starbuck_II
2010-02-16, 08:58 PM
Wait, what about pokemon?!

The psychic pokemon are mages! Abra, Kadabra, Alakazam are magic words not psionic words.

Yes, Pokemon uses arcane magic for their psionics.

The Rose Dragon
2010-02-16, 09:02 PM
I think if you asked most people on the streets what they thought Star Wars was classified as, they'd tell you its Sci-Fi. Its put under that catagory in most DVD stores. Not only that, but Space Opera (which is what its supposedly classified as) is a subgenre of Science Fiction. So. Ya, its Sci-Fi.

It's Space Fantasy! It has nothing to do with Science!

You know, what sci- is short for.

Oracle_Hunter
2010-02-16, 09:03 PM
It's Space Fantasy! It has nothing to do with Science!

You know, what sci- is short for.
But it has Midichlorians - that's like Science :smalltongue:

Mando Knight
2010-02-16, 09:19 PM
Wait, what about pokemon?!

The psychic pokemon are mages! Abra, Kadabra, Alakazam are magic words not psionic words.

Yes, Pokemon uses arcane magic for their psionics.

Actually, they're espers, like Koizumi. Which are a little closer to psionics than to arcane magic.

Lvl45DM!
2010-02-16, 09:23 PM
I treated psionics like we in the real world would treat magic. Nobody believes in it and its weird and scary as hell. it is alien, and thats the way i like it. Mind Flayers too, they arent like orcs or dragons. Even dragons tread ightly around flayers cos they are unknown and unknowable

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-02-16, 09:29 PM
Now I'm even MORE confused!

sonofzeal
2010-02-16, 09:33 PM
Now I'm even MORE confused!
Don't worry about it.



All that matters - psi is basically just another form of magic, where the power comes from mental focus rather than study, talent, or supplication. Associations to the contrary are entirely in your head. Everybody has these little associations with everything (I associate Rogues with Chaotic Dumbass even if most Rogues aren't), and it's hard to change, but it can be done in time and isn't really worth worrying about too much, imo.

The Glyphstone
2010-02-16, 09:34 PM
The Valdemar books are another good example of a fantasy world that substitutes psionics in place of traditional magic, at least for the first few sets of books. It's explicitly referred to as 'mind-magic'.

SaintRidley
2010-02-16, 10:17 PM
Minor quibble - Mindflayers were never associated with the Far Realms, as far as I know. LoM doesn't play them that way, at least.

A 2e book, the Illithiad, contains speculation of the Illithids as being from "Outside" (a referent to the Far Realm).

As for Star Wars, it's about the softest sci-fi possible, which explains its ridiculous levels of cross-genre appeal. I think of it as fantasy in space with an extremely light coating of minor sci-fi tropes, just enough for the lay person to think it's characteristic of sci-fi.

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-02-16, 10:42 PM
What kinds of archetypes do the ardent, battlemind and psion represent, anyhow? It's easy with other classes. The warlord represents the warrior who leads troops into battle and makes inspiring speeches and whatnot. The wizard is the tome-reading guy who casts powerful spells. The ranger is the wood-wise loner. The monk is the guy who meditates and knows kung-fu.

These other three classes, however, seem to have no archetype that I can easily point to and say, "That's a psion/battlemind/ardent."

lsfreak
2010-02-16, 10:58 PM
Archetypes don't always fit. Incarnum in 3.5 doesn't have an archetype (crafting temporary items out of soul-energy) associated with it, but it's one of the best and most flavorful part of 3.5.

Psions, though, fit very well with the archetype of someone simply being naturally talented at magic. They don't study, there's none of the 'magic hacking' that arcane universities do, using symbols or gestures or words to jury-rig a way of tapping magic. It's just raw power.

Dimers
2010-02-16, 11:33 PM
Okay, so maybe the monk works better as a psionic class than I originally thought, but still, I've never really seen an archetype like this outside of D&D.

The yogic and Buddhist mythologies are jam-packed with psionic power, here in the real world, and hypnotism and mesmerism can accomplish some astounding things. Many spirits and undead (mythological or fantasy) are better fluffed with psi than with magic, because they just turn their attention on you or concentrate and things happen -- no requirement of funny gestures, arcane words and tongue-of-dog. The 'evil eye' and hexing are pretty psi in nature, particularly since a modern explanation of the phenomena would say that their effectiveness depends on the victim's own mind. The influence of speakers and musicians is likewise more psionic than arcane, and I'd have made bards that way in D&D if it were up to me. D&D 3.X bards have special abilities and spells that broadly overlap with the psi power list, except that they more often affect other people. As other posters have indicated, most anime seems much more in line with psi than with arcane spellcasting. Traditional vampire tales are very mental, not physical; they don't mention bloodsucking or magic rituals, just horrible visitations that leave the victim more and more drained. Quite a few legendary tricksters and charlatans could be considered psionic, divining the right words to say and the right moment to start running with uncanny insight into their victims' playmates' minds.

If you've read Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar Saga, the Valheru are basically psionic gods -- they dominate others with their minds, will things into existence, empower their weapons and armor with the force of their being. Of course, they're also presented as alien, but that separation isn't very well-done, so they come across as basically very powerful humans. Most of Clive Barker's work (which mixes fantasy and modernity freely) is better described as psi than magic. Anne McCaffrey's dragonriders are psionic, though with a relatively limited range of abilities; they have some supernatural senses and communication abilities, plus psionic teleportation and time travel.


What kinds of archetypes do the ardent, battlemind and psion represent, anyhow? It's easy with other classes. ... The ranger is the wood-wise loner.

Heh. The ranger poses a problem for me like psi does for you. What does being a loner have to do with two-weapon fighting style? Anyway ... the psion is basically a wizard outside the Vancian tradition, who simply knows his spells and can cast them in any combination until the effort of channeling such vast power exhausts him (a.k.a. he's used up his power points). The ardent is the kind of magic-maker whose dedication to a principle or ideal is what gives him the energy to focus those powers; this could be someone like John Henry, outperforming a steam drill, or like protectors of the mysteries for ancient Greek temples, or like a potent prophet swaying the masses with descriptions of a better way of life. (I can think of a great example of a real-world ardent, but since my concept also involves a real-world religion, it's not an appropriate topic for the forum. Feel free to email me if you want to hear: my username at riseup.net.) The battlemind is just like the monk in that he trains his mind and body together carefully to overcome the restrictions most people encounter -- it's just that he happens to use weapons and armor instead of fists and agility. Some tales of samurai show good examples of how a battlemind works, training for the perfect cut and an unshakeable heart simultaneously.

Because each game system needs to differentiate the classes, they'll turn out with weird specifics that don't necessarily make sense. Why, in 3.5, does a battlemind get a sweeping strike? How can a psion choose such wildly different psychic powers as pyrokinesis and telepathic empathy? Why can't monks transform their bodies, while psychic warriors (who can otherwise generate basically the same set of effects) can? Why do all woodsmen learn either archery or florentine weaponry?--I think Steve Irwin proves that a grappling ability tree is every bit as appropriate for a ranger :smallwink: So I'd say it's not effective to think of D&D psi terminology like "ardent, battlemind, psion" when trying to broaden your view of what psi means. The specific mechanics are likely to just trip you up rather than help.

Mando Knight
2010-02-16, 11:45 PM
What kinds of archetypes do the ardent, battlemind and psion represent, anyhow? It's easy with other classes. The warlord represents the warrior who leads troops into battle and makes inspiring speeches and whatnot. The wizard is the tome-reading guy who casts powerful spells. The ranger is the wood-wise loner. The monk is the guy who meditates and knows kung-fu.

These other three classes, however, seem to have no archetype that I can easily point to and say, "That's a psion/battlemind/ardent."

Ardent:
http://kumakorner.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/kamina.jpg
Battlemind:
http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/starwars/images/8/8f/Mace_Windu_TCW1.jpg
Psion:
http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/starwars/images/8/84/NASTY_BAST.jpg

Akal Saris
2010-02-16, 11:48 PM
What kinds of archetypes do the ardent, battlemind and psion represent, anyhow? It's easy with other classes. The warlord represents the warrior who leads troops into battle and makes inspiring speeches and whatnot. The wizard is the tome-reading guy who casts powerful spells. The ranger is the wood-wise loner. The monk is the guy who meditates and knows kung-fu.

These other three classes, however, seem to have no archetype that I can easily point to and say, "That's a psion/battlemind/ardent."

Psions immediately make me think of any psychic sci-fi character, such as River from Firefly, or Kaname from Full Metal Panic (that one's an anime). I think it's a pretty well established archetype - maybe moreso than warlord even.

The other two - battlemind and ardent - are pretty damned vague to me, even as someone familiar with 3.5 psionics. But so are a lot of the non-psionic classes in 4E. The "Seeker" is some sort of primal controller who bonds with spirits and the wild, apparently? But he's somehow different from the druid, warden, and shaman? The invoker and avenger are somehow different enough archetypes from clerics and paladins to warrant being a separate class? I mean, I love new mechanics, but psionics isn't the first time I've looked at a D&D class and said, "Exactly what is this supposed to be, anyhow?"

Edit: ah, battlemind = jedi. That makes a lot of sense to me for some reason. Now when I make one I'm going to have to make it a short, wrinkled goblin...

Dacia Brabant
2010-02-16, 11:49 PM
The Psion is the guy who inherently is able to shape the world to his thoughts. The Belgariad has been mentioned as providing examples of these in fantasy, but really any arcanist who "unlocks the mysteries of the universe" through contemplation rather than reading textbooks probably qualifies.

I'm not sure how 4e is approaching the Ardent, but in 3.5 he's sort of like a Cleric whose power is rooted in a particular philosophic ideal (Mantle) that he upholds. They're spiritual warriors who don't go in for the whole "god thing."

And if Battlemind is supposed to be an adaptation of the War Mind prestige class, then I would imagine it's a Monk who uses armor and weapons. He's a Fighter with high reserves of mental strength and focus, whose unity of mind and body allows him to exceed normal physical laws. Like hitting two adjacent monsters with a single swing of his sword. (Loves me some Sweeping Strike. :smallsmile: )

Really psionics is all very much Power of Self stuff. Even Ardent, which is kind of other-focused in that it adheres to universal concepts, is all about my understanding and devotion to them. If your power source is You, then you might be psionic.

CockroachTeaParty
2010-02-17, 12:00 AM
What kinds of archetypes do the ardent, battlemind and psion represent, anyhow? It's easy with other classes. The warlord represents the warrior who leads troops into battle and makes inspiring speeches and whatnot. The wizard is the tome-reading guy who casts powerful spells. The ranger is the wood-wise loner. The monk is the guy who meditates and knows kung-fu.

These other three classes, however, seem to have no archetype that I can easily point to and say, "That's a psion/battlemind/ardent."

I dunno... you could make that argument about a lot of current 4th edition classes. Are people who don't play 4th edition going to know what archetype you're talking about when you tell them you're playing an Invoker, Avenger, or Warden? There's already a lot of overlap (the difference between a Cleric and an Invoker, or a Paladin and Avenger, say).

Mando Knight
2010-02-17, 12:05 AM
I dunno... you could make that argument about a lot of current 4th edition classes. Are people who don't play 4th edition going to know what archetype you're talking about when you tell them you're playing an Invoker, Avenger, or Warden? There's already a lot of overlap (the difference between a Cleric and an Invoker, or a Paladin and Avenger, say).

You can say "Wizard," "Divine Assassin," and "Plant-Fighter" and not be too far off. Invoker's actually a touch closer to Gandalf than the Wizard class is...

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-02-17, 12:07 AM
Ardent:
http://kumakorner.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/kamina.jpg
Um...Help the kid whose knowledge of anime only extends to Samurai Champloo and Studio Ghibli films, please? I don't know who this guy is.

Battlemind:
http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/starwars/images/8/8f/Mace_Windu_TCW1.jpg
I always imagined swordmages to be more like Jedi, what with the tendency towards robes (I know technically cloth armor is the only robe-stuff out there, but they're often called "hide-bound shamans" by the Sith), the energy blades and the ability to call their blade to them from a distance.

Psion:
http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/starwars/images/8/84/NASTY_BAST.jpg
Again, I always imagined swordmages to be the best at representing Jedi...and Sith.

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-02-17, 12:08 AM
Invoker's actually a touch closer to Gandalf than the Wizard class is...
I thought the exact same thing! A deva invoker, no less, given Gandalf's essentially an angelic being in a mortal body.

CockroachTeaParty
2010-02-17, 12:10 AM
You can say "Wizard," "Divine Assassin," and "Plant-Fighter" and not be too far off. Invoker's actually a touch closer to Gandalf than the Wizard class is...

So why can't you point to the psion and say "wizard" or "sorcerer?" Most people will know what a Monk is in the kung-fu sense, or due to video games.

Point to the Battlemind and the (spellsword?) and say "jedi" or whatever.

Everything's just permutations of wizard, cleric, rogue, and fighter (especially in 4th edition). If anything, psionics should be the easiest to explain/accept/swallow in 4th edition. The only thing that matters, flavor and fluff aside, is whether your character is a Defender, Striker, Controller, or Leader.

nightwyrm
2010-02-17, 12:12 AM
I would suggest that the Belgariad (which is as generic fantasy as you'll get) with its "the will and the word" sorcery is pretty much a psionic system.

As mentioned before, the whole new-agey/sci-fi connotation of psionic is due to a bunch of 70s/80s sci-fi (what they call themselves, I have my doubts) wanting to have magic in their setting without calling it "magic". So they took psionic and added in a bunch of pseudoscience mumble jumble and sold their stories as "sci-fi" rather than "space fantasy" or "modern fantasy".

nightwyrm
2010-02-17, 12:15 AM
Um...Help the kid whose knowledge of anime only extends to Samurai Champloo and Studio Ghibli films, please? I don't know who this guy is.


That is the great Kamina-sama. One of the most hot-blooded and epic character ever created appearing in the most hot-blooded and epic anime series ever.

PairO'Dice Lost
2010-02-17, 12:15 AM
The reason psionics feels to some like a bit of sci-fi injected into a fantasy world is that it basically is. When 1e first came out, sci-fi, fantasy, and horror were all in the same category, usually given a vague name like "speculative fiction;" if you were to ask Gygax "Is Star Wars fantasy, or sci-fi?" his answer would probably just be "yes." There's plenty of cross-pollination of sci-fi and horror in D&D's fantasy; Lovecraft's Old Ones appeared in the 1e Deities and Demigods (not creatures like the Old Ones, the actual Old Ones) right alongside mythological figures, Expedition to the Barrier Peaks and Spelljammer were various degrees of sci-fi, and the Vancian "magic" system comes from a series set in a post-apocalyptic future!

So no, apart from the naming scheme and the crystal fetish, there's really nothing that differentiates psionics from magic flavor-wise because magic, psionics, divine power, soul energy, etc. were all intended to be basically the same thing, just accessed in different ways. Psionics isn't rendered obsolete by 4e's removal of older-edition flavor any more than it makes having different classes for blasting/controlling and one class for buffing/healing redundant (though of course that's now a role split rather than a power source split). As has already been mentioned numerous times, simply renaming "magic" to "psionics" or vice versa won't significantly change things.

Mando Knight
2010-02-17, 12:19 AM
Um...Help the kid whose knowledge of anime only extends to Samurai Champloo and Studio Ghibli films, please? I don't know who this guy is.
WHO THE HE-- (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Catchphrase) The reputation of the Dai-Gurren Brigade (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TengenToppaGurrenLagann)extends far and wide! (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BadassBoast) And when they speak of its badass leader, the mighty Kamina, they're talking about him! He leads and inspires his bro to go beyond the impossible (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BeyondTheImpossible) and kick reason to the curb!

I always imagined swordmages to be more like Jedi, what with the tendency towards robes (I know technically cloth armor is the only robe-stuff out there, but they're often called "hide-bound shamans" by the Sith), the energy blades and the ability to call their blade to them from a distance.
Battleminds might be armored, but their fighting style of psionically-boosted swordsmanship fits with the Battlemaster-type Jedi/Sith better than the Swordmage. Swordmages are more of a "balanced" type, mixing their magic with their skills with the blade to make a distinctly blended "magic knight" style that I don't think I've seen anywhere else except a select few Jedi and Negi Springfield (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MahouSenseiNegima).

Again, I always imagined swordmages to be the best at representing Jedi...and Sith.
Psion does Palpatine and other "Force-Mage" type Jedi/Sith better. Though few of the Psion powers shown so far have any elemental variation beyond psychic, the basic Psion uses a lot of telekinetic and mind-trick based powers... in fact, that's 4e's primary distinction between the two builds: either telekinesis-based or telepathy-based.

Sinfire Titan
2010-02-17, 12:21 AM
Watch Gurren Laggan (SIC). Remind yourself every time one of the characters does something through Force of Will that it is Psionic in nature to do something through sheer willpower. Really, most of Gurren Laggan (SIC) is just Psionics with Mecha (and no shirts).

LurkerInPlayground
2010-02-17, 12:25 AM
Watch Gurren Laggan (SIC). Remind yourself every time one of the characters does something through Force of Will that it is Psionic in nature to do something through sheer willpower. Really, most of Gurren Laggan (SIC) is just Psionics with Mecha (and no shirts).
That's not the same flavor as levitating objects with your mind, hurling them, reading people's minds, mind-controlling them, etcetera.

You can play the semantical game all you like, but what you're talking about is not what most people think of when they say "psychic."

Mando Knight
2010-02-17, 12:29 AM
That's not the same flavor as levitating objects with your mind, hurling them, reading people's minds, mind-controlling them, etcetera.

You can play the semantical game all you like, but what you're talking about is not what most people think of when they say "psychic."

It's what WotC apparently thinks when it hears "Psionic." Other words you could use would be "Blazing Spirit," "Seething Blood," "Getter Rays," or "Spiral Power."

Sinfire Titan
2010-02-17, 12:31 AM
It's what WotC apparently thinks when it hears "Psionic." Other words you could use would be "Blazing Spirit," "Seething Blood," "Getter Rays," or "Spiral Power."

That'll be $5 for those words you took out of my mouth :wink:.

LurkerInPlayground
2010-02-17, 12:36 AM
It's what WotC apparently thinks when it hears "Psionic." Other words you could use would be "Blazing Spirit," "Seething Blood," "Getter Rays," or "Spiral Power."
Not really. It's clear that Zousha is talking about stuff like being able to read the other side of cards. Bend spoons. Telepathic communication. Levitation. Crap like that. You're just redefining it to mean what you want it to mean. It's not really helping the discussion if you're just using a different definition from the rest of us just to be contrary.

Without getting too presumptuous, it seems that Zousha thinks that the archetype is kind of difficult to fit into a setting that already has magic. Especially since D&D generally has a very specific need to artificially separate one kind of "magic" from other kinds.

At the risk of seeming like I'm ripping off somebody else's opinion, the best way to integrate it is to treat it as an alternative magical discipline, perhaps from a different culture. It's still "magic." You just don't call it psionics anymore.

Dacia Brabant
2010-02-17, 12:40 AM
That's not the same flavor as levitating objects with your mind, hurling them, reading people's minds, mind-controlling them, etcetera.

You can play the semantical game all you like, but what you're talking about is not what most people think of when they say "psychic."

What about those mind-over-body types? You know, the ones who sleep on beds of nails and walk on hot coals. That's usually considered "psychic" and seems to fit pretty well for those Hot Blooded Hero types who keep getting up to kick butt long after they should've been corpsified.

Which reminds me of another example for psionics: Dragon Ball Z. And now I want to play a Laser Monk. :smallbiggrin:


It's clear that Zousha is talking about stuff like being able to read the other side of cards. Bend sppons. Telepathic communication. Levitation. Crap like that.

And D&D Psionics is more than that. Everyone needs to read the Expanded Psionics Handbook. It's good stuff.

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-02-17, 12:41 AM
It's clear that Zousha is talking about stuff like being able to read the other side of cards. Bend sppons. Telepathic communication. Levitation. Crap like that.
And turning people into dolls for the hell of it.

Without getting too presumptuous, it seems that Zousha thinks that the archetype is kind of difficult to fit into a setting that already has magic. Especially since D&D generally has a very specific need to separate one kind of "magic" from other kinds.
Kind of. I'm also trying to figure out how to envision the character classes that don't seem to have a basis in the literature I've read. I'm guessing they were made up whole-cloth by Wizards, but in a game that basically builds off literary archetypes, usually there's something to latch on and recognize.

LurkerInPlayground
2010-02-17, 12:42 AM
What about those mind-over-body types? You know, the ones who sleep on beds of nails and walk on hot coals. That's usually considered "psychic" and seems to fit pretty well for those Hot Blooded Hero types who keep getting up to kick butt long after they should've been corpsified.
Meh. Eastern mystics were often purported to have powers. Hell, modern day hucksters will claim to be able to heal you by laying on hands. Or making you sit in a drawn square and throw some burning camphor to make flashy fire effects. As far as peasants are concerned, walking on hot coals can be indistinguishable from magic.

So to a degree: Mystics were often indistinguishable from wizards. It's just that some magicians have different flavors: masters of Tao, meditation, alchemy or whatever.

Mando Knight
2010-02-17, 12:44 AM
Not really. You're just shoving words into WotC's mouth.

It's clear that Zousha is talking about stuff like being able to read the other side of cards. Bend sppons. Telepathic communication. Levitation. Crap like that.

Not what WotC thinks. Other than the Psion, 4e's psionics are all about the mind reinforcing the body and then hitting something really hard with a sword (or fist, if you're a monk). Ardent has two builds: Tranquil Fury (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TranquilFury) and Hot Blooded (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HotBlooded). Battleminds are ridiculously arrogant according to the preview's flavor text. If that doesn't set a precedent for "hot-blooded fury" being at least a common expression of 4e Psionics, I don't know what would.

LurkerInPlayground
2010-02-17, 12:51 AM
Kind of. I'm also trying to figure out how to envision the character classes that don't seem to have a basis in the literature I've read. I'm guessing they were made up whole-cloth by Wizards, but in a game that basically builds off literary archetypes, usually there's something to latch on and recognize.
Well, I'd think Conan would probably have something like wizards using hypnotism. I don't know. Pulp fiction never really made much distinction between sci-fi and fantasy. To the point where other planets could exist in a fantasy setting.

This can be liberating, because frankly, fantasy and sci-fi are genres of fiction. Basically, "psionics" was just a category of skills that a magician could know. Or maybe both psionics and magic were an obscure science. And maybe there literally was an age where it was a science instead of a lost art.

I remember Berserk introduced a witch character towards the later chapters who had a number of "psychic" like powers. Basically stuff like stunning you in place, communicating telepathically and stuff like that.

The LOTR movie simply had Saruman and Gandalf smack each other around with telekinesis.

Personally, the way I'd do it is to simply make it a different magical tradition from the more "hermetic" kind of default that D&D uses. Rather than formulae, mathematics and dusty tomes, this other tradition may simply treat magic more like something you learn in a monastery or a "dojo."

Basically students sit around listening to the advice of revered old masters, meditating and straining their minds at whatever inscrutable task "wax on, wax off" task got set before them. Basically a more eastern kind of mysticism.

I'd just say that WOTC isn't necessarily about making identifiable literary archetypes in their games. As dismissively insulting as it sounds, I think they just come up with stuff that just ends up being pulpy amalgations of old ideas. I hate dragonborn because they defeat the purpose of what a dragon is all about (nigh-invincible reptilian monsters). And I hate that tielfings are no longer the bastard offspring of demons and mortals.

This isn't a bad thing per se, but I think it's a safe bet to assume that WotC is going to break with literary tradition.

LurkerInPlayground
2010-02-17, 12:56 AM
Not what WotC thinks. Other than the Psion, 4e's psionics are all about the mind reinforcing the body and then hitting something really hard with a sword (or fist, if you're a monk). Ardent has two builds: Tranquil Fury (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TranquilFury) and Hot Blooded (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HotBlooded). Battleminds are ridiculously arrogant according to the preview's flavor text. If that doesn't set a precedent for "hot-blooded fury" being at least a common expression of 4e Psionics, I don't know what would.
As I said, that's not really the thing that Zousha's asking about.

What you have here is a person who has a very distinct flavor of power and just happens to be an action hero using them. But the action hero isn't so much at issue here as it is the fact that you've got two magical systems that are rarely portrayed together in books or whatever.

nightwyrm
2010-02-17, 01:09 AM
As I said, that's not really the thing that Zousha's asking about.

What you have here is a person who has a very distinct flavor of power and just happens to be an action hero using them. But the action hero isn't so much at issue here as it is the fact that you've got two magical systems.

I think we gotta distinguish between 3e and 4e. Psionic in 3e is a separate, 2nd class magic system in a ruleset dominated by the vancian system. Psionic in 4e is just another power source, one among many that are more or less equal.

LurkerInPlayground
2010-02-17, 01:11 AM
I think we gotta distinguish between 3e and 4e. Psionic in 3e is a separate, 2nd class magic system in a ruleset dominated by the vancian system. Psionic in 4e is just another power source, one among many that are more or less equal.
Right. But I think we're concerned with archetypes here.

I've been rambling on too long, but to put a point on it, I don't think you should worry about consistency too much.

Dacia Brabant
2010-02-17, 01:17 AM
So to a degree: Mystics were often indistinguishable from wizards. It's just that some magicians have different flavors: masters of Tao, meditation, alchemy or whatever.

Fair enough, but there still should be options in the rules to fill those different niches within each role. I mean, the four basic roles are always going to be the same--the Heavy, the Artful Dodger, the Field General and the Mobile Artillery--but players are always going to take different approaches to them than the bog standard sword-and-board meatstick, backstabbing sneakthief, godfearing healbot and pointy-hatted flamethrower.

Since there are archtypes besides Fighter, Thief, Cleric and Mage, they should be given names and powers to fit their particular aspects. And for better or worse, WotC is going with "psionics" as their way of describing the more meditative/mystical versions of the four.

Draz74
2010-02-17, 03:47 AM
I always imagined swordmages to be more like Jedi, what with the tendency towards robes (I know technically cloth armor is the only robe-stuff out there, but they're often called "hide-bound shamans" by the Sith), the energy blades and the ability to call their blade to them from a distance.

Again, I always imagined swordmages to be the best at representing Jedi...and Sith.

Well, maybe you just always imagined it because you didn't know enough about psionics to consider that alternative. Is there any reason that arcane actually represents Force-users better than psionics? I don't think so, myself.

hamishspence
2010-02-17, 03:52 AM
Arcane Power has at least one, fairly low level, swordmage power that is described as choking the enemy (while lifting them a short distance into the air)

Its possible that once 4E psionics comes in the PHB3, it will represent Force-user type characters better than the swordmage does, still, the swordmage can be pretty like this, with the right powers.

Kaiyanwang
2010-02-17, 05:00 AM
I like a lot the fluff about psionics in the Web Enhancement for Oriental Adventures, Mahasarpa. See the class list:



Players can choose any of the following class options for characters
in Mahasarpa:
• Baladhara (psychic warrior), if the Psionics Handbook is used
in the campaign
• Brahmin (shaman)
• Devapala (sohei)
• Dhuka (rogue)
• Kshatriya (samurai): A Kshatriya of the Seven Kingdoms traditionally
carries an ancestral tulwar (scimitar) and kris
(wavy-bladed dagger). A Kshatriya can improve these
weapons exactly like a samurai’s ancestral daisho.
• Mantrika (sorcerer)
• Muni (monk)
• Shikari (ranger)
• Singh (fighter)
• Swami (wu jen)
• Yavana (barbarian)
• Yogi (psion), if the Psionics Handbook is used in the campaign


Here, the psion is not some sci-fi thing: is nicely inserted in the indian-flavoured setting.

To be clear, people talk about a certain psionic flavour, but it can be different, as it happens with magic.

Optimystik
2010-02-17, 07:04 AM
...Star Wars isn't sci-fi.

Agreed completely.


Which reminds me of another example for psionics: Dragon Ball Z. And now I want to play a Laser Monk. :smallbiggrin:

Ascetic Mage Monk1/Wilder X with Tashalatora. WE GOTTA POWER!!

(Alternatively, use Battle Dancer)


And D&D Psionics is more than that. Everyone needs to read the Expanded Psionics Handbook. It's good stuff.

And Hyperconscious, which was written by the same author.


Not what WotC thinks. Other than the Psion, 4e's psionics are all about the mind reinforcing the body and then hitting something really hard with a sword (or fist, if you're a monk). Ardent has two builds: Tranquil Fury (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TranquilFury) and Hot Blooded (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HotBlooded). Battleminds are ridiculously arrogant according to the preview's flavor text. If that doesn't set a precedent for "hot-blooded fury" being at least a common expression of 4e Psionics, I don't know what would.

In addition, Kalashtar have been refluffed to be an entire race of Wilders. Generally calm, but can surge and go nuts when provoked.

Starbuck_II
2010-02-17, 07:38 AM
Not really. It's clear that Zousha is talking about stuff like being able to read the other side of cards. Bend spoons. Telepathic communication. Levitation. Crap like that. You're just redefining it to mean what you want it to mean. It's not really helping the discussion if you're just using a different definition from the rest of us just to be contrary.


But the issue is Magiv does that. Everything Psionics does that he thinks is what they do is what Magic does.

Leviatation is a 2nd level spell in PHB. So is Rary's telepathic communication.

So we are back to square one: you must become like zen. Magic is another form of psionics. And psionics is another form of magic. A better form, but still just a form.

And Ardent's non-anime archetype is Plato.

Oslecamo
2010-02-17, 07:56 AM
So we are back to square one: you must become like zen. Magic is another form of psionics. And psionics is another form of magic. A better form, but still just a form.
.

On the other hand, magic demands all kind of physical components from sounds to gestures to exotic materials while psionics, well, work just with the power of the mind.

Also, a wizard can unlock psionic powers with arcane magic, but a psion cannot unlock arcane spells with psionics.

Thus, one can conclude that psionics is a subschool of magic, wich sacrifices some power and versatility for free still spell and silent spell and ignoring components in everything they do.

Optimystik
2010-02-17, 07:59 AM
And Ardent's non-anime archetype is Plato.

I assume you mean 3.5 Ardent there; 4e Ardent is a long ways away from philosophy.


Also, a wizard can unlock psionic powers with arcane magic, but a psion cannot unlock arcane spells with psionics.

An Erudite can - and can in fact distill arcane magic, stripping away even the most costly components that supposedly go along with a spell's effect.

Yora
2010-02-17, 08:09 AM
What bugs me about psionics is the flavor. It isn't that I hate them, really. I struggle to comprehend them in the traditional D&D universe. Maybe it's because my first encounter with psionic powers was the evil gym leader Sabrina in the Pokemon TV show, but I've always viewed psionics as more "science fiction" than "fantasy," as a way to justify magic-like effects in a more futuristic setting. On the flipside, I imagine psionics would basically seem like magic in a medieval Europe based setting, so why differentiate between the two?

I stripped psionics of all the fluff and replaced it with the fluff for sorcerers and clerics.

Tyndmyr
2010-02-17, 08:10 AM
Psionics is magic. It's just a specific form of magic. One that isn't all that different from sorcerery, tbh.

Refluff away.

Starbuck_II
2010-02-17, 08:12 AM
I assume you mean 3.5 Ardent there; 4e Ardent is a long ways away from philosophy.



An Erudite can - and can in fact distill arcane magic, stripping away even the most costly components that supposedly go along with a spell's effect.

Wait? There is a 4.0 Ardent?

Optimystik
2010-02-17, 08:13 AM
The fluff is not as different as people believe. Anyone who thinks there is any real difference between the words "Polymorph" and "Metamorphosis" is well set up to fail linguistics forever.


Wait? There is a 4.0 Ardent?

Yes (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/drfe/20091215b) - you need DDI to see the whole thing, but there should be enough out there for anyone.

It's closer in fluff to the 3.5 Wilder now - very emotional psionics. But oddly, the name still fits.

Yora
2010-02-17, 08:15 AM
But the EPH has guys with glowing eyes and tatoos on their fully or partly shaved heads, who swing huge blades made of crystal and command golems made from slime.
This might not be quite fitting for some fantasy settings. :smallbiggrin:

Oslecamo
2010-02-17, 08:23 AM
An Erudite can - and can in fact distill arcane magic, stripping away even the most costly components that supposedly go along with a spell's effect.

There's no such thing as erudites. There's something that will be auto-banned at any D&D table.:smallbiggrin:

Optimystik
2010-02-17, 08:23 AM
But the EPH has guys with glowing eyes and tatoos on their fully or partly shaved heads, who swing huge blades made of crystal and command golems made from slime.
This might not be quite fitting for some fantasy settings. :smallbiggrin:

The only thing on that list that doesn't fit with arcane magic is "blades made of crystal," and even that you could swing (no pun intended) with a little jiggery.

Shaven heads and tats are in the DMG:

http://gaygamer.net/images/hazlik.jpg

And I'm sure I can find glowing eyes and oozes if I look around.


There's no such thing as erudites. There's something that will be auto-banned at any D&D table.:smallbiggrin:

Just because something can be abused does not mean it always will. Even Truenamer can be broken.

Starbuck_II
2010-02-17, 08:25 AM
Tattoos and shaved heads:
Red Wizards of Thay?

Glowing eyes:
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GlowingEyesOfDoom
WoW mages like Blood Elves have those.

Slime Golems?
Sounds like Dragon Warrior the game. Mages created them.

Okay, I'll grant you crystals. Except FF4 (FF2 for those americans) had a crystal sword as a the best non-rare weapon in the game.

Kurald Galain
2010-02-17, 08:33 AM
I could list a bunch of titles, but honestly, it's more a point of view than anything expressly stated. Xanth has everyone possessing unique inate "powers" which they can use, Shannara has druids channeling their lifeforce into mystic fire, and Earthsea has spellcasters who control their magic completely through force of will.
All of that is arcane magic. It's just not vancian magic.

I don't think a distinction between "magic" and "psionics" is made anywhere except in D&D. For that matter, the archetype of a "wizard who memorizes spells from a book" is extremely rare outside of D&D.


A Wizard of Earthsea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Wizard_of_Earthsea) is probably the best example of the three,
That book seems the most obvious inspiration of the 3E Truenamer, doesn't it?


The Valdemar books are another good example of a fantasy world that substitutes psionics in place of traditional magic, at least for the first few sets of books. It's explicitly referred to as 'mind-magic'.
Interestingly, both Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar cycle and Robin Hobb's Assassin trilogies contain two kinds of magic - but both are called "magic" of some sort, and neither is vancian.

hamishspence
2010-02-17, 08:45 AM
"true magic" in Heralds of Valdemar, seems to be more mana-based. With the exception of hedge-mages, who draw their power from the ambient magic in them, rather than the magic in the surrounding area.

It seemed to run "Personal, local area, ley lines, nodes"- with the mages that have the highest natural potential, being able to tap nodes (meeting points of ley lines), when trained, and those with the lowest, only being able to draw power from within.

However, sheer skill and efficiency, could partially make up for lack of raw potential- with references to a really skilled hedge mage, being able to beat an Adept (node user) in a magical contest.

Optimystik
2010-02-17, 09:09 AM
I was a fan of Mercedes Lackey's "Wild Magic" and "High Magic" distinction from the Obsidian Mountain series... though that's more an Arcane vs. Divine distinction.

In an interesting subversion, Divine (Wild) magic was the fast way to power, while Arcane (High) was the more exacting and methodical process.

However, the ability to use High Magic was developed in the mind, and could be "burned out of you" by a more experienced mage poking around the centers of the brain that stored that power.

Eldan
2010-02-17, 10:07 AM
A prime example I can think of is the "Skill" of the Farseers in the Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hodd.

It is, in it's core, Telepathy. By focusing your internal power you can access a kind of cosmic flow of conciousness which connects all minds. The trained Skillmaster uses this to send messages to his students all across the kingdom, send confusing dreams and illusions to his enemies and implant suggestions.
There are two basic ways to train a student: by breaking their will through hunger, cold and rigid discipline until they no longer resist their own power, or by carefully letting them meditate in a comfortable atmosphere. Interestingly, both work. It is portrayed as dangerous, as one can get swept away in the Skill, but basically, it's DnD's Telepathy discipline.

Edit: for Vancian magic, I think, you can actually partially look at the real world's western magical disciplines, especially Demonology and Alchemy. They are full of complicated rituals, summoning circles, sigils, material components and ancient books. After all, in the middle ages the belief that pretty much everything the greeks and, to a lesser degree, the persians, egyptians and so on did was better was very much alive. So studying those writings helped you learn magic.

Optimystik
2010-02-17, 10:18 AM
Edit: for Vancian magic, I think, you can actually partially look at the real world's western magical disciplines, especially Demonology and Alchemy. They are full of complicated rituals, summoning circles, sigils, material components and ancient books. After all, in the middle ages the belief that pretty much everything the greeks and, to a lesser degree, the persians, egyptians and so on did was better was very much alive. So studying those writings helped you learn magic.

That is not Vancian magic, that is simply Arcane magic. Vancian is the peculiar subsystem of Arcane magic whereby both the energy and knowledge of a spell are both stored at preparation, and are both lost when a spell is cast/completed - and thus have to be prepared again.

I won't revive that particular discussion here - I just wanted to point out the distinction. Circles, components and books alone do not Vancian make.

Nero24200
2010-02-17, 10:53 AM
There should be a few things noted about psionics.

To an extent, they're going to exist anyway. Spells like Teleport, Disintergrate and Telekinessis already have a strong "Psychic" feel to them. Unless alot of those are gone, then you're already going to have spells with the "sci-fi" feel.

You might even consider spells like Dominate Person, Message and Chain Lightning to have a sci-fi feel as well, in fact, movies like Star Wars actually make use of some of those abilities (Palapatine using Force Lightning serves as a good example (Lightning Bolt), but theres also things like the Jedi Mind Trick (Charm Person), the leaping long distances (Jump) or deflecting bullets (Protection from Arrows)).

It should also be noted that Vancian magic origonates from Jack Vance's Dying Earth series, a series set thousands of years in the future. I just find it so ironic that alot of players insist that Psionics has a sci-fi feel whilst Vancian doesn't....even though Vancian magic was inspired by a Sci-Fi.

Granted, however, if you feel you need to not have psionics due to "fluff", that's at least a reason that makes miles more sense than the common "It's broken". I wouldn't find it unreasonable for a group to not like something I do and not want it included, even if it's only something as small as the classes fluff.

Kurald Galain
2010-02-17, 10:56 AM
It should also be noted that Vancian magic origonates from Jack Vance's Dying Earth series, a series set thousands of years in the future. I just find it so ironic that alot of players insist that Psionics has a sci-fi feel whilst Vancian doesn't....even though Vancian magic was inspired by a Sci-Fi.

No. Just because a book is set "thousands of years in the future" doesn't mean it's science fiction. Sci-fi has nothing to do with the time period the book plays in, but with the way it is written. And while Jack Vance has written some sci-fi books, Dying Earth isn't.

hiryuu
2010-02-17, 02:06 PM
You want some literature with psionics as a major fantasy feature?

Try this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahabarata) and this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C4%81m%C4%81ya%E1%B9%87a). If you do pick up copies to read, they should keep you busy for awhile and contain a crapton of psionics.

Draz74
2010-02-17, 02:07 PM
No. Just because a book is set "thousands of years in the future" doesn't mean it's science fiction. Sci-fi has nothing to do with the time period the book plays in, but with the way it is written. And while Jack Vance has written some sci-fi books, Dying Earth isn't.

I'm not sure there's a definitive guideline for distinguishing sci-fi from fantasy. Because the rules you've alluded to throughout this thread are nothing like Orson Scott Card's definition, for example.

erikun
2010-02-17, 03:31 PM
What kinds of archetypes do the ardent, battlemind and psion represent, anyhow?
The Psion would be the oracle, the prophet, or the far-seer. It is the class to which all has been revealed, the one who can see thoughts as clearly as others see faces, the one who can gaze into your eyes and view your soul. He is the master of the mind, the one who no man can hide from, the one who no man holds secrets against.

The Ardent is the philosopher, the Buddist. She is the one who has achieved cosmic unity, who has listened to the harmonies of the celestial spheres and has returned to the body of the flesh. She may act as a teacher, as a show or power, or as a questor of further understanding.

The Battlemind is... a jedi, basically. Or the general "psionic fighter". Honestly, there will be classes which either don't fit archtypes or are difficult to describe. The Sorcerer, the Invoker, and the Druid don't make much sense to me, and as much as I like the Warden, I can't really see how he fits beyond "elemental nature fighter".


It's closer in fluff to the 3.5 Wilder now - very emotional psionics. But oddly, the name still fits.
Oh? No DDI access myself, so I wouldn't know.

In that case, the Ardent would easily become the Empath - someone who is capable of "talking" with trees, animals, and anyone else they come across - or the Carrie - someone who has poor control over their powers, and will explode violently when upset. Both are somewhat common in fantasy.

Nero24200
2010-02-17, 03:37 PM
No. Just because a book is set "thousands of years in the future" doesn't mean it's science fiction. Sci-fi has nothing to do with the time period the book plays in, but with the way it is written. And while Jack Vance has written some sci-fi books, Dying Earth isn't.

Define Sci-Fi for me then.

As defined by google
"a type of book, film/movie, etc. that is based on imagined scientific discoveries of the future, and often deals with space travel and life on other planets"

Emphasis mine. If using swords rather than lasers is enough to make something "fantasy" even if it has flying cars then Star Wars and Halo should qualify more as Fantasy rather than Sci-Fi.

Morty
2010-02-17, 03:37 PM
Ask yourself the question: do you really want to use psionics in your games? If the answer is "no" for whatever reason, I wouldn't bother trying to deal with the fluff that confuses you or doesn't suit your taste. If it's "yes", then I guess other people answered it already.

erikun
2010-02-17, 03:41 PM
Define Sci-Fi for me then.
Fiction based on or strongly utilizing advanced or speculative forms of science.

Thus, a story set in a futuristic space station, with the inhabitants using flying cars and supercomputers, would be Sci-Fi. A story set in a futuristic space station, where the inhabitants reverted to a medieval lifestyle and the supercomputers act as all-powerful gods would be closer to Fantasy.

Optimystik
2010-02-17, 03:41 PM
Oh? No DDI access myself, so I wouldn't know.

I don't have DDI either. My knowledge of the 4e Ardent came from this thread. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=7506761)


In that case, the Ardent would easily become the Empath - someone who is capable of "talking" with trees, animals, and anyone else they come across - or the Carrie - someone who has poor control over their powers, and will explode violently when upset. Both are somewhat common in fantasy.

He's apparently like a Wilder/Thrallherd - he leads by psionically boosting and directing the other members of the party. "Empath" could fit that, certainly.

Starbuck_II
2010-02-17, 03:46 PM
Define Sci-Fi for me then.

As defined by google
"a type of book, film/movie, etc. that is based on imagined scientific discoveries of the future, and often deals with space travel and life on other planets"

Emphasis mine. If using swords rather than lasers is enough to make something "fantasy" even if it has flying cars then Star Wars and Halo should qualify more as Fantasy rather than Sci-Fi.

During Botany club, a girl described it as, "if the author tries to explain how it it is possible than it is Sci-Fi". Thus Star Wars uses Midichlorians so they are Sci-Fi to her.
I don't agree with her logic, but at least it is consistent.

Lappy9000
2010-02-17, 03:53 PM
Dunno if this has been hit up or not, but whenever problems about fluff arise, psionics is totally spirit energy from Yu-Yu Hakusho. Watch it.

Character with a spirit sword that he enhances as his primary attack? Overchanneling in order to increase power?

Anyway, I had never even considered that psionics couldn't fit until I saw people bringing it up online, and I still can't understand why it supposedly doesn't fit. To each his own, I suppose, but I find it to be silly.

sonofzeal
2010-02-17, 04:12 PM
All of that is arcane magic. It's just not vancian magic.

I don't think a distinction between "magic" and "psionics" is made anywhere except in D&D.
It isn't even really made in D&D. (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/psionic/psionicPowersOverview.htm#psionicsMagicTransparenc y)



Define Sci-Fi for me then.

As defined by google
"a type of book, film/movie, etc. that is based on imagined scientific discoveries of the future, and often deals with space travel and life on other planets"

Emphasis mine. If using swords rather than lasers is enough to make something "fantasy" even if it has flying cars then Star Wars and Halo should qualify more as Fantasy rather than Sci-Fi.
Many sci-fi books are set in the present at the time of writing (2000 Leagues Under The Sea, War of the Worlds, Jurassic Park), or even the past (Difference Engine, arguably Watchmen).

One of the original definitions for the genre involved the concept of "no place". Basically, Sci Fi is fiction that happens in a world that isn't ours but could potentially exist, as far as the author knows with the science of his time. Something with dragons isn't sci-fi, but something with dragons and an adequate justification of their relationship with the Square-Cube Law, could be.

Another definition, used by Ursula K LeGuin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ursula_K._Le_Guin) among others, is that true Sci Fi (as opposed to mere space adventure) should answer "what if" questions. What if Babbage had built his analytic machine? What if Mars had life, and that life wanted to colonize earth? What if we built androids that were many times stronger and tougher and faster than we were? What if there was a latent ability humans could access that creates some otherwise-supernatural effect?

Darko Suvin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darko_Suvin) expresses basically the same concept slightly differently - that in Sci Fi, there should be a "Novum (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novum)", some "new thing" that sets the rest of the work on a divergent course from the world we know. This could be big or small, and the result could be similar or different than ours, but there should some identifiable trigger.* This differentiates sci fi from fantasy, where everything is different and always has been.



* my information on Suvin is second-hand, so I may be misrepresenting him a little.

nightwyrm
2010-02-17, 04:18 PM
One definition I saw somewhere is that sci-fi deals with the improbable while fantasy deals with the impossible.

Eldan
2010-02-17, 04:20 PM
Depends. Hard Science Fiction tries to deal with the probable.

Nero24200
2010-02-17, 04:46 PM
Snip

While good definitions, it still doesn't change that they could easily be applied to fantasy as well. Being able to create energy beams from the power of your own thoughts and creating force lightning could be classed as "Psychic Powers", but they could easily be called "Magic" as well, meaning that Psionics is just as probable in the future as magic.

These definitions seem to push more to the idea that Sci-Fi wouldn't include things like psionics, but instead things like advanced weaponary and space travel, things which are likely in the future.

Yora
2010-02-17, 04:57 PM
It isn't even really made in D&D. (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/psionic/psionicPowersOverview.htm#psionicsMagicTransparenc y)
Yet, my first experience with psionics in D&D were people being totally outraged that I claimed to not be able to see how magic and psionics would be any different.

Kurald Galain
2010-02-17, 05:22 PM
I'm not sure there's a definitive guideline for distinguishing sci-fi from fantasy.
I'm not saying there is such a guideline, but I am saying that it definitely isn't "far into the future equals sci-fi".


Define Sci-Fi for me then.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_fiction should help.



[i]"a type of book, film/movie, etc. that is based on imagined scientific discoveries of the future,
That is not an unreasonable definition, but the mistake you're making is that just because sci-fi is (usually) set in the future, it does not follow that everything set in the future is therefore sci-fi.

In other words, don't highlight the word "future", but highlight the words "imagined scientific discoveries". It's called "science fiction" because it generally involves science.



Emphasis mine. If using swords rather than lasers is enough to make something "fantasy" even if it has flying cars then Star Wars and Halo should qualify more as Fantasy rather than Sci-Fi.
Star Wars is commonly called a fantasy setting, yes. For instance, Star Trek keeps throwing in technobabble to explain how their warp shields can counteract the tractor beam, and Star Wars does nothing of the sort.

Draz74
2010-02-17, 05:32 PM
Many sci-fi books are set in the present at the time of writing (2000 Leagues Under The Sea, War of the Worlds, Jurassic Park), or even the past (Difference Engine, arguably Watchmen).
Good point. That pretty much kills any argument of "future" being a requirement, as far as I'm concerned (since I'm not going to argue that 2000 Leagues or Jurassic Park aren't SF).


One of the original definitions for the genre involved the concept of "no place". Basically, Sci Fi is fiction that happens in a world that isn't ours but could potentially exist, as far as the author knows with the science of his time. Something with dragons isn't sci-fi, but something with dragons and an adequate justification of their relationship with the Square-Cube Law, could be.

That one, I can't agree with. There's plenty of "soft" sci-fi that defies known science wherever it wants to, but that I would still firmly categorize as Sci-Fi rather than Fantasy. (And I don't just mean Star Wars, though that would fit the description.) This definition would pretty much reclassify all of soft sci-fi under Fantasy, which I think loses a useful distinction.

(Besides ... does that mean that if Homer sincerely believed in Greek mythology, The Odyssey would be considered Sci-Fi? :smallamused:)

On the other hand, the version that says the distinction is whether the work tries to justify its less likely elements with any sort of explanation works better for me, but still not perfect. It preserves the category of soft sci-fi (i.e. via technobabble). On the other hand, I'm sure there are works out there that are pretty clearly fantasy, but that still throw in laborious explanations of how their magic works in pseudophysics terms.

In the end, I think I prefer Orson Scott Card's very simple distinction that I alluded to earlier: If it has gears and spaceships and lasers and so on, it's sci-fi. (There was more to it than that, but that gets the idea across.)

Samb
2010-02-17, 06:27 PM
I'm afraid I can't make things any less bewildering since I view both magic and psionics in terms of quantum mechanics and chemistry.

The gist of it is: reality is shaped by perception. A molecule, of a certain mass, going in a certain angle and velocity doesn't exist unless someone observes it happening. The willpower needed to alter reality is the activiation energy, a term in thermodynamics used to describe the energy needed to make a reaction happen. Non-psi/magic users could try to will things to happen all they want, but never get over "the hump".

The difference is how they overcome the activation energy.

Psionics: sheer force of will to overcome the activation energy. More a brute force means of altering reality. Most mentally taxing of the 3.

Arcane: makes use of catalysts to lower the activation energy. Catalysts are spell components and the memory of that spell. Making arcane users less "evolved" (and in a way weaker) than psions, but having more options since magic is ultimately less taxing than psionics.

Divine: the gods/ideals already paid the activation energy, the cleric simply nudges the reaction to completion. Most cush of all magic, since someone elase is doing most of the work.


I'm pretty sure I just confused you more than clear things up, but you never know right?

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-02-17, 06:30 PM
I'm afraid I can't make things any less bewildering since I view both magic and psionics in terms of quantum mechanics and chemistry.

The gist of it is: reality is shaped by perception. A molecule, of a certain mass, going in a certain angle and velocity doesn't exist unless someone observes it happening. The willpower needed to alter reality is the activiation energy, a term in thermodynamics used to describe the energy needed to make a reaction happen. Non-psi/magic users could try to will things to happen all they want, but never get over "the hump".

The difference is how they overcome the activation energy.

Psionics: sheer force of will to overcome the activation energy. More a brute force means of altering reality. Most mentally taxing of the 3.

Arcane: makes use of catalysts to lower the activation energy. Catalysts are spell components and the memory of that spell. Making arcane users less "evolved" (and in a way weaker) than psions, but having more options since magic is ultimately less taxing than psionics.

Divine: the gods/ideals already paid the activation energy, the cleric simply nudges the reaction to completion. Most cush of all magic, since someone elase is doing most of the work.


I'm pretty sure I just confused you more than clear things up, but you never know right?

What about Primal and Martial?

Mark Hall
2010-02-17, 06:30 PM
What bugs me about psionics is the flavor. It isn't that I hate them, really. I struggle to comprehend them in the traditional D&D universe.

Try reading Steven Brust's "Vlad" series. Currently out is "The Book of Jhereg", which is the first several, and the "Book of Taltos", which is the next several. It's a good look at a very high-magic world with psychic powers.

The Glyphstone
2010-02-17, 06:39 PM
What about Primal and Martial?

Martial: They get so angry and/or hit reality with a sword until reality says 'Uncle!' and does something special.

Primal: Same as Clerics, but with an omnipresent 'Nature' instead of the gods.

Starbuck_II
2010-02-17, 06:41 PM
Ooh, what about Shadow? I believe there is that special DDI class with it.

Samb
2010-02-17, 06:53 PM
Martial: They get so angry and/or hit reality with a sword until reality says 'Uncle!' and does something special.

Primal: Same as Clerics, but with an omnipresent 'Nature' instead of the gods.

More or less.
Primal uses his raw emotion, in this case rage and aggression.

As for shadow and all the other stuff I don't really know them very well to say as the OP only asked for psionics. It's not a fantasy explanation but it does somewhat unify the two.

PairO'Dice Lost
2010-02-17, 07:52 PM
As for shadow and all the other stuff I don't really know them very well to say as the OP only asked for psionics. It's not a fantasy explanation but it does somewhat unify the two.

Assuming Shadow has the same pre-4e qualities (i.e. pulling quasi-real material from the Plane of Shadow/Shadowdark to do stuff) it would probably fall somewhere between arcane and divine—shadow pays some of the activation energy because it's partly real (like divine), but since it's not totally real the caster still has to pay the remaining energy himself (like arcane).

sonofzeal
2010-02-17, 08:45 PM
That one, I can't agree with. There's plenty of "soft" sci-fi that defies known science wherever it wants to, but that I would still firmly categorize as Sci-Fi rather than Fantasy. (And I don't just mean Star Wars, though that would fit the description.) This definition would pretty much reclassify all of soft sci-fi under Fantasy, which I think loses a useful distinction.

(Besides ... does that mean that if Homer sincerely believed in Greek mythology, The Odyssey would be considered Sci-Fi? :smallamused:)

On the other hand, the version that says the distinction is whether the work tries to justify its less likely elements with any sort of explanation works better for me, but still not perfect. It preserves the category of soft sci-fi (i.e. via technobabble). On the other hand, I'm sure there are works out there that are pretty clearly fantasy, but that still throw in laborious explanations of how their magic works in pseudophysics terms.

In the end, I think I prefer Orson Scott Card's very simple distinction that I alluded to earlier: If it has gears and spaceships and lasers and so on, it's sci-fi. (There was more to it than that, but that gets the idea across.)
I still prefer LeGuin's definition. You're entirely right that you lose whole swaths of what the layman would consider "sci fi" (notably Star Wars), and these would instead be rebranded as "space fantasy" or "space adventure".

I'm not sure if that's such a bad thing, though. Certainly there's a critical genre difference between Star Wars and The Left Hand of Darkness. The former is an exciting and mythic adventure with colourful characters and impressive action, and the latter is an intricate piece of explorative fiction that addresses strange new hypotheticals and philosophical complexities through the vehicle of narrative storytelling. One uses space as a vehicle for exotic new adventures, and one uses space as a template on which to explore ideas.

Now the two branches can and do overlap (the body of Cordwainer Smith's work springs most readily to mind), but I think it's a good distinction to be made, and one we need to be wary of when speaking about the genre. Now, what terms you use to cover that distinction, that's a more difficult question.

The problem is that Hard Sci Fi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_science_fiction) and Soft Sci Fi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soft_science_fiction) mean something rather different than what we're talking about, even though they occasionally get used that way. I don't really have a good solution here though, beyond that I personally use "sci fi" to refer to the sort of speculative fiction I've been describing, and "space adventure" to refer to the rest.

I do enjoy both thoroughly though.

Dimers
2010-02-17, 10:06 PM
What bugs me about psionics is the flavor. It isn't that I hate them, really. I struggle to comprehend them in the traditional D&D universe. ... I'm just not sure what to make of them. Perhaps someone who has more insight into this may be able to help me understand, but it seems to me like psionics are more sci-fi, and thus don't mesh with D&D too well.

So, Archpaladin, have you gleaned any insight from this discussion? Restating what you've seen into your own words might help you clarify it for yourself ...

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-02-17, 10:47 PM
The message I seem to be getting is that my Pokemon-based preconceptions are holding me back from truly appreciating psionics. While they don't lock into my traditional model, there IS a place for them, and really, hey it's a kind of magic (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FytMNBUR2CQ).

sonofzeal
2010-02-17, 11:18 PM
The message I seem to be getting is that my Pokemon-based preconceptions are holding me back from truly appreciating psionics. While they don't lock into my traditional model, there IS a place for them, and really, hey it's a kind of magic (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FytMNBUR2CQ).
Heh, like the song.

And yeah, pretty good summary. That said - I still have my own preconceptions, largely from similar sources as you. It takes a little bit to get used to, but the existence of Mindflayers and Psurlons and similar psi-based monsters made it a bit easier. I'm used to Mindflayers and telepathy in my games, so the jump from their to Psions is pretty small. It still honestly feels a bit weird, but the gameplay enjoyment compensates a lot. On the whole, I find them a good addition to the game, but wouldn't mind much if a DM says they don't fit well into his world.




If you wanted to start using Psi in your games, and are comfortable with multiclassing and using exotic sourcebooks, I'd recommend playing a Tashalatora PsiWar as a good introduction. Basically, you take one or two levels of Monk then advance Psychic Warrior, and use the Tashalatora feat from Secrets of Sarlona to let your PsiWar levels count for the purposes of your basic monk stuff.

The reason I recommend this is that the Tashalatora character is going to closely resemble a Monk, for all intents and purposes. They'll look like a monk, act like a monk, fight like a monk, but with a firmer mechanical basis that can actually contribute well at most levels. Psychic Warriors get few powers and powers known, so it's not that much to keep track of, but gives you much more flexibility and power. I'm playing one now, and it mostly plays like a Monk, all the same rolls and tactics and options, except with functional AC (thanks to Inertial Armor) and it's easier to get full attacks (thanks to Psionic Lion's Charge). I feel like I'm playing a Monk the way they're supposed to be played, and it almost tricks me into thinking the Monk class is pretty good. Almost.

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-02-17, 11:22 PM
Um...I'm usually the DM in my games. And I prefer 4th Edition. :smallconfused:

sonofzeal
2010-02-17, 11:33 PM
Um...I'm usually the DM in my games. And I prefer 4th Edition. :smallconfused:
Ah, sorry. Can't help them. =P

*wanders off somewhere*

Dimers
2010-02-17, 11:41 PM
The message I seem to be getting is that my Pokemon-based preconceptions are holding me back from truly appreciating psionics. While they don't lock into my traditional model, there IS a place for them, and really, hey it's a kind of magic (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FytMNBUR2CQ).

Couldn'ta said it better myself! (which is why I didn't, and asked you to do it instead :smalltongue:)